Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changing Directions

The last two weeks have been uber super duper hard. Things are progressing too fast.

After calling our therapist, she and I both realized that Bren is beyond just therapy. We are in need of a psychiatrist and medication.

This rips my heart out to see my little girl disappearing before my eyes. I know she's still here, but she's not the same Bren she was just a few months ago. But I'm in a better place tonight, so I have a better handle on things and can focus more.

One of my dearest friends, who apparently knows me better than I thought, called me to talk yesterday. She knows that when times are tough I completely separate myself from the rest of the world and take on the battle all by myself. I don't do "needy" and I don't do "dependence." So as we are talking and I'm telling her "I'm fine really" she stops and says "okay, let's just say it, let's say what you're thinking and let's get it out there." Then she says the ONE thing that if it were true, would kill me literally. But then in the same breath she makes me realize that what I'm fearing is NOT happening. I hadn't said it before then because even thinking it closed my throat down tight and stripped the breath from me. But once my friend put it out there like that it became less scary, and I could think more clearly. She gave me back the control that I was losing, and the last two days were better days because of that.

Bren still had hard times, and will continue, but now I'm in a better place. God gave me this little girl because He knew that I was strong enough to hold her up and hold up the rest of my family while we endure this and then survive it. BUT, I have been forced to embrace the help of others so that I can continue to stay strong and get my family through this. For that I am so very thankful for my dearest friends, and their willingness to to hold me when I cry.

I also want everyone to know that my little family feels your prayers and we cannot thank you enough, because there have been moments when the only thing that carried us through were the lifting power of your prayers. Thank you dearly!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Morning.

The sun came up today. That's something. I don't think I could take another rainy day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Heavenly Father...

I can't do this anymore. I'm exhausted and worn out, but most of all my heart is breaking for my little girl. I really think I'm at my breaking point.

Tonight was such a bad night. I suck at this. Bren seems so out of control and the things she says are just beyond my understanding and I'm watching her little sweet mind unravel and then I feel myself slowly unravel at the thought of her pain.

I need help. I need some divine intervention to give me the strength to pull through this. I need to be strong for my daughter. And yet THIS was the last thing I am capable of protecting her from. How can you protect a little girl from an illness that is in her head?

Bren and I can't keep going like this. Mornings are rough, evenings are terrible, and I can't fix it.
Even my younger two are starting to suffer from all the strife and tension that we are enduring.

My family is strong and we've pulled through a lot, but this is HARD. And when I pray 40 times a day I need to know my prayers aren't just hitting the ceiling. I need to know they are heard.

Dear Father, you know I get mad at you sometimes. But you also know that I am still on your side and I am fiercely loyal. And I know right now I'm having one of my "moments" and I'm weak right now. Tomorrow I may be strong again. But tonight, I need you to just give my baby girl a moment of peace, a moment of compassion, and a moment of comfort. I'll find my own peace in that.

Loyally Yours, even when I'm mad,


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Worst Thing: The Sequence Questions

I think through all of this, the "sequence questions" are the hardest. Let me explain.

Bren will come to me SEVERAL times a day with a question. The questions all work the same, but with different beginnings. For instance: "Mom, I have a question. Last week when we were gardening I was wearing my flip flops. Then when I came in they touched my black shirt. Then I accidentally laid my black shirt on top of my gym bag. So if there was gross stuff in the garden, then is there gross stuff on my bag? And if the bag touches my elbow is that okay or do I need to wash it?"

By the time we've gone through these scenarios 5 or 6 times a day, two things are very heavy on my mind: First, I'm absolutely exhausted from hearing them so I can only imagine how exhausting it must be for her to need them answered, and then my almost 14yr old should be able to process things like this so I'm standing there looking at her, both of us scared to death for different reasons.

Ugh, this is so freaking hard some times! My beautiful, healthy, talented, and intelligent daughter shouldn't be fighting things like this!

“It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.” - Sally Kempton

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Houston...We Have Progress!

It's small progress, but progress nonetheless.

Bren finally saw a therapist on Tuesday. As I mentioned before, this therapist specializes in behavior therapy rather than medicating first. And again, I realize that medication might be in the future, but for now, we would rather try to get there without it.

I asked Bren about the visit afterward and this is what she told me:

Bren has stress related OCD. When she stresses about something, she moves to compulsions to push the feelings and thoughts of her stress away. They are going to focus on helping her deal with stress rather than push it away. For now, they are using the EMDR treatment, and Bren has little seeds taped behind her ears. The tape lasts a week or more, and the seeds are set on top of pressure points. When she feels stressed and wants to react, she is to squeeze the seeds and apply pressure and take deep breaths for 2 minutes, or until the need to react passes. Another thing they are doing (and by they, I mean Bren and her therapist together) is placing Bren on supplements rich in zinc. I am researching this as I write, but I'm seeing where this thought process is coming from. Apparently there are many stress related disorders inversely related to zinc deficiencies. So we will have to see whether that helps or not.

For the past two days, I have noticed Bren nonchalantly pinch her ears and take deep breaths. I also noticed that she did it more than I thought she would, which means she was dealing with stressful moments throughout her day that drove her to the handwashing or other compulsive behaviors. Bren is also expected to keep a daily journal, documenting all her emotions and stresses throughout her day.

I think this has helped tremendously as yesterday she was writing in her journal and said, "Mom, yesterday and today I only washed my hands 2 times at school!" The look on her face of accomplishment was something I hadn't seen in a while and after high-fiving her and celebrating I quickly ducked in the other room to celebrate privately the return of my confident, happy little girl, even if it was for a moment.

I know we aren't healed. I know that this is only a stepping stone along our way. But to see even an ounce of progress, even a fleeting moment of confidence back in Bren, makes the journey bearable and renews our strength.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today could not have come fast enough...

Today is the appointment with our therapist. And honestly, it needed to have been a week ago.

Bren's hand washing has progressed to a terrible level and now she is struggling with skin conditions. And the questions she needs answered about germs and such are just so heart wrenching. How can a child so brilliant and well rounded suddenly have such elementary questions about day-to-day life?

Anyway, I'm just thankful for today and for the healing to begin. I know the road will still be tough, but at least we have a plan. Plans are good.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sometimes...I don't feel like I'm the right Mom for the job.

Tonight was a hard night. On nights like tonight, I don't feel like I'm the right mom for this. Like I make things worse in the heat of the moment because at the end of the day, I'm a little broken too. I just hate how one night I'm hugging her through the shower curtain (to maintain her privacy of course) because she needed me to help her stop washing, and the next night we're yelling and mad because no matter how hard I try, I CAN'T GET HER OUT OF THE SHOWER! We went through an entire bar of soap in a week, and there's never any hot water for our other two children. Of course I try to put them in first, but it depends on schedules and sometimes all that is left is cold water after her 45 min shower.

I try to just shut it off, but she is always covered with soap so there is never an okay time to shut off the water and it just turns into a fit and we both go to bed exhausted. Then just a few hours before she kept clicking my phone to see the time. I asked her what that was about and she was timing herself to read for 30 min. I told her just to read and then look at the clock after a long while, not every minute or so because it wastes battery. I also mentioned that the teachers never expect the students to read EXACTLY 30 min., and that if she reads 25 it's fine. Yep, that was a waste of words. She isn't about to just read 25 min. when the assignment is 30!

I know this is going to be hard for both of us. I know. It's just that on nights like tonight, I can't seem to muster up enough energy to be as hopeful and confident as I am on other days. And sometimes I just don't feel qualified as a mother. But one day at a time, right?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization & Recovery

Now that we've nailed down a behavioral therapist the waiting for our first appointment is terrible. I am glad, however, that I was able to speak with a close friend who directed me toward cognitive behavior therapy so that I did not find myself thinking that my only choices where prescription happy psychologists. Despite my husband being a doctor, we are not a highly medicated family. We prefer to use medication only when truly necessary and my first days of search results had a bunch of recommended medications for OCD patients. I'm very thankful for the education my friend gave me.

The therapist we chose fit out needs to a T. First, she was of the same faith as our family. That was really important to us since I've heard of counselors and therapists not giving advice that was conducive with religious practices. Second, we discovered that this therapist uses a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Recovery). Once she told me, I began immediately reading up on it so that I knew exactly what she was going to be doing to help my daughter.

Some of the first comments I've read were that not everyone agrees with this technique. However, the government uses is with soldiers coming back from experiencing traumatic events.

This is how it works (from the EMDR website):

The EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, or tactile stimulation, which repeatly activates the opposite sides of the brain, releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. This assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind/body connection, to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.
The therapist works gently with the client and asks him/her to revisit the traumatic moment or incident, recalling feelings surrounding the experience, as well as any negative thoughts, feelings and memories. The therapist then holds her fingers about eighteen inches from the clients face and begins to move them back and forth like a windshield wiper. The client tracks the movements as if watching ping pong. The more intensely the client focuses on the memory, the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed by the eye movements, resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings.

I'm very anxious for the first appointment. This therapist believes that it is most beneficial to do the first treatment the very first visit, instead of wasting the first visit with just an initial interview. So I'll speak with my daughter after her first visit on May 10th and hopefully have more information to report about her first treatment.

As for Bren's progress, there is none thus far. She is still battling through this with major setbacks from day to day. But I'm grateful for a beautiful and bright daughter that has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and knows that she indeed has amazing self worth and a divine nature. I truly believe that it is our foundation in the Gospel and the Savior that has kept our heads above water so far and am thankful that we at least have that to keep us grounded in our faith. Even on our darkest days, there are little rays of light that keep us going.