We’ve had an off day here, and bad days scare me. There is no way to know, from the place I’m sitting now, if this is a bad day or a long slide. The slide will come; that’s the nature of the beast that has a hold on our boy. Mood disorders don’t float away or magically cure themselves, no matter how many hours you lay awake at night hoping for such. (I know this to be true.) And the medicine that is a miracle today might be less effective or even useless later.
I’ve written about this before, and it’s as true now as ever: it is very, very difficult for me to stay loose, to let go of expectations. I wasn’t born with the flexible, easy-going gene, so to live with a child whose personality is so wildly variable is a shock to the system. I never know which Carter is going to wake up in the morning. Will he be the warm, affectionate, will-you-snuggle-me-up-Mommy Carter? (I hope I hope I hope…) Will he stomp down the stairs, kick two dogs and cuss at me 3 times before I even lay eyes on him? Will he wake me up at 2 am, unable to sleep and agitated, hyper, and talking faster than I can listen? Will he refuse breakfast and ask instead for a cup of coffee, or will I come downstairs to find that he’s already eaten half a box of cereal?
So here we are, at a place of relative stability (It’s not what any parent of a neurotypical child would call “good,” but it’s dreamy-wonderful for us.), and a bad day never feels like a bad day. It feels like descending into the darkness. Not because there’s any rational reason to believe that, but because it’s virtually impossible not to react. My nerves are too fried after 7 years of this to respond in a reasonable way. I do the same thing when Carter is acute: when we have a good day, I think “Hooray, we’ve turned the corner and stability is galloping to meet us!” And I have to back up, and my friends and Carter’s providers remind me to look for patterns, not one day or one incident.
Tonight, I’m looking for clues, because as much as I know it’s a futile effort, I want to try to know who my little boy will be tomorrow morning. Carter is always extremely hyper, even when he’s depressed. He is not, however, always manic, but I’m only just learning to tell the difference. The only way I can tell with any confidence is by watching him sleep. Hyperactivity takes a break during sleep while mania just keeps on going. So although Carter rarely stays up all night these days because of his sleep meds, he is manic in his sleep. He’s all over the bed; he talks in his sleep, or moans and cries. He wets the bed when he’s manic (Which seems backwards to me; you’d think that he’d wake easier.), which he never does when he’s more stable. I can see his bed from my desk (His bedroom is across the hall from my office.), and so far, all seems still.
What I want to do is grab hold of this stability, wrestle it to the ground and force it to stay. And of course there’s no way to do that. There’s no handle, nothing I can staple to the wall or tie to a chair. It’s an uncertain life. I hope someday I can learn to roll with it.