To bleed or not to bleed?! #postyourpill: a contentious campaign but a very important conversation!
This morning I'm reposting something I wrote on social media yesterday in conjunction with the #postyourpill campaign which is currently causing such a stir.
The reason the conversation always gets so heated around medication (and the crux of the debate in psychiatry at large) is this:
It goes back to the ancient practice of bloodletting which was heavily practiced all over the world until the late 19th century -
'To bleed or not to bleed' has now become 'To medicate or not to medicate?'
What do I think?
This is a tough one because I do believe that there is a biological basis to mental illness - certainly to depression and bipolar disorder BUT at the same time I don't really think you can medicate the brain...
This is becoming clear to me the more I write and speak to others because the risks involved in tampering with the brain by use of (often poisonous) mind-altering drugs are ENORMOUS!!
Anyway, here's what I wrote on social media:
I’ve hesitated before getting involved with this #postyourpill campaign because it is such a contentious issue but I know it’s important to share…
I have suffered from severe bipolar disorder for two decades.
I appreciate that these psychiatric drugs help some people BUT there’s a tonne of us out here that have had our conditions much worsened by them.
In short, for me the traditional medications were a DISASTER.
Antidepressants citalopram, fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline, and Venlafaxine gave me fear, panic, suicidal thoughts and never alleviated my initial depression.
Withdrawing gave me frightening hallucinations, insomnia, night terrors, brain zaps & cold sweats among other terrifying things.
I now realise that antidepressants were propelling me into a mixed bipolar state where I was displaying both depressed and manic features at the same time.
Antipsychotics gave me no end of hell both on and coming off. Quetiapine being the hardest to withdraw from which gave me complete and utter insomnia when trying to discontinue. None of them made even the tiniest dent in my horrendous suicidal suffering.
I finally left the NHS after being propelled INTO a psychiatric ward for three months after the ketamine infusions I was given for treatment resistant depression catapulted me into a euphoric mania. I subsequently crashed CATASTROPHICALLY and spent 18 months bedbound and in severe pain.
How I’m here to recount the horror story is anyone’s guess but after telling Mum & Dad that there was no chance of me surviving any longer we sought expert help from Dr Andy Zamar at the The London Psychiatry Centre LLP.
He treated me with a combination of high dose Levothyroxine and rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation).
It took several months to undo the damage and stabilise my condition but slowly my symptoms abated.
A year of quietly regaining my confidence and a progression of maintaining mental wellness by prioritising it above EVERYTHING keeps me well.
I am now confidently able to say that I am back to the authentic version of myself.
I was an international eventing champion before illness struck. I lost everything to the devastation of this illness and am only here because I had incredibly generous parents who forked out thousands to get me better.
But ….I am still here.
And we don’t begrudge a penny because I am well too!
A miracle in the circumstances!
So the moral of the story is that I do believe there is a biological basis to depression and bipolar but I don’t believe in the traditional approaches!
I do however accept that people may have differing opinions and that’s ok too!
I have documented the whole story in a combined self help/ memoir which I hope will help to raise awareness and money to help others.
Nothing else matters to me.
God bless everyone struggling out there with mental illness but ALWAYS remember:
If you are still breathing there is hope of survival and recovery!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,