Tuesday, November 15, 2011


N is talking quite a bit more about suicide again.  It started with a friend that made him angry.  N wanted to lash out at this friend.  At the same time, N's health class tackled the topic of suicide.  The teacher was talking statistics - something like 30% consider suicide but only 17% have a plan.  N was angry with the discussion.  He described comments made by the other students, but that "they don't really know how it feels."  And "I'm one of the 17% with a plan." 

This was all poured out to me in the car as I drove him to a friend's home.  I've always heard that suicide is a cry for help, so I told him that and asked "how could I help?"  His response was that just by listening and taking him seriously I was helping.  I could tell he felt better after our hour-long conversation.

A few days later or earlier (I can't remember now), I had been telling my husband the story of one of my high school friends who shot herself in the middle of an orchard.  We knew she had been talking about suicide.  We even knew she had a gun.  But she had been talking about it for so long, that we really didn't take it seriously.  I asked my husband, "why didn't we tell anyone?"  I can't believe we didn't do anything about it.  (Actually we did tell some adults, but they didn't really take her seriously either).  We tried to talk her out of it and we tried to love her, but it wasn't enough.

Anyway, as I thought about this past story, I wondered why I wasn't taking N more seriously.  No, I don't think he is suicidal, but I do think that he thinks about suicide.   And I do think that he needs some additional attention - and to be taken seriously. 

So, we've made an appointment to see N's therapist.  It's been two whole years since we were there last.  I talked to the doctor briefly enough to ensure that this would be the best place to take N.  I like that they have a past relationship and that Dr. R gets that anorexia is a major complicating factor and/or cause.  Dr. R did recommend getting N onto an antidepressant.  I'm reluctant.  I'd rather tackle the issues than throw meds into the mix - especially where suicide is an increased risk with some antidepressants.  But I'd do it to save my son's life.

My shoulder's ache with the constant heavy worry about N.  It never stops.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Update

N navigated though the health class unit on weight, calorie counting and eating disorders successfully.  He was excused from class for about 4 periods.  He started to write a personal essay about his own experiences, but found that it dredged up too many emotions and he couldn't finish.  Instead, he worked on a project about image manipulation by the media (air brushing, etc.) and the harm it does by promoting unrealistic bodies.  He wrote a poem as a part of the project. I'd like to post it, but need to ask him first. 

N did surprise me near the end of the term (when he was back in class) by doing a news-article presentation about a "beauty" queen who lost weight and then won a pageant.  I was particularly surprised when he described finishing the report and then turning to the class and saying, "but they're wrong!"  He continued talking about loving your body regardless of shape or size and that it shouldn't have matter how much she weighed.  Good for him!  I emailed his teacher and asked about the class response.  She replied that she didn't think anyone was paying attention.  Darn.

Generally N is doing well.  He has some friends that he really enjoys.  They are good kids who make good choices.  However, N would forgo doing his homework in order to hang out with his buddies.  It's been a struggle for us to decide - when is N being a typical teenager? and when are things like the OCD, anxiety, and the anorexia complicating things and we need to give him some allowances?  I would say that he mostly cares about making it through the day and doesn't care much about his school work at all.  We've got to help him find a balance between managing his stress and avoiding stress at all costs.  Right now I think he manages it by simply avoiding everything that is stressful. 

I've been a bit surprised lately to hear him ask questions about drug use.  One day it was a dream about heroin.  A few days later, a question of "what if I smoked marijuana?"   It reminds me of some of the conversations we've had about suicide.  I can't tell if he is just trying to shock me or is worried about it.  We've talked some about it and I tend to think it is more the shock factor, but I have read about individuals with OCD that deal with their anxieties by exploring outcomes and possibilities and I've wondered about that possibility. 

I realize that as soon as I say that I don't think he is doing drugs, many of you will call me naive.  However, he is mostly home or at his friends home.  I'm 99.9% certain that it just isn't happening.  We don't drink or smoke ourselves and neither do his friend's parents.  I know these are common escapes for kids who are struggling with eating disorders and if he were in any different culture, I might worry more.  I think he is just exploring the possibilities in his mind right now, but I will certainly be watching and paying attention.