I’ve been waiting a long time to hear those words from my ADHD son.
by Samantha Hines
“I feel like I want to come out of my skin.” This was my then-six-year-old son Edgar’s response to the same simple question we ask each other every day: How are you doing?
A year before his recent diagnosis of ADHD, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Though he has been seizure-free for well over a year now, for a while he was having several seizures a day, taking five medications, sleeping his way through kindergarten, and experiencing all of the accompanying manifestations that come with a seizure-filled life.
In other words, he — at six years old — knew what it was like to inhabit a body that regularly betrayed him.
At a certain age, we expect our bodies to be a little less kind to us than they had in the past: Joints start to stiffen and creak. Skin loses moisture. It takes longer to heal. But a growing body, a child’s body, should be nothing but kind — full of energy, life, and health.
Life with epilepsy, combined with undiagnosed ADHD, and it is little wonder Edgar’s most fervent wish resided somewhere near the desire to shed his skin and start again.
Once the seizures stopped and we could treat the symptoms of his ADHD with prescription medication, things improved dramatically. That might be an understatement. Edgar has been able to attend plays and go out to dinner. Life at school has become significantly less challenging. He has developed a precise vocabulary to describe what he feels. He is learning to connect to, understand, and make friends again with his body, the body that will be his for the rest of his life. His confidence and strength have returned.
At the zoo recently, Edgar was making his way down a sunny path en route to see the elephants. He was walking with us — his two brothers and his parents — when he looked up at the sky, a ray of sun streaking through his soft, golden curls, and he said with conviction, gusto even, “I feel wonderful!”
Words I have been waiting to hear from a small boy who never had occasion to utter them. Before that moment — though he’s had many moments of joy and happiness — he has never felt wonderful.
And now he does. And now he does.