I first began this blog post over a year ago. Too much feels were conjured, so I shelved it. But I want to complete it because damn it, this shit matters.
(originally started in Oct 2014)
My son is
I’ve been dealing with my own suicidal ideation for over a decade now, and on Monday, when I got a call from the elementary school regarding my son’s outburst in the middle of class… well, that whole mental health issue exploded into a mess of tears, emotions, and trying to convey to a kid that life has so much possibility, and death not so much.
My heart has been broken by callous men before. But nothing can render me to my knees as quickly as when my son said, “Mom, I don’t want to live anymore.” He proceeded to hit himself in the head, tried ramming his head into the wall, wanted to hang himself from his loft bed. I pulled him into the living room, sat criss-cross on the carpet with my son in a bear hug. Not only to keep him from moving his arms and hurting himself, but to hug all the love I could into that child of mine. After about fifteen minutes of my arms wrapped tightly around him, he asked if he could go to the hospital. Dropped my daughter off with her grandmother and I took my son to the ER. We waited for a good 45 minutes before my son was taken to a room by the crisis worker on duty.
They were gone about 20 minutes. I sat in the lobby with my bestie, the Viking, and tried to keep calm. I didn’t know what would happen, if he would have to be hospitalized or could we go home after all this? Kids shouldn’t want to harm themselves. What if this was more than just the ADHD– what if this was tip of the iceberg?
My son’s father has his own demons, as do I. And we’ve passed them down to our son. Liam was five and in kindergarten when he was diagnosed with severe ADHD. Through trial and error, we found a medication that allowed him to apply focus yet not render the feared zombie I had been warned about. We changed our diet, got into therapy, and I took PCIT training. But then the meds wore off, lasting about 6 hours when they were supposed to last longer. And as he neared max dosages, his pediatrician and I would try other meds, in hopes of finding something that worked with his chemistry.
I hated it.
During one of my darker periods, I was prescribed Wellbutrin for my depression. It didn’t play well with my undiagnosed anxiety and I ended up cutting because I wondered what it’d feel like if I actually slit my wrists. After the third incident, I quit the med cold turkey (which isn’t a good thing, but my logic was that if the med made me feel that killing myself was an option, then that med wasn’t for me.) and just tried to ride out the storm of malaise. So when my son’s doctor suggested a different class of medication (well, anytime we switched meds, really) I would panic because I didn’t want my son to have a similar reaction I did when prescribed Wellbutrin.
First it was Ritalin. It worked well enough. For a while. Main side effect was loss of appetite. And when the med wore off, my son turned into a food-sucking black hole until bedtime.
Then Vyvance. This one he didn’t take for more than a week. It made him want to leap through the window of a moving car.
Adderall is basically an extended release Ritalin. Liam took this one for two years, gradually upping the dosage to try and find balance between least amount possible to get him through the school day and the bus ride home. But as we crept closer to max dosage, I knew this one wouldn’t last. That was cemented when my son had his breakdown and tried harming himself, and we found ourselves at the ER.
Strattera. Expensive. Insurance doesn’t cover it, so his pediatrician was giving us samples to use. It worked– he took it at night and could sleep through the side effects. It, in conjunction with a very low dose of Adderall worked pretty damn well. But samples don’t last forever, and the insurance company that said they won’t cover it until my son tried three meds first: Adderall, Vyvance, and Concerta. With that in mind, the doctor and I decided to give Concerta a chance.
Concerta. This has been awesome. I say that because with the exception of Strattera, all the other medications decreased my son’s appetite considerably. Concerta doesn’t do that. There are times when he’s not as hungry, but he’ll eat lunch and snacks. He’s been on this medication for a year and we’ve only bumped up the dosages twice, and he’s been at his current dosage for almost 8 months. This stuff works.
But what I have found especially helpful is that by taking him to the ER, it opened up a bunch of services. Evaluations and the like, beyond the scope of his pediatrician. My son doesn’t just have ADHD. He’s on the autism-spectrum. Thus things began to make sense as I learned more about his new diagnosis. Low threshold for frustration? Inability to deal with people on their terms and make friends? Pieces started falling into place, and I could see a fuller picture of the needs my son has… and the ability to address them.
Oh, and Jenny McCarthy, feel free to fuck off for suggesting that dying from polio is preferable than living with autism with your anti-vax bullshit. A recent Swedish study has linked PCOS to Autism— and I do have PCOS, so I’ll take responsibility for what my genetics has resulted with my son.
There is hope. My son is very intelligent and can retain information like a sponge. He loves science and is fascinated by pathogens. He enjoys Legos, Pokemon, the Animorphs book series and many of Roald Dahl’s works. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up. And you know what? Despite the curveballs chucked at us, I have faith in my son’s ability to achieve his goal.
My son is awesome and I will never let him forget it.