Saturday, July 20, 2013
Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine - Cops and Cuffs
Life inside a psychiatric institute isn't as bad as during the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest days of course (still Jack Nicholson's best film, IMO). I have a comfortable bed (well, sort of; it's just a step up on the softness scale from concrete), a private room with a desk at which I can do my studying and writing. I have a lovely view and get the morning sun. I get three meals a day plus an evening snack. All in all, it's a huge step up from the psychiatric institution days like that depicted in that movie and the horror shows of earlier institutions as depicted below:
So I certainly have nothing to complain about as far as comfort and more compassionate treatment goes.
Regular readers will know I am opposed to the chemical treatment of mental heath disorders and feel that other approaches are not explored or promoted well enough. I feel this way from my own experience and from the deep research I've done on psychiatric medications and the negative effects they have on tens of thousands of people in the Western world. For thousands of those people, and almost me on many occasions, that "negative effect" means fatal. I need far more space and time than I have available today to fully flesh out my anti-psychiatric drug stance but for anyone interested, Pulitzer Prize nominated science writer (be careful to note that does not mean sci-fi writer), Robert Whitaker deeply researches mental health and psychiatric drugs. His columns and books make an excellent starting point to begin to understand the potentially harmful effects of psychiatric drugs.
So it was with this stance that I entered the psychiatric system once again. This is my fourth go-around in psychiatric hospitals and by far the least dignified way of "entry". The previous three times I went there on my own volition. Not so this time.
I had a very bad breakdown a week ago Wednesday (the 10th of July). It was ... hard to describe ... just a very bad and dangerous breakdown (see previous posts on suicide) but this is the good thing of having had a suicide safety plan for these last several years AND having had it rehearsed and memorized. While one part of my mind was in full blown catastrophic meltdown mode, another part reacted to the training. That part of me knew I was in very grave danger and blew past the first five steps of the safety plan and straight to where it says dial 911. Based on my state, the operator did not send an ambulance, however, she sent cops. Lots of 'em. I was talked out of my suite to the street. There I was surrounded by a half dozen members of the RCMP and a single SWAT unit.
This is normal, however, for super distraught cases like mine. The reason, or part of it, is the growing phenomenon of suicide by cop. So unlike times past, this time I was handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car. I will say though that they treated me exceedingly well and respectfully. The show of force and handcuff protocal was put in place for good reason and once they saw I was not violent, they treated me well. The officer who drove me in - "Kat" was her nickname - handled me very well and stayed with me all through triad and admission. I plan to go to the station and thank her personally and the other male officer who who gave me a very heart warming "you did the right thing today buddy. All the best to you" and a little "fist bump" thing through the squad car bars. Through the whole process from my initial call to 911 and the two female officers that talked me through it, I felt they were truly being compassion of my situation.
So that is what led to giving psychiatry another kick at the can in helping me.
So far their "diagnostic" process (one of these days I'll write a post on this sham of a "process") and "drug therapy" hasn't been very effective for me. The reason, in a nut shell, is that my most pressing problems are largely environmental in nature; that is, it's "life issues" that have caused my latest breakdown or in my case it's not so much a manic or manic depression phase though I do seem to have certain "wired in" issues that I discussed earlier in a three part series starting here.
But I argue that my current state is largely due to life stressors such as long term chronic unemployment, debt issues, loss of esteem that comes from those issues, loneliness and isolation issues, plus possible homelessness and separation from my family. Pills aren't going to fix those things. A pill is not going to get me a job, it's not going to find me a romantic partner, it's not going fix any of my life problems. In other words, my problems are more psychological in nature rather than in "brain chemistry" stuff. If we were to properly arrange the horse before the cart, my psychological issues would be the horse and counselling help would be the cart. Psychiatry would be an onlooker at best. As far as suicide and my situation goes, I'm smack dab in the middle of the largest suicide demographic there is today. I hit all of those markers.
My personal experience, which I dab at here and there throughout this blog, is that anti-psychotics and lithium will have a very negative impact on my cognitive abilities and impact my reading ability and my abilities to form thoughts and create ideas. This is how the drugs "prevent" mania (which is not the boogeyman they make it out to be, or not in me anyway), they "knock down" your thinking process and dull your senses. Well, ALL I have left after this five and half year slide toward's financial ruin and homelessness is my mind. That's it. Take that away and then I truly have nothing left. That will make me MORE suicidal, not less.
So it's with all of this in mind that I am strongly anti-medication at the best of times but when my suicidal thoughts are being driven by environmental issues and not "psychiatric issues", I am doubly anti-medications.
But let me tell you, a psychiatric hospital is the last place you want to take a stubborn anti-psychiatric medications stand. They hold all the cards, you hold none.
They will force/impel you to take their drugs two ways.
When you enter the psyche ward you have zero privileges. You are stripped of all your clothing and that gets locked up so you can't access it. You'll have no off-ward privileges at all. So one way is to promise more privileges. If you're a good boy or girl, you'll get raised to "level 2". Wheee <sarcastic tone of voice>. Continue to be a good boy or girl and you'll get up to the highly coveted "level 3"! You get your own clothes back and more off ward privileges, like the ability to go over to Starbucks and get a real cup of coffee or to get some food with actual substance and flavour. Those are the carrots. The sticks are getting tossed in the "isolation room" or losing privileges.
The isolation room is exactly what it sounds like - solitary confinement and it IS used as punishment. I've had three stints in there. Haha, but I fooled them. I used the isolation room to my advantage. It is, you see, a GREAT place to meditate. It's just four bare walls, a bare floor and a mattress and pillow and pitch black when the lights are out. So I just used my time in there to meditate, come up with ideas and lots of fun stuff. My first night in, they broke before I did. So if you refuse your meds (which I did on two occasions), you WILL be forcibly - with big, burly security guards - tossed in solitary confinement and possibly forcibly injected with the drugs. Even if you can demonstrate that they cause more harm than good.
Another time I got tossed in there was for blowing up at my "team" (three of which look like they're barely old enough to date my daughter). This team - the kids along with their "leader" - was extremely frustrating to deal with. I felt - with very good reason - that a) my situation was not a "psychiatric" one but a psychological one based on difficult life issues and b) that the drugs had a history of doing me more harm than good. And no matter how many times I explained this or how many ways, they just kept coming back to "you need drugs to make you better". There is no scientific proof of this and I could demonstrate my mental decline on them and how that worked down to the synaptic level of brain operations but they just kept coming back to the same line as if they were dolls that spoke when you pulled the cord in their back. Honestly, they're just like that. Seemingly no thoughts at all, just rote citations of the standard psychiatric dogma. So I kind of blew my top once. And was sent to "the penalty box" (the isolation room).
It was my ... third time, I believe, that I meditated and ruminated and mulled and thought over that this was a battle I had no chance of winning. I thought they could see reason but they could not. So I concluded that I'd just "play ball" with them. I'm not happy with either the meds or the doses but I can tough them out for a while then get them adjusted elsewhere. Which reminds me, there's a third carrot/stick they use. I desperately need an income of some sort and the best one for me would be the provincial government's Persons With Disabilities program. But here's the rub; you can't qualify without a mental health diagnosis and by taking a prescribed medication. So in order to get money to live on, I have to take their drugs.
Oh, one final note. This now makes seventeen different psychiatrists I've seen over the last decade or so.
Tres curieux, n'est pas?!