For the past 4 weeks, my family has been living through hell. Our strong, independent daughter had turned into a scared, aggressive ‘wild animal’ overnight. Each morning I would wake in a panic, what would this day bring? The psychologists assured me forcing her to school each day was necessary, “you must fight anxiety with exposure, even if for 30 minutes” – but each exposure made the situation worse. She went from extreme depression, to extreme anxiety to panic, aggression and opposition defiance, the symptoms getting worse. Planning the follow day became a nightmare, would she go to school? what class? we can’t leave her alone so who will take off work? I stopped booking patients and making any plans. And although “mental health affects us all, let’s talk” is a common slogan – the stigma and embarrassment makes it hard to talk about. I’m a Naturopath who FOCUSES on anxiety, how can my own child be this out of control? How could I not have seen the signs? From someone who never takes their children to the doctor I was having 3-4 appointments weekly with different specialists, private school, home schools, teachers – anything to help us dig ourselves out of the hell and start on a new path.
It took 3 weeks before I could even start to tell my friends and family about what we were going through. Finally, I broke down in tears in front on a colleague and friend, who once I told my story said “Deb – your daughter has PANDAS. Test her for strep”. A few days later, sure enough, Samantha tested positive for streptococcus. Thank god there is a reason for this extreme abnormal behaviour, PANDAS is now part of my story, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus’.
We begin treatment today and the research and battle begins.