"Am I still gonna be myself?"
This is the first question Aiden asks me after we leave the psychiatrist's office with a prescription for meds for him. Matter of fact, this is the first thing that comes out of his mouth after being silent for a block and a half. He was definitely thinking deeply about it.
We've been going to family therapy every week for the past few months. He's had individual therapy, and he's had regular sessions with his School Psychologist. And we still haven't quite figured out the right combination of tools to help him cope. Survive. Thrive.
So eventually I make an appointment with a Psychiatrist. I insist that I need to get him a psychiatric evaluation. For an official diagnosis. To see what I'm dealing with. Because... I'm in over my head and this ish is above my pay grade. After several sessions and countless rating scales filled out by his teachers, his School Psych, and me, we have a diagnosis.
Kinda. Sorta. The Psychiatrist gives him a prescription, but wants to see how it affects his mood/ the quality of his life before giving him an official diagnosis.
And he wants to know if it's going to affect his personality. (And rightfully so.)
"Am I still gonna be myself?"
"Yes! Of course," I tell him.
This is all new for me. For us.
But I'm hopeful. So hopeful.
I tell him that he has a Ferrari engine for a brain, but bicycle brakes. I tell him that he needs help to regulate his engine, and that, if nothing else, the medicine will help him do that. (It's an analogy that I read about a while back.)
It works. For now. He's satisfied. He runs down the block, jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk, a game he always plays. #CityKids
Again, this all new for me. For us. The weekly therapy sessions. The behavior plans to help him focus on his frustration tolerance. The subtle things that I must do to make him feel like he has some sense of power even though it's taken away from him each and every time he tells me that he doesn't want to go to his scheduled visit with his other parent... but I make him go anyway. The tools to help him deal with his post-trauma and stress. The psychiatrist. The evaluations. The medicine.
All of it is new.
But I'm committed to figuring this out for him.
At some point this year, I'll have a complete diagnosis for him and know exactly what I need to do in order to help him overcome. At some point this year, I'll be educated and confident and equipped with all the skills to give other folks the tools to help him. At some point this year, I'll be equipped enough to remind Aiden of all the tools he needs to help himself. At some point this year, I'll find him a village so strong and so solid that he'll feel the love and support all around him.
Yes, he can be difficult. Yes, he can be resistant and defiant. Yes, he can push boundaries. But, you know what? They'll love him anyway. Whole-heartedly. And with endless compassion.
At some point this year, along with his teachers and team at his school, I'll have his IEP all figured out. At some point this year, I'll teach him about his own triggers and he'll know them so well that he'll be about to proactively deal with them.
We will continue with the behavior plan, the therapy sessions, the consistency, the extracurricular activities that'll make him feel successful and good and competent. But, we're adding one more thing to the mix.
It's a new year and a new normal for us.
But I'm hopeful. Oh so hopeful.