And the first place my mind went was to the Rolling Stone's *Mother's Little Helper.
A lot of people sometimes imagine that motherhood is a lush time full of chubby babies giggling, with mommy in the rocking chair, and sunbeams shining through enchanted dust motes in bright rooms.
Those are glorious moments.
Note the use of the word, Moment.
The rest of the time, it's round the clock feedings, engorged breasts, poop filled diapers, vomit in your hair and a kind of social isolation that could be categorized as a *Crime against Humanity, on par with solitary confinement.
And then there is the rest of life, that didn't stop for you, to give birth.
I remember quite clearly, feeling like roadkill more often than not. Feeling guilty for not peeling myself out of bed sooner to complete the multitude of chores such as dishes, laundry, the various meals to prepare, and very little positive feedback from the non-existent friends that were not in my life at the time.
Adderall is a drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but these women don't have ADHD; they say they need Adderall to be better mothers.Although I never took this or any other prescription stimulant, there were times, when I could clearly understand how people became addicted to anything in the upper family. I drank way too much coffee, and it wasn't enough.
Nothing made me feel like I had blood in my body, that I had the strength to focus and to execute anything that looked like a coherent life. When I felt the worst, was when I had these thoughts the most.
How miserable you must be to think that being strung out on drugs would be a step up, so you *could scrub the grout on your tile.
I am not making light of addiction--just so we are clear. Nor of the side effects. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was very ill. I had an undiagnosed hormonal imbalance that severely affected my cognition and my energy to live a normal life. After doing some research I learned that many women suffer these problems and often go undiagnosed for years.
How awful for us all.
So again, I thought back to those miserable days and I could completely understand how a mother, exhausted beyond hope of ever catching up, could be lured by the siren call of something that not only gives her energy, but also helps her focus and loose weight.
Without condoning the abuse of controlled substances---
I mean if that doesn't sound like some sort of magic pill for over-wrought mothers, then I don't know what is.
You have to put yourself in our shoes.
You have gained 30 lbs. So your body has changed completely. I gained more than that. None of your clothes fit. You feel ugly. Every day when you wake up, you feel as if you hadn't slept, not only that night, but never a day in your life.
As you trudge around the house during what should be a happy time, the chores pile up on you til you have forgotten what color your floor might be. And then you wrestle with remembering appointments, well baby visits, vaccinations for kids and pets, dental appointments, library books--whatever it is you got going in your life at that time.
Suddenly remembering to buy more toilet paper feels like you are attempting to do higher math without a scratch pad.
"I was able to get all the stuff done around the house," Degree said. "I was able to cook the dinner and have everything perfect." Degree tells ABC News she felt like supermom and would stay up until 3 a.m. doing loads of laundry. She says she thought she'd only take it once.It took me a couple of years to create a supplement regimen that helped me to begin to recover from the exhaustion and the imbalance. I did it because it took medical doctors so goddamn long to get to a diagnosis. And then later, when the doctors finally got around to it, researching their proposed treatments, I didn't care for side effects of these options.
I am very critical of women-specific care models in this country. It seems to me that the medical profession doesn't give a damn about the hormonal and chemical imbalances that afflict many women, especially gravid women and postpartum women [even if only temporarily] that contribute to the fuzzy, foggy brain, the weight gain, the lack of energy, bad skin--you name it.
That medical community also fails miserably, to address the health effects of physical, and social isolation of mothers with children.
Some women start on Adderall to keep up with the demands of career and home, while others start looking for a quick weight loss fix.I can totally understand either scenario. I really hate being overweight. I hate it like nothing I have ever hated before, except maybe the physical feeling of having my head planted in my ass.
You can feel when your brain is not functioning at optimal levels. It's like the sensation of the clutch slipping on a stick. It's awful. People call it "Baby Brain" but I think that phrase minimizes the condition. It's not like stumping your toe or having a bad day. It's like loosing multiple IQ points for an extended period of time and knowing it [I think that last part is the worst].
Addiction doctors say the situation is getting out of control.To that I would say, that the medical profession needs to get on the ball about women's health. Stop looking at weight gain as if it's only about the twinkie and understand that the cravings are driven by chemical signals in the body that can point to other imbalances.
"This is a significant problem," said Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility. "We've got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs. ... We know from a medical perspective it's dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death."
It isn't just about emotional eating too. There can be other health concerns that could be driving the over-eating, the exhaustion, and the poor emotional state. Seriously, when you are ill--do you "feel" good? Are you "happy"? No? Why would women be any different.
Understand that exhaustion can be prolonged by those same signals, and the desire to eat, is often driven by the desire for more physical energy. The cravings for comfort foods may be in reaction to some kind of physical pain.
Understand that making a whole human being from scratch is damn hard work and even without additional health issues, that alone can wear a woman out for a significant number of months, especially when you add the kind of intensive care that all babies require around the clock.
And if she has more than one child, it's going to be a bigger burden physically and emotionally.
I would say that women are turning to adderall because, they don't have a support system to turn to. Whether she is a working mom or a stay at home mom, very few of us are surrounded by the kind of communities and extended familial units that can help us the way we used to help mothers.
I have pointed out many times--over the years, that this lack of societal support and valuing is extended to parents in general and really any kind of care giver. I watch the most negative aspects of "motherhood in America" happen all over again to people in the sandwich generation.
My kids are bigger now. But I still wrestle with the health problems and the weight. The older you get, the slower you bounce back--if you bounce at all. All that isolation and sleep deprivation and worry take tolls on a person's health--beyond pregnancy, or independently of pregnancy.
The loss of social status also breeds resentment, which in some cases is unleashed upon the children or the adult parent, and not reserved for those adults and institutions that are behind the push to make these jobs more difficult and even less rewarding.
There is a complex of obstacles facing women today when it comes to motherhood. Many of them are contrived by society, a kind of institutionalized discrimination against parenting and caregivers--that primarily targets mothers.
Why do I call it institutionalized? Because these are ingrained into society and into the workplaces. These are unthinking policies and traditions that are detrimental to parents [and esp Mothers] that no one thinks to question or challenge.
Why do we--as a society isolate new mothers?
What good purpose does that serve?
Why don't we create more *genuine-family friendly services?
What have we got to loose?
Why does our medical field seem so intent on ignoring women's health issues with regards to obesity and exhaustion?
Does this help society? Does this help parents be better parents? Does this make women or mothers healthier?
Why do some people punish mothers for being mothers? Parents for being Parents?
Who are they really punishing? And do these punitive acts increase productivity or otherwise benefit society in some physical, discernible fashion?
When mothers are taking adderal to loose weight and to regain their focus and their physical energy, then you know that 1. They feel they have been let down by the medical establishment, otherwise they would not be self medicating. I would be curious to know, how many of those women visited their doctors with complaints of exhaustion and brain fog and weight gain and felt unsupported, ignored or even attacked.
2. They know they are not performing at optimal levels and feel the need to chemically enhance that performance in order to create and maintain the appearance of normality.
3. They are not receiving adequate assistance from friends and family--otherwise they wouldn't feel so overwhelmed by *daily life, that they would consider stimulants as an answer to begin with. Because lets face it, moms are on call 24/7-365 days a year.
Nurse, tutor, chef, gardener, housekeeper, personal assistant, go-fer, chauffeur, dog walker, and Nanny.
Hollis Colquhoun, an accredited financial counselor and financial survival expert for women, explains that moms "create income, not only by performing tasks that you'd have to pay for otherwise, but by freeing up money to pay for other expenses or to put into savings." MSNBC What's the Value of a Stay At Home Mom?Way back in 2006 the value of a SAHM was calculated at:
Salary.com determined that a stay-at-home mother might be paid as much as $134,121 for her contributions as a housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, janitor and CEO, among other functions. (See full list at right.) The stay-at-home mothers surveyed said they logged a total of 92 hours a week performing those jobs.That is a lot of work. Too much work. When do we get time to ourselves? This is how women get lost in motherhood-literally. This is in part the Reaganomics of Time Poverty. The other parent is probably overworked too and is fighting for their moments of solitude and decompression as well.
The market valuation for working mothers – who make up close to 70 percent of all mothers with kids under 18 -- comes to $85,876, assuming a 50-hour week in the Mom role. That would be on top of whatever salary a working mother draws from her job outside the home, working 44 hours.
But back to mothers:
This is the basis of the feminine mystique. We are still fighting the commodification of motherhood. It is comforting to society to imagine that it is all happy, leisurely moments linked together with gooey love, but really, that is only one part of a much larger scenario that is just as much about exhaustingly, hard work.
The imaginings, that it's all just lovey-dovey bullshit, gives others the excuse to not help. But more than that, it also is used as an excuse to resent or even hate mothers.
Lovey Dovey Bullshit is not serious. It is not necessary. It is frivolous in this day and age like the Arts are considered frivolous. And what do we think of frivolous mooches? We hate them. We want to punish them for making the rest of us work harder to support their mooch-fest.
After all, if you are happy, then you are not working hard, but hardly working! Even if you are imagined by others to be happy, then you must be hardly working.
Women and mothers are still fighting this fucked up notion that a large portion of society embraces, that somehow we got it easy, and we must be punished for that.
The end result: Social isolation, a lack of good medical care, exhaustion, illness, resentment, stress, depression, anxiety, and for some addiction-- in an attempt to mitigate these problems in the absence of meaningful, community assistance.
Just imagine if ad companies took pictures of your best days at a job, only days when you are smiling and looked good and altogether, and strongly implied that every day at that job was a walk in the park, and that you are so happy, and should be so happy with that job, that you owe it to everyone else to do it free, and alone?
Now imagine going to a doctor who holds the same view about the value and ease of your work, and complain about feeling tired, depressed or lonely, and not understanding why you can't loose the weight, or why you hurt all the time?
I can deeply sympathize with the women in the original news story. I hope they get the help they need. Not only to control their addiction, but also that they receive the assistance and moral support they didn't get before, that lead to their desperate acts to keep everything under control.