I’ve gone back and forth about writing this particular blog for a while now because I know that it can open the door for a lot of people to have opinions that I don’t agree with. But I know that on the other side of it, there might be a parent out there that needs to hear that it’s okay to do what we’ve done and that you aren’t alone. ❤ So here it goes:
I put my 4 (now 5) year old on ADHD medicine and I love every damn second of it.
There, I said it. Only a few people in his life know about it, but I can literally feel the collective sigh of relief when he walks into a room medicated now. Not a sigh in a bad way, but a sigh in a way that says to me, “Oh, finally we can actually enjoy your child fully.” It is a relief for all of us, again, in a very good way. Mostly, it’s a relief for him. Despite the fact that I was spending our first three years together in tears every single night from sheer exhaustion and frustration, he was suffering more than any of us knew.
Let me start at the beginning. Most of my readers know, but if you don’t, Kiddo was placed with us at a year old as a foster baby. We adopted him before his second birthday! Around age 2 I could feel in my bones that something just wasn’t right with him, that he was struggling to understand. Not understand big things… understand the littlest things. I knew there was something not right in his brain. Simple concepts or directions for his age, he just wasn’t understanding.
We put him in a mother’s day out program at 18 months two days a week, upped it to three days a week when he was 3, and then upped it to 5 days a week at age 4/5 (this year). During those school times, he was struggling with behavior a lot. I would dread picking him up at the end of the day because I was becoming so afraid to hear what he had done. I was afraid we were about to get kicked out of the program because he was being so “bad”. He had zero impulse control. Nothing he was doing was evil, he just had nothing telling him to stop. No amount of timeouts, taking toys away, any other punishment…nothing was triggering any kind of alert to him the next time. Nothing saying, if I do this… Again, I could feel something was wrong. I took him a number of times to the pediatrician, seeing 2 different ones, that just assured me that he was “just being a boy”. To which I would leave upset because I knew it was more than that. And not only was it not “just being a boy”, he at age 5 and having been in a school setting for a few years… still couldn’t tell me what an A was. (not that I feel a child needs to know their letters as a baby, but uhhh… I feel like given his circumstances, he should have been able to recognize one.) When I’d show him any letter I’d get a blank stare and confusion. Something was not right.
Finally, after much fuss, we were able to get him in to see a behavioral psychologist…where before her testing was even finished she had a look on her face of confirmation that I was right. Something was not right. This wasn’t a little boy just being a little boy, this was a little boy whose brain wasn’t working the way it should for him. He needed help. And no amount of me taking dye out of his diet was going to fix this. (trust me, we tried it.)
You know when you don’t have something anymore and you realize how much you were taking it for granted? Well, that’s how I felt when Kiddo started being able to do all kinds of stuff within the week of being medicated. I was suddenly noticing all the things that we as “normal” people can do that we take for granted every day. Like, how he started singing along to songs on the radio. I never noticed he couldn’t do that before. He simply could not retain the song when he heard it. But within a few days, I was driving him home from school with a song playing on the radio like it always does and suddenly I hear a small voice from the back singing, “Lightening before the thunder, thunder, thunder…” and I started crying. Just little quiet tears running down my face. Or a few more days later when he hopped in the car after school and unprompted just told me all the letters in his name with this proud look on his face. It flashed a memory in my head of a year before that of him crying in my lap because he didn’t understand why the other kids in his class knew how to spell their names and he didn’t. Or how, like tonight, he can finally play with his trains that he adores without quitting 2 minutes in because he “just can’t do it!” and sobbing into the couch simply because he couldn’t pay attention long enough to find the piece that was literally right in front of him.
A fear tactic that people use is this – “You’ll medicate your kid and then they won’t be themselves anymore! You’ll have a zombie!” To that I say, first off – thank goodness he isn’t himself anymore, he’s free now. And also, what terrible doctor is medicating your child? He’s not a zombie at all. He’s still wild and funny and obnoxious. He still tells long winded stories that make my right eye twitch with irritation… but now I see confidence radiating through him. He’s finally free. It’s like you can finally see that he gets to be in the world everyone else has been in this whole time and the excitement radiates off of him.
I struggled with medicating him because of all the negativity about it in the world. And I also viewed it how I view myself, he’s broken. I’m broken and I need medication and now my baby is broken. And then I realized…. just like me, he can’t help that he needs medication. He can’t help how his brain is. It just… is. So, why do we keep shaming people for that? For any kind of medication? Do you think I walk around saying, MAN I LOVE BEING BIPOLAR! GIMME ALL THESE DIFFERENT PILLS! I LOVE IT! No. Stop. Stop making parents feel like a failure if their kids, no matter how much they change their diet, or how much I HAVE NEVER GIVEN MY KID A SODA IN HIS LIFE, still need medication for a condition they can’t help.
Hey, how about we all just be kind people? How does that sound?
Also, I’d love that if you didn’t have a kid with ADHD, you’d stop sharing articles shaming ADHD. mmkay? Thanks.
feel free to like/share/comment/be kind ❤