Hey there, MyGirlG.
I know you’ve already had this query resolved, but I just wanted to give you my input as well, for what it’s worth. First off, you’ve DEFINITELY made the right decision here. I didn’t get diagnosed until I was almost 28. I’ve struggled with my symptoms, to a greater or lesser extent, for my entire life, and if I’d known years ago that I had ADHD, I’d have gobbled the pills like M&Ms.
It’s great that your ADHD daughter has a physical outlet, and that both of your kids practise mindfulness- these are vitally useful things for everybody, not just kids with ADHD. For people with ADHD, though, they’re doubly important. What you’ve basically done here is given your daughter everything she needs to succeed with ADHD EXCEPT medication. My specialist explains to me that treating ADHD is 70% medication, 30% coping strategies. I’m lucky, in that I’ve HAD to develop coping strategies in order to survive, but a lot of people don’t ever manage to do that, or they learn maladaptive strategies. Your daughter is in the best possible situation for medication to help her, and I applaud your decision.
But I have to warn you ahead of her taking her pills- not every ADHD medication works for every patient. In fact, most people have negative reactions to the first ones they try. This does not mean that all ADHD medications are bad. there are about 50 different medications, with different active ingredients, different release mechanisms, and a whole range of doses to play with. Getting appropriate medication is, more often than not, a case of trial and error, but the benefits you reap from being medicated are unbelievable. I got lucky, and the first medication I tried (Ritalin) was the right one for me. I’m now on an extended release formula, and we’re slowly increasing the dosage up to the correct one for my height and body weight. I have a friend whose mother tried one medication, which went very badly, tried a second one, which went worse, before trying the first one again, but under different circumstances, and she’s experiencing massive improvements herself.
The most effective I’ve ever been in my life was when I was 19 years old. I’d moved out of my mother’s place, and in with my dad. I was cooking every two days, preparing my own food, walking to school every day, and training Martial Arts 20 hours a week. I also had a job 3 days a week. Every day was completely packed, and rigidly structured, and the days where I had free time I would, 90% of the time, take care of my homework. That move was what got me the grades I needed to go to University.
I’ve been on medication for about a month now, nearly two, and the improvements to my life make the ones from my 19-year-old schedule seem like a kid proud of making a mud pie that vaguely resembles a dinner plate. I’m PRESENT in my own life in a way I’ve never experienced. I’ve felt ‘calm’ for the first time in my life. In my job (I work in research), I’m getting more work done, to a higher standard, in less time than I used to. I’ve actually started taking on tasks from different departments because I don’t have enough to do, whereas before, I was drowning in a sea of statistics and unfinished research tasks. I’m giving my opinions to my bosses, and arguing for them in a way that I previously couldn’t, because I couldn’t think straight for long enough to understand my own ideas. Now, people are listening when I speak, and including my input. I should also mention- this is all in a foreign language, because I live abroad. Previously, in meetings, I would drift off after about 3 minutes of hard concentrating, because I’d taken a minute to understand a word, formulated a point, then was trying to hold onto the point until there was a natural break in the conversation. Then I got lost, and the conversation had moved about 20 paces while I was still standing there.
Medication has improved my home life as well. I’m now cleaning things in the house that I previously wouldn’t even have noticed were there, let alone noticed that they were dirty, and I’m doing it effortlessly, without having to set aside time or energy to do it. Last week I cooked two different meals for two different people, each comprised of multiple elements, with different cooking temperatures and times. Four pans on the stove, two different items in the oven, things that needed to be microwaved, and cold items that needed to be put in their own containers and served at the table. I served these two different meals, at the same time, every component piping hot (apart from the cold ones, obviously). Before meds, if I tried to cook a single meal composed of multiple elements, I’d have burnt one thing, undercooked another, left one standing on the stove, and something on the plate was always stone cold. I’m arguing less with my fiancee, helping out more, and I don’t come home at the end of the day feeling like existence itself is a challenge. I come home with energy left in the tank. I can’t adequately express how much of a change that is for me.
What I’m saying is that you’re doing the right thing for your daughter. Your fears are entirely natural, and warranted, given the history in your family. The most important thing, in terms of safety, is to monitor your daughter closely. Ask her how she feels, ask her for feedback, note any changes that worry you. Ask her specialist what you should be on the lookout for. If her personality changes, or she ‘becomes a zombie’, or anything like that, she’s on the wrong medication, and her specialist needs to know. The most important thing is to always communicate everything to her specialist, honestly. As long as you do that, and keep an eye on everything, these medications are perfectly safe, at least insofar as anything can be considered safe. If you can stick with any negative experiences that may crop up, keep an eye on everything, and don’t be afraid, there are a world of benefits available, like the ones I describe above. I did really well for an undiagnosed ADHD person- I actually completed a degree, I moved abroad, and learned a foreign language, without picking up any substance addictions, criminal records, or other problematic tendencies- but every gain was hard won. Every day has been a struggle. Taking medication was like I’d been wearing a weighted vest every day for my entire life, and suddenly it was removed, and I could move more easily than I ever knew was possible. I had no clue life could be this easy, that it IS this easy for everyone else.
I look forward to hearing how your daughter responds to her medications 🙂 Important note, before I sign off: don’t be afraid of increasing the dosage. As long as your daughter takes her medications responsibly, there’s no danger of her becoming addicted or anything, but the ideal dosage for any person is tied to their height, body weight, and metabolic rate, not the dosages written on the pills. Taking more than the minimum available isn’t abusing medicine unnecessarily, it’s taking the right amount in accordance with your needs and how your body processes it.
Don’t be a stranger 🙂 I hope your daughter reaps the full benefits of medication. They’ll do more for her than either of you could possibly imagine 🙂