Exit Screaming


An open letter to Dr. Peter Breggin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Breggin ).  I met Ginger and Peter Breggin at the Empathic Therapy conference in East Syracuse in April 2011.  He is the psychiatrist who has been most effectively outspoken against the damage done by “psychiatric medications”—drugs by any name.

Dear Dr. Breggin,

I write this to you to add to your dossier against drugs.  I don’t want to die without documenting what is happening as a result of psych meds.  I took antidepressants every day for twenty-six years, following doctors’ orders and the “information” that I was suffering from a “chemical imbalance.”  I learned from personal experience that was not true, and you provided the rational, scientific confirmation of that at your conference.  There is no such thing as a “chemical imbalance” that causes depression.

A decade ago I stopped taking drugs.  What you call the “medication spellbinding” effect of drugs came to an end and I got my brain back.  I began rapid progress in recovery, and activating an effective form of therapy I developed, called “fighting back” (LOL).  The trigger for depression is the perception of powerlessness; to reverse the trigger, you learn to take powerful action in the areas where you have felt powerless.  The best treatment for depression would be support groups committed to action.

I dug myself out of the morass I had been in, but what I could not do was reverse the physical damage done by decades of drugging.  The most problematic issue is that I no longer can take any medication for anything. 

One psychiatrist put me on lithium.  A psychiatrist working for New York State is required to check lithium levels every two months, kidney function every six months, and do an EKG once a year.  In seven years of ordering lithium, Dr. Rich never once did an EKG or checked kidney function, and rarely checked lithium levels.  She was my doctor and I trusted her.  She destroyed me.  (She died on my birthday—God has my back.)

When I finally got away from her I had nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. And when a lawyer handed me the PDR and asked me how many side effects I had to the lithium, I counted thirty-two.  Among other things, my fingers were turning black in pseudo-Raynaud’s syndrome.  It is possible that the unmonitored lithium is the major cause of my current distress but there is no data in the literature.  Physicians and pharmaceutical companies will not assess or research the damage they’ve done.

As noted, the major problem is that I cannot take any medications for anything.  I have negative side effects to everything.  Dr. Ghaly, my psychiatrist, and I believe that the damage is to the immune system.  Who knows anything about the immune system?  Study PNIE—psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology.  The state of one’s emotions is made up of life experience, the central nervous system, hormones, and the immune system.  Post-partum hormones can get you psychotic depression; lupus can present as psychosis; multiple sclerosis carries depression.  Mess with the immune system and you’re messing with the mind.

The first job of the immune system is to screen out aliens, and the crap that comes out of pharmaceutical companies is as alien as it gets.  Immune system problems break out into three categories:  weakened immune system, where you get sick frequently; allergies, in which you develop antibodies to various things, and hyperactive, in which you react to everything.  That’s me.  The dentist put Ambesol on my gum and I had a hypertensive episode that put me in the Emergency Room.

I was half dead when I stopped taking all drugs ten years ago.  We—Dr. Ghaly and I—began to discover that I reacted to all medications.  Most of the drug reactions included fatigue, shortness of breath, and acute depression.  I have a dozen chronic illnesses and cannot take any medications to treat them because the side effects are worse than the illness effects.  We learned to treat severe obstructive sleep apnea with air; seasonal affective disorder with light; diabetes insipidus with liquids; diabetes mellitus and celiac disease with diet; diabetes mellitus and hypertension with exercise; everything with prayer; menopausal bleeding and dental treatment with hypnotherapy; spinal arthritis and sinusitis with chiropractic; depression, tendonitis, and fever with acupuncture.

I recovered to the point where I became able to walk a mile about five years ago, then aging and the cumulative effects of multiple illnesses began to overwhelm my efforts at recovery.  The most important thing, Dr. Breggin, is that—without drugs—I got my soul back.  I read the Holy Bible, Holy Koran, Wiccan Bible, Bhagavad Gita, and “Living Buddha, Living Christ.”  There is one Lord above all.  We are called to humility and service, truth and justice.

For ten years, I have used a hospital bed; seven years, a power wheelchair; currently, a home health aide two hours a day.  I live alone and have no family, also because of the mistreatment of depression with drugs.  And now we come to the irresolvable crisis.  A year ago I had a kidney infection so severe that it absolutely had to be treated.  I took the antibiotic Macrobid.  It caused pulmonary fibrosis.  I used to be able to walk as far as the elevator in my apartment building; now I can’t.  In addition to the nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and the chronic renal failure, I know have a chronic kidney infection, too.

My diabetes mellitus had been well controlled by diet for years.  Now the numbers began to spike out of control; diet no longer is sufficient.  Last week the temperature went up to 101 degrees and my air conditioning broke down.  I suffered in 92-degree heat inside my apartment for an unknown number of days and nights.  On Tuesday, I broke down and was ambulanced to the Emergency Room, where I was diagnosed with streptococcus pneumonia.  My glucose went up to 414.

In the hospital, I spent a couple days trying to work with my Health Care Proxy, Dr. Ghaly, the hospitalist, and the physician assistant.  The issue is this:  because of the drug damage from twenty-six years of antidepressants, medications drive me into emotional torment.  No medical person understands and/or believes and/or will figure out how to treat.

In the end, we all die.

After forty-eight hours of total bed rest, I was feeling pretty perky.  I am, normally, a very friendly and outgoing person.  I had many pleasant and memorable chats with the man who pushes the mop, the guy who pushes the stretcher, the secretary who answers the phone, and the technicians, aides, LPNs and RNs who make it all work.  Not so friendly with the nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians.  I am different; I am damaged by psych meds.  They are close-minded and will not listen or learn.

Dr. Ghaly and I have had many long discussions about what to do when it becomes irreversibly bad.  He has only seen me once and that was four days ago.  The hospitalist who is responsible for my care is a dorkhead.  The physician assistant is good and I can work with her, except limited by her complete ignorance about the damage caused by psych meds.  She and I came up with a plan.

Thursday night I had an IV dose of the antibiotic to fight the pneumonia.  It made me feel awful for a couple hours, then I slept.  My glucose numbers have been running around 350.  Friday night I had one shot of insulin, which dropped my glucose to 186.  Then I had a second dose of the antibiotic.  For two short hours, my head cleared and I could see how very sick I have become from the high glucose levels.  I had two hours of delicious clarity in which to assess the damage.

At 1:00 a.m., I awoke, screaming at the nurses.  It was hours before I slept again.  Awakened at 6:00 a.m., I started screaming again.  Awakened again, I screamed and cried.  I was in a torment of emotional pain. It has been like this for the past decade.  When things are going wrong, then it is when I awake that the pain is worst.  And the pain was bloody.  Red and screaming torment.  There is no way to explain the pain of psychic agony.  Nobody knows what damage twenty-six years of psych meds causes.  Every day, over and over again, the central nervous system and the brain are twisted, bent, changed by the influx of psych meds.  How do you go on when the drugs are withdrawn?  You train the rose bush to grow over the trellis, then you remove the trellis:  how does the rose bush go on?

I wreaked havoc among the young women who staff the Med/Surg unit.  They hated me, couldn’t understand my dreadful attacks on them.  I demanded the charge nurse, declaring unbearable pain; she didn’t come for 35 minutes.

The antibiotics had triggered this massive onslaught of pain.  The strep pneumonia cannot be treated.  This is the descent into hell brought on by decades of drugging.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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