Storms

March 21, 2018

Ever have a few weeks when nothing, and I mean nothing, seems to go your way? Yeah, we’re having that at the House of T.

The good news: no major household appliances have broken. The bad news: all of the major household people appear to be broken. Some more broken than others.

Actually, my husband (despite a completely whackjob work schedule) appears to be holding it together by a thread, although I don’t think he’s too thrilled with his role of Official Ringmaster of the Shitshow.

The Official Epicenter of the Shitshow is my first-born, Miss D. So much is going on with her this spring that it’s turned us on our ear, on our ass and everywhere in between. It actually started back here, when she came down with the flu and was down for several weeks. It’s not a big deal if you’re home, quarantined with a yuck-filled scourge when you’re in elementary school. Elementary school kids are notorious germ-bombs, so you cheerfully pick up homework at the front desk and administer as needed. It’s a little trickier in middle school, but manageable with a little finesse and elbow grease. In high school? Especially if you have several honors classes and art classes that require in-class materials/instruction? You. are. screwed.

Miss D. has been underwater since January and it’s been a slow, painful, tear-filled swim back to the surface. We’re still not there yet.

And then she got sick again. And again. Not with the flu–luckily that was 12 days and done–but then back-to-back colds and respiratory gunk. We’ve spent so much cash on TheraFlu and Nyquil and fancy inhalers and throat lozenges that I feel like I should throw coins out the window whenever I pass a Walgreens. “Take my money, BigPharma and LittlePharma! We are completely at your mercy.”

We’re also at the mercy of the all-powerful (and truly terrifying) teenage hormones. Because what do absolute morons hapless parents do when their child is going through a period of insane academic and physical stress? They start her on birth control pills for (admittedly bad) menstrual cramps/bleeding. Why not, eh?

To be fair, we were trying to ease an area of agony for our daughter.

To be fair, my mother slapped me on birth control pills for the same reason when I was 15, and I had no adverse effects, except for turning into a slightly less orange version of HR Puffinstuff two days before my menstrual cycle.

To be fair, we started her on the lowest dose formula of birth control pill.

Our motives were sound and our intentions were good.

BUT SWEET BABY JESUS WE UNLEASHED THE KRACKEN AND THE CHUPACABRA AND THE GORGON MEDUSA all at once.

We’ve had hysterics. We’ve had tears. We’ve had black sullen sulks that could out-sulk the sulkiest sulker. We’ve had weekends of insomnia and day-long stuporous sleeps. We’ve had weekday mornings so full of drama, misery and stress that we’re exhausted by 7:15 am.

We had a day where she decided to throw 2/3 of her wardrobe into a donation box and kick it to the curb, because “everything I own is dumb and makes me look fat.”

Then.

Then she developed painful reflux. She felt like it burned to swallow food or even water. That lasted 2 weeks.

She developed a gripping tightness in her chest that looked a lot like recurring panic attacks to this mama (ahem, not that I have experience with those).

This weekend, we finally just broke.

What do you do when your child changes so drastically over the course of two months?

Well, you pin her down and grill her about school because that’s the obvious answer, but nononono, she assures us nothing is changed there. No girl drama, no friend drama, elevated stress with classes but nothing stratospheric. You contact teachers and they report that yes, she has been emotional (crying during first period, especially) but then after a while, is okay. Seems like confident self and schoolwork is on track. You contact parents of your daughter’s friends and they say: I’ll ask. They ask and nothing comes back as a raised flag.

Most of all, you talk to your daughter, who doesn’t seem to want to talk to you, because she doesn’t like anyone right now. And even though you are the adult here, that is scary and delicate business.

“Can we talk about what’s been going on?”

“I’m just tired of being sick.”

“I know, you are hardly ever sick and the past three months, you’ve been sick constantly. It’s been bad. Besides that?”

“My friends are fine.”

“Okay, good. Seriously, though–nothing?”

*stink-eye*

“But you say you hate gym class. Did anybody say anything to you? Do anything?”

“God! Mom! No. Gym just generally is the worst, okay?”

“Okay. You seem really off kilter in the morning. I mean, tears and not wanting to eat…”

“I know! But I don’t know why. I mean, I’m sick so I feel crappy in the morning but I don’t know about the crying. I just don’t. I don’t know why.”

*begins crying*

“I’m sorry it’s so hard right now. I’m worried.”

“I know you’re worried and I’m sorry but I just feel really weird and I feel all these things and I don’t know why I’m feeling them but they suck and I can’t help it.”

***

All this suckage bleeds down.

It bleeds down to the Littlest Minx, who follows her sister with big eyes and bigger ears; she is the quiet little cricket in the room, taking everything in.

She’s always been the quietest thing in the room, but if anything, she’s even quieter.

She tiptoes. She watches. She cannot sleep.

I lock myself in the bathroom for a while. Almost every day.

The dog sits outside the bathroom, wondering, “What the Fuck?”

My husband gets home from work, pours a stiff drink and listens.

We have calls into doctors, we have things in the works, but now we wait.

 

 

                                                         ^^But boy, I sure miss this girl.

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam G March 21, 2018 at 10:27 am

Just had a long conversation with a friend about her daughter, who is now on anti anxiety meds, is probably secretly smoking pot, turns in only about half her homework even though she had planned to go to the University of Chicago a year ago, and plans to move to France after she graduates from HS. I told her that when my favorite spouse was in HS he was making and selling fake ids (until the police found out), and was growing , selling and excessively using weed.

When I was in HS I often only went to one class a day (band), and had to drop both AP classes as a senior due to just not caring. I remember feeling suicidal – but I knew I couldn’t do that to my sister and brother. I moved to Germany after high school, with the plan of “making money and just living there”. I remember sitting in the AAA office trying to buy a one way ticket to Frankfurt. I brought my mom with me because I was only 17, and wasn’t sure they would let me buy a ticket. They kept looking at her like they thought she would say something, but she just looked blankly at them. They did convince me to at least buy a round trip open ended ticket. My dad actually panicked at the last minute when he found out I was leaving, and he arranged a place for me to stay. I was pleased that he seemed to be kind of interested in what I was doing.

Unfortunately not only did I not speak German, but I had no actual skills. I ran out of money after a few months and had to come home.

My point is that all high school students should probably just be institutionalized until they are in their mid 20s.

Actually my point is that having parents engaged and working towards helping their kids figure it out is a wonderful thing. I am sorry you have to go through this. I am sorry your daughter has to go through this. Maybe you’ll figure something out you can use when your daughter’s kids go through something similar.

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Dana Talusani March 21, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Pam,
You are totally badass for going to Germany not speaking a lick of German and having no plan. I have never been that brave in my life. Also, thanks. Especially for that last paragraph.

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Camille Brightsmith March 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

Wish I could help. I’m so terrified of this….Thank you for sharing. It helps knowing other people have such difficult times with their kids too. Not just other people. Amazing, other people. Like you!

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Dana Talusani March 21, 2018 at 5:07 pm

It will come and it will happen to another amazing person. But at least maybe I will have something to offer…Maybe?

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Melissa March 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

Yes, thanks for sharing. You are not alone…we have been struggling with similar issues with the 10-year-old boy this year. Similar in that it’s so hard to pinpoint a cause…physical? Psychological? Bullying? All of the above? And it’s rough on the whole household. I am grateful it isn’t complicated by hormones at this point, but despite whatever equilibrium we find now, it might come back later. Anyway, solidarity! Hoping you start to find some answers to help your girl.

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Annie March 21, 2018 at 11:26 am

This breaks my heart for all of you. Wish I could be there to hug you and listen and take Mozzy for a long walk. Reach out to me any way anytime. I’m here for you all.
Xoxo

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Dana Talusani March 21, 2018 at 5:07 pm

I miss the Harriet the Spy days, Annie!!

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pamela hunt March 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm

I am an absolute nightmare on estrogen. NIGHTMARE. And I get panic attacks, can’t sleep, and have a racing heart. It is terrible. It could be the pills for Miss D.

I don’t know if this helps with painful periods, but the mini pill, which is just progestin is the only thing I could handle. I mean, I go PSYCHO on estrogen.

Hang in there mama. You are so great and she is so lucky to have you. Parenting is so freaking hard and she is lucky to have you. xoxo

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Dana Talusani March 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Pamela,

We do think it’s the pill. We pulled her off her current RX and are looking into alternatives. I keep remembering how completely crazy I felt during perimenopause (which struck at age 43, lucky me). I thought I was going NUTS. I felt out of control almost all of the time and couldn’t understand why I felt that way. I imagine my daughter is feeling the same.

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Kel March 21, 2018 at 6:40 pm

I’m so sorry you guys are going through all this.

Poor Ms. D. Would possibly exploring herbal/natural remedies by a possibility (obviously discussing with her MD)? Dong quai and black cohosh can both help. (That’s a rhetorical question, though…no answer needed. Just a suggestion.

It’s so hard watching your kids have issues with anxiety and depression. Miss M is such a sweet, vulnerable soul.

Having had all 3 of my kids walk the path of mental illness has made me even more sympathetic to this stuff. The worry and stress it exacts on the parents is almost as hard. You want to fix it, and you can’t.

I’m thinking of you and sending love from the other side of the sand box.

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Bonnie March 22, 2018 at 5:11 am

I should have read your blog before making my flippant remark on FB!! Being physically ill can really take a toll on a young teenager I’m sure. When you add anxiety to the mix, it has to be overwhelming. I wish you all coping methods until this passes. It will.

Best,
Bonnie

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Dana Talusani March 22, 2018 at 5:40 am

Bonnie,

No need to apologize! Thank you.

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elizabeth March 22, 2018 at 8:06 am

Give both girls an extra hug for me, because that is *rough* all around. Hormones are nasty fuckers sometimes, and the way they can wreak havoc is genuinely awful. Hopefully you can all get some sorely-needed answers soon!

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Cassy March 22, 2018 at 11:48 am

This makes me so sad for all of you. We’ve been there and it sucks SO HARD. People keep telling me they come back and now at age 17, I’m starting to see her a little bit more. The old her. The joyful, joking her. Then she races off to meet her boyfriend and leaves me sitting her fuming because we were supposed to run errands and I re-arranged my day. What can you do. Sending love to all of you!

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