12-year-old reports on inpatient therapy in the Gießen family and child psychosomatics department
Louis from Central Hesse is 12 years old. Friendly, alert and sometimes a little thoughtful, he talks about his life via video conference. A life in which after his parents separated somehow the thread that held everything together got lost. Louis was five years old when his parents separated. He stayed with his mother and saw his father regularly. So far so good. But the feelings of helplessness, insecurity, questions of guilt and conflicts of loyalty towards the parents in the face of this drastic change came and stayed. Nobody is to blame for this, it happens when life’s paths suddenly become steep and rocky. A lot of work for a child’s soul to clear such big chunks out of the way, sometimes too much.
How often do we speak of a “heavy heart”, a “lump in the throat”, a “lump in the stomach” or a “burden on the shoulders” when something is “on fire”. And in fact it can then be the body that sends alarm signals when the psyche urgently needs help. Louis got asthma, Louis got migraines and finally a year ago also a chronic gastrointestinal disease, Crohn’s disease, MC for short. “Even before that, everything was quickly too much for me,” says Louis. At this time he went to his papa every Tuesday, but that too became too much at some point. “I wrote him a letter to explain it to him, but he didn’t understand”. Louis feels rejected, if he thinks about it or talks about it, it is uncomfortable and he has to go to the bathroom. It gets worse and worse, finally the gastroenterology doctors at the Giessen Children’s Clinic diagnose Crohn’s disease. A chronic disease that has to be monitored regularly and treated with medication throughout life. Louis and his mom also get an offer there for a discussion on family and child psychosomatics. Here one takes a closer look, especially in the case of chronic illnesses: does a psychological stress cause or intensify the illness and the problematic handling of it, or does the illness trigger additional psychological stress? “We took some information with us, but since Louis was already receiving psychotherapeutic treatment, that wasn’t an issue for us at first,” says his mother.
But everything gets worse, Louis can’t cope with the illness, is disgusted with the necessary abdominal injections and has major problems with the change in diet: “I didn’t want to accept the illness, I just wanted to ignore it. I was no longer allowed to eat a lot and I already had asthma and migraines, ”says Louis. The once happy boy becomes a sad, withdrawn, speechless child. Then there are the restrictions of the corona pandemic, moving away from friends and a new school. In this downward spiral, there is then a consultation in the Gießen child psychosomatic department. “After that, I really wanted to go there. That sounded perfect. I thought that was the only thing that would help me, ”says Louis. It wasn’t an easy step for his mother, Christina. Leave the son for weeks or even months. Only one visit a week and only one phone call in the evening: “I actually didn’t want that. But if a child of this age puts it that way, you can’t ignore it. “
“The others felt like me, I was no longer alone”
Louis was then in inpatient therapy for four months. A fixed daily structure with a lot of sport and exercise, with group and individual discussions, with school and above all with contact with other children. These were conditions that were significantly better, also given the pandemic restrictions outside. “I was shy at the beginning, but on the 4th day I thawed out and got to know the others. They felt like me. I wasn’t alone anymore. And whenever I was very sad, I could talk to the other children. That was really good. I also really enjoyed the sport. “
Even in the weekly therapeutic family talks, which were difficult at the beginning, a lot could finally be clarified. Louis sees his father regularly again, the relationship has improved. He arrived safely in his new apartment and is proud of his little brother, who was born last December. He also keeps in touch with some of the children he met in the clinic: “I made new friends there, that’s great. We talk on the phone and write to each other. ”The 12-year-old has come to terms with his illnesses well:“ I take 10 tablets a day, but it works quite well. I can now accept my MC and my asthma is well adjusted. I am very happy that I can now go to school again. “
Laughter is back with Louis and it’s especially nice with little brother. His mother is very happy that she agreed to the therapy despite initial doubts: “I saw a very sad, almost depressed boy walk in there. How it blossomed then was a gift for me, and tears still come to me. It is great. He takes his pills and has become very independent. I’m so happy that old Louis is back and infects us all with his happiness. “
Author: Christine Bode
You can find this and other articles in the UKGM’s clinic magazine
Department of General Pediatrics and Neonatology at the Giessen location
Child and family psychosomatics