Monday, May 28, 2012

Parenting Perplexities

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Being a parent is hard; being a parent to a pre-teen is very hard; being a parent to a preteen who has been diagnosed with ADD, ODD, ABCD, EFG since he was young and is only getting worse is veeeery hard; being a parent to a preteen who has been alphabetically diagnosed and who has revealed in a few therapy sessions a history of being sexually abused is...what's a word that really captures "near impossible"?

So, now, enters the medical question. No, it's not should I medicate; I think, at this point in the game, I'm beyond that question. The question is, which medicine do I choose? Which won't have the worst (any) long-term effects? Which won't have immediate harmful short-term effects? Which will really help? Which will give me back the son I never got to know?

I got a call, this morning, from a doctor wanting to put my child on Risperal. I stalled, asking for some time to do research on this drug I never heard of. So a Google search turned up pages and pages of information as to why this is not a drug to take if a person is not truly psychotic. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that my research turned up that this was an anti-psychosis pill. My son is not psychotic). The search also turned up dozens of YouTube videos that point to male children growing breasts as a result of taking this drug. No thank you.

So I turned to looking for something that would deal with my son's impulsiveness, his venomous tongue, and his lack of focus. I've read nearly a thousand user reviews in the two hours since I got the phone call. Adderall's out. Concerta's out. Strattera is out. Ritalin is waaaaay out. Focalin is an option but I'm scared about what it may do.

Why is it so hard to find a drug that treats ADD without causing heart or liver problems, mood swings, or thoughts of suicide?

Will I cause more harm in giving a green light to a pill than my son's issues?

Contrary to some of the parents posting reviews, I don't want to medicate my son so that my life could be better. I'm looking to make his life better. As I read review after review of Focalin where the users said, "Now, I feel like a normal person" and "Finally, my brain doesn't feel so cloudy", I'm drawn back to the living room where, many years ago, while helping my son with his homework (more like barking at him and growing increasingly frustrated at his lack of success), my son grabbed his head and said, "My brain doesn't work". I switched from yelling to encouraging, telling him that it can work and that he can do the work. But I have to wonder if, at just the young age of six/seven/nine, he was right. Was his brain too cloudy to think straight?

I know I felt that way for a few years after being raped. For four years, I couldn't think, couldn't concentrate, couldn't feel. I was in danger of failing my senior year of high school. I, definitely, failed my first two years of college. The first feeling that returned was anger. I was just so angry at the world, at my rapist for stealing and alternating my future with a child, at my mother for not listening, at myself for not speaking up and for allowing myself to be a victim. Was this the same way my son felt?

Crawling up from that depression took a hell of a fight. I still work at keeping my head floating above the drowning waters of that egocentric disease. But it's easier now because I realize that life is filled with up and down cycles. Sadness is just a part of the plan; so is happiness/contentment. It's all about perception.

My son is currently a very negative thinker. However, I can't help but feel there's another way to reach him other than in pill form; I have yet to find that way. I've tried rewards and punishments, discussions and Disney; I've even tried letting him live with his deadbeat dad for six weeks (and spent six weeks crying until the tears left permanent stains on my pillows). All to no avail. But I haven't tried medicine.

So, I'm at a crossroads, trying to figure out the best course of action to take, praying that I don't do something that is negatively irreversible. I can only hope the solution is just as simple as waiting for maturity to take over, rendering medications unnecessary; but, since I have to act now, I can only hope the medicines do not annihilate that possibility.

I'm just so scared of making the wrong decisions.


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