Take A Deep Breath and Count to 10

Back in December one of my favorite D-moms posted an article about diabetes and depression in children.  It is an anonymous D-mom’s story about her 11-year-old son suffering from depression and ultimately ending up in a psychiatric hospital for stabilization.  The story touched me in many ways, at first because I have a child who is 11.  Second, because I’ve personally had the experience of spending some time in a psychiatric hospital for severe depression.   The story made me feel very deeply for this family because it was hard to imagine watching my own child go through this same sort of downward spiral and not fully realizing exactly how deep that spiral had gone.  And then having the added fear of not only hearing your child say they want to end their own life, but then also trying to make arrangements for them to be safe, when everyone you talk to at the facility they are going to doesn’t understand or know how to manage their diabetes.  And because your child is depressed and suicidal they can’t manage their own care because, in case you didn’t realize it, too much insulin can be a deadly.  Lack of insulin can be deadly. Having suicidal thoughts and not getting proper treatment can be deadly.  I don’t want to even think about how helpless that mom must have felt having to make those arrangements.

A few weeks before this article I had been growing increasingly concerned about Angelina’s mental health.  Her therapist had also expressed some concern about her moods and was concerned about depression.  She had become more withdrawn in her therapy sessions and about every third session she wouldn’t speak at all, but sit and sulk.  At the beginning of January we met with her psychiatrist (who prescribed medications for her ADHD) and I had briefly mentioned we were concerned about depression and requested that she reach out to the therapist. I signed a release form and hoped that the therapist would be able to explain better than I was what was going on.  The psychiatrist seemed unaffected and said that mood swings were common at this stage.  We discussed how her current ADHD medication didn’t seem to be working well for her anymore and she prescribed a new one to try.  She suggested that we keep an eye on things and follow-up next month.

Things continued this way at therapy for the month of January.  The first week of February we met with the psychiatrist again and again I expressed concern about depression, as well as the therapist’s concern about depression.  She seemed to take things a little more seriously this time, but we still mainly focused on how things were going with the new ADHD medication and general talking points “How’s school?” Fine. “How are your grades?” I don’t know. “Are you hanging out with any friends?” No, I don’t really have any friends.   Those were about the only words muttered by Angelina in our 25 minute visit before she sort of curled up on the end of the sofa and started at the floor.  Any further attempts to engage her were met with stony silence.  At 20 minutes into the appointment, after nearly 3 minutes of no one saying anything the therapist says “We’ll follow-up in a month.  If she’s having more bad days than good we can possibly discuss medication.”  and we scheduled our next appointment and left.

That brings us to the past month. There are still more good days than bad, but there are more of those days where one minute things are fine and the next minute her entire attitude, mood and disposition change and she is sullen and completely withdrawn and refuses to speak or interact. About 3 weeks ago Angelina’s therapist asked me back to talk alone for a few minutes, and I ended up talking to her the entire session time while Angelina sat in the waiting room.  We discussed the possibility of antidepressants and her response was “I’m a therapist.  I don’t automatically jump to medication to try to help people.  But I’ve been seeing Angelina for a year and a half and in the past few months she talks to me less and less and I’m at the point that I don’t know what to do or how to reach her.  I can’t help her if she doesn’t talk to me. It’s obviously your decision, but at this point I think medication might be a good idea.”  About a week after our last visit with the psychiatrist I mentioned to my husband that we had discussed medication for depression.  I was a bit surprised when his response was “No. She’s already on enough medications. I don’t think that’s necessary.  A lot of kids this age deal with depression.  She doesn’t need to be medicated.”  And for the past few weeks we’ve dug up this discussion a few times, always meeting at a stalemate.  We were finally able to reach an agreement yesterday.

Today Angelina saw her psychiatrist and tomorrow she sees her therapist and will start taking an antidepressant.

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Which Came First? The Meltdown or the Low?

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As you can see from this (rather large) photo… blood sugar levels were floating along nicely at a pretty steady 115ish for a few hours after her very low carb dinner because she decided she only wanted chicken and sauce and not the side of rice.  Okay, fine, whatever, no big deal.   Dinner was a little later than usual this evening because I didn’t got the slow cooker started until later than I should have and so what, it happens.

We were watching the 3rd episode of Sherlock season 3 on Netflix and OMG it’s 8:45pm and you didn’t do your homework yet and you still need to take a shower before bed.  Of course, like every time I tell her she needs to do homework or shower (or both) there’s lots of whining and complaining and “I’ll do it super quick 5 minutes before I’m supposed to be asleep.  Please let me play on the computer for the next 40 minutes until then.”  To which the answer was a very firm “Not on your life.  If you can really do all that in 5 minutes then do it now and then you can have until bedtime to play.”  Makes sense, right?

Well, she did do her homework and it really did take her about 5 minutes.  But then it was time for the shower and instead she’s picking at scabs on the back of her heels.  I may not have mentioned this before but she has pretty bad eczema and one of her “quirks” is that she scratches herself bloody on a fairly regular basis despite our best efforts to keep things under wraps.  Well, she had some scratches already and she apparently decided that picking at scabs and scratching was a better use of her time than, oh, getting in the shower so she could actually do what she really wanted to do (computer time) before bed.  Around 9:10 I finally coerced her to stop picking and get in the bathroom for her shower.  Five minutes pass, no sound of the shower.  Ten minutes pass, still no sound of the shower.  At this point I announce that it’s 9:20 and she better be getting in the shower because it’s 10 minutes until bedtime.  At which point she promptly starts crying and sniffling in the bathroom.  She doesn’t want to get in of course, because all that freshly raw skin is going to burn under the water stream.

We’ve recently started recording her various “meltdowns” at the direction of her behavioral therapist so when the crying hadn’t subsided in 10 minutes I decided to start recording and go in to see what could possibly be the matter.  Of course she won’t talk to me, won’t get in the shower, won’t look at me, etc.  Just crocodile tears and lots of sniffles.  Any suggestion on my part that she now, finally, get in the shower is met with a sound that is similar to a cat that’s been backed into a corner and isn’t quite hissing, but has that deep rumbling sound they make that says “I WILL scratch you!”

After about 10 minutes I manage to get her into the shower and get her hair washed, her crying and being generally uncooperative the whole time.  I finally leave the bathroom with 21 minutes of this weird crying, sniffling, growling audio recording.  At this point her pump has also been off for almost an hour.  I think maybe her blood sugar is going to be heading upwards since no basal insulin and am shocked to see that instead she is 72 with a sideways down arrow.  I manage to check her with the meter (she, at this point, is laying in the bathtub with the water off but not getting out) and it also says 72.

And then I realize… She started dropping at 9:15.  The same time that she finally headed into the bathroom to start this entire process.

So… which came first?  The chicken or the egg?  Was this drawn out emotional meltdown the result of a blood sugar drop?  Or was she really that distraught over the prospect of showering that her blood sugar ended up dropping low?

Just one of those stupid, stupid things that we deal with living with a child with Type 1 and other emotional/behavioral issues.  It’s often hard to tell what caused what…