Boy Interrupted: Bipolar Depression and a Teen’s Suicide – Where Did Medication Fit In?

I tweeted earlier this week that I can't get the PBS documentary Boy Interrupted out of my head, and that's still true several days and a second viewing later. The documentary retraces the life, psychiatric illness and eventual suicide of Evan Perry, medicated from age 7 and diagnosed with bipolar disorder age 10. At 15, Evan killed himself by jumping out the window of the bedroom he shared with his little brother. He had been stabilized on lithium for years, but tapered off the drug a few months before he died.

The film represents an attempt of Evan Perry's filmmaker parents to fathom the unfathomable - why their son decided, finally, to take his own life.


Forgetting Old Symptoms Until It’s Too Late

Limbs like lead. Blurry vision. Suddenly ravenous. Then, without having eaten, nauseous.
I'm repeatedly mystified by the symptoms - even though they occur multiple times a week, and even though, without fail, they end in a migraine.  So how can I be so dumb as to forget, or even flat-out deny, the most likely explanation for what's going on?

Improbable as it sounds, it's really, really easy to misinterpret or dismiss symptoms, even of a condition you've experienced over and over. Until I learned to be more aware of the early stages of my anxiety, I tended to do the same. I'd forget or deny what was going on until the panic became ever-present, and too awful to ignore. Then I'd curse myself for not having recognized it earlier.


How Do Meds Affect the Developing Brain? Even Long-term Studies Can’t Say

What does it feel like to grow up taking psychiatric meds? That's the question that has occupied me for the past couple of years. Naturally, it feels different to different people, but overall I've found that meds seem to introduce a lot of extra uncertainty into the process of coming of age.

There are a lot of ways that meds make growing up more complicated, and I'll explore those in future posts. But one big factor has to do with the lack of info, from a scientific perspective, about meds' effect on developing brains and bodies.

Welcome to My Meds, My Self

More and more people are exposed to psychiatric drugs earlier and earlier in their lives. Some professional associations now say children as young as 4 years old are old enough to start receiving medications -- usually with little research demonstrating their long-term safety on...