Why I do not believe ADHD exists.

http://bigbangtaiji.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/why-i-do-not-believe-adhd-exists/

Posted by: Jane | May 1, 2013

Back online

A surprising number of people have sent me requests to make my blog public again.

It is humbling that people are still reading my stuff,  and this blog is my oldest blog. I was a really crappy writer when I first started back in 2006. I have removed some old posts on all my blogs, I just don’t like anymore.

I am very busy these days, with my tai chi practice, which I have been growing from a full-time hobby into a full-time career.

There has been a lot of internet talk about having a country-wide or society-wide “dialogue” about diagnosing, labeling and treating of mental illness, in light of the numerous mass-killings initiated by young people in recent months and years and I do have some thoughts I’d like to contribute to this discussion.

I am still not very happy with the way mental health problems are treated in this country.

I hope you are all doing well.

Posted by: Jane | January 28, 2011

Please stop child drugging now

Two mental health laws I would love to see passed

If you are looking to get angry about something, you don’t have to look very far. One thing that has the power to get me angry is my knowledge of the current use of psychiatric drugs in teens, children and toddlers. I am going to tell you plainly that I think it is a crime against their minds, bodies and spirits. For that reason, if I had the power, I would enact a law that would permanently ban the use of any and all psychiatric drugs in people under the age of eighteen.

If an eighteen year old wants to ask for meds, then that’s great. But under that age, I think kids need to be given the right and incentive to learn to control their emotions on their own, using their own resourcefulness and ability, along with the normal process of maturation. At least until a person is safely past the hormone tides of puberty so that normal sexual maturation and the hormone flows that come with it are not misidentified as being a mood disorder, which I suspect is what is going in a large number of cases of teen bipolar these days.

There is another group of individuals that is just as vulnerable, actually, far more vulnerable to unnecessary psych med exposure and that is unborn children. Unborn children have no way to escape the mother’s psych med use. They do not have informed consent and they can not refuse this unasked-for and unwarranted ‘treatment’.

Each and every psych med in existence has the potential to damage the brain, the CNS and the internal organs. Infants born to mothers who take antiseizure meds have retardation, cleft palate and spina bifata. I’ve heard of one case where a baby had to be put on dialysis because the mother was on lithium. Can you not see how awful it is to be spending the first nine months of your formative life being exposed to a chemically toxic womb? Or letting your infant, suckle down Risperdal or lithium-tainted breast milk? I think it’s very selfish on the part of the mother to knowingly expose her own offspring—who gets one chance and one chance only, to get through those nine months intact to get the best head-start on life—to the potential dangers of psychiatric drugs. Psych med damaged infants are absolutely, one hundred percent avoidable.

Why are you treating your baby for your mental problems?

All we need is a law which protects children from being exposed to psych meds in utero. I mean seriously, if you are taking lithium or depakote or seroquel it’s not because you are fine, it’s because you are not fine. What makes you think you have the right to needlessly expose your childs’ vulnerable and growing body to your drugs, Ma? Potential mothers should have to make a choice, psych meds or pregnancy, not both. I remember how awful lithium and Trilafon made me feel and I don’t think it’s right to expose an infant or a prenate to psych meds, even if diluted down somewhat. Especially because scientists don’t know what the long term effects are. Think about this: babies are much smaller than you Ma, so a little drug can go a long way.

Children have absolutely no business partaking of those drugs in utero or through breast-feeding. And until there are some major advances in psych meds in general, then I think there ought to be a law making it illegal to expose a prenate or infant to psych meds.  We don’t know enough about the long term effects of prenatal and post natal exposure to psych meds and we should be erring on the side of caution in the interests of giving every child the best possible start at life. But in this day and age, corporate interests and profit margins are often more of a concern to agencies like the FDA than public safety, and the future is always later, so we have the mentality of “do it now and pay for it down the road when we get the bill”. Hindsight is always so much easier to possess than foresight.

Related topics and links

The effects of antipsychotic tainted breast milk and womb environment *

Paxil Babies *

Lithium Babies *

More about lithium as a teratogen * (birth defect agent)

Depakote * and Lamictal * cause major birth defects, including death, are taken for bipolar symptom management, and their pharmokinetic action on bipolar mood swings is considered ‘unknown’. Seriously, wtf.

Do psychiatric medications impair brain development? *

An anonymous commenter from Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America blog wrote:

“I was put on SSRIs when I was young for OCD. I now do not get high and low feelings as I think most humans get. I feel emotionally flat every day. I also do not experience any pleasure when I touch myself, am unable to have orgasm nor enjoy sex. I thought this was all normal but deep down I knew it wasn’t. I want to fall in love but I literally am unable to. I decided to look this up and I guess I realize why I have these issues, and I don’t know if I will be like this the rest of my life but I really hope not. It is a very gray life.”

Please stop child drugging now.

Posted by: Jane | January 8, 2011

Refusing Psychiatric Meds

I am going to share with you all a story about how I refused psychiatric meds and engaged in willful noncompliance and how I got away with it. I am going to tell you what meds I was on and how I went off them without anyone’s permission but my own. I am going to teach you by example how to wage successful noncompliance.

At the age of fourteen I was coerced to take lithium carbonate and perphenazine under duress. I was told that if I did not take the drugs willingly, that I would be restrained and injected every time. Since I had just been restrained mere days earlier, the freshness and intensity of that trauma was overpowering. I was reliving the incident as I was being threatened with more of the same. It was one more assault that I had had to endure over the course of my young life back then.

Even though I wanted to fight with everything I had, I could not bear to struggle and lose against such insurmountable force. Six adults versus one teen patient, over and over again. I took their meds because it was preferable to them dehumanizing me and treating me like an animal and getting the ‘treatment’ anyway, as I was tied down to a bed. My taking it under duress was less of a blow to my ego, but it was a blow nonetheless. Every fiber in my being screamed, “Noooo!” when I stopped resisting and submitted in front of the nurses station.

By the next day I was out of it. It was just Psychotropic City. I became an undead. Not fully alive but not fully deceased either. Zombiefied on Trilafon, a drug known to induce a chemical lobotomy. I was not allowed to be ‘me’ for six months after that. Dry mouth. Shaky hands. Drooling. Twitching. They didn’t tell me even half the side effects, I guess because they didn’t want to scare me.

I had been diagnosed with manic depression, nowadays called bipolar disorder 1. They told me that lithium and antipsychotics were medicines for people with ‘chemical imbalances’ and that I had to take the drugs for the rest of my life. That I had no choice.

The drugs destroyed me. I lost ten or so IQ points right off the top. I looked like I had Parkinson’s. A few photos of me back then taken when my Dad visited me, show my eyes look glassy and half-lidded. As though I was literally half-asleep, standing up. I blew up like a lab rat in an experiment, gaining over seventy pounds. Kids started making fun of me at school, a time when, if any of you remember your teens, appearances are everything.

For me to be getting insulted and ridiculed for being fat actually woke me up a little. It was surreal. When I was growing up people used to ask my folks if they fed us because I was so scrawny back then. But all it took was six months of high doses of lithium and Trilafon and I became a blimp. Sweatpants and sweaters were the only outfit that fit comfortably. I was disgusted with myself. I hated myself and my life and the lack of control over my body’s metabolism as well as the lack of control over my own life.

I got desperate enough that I nearly killed myself while I was living in lockdown. I tried to hang myself in a closet, but I aborted the attempt at the last second because I did not want to die in that place on those drugs like this, with my body and mind ruined. The next day I pretended to take the meds during morning med time like a good compliant little patient but I secretly palmed them. Then I eloped. That is, I ran away.

The first step in succeeding with something like that is trust. That means you have to take the meds for awhile under supervision until they have become accustomed to the predictability of your compliance and they no longer watch you carefully. When you have that trust and you have a physical rapport with whomever is giving you the meds, you can deceive them. They won’t be on the lookout for it. Take deep breaths, remain calm, don’t give anything away with body language. That is how I did it.

I slowly got my wits back as the clamps of the neuroleptic and the fog of lithium eased off. By chance, I happened to see and went over to read a very important piece of legalese called, ‘The Patient’s Bill of Rights’. The Patient’s Bill of Rights states that beyond a certain age (fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen, depending on the state you live in), you are entitled to informed consent and the right to refuse medical treatment. So let’s take a moment to examine what that really means.

What is informed consent? Informed consent means you have every right to know everything about your medical treatment and the condition(s) you’ve been diagnosed with. Psych meds absolutely count as medical treatment. Informed consent means you have to be told by your doctor or psychiatrist the full range of potential side effects and the short and long-term risks of drug treatment.

For example, one of the effects of antipsychotics is Tardive Dyskenisa, which is permanent CNS damage. When you take antipsychotics, you are playing Russian Roulette. Every month that goes by that you are on antipsychotics like Risperdal, Geodon, Abilify, Haldol or Seroquel, you depress the trigger with the barrel of the gun against your temple and the cylinder turns.

This was something I was not told about when I was started on Trilafon and I consider it absolutely to be a relevant piece of information about the drug I was on that you can bet would have effected my choice to accept treatment—had I been allowed to accept or reject it in the first place. Antipsychotics had their origins as insecticides and dye compounds. Which is something else I would have wanted to know before starting treatment. To have informed consent about taking antipsychotics is to know that this class of drugs causes brain volume reduction over time.

Another example. Lithium makes your blood toxic. The constant flow of lithium-poisoned blood through delicate filtering nephrons can slowly lead to kidney poisoning and acute renal failure. The longer you are on lithium, the more likely that future looms on you. Was I told about this by my Pdoc? No way. I was told lithium might give me “a little dry mouth and some minor weight gain, nothing to get alarmed about.” Lies. It was like having a sand dune for a mouth. No stoner has ever experienced cotton mouth like anyone who was ever on 1500mg lithium daily. Not even close. I gained plenty of weight and although at first, I tried to ignore it, as I got bigger it got harder to deny that it was happening. Once I started getting picked on at school for it, I worried about it a lot.

Needless to say, had I been informed about the full range of potential short-term effects and long-term ramifications, you better believe I would have refused meds. At the age of fourteen, I had no choice. At the age of fifteen, I did have a choice. And I exercised that choice. I said, “No more!” to taking meds and I got away with it. The reason I got away with it is because (in principle) you can not be forcibly treated if you are not a clear danger to yourself or others.

Sooner or later, someone is probably going to figure out that you stopped taking meds. They are going to take this seriously so you had better as well. With that said, here is some roleplay to try out.

Concerned Parent: “Why did you stop taking your meds?”

You: “Because I don’t like how they make me feel and I don’t want to take them anymore.”

Concerned Parent: “You have no choice.”

You: “Actually, you are wrong. I am Xteen-years old and I have the legal right to refuse medical treatment and I am refusing to take meds.”

Concerned Parent: “You are sick. You have to take meds.”

You: “Wrong again. I feel fine. I have not had a manic or depressive episode in X weeks or months. I am not sick. And because I am not sick, there is no reason to be taking medications. So I refuse.”

Concerned Parent: “You are in Big Trouble!”

You: “So? What are going to do? Hit me? Assault me with harsh language? Try to force me? You can’t. It’s unlawful. You do not have the right.”

Concerned Parent: “We are grounding you until you comply!”

You: “So what?”

Concerned Parent: “We are taking your internet access and cellphone!”

You: “Ow. Sorry, I am NOT taking drugs for problems I don’t have.”

Concerned Parent: “You will be grounded forever!”

You: “Wrong. I will walk out of this house when I turn eighteen and you will not and can not stop me.”

Concerned Parent: “Why must you do this? Can’t you see you’re hurting us and yourself? Why can’t you just comply? It’s for your own good. It’s medicine. It’s good for you, to help you deal with your imbalances.”

You: “Look, I’ll never learn to control my emotions as long as drugs are doing it for me. My mind is made up. I refuse psychiatric medications. I will not take them.”

The key thing to remember in making informed consent and right to refuse work for you is being able to pass a mental health assessment. They did not hesitate to deceive you through omission of important information, the full reality of meds. Nor did they tell you the truth about suffering from the symptoms of bipolar.

The truth is, some people can learn to handle their mood swings without psych meds. I am one of them. I was told I couldn’t do it. But they told me wrong. Either they lied, or they didn’t know, either way, they were wrong. So don’t feel too bad when I tell you that sometimes part of passing a mental health assessment is deceit and lying through omission. If you want to make it into adult age without iatrogenesis (psych med induced damage) then you are going to have to lie. Big Pharma lies. Your parents lie. Your Pdoc lies. You will lie because that is one of the ways to level the playing field.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the physical effects of going off drugs. The first thing I noticed was how good and alive I felt as the shackles of psych meds slipped off my mind! I started to feel my old self again!

What I am going tell you next, I learned only after the fact, and not before. By refusing meds abruptly, I discontinued in what is commonly called, ‘cold turkey withdrawal’. I went off meds cold turkey and I had zero negative effects. No bad reactions at all. None whatsoever.

Not everyone who discontinues abruptly has only good effects and no negative effects. But I was only told this when it was fait accompli or, after the deed was done and it was too late to go back and do it ‘by the book’. I was not told there was a by-the-book method of withdrawing. In fact, at the time, there was no such thing. Since the early 90s, much has been learned about the process of the brain coming off psych meds. Since then, some books have been written about how to do it in as safe a way as possible.

Why should there even be a book on how to come off meds safely? Well it turns out that there is some risks involved with abrupt discontinuation. The longer a person is on psych meds, the more artificial changes are made to their brain. The brain grows new receptors to deal with neurotransmitter receptor antagonizing, which is an effect that neuroleptics have on it.

Sometimes, for some people, sudden withdrawal causes neurotransmitter rebound psychosis. Which is basically your brain going a little haywire to have it’s neurotransmitter uptake no longer mangled and the effect of the bonus receptors your brain grew in an attempt to regain it’s normal homeostasis. Your brain is kind of overdosing on a neurotransmitter that it was underdosing on. But it is only temporary.

One way to avoid potential side effects of withdrawal is to follow what is called a ‘taper regimen’. In a nutshell, tapering is just what it sounds. A gradual, incremental lowering of the drug by dosage over a drawn out period of time.

Reasons why you should or should not consider tapering include:

  • The length of time you were on meds.
  • The number of different psych meds you are on.
  • The strength of the dosages.
  • Your age and weight.

The first three, duration, dosage and quantity are related to how addicted your brain might (notice I said ‘might’) be to the drugs. Generally it seems, at least from what I’ve read, the longer you are on meds, and the higher the doses, and the greater the number of drugs in your cocktail, all have a direct bearing on how thoroughly your brain has been rewired due to the drugs.

The last item, age and weight, is mostly anecdotal. People in their middle age with major obesity seem to have a much harder time rebounding uneventfully from abrupt discontinuation. In fact for them, tapering may not only be the best way to come down, but also the safest and least likely to cause problems. Plus you have an additional complication with significant weight gain in that many if not most psych meds are fat soluble, in order to pass the blood-brain barrier, to deliver their ‘medicinal’ effects. Unfortunately this means that trace amounts of the drugs have a tendency to get stored in your body as well.

Speaking strictly for myself and my own individual case, while I was severely overweight for what was normal and ideal at that age and for my body type. I was not obese. I was chubby and flabby, but not so overweight that I had mobility issues or couldn’t still wipe my ass from behind. I had been on high doses of psych meds to be sure, but only for six months. I would not have tapered if you had scared me with every cold turkey horror story in the book.

This is how I see tapering. Imagine a nasty, slimy, rusty, jagged piece of metal stuck inside you. Image not only the physical pain, but also the mental anguish. The disgust with the dirty sliver that is violating your bodily integrity. It’s in you. You want it out of you. Now. Right now. Not a week from now. Not a month from now. Not two years from now. Right frakking now. No debate. Just pull it out and get it gone, the sooner the better.

That’s how I felt about getting off psych meds and that’s how I did it. I just stopped and yanked the sliver out. I did not have to live in disgust as the drug continued to poison my body and mind month after month as I tapered down. But I did not know that tapering was the ‘proper’ way to go about it anyway.

Some people who write about mental health issues like to say, “Don’t go off meds without doctor supervision.” But what happens when your doctor is not on your team? They don’t give any answers or advice for that. It’s like they just assume everything is hunky dory and ideal and you and your doctor are working together for your health care. But not everyone has that ideal.

I am not joking around here. This is serious. I did not get to pick my treatment team. They were picked for me, including my psychiatrist. The whole point of guerrilla noncompliance is not informing people what you are doing. So sometimes, in order to save yourself, you have to take full responsibility for your health care, including whether or not to discontinue treatment and how to go about it, as well as who to inform, if anyone.

The truth is, you won’t know if you can handle cold turkey detox from psychiatric medications until and unless you try. It’s your body and your life. You may not have to taper. In that case that means no longer suffering the ignominy of paying for or taking daily, a drug you have decided you no longer want any part of. That is the beauty of cold-turkey. Your brain will rebalance itself quickly without having a tapering dosage still causing you pain and grief day after day. Just know that if cold turkey does not work, you may need to taper.

You don’t score good patient points with anyone for drawing out withdrawal. But it is something you should give thought to if you have been under the onslaught of psych meds for some years. However, cold turkey does in fact work, and my experience is proof of it. From what I’ve read, I was at the extreme edge of the ‘safe’ zone. Just six months on the drugs. Beyond that the risk of withdrawal effects certainly go up, but are still not 100 percent guaranteed.

So I hope this article has helped you learn how better to assert yourself if you are receiving drug treatment against your will or under coercion. It also helps if you remember this bit of advice: You will come out looking a lot better if you remain calm and polite while discussing your noncompliance. Chances are your folks or caregivers are the ones who are going to flip out when (if) they find out you went off meds and why. Be classier. Keep it together. Show them that you are more in control of yourself than they are of themselves. It’s that or press the trigger against your head again next month, and hope for the best.

Posted by: Jane | December 13, 2010

The Baker Act Explained

Several times a week I notice that google has directed someone to my blog who has inputted the term(s) Baker Act in X where X equals the state of your choice. The most recent, ‘Baker Act in Ohio’ and ‘Baker Act in Maryland’. I will explain what the Baker Act is, and why it only exists in Florida.

The Baker Act, also known more formally as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, is only in effect in Florida. That means there is no Baker Acting someone in Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota or Vermont or anywhere else, except Florida. It’s a state law, not a federal decree.

The Baker Act was named for Florida state representative Maxine Baker, who (apparently) thought it would be great if people with mental illness, or even just the appearance of being mentally ill, could be expeditiously seized and arrested without due process, and their person dragged into biopsychiatric limbo for days, for the crime of (or suspicion of) being mentally ill.

You don’t actually get arrested-arrested (booked), because it’s not technically unlawful (yet) to be mentally ill. Although practically speaking, from those who have been through it, it does seem as though it is unlawful to be an apparently symptomatic and untreated mentally ill person in Florida.

Now I know what you are thinking. You are imagining that being Baker Acted couldn’t really be as severe as I described, right? Wrong. Did you think when you Baker Act someone, or you are Baker Acted, you get a phone call by somebody with a British accent, a cordial invitation to the nearest psychiatric hospital and the notice that there will be a chaffered limousine to drive you there when you are ready and all packed and you’ve called up work and your friends to tell them you’d be indisposed for awhile? No way, Jose.

If you are Baker Acted, you can be detained, searched and your name run through the court and legal system electronically. The police will come to wherever you are, and insist that you immediately stop doing whatever you are doing at that moment, in order to be handcuffed, stuffed into the back of a police cruiser and delivered like an escaped felon into institutionalization. Once you are under psych lock down, the cops job with you is done.

If you refuse to come willingly, you can and will be threatened with violence. And depending on your reaction to that, they may, if you are lucky, only taze you. If you are unlucky, they may taze and beat and or choke/arm lock/wrist lock you and pepper spray you into submission.

With your mood now set properly for an accurate mental health assessment, completely outraged and trembling with indignation and possibly, even probably, crying, you now get your ride to the psych hospital—a ‘Baker Act Receiving Facility’. Your tears will probably stop by the time you get there, to be replaced with rage and anxiety of what is to come. Upon your arrival and intake the psych nurses are going to take one quick look at you and take in your agitation and irritation and they will make notes about you and you will be considered to be manic or having a manic episode.

The standard treatment for a person experiencing mania is brain-damaging neuroleptics, although you probably know of the drugs as being called ‘antipsychotics’. Since you are not looking very cooperative right now, they probably won’t waste time dilly dallying, trying to be disarming with you. A psych nurse will summon several psych techs who will stand next to you like guards or bouncers and if you do not willingly accept their poison amicably right then and there, she will make a nod or other gesture and the psych techs will try to manually restrain you. Should you turn out to be a handful, many psych techs and nurses will be called and you will get padded leather restraints, a seclusion cell and the brain poison injected into you anyway, despite your wishes and protestations. That is the Baker Act explained.

Now I don’t live in and never have lived in Florida, so you would be rightfully curious about how I got involved with learning and talking about it. A couple years ago I made a video about what it means to be involuntarily committed, which is something that happened to me as a teen. What happened is, a couple weeks and then months after I made this video, I started getting private messages from people asking me for information about or if I personally knew about, the Baker Act in Florida. And of course, I hadn’t, so I was curious, and I responded with interest and a listening ear.

Well I got an earful alright. Wow, did I. The first person to contact me was a young girl, almost eighteen, whose mother and her mom’s psychiatrist, conspired to have her Baker Acted on a regular basis. For just about any reason the mother could come up with.

The Pdoc was on the mom’s team, not the daughter’s, for it was he who gave the order for the cops to come to the house, time and time again. The story I got was that the mom was mentally ill herself. According to the girl I was communicating with, the mother suffered from depression and mania and was Dxd with bipolar disorder II.

A person’s teenage years can be fraught with depressions, angst and other emotional turmoil, without the specter of real mental illness, But here we have a mother who is already sensitized because of her own diagnosis, to see and interpret her daughters hormonal or teenage depression as being mental illness in action. So if the daughter acted gloomy or even argued with her mother, the mom just jumped to the assumption that the daughter had to be suffering from bipolar depression or mania, and from what I gather, rather hysterically called up the psychiatrist in a panic, insisting the doctor Baker Act her girl immediately.

Of course when the daughter claimed she was fine and didn’t want or need help, the mom interpreted it as desperate denial and all the more reason to go spend yet another weekend on a psych ward. The daughter told me that for years she had been bounced in and out of Baker Act receiving facilities on account of her mother’s whims and ongoing mother-daughter friction. “My mom’s doctor—my doctor, always sides with her and never listens to me,” the girl complained to me.

So you ask, how? How can you abuse someone like that so easily and legally? The answer is in the wording of the Baker Act. It provides a means to get someone into psychiatric lockdown with a minimal amount of checks and balances. Under most circumstances and in most states, having someone forcibly put away takes a bit of work, and for good reason. Forced treatment involves stripping someone of many of their civil rights for a short or prolonged period.

Generally speaking, to get a commitment order on someone, a psychiatrist needs to see and assess the potential patient in person. From there, a second opinion from a psychologist or physician may be warranted and obtained. At that point, if they are in agreement, a process order goes through court to get a seal from the judge, authorizing you to be picked up and delivered to a psych hospital, whenever the cops get around to it. This usually take so long that unless you are severely and uncontrollably mentally ill, your mental and emotional states could be changed or out of danger by the time the order gets to court. You would need to be reassessed.

The Baker Act was enacted in order to cut certain corners, streamline the process of getting someone ‘help’, even against the person’s will. The result is this: A family member, relative, and even on occasion, close family acquaintances, can simply call up 911 or other emergency services, and if they can speak both convincingly and concernedly about their fears for your safety and imminent danger, then the 911 operator will call the closest psych facility, explain the situation to a psych nurse, who will page a psychiatrist, who will almost certainly listen for a moment, nod to him or herself, and give the order to have you brought in, pronto.

Perhaps you are thinking, good! A person who is suicidal should get help right away, not after they finally kill themselves. And perhaps there is some truth to that, depending on what one means by ‘help’. Certainly, some impulsively suicidal people are glad to be saved from themselves and the (usually) temporary insanity of suicidal depression. No doubt the Baker Act is used in this way frequently. The person will receive needed assistance to get through a trouble spot and if the patient is grateful for the intervention and everything turns out alright, then that’s a good thing. In those kinds of cases, the Baker Act is working as intended. Although sometimes, the person may not be grateful at all.

Another example to illustrate my point. I read a story online submitted anonymously by a young woman from Florida who had had a nasty breakup with a clingy ex-boyfriend. The prideful young man, ego terminally insulted at being dumped, had his revenge. Angered that she would be crazy enough to want to end their relationship, he called 911 and made up statements that the woman had allegedly claimed she had taken an overdose and said things which indicated major depression and suicidal ideation. Well, it worked. The cops came to her house and ‘detained’ (a euphemism for being temporarily arrested without charge) her, and brought her to a Baker Act receiving facility for intake and processing, then summary treatment.

Of course she came onto the ward mad as hell and in tears, in total confusion. She was like, “What the hell is going on here? Why is everyone acting so concerned? Why isn’t anyone listening to me?” She was surrounded by people who were utterly convinced without previous assessment or interview that this woman was psychotic or suicidal, prior to her arrival. After all, a person doesn’t get Baker Acted for no good reason, right?

The truth is, psychiatric staff believe people who are suicidal or psychotic to be suffering from a brain disease. That means your thoughts and judgments are not taken as seriously as someone who is not mentally ill, because your brain is ‘imbalanced’ and ergo, you must therefore have zero insight into your condition and hence, be frankly unable to speak for yourself or have informed consent.

Once the staff saw her like that, she was a mental patient, and no longer entitled to the same respect as someone who is not. And so the staff forcibly treated her, without just cause or patient input on the matter, thus adding further insult to existing injury. This was all a process, a bureaucratic machine whose unstoppable wheels, once engaged by the 911 call from the ex boyfriend, turned and turned, with various agencies and their employees acting out their scripts—with no apparent oversight whatsoever.

Perhaps you are thinking that the Baker Act is also used to get drunken, homeless people who are wild-eyed and muttering to themselves off the streets into good mental health care? Well the homeless people sure do appreciate the seventy-two hours spent housed, enjoying the showers and the (not) free food. But I’ve heard from some psych nurses that this tactic is used and abused by homeless people for those reasons. That they will act out in the hopes of getting picked up by the cops or outreach workers and end up spending some time hanging out in the community area watching TV at the nearest psych ward. They usually get kicked out after the seventy-two hours is up. That is, until the next time they are picked up.

Veterans also get shafted by the Baker Act. If you get angry at home and your wife or neighbors calls up the cops, and someone happens to mention that you are a vet, the police can Baker Act you themselves, based on suspicion of acting out due to PTSD or related issues. If you are lucky, they might take you to a Vet’s hospital, Probably, you will get sent to the same ward as various soccer moms, college kids and homeless people, all of whom had been Baker Acted earlier that evening as well, to spend the next seventy-two hours together.

So who in the medical and legal system is empowered to Baker Act you? A Baker Act can be initiated by physicians and mental health professionals as well as judges or other law enforcement officials. Your family doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist, as well as uniformed police officers, can initiate a Baker Act to have you brought in for examination and subject to diagnosis and treatment.

Let’s take a closer look at what ‘treatment’ means. It sounds like such a safe and hopeful word, doesn’t it? Treatment. You think, if there are treatments for mental health conditions, it makes sense to use them, right? Not necessarily.

For people of means, treatment can and often does mean judicious use of psychiatric meds, as well as plenty of therapy. Psychotherapy has a long history of proven ability to help people get their issues dealt with (Elyn Saks swears by it), and improve daily functioning. But therapist shopping until you can find a professional who is on the same wavelength and in whom you can confide and let down your barriers to, is largely a middle and upper class privilege. It’s a luxury. So if you are poor, forget it. For your treatment, you are, most likely, only going to get the drugs.

Drugs cost less than therapy and drugs are the cheapest treatment the state and local government or private psych facilities can afford to impose on you. People who work for the mental health system, whether public or private, think nothing of making sure you get ‘treatment’ because, aside from electrical brain damage, they have nothing else to quickly shut you up and get you back out on your feet, on the street, and on with your life.

Now you would think that the people who work in the psychiatric system are people who should, by their very profession, be some of the most informed people about the state of and nature of efficacious treatments. But often the situation is quite the opposite. Psych nurses and staff praise psychiatric meds for their effects and it’s really of no concern if you are suffering on their drugs. “It’s just the meds doing their magic,” they will tell you optimistically, “You’re in treatment! You are going to get better now! You just need a little help with your disease! Everything is going to be okay!” They will be so, so eerily and frighteningly happy and relieved that you are doped out on psych meds, that you will wonder if you have not suddenly slipped into an alternate reality, like The Matrix.

Chances are, the psych staff have not read Joanna’s Moncrieff’s ‘The Myth of the Chemical Cure’ or Peter Breggin’s ‘Your Drug May Be Your Problem’. They just read the lit and data sheets offered by Big Pharma that said ‘For the treatment of the symptoms of insert X mental disorder’ and that’s that. That’s what treatment is.

It turns out, that today’s psychotropic drug treatments, most of them anyway, have very little lasting positive effects. Study after study has been done showing one psychotropic drug after another after another to be no better than a placebo, and often much worse. Because a placebo won’t force your brain to grow new serotonin and dopamine receptors. A placebo probably isn’t going to give you blood poisoning like lithium, CNS damage and obesity like antipsychotics, or impotence and suicidal ideation like ‘antidepressants’ do. A placebo won’t make you homicidal or psychotic when you start or stop it.

You may be wondering, how do I Baker Act someone to get them some of this wonderful treatment? Well, you don’t, unless you live in Florida. If you live in Florida, it’s really easy, so easy, you can just make up any story you like. You won’t even have to tip over the furniture to convince the cops. If the cops get a Baker Act call, it’s just a routine standard operating procedure for them, all part of the service.

The only other states which I know for sure to have a similar statute on the books, is Ohio and California. I don’t know what the statute in Ohio is called, but it’s probably like “Ohio Mental Health Act”, or something similar. In California, it’s called a 5150—an involuntary, seventy-two hour hold.

The essence of a seventy-two hour hold is assessment and observation. Homeless people and vets held for alcohol-related disturbances, are, generally speaking, discharged once the Pdoc arrives on shift and interviews them. But if you happen to have good insurance, you may expect the doctor to come to the conclusion that a seventy-two hour hold is just not going to be enough time for a proper assessment and he or she may decide to keep you for a week, two weeks, even a month. At least until they’ve had a good feeding from your insurance teat. You see it costs anywhere from 600-1000$ or more, daily, to live in a mental hospital. To them, you are a now resource to be exploited.

By the time your insurance coverage lapses and you finally get discharged, you won’t even be the same person as you were when you arrived. Your brain and body will operate and feel differently in subtle and gross ways, due to the continuous effects of psychotropic drugs that really don’t do anything in any healing way inside you, but just sort of gum up the works of your thoughts, feelings, and even bodily sensations, until you don’t even know who you really are anymore.

If you happen to be one of the sensitive ones, your brain may now be hooked on psych meds. For most people it does take a little while for that to happen. But not everyone. If that is your case, and you try to stop the drugs they coerced or forced you to take now that you are out of the psych ward, you may suddenly be possessed by suicidal or psychotic thoughts and feelings. These feelings will be coming from you, from inside you, but they won’t be you.

You may or may not recognize that. Why? Because in all likelihood, the mental health workers told you the drugs are supposed to remedy your imbalances, not exacerbate them. They probably gave you some line about making sure you take them in the morning and at night so you don’t have a relapse. They probably did not even discuss discontinuation and tapering with you before discharge. The assumption being that a responsible patient is not going to stop treatment. Therefore, they don’t bother to tell you what might happen if you do. Namely, psychotropic drug withdrawal-induced symptoms, aka dopamine or serotonin rebound psychosis.

If you don’t recognize or know about neurotransmitter rebound psychosis, and the symptoms catch you by surprise, you may freak out and scare someone, a friend, a family member, and get Baker Acted again! Now you are fully in the mental health system. Upside down, turned around, unsure whether your depression, mania, or anxiety is really you or the effects of drug-induced damage, you sink deeper into dependency on the psychiatric ‘experts’ to get you sorted out. But you’re most likely unaware that you are now just a trial and error chemistry experiment.

Rather than put you on a safe tapering regimen to get you medwashed so they can get a baseline of how you are normally, they will probably put you on steeper doses of the drugs you were on before—under the assumption that your current symptoms are the result of not enough of a medically effective dose of the drugs in the first place! Thus restarting and hastening the process of psych med addiction in your brain, plus adding more drugs to deal with the now (hugely) increased side effects of the primary ones. You see, to those folks, getting sorted out these days means: ‘finding the right balance of meds for your needs’.

This is what happens to some people when they are Baker Acted, 5150’ed or otherwise forced into treatment against their will. If it’s you who is on the receiving end, then you are caught in a loop. And the Cheshire Cat over in the corner is not grinning. This is real. It’s really happening. To you.

After awhile of this recurring cycle it becomes harder and harder to even know what normal is anymore. It’s been forever since you’ve felt like your ‘old self’. You are a creature of psycho-pharmaceutical interaction effects beyond your control. Worse, you are probably still paying at the counter for the drugs that are doing this to you. Thanks to the effects of state-of-the-art medicine and modern chemistry, in a few more years, you may finally be dysfunctional and unhealthy enough to be eligible for permanent disability. Welcome to the system, Patient.

Today I stumbled on a blog called “Borderline Families” and read of one woman’s heartfelt confession of her deconversion story from her former faith in the biopsychiatric model of mental illness and their chemical treatments for it.

Parts of it moved me to tears. I frequently identified with Kristin’s daughter, who is the focus of much of her posts. I missed this eloquent and beautifully written blog when it started up in April and I apparently just missed its last post at the end of November. I highly recommend reading Kristin’s story while it is still up which she sums up as a saga covering these posts.

Part One A Charade

The Final Post

I have to say, there is a part of me that is a little jealous at how much unconditional love Kris has for her daughter. As a teenager I went through some of the same things as Kris’s daughter but I faced the institutions and residential facilities, as well as the doctors, without that kind of support.

Posted by: Jane | December 3, 2010

Best way to handle a psychotic person?

Let’s imagine a scenario. You are the head nurse in an ER or a psych ward. A man comes onto the unit escorted by police in handcuffs. He had been arrested for brandishing a samurai sword at a bus stop and threatening passersby. The police disarmed him, put him in shackles and brought him to your psych ward for evaluation.

Momentarily, the cops are going to transfer custody of this still clearly agitated man to the psych nurses who work under you. The man shows every sign of becoming physically aggressive the moment the cuffs come off. His narrowed eyes are casting furtively to the left and right and he is muttering incessantly to himself about people who have it coming to them and how he is going to finally give them what they deserve.

He is not responding directly to questions but just acting out in a paranoid yet threatening manner. You have no idea how long it’s going to take for this guy to come down from this psychotic state on his own. He needs to be dealt with, handled, right now. He poses an immediate danger to everyone’s safety, including yours. You can’t allow other people to be harmed by this guy no matter what his problem is. You have to ensure the safety of staff and patients alike.

But you’ve read about how people who have been restrained and injected with antipsychotics against their will deeply resent that treatment and were left with psychological scars from having that happen to them. In addition, a mandate has recently come down from the government banning coercive treatments like forced drugging and electroschock.

Oh and don’t forget, he is the not the only person on the ward. Other patients need to be tended to, and there is always  the potential of another person coming to the ward right after this guy. You simply can’t allow this man to carry on his show and dominate limited staff resources all shift long. So what do you do in thirty seconds when the cuffs come off that guy?

The New York Times is reporting about a book called “Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care” that was apparently co-written by Dr. Charles Nemeroff and Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg.

The issue seems to be, how much of this book did they write? Apparently much of it was ghostwritten by a company called Scientific Therapeutics Information, Inc. Here is the link to their site.

There has been some brouhaha stirred up about ghostwriting in psychopharmacology and it is something Philip Dawdy from Furious Seasons has written about in the past.

Charles Nemeroff I’ve heard of before. This is the infamous psychiatrist who never found a psychotropic drug he couldn’t be paid to like. But really creepy is this Springfield, New Jersey company Scientific Therapeutics Information, Inc that apparently wrote a significant portion of the book.

This is just a few things I found on their site that raised my eyebrows

Who we are

Our highly educated staff can take you through the lifespan of a drug, from the pre-launch publication of clinical trials through comprehensive speaker training programs. We’ll stick with you even when your needs shift from cutting-edge research to brand revitalization.

Comment: these are the kinds of people who helped Big Pharma launch atypical antipsychotics. Probably helped them spin the false image of atyps being an improvement over earlier generation formulas. These are the spin doctors to Big Pharma. This particular company was made by a pharmacist for the purpose of propagating pharmaceuticals. When you need scientific papers drummed up for your product and co-written by experts, this company hooks you up with their writers and contacts and makes it all happen. Then when your latest blockbuster drug starts killing people these are the folks you go to get your drug rebranded or reimaged.

Relationships with Industry Leaders and Opinion Leaders

We also know the people who work in therapeutics. In twenty years, we have developed close working relationships with expert physicians and industry leaders in a vast number of medical fields. We can put a voice to your product and keep that partnership going in the long term. Our history has taught us the science of pharmaceuticals, and the science of communication.

Comment: I take this to mean, companies like this, act as middlemen or a dating service, setting up people like Nemeroff or Joe Biederman with drug companies who need them for their seal of authority on various papers, to the profits of all three parties.

There is some nice juicy nuggets to be found at The Project on Government Oversight regarding this pharma-funded book and Sally Laden, a writer for STI, Inc who apparently wrote portions of it. Very insightful to me was reading about how GlaxoSithKline writes the consensus statements about treating mental disorders for the DBSA, another apparent advocacy group which like NAMI is primarily funded through grants by pharmaceutical companies and consequently, all the literature about mental illnesses, their causes and drug treatments that is espoused by DBSA (as with NAMI) consist primarily of pharmaganda.

Scary company. Read more about the book and ghostwriting here and Dr. John Grohol’s post and plea about it here.

Posted by: Jane | November 22, 2010

An argument for antipsychiatry

When I first started posting on this blog back in 2007 or whenever it was, in my first post I tried to distance myself from antipsychiatry. And for good reason. These days ‘antipsychiatry’ has become an epithet, an insult, an accusation hurled at someone to label them a fringe member, a nut job, a psychiatric ‘denier’. Often said in the same sentence with another increasingly common insult: “Scientologist!” to be used whenever someone in the promeds, biologic psychiatry camp wants to write off someone with dissenting opinions and conflicting experiences to their own.

‘Anti’ is a powerful word. When I think of the word ‘anti’ I sometimes think of antimatter. Most of us probably learned in school that matter and antimatter can not coexist in the same place without a disastrous reaction. The older I get the more I try to sound moderate and more inclusive as opposed to strident and exclusive which was a hallmark of my earliest writing. And to be ‘anti’ is to not be balanced, moderate or in the middle, but to be unipolar and firmly on one end of a spectrum regardless of what it may be.

I consider the question of my psychiatry views to be political because it is ultimately about self-care and self-determination which involves our rights as civilized human beings. I have often been accused of being antipsychiatry or having antipsychiatry views and had complete strangers assert to me that I ‘must be’ antipsychiatry because I don’t say warm glowing things about psych meds.

I’ve always felt that calling myself ‘antipsychiatry’ would lead to an interesting conundrum if psychiatry ever underwent significant reform. Mainly, when I think of psychiatry I think of their primary offering, their mainstay treatment. Which as most of us probably know, is a plethora of psychotropic drugs made by Big Pharma. And I do not conceal my dislike and to a certain extent outrage, at how toxic these drugs are and the great lies that are spun about them in order to get them into your body so you can get your brain hooked on them for life.

But what if, let’s say, psychiatry started recommending a new class of drug which simply took away your problems without leaving you damaged? Could a drug that does not damage your brain, glands, sex drive and CNS and that also fixes your mental issues be worth fighting against? It’s worth thinking about because should that day ever come, I would think that I would be hard pressed to defend being antipsychiatry at that point. But psychiatry is not just about handing out drugs. It would be much simpler if it was. While I was visiting some pages on my friend Marian’s blog, I found something very much worth considering. Marian writes:

As for the concept of “anti-psychiatry”, I can’t and won’t distance myself completely from this, unfortunately, rather controversial term. Psychiatry in practise is five things: drugs, electroshock, restraints/seclusion, lobotomy, and, in context with each and every one of these, coercion. I regard all five of them as violations against human rights, that need to be abolished.

Drugs, electroshock, restraints, seclusion and lobotomy.

In my hypothetical future where Big Pharma finally makes medicine instead of sickness in a pill form, it would be difficult to stay ‘anti’ psych meds for very long. But what about the other four traits?

Electroshock is basically a cattleprod placed alongside your cranium which surges electricity across your delicate brain cells super-heating and boiling some of them, breaking the blood-brain barrier, inducing seizures and memory loss. It’s medical brain damage via a crap shoot. To call it barbaric insults some of the more complex operations that primitive peoples did—like trepanning.

Restraints. There is all kinds of restraints. The most common type you probably hear about is the ubiquitous four-point restraints. They still have and use straitjackets although they work a little different, appear to be more ‘stylish’ and are now called safety shirts or safety smocks. There are manual restraints were people just hold you down physically and then there is another kind of restraint that is kind of like being put in a coffin with only your head sticking out—called a safety blanket. I was put in one of those for awhile and I talk about that harrowing experience in my book.

Seclusion. Been there too. Sucks when you have no window to look out of and nothing to read. Makes you go deeper into your own mind to find stimulation. Can really affect people in weird ways. Didn’t bother me as much as it might others because I am overstimulated easily and I liked being left alone. Still, some people panic when they are alone and can’t interact with others and find seclusion to be torturous. And I don’t care if you do like being in solitude a lot, being alone in a cell when you don’t want to be or were not planning on it sucks big time.

Lobotomy. Lobotomies actually do still happen. Mass General reportedly did seventeen lobotomies in 2001 and it was reported that over a hundred were performed through Europe the same year. Instead of stabbing your brain with an icepick like they used to, now they paint little lesions across your lobes with what amounts to a tiny soldering iron. It’s like art. Burn-scarring the mental illness out of people by hurting their brain.

Can I be pro-electroshock? No.

Can I be pro-restraints? No.

Can I be pro-seclusion? No.

Can I be pro-lobotomy? No.

So you see, even if I did become pro-meds someday, I know that as long as psychiatry continues to resort to medical harm and spiritual oppression as a form of treatment, I can not be for or ‘pro’ psychiatry. Not ever. Not so long as those five aspects continue to remain the primary tools of psychiatry.

Is there room for a middle ground? What of us that don’t want to be ‘anti’ psychiatry, nor ‘pro’ psychiatry. Can we be in the center of the mental health treatment seesaw? I am having trouble seeing how we can realistically pull that off. Maybe someone more finely tuned to political correctness or political sensitivity can explain to me a moderate, in-between, optimal middle-ground between two polar opposites, (anti vs pro) position.

For now, let’s explore this hypothetical middle-ground on our own. How would it work? Well let’s see:

“I’m okay with lobotomies for about half the people they are recommended to.” No, I can’t agree with that.

“I think restraints, forced electroshock and being drugged to a stupor is okay for some people, some of the time.” No, that’s not going to work either.

If there is a middle path between being pro and anti psychiatry, I am having trouble seeing it here. Is this truly one of those situations where you are either with us or against us? It almost seems so. How can you be for inhumane and dehumanizing treatment, sometimes, or for when circumstance supposedly warrant, and also respect a person/patient’s right to self-determination, their right of informed consent and right to refuse? Their right to be not have medical (and psychological) damage forced upon them?

As for myself, although I too wish for the complete abolition of these practices I just can’t see calling myself ‘antipsychiatry’. It’s a label with radical connotations to it. I don’t really gain anything by doing so. I truly wish I could come up with a better defense than: I just don’t want the impression that is given to some people when you declare yourself to be antipsychiatry. I don’t want the baggage and the extremism that comes with the label. What I don’t want is an easy excuse for my detractors and those who disagree with me to grab and use in order to belittle, insult or marginalize me, by slinging this one word as both an accusation and as a reason to not listen to what I have to say.

Posted by: Jane | November 20, 2010

Lithium Hurts

All our thoughts and prayers go out to Susan Schecter from “If You Are Going Through Hell Keep Going” who is currently recovering from complete kidney failure due to lithium poisoning. I first read about it at Beyond Meds and was immediately concerned and  saddened.

When I was fourteen my psychiatrist told me I was supposed to take lithium forever. Lithium slowly destroys your kidneys and causes serious thyroid problems the longer you take it. And for good reason. Our bodies are not meant to have elevated and toxic levels of lithium flowing through it day after day, year after year. It’s an artificial lithium imbalance. When I was on it, my jaw vibrated, my eyeballs swam around unable to focus, and I couldn’t pee without my toes curling in agony. It was horrible.

I can understand, for some folks for short duration crises taking this stuff. But I never understood the whole maintenance thing. Why take lithium every single day, even when you are not symptomatic or cycling? Part of me shudders to think that if I had stayed on lithium like my pdoc advised me, I would now have been under its damaging influence for twenty-one years. There is no doubt that would have shortened my lifespan. Can someone explain the appeal to me?

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