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YOU AND YOUR ANTIDEPRESSANT — From Anne C Woodlen’s Blog

I THOUGHT THIS WAS INCREDIBLY WELL WRITTEN AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION. SEE CREDITS AT THE BOTTOM. Posted on January 12, 2014 by annecwoodlen THINGS YOUR DOCTOR SHOULD TELL YOU ABOUT ANTIDEPRESSANTS September 12, 2012
By Paul W. Andrews, Lyndsey Gott & J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. Antidepressant medication is the most commonly prescribed treatment for people with depression. They are also commonly prescribed for other conditions, including bipolar depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain syndromes, substance abuse and anxiety and eating disorders. According to a 2011 report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every ten people (11%) over the age of 12 in the US is on antidepressant medications. Between 2005 and 2008, antidepressants were the third most common type of prescription drug taken by people of all ages, and they were the most frequently used medication by people between the ages of 18 and 44. In other words, millions of people are prescribed antidepressants and are affected by them each year.   The conventional wisdom is that antidepressant medications are effective and safe. However, the scientific literature shows that the conventional wisdom is flawed. While all prescription medications have side effects, antidepressant medications appear to do more harm than good as treatments for depression. We reviewed this evidence in a recent article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (freely available here).
The widespread use of antidepressants is a serious public health problem, and it raises a number of ethical and legal issues for prescribers (physicians, nurse practitioners). Here, we summarize some of the most important points that prescribers should ethically tell their patients before they prescribe antidepressant medications. We also discuss the ways that prescribers could be held legally liable for prescribing antidepressants. Finally, we implore practitioners to update the informed consent procedure for antidepressant medication to reflect current research and exercise greater caution in the prescription of antidepressants.

  1. How antidepressant medication works

Most antidepressants are designed to alter mechanisms regulating serotonin, an evolutionarily ancient biochemical found throughout the brain and the rest of the body. In the brain, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter—a chemical that controls the firing of neurons (brain cells that regulate how we think, feel, and behave). However, serotonin evolved to regulate many other important processes, including neuronal growth and death, digestion, muscle movement, development, blood clotting, and reproductive function.   Antidepressants are most commonly taken orally in pill form. After they enter the bloodstream, they travel throughout the body. Most antidepressants, such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are intended to bind to a molecule in the brain called the serotonin transporter that regulates levels of serotonin. When they bind to the transporter, they prevent neurons from reabsorbing serotonin, which causes a buildup of serotonin outside of neurons. In other words, antidepressants alter the balance of serotonin in the brain, increasing the concentration outside of neurons. With long-term antidepressant use, the brain pushes back against these drugs and eventually restores the balance of serotonin outside of the neuron with a number of compensatory changes.   It is important to realize that the serotonin transporter is not only found in the brain—it is also found at all the major sites in the body where serotonin is produced and transported, including the gut and blood cells called platelets. Since antidepressants travel throughout the body and bind to the serotonin transporter wherever it is found, they can interfere with the important, diverse processes regulated by serotonin throughout the body. While physicians and their patients are typically only interested in the effects of antidepressants on mood, the harmful effects on other processes in the body (digestion, sexual function, abnormal bleeding, etc.) are perfectly expectable when you consider how these drugs work.

  1. Antidepressants are only moderately effective during treatment and relapse is common
Since the brain pushes back against the effects of antidepressants, the ability of these drugs to reduce depressive symptoms is limited (see our article for a review). While there is some debate over precisely how much antidepressants reduce depressive symptoms in the first six to eight weeks of treatment, the consistent finding is that the effect is quite modest.

Many people who have suffered from depression report a substantial symptom-reducing benefit while taking antidepressants. The problem is that symptoms are also substantially reduced when people are given a placebo—a sugar pill that lacks the chemical properties of antidepressant medications. In fact, most of the improvement that takes place during antidepressant treatment (approximately 80%) also takes place with a placebo. Of course, antidepressants are slightly more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms, but this difference is relatively small, which is what we mean when we say that antidepressants have a “modest” ability to reduce depressive symptoms. The pushback of the brain increases over months of antidepressant treatment, and depressive symptoms commonly return (frequently resulting in full blown relapse). Often this compels practitioners to increase the dose or switch the patient to a more powerful drug. Prescribers fail to appreciate that the return of symptoms often occurs because the brain is pushing back against the effect of antidepressants.   3. The risk of relapse is increased after antidepressant medication has been discontinued
Another effect of the brain pushing back against antidepressants is that the pushback can cause a relapse when you stop taking the drug. This pushback effect is analogous to the action of a spring. Imagine a spring with one end attached to a wall. An antidepressant suppresses the symptoms of depression in a way that is similar to compressing the spring with your hand. When you stop taking the drug (like taking your hand off the spring from its compressed position), there is a surge in the symptoms of depression (like the overshoot of the spring before it returns to its resting position). The three month risk of relapse for people who took a placebo is about 21%. But the three month risk of relapse after you stop taking an SSRI is 43%—twice the risk. For stronger antidepressants, the three month risk is even higher.

  1. Antidepressants have been found to cause neuronal damage and death in rodents, and they can cause involuntary, repetitive movements in humans.

Antidepressants can kill neurons (see our article for a review). Many medical practitioners will be surprised by this fact because it is widely believed in the medical community that antidepressants promote the growth of new neurons. However, this belief is based on flawed evidence—a point that we address in detail in our article. One way antidepressants could kill neurons is by causing structural damage of the sort often found in Parkinson’s disease. This neurological damage might explain why some people taking antidepressant medication can develop Parkinsonian symptoms and tardive dyskinesia, which is characterized by involuntary and repetitive body movements. Many prescribers mistakenly think these syndromes only occur in patients taking antipsychotic medications.

  1. Antidepressants may increase the risks of breast cancer, but may protect against brain cancers
.

Recent research indicates that antidepressants may increase the risk of cancer outside of the brain, such as breast cancer. However, the neuron-killing properties of antidepressants may make them potentially useful as treatments for brain cancers, and current research is testing this possibility.

  1. Antidepressants may cause cognitive decline.

Since neurons are required for proper brain functioning, the neuron-killing effects of antidepressants can be expected to have negative effects on cognition. In rodents, experiments have found that prolonged antidepressant use impairs the ability to learn a variety of tasks. Similar problems may exist in humans. Numerous studies have found that antidepressants impair driving performance, and they may increase the risk of car accidents. Recent research on older women also indicates that prolonged antidepressant use is associated with a 70% increase in the risk of mild cognitive impairment and an increase in the risk of probable dementia.   7.Antidepressants are associated with impaired gastrointestinal functioning
The action of antidepressants results in elevated levels of serotonin in the intestinal lining, which is associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Indeed, antidepressants have been found to cause the same symptoms as irritable bowel syndrome—pain, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, bloating and headache. In a recent study, 14-23% of people taking antidepressants suffered these side effects.   8. Antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction and have adverse effects on sperm quality. Depression commonly causes problems in sexual functioning. However, many antidepressants make the problem worse, impairing sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm. The most widely studied and commonly prescribed antidepressants—Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft—have been found to increase the risk of sexual dysfunction by six times or more. Evidence from case studies suggests that antidepressants may also interfere with attachment and romantic love. Some antidepressants have been found to negatively impact sperm structure, volume, and mobility.   9. Antidepressant use is associated with developmental problems
Antidepressant medication is frequently prescribed to pregnant and lactating mothers. Since SSRIs can pass through the placental barrier and maternal milk, they can affect fetal and neonatal development. Generally, if SSRIs are taken during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. Exposure during the first trimester can increase the risk of congenital defects and developing an autism spectrum disorder, such as Asperger’s Syndrome.   Third trimester SSRI exposure is associated with an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (10% mortality rate) and medication withdrawal symptoms such as crying, irritability, and convulsions. Prenatal exposure to SSRIs is also associated with an increased risk of respiratory distress, which is the leading cause of death of premature infants.   11\\10. Antidepressant use is associated with an increased risk of abnormal bleeding and stroke
Serotonin is crucial to platelet function and promotes blood clotting, which is important when one has a bleeding injury.   Patients taking SSRIs and other antidepressants are more likely to have abnormal bleeding problems (for a review see our article). They are more likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain) and be hospitalized for an upper gastrointestinal bleed. The bleeding risks are likely to increase when SSRIs are taken with other medications that reduce clotting, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Coumadin
.   11. Antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of death in older people.
Depression itself is associated with an increased risk of death in older people—primarily due to cardiovascular problems. However, antidepressants make the problem worse.   Five recent studies have shown that antidepressant use is associated with an increased risk of death in older people (50 years and older), over and above the risk associated with depression. Four of the studies were published in reputable medical journals—The British Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of Internal Medicine, Plos One, and the British Medical Journal—by different research groups. The fifth study was presented this year at the American Thoracic Society conference in San Francisco.
In these studies, the estimated risk of death was substantial. For instance, in the Women’s Health Initiative study, antidepressant drugs were estimated to cause about five deaths out of a 1000 people over a year’s time. This is the same study that previously identified the dangers of hormonal replacement therapy for postmenopausal women.   In the study published in the British Medical Journal, antidepressants were estimated to cause 10 to 44 deaths out of a 1000 people over a year, depending on the type of antidepressant. In comparison, the painkiller Vioxx was taken off the market in the face of evidence that it caused 7 cardiac events out of 1000 people over a year. Since cardiac events are not necessarily fatal, the number of deaths estimated to be caused by antidepressants is arguably of much greater concern.   An important caveat is that these studies were not placebo-controlled experiments in which depressed participants were randomly assigned to placebo or antidepressant treatment. For this reason, one potential problem is that perhaps the people who were taking antidepressants were more likely to die because they had more severe depression. However, the paper published in the British Medical Journal was able to rule out that possibility because they controlled for the pre-medication level of depressive symptoms. In other words, even among people who had similar levels of depression without medication, the subsequent use of antidepressant medications was associated with a higher risk of death.
These studies were limited to older men and women. But many people start taking antidepressants in adolescence or young adulthood. Moreover, since the risk of a relapse is often increased when one attempts to go off an antidepressant (see point 3 above), people may remain on medication for years or decades.   Unfortunately, we have no idea how the cumulative impact of taking antidepressants for such a long time affects the expected lifespan. In principle, long-term antidepressant use could shave off years of life.   It is commonly argued that antidepressants are needed to prevent depressed patients from committing suicide. Yet there is a well-known controversy over whether antidepressants promote suicidal behavior. Consequently, it is not possible to reach any firm conclusions about how antidepressants affect the risk of suicidal behavior. However, most deaths attributed to antidepressants are not suicides. In other words, antidepressants appear to increase the risk of death regardless of their effects on suicidal behavior. We suggest that antidepressants increase the risk of death by degrading the overall functioning of the body. This is suggested by the fact that antidepressants have adverse effects on every major process in the body regulated by serotonin.   12. Antidepressants have many negative effects on older people
Most of the research on the adverse health effects of antidepressants has been conducted on older patients. Consequently, our conclusions are strongest for this age group. In addition to cognitive decline, stroke and death, antidepressant use in older people is associated with an increased risk of falling and bone fracture. Older people taking SSRIs are also at an increased risk of developing hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood plasma). This condition is characterized by nausea, headache, lethargy, muscle cramps and disorientation. In severe cases, hyponatremia can cause seizures, coma, respiratory arrest and death.
The fact that most research has been conducted on older people does not mean that antidepressants do not have harmful effects on the young.   As previously discussed, antidepressants can have harmful effects on development. Moreover, many people start taking these drugs when they are young and remain on them for years or decades. In principle, the negative effects of these drugs could be substantial over such long periods of time.
Altogether, the evidence leads us to conclude that antidepressants generally do more harm than good as treatments for depression. On the benefit side, the drugs have a limited ability to reduce symptoms. On the cost side, there is a significant and unappreciated list of negative health effects because these drugs affect all the processes regulated by serotonin throughout the body. While the negative effects are unintended by the physician and the patient, they are perfectly expectable once you understand how these drugs work.   Taken together, the evidence suggests that these drugs degrade the overall functioning of the body. It is difficult to argue that a drug that increases the risk of death is generally helping people.
There may be conditions other than depression where antidepressants are generally beneficial (e.g., as treatments for brain tumors and facilitating recovery after a stroke), but further research in these areas is needed (see our article).   Ethical and Legal Issues
Physicians and other medical practitioners have an ethical obligation to avoid causing greater harm to their patients. The Latin phrase primum non nocere (“first, do no harm”) that all medical students are taught means that it may be better to do nothing than to risk causing a greater harm to a patient. Although all prescription medications have adverse side effects that can cause harm, practitioners have an ethical obligation to not prescribe medications that do more harm than good. The evidence we have reviewed suggests practitioners should exercise much greater caution in the prescription of antidepressants and to reconsider their use as a first line of treatment for depression. Additionally, we suggest that physicians and other medical practitioners should consider their potential legal liability.
Legal liability for prescribing antidepressants
Medical practitioners can be sued for prescribing antidepressant medications if doing so violates their state’s standard of care laws.   In most states, the standard of care is what a “reasonably prudent” practitioner in the same or similar field would do. The standard of practice is not defined by what the majority of physicians do because it is possible for an entire field to be negligent. Since studies on the health risks associated with antidepressant use (e.g., stroke, death) have been published in well-respected medical journals, medical practitioners could possibly be vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits. For instance, it seems likely that a reasonably prudent physician should be aware of the medical literature and avoid prescribing medications that could increase the risk of stroke and death.
Prescribers can also be held liable for not discussing information about medical risks so that patients can give informed consent for medical treatments and procedures. Prescribers have a duty to discuss the benefits and risks of any recommended treatment. Consequently, medical practitioners should discuss with their patients that antidepressant medication is only modestly more effective than placebo and could increase the risk of neurological damage, attentional impairments, gastrointestinal problems, sexual difficulties, abnormal bleeding, cognitive impairment, dementia, stroke, death, and the risk of relapse after discontinuation.   Antidepressants must cause harm to create liability
A medical malpractice lawsuit can only succeed if the antidepressant caused harm to the patient. It is important to realize that the antidepressant does not need to be the only cause of the harm—it only needs to contribute to or exacerbate the harm.   As we have argued, antidepressants play a causal role in many adverse health outcomes because they disrupt serotonin, which regulates so many important processes throughout the body. This may make it particularly difficult for a medical practitioner to defend against a medical malpractice suit from a patient who experiences any of a number of adverse health effects while taking an antidepressant. For instance, if a patient has a stroke while taking an antidepressant, the evidence that antidepressants increase the risk of stroke suggests that the antidepressant may have contributed to the patient’s stroke, even if it was not the only cause.
Conclusion
The evidence now indicates that antidepressants are less effective and more toxic than commonly believed. From ethical, health, and legal perspectives, it seems prudent for individual practitioners and professional medical organizations to revise informed consent guidelines and reconsider the status of antidepressants in standards of care for many diagnoses and as the front line treatment for depression. With older people, for instance, the current data suggest informed consent must include a discussion of the increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke and even early death.   We suspect that if prescribers realized they were placing themselves at legal risk for failing to discuss the adverse health effects of antidepressants with their patients, not only would they be more likely to discuss such information, they would be less likely to recommend these drugs in the first place. Paul W. Andrews is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University in Canada. He has a PhD in Biology from the University of New Mexico and a law degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work on the evolution of depression with J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. has been featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and Scientific American Mind.   Taken with respect and gratitude. directly from ANNECWOODLEN’s Blog BEHIND THE LOCKED DOORS OF INPATIENTS PSYCHIATRY.  http://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/you-and-your-antidepressant-2/

THE BITTEREST PILLS ARE ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUGs but if they work…

FOur Different Atypical Antipsychotic drugs
 FOur Different Atypical Antipsychotic drugs
and they really work for you, then don’t listen to me, keep taking them and the more power to you.

Do you work at a job and earn a living while you take anti-psychotic drugs? Do you support a family or take care of one while your wage-earner partner can keep her or his job without worrying about your sanity? Good, then the “anti-psychotic” pills you take (or I’ll add in for good measure, god help us all, the “anti-depressant” pills) are doing what we were always told they were supposed to do. Or if you don’t work or care for a family, if not, do you at least live a fulfilling single’s life, with good capable friends and family and a worthwhile occupying activity that keeps your mind free of craziness and despondency the preponderance of the time? Terrific!Then those pills, whether they be antipsychotic or anti-depressant pills actually function and you are one lucky dude or chick. I say to you, whoever you are, All Cheers and GO FOR IT! Please do not worry about anything further I say in this or any other blog post. Whatever I write from here on in, whatever I say that you do not agree with, IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR YOU. Why? Because by your report, YOUR PILLS WORK and they do a bloody good job of it. So who’s to tell you to change anything? You have no complaints and aside from the possibility that your brain might sustain a little shrinkage, if  research about such things proves correct, you have nothing to worry about. In truth, most aging brains shrink and sustain bits of damage along the way. Lots of things can happen…most of them not drug related at all. One simply cannot worry about a “what if” future, when the present is so bright.

So I repeat, IF you happen to be one of those lucky ones I have described and actually have no complaints, IF, better than that, if you find that your anti-psychotic drug or anti-depressant pills work terrifically well, you have had no relapses, suffer no terrible trade-offs in terms of side effects, then stop reading this blog post right this minute. Why? Because I have nothing to offer you and nothing to say to you. Okay? You don’t need me, and you won’t want to hear what I am going to say to the others of us out there whose experience has been somewhat to radically different.

But this is a SHOUT OUT to you, there, who don’t like your drugs and don’t want to take them. Or find them minimally helpful, or wonder frankly whether they really do any of what the docs tell you they do,  forewarned is forearmed…This post is going to be about the charade of anti-psychotic drugs, for the most part, about the fact that they do not in fact function in the anti-schizophrenia fashion that you have been told.  (I likely won’t have the time or energy at this point, being on AP drugs myself, to get into the appalling farce of what are called anti-depressants…You could turn to MAD IN AMERICA by Robert Whitaker for a take on those — just check out his chapter on Prozac for a taste…) It isn’t that AP drugs do nothing at all. They do attack the brain’s neurotransmitter levels, in some fashion or another. And not just the vaunted dopamine and or serotonin levels either. No, most atypical antipsychotic drugs have effects on histamine, glutamine, noradrenaline and acetylcholine and likely a whole host of other brain chemicals we haven’t even scratched the surface of, in the sense of knowing their function in the brain, or in any part of the brain for that matter.

Do you know, did you know, that the Dopamine Hypothesis, the fundmental reason why there are antipsychotic drugs out there now in so many burgeoning numbers was always bogus? It never held water, ever. There was NEVER any reason to believe that dopamine caused schizophrenia, or that a dyspfucntional level of dopamine lay behind the majority of schizophrenic symptoms. It was a bold-faced and bald-pated lie, that’s because it is as old as the hills and as tiring. You don’t have schizophrenia the way one has diabetes, because you have a chemical imbalance in your neurotrnamitters that these neat little AP drugs resolve and rebalance. Sorry, folks, but that has been baloney ever since we all started developing parkinsonism and KNEW, just KNEW that something was terribly wrong with these miracle drugs that made us feel so terrible.

Did you know that it used to be the criteria for a true neuroleptic, the only way they knew they had a functioning adequate drug, was because it successfully induced parkinsonism in patients. That is, if it induced adequate BRAIN DAMAGE, then they knew it would “work” against schizophrenia. Because the theory was, both in ECT and insulin coma,  as it was in early AP drugs like Thorazine and Haldol that you had to induce brain damage to get a therapeutic effect in the illness. Crazy no? No, not at all, not when you stood to make ZILLIONS and Gazilliions of dollars on these drugs. Not only could you treat a hospialized crazy person with these drugs, and make them “better” and push them out of the hospital, but you could set up a plan for future care, AFTER CARE, that specified that JUST like diabetes, a person had to keep taking these drugs. You never just recovered from an illness like schizophrenia, no. The drugs were miracles yes, but not like antibiotics, They never cured you. they just were a treatment that you had to keep taking. The Gift that keeps on giving…at least for the Pharmaceutical companies who dreamed up the protocol. If they could get a person onto the AP drugs, once, and mandate legally or via a persuasive mental health system that the patient stay on them for life, well then, what a system, and what a money maker!

Oh my eye! What a load of hog wash. All they ever did was dream up neuroleptic (“brain seizing”) drugs that physically subdued people and made them more amenable to nursing. So the hospital nurses could be more nursey nursey and kinder, and more kindly disposed to patients who were now drooling and dulled and seemed much genuinely sick, and the patients could be seen as more ill and less hostile and unpleasant to be around, less difficult to treat qua patients..

But it was a strange transformation, because the more sick the patients were made by taking these neuroleptic drugs, the less they were treated like the troubled and suffering PEOPLE they were to begin with. Once a patient, they assumed that role, and the whole cycle began and has never stopped to this day. “Schizophrenia is an illness just like diabetes.” That was the canard I was told in 1980 — we are still being handed the same disgusting lie! — when I was first officially diagnosed with the condition, or told the name to my face at any rate. “You’ll never recover, and you will likely have relapses, but you won’t be a back wards patient if you take these pills like a good girl, and do as I tell you. No schizophrenia isn’t a death sentence these days but it IS a life sentence…” So what did I do? I swallowed my 500mg of Melleril, yes i did, and I told the doctor I was feeling much better, yes I did. Because frankly I didn’t know how I felt and I felt OBLIGED to tell the doctor what he wanted to hear. How else was I going to get out of the hospital and get off those horrible pills that made me put on 20 pounds in three weeks and made me feel so dull and sluggish and tired all the time? Besides, how could I possibly, in those conditions, KNOW how I felt, when the nurses themsevlves colluded to tell me how much better I looked and was doing? I knew I couldn’t read or think for myself any longer. But they told me that that was my negative symptoms and had nothing to do with the drugs. It was a problem I would have to come to terms with by talking with a therapist…which was a good thing, that they suggested I see a therapist. Back in those days, it was often frowned upon that ANYONE with schizophrenia actually do any talking to anyone at all. After all, if you talked about yourself or your illness, you might upset yourself or the whole applecart…You might actually go crazy again, you were that UNSTABLE! No talk therapy was usually frowned upon for “schizophrenics.” It was seen as not good for them, and destabilizing. What we needed was daily meds and mouth checks and maybe day treatment with a hours job to do each day, like capping test tubes for the lab to keep us busy. Lucky was he or she who could function as a bus boy or table setter. Most of us barely made it to day treatment on time, before sacking out on a couch somewhere for a long snooze to let the morning’s dose of thorazine 1000mg or Melleril 800mg wear off a little before coffee hour or lunch time.

Some of us actually turned blue on high doses of Chlorpromazine, and she eventually died, at the age of 28. There was a lot of relapses and some suicides, but NO ONE actually went out and got a job and quit the hospital and got better. No, because the whole damned system was set up in such a way that once you were set up on anti-psychotic drugs, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, you were put on social security disability payments for life,..and drugs for life followed, and the trap ensued that meant your whole life was a rolling down hill of poverty and more drug taking and relapses…until maybe something amazing happened to get you out of the systematic rut the psychiatric system had placed you in.

MAYBE you found someone you fell in love with, someone who not only would take care of you, but who hated to see you dull and passionless and sexless on the drugs and encouraged you to SLOWLY wean yourself off of them. And maybe it happened to a few of us that it was a success, because love can really conquer all, even the notion that schizophrenia is a life-long hopeless illness. If you got off the drugs in the right way, slowly, and stopped seeing the doctor who told you you would definitely relapse, maybe just maybe you didn’t. Maybe your sex life came back and you found out it was better than Haldol and thorazine, and better than being dulled by the system’s poverty and being sick. And once in a while that person’s husband was so loving and encouraging that they got married and moved away and she stayed well enough to take up a hobby that turned out to make a little money by itself. So she turned it into a business, and miracle of miracles, she didn’t fall into the trap of SSDI  after all but stayed well without the AP drugs and became a businesswoman without enough time to think about being schizophrenic again…

But alas, that didn’t happen very often. Not nearly often enough. There were far too many tragedies compared to the rare success story. Too many people getting diagnosed with schizopohrenia, and then when the fads for multiple personality disorder came, with that, and all the other fads that had to happen because the drug companies had drugs that they needed to sell use on people and they had to have diagnosese to fit the pharmaceutical picture so they could sell the drugs they had on hand. ADHD, autism are only the latest two…

But I digress, I digress, so let me tell me my own story, if I have the time and energy.

I got sucked in. I did. I was hospitalized in 1980, and even before them. But in 1980, as far as I can now recall, I was up late at night, for the third night, in the hospital kitchenette in an absolute sweating panic about my hands. Why? Because I had this strong delusional belief that they were not my own, but that my twin sister had taken them over and controlled them. I could feel them, and in a sense I could see this process happening. And I heard voices telling me that I was in danger. A nurse came in, and asked me why I was up, and in a panic, i told her. I said, somethings wrong with my hands! They aren’t mind, my sister has control of them! And I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep!

Now, the nurse was a kind woman and I think she meant to help, but she couldnt do anything for me but tell me she would call the doctor, who came, in his fashion, running. I was sweating bullets by then, sitting at the empty lunch table, mumbling about my sister and my stolen hands. What could he do, given his own pharma-company training, but offer me some drug assistance and promise me that it would help, that it was what I “needed” in the throes of my illness?

I believed him, I did. And when he came back the next morning, after I had been dosed three times that night with increasing amounts of Melleril until I finally slept, he pronounced that I suffered from the mental version of diabetes. schizophrenia…The rest, well, if it isn’t everyone’s history, it is a version of it. And  it involves SSDI and even SSI because I had never been able to work a full time job even before then. And none of the many drugs I took after that ever did anything for me but disable me more than before. And I would stop them and be hospitalized again with what they now suspect is withdrawal psychosis, or could have been. And I would be started back on the drugs, or a long-acting injection that was supposed to prevent hospitalization. It never did much good…I was a basket case, a basket case. I never washed or changed my clothing, or even took off my shoes, not even to go to bed. NO I wore those hiking boots for a good year and a half before they even saw me take off the socks I wore underneath them…

So how much did the AP drugs help me? And when they started to restrain me for paranoid fears and trying to escape a locked unit, did I then say Enough is enough,  you cannot torture me, I have schizophrenia? No, I accepted mechanical restraints for three days at a ttime as a form of treatment. One doctor actually told me that schizophrenics don’t respond badly to being tied to a bed for a long time, it helps them, he said, by reducing stimulation…So they did that, and they kept me in seclusion for weeks at a time…until finally I would cry Uncle and take the drug they wanted me on, and go home again, prepared for the next certain relapse, because what else was there….I had a life, yes, but it wasn’t much. It was just hospitals and restraints and drugs that never helped me and cruelty from nurses that didn’t know they were hurting me. And doctors who were damaging me without thinking twice about it. And I didn’t even have the mental wherewithal to know that the drugs were the prime offenders. The PRIME offenders.

It is now 5:30am and I have been up all night. My shoulder hurts, from where i have a slightly torn rotator cuff and frozen shoulder tendonitis… I don’t have a bed, only a recliner I should not sleep in…I am a mess, and  I am also NOT going to continue to take my Abilify and Geodon much longer…I cannot. I cannot. I do not know what will  happen, but I am too afraid of what will happen if I take it, to take them, though I have never felt they did me more harm than good. I just don;t know what real GOOD they do me.

More later, or on another day. Sorry this was so impassioned.

My only Sweetheart, Dead, and a Poem About Her…

 

She died soon thereafter
Eemie on top of her house,…She died soon thereaft

 

 

 

 

 

WHOM IS IT REALLY WE KILL? OF WHOM IS IT REALLY WE DREAM?

 

Is it only two years the little cat’s dead now?

She persists

not in an innocent’s dream

but at my door, so real

 

I can feel her fur in my tears.

Whoever called the injections

by which we kill our animals “sleep”

had no conscience.

 

Euphemisms hide facts

but they do not change them, for surely

if my brain believed there was good in her death,

 

Eemie would not reappear like Banquo’s ghost,

reproaching with her presence

 

telling me truths I already know:

Even cats can die of loneliness

and she had had enough of being left to fend for herself.

 

Of course, there was food and water,

but after my father’s death,

she gave up waiting for some density of me

to return, to connect.

 

Then she gave up wanting me or food.

And when her liver failed

it was too late for anyone’s love to save her.

 

But what of her last look-around at the stainless world?

How could I think it curiosity,

that sudden raised head,

 

when it was only a reflex to euthanasia?

How could I not understand such plain table truth?

I asked the vet how long it would take.

“She’s already gone,” the vet said.

Daniel Mackler’s Amazing Movie on Recovery From Schizophrenia

TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS…

This is an incredible video, which, though long, is well worth watching. For anyone who believes that recovery without medications is impossible or not likely, you should watch this with at least half an open mind. And for anyone who has given up hope, this should give you a lot of hope. I usually cannot watch entire videos half this long, but I watched this one all the way through, even though I admit I had to take breaks because (Yes, I take meds myself) my attention span is short…But it was worth it to learn that one of the women featured not only recovered from her severe schizophrenia without taking psychiatric medication, she remained absolutely psychosis free and became a psychiatric nurse for 30 years. What I would give to speak to her about the sorts of treatment, or abuse that passes for treatment here in CT! But be that as it may, do watch this if you can. It is absolutely astonishing. And beautiful too.

Four-point Restraints at the Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital for 19 hours +

Restrained at the Institute of LIving for Not Following Directions....Dr Amy Taylor presiding
In Restraints at the Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital, 2013, for Not Following Directions….Dr Amy Taylor presiding

New Portraits of African Americans by Pamwagg

 

Alice Walker - from PBS interview
  Alice Walker – from PBS interview

 

Eddy Joe LLoyd -- Innocent
Eddy Joe LLoyd — Innocent

 

Vincent Moto - Innocent, but still trying to expunge his record
Vincent Moto – Innocent, but still trying to expunge his record

 

Bob Moses - Interviewed by Julian Bond
Bob Moses – Interviewed by Julian Bond

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. From Bucket list Publications by Marcandangnel…words to live by. I loved these and while i rarely reblog someone else’s page or simply link to them. These 30 sugggestions were so simple and cogent i simply had to. Way to go marc and angel!

more later but for now i am on the train home from north carolina ans trying to write more on my. november novel. TTFN. Love you all!

 

pam

ADD ABILIFY?!

PHYSICIAN ABILIFY SAMPLES
PHYSICIAN ABILIFY SAMPLES – DO NOT ADD  TO ANYTHING! THIS IS NOT AN ANTIDEPRESSANT. THIS IS AN ANTIPSYCHOTIC AND A DANGEROUS DRUG.

I know, I know, you have probably seen the commercials, but I am new to television and I only just started to watch them…and I just saw one that has been running probably for years now with the sad little pill that gets people to “add Abilify” to their so-called “anti-depressant” in order to boost its effectiveness. I learned about this advertisement recently from a friend of mine who innocently enough told me, told me, that Abilify is “just another antidepressant”.

Excuse me? I said to her. Abilify is NOT an antidepressant.

“Yes it is,” she insisted.  “I saw it on TV.”

“No, Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic drug, not unlike Zyprexa or Risperdal. I don’t know what you are talking about, calling it an antidepressant.”

That’s when she told me about the sad little pill commerical. Well, okay, so the pill isn’t sad, the woman in the commercial supposedly is, and when the nice doctor she sees, adds the nice little Abilify pill to her so-called anti-depressant, she perks right up like an obedient child and, wow, the two pills work like magic to make the world right again. WOWEE!

So again the public is sold two lies, or maybe three or maybe half a dozen. First we are sold the lie that antidepressants do something in the first place. WAIT A MINUTE. Okay, they do do something, I admit it. They change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, yes, they do that. They alter something. Yes, and doing something, making a difference, altering anything makes people feel DIFFERENT and doing anything to change people’s feelings about ANYTHING when they are depressed can lead them to feel that it is better than doing nothing. ‘

But you have to understand that taking a mind altering substance to do something, anything at all, just to feel different, is not at all the same thing as actually treating a pre-existing chemical imbalance. And they know now that there is no such thing as a serotonin imbalance in the brains of depressed people. NO SUCH THING. In fact, they cannot figure out why people become depressed at all, but they do know that serotonin levels are not involved in any such simplified ways that the SSRI drugs purport to “treat.” Even Prozac researchers have admitted as much. Prozac researchers knew that their drug did not work way back in the 80s when Prozac first came out. They knew it induced suicidality in a large number of people, but they rushed it onto the market because Lilly needed a blockbuster drug, period to pad their pockets.

But that aside, the researchers to this day know that antidepressants do nothing to actually treat depression, because they have admitted that they do not understand what causes depression.

That said, does anyone who takes an anti-depressant understand what they are doing when their friendly psychiatrist or family doctor  “ADDS ABILIFY” to their nice little psychoactive cocktail? Well, in addition to experiencing some or all the terrible  but COMMON side effects of, say, Zoloft or Prozac (these are just those for Zoloft):

Inability to have an Erection Severe
Sexual Problems Severe
Altered Interest in Having Sexual Intercourse Severe
Drowsiness Less Severe
Dizzy Less Severe
Chronic Trouble Sleeping Less Severe
Low Energy Less Severe
Excessive Sweating Less Severe
Involuntary Quivering Less Severe
Loss of Appetite Less Severe
Weight Loss Less Severe
Head Pain Less Severe
Feel Like Throwing Up Less Severe
Gas Less Severe
Diarrhea Less Severe
Stomach Cramps Less Severe
Feeling Weak Less Severe

they might well experience  these COMMON side effect of Abilify:

A Feeling of Restlessness with Inability to Sit Still Severe
Feeling Restless Less Severe
Indigestion Less Severe
Incomplete or Infrequent Bowel Movements Less Severe
Drowsiness Less Severe
Dizzy Less Severe
Chronic Trouble Sleeping Less Severe
Increased Hunger Less Severe
Head Pain Less Severe
Feel Like Throwing Up Less Severe
Throwing Up Less Severe
High Amount of Triglyceride in the Blood Less Severe
Anxious Less Severe

These are the commonly reported side effects from common antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro: in terms of Psychiatric Disorders, to which one might be told to “add Abilfy”:

Frequent: impaired concentration, amnesia, apathy, depression, increased appetite, aggravated depression, suicide attempt, confusion.

Now, I ask you, everyone, DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A RECIPE FOR CURING DEPRESSION?  Any fool would look just at the list of side effects and say, uh, I would be more depressed if I experienced even two of these….But doctors think that people will feel better if they take drugs like these two together, and put up with these side effects, just because they are told  that “by adding abilify” and  their depression will go away.

The point is, the doctors are IN THE DARK. They read mostly what you do, and they see the same commericals you do. Most of them have no more idea whether the drugs work than  you do, and they only know what they are told by the drug reps and the drug companies….DO NOT BELIEVE THEM when they tell you that you have a chemical imbalance. They are either lying to you, or believing a lie they were told by someone else. ASK THEM questions, investigate. Ask  precisely what is the correct balance, what are the correct numbers…Do not be sheep. What were the studies showing any proof? Who did the studies and who  paid for them? Changes are you won’t get good answers, or if you do, your answers won’t make you any more secure than I am. Because drug companies pay for most of their own studies and they only pay for the results they want, ie what they want to hear…They do not want to hear that Abilify hurts patients, or doesn’t actually work, or that Abilify does not boost Zoloft’s anti-depressant IN-efficacy. No, they want to lie and “prove” a lie or else not prove it by not actually doing the study to prove anything. They want to market the drug and advertise things that have NOT BEEN SHOWN TO BE TRUE AT ALL. They want to market a lie, sell a drug and make money, without doing any research to prove anything, and pick up the pieces billions of dollars later, if at all.

I say, BULL SHIT

My advice? Don’t add Abilify. Add only Sunlight and Truth to everything.

Antipsychotics Block Pleasure in Life: It’s All About Dopamine…

It has always been about Dopamine, but they never told us that impeding our dopamine receptors would impair our ability to feel pleasure and the high of "reward" -- No wonder our "negative symptoms of "not wanting to do" so many things! The drugs blocked our native dopamine flow! (Decades ago they knew that it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with schizophrenia, but they persisted in the lie nevertheless...
It has always been about Dopamine, but they never told us that impeding our dopamine receptors would impair our ability to feel pleasure and the high of “reward” — No wonder our “negative symptoms of “not wanting to do” so many things! The drugs blocked our native dopamine flow! (Decades ago they knew that it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with schizophrenia, but they persisted in the lie nevertheless…

To explain the picture/letters above, I was practicing some lettering, briefly, and did not know what I was writing until later…which makes what I wrote all the more interesting a message from my subconscious.  Clearly I agree with almost everyone else I have ever heard from: Haldol is the drug from hell!  About the rest of it, well, Psychiatrie macht frie derives from the sign that was posted above Auschwitz and other concentration camps during WWII, Arbeit macht frei, or Work makes (you) free. So this transposition is meant to suggest (sardonically) that psychiatry will free you in just the same way… NOT!

What particularly sickens me personally is the damage the fiction called the Dopamine Hypothesis  — how an excess of dopamine causes schizophrenia — may have done to the millions of people like me who have taken antipsychotic drugs for decades, unknowingly buying into the medical model and this notion that we somehow had too much dopamine coursing around in our brains.

Life is ALL about dopamine, LIFE has always been about dopamine. Here are some of the human functions to which dopamine is essential

  • movement
  • memory
  • pleasurable reward
  • behavior and cognition
  • attention
  • inhibition of prolactin production
  • sleep
  • mood
  • learning

Why on earth would anyone deprive another human being of the one neurotransmitter that allows us to feel good about things? It would seem to be a diabolical plot, if anyone actually did such a thing, right? And yet, for decades right on through today, that is what doctors want us to do, block the transmission of dopamine to the brains of those of us diagnosed with schizophrenia. They know, of course, that it is impossible, that the brain up-regulates the flow of dopamine in such a way as to thwart at least in part the antipsychotic receptor blockade. Homeostasis will be re-established eventually, even if at abnormal levels due to the drug’s presence.*

No one can live without dopamine, after all. But to understand the necessity of dopamine, and that they have known for years that an imbalance of dopamine metabolism is NOT implicated in schizophrenia, and finally to “grok” that they have nonetheless perpetuated the lie that is the “dopamine hypothesis” just boggles the mind with its enormity. How can we believe anything they tell us about negative symptoms, now, when  as one website informs us:

“Low D2 receptor-binding is found in people with social anxiety or social phobia. Some features of negative schizophrenia (social withdrawal, apathy, anhedonia) are thought to be related to a low dopaminergic state in certain areas of the brain.”

The atypical AP drugs induce a D2 receptor blockade as a matter of course. After all, if you don’t feel any reward-sense from your life and living, your normal dopamine being in an antipsychotic blockade, why would you want to change your clothes, or take care of yourself, much less bother to go to work or even think? But we have been led to believe that such negative symptoms are part of schizophrenia and NOT part of the drug treatments for it! No one told us they were taking away all our incentive to do anything, to even move or think. They told us they were helping us, not hurting us, not destroying our lives!

Even more diabolical, to my way of thinking is the idea that some doctors actually add an atypical antipsychotic onto the treatment of mere depression. Can you imagine how you would feel if you were taking an SSRI (which is ineffective) and which already deprived you of sexual satisfaction or any sexual feelings at all, and then you are given an adjunctive antipsychotic that subsequently deprives you of dopamine? It might add twenty to forty pounds or even more in no time, up your cholesterol and blood sugar, and then deprive you of any feelings of reward or pleasure…Ah but it will boost your antidepressant’s antidepressant activity? J’en doute fortement… I doubt it highly!

What do the doctors care? Either they bought into the drug company’s literature and haven’t read anything independently since med school…or they are on the take themselves from Big Pharma in some fashion and don’t give a damn.

We need to be on the look out for ourselves, because god knows the doctors are not on our sides, most of them. They cannot be. This is their bread and butter, folks esp the psychiatrists and if they cannot prescribe pills, what will they do? They won’t be “real doctors” any more and their prestige will plummet yet again…OH NO! The fact is, they need to learn to do psychotherapy again, or get out of medicine because they cannot prescribe pills that do not work, and there are none that do! None that do reliably and well or better than placebo. In fact, except for the occasional use of a benzodiazepine, and the judicious use of cognitive enhancers for the proper people, and meds for sleep, I am convinced that precious few drugs in the psychoactive armamentarium are worthy of anything but the dustbin.

I think most are ONLY placebos, if they do anything at all. Frankly. And I say this despite having once written testimonials in praise of Zyprexa and other drugs…I dunno, I dunno. How could Zyprexa be anything except a placebo? It is a dirty drug that hits nearly every known neurotransmitter of importance…And yet we do not know how it does what it does…and it has horrendous side effects. That much we know. Since we do not have any reason to think  it is the action on dopamine or serotonin that is the “antipsychotic” activity, in essence we cannot say why or if it does anything at all. ALL the AAPs drugs work on the neurotransmitters in a more or less dirty fashion. In fact the OLDER drugs were less dirty, being more specific to just dopamine!

I reiterate, there is no “chemical imbalance” in schizophrenia, or bipolar “illness’ or in depression. No one has ever proven or shown any such animal ever. Only after patients have taken a drug to “treat” such conditions is there ever an “imbalance” and this imbalance is a direct result of having taken the drug. PLEASE remember this and question your doctors next time they warn you that if you stop your meds your “chemical imbalance” will reassert itself and make you sick again. Ask, “What chemical imbalance and where did it come from? What chemicals and what is the normal level I should have?” I know I know, the doctor will say, dopamine, if you “have” schizophrenia, or “serotonin” if you “have” depression. Lord knows what she will claim if you “have” bipolar tendencies of one sort or another, as so many millions upon millions of Americans these days have been told they now do…But it isn’t true. Not even if they claim it is. There has never been any proof of altered neurotransmitter levels and in fact it is the opposite: drug-naive people with schizophrenia and depression, that is to say, those who have never taken any medication, have been shown to have the exact same dopamine and serotonin levels as anyone else!

As for those who suffer from the condition called “bipolar” — You know, it used to be a very rare condition,  manic-depression. Now, you see “bipolars” coming out of the woodwork everywhere. One used to have to have been crazy-manic at least once, to the extent of having been hospitalized to qualify for the diagnosis, and this made sense as it was restrictive and not a broad umbrella. Given that the illness was considered a very serious one, no one wanted to bring too many within the definition. Now, with so many drugs used to “treat” (ha ha ha) the condition,  and with the help of DSM IV and 5 to bring patients to the drug companies’ financial assistance, you need only complain of a garden variety “depression” to be counted as bipolar…

But remember: 1) the drug companies treating bipolar etc only want to make money, 2) the drugs treat something — a neurotransmitter imbalance that doesn’t exist 3) bipolarity is a fiction that keeps lengthening, like Pinocchio’s nose, with every newly expanded definition…

Think about malaria, a real illness. It doesn’t make more people ill just because it gets redefined. Malaria is caused by a protozoan (injected through the bite of a mosquito), and it sickens people who are vulnerable to the ravages of that organism inside the body…in the same way each time. You don’t “get” malaria more because a financially- interconnected organization of doctors/drug companies decides to change the definition of what constitutes malaria. No, you  get malaria the way people always gotten malaria, largely through not using mosquito nets and other preventive measures…i.e. via a mosquito bite.

Ay, this is NUTS! It should not be so fricking easy to fit everyone into a diagnostic category of mental illness.  Emotions are NOT illnesses by definition, they are normal and necessary, even excessive emotional reactions are quite normal; they happen every day to everyday normal people. Some cultures define themselves by their emotionality! It behooves us to remember this and not pathologize it.

So too, think of this: depression frequently is just sadness, folks. We used to know the truth of the saying, “This too will pass…” There are problems in living that are just problems in living, and I think that some people for whatever reason are simply miserable, without having a mental illness. They would not do better being labeled with an illness or being treated for one. In fact, I have seen people in states of abject misery do a great deal worse under the burden of a label…

I have had it. I do not trust a drug company or a prescription at all, none of them. The foxes are in charge of the chickens and they are up to no good, no good at all. So this weekend I am OFF all Abilify. HURRAY! After that I start cutting out the Geodon…(I have already halved the Ritalin simultaneously with the decrease of Abilify. I had to, I simply don’t need the Ritalin as much, as I am not as sleepy. After Geodon, there is only the Topamax, which I take for seizures and migraines.. Have to decide about that one. I want to be off it, I really do. But can i?**

*Note that although some of these conclusions are my own, I drew most of the research I have based them on from my readings in Robert Whitaker’s fine books MAD IN AMERICA and ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC. I highly recommend reading both of them, which can be accessed through the link I provide at the top of the page in my blogroll. The link goes directly to ANATOMY but MAD can be found easily through there. Good reading! And please do let me know what you think at any time. (Adding this note at a later time, very much the same information can be found in Dr Joanne Moncrieff’s books — a British psychiatrist who came to similar conclusions as Whitaker. Her book on antipsyhcotics is THE BITTEREST PILLS, and her book on psychtherapeutic drugs in general is THE MYTH OF THE CHEMICAL CURE.

**writing in Dec 2017 i have never been able to get off the Geodon or the Abilify, nor the other drugs, though i have cut the Geodon in half somewhat successfully. (I am unable to speak at present, but i do not believe the two are linked, as i dropped the Geodon/ziprasidone dose more than a month ago and the muteness started less than a week ago). That said, i still do not believe they help me. I just maintain that once you have been on these drugs for literally decades as i have been, more or less by force, then your brain changes in response and ends up “imbalanced” and in that sense alone does need the drugs.

About Sacrifice and a Poem : Making Things Holy

MOSAIC

 Mosaic: a word that means from the muses, from Moses and a work of art created from broken fragments of pottery, stone or glass.
 

Even the first time, surrender was not hard,

though the grownups and mothers

with their drinks and swizzle sticks

undoubtedly thought it so when you volunteered

your only present that 10th Christmas

to a younger child who wouldn’t understand

being giftless at the tail end of a line to Santa,

nor your inherent sin in being born.

Such generosity should have stayed

between your concept-of-God and you,

but grownup admiration (you could not hope

to make your act unpublic) sullied the soap

of any generosity’s power to cleanse you.

Other atonements followed, only one

almost perfect, being perfectly anonymous

spoiled by an accomplice’s later telling.

Perfection? You never made that grade,

your terrible love for God demanding all life

from your life. No one told you, “Live a lot,”

not in words that made it matter, though

they doubtless counseled, “Live a little.”

You were always in school to be perfect,

never knowing that life is a classroom

where one learns to love flaws

by throwing bad pots, to shatter

them with careful hammer,

assembling beauty from broken things.

I do not believe I posted this poem here before. I may have but I doubt it as I was going to publish it in a print journal. Instead, I never sent it out. So instead I choose to “sacrifice” it here. (meaning: If i publish it online here I cannot do so in a print journal…so this is for you, folks!)

I am going to tell you about the child I was when I was very small, as small as I can remember. The first thing I remember about myself as a self, was…well, what do I remember? This is hard. For one thing, while I am down to only 5mg of Abilify, I still take 160mg of Geodon, but more important I still take 200mg of Topamax, an anticonvulsant that has known adverse effects on memory and cognition. Whether it actually interferes with what I can recall from childhood or not, I could not say…Perhaps ECT did that, 16 plus 5 sessions of ECT could have done a number on my brain, especially as I had active neurological Lyme disease at the time. The Lyme-literate neurologist advised strongly against ECT, but the hospital psychiatrist forced me, at least through the last 8, after I refused to go back, by getting a court order and drugging me on so much Thorazine I had no will.

Ah, but “They,” the faceless They of Authority, They say that ECT affects  only short-term memory. Well, then, I guess just being 60 years old and having gone through trauma after trauma in the present decade alone surely could have wiped out memories from a half century ago and before. Whatever is the case, I must now scour my brain to recall what I thought I could recall easily.

Marjorie M, an old friend of my father’s, related a significant story recently — about me at age 6. Given our bedroom when she stayed with our family to recuperate from surgery, while my twin sister and I camped out somewhere else in the house, Marjorie was relaxing in my twin bed, alone, when she was surprised by my little face in the doorway. “Hi, Mrs M,” she tells me I said. “Why, hello, Pammy. How are you?”  I looked at her with concern. “Are you all right, Mrs M? Are you lonely? Do you need anything?” (or something to that effect..) I am astonished that even at age 6 I knew I needed to “do this,” although I think that my mother, who disliked Marjorie intensely, was probably ignoring her and I suspect knew it even then. But Marjorie says she fell in love with me at that moment. She certainly never forgot the incident. Bless her heart…

I forgot it, likely I never knew or understood its impact. Given that I was six, I had already made the decision the year before, when Martha was born and I was five years old, that since I would never have the older sister of my own dreams, I would instead have to be the older sister I dreamed about for Martha. I made myself the promise to Martha, the day she was brought home from the hospital, that I would do everything in my power to be in Martha’s older sister the OS I would have wanted.

In all our childhood photos, until the year I turned 14 and stopped permitting photos to be taken, you see two things: I am almost always featured next to Martha, with my arms around her or somehow touching her, protective of her, and my twin sister is with the dog or otherwise occupied. Always. You might not be able to tell which twin is which from our facial features, but you can tell us apart from that. One of us is with Martha, and you know I am that twin for certain.

It is the greatest loss to me, the worst thing, the — I can only say this: I am not a quitter, but I was unable to complete that most important of assignments because of what happened to me in high school, whatever you want to call it. I either became ill, or troubled or had too many problems…whatever it was, I simply could not function well enough to do all that I promised myself (and Martha) I would do for her. I could not BE the person I needed to be, the functioning adequate teenager, in a good enough way to be a good enough older sister to her.

For instance, just take the older sister/younger sister Q and A that ought to have taken place but never did after I was 14. My own menstual periods took me by brutal surprise. In addition, I never did learn “the facts of life”  (ie sex) as we called it in those days, not for real, not so I understood them, until after college. I vaguely knew the “birds and the bees” but not really, not so I understood the fundamental mechanics of sex at a time when most teens were experimenting with relationships for real. (Not me… I went to an all-girls high school and even though it was not necessarily true for the other students, for me, sex was never on my mind, I never understood the urge or the drive, not then and frankly not ever…) Given those facts, you can see that the OS/YS tête-a-têtes about sex and dating etc just were not going to happen. I didn’t know enough, one, and two, even if I had, I was unprepared to talk about anything so intimate with anyone.

As it turned out, though, Martha had plenty of friends and soon clearly found people to talk to when I could not. Thank heavens, because if the roles had been reversed, she could have taught me plenty! Only they could not be reversed, because I was the OS and she was the YS and things had to stay that way… I think to this day, though she doesn’t say it in so many words, she misses, if not resents, losing the OS, the me she once had…She misses surely the OS promise she knew I made to her from the outset.

Oh, Martha knows it wasn’t my fault. Life is life and shit happens. But she misses me, the Pam that never quite panned out because of everything that “happened” after I turned 14, 15, 16 and then it went on and on and on…She reminded me recently that even before I was taking any medication I told her that life was a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day struggle just to survive…and I was only 24 or 26 or…This horrified her. To this day she can scarcely bare to recall my telling her.  Or of seeing me catatonic in the State Hospital. She left crying and I think could not bear to visit again for years…

We create our reality, people tell me. Our thoughts are very powerful…If so, I created from a very young age, a very harsh reality, one where in cahoots with a punitive God, I had learned over the years I had to be selfless to the point of self-obliteration, as well as nearly mute. But not so mute as to be noticeable…because if you were noticed then you were not completely self-less. (I told you it was a harsh world…) I had to speak just enough so as to NOT be noticed, but never about me or my concerns. ONLY about others…and then listen to their problems ONLY. I had to be a pair of ears pinioned to the wall. Wear drab no-color colors, unnoticeable. Fade into the woodwork, but only in a way that was unremarkable…As soon as someone noticed that I was fading, it was evil! and I had to add just enough color to fade into the crowd anonymously yet again, self-lessly.

No wonder my handwriting almost disappeared into invisibility. (I would have willed my fingerprints away if I had been able to!) Can you imagine my mortification, and the self-mortification I had to practice when bank tellers noticed the minuscularity of my signature and made me sign checks a second time? They NOTICED my attempts to disappear, and in doing so, made me appear loud and big…which was bad. So the voices took it out on me, making demands that had to be answered and hidden in turn.

Why am I writing about these things? Because despite the pain it has caused me, I still believe in self-denial. I believe in self-lessly doing things for others, and in NOT being the center of our own universes ALL the time. I think a good bit of doing for and thinking about others in THEIR universes is good for the soul, so long as they do not abuse you. And I do not believe that others need to know everything good that we do. I do not think we need to broadcast every good deed on Facebook or to our friends so they know what good people we are! So what if it remains anonymous, or between God and you? Maybe even God doesn’t need to know it if you do something for someone else…and that someone else doesn’t need to know who did it either.

Live with  the anonymity. You can do it. You can be self-less once in a while and not die. Your self is strong enough tolerate not telling the world everything you do for others…Trust me. You do not need kudos, confirmations or smiles for everything you do. You just need to know that someone else is better off because you did something or gave away something you could have used, but decided to give it to someone else instead. You sacrificed something. Not that you gave it away because you could not use it but because someone else needed it more than you did.

Try it, a little sacrificing especially in the United States is a good thing to learn. But make it real, don’t do it falsely. Giving up time or giving away something you don’t use or have any need for is no sacrifice. Sacrifice: from the Latin, sacer, “holy” plus facio, facere, “to make.” Something is only a sacrifice, something is only made holy, if it is a real loss and a real gift at the same time.

I Will Not Be Sick Forever…Schizophrenia is Not A Life Sentence!

In reality, my doctor is a woman, and would never sleep on the job..So i wonder what this picture means unconsciously...The following one is turned upside down so you can read the book's title!
In reality, my doctor is a woman, and would never sleep on the job..So i wonder what this picture means unconsciously…The following one is turned upside down so you can read the book’s title!
Title Revealed: Natural Treatment of schizophrenia is what I want and need...But will anyone listen to me?
Title Revealed: Natural Treatment of schizophrenia is what I want and need…But will anyone listen to me?

Dear Everyone,

 

I spent more than three weeks at Yale’s psychiatric hospital in August being tortured, if not by seclusion and mechanical restraints (my PAD restricted the use of those and at least at Yale they listened) then being held down by armed security guards (only their guns removed) and injected innumerable times with a multi-injection cocktail of drugs: Haldol 10mg, Ativan 2mg, and Benadryl 50mg, despite my objections that I have a paradoxical reaction to the last one. They said I could not refuse because I would have side effects to the Haldol without it. Understand this please: They deliberately injected me with a large enough dose of Haldol (without any basis to know I needed any more than the usual 5mg or even 2mg) as to knowingly cause side effects, side effects they knew in advance would be so distressing as to not allow me to refuse medication for them before they even happened!

 

What sort of dastardly drug is this that it hurts as much as it “helps”? Ah, yes, let me remind you, lest you have forgotten, that Haldol is the medication political dissidents in the 1970s were given in the Soviet Union to subdue them after they were diagnosed conveniently with “sluggish schizophrenia,” an illness “everyone” in the West “knew” didn’t exist except in the Soviet political playbook, designed solely for the dissidents. The American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike objected then vehemently to Soviet treatment measures, calling Haldol injections the dissidents were given nothing less than “torture.” None of the members of congress ever mentioned the widespread use of Haldol in American mental hospitals, though, for that wasn’t torture, was it? “Those people” – American “schizophrenics” need Haldol, they were told by establishment psychiatry, “they aren’t like you or me and don’t feel the same way when they take it…”

 

Now, I ask you, how can a drug torture one group of human beings but be a decent and humane treatment for another group? Answer: It cannot. Haldol IS torture, pure and simple, for nearly everyone who takes it. Just ask people! You cannot label one group tortured by a drug and the other “humanely treated” who endure the exact same effects. In truth the only group of humans who like Haldol are hospital personnel, who no doubt appreciate the fact that it in fact it does subdue patients into docility…usually. This means they have less work to do and thus they consider it an effective “treatment.” (Alas, in my case, I confess I was more likely to respond to forcible Haldol injections by stripping naked, defecating on the floor and smearing feces on the wall as by becoming more pliant or compliant. Why they managed not to see the resultant worsening of my symptoms and do something about it I do not know but they persisted in “treating me” and made things worse and worse…Indeed, I screamed more each day than not, for most of the three weeks-plus that I was at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital this past August. So how good a “treatment” was Haldol? Aside from causing me exquisite mental and physical torture, I mean? In point of fact, despite megadoses, no injection made me more compliant, made me into a “nicer,” better patient, and easier to handle. The Haldol, even when probated and regularly forced upon me, didn’t work to their purposes…I was an impossible patient for most of the three-plus weeks I was there, Haldol notwithstanding. So what was the point? And why couldn’t ANYONE see that they were making things worse?

 

However, that is over with, and what I want now is to tell you that things are going to change, and change radically. I may not have your support in all of it, or any of it, perhaps, but I an attaching the video below as a link  because the book it is related to was deeply influential both on what I wanted and did not get at Yale, and on what and why I am doing what I am doing now. The book, as I have mentioned before is Anatomy of an Epidemic, and the video gives a good hour long summary of it. It is a good place to start if you have difficulty reading  a whole book on the subject or simply would like an idea of what you are getting into.

 

But first of all, the video doesn’t tell you this, “Mad In America” does — Robert Whitaker’s earlier book on the treatment abuses of the mentally ill in America — the foxes are guarding the chicken house. What I mean by this is: the Big doctors, by and large the influential ones who affect how our doctors treat us, are in cahoots with the Big Pharma drug companies in developing and promoting drugs that never worked and basically never had a chance to “work” because they were pushed into production and sales before any real research was done.

 

Maybe you don’t know this but listen: Thorazine was never a real “anti-psychotic” drug. It was a tranquilizer, a major tranquilizer. That’s what they used to more honestly call it. It calmed and tranquilized patients so they were more amenable to hospital treatment or the lack thereof. This was good for all, because the fact that patients were quieter meant that the nurses and aides got to show their kinder, nicer, nursier nursing sides to these “sick” patients, and the “drugged up” patients stopped fighting and finally appreciated being taken care of. It seemed a better situation for all, all ‘round, at least in the big state hospitals where megadoses of Thorazine were routinely handed out to “chill” patient populations into complacency. Less violent/resistant patients meant that the nursing staff could act a bit more like their job descriptors.

 

But now, suddenly, because someone was calling Thorazine an “anti-psychotic” drug as a marketing ploy, as if it treated the actual psychosis itself, they began to believe that it did something “anti-psychotic,” which in fact it never did. Not really. Not if you asked anyone who was treated with it. It never really helped anyone’s core symptoms. It just dulled you so profoundly you didn’t give a damn, or worse, it made you so mad with akathisia that you forgot how crazy the voices could make you feel, because you were literally wild with internal restlessness and other “antipsychotic” side effects and you had to pace all day or rock in your chair or do other “really crazy-looking shit” the doctors told you was just a part of your illness. Once Thorazine was thought of as a treatment drug, rather than as a behavioral modification drug, it changed the game altogether. It changed everyone’s thinking about schizophrenia (and by extension all mental illnesses) in a way that seems to have altered the course of American history itself. Certainly it changed American psycho-active drug-manufacturing for good, though I can only wonder at those involved with the actual design of drugs and how they can do what they do, surely being aware on some level that what they do has no foundation in science whatsoever. Let alone in honest research…

 

What am I talking about? Well, if Thorazine, which was originally used for anesthesia, was really just a behavioral modification drug, really, honestly and truly, and did not, if truth be told, treat or remediate any so-called schizophrenia symptom, then what the hell was all this dopamine hypothesis and research all about in the first and the last place? Because any supposed honest research started with Thorazine’s mode of action on the neuron’s dopamine 2 receptors. Supposedly, said those brilliant researchers, looking to explain how chlorpromazine/Thorazine “treated” schizophrenia symptoms so effectively, the drug works by blocking D2 receptors on the post synaptic neuron (Don’t worry if you don’t know what I am talking about…just keep reading).

 

The point is, Thorazine and dopamine have been inextricably linked for and to the next four decades of schizophrenia research, and all subsequent drug development stemmed from that link. Once that connection had been made, ridiculous and wrong as it was (schizophrenia and dopamine being related, or even correlated, simply was never shown), the stage was set for the “revolution” in brain illness research that has brought us such travesties as “bipolar infants” as young as 2 years old, and the H-Bomb-mushrooming of ADHD cases that threaten themselves to cluster-bomb into more bipolar disability cases than the country can conceive enough SSDI for…And thence to such further travesties as doctors using a brutally potent “atypical” “antipsychotic” (which is in truth no more “antipsychotic” in action than thorazine) like Zyprexa for “off-label” uses like anxiety disorders. Why? For fear of using benzodiazepines, perhaps, but just as often in conjunction with those drugs from hell. Drugs like Ativan and Xanax and Klonopin that are prescribed for people with “major mental illnesses” and the walking wounded as well, both like water, prescriptions that cause devastation in their wake and much more anxiety than they resolve.

 

It seems to me that for every MD who knows never to prescribe a benzo for anything but occasional use and refuses to, there are 40 who say, “take this three times a day and don’t call me unless you have problems”…expecting no calls.

 

But I am side-tracked a bit. Or have never quite gotten to my subject, which as you know is me, my own “illness” and my own future. I do not know frankly what was done to me in the past vis a vis these drugs, that is, what was caused by what. As my good friend Josephine says everyone now says, It is what it is and you can’t change it…So I am me, with whatever I am or have. But  at the same time, i cannot continue to accept the premise that medications are the only and best way to treat me.

 

After all, I take meds every day and you all know that I have ended up in brutalizing hospitals regularly, quite despite this. I was hospitalized just this past August, in fact and this past winter too…So what good has been my taking meds, including 2, not just one but two atypical antipsychotic drugs, if they do not work to keep me out of the hospital? Not much, I venture to say. Not much…

 

Well, but…If they have enabled me to do art and write poetry (when I did that) then they were very good drugs for me indeed. For that is my fear: That I can only do art or write, even if just in my journal, when I take these medications. If so, those would be two very good reasons for me to feel it necessary to keep taking them. I cannot live without something worthwhile to do, and I have no family, no children, no purpose, no career, nothing else but art and writing to live for…

 

That said, what is the proof that my medications are what make me ME? That they make me write and do art? Essentially and absolutely? None at all. And there is much suspicion that the meds can do harm both in the short and long-term. Nothing at all is known about what happens when people take these drugs for decades. I am not sure I want or need to be that particular guinea pig. Now, “Dr Angela” is, as you may or may not know, a psychoanalyst as well as a psychiatrist, so I told her that I wanted essentially what Joanne Greenberg’s “Hannah Green” got from “Dr Fried” (in reality it was Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, the renowned psychoanalyst who successfully treated Greenberg’s schizophrenia) in I Never Promised You A Rose Garden…No promises, perhaps, no rose gardens, but at least the opportunity for cure, recovery, and an end to treatment. And NO MORE MEDICATIONS, WHICH WOULD TIE ME TO HER PERMANENTLY more or less.

 

I am off the first drug, Zoloft, and have been for more than a month. But it is not easy. I am bone-weary and feel like crying every day. Feel like I have never NOT been tired, never not fought off hopelessness and the feeling that if I were told I had leukemia I would cheer, “Finally! Thank god it’s over!”. That’s the truth, people. I sit in my chair, the same one I sleep in, and I sit in it virtually all day long. And though I am not addicted and do not need to (most of you know how easily I quit smoking when I need or want to) I occasionally smoke a cigarette just to ease the pain…which is physical as much as it is mental and emotional. I may not seem depressed to those of you when you see me, because I rarely “let them see me sweat” and would never burden you with me if I can help myself. But there is also the fact that if and when I see you, just that fact cheers me, lifts my spirits, thank god, and is a rescue and a blessing, so thank you for that much! The nights are hard, but sometimes the days are harder…Nevertheless, Dr Angela has agreed NOT to speak to me of going back to the Zoloft, not unless I ask for it, because she understands that I want to tough it out, and that i believe that antidepressant drugs cause more depression than they cure. I believe if this is a relapse it is solely or largely because I started taking Zoloft again in 2007, when forced to at Mt Sinai, even though I told them I was grieving Lynn L’s death and because of Joe C’s illness and they ought to let me grieve! If I had been taken off it promptly, or never put on it, maybe I would not be such an easy prey to despondency now.

 

Nevertheless I am going to go on the record of the past predicting the future, and NOT take Zoloft (as of now) and “get through this somehow…”  because despite everything, I haven’t died yet, not of despair, and while i have done a lot of damage to my body, I have managed NOT to kill myself so far…Chances are, then, that I will not. Of course the future is unknown, but all I can say is that I do not want Zoloft or any AD drug at this moment, and can take the pain.

 

I have cut down on the Topamax, to 200mg but because of recurrent migraines need to keep that where it is for now. The next drug to go will be Abilify. I would rather we stop the Geodon next, but I do not think I can tolerate taking Abilify sans Geodon — not without being incredibly irritable — whereas Geodon without Abilify basically does nothing for me. A steady reduction, not too slow, but not so rapid I cannot tolerate any symptoms that develop. The whole point, in the end, is that should I develop symptoms (and that is not a certainty) we are supposed to be able to deal with them in therapy and not go running to the hospital or back to some drug.

 

(Okay, this is the point in the argument where even I start getting nervous. But I am determined to do this…I want it, I want it, and I need to try it ONCE in my life before I die. I need to know what I know, what I can know about what I need and do not need in terms of psychoactive medication, if that is even possible… Some much depends on placebo effects you know, and on influences of that sort that I wonder if any of it can be sorted out, and how much is going to be sheer determination?)

 

Oy, it is getting late, or I would continue. But I need to sleep and so do you. I am certain there is much more I ought to have said or explained and did not. Feel free to ask questions or query me about your own concerns if you have them…I am open to any thing, except anger.

 

Thank you all for your love and concern and if for nothing else than for simply being there to listen and read this.

 

 

Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgS79hz1saI

 

Love,

 

pam

 

 

Liebster Award, Continued, Part 2, and the Nominees are:

 

 

 

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This is the most recent piece of house art that I have done. It is an imaginative rendering of a house on the Broad Street Green in Wethersfield. I wonder if the owners would recognize their antique white farm house now? Anyhow, I thought the house come out okay, but I am not skilled at drawing a veritable forest of towering trees , not yet at any rate!

LiebsterAward_3lilapples

Okay, so maybe I only found ten instead of 11, I am not certain any more. Frankly it takes me a good hour to discover and vet each site so I give up. I cannot take this any longer, so I am going to simply have to leave the requirements for the award as it is, and say, I did my best. I really did. And you will have to accept that. So here are my ten or eleven nomines for the on-going Liebster Award. They are in absolutely no order of preference except for my computer’s having a mind of its own and ordering them the way it chose by its lonesome.

http://claireahriana.com  for her brand new site Cooking as Medicine (nothing much there yet, but it sounds so promising…And the phrase “food is medicine” just clicks because it has enormous significance to me, coming out of my own past)

http://chadpotts.wordpress.com My Rollercoaster Life with bipolar illness

http://milerunner.me run a mile day and you will feel on top of the world…Exercise has its perks and peak experiences!

http://todadwithlove.wordpress.com   Vera Poh’s lovely literary blog

http://uneasyawakening.com  Bipolar Musings

http://greenwake.wordpress.com  a sustainable experiment with living as green and economically with the earth as possible. Go for it!

http://blueowltreats.wordpress.com outdoorsy 24 year old post-grad living in beautiful Vancouver, BC recently started this blog to share her love for baking and crafting

http://thevegangreen.com amazing no sugar raw brownie recipe, among others.

http://carlynnforst.wordpress.com “the fancies of a working artist”

http://mindwithoutahome.com a poet with alcoholism and history of schizophrenia, with a memoir coming out in August

And here are the questions these bloggers need to answer:

  1. What is your name and what name would you choose if you could have given yourself your dream name, and why?
  2. If you were a multi-billionaire, like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, what do you think you would  do with your money? (Dream big!)
  3. Apple or pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Or do you abstain?
  4. If you work, what do you do and would you rather be doing something else?
  5. If you do not work, what are you doing instead, and if you would prefer to be working, what is your dream job?
  6. Everyone has stolen something in their lives…For instance, I stole sand from Mrs Pappas’s beach at Wequaket lake when I was about five.  Six red plastic pails full in fact, and she had a fit and almost called the police but her sand was so very white and soft and ours was nasty and full of seaweed. Luckily, my father was not impressed and just laughed at her…Anyhow, what did you steal and why and what happened?
  7. What was your most powerful learning experience. Was it in school or on your own, outside of school. What did you learn and has it served you well to learn it?
  8. Have you ever experienced an amazing coincidence, met an angel, had a miracle or something along those lines?  Many people have and are happy to talk about it, If you are one of them, I would love to hear your story.

Alternate to 8, if the answer to above is No:

8a. Why blog? I mean this. Why does anyone blog when there are apparently more than 4 billion blogs out there competing for attention. I would like to know..

9. What is more important, Truth or Kindness. Yes, I know you can be truthful and also kind, but this is my Leibster Award and I get to ask the question. So you have to choose one or the other and tell me why you chose the one you did. Truth OR Kindness

10.What are your core values in life

11.  If you could make everyone in the world do one thing, change one behavior or exchange one material good for another, what would  it be, and why.

Finally here is a recap of the rules for the Liebster Award in general, so the Nominees can be sure they know what to do.

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 

2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

Wow, I finally did it, I finished  the Liebster Award requirements. I thought I never would. Apologies to any of my own nominees upon whom this places too big a burden. You need not accept the crown! Now, to find that blasted Icon and see if I can get it to paste onto my front page. I do not think I can get the image widget to work, it has never worked properly alas, so I don’t think it will now. But I can try. It would be nice if the Leibster Award Badge would post after I went to all the trouble of finishing the award requirements! If not, well, so be it but what a shame.

A lot is going on now, ever since I’ve been back in town after my vacation in North Carolina visiting my brother. I will write more later.

Is Sherry West another Susan Smith?

I am trying to embed a video of Sherry West, in the early days of her telling about what happened, just after she was released from the hospital. (NOTE: the video was removed from the internet so I am posting a link to another youtube video which is still up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdkY1nmMxfU ) Before she got to refine her story about the two young “African American” boys who supposedly shot her infant. If it doesn’t load the first time around, I will get it done tomorrow, after I read up on how to do it. But once you see it, think about it. Does she sound sincere, or look it? Not to me. My first reaction after seeing it was, Oh no, this is just another page of the Susan Smith playbook, writ large…I hear, so to speak, Susan Smith speaking in her voice and I know she is lying about what happened just as I knew Susan Smith was lying the very first time I heard her talk about those “poor dead babies.”

Just to give you a way to see the Sherry West case differently, if you are inclined to think about such things, look at Pamela Meyers’ video on how to spot a liar, at TED lectures, which you can see at this link,   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE  Trust me this is better and more helpful than any rapidfire weekly TV show about detectives, and it is only 18 minutes long. You really learn a lot.

Psych Meds: Are We Crazy to Take Them?

We are broken in so many ways. Here I am naked in the seclusion room in the left lens, and the right lens is broken over the biohazard sign, a symbol that stands for so many dangers…© All rights to this picture are reserved. Please contact me if you want to use it for any reason.

On Medscape yesterday they ran an article/video by a Dr Jeffrey Leiberman, lamenting the failure of three psychotropic drugs –one for the treatment of schizophrenia, and the others  for Alzheimer’s — to pass beyond either phase 3 or phase 2 clinical trials. This is part of what Leiberman had to say (please note that the emphasis is decidedly mine…)

 

“The brain is an organ that is orders of magnitude more complex than any other organ in the body. The brain has 100 billion cells. Each of the areas of the brain is organized cytoarchitecturally differently, and the cells connect via over 30 trillion synapses. Compare this to the heart, the liver, the gastrointestinal system, or the lungs, and there is no comparison in terms of complexity and intricacy. In addition, given the fact that we are developing treatments for brain disorders that affect mental function and behavior, the animal models that are an essential component of biomedical research and drug development are limited, because how can lower species like rodents model the complexity of human behaviors and mental disorders that we are trying to correct pharmacologically?

 

“In addition, the biomarkers we use to signal the effect of the treatment or prove the target engagement of a molecule at the desired location in the brain or protein in the brain are still in development and not fully validated. Thus, the complexity of the brain and the limitations of existing tools make the prospects of certainty in drug development [for brain disorders] more questionable than in other organ systems and disease areas. “Certainly the research community and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) understand the importance of redoubling our efforts to develop treatments for this important group of disorders. The NIH has recently established a new Institute, NCATS, or National Center for Advancing Translational Science, which has as part of its core mission drug discovery and development. In addition, various other Institutes have put out RFAs [request for applications]; this includes the National Institute of Mental Health, which has initiated a series of what are called the “fast programs” to identify drugs that exist within the pharmaceutical industry and may no longer be under development, but can be repurposed for study for specific disorders. A quick, rigorous study using a fast-fail strategy can determine whether these agents have the potential for further development.

 

“New efforts are coming from the biomedical research community as well as the NIH to spur drug development. I hope this will act as a catalyst for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to not despair or back away from the risk of developing drugs in these areas, but rather to find the resources to support drug-development programs for these disorders.

 

 

“What is the benefit? Anyone who works with psychiatric patients knows that there are tremendous unmet clinical needs, whether in schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, or Alzheimer disease. With these needs come tremendous market potential, so for those who stay the course and persevere, there will be very lucrative rewards .To me, this seems like a great opportunity, and I think our partners in the private sector should appreciate this. I look forward to partnering with them to try and work in a way that uses their precious resources most efficiently but still serves our scientific goals and the needs of our patients. Thank you for listening.”

 

 

Yes, I noted the last statement, that he wants to serve science and his patients, but i could not help but feel great dismay at the other statements, including the first, that largely states what I already suspected: using animals to prove anything about human brain disorders or states of mind is downright ridiculous. All you can say about a rat’s “schizophrenia” is that it appears to  “behave” in some fashion that looks similar to someone who is psychotic…but how would you know if a rat is psychotic, or hallucinating or thinking in a delusional fashion?

 

Come on? How would you know if a rat had negative symptoms of schizophrenia, or was depressed, or simply felt lethargic because  it was hungry or drugged or sleepy or some other physiological reason. Well, you likely could not! Using animals that can not communicate with us to model human mental functioning is downright silly, and yet it seems to have only just occurred to Dr Leiberman, perhaps in his own disappointment with the glutamate-dampening anti-schizophrenia drug that just went bust…I dunno.

 

 

Once again, having read about how they are using Ketamine to treat 6-12 years olds with bipolar illness (mind you, I am not convinced that the children are actually Bipolar, only that more and more kids are being diagnosed because conveniently shrinks are allowed to drug them with Abilify and Seroquel and other adult antipsychotics and the drug companies push it on them, pay them for using it etc)

 

 

I believe that the use of psychoactive drugs and the rampant use of them is more often inappropriate than not. Truly.   The very idea that Abilify and Seroquel are prescribed willy nilly for everything from insomnia to mild anxiety is just plain SCARY. Has anyone out there taking these drugs even bothered to read the side effects, or do they no longer care what they are taking? Obesity no longer scares anyone, but what about diabetes and high blood pressure, nope, I guess not, since those are epidemic too.

 

 

It truly astounds me how both  those drugs, not to mention a whole host of other powerful drugs are being pushed on the American public, but we are a public that LOVES to take drugs rather than deal with problems by, well, looking at ourselves and thinking about what our responsibilites are and how we might change things…and doing some hard work and hard thinking about things…No, god forbid, why not just take a pill and forget about everything else, and if the pill doesn’t do anything, well, then, probably we are incurably ill and need to take those useless pills for the rest of our lives, because if we didn’t take them we might might might be even worse than we are taking them, right?

 

 

Not! Why do we take drugs that don’t help us, or that we do not notice any benefit from (though the shrinks are always willing to point out to us how much better “you are feeling”), drugs that might even make us feel worse in other ways.

 

 

Some people who are depressed lose all sexual enjoyment and functioning from their antidepressants, but refuse to stop the drugs because they are afraid…even though the drugs themselves make little difference in their mood, but their lack of sexual pleasure and responsiveness surely has…in a negative way. Why do they continue taking the pills? Hope? Obedience? Uncertainty? Perhaps all three…They may hope that if they take the antidepressant just a little longer, the side effects will “go away” as their doctor likely assured them, and they naturally want to be an aobedient and good patient, so they keep complying. And of course, depressed as they still are, uncertainty about the future plays a huge role, since how do they know that things wouldn’t get even worse, should they cease taking these pills that the doctor says not only will help them but somehow noticeably is helping them, whether they feel it or not.

 

 

Argh. I am reading a book, Rethinking Madness, by Paris Williams,  PhD. and it is a very interesting take on psychosis and the treatment of it. He suggests that it is NOT always a lifelong condition, or that one breakdown means that one needs to be on medication for life, or in fact that even with repeated psychotic episodes, one can be on intermittent medication and at low doses. I have difficulty reading, myself, so I have not read far along, but the first case study discussed a man who became psychotic suddenly in the late 60s or early 70s when he was threatened with the draft. After that he was ill for a long period of time, in and out of madness until he met the “right doctor” at age 28 or so. I believe it was then that he made the slow transition off all medication and since he was 35 or so has been off meds altogether. And has been well. Recovered, in every sense that matters, completely.

 

 

Everything about his history would today dictate that he never be taken off meds, and would mitigate against his ever dreaming of working in the mental health system, let alone as a worker in a state hospital. Yet this is where he has been employed for many years…(I may misremember some details, but that is the gist of it.) I could scarcely wrap my mind around such an outcome…it seemed that amazing.

 

 

Yet, I cannot be envious, because I know how often I tried to get off my medications, and because I did not know how, I likely induced a recrudescence of psychosis without even understanding that was what was happening. And naturally, they put me back on the drugs again…It was not my fault, just how it was in those days. I didn’t know, and they still don’t! Even now, though, I do not know if I could get off the meds.

 

 

But in my case, I am not sure I want to, largely because I function so well on them. I write, I do art, I sleep well, I am not obese, I have no chronic physical health problems because of them…So I have no pressing need to get off the antipsychotics, nor the anti-seizure meds, which I may need due to temporal lobe epilepsy anyhow. I would like to get off the sertraline, yes, and we are working on that. But why fix what ain’t broke at this particular time? I mean, I only got out of the danged hospital a month ago, and it would seem a little, er, crazy to fiddle with things this soon, much as I wish I could. On the other hand, I don’t mind taking these meds, because by and large, I believe, frankly, that my body has re-established some kind of homeostasis and has adapted to the lowered dopamine…so it has ramped up production to a different balance, meaning that I am fine where I am, but would risk a massive overload should I stop cold turkey.

 

 

OTOH, I do not yet understand the absolutely immediate improvement in all my mental capabilities when I take Zyprexa. Yes, I eat and eat and eat. But I can read and pay attention to people telling me things to movies and the TV and just “intake” in a way that I cannot now and have not in years…And it is literally within 2 doses. That cannot be a matter of homeostasis so what is it? Can Zyprexa be the ONLY drug that actually has some beneficial effects? I doubt it. So what is it?   Anyhow, any comments on these points would be appreciated. I don’t mind if you want to argue to the contrary, if you feel it strongly. I am here to hear different points of view as well. Though you know of course that I may “argue” with you back! All in friendship and good cheer.

More Psychiatric Abuse in Mental Hospital and Emergency Room

Donnelly Building is #11. But we faced Maple Ave and couldn’t see the magnolia, or the oaks or copper beech that Olmstead planted…

Yes, this is hospital restraint and seclusion – it really happened like this at Middlesex Hospital in 2010 (I am just reprinting it here to reprise it for edification’s sake and because it is relevant.) In fact there were many more personnel and guards involved and more men…I just didn’t know how to draw a crowded scene at the time, so I made it simple!

I admit I was angry. I admit I was loud and irritable. I admit that I may have been perceived as “difficult.” But never once did I make a verbal or gestural threat or even so much as stand on the floor or approach anyone face to face. In fact, for three hours I did nothing but lie on a gurney, quietly, and try to sleep and remain calm, hoping to…But wait. You don’t know the half of it.

Well, if my energy holds out, let me start at the beginning. Except that I do not really recall the beginning, largely I suspect, due to our good friend, Ativan. However, this much I do know: my case manager came to my apartment five days ago after I called her in extremis, just wanting to talk. She offered to come over to see me, which she has done before and left me in better shape than I was when she came. I assented, though I had some doubts about it because she seemed a bit too concerned for my good. I knew I had a writer’s week planned up at Wisdom House again in the NW corner of the state starting this weekend and didn’t want her to push the panic button.

To make that part of the story shorter, push that bright purple button she and an associate did, once they came and found me in a mess, unable to assure them properly that I was not hearing voices telling me to burn myself. Now, my plans were in fact to burn myself somehow, depending on what the voices told me. They had already instructed me to burn my leg that evening. That was partly why I had called the case manager, because I knew I would follow through. I also knew that I could not keep it a secret if I did follow their instructions, which would have ended my vacation plans prontissimo.

But when that other LCSW went out into the hall to use her phone, I knew it was under false pretenses — she said she had to cancel an appointment of hers because she was visiting me but she was clearly lying, I just couldn’t do anything about it. Just as I suspected, she called 911 to summon the police and EMTs. When they came, I objected to going to the ER, but you know of course it was “Pamela, it’s the easy way or the hard way. You are going to the hospital no matter what…” Argh, the usual story.

Worst of all — since I still don’t know whether legally they really had a right to force me — once in the ambulance, when I stated quite clearly that I did not want to go to Hartford Hospital, and this was clearly and prominently stated in my Psychiatric Advance Directive (PAD) of which I had made sure they had a copy, they dispatched me there anyway.  When I screamed my objections from the back of the ambulance van they told me that the police had instructed that they could take away all of my rights with impunity. Oooh, I did not know what to do about this, but it put me in an evaporative fury. I simply had no power.  Disaster nearly followed, and new trauma most certainly did.

Once in the ER, I was taken directly to the so called “purple pod” — the psychiatric section, and shifted onto a gurney in a curtained-off cubicle, told to change into hospital garb, which I did under duress but before I was forcibly changed by the guards, as was the threat, and was told to lie down and be quiet. I did. I submitted to a physical by an APRN that took 15-30 seconds, after which she pronounced me physically sound, ready for a psychiatric interview. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. The room — the  purple pod — began to fill, and doctors and MSWs came and went and talked to people and passed by my cubicle, but none stopped or said a word. I remained silent, still hoping my semi-comatose behavior would bolster my case, earn me a ticket out of the ER without being hospitalized.

Then another woman, middle-edged, bent over from back pain, loudly asked to talk with a doctor, complaining, “I’m tired of waiting! My back hurts!” The response was that she would not get to see Dr So and So until she was sober and the alcohol was out of her system. She returned to her gurney for a time and then again was at the nurses’ station complaining of fatigue and wanting to have her interview so she could get on her way. Once again the same reply.

This jarred me out of my complacency. I grew irritated. Why were they making me wait? I had been there hours already and had not come in drunk or on drugs or anything like it. I had been quiet, submissive, and they just ignored me. Well, I dunno what happened next precisely, but I exploded (but in some sense in a controlled fashion, because I only got down off the gurney once, in order to use the restroom…) Some cropped-haired woman with an official look and a clipboard came by and I started rationally to ask her why I had not been seen yet, and she began an answer. Unfortunately I just barreled on about how I had been waiting hours and was not drunk and not high and, and, and…And well, it snowballed from there because of course nobody at the ER is professionally trained or for that matter paid well enough to care to learn or know how to calm an agitated person down without brutalizing them….This forever surprises me, since surely they must watch TV where such situations are frequently featured.

I take it back, or partly back. They claim to be professionals. They also, get this, several staff members of the ER claimed to have read my PAD, front to back, all 17 pages of it. They volunteered this information. Yet when push came to shove, when I became agitated, which has a PAD page all its own, what happened? Abuse par excellence. First they ganged up on me, a real no-no. Then they screamed back at me. Then they threatened me. One security guard (?nurse or ?aide) actually threatened to “4-point me” just for disturbing his purple pod.  As if doing so would quiet me!

“Oh, you dare put me in restraints,” I threatened, “and I will have your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you. Middlesex Hospital tried that and now they are facing JCAHO and the DOJ so just you watch your step!!!!!” He said nothing more about four-point restraints, I can tell you that. BUT, BUT, BUT… they had other retaliatory measures in store for me, because soon thereafter a whole panoply of guards and nurses came barreling into my cubicle and rolled my gurney headlong into a secure room (soundproof and with a door that locked, a guard assured me). There while a female nurse attempted to inject my upper left arm with three drugs, two of which were on my PAD’s “forbidden drugs” list, and others restrained me, two guards viciously compressed my neck. They squeezed down hard especially on the right side, cutting off the blood supply to my jugular and carotid arteries. I knew this, I felt my eyes pop, felt blackness in my head approach. I tried to alert the nurse injecting me, could barely burble through hard-compressed lips, “I can’t breathe!” which was the only thing at the time I could think of that she would pay attention to.  That they were choking me was a concept that simply didn’t form in my brain…Tough luck. She just ignored them and me and said, “You’re all right…”

I jerked away from her then, trying to get free from the guards. The nurse yelled at me because I dislodged her needle and started bleeding. But the guards only squeezed down harder, tightening their strangulation grip. I felt certain they really were going to kill me. Then the guard closest to my right ear said something along the lines of, “That will teach you about suing a hospital and getting JCAHO involved…” I feel like I have his words verbatim, but maybe I only recall the gist of them. Whatever he actually said,  he clearly harbored enormous resentment about my complaint against Middlesex Hospital and the involvement of the Joint Commission and possibly the DOJ.

When they were through brutalizing me, the guard finally unclenched his fingers from my neck and despite my accusations, they all rushed out of the room, closing the door behind them so no one could hear me. I lay back, stunned, understanding then just how people die during restraint episodes. How close I came to being one of those statistics I can’t venture to guess. “Unfortunate ‘accidents’ happen and nobody is to blame, really, it just happens…” I imagined them saying to my family and friends. At the time it felt like an extremely close call. I knew one thing: what those guards intended, and they intended to hurt me. Perhaps in their angry zeal they would have killed me. They were thugs. They were coarse, vulgar men who had likely been judged unfit for the police academy but still wanted to wear a uniform, have authority and to carry weapons and beat people up. Understanding this and understanding just how much danger I was in was extraordinarily frightening. I do not recall anything else. I must have fallen asleep despite my terror, subdued by the cocktail of drugs I had been given.

The next thing I knew,  they were wheeling me onto a psych floor at the Institute of Living, the psychiatric hospital associated with Hartford Hospital. This Once World-Renowned Retreat for the Rich and Famous closed its doors years ago,  re-opening with the same name but as part of the city hospital. It now caters largely to Medicare and Medicaid patients like me, which is a 180° reversal. Clearly the staff, at least on the floor where they placed me, care about as much about their patients as their meager salaries/wages pay them to. Which from my fairly minimal (I have been there three times, for brief and uniformly miserable stays) but horrendous experience on Donnelly 3 South at any rate tells me cannot be more than a pittance. Either they are paid too little to give a damn about their jobs, or they are mostly all of them jaded, burned out, control freaks. At a minimum it seems they just want a cushy job and a quiet unit with untroubling patients, drugged to the hilt so they will have no problems to deal with, nothing that a seclusion room and IM meds in the butt cannot handle.

They were not prepared for me, not prepared for someone who had nearly been killed in the ER, one, and two, who really did not want to be in the hospital, let alone in their hospital. I was ornery, bitchy, and, to the maximum possible, was not ready to obey their pissant commands. No I was not. I was a human being, a very intelligent human being whatever else was going on, and they were not treating me with dignity or respect, so I would treat them much the same, or worse…Well, that won me a lot of friends, I can tell you, NOT.

They hated me at Donnelly 3 South, they really did. They despised me and made these feelings very clear, very clear indeed, retaliating and punishing me at every opportunity. It would have been, might could have been funny to watch these so-called professional nurses and psychiatric staff behaving so badly, so much like children run-amuck, they were that out-of-control, had I not been so vulnerable and so very much in their power.

But when it came time to force me into a “side room” and try to keep me from leaving it, you better believe they didn’t have an easy target in me. After my experiences in Middlesex and Manchester Hospitals, I have schooled myself on my rights, all my rights vis a vis restraints and seclusion.  And you know that I let them know in no uncertain terms what the Connecticut statutes are, how seclusion is defined and when a restraint is taking place. How they hated me for this, and hated, oh, they –you know, I really have no word strong enough for the look of razorblades in their eyes when I pointed out that they were not following the most recent Standards of Nursing Care, or worse, how Natchaug Hospital nurses do things better, or how they were using seclusion and restraint when they had no “statutory right” to do so. I think the words “statutory right” both meant nothing – “what the heck is a statute anyway?” I could feel some thinking — and everything to them, and was impressive and frightening because of this. In any event, that look of utter negativity went right through me, as if they wanted to stab my eyeballs with an ice-pick.

Needless to say, however, they managed to use seclusion and restraint on me despite my protests. When I got too noisy for them instead of trying de-escalation techniques of any sort, they proceeded first to lead me into and then to push me back to a so-called “side-room.” When I got out, they forced me bodily pushed me back inside, and closed the door against my protests and verbal preferences, vocalized clearly,  to go to the “least restrictive environment” of my bedroom to calm down. That constituted a restraint, and when they would not let me leave that room, it became, as many of my readers will know, by definition a seclusion. Then, when they forcibly held me down for an injection of the three drugs that interact badly in me, and which I had requested specifically not be given to me (alternatives were suggested in my PAD), they abrogated every right I asserted. That in itself constituted a restraint without legal justification, especially since I was nearly sleeping by the time they managed to get the injection ready and no longer even agitated. They had to physically attack me in order to RE-agitate me, to justify giving me a stat dose at all. They kept me in that “side room” guarded by someone all night.

As I freely admit, I was horrible to them, a witch, a bitch, a harridan, but they never once behaved with any professionalism, or tried any of the calming, de-escalation strategies that I suggested in my Psychiatric Advance Directive. Oh, they had a wonderful comfort room, pretty much perfect, but for the lack of a padded floor and muralled wall. But I myself had to ask to use it; it isn’t as if they offered the use of it or suggested that I return to it when agitated. In fact, they seemed pretty cagey about it, acted as if I might possibly want to “over use it” and said I could stay for a “little while.” And when the radio broke down, who gave a damn enough to find one that worked when I returned the broken one, or to get me a weighted blanket when I wanted one. I sat in the comfort room’s therapy chair — arranged backwards so you couldn’t use it to rock yourself by pressing your feet against the wall the way it is supposed to be used! Because it was cold in there (yeah, the other big problem) I asked for a blanket, the aide/tech who found me one walked partially into the room and then threw it at me! Not casually for me to catch, mind you, but at me. As if I weren’t worth the time, trouble, or effort for him to hand it to me. I don’t know what he was thinking, or not thinking, but it seemed clear that at least at that moment he didn’t give a damn about his job. Or perhaps he was sending me a message about personal dislike, which would have been incredibly unprofessional, but what can I say? It has happened before…What a soulless bastard.

If anyone out there reading this is a psych tech or nurse or employee at a psych unit or institution, you should know or must learn that matters like the blanket business, however puny they seem, do matter, they matter a lot. Never at Natchaug Hospital would anyone, tech or nurse or even attentive housekeeper dream of throwing a blanket at a patient, not in bed or in a chair or a therapy chair. No one would throw anything at a patient, not even a tissue, and most certainly not in anger or a fit of pique. Not even in momentary thoughtlessness. No, if a patient needed or wanted a blanket at Natchaug Hospital, it would be gotten, often warm from the drier, opened up and carefully draped just so over the patient’s body.

This has a huge effect and makes a massive difference largely because it is indicative of the fact that Natchaug actually has a philosophy they work with and behave according to, not one of words they just push through their teeth and get lipstick stains on. Almost always at Natchaug the staff member would cover the patient and only leave the room after making sure that same patient was comfortable. The blanket-bringer would know or have been carefully tutored that the job description included an attitude of wanting patients to be happy and to get well because Natchaug believes a troubled person can only get well when well taken care of.

You’d think, and certainly would want each and every psychiatric hospital to operate on such humane and compassionate principles, wouldn’t you? Alas, at least in Connecticut, Natchaug Hospital in Willimantic is definitely the Hope Diamond exception to what remains very much a charcoal rule. Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living? I wouldn’t rate it much above coal dust.

To be continued…