Archive for the ‘mental illness’ Category

The Chemical Lobotomy

April 23, 2017

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When I was first hospitalized as a teenager, I was, or so I was told, very ill. I was experiencing delusions I would rather not discuss in any detail here. Suffice to say I was only ever a danger to myself, never to others. As a result of this, I was forced to spend six months in the local psychiatric hospital. I was heavily medicated with the most primitive antipsychotic known to man: Chlorpromazine (aka Largactil in the UK, Thorazine in the US and the Chemical Kosh/lobotomy in both countries).

Chlorpromazine was the first of a new type of medication known as ‘neuroleptics’. They were introduced in the 1950s and were the only class of medication capable of combatting the positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions and hallucinations. They did not, as far as I am aware, do much for the negative symptoms.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a documentary entitled ‘Inside Strangeways’ on Channel Five, a terrestrial tv station I rarely watch. In 1985 an infamous riot broke out in the prison. One of its triggering factors was the use of Chlorpromazine to subdue its more troublesome prisoners. They would be forcibly medicated; held down and injected. It is a horrific experience; something I have never really got over. Even though I now see that it was a tragic necessity, I still find it hard to dwell upon. The sense of violation never really goes away.

Throughout my first stay in the hospital, I was on such a high dose of Chlorpromazine that my vision was permanently clouded over. I needed Procyclidine (an anti-Parkinsonian drug) to combat the side effects of the drug I was already taking. Those were the days when the hospital staff would wake you up to give you a sleeping pill then wake you up periodically throughout the night by shining a torch into your bed space. But they were doing the best they could with minimal resources. I know that now but for a long time I resented it. Time does heal some things.

All of this happened in the early ‘90s and thankfully, over the years, much has changed. Atypical antipsychotics such as Quetiapine and Abilify have been introduced. Therapy is no longer contraindicated. People are prepared to actually talk to you nowadays. Medication is no longer the only avenue of treatment.

At the moment I am taking Quetiapine and Abilify. I am told I should be reconciled to the fact that I may have to take this combination of medications for the rest of my life. This does not sit well with me. I worry about the impact these drugs may be having on my physical health. Quetiapine has been known to indirectly lead to diabetes or liver damage. And. if you google it, you will find a list of side effects a mile long. The less serious side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, constipation. The most serious side effects include high fever, confusion and permanent cognitive impairment (something I am terrified of.)

So I stand at a crossroads. I am tempted to simply stop taking the medication altogether so that I can be me again. But those around me say it is beneficial and I should continue taking it. I shall probably compromise and aim for the best possible results on the lowest dose of medication. This, I think, is the most sensible approach.

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Apologies in Advance: Some things are hard to hear

January 20, 2017

This is how things used to be:

Why is it that the mere mention of mental illness arouses such extreme reactions?

We are freaks, outcasts, deviants.  We  arouse hostility and fear.  Unlike Bedlam today’s lunatic asylums do not attract tourists.  Nobody wanders through the wards laughing, joking, pointing at the inmates. But I  know that if they could they most certainly would. We are  protected by the thin veneer of civilisation.  But something tells me that in the years since Bedlam closed its doors, humanity hasn’t changed a bit.  The stage occupied by the mad has moved to that voyeur’s paradise: reality television.

The mentally Ill represent devastation.  Lives laid to waste by some invisible force over which we  have no control.  We do not follow the rules.  We do not obey instructions.  We are weak, we are feckless, they are helpless.  Our very presence corrupts society.  The industrious middle classes are the most hostile.  It is  not that they lack imagination.  It is not  that they are devoid of empathy.  Far from it.  They posses those qualities in abundance.  They understand more than they want to.

People are afraid because one day they know it could happen to them.  Like aerial bombardment.  No one knows who the missiles will hit next.  But they will never acknowledge that.  Not in a million years.

If you have a problem with this then please tell me why you have a problem with this. I need to hear alternative views.

 

On Boxing Day

January 16, 2016

Warning: Tediously self pitying content ahead

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I wrote this on Boxing Day:

(Fun Fact: Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.)

I have given myself five years.  I am severely mentally ill, unemployable and thus, economically unproductive.  I am a useless eater. I am also childless and possible barren.  I have no life and I am terrified of the future.  Life is brutal and I am not equal to its challenges. (Note: I see this as my failure not the failure of life itself.)  The one and only human being who loved me for myself had departed from the planet.  I have decided that if I do not get a job, have a child and a meaningful relationship in the next half decade I will erase myself from this world.

If I were a mangy cat I would have been put to sleep long ago.

 

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January 30, 2014

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We Could Not Erase You

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June 20, 2013

Checking out the competition…

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