We’ve had a bad week with Kurt.
You might remember that in my last post I caught myself foolishly romanticizing about how fantastic life was – it was like I’d discovered God or something and would be joining those rockster Christians in our local church on Sunday for a non-alcoholic drink and a session eulogising the joys of ‘giving’.
But anxiety says that dumb attitudes like that always precede a big mother fucking fall, and inevitably the euphoria was short-lived as reality banged rudely on our door once again.
I sat in an ADHD support group last week, trying not to laugh hysterically as I listened to this fantastic speaker, Caroline Stevenson, reaffirm what life is truly like with ADHD kids. She talked of highs and lows, sinking and swimming – drowning a lot.
As she pointed out, ADHD is a very different animal to other mental disorders. Where other mental illnesses provoke pity, caring and support, ADHD is much more reactive and controversial. These kids can test your limits all the time – they can be angry and make you angry, oppositionally defiant, sly and (as she put it), fucking ‘annoying’ at times. (I might have added the F word).
Sometimes, they are very hard to love.
Mix depression into that blend, a pinch of anxiety and the general horrors of full-blown teenage-dom and you have the recipe for chaos.
After the fallout at the beginning of the year when we first arrived in Gotham City, (and the shit hit the proverbial fan), things had settled down recently to a suspiciously calmer pace. Kurt had tried and tested the delights of Glee School and its bounty of illicit goody bags and girls, and I assumed that the novelty of city life had worn off to a steadier grind.
The old man and I breathed again.
Kurt has been ‘happy’ of late, aided by a concoction from his psychiatrist, although he has put his outlet of music on the back burner while focusing for the first time on the social side of his life and new school. He objects to his medication, saying that it thwarts his creativity – but at least those terrifying angry outbursts which often led to cutting, (which is terrifying as a parent), had dissipated for the time being.
But then something snapped.
It can be the tiniest trigger with ADHD – a falling out with a mate, me being less patient than I should be due to the balance of work and parenting or putting my own needs first, or simply from tiredness towards the end of term and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of relentless assignments, (that he has no hope of completing).
He buys sharpeners with my money and unscrews the blades to cut his arms. This is the same boy who screams in pain when I tweeze his mono-brow or put his earring back in.
And then I freak out and blow everything out of proportion because I am his mum and that’s what mums do and I can’t bear the thought of life without my ‘mad’ son. And that triggers the old man to become Mr Angry because he doesn’t have the emotional tools to deal with a child he can’t understand. Which in turn triggers NC to defend her Dad, and get all bitchy because her loony brother is taking over again and the family revolves around his needs like stars orbiting in the Kurt solar system.
He’s not actually ‘OK’, you see, if you measure ‘ok’ on the sanity chart with ‘conventional’ being ok.
And he probably never will be.
Suicide is my biggest fear. We all know that ADHD mixed with depression has the potential to lead to suicide.
I try to undo the damage caused by the missing Dopamine in his head at every opportunity, but sometimes the sheer frustration of not being able to get through to this human being that I created turns me into a mad woman too. When you are terrified that your child will hurt itself, the parenting rules go out of the window.
How can I punish him or shout at him? What if he does something stupid?
God, I would miss him. He is part of me, a huge part of me. It would be like someone opening my body and ripping out my insides. I am so like him. There is a bigger connection than normal, (almost perversely so), because genetically we have many of the same traits, only mine are not as extreme as his – perhaps my wires are not quite as tangled as his or I was able to develop the coping strategies to manage my shit better.
I want him to understand the preciousness of life and how much we love him, but I can’t get through to him. He smiles sympathetically when I try to tell him my fears, but I know that he doesn’t understand them.
On a good day, his ambition in life is about making his mark and leaving the world on a high. Which is what he thinks Kurt did.
On a bad day, he can’t even see a way out.
Mental illness sucks. I defy anyone to say that eventually a ‘pull yourself together’ attitude works. There is a chasm there, a black hole of chemical imbalance that defies logic.
If only my biggest fear for my teenage son was his HSC score or him drinking too much alcohol, rather than him taking his own life. If only I could be certain of that suicide cocktail not becoming lethal.
- Sibling Rivalry and The Difference Between Rocks and Rock Music (mymidlifemayhem.wordpress.com)