Personal Journey, Part 3
Kimberly: My relationship with my daughter used to be about tearing her down. But since we were both diagnosed, I've worked at building up her talents. She felt like she was failing in every aspect of her life, but I pointed out how wonderful her poems were. This year, she's in honors English and wants to be a writer.
Danielle: I sometimes think about all that my mom's missed out on. At age 35, she finally switched to the career she always wanted. I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through what either of us went through.
Kimberly: I used to think of a job as something you got up and did, just to get it over with. I was miserable, but I was scared to give up the stability of my job. I had always wanted to be an interior designer, but, even though I had gone to school for design, I wasn't confident that I could succeed at it. Learning that I had ADD, and being treated for it, gave me that confidence.
I quit my sales job and started my own design firm. As it turns out, I've been much more financially successful than I was before, because I love what I'm doing. I feel as if I just started living my life four years ago. We also worked with a pediatrician who prescribed medication for both of us. In the mornings, before it starts working, I still think, "Oh, my gosh. I own my own company. I'm going to fail," as I drag myself out of bed. But then, 20 minutes later, the light bulb in my head switches on, and I think, "Okay. I can do this."
Danielle: I've been taking the same medication on and off for the last four years. I keep on giving it another try because it really helps me focus in school, but the side effects aren't fun - it makes me jittery and gives me an upset stomach and a dry mouth. I haven't been taking any medication for a few months now, but I would like to find one that works as well for me as my mother's does.
Kimberly: One of the most important things I learned was to choose my battles. We were facing so many problems that forgetting her homework or having a messy room paled in comparison next to alcohol abuse or talking about suicide. I stopped fighting about little things, and that's been good for Danielle. She's made huge strides on her own. She used to feel as if she had to "fit in." Now, at 17, if she knows that someone around her is doing drugs, she'll get up and leave.
Danielle: I'm doing so much better, and I've even started looking into colleges. When something is bothering me now, I can actually sit down and have a conversation with my mom. We have our own special outings - to dinner and a movie, or shopping - whenever we feel we need to get away.
Kimberly: Four years ago, this kid looked at me and hated me. She used to think she had to hide things from me. I'm not trying to be her best friend, but my daughter confides in me now. I still regret that I missed out on so many years to enjoy her, but I'm thankful that we are where we are.
To parents who suspect that their child has attention-deficit disorder, I say to be on the lookout for one key phrase: "You just don't understand." I didn't understand - and I had ADD! Now I understand so much. I know that Danielle's not going to walk on a rigid path, which might mean more bumps along the way. But now that we know what we're dealing with, the journey will be much more fun.