Monday, March 11, 2013

Does Our Daughter Suffer From PTSD

I have a little shadow; her name is Violet. She follows me around and gets upset if I leave anywhere without her. She constantly follows me around to inquire whether she could come with me, whether we are having plans to go out or not. Except of work, I hardly ever leave the house without her, but still, she needs the constant reassurance that we would not leave her behind. Richards joked at some point that she might have been abandoned in a past life. However, we're also very worried about her. We thought her attachment, which was extreme from early infancy on, would pass, but so far, it hasn't.

I have talked to one of my best friends about it and she mentioned the possibility of infancy PTSD to me. I couldn't imagine that. Nothing really "traumatic" had happened, she was never abused or neglected and born int a loving family even though we all went through a transition during this time. Early into the pregnancy we had decided that it would be the best for the family to relocate to Germany once Violet was born. So we had been packing and sending boxes. I suffered from a certain anxiety during that time, which I considered normal considering the prospect of packing up a family of four and moving to a different country on another continent without having jobs, without having a home (we were to stay with my grandparents untiil we had found jobs and a new home). About two weeks before Violet was born, I received a phone call from my parents; my grandfather had died from a brain aneurism. I was shocked, but was not in the emotional position to really accept the grief. Once our baby had arrived, the stress started of sending out the last boxes, getting all her travel documents and organize the move. On the day of the move, I was a mess. I hardly didn't sleep, cleaned the entire house taking care of a toddler and a newborn while Richard stood in line for 2 hours to cancel the last utilities. We moved and lived with my family for two months before moving to our own apartment about an hour away.

Last week, I stumbled over an interesting article by Julie at Life.. According to Julie on parenting an anxious child. This post got me to do some research, where I came across this article on PTSD in young children published by the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH). Even though, as I mentioned before, she was never abused or neglected, I am wondering whether she has experienced the whole move as something more traumatic than we had thought before. I acknowledge that Lily, almost 2.5 years old at this point, had sufferent from night terrors for about two months after the move and slept in our bed every night during that time, which she had never done before as she was always a good sleeper. But she recovered and became her old self again.

Violet, in contrast, is still displaying many symptoms described in above referenced article by the MACMH: "difficulties in going to sleep (,) disrupted sleep, an exaggerated startle response, increased irritability or fussiness, and / or intesne separation anxiety." During the first months of her life, no-one but me could comfort her if I was around (and she always seemed to know). She never was able to fall asleep by herself until she was about 2 years old. She still is not sleeping all the way until the morning but wakes up and needs to be picked up from her room. When she was about 4 months old, she had a phase when she would wake 5 or 6 times per night (yes, I was a zombie during these months), and she still has extreme separation anxiety. She accepts me going to work, but when she knows that I am home, she will inquire over and over again whether I would stay home, and if she gets the notion that I would go somewhere (whether I actually do plan to leave the house or not), she will ask over and over again if she could come, too, even when we already put on her jacket and hat. I am not even able to go to the basement to get soemthing from the freezer without her following me. Until now, I thought she was just very attached, but this article really got me to think. I cannot bring it over me to push her away from me and purposefully do things without her. I truly believe that this would make things worse rather than curing anything.

I hoped for the longest time that she would rally and detach herself naturally, but as her third birthday approaches I wonder whether she actually does need help. Next month we have her 3-year check-up and I will definitely will talk to her doctor about the issue. I hope that I am just an overly anxious mother, but should she need help, I want her to get it as early as possible to be able to lead a normal life.

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