I know many of you are familiar with the craptastic side effects of all the various stimulants, depressants and sedatives people with mental health issues are put on and I have been no stranger in sharing my suicide attempt caused by psychiatric medication.
The ADHD and Champix stories are devastating, no one can deny that! To watch your child (young or grown) fall apart when they are supposed to be getting better is heartbreaking and to experience a death of that child will be impossible to get over but I swear to you that all of these side effects are known and doctors/Big Pharma (mostly them) are keeping them secrets or downplaying the issue.
In some cases, such as in the Champix story, it is easier to see when a drug is to blame for a harmful or fatal side effect. With no previous psychiatric history or suicide attempts what else could it be? What could have caused a young woman to commit suicide? Champix. Along with roughly 24 other individuals.
In most cases though, those with mental health issues, who are on the drugs with the suicide black box warning, have a psychiatric history that could include suicidal thoughts, actions, and attempts.
This history makes for a perfect excuse for the drug companies when a user of their drug attempts or commits suicide. “They were depressed so they were already a high risk for suicide.” That is the excuse. Many of the side effects are already wrapped up in our disorders so they remain hidden.
I can admit to suicidal thoughts before going on psychiatric medication but there was a barrier that stopped me from attempting it. Once the medication got in my system that barrier was gone. When I stopped psychiatric medication the barrier went back up.
I remember thinking that I was so sick that psychiatric medication wouldn’t help. I felt horrible.
This is also when some of us can be labelled as “treatment resistant” when there should just a very high chance these drugs are just shit.
We need to make others aware of who we are and what these drugs are all about.
Remember: all drugs have harmful/fatal side effects. Anything you put in your body can kill you.
I wish the shock would stop! It just proves to me that we all still blindly follow and do not do our own research!
Side effects of ADHD drugs shock parents
Kim Collier’s 7-year-old daughter could not stop crying.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the child had started taking Vyvanse, a drug prescribed for the treatment of ADHD.
The distraught mother suggested a bike ride to distract the inconsolable child.
The two set out for a park near their home outside Alliston, Ont.
The girl pedalled and sobbed.
Then, Collier recalled, “She screamed at me. She said, ‘I want to die.’”
A car drove toward them along the residential street.
“She looked at me and she said, ‘I’m going to ride my bike into that car.’ And then she said to me, ‘You don’t care if I live or die.’ I literally had to restrain her.
“I took her off of the drug.”
Collier, who did not want her daughter named, is one of scores of parents who contacted the Star after itsinvestigation Wednesday found nearly 600 cases of Canadian kids suffering serious, sometimes fatal side effects suspected to have been caused by ADHD medications in the past 10 years.
The Star also revealed Health Canada’s poor oversight system, and Collier and other parents told the Star they do not believe the federal regulator ever heard of their cases.
“What’s alarming to me is I hadn’t realized that there were other children having the same type of side effects that my son had,” Noreedah Dean told the Star after reading the article. The Toronto mother’s 7-year-old son Gabriel showed disturbing behaviour while on ADHD medication Biphentin.
The Star searched the federal adverse reaction database and could not find details on Collier’s and Dean’s cases. The two mothers said they did not think to report the suspected side effects at a time when they were distraught and distracted. Neither believes their doctors reported the suspected side effects to the regulator. Under Canada’s drug safety law, doctors are not required to report side effects.
Meanwhile, Health Canada’s top public relations official, Alastair Sinclair, contacted the Star to say he believes the public has been “well informed” of risks for prescription drugs. Sinclair said any product warnings or advisories are communicated to doctors by the drug manufacturers and Health Canada approves these communications before they go out the door.
After her son Gabriel’s ADHD diagnosis, Dean was reluctant to put him on prescription drugs. She tried adjusting his diet, with no results. She started him on the lowest dosage of Biphentin and within a couple of days noticed Gabriel was irritable, annoyed and crying.
As her young son grew, as part of the treatment plan, so, too, did the dosage. Hours after the dose increase, on a Friday in the fall of 2011, Dean went to pick her son up from school for lunch.
“When I got to the school, the teacher was frantic because Gabriel was crying, and she couldn’t calm him down. She told me he had taken a pencil and poked another child in the eye.”
Dean took her son home. “He was screaming that his green shirt made him poke her. It wasn’t like he was making this up. It was too authentic. This was his reaction on the medication.”
Gabriel then walked into the bathroom and started screaming at the empty bathtub.
Dean stopped the medication and again tried natural remedies, which did not work. She put Gabriel on another ADHD drug that she said led to emotional and crying outbursts. She is still searching for a way to properly treat her son, who now also has a diagnosis of autism.
In Collier’s case, she switched her daughter to another ADHD medication. She started hitting herself, punching herself in the leg, and biting her fingernails and toenails, “so badly they would bleed.
“We put gloves on her. We tried the stuff that makes your nails taste bad. It was the medication.”
Collier stopped that drug, too.
“Both my husband and I said we would rather have a happy, crazy kid than a depressed, self-harming, crazy kid.”
The Star was unable to get comment from the makers of Vyvanse, made by Shire, and Biphentin, made by Purdue Pharma, on the two cases.
Wednesday, Health Canada took issue with the Star investigations concluding that the regulator does poor or little analysis of adverse drug reaction reports.
Health Canada spokesman Sinclair said the federal regulator does review and analyze the reports. The Star asked for copies of the analysis on ADHD drugs. Sinclair said he did not know if they could be released, but would get back to the Star with an answer.
I’m teaching character education at work and while looking for activities or games to teach things like trust and courage I stumbled across a list entitled “25 Good Things About Having ADHD” (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I stop and took in what I was seeing! I was very surprised to see a list of positives about something that is usually extremely negative! I have a few children at work that are labelled ADD and ADHD and when they are constantly interrupting and not listening the frustrations run high. These are NOT bad children! This is why I’m glad we have this list available for staff!
25 Good Things About Having ADHD
Compiled from families with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Lots of energy
- Willing to try things-take risks
- Ready to talk, can talk a lot
- Gets along well with adults
- Can do several things at one time
- Need less sleep
- Good sense of humor
- Very good at taking care of younger kids
- See details other people miss
- Understand what it’s like to be teased or to be in trouble so are understanding of other kids
- Can think of different and new ways to do things
- Volunteer to help others
- Happy and enthusiastic
- Imaginative creative
- Articulate- can say things well
- Sensitive- compassionate
- Eager to make new friends
- Great memory
- More fun to be with than most kids
- Warm and loving
- Care a lot about families
ALL MENTAL ILLNESSES NEED A “Good Things” LIST!
I mentioned some good things about being labelled borderline in a past blog (http://prideinmadness.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/how-borderline-personality-disorder-possibly-saved-my-life/). Things such as splitting and anger, for me, have been very beneficial for me. Splitting allows me to let go of things and people that are not good for me. Anger allows me to express myself and keep myself self emotionally which is something I couldn’t do before.
Majority of mental health is negative. The diagnosis specifically focuses on what is “flawed” about us and we become so engrossed in that negative because that’s all we’ve been given. If we can focus on the positives that are still in our lives than managing and recovering can begin to occur!
By recognizing positives in having a mental illness you can combat both social and self stigma!
What is a positive that you have been in experiencing your specific mental illness/addiction?
This idea is based off of my own personal experiences and strengthened by the speakers and people I met at PsychOUT 2011, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker, “Talking Back to Psychiatry” by Linda J. Morrison, “Manufacturing Depression” by Gary Greenberg and countless websites such as www.mindfreedom.org.
I want to propose a new type of stigma that attacks all of us, not just those labelled with a mental disorder. If we want to give it a funky technical name MindFreedom would call it “neurodiversity”.
Neurodiversity is the radical idea that we’re SUPPOSED to be different! If your brain is “too different” then we will slap you with the label of mental illness, you are disordered.
I am unsure if I will outright deny that mental illness is real because I feel I have had an illness but also been a victim of simply being someone that society doesn’t want me to be. I will not easily, if ever, comply too the traditional standards of “yes I am ill, please fix me.” I will always maintain that there is more to our mental health system than we think and that the system will let on.
I am proposing the idea that mental illness can be a form of social control. “If you can’t be who we want you to be then we will call you sick.”
We accept different genders, races, religions, beliefs, sexual orientations and so on but mental differences are not making the cut. I like to think of everything about us as being on a spectrum. We are not all in the middle of this spectrum. Some are far on either “extreme” ends of spectrum and others are scattered in the middle.
We have been learning that too much emotion is a bad thing, that being the person who is sadder or angrier is to be the undesirable person. These emotions and behaviours can interfere with your life, I know, and that is when it becomes a problem but would it be a problem if we cared so much about everyone being a certain way? If we allow people to feel and support them in feeling then maybe recovering from those feelings would be easier?
Example: while I was a teenager I found it very hard to not be sad when everyone around me was telling me my feelings were illegitimate. There was no support so there was no moving forward. This is why I ALWAYS legitimize a person’s feelings because whatever they are feeling is real to them and that needs to be understood and respected in order for you to help solve the problem that brought on those feelings.
Should this be an illness though? “Manufacturing Depression” by Gary Greenberg looks at how psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry have turned normal reactions to upsetting situations into the illness depression. He does not deny that depression as an illness can and does exist but to the extent at which it is being diagnosed he is very suspicious and we all should be.
Example: I was diagnosed with depression only based on my symptoms. My psychiatrist never asked why these symptoms appeared. If he had he would have found out that I initially became deeply depressed because I was excluded and made fun of by my friends and peers for many years. This would make anyone depressed but is it an illness? I personally do not think so. I feel my reaction to my situation was legitimate. Medication cannot take away the fact that people I knew made fun of me. (More on medication in later blogs)
Just like in the media we need to be critical of our mental health system. I realized I needed to quickly develop this critical thinking when I received my diagnosis for Borderline Personality Disorder. I could see myself in the symptoms but I could justify all of them and did not see most of them as being a bad thing. (A commentary on borderline personality disorder to come soon) It seemed like no matter what I said or what I did I was going to get a label. All I really want is to be myself.
Look through the DSM and you will find bits of yourself in many of the disorders. Although not legitimate diagnosing tools (if those exist) online quizzes will also give you different results. According to these quizzes I have borderline personality, major depression, narcissistic personality, various degrees of bipolar and dependant personality.
ADD and ADHD in children is a good example of what I feel is relatively normal child behaviour turned into an illness. If you can find me a child that can sit still, pay attention and keep quiet, please give them a medal but I can tell you those children do not exist. It pains me to see the kids I work with labelled as ADD when they’re made to sit and do math when all they want to do is get outside and run! We need to be careful with ADD and ADHD.
Some of our reactions are learned responses. Men receive the more “violent” diagnoses because men are taught in our society that violence in men is ok (until it’s an illness). Women receive the more submissive diagnoses because women are taught to be submissive (until it’s an illness). (More on gender and mental illness later)
Example: I learned how to be angry when I knew I had all right to be angry at a traumatic situation but no one was letting me be angry. This resulted in now my usual responses being in anger in order to protect myself and get my point across.
We all need help when overcoming tough situations and it’s up to you to choose what will work best for you. I have experienced the intenseness of what could have been an illness but I have also experienced what I feel is an attack on my being. We are supposed to be different. We should love being different. Being able to feel should be a beautiful part of being human and with support people in your life it can be. Do not feel shame in being sad, angry or any of the other “negative” emotions. Be excited that you can feel those things because there are people out there who exhaust themselves trying to always be happy and I think those are the people with the problems.
Neurodiversity, we should be who we are meant to be and with support it is easier to be that person and develop that person. Fitting into rigid categories is madness itself. This will be controversial but we need to be critical about everything around us and I see no reason why mental health should escape our critique.