Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Being on break has its disadvantages. Yes, I like being able to sleep in and not rush around in the morning, but I am so tired of my kids non-stop bickering. Of course, it does nto help that my oldest is moody and unstable. But today we all got a much needed break. Our neighbor asked McKenzie over to help with her three little boys under the age of five. And for some reason Kenz is able to keep it together for other people and loves working and playing with younger kids. It was a much needed break for her as well as for us. The rest of us got to spend the day shopping, running errands, and going out for dinner. Kenz was there all day and even when I checked on her she was still doing good and the mom says she was great help. I am glad that she could have a positive day where she felt helpful and good about herself. I just wish she could have the same here at home too. But the rest of us had peace and fun today. I hate to admit this but I was so glad for a break from her. She is exhausting mentally. And now she is home and doing well. She is in a very good and up mood. I think it is because of the break as well as the fact she felt good about helping others. She loves to be the boss and in control of littler kids. And of course other kids besides her own siblings look up to her and that makes her feel soooo good. As her mom, I am happy that she had a day of feeling good inside. I am also thankful for a peaceful day for myself and the rest of our family. God continues to take care of us in unique and surprising ways. Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All the little Things Add Up

Lately, I have been thinking about all of the little "abnormal" things Kenz does that if alone would be probably no big deal but if you add them all together then there is a definite problem. Problem being childhood bipolar, in my mind, is what I have come to conclude again. I keep coming back to this even though I can't seem to get a doctor to give her that diagnosis. I wonder if I am right all of the time. So I thought if I wrote down all the little things maybe that would give me a better picture and for those of you reading who have bipolar kids could maybe tell me if it looks similar. I am not sure if it matters if she actually gets a name to her disease, but more importantly that she gets the right medicine to help her. So here goes all of those "little" things...

One minute she can be sweet, huggy, and lovable, then the next she is angry, resentful, short, and plain ugly. Then she gets quiet and distant. This mood reminds me of my depression. She swings in and out of these moods throughout the day with the mornings always being the worst and the evenings almost always the best. When she is bored, she comes up with crazy ideas like making potions with anything she can find in the kitchen or wild art projects with huge messes that never get cleaned up. Once I caught her trying to scale the backyard wall to get into the neighbor's yard to borrow their wagon so she could pull her sister around the yard. The neighbors were not even home. I have found her playing hide-n-seek and hiding in the weirdest places like the top shelf of her sister's closet or once she tried to put her sister in the dryer to hide.

She loves to be in total control and if not, all hell breaks loose. If asked to do something she does not want to do her immediate response is always "No". Over the years when she has raged, she has thrown dinning room chairs at me, hit me, broken the windshield in our car by kicking it, kicked a lamp and broken it, punched several holes in her walls and her bedroom door, threaten to kill herself by holding a knife to her throat, threaten and run after her sister, poured water all over the floor, thrown objects across the room, kicked the dog, and much more that I cannot recall.

She has very few friends, and even those, she does not see that often. None of them go to her school. She likes to play with younger kids and wants to play with her seven year old sister's friends. She is extremely polite to adults and seems very mature to them. She gets very attached to adults who befriend her. She would rather hang out with her teachers than her peers. She hates lunch recess and the school has arranged that she goes to a younger classroom to help during that time.

She always wakes up in a horrible mood. Her language is foul when she is mad. And no matter how much we punish her, consequences do not matter to her. Or if they do not enough to change the behavior. She wants me to do everything for her including picking out her clothes and brushing her hair. If I refuse she then has an emotional breakdown. Her favorite three words are OMG and I hate you! She will not wear anything that buttons for any length of time. She wears sweat shorts and sweat pants all of the time. She does not care about what she looks like. I have to make her wash her hair. She is allowed to wear a little make-up but would rather sleep in than take the time to put make-up on. She never flushes the toliet especially at night. She say the noise scares her.

She has a lot of fear which I think has prevented her from doing even crazier things. She has a terrible fear that I am going to die-has dreams about it and hates when I leave her at home with her dad or alone. Once she said what if while you are gone, you die. When I leave she kisses me a thousand times. She has a harder time with it than her younger sister. At night she says "I love you" a billion times. And if you do not keep answering her with it back she keeps going until you do. She says the reason she does this is because if someone kidnaps her in the middle of the night then she knows that her last words will be "I love you". She throws a fit if we close the door to our bedroom. Once we closed it because she would not leave us alone and she banged and cried on it for over 30 minutes. She won't sleep in her own room if there is a thunderstorm going on.

Her eating habits are terrible. If I let her she would eat sweets and noodles all day. She hardly eats any lunch but then after everyone is in bed she sneaks food and eats quite a lot sometimes. She still has a blanket that she sucks on the corner of and she still sucks her thumb at home. She has to go to the bathroom right before we leave anywhere-even when we are out. And it is always at the last minute and she makes us wait until she does. She has to have her bedroom door closed when she leaves the house or she freaks out. She ask tons of questions and wants to know everybody's business. I cannot make a phone call without her asking who are you calling. She turns the radio up very loud and has to have complete control of it. She gets mad at her sister if she has to turn it down for her sister to talk. It got so bad with the radio that we finally just removed the chip from the car so the radio would not work. She would spend all of her time on the computer, playing hand held games, watching T.V. or listening to music if we let her. She says that it blocks out her thinking. If she is doing those things then she does not have to think or "deal". At night she has to play her hand held games before she goes to bed. She says it helps her get to sleep.

She loves to take care of her baby sister and I think that is because her sister makes her feel good and she gets to play "Mommy" but only when it is convenient for her or when she wants to. She gets ideas stuck in her head and cannot get off them. She say horrible things and then turns immediately around and denies she said them. You cannot trust her because she lies all of the time and again I think she does this so she does not have to "deal". She does not like who she is and wants to be someone different. She cries a lot about "why is she like this?"

I know all of this sounds very negative, but I needed to write it all down. Deep down there is a little girl who wants to be a healthy child and wants to be accepted and loved. We do so love her very much and we just want to get her help. We also know that God loves her so too and He has a plan. We rest in that truth.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sweet Moment

Last night I was blessed with a very sweet time with McKenzie. She was sweet, loving and talkative. She asked me, "Mom, how to do you find a man like daddy who won't leave you?" You see, unfortunately, we have had several friends around us that are or have gotten divorced. I told her that I made sure I only dated Christian men and that your daddy loved and still loves the Lord. And hopefully, if you love the Lord you will follow what His word says. She then said but some of those men that left their wives are Christians and they still left. And I said yes, there are no guarantees in life, but I made sure before I married Daddy that he did not believe in divorce. That seemed to satisfy her, but I thought to myself what a good and profound question. It was the first real in depth calm conversation I have had with her since she has been home. She was the sweet little girl that I know she wants to be all of the time. You see, that is the crazy thing about this disease is that you never know what you will get or when you will get it. Most of the time we walk around here on eggshells. But I am very thankful for moments like those last night and I felt like it is important to share those as well. God is good all of the time, but I got extra blessed last night. That is the best Christmas present I could get. Well, wait a minute, I believe the best Christmas gift was the first one, His precious son. May I remember what He has given me and give glorious praise for that! May you remember Too. His son is the greatest gift on earth. May you have a beautiful and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Behind Closed Doors

This is something that has been on mind a lot lately so I thought it might help if I wrote about it. So here goes it...
I think one of the hardest things about McKenzie's illness is that it is all behind closed doors, our doors. Yes, other people see things that they know are different or wrong. And yes, she is difficult at times with her extended family, and she is even quietly defiant at school at times. But her teachers have called her "lovely" and our neighbor has said, "she was an angel today." Other people comment how polite and mature she is with adults. But what they don't know or see is the other side of her at home. The side she says she cannot control at times. But how can she control it outside our home? It is so hard for her dad and I to have her treat others with so much more kindness and respect than she does her own family. It hurts. Sometimes it makes me feel like nobody believes us. I know that is not true, but it is hard trying to describe what she is like to others when they have never even seen it. Only one friend outside our home has somewhat experienced a rage and even at that it was only on the phone as I was calling her for help. She could hear McKenzie in the background. I remember her saying, "Amy, that is not normal!" My mom and mother-n-law see the side of relentless requests and her anxiety. But nobody has seen a full blown rage where she has thrown her medicine bottle across the room and hit the Christmas tree or poured water all over the floor or hit me in the stomach when I was pregnant or ran after Tori and said "I am going to hurt you." I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Or do you? It makes it even harder when friends judge us and make comments like she is just a strong willed teenager or I was like that when I was 13, just hold your ground harder. I even had one friend suggest that she had attachment disorder. If you do not know anything about that disorder then I will share that it is when the child is neglected as a baby so the child grows up not trusting anyone. I have no idea why they made this comment. They were not even around or even in the same state when McKenzie was little. How would they know? And I can tell you if anything she was overly loved-if that is possible-she was the first born with both grandparents and the first niece to both sides of our family. She was my precious little angel baby. She was never neglected. As you can tell this makes me so mad! Anyway, to get back to my soap box...
If I had not read in The Bipolar Child that it is very common for all of it to be behind closed doors then I am not sure if I would believe it either. That is truly a mental disorder. It is just so complicated and hard to understand. It is also so new to children. Most psychiatrists are hestitate to even diagnosis or label a child with bipolar. We keep getting, "Well, she has some kind of mood disorder but I am not willing to say it is bipolar for sure." When will we find a doctor who has the balls to really help her? Excuse my french! Again this makes me very mad! I want help for my little girl and I know she does too. And I want people to understand, but I know that is hard unless they have experienced it themselves. I guess that is one of the reasons that I am writing this blog. Okay enough of my soap box. Hopefully, this helped me get it out and maybe it will help someone else understand a little bit better.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ups and Downs

Well, there are times when we have ups and last night was one of those times. As a family we all played a game called Whoonu. We played three times and nobody got upset. In fact, we all had fun. McKenzie loves games and she loves it when her whole family plays. So she was in her element. She also controlled the cards and the chips and I think that helped her mentality as well. I don't really like games, but this one is fun because it is relational. You have to play it to understand what I mean. Anyway, it was sure nice to have a pleasant Sat. evening with my family. Thank you Lord!

However, today McKenzie and Tori(my 7 year old) would not stop bickering and I have had it! I am dreading being alone with all three of them over this break. Thank goodness I will have my wonderful husband the week between Christmas and New Year's. He helps so much with keeping things calm around here. I really notice a difference when he is home. But with God's strength I can do anything and so I will continue to work with them trying to entertain them the best I can with a 8 month old baby in tote. Anybody out there reading this have any ideas for cheap entertainment, please let me know. It seems if I keep them busy they do much better. So I sure that there will be more downs but hopefully more ups as well. By the way the new medicine is still not doing anything. We are still hoping and praying. We should see something by next week if it is going to work. I will let you know...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rough couple of Days

Well, no miracle yet, but we are still praying. The last two days have been very rough. Kenz has been very irritable along with short and snappy most of the day. She has also had two emotional meltdowns, one each day. Both were over food. Crazy, huh? She gets her mind set on something and if it does not happen just the way she thinks it should she looses it emotionally. It is almost like when a two year old does not get want they want and they throw a temper tantrum. The difference is that she is 13! Funny thing is she hardly ever had them when she was two. At least I don't remember them that well or that they were ever that bad. Maybe it is because she is 13 and not 2! It is so hard to know what to do and how to handle them. Mostly, I shut down, stop talking, leave her alone and wait until she is calm again to address the situation. I have also learned to stick to what I say and not waver. It is also imperative that I stay calm and firm. All I can tell you is that after all day of being abused verbally and trying to rely on God's strength, is that I am exhausted. It is so draining. I know that God never gives you more than you can handle, but some days it does not feel that way. I have to rely on what is truth not my feelings. He is there for me and His strength never runs out. Thank goodness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Expect a Miracle

Yesterday morning at church we had an awesome sermon on Miracles. Our pastor wanted us to finish the sentence: "It will take a miracle for..." Well, you know what we put in..."It will take a miracle for McKenzie to get well." He then proceeded to tell us to not just pray for that miracle, but expect one! I guess it is all about mindset and trusting God. We are not sure what that miracle looks like, but we are expecting one! Join us to pray for one. I also challenge you to finish the sentence as it pertains to your life and then pray and expect a miracle! May this Christmas be full of miracles!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Even Simple Tasks Are Hard

I am completely frustrated right now! I should have known better. Simple normal tasks are so hard for us sometimes. Tonight we tried to put up the Christmas tree, decorate it, and make peanut butter balls as a family. Well, Todd got the tree up after 5 hours of trying to fix the lights on it! That was fun! Not! Well, while I ran to the store to get the ingredients for the PB balls, McKenzie had some kind of meltdown. Wasn't here so not sure what went down. I am sure I will get the run down tonight when we go to bed. Anyway, Kenz has been on edge today and has had two angry episodes. She has been upset with everything especially anything her sister does. The whole time we were making the PB balls she had a high pitched angry voice at her sister about every little move her sister made. She is so demanding and gets upset if Tori doesn't listen to exactly what she says to do. When I intervene she gets angry at me and is completely disrespectful. Tori cries at every little thing these days so that just makes it worse. I know her patience is running low too. Anyway, by the end of it I had had it, and I lost my temper and yelled! I know better. It doesn't help the situation. It makes it worse, but I have to give myself grace and know that God forgives me. And hopefully, the next time I will rely on His spirit and keep calm. It just makes me so sad that we can't enjoy simple things that most families do.
She just started the new med. last night and I am not sure it will fly. She was extremely tired this morning and had a headache all day. And now she is refusing to take it tonight. These disorders are so unfair.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Med. Tonight

Well, we have weaned Kenz off the Dapoke medicine and things seem to be fine or at least not worse. In fact, we had a beautiful moment last night that gave her dad and I some hope. She was up with just us last night actually doing my feet with a ped egg(that thing really works-it was cool!) Anyway, we were all talking and laughing. It was so good to hear her laugh. She even said, " I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!"
But this morning we are right back to her being loud, irritable, demanding, and hyper. Today we get to start her on the new ADHD medicine which is suppose to help all of that. The trick is that you have to increase the dosage slowly, one mg. a week until you get to 3 or 4mg. depending on how her body does with it. So it will be a little while before we seem any outcomes from this med. It also could make her tired so I am going to give it to her at night so we will start it tonight. I am hopeful but do not have too high expectations. She is so complex and her other meds. could cause a problem with this new med. so we have to watch her closely. Also, I am not sure we have anything that treats her anxiety. This is why we need a good psychiatrist. On that note, a friend of mine read this and has given me a name which I am very thankful. I plan on calling today. Hopefully, we can get in sooner rather than later. In the mean time, we are still working on plans for a school and the time line of all of it. I will keep everyone posted as we know more.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Morning Time

Mornings have in the past been the hardest by far. But since McKenzie went to the boarding school and is now no longer getting up and going to school with us, it has been much more peaceful. But not always! Tori, my 7 year old, had a hard time this morning. She did not want to go to school. She cried and said she missed me when she was at school. She said, "Mommy, school is long and when I get home it is only a short time that I see you before I have to go to bed." It broke my heart. I know that with McKenzie being home and not going to school right now is so hard for her. Even though we are doing homeschooling for Kenz and she is not just playing, she is still here and Tori is not. It just doesn't seem fair that this sickness keeps affecting Tori. She seemed so sad this morning and that is not our "Toe". She is our happy one, full of joy. I did finally get a smile on her face when she saw the baby. Babies are such a blessing. There is no way in this world, in my opinion, that you cannot look at a baby and not smile.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doctor's Appointment

This morning I got up early to take McKenzie to a doctor's appointment. We went to her pediatrician to see if she would prescribe this new drug that I learned about on the internet from another fellow blogger. It is called intuniv and it is suppose to help with her ADHD symptoms of irritabilty and explosiveness. Well, again the pediatrician said that McKenzie was out of her comfort zone and that we needed to see a good psychiatrist which we still cannot find here. But she did say she was willing to give it to us to try it, however, this medicine might interact with the other meds. that Kenzie is taking. Her docotr is going to do some research for us and get back to us by Thursday. This process is so frustrating. I just wish we could find a good psychiatrist here. We will need him or her when Kenz returns from Meridell too.

McKenzie had one of her better days today, but she still was very impulsive and hyper. She had a hard time leaving her sisters alone driving her 7 year old sister crazy. The baby she just continues to try odd behavior with-i.e. spinning her around on the doctor's stool. The stool had no back and she wanted to let Addyson go and spin her without support. Thank goodness I was right there and said no way! We have to watch her all of the time. She gets these crazy ideas in her head especially if she is bored. She told me today that the reason she turns the music up so loud is so she can block out the thoughts in her head. I cannot imagine what she feels like. In my birthday card she wrote, "I am sorry that I stress you out so badly." That broke my heart even though it is true, I wish she did not know that. I told her if I could take her place in order to take it all away I would. She was a little taken back by that comment. She said, "You wouldn't want all the stuff I have." But I told her that yes, I would if it meant that she wouldn't have to deal with any of this anymore. I guess that is the way a mother's heart feels.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


As of Friday, we think we have found the right place for McKenzie. It is called Meridell Achievement Center and it is right outside of Austin, Texas. It specializes in brain scans and can really tell what is going on with the brain in order to get her meds. right. We just have to get our insurance in order and hope we get approve as it is very, very expensive. We also have to get approved by them for her to come there. We are praying.

Yesterday was a hard day. She was in a mood. All of her privileges were taken away and we then ran out of consequences-finally had to just send her to her room. She just seemed extra bugged and couldn't leave Tori alone saying horrible things when she got mad. The good news is that Todd gave me an early b-day present and I got to have just Addy for the afternoon and evening. I even got a nap! Today is Todd's b-day and I am hoping she will step up and try a little harder today for him. We shall see. The brain is a funny thing-very unpredictable. She is still asleep and so it is very peaceful. I feel awful but I love this time of the morning.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Beginning

Thirteen years ago God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl with blue eyes and strawberry blond hair. We named her McKenzie Alyse and she was our pride and joy-still is! However, never in our wildest dreams did we think we would have the journey we have had for the last five plus years. In the beginning she was a good baby. It was not until she could move and talk did we realize that we had a big challenge. We thought we had a strong willed child. From challenging everything mom and dad said no to to climbing all over tables at restaurants, and everything in between, we definitely had our hands full. We thought stronger discipline was the answer, but that did the exact opposite. She would get more mad and more bad behavior would result from it. Screaming, throwing fits, disrespectful talk; she once threw a dining room chair at me. She has put holes in her walls, a hole in her door, and even broke our car window shield because she kicked it so hard out of anger. That is only the tip of the iceberg.

She was first diagnosed in fourth grade with ADHD and anxiety with obsessive features. This was when we started with meds. Her ADHD medicine seemed to work at first, but soon it got worse again. She also had terrible anxiety and would not sleep well. There was a time when I would wake up every morning to find her on my bedroom floor asleep, and this was in the fifth/sixth grade. She almost seems to love to annoy members of her family, but yet, she gets easily annoyed by the littlest thing. If her sister is singing in the car, she freaks out. She is also very defiant-ODD-which I have come to realize that this is because her brain feels so out of control all of the time, she looks for something to control which is her saying No all of the time. She is very obsessive and some of the doctors have said she is OCD too. We recently have been told she could even possibly be bipolar. She has what I call emotional break downs as well as rages. The emotional break downs are usually 30-45 minutes of non stop crying with threats of ending her life. The rages are screaming, ugly nasty talk, blocking me, cornering me, even pushing and hitting me. She also at times threatens to hurt her sister when she is raging. Tori is very scared of her. We have tried everything we can think of to prevent them, stop them, or even try to ignore them. We have been to two pediatricians one specializing in mental illness, one center here in Scottsdale, four psychiatrists, and two therapists. Nobody seems to be able to get her meds. right or even get a right diagnosis for her. Howeever, they all agree that one, she is very complex, and two, she has to have the right medication before she can get therapy or it will not work. It is extremely frustrating to say the least. The hardest thing is when she cries and asks, "Why did God make me like this?" and says, "I do not want to be like this; it is so hard. " She wants help and we want to get it for her. We did have a period of time for about four weeks when the right combo of meds. worked and she was my little girl again. I remember even saying "Welcome back!" I'll never forget what she said to me when I asked her if she felt any different. She said, "Mommy, I do not feel any different but my heart feels so much better!" I want that back for her more than anything. I want that for our family especially for the other two.
This fall we sent her to a therapeutic boarding school after things just couldn't get any worse. We had peace in our home for 42 days. She was not angry for being there. She actually wanted to be there because she wanted to get better. In fact, when I left her there, she said Mommy, don't make me cry-I'll be fine, I am going to have fun!" She was so brave. After her being there for 31 days we got the awful call at 3:00 on Nov.11 that said the school was closing due to financial reasons. We were devastated and so was she. She told her therapist there "I thought I would be well before I went home and I thought I was going to get well here." We do not understand what God is doing or why this happened the way it did. McKenzie is having the hardest time understanding and accepting. We do know that God is sovereign and He never makes a mistake. He works everything out for good for those who love him-(from Romans). He has a plan for her as well as for us. We are working to find another placement for her and hope to find that place by Jan. 1. In the mean time we are back to dealing with all of the issues that mental illness brings about. We are trusting and praying. If you are reading this, we would love your prayers too. This is the beginning of our story. It has not ended yet. I will keep writing. I hope you will keep reading, and if you know of anyone who could benefit from reading this, please share. Thanks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Why a blog?

I guess I wanted to start with why I decided to start a blog. Dealing with mental illness is hard especially when it involves a loved one. As a mother you want to take it all away. Sometimes you feel all alone even when you are not. Friends and family are great support, but unless you walk in our shoes(live in our home) you do not truly understand. My husband says I could use therapy, but we need to save all of our funds for McKenzie and her help. So after finding another mother's blog on the web and discovering how much it helped me, I thought I should write one too. My hope is that it will help others who are struggling with mental illness in their family. And just maybe it will help me too.