Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm Not Alone, and Neither Are You

I know it sounds crazy, but I have no great urge to blog when things are going well with Bear. I know, I'd all love to hear the good stories, the stories that give you hope that things will get better for you and your kids. Here's the thing, though. My blog is where I come to scream and to cry, to vent and to laugh. It's where I get everything off my chest so that I can keep going, because some days I'm not sure I can.

Today was one of those days. Things with Bear have been getting rougher and rougher for months, and I've thought of sitting down and writing a number of times, but every time I thought about it, it just seemed like one more thing I had to do. And let's face it, as special needs parents, there are a lot of things we have to do. Rarely do we get time to do the things we actually want to do.

Today has been so bad, however (and for the record, it's only 10:00 a.m.), that I turned straight to my blog. Here's how my morning went, in a nutshell. Bear's anxiety was so bad that I had to pin him down and dress him, after which TheODDDad had to carry him out to the van. Once at school, it took two EAs to peel his arms from around my legs so I could leave. I literally ran out of the school sobbing and then sat in the parking lot because I was crying too hard to drive. Then I drove home to pick up Stitch, who was at home with Daddy, and took him to daycare where my normally daycare-loving child proceeded to wrap his arms around my neck and cry when I tried to hand him over. By the time I got home, I was an emotional wreck.

My plan when I sat down to write had been to scream and cry and vent. I really didn't anticipate any laughing. Not today. But here's what happened instead. I started reading the comments that readers have left over the past few months and, as I did, I felt my shoulders begin to straighten, my head start to clear, and my spirits begin to lift. I was reminded that I'm not alone in this journey and that there are people out there who know exactly what I'm going through. They understand the euphoria when things are going well and the devastation...the utter devastation...when things go horribly wrong.

Because your comments helped me so much, I thought I would share some of them. After all, if they lifted me up, they might do the same thing for you. So here it goes...

I am slowly coming to grips with the part about being a parent of a child with mental illness... and it’s not easy. Helps to know there are others out there, too.

As much as I never wish this on anyone else, I am comforted feeling I am not alone in this struggle. Over time certain behaviors may lessen, but we are finding new ones emerge. My son is 13 (ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, ODD). He no longer melts down for 2 hours at a time, but his school and social issues persist. He is failing most of his subjects and talks about dropping out of school. He is an extremely bright kid and has endless potential. We are just hoping we can find a way to tap into it. I embrace all of you facing this tremendous life-altering experience of parenting a child with ADHD. I wish all of us and especially our beloved children peace and happiness.
Everything I have read so far is MY life. I am actually on antidepressants now because of the constant struggles and every waking minute battles with my ADHD/ODD/OCD son. It feels wonderful to know that I am not alone and that I am not imagining that my life is a constant battle.
I feel as if I am living a nightmare with my child. She is severely ADHD, with anxiety and mild ODD. I feel like the worst parent at times and am so frustrated by those other parents who judge my child and ask me "What's wrong with her?"
My son was diagnosed ADHD/ODD when he was 5 and let me tell you, everything you wrote under The ODD Child tab hit home. He is now 14 and doing better at using his tools that he learned from counselling and us to take control and not let it control him.
My son has ADHD and ODD as well, and I REALLY wish I had found something like these blogs and websites when my son was first diagnosed!! I was alone in a new town with family over an hour away, so I had no help and no support system, which amplified the struggle, and diminished my "taking care of me" time. Anyway, I realize I am not alone, and am NOT A BAD parent, but at that time, I wasn't so sure.... My son is 11 now, and things are better, but we are still not without our struggles! I really HAVE to keep reminding myself that he doesn't do this on purpose and it's not personal!! Thank you so much for that reminder!
My son, who is 6 with ADHD and ODD just like yours, has had some serious regression in the last couple of days. I am home today from work because I simply do not have it in me to go and work with those kids at school. They deserve me at my best, and today I am not. I will cry today.... but I will get back up. That is what I do too. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.
I cannot tell you how timely finding your blog is for me. I am you. I am dealing with an adhd/odd five year old boy and the people who I need their support the most, they have repeatedly told me.... today even....after a meltdown of his (and mine... from sheer exhaustion of emotional resources) that I am doing everything wrong, and that I need to be better. I am a teacher. I know how to deal with a class of 23 unruly kindergarteners.... how am I failing so deeply with my own son?! Today has been a tough day. Most days are. But despite, I am the positive shiny person that everyone but my family seems to see.
I often think about you and what a really great, kind, funny, intelligent person you are and that for me is proof that you get what you get in terms of kids. You don't get to choose their temperament. I often beat myself up about having created an 'out of control kid' - I mean my husband and I are pretty strong personalities and we could definitely work on improving our own emotional regulation at times - but I know that isn't the whole story. My daughter was pretty unique from the day she was born: long overdue, in distress and screaming bloody murder. The screaming didn't stop for 5 months. The midwives called her 'cross'. Her grandparents said she definitely knew her own mind. She was 'the girl with the curl'. I read every book and tried every approach we could find but we just couldn't seem to help her. It was tearing our family apart. Then I read your post about ODD and thought 'That sounds just like my daughter but she only ever does that at home. She's an angel at school.' Then early this year it spilled over into school for the first time - a 45 minute meltdown in front of the principal's office - and no one even tried to help. Her very young and inexperienced teacher walked right past us! The next day I went to our pediatrician and shared the story I'd been embarrassed to tell (she'd already been diagnosed with cyclical vomiting and anxiety). I mean, I'm a teacher, I know how to discipline a class of crazy teenage boys, how could I not help my own 5 year old daughter? Long story short, we now see an amazing child psychologist who has made so much progress with her. I like to think that all the hard work we're doing now will pay off later.
Last, but not least, is this one. In fact, I think this might be one of my favourite comments ever. From judgemental super-mom and special education teacher to mom of a “naughty,” and all with a sense of humour.
I think I just found my new best friend, although you don't even know it yet :) ! I have just spent a couple of hours reading through some of your posts. I can not tell you how awestruck I am about stumbling upon my own thoughts and life written with in the pages of your blog! God is GOOD! I AM NOT ALONE! But my story is a little unique because I have literally lived the life of the “I KNOW I'm a good Mom. Just look at my kids, well behaved...always, great students, kind, popular, EASY.” I was the Parent/Teacher organization president. I was the school board president. I was the mom muttering in my head about the "moms of the naughties." I knew if you would just give me a chance with your kid, I could get him in line, after all look at my kids and I was a special education teacher. Our friends told us our kids were not "normal" and that we had NO idea how hard parenting could be. We didn't believe them, we thought that you just had to be clear with your expectations and consistent with your consequences and pray for the Lord's guidance, and all would be so easy for you too. Honestly, this I exactly how I thought! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And then, 16 years later, came BEN! Our beautiful blond haired, bright eyed ball of fire! God is FUNNY! Our friends are morbidly satisfied! NOW you know, they say. AND THEY ARE RIGHT! Ben is 7 1/2 and in the second grade and is every bit as ADHD and ODD as Bear. Here we are back at the same school, with some of the same teachers, who knew us as the "other parents" now suddenly on the side of the "naughties". Now when we walk into school the staff looks at us with their jaws on the floor, shaking their heads in disbelief. We have been through more meds, counseling sessions, neurofeedback...that I feel like an expert with all the knowledge and science on these conditions but with little know how on how to REALLY HELP MY SON! I know the judgement that comes from the bystanders because I was one of them! I know how fun and easy parenting can be but I also live how lonely, exhausting and overwhelming it can be. THANK YOU for your honest feelings and your love for Bear. It is not easy being a parent of an ODD child but how frustrating it is for our boys! I can not even imagine the pain that goes through their little brains when they are asked and expected to do something they are completely not wired for and then have adults, like the former me, totally not get it! I could go on forever but I'll stop now, but just know you have one more mom who "gets" you, and is walking a similar journey. ONE DAY AT A TIME!

As one commenter wrote, as much as I would never wish this on anyone, I am comforted by the knowledge that I'm not alone in this struggle. I am not alone, and neither are you, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Update: I received an email from Bear's EA telling me that he's having a great morning. In fact, he started talking to her about attending college and his uncertainty about what he would study. Life as a special-needs parent is never dull!