Psycho-Babble Medication Thread 64577

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Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam)

Posted by grapebubblegum on May 29, 2001, at 9:13:30

I hope I am not opening a can of worms here. Let's try to keep the worms contained and civil.

I just read the monster thread about the "bandage theory" and I'm gonna speak up for Cam, even though I don't know him and I'm not inside his head, (and correct me if I'm wrong, Cam) but I think he did not mean to go straight for the sore spot we all have; rather he was just pointing out one extreme end of the spectrum of patients he must see, being in the business of handing lots of meds to lots of people every day.

The caricature he created of the patient who looks to pills to cure ALL of their ills, even every last mental ill, was offensive to all of us precisely because there still exists a stigma in society that those who have psychiatric meds of any kind are "weak" or "nutty" and we all fear being seen as that nut who can't/won't cope with anything and wants to be drugged out of it. Aren't most of us protective of our privacy when it comes to leaving our psychiatric meds out where others can see as opposed to the lack of embarrassment we would feel for, as an example, cardiac meds or antibiotics? My own sister is an RN and she rolls her eyes at the mention of psychiatric meds and when I asked her why, her answer was that she sees so many patients admitted who are "addicted." So she is getting a skewed view of the psyhiatric patient population and thus is jaded.

I don't know what Cam sees every day but I would guess it is a range of patients from the desperate people loathe to take a pill but finally agreeing to in order to save their lives, to the people who come in for 10 RXs every week and make pill-popping into an Olympic sport. I don't think he meant to imply that any of us are the latter. I've seen people who enjoy that sport (my own mother) so I think I know what kind of person he is talking about when he refers to those who expect meds to fix their every last unpleasant emotion.

Like he said, we all seem to be thinking people here (I'm constantly astounded by the intelligence and insight I find here.)

So, to beat a dead horse, I'll illustrate what I think Cam was saying as applied to myself: I'm a very conservative med user (meaning I like to use as little as possible or none; don't most of us feel that way, really?) but when my doc and I were discussing a switch to another antidepressant, I thought maybe I could get something else in the bargain and asked about ADs that might help me get my binge eating under control. She talked about the anorexic properties of various meds and then pointed out that, in the end, there is no magic pill I can find to make it EASY for me to stop overeating, or at least none that she was willing to prescribe in my best interest for me. She reminded me that no matter what kind of med might help me with what, it is up to me to be responsible for my behavior. That was a kick in the pants I needed. However, I'll go ahead and admit that I can tend toward that unattractive stereotype Cam portrayed because if there were a med with no dangerous side effects that would lessen my appetite and help me get off the thirty pounds I really need to lose, it would help me both physically and mentally and I would go for it without hesitation. But as for now, I accept that it is in my best interest to do what I can on my own before resorting to a pharmacological weight-loss aid.

I think he was saying that people need to remember that meds and self-care complement one another, and I don't think he was trying to say that most of us are lazy and could solve our problems solely through non-med means. That being said, though, it is prudent to remember that self-care is a side of the coin just as important as the other. I feel relatively fortunate that I am and have been able to go med-free for years at a time regarding my primary complaint, panic disorder, and a lot of it has to do with structuring my life situation to avoid reaching the threshhold level that will make me more vulnerable to getting "sick." But everyone, including myself, has to decide when the structuring of environment is reasonable and when it is not. For example, when I was about 18, I was getting so bad I was almost at the not-leave-the-house-stage. Unfortunately, being young, stubborn and afraid of meds, I took a long time to work through that stage and get well again and had I taken some meds, I would have improved my quality of life. Thankfully, now I am not so stubborn. I flew out to California a few years ago to see my father, and he died not long after so I am really glad I went to see him. I went because I was clutching a bottle of Klonopin and had to take one en route. Would I have gone with no meds available to me? No. The devastation of severe panic attacks just cannot be understood by those who have not gone through them.

My roundabout, long point here is that I can do some things to "heal" myself but only to a certain degree. There is a definite wall, and I can say with near certainty right now that I will never be cured of panic disorder (I've had remissions that lasted many years and relapses so many times between age 11 when it first appeared and my current age of 35) that I do not get discouraged over the fact anymore, I just deal with it using a combination of life structuring and meds and understand that it is a lifelong condition for me and there is no shame in that because I have done all I can in terms of personal "work" and if I need meds to keep the disorder in check at times, that is just a plain old fact of life. But Cam, if you saw me curled up on an E.R. floor, teeth chattering, unable to answer questions or follow simple orders, shaking my head and saying "No" 100 times in a row, you'd understand that there is a limit to the work people can do on their own personal psychiatric conditions. It's like someone else said about her therapists being stumped because she seemed to have plenty of insight and maturity yet her problems seemed unallayed still... Yet I don't think you were talking about people like me, or Gilbert or the many others of us who have different, but equally unpleasant problems to deal with.

I guess it comes down to stigma and lack of complete knowledge of the mechanisms of diseases of the brain, as you mentioned, Cam. And it comes down to semantics as to the words "cure" and "treatment" and "remission." Some people (and I currently am doing the same but hope not to for much longer) are on every-day medication therapy to control their panic disorder and I suppose if they are panic-attack free for life (or depression-free or whatever their symptom might be) they may consider themselves cured. I see what you are saying, that these are really band-aids because if you removed the band-aid the wound is still there. I guess some of us hope that the band aid will allow the wound underneath to heal over time. But even if not, I'll go ahead and say I think I have a lifelong condition and I am ok with that; if some people need lifelong medication treatment then there is nothing wrong with that. When people are diabetic we never look askance at the insulin they need to keep their symptoms under control. Psychiatric patients resent not being given the same respect when we suffer from problems that not only the medical community has a poor understanding of, but society in general has a stigmatic view of, based largely on misunderstanding. Some nurses in the hospital become, like my sister but much worse, hardened to the sight of people in mental distress and think they are being spoiled princes or princesses who just want attention and don't want to get up off the floor when in reality, a person in a panic attack most likely wants no attention and would like to be anywhere except curled up on the floor but feels paralyzed and terrified mentally.

Ok, I ranted, I vented. Gilbert, you and I seem to have a lot in common. Are e-mail addresses shared publicly on this board somewhere? Mine is if you want to mail me.

Cam, as always thanks for your insights, and I was trying to help out here because I understood what you were saying. I think you were talking more about the people who say, "I hate it when I open a cereal box and the prize within is not the one I wanted, doc. Can you give me an Rx to make me happy with whatever prize I get?"

(Ridiculous caricature not intended to portray anyone here, added to impart levity) :o)


Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) grapebubblegum

Posted by Cam W. on May 29, 2001, at 16:58:49

In reply to Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) , posted by grapebubblegum on May 29, 2001, at 9:13:30

GBG - Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! That is pretty much exactly what I was trying to say. I was really surprized at the response I had received. I hadn't read the thread that dealt with this topic previously and did not realize how much of sore point it had been. In my clinical practice, I am constantly telling people that they have to work with the drugs to achieve some semblance of normality and am being told that if the doc would prescribe the right drug, they would be better. It doesn't work that way, especially in a reactive depression. I do realize, that with chronic depressions (like mine) that meds are the thing that "keep" me normal, but if I didn't help the meds along, I would still be in bed.

I really appreciate the post, and thanks again for bailing me out. I really don't always have the ability to put what is in my head on paper, but I am working on it. I think the sign of true professional is to be able to take the science and put it into everyday language. I envy you. Just when I think I am getting a grasp on what mental illness means and how it affects people in a common way, something like this rears it's ugly head, totally baffling me with the response to my statements. I guess that I have to open my other half of my brain a little more. Honestly, I am trying (some will say, "very trying").

Sincerely - Cam


Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) grapebubblegum

Posted by paulk on May 29, 2001, at 22:49:54

In reply to Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) , posted by grapebubblegum on May 29, 2001, at 9:13:30

Even the mentaly heathy can have to struggle in life. Life can even be hard for white males!


Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam)

Posted by grapebubblegum on May 30, 2001, at 13:04:41

In reply to Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) grapebubblegum, posted by paulk on May 29, 2001, at 22:49:54

Paul, I think that was meant to be half-joking, and I say: :oD

Cam, no prob. I am a writer by nature. ;o)


Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam)

Posted by AMenz on May 30, 2001, at 13:31:25

In reply to Re: Medications and cures ( sp. attn: Gil, Cam) grapebubblegum, posted by paulk on May 29, 2001, at 22:49:54

Yeah, even those who are over six feet, blond and blue eyed and can get a job just by showing up to the interview and sitting up. (Joke, I feel constrained to add this because humor doesn't seem to carry electronically-why is that do you suppose).
> Even the mentaly heathy can have to struggle in life. Life can even be hard for white males!

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