This is a more personal post than I have ever, ever made before. I make it anyway, in the hopes that it might be helpful to someone. If you would like to leave a comment to this post, please be considerate and compassionate with your words. Thanks 🙂
In our household, we struggle daily with ADHD, OCD, ODD, GAD, depression, apraxia and Tourette’s syndrome. To say that things are often tumultuous is putting it mildly. I often say that it is like being on a roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs. The argument is that everyone’s life is like that. The reply is that these disorders magnify the ups and downs of life and make them stronger. I had a therapist tell me once that an ADHD child counts as 10 in the education system. I don’t know if that’s really the case but there are some days that I feel like I’ve been chasing after at least 10 kids.
These disorders cause complications in all life areas. I am going to briefly talk about this so you might get a good picture of life as we know it:
Family life: ODD used to be the biggest stressor in our family life but OCD has quickly taken over on that. My OCD kid changes his clothes frequently, washes frequently, consumes an insane amount of wipes and even makes his siblings wash or change their clothes if he feels they are ‘dirty’ We still get oppositional behaviors and the impulsiveness of ADHD causes plenty of tension too.
School life: School is a very touchy thing for us. We have had one nearly perfect school year and that is it. First grade. Teacher loved kiddo and he wanted to make her happy. Was blissful right up to the last 2 months. K grade teacher and kiddo were like oil and water and he’d cry every time I took him to school. We found out at the end of the year that she yelled at him almost every day until he cried and then made him put his head down on his desk for crying. 2nd grade- kiddo was really off (meds weren’t right) and teacher met me at flagpole nearly every day to ‘talk’. 3rd grade- teacher was assertive/I am not. Teacher uninvited kiddo from class field trip and also told me kiddo was not welcome in her class unmedicated. 4th grade- teacher just didn’t care. Didn’t follow 504 and didn’t remind kiddo to turn in work. Let peers bully kiddo (including physical abuse) and call him ‘uncool’ and ‘diseased’. 5th grade- the year of phone calls. Just complaining. Kiddo is off task. Kiddo is tired, come get him. Kiddo wiped deodorant on his chair (worst offense this year) etc. We’re ready for summer!
Church life: Church can be a tender subject too. We have had chapel doors snapped shut on us because kiddo was making too much noise in the foyer. We have had looks. We have had Primary Pres call because teacher was at wit’s end with kiddo. We have had children laugh at kiddo and call him weird and no one attempt to correct them about it. We have had adults whisper about kiddo. It’s harder to take at church because I guess I expect everyone to be striving to be more Christlike.
Public life: Public life is tricky. Restaurants were out for a loooooong time. Even places like Wendy’s. Shopping centers are still iffy. Dental offices have referred us off to more expensive Pediatric Dental offices because kiddo is hard to treat. Even visits to the park or the library can be draining.
So there is an overview. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs. Pretty normal. With the toughest downs, I’d have a cry (yeah, I’m a wimp) and get over it. Not depressed. Plenty of happy days. Not dwelling. Chipper and friendly almost all of the time. Ask my friends 🙂 I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that hubby once tried to suggest I might need an antidepressant. I got defensive and told him “I’m NOT depressed! Anyone would have a hard time with these disorders.” I just followed my pattern of being distressed for a few days over whatever the current fallout happened to be and then moving on.
Almost 3 years ago, I was working graveyard shifts to help with the family budget but still be around for the kids. I worked graveyard shifts for about 6 years. And I was understandably tired. And when I finally quit working graves, I was expecting our 4th kiddo. Still understandably tired, right? And of course who is peppy through the newborn stage? So why am I still tired with littlest kiddo nearing 3 years old? Sleeping like a log and about 10 hours too? Should be enjoying plenty of energy, right? But I wasn’t. I was bone tired. And getting even more so. The last 6 months or so have found me exhausted after just bringing a load of laundry up the stairs. With arms heavy and weak after cleaning the glass on the sliding door. Dragging through each day with a serious lack of energy. Something had to be wrong with me. I have an under active thyroid so my first thought was that my medication level needed to be boosted. Had that checked twice. Not it. Okay, it must be low iron levels. I’ve run low before. Nope. Not it. Doctor checked me for arthritis, lupus, mono and more. Nada. Just last week Doctor sent me home with an SSRI to ‘help my neurotransmitters fire properly’. My best friend laughed and told me that he was politely telling me I’m depressed.
So why would I not think I WAS depressed? Well, I wasn’t staying in bed all day. I wasn’t crying every single day. I wasn’t feeling hopeless. I wasn’t thinking life was not worth living. I wasn’t eating everything in sight. I wasn’t suffering from lack of appetite either. I definitely wasn’t sleepless. I slept like a log but never felt rested. I didn’t have negative thoughts. I was socially active in online groups and friendly and cheerful there. And so, imagine my surprise to suddenly feel tons better with the antidepressant. Aw, crap! I WAS depressed.
So what symptoms did I overlook? Here is the entire point of this lengthy post. I was extremely, extremely fatigued with no apparent reason. I was gaining weight no matter what cut backs I made in my diet. Even delicious breads and pastas were avoided to no avail. I found it really hard to concentrate and my memory was (and still is) really terrible. I kept forgetting important dates, tasks and appointments. Reading through lengthy chunks of text (like this one :D) was increasingly difficult. Little stuff was bigger than it should have been and my tear trigger was touchier. I avoided mentally draining tasks and overwhelming chores. Sometimes I would look in the kids’ playroom, feel dismal and shut the door. I would just think “Uh, I can’t think about that right now…” Things like that got shuffled off to later. And I lost a bit of zest for my favorite activities. If I wasn’t testing a pattern, I couldn’t settle on anything to knit or crochet. And many times, I would get a craft project out and just sit and look at it. I attributed all of this to the fatigue. I just figured I was too tired to even play.
In reality, it looks like I was gradually being depleted by the stresses that come with the disorders that are part of my world. It was a slow wear out and I think that is why I didn’t believe I might be depressed. But the marked improvement I’ve felt after just under a week of treatment is undeniable. Even after just 2 doses I found myself feeling like I could clean the entire house AND the yard! Much more than the usual few rooms before I required a break. I’m still not 100 percent or anything, but this last week has been markedly better. I’m also not claiming that medication is the answer for everyone. I just know it is helping me. What I do hope is that this post might help someone else. If you think you might be depressed, know the symptoms and talk with your doctor. Best of wishes to all and have a great day!