I don’t think I’ve ever really posted about it, because I still have so much shame and sadness about the fact that I need to medicate D to get our family through the day… (isn’t it silly, that I can proudly treat my own mental illness but not my son’s?)
Anyways, we decided to skip a couple of days medicating after he had a wicked stomach bug. I took the kids out yesterday to grab a few brownie-baking supplies, and the cashier said something about his spiritedness (literally spinning in circles, blabbing nonsense, punching the air) and I made some comment about how he skipped his medication this morning. She asked me what I meant and I explained that he has ADHD, and he didn’t take his pill today. She replied with, “Oh I don’t believe that’s a thing… some kids are just more intense.”
I was so worn out from 2 days without sleep (his stomach bug) and 2 days of him not being medicated, and shocked at her comment, that I didn’t say anything. I don’t know that I could have said anything meaningful in the few seconds before she’d have to ring the next customer up. But let me clarify a few things…
My son is not more intense than others. He is mentally ill. He has been seeing an expert paediatrician for 2 years, and a child psychiatrist for 6 months (among half a dozen other specialists). They all agree unequivocally that D has ADHD. Most kids aren’t diagnosed until the age of 6… they were able to see symptoms in him so intense we have a diagnosis at 4. This isn’t something that popped up over night… we’ve been dealing with behaviours outside the spectrum of typical since before he was 2 years old. At first we didn’t really know, since he was our first child, but as we saw him among his peers it became more and more painfully obvious that something wasn’t quite right. “This is beyond even what we’d class as extreme behaviours,” his doctors have said.
I wish I didn’t have to medicate him. I really do. In fact, we resisted it for nearly 6 months before safety of the family made it a necessity that we try. We spent so many nights crying our eyes out, agonizing over the decision. We’ll try this parenting class, we told ourselves. We’ll try this book’s techniques, we’ll try this essential oil (not really, but you get my drift). And then, just before Christmas, we finally decided to give the medication a try.
And it’s turned out to be the best possible thing.
Without treating his illness, I cannot safely walk down the street with both of my children. D thinks, and truly believes, that he is an invincible superhuman who can stop cars with his hands. If I don’t hold his hand he will run onto the road, if I do hold it, he pulls his brother and I along with him. With the medication, he still isn’t 100% safe, but I can at least complete errands on foot.
Without treating his illness, D attacks his brother and us. Physically, and with the most violent and hateful words you’ve ever heard. I used to spend weekends locking myself in the bedroom with the baby if daddy was at work, because I couldn’t turn my back for even a second without compromising someone’s safety. D would plough at the door for hours screaming threats at us.
He is a completely different person when he is unmedicated, not for the better.
Without treating his illness, he cannot keep himself still for even a second. Watching him not in control of his body or his mind is absolutely heartbreaking for me. I know that feeling all too well myself, and it’s not fair that such a sweet and lovable child should have to go through that. I can only imagine the fear he feels when it happens.
Without treating his illness, he was flunking kindergarten. This gifted boy of mine… couldn’t stay focused long enough to receive instructions, and lacked the self-esteem to even try. Now, he gives it his best effort and is even proud of himself (sometimes) when he does well.
Without treating his illness, he walked around constantly telling us how sad and mad he was. The other day, for the first time in forever, he came up to me and said “Mama, guess what? I feel so happy this morning.” I cried. His doctor cried. THIS is what we do this for. For him. For his happiness. For his life. My wonderful, beautiful child, who just so happens to have an illness that requires medication to treat.
Treating his illness with medication has allowed my son to thrive. He excels in school, he has made friends, he is kind to his family, he finally has and feels joy in his life. He is no longer a danger to himself or others. I can make it through a day of caring for both my children on my own.
He is, and will continue to be closely monitored, and is experiencing no ill effects so far. It’s been completely life changing for our entire family. And that, to me, makes it all completely worth it. Judgement from others and all.