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What Pharmacy Staff Should Know About Being a Mother to a Child With a Mental Illness


I always try not to write from a place of raw emotion. It never serves me nor my reader well. Today, though, I made a trip to two pharmacies with a need for three refills, and came home with some thoughts to share. Yes, I’m a bit salty! There are five things I’d like any pharmacy professional to keep in mind when the parents of a minor come in for psychiatric meds.

1. We are good parents. We aren’t medicating a child who lacks discipline. We medicate to manage behaviors that all other forms of stellar parenting skills can’t touch. It’s because I have a child who can’t — not a child who won’t.

2. These meds, at this time, are as lifesaving as for any physical illness. If I stammer or cry when you say you need a couple of days to get these from your supplier, please be gentle with me. Explain how many days I need to give you next time. I’m listening; it’s just that I’m running the implications of possibly going without a lifeline for a day or two through my weary brain.

3. There’s this thing about the stigma surrounding medicating and mental health — it’s real. Please make sure we are in a very private space if you need to talk to me regarding the scripts.

4. We don’t want to do this. No one wants to medicate their child, especially with the high-powered stuff we order up every month. There is a measure of pain and disappointment every time I step up to your counter. Please forgive me if I’m a bit like a scared porcupine.

5. One small act of kindness, be it through the warmth of a smile, the sincerity of your eye contact, or the tone or your voice when you ask how you can help me, may be the catalyst I needed to get me through one more day of caring for a mentally ill child.

And that is all.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

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Thinkstock photo via bowdenimages