The Lethal Cocktail of ADHD And Depression

Deutsch: Cocktail
Deutsch: Cocktail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

ADHD can be a bitch like that. The only positive thing you can say about mental illness, is that it’s certainly never boring or predictable.

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.

He continued to hyper focus on the 27 Club, of course. He soaks up everything about his idol Kurt Cobain, and is as admiring of his behaviour offstage almost as much as his music, sadly.

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.

17 thoughts on “The Lethal Cocktail of ADHD And Depression

  1. Oh wow, Mrs L. What a brutally honest post. I am wondering if you actually have any one to talk to about it, yourself. You have the ultimate dysfunctional family and of that, I don’t envy you. My family is dysfunctional enough (dad has bipolar, I had depression in the past and it is always just lurking in the wings…) but you sound like you have so much more to deal with and cope with. It sounds like you are doing the best you can for all your family and you can’t do more than your best!!!!!


    1. Thanks for those kind words. Like all parents we do our best and to be honest, I just keep busy. I only dwell on it when I write – this is my therapy so it probably sounds worse than it is. The problem with being a control freak is that is is just so painful when you can’t control the things that mean the most to you. x


  2. I have such an ache in my heart as I read your words here.
    I am so sorry life has placed so much on your shoulders.
    I know how hard teenage-dom is…even when things are going ok.
    Mama love fears just seem to increase as our children get older.
    I feel sick with worry when my Miss 19 goes out at night and that is nothing compared to what you have to fear.
    You are a wonderful caring compassionate mum and I hope you gain strength from knowing that.Xx


  3. I feel for you Louisa. Mental illness is difficult for everyone in the family of a sufferer. Reality is, everyone suffers along with them. It is so hard to deal with.

    It is interesting you mentioned Kurt Cobain is his idol. He was diagnosed ADHD and was a ‘Ritalin’ kid. He was also diagnosed with Bipolar disorder as an adult – which was the depression part leading to his suicide (along with his drug use I guess).


    1. Thanks so much, Gemma. What can I say, it was a bad week – they’re not all like that. Sometimes we are blown away by his individuality. Kids are tough, sometimes and no-one ever prepares you for the extreme love you feel.


  4. I empathise with many of those emotions you are going through. It brought tears to my eyes reading this. One of my four teenagers has gone through similar – not the ADHD but some of the other stuff. It is ridiculously hard to watch them as a parent and not be able to fix it – it is so beyond our control. It is also ridiculously hard not to feel the mother guilt… what did I do wrong, what didn’t I do? – the endless questions & self doubt. But reality is we do what we can – the best that we possibly can. Things are good for us right now – but I live on the edge of fear in the knowledge of how quickly it can all turn around. I send you hugs and strength that you will all get through this moment & the next & the next and that the good times will always return and hopefully out number the bad.


    1. Not being able to ‘fix’ it is the ultimate frustration, especially when you’re a control freak like me. Yes, it is like that with ADHD and drug use – living on the edge of fear all the time. All we can do is be there and support him and hopefully as he matures, the missing pieces of the puzzle will make things clearer for him.


  5. Oh, Dear-heart, how difficult it must be for you to be in such a painful place. I will offer prayers for blessings upon you and your family during this difficult part of your Path. –<–<–@


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