Final Words


A month ago a woman with Alzheimer’s was admitted to the room directly below mine; we both face on the employee parking lot. She screams continuously. “Hello? Hello? Hello? Help! Help! Call 9-1-1! Stop hurting me!” The staff who serves me tells of getting out of their car in the parking lot and wondering “What is that? Who is screaming?”

It is one of their own who is screaming, and management says there is nothing they can do about it. I am living with her torment 24/7. Nobody else is. Staff can walk away from it. I can’t. They say they can’t medicate her.

My final request is that you medicate me to protect the staff because I cannot stop screaming at them. They believe that it is bad behavior and that I can control it. I can’t. It is not interpersonal. One indicator of that is that I am sitting here screaming at my computer, too.

Yesterday I went to an in-house clothing sale and had a complete meltdown. I cried and screamed all morning, then I got a dose of hydrocodone and slept for six hours without waking. It was the best six hours since I came to James Square. Ate supper, took more hydrocodone, slept another six hours. Woke up and started screaming at the nurse. Then crying uncontrollably.

I am in torment, but the order has been that they can’t medicate me because it makes me worse. Now, we have to medicate me. If that means keeping me “asleep” 24 hours a day, then so be it.

I took antidepressants and other psychiatric medications every day for 26 years. The purpose of the physicians’ in prescribing psych meds was to change my brain function because they believed that mental illness was a function of the brain.

They are wrong. Most “mental illness” is the result of bad life experiences. That is true of both depression and schizophrenia. They should be treated with more and better talk therapy. Read other entries in this blog and in “Behind the Locked Doors.” I have an I.Q. of 139, 68 years of life experience, and mental illness: I know what I am talking about.

So, anyway. I took psych meds every day for 26 years. Do you know what that did to my brain? No, you don’t. There is no way to measure or image mental illness in the brain. There are no lab tests or scans that can render “mental illness” tangible. In fact, in the Physicians Desk Reference, after entries for antidepressants, are the words ‘The exact mechanism whereby this works are unknown.” Nevertheless, they keep prescribing antidepressants.

What is known is that antidepressants do change brain chemistry. Go ask Dr. Peter Breggin, who has studied the damage and knows. Or ask me (e.g., read my other blog) because I know. In 2001, I stopped taking antidepressants. And recovered my mind. And became one kick-ass activist. See also “Resume of an Activist.”

I have to hurry and finish this. I’ve taken the pain killer and it’s putting me to sleep. That quickly, life becomes death.

Nobody knows how antidepressants change the brain, but they surely do. And when you stop taking antidepressants after 26 years, nobody knows what’s left, but I do. It is crazy to expect the brain to revert to the way it was 26 years before. Nobody knows what happens next, but I do.

There are a lot of research papers written about what happens in the first six weeks of withdrawing from antidepressants. It is the acute phase, and it is known and studied. But what about one year? What about five years? What about eleven years? What about end of life? Nobody knows.

Except me.

About three years ago, at eleven years post-antidepressants, my glucose stopped responding to diet and exercise. And every time I tried to take insulin it made me suicidal. And the aides responsible for my care judged me instead of believing me. My glucose has been between 350 and 650 for three or four years.

There is nobody in this country who knows what happens when you take antidepressants for 26 years, stop taking them for 14 years, have SEID that damages the immune system, and have hyperglycemia.

For years, my ex-psychiatrist and I have agreed that I cannot take any psych meds for anything. We both want me to get acupuncture four days a week. But for most of the past three years I have been in nursing homes or hospitals on Medicare or Medicaid.

Medicare and Medicaid will not pay for acupuncture. Hospitals and nursing homes will not let patients be treated with acupuncture. And I can’t take drugs. And several years of uncontrolled diabetes has been eating up every part of my body. And my brain. A psychiatrist who specialized in geriatrics said, ‘With old age come the breakdown of kidneys, pancreas, and every other organ. The brain is the most sensitive organ there is. Of course, it breaks down!’

I am now at the point where all I can do is scream and cry. If I had cancer, you would not leave me to suffer. I was fucked by psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies. Now it is end-times. I am in a nursing home, bed-ridden and suffering. I live in community and the staff doesn’t want to take care of me because I am such a bitch.

I am not a bitch. I am suffering—and causing those around me to suffer—because of the damage done by psychiatrists prescribing pharmaceuticals when I had SEID/myalgic encephalomyelitis. Now you have to put a stop to it. If that means keeping me sedated 24/7 then so be it and amen.

If the drugs that are needed to block my pain turn out to be lethal, then so be that, too. Just remember: if you live by the pill bottle then you die by the pill bottle. Antidepressants do not cure depression.

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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