Monthly Archives: December 2014

Medication roulette, mini edition: two weeks on

Well, in the last two weeks there have been zero┬átemper tantrums. There’s no way that the drug worked that fast, so I think we just had a lucky few days at the start there, but in the last two or three days the change has been noticeable. Even when she’s angry and frustrated, she doesn’t lose her cool the way she would have two weeks ago. It’s my own personal Christmas miracle – now to test it in the fires of being away at someone else’s place. A week from now we begin.

I’m starting to notice how much I modulate my behaviour in order to prevent a tantrum. The little tricks I use to try and keep her from spinning out completely. Things like lowering my voice right down so she has to quiet down to hear what I’m saying, or taking her into another room to talk to her, so there are less distractions and if she loses it I don’t have to carry a screaming child out of the room. I don’t know if these are normal adjustments to a situation or unhealthy coping mechanisms. Either way, I find I’m not having to consider things quite as carefully as I did. I actually just told her off without a second thought as to whether she would go nuclear, and she didn’t. The relief is huge.

I still feel an element of guilt for medicating my child. The thinking goes that┬ábad parents sedate their children, to hide how bad their parenting is. Bad parents just don’t discipline their children, have little brats, and then drug them into submission. I’ve seen people I know make that argument, and it kills me inside, because I am a ‘bad parent’. My child acts out, and now I medicate her.

That’s not how it is though. I have raised one perfectly good child, who is well-behaved and pleasant. My second child is delightful, well-mannered, charming, and just happens to have volcanic tantrums. It’s not because of anything I’ve done. It’s part of who she is, and it’s evidently something that can be dealt with by appropriate medication. Not by smacking her more, not by this or that miracle parenting tip. Just like my issues are problems of brain chemistry that need chemicals to manage, her brain chemistry seems to be a bit fragile too. That’s not all that surprising – between being on medication when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, and the likely familial/genetic links in mental health issues, it was always possible that one or both of my girls would have some sort of issues at some point. I didn’t quite expect them to show so early, but recognising these things early and treating them has got to be better than watching your fourteen-year-old lie on a hospital stretcher after trying to die, or some other wonderful introduction to the paediatric mental health world.

For all the guilt I feel, I know I’m doing the right thing for my girl. It’s not fair on her to have these awful emotional overloads that she just can’t handle. I have a tool that can help her, and I will give her that tool. Bad parent be damned.

Medication roulette, mini edition

So today was our annual trip to the paediatrician. Number Two Daughter was weighed and measured and checked, and then we went on to discussing her behavioural issues. Because (here’s the bit where you judge me for being a bad parent) my daughter has massive, unmanageable tantrums. I have no idea how to deal with them. Her teacher, who has thirty-odd years of teaching experience, has no idea how to deal with them. It’s pretty bad.
When she is good she is utterly adorable, and charms everyone she meets. When these tantrums happen, people just look on in horror. How could something that cute do that?
It affects our lives. I hate going out with her in case she has a meltdown. We’ll cut short trips if she’s starting to get touchy. If we’re out and it happens it’s so humiliating. If we’re with family I just want to sink into the ground. I feel like it’s my fault for not raising her right.
We’re being referred to a Ministry of Education parenting programme to help learn some strategies to deal with it, but in all likelihood that won’t run until school starts in February next year. It will be good, but it’s a good couple of months away at least. We need something now. So (this is the other bit where you judge me) we’re trying some medication to see if it helps.
I’m not going to try and justify why we’re taking this route. We need help and this is one intervention that may help, so we’re giving it a go. The medication is an antidepressant called Citalopram which also has strong anxiolytic effects. The idea is that she is probably experiencing anxiety and reacting badly to it, and this medication may bring those emotions down to a point where she can deal with them in a sensible way. I hope it works. There are other drugs that may help if this doesn’t, but we start with the most likely.
I feel very conflicted about giving my baby drugs, but in the end I want what is best for her, and having bouts of uncontrollable rage that cause her to spend hours in the principal’s office or even be sent home is not best for her. Medication is not a magic bullet, I know – that’s why we’re doing the parenting course. But medication can help, and we need help right now.