Ben Behind His Voices cover

Nurse Jackie and the Effect of Meds

Nurse Jackie poster
Nurse Jackie on Showtime

If you watch Nurse Jackie on Showtime, you know that her daughter Grace, age 11, has been suffering with an anxiety disorder that has her heart racing, fears escalating and thoughts rushing.

Ont this week’s episode Grace asks to be put on medication, and her therapist and family agree to try it.  Jackie sits with her daughter as the first pediatric (low) dose of Xanax kicks in, and asks how she feels.

Grace talks about how she can feel her heart slowing down, and how she is starting to feel that she can say  “No!” to the many ideas that are all demanding her attention. The ideas are still there, she says, but she now knows she has the power to ignore them if she chooses to.

I imagine that, for Ben, this is what his medication does for him.  I know he is far from “cured”, but when he is stable on his medication he seems to have the power to turn the volume down on all that goes on in his head, and turn his attention to the outside world.  Wothout the meds, the struggle is evident – and he usually loses the fight.

For nurse Jackie, who is addicted to narcotics, these pills are drugs.  For Grace, they are medications, meant to balance what is off-kilter in her brain.

If I hear anyone – ever – say that we are “drugging” our children, I hope they know the difference.  These purists have never spent hours in the Emergency Room admitting an ill relative, I’ll bet.  I don’t wish it on them, either…but while medication isn’t the only component in a good treatment plan, it often is the cornerstone of it.  It’s about getting closer to the balance that should exist in the brain.  (I was going to stay “restore the balance” – but the medication has yet to be developed that can get that far, at least with schizophrenia).

So – no judgment, please. And kudos to the Nurse Jackie team for addressing this issue with sensitivity and balance.

0 thoughts on “Nurse Jackie and the Effect of Meds

  1. Well, I feel like judging. After all, television fictional characters are fair game, aren’t they? Television has a huge influence on its audience. Let’s hope the viewers are smart enough to see the slippery slope that the child is embarking on. Child under 18 or over 18, you can be sure that full information is not given when drugs are introduced. I am not aware of this particular episode, but I have seen several others. Here you’ve got a kid whose mother is a drug addict and having affairs. She is introducing disharmony into the family. I get anxious watching the show. No wonder the kid is anxious. She’s reflecting what the adults in her life are trying to hide. Is the family undertaking therapy, too? (I do not know.) Is the daughter being taught to cope without going down the drug route that has ensnared her mother? People like me who object to drugs object to them for the reason that psychiatry is not even bothering to do the hard work of educating everyone involved about psychic distress. I’ve spent loads of time worrying about my son, who is on a small dose of meds,and I still object to the drugs, especially in children. Psychiatrists have no tools in their toolkit other than drugs. There’s no money to be made in understanding the client. What a lot of people object to is that the drugs are continued far too long, leading to all kinds of side effects and new diagnoses. I think that’s a valid objection.

    1. Hi Rossa, and thanks for taking the time to comment here. You bring up a lot of valid points. I do watch the show, and can tell you that this fictitious family has taken many of the steps you mentioned – and I agree that “meds alone do not recovery make”. I agree – there are always a lot of issues and variables to consider when prescribing medication. But, for many of us, none of it worked until the brain chemistry in our family members became balanced with the correct amount of medication. I can only speak for our family, of course, and with a village of people who work together for recovery – family, providers, psychiatrists, therapists, etc – there is a much greater chance of it.
      thanks again,

  2. The sad thing is that if you have money, you can seek out psychotherapy and pay for the alternative stuff out of pocket. Governments are always looking for the cheap fix for the bulk of their population. I shudder to think that in order to test these drugs on children, pharmaceutical companies go for the most vulnerable populations, which tend to be poor kids in foster care or, better yet, third world kids. Governments are hard pressed to support long term therapy. The last time I tallied it up, we had billed our insurance company half a million dollars in three years for my son’s treatment. All that money, all those drugs, and he still wasn’t any better. So, I actively started to look at alternatives. They are cheap and quite effective.

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