We are sort of in a period right now where some weeks we have more bad days with Oskar than good. It was actually worse a few months back with weeks and weeks straight of daily meltdowns, often multiple meltdowns in a day. That’s some crazy hell… he’s happy momentarily then crying, then screaming, then crying, then silence, then crying… Everyone in the house is then in a mood and I think that just heightens Oskar’s stress and then causes more meltdowns… a wicked vicious cycle that everyone wants out of!!
That last period was due to the removal of some supplements (for some testing we were doing) and so once we put him back on, within days Oskar was much calmer and had happy moments again. But at the moment, we are still dealing with the adrenals… totally drained! When your body is in a constant state of “fight or flight”, like Oskar’s body, it can only sustain that level of high adrenaline for so long. Eventually, your body wears down, the adrenals become fatigued. The hormones such as cortisol help with metabolism and stress and they are run down, you feel exhausted. Your emotions will swing back and forth because you can’t handle even a little bit of stress… not a great place to be. Couple all that with motor planning issues that make verbal communication difficult. Now you can’t even tell people what you need or what is bothering you so you can get help. It can really be a living hell for some families, ours included.
As a parent, you want only to help your child, but I know from experience that when Oskar is melting down it becomes this insane guessing game where you try to remember if “something” happened. Maybe it was something that he ate that’s affecting his gut. What did he eat today? Same as usual, nothing new. Have the other kids been overly loud today? Did someone just scream? Or wait, has he had a poo today, constipation… no there was already two today. Yeast die-off?? Hmmm, what is it? “It’s okay buddy, I know it’s hard and you’re trying.” The conversations in my head continue, ah, I have a bit of a headache… could it be the pressure changing? I ask Ted (he LOVES the weather network) to check to see if there is a storm coming… he looks on his computer, checks the POP (percentage of precipitation), watches the weather radar and confirms “yep, mom, there is 60% chance of a storm and its happening tonight”. So with that, we try the usual deep pressure massage, jumping on the outdoor trampoline and a detox bath at night with Epsom salts. We wade through the storm and usually, it passes as soon as the incoming storm outside.
When it’s all over its easy to sit back and see what triggered it, maybe how we should have better prepared… hindsight… always 20/20 right?! But it’s in that moment, he’s melting down, you see no end in sight, your anxiety shoots through the roof, you’re quickly mentally and emotionally drained yourself!!
You just get better at reading the signs, there is no real magic or trick to it and yet it can still totally catch you off guard. You reset. You try something different next time. Maybe it works maybe it doesn’t. It’s like a math problem with too many variables. In time though, you start to be able to eliminate some of the variables and you get better at solving the equation… and much faster. I think too, that your child begins to learn how to better communicate their needs, even in the chaos of the moment. Oskar can sometimes pause for a moment to drag me to something; the door to outside, more drink or maybe help with a door to the hallway (and the quiet space beyond) that got accidentally locked. But he is still young and the “ask” for help usually comes quickly and with no repeating if you get it wrong!
I know that in time it will get better. As we continue to work on his diet, try to bring down the inflammation and to better help his adrenals these episodes will become less and less frequent.
Ted used to have some really intense meltdowns that came out of nowhere like a lightning bolt from the sky. From 0 to 100, that was Ted. His triggers could be less about weather and inflammation and more about unpredicted changes in his environment. He could be happy, smiling away in the car ready for the adventure I had planned out and then “WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH” he was full on crying with a blood-curdling scream!! After a while, I stopped jumping out of my skin and just sort of cringed as I tried to figure it out. Oh, right… backing up the car. “Ted we need the car to go backwards sometimes in order to get out of a parking spot”. As soon as the car was moving forward he STOPPED, like immediately as if the traffic light had gone from red to green! The only sign remaining from the traumatic experience was the big crocodile tear still running down his little chubby cheek.
The same meltdown outburst would happen if after going down aisle after aisle in the grocery store I realized I forgot something. Oh, crap that’s not down here, I must have passed it. As the cart turned and we headed back in the direction we had just come…. “WWWWWAAAAHHH” it was a sound you would expect from a child falling out of the cart, not riding safely in the proper seat, secured by the little black strap. That screaming would continue as I backtracked aisle after aisle until I found the item and returned to that exact spot where the journey for Ted… had derailed. Once again… as if a channel was changed, the screaming stopped abruptly, and he would continue throughout the rest of the shopping, calm and at peace. I learned over time that what Ted was actually doing while I was shopping. He was looking at every price sticker at the bottom of the shelf. Even when Ted had some words, he still insisted that I didn’t go back for something I had forgotten. In time he could control the upset only if I promised to go right back to the spot we had left off from.
Trips in the car also got better. As Ted became aware that I wasn’t just randomly driving the car around, but that I was following street signs and traffic lights things actually became fun. If I was on my way home from an appointment or errands I would let Ted direct me like he was some passenger in a New York taxi telling me the “better route” through town. Luckily at the time, we lived in a really small town it was difficult for me to get lost. And I actually learned that Ted had the whole city map in his head. I honestly didn’t think he could get us lost, but since we did need to get home eventually I might occasionally suggest a turn to speed up the journey. I can still hear his little one word directions “left!!” “right” “straight” and then the roar of giggles as I turned the truck in the exact direction he commanded!!
So with Oskar I know we will get there too, I just have to work through these times with him. Figure out the code that Oskar is programmed with. Sure a manual would help things, but usually the unique, extraordinary things in life… don’t come with a manual!