Wednesday, October 31, 2012

never met someone like that

I’ve never actually met someone in recovery, he said…

I’m not sure how one raw statement could capture so much and at the same time embody such haunting emptiness.

Part of me heard. Part of me couldn’t believe. Part of me wanted to weep. Was this hyperbole for emphasis? Hyperbole for blogger’s sake? Some kind of strange juxtaposition to keep me grounded in patient’s reality? I forget too easily. I forget that no one is supposed to get better.  I forget that no one is supposed to be in recovery. I forget that no one is supposed to be cured.

No one in recovery. Oh, yeah. Right.

And yet, it captured the essential brokenness of the system.

No one in recovery.

It took me to the gut wrenching pain of watching an extraordinary boy be told that this diagnosis meant a lifetime of blunted creativity, a lifetime of a nuanced cocktails of Lithium, Seroquel, or some new sexy drug with its very own marketing minions. Walking past the day room parked full of rockers seemingly keeping rhythm with unseen inner worlds. Visiting meant, tolerating scowls from hardened psych nurses thinking that family members might be part of the dysfunction. Visiting meant, suppressed tears held back by hopelessness, seemingly reincarnated as my brother’s mouth ran with drool after the heavy sedations.

No one in recovery.

It captured the plight of so many forced to put up with so much, already.  The diagnosis morphing into strange stares upon returning to college.  The shame and stigma morphing into the court ordered treatments and outrageous removals of human rights hiding behind the hollow legs of patriarchal medicine. The disease that affects your brain must be causing you to not want to take your meds. It can’t be that you want something different because you are an autonomous human being.

No one in recovery.

On so many levels it captured the essence of the case of the mental illness of the system. The failed American mental illness system that parades about destroying hope. Swallow the pill. Do not ever quit your meds. Do not question. You have a serious mental illness.

Certainly, no one cured. No one in recovery. No, I’ve never met someone like that.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

cutting a line

My brother is a Surveyor. As in cutting lines through the backwoods of VA. No hacking through jungles. No, rather he has a desk job, now. And not Upton Sinclair, though he reads Upton, I'm sure. (most surveyors, don't, FYI, but he is smart). But sometimes he cuts the line. I think that's what they call it, when you go out and hack through the Kudzu, et al. You cut the line.

Sometimes I think I'm supposed to cut the line.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Exit Strategy

Dear Pristiq,

I know I shouldn’t blame you that your parents must have named you due to extraordinary proximity or ana-mana-pia to the word prestige.

I get it.

Pharmaceutical company birthed you in some effort to compete with the Wyeth family's Effexor XR. I suppose somebody got paid boo-koo bucks to spin your Robin hood like effort as reversing the stigma of depression. As in not merely helping but even going so far as to impart prestige in a world of mental health stigma. As in one might have prestige being on this drug. As in, look what we’re doing to help the depressed and anxious of the world—altruistic company that we obviously are.

Doing your part, little cash baby—only one hundred fifty dollars a month coming out of that small disability paycheck. 

I shouldn't blame you, that there is no exit strategy. That you only come in unbreakable, extended release tablets with your 11 hour half-life. Ready to ensure yo-yo symptoms in those who try to crawl out of your web with every other day dosing strategies.

There is no exit strategy.

But that’s not your fault. You’re just an enteric-coated baby released from the Pfizer mother-ship. I shouldn’t be angry that there is no smaller pill—no dosage available less than the 50 milligram suicidality inducing therapeutic dosage. I shouldn’t blame you that your mother tells us that we must taper the dosage to avoid withdrawal—I’m sorry, discontinuation syndrome side effects, when there is nothing smaller to taper to. No smaller pill has even been a twinkle in the mother-ship's eye. And then when the withdrawal effects manifest, pompous arguments can be made about depression relapse. When suicidal thoughts appear, fear motivation can be harnessed for further entrapment campaigns.

No. I shouldn’t blame you. You’re just the greed-powered-wind-up-doll-drug mechanically going through the motions, screwing patients on cue.    

most insincerely,

a physician