Sunday, April 07, 2019

Eye-opener about psychiatric drugs for "anxiety" - New Yorker article, "Bitter Pill"

Sad to read this article about the misery experienced by people addicted to psychiatric drugs, who were given diagnoses by psychiatrists and then prescribed drug after drug after drug to cure what was a misdiagnosis in the first place. In reading the article, it seemed to me that Laura's experience was like that of many of us in our teen years, especially if we were sensitive types -- not knowing who we were, trying to find an identity that we thought would be "acceptable" in the world at large, etc., etc.  She had the misfortune of being from a well-off family, who could afford to send her to a psychiatrist...and her story went on from there.  Told she was bipolar, put on drugs that made her sleepy, then drugs to keep her awake, then drugs to enhance or counter the effects of the other drugs...and on and on and on....  After many years of suffering, and having finally weaned herself off of all the drugs through a torturous period, she is now an advocate counselor for others who, like her, were steered in the wrong direction.  If only they had met a wise sage-like person in the first place, who could have confirmed for them that most people have a confused sense of self, especially in teen years, and can be led to understand themselves (without drugs) through self-reflection (not self-obsession), mindfulness meditation, spiritual studies (not critical, guilt-inducing religion types), gentle exercise, visualization, and what is sometimes referred to as "soul-searching," etc.  

I particularly think psychiatrists should pay attention to what the man who first introduced calming drugs into the medical scene, warned doctors:  that they should remember the patient is not a fixed object to be given a fixed drug for a "cure," but a living, moving, changing being to be talked with and listened to, as changes occur within them.  I believe most people on tranquilizers these days really just need someone wise to talk to -- who can help them understand who they really are behind all the personality facades we are led to try on by ads that tell us we aren't good enough just as we are.  Most just need to talk about their feelings and given guidance that makes sense, which is what Laura is now providing to people who consult with her.  Laura was a victim of the pharmaceutical world that rules in the medical field these days.  Thankfully, patients and practical, sensible doctors are waking up to different alternative ways of treatment in all areas of health care.  It is especially important in mental health issues for patients to know they are not going crazy or are out of the mainstream if they begin to question their sense of self.  Asking oneself "Who am I?" is a sensible query, one which all of us probably will, at one time or another in life, want to explore.  It is a healthy and perfectly natural thing to do.  In the insanity of the world today, it is actually the sane thing to do. And the sooner, the better, if one wants to live a happy satisfied life.

These are just a few of my "take-homes" from reading this article.  It's a challenge living in the world as it is today, but I believe most people are capable of finding their true self if given wise guidance.  I'm glad more of that kind of guidance is available in good doctors who don't simply depend on drugs to cure their patients, but who realize a listening ear is paramount in diagnosing and prescribing.  The best help might often be given in the form of good common sense. I'm especially grateful for patients like Laura who use their own experience as "wounded healers" to bring their special kind of wise guidance into the picture for others suffering as they once did. In many ways, yes, we are our "brother's keeper."  Empathy and compassion can go a long way in the healing of wounds, whether they are physical, mental or emotional.

I'm impassioned about this subject, as I have a friend who has been on drugs of this type for most of her adult life. We are now both in our 80s and, in talking with her, I can see the toll the pharmaceutical lifestyle has taken on her, and she also realizes it has been to her detriment for the most part.