Monsters

Here it comes. The monster is creeping in and I realize that I haven’t fed it in a few days. With all of the medications I was taking for my sinus infection, I forgot four doses of my daily 25 mgs of Zoloft. I hate that I seem to be stuck taking a pill for the rest of my life to keep the monster at bay. I feel like I’m being held hostage. It makes me angry but I have no one or, for that matter, nothing tangible to be angry at. It simply isn’t worth it to forgo the pill, so I have resigned myself to the fact that it will be an ever present morning ritual. Brush teeth, coffee, Zoloft, breakfast for the kids, school bus… the alternative is unbearable.

This morning Joe didn’t want to go to soccer. An offhand comment was made about someone else’s boys who play and if he doesn’t love it by now etc…well, that comment just hit me in the wrong spot. It fed my monster the wrong kind food which started a downward spiral of self-loathing and a new round of internal ass kicking. Why can’t Joe be like the other boys? What have I done wrong? It’s my fault.

Yesterday, I finally handed Joe’s Vanderbilt Assessments over to his pediatrician. It was his 6 year physical. Joe has been diagnosed with ADHD. I know, millions of kids are diagnosed each year, but I took the diagnosis to heart. I knew it was coming. I privately cried because I know that ADHD often results in depression later in life. I have unwillingly bestowed my internal hell upon my innocent son and I blame myself for passing on my mixed up brain to my beautiful boy. As I spoke to the pediatrician, I watched Joe painstakingly draw yet another intricate monster, absorbing every word the two of us said. He knows his brain works a little bit differently…he’s told me. He is an incredibly smart and observant little boy.

My head has been spinning ever since the assessment was completed and diagnosis rendered at 1:45 p.m. yesterday. As usual, my outward demeanor was composed. I discussed the course of action we want to take (no meds for now) with the pediatrician. I explained that I have the same condition and expressed my fears about his future mental health. Our pediatrician appreciated that I had done my homework on the subject. She is pleased that I can help him through my personal perspective but I’m heartbroken; mostly for him and, admittedly and a bit selfishly, for myself as well. I can already recognize that his comfort level is highest when he is in a small group or alone. Like me. I can already see that he is deeply affected by hurtful words and mulls them over far longer than a “normal” person would. Like me. I can already see his frustration and disappointment if he fails and how he internalizes the shame. Like me. Every time I see the pain cross over his little face (and I’ve already seen it), I feel it too.
To add to my arsenal of information, I went to the website “Healthy Place”. It calls itself America’s Mental Health Channel. There I found the paragraph that I was looking for…what I couldn’t verbalize to Dave, but why I fear for Joe and his future because it was my experience:
“One prominent theory is that the relationship between ADHD and depression may result from the social/interpersonal difficulties that many children with ADHD experience. These difficulties can lead important others in the child’s life to develop negative appraisals of the child’s social competence that are communicated to the child during the course of ongoing negative social exchanges. With increasing age, these negative social experiences and others’ negative appraisals can adversely affect children’s view of their social competence, which, in turn, can predispose them to develop depressive symptoms. An interesting study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology was designed to test this theory (Ostrander, Crystal, & August [2006]. Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, and Self- and Other Assessments of Social Competence: A Developmental Study. JACP, 34, 773-787.” http://www.healthyplace.com/adhd/depression-and-adhd/relationship-between-depression-and-adhd-homepage-toc/menu-id-360
That’s why I beat myself up about him not wanting to attend soccer today. I need to help him focus and, at the same time, I need to help David understand how my, no…our brains function. We need to teach Joe self checking skills, we need to help him learn to focus and stay on course, we need to help him channel his attention before he is left standing on the sidelines wishing he had joined in. We need to help him learn to be a part of a group and contribute to a team. We need to advocate loudly for him at school. He needs us to be his voice or he’ll become invisible. I need to make Dave understand the importance of these things that I know because I’ve been living ADHD and depression for my entire life. My ADHD was undiagnosed as a child. We now know that leaving the condition undiagnosed almost certainly results in recurrent depression (Bipolar Disorder) later in life. The two go hand in hand. What a lovely pair…

So as my façade of togetherness, still holding on from yesterday afternoon, began its slow crumble this morning. I realized that my own monster had awakened. I was suddenly getting caught up in negativity and internalizing harmless remarks. Dave and I argued about whether or not Joe should go to soccer and I desperately tried to impart that things are different for Joe. He’s not just another kid who doesn’t feel like going. My words just wouldn’t form in a way to make Dave understand, so I shut down, stopped coping and the façade crashed to the floor. My monster had broken through the restraints and made its first appearance in months.
Later, Dave called Joe downstairs for a family discussion about what it means to be part of a team and how we are expected to follow through on a commitment. I reminded him of our discussion with the doctor yesterday and I shared that I understand how he feels. On a level that he could understand, I told him that my brain and his brain work the same way sometimes. As he watched my tears begin, his own began to flow. Our eyes met in mutual understanding of the frustration and emotion that seemingly no one else in the house has to deal with or fully understand. He slid off his chair and came to my side of the table where we wrapped our arms around one another and hugged in silent understanding.
I’m off to feed the monster its pill and get it back under control before it becomes strong enough to completely submerge me in the depths of its darkness. Once I’ve beaten it back again, I will wage a war against the monster trying to get my son and try my hardest to keep him out of its reach.

Comments

  1. I understand…

  2. Slidecutter says:

    I understand, all too well. There are days that my brain works like a well-oiled machine and others much like a Slinky that twists & turns its way down the stairs…but never up again.

    I love this post; it's like I'm reading about two of my children and…me…with our ADHD.

    Please write more about this….

  3. I am suffering from depression too (severe PMDD), for many years. I just started meds 2 1/2 years ago and had to go off them for 1 1/2 years bcos I was pregnant and then breastfeeding. Reading your posts uplifts my spirits bcos there are others out there who understand. My husband is very suportive but may not fully understand how I feel sometimes. Hang in there.

  4. UUGGGHHH!!! I have been loitering around here reading this and that post and found these ones about Depression. I have been debating for some time now, if I want to do my own series of posts about what its like to be a parent while suffering from recurrent depression and after feeling such a feeling of relating and relief at seeing yours I know I need to get started on it.

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