Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Medicated Child

I thought it must be on YouTube, so I went looking for it.

Here's the first part (youtube), the whole thing can be viewed on PBS, the link is here.

There were so many times during the program that Eric would come in (or stayed to watch the train-wreck) and I would just find myself shouting and bubbling over, near tears, angry, seriously depressed, suspect of parents, angry at doctors (especially when one mother made an appointment to find out what the alternatives were, to make sure she was doing the best for her child, and leaving with the appointment with the subscription increased instead of decreased) and terrified for the children, and physically ill over seeing their twitches and tics develop.

As all this was happening, I thought of my little son, and his pre-bedtime romps, and how he runs from room to room, stops and does a little wiggle or dance, and runs off again. (Especially if he's not had enough physical activity during the day.)
He has started staying up later - sometimes staying up 'til 11:00 or even midnight.
I thought about this beautiful child - often times full to bursting with energy, a child who does not like to write or draw, a child who has no interest (hardly ever) in doing fuzzy crafts.
I thought of how he craves shouting with laughter.
How physical contact with his Daddy is such an essential -imperative- part of his day.

I thought of someone else parenting him (and all the children like him) and trying to get him to sit in school and pretend to be listening if he were feeling exuberant.
I thought of someone else being his parent at bedtime, and insisting that this child "Go to bed and go to sleep Right This Minute" (instead of being annoyed at the -seems like- middle-of-the-night rambunctiousness, as his daddy and I sometimes are).

My child is not a raging maniac.
He is a little boy.
He gets frustrated at computer games (and old computers that crash every few minutes), he jumps and hollers during an exciting cartoon, he talks animatedly about prehistory, informing his mother and father about evolution, and he has energy to spend.
He (quite naturally for him) sleeps late and stays up late. I think he prob'ly gets that from his daddy.
He is an excellent communicator, is loving, is rambunctious, sometimes loud, and always expressive.

I am terrified and sickened to think that another would judge his exuberance as something that must be controlled with drugs. I don't think it's in question that he would be.

I do not keep my son at home because he is unfit for society, or unfit for school.
I keep my children at home so that I can nurture who they are, and give them a safe place to be themselves, fully and exuberantly.
I love who they are, and shall never consider changing who they are with medication.

I cannot tell how strongly I feel about this abomination of doctors and experts (be they psychiatrists who admittedly do not know much about the drug effects) or teachers or parents who don't know what to do with this child.
I find it the most heinous of offenses that they would look to this child and ask "What is the matter with you!?!" and medicate, instead of finding out what has caused the child to feel so frustrated, angry, irritable, pissed off, disrespected, cheated, abandoned, and sorely misunderstood in the first place.

When will we look to understand the cause of our dis-eases, instead of covering up the symptoms?


Aubrey said...

i have too much anger, and crazy- brain (maybe i am bipolar too) to form a coherent comment, but just so glad that you put this out there.
it is just sickening that we can't be happy with our kids and ourselves just as they/we are, but think that instead we can make our kids how we think is appropriate by pumping them full of poison. i think we should just change our mind as to what we think is appropriate behavior.


Kim said...

I watched this doc. with empathy and disgust.
I could relate to some of the parents' feelings of desperation. I have felt that with my own child.
As you know, I have experienced the whole spectrum of feelings about this kind of thing.....guilt, relief, inadequate, desperate, frusturated, name it. Thankfully, our challenges pale in comparison to what these people are faced with.
Last night as I was watching this, I (again) questioned our decisions that we have made for C. Will I ever be totally comfortable with the fact that he takes a med? NO!!! Can I justify it? Well, that is up for review.
Mike has learned (and taught me) alot about anti-psychotic meds (he has been on a psyche rotation for the last few weeks....brings home lots of crazy stories) and it is so sad what they do to children.....all in the name of conformity. So sad.
Thanks for the perspective, it reminded me to stay in balance with this elephant of ours.
Love you!!!

Sheri said...

It is so infuriating! Why? Why? Why? Why can we not honor children for who they are? Oh yes, it's because they won't sit in classes like robots. Quiet. Still. Unresponsive until we need an answer.

My nephew (adopted) has fetal alcohol syndrome. My sister has fought and fought for years to have him medicated minimally. Stating that he needs to be able to think and function and that he will always be different. It's what will mark his life but it's okay. The doctors are scary because without even accessing him or asking my sister what she needed help with, they were writing out prescriptions for some very heavy duty meds. She has seen hundreds of doctors until finally someone would just listen.

It's just so bothersome and so sad....

ladybug-zen said...

it's criminal, negligent and abusive to medicate children.

both of my boys are exuberant as well. i love that about them. jerome is so passionate about so many things. and when he talks about them he begins to shout with joy and enthusiasm because he's sharing his knowledge with us. i love that.

both boys run like wild horses through our small apartment squealing with laughter almost up until the moment they go to bed.

i love their passion, enthusiasm, exuberance and would never dream of trying to dampen their intense intellectual drive and spirits with mind altering chemicals.

bipolar babies??? as if

Stephanie Ozenne said...

I realize that this is a serious post, but I had to laugh at some of the descriptions of Trev, because they are so familiar. Emmett also runs around the house, stops to wiggle or dance, then runs off again at bedtime. And jumping on the couch during cartoons? That's just how you watch them, right? Emmett runs back and forth sometimes, and once actually fell off the end of the couch because he was watching the tv, not where his feet were. It was so hard not to laugh. Rambunctious is normal.

Beverly said...

It's backwards to say the children are the problem in school, and not the school itself.
On another note, my son is in a play right now, and it's noticeable how the child actors are all pretty wild. They are the artistic, expressive kids, and it's nice to see them have a way to express that constructively.