Niacin has not been a magic pill for my daughter. Even with it, we have had some terrible days. But overall? It has brought MASSIVE benefits. The big picture is that she is not shooting to the extremes all the time. I would say it cut back 60-75% of the really harsh, immediate reactions to the tiniest of requests and questions.
Which means that we have also had to dig in and start to really do some hard work at helping her to move forward, now that she can. It's a big, crazy juggle. Some days she can talk. Other days, we have to keep things simple. I just do my best to read where she is. Nudge when I think I can nudge. Back off when I'm being a trigger. It's tricky. I'm not particularly fond of this stage.
Yet, we have seen a very slow progress since the niacin, that we have never seen before. We were able to take some actual therapeutic interventions to a new level.
Case in point ...
I have recently talked Rocky and Mar both through some basic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy steps (could NOT do something like this a year ago - would be a waste of time for Mar). When they are regulated, we talk about the big feelings they have and the lie that the hurt part tells them in those moments. We write them down. Talk about how those big feelings are the "red flag" when we need to tell ourselves, "STOP!" We then list all of the typical behavior things they do when they have that big feeling.
The front of one card may look like this:
I feel disgusting. The hurt part tells me that I am gross, and that is why my birth family let me be adopted and people kept hurting me and sending me away.
When I feel disgusting, I usually
*do stuff to annoy people, so they will also think I'm bad
*do things to gross people out
Then, we flip that card over and state the truth. I ask them to come up with some OTHER things they could do instead of the regular behaviors. We talk about how it's easy to do the old stuff. Anybody can do that. But strong kids try new behaviors. The other side of the card might say:
I am beautiful, pure, clean and lovely. I will
*use my words to make people feel great
*smell extra lovely
*act in a way that makes people want to be near me
This one was a biggie, and painful for her. We went through closets and drawers to make some changes (and trash things that needed to go). We discussed how on the really tough days, she could ask her big sister to help her get ready - how she should not just dress okay, but dress EXTRA special on the hardest days, smell EXTRA special on the hardest days. Also, I was clear that she would still feel disgusting. The feeling does not go away just by dressing, smelling and behaving the truth. We talked about what it might be like to feel that feeling, but make the positive choice anyway.
So, that's where we've been. Fast forward to yesterday. We had one minor incident at the store, so I just kept Mar with me and my youngest for that short trip (her older siblings got to look at toys). On the way out, she was carrying our 500 lbs of toilet paper we had just purchased. I very clearly told her she could put it in the front passenger's seat. Everyone was trying to pile into the car, and there she stood, crouched over in the middle of the van, blocking the rest of her siblings from getting in. "Um, what am I supposed to .. where do I put it?" She was in the play-dumb mode. I IMMEDIATELY started to churn my brain on what I would do when she refused to let me talk her down and stayed dysregulated til we got home. Once she is there - in it - she never comes out until later. So, I was prepared for the dance.
If you parent kids from the hard places, you know what I'm talking about. There is "slightly dysregulated." There is "kind of a rough day." There is "getting on top of it before it even starts." But then, there is full-on, already THERE. When they are THERE ... you just get comfortable and buckle up for the ride, doing everything in your power to keep it from complete explosion.
"Mar, this is one of those times we have talked about. You are feeling one of those big feelings right now. The hurt part is telling you not to listen to me and not to show me any respect. If you do, it means I'm the grown-up, and I may harm you. It's time to tell the hurt part to STOP. You know you can trust me. You've tested me, and I passed ... for 2.5 years, I have shown you. Normally, you would pretend not to know what you should do. I will probably have someone else tell you or do it for you, and you'll put some love back into them later. OR, you could try really hard to do the strong thing. You could tell yourself the truth, and make the positive choice, EVEN THOUGH YOU STILL FEEL THAT BIG FEELING. Your choice."
Her face did not change. Her hands were actually shaking ... but ... guys, MY DAUGHTER PUT THE TOILET PAPER IN THE PASSENGER'S SEAT!
In 867 days (yes, I counted), she has never, ever, when stuck in the moment, EVER DONE THAT! OMG!!!
She just stood there for a minute. She wasn't sure what to do. No one did. It was a temporary, complete silence. Like a dream. I finally said, "Um," (started to smile), "holy crap!" SHE finally smiled. "Well, why don't you sit in your seat. I guess we get to find out if you can have a big feeling, make a positive choice and NOT die. Of course, if you DO die, what will we do?"
"Have a nice service and play my favorite songs."
Her brothers and sisters broke out in applause, which was really sweet and made her smile bigger. Yeah for them. They knew it was the right thing to do, and they wanted to honor the magnitude of what she had just done.
She did not do one single thing the rest of the day to go back to dysregulation. Have I mentioned that this is during her cycle? The time over the last few months when we have been struggling severely? Oh, and this week is her BIRTHDAY (which she has sabotaged the last two years)! Should I say that part again, just for emphasis?
OH MY HOLY HOOCH, YA'LL!
My daughter was so very far gone when she came to us. The way she did and did not behave frightened me. She had ZERO attachment to any human being. She could shut down easily, and completely disassociate from herself and the world around her ... not for hours, but for days ... weeks. I have spent nights crying and worrying about her future, and all the many people who would cross her path and be affected by her own inner turmoil.
Yet, yesterday ... she put the toilet paper in the passenger's seat.