Eric’s Diary: Help, I need a psychiatrist!

Source: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 13th-july-2015 Time:  9:26:36 am

In the year 2008.

Why can’t I just be a normal thirteen-year old?  I am not asking to be ordinary, if that is what you are thinking. I have heard a thousand and one lectures on how unique everyone is and so on. Sometimes, I wonder what I have become and how I got here.

Probably, this would be the last time I would pour out my soul in such a manner.

I have found solace in my diary. Thanks a lot dear diary! You are the only one who understands me and never asks questions when I complain. Unburdening my soul in your pink sheets makes me feel better. It’s confession time again.

Back in school, I always liked doing things in excess. You could say I exhibited hyperactivity. During one Physical Education class, I was asked to throw a ball. The force with which I threw the ball was so much that it ended up breaking the glass window.

I bet you may be thinking that this is perfectly normal because accidents are bound to happen during any game, right?

Well, that was not all.  Miss Mensah, my teacher, noticed something strange about me; unlike the other children in her class, I could hardly sit still (not even for five minutes).

I would either be caught fidgeting with my pen or found staring out the window.  Just like Alice, my mind was far away in Wonderland. Miss Mensah took me to the counsellor’s office where I was later directed to seek medical attention from a psychologist along with my father. I went through a series of tests and I was eventually diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

But before that, there is something I forgot to tell you. I had a brawl with a guy named Dan for referring to me as a little boy.  I just could not control my anger especially for certain things that others deem petty. Well, I would not deny it. I had a rage.

I also remember throwing a tantrum at the mall because my father refused to buy me those blue shoes.  His reason was simple – “Son, you already have a similar one of a different colour.”

Immediately, I started screaming like I had just been shot in the foot.  I brought down the rest of the shoes on the shelves with a single kick and sat my- obstinate- self  down on the floor, inviting a crowd of shoppers who had come to behold this little spectacle.

As for me, the word ‘boundary’ does not exist in my dictionary.  If curiosity could kill, then I am that cat with more than nine lives. I was told not to do so many things but I could never adhere to any of these instructions unless I discovered the reason through personal experience.

There was a time when Grandma asked me not to play with the knife on the kitchen table. Typically, I never listened to her reasons because I wanted experience to be my teacher.  I used the knife to sword-fight an imaginary opponent and I ended up cutting myself.   These are a few of my escapades.

Sadly, I do not have anyone to call a friend. My own family does not understand me anymore.  My father employed a psychologist with the hope of correcting this anomaly. Though it may seem funny, I cannot hide the fact that I run away from my psychologist.  Oh yes!  As intelligent as I was, I managed to learn quite a lot from him before I eloped.  Some of which I intend to share with you.

First of all, I was told that my disorder had no particular cause.  The most discouraging remark I had ever heard was that the disorder could have originated from my genes and the part of my brain which is responsible for attention may have relatively thinner tissue.  However, it may reach its normal thickness eventually as I grow (indicating a very slim chance of normalcy during my childhood).

He also ruled out certain factors which may have caused this disorder.  Such factors included : smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy (because my mother was a strict teetotaler and allergic to smoke). Also, I never had any brain injuries and my father ensured that I always ate healthy food.

I recall having an argument with my father because I broke all the rules concerning my therapy.  That is typical among people of my kind. Yes, we are described as rebellious and obstinate social misfits.

Even though I had severe mood swings and Tourette Syndrome ( which causes repetitive mannerisms like grimacing and eye-blinking), there is this symptom that I refused to emulate.  I am very happy that I never had any learning disability. My recollection rate was sharper than iron. As a matter of fact, I have always been among the top three students in my class.

Let’s go back to therapy. I was given a very long list of drugs.These drugs were supposed to help during my ADHD moments. I thought that was the last of it. Unfortunately, medicine could not solve my problems.

Just as Newton’s Third Law of motion depicts about action and reaction, I began to experience the side effects of these drugs.  I lost appetite, exhibited some strange movements (which I later got to know as ‘tics’) and developed sleeping problems.

Eventually, I stopped taking the medicine because I felt it was doing more harm than good.  And by the way, I left before the psychotherapy session; I felt there was no hope. I still feel that way now.

 

 

 

 

Why I choose to die.

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Source: Ghana| Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 18th-june-2015 Time:  1:32:16 pm

“I felt faint. Sweat dripped all over my body.  My head pounded like a bass drum. I rushed to the hospital. My Erythrocyte Sedimentation rate (ESR) was about thirty times the normal rate.  As for my haemoglobin level, it was at 2.0.  The biopsy and the blood tests revealed cancer.  I was told this cancer (which was living in my blood) could only be managed by chemotherapy.

I had heard numerous stories of how painful this procedure was.  It meant that I would lose all my hair as well; the hair that I had painstakingly grown for years.  At that point, several thoughts kept rushing through my mind – anger, pain, hopelessness. It was a mixed feeling.”

If this voice were mine, what would I do?  If I were caught in the net of terminal illness, where would I run?   If palliative care were my only option, which road would I take?  Would it be life or death?

This brings to mind the subject of “Euthanasia”.  If death’s hands are icy enough to grip, then why assist it?  In this article, I will tell you why it is sometimes necessary ; why euthanasia still remains an option for many on their death beds.  Let us begin with some background information on euthanasia.

First of all, euthanasia is a combination of two Greek words “eu” which means “good” and “thanatos” which means “death”. Juxtaposing these two words, euthanasia can be defined as the act of permitting the death of ill or injured people due to certain reasons (usually reasons of mercy).

There are different categories of euthanasia.

Voluntary euthanasia (Physician Assisted Suicide) involves ending a person’s life in a painless manner.

Non-voluntary euthanasia (mercy killing) is performed when the patient is not able to provide informed consent due to the patient being in a comatose state or in the case of incapacitated young children. This was practiced in Ancient Greece as a form of eugenics.

Other groupings of euthanasia include passive and active euthanasia.  Passive euthanasia involves either withholding common treatments that are essential for the survival of the patient or taking the patient off the life-support machine.  Active euthanasia involves the use of lethal substances to kill the patient.

Certain countries like the United States of America (Oregon and Washington), some parts of Mexico, Colombia and Japan practise it.  In Australia, euthanasia was once legal but it is currently illegal.  The ‘legal status’ of euthanasia in Africa is not known ; therefore euthanasia is deemed illegal in Africa.

There have been several debates on euthanasia. Two of these debates are very popular – the Slippery Slope debate and the Len Doyal Argument.

In the Slippery Slope debate, it was argued that if voluntary euthanasia is allowed to occur, all the other forms of euthanasia that are deemed illegal would eventually follow suit. This argument was supported by David Enoch, a professor of philosophy and law at Hebrew University.

The Len Doyal Argument was advocating for the legalization of active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.  This is what Len Doyal stated: “ If death is in a patient’s best interest then death constitutes a moral good.”

There are also several demerits of euthanasia aside all these debates.

Euthanasia is associated with suicide and murder.  It is stated in Section 57, Act 29 (1960) of Ghana’s constitution that : “A person who abets the commission of suicide commits a first degree felony whether or not the suicide is actually committed.”

This implies that anybody who is involved in this practise can be penalized.

People also believe that euthanasia is against certain moral and religious views.  They claim that a higher being (God) was the one who gave that person life, therefore that life should not be taken away through any other process which is not natural.

Dr. Leon Rass, Chairman of the President’s council on Bioethics, stated in his article Why Doctors Must not Kill: “Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to assisting suicide. They are inheritors of a valuable profession.” This statements aim at supporting the claim that practicing euthanasia would eventually make patients lose their trust for doctors.

People also raise the point that the practice of euthanasia is against the Hippocratic Oath, the section of the oath that states that: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked”.

Some people also believe that in most cases of patients with terminal illnesses, there is (at least) a certain chance of survival.  This means that there is no hundred percent guarantee that the patient would die.

I do not dispute all these concerns that have been raised against euthanasia.  However, I would like us to go back to the picturesque description of that individual diagnosed with cancer.  I have two tangible reasons why euthanasia should be the  option in such circumstances.

Euthanasia promotes economic growth in the sense that it saves government and families the cost of catering for terminally ill patients. Even though there is a certain chance of survival, these chances are normally too slim.

The patient eventually dies in most cases.  Some families are burdened with huge hospital bills as a result of the life-support machines which are used to keep patients alive.  Some patients end up staying in coma for years and most of them eventually die.

Even those who survive most become vegetables and are of no use to humanity. Families are left with the life-long burden of footing the bills after the death of these patients.

On the other hand, practicing euthanasia would save all the money used in powering these life-support machines.  This money could be invested in something equally beneficial.

Finally, euthanasia serves as a relief to patients suffering from prolonged terminal illnesses that are accompanied by excruciating pain.  If you had the feeling that you were being pricked by a thousand knives, you bleed profusely from any opening of the body or simply put – you experience a combination of the most terrible symptoms of all diseases, would you blame the voice that says: “I choose to die”?

I am tired of being described as the indiscipline little child. Enough of the judgment! I think I need help more than ever but I just don’t know who or where to turn to.  Someone once suggested a psychiatrist. Could that be the answer to all my woes?

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12 thoughts on “Eric’s Diary: Help, I need a psychiatrist!

  1. Hello Naa,
    This is pretty much a very precise piece of information that pays credence to the fact that much must be done to address this issue of ADHD. It is rather fortunate that this kid had people around to help him and by so doing were able to diagnose the disease. The problem however runs with people born in families with poor financial capacity. What happens to these kids. More often than not these kids are branded “AKOLA B)NE”. At home and school they are no longer capable of performing.

    Like

      1. Parents and teachers can equally miss the
        fact that children with symptoms of
        inattention have the disorder because
        they are often quiet and less likely to
        act out. True say Naa.

        Like

  2. Great piece & I agree with the previous comments too, because most parents easily miss the symptoms of inattention for something else and the situation becomes worse as a result of that. I think teachers and school officials must do well to identify such people.

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  3. Hello Sis,
    That was an interesting story and I think it’s really nice that you’ve decided to talk about a problem that is usually not treated the way it should in our part of the world. I learnt a lot about the disorder and I think that the more people who get to know about it the better. Please keep us informed.

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  4. Actually, information from (http://psychcentral.com/lib/side-effects-of-adhd-medications/) does state clearly the side effects associated with ADHD. indeed the patient in context was having a hard time dealing with the side effects,as a result had to abandon the psychotherapy session. going to the psychiatrist would not be a bad idea provided the same focus of the abandoned psychotherapy session would be fulfilled. managing the side effects mentally as well as with non contraindicated drugs that will reduce the side effects will be of great help to the patient. unfortunately he didnt stay long enough to hear these in the session.
    with regard to cause, literature from the same site (http://psychcentral.com/lib/causes-of-attention-deficit-disorder-adhd/ ) makes mention of a small percentage of ADHD causes as head injury resulting in frontal lobe damage. in view of this, i recall that the patient was in the habit of throwing tantrums ( characteristic of some children) and often associated with hiting the head against anything available including hard surfaces. in my opinion, it is possible that this child developed ADHD from the tantrums which might have damged portions of the frontal lobe (i.e if genetic proof doesnt hold)
    A very educative piece Naa. Keep it up.

    Like

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