The Best Version of My Son

Watching my son on and off his ADHD meds shows the difference between merely living with attention deficit and having the great life he deserves.

Online doctor concept. Expert advice via your computer. Flat vector illustration.
Online doctor concept. Expert advice via your computer. Flat vector illustration.

It was an innocent enough question from my oldest son: “Mom, why do you have to take pills for your high blood pressure every day?”

I wasn’t caught off-guard, and I didn’t feel defensive. Instead, I explained the genetic hand I had been dealt and how, despite my best efforts, managing it myself had proved ineffectual.

However, I wasn’t prepared for his response: “That means if you had lived, say, a hundred years ago, before high blood pressure pills had been invented, you might have already had a heart attack and died?”

I stopped in my tracks. I looked at my nearly 10-year-old son and said, “I never thought of that.”

But then think of it I did…and a lot. Not only about the genetic hand I had been dealt, and the resulting dependence on daily medication, but my younger son’s as well.

Making the decision to treat my child’s ADHD with stimulant medication was not an easy one, but to say it has been effective is an understatement. He has exceeded all expectations at home and at school, and is able to present to the world what we, as parents, know to be the best version of him.

That is, when he is taking his medication.

Now that summer is here and the rigid daily routines are relaxed, I have a front-row seat of what life looks and feels like for my son when he does not take his medication. It’s painful to watch. He has described it as feeling like he’s crawling out of his skin. His description isn’t a simile. It is precise.

I watch the world watch him – patrons in the library, customers at the store. It’s not a case of him preferring not to control his impulsivity. He can’t. Not without medication. For now, he is completely dependent on it – to have, and to pursue, the life he deserves.

My oldest son is correct. The medication I take every day allows me to continue to live. Medication allows my son with ADHD to have a great life.

[Additional Reading: How We Decided To Medicate Our Child]