Do you want to know the quickest way to get a group of people on the Internet all riled up? Try talking about kids and medications. Oh, no one begrudges diabetics their insulin or kid with childhood cancer their chemotherapy, but don’t get them started on medications for mental illness. Well, let me tell you something, my child’s risk of dying was just as high as someone with diabetes or cancer.
Medication saved his life.
Here’s the thing with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. There is a 6-week lead-time on the effectiveness. It’s not like you can look at your kid, determine they are depressed and give them medication like you can for a headache. Imagine if you had to know 42 days ahead of time when you were going to have a migraine. How many do you think you would be able to head off? Zero sounds about right. Or even worse, imagine feeling your migraine coming on and knowing that if you take the medication right now, you might feel better in six weeks. By the time you (and a qualified medical professional) realize that medication is needed, you are already way behind.
The anxiety came first, when he was 12. He went to therapy, learned his coping skills, had his stress reduced and managed fine for a few years. Then the depression followed. In the throes of puberty, hormones and high school, it can be hard to decide if it’s just normal teenage angst or something more, but I erred on the side of caution and took him back to his therapist.
The downward spiral came hard and fast.
There was no single activating event. He comes from a long line of people who have battled depression and his therapist has determined it is mostly genetic related. I had no problem with medications. I have been this route with many people I love dearly and there is nothing I wouldn’t consider when it comes to saving my child. And make no mistake, he needed to be saved.
Because he wanted to kill himself.
I have heard it all before. He needs more sleep, he needs a better diet, he should meditate and journal, he needs to exercise, he needs to get outside and away from the video games—hell, I have even said it myself, many, many times, and it’s true. But here’s the thing—he didn’t want to. What he wanted to do instead was end his life. Sure, I could force him to do some of those things, but I couldn’t force him to get any benefit from them.
So when it came to meds, I didn’t hesitate. Here’s another thing you might not know. The 6 weeks? That’s for the original medication at the original dose. As you need to adjust the doses, the time frame moves back again. And if, like us, you need to change medications because the first one isn’t having the desired effect, you start all over again.
It was 10 months until I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. 12 months before I could allow myself to think that maybe, just maybe, that light wasn’t a train heading straight for us, and 14 months before I could breathe again.
At 19 months I finally feel like my son has come back. He isn’t the same person he was when he disappeared into the long, dark, black hole, but then, neither am I. We never will be. But we are here, we are alive and we can laugh and joke and we can love.
So, unless you have spent days, weeks and even months of your life walking down the hall to wake your kid for school wondering if today is the day, until you have made it your one overriding goal to be sure to be the first person to go in his room everyday, just in case, you have no idea what it’s really like.
So go ahead Internet, judge away, but know this…medication saved my son’s life.
I have exactly zero fucks to give about your opinion on the matter.