Ana’s anger at having a cast and being out of school (bored all day) has been growing. Today she woke up in a mood and started the meltdowns almost immediately. Let me be clear; these are not sensory meltdowns nor are they overwhelmed meltdowns. These are purposeful, intentional, carefully crafted fits fueled by rage.
“What do they look like?” you may ask.
They start with her screaming. Have you ever seen the movie Matilda? There is a scene toward the end of the movie where the evil principal realizes someone has been in her house and flies into a rage. That is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Ana’s rages. The sounds are identical. If Ana was bigger and had better use of her arms, the damage would also be identical, as well, I am sure.
So, the yelling begins the meltdown. Following that is a self-injury of some sort. Usually head banging. That is followed by a drop to the floor complete with kicking and screaming (and destruction of anything within kicking distance). Then she pulls herself together and goes on a rampage through the house or car or whatever public place we may be. She begins looking for easy targets to destroy: punching holes in the wall, kicking holes in the wall and/or glass, knocking breakables off surfaces, ripping things, etc…
That phase lasts until she is restrained. Once restrained she goes stiff, arches her back and rage screams and tries to destroy the person holding her until she runs out of steam. When she finally runs out of steam, she is fine, like nothing every happened.
She has complete control of these meltdowns. If at any point someone offers her a good enough reason to stop (go out for ice cream right then and there, for example) she turns it off. Like a switch.
Today, she had three of these meltdowns before noon.
Baby Grace had a super important doctor’s appointment we could not miss so I had to take Ana. While looking for a parking spot in the overcrowded parking garage she started a meltdown, complete with trying to kick out the windows of the van.
When I finally got a space she wiggled out of her seatbelt and bolted from the van before I could get out and get to her. She took off her coat (which I made for her because of her cast) and stomped in into the grime on the parking garage floor and then threw it. She ran away from me and started banging her head on other vehicles trying to dent them. By the grace of God she did not get hurt and did not damage someone else’s car.
By the end of the afternoon I was at my end. There is hard and there is harder than hard and then there is a point where you know you need to give up the fight. I got there today. The plumber was at our house, rightfully uneasy with the entire Ana meltdown situation, Ana’s psychologist was on the phone trying to figure out what to do, my husband was calling non-stop trying to co-parent from work (not helpful, really) and the other kids were crying because of all the Ana drama.
I made the call.
I started the process of getting Ana in an inpatient psychiatric unit.
I try very hard not to let Ana see me cry because she views it as a victory but I cried today. A lot. I feel like I’ve given up on Ana. I feel like a failure as a parent. I feel like I’m losing a child. I’m afraid Ana will regress due to the institutional setting. I’m afraid Ana will hate me forever. I’m afraid Ana will feel abandoned.
I’m afraid Ana won’t miss me.
That is my biggest fear – that I love this little girl with all my heart and soul and have turned my life upside down for her and in the end I may mean nothing to her beyond what I can do for her.
While picking up Hannah at school earlier this week I watched as Hannah came out of the building looking for me. And I saw how her entire face lit up when she found me. And my face lit up finding her among the throngs of other blond haired little girls. Ana’s face has never lit up upon finding mine in a crowd, nor has she ever searched for it.st
I prayed nonstop today for guidance – just to give me some sign on what to do. My eyes were finally opened to see what effect Ana was having on the rest of the family. Everyone is suffering. My marriage is suffering – heavily. My kids are all suffering – a lot. Something has got to change.
After dropping her off I received a call that all was going well – she was the center of attention on the unit and was eating it up. I don’t doubt that for a moment.