Part II:
To Medicate or Not to Medicate

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One of my favorite Contemporary Christian bands is Mercy Me. They have a recent hit titled ‘Dear Younger Me’ where they tell us how wonderful it would be if our older self could have given our younger self advice, warn them if you will. If that were possible, here is what my letter would look like…

Dear Younger Self,

Brace yourself. You will have to decide whether or not to medicate your children (with some powerful drugs) at a very young age. It will be one of the toughest decision you will ever make as a parent. It will rip your insides to shreds and make you contemplate whether or not you are fit to be a parent.

As your older self, I know you. You are probably literally laughing out loud right now. You are probably contemplating wadding up this letter and throwing it in the garbage can. You are probably thinking I AM NEVER GOING TO MEDICATE MY BABIES!

But you will.

The decision on whether or not to medicate Adam and Alex will be agonizing. There are so many moving parts that will factor into your decision.

It will seem like doctors are very quick to medicate and many are making Mental Health diagnosis without any testing or evaluation. In the future, it will seem like every child on the planet has ADD or ADHD!

You will answer a few questions on a piece of paper and, WHAMO, your kid has ADHD and is put on mind-altering medication.

Some of this may have to do with your insurance company. Because your boys will be adopted as a sibling group, they will have Medicaid until they are 18 years old. Do NOT accept this sub-par insurance. Add Adam and Alex to Tim’s insurance immediately. Fight to get them the best care possible…the best doctors, the best psychiatrists, the best therapists. Encourage other Mental Health Moms to do the same (cut cable, get a night job, just make it happen!)

When you do your homework (researching to find the right doctors, demanding thorough testing before diagnosis, asking a million questions, then asking a million more questions), you will decide the benefits of medicating outweigh the risks. But your internal struggle won’t end with that decision. You will need to prepare yourself for something difficult to embrace…your new normal.

Your new normal will be ever-evolving when you decide to medicate. The first time you see Alex walking around like a zombie because he is over-medicated, your heart will break.

Sometimes the medication doses will change as the kids grow older. Sometimes you have to add new medications that sound scary (anti-psychotic meds, mood stabilizers, etc.) Sometimes you will have to switch medications and start the process all over again.

Question and challenge. Then ACCEPT and EMBRACE.

For example, when Adam is 10 years old, his psychiatrist will insist he take a test online asking him a variety of questions about his bipolar mood disorder. This will be required by your insurance company. During that test, Adam will lean over and ask you about a question wanting to know if his “sexual activity” has been higher or lower than normal lately.

“What is sexual activity mom?” you will be asked.

It will enrage you. It will light your insides on fire that this is how your son is exposed to the concept of sex. You will want to shout from the highest mountain, “Why is my 10-year old son required to take a test that asks him about sexual activity??!! Are you kidding me??!!”

You will ask his psychiatrist if this is really necessary, and she will say “unfortunately, yes.”

While infuriating, you must accept that this is part of the process. You don’t have to like it, but it is what is required to help your son. It is what is required for your son to function in his every day life. Despite you initial reaction, you must embrace this as part of your new normal.

Question and challenge. Then ACCEPT and EMBRACE.

You will analyze, second-guess, worry, and probably regret every decision you make regarding medicating. EVERY DAY you feel a pit in your stomach worrying to death about what the long-term effects of the medication will be. Will Adam and Alex suffer as adults as a result of the choices you made for them as a child?

You will pray harder than you have ever prayed before in your life.

If you remember nothing else younger self, remember this. TRUST YOURSELF. Make the best decision with the information you have at the time. If you get new information, and decide to change your decision,  force yourself not to feel any regret or guilt over the previous decision because you made the best decision with the information you had at the time . You will find this applies to EVERY decision you will make in your life.

You’re stronger than you think. Allow yourself some grace please…

Love,

Your Older Self

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