Overmedicated youth, broken hearts, and prison papers

Gabriel Myers

Gabriel Myers

Look at the smiling face of Gabriel Myers.  This 7 year old boy committed suicide last April.  Gabriel was prescribed several psychiatric medications, including Seroquel for bipolar disorder.  What physician would give a tiny child such a severe anti-psychotic only approved for adults?!  Furthermore, how is it possible to accurately diagnose a first grader with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder?  The fact that young Gabriel was in foster care is not lost on me.  According to the Government Accountability Office, children in foster care are 4.5 times more likely to receive psychotrophic drugs [oftentimes multiple drugs] than those who are with their families.  We must advocate for the defenseless youth who do not have a voice.  Our kids– whether or not they are ‘in the system’– suffer at the hands of doctors all too willing to overdiagnose and overmedicate.

Gerald & Mary Jones

Gerald & Mary Jones

Action News 5 [Memphis] posted this photo and excerpt on their Facebook earlier today:  “Mary Jones died in April, and the couple’s family said her husband of nearly 70 years, Gerald, was struggling with a broken heart ever since.  New Year’s Eve would have been his wife’s first birthday since she passed.  Gerald died New Year’s Eve, and their family said it was so he wouldn’t have to miss a birthday with her.”  The fact that Mr. Jones passed on his wife’s birthday– his first New Year’s Eve as a widow– both breaks my heart and fills it with joy.  I encourage you to view a selection of pictures from their journey together to commemorate the love and longevity of this remarkable couple.

My strong-willed son has a mind of his own...and I love him for it.

My strong-willed dynamo analyzes his bow and arrow situation.

Adam, my five year old son, oozes charisma out of every pore.  Smart, spunky, and stubborn, he knows how to push my buttons.  Dr. Laura Markham would definitely label him a “strong-willed child.”  Though generally well-behaved he’s not immune to the occasional outburst [which is really a euphemism for full blown tantrum and/or emotional meltdown] that makes me want to pull my hair out in frustration.  Mercifully this rarely happens in public.  Combine said outbursts with a hearty dose of backtalk and we have a firstborn that keeps mama on her toes.  Dr. Markham’s tips for parenting a strong-willed child really resonated with me.  The power struggle ends here.

depressionSpeaking of psychiatric issues….consulting with an actual doctor is no longer a prerequisite for a mental health diagnosis!  People can make that distinction for themselves.  Who needs a clinical assessment?  Just be careful not to lightheartedly toss around serious medical issues that are a very real challenge for some individuals.  It’s ignorant and insensitive.  Chances are you don’t have bipolar disorder, so says the Huffington Post.

[[ SIDENOTE:  Although I do not trivialize medical conditions I’ve earned my ‘Google M.D.’ after countless hours of internet research.  There’s nothing wrong with being a hypochondriac educated about your health.  It’s cause for fear and anxiety empowering to stay informed.  Not only am I an expert in infectious disease, mental illness, and rare disorders, I can semi-accurately diagnose whatever ails you.  Consider me a modern day Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. ]]

Exercising your brain is just as important as being physically fit.

Exercising your brain is just as important as staying physically fit for some men at San Quentin.

Inmates at the notorious San Quentin prison in California create their own newspaper.  Two things struck me while reading the article:  staff members with life sentences and the collaborative effort with Berkeley.  Daily life doesn’t change much for inmates who will inevitably die in prison.  I have a certain amount of admiration and respect for those who want to make productive contributions even though they’ll never again set foot in the free world.  They’re not seeking to impress the parole board– and they have all the time in the world– so there’s nothing to gain other than personal fulfillment.  Berkeley students and faculty involved with the San Quentin News have a unique perspective as a result of their work.  Here’s to hoping they use their experience to educate others.  I’m a firm believer in the power of education and the creative process for those who are incarcerated.  More jails should follow suit.

With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,



About Cocktails With Hemingway

I'm blunt and opinionated. Virtually everything I say or do is a contradiction but I'm not a hypocrite. I never hesitate to speak my mind and never fail to leave an impression wherever I go. You love me, you hate me, but you'll never forget me.
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