Tag Archives: children
Ever since he was a little guy Bud has had anger management issues.
When he was 5, Bud tried to pick a fight with some teenagers at the local burger joint because they said he was cute. At 6, a 9 year old stole Bud’s water gun (Super Soaker) and started spraying him with it. Bud ran up to the other boy, grabbed the water gun out of his hands and whacked him with it until the other boy ran away.
I’m not telling you these stories because I’m looking for sympathy or so that you think Bud is a terrible child. It’s simply that in looking back I can see all the signs we missed that Bud had a mental health issue.
WebMD has a laundry list of symptoms that can signal depression in children. I have included the entire list in the hopes that it may help another family, but I’ll highlight the ones that applied to Bud:
- Irritability or anger (as previously mentioned)
- Continuous feelings of sadness, hopelessness.
- Social withdrawal.
- Increased sensitivity to rejection.
- Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased (From the age of 5 or so on, Bud had a bit of a weight problem – he wore size 12 husky pants when he was 9. About age 10 he grew a few inches in height and since then he has had a hard time keeping weight on. So we have seen both sides of the appetite problem.)
- Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep. (I talk about Bud’s sleep problems in my blog post I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night.
- Vocal outbursts or crying.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Fatigue and low energy.
- Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that do not respond to treatment (We homeschooled Bud through the sixth grade, so he didn’t miss school due to illness. But by the time he was in the 9th grade, he was missing up to 15 days per semester due to headaches, stomachaches or whatever excuse he could come up with)
- Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
- Impaired thinking or concentration.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
- *this list (minus my comments)©2005-2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
I think on some level Art and I knew there was something wrong. We thought he was just willful and when the problems first started, we cracked down on him when he raged at us (cold showers, loss of privileges). It worked for awhile and as long as he was at home in a controlled environment, things went well. But when he was away from home (at taekwondo or AWANA or grandma’s or camp) that was when all hell would break loose.
I wish very much we could go back and know then what we know now. I wish we could have got Bud the help he needed from an early age so he wouldn’t have to have had so many years of feeling so lost and alone. I am glad that we were able to get Bud help before it was too late and I hope that someone who reads this will be able to get their child the help he or she needs.
Looking back, I feel guilty for not believing him. So many times over the years Bud would tell us that he hadn’t slept at all the night before. “Of course you did,” we would reply. “You just don’t remember. You probably woke up a lot and that’s why you think you weren’t asleep at all.”
He was such an easy baby. No fuss and always such a sweet smile on his face that I called him my angel baby. But it seemed like the terrible twos lasted three years. After that, things got easier, but Bud was always a little crabby and anxious.
Then in 2009 his attitude took a turn for the worse. Our business was failing, and Art and I were gone from the house for 10 or more hours a day. Bud was in his first year of high school and struggling to keep up in some of his classes. In addition, he and his girlfriend were not getting along. All I knew was that it was nearly impossible to get him up for school in the morning. He had a headache, or he didn’t feel good. Could he just miss a class or two and go in late? I remember adding it up and he had missed over 15 days of school his freshman year!
Finally, in June of 2009, right after we closed the business, I tried to get Bud up one morning. He refused. It was the week before finals and I was worried he wouldn’t pass his classes and end up having to repeat his freshman year. I told him there were no more excuses and gave him 5 minutes to get out of bed. Then I personally drove him to school (the boys usually walked, but I wasn’t taking any chances on that day). On my way back home I got a text. Pulling to a stop in our driveway I read the message from Bud which read, “well if you’re not even going to listen to me then I might as well just kill myself. You don’t even know what’s going on.”
Needless to say, I freaked out. I woke up Art and read him the message. He agreed we had to take the threat seriously and called the school. By the time we got there, they had already pulled Bud out of class and he was in the vice principal’s office waiting for us. It turned out that Bud and his girlfriend had broken up the night before and he just couldn’t deal with going to school. It was obvious he was done for the day, so we brought him home. He wouldn’t talk to us and we were scared. We finally got him to agree to go to therapy through the local Community Mental Health.
It took a month for us to get an appointment for Bud. In the meantime, he did manage to attend class every day for the next two weeks and to pass all his classes. His first day with the therapist she managed to get out of him that he had not had a full night’s sleep in years (we think probably since the age of 5 – maybe even earlier). She also suggested that Bud was suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and depression. We wrangled a doctor’s appointment the very next day and after two weeks on heavy duty sleep meds we could already see the difference in Bud.
The past 2 1/2 years have been a two steps forward one step back world of medication changes and adjustments, psychiatric appointments and family discussions. Bud is still not the best sleeper and one of the main reasons he is homeschooling is so that he can “do school” when he is most awake – usually around 10 p.m.! He is fun to have a conversation with and, if he’s really well rested, even volunteers to do some chores!!
I’m happy to say – I got my angel baby back!!
After the night-time incident (see Cyberbullying – A Mother’s Story, Part 1,) Bud became understandably paranoid. He would no longer leave the house unless we drove him to his destination, even if it was just around the corner. He and his friends used to walk all over town and now he was getting so little sunshine that he was eventually diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.
During the week that followed, one of Bud’s friends texted him and told him to check out G’s Facebook wall. G had a public and completely open Facebook page; anyone could see it whether or not they were his friend. Bud called me over to see what G had posted. Right there on G’s wall, was an invitation – ” bud morris, come over to my house… I have a bottle of bud and a freshly dug grave in my backyard for you…” “I want to grow my hair long so I can strangle bud with it.” My husband, Art, and I told Bud he needed to get a restraining order against G. We went to the courthouse and got the paperwork, but Bud was terrified there would be retribution from G’s brother and friends if he followed through. So we put it on hold.
Then, on July 1st, Bud saw this message on G’s Facebook wall, “anyone down to get torches and pitch forks and begin an angry mob and go over to bud’s house and drag him outside by the throat and beat him til he’s dead in the street?” Bud went to his room and refused to come out. When I tried to talk to him he was actually shaking, he was so angry and scared.
I called a friend of ours who I knew Bud would listen to because he works closely with the police department. C told Bud the only way he would get through this was if he trusted us as his parents to protect him and the only way we could do that was by filing another police report and getting a restraining order. Bud finally agreed.
We printed all the pages from G’s Facebook wall from the past week and called the police. This time, partially due to the printed evidence and partly because G was a known troublemaker in the neighborhood, Bud was taken seriously. The police went to G’s house that night and arrested him for felony stalking as well as multiple counts of theft from other people which he had also confessed to on his Facebook wall. He spent a month in juvenile hall and received a year probation with a no-contact order on Bud. We also received a 3 year civil restraining order against G.
It has been almost six months since the arrest, and Bud is finally starting to feel some peace. He looked over his shoulder for a long time afterwards and still wanted to be driven everywhere. For awhile G’s brother and his friends would drive by our house and yell curses and insults at us. But I think Bud finally sees that they took him seriously and understand that retribution would just land them in the same trouble as G. At least I hope that’s what they’re thinking.
Bud loved cyberschool. During his sophomore and junior years his grades got better, his attitude improved, he started hanging out with friends again. Towards the end of his junior year, Bud decided he wanted to go back to public school for his senior year. We were all very excited about his progress.
Some of Bud’s friends from junior high had taken a wrong turn in high school and started taking methamphetamines. Bud had no use for that and stopped hanging out with them, although they all parted on good terms. The problem was that G, the younger brother of one of these boys, had looked up to Bud as a protector and was very resentful when Bud stopped hanging out with G’s brother and friends.
G is a troubled child – he struggles with mental health and weight issues and his brother’s friends would tease him and make him the butt of their jokes. Bud had always stuck up for G, and G looked at Bud’s absence as a betrayal. G developed an obsession with Bud. He started texting Bud, demanding that they meet to fight. Bud refused and ignored the texts, until one night in April, G texted Bud and told him to meet to fight that night or G would show up at our house and cause trouble. Bud was understandably scared as G is considerably larger than him, and because of G’s emotional instability. My husband, Art, agreed to sit up all night in case G tried to break in, and Bud was finally able to get some sleep. G never showed.
We convinced Bud that G was making idle threats and he calmed down for about a month. Then, one night, two of Bud’s friends were approaching our house to visit Bud (my husband and I were out for the night.) The friends were met in our driveway by G and his brother, who asked if Bud was home. Bud’s friends lied and said Bud was gone to the convenience store. G and his brother went to the convenience store and found out the friends were lying. After that, G started threatening to fight all of Bud’s friends.
Another month passed. By now it was summer. One morning Bud and his 3 closest friends got a text from G, with lots of cursing and name-calling, demanding that they all come fight him at once. We all laughed it off. That night, Art & I went out with friends and Bud had his 3 friends over to play video games. About 10 p.m., G and 7 other boys showed up at our house, all dressed in black, and started pounding on the exterior walls and windows of our house screaming for Bud to come out and fight. Fortunately, Bud had the presence of mind to call the police and yell outside that he had done so. G and his friends ran away before the police got there. The police took another “informational report.” (see When Older Kids are Bullied – Part 1 )
We now had a new threat against Bud and we had no idea how to deal with it. But we would soon learn…
Look for Cyberbullying – a Mother’s Story on November 4th, 2011