gracemurphy

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  • in reply to: Newly diagnosed 13 year old daughter #188977
    gracemurphy
    Participant

    Hi! This is a late response to this post, but I saw it, and wanted to share some stuff that’s helped me, that might help you! I’m 22 now, a senior in college graduating very soon, and I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD since the first grade, so I’ve had a lot of different experiences!

    I will start by saying the truth, which is that it has been really difficult. There have been some really dark times in my ADHD journey, and it’s always when I… forget I have ADHD and start blaming myself again. The most constant conversation I’ve had with teachers in my life is them saying, “Gosh, Grace you are so smart, and when you’re in class you contribute so much and are engaged and present, but you just need to do the homework, you need to try harder, because you can’t get extensions in the real world. There won’t be exceptions in the real world.” To which I have always said the exact thing your daughter said to you. That I am trying, so hard. It has been a long and difficult journey! You are not late in catching this, my mom wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until she was 25, I know people who are my age just now getting diagnosed, and I know people who have been diagnosed as long as your daughter as been, who haven’t had be support system that you clearly are providing. You should really be proud of yourself for beginning to do the work now, a lot of people don’t do that. That’s going to be extremely important for her life.

    Here is some information that I’ve recently discovered about ADHD that I found out this week (after all these years) that literally changed everything to me, and may prove to be super important in you and your daughter’s journey! There is a lot of research emerging about how ADHD effects girls differently than boys, that girls are under-diagnosed because they tend to be inattentive and because, well, doctors tend to believe girls less. The most mind-blowing bit of information regarding this, has been how hormones effect women with ADHD. We already have less active Norepinephrine and Dopamine receptors, but estrogen and progesterone effect both symptoms of ADHD, AND effectiveness of medication based on where you are in your cycle. My whole life, in the two weeks following ovulation, my symptoms have always gotten worse, and I’ve fallen into short depressive states, where there have been times that I’ve been unable to get out of bed for extended periods of time. When estrogen levels drop, so do the neurotransmitters most effected by ADHD– by nearly 30%. Doctors who are aware of this will prescribe higher doses during those low estrogen, high progesterone days, which makes symptoms better. Planning productivity for pre-ovulation, too, is actually super helpful (though I didn’t know the science of the hormones before, I could sense that there was a relation to my symptoms and my cycle) and planning to take it a little easier and give myself a break which my body is in the second half of it’s monthly cycle. It’s a lot of moving factors, and honestly super unfair, and super not talked about. So doing more of your own research on that and talking to the psychiatrist, and ESPECIALLY your daughter, about that might prove a really useful thing. I know that I wish I’d known this at her age. There are also a lot of other ways women are socialized that I’m still unpacking, that were not made easy by my ADHD.

    I’d also really suggest finding resources that are from first hand accounts of ADHD. I’ve found a balance for myself between extensive research of clinical trials and studies of ADHD, and people who have ADHD talking about what it’s like to have ADHD. Hearing it first hand will give you a lot more insight into the actual lived experiences of someone with ADHD than the stuff that is heavily research based and more science-ey. The science is important, don’t get me wrong! I live by the science an it’s imperative to understand it! But there’s also a lot of conflicting information and I think often there is a lack of humanity in the ways people talk about it. It might even be a really good bonding experience and really enlightening if you and your daughter sat down and did the research together. Connecting the dots together may lead to a better understanding between both of you, and may make her feel really seen. I think the research is really exciting, and I wish I’d known so many of the symptoms that go beyond the typical, simple symptoms listed on most places online. That’s where finding like, youtube channels where people talk about their ADHD, might be really helpful. There’s a lot of beauty and strengths in people who have ADHD. I’ve found a lifestyle that works WITH my ADHD rather than trying to fit into one better suited for someone without it, and since doing this, I am so much better off.

    The last thing I’ll say is this: Keep listening to her. It seems like you’re doing this now, so just keep going. So many people don’t listen to us. If her medicine is making her feel bad, listen to that, don’t let her doctors barrel over what she knows is right for her, because we all feel that in our bodies. We know when something is wrong. I’ve had some really bad experiences with medication, and if my psychiatrists had listened to me, I’d have had a much better time in most of my life. I’ve finally found a really good medication plan, that really works for me, and as I learn more about ADHD, I have a much better handle on it and my life. Just listen is all!

    Omega-3 supplements are EXTREMELY effective for ADHD brains. I’d look into that, too. Increased effectiveness of medicine and also overall brain function!

    It really is a puzzle, and is endlessly complex, but the more you know, the better things get, and the clearer things get! You’ve so got this, and I’m happy to know there are parents out there like you who will listen.

    Good on you!

    Be well, be healthy, I hope this is still relevant and helpful.

    gracemurphy
    Participant

    Hi Julie! This is so hard!

    I was a 16 year old girl once with ADHD and I can tell you from experience, it was really, really hard. It’s really hard to be a young woman in the social climate that we live in. I’m 22 now, and finally getting a hold of my ADHD, and I didn’t have the same experience as your daughter does now, but I know that feeling, and I have friends who have been there. It’s really difficult when there are so few resources available to help in a way that feels constructive and healing rather than controlling and harmful. I am no professional, and I am not a mother, so I can’t speak from those perspectives, but I can tell you what my experience has been, what information has enlightened me, and what has helped me in my life, starting with some more fact-based anecdotes, moving to more personal accounts and advice.

    The most recent thing I’ve found out about ADHD, specifically in women, is that Estrogen/Progesterone levels effect the functioning of the main neurotransmitters that are effected by ADHD. After ovulation, on the 14th day of the cycle, estrogen levels drop and progesterone levels spike, which both inhibit the effectiveness of ADHD medication considerably. On top of that, a decrease in estrogen results in a near 30% reduction in those neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine specifically.) Studies have shown that after the onset of puberty, ADHD symptoms in girls become far worse than pre-puberty. This makes medication, especially in the high school years, extremely difficult! It’s super messed up! I am just now, in my senior year of college, finding a treatment plan that ACTUALLY works.

    Omega-3 supplements are proven to be HIGHLY effective, as well in improving brain function with those who have ADHD.

    I’ve had friends who were diagnosed with ADHD in high school, and were put on ADHD medication, but because of hormones, environment, school, societal pressures, genetic response to certain drugs– whatever the reason, the treatment plan wasn’t supported by external factors, so it wasn’t the right fit. Which meant their ADHD symptoms got worse, and the psychological effects of people’s treatment of ADHD are more often than not, depression and anxiety– which they were then medicated for. The cocktail of medicine in their systems not only didn’t help, but often made things worse, they were just quieter and more manageable, so their doctors thought the problem had been fixed. This is NOT to say that medication doesn’t work– it’s just to say that some doctors don’t specialize in ADHD, or they don’t know how certain medicines effect women during menstrual cycles (so, all the time) so a totally preventable poor psychological reaction to certain medications occurs, which… sucks. Just recently, I was prescribed a medication that was different than the last one I was taking, and it reacted very poorly with my body and I was in a deep depression for a month, until I told my doctor it made me feel like a zombie, to which they responded by telling me I was just depressed, and prescribed me Lexapro (which is proven to make ADHD symptoms worse) and kept me on the medication. Of course, I found a new psychiatrist immediately, and was put on the medication I’d taken before that had worked well for me. Because my new psychiatrist both listens deeply to me, and specializes in ADHD.

    All of that sounds really scary, I know it scares me, and I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have your baby be going through all of this. But there is hope, I believe! I tell you all of this because I think, even if she ends up not having ADHD, I wish I’d had medical practitioners who understood how my body and brain worked, and people I could feel comfortable around and relate to. It’s tough, because at that age and in this society, agreeing to treatment plans, to seeing therapists, to anything that parents want you to do. But I don’t think it’s hopeless, I really don’t! I think it’s just complicated! If it is ADHD, I suggest finding therapists who specialize in ADHD! And who work with people her age. Finding the right fit is difficult, but the keywords I’ve found to be the best in searching for good and kind psychologists, are people who practice these types of therapy: Feminist, Relational, Interpersonal, Strength-based, trauma-based, person-centered, and attachment based. These are types of therapy that tend to approach people in a really human way. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has never worked for me and my ADHD as it feels like a short term solution to the behavioral aspects of ADHD, and always left me feeling worthless because outside of therapy I could never do the things I said I’d do in therapy. In the types of therapy I listed, they are much more based in finding the root of the problem, healing the trauma that comes from growing up neurodivergent, and forming a real relationship with your therapist, in a way that has helped me heal so many of the wounds that have lived in me. I think especially allowing her to have a role in that process, would likely be helpful. If I’m to highlight anything I just said, it’s finding people who mention feminist or relational therapy. It’s made a world of difference for me to see someone who takes those factors into account.

    I also don’t know your exact situation, but my closest friend in high school, who struggled with severe depression and likely ADHD or a mood disorder, was hospitalized on several occasions. Hospitalization kept her safe, but wasn’t the best in terms of her mental well-being, but sometimes it’s the only option, and it got her immediate help. It’s really complicated, and that is NOT a universal experience, but all that IS to say that she stayed safe and graduated high school and is now thriving and moving her career along, she has a long-term boyfriend and has maintained a close relationship with her parents, and healed a lot of the harm they caused each other when she was 16. It felt devastating when it was happening, but with effort and care, things got better and brighter. And I can say with certainty that when that was happening, her parents had no idea what to do, and were really struggling, it all felt very life or death—– but they got through! They made it out and are now able to heal those wounds. It’s just about exploring all options, I think.

    It’s a really difficult situation that you’re in. It’s abundantly clear that you love her so deeply. I’m not sure I can offer anything more, aside from saying to just keep it up! Don’t give up! Keep researching and asking these questions and looking for the connections. And above all, listen to her. No one listens to us, and that’s what has been the hardest for me. It’s all a cry for help in a system that isn’t build for neurodivergent people, and I’m thankful there are parents like you who are listening. I also want to end on a more positive note, and say that my ADHD is also a gift. In any research you might do, that’s something I really suggest looking into. The positive sides of ADHD! It might seem right now like there are none, but there are things about my brain that are unique and beautiful, and I believe that’s true for all neurodivergent people. The trouble so often comes when other people tell us that our behavior is bad and wrong. It’s hard, but it can be good if understood and worked with. It sounds like your daughter, ADHD or not, is having a hard time and I am sending love to you and your family and hope you figure out something that works for all of you, because as much as she’s hurting, she should not be hurting you. You will get through this!

    I do hope that at least some of this was helpful, I think it’s an overload of information (I think that I got into a bit of an ADHD hyperfocus mode) but I think there’s some good stuff in there. Well wishes to you and your family.

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