Past my limit means that I literally passed it like months and months before this point. Drove right by it without even stopping, waved. “HEY! There’s my limit! Annnnd there it goes.”
Violet was in the therapeutic day school. She continued to decline. We tried psycho-analysis, CBT, talk therapy, incentive programs. She was absolutely miserable every second, not one milli-moment of a break from intensity.
We took her to Cornell, NYU, etc. They dosed her up on a trial-by-error slew of drugs. Anti-depressants, ADHD meds, mood stabilizers, neuroleptics, we tried it all. Still miserable. Now she was on Abilify, gaining weight and STILL MISERABLE.
She could not control her emotions. She would misinterpret just about everything at all times and could not have anything BUT an elevated, intense, disturbing response. Because her reaction to things was irrational, talking her down was a moot point. She began to refuse to do certain things, and with a child that is 135 pounds at 10, it felt aggressive. A door-slammin, wall-hittin, thing-throwin, great time. NOT.
I was beside myself. We all were. I felt totally out of control. My other kids were on edge. They would anticipate her doing aggressive, disruptive things and then their pre-emptive reactions would trigger MORE upset in Violet. I was yelling a lot even trying to insist that she STOP yelling, which is completely backwards. The volume in my house was at a 10 at all times, and was an absolute nightmare to exist in.
I felt like my marriage, my relationship with each of my kids, my sense of sanity and self was completely dissolving in front of my face. AND, I felt out of options.
Her school called and told me I wasn’t crazy, she was struggling even more and needed help. We hired an educational consultant to talk about the last remaining options. I had already looked into some state-run therapeutic boarding schools, which were absolutely out of the question. NOT A FIT for Violet. But I realized our status, Violet needed to be removed from the house if she continued to struggle, for everyone’s sake. The dysfunctional cycle was self-perpetuating and completely unhelpful for Violet too.
The meeting with the Educational Consultant? OMG I think I cried the whole time – she must have thought I was nuts. She asked me a totally benign question and instant tears. We discussed private therapeutic residential schools, and the locations that served Violet’s young age group were SO hard for me to even hear. California, Utah, Idaho, Washington, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. WHAT??? I wanted to visit her every weekend, not have to FLY somewhere, she was 10!
Next on the docket were Wilderness Programs, which some of the schools required prior to entry. I loved everything we learned about them, until she told me that Violet would go away and we wouldn’t be able to see or speak to her for 60-90 days.
SAY WHAT??? How could I even contemplate that? “Yeah…wellllll…we will think about that, but we have a lot of summer plans, so maybe like the beginning of the school year, September.” This was May.
She said to us, “Really? That long? I think you will find if you really need this environment, you won’t want to wait. I could have her placed next week.” After that meeting, I sobbed FULL-BODY-CONTORTIONIST-SOBS for the 2-hour drive home.
School called again. “Violet needs help. I don’t think it can wait. I think she needs to go somewhere in the next 2 weeks.”
How do you describe when your stomach falls out, hits the floor, falls through the floor and crashes straight through the other side of the Earth? That was me. Despair. Desperation. And grief.
I knew what we had to do, but this was the absolute most difficult thing I have ever endured. Wilderness it was. I cried through every phone call - to parents, to educators, psychologists and the directors. I cried through the mountains of paperwork, all over my husband’s shoulder, my mother’s, my friends’. This was my first real encounter with despair.
She was to leave the following Wednesday, 6 days away.