Monday, March 29, 2010

Brutal Honesty

Why is it that brutal honesty is so frowned upon? If I were brutally honest, no one would want to hear it. People would form opinions about me. People would try to convince me that it really wasn't that bad.

I know this because I've tried it. Sort of. I've done it in small bits and pieces. Some would say that it just sounds like complaining. I say, it's a cry out for compassion, for understanding. And along with that, it would be nice if someone could offer some help. Not for me though, for what I am "complaining" about.

It seems like as soon as I say anything that people perceive as negative, they immediately try to point out the positive in each situation. Which usually in my case makes things worse. It makes me feel betrayed and isolated. Leaves me wondering why they don't believe me. It definitely hurts.

I have found myself complaining a lot about our son, Justin. I love him to pieces but he has been the most frustrating child I've ever been around. When I find myself complaining, I just want someone to be sympathetic with me and what I have had to put up with. Instead, I don't get sympathy, I get compliments about Justin. It usually makes me feel guilty for complaining, angry that no one see's what I have had to deal with for years and angry that people then perceive me as being ungrateful for what a wonderful boy I have. People always want to point out all of Justin's good qualities that they have seen in him. The problem is, I never get to see all of those good qualities. All I seem to get from him is frustration.

My life has been consumed by ADHD. I don't have it, maybe ADD, but I know I don't have the hyperactivity part. But my son was diagnosed with it about a year and a half ago, and I'm pretty sure my husband, Jeremy, has it too. Justin was 9 by the time he was officially diagnosed with it. Can you imagine going 9 years with a child that is so difficult and nothing you do seems to help them make a better choice? I could never figure out the right words to describe his actions until I talked to another mom at the pool one day the summer before, Justin turned 9, and she asked if he was impulsive. It was like a light turned on and I was finally able to describe his major issue. After that I watched him, took notes, did some research online and I got very excited about going to his check-up in October. After talking to the Dr. about it, talking to his teacher about it, and going back to a follow up appt. and talking to the Dr. again, the Dr. officially diagnosed him with it and we started him on some medicine.

To be officially diagnosed with the disorder you don't have to have every symptom, just a few of them. Justin's biggest symptom is his impulsive behavior, he never thinks about consequences before he acts, and is very impatient. Probably the even bigger issue he has is anger management. He has always been very defiant, loses his temper easily, has meltdowns and throws temper tantrums like a 2 yr. old, argues like crazy not only with Jeremy and I but he has argued with his teachers at school too, he defies the rules at home and at school, he almost always blames everyone else for the things he has done, is dishonest and has a hard time being truthful after he has made some bad choices, he annoys others when he is bored, he gets easily annoyed himself which usually causes him to be very disrespectful to me. It feels as though I have been raising a teenager since he was 18 mo. old. These symptoms are almost identical to another disorder I discovered while researching ADHD this week called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Not saying he has it, but it's ironic that a lot of Justin's issues are described under this disorder. This might be another topic of discussion at his next check-up.

Life after his diagnosis has improved drastically! I know that in the past, medication for ADHD has gotten a bad rep, but things have come a long way in the world of medicine. His doctor prescribed him Vyvanse and it has worked wonderfully! He went from getting D's and F's on his conduct grade at school, to getting 100's almost every week! Justin is a very smart boy and has always gotten almost all A's in the past, so those grades stayed the same. However, not all of his issues at home are resolved with medication. He is still very argumentative with me, and he gets irritated with me easily causing him to be disrespectful, he still tends to deny or blame someone else for bad choices he has made, and is dishonest with us a lot. But the best thing that has been eliminated are his temper tantrums and meltdowns that he used to have where he got so upset that he would jump up and down and throw himself on the floor like a toddler, and he was 9 when he did that. It has helped him to be more in control of himself. I know this because any time he doesn't get his medicine we get to see and be reminded of just how immature and out of control of himself he is. I guess I should be glad that it has at least kept him out of trouble at school, and I am, it's just that I'm tired of the frustration here at home.

Have you ever thought that if the parents of children with ADHD are frustrated, then can you imagine how frustrating it is for the child with the disorder? How frustrating it is for them to always be in trouble, to be labeled the "problem child" at school. How frustrating it is for them to honestly try so hard to "be good" and no matter how hard they try they are always a "disappointment" to the adults in their lives. And to try so hard to make good grades that you can be proud of, but just never happens. For those of you who are completely against medication for ADHD, please take some time to read all of the links I have in this post, and do some research on the disorder. Please take some time to reconsider helping your child by finding the right treatment for them. Read this link to help you understand what it is like to have ADHD.

I desperately wish I had a friend who understands what I go through with Justin. No one seems to understand just how frustrating life can be when you are raising a child that seems to be in trouble more often than not. How frustrating it is to hear your friends talking about the fun they have with their kids, and it makes you wish you could have fun with yours. How frustrating it is to see other children his age that seem so much more mature than your own, and wishing that he could be just as mature and responsible. I realize that things could be much worse, that there are children out there with much bigger issues and much more difficult disorders. But I also can't help but wish it just wasn't so hard. So, why can't I complain a little? Why do people have to jump on my case the minute I complain or sound negative? Why can't people be more understanding and compassionate? That's all I am asking for, understanding and compassion.


Natalie said...

I can't imagine how frustrating that can be! I can't relate to that specific problem but I can support you and listen! Could you find an online support group of parents of kids with ADHD? Then you could have a supportive community around you that knows what you are going through. Hugs to you!

Nikki B. said...

i'm sorry, jes.

i hope i haven't ever made you feel like you should just suck it up. i know it's tough. you know the issues we have with avery, and he has so many of the same symptoms that justin has. he really does.

i was talking to jake just the other night about the tough time you have with justin. i was telling him that it's always comforting to me, to hear you talk about your issues with justin, because it makes me feel like i'm not a bad mom. avery and i don't get along well, he's so much like me...i get frustrated with him, and he with me. our relationship is very much like yours and justin's.

i was telling jake how much i appreciate your honesty about it...because it helps me. i don't know if i've ever told you that...if i haven't...i def should've earlier.

i can only speak for myself, but, your honesty is always appreciated! your frustrations are completly understood. and your friendship is valued!

Jes said...

Thanks Natalie!

Thanks to you too Nikki! No you have never made me feel that way. If anything your one of the few that I could feel your pain, when I hear you talk about Avery's issues. But there have been many that have made not so nice comments in the past when I talk about Justin and my frustrations with him. They make me feel awful for voicing my frustrations about him, and then my feelings are hurt.
Thanks so much for your understanding!

The Byrd's Nest said...

I'm so sorry Jes. I will be praying for Him to send you a special friend that you can talk with freely about your son. I know how you feel because my two little ones have alot of issues from being adopted...none of my adoptive mom friends in Rockwall understood because their children didn't have any issues....yet....none of them escape without issues in my opinion or maybe they don't see them. They used to tell me that they just needed more discipline...MAKE them sleep by themselves....they are running your house and calling the shots...stuff like that. About three years ago the Lord sent me Stephanie and she adopted a little one from China and Allie had the same problems. She, Lottie and Emma could be sisters! lol

Even while I am here in Costa Rica, I still call her on challenging days. I don't have a child that has the same thing your son does BUT I do understand. Praying for someone to come into your life.