As a parent, it’s hard to accept that there are no blood tests, MRIs or biopsies that can diagnose my son’s illness. That’s why it’s so hard for people looking in on us to understand that my son is truly ill. Unfortunately our son’s illness is diagnosed by a therapist and psychiatrist analyzing my son’s symptoms and behaviors. Even the doctors are hesitant to be specific on what to call my son’s illness, thus the general diagnosis of “mood disorder”. Our doctor tells us that it doesn’t matter what we call it, as long as we are treating the symptoms. And as our son grows, our doctor takes into consideration that there’s the possibility that his brain will change as it develops and he may not need medication in the future. We’re reminded to handle only one day at a time and to not look into the future, easier said than done.
Another challenge we face in medicating our child is that there’s very little research done on treatment and medication for children. Heck, they didn’t even acknowledge that children could have mood disorders until the 1990s, so we still have a long way to go before we know how to best treat our kids. As for the medication, it too is still so new and most are not even approved by the FDA, since understandably, there aren’t many parents willing to let their kids be put through clinical trails. So the doctors are doing their best to prescribe what they think works, based on what they’ve seen in their own practice. So yes, there’s a lot of trial and error. This is both with the type of medication and the amount. Then you take into account, that all kids are so different, for example, one kid may have a positive response to a medication, while another will become much worse. So it’s easy to see why I felt such fear about going down this path of treatment and why I honesty believe every parent takes this step with great caution and much prayer.
But at the end of the day, as my son continued to get worse, my Dad offered some wise insight. He told me that I’d be irresponsible to NOT give my son medication because without this treatment he’d have no hope of getting better, in fact, without medication we’re taking the risk of him causing serious harm to himself or to one of his own family members. Not to mention, we had the opportunity to turn my son’s life around and give him a chance to experience a joyful life, free from the misery he felt inside.