As I wrote about in my first blog post, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and ADHD at age six. Even though I was diagnosed when I was six, I didn’t receive psychiatric medication until I was 12. The medication they prescribed at the time stopped working for me after a while, but I got a glimpse of what medication could do for me. I thought about the years of failed therapy and asked my mother why she didn’t give me medication when I was diagnosed. She told me child psychiatry was relatively new and that she was hesitant to put chemicals into my body. All those years I had to wonder why I was lonely in the company of friends and wonder why my mom was still sending me to therapists when I was sure there was no solution. That being said, I can’t blame her for being hesitant and I don’t blame her for my suffering. She didn’t necessarily keep me in the dark, but I do wish she had helped me understand mental illness much earlier on.
Contrary to popular belief, kids are smarter than you think. If you are looking into psychiatric medication as a form of treatment, you cannot expect your child to willingly take an antidepressant if you haven’t even helped them understand their mental illness. Learning that depression was also called a “brain disorder” was not enough. To me, “brain disorder” addressed the brain in its entirety and equated to “your brain is broken.” I needed to learn that there is less serotonin in brains of people with depression and that antidepressants could fix the chemical imbalance. Last year, I found videos of a doctor’s ADHD seminar where he did an intensive teaching that included the biological causes of the disorder. I sat in my chair and watched the videos for hours. I finally felt like I understood myself and I felt comfortable with my mental illnesses.
“The pill will help you” is not good enough.
“You need therapy because I want you to talk about your feelings” is not good enough.
It’s time we answer with scientific fact as opposed to extremely vague, desired outcomes.
Ming Cooke is a freshman, studying web development in the iSchool at Syracuse University. Through her battle with ADHD & clinical depression, she became a mental health advocate and created The Best Weapon documentary. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Instagram @mingrosec