June 7, 2020
4:15 pm. Monday, April 13th. I arrive home from work after a visit to the Rutland pharmacy. As I climb out of the car I can hear the lads in the backyard hooting and hollering and having a great time. And I smile. Because there is nothing like young sirs living it up to make a momma’s heart happy.
I climb the stairs to the kitchen and as I am coming in to the kitchen, Luke is strolling through the patio doors. He is soaked because he has fallen through the ice after one of the boys threw his chap stick in the pool and he tried to bear crawl to retrieve it. Sigh. Kids. But there is a smile on his face so it can’t be all bad.
“I picked up your prescription, bud” I tell him as he heads to the bathroom to grab a towel.
“Meh, I stopped taking it on Friday.” he responds, already heading back out the door.
“You could have told me and saved me a trip!” I holler after him. I shake my head and shove the prescription in my basket in the office. In case he changes his mind. But the next day, Luke is dead.
Adderall. My good friend Jane was the one who alerted me to the issues around Adderall and suicide. I don’t even know how it came up, I think maybe when I was filling her in on the ins and outs of Luke’s hardships over the past few months and mentioned he had been taking Adderall and lost a shit ton of weight. Jane started to cry, right there at my island. Jane was experienced with Adderall and the negative effects it had on people she loved. Jane was convinced the Adderall had pushed Luke over the edge.
And so began my research around Adderall. My son had been taking it since September and friends, it pains me to say, I didn’t know much about it. We have that blind trust in physician’s sometimes, you know? But when you do an internet search for Adderall and suicide, well… it will make you cry. Adderall is no freaking joke, it’s essentially speed, and to take yourself off it cold turkey like Luke did… let’s just say, it can have serious consequences.
For those of you that don’t know, Adderall is prescribed for ADHD. It is one of many medications, Ritalin and Concerta to name a few, that aim to help with focus. And I don’t take issue with that. I recognize that ADHD medications can be very successful for some people. My issue is that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that suicidal and psychotic thoughts were a side effect of this med. More importantly, Luke didn’t know. And it makes me want to SCREAM. Did you know that doctors are not required to share side effects with patients. YOU have to ask. You have to read that sheet that comes with your pills. And I do. I’m sure you do, too. You read all those side effects, but you don’t really worry about it, because surely nothing bad will happen, right?
But we are talking about suicidal thoughts, here, friends. We are talking about kiddos who have diagnoses who are already struggling with anxiety or depression and then we put them on a drug and we don’t say, “By the way.. if you start having thoughts around suicide, that is not normal. That might be the medicine and you need to tell me about that immediately.” At ten or twelve or sixteen, if we don’t warn the kiddos that this is a side effect, they aren’t going to think it’s the medication, they are just going to think that they are *f’d up* as my boy liked to say, and they are going to be skinny and sleep deprived and listen to that voice in their head telling them to just end the hurting. Suicide.
So here’s what I need you to know: The photo for this blog is Luke’s prescription. Yep, still have it. This is one of those things I have kept to torture myself. #IHaveRegrets. We have called the conditions that came together in losing Luke the perfect storm – between his anxiety and depression, the issues with school, and the lack of sleep… and going off the Addy cold turkey was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sigh. But Luke didn’t know. I want the people you love to know! So, if you or someone you love is on medication, please talk to your doctor about the side effects, no matter how minor. Talk about what suicidal thoughts are, even with your young kids. In my humble opinion, if they are old enough to take the drug, they are old enough to have the discussion. And lastly, make sure your loved one knows and understands the dangers around quitting medication without talking to a doctor first. Many meds need a gradual withdrawal from your system. #BeInformed #NotOneMore Xxx