Why I Don't Feel Guilty My Child With ADHD Takes Medication

It was a day we had been dreaming about: Tuesday, November 14th. A day I have longed for and I day I never, ever imagined before I had a child with ADHD.

My daughter and I arrived 20 mins early. It felt like we had been waiting all her life for this appointment. This appointment was precious. The pediatrician was an expert in her field with a six-month waiting list. And we were desperate for help. We hoped this was the end of an eight year struggle. We were both so tired. Such a little girl, but such a long time to feel frustrated; such a long time to have screamed and shouted and cried every day. Such a long time to have been told to stop.

Something you should know about me — the parent. I barely take paracetamol. I’m happy to endure a headache. My family are herbalists and naturalists and “health food people.” I grew up around the idea that ADHD may not be real, and medication dispensed to children was a sign “the world has gone erratic.” I have all the books and all the parenting tips, and I know all the methods on all the blogs about calming down and loving and “going slow.” We have tried all the diets and taken all the vitamins. We have home schooled and government schooled. We have fought a fight to bring peace to our child and to our home. And we were losing.

It was time to admit we couldn’t continue the same way anymore. It was time to admit we needed help. It was time to listen to a doctor, and it was time to do what that doctor said. Whatever she said.

We both knew how significant it might be, my girl and I. I had explained to her over and over that the doctor couldn’t just “fix” the ADHD or take it away, like a tooth that needed to come out. But I think she hoped it would be like that anyway. I hoped it would be like that anyway.

My girl chose her clothes that morning like she was getting dressed for a birthday party, and brushed her hair until it shone. She put on her shoes hours before we needed to leave and couldn’t eat her breakfast. She begged to watch television to make the time go by, and I let her, for the same reason.

As we sat in the car preparing ourselves to go in, I gathered the notes we had written, and the referral from the GP and the psychologist’s report. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my bag. My bag, with my credit card and medical insurance inside. It was at home, by the door, in the hall. In that moment, I made a decision. It would take us about 25 mins to get home and back again and park the car. I drove and my girl followed our progress on google maps — all the way home, and all the way back again. She counted down the minutes of the journey and we watched the clock to see how late we would be. At every red light we chanted, “Go! Go! Go!”

Ten minutes late, we were called in. The doctor said, “I’m on a tight schedule today, so we have half an hour.” I had expected to be organized and composed, and ready to talk about my child who was “disorganized” and “out of control.” Instead, I sat on the chair flustered and emotional while my wise, clever, articulate kid explained the reason for our visit.

We left with two scripts: an anti-depressant used to suppress anxiety and medication for inattention.

I was numb. In one sense, everything I had hoped for had happened: the doctor was kind and focused and wanted to help. She had believed us when we said we couldn’t do it alone, and she had taken action. She had done something only she could do.

In the car on the way home, we celebrated. I yelped, “Darling! Mummy is doing something to help you!” And she said, “Can I scream?” And I shoved my fingers in my ears and drove with my elbows as she let out a sound only she can.

I want you to know something: I didn’t feel guilty. And I didn’t feel ashamed. I felt like a good mother. A mother who is not where she wanted to be, but who has travelled a long way, and cried a lot of tears in a quest to be brave and to do something positive about her reality. I am a mother who has had a change of heart and a change of mind. I am a mother who is OK with her child taking medication.

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Thinkstock image by Martinan

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