Racheal is the mom of a son with ADHD, anxiety, depression and several other medical conditions.
When you look at my 12-year-old son, you see a happy, goofy boy that is carefree and full of personality. What you don't see is his mental illness or his inner struggles to navigate and try to fit into a world that is not always understanding and accepting of him, especially his peers.
What you also don't see is how hard he has to try to make friends, to complete schoolwork, to control his emotions, to participate in physical activities, to engage in conversations, to control his impulses, to stay organized, to manage tasks, and to just be a kid.
His whole life has been doctor's appointments and therapies since he was 8 weeks old. He is great 1:1, in highly structured settings and with adults. But, he has absolutely no ability to generalize skills and strategies with his peers.
We have been struggling with extreme, aggressive meltdowns for some time. They are more frequent, lasting for longer periods of time, and his aggression had intensified. We had a plan of action to start new and fresh by switching his whole care plan for more intensive counseling and social skills groups, but it wasn't in enough time.
A broken phone charger was enough to set him into a rage that we could not deescalate on our own. It required police intervention. He had some minor self-inflicted injuries and destroyed his room. He made threats, became physically aggressive towards his dad and I, screamed obscenities, and cried because he couldn't stop himself.
We made a decision to have him transported and treated in a child and adolescent psychiatric unit. He spent 4 days there. The psychiatrist at the hospital was absolutely amazing, very methodical in his treatment plan and matter of fact. He validated our parental concerns. My son's medications were no longer effective and needed to be changed.
His ADHD, anxiety, depression, and lack impulse control are very extreme. He is always on edge and highly reactive. His maturity and social ability are that of a 5- or 6-year-old. He has very limited executive functioning skills. Now add in hormones and being in middle school and it's a combination for disaster.
We have a new team for mental health treatment. He will be continuing outpatient psychiatric follow up care with a partial hospital program.
ADHD is more than just hyperactivity and attention difficulties. It interferes with every aspect of functioning. It is highly misunderstood. It does fall under the umbrella of mental illness diagnosis and often coexists with other disorders.
His biggest complaint to his care team while there was his difficulty with communicating to make and keep friends. He said he notices other kids getting invited to go places or that they have their "groups.” He doesn't belong and he knows it's because he's different and other kids are mean to him because of it. He just wants to belong to a group. Broke this mama's heart.