mercoledì 25 gennaio 2017


Kim (watercolor on paper 11"x15")


Disclaimer: NEVER cold turkey a medication. Consult your doctor and do your own independent research when starting or discontinuing a medication.
Today I introduce to you Kim, a very beautiful and smart lady who used to be an RN and is now trying to put her life back together after being harmed by meds for decades. This is an important part of her story: "Initially, the relief on these medications felt like a miracle and for several years this is exactly the words I would use to describe this experience. "
Given that 1/6 Americans are on these drugs and that an estimated 1/5 cannot metabolize them properly so they build up in their bodies causing adverse effects, the consequences of these irresponsible prescribing practices by psychiatrists and doctors in general are huge. Here Dr. Yolanda Lucire explains how these drugs are metabolized and their effects on non-metabolizers. Doctors do NOT routinely test for these CYP450 liver enzymes prior to prescribing these strong and dangerous drugs!
"Adverse drug reactions ~ Dr Lucire
What happens when you take drugs (both pharmaceutical and street)?
Nearly all medicines (and many environmental toxins) are metabolised (broken down, reorganised, redistributed and excreted) in the liver, by the different enzymes of the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) system.

Why do people react badly to drugs?
Not all people are born with a full complement of metabolising enzymes, and sometimes the ones they do have are duplicated (genetic polymorphism), leading to compromised, absent, or very rapid metabolism of drugs. In this situation, side effects occur, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Side effects also occur with changes of dose, up or down, or when starting or stopping medication, and sometimes months after stopping. Once they set in, they are difficult to reverse.
Adverse drug reactions usually occur when any or all of the following are present:
There is a genetic problem in the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) family of metabolizing genes.
There is polypharmacy (the use of multiple concurrent medications), which can overload the system, compromising a person's ability to metabolise drugs.
There is a concurrent use of herbs and drugs, which can interact.
The dose is too high.
The drugs have been taken for a long period of time by a slow metaboliser.
When starting or stopping medication.
Signs of an adverse drug reaction
Weird, unwelcome and involuntary thoughts of suicide, death and dying.
Weird, unwelcome and involuntary thoughts of hostility, violence and homicide, found in people who have no
history of violent or disordered behaviour.
Akathisia, which can be intermittent or constant, is characterised by an inability to sit still, and is often associated with an extreme sense of impending doom and terror.
Behavioural dyscontrol, including uncharacteristic gambling, overspending, drug and sexual behaviours.
Cognitive decline or impaired functioning, poor memory, an inability to concentrate and return to work.
A decline in wellbeing, or failure to recover from an episode of stress or sadness, after taking an antidepressant.
Blurred vision.
Serotonin syndrome, or drug toxicity, with symptoms including: Agitation, restlessness, confusion, tremor, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, changes in blood pressure and/or temperature, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles, heavy sweating, and shivering and goose bumps. Serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening, and you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms: High fever, seizures, irregular heartbeat or unconsciousness.
What to do if you have an adverse drug reaction
Do not stop taking your medication suddenly. If you do, you are at risk of more dangerous conditions, including akathisia, suicide attempts and other violent behaviour.
Find an experienced doctor, who can supervise a safe withdrawal from the culprit drug/s. Withdrawal is best done very slowly, over a period of months to years, utilising compounded medication, so brain chemistry can normalise. It is not possible to predict how a person will react to drug withdrawal, so it is important to be in the care of someone who can carefully monitor, and adjust your treatment as the situation dictates.
Psychiatric medication is highly addictive and many people experience their symptoms worsening during withdrawal period. These patients are sometimes mistakenly diagnosed with depression or "treatment-refractory schizophrenia", and the dose of a drug they already cannot metabolise is increased, or other drugs are added, leading to catastrophic non-recovery.
During withdrawal, it can be very helpful to have the support of people who understand what you are going through. Surviving Antidepressants offers online peer support."
"My name is Kim. I have attempted countless times to share my story but somehow during the process of writing it, the pain becomes too overwhelming and I eventually end up tearing it up and just throwing it away. The pain and sheer hell of what I experienced over many years is too great to only add to it by what feels like reliving it. For the sake of Miriza's brave and amazing project to bring awareness to the pain and suffering of so many whom have been victims of iatrogenic harm from psychiatric medications, I decided to put aside my emotions and contribute in whatever way I could.
For the sake of this project, this will be a rather abbreviated version of what happened over nearly two decades of my life. I was a nurse since 1981 and in 1987 decided to accept a job outside the nursing profession for many ill-fated reasons, a job as a sales representative for one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world, yes in hindsight the irony is inconceivable. Suffice it to say this job and I were not met for one another, never was a poorer match conceived. For nearly six years I suffered with work related stress, anxiety and depression. Never listening to my conscience and therefore returning to the nursing profession, I persevered until such time that the stress became too much to bear and a fateful appointment with a psychiatrist in 1993. Of course, rather than send me to a therapist or advise a job change, medication was prescribed. I was prescribed an antidepressant and clonazepam at 0.5 mg. I was told that neither of these medications was addicting and this was prior to the technology to research information. Also, I was a nurse and had been educated and trained to trust a physician's judgment. Initially, the relief on these medications felt like a miracle and for several years this is exactly the words I would use to describe this experience. Within a year I found the ability to return to my work as a nurse and the next fourteen years were spent taking various different prescribed antidepressants and clonazepam, always taken as directed. By 2001 I had been working and also had earned a Masters degree in Nursing and was now a Family Nurse Practitioner. In the Fall of 2007, now 50 years of age, I began to feel chronically ill for the first time in my life. Within three months, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia and insulin resistance. In November 2007 I fell at home and suffered a severe concussion with a loss of consciousness. In the ER a cursory CT scan and exam were done. I saw my PCP within a few days as instructed and no neurology follow up whatsoever was ever recommended. I did experience expected symptoms following head trauma but these were never recognized as such nor associated with the brain injury. Within a week I had my first suicide attempt. Subsequently I was prescribed higher doses of antidepressants, clonazepam and antipsychotics. I attempted to return to work but was so ill I was unable to do so and eventually lost my job and my ability to work in my profession. The next five years would be a roller coaster through hell with many hospitalizations, near fatal suicide attempts, almost daily falls, some even with broken bones, and visits to countless physicians and specialists and in some renowned medical facilities, searching for answers for why I was so horribly and chronically ill. None of these physicians, not one, ever did a through medication review or history and in hindsight, I was becoming increasingly cognitively and physically impaired from the various psychiatric medications with the constant being ever increasing doses of clonazepam, never at my request, always at the recommendation of physicians. In the winter of 2009 -2010, upon the recommendation of a renowned clinic, I underwent 16 electroconvulsive shocks. My medications were not tapered prior to this recommendation nor prior to the shocks. In reflecting upon this, I am still in disbelief that I ever consented to this but this is a testament to the medication spellbinding and impairment of my intellect and insight from being so heavily and inappropriately medicated. These 'treatments' did absolutely nothing but make things worse and add intractable headaches to countless other symptoms. In the Spring of 2012 my regular psychiatrist was ill and I saw his colleague for a routine office visit, now being on four psychiatric medications. Of note would be that I arrived at this routine office visit with a full length leg brace on my left leg due to yet another fall two weeks earlier which resulted in a patella fracture. There were no questions about the fracture or falls, yet again. He did however ask me if indeed the dose of clonazepam in my chart was correct, 2 mgs four times daily? I calmly answered yes. His reply and demeanor were quite rude and badly angered me and I informed him that I was taking what my doctor, his colleague, had prescribed and I left the office with the first and only indication of what might actually be the problem for the previous years. This was a pivotal moment in my journey and my fury was motivating.
Somewhere within my angered and damaged soul, I found the answers. I promptly began to taper off 8mgs of clonazepam a day. I actually tapered it at approximately 0.5 to 1 mg per day depending on how I was feeling and my vital signs, knowing that I could not stop a benzodiazepine abruptly and I never considered the risk I was taking, just trying to once again be strong and resilient. What followed is almost unbelievable. I stopped falling immediately and have not had any additional fractures. Dark indescribable depression began to lift. Within two months symptoms of fibromyalgia and insulin resistance attenuated. This would be the impetus to begin tapering off the remainder of my psych meds. Two of them I felt I could just stop, which I did, and luckily with no problems. The last one, Zoloft, I was not as lucky with, as every time I attempted to discontinue this medication the ensuing rage was indescribable and horribly frightening. It took me four separate reinstatement attempts, and finally a slow taper over a few months time. My psychiatric medication withdrawal attempts pale in comparison to many other survivors. The hell for me was while I was still a compliant patient always doing what I was told by doctors, trying to get well. Even though my withdrawal experience seemed somewhat less intense by comparison, it was at times sheer torture. The 1-2 years following the discontinuation of the psychiatric meds, I experienced intractable insomnia when at times I literally did not sleep at all for days at a time. I developed spontaneous and mysterious rashes with the most maddening itching for which nothing provided relief. The mood swings were like nothing I had ever known. I experienced a phenomena known as paranosmias, in which I would smell smoke when there was none. This was horrible and distracting to endure and persists at times even now. I also experienced cardiac symptoms of tachycardia, and palpitations that were so significant I required a complete cardiac workup that revealed no cardiac pathology, but was simply my body attempting to return to normalcy after nearly two decades of being labeled mentally ill and terribly over medicated.
My last hospitalizations was October 2012 and it has now been over four years off of clonazepam and all the other psychiatric meds. The last four years have been painful and full of many challenges. I grieve for what could have been every day of my life. It has been a lonely and often solitary journey. I lost my profession and the trust in a profession which I was a part of is gone and the feeling of betrayal is beyond words. I lost my financial independence, my fiends, and for a time, even my family relationships, due to the destruction by these medications to my physical and emotional health. As time progresses the damage done by psychiatric medications is indeed obvious in so many ways, physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially. I have to pay close attention to every aspect of maintaining my physical and emotional health. I am working to rebuild the relationships with my family. Each day brings me closer to the realization that I will never be able to work in my profession again. I try not to spend my days dwelling on what could have been and feeling embarrassment and shame for what happened, but yet building on the knowledge and insight I have gained from these experiences and finding joy in things that once may have been overlooked. My hope is that my struggles have not been in vain and that by sharing a small part of what I went through will prevent others from succumbing to similar pain and suffering.
Thank you Miriza for your incredible talent, insight and humanity. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this important project.

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