Guest Blogs

Reacting to ADHD Rage

As the parent of a child with ADHD, I understand how easy it would be to let that last thread of self-control snap.

Every now and then I congratulate myself for not hurting Natalie, my child with ADHD.

What am I saying? Shouldn’t it be a given that I won’t hurt my child? Don’t call the social workers on me, but, no, it really isn’t a given. I have never hurt her, I swear. But I’ve wanted to.

That’s not right either. No, I’ve never wanted to hurt her. But I understand how easy it would be to let that last thread of self-control snap. I’ve come too close for comfort.

Natalie had her biggest, baddest ADHD-acting-out episode of all time a couple weeks ago. It started out with Natalie reacting to a minor disappointment and escalated from there. It consumed our entire evening, and left both Natalie and I completely drained of energy and emotion well into the next day.

It’s when Natalie hurts me (or Aaron, my son without ADHD; or the cat) that I nearly lose control. I get absolutely crazy. Saying I feel RAGE would not be an exaggeration. Here’s an ironic image: me screaming, “WE DO NOT HURT EACH OTHER IN THIS FAMILY!” — as my voice, facial expression, and body language scream that I’m about to commit murder. It’s horrible. I’m horrible.

And Natalie did hurt me during this particular fit. To make matters worse, we weren’t at home. We were driving to pick Aaron up from baseball practice. As her tantrum escalated, Natalie, from the backseat of the car, threw things at me — toys, books, her shoes, then kicked me in the head and shoulder as I drove. At the ball park, I got out of the car to get away from her. She chased after me, hitting me. I tried to safely restrain her, and we wrestled around — in the rain, in wet grass. She’s getting too strong for — I couldn’t do it. As we rolled around, I worried what other parents, and, God forbid, Aaron and his teammates, were seeing and thinking.

I eventually walked away from Nat, back to the car, and called my husband, Don, who was 30 minutes away, but would leave work and get back as soon as possible. Aaron walked over, we got in the car, and became a target too. Just as we turned into our subdivision, Aaron called Don again, begging for help.

Another hard kick to my shoulder. I slammed on the brakes, screaming, “GET OUT OF THIS CAR RIGHT THIS MINUTE, AND WALK HOME!”

Nat threw open the door, but stayed in the back seat kicking and flailing. We finally got home, and I got Nat into her room — with a round, red bite mark on my left wrist to show for it. Don got there and took over. I slammed kitchen cupboards. Bawled. Shook all over.

I hate to be that way. I hate to have Aaron see any of that. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I’m making an appointment with a new psychologist. I — we — have to try something more, something different.

At least I didn’t hurt her.