This blog is not FDA approved
Some of you are already familiar with [pieces of] my story. I have been fairly vocal here and on Le Clown’s blog about AD(H)D and medication sometimes even playing the devil’s advocate role.
But for those of you who don’t know me, let me give you a bit of a background. I am a 44 year old Colombian-born, Canadian woman. I deal with Mental Illness myself: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression and -to a lesser extent, Anxiety.
I am also a physician and a molecular biologist. Or was, anyway. I do have a several other non-mental issues that led me to drop my scientific career altogether given that I can’t stand the long lab hours of a life dedicated to research anymore. Now I’m a swinger… er Swing Dancer and the Online Community Manager for our family business.
I was married for 15 years to a paediatrician and we had a daughter and a son.
As luck would have it, the kids won the genetic lottery and both deal with mental issues of their own.
My daughter has have to deal with severe episodes of anxiety and less intense episodes of depression since a very early age.
As for my son, it is ADHD and Depression with him.
Some of you already know by my
annoying enlightening comments on this blog, I am NOT against all medication. Not for ANY Mental Illness. But I do believe that before drugging a brain, there must be a very valid indication. For example, I am one of those people that requires medication for depression and probably will do so for life unless gene therapy gets a lot better before I die. No other way around it because if you read about my other non-mental issues, you already know that my Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid axis doesn’t work properly. Similarly, there are some people with AD(H)D who require medication. No other way around that either.
However, I never had to take medication for ADHD. That’s because of two simple reasons:
My gain, anyway. I am happy I didn’t get medicated. In my particular case, what I needed was not a drug. What I needed was more challenging classes. But I was lucky cause I discovered at a very early age that books gave me all I needed to escape that boring world. I know that my case is very particular. By no means, I am trying to imply that all cases should be treated the same way.
And this is why I am saddened – both as a medical doctor and as a parent, that so often parents, educators and doctors go for the easy way out. It makes life easier for all of them, I suppose. For parents, because they get less calls from their kid(s) teachers and/or they can’t be bothered to change their life style to accommodate a child that needs extra attention. For educators, because that means less extra work for them. Having to keep track of an easily distracted, difficult to manage kid who acts as a distractor in the classroom requires patience and training. And the will to do so. And finally, for doctors, well, I don’t know… Because they get the equivalent of PC points every time they write a prescription? Because they are sick and tired of complaining, unsatisfied parents?
Shame on doctors for falling into that trap. This world is way over-medicated.
It is my belief – again both as a medical doctor and as a parent, that medication should always be the last resource for mild to moderate cases [of everything not just] AD(H)D. Changes in the life style should always be considered first. Every parent should ask themselves, what can I do to help my child? Perhaps you can find challenging games that will pique her extra-sensitive curiosity. Perhaps you can -along with your child’s educators, design a strategy to keep her engaged so she doesn’t disturb other children in the classroom. Perhaps you can enrol your child in an extra-curricular activity that will help develop her sense of discipline, self-control and discovery while channelling her nervous energy. And what about a better diet? There are ways to try and bring balance to the life of a child with AD(H)D.
In the end, you might still have to resort to medication. But at least you will know that you did your best before going that route. No medication is without side effects. Always keep that in mind. Medication should only be used when the good effects clearly outweigh the bad ones.
In the second part, I’ll cover how we dealt with my son’s AD(H)D