After a while, we noticed that our dear little offspring was losing weight. A lot of weight. And fast. We knew this was a potential side effect of the Adderall, but we didn’t think it would be such a large amount. Her pediatrician switched her to Vyvanse which has a smaller chance of loss of appetite and, therefore, weight loss. So far, the one pill in the morning is working some serious wonders. We can DO things again. Does she still flip out sometimes? Yeah. Does your kid? Yeah. One of the hardest things I have had to do during all of this mess is keep myself in check. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to slap someone for telling me what’s is or isn’t safe for my kid. Oh, there are risks with giving an upper to a little girl? YOU DON’T SAY! I’m aware of these risks and have weighed them against her constant suffering. She might hate me for it later. But, she might also hate me later for not buying her a pony. So, if you choose to medicate, or not medicate, go organic, buy drive through, shun sugars or pile on the Peeps: good job! You are doing what you think is best and I cannot and will not judge you for it. We all make mistakes, and as parents, especially as mothers, we need to support and lift up instead of dragging our peers through the mud.
So, it’s been about a year since we received our daughter’s ADHD diagnosis. Here’s how it’s been so far:
At first we were giving her Clonidine at night so her brain would quiet down enough for her to sleep. It worked for a while, but her behavior during the day was unpredictable at best, terrifying at worst. We couldn’t do things other families could do: go out to dinner, see a movie, schedule play dates, etc. We lived in constant fear of her next outburst. At the turn of the year we took her back to the pediatrician because her school work was starting to suffer and she wasn’t developing socially. She had the body of a six year old, but the social skills of someone much younger.
Our pediatrician said we should try Adderall. Our hearts dropped. Who wants to put their kid on amphetamines? We felt like failures. I especially felt like a failure. What had I done in her babyhood to make her like this? It took a while to reach the answer. But here it is:
Nothing. Not a damn thing. We loved her and nurtured and disciplined when necessary. She ate a great diet and played outside as often as possible. She didn’t catch ADHD and she certainly isn’t less of a person for it. Was it hard to come to the conclusion to give her medication? Hell yeah it was. But, as my mother said; “You take medication to manage your Bi Polar disorder. Can you imagine if you decided one day to just not treat it? What would happen to you? To your family? People have diseases and they treat them. Will she be on it forever? Maybe. Is that the worst thing that could ever happen to her? Nope.” This was quite a revelation for me. And mom (as usual) was right.
During my appointment with the psychiatrist, I was nervous and on guard. I knew that I was definitely not crazy. I had lived up to this point and nothing too terrible had happened to me, so I must not be crazy, right? Of course, I was discounting the cutting, the rage episodes, the fists through walls, the sobbing in my car, and, of course, that time I had to pull over to keep myself from driving off a bridge. But hey, SO normal.
After a few visits, I came away with a diagnosis: Bipolar II and Borderline Personality Disorder. She gave me a list of prescriptions and sent me on my way. Part of me was incredibly irritated. I’d taken pills before, and nothing had helped me. The doctor had explained that this was because anti-depressants don’t fully help people who have BPD. They may help relieve some of the symptoms, but they just can’t help with the severe shifts in mood. So, I filled the prescriptions, walked around Target for a while, and went home.
The next few weeks I weaned myself onto the drugs. A few more milligrams every week. I could feel myself calming down. Things like a diaper blowout no longer made me want to lock myself in a closet. I could handle rude people at work without slamming my fist on the counter top. Things were going well. It was the first time in my life that I felt any semblance of normalcy. After a few months, I figured I was fine; had gotten a handle on myself; moved on. Then, like so many others, I quit taking my chemical cocktail.