It is exactly what it sounds like. The child is oppositional TO and defiant OF any person that holds authority over her... correction ... any person that she perceives as having a position of authority over her. So far, for us, this list includes parents, teachers, administrators, security guards, police officers, therapists, and certain neighbors. In fact, I may go so far as to say that if she likes you at all, and shows you any form of respect, it's because she doesn't quite see you as an authority figure, or as someone who has any power over her at all.
Yes, I know it sounds like most teenagers out there, but there are other behaviors as well, many of which she began to exhibit in her precious toddler years. The first symptoms to make itself known would have to be the anxiety, and the low self esteem. Then came the intense anger, which must have been part of the depression. The moods swings are worthy of ticket sales for the heart pounding exhilaration... first, the thrilling anticipation of the upswing... then the sudden, heart dropping fall... and the dizzying twists and turns in between. There's the impulsive stuff, which leads to recklessness, and self destructive behavior. Lying to the point of having convinced her own self that the lie is real. She sees even the most ridiculous, ill conceived string of falsehoods as perfectly viable. Even when she's already been caught, and there is actual physical proof of it... for her, the lie is still in play. Couple these symptoms with a diagnosis of OCD and ADHD, and we may be on a road to a Bipolar I diagnosis. We've gone Alpha-Numerical!
I've given you a simple symptom list, but the behaviors that stem from these thought patterns is what the illness boils down to. Our major crisis points have been:
- Her sneaking out one night, at one in the morning, at age thirteen, to walk to a boy's house, who lived two miles away, who's parents were out of town. At four in the morning, on her way back home, she was followed on the road by a stranger, who called police, who brought her home.
- Her pretending to suffer symptoms of schizophrenia, so she could satisfy her curiosity about the mental hospital experience, and get that much needed vacation away from parents, teachers, and those pesky rules and punishments. She was discharged with the diagnosis of "She has no psychosis, but she does have behavioral problems."
- In a rush of anxiety and anger, she impulsively set a small fire to a wad of paper towels, in the sink, in a school bathroom.
- In an unpredictable depressive downswing, she ingested two bottles of prescription medication, which led to the confession...
- ...That she had been sexually assaulted several months prior, as a result of making an impulsive decision without thinking of consequences, and putting herself in a dangerous situation.
- The enraging frustration that leads her to "cutting" behavior. One incident had half of her body covered in shallow slashes from a razor blade that she removed from a pencil sharpener, being that she is not allowed to keep shaving razors or scissors, in her room.
- Having to go to "teen court" and do community service for a consistent habit of having other people's cellphones in her possession.
- Often disappearing for hours past curfew, up to six hours, causing us to panic, and resulting in unproductive search and rescue parties, that are typically called off as she very casually returns home, as my fingers are about to hit the 911 button.
- Her, twice, reporting her father to Child Protective Services, to have him reprimanded for punishing her. (We were investigated and cleared, and she was made to stay in therapy)
- Our discovery that she had snuck out of the surprise birthday party that we had thrown for her, to smoke marijuana with her friends.
Our minor crisis points, and merely frustrating ones, included:
- Consistently failing grades, since the second grade.
- Consistently disrespecting teachers and absolutely refusing to do any school work.
- Consistently disrespecting and outright disobeying parents (especially Dad).
- Cutting classes, and even being found and picked up by the school resource officer off campus, at the shopping center.
- Obsessively collecting, and even hoarding, useless objects, including many items that were entirely trash.
- Not doing chores and then lying about doing them.
- Pitting parents against one another, causing much family turmoil, even in extended circles.
We've worked out a few things, come up with a disciplinary program that seems to be showing some signs of progress. It can't fix everything, but at least it keeps us moving in a forward direction. But I'll talk more about that later. Right now I just wanted to talk about what it's like to raise a child with this particular personality disorder. We all seem to have a little something, and that's what makes us such a circus!