Its guaranteed that on your journey with a child who has additional needs, like Tourette Syndrome or ADHD, you will be asked ‘that’ question. The question, you have thought about repeatedly, weighing up your options, wondering what others will think. The question you usually come to the conclusion on bad days, that you would absolutely say yes to, but on better days you back track on your decision.
"Have you considered medication?"
This is the question you have thought about probably daily for a long time, yet when actually asked, you have no idea how to answer it. The parent guilt kicks in, you feel uneasy, how do you answer this without feeling like you can’t cope.
For me, I got sweaty, shuffled in my chair, looked at the ground and burst into tears. I honestly felt like I had failed my child. I was absolutely desperate for some form of medication, as to be honest, I couldn’t cope, but how do you say that?!
Mid tears, the Dr asked me another question. A question that has stuck with me forever. “would you be feeling this confused about medication if the diagnosis was a different one?”. I remember looking up, making eye contact, and her giving me the nod of approval. She followed on with
“if this was a different diagnosis, and your child needed assistance via medication to ensure them a better quality of life, would you hesitate?”
She was right, so with this different perspective, I said yes.
So, the journey begins.
Over the years we have tried different medications, some have worked, some haven’t. There were questions asked about them all, not to mention the risk of side effects.
Eventually, we found the right mix of ‘meds’ for him. Our daily routine started to improve and over time, so did our quality of life.
We all became calmer, the house stopped getting smashed up, and his siblings actually wanted to be around him.
A while ago, we had a snippet of time where, everything started slipping back into its old ways. The rage was back, he was unfocussed and everyone was back on edge.
His consultant was incredible, swiftly realising that he needed an increase in some of his medication due to growth and we carried on with our journey.
A new type of parent guilt
When you're several years down the line of medication, you now hit a new type of ‘parent guilt’. Guilt that releases new questions and new what if’s and buts. Questions like ‘I wonder what he would be like without them?’, ‘does he still need them?’, and ‘I wonder if we could stop one of them, which would I choose?’.
These types of questions circle my mind every day, every time I say “take your morning meds” or “have you had your bedtime tablets” I can’t help but ask myself these questions.
Then, this weekend happened, HE MISSED HIS MORNING MEDS. We had left the house, we were running late and the sheer panic was written all over my face.
More questions whirled around my head, ‘do we go back?’, ‘is it too late to take them now anyway?’, ‘how bad could it be?’.
Well I can tell you we didn’t go back. We chose together, that today we see what it’s like without them! Reminding ourselves as we made this decision of the question, we had asked ourselves previously of ‘how bad could it be?’……
….. well, it was bad, it was really really bad! We had gone for a trip to the beach, he was quite literally bouncing off the walls and his impulsive side was beyond anything I had ever seen.
He claims he was ticcing, but if I’m honest, I had forgotten all about his tics. I was in so much shock that his ADHD was so intense that nothing else even entered my mind that day.
We worked together as a family, reminding one another that he can’t help it, reminding the other kids not to wind him up or retaliate to his behaviours.
We all held on tight and rode the waves of our life that day.
Verification we did the right thing.
Saturday was a tough day. Firstly because we had 5 kids on the beach and one of them running around antagonising anyone he possibly could. Secondly, because of the realisation that, he really does need his medication.
After years of asking myself, if I did the right thing. This weekend, I was firmly made aware that yes, yes, I did.
As parents, guilt comes with the job, but what it also comes with, is gut instinct. If you are fighting these two emotions, asking your self what you want to do with regards to medicating your child. Go with your gut, yes there may be guilt along the way but none of our kids or our situations will be the same, what works for some may not work for others. We just have to do what's best for our own family and our children.