Thursday, November 7, 2013

A few blows to the RAD (1)

Genea and I have been going to see the same psychologist for almost two years now. We are so lucky to have found someone who is good, knows what she is doing, and has stayed accessible to us. Although, nothing is perfect. We are supposed to see her weekly. Every time I make an appointment I ask for the next available opening, without fail it's not for another month. At least we get in.

That's as opposed to her psychiatric practitioners-  after five and a half years she is now on #6. Can't complain though, we've had to go about 6 months without, but have always found someone eventually. Lots of people don't have anyone.

She has a new diagnosis, one that I gave her. It's called DSM-NOS. Diagnostic (and) Statistical Manual (of Mental Disorders)- Not Otherwise Specified. From the professionals, she actually has seven mental health diagnosis's, the main one being Reactive Attachment Disorder. My opinion is once the number exceeds what I can count on one hand, it doesn't much matter anymore. If you were to scatter the contents of the DSM on the floor, pretty much any page would describe her in some way or another. So there you have it. DSM- NOS.

Anyway, somehow we got super lucky with our psychologist. She was new when we started, a fresh graduate, trained in EMDR. After our last experience, I decided to speak with her before committing. First, I said I wanted to be in the sessions. I won't talk if you don't want me to, but I don't see how we can work on attachment if I'm not here.

Second, I said, we had a bad experience with our last therapist. Here's the thing. Genea has a swiss cheese memory- random holes every which way. If she doesn't have a grasp on the details of an event, she will fill in whatever she thinks up. (I live with a constant fear of manufactured memories). I don't know if she believes what she is saying or not. I do know that if I am here she is less likely to do it, and I can often prompt her memory as well. I cannot allow her to triangulate either.

Makes sense to me, she said.

 She asked if I had read any books or was using any specific technique.  I started on my list, until she stopped me, laughing. OK, she said, you've educated yourself! I told her I use a hybrid of Heather Forbes's "Beyond Consequences" and Nancy Thomas's "When Love is not Enough". Both women might well shriek in horror at the thought of combining their techniques but I like to think I can tell when Genea needs for us to bond and strengthen our relationship or when she needs to have her butt kicked. You know, metaphorically.

Genea's problem with pea finally went away, mostly, about six months ago. If you have your own life and have not memorized mine, pea has been an enormous, incessant problem. If you can think of it, I tried it. The only thing that sort- of worked was an intense schedule of times, checks, and cleaning, including sitting on the pot 10 minutes of every 30. Sure it sort-of worked, but we couldn't live like that. Eventually I gave up and you know what? It didn't get better. It didn't get worse either. Basically no matter what I did that particular problem stayed the same.

(note I change the spelling of p e e.  If I use the word as it's spelled I get search traffic from people who should be incarcerated. So. )

We talked about it in therapy many times. I should be more specific. Genea crawled under furniture or screamed or curled into a fetal ball and sucked her thumb while the therapist and I talked at her about it. Once in awhile she would participate by shouting responses from under the table.

 Her psychologist suggested I give her a dime every time I "caught" her without pea on herself. This was not her best suggestion however I agreed to try another reward system.  As incentive, when Genea got to a dollar I would take her to get ice cream. It didn't work because around the 60 cent mark, Genea stole the money and brought it to the school Crap and Junk Store. Its a damn good thing I have a sense of humor. RAD rule #17- sticker charts can suck it.

Oh, and the pea continued.

It let up for a few weeks for no apparent reason. The therapist practically threw a parade with high fives and I'm-proud- of- yous. Pea then flooded the house. RAD rule #43- too many compliments are BAD.

We eventually landed on the true basic needs behind the behavior. Safety and security. No, it doesn't make sense. No, it doesn't have to.

Right about this time last year Genea told us that she was pea-ing to bring me to her. That I would not leave her if she needed me and if she kept pea-ing,  she obviously needed me.  She was using the pea to force me to her and make me stay. She was afraid I would abandon her if she stopped.  It's not great logic, but its how she viewed it and her realization has helped her stop. That day was the beginning of the end of that particular problem. She is almost fully reliable at night too.

We have had a few major breakthroughs in the past year, all massive blows to her Reactive Attachment Disorder. This one has had the biggest impact on our lives together but there are more to come in upcoming posts.


  1. So impressed with g's self-awareness and articulation! Progress is such an amazing thing.

    Did laugh at her bringing the $.60 to school. Glad you did, too. :>

  2. Amazing that she could tell you exactly what her thinking was. That's a huge bonus.

    1. it was a great thing- I would never have thought of it, because it doesn't make sense. Pea on a person drives others away typically so.....

  3. I would echo the other comments - well done on her being able to tell you why she was behaving the way she was. And well done to you - obviously she trusts you enough to have that conversation. High fives, parades and icecream are just the bare minimum that you both deserve for all the hard work that got you to this point!

    1. YEP, I'm all about the ice cream! It took about 5 years to get to this point and many ruined items, but when she said it, it was like a curtain lifted off her face.

  4. We had a little breakthrough at our house on the pea issue yesterday. My youngest told me that he sometimes wets at night because he wants to take a bath in the middle of the night. His PTSD includes nightmares and trouble sleeping and a bath makes him feel relaxed when he can't sleep. Of course, we still have the RAD to keep us on the hop.

    I appreciate your sharing your daughter's reasoning because it gives me another avenue to try to help my son heal.

    1. aw geez, little guy. And I bet the warm wet pea feels soothing at first like bath water. Interesting though, my daughter was afraid of swimming for ages and only this summer would put her face in the water, but she LOVES a pool or lake or whatever. Its amazing, she's almost a different kid.


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