Not every ADHD story is a success.

Most are works in progress.

I can’t say I have it all under control yet, but I’m trying. One of the things that helps me, quite frankly, is medicine. Which originally felt like a failure. You see, my mother spent a great deal of effort to keep me unmedicated. 

I did a podcast the other day for ADHD reWired in which I raised some points about the educational system and the epic battle my family waged to keep me off of medicine. That started somewhere. You see, my mother wasn’t just going off of intuition here, she had a real life example of ADHD medicine to go on: my friend Manuel. His life has influenced mine in a way that most people would attribute to a spouse or a parent. Our friendship literally changed the course of my life.

Manuel was funny; like young John Leguizamo funny. He was my friend at that awkward time that kids have in what they now call the “tween” years. He could make you laugh yourself sick. Manuel had one of the worst cases of ADHD I have ever seen, one that fueled his propensity for mischief. He regularly interrupted our fourth grade classes, and sometimes our teacher would literally have to carry him out of the classroom when he refused to walk to the principal’s office.

Manuel’s antics still stick out in my mind: the day Manuel tried to jump out the window of the classroom ( first floor). Manuel torturing the student teacher, popping up every 3 minutes. Manuel pretending to be a dog, crawling around the classroom on all fours. His tricks delighted and disgusted us. After all, sometimes you want to laugh, sometimes you just want to learn.

I’m not sure when we became friends outside the classroom but I know we went lots of places together. One thing I remember from this period of time is that my mother became very concerned about the about the contrast between when Manuel took his meds and when he didn’t. You see, when medicated Manuel went from vibrant, energetic and playful to quiet and contemplative. To quote my mother, he was “a zombie.” Unfortunately, not long after I was diagnosed for the second time with ADHD. My mother, enraged assured me I didn’t have to worry about being put on anything that would make me feel like that.

As you can see, Manuel was all but a poster child for the naysayers of ADHD. He was a young minority child, he was a behavior problem in the classroom and he drove his mother crazy at home. Is it possible they drugged him because they didn’t want to deal with him? I don’t know. I do know that he possibly was over medicated, but without it he was impossible to contain. I think Manuel needed a little more attention and a little less medicine. I haven’t seen Manuel since I was nine years old, but wherever he is I hope he doesn’t jump out of windows and that he can still make someone laugh until their stomach hurts.

Until next time,

René

5 thoughts on “Medication  and Manuel

  1. I love what you’re saying here. There truly is a fine line when it comes to medicating for ADHD. I think that the best parents fight it until it becomes something that they no longer have the tools do deal with on their own. As a parent, I can understand what it must feel like… defeat, failure, etc. But, it’s not! It’s so important to remember that every child has needs (as does every adult) and the needs of one child might not be the needs of another. Just today at the school bookfair I was talking with another mom who’d been in your shoes just last year. She knew that her son really needed to be medicated in order to thrive in school, but she was hesitant. Luckily for him, they found a medication that doesn’t have high highs and low lows, but is more balanced and he’s doing amazing on it. And, she even mentioned that she was afraid her son would be a zombie.. and that’s not at all how he is.

    Nothing wrong with taking medication to ease things. No judging coming from me, friend. xo

  2. Great story, well told! Thanks for sharing it, Jacinta.

    Yes, when methylphenidate is dosed too high, there can be a “zombie” effect. A flattening of the personality. This was more common years ago, but unfortunately it still happens now.

    At the same time, there’s another scenario I’ve witnessed far too often. It’s this:

    The “class clown” sometimes becomes that way out of boredom and out of seeking a place for him/herself when it’s clear that academics is not going to be a place to shine. Medication can make other options possible; being the jokester or the entertainer is no longer the only choice.

    What I’ve seen, though, is the friends and even sometimes the family members of that person bemoaning the loss of their “personality.” When what they’re really saying, “I’m not as entertained by this person as I used to be.”

    So, we have to ask, do these “class clowns” exist solely to entertain their friends and family, or do they deserve a chance to explore other paths in life?

    What was funny and entertaining for Manuel at a young age could have grown seriously less funny in young adulthood. Maybe that’s what his family had in mind in pursuing medication. I too hope he is still making people laugh, but not at the expense of what he wants in life. And I hope he’s found medication that doesn’t “flatten” his personality.

    tx
    g

    1. You have just solved a life long question. I always wondered why anyone wouldn’t have noticed this young man’s dosage was incorrect.

      I agree with you, people often look at others in the context of how they want to feel when they are around. I definitely can see where some people wouldn’t have realized that it may have felt good for Manuel even if it didn’t feel good for them.

      1. Oh geez, hardly anyone’s dosage is correct, even now! 🙂

        Poor prescribing….it’s been one of my “causes” since I began, in 1999.

        You have a very succinct way with words. Please keep writing!

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