Debbie Brandt of Oregon shares the story of her son and provides insight into the complex issues surrounding medication and mental health. (If you would like to contact Debbie, her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Debbie Brandt’s Story
Source: Personal Communication with MindFreedom
Thank you for your response and consideration of our story.
While MindFreedom fights against forced psychiatric treatment and
the profitable drug companies’ efforts to market their product to
the masses, I wanted to share our story to remind us that proper
medication treatment has merit.
My son’s happy years ended when he was eight. He experienced
significant depression and soon moved into violent explosions. He
had always experienced unusual sensory reactions and he was
definitely always in motion, but he had always been happy. Now he
was very angry. I remember knowing that his moods just inflicted
themselves on him, that he was NOT in control of them. Often he
would be so volatile and then he would be just wonderful. He never
could figure out what choice he had made to merit the good side, he
just knew that he wanted to be that person all the time. So many
months and years of so many efforts went by. Maybe he was reacting
to the divorce, etc.
Each of the counselors ‘suggested’ my son was ADHD, but I was
adamant that ADHD did not describe my son, and I never allowed
medication for ADHD because of his violence. Over the next four
years he was treated with different anti-depressants, each of which
brought significant peace at first, but, after two weeks, the
violence would escalate. Mood stabilizers and medication to help
sleep – they were tried. My son had serious problems with each
medication that was attempted. My concerns for my son, my
efforts for my son, my son’s lack of desire or ability to
communicate were all met with a mental health professional that
decided that mom must be to blame here, even turning me in to
Children’s Services….. I was wrong if I sought treatment for my
son, and I was wrong when I wanted him off his medications due to
the severity of the violence.
My son was twelve before he was properly diagnosed with Asperger’s
and Mood Disorder NOS. Medication was tried again after more than
a year without any. Progress was VERY slow because we were shell
shocked from the bad medication trials. This mood stabilizer did
not work either and I demanded another intermission, to the
consternation of his providers.
During the spring my son was fifteen, he began escalating to hypo
manic and I began to realize that this was a very definite pattern
of depression for four winter months and escalation in early
spring. We were entering his fourth year of such a defined pattern
and I began to remember that the previous summer he was even more
agitated and argumentative than he was in the spring. His
escalation did continue and by summer he was sleeping less, barely
eating and he was frequently out of touch with reality. One night
at nearly midnight he was clearly psychotic. We are fortunate that
he has private insurance through his father, because county would
not provide residential care he clearly needed. He was placed in
residential treatment where he was diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder,
and, finally, medicated successfully. He remained there for four
months and received intense care.
Even while I was afraid to have him return home, because of safety
concerns about his violent reactions, he was discharged in
December, just before he turned sixteen.
Home life has required a lot of work, by both of us as well as a
significant support team, which we had never had before he was
placed in residential treatment. Our county does not have support
services and we had to knock on many doors all the way to state
level to put a team in place.
My son is making absolutely huge progress. He is far more
relational than he has ever been. He is far less reactive and
seldom volatile. He even quips about his obsessive tendencies and
is extremely insightful about his struggles with mood. We still
have struggles, such as school, and he complains of feeling a
hollow emptiness sometimes (too often).
I think our story is significant to share because it is so real.
We did not just miraculously obtain the correct diagnoses and the
correct medication. It has been a battle for seven years and we
have been through many years of pain, in spite of, and because of
medication, but I am NOT anti-medication. My son suffered for way
too many years. He has a beautiful and generous spirit and
medication has allowed him a degree of peace from his battle with
BiPolar. He knows that he is loved, he connects with his family
and he is beginning to consider a future.