“Quietly Seething PDA ~ In The Bedroom Hiding Away”

angry girl #6.jpg It’s the school holidays.  The calm after the storm.  Also the calm before the storm.  It’s not so much the meltdowns right now, there is the odd one of course.  But the violence is gone, for now.  I know what’s coming though.  A new term brings with it a massive increase in anxiety and an inability to deal with it at source, a retention that brews like volcanic lava bubbling away, awaiting a release at the first opportunity.  At home.  During this ‘break in the hostilities’, there are still nonetheless, signs of what we are building up to.

Hiding away in her bedroom, interaction on her own terms, at her own times.  In the moments she does emerge, I dread a conversation, because I know it won’t just be a conversation.  There is a simmering, seething, blob of awareness inside her, that she has to face up to life and expectations.  She doesn’t want to.  This means that when she converses with me, it’s not relaxed, it’s antagonistic and oppositional.

She will seek a confrontation, by making an issue out of something that’s not an issue.  Almost like she wants to gain an opportunity to let out some of the lava.  But why not punch her pillow instead.  Why not go for a jog.  Whereas before I was treading on eggshells, in fear of a massive explosion, now I am having to defend the status quo as best I can.  Maintain some form of parental authority and boundaries.

There is often a pattern.  Repetitive questioning for which no answer will suffice.  So each answer I give, generates a “But…x, y, z” as if to place obstacles to the answer I gave and if I answer the ‘but’, there is always another one and another.  Until she can try to goad a confrontation.  I have to know the answer that is required and if I don’t give it, a rant will ensue.  Or it will be simply because she was told to do something, get washed and dressed, or go up to bed.  Even on the days that she complies, it will not be without complaint and angst.

I feel like I can’t even laugh with her any more.  It’s silly stuff we used to laugh at, the bizarreness of life and peoples’ quirks mostly.  But how can you laugh with someone that has destroyed your trust in them, your trust in the world?  Someone who could hurt you and target you.  Someone whose anxiety was that great, that in their explosions they blamed you and simply didn’t care about how much they harmed you, their anxiety took precedence.

I never did get that saying…


She seems content to be in her bedroom.  Hiding away from the world.  Refusing all suggestions to contact schoolfriends to go out.  In her own safe little bubble.  So much so that leaving this nest for a short while, can generate such a fraught communication style.  So I know.  I know it’s there.  I know we are treading water until the holidays finish.  Snarky, snappy, disrespectful, rude and oppositional holidays.

It’s because, in the words of the gas pump attendant at the end of Terminator

~ “There’s a storm coming in…”

storm coming.jpg

The Dark Side of PDA (When the Balance has Gone)

Dark Side Everyone has a good and a bad side, a light and a dark. Mostly people suppress their most negative traits, maybe letting little bits leak out here or there.  The odd white lie, the pretending you didn’t see someone to avoid them, exaggerating something to look better.  People try to be socially acceptable and likeable.  What do you do, when your child’s neurology, along with the deal life has dealt them by the time they reach teenaged years, means that eventually the only visible facets of them are the negative?

It used to be that it was all about extremes.  The laughs were really funny, the anxiety was really chronic and the meltdowns, really bad (although less of them in those days).  You remember times you laughed at stuff together.  You were proud of their achievements and you were behind them every step of the way.  But then they morphed into a much darker version of themselves, until it got to the point you don’t know who they are any more.  And every interaction with them has become something you actively dread, they feel like an alien, a changeling and the extremes are all on the dark side now.

Yesterday there was another episode.  I’ve lost count of how many or how frequent now.  They all blur into one.  One long, torturous, aggressive meltdown.  I recently listened to a podcast in which it was described that PDA children can in fact develop personality disorders alongside their PDA.  I wonder whether this has happened.  All logic and reality seems to have been lost and so many of the descriptions fit.  I feel like I am in a living nightmare that I can’t wake up from.

I know why it’s happened.  The demands of life became too much for her.  She’s not ready for any of it.  She can’t cope with life.  I can do scared, I can do upset.  Those can be comforted and reassured.  It’s the viciousness I can’t do.  The controlling and manipulation that’s too much.  Someone pleading for help tugs at the heart strings.  Someone assailing you with torrents of vile words, lies, bullying and physical attacks, doesn’t.  Whoever is doing it, the effects are the same.  And it shows no signs of letting up.

Call me human.  Call me a failure.  I want to run away and save myself.

I tried for so long.  I tried so hard.  But the system broke me and my own child worked against me, by putting it all on me to solve and pouring every negative thing onto me, all in the four walls of our home.  Made me realise the futility of it all.  Life is life, you can’t change the world for your child.  They have to accept it as it is.  You can’t fix someone so broken from living a normal life, some people can’t be helped, for whatever reason.  And to try – and when it’s your child you do try – you eventually end up broken yourself.  The pain of realising that as a parent, your best efforts to help your child and make it all better like they asked you to, were not enough, make you feel even more broken.

PDA feels like the worst torture that can be inflicted, both on the family and the individual with it.  It’s like everything you try gets you nowhere, every suggestion someone makes, you’ve already been there and got the t-shirt.  So you realise there is nothing.  Every time I think she needs to be an in-patient, I remember that she would go into absolute masking mode in front of professionals to avoid it, they’d probably think I was demented for even suggesting it.  Even if she went, I know they wouldn’t understand PDA and I just think of her traumatised by it, and I can’t do it.

If someone had ever said to me years ago, that I would be thinking of walking away at some point, I would have strenuously refuted it and told them I would die first.  Everyone has their limits though.  They say you have to be kind to yourself, to love yourself.  Of course parenting is about putting your children first, they don’t ask to be brought into the world.  But this is ‘extreme parenting’.  And when you realise that to break your child’s obsession with you, to push them to find new ways of coping, because they have made you part of the problem…well, saving yourself doesn’t seem so selfish.

The alternative, is that I see my life stretching before me, a probably reduced lifespan from the immense stress, in inertia from emotional distress and basically giving up totally on myself.  The effect of this on my already precarious physical health, is that I can see me relying on a wheelchair in a few years’ time.  Who would want a parent like that.  A shadow of their former self.  A person so subdued and shattered that they have no spark left.  Someone unable to find joy in life.  I remember that I have worth too, that I deserve better.  Isn’t there a child inside us all?  Why does being an adult mean you have to endure such pain without any solution to it?

~ When your child is on the dark side, you reach for the light.  You hope with everything you have, that your child will find their own light, you don’t let them drag you both down into the pit.



“Pathological Pain”

land of pain.jpg  There’s the pain of seeing your children seemingly unable to behave differently, when that behaviour is intolerable and you see no escape.  Anxiety-driven, suffering, struggling to cope behaviours.  Then there is the pain of not being believed about what they are going through and when you finally are, instead, being blamed for it.  Because those same children who release it all at home, where they know they are loved, will sit inert and compliant at school where they are afraid and overwhelmed.  The pain of looking through documents about your family and seeing lie, after lie, after lie, written about you, and misrepresentations and denials about your children.

Refrigerator mother is here alive and kicking, it never went anywhere.  It’s just got replacement  labels now.  ‘Emotional harm’, ‘fabricated illness’.  Struggling PDA children blame too.  Mum is the most obvious target, because mum is the one they spend most time around and they know mum loves them, no matter what they say or do.  They are in such anxiety and their need for absolute control so great, that they lash out.  So when you’re getting it in the neck from all angles, what else is there, but pain?

You try to do what everyone wants, you try to explain to professionals what your children’s needs are, but they don’t want to hear it.  They don’t understand the autistic spectrum and expect autistic children to do everything typical children do, and to do it in the same way.  So you have to be anxious or exaggerating, or fabricating when those things are difficult and your children don’t know how to speak up for themselves.  You’re not advocating for your children, you’re speaking for them and you’re lying.  You must have mental ill-health and be projecting that onto your children.  It’s all you.  You asked for resources and you are a pain in the ass.

You try to be as flexible as possible with your PDA children, to reduce demands on them, you don’t ask for anything.  (Not even appreciation or gratitude).  But you certainly didn’t ask for blame.  Yet you get it by the shovel full.  Along with knives being brandished at you, punches rained on you, your possessions broken and endless verbal abuse.  Anything they find hard, it’s you that suffers for it.  They refuse solutions and all offers of help with self-managing their anxiety.  It’s easier just to release it onto mum.  Learning self-help techniques is a demand you see, an expectation.

Miss Yourself

Day-by-day, the abyss yawns wider.  You lose your identity more and more until you are just ‘mum’, a fixture, a possession.  A disrespected possession.  Like a battered old shoe that gets kicked out of the way.  You aren’t depressed.  You are just stuck in a hell-hole that you can’t really call life.  It’s an existence.  Barely.  It’s amazing how you in fact aren’t depressed.  Many are.  It must be the numbness that you immerse yourself in, to get through.  It’ll come out one day.  Like a torrent.

Scream it off the top of a mountain.  Like ‘the men who stare at goats‘.  It’s the only way.  ‘The woman who screams off mountains’.  Until then, I’ll be screaming inside the walls of my mind.