Recently, we paid a follow-up visit to Danielle's psychiatrist. As planned, she made some adjustments to Danielle's medication regimen. She left her at the same relatively low dose of the new anti-depressant she started last month, and added a new drug that will function as a mood stabilizer. I think it will be interesting to see how this medication affects Danielle's behavior, as this drug is classified as an atypical anti-psychotic. She has expressed some pretty delusional thinking at times, and I hope this will provide some relief in that area.
The psychiatrist seemed to think that the new drug will help Danielle solidify her identity. I see this as a positive, as I have sometimes wondered if she even had one. She has no interests, no hobbies, and nothing really motivates her. She often reminds me of a chameleon, taking on the coloration and characteristics of the friend she happens to be with. I've wondered, for a very long time, where is the authentic Danielle?
I have a hard time believing that her true self is limited to being The One Who Rages. There has to be more to her than that, but it is invisible and unknowable, at least in her unmedicated state.
Here's to hoping the medication works.
The doctor also shared with us a rather discouraging factoid. She said that kids Danielle's age, with the issues she has "almost never" experience successful adoptions when they are adopted. Although the county is always happy to see these kids find "forever" families, they are rarely happy and successful in their new homes.
Our unfortunate outcome, seems to be the rule and not the exception.
If that wasn't depressing enough, we got some more discouraging news. The psychiatrist told us, after having time to look over Danielle's file in detail, that she felt that it was reasonable to confirm a diagnosis that we'd asked about at least five years ago. Unfortunately, for all of us, Danielle didn't receive help for it when she was younger, and possibly more malleable. Still the psychiatrist told us that even though there are supposed "experts" who specialize in treating kids with this particular disorder, there is no scientific evidence that the treatments actually work, and a growing body of evidence that at best they don't work, and at worst do more harm than good.
The doctor's remarks made us curious, so we started doing some research. Some of the stuff we learned was pretty stomach-churning. It turned out that the discipline program that our county teaches and encourages all foster parents to use was created by someone who has been highly criticized, and who later lost his license. We spent quite a bit of time researching all of this, and even the program that has been claimed to be the most effective "evidence-based" treatment wasn't tested using true scientific method.
It turns out, if you talk to real scientists, there is no agreed-upon treatment for Danielle's disorder, and there is no consensus that anything really works. Sure, there are anecdotal tales from families that claim that x treatment or y treatment helped their troubled child, but no scientific, double-blind studies that have proven that anything works.
When we met with our family therapist this week, we shared what the psychiatrist had said, and what we had found in our research. She confirmed what we had discovered, and we all agreed that we have a child who cannot be fixed. Danielle can be given training and coping skills to better deal with her problems, and we can always hold out hope for a better future, but she will likely not be "cured," at least in any traditional meaning of the word.
There are some physical injuries from which the majority of people do not recover. Spinal cord injuries, for example, rarely heal to the point that a quadriplegic has completely recovered. Someone who suffers a complete separation of the spinal cord will likely never walk again. I think, in this case, that Danielle suffered permanent psychological injuries as a child that are so severe she will never recover.
Is there such a thing as a spinal cord injury to the soul?
Perhaps there is.
Both the psychiatrist and the family therapist understand why Danielle will not be able to live with us past her 18th birthday, and so the focus is beginning to change. We are all acutely aware that she is a mere 18 months away from becoming emancipated, and we all see a certain amount of urgency in helping Danielle come up with a workable plan for independence.
The troubling thing, we all realize, is that Danielle may not be willing to put in the work required to execute that plan.
Today Is A Gift
5 days ago