The Turning Point
With the assent of her therapist, we held off medicating our daughter for several months. But we had a change of heart when she was suspended from kindergarten for trashing her classroom.
Jennifer had returned to the room after school had let out and turned it upside down, upending chairs, ripping posters off walls. When my wife went to pick her up, Jennifer came clean about what she had done. As she described it, the mess had been caused by a monster — and it pained her to realize, and to admit, that she was the monster. Within days of the suspension, Jennifer began taking an antipsychotic drug to treat bipolar. A few weeks later, she started taking an antidepressant, as well.
It’s been eight months since she went on multiple medications, and Jennifer — now in first grade — is better. Yes, she still needs help with simple tasks, like getting dressed. Yes, her obsessions persist; she’ll go to bed thinking about something, and it’ll be the first thing she mentions when she wakes up. And she still suffers from low self-esteem — if something doesn’t go her way, she talks about how stupid she is. But my wife and I have noticed that she is much better at focusing, listening, and doing the right thing. So have her teachers.
Still, I worry about Jennifer when I think about what happened to my friend. Maybe if he had not taken antidepressants, he would be alive today. Then again, maybe he would have killed himself long before if he hadn’t taken them. But is there an alternative to drug therapy? If so, would it be safer? These are questions I think about every day.
Jennifer’s therapist says that, by putting her on medication, we’re not just restoring balance to her topsy-turvy world — we’re saving her life. I want to believe this, but I’m not entirely sure. One thing is certain: My wife and I will never stop trying to do the right thing for our daughter. Anything less would be a crime.
Names have been changed.