Mama Bear? Sounds about right...


by: Aubrey Page, Founder

The other day I took my kid to the Orthodontist for a consultation. The Ortho was incredible and called me "Mama Bear" from the moment she met me.
Did she ACTUALLY know my full-time, terribly paid job of advocating for my kids?
OR maybe she know I had been hibernating for almost a year? Not hibernating in the way that bears do. Bears usually just tuck away for the winter and come out in spring ready to rock. I tucked away for wayyyy longer than that.
As many of you know, my family went into crisis last spring. I tried to push through what I thought was a temporary situation. It ended up being much more serious and permanent than we thought. We are just now starting to find our footing.
Last September when FASD Awareness Month rolled around my brain just...went into hibernation. I had plans and ideas and they just could not come to fruition.
I got to where I couldn't help with any household task. Many days, my husband would have to bring me dinner in bed because I was incapable of using my brain during dinner to hold conversations. I fondly refer to it as a "coma", but really it was torture. My executive functioning was completely offline.
I assumed it was a symptom of depression brought on by hard times at home. I was desperate to get it fixed and be able to live life again. I contacted my doctor and asked for a referral to mental health. "3 months," they said. 3 months for an appointment they said.
Uh. No.
That's not how mental health works...I can't wait 3 months. So I reached out to my local VA and they got me in within 2 weeks. It took two months and a genetic test to get me on the right anti-depressant, but I started to feel the weight of depression back away.
I would meet with my doctor monthly and say "I feel depression is going away, but the brain fog is still so intense." We would raise my antidepressants and still be in this space of my neurological coma.
Then my sister sent me a graphic that changed my life. My coma wasn't wasn't laziness...I wasn't broken in a traditional sense. My brain just operated in a way that it needed excessive amounts of dopamine and that wasn't happening much these days.
I realized that I likely had ADHD, BUT I'll admit...I was suspicious. Isn't EVERYONE saying they have ADHD these days? Executive dysfunction can be caused by depression, anxiety, and PTSD...all of which I have. Maybe it is one of those things?
The only way to KNOW was to take meds. ADHD meds don't help brains that don't scientifically function in the way that ADHD meds are designed to function. This is why so many individuals with ADHD struggle with stimulants. The exterior symptoms may look the same, but the brain chemistry is different for FASD and ADHD.
So I asked my doctor to let me try it out and I am so thankful that she was open to this option with me. We started "low and slow" like I like to do with all medications. Is it doing something? I expected heart palpitations and narrowed focus. The next day I tried 10mg (as allowed by my doc).
Suddenly, I found myself putting dishes in the dishwasher. INSIDE THE DISHWASHER. Listen, for months now I had barely been able to microwave a meal. Now I am doing the dishes!? I didn't have a racing heartbeat and I wasn't hyper. My brain just finally gave me access to the control panel again.
Adderall has truly changed my life. But this is not without a cost. There has been some grieving to the fact that I can't just "try harder" and make my brain obey. But there has also been some celebration over finding accommodations that truly work for me.
It has also been really incredible to share this journey with my kids. My brain IS different. This explains why I "get" other nuerodiverse people better. It explains how I know the reasons behind why people do what they do so much easier than my husband. Now, we joke around that HE'S the weird one because he is nuerotypical.
This journey has taken me away from advocacy for a long time. It has also ignited a new fire in me to teach and change the system.
So buckle up! Mama Bear is ready to fight again! I am leaving hibernation and I am ready to change things for those with brain-based disabilities again.
If you want to learn and grow and change the system with me...stay tuned. Big things are to come.
[Also, if you are a parent of a child with ADHD, be sure to check out my friend Yakini's course on Supporting Kids with FASD! I have learned so much from her! She also interviewed me about my ADHD here.]

TELL ME: Have you realized you were ND from your kid's experience?


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