You can read Part One of this series HERE.
After receiving an “official” diagnosis of ADHD, I kind of felt like I did when Superman got a diagnosis of celiac disease: relieved. For years, I had questioned myself as a mom. I would look at my son and think, “What the heck am I doing wrong?? I am such a failure. I can’t even control my own son.” I felt like I was going crazy sometimes and that maybe I was imagining the problems or exaggerating them. People outside our family never seemed to understand. But hearing from the therapist was like a breath of fresh air.
She said to me, “It’s exhausting parenting a child with ADHD. You probably blame yourself for your son’s behaviors, but don’t. You are doing the best you can with the tools that you have. My goal is to help take some of that burden from you and give you more tools in your tool belt to pull from when you need them.”
I pretty much stopped listening at “It’s exhausting parenting a child with ADHD…” because yes. Because I was sapped. Bone-weary. Dog-tired. Run down, worn out and beat. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and cry. She understood.
After the diagnosis, we waited for an appointment with the pediatrician. He informed us that it may take some trial and error to come up with the best ADHD meds for our son, and that we would need to be patient in the process.
First, we tried Concerta. It was awful. Our son, who was already an emotional kid, became this blubbering mess of anger and tears. If I even looked at him sideways, he would burst into tears and flip out. We stuck with it for a few weeks, until I called the pediatrician and begged him to give us something different. Concerta was making our son worse than he had been.
Then we tried Adderall. The doctor said we should know within an hour whether it was working or not.
HO. LEE. COW.
I don’t even really know how to put into words the difference Adderall has made in my son’s life. Remember how I said he was an instigator? Well, that pretty much went away. Remember how I said he was the last one to fall asleep and the first one to wake? He started to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, and sleep in in the morning. Remember how I said he was like a cancer in our family? All of the sudden, this child, who I had struggled with for years, was a joy to be around. I would ask him to do something, and he would say, “ok!” instead of immediately putting up a wall of defense around him. He would just randomly come up to me and give me a hug. It was like the child we always hoped and prayed was in him finally sprouted.
I felt relieved. Not just for myself, but for him.
He was content. Relaxed. Not like a robot, but he was just at peace.
It was amazing.
Now, we’re six months out from when he started on Adderall. My son is still doing amazing. He has his days, just like anyone else, but I can’t say enough about how much better our quality of life is.
Initially, I would remind him to take his pill every morning. But after about a month, I realized, eventually he was going to need to take ownership for his body, and I told him it was his responsibility to remember to take it each morning. If he missed the window of opportunity, he would not be able to take his meds that day, and would have to suffer whatever consequences his behavior caused. The first few weeks were rough–he forgot multiple times, even though it was written on a piece of paper with the rest of his chores. He got in trouble. He got mad. But eventually, he realized, he felt so much better when he took his pill.
And he decided it was worth it to figure out a way to remember.
He still occasionally forgets, but I would say 90% of the time, he remembers on his own, and that makes me so proud.
He also lost 20 pounds. Twenty. Now, in my other kids, I would probably be concerned about the weight loss. But it seemed as though before my son started on meds, he didn’t have the switch in his brain to tell him when to stop eating. He would just keep going and going and going. He’d have thirds or fourths at meal time. Now, he eats a serving, maybe seconds, and is full. And he loves the way he feels and looks. He can run around and not feel out of breath.
Putting our son on ADHD meds was probably one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It was a hard, long, tough road to get to the point where we even felt like we could explore that possibility. But I am so glad we did.
I know there are a lot of people out there who will not agree with our decision, and I welcome your comments, but please, please be respectful. We are only doing what we truly, truly feel is best for our son.
I don’t believe meds are the answer for everyone. Sometimes diet is enough. Sometimes essential oils or other alternative methods are enough. But for us? In this particular case, it wasn’t.
Do you have a child with ADHD? Please share your story with me. It’s comforting to know there are other mamas out there struggling. Let’s stick together!
Have questions? Shoot away!