Reply To: PLEASE HELP! On the fence about meds…

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Spaceboy 99

Hey there,

I don’t have a kid (yet, though I did half-raise my younger brother, if that counts?), but as someone who almost certainly went through life with undiagnosed ADHD, I would drug the hell out of my kids if they had the diagnosis.

I realise that phrasing makes the act sound very negative, but I personally don’t see anything negative about it. Here are a few examples as to why:

If your child had Asthma, you wouldn’t refuse them an inhaler, and instead insist that they only used a combination of learning to play a wind instrument and graded exercise to handle their asthma.

If they had allergies, you wouldn’t deny them antihistamines.

If they lost function in their lower body, you wouldn’t deny them crutches or a wheelchair.

ADHD is no different. Your child has a deficiency of a chemical in their brain, and need medication to correct the imbalance. Yes, techniques and coaching can help your child improve to the point where perhaps they don’t need the medications to function quasi-normally, but their brain chemical level will still be impaired. They will go through their life constantly trying to fight off the need to be impulsive, fighting off distractions, unable to do the things neurotypicals take for granted without significantly more effort. They will have to work three times as hard as their peers for half the benefit, when they could take a pill and make at least some of that effort go away.

Now, admittedly, I had no coaching (I’m 27 and am only just getting diagnosed), I went to a school in a bad area, and I had a neglectful parent, an absent step-parent because of work, and a loving, caring father I only saw on the weekends. Support structures weren’t really a thing in my life, and they could possibly have helped me a lot. However, undiagnosed ADHD has cost me several career opportunities, almost cost me my chance to go to university, almost cost me my degree, and as a result of all this kept me trapped in dead-end jobs until I made one extremely impulsive decision two years ago that changed my life, and my gamble paid off.

While I have ultimately benefited from the decisions I’ve made in my life, I’m still at the point where I feel the need to apply for permission to medicate myself to ease the difficulties I’ve dealt with my whole life. I still spent 26 years feeling like I had so much potential I was not, could not, and would never live up to. I still had to let go of dreams I held dear for the sake of having opportunities that were actually in reach. I changed career paths three times in three years because of difficulties with my studies, ultimately taking a degree I knew I could complete, because what I actually wanted to do just wasn’t compatible with my capabilities. This isn’t to say that I couldn’t have done it. If I could have kept my head straight and focused, I could have done it, and would have been working in Maths or Physics. Instead, I switched to a topic I had no struggle focussing on, and got a degree in Philosophy. Anything else would have actually made my current job impossible, and I’m happy with how things wound up, but that was years of struggle that I went through needlessly.

I’d hate to do the same thing to my own children. It’s like going through life with headphones on and needing to lip-read, both arms tied behind your back, being told to write with your feet.

Don’t get me wrong, by the way. Medication cannot and will (likely) not fix EVERYTHING. Your child will still need help, will need to learn coping strategies and techniques, but the medication will make it so much easier FOR THEM, which is ultimately what the whole thing is about. Personal feelings about a treatment are irrelevant if that treatment will help your child. Do also bear in mind that there are about 50 different medications for ADHD, which work in different ways. If your child experiences a negative result with a medication (the dreaded ‘zombie child’, for example), that doesn’t mean that ALL medications are bad. It means that that medication, or the dosage, is wrong. That’s fine. There are about 49 left to try next.

I hope this helps in some way, shape, or form. Feel free to ask further questions.