In the past week my son has hit me twice and bitten me, bringing on a dark purple bruise on my arm. All were done during a meltdown. He screams and cries, indignant and out of control. The slightest thing can set him off.
Combined with his hyperactivity and lack of focus, I knew he had ADHD long before a psychologist recently diagnosed him last week.
The doctor said Eli’s ADHD isn’t severe, just a “mild case.” It doesn’t feel mild, to me or Eli’s teacher, who has been so supportive through this journey. She told my husband and I that we should consider getting him tested late last year. I had already seen him in somewhat of a classroom setting and he couldn’t sit still. He didn’t look anyone in the eye because he was so distracted by the toys, books and desks.
I haven’t observed him in his classroom, so I don’t experience the worst of his hyperactivity. But I have witnessed his impulse control many, many times. I’ve been hit, slapped, screamed at and more. He blows in my face because he knows it will annoy me, but he apologizes for all of this behavior soon after he calms down.
I realize he can’t control it. He doesn’t mean to do it; he just needs to figure out how to control his emotions, which is hard for a 5-year-old, nevertheless one with ADHD.
It would be easy to take all of this personally. When his teacher first brought ADHD up, I felt terribly guilty. I was so sure Eli was experiencing this because of my diagnoses — two types of depression, anxiety and a personality disorder. I went home and googled it, sure enough ADHD kids often have mothers with mood disorders. Obviously I don’t want him to struggle with this. I’ve struggled almost my whole life, and it’s no picnic.
I know it’s not my fault, but it’s hard to shake the guilt and shame that all moms experience.
The only thing to do is learn everything I can, modify our parenting, consult experts and just accept it.
I have to accept it. I have to accept that both my children may have inherited the illnesses I have. It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault. It’s not anybody’s fault.
I’ll do everything in my power to learn more and help him.
But I need to remember: In order to help him I have to work on myself, make sure I’m not pouring from an empty cup. I have to provide structure and routine. I have to set boundaries and actually stick to them.
I’m in recovery when it comes to my mental illnesses. Recovery doesn’t mean I have to be perfect, just that I’m always trying to grow.
I imagine Eli and I will grow together, be stronger because of the paths we’ll walk.
I know in my heart that he’s still the same sweet, loving little boy he was before the diagnosis. He just has his moments.
Lord knows I have mine.