Perfectly Harmful

I have a sister who is now almost 37 years old, and I am writing this without her permission and entirely from my own perspective. She was, while in elementary school, diagnosed as being ‘hyperactive’ , the syndrome that preceded A.D.D., I suppose. Children for thousands of years have been more prone to run around and play rather than sit still and be quiet, but once someone came up with a name for it, it became a disease. I suppose in another 20 years it will be called something else, maybe Sit Down and Be Quiet You Rambunctious Knothead Syndrome (or S.D.B.Q.Y.R.K.) . My point is that, from my understanding, coming up with exotic names for common human conditions was very much in vogue when we children of the late 80’s were being pushed through the python of government schools, and my sister was an unfortunate victim. I remember her being sent to psychiatrists and counselors and specialists. I remember her being put on Ritalin or ‘speed’ as it was called. It was explained to us that the ‘speed’ would slow her down and help her to focus. If that logic doesn’t qualify as witch-doctorism masquerading as science, I don’t know what does.

The Ritalin was changed to something else and then something else. She entered her teen years as a trustee of modern chemistry, and married very young to a great guy who felt he could tame her. He could not. Neither could the next guy.

The medication continued throughout her life, with dosages being adjusted and medicines occasionally being swapped out for the newest potion cranked out by the pharmacological industry. Years ago I lost track of what medicine she is on at any given moment, but to this day her life is a regiment of various uppers and downers and nerve pills and concoctions with impossible names. My sister was, in my opinion, robbed of her childhood and numbed and zombified. She lives, in my opinion, emotionally stunted at the age in which her brain chemistry was mucked with by modern science, falsely so called. She never learned to deal with herself and now, with almost 3 medicated decades under her belt, she still has not learned to deal with herself. She’s been married several times. Fidelity has always been an issue in her life. Her emotional pendulum swings from profanity laced outbursts to chemically-induced blank stares. She has been removed from my house more than once. Whatever version of my sister you meet will depend largely on what stage of her medicine regiment she has consumed for the day. Every family gathering is tense, with everyone wondering whether or not she will blow her stack and cause a scene. When the outburst happens, it is dismissed as she is ‘off her meds’ or her medication is ‘being adjusted’. We are supposed to feel sorry for her, and I do. Physically she appears older than me, and her features are harsh, and withdrawn. She sports an entire mouth of false teeth, as her original teeth were destroyed by the cocktail of chemicals that she slurps down.

All of this experimentation on my sister’s brain was done under the supposedly wise counsel of doctors and psychiatrists and counselors who are, in my opinion, the real culprit. Our mother was, I believe, doing what she thought was best, what these educated people told her was best. They were consultants at the government factory designed to produce little drones and when there is a problem on the assembly line, surely there is a pill or shot that can make that square peg fit a little better in that round hole.

The real tragedy of my sister’s life is that apparently more than 25 years later, we as a society have learned absolutely nothing. The tree that they planted and watered has borne horrific fruit, and yet the monstrous mindset that produced it sees nothing wrong with it. When my nieces were being a bit rambunctious, rather than train them, somebody recommended that my sister send them to a ‘specialist’. I remember the sinking feeling in my chest as I saw history repeating itself. In a conversation with my sister, I laid aside my preacher hat for a second and was as blunt as I could be. “That crap cooked your brain” I said “Give your daughter the chance you never had.” I honestly don’t know if that advice was heeded. For the emotional protection of my family, our contact with my sister is very limited. But I remember her staring out at me from somewhere underneath the haze, and in her eyes was a look of someone who knew I was right, but had been so numbed, and so beaten down by the oppressive advice of ‘experts’ that she felt swept along by the tide of events.

It’s not just her life. Every time somebody we know tells us that their special kid has been diagnosed with some set of initials or syndrome by the wizards at the government factory, my heart breaks. The solution is usually the same; dope ‘em to the gills so that will be just like the other little prisoners-er, I mean students. I want to grab them and shake them and tell them not to do it. But what do I know, after all? I’m not a doctor. I’m only somebody who has watched tragedy unfold in somebody’s life for most of mine.

I perform publick ministry outside of a middle school in our town on Friday afternoons, and there is a sign outside the school that says ‘This School is a Drug-Free Zone’. Is the glaring hypocrisy of that statement obvious to anyone else? Is the weird self-righteous smugness of that sign an affront to anybody else, or is it just me?

How is it possible that so few see the results of what has happened so far? How is it that so many don’t see people like my sister and say “Oh no, what have we done?” How is it that every school shooter was on one of these drugs, and nobody sees a pattern? The insanity continues, the initials and syndromes continue, and the steady pumping of mood-altering drugs into developing brains continues. What will it take?