At the age of 4 1/2, my energetic, inquisitive, enthusiastic, and confident pre-schooler disappeared.
Once game for everything, she feared even attending birthday parties. With her own friends. Her emotions were fragile. Tantrums and meltdowns like we had never experienced, would drop without warning. She was on edge. The little girl we knew was fading . . . the worry permeated our lives.
Perhaps you think this sounds normal for a 4-year old. It's just phase. "You just had a new baby!" This season will pass. Next month it will be something new.
Well, then there were the vacant eyes. Blue as all get out - but numb. The sparkle was gone. Glum, was the word we used to describe her.
Something was wrong.
We spent almost all of her kindergarten year trying to convince someone to believe us. "She's just adjusting. Don't worry." I would scream (inside) that I KNEW MY KID, but I just couldn't find anyone who would believe me - other than my family and close friends who knew my child since birth. They, too, saw the change. And didn't think I was crazy.
First grade came along, and she began to explain what she was feeling.
"All the thoughts stack up in my head. Up and up and up. Higher and higher. And they won't leave."
"I wish I had a key to unlock the lock on my forehead, open it up, and let my thoughts out."
"I'm nocturnal. I never shut off."
"I feel all this crummy stuff. Here." And she would point to her head.
NOW, I had their attention. I am thankful that her first grade teacher partnered with us to help find the right solutions and therapy for my girl. I just wanted her back.
She was diagnosed (after more than a month of testing - not just a trip to the family practitioner) with ADHD. Only, not the kind you automatically "know". She wasn't bouncing from seat to seat, unable to keep focus, doing poorly in school, or impulsive. No, hers had everything to do with an overstocked brain that needed relief. The overabundance of thoughts needed a heave-ho. And due to this build up of thoughts, she was now experiencing major social anxiety. She had developed a phobia about being around people - even familiar ones. Once, at an event, she remarked, "My body wants to do what everyone is doing, but my head is stopping me." WHERE WAS MY KID?!
That was first grade. Within one week of taking medication, my daughter returned. No hyperbole here. She was back. Her eyes had a fire in them once again. She was smiling. More sure of herself. Enjoying herself. Participating again. You will NEVER hear me judge another parent for choosing medication for their child.
She is now in 6th grade and has been on her the same dose of medication since 3rd grade. We're never had need to increase it. Only, with recent height and weight increases, and some "scatteredness" towards the end of the school year, we thought now (the summer) would be the best time to experiment with an increase in her dosage.
Only . . . within 2 hours of taking the increase, she went . . . glum. Solemn. Disappeared. I thought she was just in some tween slump, but again, she spoke up,
"I don't feel well. It's like, I'm sad. Only, I'm not. And it just kind of happened."
That was three weeks ago. I tried the medication for another week or so, but her reaction did not imporove. She was moody. Irritable. Sullen. So, I stopped giving it to her. I didn't want to lose her personality again. Instead, now that she's older, we had a huge talk about nutrition and how with healthier foods and the new addition of Omega 3 vitamins, we may be able to curb this sucker. But, it would involve sacrifice. We are slowly removing the bulk (not all) of the gluten. Dyes and HFCS were removed years ago. Breakfast is protein. Lunches for school will be carefully packed for sustenance and endurance, for she herself "felt" a meltdown after having a bagel and potatoes on vacation. Her response to those foods was like a light-bulb on a dimmer switch - she slowly faded upon eating them. And we, my husband and I, witnessed her body go from energetic to complete slump within 30 minutes of downing the carbo-loaded meal. She said she hated that feeling. Food is supposed to make you feel good, right? Food is fuel. So, I'm thankful she's old enough to partner with me on this now.
I know the medication helped when she was younger.
I also know certain foods effect her greatly. I am a HUGE believer that we do not give enough credit to how food can effect us - for good and for absolutely downright horrible.
So, for us, right now, the course is nutrition and vitamins. Sure, that could change.
Has anyone else had this experience? Going from a medication that worked, to the SAME medication not working, to a change in nutrition and the addition of vitamins to help treat ADHD naturally???
Joline Pinto Atkins is an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage and can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder and a contributor at Daily Fast Fuel. Joline is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 11 and 7, who are both named after authors. Addicted to fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising and P90X'ing, and longs for good books, vats of coffee, and an endless supply of buffalo wings - which she will not share with you. So, please, do not ask.