A Search for the Roses

I am dreaming that Melia and I are wandering around downtown, particularly in the Armory Square section, where there are outdoor vendors.  Down every little alley, in small brick courtyards and on fire escapes there are people selling hand sewn hats, bags, tops and all manner of things.  They are all priced too expensively but Melia and I are having fun strolling around trying on things.

Then I wake and am in the hospital.  Today is the nineteenth day.  The staff and I have learned how to personalize our treatment of one another.  There are things that bug me terribly—call bells may not be answered for up to twenty-five minutes—but at the same time there are little kindnesses—a nurse who isn’t assigned to me but gets me ice anyway and does it with a smile, an administrator who gives me his ID badge so I can get a proper meal in the cafeteria, an aide who stands and listens simply because I feel bad and am depressed.

What we have accomplished:  my blood sugar level has been lowered by half, and both the urinary tract infections have been knocked out.  What we haven’t accomplished:  placement in a nursing home.  What we are working on:  finding PNIE treatment.

If I continue to take insulin then I will become suicidally depressed.  It’s happened the previous times I’ve taken insulin; it will happen again.  If I don’t take insulin then my glucose will go back up to 500+ and I will continue life as a vegetable in a nursing home bed.  This is what is called being between a very big rock and a very hard place—and there is no one else in the recorded history of American humanity who ever has had this situation.

There also is no one else who has taken antidepressants for twenty-six years and then stopped.  People become psychologically, if not physically, dependent on their psych meds and they simply don’t stop taking them.  In my increasingly advanced years, I have become convinced that almost all diagnosed psychological disorders are the result of being taught the wrong things through bad experiences in early life and that the “cures” that the idiot psychiatrist spoke of are not through the introduction of change agents but are the result of learning.

Decades ago, a particularly wise and insightful therapist said simply, “You were taught the wrong ways; now I will teach you the right ways.”  If there had been money to pay for more treatment, where might I have ended up?  I had been taught to be depressed, no question about it.

Anyway, I have come to suspect that many people who attribute their wellbeing to drugs—and insist that they have to keep taking them—have, in fact, fixed themselves.  I think people are learning how to make different life choices but are giving credit to pharmaceuticals instead of to themselves.  The test is simple:  take a two-week vacation from your drugs and see how you do.  This is particularly true of depression; experts have estimated that antidepressants are no more than 30% effective.

But I digress.

Fact:   people take their psych meds until they die.  I did the unthinkable:  I quit.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, was an act of God—no question about it.  Or, more correctly, it was a combined act of God and me.  God kept noodging me and giving me the chance and I took it.  That’s the way the God works:  he extends an invitation and leaves it up to your free will as to whether you’re going to accept it or not.  You work with God and he’ll work with you is the way I’ve learned it to be.

So I did the unthinkable and quit taking antidepressants.  Imagine that you train a rosebush over a trellis for twenty-six years and then remove the trellis:  what have you got?  Does the rosebush hold its shape?  Does it collapse?  Does it do something in-between?  Well, that’s where I’m at, only worse.  This isn’t about roses and wood; this is about chemicals and the brain.  This is about drugs that altered my central nervous system every day for almost half my life.

If you look up any antidepressant in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) you will find that it says ‘the exact mechanism whereby this works is unknown.’  Fuckin’ unknown!  And we are ingesting this crap at an astounding rate.

I took drugs and now am the poster-child of antidepressants.  Come and see me in my wheelchair or hospital bed, with an indwelling catheter and reliant on a machine for sleep.

But I will tell you something:  I am not licked yet.  I am taking insulin and in about four weeks the insulin will backfire and I will become suicidally depressed.  I have a month to rescue myself and that is the question:  how?


Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology.  Your emotions are connected to the central nervous system that is connected to the immune system that is connected to the hormones that are connected to your emotions.

I heard a story a long time ago.  A nurse’s daughter had multiple sclerosis and was having intolerable side effects to the medications.  A doctor paired the medications with pictures and the perfume of roses.  The girl became conditioned so that, with roses and only one-quarter the normal dose of medication, she responded as if she’d taken the full dose of medicine.

Who was that doctor and where is he now?

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
This entry was posted in depression, doctor, drugs, mental health, mental illness, patient, physician, Suicide and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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