It's certainly been awhile since we last chatted, hasn't it?
Well, I thought with people watching the documentary "The Boy They Call Chucky" and commenting on my comment and on my blog post, that maybe it was time for a new post.
With the thought of this young boy fresh in my mind I feel I should write a little about my family's struggles with living with a child like 'Chucky'.
As I pointed out in my post about this documentary, my family lives with a child like him.
Since we last chatted our child has declined even more. What upsets me the most is the lack of services for children and families like this. Now let me be clear, it's not that the services don't exist, it's that if your child has a complex diagnosis (meaning more than one with possible different causes), it is difficult to get even one service to accept responsibility for providing the needed service(s).
I can tell you that in our case (and that of many of the families I have worked with) we have specific services (ie. mental health) that are desperately needed for our child. We are being bounced from organization (read: government agency) to organization and receiving nothing. We are constantly being told we have to place our child in a facility for assessment (this facility provides only assessments, it does not provide follow up or treatment services) when all the same assessments have just been completed, and they were all set up by the same organization that has the facility! The facility placement would be redundant.
We need a specific type of therapist for our child and this is where the battle is focused. I am achieving a reputation for being assertive (read: witch with a different first letter) simply because I won't back down and stop trying to get my child the help that is needed. You see, it's not just help for the child, but for our whole family. Our 'Chucky' is abusive to all of us, so helping that child will benefit all of us. We do see a family therapist for coping strategies and to keep the rest of us as healthy mentally as possible. But, when you're living in a war zone...
So how does one survive? Well, you take what you can get. Like I said we have a family therapist. We don't hold back in those sessions. We are brutally honest. If you aren't you won't be helped. It's a choice you have to make. See a therapist and share only what you think is polite, or be completely open and vulnerable and accept the help that is being offered. Our therapist has been a God send. We haven't been able to see her for a couple of months for reasons beyond our control, but we are just about to start up again. And believe me, we are all happy to be going back. Our therapist gave us the tools to get us through the last couple of months cohesively, as one unit. Thank you so much Dr. S.
So, in the moment, how do you live IN the rage? You do whatever is necessary to protect the child in the rage, preventing them from self-harm, and protecting anyone and everyone in the vicinity. Depending on the age and strength of the child, you may need to call in emergency medical resources (ie. ambulance w/paramedics), legal assistance (ie. police), or simply another adult to help remove the child from the situation/area, or to help restrain the child. Whichever you have to do, you do. But in the back of your mind you must keep the thought of all of your reactions to the rage must be for the safety of all involved. You must use the least amount of 'force' necessary. You do not want to hurt anyone.
One of the things I hear a lot from people looking in from the outside is, "Oh that poor child. They can't help themselves." Ok. I used to think that way too. However, you aren't on the inside. On the inside you can see how quite often the rage is a choice. How do you know it's a choice? When they can be in a full blown, kicking down doors (literally), screaming, and hitting, and walk out the door and instantly, and I do mean instantly, stop and go to school skipping and singing, that rage was a choice. Take those hours the child is at school to participate in your self-care. For one simple reason; the rage will more than likely begin again as soon as one foot is in the door after school. Exhibiting such control over one's emotions shows choice. But not every rage is a choice there are times when the child really can't help it, and it's obvious to the primary caregiver(s).
Most people would say that the child that rages at home but not out in the world, views the home as their 'safe space'. True. However, sometimes it's not the correct answer. Our child actually views our home as the place with the people that took them away from their 'real' family. Our child spent the first 6 years of life between birth family and a foster family. By the time the child was 2 years old they were with the foster family until we came along. The child misses those people. That's understandable. Unfortunately, the child doesn't like our home and family because we refuse to inflict the abuse that family did. (One of them is now in jail for it.) Being so young when entering into a world like that, that is what is NORMAL to the child. They know nothing different. So it wouldn't have mattered who adopted this child for these behaviors to come out. Most of the time the rage is not personal against us, but more against the conflicting feelings the child is experiencing. There are times when it IS personal as well. Even knowing the reasoning behind the rages, it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. When you are subjected to these rages on a regular basis it changes you, the family. That's why therapy is an integral part of living with someone who has rages.
Even with therapy there are going to be times when your own emotions are going to take over and be somewhat out of control. The trick there is to recognize it and get out of the situation as fast as possible. It can be done. I've done it myself.
I'm going to close here. I welcome all comments and questions.
I know that not everyone could hang on as long as we have, if you take nothing else from this take this, do what's right for you, your child, and your family.
God Bless and Have a beautiful day.