Sunday, May 29, 2011

How Can I Help Him ?

From as far back as I can really remember, I have struggled with what can only be categorized as severe ADHD (although when I was younger and on Ritalin it was just called ADD).

For those who aren't familiar with those acronyms, this is what they represent:
ADHD = Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADD = Attention Deficit Disorder

Either way, this is a real condition in which your brain and thoughts go so fast you struggle to keep up.  And this causes all sorts of problems.  In school, it can be difficult to concentrate and challenging to complete tasks and assignments.  Sure you can excel in "creative" writing, but virtually everything else scholastically is very difficult.  In personal relationships, this inability to "stay on task" can create rifts in communication, which can leave the other party feeling unimportant or unloved or unappreciated.  At work, during games, playing sports ... the list goes on and on filled with activities that become even more challenging when you cannot just do them and instead have to focus on doing just those activities (as your brain is always trying to multi-task even though you rarely can accomplish that successfully).

I "trained" myself to overcome this condition as a result of having to take Ritalin to "calm myself."  It always made me feel like a zombie or like I was in a long tunnel and all noise but whatever was immediately in front of me was like the teacher from the Charlie Brown specials ...

My family dutifully asked me, when I was not "acting" appropriately, "Did you take your medication today?" and I got sick of it.  I hated the way I felt.  I hated the way people looked at me and reacted to my actions when I was "out of control."  I hated that question.  So I paid close attention to how I "acted" when I did take my medication and then simply stopped taking it.  To avoid being "caught" I would act exactly like I knew I acted when I had taken my meds.  It wasn't a perfect plan, but it did eventually work and I weaned myself of the medication.  This was, of course, a huge surprise to my parents when they finally found out, but I consider it one of my greatest success stories.

All of this is leading to my eventual point, which is this ... my second son, Ben, has ADHD ... and I fear his is even worse than mine was at his age. This has not been "confirmed" by a doctor, but I feel fairly competent to assess this as a recovering sufferer myself.  The signs are all there.  He does okay in school, after having excelled in earlier grades.  When he is reading a book or watching a movie, he completely tunes everything else out.  He forgets even the tiniest of responsibilities, sometimes even while he is doing them!
And he beats himself up about it ... just like I used to do (and still do sometimes).  There is a difference between kids being kids and ADHD sufferers.  There is a constancy to the excessive thoughts that come flying in when you're dealing with ADHD.  And there is virtually no "off" switch.

I could wax poetic on this forever, but my main issue is ... I don't know how to help Ben through this!  As a parent I hate nothing more than seeing my children suffer.  I've dealt with the difficulty of this disorder for my entire life and my heart aches to think of my son suffering through what I have experienced.  I worry about my oldest son too, but not for ADHD.  I worry about how frail he is (toothpick thin) and how awkward that can make just about anything in life.  It is a miracle (and testament to my awesome parents) that I made it through childhood ... as a hyperactive, short-attention spanned, skinny, short, mouthy kid.  Thankfully Ben and Josh Jr already have so many great qualities that it took me decades to pick up.  They will be just fine, but I dread the days ahead where they will both suffer through trials and difficulties of life.

It's getting to the end of the closet ... here's another Progressive shirt ...
These shirts were given out as part of an
internal marketing campaign, aimed at
showing employees how PROGRESSIVE
we all are ... and how that's a good thing!

1 comment:

  1. Josh, FYI, your mom and dad weren't THAT dumb, ha! I found your "pills" in your pants pockets when I did laundry. Also, as you well know by your father, no one is ever cured of it. The heartbreak for me is what it may be doing to everyone else around, that the person with ADHD isn't aware of. You have grown amazingly, but seriously, medicine has changed dramatically, and it may be better for Ben in the long run to give him a chance....Not lecturing, just food for thought?.... Love you so very much, Momma C