I am also a manic depressive. After being diagnosed in 1985, I was forcibly dosed with thorazine, stelazine, and haldol in the loony bin, Out of the loony bin, I have tried lithium, klonopin, depakote, tegretol, various antidepressant. All did far more harm than good. I seem to lose my ability to write and my IQ drops 40 points.In 1996 I read about lamictal (lamotrigine) on the Pendulum Manic Depressive listserv . I also met my husband on Pendulum; his first wife, with no warning, had gone psychotically manic, divorced him, and has refused to speak to him for 14 years.
I shopped for a psychiatrist who would partner with me in a lamictal experiment and found Peter Stein in 1997. He, my therapist who wishes to remain anonymous, and lamictal have tamed the manic depressive demons ever since. I was Peter's firstt lamictal patient. Now he prescribes it frequently and never gave me a cut. Lamictal is not a magic bullet, but it does not rob me of my intellect and my writing. It tames but doesn't scare away the manic depressive demons; I have never been hospitalized. It has not eliminated the rebellious troublemaking and authority questioning so underappreciated by librarians and social workers. It can cause fatal flesh-destroying rashes. I fully expect to die sooner because of my psych meds.
The few times in the last 24 years that I or my psychiatrist deluded ourselves that I didn't need meds anymore, I learned an expensive lesson. I lost jobs and in a few instances landed in the loony bin. So I am not denying any role for medication I am not talking about ADHD drugs like ritalin. However, childhood bipolar disorder has only been discovered in the last 15 years, mostly in America. The close ties to Big Pharm of many discoverers have been exposed. Until 1995 conventional psychiatric wisdom was that bipolar disorder could only be diagnosed in the late teens. There is no conclusive study that proves childhood bipolar disorder leads to adult bipolar disorder. Psychiatrists still debate whether it exists and whether it should be included in the next edition of the psychiatric bible, the DSM. Mysteriously, children with such broken brains are mostly found in the US and the UK.
Too often kids are being given anti-psychotics for behavior problems, anti-psychotics not tested with children. When I was forced to take these drugs, they obliterated whole days. My intellect and education were not able to withstand their devastating cognitive effects. Fantasy, dreaming, reading, reality were blurred only after I took the drugs. Giving such drugs to a young mind until all alternative have been exhausted seems like malpractice.
Young children are so unformed, so in process. This year's four year old can seem like a different creature than last year's three year old. So can this year's 14 year old. These diagnoses disorder imply lifelong, incurable brain disorders for which there are no medical tests, no verifiable proof of their existence. Your children will be sentenced to a lifetime of discrimination and stigma. Children with serious problems need to be treated with family therapy.
Why would you accept that your young child has a permanently broken brain? Why not change child care arrangements, pay your parents to take care of him, share a nanny with a friend,reduce your working hours and lower your career ambitions, live more frugally, sell your house and move to an apartment, borrow money and take a leave of absence from work, your parents and relatives for help, search out books and activities about his particular obsessions, learn the recommended interventions yourself?
Does your child need more relaxed time with his overscheduled parents rather than tense sessions with experts comfortable with diagnosing him after a few testing sessions?Why not wait until the picture becomes clearer? Why it is so urgent to find the answer when he is 2 or 3? We are not dealing with meningitis or childhood leukemia. When I hear a 7 year old rattle off all his psychiatric labels, it breaks my heart. I need some comrades to help lead the revolution.