Since I became mentally ill in my early adulthood, it has been deemed by physicians, by family and by my own best judgment that it is necessary for me to always take psychiatric medications. For practical purposes, I don’t have a choice in the matter, since the alternative is a relapse into my psychotic condition, which itself is a trauma to my brain and which causes me to behave in strange ways, resulting in re-hospitalization. Once in the hospital, the first thing that happens is I am given medication, against my will and with a court order, if need be. This is what some mental health professionals call “the revolving door” of mentally ill patients. The revolving door begins when the psychiatric consumer decides that they would rather not take medication. Is this too much information?
In my first eighteen years of mental illness, I took a medication called “Prolixin.” Toward later years of taking this drug, it became less and less effective at keeping me in a “normal” and “sane” state of mind. I think it was in my late twenties when my cognitive judgment began to seriously weaken. At the time, I didn’t know this was happening, of course. When one’s judgment goes, generally one isn’t aware of the fact.
At about age 35, I was put on the supposed “miracle drug” called Zyprexa. My ability to be thoughtful, self aware, and to suffer less from paranoia and delusions all improved steadily over time. My weight and my physical “slowness” also increased steadily over time. Looking bigger got the bullies to leave me alone more often, but in fact, my physical condition was worsening. When I reached the 200-pound mark and was over 40 years old, I decided to stop doing handstands, since I also had a blood pressure issue. Walking became the exercise of choice, although I didn’t do this enough.
Now I am age 44, and have become pre-diabetic, which is probably caused by taking a combination of Zyprexa and Risperdal, since both of these antipsychotic medications cause diabetes.
I am pretty stuck. These medications are about the only ones that are effective at controlling my psychotic symptoms and thus allowing “quality of life.” I’ve been trying to withdraw from these drugs and go back to the “older medications” and the problem is they just don’t work well enough for me. So essentially, I can choose physical health or mental health, but I can’t have both.
I suppose I am a big source of profit to drug companies, which will be soon selling me insulin in addition to atypical anti-psychotic medications.
We have a whole host of new and “better” medications, (not just mental health medications) which are now on the market that cause all kinds of bizarre and bad, sometimes deadly, effects on the body. If you look at any advertisement for modern drugs, the possible side effects that are listed are usually very substantial. America is being medicated and is being made sick in the process.
The drug companies ought to be pressured into creating healthier medications and into doing more rigorous testing to discover the potential problems of the drugs they develop. Instead of this, they are letting the drugs loose on the population, thus using the general public as their experiment.
Jack Bragen is a resident of Martinez.