There was something wrong with me when I was a kid. The way my brain worked was wrong, and had to be fixed because it made me do things that were wrong, made me say things that were bad. It made me unable to do things normal kids could. I was sick and had to be healed.
If that might come over as a little strong, picture me this, if you will:
When I was in 3rd grade, so around 8 years of age, I always had good grades. Not because I worked hard, but because I studied a lot of things out of natural curiosity. I caught on very easily and even despite being a terrible student, I always got 80%+ on my report, which is how we grade students here.
They failed me that year. I remember my mother taking me to my school in the summer vacation, which was a very unusual experience for me. I played while my mother saw my teacher in my usual classroom. I don’t remember her face when she came back, but something tells me she looked very distressed. After trying to calm me down, she asked, “How would you like to stay in your grade next year?”
I considered it, and said, “No.”
They failed me that year for reasons no one ever bothered to explain to me.
Around that time, I was taken twice a week to a “revalidation center” in the old beguinage outside the city. A woman drove me there in a van fit for a dozen people, but I was always alone. And terribly carsick by the time we arrived, because I couldn’t look outside. It was only recently that I recognized where this place actually was.
They made me solve easy puzzles and there was a moustached man named Pol there, who would make me lie on my back and took hold of my bent knees, moving them around for a good 10 minutes. Curiously, when my thoughts drifted, my legs would lock up and he would just stop without saying a word, until I relaxed again.
To this day, I have no clue why I had to do any of this. It was just something that happened.
Not long after, though I can’t pinpoint when, they made me walk around with wires glued in my hair. I had to go to the hospital for other issues so I suspected nothing, until they started putting strange pads on me. Frankly, I was just relieved no one was hurting me this time around.
They made me walk around with a head full of glue and wires for 3 days, if I remember correctly. They were hooked up to a tape recorder on my belt, I have no idea what the fuck for. I figured it was recording my thoughts, and felt guilty about thinking pretty much anything. On night 2, the tape recorder failed and destroyed the tape. I was just happy for the noise to die so I could get some sleep. As far as I know, he doctors never got any usable information from the test.
When I was around 12, which might have been shortly after the tests, I got put on Ritalin.
Ritalin, in case you don’t know, is what is called, an inhibitor. It blocks your neurons and cells from communicating chemically, effectively stumping off the child’s need for input and well, breaking his imagination just a little so he will sit up and behave. It is, by all definitions, a drug, meant to heal the sick. Only available with a prescription.
The effect it had on me, is that I was having difficulty breathing. It made me shake and sweat, and cramped up pretty much every muscle in my body, making it hard for me to function properly. I’d call it a side effect but in the end, functioning properly is exactly what this drug “inhibits”.
After a year of swallowing pills, I started hiding them in my hand as I pretended to take them. I hadn’t made a secret of hating those pills from the very beginning, so I assume my opinion wasn’t being taken seriously enough to cut the dose based on my feedback alone. In fact, they doubled it at some point.
After I told my father about this about 3 years in, he saw no point in continuing the drugs, but insisted I would still see a psychologist. I think I saw about 4-5 different people. One tried to make me play with stupid plastic revolvers, one saw me in a huge attic full of awesome stuff I wasn’t allowed to touch, and then there’s someone else I don’t even remember. The first insisted that my day had been very difficult for me, even when I didn’t feel anything was wrong.
The only person I opened up to was a relationship therapist, whose job it was not to fix me, but our family. With his concern matching my own, he was the only one I got to trust.
I don’t know if anything else happened, things that I might have blocked in my memories. I can only recall specific images and the feeling of not understanding, while the trust in my parents was being tested. All I knew was that there was something wrong with me, something vague, and I needed to be fixed with love, patience, drugs and a rigid schedule making up my day, that I did not stick to, once. All I knew was that I was a bad kid.
So as a patient, as a victim of this ordeal, I have a thing or two to say to you. You, psychiatrists. You, psychologists and therapists. You, my parents, and the people telling them that I was broken. You, doctors, with your expensive machines built to read minds.
And you. Yes, YOU. Sit your ass down and riddle me this:
Do I look broken? Is there something that I do, that I’m doing wrong? Is there anything keeping me from being a human fucking being, with a vivid imagination, energy with spades, with rights, feelings and an identity that never wanted any of your clumsy attempts at fixing me?
Do I not look sufficiently sentient to you?
Do you think you are to thank for this? Has your tape recorded, found and fixed my brain? Have your drugs made a lick of fucking difference? Or do you think your systematic undermining of my self confidence did more harm than good? Could it
fucking be that whatever mental problems you might diagnose this day, are your own god damn fault? That maybe, your talking to my parents as if I wasn’t there, might have scarred a developing mind just a little?
WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT?
Maybe, just maybe, I found a place for people like me? Where we can make a difference, contribute to our environment, and develop to become healthy adults.
Maybe, just maybe, such a place exists, outside your laser field of vision, that you haven’t considered.
Maybe, just maybe, we sufferers, we patients, we ADHD children, bipolar characters, borderline psyches, we human fucking beings have a place in this world without needing to be fixed.
Maybe it’s YOU who needs fixing, you gatherers in a world of hunters, and your illusion of rigid civilization in this chaotic world, where minds can be fixed during development.
Maybe it’s all of you who need to rethink what you call normal, and expect people to be the same as you elitist bunch. You who consider yourselves judge, jury and executioner, labeling and treating your youngest, while they don’t know any better.
You who assault the defenseless.
Give drugs to those who ask for it, who are suffering and want to be helped. But no one else- it’s the murder of a beautiful mind.
Circumstances made me strong enough to emerge from this systematic erosion on my growing mind relatively unscathed, but I got lucky. There are so many who are unhappy, childhoods utterly wasted because, instead of finding a place where they can soar, we cage the the most vivid of our children in a downright corrupt attempt to standardize everything about our society.
There are better ways. There are alternative treatments, and ways of approaching difficult children in a manner that builds their confidence and shows them that, while they might be “different” from others at the very worst, they deserve the encouragement and love every child does. Maybe, instead of giving them the “structure they need” and carry on like that’s that, we should enforce a few tasks upon ourselves. Stuff like this, once a day:
-Show your kid that you love them. Don’t tell them, show. Words are cheap.
-Let your kid be a kid. Let them run, scream, play, ask.
-Help your kid find discover their interests. How many people do you know, think they have none?
Once you nail all of these, only 3 rules, for a full year, you might grow the right to regulate your child’s thoughts. Or someone else’s, for that matter.
Spoiler: You won’t manage.
I’m no sociologist, but the proof is out there. There are methods of dealing with your kid in ways that don’t tell them they should change and we shouldn’t. Look them up or something. That part is your problem. I suggest you deal with it.