Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This is his brain on drugs.

Nearly five years ago, after D. was diagnosed and J. was born and I was hanging on to life and sanity by a very small thread, I went on medication. It was a really hard thing to do, for many reasons.

Asking for help is hard, in general. Admitting that we need help, that we are human, is something that many of us have trouble doing. I suppose we like to perpetuate the myth of our own infallibility. Perhaps we enjoy suffering, in some perverse way. But I think that asking for help when I really, really needed it was the only responsible thing for me to do.

I was particularly worried that taking medication for anxiety/depression would make me less creative. That it would dull me, somehow, and leave me with a shell of my former self. This, it turns out, has not been a problem. When I take my medication, I feel normal. The way I used to feel all the time. I don't spend hours imagining the funerals of my family members. I don't constantly think that my car will careen off the road into water, and how will I unbuckle multiple carseats and swim to safety while keeping two or three children above water. I don't burst into tears with no provocation.

All this to say, that while medication may not be right for everyone, it has made a significant, positive difference in my life and the lives of my children and husband.

Some months ago, we began wondering, Mr. WG and I, if we should explore ADD medication for D. We noticed, again and again, that he seems on the cusp of learning so many things, but he is so easily distracted. He cannot focus on the work for more than a few minutes before something else catches his attention, and he is off and running, figuratively and literally, depending on the situation.

I debated medication with anyone who would listen to me. Sometimes, this was appropriate, as when I told a friend of ours who is a child psychologist, that I didn't want to rush to medicate my child. He gently explained that I had, in fact, tried many other things for several years, so this would hardly be rushing into medication.

Other times, my ramblings could only be classified as inappropriate oversharing, as when I found myself explaining my thinking to the woman behind me in line at Target. I only wish I were exaggerating for comic effect.

At any rate, at D's annual developmental assessment, the pediatrician had us try Focalin XR. As the name indicates, Focalin works on the focusing receptors of the brain. We are still tweaking the dose, and we're not sure if this is the right drug/dose combination. I am seeing absolutely batshit crazy (that's a technical term) behavior in the late afternoon when it wears off. Am I seeing increased focusing during the day? I'm not sure. Decreased appetite? Maybe. Maybe. I am definitely NOT seeing any change in his obsessions -- he still asks to take out the trash cans approximately once every .453 seconds. But I don't know if I should expect to see a change in that. It's been hard to get in touch with the developmental pediatrician with the holidays, but I'm hoping to speak with her this week.

In the meantime, I'm reminding myself that it would be unfair to deny my son the medical help he may need because of my own insecurity with medication.