Monday, February 17, 2014

Medications. Yes or No?

Since many of you didn't see the video post with my commentary on "The Myth Of The Chemical Cure" yesterday, I thought I would repost just my comments on medication and why Thomas and I choose it. I am curious what your thoughts are on medications and whether or not you feel they are right for you or your loved one. The following is my commentary about the video. You do not need to see the video to appreciate (good or bad) my thoughts.
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For me, and this is purely my opinion and probably skewed by my already set in anger from the discussion in the therapist's office, Ms. Moncrieff (The author of the book and the speaker in the video) has an opinion that I don't agree with. It has been a day since I watched it so I don't remember everything but I will highlight what most stood out to me and what most affected me.

For starters, she talks about how in history schizophrenia was treated with "Insulin Coma Therapy" and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and prior to that they tried to help people with things like less invasive things because they didn't know what to do for people. Then came the advent of medications. Her whole speech is about medications and their efficacy and how it dampens down people's personalities and calms them--that being said as if it's a negative thing. I had to wonder as I listened to her,

"So, ECT and ICT were such great therapies? And what about before then? Weren't we just warehousing people that were stuck in their pain and had no escape?"

For me, by bringing up past therapies like ECT only solidified my faith in medications. I put Thomas back (in my mind) in the eras she was talking about and I was horrified to think that his choice of a "cure" was either being pumped full of insulin and then jolted awake by glucose or worse, repeated, barbaric (at the time) ECT neither of which were curative nor did they know how they worked on the brain. She stated that medications are just such a mystery as for how they work on the brain but all I could think about was, what is the alternative???

What is the alternative?

I think about Thomas and the terror he experiences when he is under-or un- medicated and I know that that is no life for him. Believing that someone is just outside his room coming in to kill him or believing he is being watched constantly and having accompanying paranoia and anxiety is not a life. It just isn't!!! Sure, he is medicated now and less motivated and tires more easily and feels a bit flat but again, what are the alternatives? I have sat with him in emergency rooms watching him trying to keep it together and quickly failing at it because of the terror of what he believed was going to happen to him or what was actually happening to him. Had they come in in that moment with a pill or a syringe with something to calm him, I would have encouraged him to take it and I would stand firmly by my belief that he would take it.

One of the points that Ms. Moncrieff makes is that the drug companies are trying to mislead us about how the drugs work and what the side effects are. I don't know about you but not once have I felt misled and every single time I have read about the side effects and been informed by doctors and pharmacists about the side effects so I didn't go into meds blindly. I know that there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding meds and their efficacy and just exactly how they work on the brain but what I do know is that what they do do is calm my son, lower his paranoia and hallucinations and provide for him a life outside of hospital walls where he can be home in his warm home with his family around him, proper meals, love and support. Even when he has had to go to the hospital, it has been for good reason and has been done in order to get him stable on meds so that he could return home. In my opinion, meds are the treatment of choice for my son.

Now, I know that he has been considered "treatment resistant" and that the time may come that he can't take medications because nothing works anymore however in the meantime, I am going to do everything in my power to ensure his happiness and psychological safety.

Just for argument's sake (in case you feel I am making decisions for Thomas' care for him in this post), let's take me and my meds as an example. I am bipolar II. My "mania's" are not happy, "I can conquer the world" kinds of mania's. Mine are a living hell where I am agitated to the point of wanting to kill the next person who gets in my way, my thoughts bounce around in my head and I can't rein them in. I feel like there are knives or needles poking my skull from the inside out, I have intrusive thoughts that to me, border on a form of psychosis, I have OCD-like qualities and the list goes on and on. I will admit that I fight to go back on my meds when my bipolar fires up but only because I am in a state of mind where I don't think I need them, that I can just power through all of this stuff without them and I'll be fine when I do. When I finally do start my meds, of course I'm a zombie, of course I sleep 11 hours, of course I feel numb emotionally but do you know what? I welcome those feelings because the alternative? The needles? The bouncing thoughts? The intrusive thoughts? They are there driving me insane and I would give just about anything to make them stop. And so, I give up a little of my personality, I give up hours that I should be awake and productive, I give up being able to keep on top of cleaning the house because my motivation is so low, I give it all up to the meds because the alternative is sheer hell.

So, for me, for Thomas, it is not like we walk lightly and uneducated into meds, their side effects, their efficacy, their truth. It is a conscious, well thought out decision and in no way do we feel like we are having the wool pulled over our eyes by the drug companies. I can promise you this about myself and I know the same is true for Thomas.

Also of note, when I am in the throws of my bipolar "mania's", there isn't one single talking therapy that is going to alleviate those symptoms. Not one moment in front of even the most qualified professional is going to change the way I feel other than to most likely frustrate me further because I can't think straight enough to get myself together.

OK. Those are my thoughts for now. I have a many others about meds and other therapies but you can see by what I have written above that I have very strong feelings about this and that I am not making decisions based on a lack or education or sheer personal experience.

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