Negative Progress


It’s been over a week since Haru has started taking N-acetylcysteine a.k.a. NAC supplements and it seems to be working really well…almost too well. Sometimes I wonder if this is some kind of placebo effect, but then I have to remind myself that Haru has no idea what NAC is for. She thinks its for clearing and brightening her skin complexion (which it kind of is). In the last week, she only had one very minor episode yesterday afternoon, when she got angry with my wife refused to let her buy and wear a t-shirt with some rather objectionable rhetoric written on it. I say it was an “episode” not just because of her emotional fit, but because she complained that her voice didn’t sound like her own voice anymore, and it sounded like someone else talking when she spoke. This was clearly a psychotic delusion.

Usually these delusions are followed by a depression spell that could last the entire day at minimum, and at times they could last several days or even weeks. These are the negative symptoms and the reason why we are giving Haru NAC supplements.

However, an amazing and unexpected thing happened afterwards. After about an hour or so, she was able to calm herself down and she even actually apologized for her outburst . Needless to say we were stunned by the sudden change in attitude, but in a good way. To me, this clearly showed that something is changing, and she is able better control her emotions.

In addition to this, Haru has made very noticeable and positive improvements in her daily routine. Previously, she would stay up very late at night (sometimes until the early hours of the morning) and then sleep until the late morning or even early afternoon. During the day, she would rarely leave the confines of her room, not even for dinner. Either my wife or myself would have to take a tray up to her room, and then bring the tray back down when she finished. This was very annoying in that no 13 year old should have live-in maid and butler service. But I would have to remind my wife and myself that this is an illness and we will need to bear it until she feels well enough to come out of her room. This whole cycle would repeat itself and it had lasted for weeks. Haru even started refusing to take her anti psychotic medication, so this whole situation looked as if was going to get a lot worse before it got better.

In last week however, her sleep patterns have improved immensely. She would go to sleep around midnight, still a bit late for my taste, but a lot better than 4 or 5 AM. She would then get up early enough to participate in her online classes. Granted, there were times when we would have to wake her, but she would then sit at her desk and log in to her school PC on her own without any fuss or complaints.

Haru still eats dinner in her room, but in the last couple of days, she would come down to get her tray, and then she would bring it back down when she finished, which is a major improvement. Additionally, she now spends a bit more time out of her room. She would come down to the living room a few times a day for several minutes to talk to her mom. She still doesn’t talk to me too much, but I think that’s okay. It’s a typical teenage girl thing, I guess. As much as I wished we had a better relationship like we had this time last year, its a lot better than what it has been. Perhaps, she’ll come around with a bit more time.

But the biggest stunner happened tonight when she asked us to take her to Odaiba this weekend. This is big because, for weeks (nearly months now) she couldn’t leave her room let alone the house, because of her fear of people staring or talking about her, which is one of her positive symptoms or delusions. Her choice of venues is also a positive sign because Odaiba is where I took Haru last year before her entrance exams. It was our place and the place where we had nice father-daughter moments. I think those memories are still instilled in her and perceives them as being good times.

The other place she wanted to go was Ikspiri, a fairly large mall right next to Tokyo Disneyland. This is another place I use to take her last year. Clearly, she feel these places as being good and positive, which I am thrilled about. I also have very found memories of spending time there, just Haru and me. When I heard that she wanted to go to these places, I felt as if this was the first steps towards getting my daughter back, and I am very happy about that.

The last sign that shows a sign of movement is the right direction is that she said that she will be going to school next week. Although it’s only a half day due to the corona virus lock down, she said that she felt its time to get back to normal. Another great sign that things are returning to the way they were.

As I said in my last blog, I am not entirely sure if this is because of NAC, because I do believe that this is a lot more than just a coincidence. Because of this, I can’t help to comb through archives of past studies on NAC and what it’s really doing. In terms of efficacy on mental illness, it seems that there is no real consensus on among psychiatrists. Some studies show overwhelming evidence that NAC is effective in treating the negative symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, while others show that the results are either inconclusive or even ineffective.

But it seems that NAC is mostly effective on people who have a significant glutathione deficiency. Glutathione is a naturally occurring antioxidant responsible ensuring that the body can process and excrete free radials or impurities. Some studies show that glutathione deficiency can cause depression or other mental illnesses including schizophrenia.

Admittedly, I cherry picked and deliberately looked for any correlation between schizophrenia and glutathione deficiency in the hopes that there may be some link. And to my surprise, there are studies out there that link the two. See here for more details. So, I may be oversimplifying things, but those who are unable to synthesize adequate levels of glutathione in their bodies, tend to be more prone to mental illness including schizophrenia.

However, here’s the bad thing…sort of. You can’t just simply take glutathione and hope that the body can use it to detox your body. Glutathione is plentiful in foods, but when it is digested, it breaks down leaving only a small about of “usable” glutathione. And in those who suffer from mental illness, or I should say as a possible symptom of mental illness, the amount could be very insufficient.

That’s where NAC comes in. NAC is not a glutathione pill. NAC is more like the building blocks that gives the body the ability to synthesize glutathione. In other words, when NAC is broken down by the digestive system, the individual molecular components that come out of, helps the body create glutathione.

I have also been taking NAC everyday for over a week now. Personally, I don’t feel or see any difference. This could be because I have not been taking it long to get any benefits from it. My personal opinion is that I don’t see any difference, because I am not glutathione deficient. It’s like giving a starving person food, compared to giving a person who just had a big dinner food. The starving person is going to reap more benefit from eating because its what they really need.

In this context, it all makes a lot of sense. A glutathione deficiency may be the root cause of Haru’s schizophrenia, therefore the NAC supplements may be having some real effects in helping her deal with her depression. I just hope that thing continue to improve as quick as they have in the last 10 days.

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N-Acetylcysteine


In my last blog, I briefly mentioned a supplement called N-Acetylcysteine or NAC for short. During my search for more information about schizophrenia, and ways to help the negative symptoms which is mainly comprised of depression, withdraw, and the lack of motivation among other symptoms, I found a lot of psychiatric research articles and studies that state that NAC may significantly improve negative symptoms in schizophrenia and bipolar patients. And since NAC is not a medication but an over the counter supplement (much like vitamin C tablets you’d find at the local drug store), there is essentially little to no risk of side effects. As a matter of fact, practically anyone can take them.

NAC is even being researched as a means to combat symptoms of covid19, since it has very strong antioxidant properties. But the one thing that surprised me the most is that it helps improve skin complexion, and helps clear mild to moderate skin acne.

Although the effects on the brain is still not 100% certain, there have been several studies conducted with people who have either bipolar, schizophrenia, or some other type of mental disorder. These experiments were conducted on varying sizes of research groups, and most have found that those who had taken 1000mg or more of NAC twice a day, showed moderate to significant improvements in negative symptoms, while showing little to no change in positive symptoms.

Normally, I would be skeptical of any claims of a “miracle cure” for anything, but the evidence I found was so overwhelming and very compelling. NAC is even mentioned on schizophrenia.com and many people in the forums have said that NAC has made varying degrees of improvement on how they feel. I figured that since the risk is small, and the cost is low, it would be worth a shot. At worst, NAC will do nothing for any of us and we’d be out $30.00 (not including the price of shipping). So we decided to buy some.

The 1000mg 120 tablet bottle of NAC arrived in about a week. I also ordered a 240 gram bag of NAC in powdered form from bulksupplements.com, which arrived at about the same time. I decided not to tell Haru what the NAC was really for and told her that it would help her with her skin instead (which wasn’t a lie since one of it’s many claims is clear complexion). Since she has been so self conscious about her complexion, she happily consented to being a part of my control in my little experiment. She is the only member of my 3 person experiment group who has no idea as to what this supplement is really for, and she is the most important member because she will tell us whether or not this thing really works.

I have been taking NAC in powder form for about 5 days now. The powder form is extremely tart and tastes light unsweetened concentrated lemon powder. I can deal with the sourness, but the odor is absolutely awful. I smells like rotting eggs, or sulfur. Apparently the more it gets exposed to air, the worse the odor gets, so I have been storing it in a ziplock bag and keep in in the refrigerator. I also read that if you get NAC and it already smells badly, chances are that its either old or was not stored correctly. The efficacy of old NAC is yet to be determined, but its always best to get it and keep it fresh.

In the last five days that I have been taking NAC, I have not noticed in any significant changes in myself, which is to be expected. After all, any noticeable improvement takes place after about 5 to 6 months of consistent use -so the studies say. However, with that said, when I went to the supermarket tonight, I noticed that I was not as irritable as I normally would be. I hate going to supermarkets, so normally they would put in a foul mood. But I was okay tonight. Was it the NAC keeping my mood at bay? Or is all of this psychosomatic trickery? In other words, maybe I didn’t become irritable because that is the expected results of taking this supplement. But in all honesty, I was not even thinking about NAC when I was at the supermarket tonight. As a matter of fact, I think my mind was a complete blank the whole time.

I am not sure how often my wife has been taking NAC or even if she still takes it all. I haven’t seen any changes in her behavior, so perhaps its too soon to tell.

As for Haru, the biggest person of interest in this whole psychological experiment. Just a reminder that she has no clue that she is taking the supplement to control her negative symptoms. So any changes we see, would not be psychosomatic, but a real change -either that or wild coincidence. But before I give out the details of what we noticed -and yes, we did notice something, I must disclose a significant bit of information that will add further to the result of the 5 day experiment.

Since Sunday evening (about 5 days ago) Haru has been refusing to take her quetiapine, the anti psychotic medication to control the symptoms of schizophrenia. This REALLY concerned me because quetiapine is not a medication that one should quit cold turkey as it may have serious adverse effects as well as withdraw symptoms that are comparable to heroine addiction withdrawal. This not to mention the possible relapse and side effects that may reoccur. She claimed that she was not sick anymore and so she no longer needed the mediation. But the presence of her positive symptoms proved otherwise. She was still a bit delusional in her thinking, and kept telling me that she was going to move out and get a part time job soon, which is a notion that is seriously divorced from reality, since she is still only 13 years old.

We begged and pleaded with her to restart her medication, but it seemed that the more we tried to reason with her, the more she convinced herself that the medication was unnecessary, and that she was no longer ill. On Monday night, my wife managed to bribe her into taking her medication by making her dinner that she wanted to eat, but on Tuesday and Wednesday, she went back to insisting that the medication was unnecessary, and absolutely refused to take it.

Fearing relapse or withdrawal symptoms, we called her doctor immediately for advice (earlier in the week) and he advised us NOT to force or trick her into taking her medicine as it will make the situation worse. She may began to fear a conspiracy to make her sick, and her current lack in trust of me will make the situation worse.

Her doctor said that there are many cases where a patient quits their medication with the belief that the medication is not working or making them worse, or like in Haru’s case, no longer necessary. In those cases, it’s best not to try to force them to take their medication.

I tried to crush her medication and mix it in her food in the hopes that she would take her medication without catching on. But that turned out to be a bad idea. #1 because, her medication made her food taste really bitter and bad, and #2 because had she caught on that we tried to trick her into taking her medication, it would have made a bad situation even worse. Luckily, she just thought her sushi was spoiled and just refused to eat it all together, never suspecting that it had been spiked with her medication.

Her doctor added that in cases where young patients refuse medication, the best solution is to temporarily switch to olanzapine dissolving tablets. These tablets have no taste or odor and can easily be dissolved in anything like water, juice, milk, or soup. Caffeinated soft drinks are never a good idea. Although I didn’t like the idea of switch back to olanzapine because of its many bad side effects like rapid weight gain and diabetes, I felt we had no choice and we needed to do something to help her with her positive symptoms.

The doctor gave us a dosage of 12.5mg/day of olanzapine, and advised us to make absolutely certain that she does not catch on about it. So we had to strategized a way of getting her to take olanzapine without her knowing it.

In the past week that Haru had not taken her anti psychotic medication, we expected that we would have some serious issues with her. Perhaps she would become very depressed, have tantrum, or other adverse mood disorders. But on the contrary, we found that her mood had been better – a lot better. No significant mood swings, although she would tell me how much she hated me on a couple occasions. She’s even woken up early everyday this week and attended all of her online classes. She’s been talkative and even cheerful at times. This is all without the absence of taking her medication.

I am not too sure what the reason is for sudden mood change in the right direction, but it made me think about what changed this week? What was different? Could it be that quitting quetiapine actually made her better? Although I am not entirely ruling out the possibility that quetiapine had some adverse effect on her mood like Hocruxes did on Ron Weasley, it’s also quite possible that the NAC that she had been taking had something to do with it as well. Again, I must interject here that Haru’s has no clue that NAC has some alleged mood benefits. She believes that NAC is a skin supplement (which it kind of is). So, this is not some psychosomatic induced result. This result -if it truly is a result, is genuine.

Seeing that its only been five days since she started taking NAC, the jury is still out as to if her mood stabilization is truly due to the claimed psychological benefits of NAC.

As for Haru’s refusal to take her anti psychotic medication, oddly enough, she took her medication tonight. And we didn’t even have to sneak it into her food. Although she didn’t exactly volunteer for it, she eventually did reluctantly cave in, which is something she rarely does these days. But who knows what tomorrow will bring…stay tuned.

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2021: A New Hope


It’s been a while since I updated this blog and quite a lot has changed since. 2020 was an absolutely abysmal year, but I guess that can be said by everyone living on this planet. With the pandemic, poor economy, record job losses and just plain rottenness all around, things were really really hard.

But the one thing that made life absolutely difficult for us was Haruka. Initially, I thought that she was going through the typical teenage rebellion and adolescence, however things were different -much different. It wasn’t just poor behavior and being contrarian when it came to following household rules. We notice a lot of atypical and psychotic behavior as well.

For example, when Haru didn’t get her way, she would get very irate and violent, often times throw objects, scream at people and even throw punches and kicks at her mother or me. Her sleep patterns were also erratic, often staying up until very late at night and sleeping until the early afternoon. She even stopped going to school because of her irregular sleep habits.

At one point, she even demanded access to our credit cards or our Amazon accounts, so that she freely buy things on her own. Of course, we refused which made her even more erratic. At this point, we realized that things were not normal and that she had lost touch reality.

Additionally, she would have delusions, and believed that she was being abused, especially when she was not getting her way. The reality is, we rarely, if not ever physically punish her in any way. I don’t believe in corporal punishment, but here were times I had to pull her off her mother when she was going through her violent fits and restrain her. Haru is physically very strong so at times it took a lot if not all my strength to pin her down until she calmed down.

All of this, was not the Haru that I know. Yes, when she was a small child, she threw tantrums and cried a lot when she she didn’t get her way, but she never resorted to violence. She isn’t the happy energetic little girl who acted silly and was fun to be with anymore. She’s often depressed, withdrawn, irritable, angry, violent, paranoid, suspicious, envious or jealous of other people -even of those who have less than she does. We realized that this situation was far beyond what we can deal with and that we need to seek professional help.

Haru kept saying that the pressure of prep school and her entrance exams last year was what was causing her to act out. Not only was she being bullied by kids at school, but she was also being bullied by her classmates at prep school. We knew this was happening and went to both her school and prep school to get to the bottom of what was happening. The teachers at her prep school were fairly supportive and promised to make sure that the bully (a boy who went to the same elementary school as Haru, and was apparently under intense pressure from his parents to get into a good school), no longer bullies Haru. Although the bullying stopped while they were at prep school, the boy bullied her when they were at school. I went to the her elementary school to talk to her teacher, and demanded that he take better care of of his students. But Haru’s teacher was horrible and a completely incompetent buffoon who shouldn’t even be teaching at all. In Haru’s 6 years at that school, he was the only teacher to give Haru a “B” in physical education. This is a kid who was chosen to run anchor in the relay at their track and field event and placed first for her team. The same kid who was practically at the top of her class at her cheerleading, tumbling and gymnastics classes. A “B” in math I would believe, but not in physical education. This stupid teacher knew nothing about his kids, especially Haru.

At first we went to a counselor so that Haru would at least have someone to talk to (other than us) about her problems. We figured that she just needed someone to talk to and vent. But after a few weeks of counseling, her counselor advised us that Haru has much bigger issues and that we need to seek psychiatric therapy for her immediately. Of course, this was very difficult for me to hear, but we decided to take to Haru to get tested.

The result was: Haru is suffering from pyschosis, and and borderline childhood onset schizophrenia. My heart sunk and I was distraught for weeks. I blamed myself to the point where even I contemplated ending my own life because I felt so guilty. I felt that I was not a good father, or that I pressured her too much to succeed. I hated myself and the reality is that I have still yet to come to terms with or forgiven myself to this day. Even though everything I read and did research on points to the fact that this is less likely my fault but more like a chemical imbalance or a heredity issue, I still can’t help feeling that I am fully responsible.

Haru even blames me for this. She would often tell me that she is “like this” because of me, and had even demanded that I move out so that she could get better. I can’t even begin express how those world tore me apart. You could have set me on fire with a plasma blow torch and it would not have been nearly as painful as those words. And what is even harder is that I believed her.

Haru has been on medication since October. At first, she was on a anti-psychotic medication called Olanzapine. This medication has a ton of side effects including rapid weight gain. While Haru was on this medication, she had an insatiable appetite, especially for sweets. Suffice it to say, she gained a lot of weight and grew very self conscious about her appearance, to the point where she refused to go to school anymore.

The doctor then changed her medication to Aripiprazole, a medication that had just as many bad side effects as the first one, expect it didn’t increase her appetite as much. The commercial name for this medication is “Abilify”, which is somewhat appropriate because increases the motivation to do things. I saw a lot of positive effects from this medication. For example, Haru was going to school more often, she spent a bit more time out of her room, and she even went out with here friends from time to time. The only ileffects I noticed was that the medication had a fairly short half life. For example, if she took the medication before bedtime the night before, the effect would wear off by the late afternoon the next day. Sometimes it wouldn’t be a big deal, and she would be okay throughout the evening, and she would be okay enough until her next dose.

Other times, especially if we go out for dinner or something, the depression, anxiety, and the delusions will start to creep in. She would complain about people staring at her, when in reality no one was looking at any of us. She would start to worry about her future, and started to feel a sense of worthlessness. The sure fire warning that she was about to go off the rails is when she starts complaining about her appearance, and start to talk about wanting cosmetic surgery. It would get increasingly worse until she would have a complete breakdown. If we were far from home, the whole trip home would be complete a hellish nightmare.

We told her doctor about the short half life and he said that an increase in dosage would help. However, instead of increasing her dosage of Aripiprazole, to my surprise and dismay, he changed her medication again completely. This time he prescribed her another anti psychotic called quetiapine. Initially, I was not too happy about the change, especially when aripiprazole seemed be doing the trick to tame her irritability.

Quetiapine, like the previous two anti psychotics also has tons of side effects, including weight gain which was the main reason we stopped using the first drug. But the scariest side effect for this particular drug is an increase in suicidal thoughts. Needless to say, I was TERRIFIED of this drug and wanted her off of it immediately. But her doctor insisted that this is the best drug for her.

For the first few weeks after the switch, there were increased talks of suicide from Haru. It scared me so much, that there was a period when I had not slept for several days. I was a afraid that if I fell asleep that something would happen to her.

One day, she left the house saying that she wanted to go to the drug store to buy “something”. I had activated a GPS tracking device on her iPhone shortly after I bought it for so that I could track her location, especially since she was using the train to commute to school. I was so nervous about her leaving the house in her state of mond, that I actually followed her. Apparently she had gone to the drug store to try to buy sleeping pills with the intent of overdosing. Luckily, drug stores are not allowed to sell drugs to under aged children unless accompanied by an adult, so they turned her her away.

Usually kids would keep something like this a secret, but Haru still thinks like a child, so she actually told us what she tried to do. Either that, or she was seeking help so that we’d stop her from attempting like this again later.

After some research, I finally realized what the doctor was doing. Since Haru is still only 13 years old, he can’t prescribe a full dose of an anti psychotic drug straight away. These drugs are way too strong and have tons of really bad side effects that are arguably worse than the disease itself. Because of this, doctors will often put people (not only children) on what is called a titration schedule. This is basically a way to gradually introduce medication into a person’s system so that the can adjust to the side effects. Also, especially in Haru’s case, the doctor is trying to determine the exact therapeutic dosage is for Haru. To do this, he needs to raise the dosage while allowing Haru to adjust to the side effects with each increase in dosage. So essentially this is just a game of guess and check until he can determine the correct dosage.

Haru was initially given 25mg (daily) of quetiapine which is probably the worse dosage. This dosage arguably causes the worst side effects: drowsiness, constant sedation, increase in appetite, and in Haru’s case tendency for suicidal thoughts. For Haru, this lasted nearly 2 weeks (and I must say, those were the hardest two weeks ever).

After about two weeks, the side effect were still there but they were weaker and more tolerable (for everyone). The dosage was then increased to 50mg which introduced a set of new side effects. Haru was feeling less sedated, but as a consequence suffered from insomnia. Her positive symptoms (which I will explain later) gradually subsided but she still experienced them. Her negative symptoms got worse -a lot worse. This naturally leads one to think that the medication is either not working or making things worse. And I found that because of this, a lot of people tend to stop using quetiapine or any anti psychotic for that matter.

About a week later, since Haru’s positive symptoms were subsiding a bit, so the doctor boosted the dosage to 100mg/ day. Again, slightly better results with positive symptoms, but the negative symptoms were getting worse. The side effect were mild, but there was definitely a noticeable increase in appetite and lack of sleep.

Another week goes by, and another increase in dosage. This time it was upped to 125mg/ day. No significant increase in side effects, and the suicidal thoughts have seemed to gone away which is a huge relief to me. The appetite also subsided a bit, but she has had significant cravings for frozen fruits, to the point where she would not eat much of anything else. As a matter of fact, for a while she complained of nausea if the food had any kind of odor to it, so frozen fruits were the only things that wouldn’t make her nauseous. Positive symptoms were still there, although not as bad as before. Negative symptoms were about the same.

Haru has been at 200mg/ day for the last week and a half or so. Currently, the side effect continue to be the inability to eat food with any kind of odor, but she is able to eat sushi or sashimi, and of course frozen fruits. She has grown a strong craving for Monster energy drinks which I suspected was REALLY bad for her. She bought three cans of it last week and drank them which seem to have made her positive symptoms a lot worse. Upon consulting her doctor, we found out that any energy drink is extremely bad for anyone who is experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, as I suspected. Since Haru is going through this rebellious adolescence stage, she threatened to stop taking her medication if she can’t have her energy drink. But after a while, she was able to think rationally and agreed to not drink that stuff -at least for now. Who knows, she’ll probably change her mind tomorrow.

If her positive symptoms subside this week, her dosage will most likely be boosted again next weekend, and this whole process will continue until she is at the therapeutic dosage, and both her positive and negative symptoms subside and she is able to function normally again. At least that’s the plan.

I have been mentioning positive and negative symptoms a lot. What are they and how are they different? First of all, despite what the name may suggest, neither are good. The end game to reduce or eradicate all symptoms (both positive and negative). But of the two types of symptoms, the positive symptoms are the most concerning and the most terrifying for the person who suffers from psychosis. The negative symptoms are more of a concern for the people around her.

Positive symptoms consist of delusion or the inability to distinguish between what is real and not real. In Haru’s case, she believes that people are staring and/or talking about her when she is out in public. So the thought of going outside of the house terrifies her. Additionally, she is under the strong belief that she is ugly, badly deformed, and doesn’t look like a human being, so she doesn’t want to go to school or anywhere for that matter unless she undergoes cosmetic surgery so that she looks more like a human again.

Other positive symptoms are visual and auditory hallucinations, which Haru is also experiencing. She says that there are people in her room, so she always has the need to wear her day clothes even when she is in bed. She also says that she sometimes feels things touching her.

All of the symptoms above are positive symptoms, and with proper medical treatment, these symptoms should go away first, and fairly quickly. However there are second set of symptoms that is caused by a lack of dopamine reaching a certain part of the brain. Dopamine is the “reward” chemical. So anytime we do something that is right, or feels good, or anything we want to do again, we do so because dopamine is secreted which makes feel good and positive.

A person who is suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia, a part of the brain is not getting the dopamine that it needs. And because of this, there is a lack of motivation, depression, irritability, anger, etc. Even if the person is doing what he/she really enjoys doing, since a part of their brain is not being rewarded with dopamine, there is no joy felt, nor is there any motivation to do that thing that they enjoy agsain. As a result, depression, lack of motivation, withdrawal, etc. sets in.

Negative symptoms are more difficult to fix. Often times, negative symptoms may need to be treated by separate medication or additional therapy. For Haru, the negative symptoms fluctuates heavily throughout the week, or sometimes even throughout the day. She would wake up in a fairly okay to good mood, but by mid day, she would be in a very foul mood.

For Haru’s sake, we want to get rid of both the positive and negative symptoms, but our sake we want to get rid of the negative symptoms more than anything. This has been very difficult on all of us to the point that even I have not been too functional. I am also going through depression now, and am looking to go on medication or supplements to relieve some of these bad thoughts. But unlike Haru, I am a lot more rational and not suffering from psychosis, so I am able to deal with it a bit better. At the same time, I can also see this getting worse and even debilitating if this whole situation continues to get worse.

I have already bought some mood stabilizing supplements called N-Acetylcysteine which I will be taking. It’s also very helpful in stabilizing negative symptoms so the doctor gave be the okay to let Haru take it as well to help stabilize her mood. I will talk about this in more detail once I start taking it.

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Finding the Problem


I have a taken a leave from work for the next ten days or so in an effort to try to figure out what to do about Haru. I seriously doubt that I can do anything in such a short period of time, but at the very least I may be able to kick her butt out of the house and force her to go to school.

As I have been mention previously, I know what the problem is. Haru has a serious addiction issue. And although it’s not substance abuse (alcohol or drugs), in my opinion it’s as equally life robbing as substance abuse.

I TOTALLY regret giving Haru an iPhone. Since she wanted one so badly, I saw it as a good incentive to work hard in prep school so that she’d get accepted to a good private school. And for the most part, it worked. Haru’s was accepted to her first choice school. However, she had no real incentive to work hard to stay in junior high school, because she got everything she wanted when I bought her an iPhone.

Taking it away or severely limiting usage seemed like the obvious solution to get her back on track, and under normal circumstances that probably would work. But in Haru’s case, it only served to make the situation worse -MUCH worse.

Like any other addictions, she would go through pretty severe withdraw symptoms (headaches, loss in appetite, severe irritability and anger, nausea, etc.) It’s like trying to get an alcoholic to quit drinking. It takes a lot more effort than just removing the substance.

Haru is seeking counseling now to help get over this problem. However, Haru seems to always side track her counseling session so that they never discuss her real problem. She always talks about the symptoms, so the counselor deduced that perhaps she has some kind of chemical imbalance and recommended medication to get her emotional outbursts and her physical ailments under control.

I was so frustrated by this that I wrote a fairly lengthy email to the counselor describing what the REAL problem is: smartphone addiction, in the hopes that she would point that out to Haru and suggest solutions on curbing her need to use her phone all the time. But, again, Haru had somehow sidetracked the conversation at her session, so they only talked about the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself. It’s as if Haru is deliberately doing this to avoid having discuss her real problem, partially because she is in denial; she doesn’t believe that she is addicted to her iphone. I am going to try to get them to discuss what is really relevant on her next session so that we can get on track to fixing this problem.

So what is Haru really addicted to? In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. She was really into Kpop at one point so she just listened to music, and watched music videos on YouTube and TikTok. She did spend a quit a lot of time watching the videos, but she was able to put down her phone when it was time. She never complained or lost her temper when the time limit was up.

Then her interest changed abruptly, and she was no longer interested in Kpop and gained interest in Anime. This too wasn’t such a bad thing either, because she would often watch her favorite animes on TV, then go online to read about the back stories and find out when the comic books would be released. Again, not such a big deal, and she was able to distance herself from her iphone without any drama.

The problem really began when she started forming an obsession with a particular anime character, and the voice actor behind him. Her interest in the character seemed to shift more and more towards voice actor in a very short time. Although I thought it was a bit odd, it didn’t bother me too much; I figured that all girls will form some crush on some idol figures, whether it’d be boys bands or teenage idols.

Her obsession escalated very quickly, to the point where she had completely lost interested in cheerleading (the main reason for choosing the school she chose) and gained interested in volleyball -the sport her favorite anime character was involved in. I was not very pleased about about this, because eventually she decided not to join the cheerleading team, and decided to try out for volleyball -a sport she never played in her life nor had any interest in until watching this anime. But I decided to support her on this none the less. Perhaps she might turn out to be good at it.

Again, her interest shifted, and she began to show interest in interactive social media sites, which I was vehemently against. So much so, that I insisted that none of these apps be installed on her phone. However, my wife insisted that she was able to use LINE, so that she could talk to her school friends -as if she couldn’t do this at school. I wasn’t too keen on that either. I hate LINE and all apps like it. I think they are all full of online bullies and social media predictors -not to mention that they only serve to make it difficult for people to form real relationships outside of the virtual world, but I gave in with the condition that it’s monitored carefully.

Over the last month, she started forming online friends outside of her school friends -mostly anime fan clubs. This threw up a ton a red flags for me, and I was about to pull the plug, but Haru insisted that her new online friends were a cool and that they all had so much in common.

Over the weeks, in-app text conversations became voice conversations. The conversations went from being a few minutes a day, to several hours a day. Haru started making up reasons for not going to school, and spent the whole day at home talking to some girl she met on LINE. Suffice it to say, I was very uneasy over this whole situation. I soon learned that this person is some girl who lives on the other side of the country. She had dropped out of school because she was being bullied by her classmates. I suspect this was what attracted Haru to her. She belonged to a group called “drop outs”, which Haru also joined without my knowledge. My wife demanded that she remove herself from that group, but Haru refused.

Growing concerned, I had looked through Haru’s LINE app to make sure that these kids weren’t negatively influencing her to quit school. And although I didn’t find anything in the text messages to suggest it, I suspect that there had been a few verbal conversations on subject.

At this point, we’re are at a crossroad. It seems that every time Haru has one of her long conversations with these kids, she would get on the subject of not wanting to go to school. They are definitely influencing her to drop out, if not directly definitely indirectly. My wife was very close to deleting all of the contacts to these kids from Haru’s phone, but Haru went off on a wild fit when she found out what my wife was up to. But at this point, I feel I have no choice. I can’t have these delinquent brats being a bad influence on my daughter. I think they have already done a ton of damage, and I can only hope that it’s reversible. I am going to lose a tremendous amount of Haru’s trust, but I have to protect her. These are online predators and they are going to do a lot of damage if I don’t stop them now.

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Mentally Exhausted!


I am so mentally exhausted. I don’t know how much more of this I can deal with. I am pretty sure that this is from stress, but I am now having to deal with nausea.

I now know how I am going to die. Haru’s behavior is going to be the end of me. She is going to drive me to mental insanity and I will either be put away or I might do harm to myself.

I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS SO MUCH!!!!!!! I JUST WANT MY FRICKEN DAUGHTER BACK!!!!

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WHY?


The only way I can deal with this situation now is to just write about it. Writing about it normally helps me sort and organize my thoughts in my head. With that said, I am feeling so much sadness and despair, even writing doesn’t seem to help me cope with this situation with Haru.

WHY? WHY do I have to always have to deal with so many issues in my life? I am so exhausted! Truly EXHAUSTED! I just want everything to be normal again! Is that too much to ask?

As a child, I had to deal with loneliness, with parent(s) who seemingly didn’t care that they were leaving a small child home for several hours a day, and not being appreciated for anything I do. I know its ridiculous to say this about yourself, but I was such a good kid! I was independent, asked for so little, never got into trouble, went to school everyday despite being bullied, and yet I had no one to appreciate it. Yes, I get it. Someone needed put food on the table, hence sacrifices needed to be made.

I promised myself that when I become a parent that I would be so involved in my child’s life. I would take her to and completely support whatever activities that she would be involved in, make sure that she would get everything I didn’t have, get her the BEST education I could afford (even if it meant starving myself), and make sure she is happy.

I thought I had pretty much delivered on all of these things, and yet again I am once again completely unappreciated. I have been giving her EVERYTHING except happiness, and it’s killing me. I totally envy her. I wish I had a parent that took interest in what I did, as much as I have taken interest in everything that Haru does. I wish I had people help me with my school work so that I had a better chance of getting into a good school. I wish that I simply had someone to talk to when everything sucked about life! I gave her so much, so what the hell did I do wrong???? What the hell did I do to be hated so much?? Even if hadn’t delivered on any of these things, and yet she was happy, I think I would be okay.

I HATE this! I HATE having to feel like this all the time, pulling my hair out and trying to figure out how to turn this situation around. People tell me that the onus of responsibility id really not mine but hers, and that she is going through a phase that she’ll get over eventually. But I feel as if there is a wake of irreversible damage being created while she is going though this phase.

I think I am psychologically damaged because of this and not sure what to do about it. I want to seek psychiatric help, but we are already spending so much on Haru’s schooling (schooling that she is not taking advantage of), and her counseling, so I don’t think I can afford it.

I’ll think I just need to ride this out, but hopefully I don’t completely lose my mind in the process.

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2020 Sucks!


These are dark times. I have been having a difficult time coming to terms with the issues I have been experiencing with Haru. At this point, I feel as I am just a piece of furniture in my own home. Communications with Haru is practically zero. The only time she really talks to me is when she really needs something like her screen time extended on her iPhone. But most of the time I am completely ignored.

I learned from my wife that she has gone to Disneyland today with her school friends. With all of the missed classes, the constant talking back, the barrage of I hate you’s that she stabs me in the heart with, among several other delinquent behavior, I would have normally totally forbidden her to go to Disneyland. My initial thought was, are you kidding me! We’re just rewarding her for REALLY bad behavior! But I felt that had I said no to this, not only will she hate me even more, it would have made the situation MUCH worse in many ways.

For one thing, she would have just locked herself in her room all day, and literally just talked to her online friends all day on her iPhone, which I am trying to get her away from. Secondly, I really want her to build her relationship with her school friends so that she gets invited out more, and she is motivated to go to school more. I was afraid that had I told her no, that her friends would no longer invite her to hang out with them, and she’d be further demotivated from going to school.

I desperately also want to rebuild my own relationship with her and to regain her confidence that I am not just the parent that says ‘no’ all the time, but someone who can be reasonable. Yes, it irritates the hell out of me that after the hell she has put me through in the last months, that I am essentially rewarding her for bad behavior.

With all that said, I am really depending on this outing with her friends to restore her confidence in people. It could easily could go in the other direction and these kids may really mean, and drive her to distrust people even more, and as a result drive her to become further withdrawn from reality. But since Haru is going to a Christian private school, I am under the belief that these kids come from good homes and are far more empathetic towards others. I am not a Christian, but I do believe in traditional Christian values (to treat others with kindness, and help those who are in need) -values that we tried to instill in Haru. I believe that deep down inside, she still has these values in her, and that due to peer pressure from her elementary school friends, and this whole situation with the coronavirus, she has somewhat lost her way.

2020 has been such a horrible year for everyone, and it really has taken a toll on me mentally. I try to act as normal as possible, but in reality, I am completely broken down on the inside. I even spent last weekend in my bedroom crying out of sense of hopelessness and despair. I have had thoughts of taking a few weeks off from work, running away, and going into total seclusion from everyone and everything. I have even thought about doing the worst. But I think the best thing to do right now is just continue to try to ride this out and try to get Haru back to where she (and our relationship) was less than a year ago.

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Living in a Dystopia


It’s been nearly five years to the date since I stopped updating this blog. Since then, things have changed really drastically, and unfortunately a lot of it is for the the worse.

The last time I updated this blog, my dogs had just passed away, Haruka was still 7 years old and half way through the second grade and doing very well with gymnastics and cheerleading, We were already discussing Haru’s schooling and whether on or not to send her to public or private school, and things were relatively happy, except for the loss of my dogs.

It’s a totally new world now. It’s now 2020, and we are on a verge of living in a dystopia. The planet is almost literally on fire, a deadly pandemic is killing thousands of people daily, hostility, hatred and greed causing social unrest all over, deadly storms are ravaging Japan, and Donald Trump is president.

On the home front, things aren’t so kosher here either. My relationship with Haru is very different from the last time I sat down and typed on this blog site. As a matter of fact, things are very different from the way they were just six months ago.

Haruka is now 12 years old and she’ll be turning 13 in November – a teenager. At this age, I realize that she is not a little kid anymore and she is trying to seek more independence from her parents, which is a good thing. However, the sudden change in her personality has been so abrupt and drastic. It was only six months ago, when we would happily go out to dinner together (just the two of us) and have fun. We would even go to the mall or to the movies together. However nowadays, she hates even being in the same room with me. Example: when I am in the living room, she’ll come down from her room only if she needs something. And if she’s already in the living room and I come in, she immediately scuttle up to her room as if to avoid me.

She also has not qualms about telling me how much she hates me, as she’ll stand in front of me and just repeat it -yell it to me over and over again. As much as it hurts, I feel as if I have not choice to let her vent whatever frustrations she has at me.

I am still trying to work out how and why things had devolved so much in such a short period of time. Initially, I had believed that the pandemic was at least an indirect cause of her sudden personality change, and to some degree I still believe it. Last spring, at the height of what was then considered the worst of it, the government had closed all of the schools in the more populated areas. Because of this, both her elementary school graduation and her junior high school commencement ceremonies (the two biggest milestones in her life) were canceled.

What should have been a celebrity moment for her, were very minimized or canceled altogether. Additionally, the first day of school was held online and spent looking into a screen of a laptop of people whom she had never met.

As both a graduation present and as a reward for passing her junior high school entrance exams, as well as getting accepted to her first choice school, I had bought her an iPhone which she had been begging for since she was in the fourth grade. I did so under the conditions that it would not interfere with her school work, and that she would keep her grades up. But since there was no school, her whole day consisted of just watching YouTube and TikTok videos. Because of this, she quickly lost interest in everything including school, friends, TV, cheerleading, gymnastics -EVERYTHING.

Watching Youtube and TikTok videos escalated to talking to strangers (mostly other kids her age) through online apps like Line and TikTok. This concerned me greatly and I began growing apprehensive about letting her use her iPhone, so I started installing GPS apps that would let me know where she was at all times. We always had filters installed in her iPhone, but also added another filter that limited the time she could be online. Suffice it to say, she didn’t like to be limited at all. Originally, the filter was set to allow her screentime from 6AM (the time she gets up to get ready for school) until 9:30PM. However, with school and potentially after school activities, this would probably only give her a couple of hours of actual screen time. So after my wife and Haru begged me to extend the time, I VERY reluctantly agree to allow for her to use her iPhone until 11PM. In hindsight, I completely and utterly REGRET agreeing to this!

Having had spent nearly 4 months\ in the house in complete isolation during the pandemic, her iPhone became her only companion. She had lost interest in doing any else. She became afraid to step out of the house because she had spent so much time time indoors. Even the thought of going out for dinner or going to the supermarket terrified her and caused her to cry uncontrollably. I began to believe that having left her by herself for so long in an empty house for several hours a day, had affected her mentally. I know the feeling very well, having grown up practically living by myself for the majority of my childhood. Although, the loneliness subsides over time, interacting with others becomes somewhat of a chore and extremely difficult at times. I still struggle with it to this day. I was afraid that Haru was starting to go through the same things with her friends.

School finally started in July, but by then the damage had already been done. Haru was so withdrawn from life, and so deeply engulfed in her online activities, that she could no longer interact with others without being so deeply frightened or falling into depression.

Our relationship suffered the most. I feel as I can no longer talk to her. Every time I try, it would always devolve into a shouting match, and she would attack with me with those really harsh words that feel like I am being stabbed in the heart with a dirty rust dagger. I hate you! I hate you! Over and over again. At first it use to anger me and I would yell at her to stop being so disrespectful. But if anything, it only made things worse. Then it would make feel really sad and deeply depressed, and I would tell her how I sad I felt every time she said that to me. But then should would say good! I’m trying to hurt you because you always try to hurt me! But for the life of me, I had no idea what she was talking about because I never tried to intentionally hurt her or otherwise.

Later I learned that that the mere fact of trying to limit her screen time is what was hurting her, and that I was being too restrictive. But in my opinion, 17 hours of screentime hardly being restrictive at all. If anything, its being overly permissive. I also learned that anything over 5 hours a day is obsessive and potentially dangerous.

I genuinely believe that Haru is addicted to her iPhone. The symptoms all fit: the irritability when she is away from her iPhone for more than a few minutes, loss in interest in everything else, erratic behavior, erratic eating habits, etc. She even shows classic symptoms of withdraw that drug users and alcoholics get when they are away from their substance for too long: headaches, nausea, vomiting etc.

But the worse thing that has arisen out of all of this is her refusal to go to school. She had worked so hard to get into that private school and now she is prepared to throw it all away just so that she spend time talking to her drop out friends online. The thought of it so so deeply depressing that I also am begging to feel deep despair to point that perhaps I should seek counseling for myself.

I feel like a complete failure as parent. I tried so hard to make sure that she gets the best of everything, even if it means sacrificing everything I have, and yet it feels as if I failed in raising her to understand the importance of getting a good education and doing the right thing. I tried…I really tried, but I guess it just wasn’t enough, and I am failing.

Right now, Haru is going to counseling to help her get over her fear of going to school, but I am not sure if it’s going to work. She usually feels better after her counseling sessions, but by the time Monday rolls around and its time for her to go to school again, it’s as if nothing had sunk in and she is reluctant to go to school again.

I really don’t know what to do. I really do feel like I just want to curl up and die sometimes. I guess the only thing that’s stopping me from giving up on everything is the fact that giving up won’t help Haru. I have not yet accepted that she truly hates me as she would like for me to believe. But if she truly did hate me, I don’t know if I could live with that.

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The Monday After


Its been one week since Princess passed away.  Although I am less emotional, I am still profoundly saddened.  I’m taking it day by day, and I feel as if things are getting better for me, but at the same time, a part of me feels guilty for feeling better.  I feel as if I owe it to Princess and Jenna to mourn and feel sad bit longer than just a week.

Looking at old pictures and videos helps.  It reminds me of all of the good times we had, without otherwise, I would have probably forgotten.  The trips to the mountains, the onsens, to Chiba, and the trip to Okinawa right before Haruka was born.  I just wished I could have done more and taken them more places, especially towards the end

Yesterday, I took Haru to her weekly gymnastics lesson.  I had promised her a week earlier that I would rent some movies for her on the way home, so we stopped of at the DVD rental shop and picked out some movies.  The hole time she was looking for a movie to watch, I kept looking at the clock on the wall by habit.  It use to be that every time we leave the house I would have to always be aware of the time because of Princess’s hypoglycemia.  If unattended to too long, she would have a seizure, so it would be my job to be the time keeper.  Now that she’s gone, I don’t have to do this anymore and yet I still do.  I just wish I could just finally move on and not think of them so much.

While looking at old photos of Princess and Jenna, it reminded me of all the times we use to get together with other westie owners.  Princess and Jenna loved playing with other dogs, especially other westies, and this was a very happy time for them.  It made me wonder what happened to the other dogs, so I looked them up and have found that most of them have passed away too.  But during my search, I found that one of the westies named Wing, who amazingly was Princess and Jenna’s cousin, had just passed away just last year.  Wing was born in 1995 which made her just over 18 years old when she died.  Wing was one of my favorites, because she had this amazingly long tail that was trimmed in a shape of a feather or wing.  Looks-wise, she looked like a cross between Princess and Jenna, and there was definitely a family resemblance.  I visited Wing’s homepage last night where there were even a few photos of Princess and Jenna, and I could tell that she was deeply cherished as well.  It makes me wonder if Wing’s owners felt as sad as I do when she passed.  I wonder if they recovered or are they also still in mourning -after all 18 years is a very long time.

September 13th and 14th will forever be etched in my memory as one of the saddest days of my life.  If only they had lived one more month, we could have had a huge celebration to mark their sweet 16th birthday, which I had been planning.  But never the less, I will celebrate their birthday anyway, complete with cake, candles and birthday wishes to thank them for being such great companions.

 

These are some rare photos that I haven’t even seen, taken from Wing’s homepage.

 

 

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One Week


It’ll be exactly one week in a few hours since we lost Jenna.  Although I am coping, I’m still trying to come to terms with the loss.  My mind is still in disbelief and denial.  I still see and hear them.  And although I know I am hallucinating from the grief of my loss, some websites that I have been reading about coping with pet loss, suggest that the spirit or the souls of the dogs are still in this house and they are trying to comfort me.

Today, my wife took Haru to cheerleading practice to practice for a special event next month.  I decided to stay home, because I really just wanted some time to be alone and collect my thoughts.  But I think I was too alone, because I kept hearing things all day. I heard Princess snoring like she normally does when she was asleep, and I could also hear them walking around the floors.  I also found comfort laying on the floor, where both dogs spent most of their time.  I felt as if they were laying their with me.  Perhaps this is why my wife spent the entire week sleeping on the living floor.  Maybe subconsciously she also felt as if they are still with us in spirit.  Usually, I don’t believe in this kind of stuff, and I am usually more logically minded person rather than spiritual, but I definitely feel sense of presence (not all of the times) but sometimes.  It makes me wonder if there is such thing as spirituality and an afterlife, are the dogs still here?

Princess and Jenna were somewhat famous among the Westie owners community in Japan.  We use to go to a lot of events a long time ago and we would often see the same people, hence Princess and Jenna was like a household name like Terry and Lala, Wing, and Mint and Basil.  They were all well known names within the community.  When some of the owners learned that Princess and Jenna passed away, they were kind enough to send us flowers which I included in the dogs’ memorial.  The memorial has gotten so big now, that I actually had clear everything off the shelved to fit everything.  So, rebuilding and expanding the memorial actually helped be to take my mind off of things and was extremely helpful and therapeutic.

I’ve also gotten to the point where I was able to sit down with Haru, and watch old videos of the dogs.  Haru loved doing this, because some of these videos we haven’t seen in years.  It was the first time I had been able to laugh in days.

And finally, I have created a memorial page for the dogs on this site.  I will probably be updating it from time to time with pictures and videos I find of the dogs.

 

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