Hello to my ADHD peeps and ADHD loved ones. Today I am going to talk about a weird symptom of ADHD medication that I didn’t realize as a kid and it took growing up to truly realize what was going on.
I was a hyper kid growing up and this meant that I needed to be medicated in order to make it through school. Even with doing multiple sports and doing everything that I could to burn all of that pent up energy, I wasn’t able to slow down and it was showing up in my school. We could look back at some of my progress reports and they say that I was a bright kid, but he is hyper. Once I started there was no slowing or calming down my hyperactivity. Naturally my parents took me to my doctor and the doctor said that he believed it was a clear case of ADHD. He ended up referring us out to an ADHD specialist in the city next to us.
I ended up passing (or failing depending on your outlook) the ADHD exam. I ended up not paying attention. I got up and caused mayhem while I was supposed to be taking my exam to determine if I had ADHD. I don’t know what the diagnosis was back then because the paperwork is long gone and the hospital got rid of the records, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was similar to what my last assessment determined. ADHD with combined presentation. Meaning I have the impulsivity and the inattention components of ADHD. Combined is the most common diagnosis when it comes to ADHD.
So I ended up getting prescribed medication at a pretty young age, I would say probably around five years old at this point. My schooling started to improve and I even started becoming an honor roll student. You would be amazed at the difference that ADHD medication does for me, it is truly a game changer and I am thankful for it. I was young though and didn’t truly understand my body or what a side effect was. If you could honestly tell me at five years old you could understand everything that was going on with your body I would have my doubts because at that age we are just going day to day.
With that being said I don’t know when it started, but I would end up waking up with these massive headaches. I grew up with two sisters and I noticed that it was hard for them to get up in the morning because honestly at that age who wants to get up so early to get to school. You want to sleep in and anyone waking you up is your immediate enemy in the morning. I ended up brushing it off, but every morning I would wake up with massive headaches. It would bring me to tears some mornings and I never understood it. I honestly just thought that everyone went through an extremely drowsy and hard wake up so I just dealt with it. I never told anyone because I didn’t want to be a burden and I just kept waking up with these headaches until I stopped taking medication around my teenage years.
So how did I discover that this was a medication thing. Well obviously I noticed in high school and the military I wasn’t experiencing headaches as often. Every once in a while I would wake up with a headache but these were consistently on days that I knew that I was dehydrated. I didn’t think much into it because a lot of my time in the army it was get up and go, it didn’t matter if you had a headache you just needed to get work done. It took until I ended up taking medication again for me to realize that it was the medication and dehydration causing the headaches I’d experienced as a kid.
Taking medication again has opened my eyes up to a lot of things that I never understood growing up. I notice that when I take my medication it is very easy for me to get cotton mouth (literally just your mouth being extremely dry). That on top of the headaches made me realize that my medication makes me more dehydrated, causing my massive morning headaches. So I have found that now when I take me medication I need to drink three giant glasses of water a day to prevent these headaches. I still get caught blindsided by them. Sometimes I think I have drank enough water and I wake up with a headache that is pretty severe, but they have gotten a lot better since I started taking medication again.
Why tell this story? That would be a good question. I want to tell this story because it is important to have open discussions with your kids. My parents never did anything wrong, in this case they never knew and that is because we didn’t have an open conversation on how I was feeling. I just thought that this was a normal thing that everyone dealt with so I just kept dealing with it. I spent a lot of time dreading going to sleep because I knew that when I woke up in the morning I was going to feel worse than when I went to sleep. I spent at least eight years hating the mornings and knowing that when I woke up it was going to be another awful day.
Another reason why I never really brought up these symptoms is because no one ever wants to be the weird kid. I was the weird kid in my family. I was the only one that had to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder and a lot of the time I ended up feeling like an outsider. I wanted to be “normal” so other people didn’t have to worry about me. I was already the kid that couldn’t go on long trips without irritating everyone in the car, so I felt like if I could just not create problems then no one would think that I was the abnormal child. My parents never made me feel like an outsider, but being the only one that is different is very difficult for a child. I constantly had my one sister telling me that I was a mistake because I just ruin everything and my other sister was great. With all things we always hear the people that are mean to us more than we hear the people that are nice to us. I don’t hold animosity towards that sister, I was probably a very difficult kid to be around. I get it.
This leads me to the most important part of this entire entry. Having ADHD is hard because a lot of the time we want to be “normal” so going against the grain is extremely difficult. Talking about our ADHD is very difficult so we need someone to initiate the conversations. If you end up communicating with us we will open up. We may not do it immediately and be a giant open book, but with time we will start to disclose more information. It takes practice and I think for people that have ADHD it is going to take more time for us than people that don’t have ADHD because we are extremely afraid of rejection.
I grew up in a generation that was not open on mental health. If you were the person that opened up or had problems in class you were ridiculed (all generations have their problems). I believe that this is one that was really damaging for a lot of people. I can’t tell you how many times I was told to man up growing up by kids my age because I was having a hard time adapting to a situation. Amazingly enough I could see a difference even in the military. Where bosses were horrible in most instances, but friends could see something was wrong and they would stay with you and really help you get through some of the darkest and hardest moments in your life. In a place with the most masculinity you could think of was better at helping me develop emotional intelligence than my elementary school days ever did and that is where the problem lies.
If you have a kid you need to truly make sure that you are understanding what is going on with them. I think it is easy for me to say these things because I don’t have kids yet, but truly push to talk with them. Today it is so easy for people to put a tablet in front of their child and just let them interact with a screen so you can get you can destress from the work week or from chores. It is easy, but I challenge anyone with kids to eat dinner at the dinner table as a family, no distractions, and talk with your kids. Make sure that all of the phones are set aside so no one is distracted and just listen to them.
I believe you will be amazed to see what is going on with them. Kids are mendable and the habits that we create for them today can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Don’t let them live with things that are preventable just because we ended up becoming busy. Really make strides to help them out because there are things that they probably believe are normal that aren’t. Talk to them and get their perspective on things. You may even end up learning something you didn’t know from them.
Thank you for reading. I cherish every single one of you that end up reading these posts.
Until next time, this is living with ADHD.