I’m the meek kind. I don’t do so well at advocating for my children, or myself. But my heart is aching and I am tired of feeling ashamed.
This photo is from January 2020, around my eldest son’s 8th birthday. It was snapped in the second or two that he paused on his race through the kitchen, midway through a Nerf Battle break.
His is a face of wisdom and ages-old depth. His is a face of compassion and kindness reaching far beyond his short years.
His is a face of medicated ADHD.
You don’t have to spend much time on my Instagram page to know that my children are my whole world; there is no world for me without them. Neither would you need to be there for more than a few moments to know that we go hiking in the woods every day. There are no zombies here, except for the minecraft kind.
I wrote a poem on his birthday, I will post it at the end. My heart was just pouring out love for him. I would never, ever hurt him.
I’m not going to tell you what life was like for his siblings before medication, or for his dad and I; we are lesser characters in this tale. I’ll ony tell you what life was like for him.
At the playground, children would hide from him. Mother’s would take their children home to be away. He did not understand boundaries. He would hurt and frighten them in his exuberence.
He would lose control of his racing, overwhelming emotions and scream for an hour, raging blindly at the very air around him, at the people who loved him. Then he would fall, exhausted finally, into my arms.
He could not learn. He could not see, after weeks and weeks, that a and t together said, at. He could not keep his focus on the page, or in the room, or inside himself. He would shake and cry and throw his work because he couldn’t understand how to do what he was supposed to do. And then he would turn to me with furious, terrified eyes because I am his biggest love and he couldn’t do what I had asked. He wanted so badly to be able to do what I had asked.
And then, sadness came. When he began to understand that he didn’t fit. And I need you to understand that I don’t mean “conform”. We homeschool, we don’t celebrate christmas, we carve jack o lanterns in April when they are in season; there is no conforming here. I mean, when he began to realise that there was no place for him, outside of us.
In the meantime, he had been reviewed by a doctor, a paediatrician, a dietician, a naturopath, a medicine man and dowser. He had had countless blood tests, taken probiotics and vitamins, changed his diet, tried oils and ginger tea, run to exhaustion every single day.
Still, the sadness continued. Still he couldn’t learn. Still he was alone at the playground.
We could forsee only two paths for him at that point. Either jail for doing something reckless and stupid, or depression. Maybe with suicide. I was pregnant and I tore myself apart over my eldest baby.
I sought conselling and she implored me to reconsider medication. She said, if your child had epilepsy, you would not deny them medication. If they had cancer, you would not deny them treatment. He has ADHD. There is treatment.
And still, I said, but the side effects! Even though my dreams were filled with losing him by his own hand. Still, I was too afraid. Because that’s what the internet told me.
Then we got an email. There is pioneering testing. Cohen’s executive functioning (working memory, impulse control, etc) can be tested.
He tested less than 33% across the board.
Still (still!) I asked, can we try cognitive behavioural therapy?
They said, he cannot learn regulation because his body has moved before his brain has processed what is happening and a thousand different sensory experiences are battering him at the same time.
And so, we relented. Picked up the prescription. Held onto it for a little while.
And then, one day, we just said, what else is there to do?
We medicated our son.
We were “those parents” that I have to read about every single day from people who have an unmedicated wildling and believe it is a gift.
And that is a gift. I am a perfect case for an ADHD diagnosis based on a meeting with a doctor. I am highly distractable, unfocused, hyperactive, almost frantic in my actions. I don’t sleep and I never stop thinking. I have anxiety disorder and depression. But if I took my son’s medication today, I would have a terrible reaction. Because I don’t have ADHD. And my work output is insane, so it’s a gift.
Cohen has a neurological disorder that negatively affects every single area of his life. It is not a gift. I can promise you he does not believe that it is.
We are nearly two years in and my sweet boy is thriving. He plays all day, we hike every morning, he is learning to read. This week he read “length” and “strength” and literally jumped for joy. He is the kindest boy you will ever meet. He senses people’s needs. He is going to change the world – him and his digger.
This is not an advertisement for medication. ADHD is almost certainly over-diagnosed and over-prescribed. But there are people out there whose lives depend on us understanding that ADHD is a genuine medical disorder that needs treament.
The medication did not take my boy from us as we feared it would. The medication freed him from the fog and brought him home.
Nothing compares to this
Firstborn, first love, true love.
A face forged within your womb
Eyes blazing with a spirit shorn from your own soul
A maestro heart guiding the symphony you composed.
Nothing compares to this
First born. First love. True love.