In the End . . .


Greetings again, neighbors far and wide.  It’s three o’clock in the morning and I have been lying awake re-telling my story in my mind—the part where a doctor damaged me and I spent a month on life support with no expectation of survival.  It seems that the nightmares of the damage that has been inflicted on me in the name of psychiatric care never go away.

Angry?  Yes, I’m angry.  Anger is the God-given emotion that protects us from the people and things that endanger our lives.  Psychiatrists and pharmaceuticals have done that to me.  I only wish to warn others, to let my story stand as a stark lesson on what can happen if you trust your doctor and your drugs.

Are there good drugs?  I suppose, a few, but as someone said, most of it is about lifestyle changes.  Particularly in America, we want to feel good and we want it now—without benefit of a healthy diet or good exercise.

One of the things that I would ask you to respect is that I am older than most of you.  I have experienced and remember things that you will never know (and thank God for that!).  When I was put on antidepressants in 1975, there were no alternatives—no yoga classes, no nutritional supplements, no information—no Internet.

There were drugs, and what Dr. Peter Breggin now calls “medication spell binding.”  You trusted your doctor, took your drugs, submitted to familial pressures—and didn’t have a brain that was clear enough to think, to analyze, and to reject what was harmful.

I am in a wheelchair and have an indwelling catheter because of it.  No, the world is not my oyster and the future is not my domain, not because I choose “victimhood” but because I am physically broken by drug damage.

I live alone in two rooms, subsist on government handouts, and cannot walk the length of the hallway.  For those of you who are younger, have had different choices, and are still healthy enough to walk and to work, kindly have compassion for those of us who have gone before you and paid, virtually with our lives, so you can have choices.

I saw people with lobotomies, and wrist scars from chains, and in canvas straightjackets.  Things you’ve only read about, I have lived.  The nights are lonely and dark, and I am left with nothing because of doctors and drugs.  Remember me with respect; one day you, too, will be old.

After while the happy talk runs out and you are left with nothing but memories of inflicted pain.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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