GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Adrian lives with ADHD, depression and anxiety. Sometimes he can go into an uncontrollable rage. Adrian is eight years old.
Adrian’s mother, Melissa David, hopes sharing their family’s experience will lead to increased mental health services for children and adults.
According to Mayo Clinic, about half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Melissa David says Adrian’s conditions started at age three.
“He would have these dramatic tantrums,” says David. “He had to move constantly, which is usually fine when you are three, but when he was about four, before he was going to head into kindergarten, he started having defiant and angry behaviors.”
Adrian would throw chairs and scream at adults; the dramatic outbursts lasting longer.
David says, “He started running out of class and he was constantly making trouble, basically. And in the principal’s office a lot. And they told us he couldn't even go on field trips anymore without parent supervision because it might be dangerous. He started talking about, at that point, about wanting to kill himself. Which was not typical, hopefully, for anybody, let alone a five-year-old.”
At age five, Adrian was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and put on Ritalin, then Adderall.
“The Adderall made him hallucinate. He started hearing voices and seeing things and then tried to jump out of a moving car,” describes David.
At age six, Adrian was further diagnosed with depression and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. David, who is a social worker who regularly sees suicidal patients, says she could not cope at home.
“I don't know how to deal with it in children. And especially not my own son. I feel like I should be able to assess suicide and figure out how to respond. I know how to respond for grownups, but I don't for kids,” says David.
On Saturday, May 21, one of Adrian’s tantrums turned into a nightmare.
“He wasn't able to come down from it, and we couldn't even keep him in a safe place. He was just finding things to hurt himself with or attack his sister and beat her up, and we couldn't have that. And at that point I didn't know what to do anymore, and ended up dragging him to the hospital because I didn't know anywhere else to take him for help” David says, “all they could do was put him in the back in a holding room, clear everything out, and he was in there screaming and throwing things, and then they kept him in there. And they couldn't let him out, he had to have a one-on-one, because he was threatening to kill himself and others.”
Adrian was trapped; too dangerous to go home, with no child psychiatric beds immediately available anywhere in the state.
“It took eight nurses and doctors and the security guard and hardcore medications. And they strapped him into the bed with restraints, and he's eight,” describes David.
Late Monday, a bed opened up and Adrian was taken to an inpatient psychiatric ICU for children. David prays the worst is behind them. She hopes her story will inspire others to seek help.
“There is a need for help. And that if we don't want them to grow up and end up in the jail system or some kind of institution, like if we want our kids to grow up healthy, you start young treating their mental health and I think that's a pretty new idea.”
The family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover medical expenses and raise awareness.