Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crazy Meds

"You have to weigh the costs and benefits," the doctor said, her pen poised over the prescription pad. It sounds logical, doesn't it? And how interesting, that the doctor wants you to take responsibility for this major decision about your own health care, even when you are a mental patient.

Many trips to the doctor, many prescriptions later, I figured out what was wrong with that sentence. Let me put it this way: the cost of a Powerball ticket is $1; the potential benefit this week is $84,000,000. Wow. So millions of people weigh the costs and benefits and then buy their Powerball tickets twice a week. And the report out this week in the New York Times is that in 2005, ten out of every hundred Americans were on antidepressants, an estimated 27,000,000 people. I was one of them. It was logical.

Get it? There is a missing piece of information. What are the odds? Powerball tells you quite frankly. The pharmaceutical companies, not so much.

Responsible health care consumer that you are, notwithstanding your being a mental patient, you go to the internet. You google your doctor's recommendation, and get 8,870,000 hits. (I just tried Zoloft.) They come in three basic flavors:

  • Fear-mongering sites that condemn all neurological medications as tools of the devil with ever-lasting side effects that will cripple or kill you; while the people who prescribe them... members of the global conspiracy. The only solution to your problems is a regimen of vitamins, herbs, exercise, exorcism and bitching about doctors and drugs.
  • Pharmaceutical company sites who offer up their drugs as panaceas... Actual side effects are buried in doctor-speak and no real idea is presented about the chances of their happening, how long they last or if they will go away... The same goes for if the drug will work for you or not.
  • Support group sites that offer tea and sympathy... and far too often will just enable bad choices in not taking your meds or trying to take the wrong drugs for the wrong reasons.
But keep reading. There is a fourth flavor, Crazy Meds: The Good, the Bad and the Funny of Neurological Medications. Click that link, and you will find what I have quoted in italics, above and below, because Jerod says it better than me, which in my opinion means that he says it very well indeed.

Crazy Meds is the fourth flavor because it tells the truth right up front. I know, the meds suck donkey dong. But you know what? When you are mentally ill and you're not taking the right medications, it sucks syphilitic donkey dong while a red-hot poker is being jammed up your ass. That's what it's like without any meds at all, and that's what it's like if you're taking completely inappropriate medications. And that's what its like if you're taking neurological/psychiatric medications when you shouldn't be taking any at all.

You may think his language is extreme. But not if you seriously need the meds, like if you have schizophrenia or epilepsy or bipolar or the depressed-as-fuck form of major depressive disorder. If you do, and if you have been at this game for a while, then you are willing to buy the t-shirt that says exactly what you think. In fact, I encourage you to do so at Straight Jacket T-Shirts and send some bucks to the guy who has done a lot of work for you.

At Crazy Meds you will find straight talk about just how shitty it is to take these things, and why you have to anyway, plus whatever you might be able to do to make it a little less shitty. You will find information about antidepressants in their many varieties, plus antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, stimulants and supplements, and which ones don't play well together, what each is, what it is approved for, what its off label uses are, the pros, the cons, the side effects and their odds, how it works, or how they think it works, what your doctor probably won't tell you, how long it takes to work, how to go off it, and what happens when you do, links to the prescribing information sheets in several countries, typical costs, and access to talk boards. Plus what happens if you are taking it for the wrong ailment. If he can find the odds, he'll tell you.

Jerod is not a doctor or a therapist, and gives you all the appropriate disclaimers, and says he is your fourth source at best, after your psychiatrist, your physician and your pharmacist, none of whom ever gave me anywhere near this amount of useful information. If you check out what he tells you, and he encourages you to do so, you will find it to be solid. This guy has put his manic episodes to good use.

By the way, if you are shopping for my birthday present, I'd like the long sleeve, black (of course) women's size medium. The one that says "bat shit crazy" -- either a translation or a refinement of my diagnosis.

2 comments:

  1. "Fear-mongering sites that condemn all neurological medications as tools of the devil with ever-lasting side effects that will cripple or kill you; while the people who prescribe them... members of the global conspiracy. The only solution to your problems is a regimen of vitamins, herbs, exercise, exorcism and bitching about doctors and drugs."

    Supremely accurate nailing, Willa! Kudos!

    Gina Pera, author
    Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

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  2. Oh, the credit for those phrases go to Jerod Poore, the author of Crazy Meds, whose site I am reviewing here.

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