Mommy, is there something wrong with my brain?
Ironically, we were driving to her counseling appointment when the topic came up. She had overheard a conversation between one of her teachers and a classmate earlier that week in which the teacher described children with anxiety and ADHD as having “something wrong with their brain.” I will never forget the sadness and confusion in her voice. She looked at me in the mirror and said “is that true Mommy, is there something wrong with me?” The momma bear inside of me fiercely wanted to turn around and go to the school to set this lady straight. I wanted to tell her how deeply she had hurt my little girl. But instead I put on a straight face and looked my daughter in the eye and said “no sweet girl, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, your brain is simply wired differently.”
It was then that I remembered a conversation I had with a friend a couple years ago, right around the time my daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD. She shared that she too has ADHD but that while she was growing up her family always viewed it as her “superpower.” I immediately shared this with my daughter and we started to brainstorm about the many superpowers that ADHD has given her – amazing creativity, limitless energy, and boundless persistence!
This was so empowering for her, to be able to see that this “label” that she’s been given could be viewed positively!
Sadly, these labels are a necessary part of our children’s lives. They have to be in place in order to get them the resources and tools they need to be successful in the classroom and to prepare them to thrive in adulthood. But there’s always been something different about these labels. Mental health diagnoses carry a different stigma than any sort of medical diagnosis. There is this misconception that by going to see a psychiatrist or a counselor your child must be dangerously out of control, or that by medicating your child you are doing something shameful.
We make it no secret in our home, school or community that she has struggled with anxiety/ADHD since she was in preschool. We have found that by doing this we have helped normalize the importance of mental health and regular counseling appointments. Consider this, if a provider told you that your child had any other type of medical problem; diabetes, heart disease or hypothyroidism, would you even think twice about it? As a parent, the goal is always to do what is in the best interest of the child. For these kids it means giving them all the tools they need to succeed, along with setting them up for success at an early age so they are able to gain the self-confidence they need to be well adjusted and thriving adults.
This post is written by guest blogger Jessica who is a proud gymnastics and hockey mom. She has a darling nine year daughter & a spunky five year old son. She’s a proud Air Force wife & and loves to spend time reading, camping, gardening or simply relaxing when she’s not supporting one of her kiddos at their events! By day, she spends her time taking care of students as a school nurse here in CNY.