Tuesday, April 2, 2013

ADHD Stigmas, rants, hopes and dreams

When most think of ADHD, they think of the loud running around can't sit still even if you nailed them to the chair boy. Most don't think of ADHD and girls at the same time. Mainly because people think of ADHD as a result of bad parenting, too much sugar, not enough outside time or exercise, food dyes, and expectations that children sit still, shut up and don't move.

Let me start by saying, I had to also change how I thought of ADHD and how it affected people. I too am guilty of judging parents with misbehaving kids, be it an ADHD child or not. Now when I see a parent, or parents with kids screaming or out of control and can tell they are a second from snapping and pulling out their hair I sympathize, and fight an unbearable urge to walk over and tell them I've been there too. I don't because had someone done that to me a year ago, I might of burst into tears or murdered someone with whatever produce was in my shopping cart.

It's a long road leading to diagnosis', and it's usually a lonely one. Luckily I have my other half, but even with him, it was hard to voice my feelings, how warn down I was, how I felt that everything we had been going through was my fault. Had I been a better mother, gone back to work sooner, stayed home longer, spoil her more, punish her more, differently, not at all. It all does go through your mind at one point or another during the process. It never goes away, it does change however when you learn, read and change how things are done in your home.

I still worry it's all my fault, what parent wouldn't? Especially with the internet troll, family members who know more than you, family trolls and people you confide in, and even your friends - they all know better than you do. Forget that you're living this life, that only you know what's been going on, what's been done to help, what you have changed, fixed, and are working on.

My daughter's been diagnosed as: ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) SAD (Social anxiety disorder) and GAD (General anxiety disorder). We have had this diagnosis for five months now for ADHD and ODD and only added the SAD/GAD last month.

Over the last six or seven years we have had weekly and sometimes daily phone calls home and at work, 3 multiday suspensions, countless detentions during school (she's a bussed student, so after school is not an option), countless trips to go get her during schooltime, three hospital visits and even a bus called in when she had a meltdown on the bus and they couldn't get her to quiet enough so the bus could take the other kids home. There's plenty more, things like hitting me, throwing things so hard she dents the walls in her room, hair cutting, suicide threats, overnight hospital stays, bruising on me, cursing, swearing, beating up a classmate... it's been a long run and much has been forgotten for the moment.

As much as we love her and things are certainly improving, we have gone through hell for this kid and still get it every now and again. We tried changing diets, changing discipline, adding sports, letting her destroy her room and even letting her throw her fit where she is and walking away. Nothing worked. Medication seemed to make it worse, she became more aggressive, anxiety was impossible to control, and she even had a few episodes I described as like a mental break, where she was scared and paranoid and she was darting around the room with her eyes and backed into a corner crying at me that someone was going to break in or she felt like she was being watched. In hindsight I should have stopped there, but the Doctor kept upping the dosage. We got to the halfway point with Biphentin before our Doctor left the hospital and we had to wait for another assessment with another Doctor.

We figured out it was the medication by accident one day. I forgot to give her her pill. She had a good day, so I skipped the second day... another good day. It went on for a week, good days, no pills when I finally mentioned it to the other half, he had noticed a change too. We went medication free for a month or so with only minor blips. I was thrilled. I never wanted to have to drug my kid, but if it meant she would have a normal life, I figured it was worth a shot.

She did seem to cycle her good, not really bad just frustrating and OMG, WTH is this moods so the fact that she was able to function for that long without any major incident was an improvement. Now that's not to say that 30 days was perfect and I had the daughter a mother dreams of, no, we still had our bad days, one or two major hospital threat induced fights, but everything was shorter. Instead of a 3 hour episode, it was half that.

The second Doctor prescribed Conserta. We tried it for two days, saw where it was heading and took her right off of it. My family doctor and I spoke and he agreed it would be fine. He doesn't prescribe them, so he may be biased. There really isn't enough information out there for me to justify trying every brand, every does. Half of these "break through" drugs aren't even as old as my kid for christsake, and that's a problem in itself.

I'm not anti medication per say. I think medicine has done some fantastic things, and will continue to. I just don't see the point in forcing my kid to take pills she doesn't want to, that don't have enough research into the long term effects, can make her anxiety worse, her ODD worse, stunt her growth and do god knows what else to her still growing and developing little body. When she decides to give it a try, and can better understand what changes it can make (good and bad) I will look into it again, or god forbid, we end up back at the hospital.

I fear what not medicating her can lead to, but I also fear we reach a point where we need it and the side effects it can cause. Have you ever really read all that crap??? You don't even hear about the horror stories... children who have to be tackled to stop them from throwing themselves in front on oncoming traffic.... urg, that one hit me hard. Having had my child tell me she wants to die was bad enough, I don't know what I would do if I had to stop her from trying... besides stopping her of course.

All in all, I can mostly handle the constant reminders, "Don't touch everything", "sit still", "Calm down", "Breathe"... and there are many. We are learning how to parent differently and tailored specifically to her. We have learned we can't always take both kids everywhere, but we still do (but know it's going to be tough), and most importantly we're learning how to help her learn to calm down. We're still trying to get her to understand that no matter the alphabet that she's been diagnosed with she is still able to be a happy, productive and wonderful person, that many famous actors, decorators, artists etc have all learned to master ADHD and she will too.

She is a fantastically creative little girl, she has no less than a dozen short stories, picture books and novels she is writing and reads a book a night, lack of sleep is not our friend, but she's learning how to handle it. I truly think that if she can harness this creativity and ADHD, she will be able to follow her dreams and be a writer, an artist, and anything else she puts her mind to.

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