March 20, 2023

turns out I like being bored

This might make you laugh, but for a few days last week I felt almost bored.  ALMOST. The week prior was gut wrenching. I count that Tuesday as one of the top 10 most difficult days I've faced as a mom. 

Tank's program is not what we expected. Another mom said it best: We had Creighton expectations. 

Tank had to petition Creighton for each classes. His program is supported by his college, so why? Try:  HERE'S A LIST OF CLASSES OFFERED THAT WE'LL GIVE CREDIT FOR. 

We love his college, but this program has disappointed us. I've already shared with the woman who runs the program (she started there in Aug. so she's inherited much of it) that I'd like to offer some feedback for ways to improve things for future groups. 

Tank has ADD. ADD is often buddied up with some other issue - for Tank that's anxiety, typically mild and manageable. The end of January, a week after the twins' mom died, he called me crying. 


*when he was 9 his Focalin meds for ADD killed his appetite. He suffered from SEVERE low blood sugar issues, like trying to jump out of a moving car. The doc switched him to Vyvanse. Tank developed OCD overnight. I called the doc. They told me Vyvanse wouldn't cause that. 


I took him off of it and he became his old self. 

** Senior year in high school, Tank struggled once again with OCD. Out of nowhere. The recurring thought: torture. Tank got through the painful ordeal with therapy. He wasn't taking ADD meds at the time, because school wasn't challenging. 

In the fall, the doc prescribed Adderall. He needed something to help him attend. 


When he called me in January from Ireland, he told me that the thoughts had returned (after being gone for 2 years). He'd reached out to the therapist. *He hadn't started taking Adderall yet that semester, but he started shortly after his issues began.

Me:  You're brave for seeking help and for reaching out to me. 

Before we hung up, I broke down:  I MIGHT BE FAR AWAY, BUT I'M RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. 

He was managing. Weekends were easier - busy traveling. Weekdays he found it hard to focus on academics. 

Then he called me while I was in Texas. I hid in a bedroom - not wanting Uncle to know that Tank was suffering from the same issue that his deceased son had. Tank's new thought loop:  was Adderall the issue? I put him in touch with Aunt Leprechaun. She had a great deal of compassion for my situation, being in the house of sadness while all of this was ramping up. She felt it was time to start an SSRI. 

Remember:  my cousin started Prozac, an SSRI, and then killed himself the next day. The irony of standing in that house shortly after my other cousin took her life while trying to reassure Tank and urge him to take a medication that he didn't want to take and that I wasn't sure I wanted him to take - and then walk back into the kitchen and chit chat lightly with Uncle was nearly impossible. 

Tank had college friends visiting him in Ireland. He spiraled downward. He barely had energy to text me. His visiting friends were confused:  Where's our fun friend? Why are you staring into space?

Moms arrived to pick up their tots on the 7th and I was on the phone with Tank, he was at his lowest. 

Tank gave me permission to reach out to Creighton. I learned that when Tank asked teachers to meet during office hours/assignment clarification, etc. they responded SORRY, THAT WOULDN'T BE FAIR TO THE OTHER STUDENTS. Two different teachers. WHAT THE HELL? One sent him an excerpt from the student handbook. Not giving help is a RULE. 

In summary, because this was NOT what I was going to blog about today, Tank and I zoomed with Creighton/Univ. of Limerick. I insisted on a leave of absence. I wanted him traveling with his siblings while he started the SSRI that his brother was bringing. I shared how upset we were that a school wouldn't help a student who was advocating for himself.

Before things got really bad - I spent hours looking online, emailing various doctors, researching how the university health services works. Family practice doctors cannot subscribe SSRIs in Ireland. I was hoping to get him a prescription there. 

Tank finally shared his situation with Ed, a huge step. His therapist wanted him to externalize. He took the SSRI for 3 days, then stopped. It made him sleepy while out at the pub, God forbid, and now he felt great. I was like YOU FEEL GREAT BECAUSE OF THE MEDS

Ed, Mini, their two friends, and Tank had an amazing time together. Ed's friend  suffers from anxiety. He openly chatted with Tank about his ordeal/medication. 

Coach and I fly there Wednesday for a week. 

Text from Tank of Ed. 
The medication decisions have to be Tank's - per his therapist, so we're trying to be supportive. I'm hoping things will improve with the help of the available services, plus - the professors have switched gears - offering to help, providing him notes, etc. 


Leave it to a brother to
capture her downfall. Literally.
I'm wired weird, not great at telling PART of a story, my open book thing, but here we are:  why last week was 'ALMOST boring'. I wasn't franticly contacting doctors, responding to texts from Tank, staring at my phone waiting for him to respond at times, and counting the hours till Ed and Mini would be with him. He feels good, and we hope that continues. Prayers or good thoughts sent his way would be very much appreciated. 

So . . . the thing I came here to tell you . . . Ed's text:  "Highlight of the trip - Mini falling down in the mud multiple times as we hiked to the Cliffs of Moher. And her having to tell the bus driver that she'd puked from motion sickness in the back of the (very packed) bus from Galway to Doolin." 

Later Tank called me and described the bus incident. I cry-laughed. At dinner last night Mini and Ed re-enacted it. At one point, Ed's friend texted him saying:  I'M IN THE CLASSIC DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT I WILL PUKE OR POOP FIRST WHEN WE GET OFF THIS BUS. Apparently another girl got up, talked to the bus driver, who then pulled over while she lost her lunch in the bushes, rinsed her mouth with a water bottle, and re-boarded the bus as if nothing had happened. Ed marveled at her poise. 

Guess who is super happy that we're renting a car and won't be taking many buses in Ireland? 

I'll have a few posts scheduled to launch while I'm away. My replies might be delayed. I just created a really amazing arts and craft project that I'll share photos of too. Something I started while I was 'bored.' 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Oh Ernie, how hard to see your child suffer while so far away. It's so great that he reached out though - it takes a lot to do that. I hope that your trip is fantastic and that Tank continues to improve. You will be in my thoughts. I didn't realize that Tank suffered from these issues; and with all the sadness that you have had lately, this is a LOT. Sending love and good thoughts to you. Enjoy your time together and may it be what Tank needs to help him on his healing path. xo

Colleen said...

I'm just so sad and mad that Tank has to suffer like this and the school's program is making everything so difficult. Our son had such a great and easy experience studying abroad and I wish Tank could have that too. I'm glad you get to be with him and see for yourself how he's doing, how hard to be far away from him right now. Prayers for Tank and a safe trip for you guys!

Nance said...

It's so hard to know your child is struggling, but to have him so far away and struggling is torture. What an ordeal for you both. I'm so sorry.

Ally Bean said...

Watching and waiting while someone you love is not doing well is torture. I get that, yet we all do what we can. Hoping that things are going better.

Jenny in WV said...

UGH so stressful especially being so far away!
I hope the travel portion of study abroad is fun and leaves good memories, even if the academic part does not.

Kara said...

This is so stressful. I'm stressed on your behalf.

Also, I can't wait to see your arts and crafts project.
Good luck with everything.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thank you. He is very private about this struggle, but honestly the last time it happened it was managed in a few months and we thought that was it. A blip. I really thought it was a long covid type situation more than anything. We now recognize the link to anxiety.

Getting back to the grind of school since his sibs left has caused his issues to annoy him again, but not off the charts - he has the meds as an option and the school health dept is somewhat helpful. The academic piece is just outlandish. The grading and assignments that don't align with what is being taught. Well, it exhausts ME and I'm far removed. He wants Creighton to agree to count this year as pass/fail vs impacting his GPA. No matter how much I tell him that his grades will not matter in the long run because his personality is going to land him a great job, he is hell bent on a great GPA.

Believe it or not, I wasn't planning to share this here. It is hard though because in my day to day life I have to keep tight lipped about it. I would never tell family, a few very close friends know. I'm grateful for the support I get from our blogging community. My brain might explode otherwise.

This was going to be a lighthearted post about Mini falling in mud.

It has been a truly challenging few months.

Ernie said...

Colleen - Thank you. I'm incredibly frustrated and upset. I fault Creighton for not being more upfront about how the program worked. I've learned that it is not enough to ask schools if they offer abroad programs, but to inquire how they are run, how the academics compare with what our students are accustomed to, etc. Coach and I are volunteers who are invited to Creighton open houses to share our positive experiences with prospective students. I feel very differently about doing that in the future, unless they address some of our concerns for future students. I strongly believe that the worst is behind us, but it is a situation that makes me cringe every morning when I wake up - to see if he has texted me anything that will make me concerned.

Ernie said...

Nance - You said it. It was hard when Mini was unhappy at the start of college, but she was less than 2 hours away. This is a whole other ball of wax. My SIL told him that her patients who've dealt with things like that end up being pretty chill, because they've encountered such a challenge and gotten through it.

Ernie said...

Ally - Torture is the right word for this. I do believe that the worst of it is behind us, but there are no guarantees. I think the RX he has on hand, should he decide to go that route, will be a big help to him. After our visit, he has a week of school - then he travels over spring break. Then he will be in the home stretch. Still it is so unfortunate.

Ernie said...

Jenny - It has been very stressful. If I hadn't lost the weight that I lost before this, I think we would've all assumed it was from this torment. Aside from this nonsense, he has had a blast. The weekends when he has traveled has been amazing. He and his buddy are going to Italy over spring break. That should be sweet. He has such funny adventures. He meets other people wherever he goes. In Warsaw, a guy who was traveling alone decided to change his flight so he could stay a bit longer to hang out with Tank and Tank's buddy. If he is doing OK, he plans to travel after the school portion is done with.

Ernie said...

Kara - Well, my stress level has lowered since Tank has been a bit better this last week. Therefore - you can relax a little. I insist. ;) I couldn't write about when I was going through it. Too hard. Too much inner turmoil. Not to mention - I had zero time to write. I was either pacing or researching or calling doctors or answering Tank's texts and trying to stay present for the day to day things like HELLO SMALL PEOPLE WHO SHOW UP AT MY HOUSE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY. There was a day when I texted Coach and told him I wished the littles would all just go home already.

I will throw the pic of the project into one of my upcoming posts, but I'll have to explain it later, probably.

Bijoux said...

What a nightmare situation, all around. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I've never heard of a college not supporting students who have a disability (and that most definitely covers ADD and OCD). A university that large must have a disability office!?

I'm still trying to catch up, but it sounds like you are headed to Ireland. Have a wonderful time and I hope things settle down for your family.

Kari said...

I understand what you're going through, probably more than you know. It's a rollercoaster.

Sending you love and I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip. 💕

Ernie said...

Bijoux - It really has been a nightmare. I thought his last issue with OCD was a part of long covid. Therapy helped and we really never dreamt it would be an issue while abroad. My own year abroad was pretty chill academically. We were considered occasional students because the course were structured and measured so differently. He looked into getting accommodations initially but learned that their idea of extended time was an extra 10 minutes and he decided it wasn't worth doing a bunch of paper work for a lousy 10 minutes. They've offered more help - once it became emergent, but what on earth? Very frustrating.

Yes, we head over to see him on Wednesday. Trying to see a lot with him while we have a car rented, but unlike when his sibs were there, he will be going to classes Mon, Tues, Wed. We head back on Wednesday. I still don't have accommodations for us for our last 2 nights. Trying to figure out if it makes sense to be near him at his school and take day trips so we can touch base with him in the evenings, etc.

I can't wait to hug my boy. Packing extra contact lenses because EMOTIONS will be oozing from me.

ccr in MA said...

Just sending hugs and hopes that things will smooth out somewhat now for ALL of you. What a lot on your plate, and poor Tank, trying to do the right thing for himself and getting pushed aside. Maddening.

Ernie said...

Kari - Sorry that this is familiar territory for you. XO It is a roller coaster. Lots of praying and hoping that things improve. They have certainly improved. Hoping it continues in that direction.

Thanks. Dreading the flight. Oh my poor back. Will people mind if I do a face plant in the middle of the aisle? D'ya think?

Ernie said...

ccr - Maddening - another good word. Thanks. It has been a lot. Honestly I slept so much better once Ed and Mini landed in Ireland. That was well timed. I laughed so hard about the messages from Ed about Mini on the bus/in the mud. I needed that laugh.

Pat Birnie said...

Ernie -trying make a quick comment as we are having major- Mexico internet issues. My heart is with you as I know 100% what it’s like to get a call from a distance from a sad/crying/distraught kid. Hugs. I’ve been through horrible breakups, car accidents, job losses, snowmobile accident resulting in a broken arm & leg, a very serious illness and more. Lordy how on earth do parents of big families survive this??!! But we do. Sending you love and so happy you’ll be with Tank soon.

Gigi said...

Oh Ernie, how awful! My heart hurts for you and him and the whole family. Sending love and prayers.

Ernie said...

Pat - Thank you. It's so hard for me with this situation because I am expected to keep on a happy face and not let anyone know about his struggle. We saw Coach's sis and BIL last weekend between a mass and reception that was near their house. We hung out for a few hours and pretended everything was fine. The distance has been really tough. Me wanting to strangle school personnel has not helped.

Ernie said...

Gigi - I had to get permission from Tank to tell his sister before she flew over. Ed knew, but I was like CAN I JUST TELL HER WHAT IS GOING ON. He said I could. I was supposed to pick up Mini from college - had looked forward to it. Coach ended up going in my place as I hadn't gotten a thing done that I needed to get done. I sat Mini down and told her and she wept. She couldn't believe he'd had an issue when he was a senior. She was like WHAT? HOW DID WE NOT KNOW. He didn't want anyone to know, so when he went to therapy I pretended he was at volleyball. I really thought it was a blip - in the past. Such an unfortunate thing and the timing was awful. Hoping he is going to continue to improve.

Charlie said...

Oh I’m so sorry to read this Ernie. Poor Tank and poor you guys. Great timing you’ll see him this week. The University has really failed him with this. At my University in England we take mental health extremely seriously and colleagues in that department would be horrified to read of Tank’s experience. I hope you have a great week together. I’m sorry he’s not studying closer and I could come and meet you. Tell one of them to study in London next time! Wishing Tank a smooth rest of the semester and some peace for you all.

Ernie said...

Charlie- Thank you. It would have been great if you were located nearby. I feel like NOW that Tank is in a mental health crisis the University is paying attention. Had the profs been approachable or if they had had actual measures for students in need of accomodations in place, things would NOT have gotten so horrible. Coach and I and the other parents I know will be addressing this situation with his US college.

Ed did not like his visit to London last year. He was relieved that he had Not chosen to study abroad there. He did not care for the busy city atmosphere. Not sure the other kids will agree to study there, but I'd still like to visit. Perhaps Coach and I can go to London when Mini is abroad. ;)

Beth Cotell said...

Oh Ernie! I'll be praying for Tank. I can imagine how horrible this has been for you as well. I know you are very excited to see him this week!

Ernie said...

Beth - Thank you. Much appreciated. Yes, it will be really good to throw my arms around him and spend some time with him.

Busy Bee Suz said...

My heart breaks for your son, and for you. The school/teachers etc...why oh why can't they help a kid who is clearly ASKING for it. I have no answers or advice, but I am sending up the biggest prayers and positive vibes his way. (and yours too. I can't imagine tangling with this subject while assisting your uncle...the irony is too much)

I love that the siblings had such a great visit and I know you are there now; hope all is going well and Tank is doing better! XO

Ernie said...

Suz- thank you. It is pretty unbelievable that this happened as we have been copibg with the loss of my cousin. When did my life become a movie script.

We ARE with Tank right now. Sitting in a pub. The men just went to get their pints of Guinness and my glass of wine while I hold the table. I have skills, as you know.

Oh my gosh. Tank is doing SO.MUCH.BETTER. He decided to take the meds 3 days before we arrived (took 3 days when sibs were here. Then stopped. But once back at school his issues started to return) and he is doing REALLY well. We are having a great visit with Tank and his good buddy. So fun.