The Great Medication Debate, Part 1

"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." — Luke 12:48

Gianna at Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery has written a post about reconnecting with her spirituality and working with her doctor on more med tapering. Toward the end, she wrote:

I went for a walk the other day with a woman who could’ve been my client from years ago when I worked with the “severe and persistent mentally ill.” She was so sweet and warm—yet there was a deadness in her that I recognized as familiar from the clients I worked with on heavy neuroleptics. I was so glad to walk with her as an equal and not as a social worker—she is my peer and we talked to each other as such. She is getting tardive dykinesia from her neuroleptic. I asked her how long she’s been on it and it’s been 2 decades. I asked how long she has been stable and she said 12 years. I wanted to scream. This poor woman is half dead inside for no good reason. She is on three medications for bipolar disorder and has had no symptoms in 12 years. I see that as criminal, especially since it’s clear a part of her is dead, just as I’ve been dead for many years but am now coming back to life.

I gently talked to her about talking to her doctor. “If you’ve been symptom free for 12 years maybe you don’t have to be on a toxic drug that is giving you tardive dyskinesia,” I suggested. I didn’t add she struck me as part dead too. I want to help all of us who are being over-medicated and poisoned. How can I do that? This blog is simply not enough.

In response, I wrote this comment on her blog:

When I was at the psych hospital in late 2006, I met
a girl just like this. She wasn’t much older than me – maybe 26 at the
time – and married with two or three kids. She was on lithium,
risperdal, depakote, and probably one or two other drug cocktails that
I can’t recall.

She was so pretty, Gianna, but her eyes were so
lifeless. I know what you mean when you say “dead inside.” I constantly
looked at her as she spoke to me, slow and controlled, as if I could
see her thoughts go from her brain to her mouth. I was always sad after
I finished talking with her. She was only 26 and seemed so dead
already. I looked at her and thought to myself, “I don’t want this to
be me.”

I also remember my father who, after being on
medications, had this zoned, space-out look in his eyes. The sparkle
and mischief from his eyes were gone, never to return. This saddened me
so much so the point that once he died, I was sad that I lost him but
also realized that he’d been dead for quite a while.

This is why I’m wrestling with whether I need medication or not. I don’t want to be dead alive.

doing a great job with her blog, chronicling her journey off of
medication and helping to provide people with the information they need
on proper withdrawal from medication. Her writing is a constant
reminder of the negative effects exist with taking psychiatric drugs.

Current Mood Rating: 3.9


  1. Stephany said,

    May 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    (( I am hugging your mood)) it will pass. I don’t say this lightly. I’ve had 2 daughters in a psych ward at the same time in 2 states in 2006. Oldest cut her arms, youngest was gravely disabled. As I drove between hospitals (650miles)I always saw the sunset. I don’t write much on my own blog about spirituality, but just know my mom is a ordained minister for starters!
    We all have journeys. You are just beginning yours and I look forward to reading in years to come–(or drop me a letter snail mail)how you are doing.
    It’s not always in the Bible–and I say that knowing my mom would just (send me to church!)–but it truly is a blend of everything we soak in as people, in this world we have so many other people to learn from, and they are not always sitting in a pew.

  2. Stephany said,

    May 16, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    PS- that would be 650 miles one way. DBT has helped my oldest to remain in University, gain friends, keep a job, pay her bills and garner an internship that is awesome this summer! She had 1. A therapist 2. A psych 3. Lamictal 4.Seroquel to shut down mania 5. A supportive church family who knows “about” her “bipolar”.
    Marissa, I was online to her in 2006 on IM and she had a “plan”. I called campus police and they had already found her.
    She is 25 and successfully living with exactly what you are…I post this so maybe others know, it’s a combo of things that get us through life.
    You are a beautiful and loving person, and I want you to remain here….forever!
    email me for my snailmail btw.

  3. May 16, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks, Stephany!
    I, too, agree that we can learn about life and people apart from the Bible. There are areas that the Bible does not cover – things in life that we are left to figure out on our own. And you’re right! – they’re not always in the pew.

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