I don’t think this is entirely uncommon, I mean one of the greatest hazards with people on medications is that they start to feel better and eventually forget how sick they were and quit their meds, only to later realize that they can’t function without them.
I’m not saying that I want my son to quit meds or anything, in fact it’s far from it. But as a mom I’m always asking, are we doing the right thing? Are we treating his illness as we should? Did we make the right decisions in the past.
I don’t know that I’ll ever get the answers to all those questions, instead we take it one day at a time. But I’m thankful today for all that I’ve documented over the years. When I question, “Was he really that sick? I don’t have to rely on my memory, instead I can pull out my behavior logs that I started over 4 years ago and read day-by-day what we were dealing with.
If I wonder how bad things got, I can pull up a few videos I recorded during rages or times of psychosis and see for myself, years later that, yes, things were really that bad.
To my own surprise, I’ve written 556 posts over the past 4 years. If I ever wonder what my thoughts were or what decisions we had to make, I can read for myself, it’s all there in my blog.
Does this make a difference?
Yes—for me it does. Life can make the past fade and emotions can twist your memory. But I can praise God now that after all these years, we are doing the best we can.
This week I contacted my oldest son’s psychiatrist about getting his Lithium levels checked since lately he’s appeared depressed. As he says, “I just haven’t been feeling happy for about a month.” The recent rages—even another one last week—have demonstrated that he indeed is struggling.
As I pondered the possibility of a medication adjustment, one that should be expected as he enters into puberty, I was struck with a passing moment of fear.
What if these meds hurt him.
This obviously wasn’t the first time I’ve considered this, this has always been part of the equation when it comes to making a decision about medications, but none the less, it’s a real concern parents like myself have to face. We face it not once, but for the life of our child.
At times, the weight of this concern can lay heavy on my heart.
Tonight it was.
But then I sat at my computer and I pulled up a video of my son at the tender age of 10 (before Lithium). I watched with intensity as I saw my young child thrash around on the ground in a rage that was an hour in the making. With fresh eyes I saw suffering to a degree that most parents will never see. I saw my son begging to die.
As he thrashed on the ground, swinging punches and trying to bite his Dad, he screamed out,
“Nothing is working, so why can’t I just kill myself!”
“My life is useless!”
“I would be better dead than alive!”
“I just want to kill myself!”
I started to cry.
There are no easy decisions. As parents trying to make the tough decision about medication, it will often feel like there are no “right” decisions. There will always be risks involved. There are no guarantees. I don’t know how our story will end. But tonight I can rest with the peace of seeing with my own eyes, why years ago we put our child on medication.
Because he was suffering.
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If you’re a parent who is facing for the first time a child with unstable behavior. I highy recommend that you keep a journal or track behaviors in a mood chart. Over the years, these notes have not only given me peace, but they have been used to track medication effectiveness and symptoms through the years. My son’s mood charts were paramount in my son getting diagnosed with a mood disorder, they along with his escalating behavior showed the therapist day-by-day what was happening. As a parent, these records have been a huge hidden blessing.