Our journey to discovering ADHD (along with ODD & Type 1 Diabetes) was long, exhausting, and seemingly never-ending. 4 of my 5 kids have ADHD, although they all have different forms/combinations. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and many other sources state there are 3 forms of ADHD :
Primarily Hyperactive and Impulsive
ADHD Combined Type.
As they got older, things became harder. I felt like a failure, and outside judgement from others didn’t help either. The problem was, I was reaching out for help with their pediatrician (for my behaviorally challenged 3rd daughter) and instead got responses like “she’s three, she’ll grow out of it” “she’s four meltdowns are normal” “she’s probably a little immature for her age, it’s ok she’ll grow out of it”. N0, it wasn’t ok, and I had no clue what ADHD was or that it was even a possibility.
My oldest daughter had been diagnosed as ADHD (inattentive), and was struggling with comprehension in reading and math strategies. After a long battle we got an IEP in place at school. Funny thing was, I was still so completely uneducated about ADHD and the other forms, hence other symptoms. When my 3rd daughter started displaying behavioral problems at home and away from home, I just thought I had a very out of control child. If you have a behaviorally challenged child, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not a lack of discipline, or love, or good parenting skills. She was cognitively performing as she should be and was very bright.
I eventually switched pediatricians. I got a recommendation for a Pediatrician from a lady whose son was Bipolar, and she said this Doctor was really good at understanding as he himself had a son who was Bipolar. For the first time I had a ray of hope that someone would understand, listen, and be able to help us! ADHD was not even on my radar at this point, but Bipolar disorder had crossed my mind a few times as a possibility. There certainly were similarities.
I was at my whits end dealing with behavioral issues at home and the defiance….alone. I forgot to mention that several years prior I became a single mother with no family around for support. Needless to say, my ex husband had issues of his own to deal with and was completely out of the picture.
When we met with this Doctor in August of 2013, he had a strong inclination that my daughter was bipolar. I could see the mood dysregulation myself. It was summer, and without the structure of a full school day, she spent her time antagonizing the rest of the family until she got what she wanted. I began to notice a real disconnect in her mind; she wanted what she wanted no matter if it was inconvenient, irrational, or at the cost of others. I felt there was a lack of ability to reason with her, like I was able to do with my other kids.
I left our first visit with a script in my hand for Risperdol unsure of whether I should fill it or not, and a referral to behavioral therapy. But things were not getting any better and I was at the end of my rope. That’s the worst kind of spot to be in because you’re so desperate for the behavior to stop. If only I had known then what I know now! When I asked about the side effects the Doctor said it would probably increase her appetite, but it’s a small price to pay if the medication worked on regulating her mood swings and manic phases. I filled the prescription and said a prayer.
She had no response to the lowest dose possible, so the doctor doubled the dose. She went into immediate manic phase. So we took her back down and he added another medication to accompany it. That med had zero affect at all. By late December 2013 my daughter had gained about 20 pounds. Her appetite was never ending! So I took her off of both meds. We had given the medication a fair shot– and from my analysis the benefits (very little) were overshadowed by the drawbacks. She was still having monumental meltdowns at the most miniscule things, and here she was 20 lbs. heavier fighting some self esteem issues.
I started doing more research on her symptoms and behaviors to see what I could dig up. I knew it was something neurological, and I wanted to somehow fix it with food, diet, and natural supplements. But everything was a rabbit hole. Her symptoms overlapped into several diagnoses; bipolar disorder, asperger syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder, OCD, and giftedness. We had a few moments where her clinician and I thought giftedness was a possibility. She was exceptionally bright, enjoyed school, and knew how to sell (manipulate) her way into anything. So I had her tested with her Psychologist. She was on the cusp of high average and low gifted, so this was not our diagnosis. He also ruled her out for ADHD as she didn’t fit the “profile”.
She made it through the school year with minimal problems; and at home it was just business as usual with the chaos, fighting, defiance, destruction, etc. I went on a research rampage trying to decode what was going on with her and why she behaved this way. There was nothing conclusive, and the psychologist only offered that he felt it was some kind of mood disorder. Her clinician offered coping skills and held my daughter accountable. She was very open minded and good at what she did, but it just wasn’t enough. Our family was falling apart. I was a single mother trying to piece this all together, on top of running a business from home, raising my kids, and everything in between. Burnout doesn’t even describe it!