Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Anxiety or Illness?

It's a beautiful day today, clear and bright. But for Benjy this day contains some darkness.

He's not at school. When I woke him at seven he complained of a severe cough. And he is coughing quite a bit. But with Ben you never know whether a somatic complaint is actually a psychiatric one. So here I am, analyzing my boy, searching for clues. Is he hot? His forehead feels cool. Is he listless? A little, when I ask him to try to rouse himself and go to school.

The reason it's concerning to me is that we've had a few setbacks of late. Nothing extreme. I have not seen any shredded fingertips or bloodstained clothes. His lower lip is scabby and a little swollen but it has been, consistently, for the past six months. But there have been a  few nights and mornings when he's pleaded with me to let him stay home from school. And recently there was a sleepless night, complete with a 3 a.m. bath to relax him, that brought back uncomfortable memories. ( The worst of these memories is from a time that preceded his first hospitalization -- a weekend of sleeplessness and agitation, five or six useless baths throughout the long, dark nights, and Lars and I as despairing as Benjy himself).

So I wonder what's going on. Ben tells me he's opted out of two field trips recently, one to a bank and the other to a library. I have a theory about these opt-outs. I think he is anxious about the unpredictable behaviors of his classmates, and how those might play out in public. He has never dealt well with unpredictability or disruptiveness in other children -- these things stress him out. And right now there is a boy in his class who struggles with containing his emotions, is aggressive and volatile -- sometimes toward Ben. So today's somatic complaint may be a protest against the unpredictable and the disruptive at school. I just can't know for sure because that is not something Benjy would fess up to.

So here we are at home, and all I can do is keep him off the computer for as long as possible and tell him if he's too sick for school he's too sick for fencing tonight. And keep my fingers crossed we're not in for another storm.

1 comment:

  1. Prayers and warm wishes this is *just* a bad day. Andrew hopes to see him tomorrow. Sending you all wishes for peace and a Happy Hanukkah...