Monday, June 30, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

The rain has gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.

When I last posted, I was overwhelmed. My mind was in overdrive and I was having difficulties even doing simple tasks at work that I normally do without even having to think about them.

This weekend was a good for me. I was able to take some time to sort out my thoughts and absorb and study some of the information give to us at the hospital regarding my daughter. I’m “getting it” and I’m positive now I can do what is necessary to help her recover.

Sam is also making great progress. Her vitals are finally remaining stable and within normal limits. The only thing not returning to normal is her thyroid, so we will have to have some testing done on that and see what the treatment is, but things are on the upswing.


Thanks to appropriate medication, therapy and eating, her mood is gradually becoming more positive and I’m seeing her choose positive stress coping methods. She has discovered (and destroyed) more than a handful of those squeezy stress balls and she has also learned that she enjoys the art and expression therapy they teach there.

She’s also been trying to win the mental tug-of-war that I was taught about last week and I have been doing very well holding onto my end of the rope and it’s working!

This time it was the laundry. I was told (firmly) that Sam needs to be able to stand on her own two feet and not be able to manipulate my sense of “mommyhood”. Sam’s excuse was that she didn’t know how to work the machines and was afraid to ask someone to show her.

Jump on in anytime, Mommy and do my laundry! Sorry, but it’s not gonna happen.

I said no because I get it now. This was less an exercise in doing laundry than it was a lesson to get her to ask for help when she needs it.

Yesterday when we went to visit and she was all excited because she had asked and successfully done her laundry before we got there. She was proud of herself. It was wonderful to see. Not many moms cry when their baby does their first load of laundry, but I did.

One small step for me. One GIANT step for Sam. All of this didn’t happen overnight and it won’t go away overnight, but I am seeing how small changes can make huge differences.

This afternoon I’m going to have another meeting with the medical team and hear about her progress. Then they said they are also going to work with me for a while because the psychiatrist feels that I have poor stress related coping skills.

I wasn’t going to argue with that but I was a little shocked that she would say something like that without even really talking to me. It seems she noticed something.

I have something called Trichotillomania, which is compulsive hair pulling. Depending on the level of stress at any given time, I either play with my hair or actually tear it out.

I know, I know, eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwww.

Over the years I’ve tried many things to stop doing this. Medication, therapy, snapping rubber bands on my wrist, eating more name it. The last doctor I saw said it’s an anxiety and impulse control disorder and while it leads to many bad hair days, split ends, premature grayness and general annoyance of people around me, it isn’t going to harm me.


I must have been pulling my hair at the meeting last week. A vast majority of the time, I don’t even notice when I’m doing it.
Sam’s psychiatrist says that the hair pulling is not just anxiety, but self-injury and it’s really no different at the root than my daughter’s eating disorder. It’s a symptom of very poor coping skills and I have to work on that myself if I want to be able to help Sam.

Today I will start doing that. I don’t know how, but I’m feeling positive I can do it.

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, sunshiny day.



pjazzypar said...

Trichotillomania huh? I read about this disorder in a Terri McMillan novel. The girl suffering from it in the story was being sexually abused by her stepfather, gross I know. Anyway it does come from being stressed out. Hopefully when things settle down you can focus more on yourself. "It's Gonna Be A Bright, Bright, Bright Sunshiney Day"!

Malcolm said...

I am glad to hear that your daughter is making progress. I had never heard of Trichotillomania until now. I looked it up on Wikipedia and found some fascinating info. Although I can barely tolerate the song "I Can See Clearly Now", I hope that things continue to brighten up for you and your family.

Crystal said...

I'm glad things are looking up for both Sam and you. I play with my hair when I'm nervous, but it's more of a gotta-do-something-with-my-fingers thing. I'll also tear up a paper towel or tissue if I have one of those in reach. lol :) I do compulsively scratch my head... which is just weird.

Damien said...

Sam needs to care about getting well. Hopefully she does. I really hope she does. I think the laundry thing is a key point: she needs to see how tough life is without her health.

You are in the tough love zone for sure. Hopefully you can grace us with a post real soon ... happy 4th!