In all honesty, it wasn't that hard for my husband and I to figure out. Our neurologist, who we have the utmost respect and admiration for, told us that she almost never recommends medication--but that this was a little girl who needed it immediately. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. If you also suffer, you know just how horrible this makes you feel--mentally, physically, emotionally. When I realized my nine year old daughter was feeling these things? Well, I really saw no choice but to start her on medication.
So Squirrel has been taking medication for anxiety and depression for about three months now, and WOW! What a difference it has made! Of course, she's also going to counseling, which I think is a critical peice of the scenario as well. But I've made a few observations about a nine-year-old on a daily medication.
- When the child also has sensory issues that make pill-taking hard, you must always have yogurt on hand. A few times we've run out of yogurt. The pills just don't go down with ice cream very well. (And pudding, jelly, and syrup don't make the taste-buds cut.)
- When the child misses one pill, the ADHD kicks in stronger than usual. So instead of telling her to do something two or three times, you will now will have to tell her twenty. With much huffing, stomping, and crying on her part before it is done. Fun times.
- Also, with one missed pill, she will come home from school either cranky and angry at the world, or hyper and silly and REALLY LOUD. Either way, you will want to lock her in her room until bedtime. But of course, you won't, because you are not that kind of parent.
- If, God forbid, you forget to call her refill into the pharmacy until she's out of pills, then you get sick the next day and can't even crawl out of bed, and the next day is Sunday and the pharmacy is closed, (which makes 3 days of no pill)--well, things get really bad then. And there's no humor to be found in the situation there...we only had this happen once, and she sank into a severe depression that scared the snot out of me. The kind where she won't get out of bed and cries all day long. So we will never let this happen again, even if I have to drag my sick and dying body to the store.
All that said, we have seen huge improvements in her behavior, her mood, and even her attention issues since she started taking this medication. You know, I was looking back at some old pictures a few months before her diagnosis. As I looked through her life in photographs, I noticed a definite point where something changed. The carefree, joyful, spirited little girl we knew changed into a serious, mopey, withdrawn kid. I don't know why we didn't see it sooner, because this change showed up in the pictures around age four. So, for five years my little girl was suffering with these horrible, awful feelings, and we didn't realize how bad it was for her. I could beat myself up for this, but I won't, because who looks for depression in a child? You don't even expect it! But here's the thing: she's smiling again. She's a little more carefree, a little more joyful, and a lot more spirited. For her, medication has given us our little girl back.
You know, this is just like so many of these foolish parenting debates. Why do parents feel the need to share their opinion on every matter we face? And why do we make such blanket statements like "I'll always..." and "My child will never..." Such statements will always come back to bite you! Until you are faced with a particular scenario, you cannot possibly know what you will do. It's a lesson I'm learning well on our journey!