The year of 2009 Zack was 14.These were a most difficult time for him in middle school. Total instability. His school life and functioning went quickly downhill. It began in 6th grade with constant teasing about his facial tics, which at the time were very prominent and distracting. This constant, every day harassment totally sent him into a tail spin of depression and anxiety.
He also sustained his 3rd and worse head trauma during a baseball game, which I believe also contributed to his sharp decline in grades and ability to control himself in school. He was home bound numerous times from the 6-8th grade due to his poor functioning. Many days his teacher would call to say he was crying again, or he would get home off the bus crying. He deteriorated so much he did not finish the school year. This continued through the 8th grade, despite it all he insited on going to school. What bravery he has.
Today, 2012, he is in high school which has been rocky at times, but he is making improvements by leaps and bounds. There has been no bullying in High School thank goodness, but he still remembers those difficult and trying years.
For the first 2 years of High School he was in a class for kids with learning disabilities and neurological disabilities, called LD Neurosciences. Last year he progressed to regular Ed classes, with a Resource class, that he goes to for extra help, his tests are read to him by an aid due to his poor comprehension and reading skills.
I am required by the school to be “on call” at all times when he is there because if he “shuts down”, gets frustrated or upset, many times he is not able to recover and I have to go get him. Some weeks I am called every day, some weeks not at all. I have learned that Zack is predictably Unpredictable for sure.
I do know how quickly things can change for him, for us, so I wait with fingers crossed. Thankfully he has been blessed with a most wonderful, patient, loving teacher in the LD neuroscience class, she has truly been a gift from God to us.
Zack’s emotions always keep us guessing and we have learned to just hold our breath and pray there are more good days than bad and that the truly emotionally damaging days will not leave permanent damage to us all. I do see bit by bit, he is maturing, growing and the stability I have prayed for gets closer and closer.
The worse part is his sister, now 13, has to endure his wrath during those bad times. Many times when he has an “episode” during his rage, the anger, screaming yelling, he will say “kill me, just kill me so you don’t have to put up with this anymore.” How heart wrenching is that. No child should have to endure this, the children living with it, or any siblings that are obviously affected by the dynamics of these disabilities. Then when it is over, the real Zack emerges, the loving, compassionate and caring boy we adore. We worry Kelsie will grow up thinking this behavior is all normal, and fear Zack will believe he is the bad one. He is a sweet, loving boy, who just troubled at times. We tell him daily he is loved, cherished and valued.
I just hope he will remember the good days, not the long difficult times. He only in the past year began to sleep all night. He still wakes many nights to come get into bed with me, with the ever so sweet statement of “I was just missing you mom”, and he quickly falls back to sleep. His current medications are Geodon, Depakote, Rilutek, and Abilify, Wellbutrin, his “cocktail” mood stabilizers, keep him mostly stable, but never for long. He is now the most stable he has ever been, and progressing daily. I prayed daily for this level of stability to come, but uncertain if it ever would. Due to his multiple brain irregularities he is a very difficult patient to treat and stabilize. His doctors says he has never had any patient with as much to deal with as my Zack, therefore making medication combinations and stabilization difficult because a med that may help one of his problems may make another one worse.
Sometimes the meds work, sometimes they don’t, and it’s all a guessing game, a trial and error. Middle School was a true nightmare due to the constant teasing he endured, his depression, OCD and brain lock, ADHD and lack of focus, (and now Tourette’s and his 3rd head trauma). His grades sharply declined as well as his self-esteem. I actually think it still upsets me more than it does him, as I witnessed his sharp decline. High School started off equally as difficult, but lately has smoothed out a bit, praise to GOD.
(Zack in one of his own Good Boy Roy designs, called “Gone Fishin”)
Zack once carried the diagnosis of bipolar nos (not otherwise specified), which means his mood disorder is not clear-cut Bipolar I or Bipolar II , it does not fit clearly into the DSM IV category for one or the other, but is more a combination of the mood disorders,(this has scense been dropped). His current diagnoses are OCD/Intermittent Explosive disorder, ADHD, Tourette’s Disorder, Major Anxiety disorder,depression and PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune disorder associated with strep)and 3 head trauma. His behavior can cause such tension for my husband and me. It seems most disagreements we have all revolve around Zack, his illness, how to deal with him, what to do or not to do. I wonder some days how we have managed to stay together 20 years now. But Zack has suffered the most, him and millions like him who battle their own minds and bodies, some get no help, no relief of symptoms, no assistance. They may suffer alone and quietly.
Zack is a lucky one, his family cares, we can financially provide for his medical needs, therapies and more, he has food and all needs are met. Any illness a family may live with and deal with on a daily basis takes such a toll on the family unit. We somehow manage, we laugh a lot, you have to. The creation of his/our business, Good Boy Roy has certainly brought a huge amount of accomplishment and self-esteem for him. We continue to work and grow the business daily with huge dreams and goals.
I have been blessed with this child. He is MY child. My very special gift. I am so very proud of him, who he is and who he will be. He has such an appetite for life. Some days he is so delightful and fun to be with I hate for him to fall a sleep at night. He can say the most profound, delightful, heartfelt things to me. One such comment reduced me to tears as we were riding down the road “mom, you know what you are best at?”, “No Zack, what?”…to which he replied “being my mom.” Then some days he is so difficult, the other boy, I pray he goes to sleep so his mind can rest. He is always sorry, always sad when he says mean things, once he is himself. It is times like these I must remember he is sick, and at times the real Zack gets lost somewhere but that he will be back, hopefully sooner than later. (cont)