Some people are on too much medicine and too many meds and some on not enough. Meds are helpful to some people and not to others. For some people meds are miracles and for some not helpful at all, or worse. We are each unique. Meds are mostly helpful and certainly worth trying.
ADHDer “I don’t want to take that medicine; I read the side effects.”
Me “What side effects are you afraid of and what do you think the chances are that you will get them and if you do, how long do you think you would need to put up with them?
Some people are afraid of side effects, not understanding that side effects are only possible side effects; some people get them and some don’t. If you get them you stop the medicine. Nothing to be afraid of.
You won’t know until you try it.
Sometime the first medicine works fine. Sometimes it takes a while, trial and error, to find the right medicine, the right dose, and the right time to take it.
I need my Daytrana.
Semi-relevant Story O the Day:
I told my wife I was going fishing. The water is running high right now. Too high to go really, but I need to get out.
She asked, “Isn’t it dangerous?”
I said, “Yes.”
It is dangerous. I’m also going to walk to the library. That’s dangerous, too. I could get hit by a car, fall and hurt myself, get mugged. But walking would be safer than driving. Flying would be safest of all, but that’s not feasible.
If I wanted to be safe, I’d stay at home in bed. But then I’m in danger of developing blood clots, falling out of bed, getting injured by a fire or a tornado. Fairly safe from flooding here, though.
Life is not safe; everything is a gamble. Figure the odds.
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I think you’re downplaying this a little Doug though I can appreciate why. As you know, I’m an advocate against drugs unless really necessary. We put our son on them with great reluctance when it became clear that all other strategies were failing and he was struggling with life. After several attempts to get dosage and type of drug right we’ve more or less got the sweet spot and the medicine definitely has helped. But those ‘side effects’ in those first few months of trial and error were far worse than the issue of adhd itself. It would be wrong to downplay that too much. It was a rough ride and we were lucky how quickly it was sorted. It could have been even worse.
As a teacher I’ve seen many with adhd on various medicines. I’ve also known many parents in states of grief saying “he’s not my son anymore”. While medicines done right undoubtedly help and can be lifesavers for teenagers, all sides must be weighed up carefully. It can be a battle as hard as anything waged in GoT!
dk- thank you for your thoughtful and informative comment.
i have only worked with adults and have not observed the struggles you describe. what i’ve said applies to psych meds in general, not just ADHD meds. If someone gets side effects, and if they are troublesome, we can adjust doses and/or timing, or just stop it. if adjustments dont work,we stop it.no one needs to go thru months of struggles.
I am in agreement that we dont use medicines unless necessary, but I dont see them as a last resort. there are struggles people go thru without medicines that could have been avoided.
I don’t know about the “not my son anymore” unless they mean they preferred him disorganized and troubled. my medicine has helped me be more effective professionally and socially but I think I’m still me.
so our different viewpoints may be just coincidental differences in our different experiences, or maybe are differences in seeing kids vs adults?
thank you for commenting
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“I don’t know about the “not my son anymore” unless they mean they preferred him disorganized and troubled.”
I was thinking the same! I guess these could be parents who are (per doctor’s prescription) unkowingly overmedicating their child; parents who think there’s no other way to treat the child other than using a pill that leaves the child lethargic.
I remember following a link from your blog to the page of an ADHD-specialized children’s shrink, a woman, and she said that if the dosage is leaving your child (who was was the bouncing-off-the-walls type) completely lethargic, then take a deep breath, treat yourself to 1-2 days of calm and quiet, and then immediately go with the kid to the doctor, because the meds need to be adjusted.
I think it’s the most important thing I discovered about psych-meds when I started taking them at an adult age (both for ADHD as well as anxiety and depression): the meds don’t change your personality. The meds allow you to have a grip on yourself. The meds won’t make your personality change: if you were always a depressed pessimist, you’ll become a non-depressed pessimist on anti-depressants – you just won’t feel as bad all the time. You still have to do the work. Like someone said, whose page Doug once shared (I think it was the same lady ADHD-shrink), the pills are like a pair of glasses. Someone who sees the letters out of focus can’t learn how to read. If you get a pair of glasses, you can finally see the letters. But you still have to learn that the squiggly one is an S, etc.
ram – great comment. Sometimes patients ask me for a med to help them feel happy. I tell them we have no such meds. we do have some that can lift a depression, so they can have a possibility of some happiness.
and i always tell people they don’t have to put up with side effects.
i’m just in favor of people trying meds, and especially for their kids with ADHD,so they might avoid a lot of unnecessary suffering. but i also have to tell them that they don’t work for everyone. you won’t know til you try.
i always appreciate your comments
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I think, in the end, our son is still our son too – but it was a few months of trauma. I think, in my experience, there are those for whom it is much worse. As for the ‘not my son’ aspect, I think for many mothers who have seen their lovely sons loving life and full of energy and delightful, but over the years gradually getting into more and more trouble at school and seemingly having endless and perhaps chaotic energy at home, eventually they go down the route of medical help. What has often happened in the past are completely subdued kids who seem almost zombified compared to the ‘bundle of bouncing joy’ that they were. I recall one child I had in my class who was always as a good as gold yet I had to sign his report card (usually given only for the very worst kids) to confirm he’d been good. We would get weekly reports in staff meetings about this kid and how disruptive he was. The key was always when he’d taken his ritolin. I always had him in the mornings soon after taking and he never raised a second of concern. Other teacher got him later and the story was very different. My understanding was that he was like a crazed bull in a china shop though in three years I never saw it myself. He really was two completely different kids – shy obedient boy and dangerous monster. I think this latter was years of disappointment with a system which required him to do that which was unnatural. My son had similar experiences – he’s as good as gold and is a people-pleaser, but school brought him right to the edge and he even had some stand up, in the face heated arguments with some teachers until they understood what makes him tick. I imagine this mother to whom I referred saw a nice boy at home but for the sake of his education she ended up with an automaton.
ken – thank you again for an interesting, and somewhat puzzling comment. clearly we come from different perspectives and experiences. mine are mostly with adults. I have not seen the months of trauma or worse. sorry that you and your son had to go thru that.
the mother’s son may have had too much energy to keep being delightful. the more and more trouble at school and endless chaotic energy at home doesnt sound too pleasant for the parents nor the child.
the concept of “zomibified” with meds is i think usually applying to the old days when the only med we had for schizophrenia was thorazine. it was a blessing, but at high doses it was not only antipsychotic but sedating and muscle stiffening. better than violence and other destructive or dangerous behavior, but not great. I think we probably over did it, trying to eliminate all of the psychosis, and maybe the patients would have done better with some improvement but less med. but I’ve never seen nor heard of the “zombieing” in any other context?
the good as gold kid in your class apparently was benefitting from the med, but for some reason it wasnt adjusted to last longer and help him in the afternoon. too bad and unfortunate and unfair for the kid. of course, part of the issue may have been that i expect you are an exceptionally good teacher.
i think you are referencing some of the current advancements in education, where the approach can be more individualized to the kids? its is not always necessary that each child spend the whole period sitting quietly in the desk. that’s great, but if they still cant get home with their homework assignment, or back to school with it, and are blurting out inappropriate things (as I did), or the other kids want nothing to do with them, then i think a trial of meds would be warrented?
finally, if the mother saw “a nice boy” at home, then i wonder if he had ADHD? usually the history is the symptoms are pervasive, and more like the chaotic energy at home that you mentioned earlier, and they drive the parents nuts, not just the teachers. as to automon, again I dont know of meds that do that other than the early anti psychotics. i think the adhd meds do more like you described, where the afternoon monster was as good as gold and able to perform educationally until his meds wore off in the afternoon.
i’ve tried to address each of your points and hope you might follow up with clarifying what i may have not understood or addressed well
again thank you for contributing.
It’s taken me over two years to find the right med and dose, but getting closer each time. Without it I could not focus on projects, in meetings, at my desk work constant interruptions, to the point where I could only see disciplinary action it termination in sight. I was fortunate to find a job in my specialty working in an environment that minimizes distractions and rewards diversity in thinking styles. It isn’t the only answer though. It is important to continuously educate yourself, and to learn about behavioral strategies, which makes a huge difference, but for some of us meds are a critical component.
i love your comment, several so important and helpful points.it is so important to find the right kind of job, if possible. and the strategies, and the meds which help us be able to use the strategies. and the power of knowledge – getting educated on ADHD.
and your encouragement for all of us, that it can be done.
thank you for contributing
Great post! I like the side story. Side stories are great. Whether the vanillas agree or not. 😉
ram -thank you for the encouragement and support. I was hoping the side story would connect with the point of giving the meds a try.
as always, i appreciate your comments
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