Saturday, August 27, 2011

The big debate….to medicate or not to medicate?

When we met Little R she was living at a group home that had her in residential care for 8 months.  On her move in to the home she was removed from all medications to base-line her behavior.  She did fairly well at the group home so she was not returned to any medication.  She did well there because she did not have to attach or function in a family environment and she did not have to deal with a lot of her emotions surrounding that area of her life that was difficult for her.

I believed that our love, devotion and commitment to little R would heal her of all her hurts and pain and behaviors. I believed that the group home had somehow “fixed” her and she was miraculously healed from all her hurt since she wasn’t tantruming so much with them.   I thought that I could love her tantrums away and her anxiety and her depression and her fear of the environment and her sensory issues and her post traumatic stress disorder and her learning classroom issues and her Reactive attachment disorder.   My husband and I have worked tirelessly for our little girl over the past 15 months seeking out evaluations, therapies, services, talking to teachers and staff members educating family and friends and working hours with our little R at home to help her re-learn skills.  We have sought out natural herbal remedies and holistic approaches and food changes.  We have seen progress, she has changed, but her anger, defiance, fears and PTSD have continued at the same rate and she continues to struggle immensely in school and in social situations.

I thought that if I even considered medication I was a bad parent.  That I was giving up on her or on us and our ability to parent her.  I thought that if I considered medication that I was setting her up for addiction, dependency and failing her in some way.  I thought that if I put her on medication people would think that I was taking the easy way out and not trying hard enough to parent her and maybe we just needed to “try harder”.  We were encouraged to put her on some medication and we refused during our fostering stage. We were told by some friends and family it would be the worse thing we could do to put her on some medication.

I am writing this to tell any of you moms who are struggling with the decision to put your child on some form of medication that it it is not an easy decision one that you and your partner will have to weigh seriously and make the best choice for your family.  We did and it was the best decision we ever made.  Our life has been in chaos for the last 15 months and starting little R on a medication to help with her anxiety and help regulate her mood has made a world of difference.  It has given us back some normalcy in our lives and in fact is what we expected from parenting.   She has even told us how much better she feels not getting in trouble all the time and enjoying activities and events without being put in time out or removed from the venue.

We did not make this decision lightly and we still don’t . We did the research, we sought out a child psychiatrist who would listen to our daughter and us and build the right course of treatment for her.  Our Dr even told our little R.  “ I still want you to feel mad and sad and angry and all the emotions you have….but it seems right now that when you feel those things it is hard for you to not get Super mad and Super Angry and Super Sad and then you can’t turn it off, I want to help you control your emotions”.    I am not hear to listen to judgements on whether we made the right decision or not because I know that we did make the right decision for our family and our child.

Some people are born with imbalances in there chemical make up and some people have there balances messed with due to trauma in there lives and no amount of therapeutic work is going to be able to fix something like that.  A wise friend of ours who is a psycologist told me that sometimes giving a little medication will help the child be more receptive to the work we are doing in therapy, and accepting of those changes because they are in a better regulated state.   Our little R has been so strung out and anxious and physically in a place of dysregulation that she has not been able to take in what we are even trying to do with her.  Now her mind is calmer and she is feeling less anxious and able to take in some skills and learning tools.
I am so proud of her for the work that she has put into healing and I am proud of her as we talked about medication that she told me “mommy I just want to feel normal and not get so angry”.   When I asked her if she would be OK with me looking for a medication to help her not feel so angry so quickly and stay calmer  she looked at me with tears in her eyes she said “yes, please and soon”.  

Medication will never erase or completely heal our little girl. We have a long road of therapy and teaching ahead,  but we now finally feel like we are  on the road to healing.  


Mary said...

I applaud the decision that you and Mike made as well as your daughter.. some people fear medication, but if it enhances your daughters quality of life, than why not?? If someones child had diabetes, they wouldnt withhold insulin as the child would need it, if a child has a chemical imbalance or trauma, it is an illness that needs treatment, your daughter is beautiful, her pics are adorable, and she looks so HAPPY!! You and Mike are great parents and R is a lucky girl to have landed in such a loving family..xoxo

Andrea said...

Laura - I struggled a lot with that decision with my son. We even had him on it for years and took him off to see if he was better on his own. He made the decision himself that he needed to go back on it. The school noticed a huge difference when he's on it.

It's a very very difficult decision - but when it comes down to it it helps him function better. I still feel criticized by people who have not had to make that decision - but I feel praised from the school teachers for making the decision. I think you did the right thing. God Bless you.

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