Someone very close to me is struggling with anxiety and depression. As I am an anxiety and depression veteran, I am both hopeful and worried for her. She is very young, and has already been in the fight for several years. I know she feels hopeless, so I pray very fervently that this burden be lifted from her.
I find that a lot of folks are still uncomfortable talking about mental health. I think my family is so immersed in it, that it has become part of my vernacular. I can even joke about it sometimes, and I hope that joking might be just what someone needs to hear in order to confront such things in themselves or in their families. I hope that I am approachable and non-judgmental enough for people to approach and talk to me.
I am not a psychiatrist, but I have huge respect for the one our family uses. I know that medicating children (and adults) is a hot topic with a lot of accusatory and inflammatory thoughts and feelings relating to this issue. I would love to share my opinion, and please know it’s an opinion only.
We are a medical knowledge type of family, and growing up with asthma (in the seventies and eighties, mind you), I had/have a lot of experience with medications. Oxygen is kind of necessary, so I took medicine my whole life. Going into nursing also made me not afraid of medicine. Having an autistic child that was constantly speaking only to his imaginary friend in a language I couldn’t understand, and freaking out if the sandwich was cut in rectangles instead of triangles, probably made me feel a bit desperate for a medicine -any medicine- to work, so I could help him with, well, life. And it did work. It worked well. It still does. Having another autistic child that had just as alarming behaviors that were not (absolutely not) managed with Love and Logic or other traditional parenting methods (and believe me, we tried... and cried... and tried) led us to consider medication for her, as well. Again, very successful medication management. Life improved drastically for all of us. We still struggle and have challenges, but we all speak a similar language in our house. Thank you, Dr. Burdett.
The notion that we are sick because of what is going on with our bellies (gut health) is most likely spot on. I believe that. I’ve taken measures to correct our diets in our house, and to make sure we are taking supplements and probiotics. In the meantime, though, medicine is still necessary for us. I think the proverbial damage is done. Antibiotics are inevitable, and oxygen and English language are necessary. And attention spans for homeschool work and meltdown avoidance are a (very) nice side effect of medications that truly do what they say they are going to do. I don’t think the “damage” to our guts is irreparable, but I think it is going to take time to fix said damage. Maybe, I believe, it’s going to take a long time.
And here is where I want to encourage you parents who are dealing with tangible fear about medications. Finding a good practitioner that you trust and can develop a relationship with is the most important part of taking a first step toward considering medication management for your children. Sometimes, it just works. And, to the parents who are so anti medication, no matter what, and would never consider that for your children, it is fine. It is ok. Both sides of this challenging playing field deserve respect and grace, because every consideration you are making for your children is beautiful and brave. Just as I need to respect people that are anti medication, anti medication people need to respect me.
Furthermore, sometimes medication is the glue that holds a person together, and that is scary and heart wrenching enough, without having to field judgment from friends and family. Mental health, psychological disorders, disabilities and the like are part of our world, part of my world. You never know what another family may be dealing with. With things like suicide and violence on the rise, parents you encounter may just be desperate for their children to be happy ... for just an afternoon or a moment or something. We all should afford each other a little grace, especially when most of us are just trying to do the best we can do with the knowledge that we have. And that’s where posts like this come in handy; hopefully, someone who needs just this information is reading it this very moment! Parents, we need to share our knowledge.
Keep Calm, share and share alike, offer a smile, and parent on.