Living with a Monster: Mental Illness and Parenting Part 2

Link to Post 1

Post 2 of 3

The pandemic left us alone together from March 17, 2020 until sometime in August when school started. The children and I worked on academics, played outside, and planted flowers everyday. I struggled each day to motivate Sophia to get up and get started because she often went to sleep randomly, but once she was up, she helped me, hung out with Bailey, and played with Liam.

I found myself very naively believing that the pandemic gave us this opportunity for Sophia to recover without the social anxiety from school or dealing with friends. She is artistic so she spent time painting and drawing. She also writes. I knew in my heart that she was getting better, but the heart’s song isn’t always true. Obviously, the phone usage plunged her further and further into delinquent behavior.

Kasey, Anya, Chris, Sophia, and Bailey

I spent my time enjoying solitude and digging deeper into denial about what having a daughter with Impulse Control Disorder meant. I should have spent my time researching the topic. Understanding the problem can be the only answer to helping Sophia cope and recover. I only have two years of her life left to make sure that she learns how to fight the impulses so that she doesn’t thrust herself or our family into any more dangerous situations.

What is Impulse Control Disorder?

Definition of Impulse Control Disorder

Impulse Control Disorder (ICD) can be defined as ” a condition in which a person has trouble controlling emotions or behaviors. Often, the behaviors violate the rights of others or conflict with societal norms and the law.1” (American Psychiatric Association 2013). Medical experts categorize several subsets of disorders under the umbrella of ICD. These disorders are:

  1. kleptomania
  2. oppositional defiant disorder
  3. pyromania
  4. conduct disorder
  5. intermittent explosive disorder
  6. compulsive sexual behavior disorder (sexual compulsions)
  7. Self injury and self harming behaviors
  8. Trichotillomania (skin picking and nail biting)
  9. Compulsive shopping/spending
  10. pathological gambling
  11. internet addiction
  12. binge eating

The list is gathered from the book Clinical Manual of Impulse Control Disorders (Hollander and Stein). According to Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), only 10.5 % of the total population suffers from an ICD ( Unfortunately, it is often difficult to correctly diagnose someone with ICD, leading to a lack of proper treatment. In addition to a lack of treatment, people with ICD most often have co-existing mental illnesses, such as: depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and substance abuse.

SIgns and Symptoms

People with any of the subsets of ICD can exhibit a plethora of symptoms (Healthline 2020). However, there are a few commonalities among all age groups:

  1. lying
  2. pulling hair, lashes, or brows
  3. picking skin
  4. harming people or animals
  5. stealing
  6. destroying property
  7. eating excessively and compulsively
  8. exhibiting explosive anger
  9. displaying sudden verbal or physical outbursts
  10. setting fires
  11. having addiction to internet usage
  12. displaying hypersexuality
  13. shopping and spending compulsively
  14. gambling addiction
Treatment Options for Impulse Control Disorder

Clinicians have some options for treating ICDs; however, treatment is not always successful due to the correlation of ICDs with other disorders and conditions. Doctors often choose to treat a patient with antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Medications work best when paired with therapy options, such as: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Systematic Desensitization Therapy, and Group Therapy, and Support Groups. Unfortunately, there are no particular medications approved to treat ICDs; mood stabilizers and SSRI antidepressants are proven to lesson aggression in people with ICD.

How does all this information pertain to Sophia’s situation?

My mother’s heart wants to scream: NONE OF THIS HELPS ME!! Facts, statistics, and therapies do not equate to saving my 16 year old daughter who time after time makes decisions that endanger her and my entire family. Yet, all this information simply defines the problem, it does not solve any of it. The fact that we had no real solutions became more apparent in May 2020, seven months after Sophia’s initial diagnosis and modification in her medications and treatment plan. Her psychiatrist began conducting Telemedicine Visits in March 2020, and then she left her practice altogether leaving us with a stranger whom we only speak with over the phone.

Even in May, her depression and skin picking were worse. Sometimes, she had catatonic like episodes where she blanked out and could not be roused for five to ten minutes at a time. She began to stop normal grooming, and she preferred hoodies and blankets to cover herself up all the time. Her darker impulses were looming too. We just didn’t know it yet. On the night before Mother’s Day, May 9, 2020, she started texting a boy her age on Snapchat. She arranged a rendezvous with him in the middle of the night, yet he did not come alone.

15 year old teenagers cannot drive legally, so this guy, who I will call D.D., had his 24 year old brother drive him to my brother and sister-in-law’s property at 2 am on Mother’s Day. Sophia and the boys entered their house while my other brother and his family slept soundly less than a football field away. We had no idea that she had crossed the road into the other driveway.

Sophia arranged for D.D. to met her for sex. This fact frightened me terribly; unfortunately, D.D. and his brother had other plans. They refused to leave Sophia or the house until they had guns and money. They intended to rob us, and they used Sophia’s sexual compulsiveness to find a new victim. They demanded Sophia let them in our house at four o’clock in the morning because they worked for a drug cartel and needed guns and money, all of which could be found just across the driveway from where they met Sophia.

To be continued in Post 3.


1]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

2] Hollander, Eric and Stein, Dan. Clinical Manual of Impulse-Control Disorders. (2006).

3] American Addiction Centers. (2019). Impulse Control Disorders and Substance Abuse.

4] Healthline. (2020) “How to Cope With Impulse Control Issues in Kids and Adults” <;

Published by


I am an English teacher, mother, and wife, but I love to write. I feel that I am blessed to be able to use my talent to write about my children's books, poems, short fiction, and parenting. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about my experiences with beginning a writing career while focusing on my children and my job. I look forward to comments and to hear from my readers!

2 thoughts on “Living with a Monster: Mental Illness and Parenting Part 2”

  1. Jennifer,
    I did not realize any of this. I am so sorry for you all, and so glad you realize the severity of this illness. So glad she has you in her corner. God be with you all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s