Anderson Cooper, Meds, Parents, and Responsibility


Today, in 20 minutes from now, where I live, at least, Anderson Cooper airs. He’s doing a segment about Moms & Medication – Mothers who take medication to be a better parent. Anti-anxiety pills, specifically.

I want to be happy they’re covering this but after last night’s initial tweet which has several people I know up in arms, I just can’t. I’m holding my breath and will be tuning in to watch just to see if they cover things properly and make a clear exception that there ARE parents out there who do need medication for mental health issues just to live, not to be a better parent.

Last night, Anderson’s Twitter account for his show tweeted this gem:

Taking mood stabilizers to be a better parent? What do you think of this new trend? Tweet back: #ALParenting

— Anderson Live (@andersonlive) March 3, 2013

Wow.

If there are parents out there truly doing this, yikes. And if this is just Anderson’s way of spinning the situation into a hype, then shame on them. There are multiple reasons a parent would legitimately need psychiatric medication – not just to be a better parent.

Watch with me, follow along on Twitter (I’m @unxpctdblessing), and follow the hashtag #ALParenting.

I’ll be tuning in and pushing back, using both the #ALParenting hashtag as well as the #ppdchat hashtag. Please join me if you can.

This post will be updated with reactions – and if you write anything or have any comments, please do not hesitate to share them here as well.

Update, after watching the show:

Overall, it went much better than I thought it would. However, as with all discussions about mental health, particularly ones squeezed into short segments and sensationalized for daytime viewing, things did go wrong. Below is a short list of what I was happy to see and then a few things I wasn’t happy to see:

Happy to see:

  • Dr. Michele Borba emphasize the seriousness of maternal depression and getting treatment for it. (Also emphasizing that depressed mothers will and should do anything to get help for their illness)
  • Emphasis, again, by Dr. Borba, that we, as mothers, need to get to know our hot points, learn how to deal with them, and how to deal with winding down as a family so we pass on practical de-stressing techniques to our children.
  • Anderson Cooper emphasize, at the end of the discussion, how important it is that if you have an issue with depression or mental illness, to see a doctor about your issues.

Not happy to see:

  • The anti-med member of the panel ask a member of the audience this question: “If your son were to come up to you and say he had a bad day, would you just tell him to take a pill?” The audience member was stunned. Absolutely stunned. So was I. Just because I took medication after I had my children did not mean I only coped by taking a pill. A pill is merely one part of therapy, there are many facets to caring for yourself. There’s a line you can cross into addiction and yes, that is absolutely unhealthy (the anti-med member’s parents had crossed this line), and it doesn’t allow room for healthy coping methods while in the midst of the addiction, but it doesn’t mean you get to toss a blanket of your experience on everyone else. I am sorry that was your experience, but you absolutely do not get to judge me based on that at all.
  • Failure to mention mental illness in any serious way until halfway through the segment. Most of the discussion involved the emphasis on “taking pills to be a better Mother.” No mention of diagnosis was made, nothing. I understand privacy but if you’re on a national talk show to discuss taking meds, make sure you mention why otherwise you’re just feeding the stigma that Anderson put forth last night which is Moms taking pills to be a better parent as part of a trend. Postpartum Depression and Maternal mental health issues (paternal too) are not part of a TREND. They happen, they are real, and they deserve honest and informed coverage.

On to this afternoon when Katie Couric will have a segment about Moms and mental health as well. Today is gonna be fun, isn’t it?

Share your opinions below!