Time Warp, Part 2

Recently, through the great folks at the UCLA CHAMP Clinic, there were other issues added to the diagnosis. ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).

Of course, it hasn’t just been the last two years that have been difficult. It’s been my son’s entire lifetime. Most who know him and us would never know it. Particularly around those he is not familiar with, he has a remarkable way of holding his “true self” at bay and not letting his difficult side show.

We had suspicions that something wasn’t right, but he was too outgoing, too cooperative in highly structured settings, too smart and very quick to learn. Home, however, was a different story. We thought maybe ADD or ADHD; something along those lines. We never suspected Bipolar Disorder.

He would sometimes show his darker side in other settings. There was the occasional over-aggression with other kids, ear-piercing screams that would come out of the clear blue, temper tantrums in public that made us feel like every eye was on us (well, it was, actually), and the incessant and obsessive bullying of his brother, who is older, but not by much.

It was the kind of stuff that makes parents feel inferior and severely under-qualified, and just about believing that everyone else must be thinking the same thing! What are those parents doing to, or NOT doing with, that kid?

God gave this son to us as a literal gift. Those that don’t know his birth story can read it here. We believe God gave us his story so we could never look back and wonder if we’d made a mistake. God literally meant to choose us to be his parents!

Throughout his life, there have been suicidal ideations, but lots of kids TALK about suicide in one way or another every once in a while. But then came suicidal threats and attempts.

The first attempt led us from our Marriage & Family Therapist to a Psychiatrist’s office. He was the first to diagnose the Bipolar Disorder and suspect ADHD. 14 months later, the first hospitalization eventually led us to an extreme alteration of his school schedule, the discovery of the UCLA CHAMP Clinic (we HIGHLY recommend these folks for anyone near Los Angeles if you suspect Bipolar with your kids or teens) and an assessment for an Individualized Educational Plan with our school district. The therapists at CHAMP didn’t take long to help us see that weekly therapy sessions, which are all they offer, were not enough for what our son needed.

The second hospitalization six weeks ago led us to the conclusion that he needed residential treatment, which would offer intensive therapy that would likely help him over a long period of time. Getting there is what would be the trick!

Initially, we had hoped he could and would do the Partial Hospital Program UCLA referred us to and offered on their campus. We would drive him back and forth each weekday for the program from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. He would receive everything he would have received if he were inpatient, except for the overnight stay. The catch was the voluntary part. California being an “open state”, if he walked away, they couldn’t restrain him.

I picked him up at the end of the first day, after he had been away from home for a total of seven days, including the hospitalization. His first words were, “I’m not going back there.” He would hold true and refuse to go the second day. On the third day, he agreed to go. We woke early, made the long drive, and when we arrived, he refused to go in!

I was able to coax him inside the building, where the experienced staff worked with him for an hour. To no avail. They called and said, “We’ve done all we can, but he won’t budge. You’ll need to come get him and take him home.”

Wow! Epiphany! These are THE consummate professionals. Surely they had pulled every tool out of their toolbags and worked him over! If THEY couldn’t get him to participate, he definitely needs residential treatment.

We were referred to a few residential treatment centers in California. Calling them was where we learned about the “open state” issue. Well, a residential treatment center in California was out of the question. Thus, the eventuality of Northwest Behavioral Healthcare Services in Gladstone, Oregon.

More in the next post ….

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