I write about how to be an effective citizen in the United States. Where’s God in all of that? Congress has passed some Godly acts, including Social Security, Medicare and the Americans with Disabilities Act. These are things that say “I will help you.” Brahman, Yahweh, God and Allah are all different expressions at different times for different cultures of the same deity, and the One Great Deity calls us, first, to humility. That would be humility before the Lord, not before human beings.
If I were humble before Man, then I wouldn’t have challenged the medical director of St. Joseph’s Hospital. I had issues with St. Joe’s. In 1999, my doctor went on vacation, leaving me in the care of Dr. Jane Kou. I had been admitted in a suicidal state. When Kou walked into my room—claiming I was a complete stranger—her first words were “I don’t have much time. What do you want?”
I wanted, and got, a pass to go home the next day. I was in no condition to leave the hospital but I didn’t know it and Kou didn’t assess it. At home, I broke down completely and swallowed a lethal dose of drugs. When I didn’t return from pass, Kou made no effort to find me—didn’t even have the police knock on my door. A day later I was ambulanced to the hospital and put on life support where I lingered for a month. The doctors had no hope that I would survive.
In the hospital’s consequent investigation of the incident, Kou was found without fault. I wanted to talk to somebody about that and that somebody was the medical director. Okay, you need to think about this. I was the lowest of the low, that is, I was a psychiatric patient and I was, literally, drugged out of my mind. Dr. Peter Breggin has identified a condition he calls “medication spell-binding.” In doctor-talk that is intoxication anosognosia, a drug-induced cognitive deficit.
In Annie-speak, psych meds mess up your mind in such a way that you can’t tell that they’re messing up your mind. If you’re getting side effects from the drug to treat your high blood pressure then your brain is still clear enough to figure it out. However, if you’re getting side effects from the drug to treat your depression, your brain can’t figure out that it’s been compromised. I’d been taking doctor-ordered antidepressants every day for twenty-six years; my brain was clueless as to how much damage had been done to it.
Here’s another interesting thing: psychiatric medications can alter your ability to know God. I saw it in myself and others. You take one drug and you think God is good; the psychiatrist switches you to another drug and you think God is gone. This area of study is called neurotheology, that is, your brain on religion. (See also http://www.npr.org/2010/12/15/132078267/neurotheology-where-religion-and-science-collide ). Your ability to know God can be changed by antidepressants; mine was and not for the better.
So here we have a situation where God was sort of not there in my mind because of brain-altering psychiatric medications. Not only was God missing but also most of my critical-thinking ability. I was in a drug-induced state that left me unable to act as a citizen. For all you conspiracy theorists, picture a nation in which psychiatric hospitals, run by the state, and psychiatrists, licensed by the state, prescribe drugs, paid for by the state, that prevent people from criticizing the state. Political dissent stops when the prescription starts.
I was the victim of a political shakedown around the same time that I started taking antidepressants. I still had a working brain and I used it to take action against the political appointee who committed a crime against me. I also was a member of a spiritual congregation, however, the congregation did not have a bible study group, nor did it pay much attention to the bible. Instead, it was a congregation wholly committed to social action. Well, that’s all fine and dandy.
We are called to be humble before the Lord and to care for each other, which brings us back to Congress passing laws regarding Medicare, Social Security and Americans with Disabilities.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus fairly shouted, ‘The second most important thing in your life is to take care of each other!’ And so Congress did. (My foreign policy is very simple: All children in the world should receive the same level of clean air and water, healthy food, protective housing and education.)
So what it all comes down to is this: once my brain was freed of antidepressants, I began to read the Holy Bible and understand how God intended for things to work. Then I began to think critically and address problems. The problem of a bad doctor nearly killing me was addressed by meeting with the medical director of the hospital. The psychiatric patient takes on the medical director!
But first, my pastor and I met in the hospital lobby. (My church had gotten a new pastor, Rev. Craig Schaub, who actually believed in prayer and led a bible study group.) We talked of what I hoped to accomplish and how it might play out, then we prayed. In the hospital lobby, f’crissake! This was totally off the scale on the weird-o-meter. I had never prayed like that before and would not have then except that Craig led me into it. Can you imagine? Praying over a doctor!