Medication Fears


Grumpy again today
– another addition to the languishing Series
Monday Grumpy Monday –

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Discouraged, Weary and Worried

I started my day today on Pinterest, where I came across a pin with a picture of a little girl that brought back memories of myself as a child: sitting on the stairs after doing something “wrong,” head in hands, sad and worried – fearful of what my father’s reaction would be when he heard about it.

The words across the photo were, “Why Punishments Don’t Work for ADHD Kids (But What Works Better!).”

For readers who have not yet explored Pinterest, Pins are graphic snippets “pinned” to a virtual bulletin board, similar to cutting a picture out of a magazine and pinning it to an actual bulletin board.

The biggest difference – and what makes it useful – is that the graphic snippets are automatically linked to the source, which is frequently an article that turns out to be well worth reading.

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I use “ADD” to include AD/HD etc. Check out What’s in a Name for why.
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What an Excellent Idea for an Article!

Clicking this pin led me to a wonderful article on an extremely useful ADD/HD focused blog by The Distracted Mom.

I was smiling broadly as I read her description of a well-reasoned, learning-oriented approach to parenting her son through a melt-down – an approach that many of us who know ADD/EFD well agree is one of the best for ADD/EFD kids.

HUGE on attribution, I was especially pleased with her generous linking to other useful resources (for example, the Lives in Balance website of Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children).

Having devoted over 25 years of my life to making a difference in this field, it is such a pleasure to read articles like hers, that allow me to believe that perhaps the world is finally changing its attitude toward what I like to call The Alphabet Disorders.

Only later, as I read through the MANY comments to her article, did my hopeful mood slowly to turn to dismay.

MonGrumpHead

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar for a reminder
of how links work on this site, they’re subtle (scroll UP for it) ==>

Everybody’s Got One?

I guess the eCard to the left expresses the retort that pops into my head most often when comment criticism is overt and mean-spirited, like: “Try spanking.”

In MY opinion, that dark ages retort doesn’t even merit a response.

The author seemed to agree with me; she left it alone, even as she responded beautifully to many of the other comments that were left at the end of her article, expressing divergent views or seemingly desperate for help.

I read comment after comment, impressed as author Carolyn Mallon, RN patiently and carefully explained, defended, acknowledged, validated and suggested, sharing her personal experience in her responses to the various comments and divergent points of view generated by her article.

My heart hurt for her, knowing first-hand how much time those responses took from a life replete with many additional to-do items, wondering if she opened the paradigm much at all, despite a great deal of time and care — or if folks went away with, essentially, the same opinion they came in with.

I flashed back to the first ten years of my ADD/EFD coaching career, when I still had the energy and patience to gently and carefully build community as I attempted to educate.

But that was twenty-five years ago! That was back when ADD/EFD books targeting the general public were rare, little was known about what to do about Executive Functioning Dysregulations, and the majority of people didn’t even believe they were legitimate disorders – including many doctors!

After twenty-five years of non-stop advocacy, I’m exhausted. And discouraged. Even though, thank God, a great many more people believe in the validity of the diagnoses, I can’t believe that so many seem to know so little about them, despite the plethora of resources available today (including well over 400 articles written from a backlog of 25 years of reading and research that I’ve compiled here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com).

Waiting to try Meds

I am most dismayed, however, by the fearful attitude toward diagnosis and medication that runs through so many of the comments, albeit subtly. They speak of “trying to avoid medication” or “avoiding meds so far,” as if medication were a last-ditch response, to be tried only when everything else failed.

As I disclosed in an earlier article in response to what I considered a dangerously misinformed article in the New York Times:

“With an IQ in the gifted range, my life simply did not BEGIN until I was properly medicated at 39.  When  you take away my medication, like the patients in the movie Awakenings, I go back to that time when I could not function well enough to have any sort of a life worth living.”

EVEN though I have accomplished quite a few things I can be proud of, I still maintain that, “My life will never be what it might have been, had I been able to take advantage of the support of diagnosis and medication since childhood.”

I went on to say, essentially, that it breaks my heart that many parents might be dooming their children to a life of needless struggle and under-performance similar to my own, simply because they are afraid to pursue medication.

Rather than repeating what I’ve written many times before, or hoping that you will click a link to read it, I have decided to include an edited portion of a prior article, Underfunctioning: Einstein at the Patent Office as I conclude this one.

I am now an ADD expert – globally well-informed on anything and everything impacting Executive Functioning Dysregulations right down to neurochemistry. Believe me, I KNOW what to do to work with and around ADD. I teach it. I coach it. I train others to coach it.

Without my medication, however, I can’t make myself DO what I know, any more than I can focus on the words I am typing without my glasses.

But still, I’d have to know how to read! 

Reading, and most of the skills acquired in childhood, require an ability to FOCUS to be able to assimilate, bit by bit. Each new learning challenge builds on the one before it: well-assimilated first steps lead to better success with the steps that follow.

The most dramatic presentations of ADD/ADHD/EFD are over-represented in the comments section of the article I refer to – which makes sense because the article is about parenting misbehaving ADHD children.

But I can’t help but wonder if any of these parents realize that melt-downs and outbursts due to impulsivity are NOT the most important reason to investigate and consider medication.

Are these parents, with only the best interest of their children at heart, inadvertently waiting for their kids to fall so far behind in skills acquisition that they have no choice but to try medication?

BETTER is not good enough!

While it is true that a great many diagnosed ADD/EFDers seem to manage better once they’ve aged and each pre-frontal cortex has matured, in my experience, MOST ADDults, diagnosed or undiagnosed, and no matter how well they seem to be doing, continue to under-function for many, many years past puberty.

That, in turn, hamstrings their levels of achievement in ways that “advantage-matched” non-ADDers do not experience.

  • “Normal” Kids: In addition to their ability to acquire grade-level appropriate skills as they step through their educational years, the majority of so-called “neurotypicals” have the additional advantage of getting to swim with the current for the remainder of their lives.
  • EFD Kids: Not only do a great many continue to fall behind in their struggle to acquire grade-level appropriate skills, which limits their educational success and opportunities, ADD/EFDers are forced by a “neurotypical-dominant” society to swim against the current for much of the rest of our lives.

Yet the “finish times” of both groups are measured against one another in the Olympics of life as if both groups were swimming the same race.

It’s Not a Level Playing Field

At any point in life, as long as it is not contraindicated, properly titrated medication can level the Executive Functioning playing field somewhat.

But I want to remind us all that the Head Start Program was instituted because of the strong belief in the clear relationship between a strong start and life success.  

ONLY those ADD/EFDers who are identified early in childhood,
with assistive technology in place from diagnosis,
GET that strong start.

[CLICK to hear from a 22 yr. old ADD blogger dx’d at 7:
Parents, getting your child diagnosed may change their life for the better! ADHD & ADD]

MOST ADDers struggle for years before diagnosis,
EVEN those who are lucky enough to be diagnosed in childhood.

The apparent lessening of symptoms as adulthood approaches (coupled with the scare-tactics and ridicule of nay-sayers like the derisive Sir  Ken Robinson) means that MANY ADDers do not even consider getting formally diagnosed or medicated until life struggles reach a point when they are no longer willing or ABLE to continue to soldier on.

Even once these floundering individuals reach the point of action toward diagnosis, far too many doctors are still reluctant to diagnose and/or medicate ADDults who clearly need both, which delays successful treatment further.

And I think that’s a crying shame!

Making an informed CHOICE

I know first-hand how difficult it is to make the choice to take ADD medication.  I can only imagine how much MORE difficult it must be to make that choice for a beloved child.

However, I strongly urge everyone reading to MAKE a choice, which is not the same as jumping to one side or the other of the pharmaceutical fence because of something you’ve heard or read that may be little more than one person’s opinion based on atypical experience.

In my extensive experience, the nay-sayers are frequently reacting out of confirmation bias, or after a quick read of an article or several found in the popular press (RARELY complete or accurate anymore).

I continue to affirm that I believe it is a big mistake to demonize pharmaceutical approaches OR non-pharmaceutical alternatives without exploring them thoroughly and really understanding how they work and what they are designed to do — simply because something didn’t work for someone else.

As I wrote in an earlier article, Medications vs. Non-Pharm Alternatives:
People are different and brains are different
there is a wide range of responses to a great many substances.
Each of us has the right and responsibility
to decide for ourselves we will or will not ingest.

So far, and for 20 years now, prescription psychostims have supplied the best relief for the greatest number of my own challenges, even as I continue to investigate non-pharmaceutical alternatives for a variety of reasons.

Individuals who are not, for one reason or another, what doctors refer to as “medication responders” have no choice but to use one or a combination of several of the non-pharmaceutical alternatives.

Some individuals have made a personal CHOICE not to take prescription medication to help them deal with their ADD symptoms – which is a personal choice I believe we each must honor, whether or not we agree personally.

Still others, unfortunately, have allowed themselves to be frightened away from prescription medication, so they haven’t really made a choice at all.

I hate to see articles (or comments) expressing disapproval or reticence, or pronouncing one or more substances — from either side of the pharmaceutical fence — wrong, dangerous or morally indefensible (i.e., demonizingthem, however subtly).

It especially breaks my heart when it looks to me like the writer hasn’t  investigated thoroughly, and may well be commenting in a fear-based response to popular opinion in the circles in which they travel most often.

As I have always said to my clients and students, you can’t take on faith very much of what you run across in the social media, the popular media, or even the TV news media — at least NOT for information about anything as important as your health and that of your family.

  • Once instruments of journalistic integrity in the information business, print publication and television companies are now in the entertainment, sales and marketing business, primarily.
  • Desperate to keep their doors open in the face of increasing competition, reporters and editors are pressured by publishers and backers to increase readership as they reduce the length of the articles themselves.  Television “news” is even worse. 
  • Apparently trying to be all things to all people in the ratings race, each “story” seems little more than a collection of soundbites anymore, strung like beads on a “Now, let’s cut to the next little tidbit” necklace. That tends to result in headlines designed to scare you into reading or watching. Sensationalism sells.
  • AND THEN there is the internet – where it is sometimes difficult to tell fact from fiction, “internet marketing” from “used car sales,” editorial opinion from fact.

Let’s NOT take the ADD field back to where it was when I began.

I hope and pray that Moms with young children, especially, will take the time to gather information about treatment options (including medication) from as many different sources as possible, keeping an open mind – and suggest to the Moms in your circles that they do so as well.

If you’d like to begin here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com, click the following link to open a list of links to many of the articles I have written about Diagnosis and Treatment.
(You might want to begin with ADD Meds Info for Moms – Part I)

At the bottom of each article are links to related articles written by others – doctors, parents, coaches and ADD/EFDers themselves – to further your quest for information around the internet.

Let’s hear it from YOU

What are your expectations, thoughts and fears about treatment options?  What have you tried?  How has it worked?  NOW WHAT?

AS ALWAYS, I invite you to dump YOUR Monday grumps and gripes
in the comment section below each of my own – related or NOT.

As long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).

© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”


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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with Executive Functioning struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

9 Responses to Medication Fears

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  4. mrs fringe says:

    I agree, it’s important for parents to make informed decisions, using all the support and tools available–which may or may not include medication for their child. There are so many fears, and still so much stigma involved. Much airtime is given to the idea that many children today are overmedicated, or medicated too quickly. I think that’s true, but for others, those meds can be a godsend. I don’t have personal experience with ADD meds and my children, but have several friends who do, and have seen just how helpful those meds can be for those who need them; making a huge difference and offering out and out relief to the children.

    Like

    • How wonderful to see your name here! And thanks for taking the time to comment. Have you been as slammed as I? I’ve had to cut waaaay back because I’m drowning in to-dos.

      I’ve recently pinned my reblog of your “Good Morning Angels” article, btw. So you may get an activity surge. STILL boycotting – made me mad all over again to see Victoria Secret pins promoting *anything* – thus the pin.

      Hope all is wonderful with you.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • mrs fringe says:

        Yes! This time of year is always crazy busy. 😦 I fell during the winter, fractured several bones, I’m healing but…so I’m trying to focus more than ever on pacing myself. Thanks for the pin, I’m wishing you the best, always!

        Like

        • DITTO! SO sorry to her about the fractured bones. My dominant hand was purposely smashed in a gang mugging last year, so I can REALLY relate to the frustrations while you heal. Everything takes so much longer – and the tendency is to rush, in my experiencing anyway, rather than focusing on pacing ourselves.

          You are wiser than I, my dear. I’m am working hard to develop the “pacing” habit.

          I’m still unpacking and organizing from last year’s sudden move (NOT my idea!), slowly balancing putting blog visits back in place while battling my tendency toward computer hyperfocus (keeping me from “getting rid of” boxes, etc.). I’ll be over to see what YOU are up to, ere long. Please forgive my long absence – NOT from lack of interest!
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • mrs fringe says:

            Yes, these curve balls life throws at us seem to have come hard and fast, recently. 😦 Be well, and take care of you! I’ve also been a complete slacker about checking friends’ posts, let’s both move forward 🙂

            Like

            • And agree not to feel guilty or grovel 🙂 – life’s tough enough.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

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