Before Kimberly Majerowicz, 39, and her daughter Danielle, 17, learned that they both had ADD, the most ordinary interactions between the pair often ended in bitter screaming matches or tears. The Timonium, Maryland, home they shared with Danielle's stepfather and two younger siblings was a battleground.
The main reason for their fights? Danielle's defiant behavior. At first it seemed like nothing more than a bad case of teenage rebellion: dyeing her hair fire-engine red, wearing ripped jeans and oversized hooded sweatshirts, trashing her bedroom and refusing to clean up.Then came Danielle's failing grades, the wire she cut in the alarm system so she could sneak out at night, the vodka bottle under her bed, and, finally, a journal that revealed thoughts of suicide.
Meanwhile, Kimberly was coping with her own feelings of failure. Each day, she wondered if she would be able to muster the energy to meet quotas in her high-pressure sales job, clean the house, and shop for groceries. Helping her troubled daughter turn her life around seemed beyond her abilities.
Finally, Kimberly took action, and their individual ADD diagnoses in 2001 have given them each a second chance. Here is a look at how far they've come.
Kimberly: Middle school had been tough, but as soon as Danielle started ninth grade, things got really bad. Her teachers started calling almost every night, telling me that she hadn't been handing in her homework and was close to failing. I'd react by yelling at her, "What is wrong with you? Why can't you pull yourself together?" I'd forbid her to watch TV or see her friends, but nothing made a difference. She'd turn around and walk away.
Danielle: It had gotten to the point where I dreaded going to school and dreaded coming home. In class, I'd doodle instead of taking notes. It was as if I was in a trance. I'd feel I was there physically, but my mind wouldn't connect to anything I was reading or hearing. I'd blow off my homework, and then try to do it in five minutes during my first class the next morning. I started getting Cs, Ds, and Fs.
Kimberly: Now I can see similarities in our behavior. There were days when I'd get my kids to school, return home, and crawl right back into bed. At the time, I was working in medical sales. I knew I had sales to make, but I'd keep putting them off. Then I'd rush to make a month's worth of sales in a week. I'd get it done, but give myself such high anxiety.