The last resort

September saw the start of school and the continuation of all of the Roc’s after school stuff: swimming lessons, music therapy, OT, skills training.

First day of 3rd grade.


Holy cow.  Only one more year after this one and then he will be on to middle school.  That fact boggles my mind and makes me want to dig in my heels and slow the earth down.  I’m not ready.

The adjustment into 3rd grade has resulted in more pull outs for academics, a few notes about “tricky” and “hard” mornings and/or afternoons, and once I got email letting me know that the day was “up and down all day.”  These notes and emails make me worry and think that he’s having multiple long and loud outbursts.  I spend a lot of time worrying and trying to ask the Roc details about his day, of which I get few.

While talking to a good friend who has a son with ADHD, who isn’t on anything, I realize that we are at a certain point when she says,

“I have to feel like we’ve done everything.  EVERYTHING else, and drugs would be a last resort.”

The Roc is understanding that things are harder for him than other children, that his volcano (his term for his big feelings) is bigger than most, and he has said things in the last few months that break my heart.  So when she says her last resort comment my mind flashes through all that we have done and lands on the image of the Roc grabbing his head recently and shouting,

“Why am I this way?  Why does my brain do this? I don’t want to be this way!”


“I don’t like the way I AM!!  What is WRONG with me?!!”

I realize we may be at that point, that last resort.  Because it’s more than academics, his self worth is at stake.

So in mid-September the Roc and I take a ride downtown to visit the developmental ped to talk about what big pharma can do to help him.  A road we haven’t taken.  A place we have been avoiding.  I spent a good chunk of time researching what I think the good doctor may recommend before our appointment and end up leaving without a prescription, but an offer to call it in if we want it.  I do more research and spend time talking to the Roc about how he feels about his volcano and medicine to help control it.  I call in the prescription and then go away for a weekend without picking it up.

I come back from my weekend away to GC telling me how well his weekend with the Roc was.  How they went bowling one morning and the Roc sat himself down and took a few deep breaths when he got upset about not knocking down enough pins.  How he said, “I’m thinking cool thoughts, like J taught me.”  (J is his skills trainer, and they have been working on the Roc’s explosions for months.)

GC and I attend the Roc’s IEP at the end of September and I walk into the building with a familiar sense of dread.  I’m not looking forward to hearing all the ways the Roc is behind and details about his outbursts.

When did I become a pessimist?

I am taken aback when the team tells me that although the Roc is still exploding, sometimes multiple times a day, the outbursts are shorter and he is calming himself down quicker.  GC and I make eye contact.  I didn’t expect to hear this.  I tell the team I am surprised, I had thought he was being more disruptive than he was the year before?

Maybe all that we are doing is working?  Maybe we do not need to fill the prescription?  After the meeting is over GC and I talk about all the little things that have slowly been changing with the Roc and also all the outbursts that still wreck havoc on our day to day lives.  GC tells me I cannot see the forest through the trees.  That I am holding onto what is hard and not seeing the things that are changing.  I wonder if he is right?  Did I become a pessimist?

I pick up the prescription, just in case.

We go back and forth.  Should we try the RX?  Should we wait?  What about the side effects?  Oh man, the side effects…

While riding in the car to OT one afternoon I start to ask the Roc questions about his volcano.  He tells me that he has a hard time controlling it.  I ask if he wants to try the medicine we talked to the doctor about.  He pauses and says, “Maybe I will be able to control it myself?…and if I can’t then I can try it?”

I swallow hard and blink back my tears.  I watch him in the rear view mirror as he watches the farm fields slip by.


The RX bottle sits unopened on my dresser.

On the hard days I wonder what we are waiting for, and on the smooth(er–because there is always something to scream about in this house,) I think he (and we) can do this.

I guess we haven’t made it to the last resort yet.


6 thoughts on “The last resort

  1. Oh my goodness Kim. This is the hardest of the hard decisions. But the fact that you’re including him in it is huge. You will figure it out, if and when, time and place. Big hugs from here.

  2. Oh, this is so familiar. We too viewed meds as a last resort. We struggled with this decision for years. We consulted. We got prescriptions and didn’t fill them. We filled them and didn’t give them. Eventually we did give them. And it was a struggle. We changed meds. We saw negative side effects. We changed meds again. We stopped meds for months. We started them again. We stopped again. We changed again. There is no one correct path. I think including your son in the decision is a smart one. I will say that after a couple years of really struggling I think we have found a med that genuinely helps our son control his anxiety and without obvious side effects. The tipping point for us was that our son was telling us he was unhappy. We some him paralyzed by anxiety he was powerless to control.

    You are doing the right thing. Proceed carefully. Consider everything. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. You — and your son — know what’s best for him.

    Best wishes for wisdom as you proceed down this path.

  3. Another beautifully written post.
    He continues to do so beautifully and you and GC support him so well!
    I dont feel so strongly about medication( the feeling that its a last resort) I think though I understand that others can.

  4. Yup, this is so us. I’ve had an unfilled prescription paper riding around in my wallet since June. As you said, on the hard days I think we need to take that step and then we will have a good day and I feel like we can do this without the help of the Rx.
    It’s so tough but I think it’s great that the Roc can help you figure out what and when the right thing is to do.

  5. Trust your instincts. And try to remember that no decision needs to be a final decision. A decision for “right now” is a better way to think of it — we try things, they work or they don’t, and we try something else. Sending hugs.

  6. We tried meds in Kindergarten and then in 3rd/4th grade. Now that Kyle is in 5th grade the outbursts seem (to me) to be getting worse (the school assures me they are the same as last year), we are thinking of the meds again. I keep dragging my feet. I don’t like the side effects. They didn’t work before so I’m not sure they’d work this time. But, like your son, he has said to me he wants to be like everyone else. “mom, what if I’m like this when I’m older?” and the worst “This world would be a better place if I wasn’t in it.” These remarks are hard to hear. I want him to feel good. To feel safe. To feel happy. Would meds help that?? I have no idea. Maybe third times a charm? Good luck with your decision!

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