Posts Tagged ‘mental-health’

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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And Do the Dumbest Docs Become Psychiatrists?

March 25, 2013

Perhaps ‘The Lancet’ should publish a paper on that:

http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/03/23/does-military-service-cause-men-to-become-criminals/?singlepage=true

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http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/03/23/does-military-service-cause-men-to-become-criminals/?singlepage=true&show-at-comment=121304#comment-121304

http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/03/23/does-military-service-cause-men-to-become-criminals/?singlepage=true&show-at-comment=121488#comment-121488

Medical Student 1: You know, they really should abolish psychiatry.  It’s an embarrassment to the medical profession.

Medical Student 2: But then what would all the dumb docs do?

Medical Student 1: (shrugs) They could always become lawyers.

Addendum: I am rereading a rather interesting little book entitled: Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942 reproduced from the original typescript, War Department, Washington D.C.

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The blurb on the back cover reads:

‘…The British don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee.  You don’t know how to make a good cup of tea.  It’s a even swap…”

“…When you see a girl in khaki or air-force blue with a bit of ribbon on her tunic–remember she didn’t get it for knitting more socks than anyone else in Ipswich…”

“…It is always impolite to criticise your hosts; it is militarily stupid to criticise your allies.”

I love primary sources.

‘Laters’

In Response to the Telegraph’s Latest Coverage of Mental Illness:

February 7, 2013

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9847928/An-embarrassment-on-the-country-man-who-threw-bottle-at-Olympics-100m-final-during-manic-episode-escapes-prison.html

Or, more specifically, to this poster:

JacksonAliBaBa

2 days ago

People with “medical conditions” should be forced to wear high-visibility vests whenever they leave their homes. Then, the instant they start acting like twats, someone can immediately fill them in and/or hoik them off for a stint in the loony bin. For those who choose not to do so, they should be banged-up in jail. I hate the law allowing people to get off on all sorts of ridiculous technicalities.

Louise

just now

If you don’t believe that mental illness exists, my friend, then get out there and campaign for the cessation of the public funding of psychiatry.  Go on, I dare you.  Take on the generals instead of the foot soldiers.  And the protection of the mentally ill is enshrined in law.  That is why we have psychiatric hospitals and secure hospitals.  We’ve recognised that mental illness can cause people to lose control of their behaviour since the McNaughton Rule was devised.  So in 1843 the law was more compassionate to sufferers of mental illness than it is now?  I find that quite funny, in a really sick way.

By the way, you mention ‘medical conditions’ rather than mere mental illness: does this mean that you would force an elderly alzheimer’s sufferer to wear one of these ‘high-visibility vests too?

Just a taste of what some forms of mental illness can be like from the inside:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Bipolar sufferers sometimes experience auditory hallucinations too. 

The reaction to this story is truly quite horrifying.

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The Magic Mountain

January 17, 2013

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When I was in hospital I was befriended by Michael, an ex squaddie who had left the army after a nervous breakdown. He had been homeless ever since. drifting from bedsit to shelter and back again. His chaotic lifestyle was punctuated by visits to the psychiatric hospital.

The army was his reason for living and, in his view, someone had stolen that away from him. Now he had nothing. Just a lifetime of desolate acute wards and endless corridors. This was when I realized that the longer I remained on this hospital ward the harder it would be to leave. And that terrified me. Becoming like Michael terrified me. ‘This is like being a prisoner of war,’ he told me. ‘Worse probably. At least they have the Geneva Convention.’

Michael was a mountain of a man. He did not join the other patients waiting calmly, obediently in line for their medication. He rejected the powerful neuroleptic they offered him. I once overheard a nurse saying to him: ‘You really have no idea how ill you are, do you?’ He had a reputation for being ‘non-compliant’.

Nursespeak, my mother had once told me, for ‘awkward old git.’ He viewed the staff with open hostility and they viewed him as a problem to be solved. But he also had a generosity of spirit that was rare in these parts.

This was a side of him that the staff chose not to see. All they saw was an obstreperous, middle-aged, red-faced man standing before them. The one that, no matter what they tried, refused to take the medication prescribed to him by his all-knowing consultant. So every night he was forcibly medicated. It was quite a spectacle.

Michael would wedge himself into the easy chair nearest the television. ‘Are you ready for your meds, Michael’. This question would be repeated three times and would elicit no response. The staff nurse would then call in the charge nurse who, in turn, called in his minions – male auxiliary nurses from the intensive care unit. The biggest, beefiest men they could find. Men who were only here, according to Aaron (the pretentious overgrown public school boy) because they enjoyed roughing people up.

The patients in the dayroom looked up from their books and boardgames. They turned their heads away from the television. They snapped out of their collective stupor. Then they arrived – six burly men with heavy, clumping boots. They did not try to argue with Michael, they did not ask him to come quietly. Moving in tandem they seized him and pulled him out of his chair. But he did not give in without a struggle. He kicked out with his feet and struck out with his fists as they dragged him out of the room and walked him down the corridor. It was not a fair fight.

‘See what they’re doing, ‘ he shouted. ‘They’re oppressors. Government oppressors. They are an army of pawns.’ They were followed by an elfin female nurse with a needle in her hand. The doctor who had authorised this procedure watched from a distance.

‘I’d love to shove a needle up his arse,’ said Aurora (the ward’s beautiful but rather vulgar narcissist) who was no stranger to forcible medication.

Why Would a Psychiatrist Think That…

November 19, 2012

the idea of a discovery for the causes of Schizophrenia is ‘boring’…


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