Ch 12: Self Advocacy · Ch 18: Getting Help · Cheap Nutrition · children

Iron & Psych Stuff (A PSA Of Sorts)

Sometimes, we can become so angry at injustice…and all we can do is blog. All we can do is hope the post reaches someone else, and saves them or their child from going through what we have had to.

After years of begging for help… Close to a year on a wait list to see a child psychiatrist… Another year to see a pediatrician… Appointments with general physicians multiple times per year… Thousands of dollars on assessments and treatments… They measure him, tell him to drink milk for the Vitamin D and to take Omega oils, and send him on his way.

They will let our children die. They will let them die from suicide, or from gunshot wounds from emergency police action, or from CPI restraints gone wrong, or from severe malnutrition from limited eating.

Three pediatricians, one eight-hour psychological assessment, one child psychiatrist specializing in autism, countless general physicians, my typed lists of symptoms…and not one thought to check for anything physical.

I eventually did. And after sitting for hours in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic, I won a blood test for my son, whose ferritin levels showed very low. Despite eating a phenomenally wide range of homemade, nutritious food, and huge volumes of it daily, he is deficient in ferritin. This has wide-reaching effects: insomnia alternating with excess sleep; irritability; bouts of severe anxiety upon strange triggers; cognitive confusion; frustration; limited concentration; profound fatigue upon short periods of academic effort. (Others may experience heart palpitations, generalized anxiety, loss of hair, and so on.) As puberty’s growth spurt sucked the last of it from him, in this sweet, calm, happy, gentle boy fits of rage appeared. Pulled from daycare. Pulled from school. Supervised 24/7.


Cheap. Easily remedied.

If you or your child are suffering from symptoms related to thinking, moving, sleeping, or behaviour, please request a full panel of blood tests. As physicians will often skip it, please insist on ferritin, specifically, being checked at that time. Get a copy of the lab results. Ask your pharmacist for a detailed description of how to treat it correctly. Recheck the levels regularly throughout treatment, to ensure you or your loved one is not reaching a toxic dose.

There are a handful of things in my child’s life I struggle to forgive myself over. This is one of them.

Though he may well be prevented from suffering further symptoms, he may never recover from some of the damage to his development. That is for me to live with, because he will have to live with it. However, I also believe we have discovered this blood level and information in time to preempt additional serious issues. Thank goodness.

I will feel infinitely better if you or your child are saved, too.

There are countless papers. Here is one to get you started:

7 thoughts on “Iron & Psych Stuff (A PSA Of Sorts)

  1. Hi Joon! I’m quite glad to hear your son finally got a useful diagnosis and share your anger that it took so long!

    Sorry to hijack your thread, but Captain Ackward pointed me at your blog and I can’t find your contact info anywhere. I’m not sure where a better place to contact you is, so my apologies for posting here. Do you still do counselling for Canadians in financial difficulty (complicated by disability)? Thank you in advance.


    1. Hi JJ 🙂 I’m very happy to help any way I can with tips, leads, etc. I do that directly on my blog. You can feel free to post one small question at a time in any comment field, or post a whole big case study for me to ponder and respond to. I would love to help you if I can!


  2. Joon, I’ve thought about this for a while. I’ve had ferritin shortage and vitamin D shortage at some point in my life. While getting the right stuff (iron, vitamin D) definitely helped me – it made life a bit easier – getting the supplements is not a cure for everything that is wrong with your life. I hope your son feels a bit better now, but I wouldn’t expect this one nutrient to change everything.


    1. Hi spaarolifantje,

      Thanks so much for speaking up! Conversation is good 🙂

      Yes, I absolutely don’t expect any one variable to resolve all of a person’s struggles. (In my book, I present a multi-faceted plan to transition a life from profound struggle to overall relief. I believe each aspect is necessary, and only one of those is nutritional.)

      That said, each nutrient is essential to the body, and a severe shortage (or excess) can noticeably impact a person’s functioning, mood, behaviour, etc. Some people, for example, are treated with antipsychotics for schizophrenia only to find that testing ultimately revealed a more accurate diagnosis of pellegra (Vit B3 deficiency). The latter is far more easily remedied, with better results, and the treatment has far less troublesome effect on the person.

      Ferritin is shown to be critical in preventing serious issues, with correlations to autism and other serious developmental disabilities, among other issues. It breaks my Mama Heart that I failed my child in this.

      Thankfully, new issues can be resolved or prevented by getting those levels up at any later date. That’s a real positive.

      Every child and every adult deserves as few symptoms as possible, regardless of whether or not every detail of one’s life is resolved at the same time.

      I would never suggest that a supplement is the cure for everything that’s wrong in a person’s life. I would, though, embrace any person having less (versus more) struggle!


      1. Hi Joon… and do you know I forgot to thank you for writing your book in my first comment? I love it! Luckily for me, I’ve already found my way out of trouble, and have been walking it for a while. But I’m sure this book can make a huge difference for lots of people. I hope they have it in libraries and in shelters etc.

        And perhaps the book can also help for people trying to help people who are struggling, because I think this books helps them understand better how hard it is to make all the smart decisions consistently when you for example haven’t eaten enough good food or haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while.

        So thank you very much for the book. And I hope your son and you will prosper 🙂


      2. Oh, thank you, spaarolifantje!! Yes, my hope is that it will also “help the helpers.” There’s so much to navigate, and taking it step-by-step in an organized way can truly propel a person’s life forward. And yes, trying to do all that crazy navigating while hungry, undernourished, sleepless, in pain, etc, is profoundly difficult.

        I’m so glad you found your way along too!


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