As with other SSRIs, you need to phase the medication in, and we watched the girl with an eagle eye. It’s nerve-wracking. Every little quirk or incident, you ask yourself “Is it the meds?” “Am I seeing any improvement?” and most importantly, “Am I seeing any indications that she’s going to slit her wrists and/or murder us in our sleep?”
After a week or so, she started taking a full dose. After a while, certain changes in her behavior became obvious, and had lasted long enough to be attributed to the medication.
First, she was happy. Cheerful, even. She didn’t stomp off to her room and slam the door, she didn’t sulk for hours on end when she didn’t get her way. She was, dare I say it, agreeable. She even seemed to be going to sleep better, which had always been a struggle. So, one point for pharmaceuticals.
On the other hand, the teeny-tiny amount of self-control that she DID have was utterly, utterly gone. If a thought crossed her mind, she blurted it out. If she wanted to do something, she did it. She wasn’t necessarily hyperactive, in the traditional sense, but she was going full on, all the time, with no consideration of possible consequences. It was exhausting. For example:
Girl: “Can I watch TV?”
Mom: “No, you watched quite a bit this morning. You don’t need to watch TV again this afternoon.”
Girl: “Then can I go outside and ride my bike?”
Mom: “I’d like you to pick up the living room first.”
Girl: “Then can I watch TV?”
Mom: “I just told you I didn’t want you watching TV! Just for that, you’ve lost TV for tomorrow.”
Mom: “Are all your dirty clothes in our bedroom?”
Girl: “No. Mom?”
Girl: “Once I get my dirty clothes in your room, can I watch TV?”
(Mom’s head explodes)
She was agreeable, pleasant, happy, and completely infuriating. After a week or so of this, my wife was ready to ship her off to Uzbekistan. After a consultation with the nurse practitioner, we cut her medication dosage by half. After she accommodated to the new dosage, we noticed a difference in her behavior. She started to lose her temper a bit more, and even sulk a bit, but she still snapped out of it much more quickly than she used to. Most importantly, the manic activity and logorrhea had died down substantially.
We’ve had a couple of strange incidents, for example a couple of times when she was up and walking around after bedtime, acting oddly, only to have no memory of it the next day. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s tied to her brain chemistry, or for example a movie she watched that day.
Most importantly, at least for me, is that even though we can see the differences in her behavior, she insists she feels no differently. As far as she is concerned, taking her pill every day has had no effect at all. In fact, when we try to explain the differences that we have observed, she gives us a rather suspicious look.
However, as a reminder that not everything can be solved with little white pills, we found more evidence in her room that she’s been stealing food again, and recently. She takes it from the pantry, and hides it in her bedroom. This is on top of finding out near the end of the school year that she had been getting breakfast at school — after having breakfast at home — and that she had been doing it since October. The wife got a record from the school and calculated that the girl had charged about $80 in extra breakfasts over the school year. $80 dollars that she will be reimbursing us, with some nominal interest charge. So, food clearly remains an important issue to be addressed.
So, those have been the latest scenic viewpoints on the road trip that is parenthood. It didn’t look like this on the map.