May 19, 2014

Drugging Kids Instead of Changing America

I am a psychiatric social worker and children's and young adult librarian. I  have 5 younger brothers, 4 grown daughters, 4  sons-in-law, 5 grandkids, 4 and under, 11 first cousins, 7 great nieces and nephews,  and 45 Younger first cousins, the mother of 4, the grandma of 4. I am also a manic depressive. It took ten years to find a medication that helped; I read about it on the Internet and shopped for a psychiatrist that would partner with me to experiment.   The other meds did far more harm than good.

I am not denying a 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. Many discovers have close ties to Big Pharm. 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.

May 1, 2014

What Is Your Birth Order?

To Only Children: Being the oldest child dooms you to the responsibility chip, whether you have no siblings or 7. Until both your parents die, you are being parented by people who have no clue what they are doing.  Their grandparenting skills are nonexistent. Children raise their parents to be grownups. Being outnumbered makes the job more challenging and stimulating, but you are always up to it.

My five brothers are 18 months, 3 years, 7 years, 11 years, and 13 years younger.

. Sibling closeness has mattered more to me than to my brothers. I try much harder to keep the family connected. Being both the oldest and the only girl seems central. I was my adult height when my two younger brothers were born; they were only 5 and 7 when I left home for college. I must have seemed a maternal figure to them. In some pictures I look like their young mother.

We did not grow up in the same family. My mother returned to school full-time when my youngest brother  Brian was 5; she started teaching high school when he was 7. The 3 oldest Koch sibs  had a stay-at-homehome mother until we went to college. Brian doesn't remember my mom staying at home full-time. My father retired before Brian finished college.

We have very different perceptions of our parents. The 4 oldest remember our dad as a brilliant intellectual and mathematician; The 2 youngest remember a grail old man who disappeared into Alzheimer's Disease. The three oldest remember our childhood perceptions of my mom as "just a housewife" who never went to college. My younger brothers remember her the way her obituary describes her: "teacher, activist, trailblazer."