I once saw ‘Everything will be OK’ written on an air freshener at a service station, and I knew I had to have it in my life! That was 18 months ago and although it doesn’t smell anymore (I have since stopped buying chemical smelly things), it still takes pride of place in my car. When times were hard with Sarah*, I used to stare at it every day. I would drive around aimlessly, tears running down my face, sadness in my heart and anxiety bursting through my chest. My thoughts raced, my smile lost and my emotions in tatters.
I remember when my parents came to stay with us for the first time since we emigrated. My Dad saw the air freshener and said it out loud: ”everything will be ok”, the quirky things that I did and said always made him laugh. He knew how bad things were, and he saw how hard I was trying to hold it all together. To others, it looked like we were living the dream. We had emigrated to Australia; I had a wonderful husband, three gorgeous kids and a cute little dog; the perfect life, but behind closed doors, our life wasn’t perfect, it was a never-ending nightmare.
Sarah was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and was defiant, crazy and wild. She was medicated, so was I, and the situation was spiralling out of control. She wasn’t able to read or write; she wasn’t able to sit still, play with her friends or even carry out a simple instruction. Then something unthinkable happened and just like the quote that swung from side to side, hanging from the rearview mirror in the car; it finally came true.
I sat tonight reading with Sarah, something that couldn’t have happened a year ago, or even six months ago. She sat calmly with the book resting on her knee, her hands crossed, lightly leant on her chest as she read Cinderella to me. She smiled and laughed, and her face and eyes lit up as she realised that she could read. She didn’t jump about, get up and down from her seat, have a tantrum, refuse to read, break down or start talking about her toenail or a fly above her head; she just sat, quietly, calmly and read to me. Tears fell from my eyes and she looked at me and said:
“Mummy, what’s the matter, why are you crying”? she asked.
“I am so proud of you Sarah; I love you so much.”, I replied.
My heart swelled with love and pride; my thoughts didn’t race anymore; the anxiety knot from stomach was gone, and sadness was replaced with joy. ADHD is not a life sentence. It doesn’t always need medicating or fixing or analysing with an expert, a teacher, or a doctor.
ADHD can be an amazing thing. Our family have made peace with it, and now the future looks bright, in fact, the future is now dazzling for our beautiful little star.
ADHD…..it’s just a different way to be.
* Names have been changed to protect identities