Thursday, March 12, 2009

Excellent Advice From The Best Psychiatrist Ever (IMHO)

I finally completed my ADD testing saga with a trip to a psychiatrist to discuss my case and discuss medication options. I did all my testing with a psychologist at the University while I was a student and TEN weeks of forms, interviews, histories, more paperwork, lots of talk, and three boxes of kleenex later-- I got the diagnosis of adult-ADD. Then I had to wait a couple months to get in to to see a psychiatrist and go over my options.

The woman psychiatrist, let's call her Dr. Wisemother, I ended up seeing could not be more perfectly matched to my profile if I had spent years researching choices. Really. She has FOUR boys, the youngest of which is 20 years old, so she has been there. I doubt there is anything I could say that she hasn't wrestled with herself or she wouldn't have sound advice or thoughts on. She has an excellent sense of humor and appreciates mine. She is smart, helpful and can weave an entertaining anecdote into any diagnosis. Seriously.

All that, and she can prescribe medication!!

But getting onto the advice thing... If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you know that I've been in therapy, my hubby and I are in marriage counseling, one of my sons has ADHD, so HE is in therapy, the other one was briefly in therapy for being "sensitive," and the youngest has been working with an OT for various little things like pushing over the little ones at school and drooling: So LOTS OF THERAPY!.... And Dr. Wisemother just whipped out this piece of advice in the first 15 minutes that just rocked my world.

A little bit more set-up for you: The main issue that brought us to marriage counseling has to do with the differing ways that Daddy-007 and I deal with the kids. He is, as he puts it, Captain HardAss. I am all about unconditional love alternating with extreme frustration and frazzlement. Probably a pretty typical marital dynamic (I know it was that way growing up in MY house - minus the yelling), but we had turned our arguments about the kids into a pathological fighting response between US (who cares what the kids thought, right? *shaking my head in disbelief*) over who was parenting the "right" way and "wrong" way. Neither of us could let go of our "foundations," i.e. how we were raised by our parents. I am pleased to report that the counseling has done wonders for us and has truly brought us back together in a way that has been missing for a long time. And, though still a work in progress, has made it possible for us to disagree about something without it turning into a complete war of attrition.

So, Dr. Wisemother asked me about why we had started counseling initially and I explained.... She looked me in the eye and she said, "Do you think he is abusing the kids?" And I said, "No! Not at all! He is just so hard on them all the time." And she said, "Look: Kids are insanely intelligent/intuitive when it comes to social interaction and the family dynamic. And when they look at you your husband, all they are going to say is 'Oh, that's just Dad.' or 'That's just Mom.' Because that is all they know! They'll grow up and they'll say, 'Oh, yeah, Dad is such a hardass and Mom is such a pushover.' And hopefully they'll know that Dad was so hard on them because that is how he shows that he loves them. And that Mom was such a pushover because that's how she knew how to love them. And if they need therapy, then they need therapy; but that is not YOUR problem. The way you interact with your husband, if you are running to "protect" the kids everytime he comes down on them is what will cause the kids to have issues, NOT the different ways that you handle parenting. You just need to let it go. And enjoy! I know you hear it all the time, but they'll grow up and be gone before you know it and they'll be fine."

I could go on for more and may continue on this theme tomorrow. I have to get Animal to school so we can make it to a meeting at Destructo's school to discuss his ADHD school plan at 8:45. I am wondering, though, does every house have this dynamic? Is this advice that would have made a difference if I'd gotten five years ago? Does it help YOU? I think it is so simple, so profound, and I wish that I had figured out that it is not MY problem a long, long time ago....


p.s. Sorry for any typos-- no time to go over this until later this afternoon.


  1. Whoa! Great advice! I have a Captain Hardass too! Good to know that it's not that bad...

  2. It's so nice to hear that you've had advice that you really really need to hear. That's the best times to get really good advice...when you really really need to hear it.

    Now who's going to get me therapy for reading your blog? ha ha!

  3. I'm more of the Cpt HA in my house, really. I'm more of the disciplinarian. But I'm also more of the hands on, get on the floor and play kind of mom.

    I "swore" when I was pregnant that I would let my husband find his own way in his parenting role. In doing so, he turned to me a lot more than I anticipated- seeking advice and how-to's. So then when he felt ready to run on his own, I was still harping on him about how to do things.

    So I'm back to backing off. I don't always agree with what he does or says but I do my best to save it for when the time is appropriate to bring it up.

    So my home dynamic is different than yours- but it's also hard to say where we will be in a few years when we are dealing with school and more activities and peer groups and all that!!

  4. Oh Girl! You are living my life. Just add a few more kids and step-dad to the equation. The dynamics in this house are unbelievable.

  5. Whew, I can feel the relief you felt when she said that. MY hub & I keep coming back to this question: Do the kids KNOW we love them? That's the biggee, no matter what else is going on.

  6. That's great advice I think... I went through a lot of testing for ADD as an adult and finally got the testing/information/Rx I needed about a year ago. It's changed my life and my whole family dynamic. I applaud your desire to take this all seriously and do everything you can for the whole family... It's just awesome in my humble opinion.

  7. I always say simple is hard. It is hard to see for yourself such a simple perceptive statement. It is simple to say you are always responsible for only your feelings. That is so hard to act on. I look forward to hearing how you tackle the simple responsibilities.

  8. yep...that's our house except that I'm the hard-ass and he's too soft !!!

    lots of conflict !!!

    and ours are 17 and 21....what a ride !!!

  9. Amy - You cannot believe how much I needed to hear this -- all of this -- today. Our parenting dynamic is very similar (although we've never fought about it much; my husband being more interested in himself/my attention than the kids). I've had something happen which made me feel that I've really let down my child . . . and I dunno, but this put it into perspective for me.

  10. Both my husband and I are hard asses - but he is a softie for his girls. Come to think of it, he defends the boys when they get in trouble. Ok. Ok. I'm the hard ass. Are you happy now?

  11. That sounds exhausting. But I'm in your corner, and I'm glad that you found such an awesome therapist.

    I appreciate your honesty and that you are willing to put yourself out there like this. If we're honest, we all have this stuff. My hubby and I were at war for a few years (over moving... we should talk!) and it was NOT good for the kids, or us. It's better now, but I know where you are coming from.

    As for my own experiences, we sure fought that fight over the kids in our house. And the funny thing is... I tend to waiver between hardass and softie, but for those first years I just could NOT tolerate it when he tried to be the disciplinarian even for a moment. Somehow it was okay for me, but I was scared that he would turn into a verson of my own dad who was a definite authoritarian hardass. I would jump to their defense with excuses and "well, she's just overtired and hungry..."

    And while that is great advice from your therapist, I have a hunch that the mother's instinct to protect our young is so strong, that no amount of good advice can change a damn thing in the early parenting years. It's biology baby. But it makes my shoulders relax a little to hear it now.

    And as I read that, I thought of my own parents, and that was definitely how I summed them up at the end of the day.

    Amy I enjoy your blog so much! You feel like a real sister friend to me! Here's a hug and a margarita just for you! {{hug}}

  12. I dont understand how it cannot be your problem? You live in the same house, same children,same future together...How do you not have this become about you? I believe that our children will let us know how to parent them if we listen . If one child is sensitive,be kind, If one child is a rebel be in control , and if one child will not speak talk to him.........xoxo P

  13. Oh Amy, so you have a boy in therapy for being too sensitive? That doesn't make any sense to me. My son is also too sensitive and I always thought this is a great thing for him. Well, I'm not a captain of anyhting. Maybe a captain of my own drunken boat. As for my son - and your's too - he will probably suffer a bit more, but I hope he will have that sort of creative urge, that unquietness that I sometimes see in your writings. I once used to go to a therapist either. After some months the only thing that kept me close to his clinic was the monthly - and then weekly - prescriptions. He could talk about everything, from Baudelaire to Football and I always needed someone like that, a refined drug dealer. At the end I found out it was all obviously way superficial. I will never ever try to smooth my edges.

  14. did you email me the comment from okoss ? I think his comment was beautiful and so true!!

  15. I'm so glad you and Daddy 007 are doing well and that you found a terrific Psychiatrist that you love. All this heartwrenching work is serving a greater good for you and your beautiful family.


Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.