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Feeling Overwhelmed

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    Feeling Overwhelmed

    This is my first time posting on Simply Classical, but as I was perusing threads that fit with the new diagnosis we just received for our 8 year old daughter, I also found that others have experience with children who deal with anxiety, which is what has our oldest has battled. After years of trying to figure out how to help our oldest child (now 12)/what was wrong, and numerous doctors, naturopaths, supplements, diagnoses,and medicine (finding that some medicines actually made her symptoms worse), I think we are finally at a more manageable place. The counselor and psychiatrist that work with her believe that she has a mood disorder, some sensory processing issues, and anxiety. Because my oldest needed so much help and her symptoms were so obvious, I didn't notice the difficulty my middle daughter was having with school until I started homeschooling both of them last year. Her frustration level about tasks that she had the ability to complete was not proportional to her intelligence, and I felt something was wrong.

    So, today, my husband and I just finished meeting with the psychologist that performed a complete battery of testing to determine where the frustration is coming from, and she has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression. I felt some relief that there really is something going on, and that now we know what it is and have some tools to help, but my husband and I also feel guilty and overwhelmed. It's so hard to hear that your children deal with anxiety or depression when they are so young and our hope and prayers for them are to be able to enjoy childhood and the wonder that goes along with it, not to be suffering with anxiety and depression. Our schoolroom is also a bit dramatic at times with our varied needs.

    All that to say, as we embark on supporting our middle child, what advice and resources do you Moms who have dealt with ADHD and depression recommend? The recommendation from the psychologist was that we seek some counseling to deal with depression and low self-image. As far as medication, she said we could see how counseling goes and determine whether it's needed after a few sessions. School recommendations are to take more breaks in between and use incentives to motivate her to do her best on school tasks.

    Thanks in advance for reading and any helpful ideas.
    Maran Grace

    DD12 Grade 7
    DD7 Grade 2
    DD3 Jr. Kindergarten

    Peachtree Corners, GA

    Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

    First, I am so sorry about your middle child. For us the unexpected diagnosis of a second child was harder in many ways than the first. Beware your own tendency to be overly discouraged, but do allow yourself time to be sad. This is hard! Put on "your own oxygen mask" for a little bit by doing what you enjoy, resting more, and eating well. They will need you long-term, so tend to mama.

    Our son battles both ADHD and depression. These have helped here:

    1. Planning ahead several things he enjoys, then writing them on the board and referencing them in our calendar overview of the upcoming days and weeks.
    In other words, make sure your daughter has things to look forward to. If it has been awhile since you interviewed her about her favorite things, favorite people, favorite places, favorite foods, favorite colors (redecorate her room?), this would be a good time to do so.

    2. Creating a habit of thankfulness.
    You can make your own thankfulness journal or use ours. If she is reluctant to write, allow a list format. Help her brainstorm before she writes, until she begins to see a few places, people, material possessions, daily events - big or small, and even trials as things for which to be thankful.

    3. Shift the focus.
    Your older daughter sounds reasonably stable, and you must continue to be vigilant with her. Now it might be time to shift the focus to the sometimes (or invariably?) hidden middle child. Without undue ceremony, you can simply make the shift in your own mind. What does she like to do? What talents does she possess that we never encouraged but now intend to? What artistic or musical or athletic or investigative or writing or other abilities does she possess? How might she cultivate these?

    4. Help her serve.
    Getting a depressed person outside of him or herself can be exceedingly helpful to recovery.

    5. Help her eat well.
    Examine her diet. Look up foods that boost mood or brain health without unnecessary calories or sugars. Help her eat better or in healthier ways with more water, less sugar, etc. If you search depression & diet, you will find good suggestions. Lots of water, fruits & vegetables, regular protein -- these are usually mentioned.

    6. Give her nature & exercise.
    If you camp or hike or have a nearby lake or river or mountain range, plan an unplugged outing. If you can combine nature & exercise, so much the better. If she likes to workout or swim or walk a track, consider a membership to the YMCA.

    7. Be relational.
    She may push you away, but she needs you. Be gentle if needed, but initiate and follow through. An afternoon at the art museum, a tea, a small or large gathering of her friends. Does she have a good friend or two? If not, this is a place to start. Nurture that mom-daughter closeness she will need as hormones begin to overtake.

    Of course all of this is outside the realm of Simply Classical academically, but we now have Myself & Others, which might be useful for you. If only as a starting point for conversations about healthy habits, mental & physical, Book Three could be a good place for her to start. This is just a 14-week course. You can stretch it out longer or teach Book Four immediately afterward.

    Others may have more suggestions. I just wanted to respond before signing off for the night here, because I know how it can feel. You will recover from even this new set of diagnoses, and in so doing, you will learn much that will help your daughter.


      Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

      It can be so difficult when you have a second child diagnosed with difficulties! My middle child's testing threw me for a major loop. So, it is okay to be sad.

      I don't have anything helpful for depression, but my oldest is diagnosed with ADHD and we're in the process of having my youngest diagnosed. I think my middle child may also have it, just the inattentive type.

      A couple of books:

      The first book is highly recommended. The last book deals specifically with ADHD and homeschooling, but it has been a long time since I've read it.

      For during school time, allowing some body movement can be very helpful. My son can be moving his body all around and still actually be paying attention. It is truly bizarre -- I will ask him a question to see if he has been paying attention to what I've been saying and almost always he will get the questions right. Also, just recognizing that paying attention can be difficult goes a long way. Sometimes it takes sitting at the elbow and saying -- okay next problem and giving lots of positive reinforcement.

      I hope this is helpful.

      A (10) - Barton, R&S math 3, SC 3
      C (9) - Barton, R&S math 2, SC 3
      G (5) - Simply Classical C


        Re: Feeling Overwhelmed


        I have had some "issues" with my middle child as well, for a long time. However, while we looked to "solve" some of his issues, we finally talked to the pediatrician some more this summer and she suggested he suffered from anxiety (I thought ADHD, and jury still out on that one). I am not sure why, but my husband is 100% against ADD meds, but when I came home from the doctor's office and said "she thinks its anxiety, not ADHD and she thinks he should try Zoloft he agreed 24 hours later. We have been doing it for about 6 weeks now. There was remarkable difference. He is still "him" and has struggles, but I feel like he can "hear" me now and we can begin to train him better now. He suffers from pretty much hating anything he doesn't want to do. He thinks everything will take forever. He is also very hard on himself if he makes a mistake in his work. (He missed a problem on a speed drill and went ballistic) I think we have our work cut out for us with him, but I feel like the medicine has made it so he does not flip out ALL.THE.TIME, which he was.

        I believe he has above average intelligence, but because his only speed is slow and he needs confidence, we opted to move from MPK to SC2 with him. It was a great decision. I do try to challenge him a bit in math, but more in oral work, than in his everyday written work. He actually really brings the challenge on himself, and I just try to encourage it or add to it. He likes to work with time. "When will we do or leave for x"? I will tell him the time and he likes to answer with the precise minutes. He also likes to work with money, make "change" etc. We do not do the tooth fairy, but we do go to the dollar store. The last tooth he lost he said "you don't need to bring any money mom, I have $1 Dad gave me." I said, "ok, that's great, but there is this thing called tax......... You actually need $1.07. He said, "I don't have 7 cents, but I do have a dime! They will give me 3 cents back!" So, we play a lot of those "games". It challenges him, but doesn't overtax him.

        A great big *hugs* to you!

        What are you using with your middle daughter? How is it going?

        DD1 8/23/09 - SC4
        DS2 9/1/11 - SC2
        DD3 2/9/13 - MPK

        Previous Years
        DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3)
        DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK)
        DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others!)


          Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

          Thank you for all of the encouragement and support! It really helps to know we're not alone, and I so appreciate the tips. Cheryl, you kindly replied to an email I sent at the end of the summer asking for advice about testing for my middle child, and one thing you recommended was to try an incentive chart. We implemented a star chart for focus and a good attitude for each subject, and that has made a big difference in cutting down tears and helping us get through each day.

          My middle daughter presents in a different way than my husband and I thought a child with ADHD would present, which is why we waited to test her. In a group of her peers, she is a leader and not disruptive or distracting. She also has a lot of compassion, loving to take care of people and bring along younger children into the group. She's my child who wakes up with an elaborate plan in mind, ready to implement it, although it usually makes a huge mess and turns out differently than she had in mind. For example, she may want to do a bake sale, but not just with cookies and lemonade. She wants it to include hot chocolate, lemonade, tea, and lunch options (sandwiches, salads), along with a few different baked goods. When we try to simplify, it throws her whole plan off. At the counselor's suggestion, we're going to try to have a project that requires many steps and systematically plan it out together. There's a home school co-op that has a market for kids to sell their homemade goods, and we're going to participate.

          Her depression stems from low self esteem. She doesn't see her gifts or importance (which breaks my husband and my heart) and anytime we affirm her or encourage her, she has a hard time receiving it or believing it. Our plan to help her build her self-esteem is to meet with a counselor and make a chart listing Bible verses of how God views her. She has an abundant amount of energy and she's involved in swim team at the Y, as well as ballet to have some outlets to burn some of that energy.

          School wise, we did Memoria Press' first grade full curriculum. It was fantastic because of the predictability, repetition, and mastery. She really grew in every area, and when she was tested, she was on grade level, and there was no concern with her ability to learn. This year, we are doing the full Memoria Press 2nd grade curriculum. We do reading, Latin, math, and spelling in the morning, and copybook, cursive, and enrichment in the afternoon. She loves enrichment and has surpassed my expectations in Latin. I thought there might be too much writing, but we break up the workbook into little chunks, and she loves saying her practical Latin phrases to my husband to show him all that she's learned. I haven't looked at the Simply Classical Curriculum for 2nd grade. What are the differences? Is it done at a slower pace?

          Again, I'm so very grateful for the help along the way. I appreciate your time in responding - it's such a blessing!
          Maran Grace

          DD12 Grade 7
          DD7 Grade 2
          DD3 Jr. Kindergarten

          Peachtree Corners, GA


            Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

            Listening in, as your daughter sounds just like mine!
            DS13: Mix of MP 7/8
            DS11: MP 5M
            DD9: MP 2/3 mix
            DS6: Public school 1/2 day kindergarten, plus outside OT, PT and speech


              Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

              mgrace, you are doing well! If you can modify MP 2nd, this may continue to work very effectively for her.

              SC is different because we include some bridges. For example SC 1 is similar to MP K, but then SC 2 is like a bridge to MP 1.

              We do not begin Latin formally until SC 4. We introduce it gently in SC 3.

              We hope to release a complete overview to assist with comparisons. Until then, you can feel confident doing exactly what you are doing, learning more about your daughter as you go.

              I apologize that this answer slipped through the the cracks, but I hope that is helpful.