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My Personal Experience with the Mental Health System by John Backster

Article Author Biography
My Personal Experience with the Mental Health System by
Article Posted: 05/25/2013
Article Views: 326
Articles Written: 5
Word Count: 1581
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My Personal Experience with the Mental Health System

What follows is my journey into madness with the help of so-called mental health professionals. Keep in mind these events took place in Massachusetts. You will find this story somewhat amusing, and yet undeniably disturbing.

In the early to mid-1990s, I mentioned to my PCP that I was experiencing trouble with my memory. He in turn, said “Has anyone ever talked to you about Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I was quickly referred to a psychiatrist. I told the doctor what my PCP said. This psychiatrist immediately offered me a prescription for Ritalin. There was no discussion regarding symptoms or tests of any kind. It was simply this way: If the Ritalin helps you then we’ll know you have ADD. I returned for my next appointment telling him that the Ritalin was not working. The doctor put me on another stimulant called Dexedrine. That did not work, so he prescribed some other stimulant that I cannot remember.

At this point, I told the doctor that I was getting anxiety, so he prescribed Zyprexa. This was when it was first put on the market. I was also given a referral to a psychologist. My conversations with this psychologist focused on what I had done the previous week and how my medications were working. This went on for several years. Nothing was accomplished therapeutically. I saw some of her notes in my medical records. My mother did psychic readings for entertainment. Based on this information, my psychologist stated that my mother ran a cult. She also stated that I was sexually abused. This never happened. There was an entry in my record that said my father was not in my life because he had moved out-of-state. My father moved when I was in my mid-twenties, and he called me regularly. This is all terribly absurd.

Getting back to my medications, I told my new psychiatrist that I was feeling depressed. He put me on Paxil, with no questions asked. I went back to him three times. Each time he would say “It always works,” and he would increase the dosage at each visit. Later I was put on all of the SSRIs, like Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa, as well as Wellbutrin. My PCP prescribed an anti-depressant called Pamelor. It was not the best choice of medication for me in terms of side effects.

This psychiatric treatment escalated as time went on. It went from bad to worse. At some point, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and panic attacks. Some of the doctor’s would add psychosis to my diagnosis. I asked one doctor if she would put me on Amantadine (I believe it is an anti-viral medication) because I read on the Internet that the Borna Virus caused Bipolar Disorder. I was desperate to escape this disease. She consented (for no reason), and a week later I was in the hospital for several days with severe hallucinations. This was at least ten years ago.

One psychiatrist put me on Klonopin for my anxiety. I was extremely sedated on it. I told him it wasn’t working. I believe my doctor said - I can give you three milligrams three times a day (no quote for this one). He said, “That’s the best I can do.” Not surprisingly, I got into a car accident. I never attributed the Klonopin to my sedation. I thought I was always tired due to lack of sleep from stress.

I went through every conceivable psychiatric medication on the market, including Depakote, Trileptal, and Seroquel (which gave me severe hallucinations). They also put me on all the second generation antipsychotics. There was one psychologist who asked me to undergo neuropsychological testing. His conclusion was that I had Asperger's Syndrome. That diagnosis was later refuted by another Psychiatrist.

I spent ten years outpatient at a well-known mental health hospital beginning in approximately, 2000. The medication cocktails continued with the four resident doctors assigned to me. I even took medications for my supposed memory deficits. I was prescribed Namenda (as part of a study), Mirapex, and Excelon (at any earlier time). For the most part, I was kept on a regime of Lamcital 300mg, Lithium ER 1350 mg, and Risperdal at various milligrams. At about five years into my treatment, I began to complain to my doctor about tremors and restlessness. The doctor I was seeing called it Akathesia. She prescribed Inderal 80mg, rather than take me off the Risperdal.

I was on Ativian with one of my doctors. Once again, I told the doctor that I was feeling tired while driving. He prescribed Adderall to keep me awake during the day at my suggestion. I was eventually arrested for operating under the influence of drugs. This was later reduced to reckless driving. The only thing that my doctor had to say is, “I could have gotten sued.”

It has gotten to the point that I can no longer use a pen to even sign my name. A neurologist diagnosed me with Tardive Dystonia. She insisted that I go on a low dose of a tranquilizer/anti-convulsant medication, as my only option. It does not affect my driving or give me sedation, but neither it does it help my condition.

My current psychiatrist stated in my medical records that the Risperdal contributed to my Dystonia. . . in those very words. I was taken off my Risperdal almost five months ago. I feel the same as when I went on it, which probably means that I didn’t need it. She also lowered my Lithium. The medical director asked me if I knew that I was on three mood stabilizers. She asked me if I knew why I was on Risperdal. I replied that did not know. I remember two of my resident physicians at the hospital I was being treated ask me that same question. It is in my medical records.

The problem I can see in filing a complaint against the psychiatrists with the Board of Medicine, is that the doctors can simply say, based on my behavior at the time, they had justification in the continued use of the drugs they were prescribing me. I am interested in the paranormal as literally millions of people are in this country. That must have been a problem for them. It’s interesting that I have been in contact with dozens of people who share my beliefs. These people I am speaking of are productive members of society, and they are considered perfectly sane. It’s true I had debt and a spending problem. I wonder how many people are in debt, and have not been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? The country is 17 trillion dollars in debt for that matter. I went to Debtors Anonymous years ago, and I have not taken out a loan or credit card in three years.

I attend an unorthodox church, which is a popular religion in many parts of the United States. Their main focus is the use of mediumship to confirm the continuity of life after death. This organization has hundreds of members who receive messages from the deceased and relay them to their loved ones. I’m wondering why all of these people have not been diagnosed with mental illness. Just because, one does not accept such beliefs, does not give justification for creating a psychiatric issue. Is talk of the supernatural enough of a reason to label me as having a psychotic disorder? Am I any different those famous trance mediums who sold millions of books? I mean besides the fact that I haven’t sold millions of books.

This is what happens in the mental health system. You are already convinced of your insanity by the first mental health professional. In your visit with a new psychiatrist, you tell him or her, what you believe is wrong with you. The doctor agrees with you, and has you answer a number of questions on paper having to do with your behavior, thinking, and symptoms. Because you as the patient already know your diagnosis, you provide answers that support your belief in this diagnosis. At the end of the session, the psychiatrist gives you medications to treat the supposed ailment. In subsequent visits, you provide the psychiatrist with information, about what you believe to be bizarre thinking, and, therefore, related to your illness. The psychiatrist then documents this self-reported information in your record as evidence of your mental illness. If you move on to another psychiatrist, he or she merely accepts the diagnosis of the previous treating physician and continues on with that medication routine.

Sometimes I feel like am a perfectly normal person with a unique personality just like everyone else. The experiments I endured at the hands of the mental health professionals have set me back. I feel as if I have lost fifteen years of my life. I feel especially cheated by the psychiatrists who treated me at the mental health hospital I was a patient at for the past ten years or so. These so-called medical professionals had me believe all of this nonsense for years. I do take responsibility for allowing them to do this to me.

I admit that psychiatry is probably one of the most unrewarding medical specialties since their patients generally dislike them. Still, I’m sure there are decent, intelligent, competent, and well-intentioned medical doctors working in the mental health field. It’s just that I have only encountered the ones who should not be practicing.

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