My son has to take medications every day to be “normal”. So far the meds are mostly effective, though this is our third try on the right combination. For now, it works. It is a real worry, I always wonder how long they will work or when they will stop working, and will something else work as well, or is this just a lull? His body is growing too fast for them to work very long.
I always remind him this is how his brain is wired, that he is not defined by his illness. He perceives his life before medication as “when he was bad”. I do my very best to correct him, gently, so he will be forgiving and accepting of himself.
My neighbor’s son is off his medication right now. He is exactly like my son is without his meds, always in trouble. The inner torment is terrifying. These kids who have no control know that they are doing wrong, they just are helpless to stop it, as much a victim as any other. They end up hating themselves, hating the body and brain that won’t cooperate with their good little hearts. They wish themselves dead. They are miserable. No kid should have to live like that. Mental illness is not their fault.
The next time you see a child acting up, please don’t condemn him or her, nor the parents. If you have to say something, just say something neutral, not anything shaming or blaming. “We don’t do that.” or “Time for the next activity!” Even better: “Hey, I like that shirt, where did you get it?” Just natter on at them about Spiderman, because a creature that occupies multiple universes is awesome, and very distracting. Children need our support, not our condemnation. Show them how to resolve the situation without negativity. Because they already get that elsewhere, trust me.
Yesterday my unmedicated neighbor boy hurt my son, more than once. The first time I was looking the other way, and I don’t know what prompted it, if it were accidental or not. The second time they were horsing around, play-fighting, which my son is not allowed to do in case he really hurts another child (only dedicated diligence prevented this in his earlier years). I told him to stop. He did not.
He got accidentally hit in the mouth and now has a wiggly tooth. He cried a lot and ate some ice, but the best part was his reaction. He did not hit back, either time. He did not lash out. He came to me for help. I am so proud of him for doing the right thing, both times. He has come so far, in his learning. Not all of it is medication, he is making good choices, too.
I told our neighbor boy that my son is not allowed to play fight anymore. I said someone always seems to get hurt, it’s just not a good idea. He was in agreement. We also agreed it is probably better to play games instead, and more fun. Hopefully he remembers. I know our conversation did not hurt his feelings. He is having a really hard time without his medicine, I did not want to make him feel worse. He is a very good kid. He just has no control right now. I know how it is. I have a son like that.