Medication roulette, mini edition: two weeks on

Well, in the last two weeks there have been zero temper 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 bad 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.

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