Please allow me to introduce myself (from one of my fave Stone’s songs). My name is Lori Farquhar-Bryenton and I am a native of Toronto, Canada. Born and bred. I’ve lived an interesting, exciting life and will probably continue to do so till the day I die. I like it that way.
I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
Many moons ago, when I was around 17 years old, I began to experience “panic attacks” or “anxiety attacks”. It made my life a living hell. I didn’t know what the heck it was so after it happened a few times I decided to make an appointment with my family doctor. He had been my doctor all my life and was a good man. He asked me what was wrong and I told him what I was experiencing and that I was afraid, so afraid and that the fear and the loneliness I was feeling were bad – that I thought I was losing my mind. He told me not to worry, that he had some medication that could help me and proceeded to write me a prescription for Ativan (1). He also recommended that I go see someone, and referred me to a psychiatrist. I was so relieved. I walked downstairs to the pharmacy and it was then and there that my nightmare began.
I took the pill and within 15 minutes, relief flooded through me. I couldn’t believe it. I was calm, my attention went out (when it was always “in”) and I could go back to being my extroverted, fun loving self again!! Fabulous. I could get on with living. I was not told that this drug was highly addictive, nor did I ask. He was my doctor and quite frankly, I loved and respected him very much.
So, the “magic pill” took care of that. Now I wanted to really delve in and find out what the hell was creating this anxiety. I have to tell you, I was very excited to attack this head on and find out “why”. Psychiatry would have the answer. It’s a science right? Psyche – from Greek psukhē ‘soul, mind’+ iatreia ‘healing’ (from iatros ‘healer’ ).
So around 2 weeks later, armed with questions and feeling like I was about to find the true meaning of life I walk into Dr. Fufy’s (I am going to use a pseudonym here as I just googled his real name. He’s still alive and kicking and I don’t want to get sued. He actually moved his office and works approx. 2 miles from my home).
He had this upper-crust British accent. You know the one. Where no matter what they say, it sounds legit….cuz of how they say it. Hell! I’d buy a Dyson vacuum cleaner from that guy in the commercial any day. Anyway, starts asking me questions. I’m thinking “Good. Wants to get to know me before we start digging in”. Then things get a little weird. Starts asking me about my relationship with my Dad. Then alluding to sexual preferences and did I feel a sexual attraction to my father? Ewwwwwww! I’m 17 years old for god’s sake!!! Did I like girls (didn’t “homosexuality” get voted out of the DSM due to political pressure from Gay Rights Activists)? This conversation was interrupted by his secretary who brought him in his tea, on a tray with a white china tea service beside a plate containing little sandwiches, with the crusts cut off! (It’s amazing the things that stick in your head). So he’s pouring his tea and peering (leering) at me above his glasses and continues to press me about my sexual preferences, insinuating things. All in all, a very “Freudian” afternoon. At one point (and this is when I KNEW that this psychiatrist had no answers) he says to me “Lori, you are very oral”.
Hmmmm. I’m chewing gum at the time(?). What the heck is that supposed to mean??!!?!?! This conjured up all sorts of ugly pictures in my head, I’ll tell you. I’m oral. Okay, I’m thinking – now where do we go from here? “Times up, see me in two weeks”.
After many visits and much thought I realized that Psychiatry (or at least Dr. Fufy) had no scientific means of helping me. As a matter of fact, I came to the conclusion that he had no idea what he was talking about. BUT! Being the bright, wily and resourceful girl that I was, I knew I had to continue seeing him in order to get my prescription filled (very bad move – NEVER f*#k with your own integrity). I managed to get our “sessions” down to every 6 weeks or so, in order to not have to endure more of his ridiculous evaluative comments.
And so it went for a year or two.
Now, from everything I’ve read, from my own personal experience and through research, I’m gaining a good understanding of psychiatric drugs and their effects and one conclusion (among many) that I have come to is that NOTHING stays static when it comes to these drugs. After a while, it doesn’t seem to offer the same effect it did when you started taking it. It either stops working altogether (where a new drug will be given) or the dosage needs to be upped. Or – on occasion you will be told that your disease is getting worse. Oh – and by the way, he informed me at some point in our little get-togethers that I was borderline schizophrenic. I don’t think Bi-Polar had been invented yet. That’s what I would have went with.
I told Dr. Fufy that I was experiencing a great deal of anxiety and that I couldn’t handle it. Was having a hard time dragging myself to work. By the way, I had a great full time administrative job at that time with Bell Canada and always held a part-time nights/weekend job either in a shoe store or as a waitress/bartender.
My psychiatrist decided that I needed to try something else. From what I recall, there were two of them. One was a red pill, one was blue (haha – like The Matrix!). I have no idea what they were and Prozac (and it’s ilk) weren’t out yet. All I know is I hated the way they made me feel. I was given the party line at that time “it takes a few weeks to work, just give it time”. I was on the “red one” for no more than a week and the “blue one” for about 2 days. I threw them out and told him how I felt. On my next visit, he pulls some pills from his credenza and says “try these”. He proceeds to put them in a small brown envelope and passes them to me saying “I have been getting some great results with this drug, a lessening anxiety etc.”. So I thought, why not? We continue talking for a while and after the “session’s over” announcement, I get up to leave his office. I’m just about out the door when he says “Oh Lori, I just want you to know that this drug can produce some disturbing side effects, so I’d like to see you more often at first “. ALARM BELLS. I ask “like what?” He says and I kid you not “It can make your tongue loll out”. What ghastly vision do you get? I get visions of a deranged looking psychiatric patient, folks. Slumped over in a chair, tongue hanging out and drooling down my hospital “gown”. Needless to say, I told him no thanks and asked him (nicely) for a prescription for Ativan.
He berated me and said “Lori, I don’t really think you want to get well” in his imperious British accent. What a joke. Pompous ass!
So I just upped the dosage on my own. This went on for a while until I really felt I’d had enough. It was not doing the trick at all anymore and I definitely did not want to be dependent on a pill for the rest of my life. So, because Bell Canada would continue to give me 98% of my salary (we had good health care benefits there) while I was away from work for about a month, I asked Dr. Fufy if I could go into the hospital to get off the drugs – to “dry out” so to speak. He said he could arrange that and so it went. I was petrified……thinking One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but I was so desperate to get off them and I knew I had to do it. I couldn’t conceive of a life of dependency, even at that age – I was 19 or 20 at the time. So…..in I go.
Now, I could tell you stories about that month, in that place, that would curl your toes, but it would take too much space and I really want to get to the point sometime soon. Actually, I will write about it in a separate post one day. Needless to say, I did “dry out” and left the hospital drug free. I stayed that way for about 3 weeks and went back on Ativan – I just couldn’t cope and keep a job. As Andrew Hays said “my mind had a mind of its own”.
There were a few more years of what I like to call “my living hell” but I eventually managed to stop depending on drugs to survive and until this day I’m sooo thankful I had the sense of mind to do away with them. At that time there was no internet where you could find out about these sort of things (the truth, not what pharma wants you to think). I went “cold turkey”. It was tough and through my own research, apparently I never should have done that as benzo withdrawal can produce some pretty life threatening reactions. You know, seizures and such – but desperate situations sometimes call for desperate measures. Through more research on this subject I have read on numerous occasions that it takes about 2 weeks to successfully withdraw. That my friends is a little bit of an understatement. I would say that the first 3 weeks were a living hell and that it took me around 1 1/2 years. Don’t forget, I’d been suppressing a ton of emotional issues with a drug. All that crap comes back – ten fold!!! But, the spirit can overcome.
Where would I be today if I hadn’t had the guts – and I mean guts (okay, it was a stupid thing to do) to go “cold turkey”? What if I had just willingly accepted these other pills? What if I had had just one iota of respect for this moron with a few letters following his name? This “expert”. I would be in the same unfortunate boat that millions find themselves in today. Hooked on a drug that may have offered them some much needed relief but now “owns” them and THAT my friends, is why I started this blog.
I want this Blog to be an informative site for anyone who is looking for answers (true data) on psychiatric drugs, mental health initiatives being implemented into our schools, up and coming laws that may affect our quality of life, etc. Most everything you find on this Blog will be in direct opposition to what your doctor tells you, who gets a lot of his/her data directly from pharmaceutical companies about psychiatric drugs (they’re being duped) or your psychiatrist, who makes all this shit up.
If you find some data on this site somewhat unbelievable, please go and do some research of your own but for heaven’s sake, don’t ask Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) about the efficacy of Risperdal or GlaxoSmithKline if Paxil (Seroxat in U.K.) is or isn’t addictive. Okay? Get my drift? In other words DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Make an informed decision.
My focus is on Canada’s mental health system with my priority being Canada’s school system where they are pushing just a little too hard to get in “mental health” initiatives. I don’t want Canada’s children labelled and drugged. It’s unnecessary at the least and unethical at best. Most parents are not aware of the dangers of drugs like Ritalin, Adderall etc. that are being prescribed for learning/behavioral difficulties.
I have met so many people on the net. Strong, intelligent people with the common theme of having gotten caught up and hurt in some way by the mental health system, when all they were asking for was help. I’m not just talking Canada here either. It’s ubiquitous. There is no age limit. It’s a huge betrayal folks. Lives are at stake and these like minded individuals are not your average Joes, don’t live their lives with the maxim “to get along you have to go along”. They are fighters each and every one of them. They lobby the government, educate the unsuspecting public and spend their precious time doing these things just so that others don’t get hurt. For that simple reason I love them all.
If there is anyone out there who’s good at research and finding (Canadian) statistics and likes to help, please let me know.
Thanks for listenin’
(1) Lorazepam (initially marketed under the brand names Ativan and Temesta) is a high-potency short-to-intermediate-acting 3-hydroxy benzodiazepine drug that has all five intrinsic benzodiazepine effects: anxiolytic, amnesic, sedative/hypnotic, anticonvulsant, antiemetic and muscle relaxant. Lorazepam is used for the short-term treatment of anxiety, insomnia, acute seizures including status epilepticus and sedation of hospitalized patients, as well as sedation of aggressive patients.