From Birth to Hell
Living with A.D.H.D. In the Family

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With my hand on my heart, I can say, the first 9 Months with Katherine were the best. After that, it was a fast downhill run. Only now, at 10years old, are we starting the long climb back up. It has not been easy, and at times I could have gleefully killed my youngest daughter Katherine. Katherine was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. at the age of seven. To compound the problem, her older sister, Kirsty, has Cerebral Palsy. The hardest thing to do is to get the help you need in recognising that there is a problem. We were told that it was just her 'trying to get attention'.

At 9 months old, she wrecked her cot by bouncing up and down constantly until it was little more than firewood! "Put her in a bed," said the first doctor we talked to. Great idea as she had just started to walk. The first few nights went without incident, then all hell was let loose when I woke up to find that my cute little girl had got up and stripped all the wall paper off the bedroom wall. There was not a piece of paper on any of the walls, a professional decorator could not have done better. "Never mind," said the health visitor; "some babies are like that". Six more times we decorated her bedroom before, in the end, we just painted it and called it a day on redecorating.

"Try to keep her interested in something else." Good idea, but she never played with her toys, watched telly or talked. Playgroup was the next brainwave. Fine! Off we go on the first day, Katherine fell in love with a little red bike. Round and around she went at great speed and God help anyone, who got in her way, as she would run them over! This was fine for a few weeks. That was until a little boy also took a fancy to the little red bike and went for a little ride. Katherine took this as a personal attack, pulled the little boy off the bike by his jumper, and ran over him! When she was told off she bit the helper and kicked a second helper in the leg. We were asked never to take her again. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

'No was another obstacle. If you said "no" you where taking your life into your own hands. For example, "Katherine DONT STICK THE KNIFE IN THE ELETRIC SOCKET!!". You would swear that I was beating her with the way she would scream. Ha! I hear you say. All kids do that. But with Katherine it would be all day every day. If she had to do something she really had to do it with the passion of an obsessed person. In the first year we had 3 new videos what with the toast, spoons, money, passports, bankbooks, books and whatever else she could push in the little slot! There were days when she would try really hard to be good. Like the day she did the washing up in the downstairs toilet. Don't get me wrong, she never means to be bad and rarely remembers being bad. She never meant to scare anyone the day she was swinging from the upstairs window (outside of course) and she only wanted to see how far she could jump from the top of the stairs. She was only trying out the cord on the blind when she tied it around her neck and jumped from the banister or tested how hard you had to run at a wall before you knocked yourself out (not very hard at all as it happens). Three concussions we had with that little experiment and lots of stitches (and these are just the ones that I remember).

Things started to change for the better the day she cut her finger off at the doctors' surgery. I believed that finally, no one could say any more, that it was 'just a phase' or 'a cry for attention', 'she was just beginning the terrible two's' or all the other excuses that they came up with. I mean, she was only 2 1/2 years old now and she had behaviour problems. 'Wonderful' I hear you say. 'No' I reply, because we where still 4 1/2 years away from finding out what was wrong with her. The only difference now was we had a rule that we had to work to, reward her when she's good. The other side of this rule was 'take something away when she gets bad'. (Poor kid lost more than she ever gained and the problems got worse). Like the day she cut her sister's hair while she was asleep, or turned the freezer to defrost. Then there was the time she jumped out of a moving car, (yes the child locks where on but she had the window down so fast that I only had time to slow down).

The advice was coming thick and fast now, and being a mum at my wits end, I was willing to try any thing. "Shut her in a room away from you when she is really bad". This was 'great' advice as she loved to get her room redecorated. So off down that same old road, with her wrecking her bedroom and me, the mug, redoing it. This rule got a little adapted, (to the point where I locked myself in the bedroom.... Peace at any price!)

Shopping was another war zone. There is something really disconcerting about pushing a double buggy around a shop and hearing the loud speaker announce, "Would the mother of the little girl in the pink coat please pick her daughter up from customer service". Shock, horror, it's me! And when I get there, I find out that she has been helping herself to the Pick and Mix. When the assistant tried to 'remove' her she got bitten for her trouble! (Didn't like that supermarket much any way. I will just have to find another one)!

You could never take her back anywhere to say 'sorry' because she would never say sorry and 30 seconds later she was up to the same thing again anyway. "Ignore her", said someone else. "When she sees that she can't get to you, she will soon give in". (Not as fast as I did with that advice!!!) "Tap her on the hand", came from someone else. Only did this once and was too much of a coward to explain how I ended up with a black eye! And you know how you keep 'kidding' yourself, she will get over it, she's not that bad really, Tomorrow will be better, Next year will be better, it will get better. But it only gets worse! I did it; I kept saying those things and believed others. Then there's the big one; "it can't get any worse". Don't believe it! IT CAN AND IT WILL!

Every family at sometimes, takes a trip to the fair. We are no exception. So off we go to the fair, like anybody. Things were going well, that was until the aeroplane ride. To say it was a 'little slow', not really, it was the 'norm' for a child's ride. You know the kind, when it starts up it's at ground level, and then it goes up to about 6 foot high. Katherine decides that she no longer want to sit in the back and climbs into the front while the ride was moving. That ride ended pretty sharp! Ever hopeful, the day must go on, so unperturbed by the events on the first ride, we find another. (What am I thinking I must be mad). A water ride. Holding Katherine tight so that she can't go anywhere, off we go. All was well until, caught up in the moment, I let Katherine go and she went in (thankfully it was not deep). Oh no, oh no, off to home we go.

Christmas is a really tiring time. She wants the ridiculous to the absurd. A real 'My Little Pony' (have you ever tried to tell your child that a My Little Pony is not real when its on the telly and she convinced that it is real, no matter what you do. That's what she wants and its Hell on earth. In the end, we got a set of the toys which were promptly burned (ah fire I hear you yell). Yes, that's the start of a new thing. The curtains, the bed, the toys, (the fire brigade would have given us shares) Birthdays are another bit of fun. On one occasion we got her a little trike which became her horse. This came about as earlier in the day, we watched a western and the hero jumped onto his horse. Oh yes, very brave, as a few minutes later she jumped off the top bunk and onto the trike. She landed on the cross bar, and we all ended up down the hospital (life is full of such little surprises).

I can go on, honest! HELP!

Or the time when she smashed a glass in her room and hid the bits under her bed. A little later she rolled under her bed, having forgotten about the glass completely. There was blood everywhere so, back down the hospital where, by this time, she was back to her old self and running around the waiting room. A nice lady turned around and said to me "It's always the same, one minute they are dying and by time you get them here, they're fine." I was just about to say that Katherine had cut her leg open, when the little darling came over, moved the bandage down and said "Look mummy, I can make my leg talk". At this point the lady turned green! We got seen so much quicker! 8 stitches on that visit.

By now, the temper and violence are nearly at their peak. Katherine will now pick up the closest thing to hand. A toy, a book, a plate, cup, carving knife, and try throw it at you. Visiting family and friends were a thing of the past (not that by now there where many friends left that had not met the wrath of Kaz!) and were willing to put their life 'on the line'. And still the advice came. "Give her more responsibility and show her some trust". (Sure.... like this is going to work). So, ever hopeful, we tried it. Shopping (this is now done while she's in school. Oh thank-you school). I know she can take all the bathroom bits shampoo, shower gel, soap, toothpaste, and all that upstairs for me. So I put it all in a bag and ask her very nicely "Please empty the bag into the bathroom". (Yes, you're right). Everything had been emptied out. There were bottles all over the bathroom floor. This can not go on so up to the doctors. She got a lolly and a hug and I got anti-depressants and a referral to a consultant (hallelujah...they listened!) At the first meeting we were shown how to keep a chart to see if there was any 'ruling factor' to the being naughty. This turned in to a logbook of disasters.

School is another bone of contention. When you physically carry her into the classroom and she gets home before you do. You then take her back to school kicking and screaming like something from a cartoon. The head master does not see a problem but her schoolteacher has a stopwatch, which he uses to count the number of times she gets out of her chair. (We are down to 25-30 times in a morning). When her school report says 'getting Katherine to do anything for more than a minute is a major achievement'. Then we go back to the' trust factor'. Let her walk to school on her own (the school is only down the road). This rule is still being used only because it's the only way to get her there. After a few days you find out that she has been using the bridge as promised, but by walking along the outside of it, over the main road. Her trip to the police station for trying to set fire to her sister. My 'saving grace' came the day that she was given 'Ritalin' at the age of 7 years old. Don't get me wrong, things are far from ideal, but it has helped. There are days when I could gladly kill her or myself, but you get through them somehow, and if I was to tell you every big or little thing that she did this would be as long as War and Peace. There is now light at the end of the tunnel (even though, right now it's only a pinprick). But it's there; try not to despair and I will try anything once (twice if it works). I've been to hell and am now on my way back up but it's still a little warm where we are! Ritalin saved her life and me from a long prison sentence. I hope you enjoyed reading about Katherine and if you are going through the same sort of thing, there is help out there, you just have to shout loud enough to be heard!