After the last post, My Perspective: To Medicate or Not, I was taken back by the multiple responses (most directly to me) of those who have chosen to medicate and the tough decision to get there, along with the disappointment with the lack of support to do so. So when my friend Beth King, a 5th grade teacher for the past 12 years, asked if she could offer her own perspective, I was happy to have her share it with you.
The debate surrounding “To medicate or not to medicate” is one that can end up being fueled by emotions that often need to be put in check in order to make the decision that best fits your family and your child. I offer your readers another perspective to consider when that choice is looking them directly in the eye. Understand that while I accept and recognize the benefits of alternative approaches to psychological disorders such as homeopathy, acupressure/puncture, and the likes, I am a staunch supporter of medication for children, teens, and adults. I speak from the combined perspective of parent, teacher, and personal experience.
As someone who found great relief from a lifetime of struggle when a doctor properly prescribed medication, I argue that my parents should have paid attention to my symptoms instead of dismissing them and punishing me for “irresponsibility, immaturity, and being dramatic.” Developing any sort of self-confidence was a great effort because I constantly felt as though my issues were my fault or a result of my inadequacies. I know that some of the readers may argue that perhaps this was more a result of poor parenting than of chemical imbalance, but you’ll just have to take my word for it that that was not the case. I maintain that once I sought out proper counseling in combination with medication I was able to see a clearer picture than my unbalanced brain could before the drugs.
I did not enter into the world of “better living through chemicals” lightly or without trepidation. I did my research and asked many questions of multiple doctors. In the end, the benefits far outweighed the negatives. And trust me, my husband and children are better for it as well.
Now, after more than a decade in the career of educating children, I too often feel terribly helpless for the students who are experiencing the same roller coaster of emotions that I suffered through because they are early on labeled as “troublemakers, impulsive, and lazy.” While we, as teachers, claim to be non-judgmental with every new class we get, we are also human. And with that comes the compelling need to “share our concerns” as a courtesy to next year’s teacher. These labels hang over our children throughout their years of schooling, causing them to eventually self-fulfill the prophecy because they don’t believe or know that anything else is possible. By trying different methods or approaches to remedy the behaviors, be it homeopathic, diet, or something else other than pharmaceuticals, parents can ultimately be dragging out the suffering for their child because each method must be tried for a significant amount of time in order to determine its effectiveness. And with every failed attempt comes a deeper sense of self-blame even in elementary aged children.
I do not believe that prescriptions alone can cure the diagnosis, and should not shoulder the entire responsibility. I believe and stand by the testament that, with the assistance of proper medication, the individual’s brain can then be ready to tackle, confront, and begin to learn coping strategies that will ultimately improve not only the outward impression of the person, but the inner impression as well.