As I mentioned in the bio note accompanying “Meds,” I wrote this essay to offer an additional perspective on the controversial topic of prescribing medication to children, but a draft of this piece existed over a year before Brian T. Maurer’s “Reigning in the Rx” appeared.
Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of articles and books demonizing parents who give their children medication, especially ADHD medication. Some claim we do it to improve our children’s grades in school, others accuse us of taking the easy way out, instead of trying to be better parents. I do not know even one parent who put her kid on meds simply to “control” her child, or improve his or her grades.
So I’ve decided to tell my side of the story, hoping at least a few parents out there would connect with my experience. The first draft was more convoluted, and read more like a stream of consciousness.
Then, when I saw in The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine Brian T. Maurer’s essay, I thought the journal might give me a chance to give the physicians and the nurses who read it a glimpse into what it’s like to be on the parent’s side. I also wanted to make the medical professionals realize that what they write in their reports may sometimes be exploited by the schools. I re-wrote the original draft and sent it to the editor.
If you read “Meds,” and would like to let me know what you think of it, feel free to leave a comment below. YJHM does not allow comments.
I mentioned two books in my essay.
The book that I say made me wince while I read it, because I did not want to believe in the stigma attached to having a child with mental or neurological illness is We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, by Judith Warner. In We’ve Got Issues, which received the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s 2010 Outstanding Media Award for Science & Health Reporting, Judith explains how the idea of writing about “the epidemic” of medicating children turned into a heartbreaking story of the state of children’s mental health in the United States, and lack of supports the parents get from the schools, the doctors, and the society.
The other book I mention, the one written by three academics, is a much less known but by no means less interesting Medicating Children: ADHD and Pediatric Mental Health, by Rick Mayes, Catherine Bagwell, and Jennifer Erkulwater.
Both are worthwhile reads.
And, if you want to read a first-person account of what it’s like to live with ADHD, get a copy of ADHD & Me: what I learned from starting fires at the dinner table, written by then a teen, Blake Taylor, who apparently later went on to Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. ADHD & Me is a much lighter read than the previous two. I laughed at the description of him climbing into the exhibit with a T Rex, because that was pretty much what my son almost did when we visited a natural history museum.