There’s a “town hall meeting” scheduled here on the topic of mental illness. I won’t be able to attend, because my entire body–especially my head–is so messed up every day from the side effects of the psychiatric medications I have to take.
At this moment, I’m under the vicious influence of an anti-depressant called Brintellix. It was prescribed for me to try, to replace the Anafranil that gives me hell every day. But this Brintellix just gives me more hell. I don’t take any of this medication for depression, I take it for OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)–which is my primary psychiatric illness, by far. Like most forms of mental illness, OCD is not an illness of the mind, as much as an illness of the emotions.
In other words, OCD affects one’s thinking just enough to put his or her emotions in turmoil, though not enough to render him or her out of touch with reality (irrational, psychotic). I am quite in touch with reality, arguably more in touch with reality than most other people in the world. But I’m obsessed with the fact that I have neither the power nor the influence to change the current reality in the world around me. And I’m obsessed with the fact that, no matter what I do, I cannot seem to change the current reality in my personal life.
Obsession is a misused term in our society. There is no such thing as obsessive love, for example. There is not even such a person as an obsessed fan. Because an obsession is an unwanted thought that occurs again and again, in one’s mind. It’s not a pleasant thought–it’s not a thought of love or happiness or peace or fulfillment. It’s a thought of fear or pain or anger or guilt that a person cannot stop.
And everyone experiences obsessions at times–people with OCD just experience them all the time.
How many times have you remembered an enjoyable melody–a memory of music that you enjoy, that plays again and again in your mind? It goes on and on, and you don’t mind–because you like it. This is not an obsession.
Now, how many times have you remembered a melody that’s not enjoyable at all–a memory of music that you don’t enjoy, that plays again and again in your mind? It goes on and on, and you do mind–because you hate it. This is an obsession.
SRIs (serotonin-reuptake inhibitors), like Anafranil, are anti-depressants that are prescribed for OCD. Anafranil (clomipramine) is the most effective SRI (arguably the most effective medication) in the treatment of OCD. But the side effects of this medication are severe. Most troublesome are the anticholinergic side effects. Severe dryness, not just in your mouth, but in your entire body. This is why it causes erectile dysfunction, heat sensitivity, a feeling of tightness in your head, chest-wall pain, bleeding in your nose, urinary retention–and kidney damage. I have kidney disease now because of this goddamned drug.
This is why I finally tried this Brintellix today, instead. But the anticholinergic effects of this drug are much worse. So it’s another useless drug, another drug I’ll probably be trashing because the side effects are so unbearable. How many different psychiatric drugs have I tried since November, 1985 (always with a prescription, and always following the doctor’s directions to the letter)? I have no idea.
It’s never a question of whether a particular psychiatric medication is effective–it’s a question of whether my body can handle the side effects. And there are always side effects–and the side effects of psychiatric medications are as severe as those of medications for cancer. Psychiatric medications are simply not worth what little benefit they provide, because their side effects are so debilitating.
I have been taking the same psychiatric medications for several years now–and my body simply cannot handle the side effects anymore! If my mind is functioning well, but my body is not–what’s the point?
There is absolutely no difference between psychiatric medications and street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine–they are every bit as dangerous.
And we, the mentally-ill, are guinea pigs–every day–for these goddamned drugs that don’t even cure mental illness, but do slowly destroy our bodies.
There are “advocates” for the mentally-ill who are always trying to get rid of the “stigma” of mental illness for us. Here’s what I have to say to these “advocates”:
We don’t give a damn about the “stigma” of mental illness. What we need is deliverance from deadly psychiatric drugs that destroy our bodies, and debilitate our minds! If you really cared about us, you’d be seeking a cure for all types of mental illness, just as tirelessly as you seek a cure for all types of cancer!