When I was a youngster I was diagnosed with ADD. Educators said I could not pay attention. They said I often got lost in my own world. I would not read what they wanted. I read my own material, usually fantasy sagas and other unpopular works of fiction. They constantly had to discipline me and complain to my mom about my attention span. As a result, they believed I needed to take a speed compound to correct my “mental illness…”
But the Ritalin addled my nervous system.
It made my little mind race. I could just sit and constantly look ahead like a statue, eyes plastered in confusion and fear. I had a superabundance of emotions overload my still maturing brain. The meth was too intense for me at such a tender age. I fought back. I pretended to take the “medication,” but spit it out often. It was hurting me, turning me off to learning and education, preparing me for a life of mindlessness.
It was not what I needed. It was not healthy. The adults were wrong. Drugging a child was not the answer. It is psychologically damaging, and possibly bad for the brain. Studies suggest that there are not any guaranteed long term positive effects of anti-ADD medications. Dr. Peter Breggin summarized this in an earlier article:
“As the National Institute of Mental Health succinctly stated, ‘The long-term effects of stimulants remain in doubt” (Regier and Leshner, 1992). The FDA-approved information put out by the drug company, Ciba-Geigy, admits “Long-term effects of Ritalin in children have not been well established’ (Physicians’ Desk Reference, 1994, p. 836). Yet methylphenidate is typically advocated as a long-term treatment.NIMH further states that studies have demonstrated short-term effects such as reducing ‘class room disturbance’ and improving “compliance and sustained attention.” But it recognizes that the drugs seem “less reliable in bringing about associated improvements, at least of an enduring nature, in social-emotional and academic problems, such as antisocial behavior, poor peer and teacher relationships, and school failure.”
A more recent specific study (amazingly government funded) found that Ritalin causes similar effects as cocaine in the reward and pleasure centers in mice:
“Investigators funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have shown that the medication methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can cause physical changes in neurons in reward regions of mouse brains—in some cases, these effects overlapped with those of cocaine. “
With that said, no one should automatically extrapolate these findings to humans. But why I was given a stimulant with the possibility of altering my brain in the first place ? Why I was given a compound with no efficacy behind its long term effects? Did these educators and physicians care if there was a possibility my brain would be hurt?
These drugs did not work for me in the short term either. They only gave the illusion that I payed attention because I was suffering from all the nasty side effects. I was actually docile and doped and nauseated. It was good for the educators, though. They needed me zombified for a few reasons.
I was a rebellious and intelligent youngster. I did not have the patience for obeying authority without the help of pharmacotherapy. I viewed learning and education through my own lens, and I needed someone to nurture and tend to that, not force feed me their pedagogy, pills, and indoctrination. I needed support, someone to teach me how to be an autodidact, to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I did not need consensus education and child-rearing. It was burdensome for my soul, and I had to compensate for all that trauma by checking further out from reality, in order to survive as one of humanity’s most hated things: a boy child.
That is why they wanted me zombified. They did not want me thinking or learning on my own. I had to adhere to their educational dogma.
Kids, especially young boys, should not ever be chemically lobotomized with meth. In the least, they should be honestly educated about these compounds and given a choice to take them. They should not be labeled as “learning disabled” when they are actually advanced and anti-authoritarian. These traits should be celebrated, not punished. Being smart and emotionally sensitive are not diseases or defects. They are the traits of leaders and thinkers. These qualities should be commended and praised, not medicalized.