No words needed. You can interpret this as you please. No offense intended in the slightest. I just felt it needed color!
I just received this notice in my in-box and wanted to pass it along. Although the article comes from Australia (despite its mention of a Maori man, typically of New Zealand) and it does not appear that “Demon Shot” is available here, many other energy drinks are. And most of them are based on caffeine, the content of which in such drinks generally ranges from the amount in a cup of strong coffee to nearly 3X as much. If three cans are consumed in a short time, that means one has ingested about 900mg of caffeine.
Energy drink ‘triggers psychosis’
Danny Rose, AAP Medical Writer | 22nd February 2011
CAFFEINATED energy drinks may trigger a psychotic episode in people with mental illness, an expert has warned after documenting the case of a young man with schizophrenia.
The 27-year-old Maori man had two separate psychotic events a week apart linked to his intake of the drink Demon Shot.
Professor David Menkes said these events occurred at a time when the man, who was prone to persecutory thought and hallucinations, was otherwise responding well to anti-psychotic medication.
In the first instance, the man drank two 60ml bottles of Demon Shot and later reported experiencing recurrent thoughts, over several hours, of “people wanting to harm him”.
“One week later, he drank three Demon Shots over 15 minutes,” said Prof Menkes, who is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Auckland University.
“He was observed to be emotionally labile (moving from one point to another) – initially laughing and talkative, later becoming restless, withdrawn and argumentative.”
Other symptoms included a rapid pulse and insomnia, which took 24 hours to subside.
The man described again having had paranoid thoughts over several hours and an experience “consistent with a psychotic episode”.
“The fact that our patient had the same reaction on two distinct occasions is important,” Prof Menkes said.
He said there was known cases where a high intake of caffeine may exacerbate a psychotic condition though this appeared to be the first linked to consuming energy drinks.
The man’s case was “evidence that some patients with treated schizophrenia may be vulnerable to exacerbation of their illness by caffeine-containing energy drinks”, he said.
Demon Shot drinks are widely available in Australia and New Zealand and they contain 200mg caffeine plus taurine, B vitamins and guarana, which may have other stimulant properties.
According to its website, each Demon Shot provides a “massive energy hit that delivers up to six hours of concentrated mental and physical responsiveness”.
The drinks also carry a warning, which says it should not be consumed by people sensitive to caffeine, and no more than two drinks a day.
I loved this small gem of a poem, which I hope Brad doesn’t mind my stealing off his site and posting here. It can also be found at Brad’s site: http://bradolsonwriting.wordpress.com/
The day you were born
I held you swaddled
in the crook of my arm.
Now, 10 months later,
you turn your head
as I try to wipe your nose.
I could hold your head still,
but, to do that,
I’d have to put you down . . .
I don’t look forward to the day
when you’re too grown up
to carry from one place to another.
© 2011 by Brad P. Olson. All Rights Reserved.
I started the post below as a response to a very kind email from “Mary” but it eventually got so long and involved that it became more of an essay than a letter. I hope she will understand why I put it here, rather than sending it to her alone!
First, here is her letter to me:
Thanks, Pam. I learned from your very well written account, “On Psychiatry and Authority.” I felt like I was in the room with you, it was so descriptive. I recently had a call from a man who is bipolar. He said while off his meds, he was in an encounter with his girlfriend and was arrested on domestic violence or disturbing the peace charges. He told the officers he was a psychiatric patient, but of course, jails have become America’s answer to mental illness. The police threw him into a cell after booking him, then released a police dog on him in the isolated cell rather than simply locking the door. He said the dog ravaged his leg, exposing bone, and he was taken to the hospital. There may have been a time when only black mental patients were treated this badly, but the caller was white. I wrote about more murders and abuses against mentally challenged people in my blog – Letter to Mary Neal’s Terrorists – http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/letter-to-mary-neals-terrorists.html
I am still undergoing much censorship, Pam, likely because my advocacy to decriminalize mental illness is a threat to the private prison industry. Over half the inmates in America are mentally ill. If they are released to community care under AOT programs or treated as hospital inpatients rather than prison inmates, depending on their offenses and functionality, it would not be more expensive for taxpayers, but it would negatively impact prison profits.
As I read about your brutal treatment in the hospital, I was so sad. Here I am advocating hospitals rather than prison, and you were treated that way by psychiatric professionals. The only way I can continue after learning what happened to you and others who were in abusive hospital environments is by thinking about people like my caller who was not only tossed in an isolated cell naked, but a vicious dog was sent in to attack him after that. I also think about my brother Larry who was murdered under secret arrest because police were fed up with being his psychiatric caretakers. Although hospital care is only marginally more humane than incarceration in some cases, there are fewer permanent physical injuries and murders among hospitalized patients.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
And my response:
Thanks so much for your email and sympathetic understanding of the traumatic aspects of my so-called “treatment” at Muddlesax Hospital last April. Such treatment was, at other hospitals especially in the 80s and 90s and even in the early 2000s, so much worse — I mean in terms of real physical violence perpetrated against me while being literally, bodily, forced into restraints — that I was almost reluctant to write about such a relatively mild incident. But the humiliation of having to put myself into restraints was almost more unbearable than the, in some sense, honorable freedom to resist! It just riles me completely…How dare they put me in such an untenable position? Then again, I suspect it was intentional.
Nevertheless, I am very much aware that in Connecticut hospitals way too many people have died while they were in restraints, and this in the not so distant past. In fact it was investigative reporters at the Hartford Courant back in the late 90s —and their article entitled, I believe, Deadly Restraint — that served as a national catalyst in getting hospitals to stop the wholesale use of seclusion and restraints. At the very least it started a national discussion about the use and abuses of force in psychiatric hospitals and (I think) juvenile detention centers. (God forbid anyone at all should care about jails and prisons however…Those people obviously deserve it, they are criminals after all… Right?)
But even though most hospitals in Connecticut claim to have reduced the use of force to the most extreme cases, (they will force medication though, through the use of forced medication hearings) I do not believe that can be so. Because I cannot believe that I alone “deserve” seclusion and restraints and yet I have been subjected to such abuse time and time again. Until 2005, I was put in S + R at least once almost every time I was hospitalized and quite often multiple times, for many long hours. After 2005, I would say the incidence was reduced by about half. That means that half the hospitals still indulged in this abuse, one of them, as I wrote earlier in this blog, employing them almost every day for a week and a half!
Of the hospitals that did not physically restrain me, most were still abusive, but more subtle about it…For instance, they would put me on Constant Observation, but then tell the “sitter” not to speak to me. Or they would institute the common but for all the commonness of it, still abusive policy, of making the one-to-one person being ignored sleep with her hands and head completely uncovered. Now, all hospitals are freezing these days, I do not know why. But it was well known that you had to bring a sweater or sweatshirt everywhere, because the air-conditioning would be out of control and everyone was too cold no matter the season. So to have to keep your hands exposed all night was cruel. But the reason that they insisted on it clearly had nothing to do with it being “safer” for the patient. No, it was punishment. That is ALL. The whole purpose of one-o-one in those places was punishment. You could not talk to the sitter, one, and the sitter had to follow you even into the toilet. And all the while deliberately ignoring you if you spoke to her..So what was the point, if they kept the close eye on you they were supposed to, they knew you could not hurt yourself. So the point was simply to humiliate and torment the patient so they would beg for “freedom” and pretend or at least mouth the words “I am safe.” Those magic three words were all that were needed, but you had to say them so that the nurses could hear.
For many years, I believed that this was a hospitals-wide, state-wide, business as usual policy, the no-talking, hands exposed rules, and that it was reasonable. Until I went to Natchaug and Sharon told me that Natchaug didn’t believe that one-to-one should be “punitive” in any way. And by the way, she said that word, “punitive,” not I. Nevertheless, at Natchaug, no one made me sleep with my hands outside of the covers and the sitters freely spoke with me. In fact, once they understood that I needed them not to share their own lives with me, because then I would feel the need to take care of them, something that would not be helpful to me, they wanted to find out specifically how they could help me.
But back to the use of restraints. I am only 5’ 3” and from 2005 until 2010, I weighed between 92-105 pounds. Surely I could not have been that great a threat to anyone. In fact, at one hospital, one I will not name, fearing them so much I wouldn’t put it past them to take revenge, they had a somewhat better policy of dealing with agitated patients. At a Code Orange, staff members from every unit converged on the “victim” (sorry but that is how it felt) and “held” her until she could calm herself. Now, this “holding” often consisted of pinning her bodily to the floor, which itself could be anxiety provoking. And at least once, in my case, a male nurse who openly detested me, tried to pin me to the floor on my stomach, which I had read was something to be avoided as people had died when held down prone, as opposed to supine (on the back)! But in general the technique worked, if the victim was held down long enough. Basically, if he fought, there were enough people holding him down to allow him to exhaust himself without doing anyone harm. And then, when exhausted, he would calm down and either take PRN medication, or assure the head nurse that he would be okay now. It worked, though, no matter what I thought about it, or of the people doing it. And it did avoid all use of restraints, though of course by itself it is already a form of restraining people, it just avoided the use of mechanical restraints. That though, still makes a big difference…
Forgive me if I segue again into another digressive subject for a minute or two, but the subject of 2010, which recently turned the decade corner into 2011, brought to mind the fact that having taken Zyprexa (most of the time) since then has caused me to gain a fair amount of weight, another subject that is near if not dear to my heart. Oh, the damage that psychoactive drugs do! How dare doctors blame us, the people with schizophrenia, for it? Don’t we have enough trouble without being blamed for the side effects of the very medications that they prescribe? Do you know that for decades, and sanctified as Truth in psychiatry textbooks, they insisted, without any reason and making less sense, that schizophrenia itself was the cause for so many of us to be obese? That was utter nonsense to my way of thinking. Every single memoir about sz that I ever read revealed that the author had been thin UNTIL she or he was treated with antipsychotic drugs, and then, blammo, food becomes the enemy. Yet the shrinks actually insisted, against all the evidence, that it was the illness and not the drugs that was behind the huge % of patients exhibiting this “signal obesity”.
Well, all along I thought they were full of shit, pardon my french. No, I didn’t just think it, I KNEW it. I had not a doubt in the world. And you know what? I was right. The latest research has borne out precisely what I’d asserted all along: when investigators looked at a population of people with schizophrenia that for one reason or another had never taken antipsychotic drugs, they discovered that this neuroleptic-naive group was thinner than average, and that it was in fact the drugs that had made us obese, sometimes massively so, rather than schizophrenia. And it just infuriates me, not just the obesity, it is not just the weight gain the drugs cause, it is the fact that we patients have been blamed for something that they, the doctors and nurses and their GD drugs, inflicted on us. Maybe it is especially difficult for me, with my history of anorexia and my intense wish simply to disappear, but what about those who will die from drug-induced heart disease or diabetes?
I know, I know, Mary, you may be on the other side of this argument, or it might appear that way, because you want more treatment to be available, not less. I do in general agree with you: Prisons are overflowing with the mentally ill, who should never have been there in the first place. In fact, I think the prisons are overflowing with an awful lot of people, especially those of a certain darker-hued skin, for little reason more than the very color of their skin! I mean, tell me why Robert Downey Jr and Lindsey Lohan, aside from their celebrity status, get caught again and again with drugs and cocaine etc, yet are sent off to posh rehab centers, with a smile. But should you happen to be an unknown, POOR, god forbid mentally ill person of a darker hued skin (and let’s face it, a light/white South African immigrant would not be treated the same way as a dark-skinned someone with Nigerian roots!) if you are that person and you offend in some way just 3 times, well, then, you are sent away to one of California’s really “posh” ha ha ha penitentiaries FOR LIFE! Things like that just make my blood BOIL. And don’t get me started on the insanity of our drug laws!
But forgive me for going so far astray. It is just that the whole subject of prisons and what we do to people in them is a really sore point with me, and not just how we treat the mentally ill there, though that is about as atrocious as it can get…Need I even mention the “extra beds” in unused supermax prisons being used to house “unruly” MI prisoners? It makes me want to scream and throw up at the same time.
Well, no doubt this “essay” is both incoherent, in the sense that it doesn’t cohere properly, and just plain incoherent! I admit to a bit of laziness, as it is late at night, and i need to take my MEDS and go to bed. So, at the moment, I am not going to polish and fix it. I am going to pretend that since this is “only” a blog I can get away with shoddy ill-organized writing, and call it a night. Which is what I am doing forthwith…Good night, and thanks, Mary N, thanks a million again.
My writers group gets together once a month, when we discuss the single page of prose nonfiction or fiction, or usually in my case a poem, that we have written to the one or two word “prompt” chosen the month before. While I had to miss this month’s meeting, due to exhaustion, I did write (or rewrite) an essay as well as a poem. The poem I cannot share, for reasons I have reiterated many times: if I publish it here, I won’t be able to do so in any hard-copy journal. However, I feel comfortable putting the essay here, since it is mostly a rewritten and reworked piece of an earlier blog post…So if it seems very familiar, it is. I wrote it in fact not so long ago, but I have polished it and turned it into a piece of writing with a beginning a middle and an end, with a few other details I have discovered from sources like my journal since then.
PS I apologize if I repeat myself on this topic once again, but you can see by the repetition itself how much trauma incidents like this one, but also most of the others, which were much worse for being truly violent, inflict upon people…
Maybe I was disruptive. Perhaps I frightened other patients. I do not know why otherwise they would have forced me into that barrenness known as the “Quiet Room.” That it was just the same old seclusion room, prettified with another name did not escape me. I begged for a blanket, but no deal. Freezing, I pulled the thin mattress over me instead. They yanked it off in the typical psychiatric nano-second then eliminated it from the room altogether. Now I had only two hospital johnnies and my rage to keep me warm.
I remember that I yelled a lot, and that I wouldn’t stretch out on the cold linoleum to “calm myself.” I begged the one-to-one nurse to talk to me. She only turned away and told me to lie down on the floor. I complained again that I was cold. She said nothing, only barred the doorway. Getting no response and still agitated, I tried to push my way out. Two “guards,” who though deliberately keeping just out of sight, were on alert, and they shoved me away from her. I yelled again and shoved back. One of them asked what was wrong with me, why didn’t I just ask to talk with the nurse instead of physically resisting? I did ask to talk, I told him, but she refused to, they all did. He wrinkled his brow as if confused by this answer, but with a shrug that said it wasn’t his job either, he ordered me to stay inside the seclusion room and to “just lie down and stop making trouble, if you want to get out of here.”
About what happened next, I remember little. I only know that suddenly I found myself face down on the floor and with a commotion of people around me. Some man had pinned my arms behind my back and he was angrily mashing the left side of my face into the floor.
When they let me up, I yelled that I was not in prison and they had no right to treat me that way. But at least, I discovered, I was finally allowed to talk to the nurse and to stand out in the hall with her. That was progress, I thought. Then I heard staff in low and serious discussion some distance away. Someone sprinted down the hall in the opposite direction. I had a bad feeling about it and asked my one-to-one nurse, “What’s going on, what are they doing?” She responded, “They’re making up a bed for you.” “A bed? What sort of bed?” That’s when I understood that she meant a restraint bed. “Wait a minute. You can’t restrain me! I am out here, calmly talking to you. You haven’t even offered me a PRN and I am willing to take one. But I am not a danger to myself or others, and you cannot legally put me in restraints.” The nurse remained silent. She refused to look at me. My heart began to race. I shouted down the hall, “I will not let you use restraints on me. I am calm and you are not allowed to do this.”
When finally staff members approached and asked me to follow them, I complied. I knew that if I didn’t they would have reason to say I “deserved” whatever they did. In my room, I found there attached to the bedframe were the straps and shackles of four-point restraints.
“Listen, I am calm and I am not a danger to myself or others,” I carefully declared. “I will take PRN medication. I do not need restraints.”
“Lie down on the bed, Pamela,” one nurse told me. Again, I refused, saying that this was punishment pure and simple. They had neither cause to do this nor any legal right. She responded, “We will ask you one more time to lie down on the bed, Pam, or the security team will assist you.”
At this point, I understood that they were going to use restraints as a form of discipline and would do so no matter what I said. It was completely illegal but they were out to get revenge and they would use any reason I gave them to excuse such measures. If I “made” them force me into the restraints, it would only prove that I deserved them. More humiliated than I have ever been in my life, I sat on the bed.
Ignoring my protests, they went ahead and shackled me to the bed, my arms below the mattress and my legs to each lower corner and then without a word, they left. Except for an aide monitoring me through the door, partially ajar, I was utterly alone: humiliated, degraded, helpless. I couldn’t help it. Against my every determination to stay strong, resolute, and angry, I let out a lung-bursting howl. I didn’t care who heard me, who I frightened, who I disturbed. I howled for myself and against all the injustices and cruelties that had ever been perpetrated against me. And I howled for every other so-called mental patient that had ever been shackled to a bed by medical professionals who claimed to be helping them. Who thought they could justify brutality by calling it therapeutic.
This is the first time I have tried to do a truly realistic pencil portrait, and I guess for the first attempt it is okay, but I can see only the flaws in it! I have been informed that this image may have been taken from a copyrighted photo, so I may have to take it down. But for now, I assume that I have few enough readers that no one will object to my exhibiting such an amateurish attempt, and one done purely for my own pleasure as well self-training!
Here is a colored pencil nighttime interior, wholly imagined and done without model objects to work from except that the red chair happens to be one that “lives” in my room. You may not be able to tell, but the large mirror on the table reflects one that is meant to be implicit behind the person drawing (the hand in the foreground) which in turn reflects the one on the table, and that reflects it, and so on…). Also, on the table is a photo that purports also to be, and is in fact, one of the artist — me — drawing as well. So you see there are a lot of tricks involved, though I do not think the picture is very expert. The perspective was not meant to be accurate, by the way. It is sorta folky…I simply am trying things I have never done before, like furniture and scenes. After all, you have to start somewhere.
I am also working on learning “realistic pencil portrait drawing” which is equally difficult but in a different way as it involves minute observation and challenges my eyesight too, at least at the moment. In fact, learning both skills are good for me.
I wrote a new poem two nights ago, but alas, I cannot share it here yet as then I could not submit it to a journal. I can only advise those interested in my poetry who have not read it and who have not seen my book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, to check out the page I have set up (see above) with a number of poems taken from it. I you like those you may also be interested enough to perhaps purchase a copy (and make me a wealthy — hah! — woman in the process). I am hoping eventually to find a publisher for LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but I admit that I haven’t really tried. In fact, I have been so busy that I haven’t tried at all! I just keep writing and adding to it.
Anyhow, I do not know how many of you know of my best friend, Joe C, (the old blog readers did) but he is dying of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after 4 years, 3.5 of them approximately, on a ventilator ( that is to say breathing by means of a tracheostomy tube attached to a mechanical respirator). I do not know how long he has, though the situation is really dire in a way that is difficult to talk about. He refuses to agree to a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, though there is nothing they will be able to do for him except torture him if he does not…Oh god, he is in such awful straits, yet so wants to live! It is so tragic… The only good thing right now is that Dr O, that wonderful woman and my former psychiatrist, who was so kind and helpful to him, and of course was to me for so many years, was ordained a minister after she moved away from CT and she is going to visit him tomorrow, if she can…and see if she can help him.
You know, my absolutely biggest fear for Joe is not his dying, but of his being afraid, and that is where I think she can talk to him in a way that he will profit from, because he listens to her, and always has, in a way that he never has listened to me.
Joe basically responds best to female authority figures, which is strange given that he has a terrible relationship, really none at this point, with his mother. I no longer mind this, I am used to his not taking what I say as having any merit. But if Dr O is able to help, I just want him to get to that place where he can accept his approaching death and is not scared…
All this is by way of saying that if I am silent here for a while, please think of Joe and of me, and send him your prayers? Thank you, all of you.
I am putting up a photo Joe and me just after he was diagnosed, when we were at the Lahey Clinic for one of his appointments there, and then one of the few that I have with him at the hospital where he currently lives. One when he was still able to smile. You will be able to see the extreme changes in him, but to me, I have always only seen the “same ole Joe!”
“In India when we meet and part we Often say, ‘Namaste’, which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us." ~~Ram Dass~~
My adventures in self-publishing and other gibberish
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