After finding a fast enough Internet connection to pirate, my housemate and I sat in my bedroom and watched The Medicated Child — a documentary about children who are placed on SSRIs, benzodiazapines and mood stabilizers to control various mental diagnoses. As a person who has been permanently altered by medications such as the ones above, it hit me a little bit too close to home to watch this documentary.
You can watch it online on the PBS website: The Medicated Child
My experience in the psychiatric drug system began at age 16. My mother was dying, I was trying to work full time and go to school, and I was sinking in teenage depression. We were on welfare, so my mother decided to find me some sort of mental health care at no cost – this is surprisingly easy in New Jersey.
I was placed on Zoloft, an SSRI, after a brief conversation with a doctor on my first visit to the free clinic. After a few weeks of therapy and more consultations, my doctor raised my Zoloft dose after coming to the conclusion that my depression wasn't getting better. I was no longer able to fall asleep naturally due to the jitters that Zoloft gave to me, which affected my schoolwork greatly. My doctor then put me on Trazodone to help me sleep at night – this made it very difficult to wake up for school in the morning.
It goes on from there; every new drug brings a new side effect, and every new side effect brings another new drug to
control it. The unending swallow-the-spider-to-catch-the-fly process would be funny, in a macabre sort of way, were it not for the fact that this is a real young woman whose life and brain were being systematically stewed, with permanent effects on her body and her behavior. Not because she wanted it that way, but because the State and its legally privileged medical experts told her do it, bribed her into doing it, and finally used an involuntary commitment procedure to force her to keep doing it, no matter how bad it got.
At age 20, I was on Effexor, Klonopin, Seroquel, Wellbutrin and Neurontin. My social life plummeted, and I was incredibly on edge and anxious. I was suicidal. My skin was a mess. I didn't feel real — I felt completely detached from my body and was convinced that I was going to die. I became preoccupied with my early death, and started to live as though death was near. I was so tired and had racing thoughts. Seroquel would make me rock back and forth. My doctor said that the Neurontin didn't seem to be working, so she prescribed me Gabatril in order to strengthen Neurontin's effects.
I was on 6 different medications for a condition that I didn't remember anymore. My doctor continued to prescribe me drug after drug to counteract effects of the previous drugs. I didn't have anywhere else to turn — I trusted and believed her and credited her for keeping me sane. In reality, I was completely insane — and this was from the medication, not from my mental illness.
This young woman did not have a
broken brain. She was not suffering from some congenital
mental illness. She was pushed to the brink by emotional crises that were a rational reaction to a terrible situation — her mother’s suffering and death — and then, in the effort to
help her by medically suppressing this painful but rational reaction, she was made sick, and made mad, institutionally mad, by the spiraling effects of years of psychiatric
My long-term effects from psychiatric medication: I have painful stomach ulcers that occasionally perforate, my liver has deteorated to the point where I can barely drink liquor, psoriasis on my elbows and knees, some forms of compulsive behavior that started when I began SSRIs, and occasional paranoia that is completely unfounded.
. . .
Before you sign your life away to the psychiatric industry, please pay attention to what goes on. Were you given medication after only speaking to someone for an hour? Were you placed on psychiatric drugs at a young age for ADHD and then put on more drugs for illnesses that seemed to develop after you started those medications? Does your doctor give you a new medication every time you complain about a side effect? Does your doctor ever recommend things like excersize, a change in career, more social time, healthier foods, or naturopathic methods? Does your doctor raise your dose when you have a bad day?
When I think about what was pushed on me in my younger years I feel enraged... and after watching The Medicated Child, I'm outright terrified. There are children as young as 4 years old being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and placed on mood stabilizers. There are children who are put on dehabilitating anti-psychotic drugs at age 6 who develop uncontrollable ticks in their necks in their teenage years. These drugs were never tested on children — if you choose to put your children on these drugs, your child is a guinea pig.
You really must read the whole thing. What was done to her is, quite simply, unforgivable.
Of all the horrible things that institutional psychiatry routinely does, one of the most infuriating for me is its stupidly aggressive lack of anything approaching self-consciousness or critical reflection. In a field where, not half a century ago,
patients were routinely locked away in filthy hellholes that would be hard to distinguish from a medieval dungeon, and, once confined, subjected, against their will, to restraints, tortures and mutilations that would have made Torquemada blush — camphor shock torture, repeated massive electric shocks to the brain, and, at the end of the road, an icepick jabbed through the eye socket and rotated so as to mutilate the brain and deliberately destroy centers of personality and higher cognition — in a field, I say, where all this was dignified as
brain damaging therapeutics and regarded as best practices for a scientifically-informed helping profession — in a field where current practitioners now more or less universally agree that torture like this was based on little more than pseudoscience and quackery, and where almost no-one in their right mind would propose ever using practices like these on any patient today — in a field, that is to say, where within living memory thousands of people were subjected to the worst kinds of sadism and torture that the human mind can devise, and all of it based on what are now almost universally acknowledged follies, illusions and lies indulged in by the recognized experts of the field — in such a field, you might expect at least a little bit of humility, historical awareness, and decent caution, rather than sanctimonious self-righteousness and aggressive obliviousness to the idea that psychiatric practice itself might perhaps be part of the problem.
In point of fact, there are countless cases like this one, cases where a life crisis becomes the occasion of massive psychiatric intervention, and where the intervention itself spirals into years of institutionally- and chemically-manufactured madness; in which the stereotypical behavior of the psychiatric patient, invariably passed off as part of her
disease, can in fact be traced quite directly to the physiological, behavioral and social effects of the forced drugging, the forced confinement in
hospital psychoprisons, and other aspects of psychiatric
therapy. Psychiatrists then have the gall to use those same symptoms, created by their own
proof of the need for even more of the same.
Under the present circumstances, there is no reason to believe that individual psychiatrists or psychiatric institutions will ever trouble themselves to acknowledge this possibility or to incorporate it into their practice in any way that matters. It’s not just the financial incentives — although those are certainly there, and those are certainly important. The problem that underlies the financial problem is that psychiatrists have no real reason to care whether they get things right or not. Why should they? They are backed by cultural prejudices in favor of doctors; they can dismiss any complaints by their
patients as literally the ravings of lunatics, and almost no-one will bat an eye; they are backed up by the force of the law, which gives them the power to force their latest and greatest
therapies on a literally captive market of unwilling
patients. Unless and until psychiatrists no longer have the privilege of inflicting nonconsensual
treatment, which is to say, unless and until they become directly accountable to the will and desires of the people for whose benefit they claim to be acting, cases just like Nikki’s are going to happen again, and again, and again.
Free all psychiatric prisoners!