Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Let's talk about drugs


Me and my drugs
Originally uploaded by knautia.
AUTISTIC, ATTENTION DEFICIT, OR JUST PLAIN WEIRD?

There's no getting around it--I was a weird kid--but I did have my good points. Thanks to my dad, I started to read before they taught me in school, which at least gave me the moniker of "best reader in the class"--and was probably one of the reasons I eventually became a writer.

But aside from that, my name was mud in grade school. I was always "daydreaming." Although I was in the "smart" class, and always did well academically, I remember blanking out whenever the teacher would give directions for a project or exercise. Then I would try to ask a classmate what it was all about, and they would sometimes help me, but I do remember a lot of "ooh, you're gonna get in big trouble" remarks. Thanks, kid.

When I was stressed--in situations like that--I remember that I used to get this burning sensation that seemed to extend from my face into my brain. Panic, anxiety, whatever it was, it sucked.

Now that they have a label for everything--the DSM has fancy sounding names for many "disorders" that just used to be called "being an asshole"--I've tried to imagine in retrospect what my problem was.

When looking on Wikipedia for info on Syd Barret for an older post, I followed a link to Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism, or autism spectrum disorder, to be exact. Of course, since it had a cachet of glamor surrounding it, I decided that this was what I had back then. See their cool link to a list of prominent people--including Steven Spielberg, Andy Warhol, Dan Ackroyd, Michelangelo, and Isaac Newton-- who were either diagnosed with, or have symptoms consistent with, autistic spectrum disorder. This made me feel cool and hip. (And Henry, here's a special link for you--featuring a debate over whether Albert Einstein and Bill Gates were/are autistic. Enjoy!)

Although they are often intelligent and proficient in many ways, Asperger's sufferers often have significant problems functioning socially, and are often the target of bullies. The theory is that there is some kind of deficit involving processing social information correctly and deciphering such things as tone of voice and body language. A super-simple question can confuse and frustrate an Asperger's sufferer. And sure enough, I recall instances where this seemed to happen to me. Here are two that stand out:

On the first day of school--I guess kindergarten or first grade--the teacher took attendance. She slightly mispronounced my first name, which set off a paralyzing dilemma in my mind. One part of me said--she must be referring to me. Another part of my brain said--maybe there's another person with the same name but a different pronunciation. She had to call my name three times before I finally said "here."

Another time a neighborhood mom offered me cookies or something. For some reason, I couldn't answer "yes" or "no thank you." . After an long, awkward pause, she finally turned away with a disgusted/exasperated look on her face. What was going through my mind--I don't know. The question somehow just seemed too complex for me.

Here's a quote from Wikipedia, giving an example I can relate to:

"When a teacher asks a child with Asperger's, "Did the dog eat your homework?", the child with Asperger's will remain silent if they don't understand the expression, trying to figure out if they need to explain to the teacher that they don't have a dog and also that dogs don't generally like paper. The child doesn't understand what the teacher is asking, cannot deduce the teacher's meaning, or the fact that there is a non-literal meaning, from the tone of voice, posture or facial expression, and is faced with a question which makes as much sense to him as "Did the glacier in the library bounce today?". The teacher may walk away from the experience frustrated and thinking the child is arrogant, spiteful, and insubordinate. The child sits there mutely, feeling frustrated and wronged."

I can dig it.

Although I had a friend or two outside of school, and I loved to visit my cousins, I was an only child, and since my mom also suffered from depression, and my dad sometimes worked weird shifts, I wound up spending a lot of time alone--to read, listen to music, ride my bike, examine cool bugs, watch horror movies on Saturday night, and mull life over. I was essentially a loner until I reached junior high. Then, somehow, I turned "normal." But I do think that kids who spend a lot of time with their own thoughts and left to their own devices may have an advantage later in life. They may not be "normal," in the sense of being very straight and super popular and always knowing how to make small talk and feeling comfy talking to new people. But the misfits who don't learn how to conform and follow the flock are, I think, sometimes quite interesting individualists later in life. At least, I like to think so, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, the point of all this talk about ME is that firstly, if I were in grade school today with the same "symptoms," I am fairly certain they'd be pumping me full of Ritalin right now. And secondly, without the help of meds, I somehow (apparently) managed to get over it. Attention deficit disorder, indeed.

THE RITALIN RIDDLE
I have an excellent shrink. He is a dying breed--although he prescribes my meds, he takes the time to really talk with me in the half-hour I see him. He asks me how I'm feeling, we review the meds I'm on and consider whether they need to be adjusted, and then I"m free to let him know what's going on with me in more detail. He can rattle off drug effects and side effects and always knows the latest scoop, pharmaceutically speaking.

But during my last appointment, when I mentioned I'd been feeling particularly sluggish, he asked me what I thought about taking a small dose of Ritalin or dexedrine.

Frankly, I was kind of surprised. I told him that since ups had been my drug of choice as a reckless youth, I didn't think it was a good idea. He admitted that although it helped some of his patients, others started to take more than was prescribed and had to be tapered off. I just didn't want to go there.

I'm not a doctor, of course, but I always thought that Ritalin was basically used for Attention Deficit Disorder, primarily in kids. It is basically a stimulant--similar to amphetamine, but perhaps milder. My feeling--partly based on first-hand experience-- was that stimulants might make you feel good initially, but when you came down, you'd likely crash and feel shittier than before--or simply start to take more and more to get that good old feeling again. Ritalin, amphetamines, and other stimulants are Schedule II drugs, which are considered to have therapeutic applications but can nevertheless be abused. In fact, some schoolkids sell each other some of their stash, and some crush up the tabs and snort them for greater recreational effect. According to my Bible in all things au courant--New York Magazine--the latest trend among the hip rich New York kids is to sell and abuse assorted prescription meds, which sometimes involves raiding mom and dad's medicine cabinets-- and swapping different pharmaceuticals for a nice clean American buzz.

I did a search on Ritalin side effects, and found a website by Peter R. Breggin, a psychiatrist trying to put the word out that many psych meds are potentially quite dangerous and overprescribed. He felt that the combination of overcrowded classrooms and perhaps inattentive parents who didn't want to put up with a little natural rambunctiousness were turning kids into drugged, but well behaved, robots. And I quote:

"Dr. Breggin has been informing the professions, media and the public about the potential dangers of drugs, electroshock, psychosurgery, involuntary treatment, and the biological theories of psychiatry for over three decades... For thirty years Dr. Breggin has served as a medical expert in many civil and criminal suits including individual malpractice cases and product liability suits against the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs. His work provided the scientific basis for the original combined Prozac suits, for the more recent Ritalin class action suits, and for label changes in many psychiatric drugs."

His full credentials, which are very impressive, are included on the website. For a nice good scare, take a look at some of the many articles included here. (There is also a very illuminating and alarming, albeit old, article from Policy Review entitled Why Ritalin Rules.

The thing is, that many of the players in the drug/antidrug game have motives that are far from pure. Everyone is making a killing--the drug companies, the insurance companies, the shrinks, the school counselors. And the pushers of natural alternative supplements play on the fears of the public about the side effects of pharmaceuticals. But of course, the fact that a substance is "natural" is no guarantee it is safe. (Can you say Ephedra?) The Scientologists have an excellent motive for opposing drugs--they have the non-medical answer for anyone who joins their cult. And of course, there are the lawyers--always the lawyers--ready to step in as soon as a drug is pulled from the market, or sometimes before. And although Dr. Breggin's efforts certainly seem laudable, I'm sure he gets paid a pretty penny to testify in all those class-action suits.

On the other hand, I've read of a drug that has been used in Europe for years and has just been approved, finally, by the FDA. It is used in the treatment of alcoholism. Mind you, it's not a magic pill--I think it works best on those who have been sober for a year and wish to remain so--but have you ever heard of it? Didn't think so. Where are the ads for this drug on tv? Haven't seen a one. Wonder why? Hmmm--could it have anything to do with the fact that the AA/rehab industry is so profitable and ubiquitous? (Not to mention that the US drug manufacturers don't hold the patent on the med, thus making it much less profitable?) Imagine telling an AA'er that there might be a pill that could help them stay sober. Blasphemy!

JUST SAY NO?
What I find particularly ironic are those "parents--the anti-drug" ads. The best one shows a dad pacing the floor, wracked with guilt and shame. The voiceover is something to the effect of: just because you toked your brains out when you were younger is no reason not to prevent your kids from having some fun. That's one of the many reasons I never had children--how do you tell your kids not to have sex or party when you'd been there yourself?

But meanwhile, while medical marijuana is still not accepted in most states, parents, shrinks, and schools are pumping millions of kids full of Ritalin to make them more manageable. The pharmaceutical companies have taken their case directly to the consumer (ask your doctor about...)--and there is, indeed, a pill for everything. Of course, the commercials will tell you upfront about common and rare side effects--some of which may include death--but that's all cool.

THE ANSWER IS THAT THERE IS NO ANSWER
I'm no Tom Cruise. I do think that drugs save countless lives and help restore many people to sanity. My boyfriend BG might not be alive if it weren't for the HIV meds he takes twice a day. But drugs are crude, and hormones and brain chemicals are infinitely complex and interconnected. Thus, bizarro side effects are possible with almost any drug. I even read of a case where someone died by taking one too many 12-hour cold tabs. As for me, after taking Lithium for many years, I now have to take Synthroid--a synthetic thyroid med--for the rest of my life.

As a crazy person, I've heard people say "take your meds." (I do, I do). I've heard other people say you don't need those silly meds (I do, I do). I'm just very, very thankful they didn't have all the kiddie pills around when I was a youngster. I've already been through electroshock, and I'm taking enough pills for several lifetimes right now.

TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES--THEN TALK TO ME!
What do YOU think? Drugged up minds want to know!

35 Comments:

At 6:09 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

That old synchronicity has me in its spell (insert Twilight Zone theme music here). Shortly after I completed this post, I was channel surfing, when some force I can't explain led me to land on CNN. Just so happens they were reporting on a jury which had just awarded a plaintiff a very large chunk of money in a wrongful-death suit against the makers of Vioxx. For more info, see the CNN website.

Just for a teaser: here's what the headline from the CNN website said:

Jury: Merck negligent
Merck blamed for death in Vioxx suit; jury awards $253 million in damages. Drug giant to appeal.

These kinds of suits, especially if not settled, can literally run a phramaceutical company into the ground. Interesting stuff.

 
At 6:28 AM, Blogger knautia said...

It's always so good to find other people who have similar live-with-drugs. I have a number of friends who over the years have told me I should stop taking my pills and try alternative therapies, like homeopathy - the idea being I'd strip my system of fake drugs, purify myself, and these things would kick in and 'save' me. Because, y'know, they believe in them, and if I had a bit of faith too, I'd be cured. Except me without drugs is me without being able to function. 'Cretins' were people with underactive thyroids, before drug treatment turned up -I'd be a shambling, depressed, dellusional wreck, no thoughts, no energy. And I've been down that road and am not doing it again - those people who believe it's a case of mind over matter can swap with me, and have my life-with-drugs, being reliant on little white pills forever....

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hi Knautia:

So glad you stopped by. And firstly, I am so happy I found your bitchin' photo on Flickr. Couldn't have been a better fit!

Yes, I do feel that my psych meds are necessary, but I worry about side effects in general. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't dilemma. But people who think it's mind over matter are ignorant and naieve. As you so aptly put it, let them walk a mile in our shoes! But who knows, it is possible there may be some natural remedies that may help, though I've heard that St. John's Wort, which used to be recommended for depression, may be out of favor (I'd have to double check on that).

Another example I didn't include seems apt. My ex-boyfriend has just been given a script for Lipitor, which I also take. He went online and found all these scary websites where people claimed it made them lose their memory and wander around not knowing where they were. I was skeptical, because I think a lot of these websites are set up or frequented by herbal manufacturers who want to take advantage of the meds scares.

However, I looked up the official Lamictal site, and visited one message board. Right there it says if you have muscle pains, contact your doctor right away. I put two and two together and realized I've been having muscle pains and stiffness in the morning for several months.

On Monday, I plan to call my doc and tell him I'd like to quit the Lamictal for awhile, try eating low fat, and see what happens. I don't want to have a heart attack, but I don't want to experience some of the awful and sometimes fatal side effects that even the drug company acknowleges in its literature. What a choice!

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Knautia:

Oops... Didn't mean to imply you're on psych meds. I took a quick peek at your blog (I've bookmarked it and will return later) and from what I read, it looks like your med problem has to do with your thyroid--which of course you also mentioned in your comment. I too take thyroid meds, and I'm sure if I didn't I'd have some scary trouble indeed.

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Let me get the easy part out of the way first.
Drugs help people millions of people. Yay for drugs. OK thats enough for that.

Over prescribing and blantantly prescribing drugs as a POSIBLE SOLUTION is abuse.

A little story form my past. The teacher called us in one day to school to tell us my youngest was acting up abit in school and we should get her som Ritalin.......
Who the fuck is she to prescribe drugs to my kid?
If she can't handle kids in school then she is in the wrong fucken business.
My kids doctor , who is known through out the world and one of the top pediatricians in North America said there was nothing wrong with her.
Why should I listen to the teacher because she prefers stoned kids.
Here is the clincher, they wouldn't let her go to school unless she was on ritalin. Not because the doctor says so but because the teacher did. My ex being the stupid bitch that she is (hence her being the EX) gave it to her and had to supply the scghool with extra incase it wa needed. Fuck me.
I went to school and the only drugs there was apples and oranges ay her age.
I think that the people who need the drugs are the teachers.
It seems that the drug companies have found that by giving free samples to doctors offices with a booklet of what the pills may be good for has turned doctors into drug pushers.
These may help. WTF What is may help mean. I want something that WILL help.
Are we the test market for the big companies. What happened to the rats and the mice are they dead or addicted.
Remwember fen fen or something like that. Who fucked that up and did they know. Did the bean counters do the math and figure that the profits would cover the lawsuits would more money in their pockets.
Sometimes we know how we feel and what we need. If a problem persists then we should look into it. I used to have ulcers was in constant pain. Doctors used to give me all sorts of drugs and nothing helped. When my Ex moved out the ulcers were gone. Go figure.
Have a nice day :D

 
At 8:23 PM, Blogger Henry said...

Whew, that's mucho material for consumption in a single sitting!

I hope you were kidding about Einstein and Gates being autistic. While old Albert certainly looks out there, his accomplishments certainly don't lend themselves to a diagnosis of autism. While there are several problems with trying to diagnose someone who is deceased, that particular reference was pretty shabby. This diagnosis for Einstein makes the second I have heard posthumously. Some say he had ADD. As for Bill "The Devil" Gates: He's just an idiot!! That's his mental malfunction.

LOL

How the hell is a mentally ill person supposed to deal with all the factors to consider when trying to take an active role in their own treatment? I mean, when you're taking a bunch of meds, you have to consider side effects, interactions with other meds, and whether they are working or not. On top of all this, you're busy trying to gauge your mood and deal with everyday life. It's too much for a "normal" mind, much less a warped one. It's a good thing we have those highly trained psychopharmacologists to help us dose up proper.

Now, I know that there are a bunch of really creepy psycho-shrinks out there, but I do think it's important to work with experienced professionals in determining the proper course of treatment. This is a two-way street though; the professionals have to listen to the patients as much as the patients have to listen to the professionals.

Whatever you do, DON'T try acupuncture. Someone told me that it's like crack. Even though they had no idea what they were talking about, they sounded pretty convincing, so I am going to pass that recommendation on to you.

=8-P

 
At 9:23 PM, Blogger Henry said...

I forgot to mention that Texas law limits the award in the Vioxx case to $26.1 million. Oh yeah, don't forget the lengthy appeal too.

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:
That was an absolutely horrifying story. I'm assuming that with the school pressuring for the Ritalin that your pediatrician did prescribe the meds? Or was there another doc involved?

This is truly an Orwellian horror. When the Ritalin fad comes to an end--and it probably will when the lawsuits begin--I think we will one day look back in shame and disgust at this epidemic of mindless pill-pushing, in much the same way as we now regard lobotomies.

The article "Why Ritalin Rules," (link provided in the piece) is an old one (1999), but it probably just means that the numbers and severity of the problem have increased since then. A few cogent points from the piece seem in order here:

Ritalin is very similar in effect to cocaine and amphetamine. Since it often results in insomnia (as well as weight loss) some children have to be prescribed sedatives as well.

In 1995, CHADD (Children and Adults with Attenion Deficit Disorder)--a very powerful advocacy group--petitioned the DEA to change Ritalin from a Schedule II to Schedule III drug, to make it more convenient to obtain. At about the same time, it was discovered that Novartis, the company that manufactures Ritalin, had contributed nearly $900,000 dollars over the past five years to CHADD. The petition was denied.

At the time the article was written, it was noted that the diagnostic criteria for ADHD was very broadly applied, and seemed to lack any basis in empirical evidence.

As in your case, it is frequently teachers who first suggest a child be checked for the "disorder."

And finally, in response to an article in the New Yorker where the author asserted that Ritalin is, if anything, underprescribed, the writer wryly notes:

"Surely this country can do more, much more, to reduce fidgeting, squirming, talking excessively, interrupting, losing things, ignoring adults, and all those other pathologies of what used to be called childhood."

Henry:
I can't guage the veracity of the theory that Einstein or Bill Gates suffered from autism, but some variants of the autism spectrum, like Aspergers, are often marked by very high intelligence and ability. In any case, I thought it might amuse you.

Yes, I think it is important for medical "consumers," as we are now referred to, to be as proactive as possible in their treatment options. Unfortunately, some doctors are nothing more than high-paid pill pushers. Yet another shameful circumstance of our times.

I'm sure acupunture has helped millions--maybe billions--of people over the centuries. If it works--alone or in combination with other therapies--that's a beautiful thing.

I think the jury awarded the high amount to send a message. In any case, the trial and the upcoming appeal are potentially very damaging and financially devastating for Merck. Their stocks have already started to fall.

 
At 3:06 AM, Blogger Henry said...

Uh oh. I think there has been a misreading of my comment's tenor.

The link about Einstein and Gates having autism was hilarious. I just meant that the site itself left much to be desired as a legitimate resource. I was especially loving the stuff about The Devil putting a trampoline in his house! LOL

Oh yeah, the jury delivered a heavy message with the punative award. However, I would not worry too much about Merck stock; it's been on a downward trend since early 2001, and last year's recall of Vioxx really did a number on the share price. This last little dip really won't affect things much; in fact, the near future might not be a bad time to get in on Merck...

=8-b

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Henry:

No, the site was not exactly the most reliable, but I did find it amusing. Plus, I would not be surprised if it were true, but who's to say?

As for Merck, on the CNN program I watched, I think there was talk about how Merck might go under if they chose to pursue all these lawsuits rather than settle. But the drug companies for the most part don't seem to be hurting too much.

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Reverend Z said...

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. The last med I was on suddenly appeared on tv, on of those if-you-got-this-disease-or-died-from-taking-this-med-please-call-us-we'll-get-you-money ads. When I asked my doctor about it he confirmed that it can cause diabetes. "So why the hell was he giving it to me?" I thought, and more, why were they giving it to my son... he's overweight. Even more, I wonder why they didn't give me something else? Part of it, I know, was other meds weren't working, some were making things worse. It's this huge struggle to find the right one, the one I'm on now keeps me on the edge of hypomania most of the time and on the edge of depression the rest, no middle ground but no extremes either. Not too bad except I'm having this huge problem with money now because I spend every cent I get and have nothing to show for it, fortunately, I don't have credit cards anymore.

 
At 12:00 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Rev Z:

Yes, it's not likely that your doc will tell you about too many possible side effects up front. I take Effexor, and Henry told me that the drug has a very short half-life, and if you stop taking it you may get very distressing symptoms. I asked my shrink and he confirmed this, but I don't remember him mentioning it to me beforehaned. He also told me that pharmaceutical salespeople often downplay certain known side effects when they come calling.

Realistically, perhaps the only thing one can do is read the med's literature, note the side effects--or at least the ones that are particularly flagged as cause for concern--and consult your doc if need be. Not that I normally do this--lol--and I suspect most people don't.

I guess it's sometimes a matter of weighing the options. Is it better to go into a hellish depression, or to risk diabetes? I suppose one solution is to request that the doc order periodic tests to check for blood sugar levels. Again, I think a lot of the burden has been put on the "consumer" to research their own meds. One may even have to proactively suggest to one's doc that certain blood tests be performed periodically.

Hypomania/mania and credit cards--a dangerous combo, indeed. LOL.

 
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At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 12:43 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Two more comment spammer messages I had to delete. They seem to be very active lately all over Blogger.

 
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At 8:36 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hmmm. More spammers in the night. Should I keep them here as a goof?

Well, here's the pros:

22 "comments"--pretty awesome. I know that's like chicken feed to someone like Walker, but to me it's unprecedented. Pathetic that so many of them are fake, but it looks good when you go to the piece and see that number--LOL.

Yes, maybe they were shilling their own money-making websites, but....but...they said such nice things to me and all! Like, how they loved my blog and were gonna bookmark it because it was so awesome!

I esp. liked the one that implied that publishers and editors out there might be getting ready to tap me to produce the next great American novel. Hey, I don't do fiction, but how much we talkin' here?

Also dug the message of love from the pharmaceutical company. Wow, could I become the new druggie poster child?

Here, again, is my clarion call to all comers:
I welcome comments from actual human beings not merely trying to sell something or just drive traffic to their site.

Comments can be short or long, naughty or nice, on new posts or old. I have made a vow to respond to all comments promptly, since for a time I fell behind. But I think I've gone back and responded to nearly all of them.

So please, comment generously, early, and often. Thank you.

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Blackie,

Wow, so much stuff to ponder about meds being pro or con. Everyone has a story. Your childhood sounds so much like Bunky's. You would go silent at times over a simple question posed to you by an adult. She said she had similar type experiences when she was young. She also had electroshock.

Walker's story about his kid being forced to take Ritalin because of what a teacher said (not the doctor), scary! Bill and Albert-having a form of some sort of autism-wild!

I dealt with the ADD/Ritalin solution/problem with my step son in my first marriage. He was attending a Catholic school at the time.

When we (1st wife/me) had a sit-down with the principal (a nun), she didn't even know what ADD/Ritalin were all about. We had to explain it to her. Their school nurse also knew nothing about the drug or how to administer it.

W/o this drug, my step son was completely anti-social, extremely irritable, etc. With the drug, he functioned quite well. Side effect included delayed growth. So, we took him off of it during the summer and he sprang up and caught up with others in height in his class.

We eventually enrolled him in a public school with a teacher who knew how to work with our son. (She also had a Master's in Child Psy). She was a "God-Send". He soon progressed (on his meds) and become one of the best students there. W/i a year, he actually came in 2nd place in the school's spelling competition.

I'm sure Norvartis has cleaned up in profits. Maybe my 1st wife and I were naive in thinking that meds were a "cure all" for our son-I can only wonder as I look back. I guess we did the best we could at the time. I pray we did for his sake.

More recently, my current wife is now on the same drug. It seems to be working, but after hearing everything more about some of the other negatives, I'm worried. It seems to be as always- be very, very informed about stuff you stick in your body. Tell your doctor everything. (Her doctor is a quack). And finally, be alert to any changes in your medical, physical, emotional condition(s).

As usually shown, I provide no answers, just more stories to your post. I reverently pass on this one saying, be careful when trying something new. By the grace of God, go I...

BLLB

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey BLLB:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful reply.

Wow, yes, that's a little eerie about Bunky and I. I know she suffered greatly, as a child and an adult. It horrified me when BG told me about the shock treatments--esp since at that time I don't think they used muscle relaxants and anesthesia, etc. That must have been so terrifying, I can't even imagine. Plus, I don't even think it was indicated for her condition. It seems totally barbaric to put a child through such torment.

I also know from what you guys told me that she was a very talented, gifted, and intelligent person with a heart of gold. BG always said we would have adored each other, and I believe it wholeheartedly.

I'm glad your ex's son benefited so much from the Ritalin. In some cases, I'm sure it does wonders. And I think a good, caring teacher, like the one that worked with your stepson, is probably equally important. The fact that you stopped the drug for the summer also indicates that you were keenly aware and alert and moderated the meds accordingly.

What I object to I guess is the seemingly rampant abuse/overuse of this drug. It just doesn't seem possible that so large a percentage of children really need it. And it horrifies me that a teacher could have the power to coerce parents into giving their child this drug--even when a physician has deemed it unnecessary. But since I've never had children, I guess I haven't walked a mile in a parent's shoes.

I was afraid you'd be offended at my post, since I know S is trying Ritalin. As I said, my own doc, who I consider to be excellent, brought up the possibility with me, so I can't just dismiss it. It is so unfortunate that her doc is a quack. I fear this is becoming more and more the norm, and that insurance companies often don't provide a decent pool of doctors to choose from. Unfortunately, it sounds like this guy is almost just running a drug mill.

Anyway, I hope all turns out for the best. It may be that Ritalin can "jump start" things, which may be the beginning of a more speedy recovery. I am glad S seems to be feeling better, in any case. I know from first hand experience how hellish persistent depression can be, and I know how difficult it is for others to see their loved ones suffer. I hope all works out well for you and S.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Walker said...

The last time I saw my kids which was 4 yrs ago (don't ask, their mother should be on prozak) my EX agreed.
The 1/3 of the kids in school today take it. It was them docile and managable, and future valium addicts.

 
At 4:34 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:

Several people I've talked to offline have told me how horrified they were by your story. But it sounds like your ex finally came to her senses, I guess? If so, that's a good thing. As I said, I think this whole thing is going to come around full circle and there's gonna be lawsuits aplenty.

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger Walker said...

No she agreed to give the kid half a pill a day.

 
At 8:05 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:

Splitting the difference, huh. Well, I guess that's a bit better, anyway....

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger JC said...

Well, for me this is one of those posts that hits a nerve I guess. First, I have a friend that has Aspergers and he is waaayyy cool and we are close. He is also a computer genius, he is the one person I would trust to touch my computer.
I need my drugs. I have recently started to take lamictal. I am scared of the side effects but all the studies I read say that it is the best mood stabilizer for warding off depression. I am willing to take the risk as I get terrible, catatonic, sometimes psychotic depression that takes years to pull out of. I have never been truly manic though, so am not really afraid of that part of the bipolar spectrum. Hypomanic-yeah, bring it on as I would almost welcome it right now. So far, so good. Of course I am only taking 25 mg every other day right now, so we will see.
As for Ritalin, I will be the person who will tell you that I have to have it, my kids had to have it. Ritalin, for people who really need it is a wonderful thing. It makes everything in the world easier and work better. Keep in mind that it is an upper-so if a kid DOESN'T NEED IT, it is going to make them more active instead of less. The only kids it makes calm are the ones that truly need it. I hate to even bring that up though, because ritalin isn't about activity or minding, or being quiet. Ritalin is about the ability to remember what you learn, take info in, in the first place, find your shoes and keys and have conversations. As an adult if there is something I need to get accomplished, I have to have it. When it wears off I know because I can't focus any more. My kids went from D's and F's at school to A's almost overnight when they took it. We went from doing homework until nine or ten pm (from just after school) and having frustrated fits, to them coming in calm, getting homework done and having a life along with school. I have seen this happen with my best friends child too. I don't think any active kid should be on ritalin and the risks have to be kept in mind, but for kids who need it, it is wonderful. Hugs and thanks for dropping by...you have inspired my next post.

 
At 2:42 AM, Blogger ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

Uh, sorry for this random comment, but I saw mention of Syd Barrett...I LOVE his stuff, as fucked up as the poor man was/is. Do you have his solo works? If not, I can copy them off for you and mail them. Just lemme know. :-)

 
At 4:59 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

JC:

Thanks for the great comment--and your site really rocks, btw.

I can relate to a lot of what you said. I've been on Lamictal for quite awhile, and I truly think it's as close to a "wonder drug" as I've found. One of the pluses is that it generally has few side effects (maybe some in the beginning, but I didn't have any) except for a very rare, dangerous rash. Yes, there's always something, right?

It may take awhile to work up to the right dose, but when you hit it, you definitely know it. They start you off slowly because then it's even less likely you'll get that scary rash. My ex-b/f has also started taking it, and though he's still working up to it, I can tell he's improved immensely.

As far as the psyschotic, catatonic depressions--yes, I get them too. Without my b/f's caretaking, I might have wound up in a state hosp during the last one. As it is, I was hospitalized for about 6 weeks, and got electroshock. But it was the Lamictal that seemed to really do the trick. And though I do get some hypomania, it is pretty mild now. I used to get much more severe episodes.

Yes, from the comments, it seems Ritalin can be a great help for some people. The thing that scares me is that they might have put me on it if they had it back when I was in grade school--and I get the definite feeling it is overprescribed and sometimes abused. But I'm glad it was so effective for you and your children, and others who really do need it.

 
At 5:04 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ariadnek:

Yes, Syd is a fascinating character, and a musical visionary. I recently devoted a post to him and Pink Floyd. Thanks so much for the kind offer--I may just take you up on that!

 
At 5:09 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Ariadnek:

PS: Absolutely love your blog. I've just scratched the surface so far, but I'm going to be plumbing your archives as well.

 
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