I have long suspected that psych meds drove me mad. Certainly, the evidence, when examined carefully, points in that direction: I did not have any mental health issues before I got on psychiatric medication; then, over the course of the 27-years I was on them, my mental health slowly deteriorated. At first, neurologists gave me one or two psych meds to combat head pain; in the end, psychiatrists were prescribing me handfuls of psych meds because I was “bi-polar,” “manic,” or “clinically depressed.” I went from the ivy halls of academia to the padded walls of psych wards over three torturous decades.
If I had any doubts about the role psych meds played in destabilizing my mind, they were quickly disabused after I tapered off the last of my medication: almost every single physical, emotional, and mental ailment I was struggling with, and they were many and quite acute – one doesn’t get put in Partial Hospitalization Program at a Behavioral Health Center for five months if he is a model of physical and mental health – abated once I successfully got myself off of psychiatric medication entirely.
As a long-standing fan of the mystery genre, I admire how detectives suss out evidence to determine the nature of a crime and perpetrator behind it. The clearest evidence of my destabilization can be in found in my writing. And it points damningly at the medications I was taking at the time.
In an earlier blog, I note that almost all of the perpetrators in a long list of mass killings committed recently “were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes.” http://www.alternativetomeds.com/blog/2014/06/loss-of-self-control
The same can be said of my writing: I’ve committed every dark act of creation while taking powerful psychotropic drugs. The most egregious took place when I adjusted my medication regimen by introducing new psych drugs or discontinued those that either my doctors or I felt were no longer serving me.
I wasn’t killing people off in ‘reality.’ I was killing them off in my writing and killing off the best of myself in the process.
When I decided to blog about this topic, I went back and examined poems, short stories, and, of course, the murder mystery I wrote while mentally ill. My mystery, which I initially titled A cross and Expensive Lay but ultimately changed to the more telling Cobalt Madness after exercising what little discretion I could muster, is a unvarnished description of a decent into madness.
Poems I wrote celebrated the end of hope, love, and life. I would repeat these to myself over and over until they became my internal soundtrack. Most are so raw and crude, the type of reflections you would imagine Hannibal Lecture to have in his personal diary, that I choose not to give life to them in this blog, or ever again. One poem in particular, Necrophagous Gomorrahicus, epitomizes the creative rot I celebrated. It is so exquisitely disturbing that even now I cringe reading it.
The same can be said of my mental acuity. Eight years after graduating Magnum Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, I was having trouble recalling even simple words. When I checked into the Alternative to Meds facility in September of 2012, I could barely sign my own name. I went from helping students formulate their personal statements for elite colleges and graduate schools and coaching students for various standardized tests to having trouble formulating a complete sentence. Now that I am med-free, I write or lecture almost every day. My mind is not what it used to be, but it has come a long way back.
I have reams of evidence, nay books of it, that document the pernicious power of psychiatric medication. Over time, these meds warped my creative imagination and shattered my most prized possession: my acuity.
How has psychiatric medication destabilized your mind, warped your imagination, or impaired your acuity?