Saturday, April 28, 2012
I'll share something I've never announced on a blog or public forum: I used to be a medicated child. Taking pills for what I thought were "tummy troubles", I was being treated for anxiety disorders from a very early age (elementary school), and continued with prescriptions of Prozac, Zoloft, and other meds until young adulthood. Through what I can only suspect was a change in diet, a new faith in Christ, and the adaptation of common relaxation techniques, I was able to discontinue any meds by the time I met my husband at age 24. It was a struggle to be on them. It was a struggle to NOT be on them. I am very happy now, to be without them; it's a personal decision that I feel is right for me.
With this knowledge, you'll understand why I was compelled and also fearful to review the new book Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up by Kaitlin Bell Barnett. The book, a collection of stories told from the perspectives of now-adult kids who had been on a wide range of "brain meds" was a frightening look back at a sketchy time in my life, and it forced me to really consider if and how medications can change a person when administered at such a tender age.
The stories include accounts of Ritalin kids, depressed kids, sensitive kids, annoying kids, kids who were abused and used and shuffled through the system while enduring horrible circumstances that no child should endure. Whether it was for "more focus" or to keep them from ending their lives, meds were given as the answer. Some of the kids grew up to decide that medication wasn't for them; others feel it is the glue that holds them together; and still others ride the fence of uncertainty with their familiar friend of medication.
I know where I stand on the issue of medicating kids. To be completely honest, I think it's used far too often. The book gives a little history on how and why meds became so popular in the 90's (including a brief look at the insurance system that made it easier to dose than counsel), the mindset of the parents during our youth who tried their best but often failed, and the expectations of the school system to make sure kids were quiet and compliant. It also delves a bit into the pharma business and how we've evolved into having commercials for happy pills interspersed with solutions for erectile dysfunction (all aired during family programming, of course.)
This book has no ending; it is far from offering a resolution. It will, in all likelihood, make you more sad than comforted (especially if you were a dosed kid.) What it will do, however, is keep you from feeling alone. If you are a parent of a child who is considering meds, it may help you to approach the situation from the eyes of a child. (Remember, rarely are kids asked if they want to take medicine; many featured in the book were misled to think their Rx was for headaches or tummy troubles.)
The best characteristic of this well-written book is that it broaches a subject that may be seen as taboo. After all, the battle between parents who medicate vs. those who won't is a stiff one. By taking the perspective away from the parents, and giving it back to the kids (who the meds were supposedly prescribed for in the first place), it makes it impossible to pick sides. In a time when we are seeing record numbers of kids being dosed, and the armies of those first-medicated kids come into adulthood, it's important to listen and carefully consider how we are changing society (for the good -- or the bad.)
Pick up this riveting read at Amazon.
*Copy received to review. Opinions are 100% my own. (Can't you tell?)
Review of "Dosed" (And a Confession)