So, things have been a bit rough around here lately. I really don't know how much to get into letting everyone know our business. Let's just say that we have gotten off to a very rocky 2nd grade start. It looks like more and more our seven year old is having anxiety issues along with his ADHD symptoms. And as much as I love ADHD medications, and the positive difference that it makes in the quality of my child's life...I hate it at the same time. Because it turns my child into a somebody different. All for the sake of helping him pay attention at school.
If you are reading this, please do not send me ideas of how to get my kid off ADHD meds. What works for your kid, natural solutions, ideas or help. I am not asking for help or ideas. Not to be rude, but I just need to vent. And I need to vent with just a listening ear...I don't need words of wisdom. I just need support. We need support.
My love/hate relationship with ADHD medications started last year, well, really in Kindergarten. The meds worked so well. My baby was a different kid. He was able to pay attention and stay in his seat. I told the teacher we were torn because we could see how differently our child acted because of this wonder drug. She encouraged me to keep him on it because of the positive changes in his school behavior. Not just academic, he was doing fine without meds academically, but self-esteem wise, having his name called out so much, all this negative attention, was not doing him any favors. Now he was blossoming. We were so happy with that. But, who is this kid who just sits there. Is moody? Gets temperamental at the drop of a hat and is now prone to meltdowns? This isn't our kid. Yes, he can pay attention in class and do his class work, but anytime we show up at school or throw off his schedule he shuts down.
The medication doesn't create all the negative behaviors for our boy. They just bring them out. Intensify them. They are there to begin with. The meds just make them worse. This we have learned. We saw them in him before the meds, they just weren't as obvious.
Now, we are in second grade, and because we changed his meds over the summer, more negative behaviors are showing up. HE isn't a behavior problem, no, everyone loves our boy. It's more internal than that. It's like he is his own worst enemy. Keeping all this stuff inside, the meds making it worse and it affecting his school life. So, now we are into multiple doctor appointments a week, parent-teacher conferences, daily emails to and from the guidance counselor. Not exactly what I expected my seven year old to deal with. It makes this mommy heart very sad. The guilt. The worry. The tension. The meltdowns. The comments from others who see my boy and say, "This isn't like him?? What happened". Makes my heart cringe every. time. I just want him to be him.
But, I'm not just a mom. I am a mental health professional. I have significant experience in dealing with kids with ADHD (God has a sense of humor doesn't he?). I have been on the other side of this thing so often. Holding a parent's hand. Encouraging them to medicate. Saying what is best. I know the stats. I know the benefits and risks of medication. I know that even with the best support, not medicating him can lead to him self-medicating in the future. And by that, I mean ADHD kids are at increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, or other addictive behaviors if their ADHD is left untreated. I know, personally, because I had ADHD and was undiagnosed until a few years ago and I struggle to this day with food. It is my drug. My self-medicating drug. No, my child will not have to go through what I went through. This I know. This I feel strongly about.
Now, it's us. And I now understand how all those parents felt. I had no idea. I could sympathize, but I really had no freaking idea the pain that is involved or the side effects. The changes. I, like the teachers and school staff, just had the child's best interest at heart, and even though there are side effects the the benefits far out weigh the risks...that's what I would tell them. hmmm. I really had no idea at all. But at the same time, medication alone is not the answer. This I know, also. There has to be a comprehensive plan, and we are doing that for our boy.
So, we are on the search for the "perfect" regimen. Ha. Like there is one. We are looking for the best way to treat this ADHD thing without making my son into a zombie or affecting his social skills, or inhibiting his best academic performance. * sigh*. There was a touch of sarcasm there in case you missed it.
It's been a rough couple of weeks. But today is a new day. A new trial. We are damned if we do, damned if we don't.
That's how I feel about right now. Now to get ready for yet another appointment. Waiting to see what kind of email I get from the Guidance Counselor today.
I'm choosing joy, though, because others go through a lot worse than we do. I know that. I hope my venting has not seemed trivial in light of what you and your family are going through. We all have struggles. We all have a burden to bear. I'm thankful for the education I have. And for the encouraging words of our pediatrician when she said I was the best advocate for my child.
Damn right I am. I just didn't expect it to be this hard.