Friday, January 22, 2016

My daughter has ODD and that's okay.

We are all different people with different quirks, different personalities, and we all behave different. Some of us are boringly sane while others are what society calls crazy. I always thought of the homeless man walking down the street yelling at himself as mentally ill. Never would I have
imagined that mentally ill could come packaged as a beautiful six year old girl. I mean kids are just naturally sweet and playful, right? I learned really quick that mental illness takes all shapes and forms and this is my first time writing about it. I have a daughter with a mental illness. In fact I have two of them! It's been nearly seven years since I first heard the term ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and now I have a second child with it. You know what though? That's okay. Let me tell you what I see compared to what others see. Before I do that though I want to share with you the symptoms of ODD for anyone who may be dealing with similar situations.

WebMD lists:
Symptoms of ODD may include:
  • Throwing repeated temper tantrums
  • Excessively arguing with adults
  • Actively refusing to comply with requests and rules
  • Deliberately trying to annoy or upset others, or being easily annoyed by others
  • Blaming others for your mistakes
  • Having frequent outbursts of anger and resentment
  • Being spiteful and seeking revenge
  • Swearing or using obscene language
  • Saying mean and hateful things when upset
In addition, many children with ODD are moody, easily frustrated, and have a low self-esteem. They also sometimes may abuse drugs and alcohol.

My daughter has almost every symptom listed above. The temper tantrums are more like hours long bouts of her screaming in a way that sounds like an infant in a megaphone. Nothing calms her we have to just let her scream until she can't scream any longer. People who have seen this have been shocked. They think she's being bad. I know she's just so full of anxiety that she's overwhelmed and can't express it any other way. I'm just thankful she's not lashing out at anybody. When my older daughter was about six or seven she would hit, kick, spit, and scream at me. Devony will be violent sometimes, but for the most part she uses her sounds and voice to get the shock value she craves.

My girls are such masters at arguing they can sometimes stump me. That's when I do they because I said so response. That doesn't work with a child with ODD. I really believe they both have golden futures as lawyers. Leanna (My older daughter) will ask for a dollar when you agree she tries for two, then three, etc etc. Okay, so she'd make a good car saleswomen too. Devony at six is just learning her negotiating skills. They usually involve tantrums (see above paragraph).

I don't know if the reason they would be so mean to people was because they themselves were hurting. I know my six year old has separation anxiety from me. Oddly we've never been away from each other for even one night. Up until within the last two years I was sure my older daughter hated me. They are so different yet they are the same. The outcast kids, the kids everyone thinks are trouble, the kids no one wnats to play with. Then it hit me THEY ARE JUST LIKE I WAS! I admit I wasn't as mean or abusive as them, but I sure did have a massive case of ADHD! So I could only image what adding on the ODD part must be like. How sad they must be and the feeling of being left out. It hurts me to know deep down they are hurting and there's nothing I can do about it. That is the most helpless feeling I have ever had as a parent.

Society sees the child who just called her mother a bitch. I see the child who hasn't left my side since the day she was born. The child who suffers with a kidney conditions that cause terrible infections and painful testing. I see a child who can't sleep at someones house because she can't stay dry through the night. I see the child that still refers to me as her best friend. I see a teenager with dreams and aspirations. A young girl who struggles to fit in somewhere, anywhere.

We made the choice to medicate our younger daughter for her ADHD as she is in first grade and still doesn't know all her letters and numbers. She was in trouble everyday, or as she would say I was on red again. She is now just a shell of who she was before the meds, but she's functioning the way society feels she needs to. She goes to therapy every two weeks to learn how to conform. I pray she becomes like her older sister and with time, consequences, therapy, and love will improve without the medication.

If any of this sounds familiar to you because your child shows symptoms get help as soon as possible. Without it these kids are high risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Many become criminals. I know I talk a lot about society and how these kids are seen, but there are some issues that need resolved. Know you're not alone. I think that was the hardest feeling for me when Leanna was young. I just felt like a failure as a parent. Now I have a huge support system of other mothers with children like mine. Children who are hell to wake up and sometimes make it very hard to get close to. Mothers with bruises on their skin and hearts.

In the end an adult was once a child who was fought for or forgotten. I will fight because where society sees a mentally ill person. I see unlimited potential! I see a child with the whole world in her hands.

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