His Ego Approximates to That of the Psychotic

Is my son "normal?"

I always argued he was. Even when he was 15 months old and moving furniture around the living room. Even when people continually used the code word "active" to explain to me how "bad" he was. Even when he was three years old and had a vocabulary of about 20 words. Even when a pediatrician treating my other child pulled me aside after 15 minutes in the room with him and explained that he could be referred for his behaviour.

He's mine. He's normal. And even if he isn't I don't want you medicalising his behaviour.

But he's not. Not, really. And everyday it breaks my heart to see him struggle to live in a normal world with abnormal actions and feelings.

He's not bad. He's sweet and loving and generous to the core. He's the child that manages to share just two cookies among 5 friends, always looking to make sure he's not forgotten someone.

But he's also the child that gets up at 5:00am, climbs onto the counters to reach the cookies hidden in the cupboards and then hides and hoards them in his room. He's the child that obsesses over foods of all kind, from absolute hates of anything vegetable-related to absolute fixations on carbs and sugars.

Not normal. Right?

He's smart as a whip. He has an old soul and regularly spouts insights that astound me. He's the child who can rationalise anything by analysing it.

But he's also the child that spends 2 hours in a tantrum almost every day after school. He's the child who struggles so hard to read and has the most difficult time understanding simple concepts. He's the child that still can't button buttons or zip zippers even though his younger sister has been doing it for ages.

Not normal. Right?

He's so responsible. At five I can leave him in charge of his younger sister and brother for a couple of minutes outside while I run into the house to grab my camera or drinks for everyone. He can walk to the store by himself. He's the child that reports the class bully for bullying a friend and guides the younger kids at the playground.

But he's also the child that lies constantly. He sometimes doesn't even seem to know the difference between an outright lie and the truth and those who don't know him can be easily misled. He can't be trusted to follow rules - at least not at home. Even simple ones that he's known for years. He will challenge even though he knows it will end in his defeat.

Not normal. Right?

He's jovial and social. Everyone at school is his friend. He takes just moments to find someone to play with at the playground.

But he doesn't have a best friend. And he can't stand new situations and people. He turns into a quivering, self-doubting boy when faced with unfamiliar surroundings. Despite his jovial nature he is in constant torments of anger. He'd like to buy a gun and shoot me. He wants to burn our house down with everyone in it. He knows I hate him and he wants to kill himself.

Yes, my five year old has told me he wants to kill himself.

Not normal. Right?

He wets the bed. He has horrible nightmares. He has a completely irrational fear of abandonment. His self-doubt cripples him in many situations while his grandiose ideas endanger him in others.

Yes, he's a boy. Yes, he's only five. But I know something's not right. Little pieces of  "oh that's normal, my cousin's son is just like that" add up to a whole of not-normal

So finally we realise that arguing he is normal is actually wrong. He's not. I'm almost certain of it. And whatever it is - whether ADHD or Bipolar Disorder or Oppositional Defiance Disorder or whatever - that makes him different could possibly be treated and then he might have a chance to be happy and content with himself.

But once we finally realise that and decide to face it, everyone argues with me that he's normal. His teacher thinks he's fine. The pediatrician is not at all alarmed. Even friends who previously expressed doubts about him are now trying to reassure me.

Is it not bad enough that I question myself every minute of every day, must I also be questioned by everyone else too?

Some days I wonder if I told the world he was white they'd argue that he's black.


  1. wow that is powerful and really gripping writing. So sorry you are struggling.

  2. Wow, not sure what to say except that you as his mother know him best. I hope you can get the help that you need soon, keep persevering with the doctors. xx

  3. Parts of this sound like me at that age. I was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder as a teenager, and I believe that it was caused simply by the fact that I saw myself as "different" from everyone else and because of that, I questioned everyone and everybody - especially my parents. I defied them all the time. I've thought about killing myself at times too. When I was in 6th grade, my parents cancelled our cable subscription and I thought it was the end of the world. I still have trouble keeping things in perspective sometimes.

    I would recommend finding something that your son really enjoys doing - some sort of extra curricular activity. Be it a sport, music, or for me it was theatre, it will give him something that he genuinely enjoys to take him away from the pain he feels other times. He will also make friends as a result of the activity.

    Theatre gave me something to look forward to almost every day and I am now pursuing it in college. He might just see himself as different from everyone else and because of this has trouble fully relating to other people.

    Best wishes.

  4. He is your boy and he is unique. You need to decide what you want to change or try to work on and go from there. What is normal anyway. I see some of those traits in my two and we are working to iron them out. I was a very angry child at times and too wanted to be dead. I hope you get some help in making the right choices for you as a family and cherish the great things about what sounds a very special little boy

  5. I say sod what they think they know, he's your child and only you know what he is going through. If you are worried, as you evidently are, and you think that some sort of help would make his life easier then do it.
    Personally I find that other people know jack sh*t when it comes to most things! People will always have opinions but they don't have all the facts.
    Really powerful writing by the way. You're so talented.

  6. I'm sorry you're going through something so difficult. I do feel like people love to alarm mothers but the second a mother is alarmed - she must be blowing things out of proportion.

    So, I'm saying, I believe you.

  7. I believe you. And if your pediatrician isn't listening, find another one. Because whether he's "normal" or "not normal", you need to feel heard and taken seriously. And then you and your doctor can figure out what is best for your son. Whether it is a diagnosis or reassurance or something in between.

    And I'm sending some good thoughts (and prayers if you are into that sorta thing) to you and your family as you figure this out.


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