Today I found myself talking openly and confidently about my sons recent battles with anxiety and depression. I realized…as I was talking…how versed I’d become on it and how I was not speaking in hushed tones or with worry about who might hear.
As a result, the person I was speaking to, did not avert her eyes or look around nervously. She was not afraid to ask me very direct and quite frankly, intelligent questions! It was, for what seems like the first time, me bringing someone up to speed on my sons medical condition with all the same normalcy that I would have exuded if I were explaining the details of diabetes or asthma.
Because I chose to go against everyone’s advice and criticism in the way I decided to handle my young son’s differences, I had to become well educated on his situation and surround myself with intelligent and forward thinking medical professionals to guide me in our journey.
Now I am comfortable saying that my son suffers from a genetic propensity to a chemical imbalance in his brain that is successfully treated with medication. I don’t struggle to find the words to describe how, as my son grows, his body changes and so does his chemical needs; therefore, we sometimes find ourselves going through the frustrations of trying new medication(s) until we find the right fit, much in the way a diabetic’s insulin needs change over time. I spoke confidently about the fact that once my son reaches about 25-ish years old and his body has finished growing, his chemical needs will likely stay fairly consistent. Of course, major life events or big swings in body weight can still affect him, but it will not be quite as difficult as during these growing years, especially now that he understands himself and has developed a trusting relationship with his medical doctors.
My generation treated people with Brain Differences as flawed humans. Many, like myself, did not receive the kind of continuous care we needed from an early age, like my son has, and as a result turned to other vices to self medicate. This only masks the real issues and feeds that notion that we are flawed and will never achieve consistency or normalcy. Having an addiction in addition to the chemical differences can prevent people from ever finding stability.
By grabbing the reins early in my sons life, I can say with certainty that he is leading a new generation of kids into a world where they don’t have to turn to self medication and live with constant uncertainty about how they will feel from day to day. He is learning how to care for his, fairly common medical condition, and can recognize when he sees changes that would require a visit to the doctor, just like a child with diabetes would.
Today was a step forward to normalizing the conversation around my sons differences so that they are seen for exactly what they are…treatable medical conditions. Not something to be afraid or ashamed of.
This self realization has inspired me to continue to spread the “normalcy!”
I hope, in-turn to inspire others (you!) to join me.