I didn’t know that it was so difficult to make a decision to put your child on medicine. I have taught at all grade levels in public school across three counties, K-12, and I was shocked to learn that so many young kids were on medicine. ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression were the most common. I worried about this; worried if kids so young really needed medicine, worried how it would affect them in the long run. I didn’t know that I’d be facing the decision to put my own child on medicine in the future, when she was only seven years old.
I didn’t know that kids could act so completely different at home compared to how they act at school. I’ve learned this from my own child, and see the importance of parents and school staff working together more than ever. At school when things don’t go the way she wants, my daughter often becomes reserved. She will just sit and not do anything. I’ve seen her cry in the hall and hide behind me to avoid talking to another adult. At home, where she is most comfortable, her reaction to something that doesn’t go the way she wants is usually an intense opposite to being reserved. The outbursts are extreme. We know they are coming, and we can sometimes anticipate them. Some days there will be just one, and some days they go on for hours and leave us all exhausted. We tried medicine after years and years (I’d say 5 1/2 to be more accurate) of avoiding it. I now know so many parents had a similar experience, where the decision wasn’t an easy one and was necessary, even when it didn’t look that way to others who only saw the “school day” version of the child.
I didn’t know it was so hard to find a medicine that worked. We are on our first medicine. So far, it is not working. My daughter has had hallucinations as a result of the medicine, thinking a man was in our bedroom at night, pointing and describing his face to me. As I held her, told her it wasn’t real and not to be afraid, my heart sank. Her tantrums became worse instead of better, and worse was not something I was prepared for. It was so bad I called the doctor back and was told the medicine just hadn’t adjusted in her system yet. Fast forward to our most recent appointment via Zoom and the doctor said the dosage wasn’t high enough to make a difference, probably. The dose was low because we weren’t sure how it would affect her sleep apnea, and we didn’t want her to be sleepy all day. We have agreed to give it one more month before taking her off if nothing improves, but I haven’t upped the dose yet because she was constipated from the low dose, again, and that’s another cause for concern. I didn’t know the new worries that come once your child is on medicine and how hard it is to weigh what they need against the side effects. I’ve talked to several parents whose children are on the fourth different medicine, and some say the fourth is also not working.
Most of all, I didn’t know how many other parents have these same struggles. Before, I thought I was an understanding person but being understanding is not the same as experiencing something firsthand. Listening or reading about someone else’s child who struggles doesn’t always pull your heartstrings and twist them around in a knot, but when it’s your own child that’s what it feels like every time I reach for that pill bottle and pray I make the right decisions.
Because I didn’t know, and now I do, I am reminded to be kind to others. I am reminded to look for a complete picture of who a child is, and not just who they are from 8-3. I am reminded of how much I love my daughter, and that love never fails.