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If I’m being honest…

Coping with ADHD - Mother holding hand of her daughter.

So yesterday was National Honesty Day and it got me thinking. If I’m being honest I was hoping 2022 would be a better year. So much has happened in the past two years – and I don’t mean the pandemic. So by January this year, I was hoping things would have calmed, and begun to settle. But it was clear something wasn’t right, I wasn’t coping. Diagnosed again with Anxiety and Depression, I needed to take some time for myself. Time to get used to coping with ADHD, parenting with ADHD. It actually became a whole new journey.

The story so far…

So during the pandemic, we found out quite a lot as a family. My youngest had already been diagnosed with Dyslexia. But we began to notice he was still struggling despite fantastic support and intervention. When he was assessed originally, the Educational Psychologist had mentioned she thought he may have ADHD. So we referred him to CAMHS and after completing his assessments, he is just awaiting his official diagnosis this summer. Moreover, this then meant we had to look at completing an EHCP (Educational Health Care Plan) and looking for a suitable secondary school for him. That’s a whole other blog in itself!

And then…

During the assessments that we had to fill out with S for his ADHD. I began to realise that our middle son also ticked a lot of the boxes. He was struggling with school and continual negatives for minor issues were leading to detentions and a real dip in his self-esteem. He was trying so hard and still being punished, it was really frustrating and sad to see.

When I started to look at the types of ‘negatives’ he was getting and also the timing of when he would get them, it became really obvious to me that he also had ADHD. After many frustrating and sometimes upsetting meetings with the school, that proved fruitless, we self-referred on advice from the GP. Given his age and the fact, that he is just starting his GCSEs, CAMHS diagnosed him there and then. She said it was blatantly obvious he had ADHD and was amazed that the school hadn’t listened.

Parenting with ADHD

Armed with an official diagnosis, and having read up everything I could find on coping with ADHD, school became a lot more accomodating. Reasonable adjustments were put in place. I still have to keep an eye on and ask for teachers to be reminded at times. I have to be ‘that’ parent. The one I never wanted to be, the one who really doesn’t come naturally to me.

We have worked hard at home to develop coping strategies and put measures in place that help. There are certain behaviours where both boys present very similarly, but others where they present very differently. I’ve also become a lot more understanding and patient, knowing how their brains work and trying to work with them so they can find out what works for them.

Menopause

All through this, I had been suffering from pretty bad Menopausal symptoms. Pre-pandemic I had seen several GPs and none were particularly interested as I still was having periods and my hormone levels were ‘fine’. However, it was really beginning to affect my ability to cope on a daily basis. My need to be the support for my boys was made twenty times harder by the fact that I was struggling with my own anxiety and depression, and more specifically my memory. Try parenting with ADHD. Being the parent who needs to help her kids remember to brush their teeth, pack their bag, remember their PE Kit, remember dental appointments etc. when you can hardly remember the name of an object right in front of you! It took a 10-minute call with a very understanding female GP, to be finally diagnosed as Perimenopausal and prescribed HRT.

Something else?

As we tried to settle into our new lives, working together, coping with ADHD and how we all worked best together, something still wasn’t right. I was still struggling. My HRT was changed and most of my symptoms were reduced or disappeared, but my anxiety and depression were not great. I was struggling to cope with everything, home life with ND kids is exhausting. I’ll be honest before they were diagnosed I guess I thought the same as a lot of people, that it just meant they were hyperactive. How wrong was I? There is so much more to ADHD and it isn’t just about hyperactive boys, the emotional rollercoaster is a journey in itself. Never mind executive dysfunction, sleep issues, meltdowns…

I was still reading up on everything I could find on parenting with ADHD. And through the research began finding and hearing more and more about women and coping with ADHD. Suddenly something clicked, the more I read, the more it made sense, and the more I felt I also had ADHD. But of course, the doubt set in, and you immediately feel you are being silly, overdramatic even. I filled out countless online indicators, all coming up high scoring. I looked back at being a child at school, university, even through my younger life, and so much of my behaviour ticked the boxes for ADHD. But why was I suddenly finding the symptoms so obvious, why were they now beginning to affect my ability to cope at 47 years of age?

Coping with ADHD

Again I read, as much as I could find, learning all I could to educate myself (hyperfocus). And I began to read a lot about how women see their symptoms exacerbated by their monthly cycle. So if our monthly cycle made symptoms worse, then it made sense that menopause would have an even greater effect. It’s like I spent all my life masking and learning coping strategies only for them all to slip when I entered menopause.

I spoke to the GP and explained everything and how I was feeling. He was great, he suggested completing assessments for both ADHD and Autism. I was a little surprised, but only a little, to see I scored highly on not only the ADHD assessment but also for Autism too. So, I have now been referred for further assessment and official diagnosis – a lengthy wait.

Moving forward

So that’s where I’m at. On HRT which seems to be helping a lot of my symptoms. Antidepressants for Anxiety & Depression (which could be ADHD) are aiding my sleep (I literally wasn’t sleeping more than a few hours a night). And wondering if my diagnosis comes back as predicted, that I might need meds for that too?

I wish I could speed things up, and get the answers I need. I want to be the best mum I can be for my boys during some really important years for them. But right now I don’t feel I can be, or that I am.

If I’m being honest…

And there we get back to honesty. That’s all I have at the moment. I may lose my patience (the very symptoms that need me to be patient with the boys, are the ones in me, that make me lose my patience). I may quite often forget to remind them, what they themselves forget. My anxiety and depression may take over at times. But I can be honest. I can explain it all to them. I can ensure that they know that we are all different, and we are all just finding our way.

So here’s to 2022. Here’s to always being honest. Here’s to always learning and never stopping. And here’s to being here for those boys whenever they need me. And most of all here’s to looking after myself, so I can look after them!

Fay x

NB: I’d love to hear from anyone who was late diagnosed with ADHD and also parenting ADHD kids. Please drop a comment below.

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If you like this post, then please read more here:

Mental Health – How Felicity Finds

Neurodiversity – How Felicity Finds

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women and adhd - hyperactive & impulsive