Sunday, January 16, 2011
Here I go.... be prepared, because this one will be long. It has been brewing in me for a long time. Truthfully, at times, I have found myself afraid to share what I have to say. I am afraid no more. I will stand for what I believe in and I will stand for what is true. I will stand for my daughter and I will stand for my family. I will stand for children - brilliant children who need a chance. I will stand for parents who should not be ashamed. I will stand straight in church, not wondering what others think, becuase I will know I have done right by my daughter and by God. I will stand.
I've hesitated writing this also because I have found myself angry at times. It's never good to write when you are angry. So, I decided to wait until my thoughts were gathered in a clear fashion and my anger had somewhat subsided. And it has... so now I write.
If you are a reader of my blog, you know that my daughter Anna was diagnosed with ADHD last year. It was a very difficult time for our family and we struggled to even consider the possibility of my perfect little girl having something wrong with her. We worked for three long years prior to her diagnosis though, with the symptoms of the condition we were trying to ignore. We could ignore it no more. It was doing a diservice to my daughter. Her diagnosis was swift. She is classic ADHD - no question. Tears filled my eyes when the doctor told us that... for two reasons actually. Some tears were tears of relief, because we had an answer. Some tears were tears of fear for the judgement that was to come to Tim and I, and to Anna.
Anna is a great kid. She will give you the coat off of her back in freezing cold weather, because she is kind. When most kids want to keep the last piece of candy for themselves, just ask her and she will give you hers. And if you don't have a piece of candy - you don't even have to ask... she'll give you hers. Yesterday Tim and Anna took a ride to the bank. They were having some celebration there and they had snacks to give away. Anna came home with hers unopened and she brought home one for Cameron as well. She didn't have to do that. Many kids would not. Anna did. (She did say that Cameron and Sara would have to share - but at least she thought of them). She is pretty much a joyful kid too... always a smile on her face... not many complaints. Along with that though, came Anna's struggles. Behavior issues, problems paying attention in class, being somewhat impulsive, being generally "distracted". She is a very smart child, but her grades were not reflecting that.
When we took Anna to the doctor, it was clear to him that she had ADHD. We started her on medication and things got better nearly instantly. I found myself hiding this fact from most people though, and I asked myself why. Why would I hide this???? So many people could learn from it. I'm not a doctor, but I could share MY experience, which could help someone find the courage to go to a doctor and see if this was the answer for their child who was struggling. But I hid it. I hid it because there is SO much attached to ADHD. In the Christian community, many people do not believe that ADHD is a medical issue. ADHD is a "heart issue". I disagree. If I am wrong, I will stand before God, when it is my turn, and tell Him that I truly felt this was the right thing for me to do. I truly felt that I had exhausted ALL other options with my little girl. I truly felt as though this was what I needed to do to parent her appropriately. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But God will know my heart and the measures we took to make sure that this was not a heart, but truly a medical issue. And to the Christian community who would discourage people from seeing this resolution, I would caution them. Until you have lived with a child with ADHD, you can not fully understand the consequences and harm you are doing to a child with ADHD if you let them go untreated.
ADHD brings a feeling of shame and guilt to the parents. There is so much attached to the diagnosis. There are people looking at you thinking you are lazy and just want to medicate your child instead of raising them or disciplining them. Trust me when I say, I'm not that parent. After three years of trying (I think that would tell you that I'm not a lazy parent), seeking medical help was our last resort. Also, just becuase you have a diagnosis, it doesn't make it any easier. The medication doesn't alway work right away. You have to find the right one by trial and error. And then when you find that PERFECT one, it may only be perfect for awhile. It was perfect for Anna for eight months... we are now in the process of finding a new perfect. If it's lazy to commit to picking up a prescription from the doctor every single month, then we are lazy (you can only get a one month prescription - not more). If committing to going to the doctor at least every six months for a re-check is lazy, then we are lazy. If going to the doctor three times in the last six weeks is lazy, then we are lazy. If remembering every morning to give Anna her medication is lazy, then I'm lazy. If being in constant contact with her teachers is lazy, then I'm lazy. Trust me, a medical diagnosis of ADHD didn't mean I didn't have to work with her less. I have to work with her MORE!!!! I still have to discipline. I still have to correct!! I still have to teach!!! I have to find new ways to do it that work for her. And on top of that, I have to deal with all of the medical side of it. And here's the thing - I wouldn't change it for the world!!!
I have asked myself why God gave this to Anna and why it is in our life. I truly believe it is for a reason. I dive into things when they happen in my life. I can tell you more about RP (my eye condition) than most medical doctors. (not the specialists for sure, but the general doctors - yeah, I probably know more). I have learned so much about ADHD it isn't even funny. Also, I began to wonder something - with how prevalent ADHD is... how come it is not talked about more? And I mean in a positive way... not in a "bashing the parents, child or medication way"?
Why is there no celebrity endorser for some ADHD medication or for the condition? Think about it:
Parkinson's Disease has Michael J. Fox
MS has Ozzy Osbourne (not the best example, but people know him)
Breast Cancer has Christina Applegate
Osteoporosis has Sally Field
Digestive Health - Jamie Lee Curtis (seriously, isn't ADHD more important than being regular???)
I did some reasearch and found that there are several celebrities WITH ADD / ADHD. I was pleased to find them. You may find that strange, but they are successful, and I live for examples of people being successful with a condition such as my daughter's. Did you know that Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover Home Edition struggled with ADHD from the time he was a child? Howe Mandel - ADHD. Michael Phelps - ADHD. When talking to Anna's doctor, I asked what this would mean for Anna's future. Do you know what he told me?
He told me that patients with ADHD are typically high achievers. They are some of the brightest children in the class. They will never be accountants. Anna will never be allowed to be an astronaut - fine with me, I don't want to send my kid to space anyway... it's too far away! But did you also know that a very high percentage of Doctors and Lawyers are ADHD? I'm good with Anna being a doctor or a lawyer. Architects have a high percentage of ADHD. This doesn't mean that Anna will be any one of these things... but it means that she CAN BE.
So, since no one has stepped up to the plate and said that they will be the "celebrity" for ADHD, I'd like to introduce myself to the world. My name is Charity Roach. I'm Anna's mom. That makes me a celebrity to her. I am a mother. I am a wife. I'm a working mom with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. I am a QA/Validation manager for a large pharmaceutical company. I am legally blind. I love to grow unique flowers. I love my family. I'm the new face of ADHD. You won't see me on television, you won't hear me on the radio, I haven't written any books - but maybe I will someday. But what I am is an advocate for parents and children with ADHD. I'm the one who is going to ask you not to just write them off as "bad kids who can't learn". They are smart kids who want to learn but have something that is stopping them!
I'm going to start sharing more about our trials and triumphs with Anna and ADHD - because in order to ask others to not be ashamed... I need to show that I am not ashamed. If you don't believe in ADHD you might want to stop reading my blog. If you think God doesn't want my daughter on medication, then you should surely stop reading my blog. Because I am going to share it all. Not because I want to share such a personal part of my daughter's life, but because maybe someone will see their child in my struggles and will know they are not alone.
PS - the pictures are from the recent snow storm in SC that gave me three extra days home with my children, the kids not wanting to get out of bed on their snow day and poor Sara - feeling sick from her immunizations.
Posted by Charity Roach at 2:16 PM