To Medicate or Not to Medicate - Caelan's Journey

When it comes to using medication for any sort of ailment it's always a struggle. There are so many articles floating around on the Internet and everything they say must be true right? Not everything you read is true and not everything is false. There are so many contradicting theories that really, when it comes to making the decision to use medication it can be a daunting task. 

Recently I watched the Netflix Documentary "Take Your Pills" 1    In short it talks about the history of Adderall and looks into it's overuse and would compare it to the Opiate crisis, it touches on those who need it, those who rely on it, and those who only use it with the intent of being the best self they can. It hit close to home as just months ago my son was on similar medication, so it brought me to write this post. I suppose this post was a long time coming. One of the things I wanted to share through Mommy Dearest: Boogers, Boys and life, was my son's Journey. I have found that although I want to share as much as I can, it has been difficult to put into words. (maybe this stems from fear of judgement, or the stigma that is attached to it, I'm unsure, either way watching this documentary sparked something and the words just started to flow.) 

When our oldest Caelan was diagnosed with A.D.H.D combined type I remember immediately thinking that there was no way we would use medication. I was absolutely not going to have a "zombie" for a child. There was no way that mediation could help this. This was of course when I was still very ignorant to mental illness of any sort, the medications that are used for treatment, and really had no supportive backing to my stance. I had maybe read one or two articles online and had only ever heard of Ritalin 2 and Adderall 3. I assumed that any medication for A.D.H.D was going to turn my child into a mindless person. Making an assumption like that gave to the old adage "to assume something makes an ass out of you and me". 

But with the gung-ho ideology and uneducated thought process, I was standing firm in my decision. At least that's what I thought at the time. When we first got the diagnosis our pediatrician was really thorough in explaining as much as they could. We had come up with a plan that we were going to try a multi-modal approach to Caelan's treatment plan. This meant that we were not going to rely on one method of treatment. We were going to use a combination of treatments ie) therapy, visual aids, routines etc. Our goal in the long run was to help him be as successful as possible both socially and academically giving him the coping mechanisms to survive in the society we live in. One that pushes us to perform at the highest capacity for the longest duration. 

We met every 4 to 6 weeks and would discuss what we thought was working and what may work for the future. Each appointment the Doctor praised me for the successes we had and reassured me that when something didn't work, it wasn't so much a failure as it was a lesson, we would find the right tools, it just may take time. Again we live in a time where we expect results to be instant - when in fact not everything is instant and sometimes takes a great deal of time. Though it may seem impossible some days, we would get through this. 

It was probably about a year and a half into following our multi-modal approach that the "symptoms" were getting worse. Caelan had Verbal tics (he would clear his throat, sniff and or sigh repeatedly - friends, family and strangers would point this out, single him out and make a mountain out of mole hill), he was unable to sit still and couldn't focus long enough to give any sort of eye contact to a person and if he did he was usually staring off in space not actually paying attention. He was struggling academically which wasn't a problem in the past and now he was struggling socially more than ever. 

We had tried many different approaches. We were taking multi-vitamins and trying different supplements, we tried changing his diet, we tried some essential oils (which to our dismay were a bust as smells is one of the sensory things he struggles with the most {Autism related}), we tried "mindfulness" techniques, meditation, etc. It felt like we were trying all these things that some others had success with, while here we were in what felt like a giant hole of quick sand slowly sinking unable to move - stuck. 

I remember the days leading up to the appointment where I felt broken and had no other options left. I was at a dead end and wholeheartedly up to this point refused the very thought of medication. The pediatrician had literally drawn up a chart on the paper they put on the exam tables, explaining in the best laymens terms they could, and I took it home and turned to my trusty friend Google and read as much as I could. I reached out to support groups online and asked what other parents were doing? What had they noticed, what made them decide to give medication a try. I was met with contempt from some and others were willing to share their stories and talk about what they had experienced themselves as well as their children. 

My husband and I had discussed it and thought, if it was something that was going to help our son, we were willing to give it a try. The doctor had given me the prescription and it felt like a brick in my hands. I questioned the entire thing all the way home. I remember a few friends and family members being "shocked" that we going to use medication. I felt judged - alone. 
I remember bringing the prescription to the pharmacy I had to show photo ID and sign several pieces of paper and fill out forms, It felt like the pharmacist was screaming that it was a controlled substance (they were speaking in a normal tone) and felt like everyone in line behind me was listening in, judging me. (I realize they probably weren't but why was I feeling like this?) I remember the weight of the bottle of pills and wondering over and over again what was going to happen, was I making the right choice. 

A few days ago I read someones Facebook post about how they witnessed someone having an anxiety attack, and was able to be talked out of it and that the cure lies inside - medication was not the answer. (This is a technique known as "grounding" we use similar techniques to talk our way down from a melt down, sometimes it works other times it isn't enough) Looking back years ago, I probably would have jumped on board and wholeheartedly agreed, now however that I have educated myself as much as possible and continue to do so, I don't agree with such harsh statements. This lit a fire inside I didn't know I had.

I only read a few of the comments and I wasn't in the mood for a debate. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it got me thinking that it was this mentality that surrounds any mental illness, whether it be Anxiety, Depression, A.D.H.D etc is part of the stigma. We wouldn't think twice about giving insulin to someone who is diabetic because their pancreas doesn't work. We wouldn't second guess using medication to treat kidneys that aren't working, or the heart. These are all vital Organs. Why do we give it so much thought when it comes to the brain and mental health? The Brain is also an organ. Is it because we can't physically see something so it isn't there? That's all part of the stigma, the stigma that needs to end. 

We chose to give medication a shot, it was not the be all end all. As explained by our pediatrician months prior to starting medication, Medication alone would not be the answer, the correct diagnosis and giving Caelan the tools and coping mechanisms, in the correct combination would help.

The medication at first didn't seem to do anything, with an altered dose we began to see changes - positive changes. It helped him to maintain better focus during school. He was pleased with himself, his self esteem was growing. I can tell you one thing - Caelan did NOT turn into a zombie while on medication. It wasn't a magic fix either. There were still some struggles, some sleepless nights, emotional roller coaster rides, and ups and downs. It was making a difference, that is until it didn't and wasn't working the way it was supposed to. 

We had to stop that medication and in the meantime we are still using the multi-modal approach, researching and waiting on long wait lists for therapy, we have yet to find a medication that works. We haven't completely given up, it's a process. The struggle real, it was a real battle for me. Was I doing the right thing? Will we ever find something that works? For now it's really a matter of trial and error. I feel like he struggled for longer than he should have all because I was so close minded. 

If there is anything that this journey has taught me, is to be open minded and embrace the differences and be willing to try, and persevere. It also reminds me that what works for some, may not work for others and that's OK. There is no magic fix to this. Through hard work and our multi-modal approach, Caelan will succeed, he will need to learn new coping skills to make it through this thing we call life. No one medication, essential oil, or supplement will do that, but a combination may.

Until we find what will work long term, we are embracing what works for now. 

~Mommy Dearest

In no way does Mommy Dearest condone the illegal use of  any medications, including selling or buying a controlled substance, and taking such medication without a valid prescription from a Physician,  

1. - Trailer for "Take Your Pills"
2. - March 31, 2018 Methylphenidate (Ritalin) 
3. - March 30, 2018 Adderall 


  1. I have been living with anxiety for years, and even though therapy has helped me a lot, I decided to start medication about 6 months ago.
    I'm not sure why I didnt start before! Medication does not fix all our issues - i'm still working on them with my therapist - but it did help me get back into the right mindset to benefit from therapy and personal work!

  2. You make a great point about treating the brain as equally important to treating our other organs. There is such a stigma to any type of mental illness, behavior disorder, or learning disability, and I’m glad you are sharing your story!

  3. The one thing that boggles my mind is how medical professionals compartmentalize things so often. The brain is complex, and needs to be handled on multiple levels!
    I am SO thrilled that you guys are keeping up the good fight, and looking at the multi-modal approaches.

  4. I am hoping for the best result for you and your family. Staying on the solution that gives immediate result would be the best thing to consider. Although, we should not stop from searching for a long time solution.


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