The meds are on

Anthony went to the psychiatrist with Jesse today and walked out with a prescription for Citalopram, one of those SSRIs (Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitor, and yes, I have no idea what that means). It’s an anti-depressant, also used to treat anxiety and other behavior and mood disorders with kids. As far as I can tell, the research is still out. Giving kids meds like this is a bit like throwing shit at the wall. At least, that’s what I’ve decided today.

I am profoundly resistant to medications of this sort. I use the word “resistant” purposefully, in lieu of “opposed.” There is a small rational part of me that understands that, for some kids, meds like this are part of a healthy journey. I would never judge another parent for turning to meds. But my instincts are so vested in not doing this. It feels like the ultimate statement in parenting failure — because if only I were a better mother, then Jesse wouldn’t need drugs.

Jesse is also resistant to the meds. She thinks they’ll make her drool. I suggested that drooling might be an improvement over her crazy yawping and penis talk, and more important, maybe it would be good if the meds help her stop hating herself so much.

I asked Anthony to do some more research, and some more research, and then some more research before we start dosing her. I said SSRIs come with a lot of risks, and if it doesn’t go well then weaning Jesse will be hard too. I reminded him that, although I talked about meds as an option a couple weeks ago, I quickly backtracked and changed my mind. My man nodded and looked at me thoughtfully, and mostly said nothing. But then tonight at dinner time he quietly cut one of the pills in half and handed it to Jesse with a glass of water.

An old friend of mine whose opinion I respect suggested that I trust Anthony on this. It’s wise advice, since I can’t see very clearly right now. Jesse feels lost to me, and I’m in this sad, broken place where I assume ordinary parents like me go to when our children fall apart. I can’t think straight. I can’t parse through the data. I can’t make good decisions. I just feel emotionally flayed.

I’ve gone to therapy with Jesse almost every week for nearly five years now. I’ve done my best; but it hasn’t amounted to much. I’ve failed too often, broken promises to myself and my children, yelled too much, found patience and insight too infrequently. It must be my fault that we’re reduced to purchasing a medication — mass-produced by some indifferent pharmaceutical giant and hawked to our health insurer so effectively that we only pay 28 cents a month for it — to try to fill the gap left by my horrific parenting.

28 cents for a month. That’s all it takes.

Anthony argued gently with me this morning. “You’ve tried everything already, Carla.”

I answered in earnest. “Then I have to try harder.”

Anthony just looked at me sadly. I didn’t rightly know what he was thinking.

But he gave Jesse her first dose of Citalopram tonight. 5 milligrams, half of the recommended minimum dose. Just a baby step on the road to… Drug dependency? Emotional wellness?

I looked away, fussed about the room, disappeared myself as this abomination of a moment passed.

And then I wept. Several times. I’m still weeping, right now.

After the kids were asleep I asked Anthony for more details about their visit to the shrink. “Did you tell her how I’ve messed things up?” I asked.

“No. But I did tell her that you’re way too hard on yourself.” Or maybe he said too self-critical. i don’t remember exactly, because it broke me.

I buried my face on Anthony’s shoulder and wept. It’s all my fault, I told him.

“No. It’s not,” he answered gently as we held each other. I wept and wept and wept.

But it is all my fault. I’m too weak to even give Jesse the meds she probably needs to get her through this. I’m too weak and scared to support this decision.

Good thing Anthony’s on it. I think I’ll trust him on this one, for now.

I’d like my Jesse back, please.