Archive for the 'ADHD' Category

Sick of Failing at, and Being a ‘Single’ Mom

It’s 11pm and guess what. Both kida are still up. I’m so frustrated it’s not even funny. I am SO sick of practically raising these kids by myself. It’d be one thing if I really WAS a single mom… as in I was the only parent responsible for raising them and the only one around to do it.

That’s not the case, though. I have a husband. A good man who works hard to provide financial support for us. Unfortunely that’s just about the only kind of support he gives us. He accepts the fact that I’m sick, have been for a long time, and looks like I will be, and he supports me in that regard in so much as he understands why I can’t keep the house clean and rarely feel like cooking dinner.

So why, WHY???!!!!! can he not see I can’t raise these kids by myself and HELP? The kids are almost 12 and 11 and for 12 years now I’ve been not just the primary caregiver, I’ve been the ONLY caregiver. I can count on 3 fingers the times in the last 12 years that Mike has taken charge of ‘bedtime patrol’ and made sure the kids get ready for bed and get in bed. Even fewer are the times he’s done so and make sure they went to bed with all their chores done and all their medicines taken.

Every single solitary day, if *I* don’t make sure they take all their medicines, Matthew flat-out refises to do as he know he’s supposed and will lie to us that he’s taken his meds.

Now, even WITH his meds, Matthew is an extrememly rebellious, disrespectful, disobedient, rude, mouthy, selfish, proud kid. If he doesn’t take his meds it is easily 100x worse.

So make sure he takes his meds, you say. That’s fine, I do try. However there are times when I just crash. My body is fighting all these infections and even with all the help it gets from multiple high-dose antibiotics, it still wears me out. And of course, extremem fatigue is one of the lovely features of these infections I’m fighting.

So it happens that some days, I’m so exhausted I don’t even hear the TWO alarms I set each night. On the days that Mike is off, or he knows the kids do not have school, he will turn the alarms off and just let me sleep. That’s wonderful and so sweet of him, you say. Sure, but if he’s not going to make sure Matt gets his meds and then go to bed without even saying he’s going to bed, just disappear all of a sudden right when Matthew’s lack of meds REALLY starts kicking in, leaving me to deal with all the hate, filth, disrespect, threats, and disobedience he spews at full force by myself, then I would much, MUCH rather he wake me up!

I’m so sick and tired of being the only one who even attempts to get the kids to take care of their chores, school/homework, medicines, etc. The only one who even attempts to discipline them.

Maybe if he weren’t here effectively being a bump on a log, my attempts at disciplining, instructing, and so forth, would be more successful. Or maybe not. Either way at least then I wouldn’t have the frustration of having to deal with it all myself while their father, just as responsible for them as I am, plays his video games, reads his book, or sleeps through all the nonsense.

At least then I wouldn’t have the frustration and heartbreak of watching my husband, supposedly my best friend, my leader, and my protector stand by and do nothing at all about his son calling me horrible names, threatening to kill me, throwing things at me, hitting, biting, or kicking me.

I’ve alwys had this picture in my mind of the way a husband/father stands up for his wife, and disciplines the disrespectful child for not saying “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” to her. As much as I know in my head that there are fathers out there who would do that very thing because it’s what it right and how God intended for fathers to be towards their wives and children, I just can’t make my heart really believe it. It’s like make-believe, pure fantasy.

I love my family so much. Even the selfish, proud, rebellious, hateful son I have.Even the thoughtless, selfish, lazy husband I have. Meagan has moments when she doesn’t thrill me as well, but I sto;; love her, too. I love them all. I’m just so very disappointed in the way a couple of them are turning out. It breaks my heart in so many, many ways.

I hate that I’ve failed to turn out two good kids. I know one is a good deal, but it’s not enough. I want ALL my kids to turn out good. I hate that I’ve failed, and I hate that their father has failed. I know Jesus can make things like this turn around 180 degrees, but I’ll tell you the truth, it sure doesn’t seem very likely for us. I have prayed for so many years, and while we did see a little progress once we were able to get Matt the medicine he needs, it’s been pretty sparse.

I’ve heard our pastor say many times that all our failures are prayer failures, so I guess that means I’m not doing such a great job at that either.

Oh I’m not going to quit trying, so I won’t say I’m a failure, but I have failed, and I don’t know anything new to try or to change to NOT fail again. Most days my son’s future looks very. very dark . 

I’m just so frustrated and tired of fighting what appears to be a losing battle, and doing so on my own. I am sure lots of truly single moms feel the same way, amd I understand that it is different for them. I understand that I can’t understand completely how difficult it is for them, since they are having to be a single parent AND a single provider at the same time. But I also don’t think it’s a stretch in the least to call myself a ‘single’ mom. I feel a closeness to single moms, I suppose you could say. I feel for them, because I have at least a small idea of what they have to deal with and face as a single parent.

I just wish that American fathers would start acting like true fathers. Get saved if they’re not, make sure they are if they are, and thenpick up a bible and find out how they are supposed to act and then listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and BE the kind of father God wants him to be. Maybe then us single and ‘single’ moms wouldn’t have to carry so much on ourselves.

It’d be really great if they would also learn what God expects of them as husbands, too.

I wish it were one thing at a time!

Well it seems the only things I think of to write about when I am able to write are the kids’ behaviors. Oh sure, at night when I’m lying in bed waiting to fall asleep (sometimes for hours!), I think of all kinds of good blog material. Thought-provoking, funny, inspiring, informative, just all kinds of goodies. Trouble is… I’m in bed and the computer is not.

I have been thinking a lot about the kids and their behaviors and emotions the last few weeks because that is the thing we’re currently “working on”. This year has been chock-full of new realizations and discoveries. Not the least of which is that, yes, I truly do have two special needs kids.

Actually this is only just beginning to sink in. I mean, I’ve known for years and years that they each have a handful of medical conditions and various learning differences, but I’ve never thought of them as being “special needs”.

Truth is, though, they are. They both have needs that the majority of kids do NOT have, and so that makes them “special”. Of course, my kids are both pretty special period, but you know what I mean.

I guess you could say I’ve been living in a bubble the last few years. Perhaps the undiagnosed medical/mental/emotional problems *I* had were part of it, but even so the isolation was self-inflicted. I can’t really blame anyone else for it but myself is what I mean.

The isolation from the rest of the world that *I* had (not the kids, they’ve always been ‘socialized’ plenty, *I* just avoided going anywhere or getting involved in anything) kept me from realizing that my kids truly were ‘different’. Sometimes I would forget that not all kids take 4 or 5 prescription meds a day, or that not all girls have to take nightly injections, or that not all kids have to stay far away from all nuts and metal.

To further complicate the matters, the behavior and emotional problems my kids had/have were not unfamiliar to me, so I didn’t recognize them as being ‘odd’. Many of their problems were quite old hat for myself and my family, actually. They did not ‘stick out’ when compared to my younger brothers or myself at comparable ages, so it was not immediately obvious to me or my mother (the only other mom I really had any contact with) that there was something WRONG.

To be sure, I did catch that Meagan had auditory processing and expressive language difficulties early on, because that WAS different. In reading up on those things, I stumbled onto ADHD and read up a bit on that and recognized Meagan in that, as well. Truth be told I recognized myself, too. I remember one book in particular I read that was written by a psychologist or pyschiatrist who had ADHD himself in which he described the way his mind worked…how he thought about multiple things at once and there was never ‘downtime’, etc, that really made me suspect ADHD in myself. It was seriously like this guy had climbed inside my head and written down what he saw. Eerie.

I didn’t really DO anything about the new knowledge, though, outside of trying to manage stuff on my own. Just continued to hide away in the house. Partly because I didn’t know what to do about it, and partly because when I had tried to get Meagan help for the ADD, I ran into brick walls left and right. I figured since we’d been effectively shut down, that was the end of that and so I quit trying. I gave up advocating for the kids’ health at all, really. I adapted my teaching techniques, curriculum, and schedule to fit their needs as best I could and went on.

I still took them to the doc if they were sick, of course, but I absolutely stuck to that. I quit bringing up ‘concerns’ or questions. If their lungs got bad, or their toenail ingrown, I took them in, otherwise I just tried to deal with whatever on my own.

I kept up the endocrinologist appointments, too, for the routine checks of height and bloodwork to manage Meagan’s pituitary dwarfism (growth hormone deficiency), but gave up trying to find a good allergist, audiologist (for auditory processing issues), or neurologist and/or psychologist (for ADD). I did not pursue any of the therapies I thought the kids would benefit from (speech, occupational, physical, auditory re-training). The pediatrician we had was not the least interested in anything outside of the standard runny nose issues and so I quit asking her for anything more either.

So where am I going with all this… everywhere. =) Our new pediatrician is very interested in helping the kids with ANYTHING they might need help with, and I’m beginning to advocate for their health again above and beyond the basic “they have a respiratory infection” kind of way. It’s going to take time, though, since we kinda have a backlog of issues to sort through and deal with.

Some things have been handled or managed relatively well for quite awhile – like both kids’ asthma and enviromental and other allergies, and Meagan’s GHD. Other things I’ve know about but nothing has been done about it.

There’s Meagan’s auditory processing, expressive language, and ADD issues which I’ve had on the backburner for years. There’s Matthew’s small stature (is it a hormone issue like his sister’s??) and his suspected hypotonia (low muscle tone) that has also been in the back of my head for years. Then there’s his extreme behavior problems which have been here for years but I did not realize there was potentially HELP for it.

This year, we’ve added a bunch more. Not that the kids have changed that much in the last year, it’s just that I’ve become more aware that different aspects of their behavior, emotions, and health are NOT normal, after all. That realization has been building for a couple of years as I meet more moms and kids and really started paying attention to them.

So, in the last year I’ve recognized that the kids have a lot more issues that need dealing with than I was aware of all these years. They are not NEW issues, mind you… I just have a new awareness that they have a name and potential for being helped, and in some cases just new awareness that they are not normal.

These would be things like depression in both kids, ADHD in Matthew, wheat and soy allergies for Matthew, the Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections in both kids, anxiety in Matthew, and nausea and mild anxiety in Meagan (these two are new symptoms this year).

There are a lot of things we need to work on getting taken care of or managed. Some things are already under control, others are on the way, and still others we haven’t even started. It’s the behaviors and emotions that are currently at the top of the list.

One thing at a time, right? =) Except it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.

The one thing for Matthew is actually a two-fer because they are equally urgent. That would be his depression which manifests itself with extreme mood swings, anger, aggression, rage, and frustration… and his ADHD which is much more evident and problematic when the depression is under control.

The one thing for Meagan is her ADD, at her request, but her depression is really causing problems and I’m not sure but what we might have made the wrong choice as to which to address first.

She started Concerta a couple of weeks ago, but when asked if it is helping her concentrate any better at school, she replies “maybe a little” with a grimace and a shrug. I don’t see any improvement at all, myself, but then I don’t see her during the school day when the meds should be at their peak.

At the same time, it’s been more and more evident (because I know what to look for and pay attention to now) in the last couple of weeks that she is, indeed, very chronically depressed. There have been several days when she’s been very emotional, crying over the simplest little things. She’s been just generally sad, blue, and down-in-the-dumps a lot, of course, but there are other things too that I never recognized as being depression before. Things like her repeated ‘episodes’ of “I hate my life. Nobody loves me. I suck at everything. I wish I was never born. I never finish anything.” kind of statements, as well as her frustration with herself (biting her hands, or hitting her head, or squeezing her neck, etc). She’s also often very blah. By that I mean there are lots of times when she is apathetic about everything in general…. emotionless almost.

I do know she is almost 11yo and so you might think that the moodiness and crying is just a little bit of puberty stuff. Early PMS, if you will. Problem is… we have been medically SUPPRESSING puberty for a year now. So it’s NOT puberty.

She has a follow-up for the ADD with the ped Mon, so we’ll see what she thinks then.

With Matthew, it’s even more complicated. He is on anti-depressants, and they have been WONDERFUL for him. All the frustration, anger, aggression, etc was GONE completely. He was HAPPY and obedient and cheerful and pleasant to be around (I’m sad to say that truthfully he has been a VERY hard kid to want to be around for a couple of years… ), and polite to boot. Simply amazing the difference it’s made… He was having fun and enjoying life (for more than a few minutes at a time) again. Until…

Week before last he had a day or two of mild (very!) behavior problems. He was getting upset and angry over stupid stuff again, but it wasn’t a major temper fit like in the past. The first day he told me that his temper control was flashing on and off. It got worse and worse, and by the end of the week it was as if he’d never had the anti-depressants at all. Then, just as sudden it went away and he was back to his new normal this past week. Monday through Thursday, that is. Yesterday -Friday- he was back to the old normal, but with a twist. Every now and then throughout the day, he would get calmed down and be the new normal Matt again for a few minutes. Today he’s doing ok, but not great like he had been.

So this is a problem, of course. I need to talk to the dr and figure out what the deal is. Is the dose too low? Is this particular med no longer going to work for him? Was the mood switch a reaction to switching his antibiotics from one that penetrates the blood brain barrier pretty well to one that doesn’t penetrate as well? Was this even ABnormal? (I have not totally figured out yet what is and is not normal.)

Then there’s the ADHD issue. When the anti-depressants are working and Matt is the ‘new’ Matt, the ADHD is a huge problem… at least at home. It hasn’t interefered with his schoolwork yet, which is why the ped did not put him on meds for it, but it’s becoming more and more troublesome at home.

This last week between Mon and Thurs when he was feeling good/happy, the ADHD was getting him into trouble all the time. The depression symptoms were keeping him in trouble before because of the yelling, screaming, throwing, hitting, slamming, backtalking, rebelling, running off, etc. The ADHD symptoms are getting him into more mischievous kinds of trouble, but still just as potentially dangerous (and maybe in some ways MORE).

In four days he: spray painted and then tore apart a table in the front yard, went dumpster diving in the parking lot behind our house, strung a flourescent light bulb (from the dumpster) between two trees, smashed a bunch of Christmas bulb ornaments all over the ‘floor’ of their ‘clubhouse’ (between the now ‘lit’ trees), took a walk to Braums without getting permission to leave the property, climbed up on the roof several times, spray painted and played with a steak knife pulled from the dumpster, poured red glitter all over EVERYTHING inside and out (another dumpster treasure), and spent about 45min going berserk over making “spider webs” by clapping his glue-covered hands together.

Yes, a lot of these things happened outside, so the first instinct is to say ground him to the inside or don’t let him out unless I go with him and watch him 100% of the time. Thing is, he’s almost 10. The neighborhood kids are all between 9 and 12. They all play together in the neighborhood, visiting each other’s houses and yards. It’s not a big neighborhood, maybe 5 houses long on either side. The kids don’t (typically) leave this small area. They all know the boundaries, and they all have (so far) been really good about staying in them and staying out of trouble without moms breathing down their necks. They aren’t LITTLE kids anymore, ya know?

If he were 4, then yes keeping him inside or going out with him and staying right at his side at all times would work. But at almost 10? Not so much. He is so small compared to the rest of them he already feels like the baby of the bunch. To have his mommy following him around would make things a million times worse.

What gets me is that while the ADHD isn’t NEW, it’s newly WORSE. His doc said that was to be expected, that the depression being treated allowed the ADHD to come to the surface more. I’m having to guess that the anxiety and fear he USED to have was keeping the lack of impulse control (mostly) in check, because he never would have played with a knife before. He would have brought it home to me (very carefully) and ranted and raved about how stupid people were for throwing it away where little kids could find it and get hurt. He would have (and has) done things like spray painting tables, climbing the roof, and scattering glitter everywhere… but in the past it would have been because he was angry about something or someone. It was almost predictable… if he was having a fit we knew to watch out for stuff like that. If he wasn’t actively throwing a fit, he didn’t do things like that. Now he’s doing these kinds of things just because… whenever.

The ADHD symptoms might not be interfering with his schoolwork, but they are definitely making him do things that are potentially dangerous (taking off without telling me where he’s going, climbing the roof, playing with knives)… and that’s a problem. I don’t know whether we need to try meds or if we just need to crack down even harder on the discipline or what. Like I said, I’m having to relearn ‘normal’. A year ago meds would never have been in question, because I was totally unaware that his problems were anything more than just bad parenting on my part or pure willfullness on his part. I didn’t know it COULD be anything else. Now that I know he has neuro-borreliosis, depression, and ADHD? I’m having to re-evaluate everything in terms of what is normal and does this need medication or something else?

Once we get these most pressing things worked out, then I’ll be able to move some of the other issues to the top of the list… hopefully ONE thing at a time.

In the meantime, I guess I need to brush up on my juggling skills. It’s a good thing my Lyme treatment is going so well. I’m ABLE to think again, and I’m gaining more energy and feeling better all the time, and that makes it not simply easier to juggle these things, but POSSIBLE again.

One thing is for sure, life is never boring around here!


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