I know…I know…it’s Wednesday. I choose to focus on the fact that I finished this post, and not on the fact that I am a day late. 🙂

So, what do I have for my loyal readers today? (Side note…I HAVE READERS!!! I actually looked at my stats yesterday and saw that there are 25-30 of you that seem to be checking in regularly to read my posts. I knew I had a few supporters out there because some of you send me such lovely messages or link your blogs to mine. Thank you so much for that support! But 25-30 readers?! I had no idea! A big hug to each of you. 🙂

Anyhow, now that I realize I have actual readers, I will do my best to be a better blogger. You can’t see me right now, but my hand is on my chest. I’d lay my other hand on the bible to make it an official oath, but I’m not religious enough to know where my bible is. Or if I even own a bible. 😛 )

Anywho…back to my tip of the week….

Check out the link for a Family Barometer Satisfaction tool I found, from the website www.ADHDSupport.com. I really like this tool for a few reasons.

1 – If you have a child on medication, you should really try to measure their progress and success, at home and at school, on a regular basis. This is the only way to objectively get a reading on whether the medication is helping over a longer term. (I haven’t been doing this, but I will be starting after our next appointment with Dr. M as we’ll likely be trying a slightly higher dose of D’s Vyvanse.

2-This document can be used, as is, by simply printing off several copies (4 for you, and 4 for your child’s teacher) and placing them in a binder to keep them organized. Easy!

3-You can also use this document to create a list of expectations for your child. Grab some big paper (newsprint, flip chart paper or bristol board) and write out the items you and your partner feel are important for your child to work on. This needs to be written in a way that is age appropriate for your child, supportive and with a little creativity and colour! 🙂  You can use the document as inspiration.

For example: In my house, my son has daily chores and weekly chores. He’s 12 so I took some colourful paper and wrote up what is expected of him each day (tidying his room, taking out the compost and emptying the dishwasher) and each week (cleaning his room, sweeping upstairs and folding some laundry). I used washable markers to make it more colourful and interesting and then posted them on the wall, where he can see them.

This makes it easier for him to remember what is expected of him. I still have to remind him that it’s time to do his chores, and I still have to check to make sure he is completing them properly but I don’t have to keep repeating what he needs to do.

Trust me, that’s something. It’s one less broken record playing at him all day. 😛

ADHD and Substance Abuse

January 25, 2011

Photo Credit

Though I like to focus on the strengths that come with ADHD, the reality is I wouldn’t be blogging if it was always smooth sailing, now would I? I promised to be real on here and the reality is that anyone living with ADHD knows that the condition comes with a fair number of challenges.

One of them is substance abuse and the statistics are staggering. It is said that between 30-50% of those living with ADHD will try drugs or alcohol in the hopes of improving their abilities, numbing their fears, decreasing their anxiety, and coping with painful issues and past traumas. Self-medicating may seem like a good idea in the short-term, but in the long-term it will result in a host of other addiction-related problems.

Wendy Richardson MA, MFCC, CAS, author of the best-selling book The Link Between ADD and Addiction explains, “The problem is that self-medicating works at first. It provides the person with ADHD relief from their restless bodies and brains. For some, drugs such as nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, diet pills and “speed” enable them to focus, think clearly, and follow through with ideas and tasks. Others chose to soothe their ADHD symptoms with alcohol and marijuana.

People who abuse substances, or have a history of substance abuse are not “bad” people. They are people who desperately attempt to self-medicate their feelings, and ADHD symptoms. Self-medicating can feel comforting. The problem is, that self-medicating brings on a host of addiction related problem which over time make people’s lives much more difficult.

What starts out as a “solution”, can cause problems including addiction, impulsive crimes, domestic violence, increased high risk behaviors, lost jobs, relationships, families, and death. Self-medicating ADD with alcohol and other drugs is like putting out fires with gasoline.”

That last part has been stuck with me since the first time I read it in her book. It makes so much sense to those of us on the outside, looking in. It is so easy to see clearly when you aren’t the one affected. It isn’t that simple for the addict though.

They can’t see what we see. Addiction is a disease that fools even the addict. It sits on their shoulder and tells them whatever they want to hear. It blocks out the ugliness they can’t deal with by covering everything with darkness, until they feel nothing. Their families and friends struggle to reach them and pull them back into the light but it’s never easy for either side. The brightness can be too harsh and the pain too much to fight with only good intentions. And so the struggle continues.

It doesn’t have to be a losing battle though. So many have overcome addictions using treatment plans that include medical interventions, therapy, 12-step programs and the support of the friends and families. There are so many inspiring stories out there and so much support to be found in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, from people who’ve been there and survived to tell about it.

So, where do you start if you or someone you love suffers from this disease?

The first step to dealing with a substance abuse problem is recognizing that there is a problem. To do that it helps to understand the disease better.

  • What signs should be looking for?
  • What might be causing it?
  • What part do genetics have to play?
  • What changes can be made to improve your situation?
  • What treatment options are right for you or someone you love?
  • How do you take care of yourself, if you love someone suffering with an addiction?
  • Etc.

I’ll be posting some helpful links over the next few weeks to help address this challenge. If you’re reading this and have any links to share, please feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Substance abuse is something I hope to teach both my sons to avoid. Given our genetic pre-disposition for it and the fact that D has ADHD, it won’t be easy.

I can use all the help I can get.

“D is such a great kid. I’m not sure I believe he has ADHD.”

When I first heard the comment, I was pleased. If people don’t see D’s ADHD symptoms, then that means we’re doing a great job of controlling it. Right?

Unfortunately though, this comment simply opened the door for more. Suddenly, someone who was fairly new to the situation had all these views and opinions to share, but no real knowledge of the condition. I felt that they were calling into question my experiences, my parenting, my discipline techniques and my choice to try medications with D. These comments quickly became a source of stress for me.

Frustrating? Yes, but not worth losing my cool over. It only illustrated the lack of understanding that still exists out there and reminded me of the work that needs to be done to educate those around our children.

And to be clear…great kids have ADHD too. Mine is one of them. 🙂

Oops!

July 22, 2010

I forgot to get D to take his Biphentin this morning when he woke up. Never thought that would happen! What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

For close to a year now, I’ve opened my eyes each morning dreading the start of our day because I never knew what chaos it would bring. D’s ADD was the last thing I thought of at night and the first thing I thought of in the morning.

Every morning, J brings Baby Q into our bed to cuddle with his Mama and sleep for another hour or so. When D hears the baby awake, he always comes in to cuddle and play with him too. He usually gets in about 2 minutes before I have to get up and redirect his attention to something constructive. Otherwise, the dreaded, “I’m Booooored” line starts to creep into every conversation.

This morning however, he played with the baby for close to 10 minutes before leaving our room to go read. He went without being asked too. Not once did I think, “Where are the pills? WHERE ARE THE PILLS?!!” The rest of the day was relatively quiet too. Go figure.

Of course, I should celebrate the fact that my forgetfulness didn’t cause us any significant issues. Instead, my mind is now busy analyzing every element of yesterday that could have led to today being such a pleasant day, without any help from the medication. Did he sleep more last night? Did he get up later or earlier this morning? Did I feed him something different yesterday? Did he get more outside time yesterday?

It’s endless. My mind buzzes constantly with possibilities I want to explore in the hopes that we find the missing link and no longer need the medication at all.

Not sure if that’s my denial talking or my optimism. Glass half full (something is different and it’s up to me to crack the case)? Glass half empty (we just got lucky today)?

An Apology to Lindsay

July 20, 2010

Dear Lindsay Lohan,

I have done to you, what I hope others never do to my son. I have watched your struggle and judged your actions. Actions that are likely related (at least in part) to your ADHD. For this, I am sorry.

In the last few years, you’ve behaved badly. I don’t know of anyone who could deny that. You’ve been unprofessional, reckless and dangerous. You’ve used drugs and alcohol to “fix” what you’re feeling and to avoid dealing with your challenges. Your life has spun out of control in a very public way.

On July 6th, while watching your verdict being handed down, I listened as the judge read out your incidents of reckless and dangerous behavior. DUIs and car chases are no laughing matter. I knew the judge was doing the right thing. She gave you 90 days in jail and 90 days in rehab and from the looks of how bad things have gotten, you’ll need every minute of that time to unplug from the craziness that surrounds you. Too many cameras, too much pressure and family members who seem to profit from your circumstances.

If you truly have ADHD and that is the issue at the core of all of the behavior we have witnessed, then it is time to reflect on your situation and seek the help you need. I am not condoning your behavior. Regardless of how you came to be where you are, you deserve the consequences you have received. You have made some very poor choices recently and the interventions you are currently enduring may well save your life and your career.

No longer can you afford to surround yourself with ‘Yes People’ or enablers. No longer can you afford to have cameras catch your every meltdown and mishap. No longer can you pop pill after pill with seemingly little effect. You must stop and realize that something here isn’t working, Lindsay. It is time to take stock, find insight into your condition and be willing to try new things. Try alternative therapies like diet, exercise and sleep therapy. (Likewise, lay off the Redbulls, cigarettes and Ambien.) Find friends and family who will understand your condition and support a sober life.

I hope that you get properly assessed and treated in a way that brings out the very best of your ADHD gifts. I hope you rise to the top again and in the height of your fame, when everyone will be listening, I hope you use your influence to bring awareness to a very misunderstood condition. I hope you use your experience to help illustrate what can happen if ADHD is not properly treated and managed, and urge those with the condition to seek out the answers they need to live a healthy life. I hope we see you healthy, happy and connected once again.

Until then, you will be in my thoughts. When I think of you, it will be with compassion and hope.

Best wishes,

S

Bursting His Balloon

July 17, 2010

Today, we’ve been invited to attend Baby V’s birthday party. Baby V is our friend’s daughter and she is going to make for one adorable birthday girl no doubt.  The little beauty is turning one and her party will be held a local park just a few minutes down the street, if the weather cooperates.

Baby Q and I will be attending for sure. My dilemma is trying to decide whether to bring D or not.

Would I love to bring him? Yes. Would he enjoy exploring a new park? Absolutely. So far so good, right?

Hold on though, I have more questions still to ponder. Will he potentially be bored? Yes. Will he aspire to have all my attention, even though it will be directed at the birthday girl, the other party goers and our own little Baby Q? Yes. Will he want to explore more of the park, and for a longer period of time, than what I can support? Yes.

And then the most important question of all….

Will he potentially be disappointed? Yes.

Sigh. I often feel in these situations that my choices are…

#1 – Burst his bubble now and get him a sitter. (This way he doesn’t know what he’s missing really and he is not put in a situation he can’t handle.)

or

#2 – Burst his bubble later, during the party, when I have to explain for the 15th time that he isn’t allowed to go down to the water alone or that he can’t eat any of the usual party treats – hot dogs, candies and delicious birthday cake.

Hmmm…what to do? I’m going to think on it a little more.

Successful Spoof?

July 15, 2010

This will be a short post because I am exhausted.

I am exhausted at the end of every day, but rarely for the right reasons. By 6 pm, I am usually at the end of my rope and feel like I have repeated the same 10 sentences over and over again all day.

  • “D, please stop running in the apartment.”
  • “D, please bring your key with you so you don’t have to ring the doorbell every few minutes.”
  • “D, the answer was no.”
  • “D, I don’t care what your friends are allowed to do.”
  • D, the answer is STILL no.”
  • ….etc.

Today was different. Today I am the ‘good kind’ of exhausted. The kind that comes from too much FUN, too much LAUGHING and too much SUN. 🙂 Yes, you read that right.

“So, what was different?”, you might be wondering. I wish I knew for sure.

It was D’s first day on the lower dose of Biphentin, so I’d like to believe that the medication had something to do with it. That may sound odd to some of you. However, from my perspective, if it’s the medication that made the difference today then it stands to reason that we can recreate the same conditions tomorrow and live the same experience, right?

D was calmer, happier, more helpful and more focused today. It was the best day we’ve had together in months…maybe all year even. Could it be that the medication was working? Sure. Could it be nothing more than a successful spoof? Sure.

I guess we won’t know for sure right away. We’ll have to give it a few days before we can start to attribute his improved concentration and patience to the medication.

Until then, we must keep both feet planted firmly on the ground and not get our hopes up.

Seriously, who am I kidding with that comment?! I am praying that it was the medication because if it isn’t, I have absolutely NO IDEA what we did differently or how we can do it again.

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