I recently received a response from a blog colleague who’s beliefs are different than mine.  It is normal for people to have different views on things, and everyone’s views are welcome. This is my version of  agreeing to disagree…

Dear 5KWD, I wonder if you would have any insight on the following. After doing a smattering of research I learned that virtually every mass shooter on record was taking antidepressant psychiatric drugs when they “went off”. The news media and many posting here are examining the mental illness angle, but we know that depression, asbergers, etc, does not cause homicidal behavior. However, it seems very plausible to me that these FDA approved psychiatric drugs, which have known side effects, may be inducing this behavior. I think it’s the drugs, not the mental illness. This makes way more sense to me than the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children.  artandlifenotes.wordpress.com

 

I agree that every mass murderer may have been on antidepressants.  It would go along with my theory that they have underlying psychiatric conditions.  All of my adopted children are on psych meds.  My oldest daughter has attention deficit disorder.  Prior to medication, she couldn’t pay attention, she was flunking school, she couldn’t pay attention to read a book, and she developed sever anxiety over her inability to function “normally”.  Once on medication, (which includes an antidepressant,) she brought her grades up to straight A’s, attended college, and has a career in her chosen field.  I understand that some people would say that the side affects of medication would outweigh the benefits, she calls me from time to time to bring her medication to work because she forgot it, and she cannot concentrate to do her job. My middle son, who was born addicted to cocaine, has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, but I personally like to give him just one:  his brain and wiring is screwed up due to his prenatal exposure to drugs.  As an infant he would flail about and injure himself, he rarely slept, wouldn’t eat, and climbed out of his crib by 9 months old. (He couldn’t walk, but he could climb!) He would run around destroying anything in his path.  Without psych meds, it would have been impossible for him to attend school because he surely would have climbed out the bus window!  My youngest son, who was severely abused in his early childhood, has Dissociative Identity Disorder, (previously called Multiple Personality) a condition in which a child withdraws within himself/herself when abused, sort of “blacks out”, so to speak, but another part of the brain still feels the affects of abuse.  That other part remains in his “psyche”.  Hidden.  Buried. Showing itself from time to time in an angry, violent outburst, often requiring hospitalization. Without psych meds, he would not be able to function as well as he does.  He would be encompassed by deep depression and obsessive thoughts.  My youngest daughter has severe attention deficit disorder, and cannot sit still or pay attention without medication. Similar to my youngest son, she was abused as a child. Her hidden demons come back in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, tearful, angry aggression, often on herself, but sometimes against others.  Without psych meds, she would not be able to function.  She still has PTSD and “episodes”, but they are far less frequent than when she was not on medication and it would be a daily thing.

I understand people have different opinions about psych meds, but in my family, without them, it would have been impossible for my children to live life “normally”. I know that there may be side affects, but the side affects are far less intrusive on their lives than their mental health issues. The doctor always goes over the possible side affects, and not a single child has ever indicated they bother them.

Regarding your concept of not believing the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children, again, I can only point to my own children.  Childhood abuse, even verbal abuse, and non-loving parents, can permanently harm a child’s developing psyche.  Permanently.  Even counseling and medication may not be able to fully quiet the demons hidden in a child’s brain.  My son, who is the sweetest, nicest, most generous boy, often displays his “angry part”, a part so vile and violent that it reminds me of Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  He is unrecognizable and so angry that violence surrounds him…sometimes resulting in a call to 911 for assistance with restraining and hospitalization.  For my daughter with PTSD, her episodes are more invasive.  The slight touch, smell, or thought can cause her to fall back into anger of abuse, and she dissociates and becomes violent.  She is not herself…well, that’s not true because even when she is having flashbacks she is herself, but the self as a young child being abused.  Regarding the randomness of violence, case in point:  she was recently arrested for “assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon” when he charged towards her to get her to stop flailing about and screaming.  (She ripped a board off the wall and tried to ward him off.) She is living in a restrictive, “locked” facility with staff trained in behavior modification and restraints, but her behavior has horrified and shocked them.  It is not her fault, she cannot control it, but she is very violent.  Other people looking at her would never think such a sweet, friendly child could harbor such demons.

I know many people not exposed to individuals who are mentally ill to the serious degree of my children would find it hard to believe they just “snapped”.  No one never knows if a person who appears to be “normal and quiet” is really “normal and quiet” underneath.  I believe wholeheartedly that one has to have a mental illness, even if undiagnosed, to be a mass murderer. I believe no one in his/her “right” mind could possibly do such a thing!  Of course, this is just my one biased opinion.  I can understand, though, that there are different sides to every story.  Let’s just “agree to disagree”!

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane by Linda Petersen.

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Comments on: "Lets Agree to Disagree…Mental Illness and Violence" (93)

  1. godgoesonablinddatewithscience said:

    He is right! It IS THE PSYCH DRUGS BECAUSE WAS ON THEM WRONGLY FOR 10 YEARS. i ALMOST KILLED MYSELF ON THOSE. I HALLUCINATED …I WAS TERRIFIED. STOP GIVING YOUR KIDS DRUGS. THEY ARE GOING TO KILL THEMSELVES OR SOMEONE. THE FDA IS CRIMINAL. THEY PASS DRUGS FOR KIDS IN 4 WEEKS? YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM. AND I AM NOT A SCIENTOLOGIST…it may be promoted by them but this film is true I had it to me and it terrifies me that you think the drugs help. they are killing people every year. As many that died in the civil war die on these meds. kill themselves. you do the math! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDlH9sV0lHU

    • I understand that everyone has different opinions about medications. I can only say that in my family they have worked well. If my children had not been on medication, I can almost say that one of them would have killed themselves by now, or, in Steven’s case, he would have been hit by a car or jumped out of my car while driving on the highway. They would not have been able to function to attend school or be successful.
      I question how many people who killed themselves on psych meds would have killed themselves anyway.
      Anyway, I completely respect your opinion, but in my one little family, medication has worked well.

      • godgoesonablinddatewithscience said:

        If you child is autisic and can’t control himself in public that is one thing..but if you are the kind of parent who treats their kids emotional issue with pills that is sick and a product of this culture. 100 years ago pills were not available. maybe you should be a better parent and not let some shrink label your kids that disgusting!

      • Again, I appreciate your opinion and I know that many others feel the same way. I do not treat my kids’ emotional issues with pills. They were having serious problems functioning and were unsafe. Some people may think it is “sick” to give pills to children, but I, and they, prefer medication to the feelings and actions they have without them. When my adult daughter calls me up at home to bring her the medication she forgot as she cannot pay attention to get her job done, then those pills are working. Also, I would never go with a “shrink’s” labeling of my children. I go by their functioning and happiness.

      • godgoesonablinddatewithscience said:

        Yea..well watch that film before you judge me…if you don’t watch the film then you are ignorant and I feel sorry for you. In fact….i”M not following you anymore because i can’t deal with people who ignore the facts.

        see ya!

      • I sincerely apologize if it seemed like I was judging you because I was not. I understand that people feel differently than I do, and I can only talk about my own situation and how medication has helped us.
        Let’s “agree to disagree”.

      • Again, I appreciate your opinion and I know that many others feel the same way. I do not treat my kids’ emotional issues with pills. They were having serious problems functioning and were unsafe. Some people may think it is “sick” to give pills to children, but I, and they, prefer medication to the feelings and actions they have without them. When my adult daughter calls me up at home to bring her the medication she forgot as she cannot pay attention to get her job done, then those pills are working. Also, I would never go with a “shrink’s” labeling of my children. I go by their functioning and happiness.

  2. Reblogged this on Out of the Crab Bucket and commented:
    Petersen’s heroic life is a voice to be amplified to this going off issue. At a time with the whole world is going from NORMAL, ADJUSTING TO THE CHANGING NEW NORMAL.

  3. If I may put my two cents worth in here. I completely agree with what you have said. In my case, it was when I came off my meds that I became suicidal and homicidal. The fact that someone has been prescribed meds does NOT mean they have been taking them at the time of the event. It is often an indicator that they have stopped taking them.

    Many patients think that once they are stable on their meds they can stop them because they feel back to normal. They should NEVER do this, EVER without consulting their doctor. Not only could their be harmful side-effects from not doing it correctly, but the doctor will likely explain that the meds are what is making them stable and that they need to keep taking them.

    Pharmaceutical companies need to make a lot of money. They fund research for scientists and doctors to find new medications to help cure illness. Without this, we wouldn’t have the awesome meds we have today. Try not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    For people who have mental disorders that involve chemical imbalances in the brain, medication is the only way to fix that. Just as with people who have diabetes. If your body is not producing insulin, the only way to get it is to put it in. It’s the same thing. The only difference is the organ that is being affected.

    Thanks so much for your blog! I am really enjoying it!

    • I love your explanation of the chemical part in the brain. That is how I have always thought of their meds, that they are correcting an imbalance in the brain, and I thank you for pointing it out.

      • godgoesonablinddatewithscience said:

        THERE IS NO CHEMICAL EMBALANCE! that is a lie. if there were…there would be a blood test for it. so you do the math.

      • You couldn’t do a blood test for chemical imbalances in the brain, we have a filter called the blood-brain barrier which filters out many things in our blood stream going both into and out of the brain. (note: editorial comment from 5kidswdisabilities; the rest of this post was edited so as not to offend a commenter. I don’t mind being attacked myself, but I prefer not to pass along a comment against someone else. I hope you understand. HOwever, this information on why a blood test does not work for chemicals in the brain is valuable information and I wanted to share it.)

  4. Ohh, ummm, I want to say something but I don’t want to be yelled at! I’ll say this-I know that medications have made my life better. I recently had to go off of Effexor because the drug itself was making me more depressed than it was helping. I wasn’t feeling like I wanted to hurt anyone other than myself. I don’t regret taking it because for the time I was on it I felt almost human. I suffer from ADD and Anxiety, and at the moment am very depressed (My job was downsized to nothing at the end of June and I have been out of work ever since-it just keeps dragging me down further and further.) I am not on anything at the moment because of lack of money due to being unemployed I can’t afford to go back to my doctor to find something that might be able to help. I also can’t afford counseling. I can’t imagine if I were a young person with a mental issue that it was a necessity for them to be on something.

    What am I trying to say? What is worse, the illness or the medication-some people have to have those medications to help them simply live. I just want to be at a point that my four year old doesn’t have to see me cry.

  5. Lynn Trimble said:

    I applaud you for sharing beliefs different than your own with your readers. A thorough review of scientific studies on treatment for mental illness reveals that youth with mental illness are far more likely to go without needed treatments than receive them unnecessarily. Also that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence that to commit acts of violence. Stigma surrounding mental illness is part of what prevents people from getting prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment in this country. I’m the mother of children living with mental illness, and recommend childmind.org, nami.org and nmha.org for parents, teachers and others eager to educate themselves on mental health-related issues. Thank you for providing thoughtul, thought-provoking content for your readers.

  6. Medications for mental and emotional problems don’t always work for everyone, what helps one may make another worse…it takes time and effort to find the best treatment for each person as in any illness. Sadly these types of meds have been given a bad rap because of over use, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t the best course of action for many who are suffering. I believe mis-diagnosis is the main reason that some have had negative experiences with the meds. It is also true that we have no way of knowing if those who go out of control have stopped taking the meds. You are so right about agreeing to disagree, sorry some feel they have the right to attack you.They have not walked in your shoes and more importantly in the shoes of your children. Blessings to you and your family as you work together for a better life.

  7. Your story and the stories of your children’s experiences are not unique. When my organization started working with with troubled teens, their stories of abuse stunned me. They still do. Angie’s father started bringing men home for her to “service” when she was 6 and she stopped counting at 50. Connie’s father sold her for a $10 bag of dope when she was 11. And these girls, now 14 and 15, are drug addicts and have serious issues and society has turned their backs on them and all the others.
    Society doesn’t want to acknowledge this horror that leads to all kinds of mental distress. And people use the internet to SHOUT are not helping this necessary conversation. We need to talk, not shout, and recognize the pain of others. (The girl who is shouting is obviously in a lot of pain.)
    Thank you for what you are doing to raise awareness and keep the conversation going. You do it in a respectful, patient and thoughtful way. You are just what we need to help educate people on this serious and difficult issue

    • (The girl who is shouting is obviously in a lot of pain.)
      I agree sue ellen. And how unfortunate. I come from an abusive past as well and have tried my share of drugs to help. Some have helped, some have not. At this time I am not on any medications and am doing very well. I contribute the miraculous power of God to that. Abuse is beyond horrific. No one should ever judge how one attempts to deal with it. I do believe God is able to heal and deliver us from those horrific demons but it does take alot of work and determination to relearn all you have ever known – not to mention a tremendous amount of faith – which was the hardest hurdle for me.
      I agree that we need to have knowledgeable and compassionate discussions and be keenly aware that people cannot be treated as one Each situation is individual and what will help and when is an individual journey.

  8. I really love this discussion. Thanks, Linda for bringing it up. As a former special education teacher I was in a unique position to observe many students who were taking various medications to control mind and body. I don’t believe they are the ultimate answer and it saddens me that drugs often become more important to maintain mental health than working together to help individuals learn how to control their thoughts and behavior.

    To me it is a myth that people can’t control their thoughts. We need to start understanding that we do have power over our thoughts and actions.

    I have seen a multitude of bad situations because of the side effects of drugs. But I have deep compassion for the parents and doctors. They are often faced with a decision based on which is worse the behavior they are trying to manage and the side effects.

    I don’t think there is a person on the planet that would openly admit to loving drugs most would love to stop using them. Let’s be patient with each other and work together to find better solutions.

    • In my experience, my 2 children who become violent cannot control themselves at the time. They are “out of it”, ie dissociative. After each episode they do not remember what happened. It is always fascinating to see them wake up in the hospital afterwards and look around curiously, asking WHY were they in the hospital,and why are they injured? All of the counseling and suggestions of behavior modification, trying to “catch” themselves before they become violent and various other methods of intense specialized therapy to get them to control their actions have not been successful. It is difficult for me to believe that there is a successful treatment out there to get them to control their thoughts and actions. Because the triggers are so personalized, one can never predict if a man should walk by my daughter who wore the same cologne as a man who raped her, or if an elderly woman should be sitting near us in the movies who resembles one of my son’s abusers. Their reaction is to immediately transport themselves back to the time and place they were abused, and this time they are fighting back. If you have never witnessed such an episode, you are very lucky. They are terrifying…

      • I completely understand and I was in no way trying to tell anyone that they are doing it wrong. My comment was more of a hope-of-the-future kind of thing. I have deep deep compassion for these sort of things…but I do believe we have power over them. I have seen too many things impacted because of a change of thought.

  9. I think you have done a wonderful job helping your children find tools for their tool bags of life. Just look at your daughter who called and knows mom is safe and reliable to help her in her time of need. I have used medication for my son who at the time was 7 so that he could get through some really tough things and they did their job and then we had to abandon them as he doesn’t tolerate meds well for long periods of time. As much as I would like to give him meds to give him some regularity in his life his body feels otherwise. He understands that meds are not a fix all in every situation but that they can help aid us through when the going gets tough. I am always pleased to see situations where medications help someone because I know what it feels like to suffer from symptoms of all sorts of disorders whether it be my own symptoms or my children. We may not have the best treatments possible for all the disorders and such but we are managing to help take away some things that in the not to distant past we had no way of constructively helping the people and caregivers who struggled every day. Kuddo’s to you and you precious family and thanks for the visit :-)

    • Thank you for your kind words. I, too, understand that meds are not a fix-all. My children have been on numerous meds which, for whatever reason, did not work.

      • Your welcome, Its nice to know i’m not alone in the struggles of trying to find what works and its so hard deciphering which symptom is from which label and if its side effects or meds. Hands down you are doing wonderful things for your children and I am glad to have found a place I can come to find inspiration and hope!

  10. It would be great if we could figure out why people commit horrible crimes. In my opinion it is a combination of how they are raised, peer pressure and the media. This could also include mental illness and/or medications. When children are raised in a negative or abusive environment, it can cause them to feel inferior, unloved and unwanted and they grow up to be adults who are insecure, unstable and full of fear.

    Mental illness is a terrible thing and yes many people are on the wrong medications and they can have terrible side effects. The drug companies do like to push meds because they make lots of money and people are misdiagnosed every day or given meds they don’t need.

    However, some people do need medications to survive and I am speaking from personal experience. I have suffered all my life with depression and it almost destroyed myself and my family. I also have several friends who also suffer from depression and bipolar disorder. For over twenty years, I took anti-depressants and I needed to take them or I would not have been able to function normally. When I was on those meds, I was able to work every day and raise my family. People take meds for various reasons and if they are necessary, it can balance out their systems so they can live a semi-normal life.

    I can also state how it feels to be on the wrong medication. I had a breakdown several years ago and while in the hospital psych ward, I was given a sleeping pill that I didn’t want but they insisted I take anyway. After 3 days, I was allowed to go home for a few hours and during this time, I freaked out and tried to run away from myself – sounds stupid – but I actually felt like I was physically running away from another body that was following me. I refused to take any more of those sleeping pills and I didn’t have any more hallucinations.

    Medications can help people if they are given properly and monitored regularly. However, it is a sad fact that many doctors don’t really care what they are prescribing to their clients. I feel badly for those people who have suffered from taking the wrong meds.

  11. Have noticed in most of the shooter profiles it is noted they suffered from extreme bullying at some point in their lives. Victims of intense bullying over time can snap due to PTSD like symptoms. One never knows what causes such a flash back which would set off a fit of raage but it is not uncommon. The general public is not aware of the extreme damage to the psyche that bullying can have. I would not have ever thought of it as being such an issue until I experienced it first hand as an adult. Always thought I was a very strong person until the relentless daily verbal battering and harassment from a boss and his “followers” had me in a state I never thought possible. There comes a point in which one has had enough and musters a strength within to lash out at those who have caused such undue pain. I think we need to focus more on the bullying issues which seem to be esculating as society as a whole.

    • I can certainly see where bullying issues are a form of child abuse. Unless you’ve been bullied yourself, it is hard to understand the extreme emotional toll it takes.
      I hope that you were able to find a different job…

  12. I too love this discussion. At this time I am the blessed parent of 2 special needs children who have profound disabilities. One of the things I have always been grateful for and will continue to be grateful for is that all three of my children had parents that truly loved them to the best of their ability and that the only abuse they suffered was from neglect and lack of understanding. That being said I have a nephew who like your child was born exposed to drugs who would not be doing as well as he is today were it not for his medications. I also work in a neonatal ICU and routinely work with infants that are being treated for withdrawal. It is impossible to care for most of these children and not worry about what the prenatal exposure has done to that tiny still forming brain. No child should be experiencing withdrawal at 24 hours of age, no child should be shaking so bad that they are causing sores on their body before they are 2 days old, no child should have to suffer like these children do. Unfortunately most of these children may require medications to function in society not because their parents want to drug them but because the services that these children require and the frequency they need does not exist in our country. Early services help, consistent services help. Good luck finding that and if you do chances are when you are doing well because of the support services they will be cut back because you are doing ok and obviously don’t need them instead of the understanding that you are doing well because the supports are there stepping in before you spiral out of control, or lessening the degree of your fall.

    I also have 2 wonderful nurses who work with my children. Both of them take psych drugs to help them handle their lives. The reasons they need these meds differ but both admit that without the meds they would not be able to function and that some meds have worked for them and some have not.

    All that being said I do not think that meds are the final answer for anyone. I do think that if you need them then finding a professional to help manage your meds and help you find other support should be a priority. I do not know why drug addiction, autism, ADD, ADHD and many other disorders are on the rise. I do not know why parents allow their children to spend hours playing video games instead of playing outside. I do not know many things. I do know that if we do not make mental health a priority in this county many more innocent people will certainly be hurt and that will be a vey sad thing indeed.

  13. I think there are good and bad sides to everything. Having Asperger’s Syndrome myself, I know that my brain is fundamentally different from those people who are neurotypical. This means that *some* medications that effect the brain (such as SSRIs) will have a different effect on me than people who do not have Asperger’s. I have been on anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and everything in between. I once went through 6 different medications in less than two months because the doctor couldn’t find a cocktail that worked. I stopped taking the medications about five years ago. I had gained 60lbs and was developing a sleep disorder that no doubt they would have treated with more pills. I was falling asleep randomly and without being tired, ie. right after breakfast while still sitting at the table, in the bathroom while using the facilities. This became dangerous as I was also busy chasing after an active little girl who is also autistic. Medications, in my experience, did make me more irritable, the made me moody, and was altogether an unpleasant experience. That said, my husband was at his wits end with me when I started taking the medications and has confessed that my taking them, even for that short time, probably saved our marriage. My mother has Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features, PTSD and severe depressive episodes. In my childhood, she would pack up the car with her stuff and the dog and the only thing that stopped her from abandoning my sister and I was that she couldn’t kiss us goodbye. Once her medications were at stable levels, she did much better. She is able to hold down a part-time job and live on her own without fear of hurting herself. There will always be good days and bad days for her, but the good days are coming more often. Medication is a personal choice and a successful option for many people. Side effects, such as increased mood swings, depressive thoughts or suicidal tendencies, are listed on just about all psychiatric medications, it is accompanied by a “Talk to your doctor immediately if you have these” warning. Different medications effect different people in different ways. That’s why we have such a variety of medications to chose from. Everyone is different.

    There is never one cause to these things.

    • I agree with you completely. Medications are not for everyone, but for those who benefit from it, I have observed that their quality of life can be so very much improved. I know parents who do not want their child with ADHD to go on medication, and although I support them and their decision, I have great difficulty handling that child in my classroom. He can’t pay attention, and despite an extensive behavior management program, he is failing his schoolwork. He has tantrums and feels very sorry for himself. He says that no one likes him and he feels stupid. I far from being an expert, but I can’t help but think that medication might improve his situation so he can learn better AND feel better about himself. No one can feel good about his/herself if they are always getting into trouble. And I do agree that not everyone benefits from medication, but if his/her quality of life is suffering because of an issue, I would suggest they trial.

      • Exactly. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, but we choose not to medicate because we don’t believe that is the correct diagnosis. Her second psychologist agreed with us. She has Proprioceptive Input Dysfunction, but not ADHD. I think they also need to come up with some better medications for children. Giving a child a smaller dose of an adult medication isn’t the same as giving the child a medication better designed to be administered to children. Did that last part make sense?

      • You make a good point. Before a child is prescribed medication there should be a thorough evaluation to see if there might be another cause…the boy I mentioned previously could have had a learning disability, or dyslexia or something that might have symptoms that mimic ADHD. (I know that particular boy did not have any of these more treatable conditions because I had suggested a full exam to rule everything else out.) I also worked with a boy who was super hyper and demanding of his parents…a boy I would obviously think had ADHD…but when he was alone with me he was a perfect angel!

      • Some parents are not willing to accept that their child may need additional assistance. I think as parents, we want to view our children as “perfect”. As a woman with Aspergers, I find that raising a daughter with autism is an adventure. I believe it was easier for us to accept that she needed assistance because I knew what I was seeing. She was always different, but everyone is different. God has made them perfect the way they are. They have so much to teach us. This boy sounds lucky to at least have you looking out for him. Hopefully, his parents will seek the assistance he needs before it becomes too much for his little body to handle.

      • I agree with you completely. Being the way that I am and the way I was raised, I am accepting of all of my children’s disabilities. They say that when you have a child with a disability you mourn the loss of the perfect child. I was raised to believe, literally, “God don’t make junk”.

      • I’ve heard that too, but I never grieved. I was relieved, to be honest. For years, we had been telling people there was something different. She was barely talking at the age of four. That’s well past the point of being a paranoid new mom. I was studying to be a preschool teacher before I got married. I knew there was something more going on when she wasn’t talking or gesturing at 12 months, but nobody would listen. We weren’t raised in the church, but having her has taught me so much about life and about myself. There’s no mistake in that.

      • It makes it even harder when a “problem” is diagnosed a little later in life…you had years of worrying before your feelings and thoughts were vindicated. This kind of proves that all professionals are not necessarily labeling kids even when it might be appropriate.

      • Exactly. I’m nearly 28 and am self-diagnosed. I cannot find anyone in my area who will diagnosis adults with Aspergers. It’s okay though. Nothing would change if I had a formal diagnosis. I’m still the same person, the services I am able to get on our insurance wouldn’t change much. I’m actually working on a blog about that in the coming days. I still feel vindicated and I’m learning to accept the quirky way I live and experience the world.

  14. “No one never knows if a person who appears to be ‘normal and quiet’ is really ‘normal and quiet’ underneath.”

    I find this completely true. You can’t really say a person was simply “normal,” “quiet,” or completely law-abiding because you just never ever know! Our perception of people can be surprisingly shallow at times. You just don’t know if there’s something boiling underneath, whether it’s a chemical imbalance, a tortured past, depression, etc. In terms of using medication, I feel like it is like a lot of things in life: it can be really good and at many times, necessary, or they can be used the wrong way both knowingly and unknowingly.

    Overall though, I think we can’t blame a mass shooting on one thing, especially on something like medication. There’s so many factors, like home environment, frequency of medication if it was involved, childhood, what the person had been doing for the years leading to the tragedy, etc. Like you said, mass shootings and murders can’t come from someone who was living a truly peaceful and constructive inner/mental life and a lot of the times, inner turbulence results from a variety of outside factors.

    Great post. Look forward to reading more~ Oh, and I really appreciate how you respond to people who differ in opinions. Respect!

  15. Dear 5KWD, you are SO incredibly patient and discerning! I think I would have had to step.away.from.the.computer after dealing with that first comment. So sorry you had to go through that!
    Thank you for bringing up this issue in such a compassionate and calm way. We need more of you in the world!
    I agree with Jadesandwich. Each situation is so individual. We pray and hope for each child to come to peace and healing and manage the situation as best we can but who can say who will “go off?”
    My hope is that the overall national discussion on mental illness will be brought about in the same awareness and compassion that you display. That we, as a nation, do not go backward in trying to put everyone in a box but that we become more wise, offering real help to those caring for the mentally ill – parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, friends, caring citizens, etc.
    Thank you for being who you are, giving your life in service to the broken and giving them love, hope and stability despite their challenges. You are an amazing family and I pray God’s blessing and provision in every area for you and for every child you bless. God alone knows all you and they deal with. Blessings.

  16. I know that people have varying beliefs on many different topics, so a discussion from all angles is fine with me. I am no expert…only talking about my own little world and what I have observed. I welcome any comments from people who have a thought on this subject because that’s what makes this truly “Let’s agree to disagree”!

  17. There was a letter in yesterday’s Metro newspaper in England regarding this. Today there was a counter letter from a psychiatrist, outing the letter-writer as being from a Scientologist ‘awareness’ group.

    Anyone with experience of the mental health system and acute inpatient wards will have an awareness of the correlation between relapse and stopping medication. I have never known anyone become more aggressive following starting medication. If someone has an underlying condition, with suicidal or paranoid ideation, then they are more likely to be on psychotropic medication and also more likely to behave in unpredictable ways.

    And FYI, the reason there is no blood test for mental illness is because the neurotransmitters that become unbalanced do not cross the blood/brain barrier. Neurology hasn’t got far enough to have a simple diagnostic test, hence why we have the DSM-IV and ICD-10 for diagnosing mental health conditions.

    I say all of this as someone who has always declined psychotropic medication but has seen the massive benefits that they can have.

  18. Brain chemistry is incredibly complex. Some mental conditions respond well to some medicines. Some people respond well to some medicines. It can be long and difficult process to determine what course of treatment works for a particular patient.

    Pharmacology is generally only one part of treatment for mental illness, it is used in conjunction with therapy of different sorts. Medicine is neither a panacea nor a poison, it is a tool, one of many that is used in the treatment of mental illness.

    A parent who takes an active role in the treatment of his or her children with mental illness will monitor the child’s medicines and behavior and diet and sleeping habits and will be alert for changes in mental state that indicate a potential problem.

    It’s clear from your writing that you are working with your children’s medical professionals to ensure that they have the best care, and that includes using drugs when they are indicated.

    In some cases drugs for mental illness are contraindicated–in my case none of the drugs that were tried for me helped. But it would be foolish to extrapolate from my own experience and say that no one should be on medicines because they didn’t work for me. Everyone’s brain chemistry is different.

  19. I think the most important part is that people are talking about it, and instead of preaching to the choir, finally the general public is paying attention. Raising children with challenges certainly elevates life to a whole new level of madness at times, and advocating for their needs with schools, psychiatrists, and other care providers is an exhausting, often thankless job. To continue to provide children with nurturing love through it all… well, they need it more than any child, and most moms do it. I have serious concerns about the psychotropic drugs given children, particularly those which have not been tested for pediatric use. I worry that there is inadequate data to safely administer such powerful chemicals to kids. It is important to differentiate relapse from withdrawal. The prevailing argument for most psych meds is that symptoms get worse when the medication stopped, but they also warn of serious symptoms due to withdrawal. The bottom line is that these conversations and more need to happen and with any luck, they will result in improved access to mental health care and improved care for our children! :)

  20. http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/new_sensitivity_gene_discovered

    This is slightly off-topic yet I feel it’s a very hopeful read. Nearly my entire family tree is littered with disorders from OCD to anxiety to schizophrenia. Yet I have only known one of them to be medicated for their entire adult life. I don’t know if this is because our disorders are more likely a ready response to the stress and abuse that occurred in our lives or what. This article made me wonder if there is anyone studying experience-based disorder vs chemically-based disorder. The former might benefit more from behavior therapy and few medications and the latter would benefit more from medications and some behavior therapy. It’s all speculation, of course. Medications don’t work for me personally and me and my family aren’t that much more violent than our counterparts (perhaps we just have more random reasons for the little bit of aggression we have released on some poor person). Still, it’s wonderful that you cover all the bases for your children. Medicine is medicine for a reason.

  21. I have lots of “feels” about this, so please bear with me!

    First of all, you were wonderful with that upset poster. I’m sure you’ve heard worse from your own children, but it’s never OK to be on the receiving end of that kind of rant. If someone needs to disagree, they can at least be civil and respectful about it.

    Mental illness is an inexact science at best. No two people are going to have the same life experiences, the same biochemistry, the same neonatal exposures.

    My sister and I were raised by a mom who was bipolar with paranoid delusions. My sister and I both suffer from bipolar and anxiety issues. None of us were diagnosed or treated until we were adults. I thank G-d that my mom got help finally, so that we could enjoy the last 10 years with her. She still got delusional at times, but she was much more in control of it. We were all able to forgive each other for the hell we all put each other through. None of that could have happened without medication.

    Now here’s the funny part – Prozac made me break out in hives from head to toe, but Zoloft has literally saved my life. My sister is allergic to Zoloft, and the only thing that works for her is Prozac! Go figure. She’s also a clinical psychologist who specializes in early childhood trauma and abuse. It’s not like she’d just go running to drugs if she thought therapy would fix it better.

    I’ve been using the “Diabetic with insulin” analogy for years. In cases of brain chemistry it is a very accurate parallel. It’s one thing to be really depressed because something in life has gone horribly wrong. Therapy is great for that. When you’re just sitting there, eating your waffles, and you suddenly break into tears for no good reason, you know you’ve got to deal with it on a medical level.

    I’ve spent half of my life unmedicated, and the other half with meds, and I wouldn’t trade my “new life” for the world. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back! I did several years of both regular therapy and NLP to help me process certain events in my life, but if I wasn’t on my medication, none of that therapy would have done me any good.

    Meds give me the clarity that I need, so that I know when to ask for help, and who to ask. I’m at a point in my life now where, if I’m having a bad day, I am self aware enough to know that I need to call my friends, my rabbi or my doctor (depending on what I’m upset about). I don’t go running for the vodka or Xanax. I don’t hide under the coffee table. I don’t yell at my kid for no reason.

    With all due respect to both sides of the discussion, to each his/her own. We all have our own paths to travel, and we need all the tools we can get. Going vegan and meditating didn’t work for me, but if it works for you then I am thrilled. The point is not how you get to that peaceful place, but that you get there.

    • I am so glad that you,your mom and your sister have been able to find a “peaceful place”. That is a wonderful way to phrase it. When my young son was so hyperactive he was unsafe, I was agitated and concerned and frightened and anxious. I certainly did not find a peaceful place until medication assisted him in living a more “normal” life!

  22. Such a great post to have brought up and very brave.

    I think in America it is slightly different to here in Australia with medication for mental illness. I know in my own personal experience, we were given many many other options of therapy and behavioural support to try for our son before committing to a trial of medication for ADHD. It seems that a lot people who haven’t been involved with special needs kids think that parents just jump on the meds as quick as possible to make their life easier. I find that the majority of parents actually monitor the meds really carefully to avoid being on meds that aren’t working or being on too many. They try everything else first before trying any meds.

    We were lucky in that he only had to stay on his meds for a little while because he was calm and attentive enough on his meds so that we could finally make some progress with many of our other non-chemical therapies. Now that he’s experienced ‘normality’ (imbalanced brain chemicals really do stop them from understanding how ‘normal’ feels!!) , he knows what it’s meant to feel like and we can now train him in other ways to get that feeling and focus his brain appropriately.

    Now my son has never been abused, has loving and devoted parents willing to do anything to help him and still had violent outbursts and other issues that we are still working on. I can only imagine what happens to abused children and their brains!

    It’s so important to remember that when a child has a problem, as long as they have a wonderful and caring parent like Linda, it’s not anyone’s position to judge the methods, as long as the outcome is a truly happy, successful member of society. And yes… despite everyone’s best efforts, when there is a true mental illness involved, there is still opportunity for them to ‘just snap’. So sad, and I wish the media would actually report honestly and with an unbiased slant about these people who commit mass murder.

    Thanks again 5KWD. :)

  23. Thank you Yocheved for raising the genetic component of mental illness. It’s not always about bad parenting or abusive home lives. Many people just struggle…..after trying healthy lifestyle adjustments, counseling, etc., etc., sometimes medication is the only thing that makes a difference. My dad just passed away at the age of 90. His last two years were some of his happiest because he finally received treatment for his life-long depression and OCD, for which I am very grateful.

    Thank you 5KWD for addressing this issue through your own experience. Many prayers for your family.

    • Ohhhhhh….. I also completely agree with the genetic aspect. My dad was schizophrenic and so was my brother. My unproven theory is that mass murderers do not have a congetic condition, but have a condition more likely caused by some type of abuse or where they have been traumatized and that trauma is stored in their brains to one day explode. I was amazed when I saw the mass murderer in the previous situation…he was not “there”. No eye contact, no emotion, completely absent…it was scary and it reminded me of my own children after they’ve had an “episode”.

  24. You have my total respect and admiration. May God bless you and your children. To learn to cope with biological children with ‘disorders’ is admirable but to be led to adopt challenged kids is truly a gift.
    I watched my mother back in the 60s and 70s, when mental disorders were all generally classified or diagnosed as retardation, operate a “retarded children’s” school. She would receive all the difficult and disruptive children from the entire school district. At that time her only method of coping was lots of love and constant prayer.

    Linda, We will keep you in our prayers.

  25. VeggieSandwichGeneration said:

    Thank you so much for an interesting and honest read. Everyone is quick to try to come up with the “why” this happened – if it were as simple as psych meds we would have a lot more of this and we would have it internationally. These mass shootings would not be a US epidemic alone. I will be following you as your story is inspirational!

  26. Hi again. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over the past few days and just came across a Ted Video at first glance doesn’t have to do with this issue, but I just realized it does. I hope everyone will watch it. It’s so important. It is given by a MD that did some very interesting research. Hope you all enjoy. http://youtu.be/LWQfe__fNbs

  27. Just wanted to say I love your blog and commend you for what you do. My sister works with autistic children in the Silicon Valley (we’ve got a VERY large autistic population here) and I know from watching her work with them over the years that what you’ve been saying is spot on; you can never tell if someone is actually “quiet and normal”, and medications are not a complete crock despite what the Scientologists would like us to believe.

  28. I’m not strictly ANTI medication- sometimes it IS necessary and it’s wrong to broadbrush everyone into the same pile. I think this might be a good time to “admit” that I’m pro-cannabis. I know for a fact that it’s useful for the healing of cancer and host of other ailments- including depression which is what I use(d) it for (can’t right now as I’m in a homeless shelter and it’s ok to be stoned out of my mind on “legal” drugs)(that have horrible side effects FOR ME) but not on cannabis, which helps a great deal. To each their own- from what I’ve seen and read, Mama- you seem to be doing just fine- like you said- agree to disagree but don’t rule out the natural over the man made if there’s a change they can reach the same conclusion with fewer side effects (IF that’s a problem)

  29. I did not take the time to read all the responses but I like to add a quick share: If every good thing come from God, is mental illness of God— in that case any illness. If not of God the illness is under the control of it’s root and source, evil (the prince of this earth). Today, so many are diagnosed with mental illness and if born yesterday we would likely have said they were just a little odd — in many cases. Can prayer and prayer for deliverance be offered as treatment just as meds? I am certainly not against meds and I have taken them myself at certain periods in my life when I had difficulty coping and I did not have the knowledge to overcome. Just a share– certainly not a judgement or criticism so please do not misunderstand. I just wonder. The bible tells stories of deliverance to the lame to the blind to the insane and He is the same yesterday today and forever.
    My prayers of strength to you— you and your husband must be two very special people! God bless you, Denise

  30. With all the diagnostic labels and flaky parenting techniques flying around these days, it is difficult to distinguish between excuses and reasons for disturbing behavior in our children.

    Here is what I know. YOU took a handful of very wounded children whose lives were most certainly headed for destruction and you claimed them and are taking care of them and dealing with the reality of their experiences and needs.

    Here’s the thing: The critics of meds – if you could show them a video of a week in the life of your special kids without meds, including all the horrors of their past, what would be the critic’s prediction as to their future?

    And now, show them a video of your children on meds (and hopefully in appropriate therapies as well) and what now is the prediction for their future?

    I am dismayed by the lack of responsibility I see in todays parents, yet you are taking responsibility for brokenness you didn’t even cause. Most of us refuse to take responsibility even for the results of our own actions.

    I cannot imagine what you must be like in person, because from all I’ve read here you are very humble, very sincere and want the very best for your children, not because of how it will reflect on your but simply because you want the very best for them. I know you are not looking for a rah rah session, but I have to say I think you are amazing.

    God bless you, 5kwd. I’m praying for you.

    • Thank you for your kind words. The fact of the matter is it is MUCH easier for me to deal with my children who are adopted than it would be for a parent to deal with a biological child with the same problems. I can feel completely blameless, and parent the children with a more objective eye. For my son who is biologically blind, there is always the question of what could I have done differently to prevent that from happening. I am so fortunate that he is an amazing young man with a bright future.

  31. Great post and discussion. I agree with you. We want to find a reason for something so awful. We want to be able to pick one “thing” that is the cause (antidepressants/phych drugs, mental illness, etc.) but it’s never that simple. Thank you for your honest description.

  32. Reagan K Reynolds said:

    Excellent discussion. Really encouraged my husband and I to talk about his issue. That is the best thing we can do: conversate about the matter. Your words are brave and honest. You’re children must be proud of you.

  33. I’m the guy you quoted in your post. I want to thank you, (and others here,) for giving me some needed perspective on how helpful and life-enhancing psych meds are for many people. Like all of you, I was greatly disturbed by yet another senseless shooting. When I learned that virtually every shooter in past years was either on, or coming off of, psych meds, it seemed to me like an obvious place for further examination. Frankly it still does.

    Apparently there is a very small percentage of individuals who may experience extreme reactions to these meds. Why does this seem to be an American problem? I don’t know, but are we prescribing these drugs at a higher rate to our children than other countries? I think none of us wants to see these meds banned, but it certainly looks as though we have more to learn about them. At a minimum, it seems like a good idea for households with people, especially males, on anti-depressants to not have a stash of guns in the house.

    I heard a recording of a sobbing man who called 911, saying that he had just killed his 2 daughters. HE called 911. He had just committed an act that he didn’t want to commit. Was it his mental illness, or was it the anti-depressants he was on? Researchers need to find an answer to this.

    Linda, thank you for initiating this respectful dialogue. I truly thank God for you and people like you, who choose to pour out their lives for others. You make the universe make sense, both for those you’re helping, and for the rest of us.

  34. I have so much sympathy for you, as well as very much admiration. When my daughter was a child, prior to finding the right medication, she would have seizures from her Epilepsy. Losing her for even a few minutes was extremely painful. She continues to take her medication to enable her to hold a job, dance, and be a happy person. Doctors should be jealous of your experience with the medications as well as dealing with the challenges of your children’s various illnesses. They certainly should study you while learning about drugs and the application of them to children.
    One thing I noticed, and perhaps it is a matter of brevity, is that you describe the reactions of them when the medications fail, or are missed, as being acute. These people who create mass killings have planned it for a long time. Is this a result of being off medication for an extended period, rather than the reactions of your children, that being instantly aggressive, depressive, and/or suicidal?
    Also, it also takes someone with access to multiple weapons to create those situations. I don’t blame the guns, just the fact that they are completely too accessible and glamorized in this country. Thank the NRA for their fanaticism.

    • I don’t recall the NRA ever advocating for the right to keep weapons unsecured and within easy reach of a mentally unstable person. Please feel free to correct me (with sources) if I’m wrong.

    • I, too,don’t blame guns, but, as you pointed out, they are easily accessible. The same guy who “snaps” could go in there wielding a knife. Of course, the results would probably be different as he might not have been able to kill so many people. On the other hand, who is going to tackle a knife wielding maniac when they themselves could be killed?

  35. By their posturing that taking away any form or aspect of weaponry, including “Cop Killing” bullets, they advocate this. There is no need for the general population to have such ammunition, nor military weapons, nor clips that hold a hundred bullets. And as I also mention, they glamorize using these tools. I also said I don’t blame the guns, not even automatic weapons for collectors. Their absolute stand is not reasonable, it is fanatic.

  36. Lots of thoughts here. Thank you for your willingness to present things for people to consider. Like many life events, we will never know what happened for this particular young man. All of us need to be cognizant to not stereotype or make assumptions. Those of us who are professionals in the field of behavioral health and who work with people would say this is complicated and that each person’s behavior and make up is different. In the wake of this event and in the reality of those living with various diagnosis, there’s not an easy answer. Each person, each case, is as different as the individual and the life experiences they bring.

    • I completely agree. The original commenter indicated a study demonstrating that all mass murderers were on prozac,therefore that medication had the tendency to cause people,otherwise observably calm and quiet, to flip out. My theory is that many people with severe mental illness are calm and quiet, are on prozac, and have the capability to flip out due to serious mental illnesses, (as in the case of my children with PTSD and DID.) As you know, most individuals with mental illness are not violent.

  37. I have really enjoyed reading several of your posts this morning. Soon my brother will be coming to live with my family. He had PTSD and is in on many types of medication…including anti- depressents. He is in so much mental and emotional pain and cannot sleep. He is getting out of the military because he attempted (and succeeded) in committing suicide…fortunately he died at the hospital. I have no experience with anyone on these kinds of medications. Can you share anything that can help me watch out for him?

    • I have such empathy for your brother. First off, I’d suggest he find some way to sleep…medication, listening to music, or something! If he can’t sleep, he will be in no shape to handle anything. Think of how you feel when you don’t sleep, and then multiply it by days.
      Be prepared for him to be moody, so be kind and gentle. Involve him in family life to the extent that he wants to be involved. Going out in noisy crowds may be a problem. If he wants to talk, listen patiently and with empathy. If he does have a “ptsd incident”, ie becoming dissociative and reliving a bad experience, do not try to approach him. He is not “himself” and he can strike out.
      Most of all, love him as he is now.
      God bless your family!

      • @ storyad: If I may jump in here, can I make a suggestion? First of all, I’d like to make the disclaimer that this is just worked for ME, everyone reacts differently.

        He needs to ask his doctor is BuSpar (busperone) might work for him. It’s a non addictive, non sedating anti-anxiety medication. I take 15mg twice a day, one in the morning and one before bedtime (along with a bunch of other medications). It definitely helps control the panic attacks that come when you’re sleeping, and take the edge out of your day.

        I also take 1mg of Lunesta (zopiclone) at night for insomnia. This one is trickier, as some people have bad reactions to it. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe for more than 6 months, but I’ve been on it for 5 years without needing an increase in dosage, and I can sleep without it with no withdrawal symptoms. It keeps me asleep long enough to get stage 4 sleep, and I almost never wake up in panic anymore. For me, it’s been a miracle drug.

        I have a history of drug abuse, and with these there has been no problem. I would be very wary of a doctor who would prescribe Xanax for anxiety. If he does get a prescription, have someone else keep it in a SECRET location, and use only for extreme emergencies. It is highly addicting, and the potential for overdose cannot be overstated.

        With the right medical support in place, therapy will be more effective, and less traumatic.

        I wish everyone a New Year full of health and healing! <3

      • Thank you for your input.

  38. Thank you both so much. Yocheved I will pass along the tips to my brother about the medicines. I know that he is maxed out on the sleep medication he is on now and it isn’t working. The military doctors will not release him to civilian ” life” until he can sleep. I agree about sleep being so important and I feel this was the primary problem that led to his suicide attempt. Again thank you. And 5kidswithdisabilities…you are amazing! I’ve wept while reading some of your posts and you are one of the people that make this world a better place.

  39. Hi , I just wanted to say a huge well done for being so patient with your replies here to the difference of views, thoughts and feelings.
    My oh my some followers have very , very strong views!!
    Did you expect to get that kind of impact out of that one post !
    Obviously I may be way of the mark saying this as my issues are completely different, but I have a serious spinal disease which causes be intense chronic pain everyday, without my meds for this I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my life with my family and friends, to work and have independence or to even write.
    to have a better quality of life I have to take the meds its as simple as that, they make a huge POSITVE impact and you can definatly tell the difference when I don’t take them.
    Your helping your children the best way you know how, your obviously a very, very loving parent who wants her children to get the best out of life, with all your experience in this field you have obviously researched the pro’s and con’s of every area.
    I agree with you , in an ideal world nobody would want to take meds if they had a choice but some people do not have a choice , the meds are an essential part of everyday life to help them to be the best person that they can be, your children are true heroes and they are extremely blessed to have a mother like you who is getting them through all their issues with faith and love. You kept saying you would agree to disagree which I think is extremely compassionate of you, one day maybe your children will read these posts and I am sure they would be very, very proud of their mother xx
    Victoria xx

    • Thank you for your kind words. I knew I was going to get some controversy, and I can “take it”.
      I understand your issues with medication. Believe it or not, I was raised by parents who did not believe in medication. Not because of the medicinal aspect, but because my dad was OCD and very very frugal and would not spend any money on it!
      I think the people who are most against medication have not had to face what you face every day…pain. It was like years ago when doctors did not want to prescribe morphine for terminally ill patients because they would get addicted…by the time they would be addicted they would be dead! So, they have finally come around in this area to allow people who are terminally ill to die gracefully and relatively painless. Medication is a necessity for some people, not a random choice.

      • Thankyou for your lovely reply, I think sometimes on here people just want to argue and cause drama, no one could have more experience in this area than you (dealing with children and medication) your an amazing person for giving your children a chance in life and all those other negative posts should stop their hateful words what goes around comes around .
        Im just about to order your book on Kindle, is it published as an E-book too? xx
        Victoria

  40. I feel for you, so many people don’t understand your family dynamic, and it is a complex one, and they are so quick to judge you. If only they could walk a mile (or 100 miles) in your shoes, maybe they would feel differently. I want to send you a *hug*.

    • Thank you so much for the hug.
      Differing opinions don’t bother me. I know I am doing the best I can and that’s all I can do. If I let other people’s opinions bother me I would have remained childless!

  41. I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. Your compassionate and reasonable comments / posting on this subject makes it clear that your kids are lucky to have you on their side! Thanks for spurring such an interesting discussion. I look forward to more.

  42. [...] controversial topic for which I inadvertently started a national debate on my blog in a post titled “Let’s Agree to Disagree” during the shooting of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Everyone is entitled to their [...]

  43. Great post and I’m sorry to see that you have some negative comments on here. I think a lot of people like to treat psych drugs like a black and white issue. Drugs work for some people and they don’t for others.

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