Thursday, January 15, 2015

Update, Depression

After the awful day of anger and aggression on Monday, Kai has had two pretty good days. He had no major incidents at school, and has come to terms with losing his iPad privileges for a week.

At home he seems mostly jovial, using the time he would have been on the iPad to read more of the many books he received over the holidays.

Of course, we are always on edge that this good period won’t last long, and the anticipation of when the next dreaded email from school will come keeps us from enjoying the moment too much.

But aside from the worry over when Kai’s next aggressive incident will occur, a growing concern lately is that Kai may be depressed, or at least, have negative feelings that will result in depression.

Over the past several weeks, there has been more than one occasion where Kai has expressed that no one at school likes him, and/or that he wants to kill himself. It is a frightening thing to hear from your child.

At this point, I don’t think that there is an imminent danger that he will carry out his words. He tends to use extreme language to express his anger and frustration, and we don’t take each one literally.

But still, there is concern, obviously.

I wonder what is driving these feelings.

At home, we try to balance toughness with love. I push him to do things he doesn’t want to do, whether it is extra math or reading, or more exercise. And when he has incidents at school, we give him consequences at home, too. The goal is to build good habits and teach him right from wrong so that he will grow up to have a good life. And along with the toughness we try to let him know that he is loved, and spend a great deal of time with him doing the things he loves. Sometimes I feel like we’re not being tough enough; other times I worry that he doesn’t understand that he is loved.

When he talks about school, he doesn’t seem to have very many positive feelings about his classmates. He is definitely an atypical kid, even when compared to other atypical kids at his therapeutic school. I don’t’ think he considers any of his classmates as a friend.

One aspect of that is that he seems to misunderstand others’ actions. Last night he told how the class voted for their favorite recipe among all that each student submitted. It seems no one voted for his recipe of Mom’s chili. The winning recipe was some type of dessert dish. I can see why kids would favor chocolate over anything else, but to Kai that was just further evidence that “no one likes me.” So perhaps he just misunderstands others, but I also think his feelings are at least partially grounded in reality.

I don’t care if he has a lot of friends, but it obviously is bothering him that he doesn’t feel like he has any. And those feelings will likely be even harder for him as he goes to middle school next year.

What to do? What to do?


  1. When my son went to a public middle school, he had no one he could call a friend. He talked math with some of his club members, but he was still a little lonely. I impressed to him about how school is for learning, and that as children mature, they will meet some true friends in University or later. Before then, friendships are generally fleeting.

    I think that children bond more so with others in sports programs. I can only say to Kai that what he is going through now is preparation for his true happiness after his school years. Almost all now are just ships sailing for their own destinations, most of whom he will never see again. This is the time to invest, not in superficial friendships, but in yourself through your education.

    1. I think your thoughts reflect the wisdom that comes with age and experience, though it is hard for many kids to understand such thoughts. Kai, in particular, doesn't seem to comprehend even simpler thoughts though it doesn't hurt to tell him anyway.

  2. Do you think the other children might be a little scared of Kai? I'm sure they've all seen a tantrum or angry outburst more than once. I wonder if he realizes he could be scaring friends away when they see him act like that.

    What happened to the friend he had last year...the one that came over to play and then he went to their house to play. Can't remember all the details, but I remember the time was a good one.

    I also agree that he might say things in anger or in stressful times that he wouldn't ever seriously do, like killing himself. Something to keep an eye on, certainly, but I think all kids say things that they don't really mean whether it is just for effect or they just aren't able to properly express how strongly they feel in more appropriate words.

    I hope the good days continue! :)

    1. I somewhat doubt that most of his classmates would be scared of Kai as he directs most of his anger toward staff and he doesn't get aggressive to the other kids. Also, being a school for kids with behavioral issues, many of these kids have had similar incidents at times, if not quite as often.

      The friend we had over to our house a couple times still goes to Kai's school, but is in a different class this year so they don't see each other often. I suppose we could still have him over to the house for playdates, but the half hour distance is also a factor. Still, perhaps something to consider.

      While I really don't think he will kill himself, I do know that suicide victims sometimes say things like that and aren't taken seriously. I don't want to make that mistake, especially with a child who does things in anger that he otherwise would not do.

      Thanks for the good wishes, Betsy.

  3. I so much understand not being able to relax and enjoy the good days completely---always waiting a bit for a bad day to come again. I do that always. People say not to, but I think the flip side of it is that even on the worst days, we look for things to get better. Do you think Kai's teacher could suggest a child in his class that might be a good choice to have over to play? I have been thinking of you and Kai a lot.

    1. I think it is harder to look for things to get better on the bad days. :)

      I think it is worth asking his teacher about a possible choice for a playdate. Kai doesn't really speak of any of his classmates in a particularly fond way, but his teacher might see something that we are not aware of.

      Thanks, Suzanne. Thinking of you and Janey as well.

  4. This is so difficult, and you know I think we'll end up in the same place in years to come. I think a lot of it comes with the dawning upon them that they are different, and they can't fit in like the others. It must be heartbreaking. You're doing all the right things to steer him through and hopefully this time will pass.

    1. Yes, I do think that Kai is now understanding that he is different, even compared to others at his therapeutic school. Thanks, Steph.

  5. I'm wondering if he's at a point where he can work with a therapist to identify some cognitive distortions or "stinkin thinkin" in those situations. So for example: with his 'no one likes me because no one liked my dish' thing, is he able to step back and understand the difference between liking another dish better versus not liking him after the fact (aka in a less emotionally charged situation and then work towards generalizing his understanding so that he can do it when upset)? Or do you think he's not there yet? Hugs to you guys.

    1. Hi Molly, I'm not sure if he's able to make those kinds of distinctions, but I would like to see if a therapist could help him. He sees a therapist at school, and a social worker outside of school, but I'm not sure if they are working on this. I'll try to find out more. Thanks for your suggestions and support!


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