image via Flickr, David Goehring
While the experience I’m about to share occurred 15 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Its message is as valid today as it was when I was blessed to have had my Laundromat experience.
As Divine Order would have it, I found myself in a laundromat two weeks ago. My plans were to run inside, quickly place my clothing in the washing machine, run to the grocery store, return to the laundromat, place my clothing in the dryer, swing by the hardware store, return to laundromat, and scurry home with my clean clothes in basket.
This, however, was not my destiny.
Rather, I spend two hours at the laundromat that night listening to a story — an all too-true story that I want to share. I hope that it will illustrate the painful truth of my reflections, the serious impact ADD has on the quality of life, and the tremendous need that we must all work to meet.
This is the story of the woman who proctors the events that occur in this laundromat. She watches the people. She cleans the washers. She wipes the tables. She sweeps the floor. And she talks…
She works at the laundromat part-time.
She’s been divorced twice.
Her 10-year-old son has a hard time in school.
He struggled for a long time–was held back a grade and was recently placed in the LD classroom.
He has a problem controlling his behavior.
She says she has a real hard time with him.
She says he is always getting in trouble.
He recently started a fire in the boy’s bathroom at school.
He’s been diagnosed as having ADD.
She’s on welfare.
She uses the medical assistance card for health care.
She has other children.
Her son’s father is an alcoholic— she’s certain he has ADD, too.
Her mom left home when she was very young.
Her dad was abusive.
She says that she doesn’t feel that she experienced a lot of love when she was growing up.
She says she’s depressed.
She sees a psychiatrist weekly.
She says she’s been diagnosed as being depressed as a result of a chemical imbalance.
She takes a new drug for her chemical imbalance.
She says that she really doesn’t believe her depression is because of a chemical imbalance.
She thinks she’s depressed because her life is a disaster.
She says her work at the laundromat is the only thing that keeps her going — gets her out and doing something.
But she worries about how bad things get at home when she’s not there.
She has no consistent childcare for her children.
She has seen many counselors.
She says her current psychiatrist wonders why her son does the things he does.
Over the years, she’s been given many different reasons for her son’s behavior: he just wants her attention, he’s emotionally disturbed, he’s reacting to her depression.
She doesn’t know what to think.
She makes sure every day, as her kids go off to school, to say “I love you very much” so that they’ll know no matter what, they’re loved.
She laughs and says she really thinks she has ADD, too.
She doesn’t know what to do about it.
Her son was recently in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital for six weeks.
She says he isn’t much different since coming home from the hospital.
The hospital bill was $38,000.
She didn’t have to pay for any of it.
She says that our tax money paid for all of it.
She’s grateful for that.
She doesn’t know how other people ever get any help.
She thinks that people on welfare get the best medical care in the country.
She says she has a friend who works in the welfare office; he can’t afford to get help for his daughter who has the same problems.
She says her son has been on Ritalin for a while.
When he was in the hospital there was in increase in his dose.
She doesn’t understand why.
She doesn’t really know what ADD is.
She doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her son.
She says she’s frightened for him.
Weekly, he sees a psychiatrist whom she says she met one time for 10 minutes.
She doesn’t know what the psychiatrist talks with him about.
He used to see a different psychiatrist.
She didn’t know what they talked about either.
She says she feels that she’s learned a lot about life from her experiences.
She’s at a loss for how to turn her life around.
Meanwhile, she says she’ll continue to do her best with what’s been offered.
At 8 o’clock, the laundromat closed, but I am sure her story goes on and on. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that this is just the story of a welfare mother in a laundromat.
If you have an open ear and an accepting attitude, I have learned that you can hear a similar story from your neighbor, your cousin, your hairdresser, you minister, your grocer, and even from your doctor.
What is your life story with ADD/ADHD? We’re listening…