The Many Faces of ADHD: My Story
Parenting a child with ADHD has peaks, valleys and everyplace in between. Of course, the love for your child reaches deep within your heart and soul. Even so, there are days you are exhausted, days you count the moments until bedtime and then drop, not sure if you are ready for the next day. But then come the moments when you know exactly why you are doing this. The moments when your child looks at you and vows their love forever, telling you that you are the best mommy ever.
I found out my son had ADHD when he was 12 years old. I remember exactly how it happened. My husband and I had attended a parent teacher conference. We entered the room, hesitant. Parent teacher conferences had not gone well in the past. Many times we sat and listened as teachers went through a litany of complaints: my son was not organized, he didn't try, he didn't hand in his homework, his work was not up to his ability. Year after year we heard the same things. And year after year we went home, trying new approaches. But yet nothing changed. And then one teacher talked to us about his ADHD. He told us my son showed the same symptoms and behaviors that he had while growing up.
We, as parents, had heard of ADHD. At that time it was on television often. Usually accompanied by terrible stories discussing how "we were drugging" our children, how we were making them into zombies. It was our point of reference about ADHD.
Even so, we had my son tested. We completed the questionnaires and the teachers filled them out. The psychologist talked with my son, he talked with me. And in the end, he told me my son did indeed have ADHD. Medication was prescribed by the attending psychiatrist and with trepidation; we tried it. We decided that we would give it 30 days and see if we noticed any difference.
It didn't take that long. It took about an hour. My son read a book, he walked through the house without tripping over chairs, he paid attention when I spoke, and he watched television without talking through the entire show. It was an amazing difference.
I can't say that his behaviors didn't sometimes still drive me crazy or that he suddenly got all "A"s in school. He didn't. But he did improve and did start to feel better about himself.
Life with medication wasn't perfect. ADHD isn't cured by medication, it simply provides someone with improved abilities to focus and pay attention. It calms them down so that hyperactivity and impulsiveness doesn't rule their lives. It helps them control their ADHD, rather than letting their ADHD control them.
My son is now 23. He still has his share of problems; he has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder in the years since his diagnosis of ADHD. He has struggled with mood swings, depression, and suicide attempts. He has felt desolate, lonely and desperate at times. He has learned the hard way that medication must be a part of his daily life.
But despite it all, I admire my son. He keeps getting up each morning, despite sometimes not wanting to or not seeing a reason to. He keeps trying, keeps working at life. No matter how many setbacks he has, he continues on, trying. He continues living each day. For that, my son has my respect as well as my love.