Why Dr Steve Balt, Psychiatrist, is Not Sure Medications Work… And GOOD for him for saying so!

Antipsychotics - NOT

From KEVINMD.COM and Steve Balt’s WONDERFUL ThoughtBroadcast.com

Why I’m not sure that psychiatric medications work

STEVE BALT, MD | MEDS | JANUARY 25, 2013

I have a confession to make.  I don’t think what I do each day makes any sense.

Perhaps I should explain myself.  Six months ago, I started my own private psychiatry practice.  I made this decision after working for several years in various community clinics, county mental health systems, and three academic institutions.  I figured that an independent practice would permit me to be a more effective psychiatrist, as I wouldn’t be encumbered by the restrictions and regulations of most of today’s practice settings.

My experience has strengthened my long-held belief that people are far more complicated than diagnoses or “chemical imbalances”—something I’ve written about on this blog and with which most psychiatrists would agree.  But I’ve also made an observation that seems incompatible with one of the central dogmas of psychiatry.  To put it bluntly, I’m not sure that psychiatric medications work.

Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m just another disgruntled, anti-medication psychiatrist who thinks we’ve all been bought and misled by the pharmaceutical industry, please wait.  The issue here is, to me, a deeper one than saying that we drug people who request a pill for every ill.  In fact, it might even be a stretch to say that medications never work.  I’ve seen antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and even interventions like ECT give results that are actually quite miraculous.

But here’s my concern: For the vast majority of my patients, when a medication “works,” there are numerous other potential explanations, and a simple discussion may reveal multiple other hypotheses for the clinical response.  And when you consider the fact that no two people “benefit” in quite the same way from the same drug, it becomes even harder to say what’s really going on. There’s nothing scientific about this process whatsoever.

And then, of course, there are the patients who just don’t respond at all.  This happens so frequently I sometimes wonder whether I’m practicing psychiatry wrong, or whether my patients are playing a joke on me.  But no, as far as I can tell, I’m doing things right: I prescribe appropriately, I use proper doses, and I wait long enough to see a response.  My training is up-to-date; I’ve even been invited to lecture at national conferences about psychiatric meds.  I can’t be that bad at psychiatry, can I?

Probably not.  So if I assume that I’m not a complete nitwit, and that I’m using my tools correctly, I’m left to ask a question I never thought I’d ask: Is psychopharmacology just one big charade?

Maybe I feel this way because I’m not necessarily looking for medications to have an effect in the first place.  I want my patients to get better, no matter what that entails.  I believe that treatment is a process, one in which the patient (not just his or her chemistry) is central.  When drugs “work,” several factors might explain why, and by the same token, when drugs don’t work, it might mean that something else needs to be treated instead—rather than simply switching to a different drug or changing the dose.  Indeed, over the course of several sessions with a patient, many details inevitably emerge:  persistent anxiety, secretive substance abuse, a history of trauma, an ongoing conflict with a spouse, or a medical illness.  These often deserve just as much attention as the initial concern, if not more.

Although our understanding of the pathophysiology of mental illness is pure conjecture, prescribing a medication (at least at present) is an acceptable intervention.  What happens next is much more important.  I believe that prescribers should continue to collect evidence and adjust their hypotheses accordingly.  Unfortunately, most psychopharmacologists rarely take the time to discuss issues that can’t be explained by neurochemistry (even worse, they often try to explain all issues in terms of unproven neurochemistry), and dwindling appointment times mean that those who actually want to explore other causes don’t have the chance to do so.

So what’s a solution?  This may sound extreme, but maybe psychiatry should reject the “biochemical model” until it’s truly “biochemical”—i.e., until we have ways of diagnosing, treating, and following illnesses as we do in most of the rest of medicine.  In psychiatry, the use of medications and other “somatic” treatments is based on interview, gut feeling, and guesswork—not biology.  That doesn’t mean we can’t treat people, but we shouldn’t profess to offer a biological solution when we don’t know the nature of the problem.  We should admit our ignorance.

It would also help to allow (if not require) more time with psychiatric patients.  This is important.  If I only have 15-20 minutes with a patient, I don’t have time to ask about her persistent back pain, her intrusive brother-in-law, or her cocaine habit.  Instead, I must restrict my questions to those that pertain to the drug(s) I prescribed at the last visit.  This, of course, creates the perfect opportunity for confirmation bias—where I see what I expect to see.

We should also make an effort to educate doctors and patients alike about how little we actually know.  The subjects in trials to obtain FDA approval do NOT resemble real-world patients and are not evaluated or treated like real-world patients (and this is unlikely to change anytime soon because it works so well for the drug companies).  Patients should know this.  They should also know that the reliability of psychiatric diagnosis is poor in the first place, and that psychiatric illnesses have no established biochemical basis with which to guide treatment.

Finally, I should say that even though I call myself a psychiatrist and I prescribe drugs, I do not believe I’m taking advantage of my patients by doing so.  All of my patients are suffering, and they deserve treatment.  For some, drugs may play a key role in their care.  But when I see my entire profession move towards a biochemical approach—without any good evidence for such a strategy, and without a fair assessment of alternative explanations for behavior—and see, in my own practice, how medications provide no real benefit (or, frequently, harm) compared with other treatments, I have to wonder whether we’ve gone WAY beyond what psychopharmacology can truly offer, and whether there’s any way to put some logic back into what we call psychiatric treatment.

100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

Pamela Spiro Wagner:

These 100 things to do when you are sad was created by an 18 year old named “Natalie” and I think it is just wonderful. If you cannot find anything that cheers you up in this list, surely just the reading of it cannot help but distract you a wee bit from your sorrows. And if not, my suggestion is that you try to write your own, because that surely will! In fact, writing such a list is on MY list of things to do when I next need such a distraction, and if I ever need prompting, someone please remind me to do so.

By the way, if a certain Paloma happens to read this, please know that you did #30 on the list I have reblogged — I hope it was not because you were sad! But whether you know it or not, and despite the irritable nature of my response, you really made my day! You write about walking around with a smile? Well, that was what I did after I received your email. Thank you.

Originally posted on The Girl in the Little Black Dress:

Dear Reader,

I advise you to do these things on rainy days (I’m not talking about the weather). Bookmark this article or link it or whatever the kids are doing these days, and open it when you’re feeling sad.

1.) Use up a whole stick of Post-Its. Write names, poetry, phone numbers, dates. Stick them around your room.

2.) Drink orange juice. Eat fruit. Buy some soup. I don’t know. Just eat or drink something that makes you feel better.

3.) Put on too many clothes. Several jackets, your favorite pair of sweats and some fuzzy socks ideally. (Sydney taught me this. It works I swear.)

4.) Take a bath. Sylvia Plath said it best: « There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them » (The Bell Jar ). Get some candles, and put on your December playlist.

5.) Look up pictures of dinosaurs…

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Talk About Abilify with Pamela

ARC_Talk_About_Meds_Banner_Pamela

 

 

 

I have been asked, by The Recall Center http://www.recallcenter.com, see also http://www.recallcenter.com/xarelto/side-effects/ to “talk about my medications” so here I am, talking about my “favorite psychotropic drug, NOT..”: Abilify.

 

Why do I take Abilify?

 

I take Abilify, well, why do I take Abilify? I was prescribed Abilify because of the diagnosis of schizophrenia many years ago, and I usually take it along with another anti-psychotic drug (Geodon). But frankly the reason that I, I myself, take Abilify for now has nothing to do with psychosis or schizophrenia. I take Abilify simply and only because I have this weird feeling that it helps me write and do art. Ever since I have been taking it, or the two drugs together, I have had no trouble doing art at any time or even writing when I want to. The extra plus is that I can finish longer term projects, ones that I start on one day and have to finish over time. In the past this was a problem, but it seems to not be so difficult for me any more. I do not know for certain whether this is due to the effects of the Abilify/Geodon combination, but it feels like it, since I was never capable of finishing projects so easily and reliably before then. On the other hand, I believe that I can do these things myself now, and that once I get used to living here, in my new state of Vermont, I will choose to sloooowly go off the medications for good.

 

 

How do I remember to take my medicine?

In truth, I often forget to take my medications, but for the past thirteen years I had a Visiting Nurse come to remind me. And now that I live in another state, where this service is not available, I have a med tray that is delivered weekly. I hope that I will be able, by seeing this tray openly on display on my table, to remember to take the ones I want. At least for as long as I want to take them.

 

I have been asked about side effects of this drug, but I would say, 1) all “side effects” of drugs are the effects of the drug, and you cannot tell a person that she is only suffering “side effects” especially if they are serious enough to cause distress. 2) there are very serious and troubling effects possible with Abilify, so my experience is not necessarily typical 3) I used to feel very irritable on Abilify, but no longer 4) usually I add Geodon to help me sleep and calm the anxiety that Abilify can induce

 

Where do I go for Medical support? I just a few weeks ago moved to Vermont, so I do not yet have a Primary Care Provider, but I do have a psychiatric nurse practitioner who will see me – so far, at any rate – once a month. For medical issues, at this time, I do not know whom I will see, but in Connecticut I used to have an APRN at a doctor’s office. I also was able to get to an Urgent Care center easily, in CT. That is not possible here in rural VT. So in the event of a medical emergency, I do not know exactly what I would do, except call 911 and hope for the best!

 

Before taking Abilify, or ANY anti-psychotic drug, here are the questions that I think you should ask your doctors: You should ask, first of all, why he or she is prescribing an anti-psychotic medication for you. Does he or she believe you are psychotic? If not, why prescribe such a powerful and possibly devastating drug? And if so, why? Doctors should be willing to answer this openly and honestly and if they will not, then I do not believe that you should listen to their advice, but get a second opinion. You never know who might derive financial gains from prescribing a medication that is not available generically. Also, why is your doctor not being honest with you? I would never feel comfortable in a situation like that…

 

 

Ask your doctor what to expect after taking this drug and when to expect the effects, good or bad. What does he or she anticipate you will experience as a benefit and what he or she thinks you might experience on the down side? Ask them to be honest about this and why they feel it is worth the cost/benefit ratio to you.

 

Abilify is extremely expensive and non-generic until 2015, when a generic form is scheduled to become available. So if you can, I would ask your doctors about why they are prescribing this particular drug and not another. There may be very good reasons for it, such as a low incidence of weight gain, and little sedation, at least at doses below 15mg. Nevertheless, I would want to be certain that there were no financial inducements such as stock holdings in the pharmaceutical company involved etc.

 

 

There are ALWAYS risks involved when you take pscho-active medications, or any drug, but anti-psychotic drugs can be especially problematic for some people. Even though Abilify causes fewer problems with massive weight gain, for many people this is not always the case and weight gain as well as Type 2 diabetes, with or without weight increase has been known to occur on Abilify. Over-activation and irritability have been reported frequently, in my experience. And many people I know who have taken Abilify have told me that they have trouble sleeping if they take it at night.

 

Published research suggests that 30mg of Abilify is no more “effective” than 15mg. From my own experience, I can only say that at 15 mg Abilify is quite activating but at 20-30mg it becomes suddenly sedating and less helpful. This is why so many people refer to Abilify dosing as “Less is more.” They mean in some sense that the lower doses work better than the higher ones, unless the sole goal is sedation, in which case I would say there are better drugs for that purpose and safer ones.

 

As for drug interactions, I am not aware of any important ones.

 

Finally, the three main things I wish I knew before taking Abilify are what I wish I’d known before I took ANY anti-psychotic drug many years ago: that if I took what they gave me, and kept taking it, 1) I might be disabled for the rest of my life 2) it might induce chronic/episodic psychosis – i.e. stop the natural process of recovery in its tracks 3) NOT that my brain’s neurochemistry was already “out of balance” but that my brain and its neurochemistry would be changed and destabilized by the drug itself…

 

That is what I wish I knew before taking Abilify. Before I take any drug from now on, I will find out these things and determine for myself whether the cost/benefit ratio really makes sense.

 

 

But on the whole I would say that NO DRUG developed in the last 20 years has been adequately or honestly researched for any pharma company to make a claim about either its efficacy or its safety. NONE. So I would on that basis probably never take a new drug from now on. There is not a drug company out there that I trust to have done ANY new brain research, since it’s all based on junk and garbage theories that arose from “back researching” Thorazine, which was bogus in the first place. So why would I want to take a drug that was developed from research coming out of that cesspit?

 

I am 62 years old. I am NOT suicidal and I certainly do not want MDs with murder on their brains to euthanize me with their psycho-drugs, or to use me as some guinea pig to determine how much control they can have over people…NO MORE DRUGs, NO MORE DOCTORS, NO MORE HOSPITALS AND HOSPITAL ABUSES.

 

 

I may take a couple of drugs today in order to survive the transition from CT to VT, but you must understand that my brain was already damaged from the years of having been given them against my will. So I HAVE AN ALREADY DAMAGED BRAIN, from the medications I’ve already taken.

 

I do not advise anyone with a more or less intact brain to take an anti-psychotic drug, not ever, not if you can avoid it and certainly not for “the rest of your life.” NEVER take any drug on an ongoing, “forever” basis. ALWAYS re-evaluate your need for it.

 

And that is all I am going to say about Abilify. If you take Abilify for “depression” you have come to the wrong place. Nevertheless, I have written a blog post just for you. Do a search on “Add Abilify” and you should find it. But you won’t like it any more than this one. Sorry about that.

 

Pamwagg’s Art from the Wonderful “Care Bed” in Northeast Kingdom, Vermont

BioHazard Head and Face with Bugs...first drawing done at Care Bed in St Johnsbury Vt in Nov 2014 by Pamela Spiro Wagner
BioHazard Head and Face with Bugs…first drawing done at Care Bed in St Johnsbury Vt in Nov 2014 by Pamela Spiro Wagner

 

Silent Scream by Pamela Spiro Wagner, 11/2014
Silent Scream by Pamela Spiro Wagner, 11/2014 Drawing # 2

 

Fist Protesting Restraints
Fist Protesting Restraints Drawing #3 (restraints would NEVER be used at Care Bed)

 

Listen Up Collage -- A message more than art.
Listen Up! Free Your Soul! Collage — More a message about my treatment in Connecticut hospitals (never at Care Bed!) than “art” (#4)

 

Rocking Chair at VT "Care Bed"
Rocking Chair at VT “Care Bed” Drawing #5

 

Care Bed Living Room with bedroom in background
Care Bed Living Room with bedroom in background (at night) Drawing #6

 

Mischief and Kitten among Ornaments!
Mischief and Kitten among Ornaments! Drawing #7

You Can’t Really Change Your LIfe, After All, Can You?

You Spew Poison into the World
You Spew Poison into the World

 

Of course you can’t change your life. Your “giants go with you wherever you go,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many many years ago, and it is still sadly true.

 

I left Connecticut, thinking I could escape, at least the hospital torture, but I cannot escape the voices that hate me and the demons that I carry with me, the fact that I burden the world, poison it when I exist in it, and that wherever I go I leave a slime of pollution and hatred..I cannot help that. It is a genetic flaw, no matter what good I try to do, the generosity I practice, the kindnesses I have done and preached, it all goes for naught in the end, when the poison leaches from my marrow and through my skin and permeates the world. People feel it then and run away, screaming…

 

I know this and feel it. and I cannot take it any longer. I have had it. Lord knows I have tried and tried to obviate it, to deny it, to remove the stain or fix it, but it has never worked. I am done. I can’t do it any more. It is over. I cannot deal with the voices and the evil that I am and cause any longer. It is so clear to me that others want this end from me too, because although they talk a good game about help and programs to assist me, they actually refuse to make them available to me, and deliberately– DELIBERATELY —  turn a deaf ear when I overtly say, I NEED HELP NOW…How much more obvious and clear spoken can I be?

I will NOT beg for my life or my skin. No. I do not deserve that. And if not one wants me alive or intact, then there is a reason for it…and I know what it is, as I have stated. So if I get the message that “this is it” today, at my appointment again, that We HAVE NOTHING FOR YOU, that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, that “we do not really care what happens”. then it is OVER…I cannot care for myself, the devil, and I know what must be done…

I have done all I can, I really have. Do not try to tell me I haven’t tried for 62 years as bravely and carried on ALONE as I could possibly do it and be. But I cannot do it any longer, I am sorry, But this is it. Either PROVE to me that YOU CARE THAT I EXIST AND DO NOT WANT ME TO DO…whatever.

 

No , in fact YOU cannot do anything, any of you out there. Frankly. This is strictly between me and the folks here tasked with making sure I am safe and it is clear that I have poisoned all of them already, I have used up my quota of caring and assistance and that is that. It’s gone. It’s over. I’m gone. GET LOST. YOU BAD RUBBISH. We have had it with you. You are worthless shit.

 

Goodbye.  I don’t know what will happen to me. But I can’t do this any longer.

HOW SAFE ARE PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATIONS?

Pamela Spiro Wagner:

My only addition to this article is to answer this question “How safe are Psychiatric Medications?” with a resounding, “Not safe at all!” And then to ask the even more important question that the USA FDA doesn’t ever ask: How Effective are Psychiatric Drugs? That should be the fundamental question but I don’t think anyone dares ask it let alone answer it honestly, not at least someone without a large stake in the answer.

I challenge anyone to ask and answer that question next: How EFFECTIVE are our psychiatric medications? It would I think be extraordinarily difficult at this point, at least in this country, even to think about such a question, so set are we in our thinking about such things that we cannot even begin to consider the notion that perhaps these drugs were NEVER effective ever, or no more effective than just placebos all along. It would take extraordinary courage to acknowledge that it was always the doctor/patient interaction that mattered more than anything, this and the natural history of each mental or emotional disturbance,..In fact, I have yet to meet any single person who would consider this to be a possibility…But oh how refreshing it would be were that person to step forward!

Anyhow, this reblog is very interesting indeed, and as good a place to start as any in a reconsideration of how safe such meds really are.

Originally posted on Sheri de Grom:

The American Recall Center/Personal Experience
by – Sheri de Grom

Far Too Many Pills - Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo
Far Too Many Pills – Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo

Each day begins with my swallowing a handful of pills and injecting a shot. Each medication has more side effects than I care to think about. Four of the pills I swallow in the a.m. are for panic attacks resulting from a nasty case of PTSD. I’ve worked hard in therapy and thought I had managed to put everything in a pretty box and handed it to God. The move to DC I’ve talked about a lot brought on other events leading to more severe panic attacks. After my second brain injury, I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy and here came another pill and more panic. I suddenly found myself in one dangerous situation after another and I had no idea when my body would betray me and…

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PRESIDENT OBAMA LECTURES DR MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS ON THE MISTREATMENT OF PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS

angry obama

I think everyone who can play this file will find it both instructive and illuminating and actually very very …”interesting”…So go ahead, Mikey. LlSTEN TO YOUR PRESIDENT!!!!! Tee hee.

THANK YOU, MICHAEL EDWARD BALKUNAS, MD FOR EVERYTHING!!!! Along with my GOOGLE + REVIEW of NEW BRITAIN GENERAL HOSPITAL

I would put my entire New Britain General Hospital chart online except that i only have access at this time to a small portion of my MAY–JUNE 2014  record as they decided that 1000 pages was too many to send to my psychiatrist the first time around. She  requested the entire chart, but lazily they sent the discharge summary and the ED chart. In the meantime we have put in an immediate request for the rest and they said they are sending those ASAP.

Interestingly, the first page of the ED report states that availability of Advance Directive is “unknown.” Nevertheless, the ED triage notes state, with apparent disapproval and resentment, that “pt presents with details instructions [sic] on how to provide her care..” ie the advance directive (which it seems was immediately disregarded as an insult to their knowledge)…

ED Nurses note by “Seneilya… RN Assumed care of patient. Patient arrived via EMS after VNA called for increased anxiety. EMS reports patient refused to speak but wrote down, “Sunglasses block hate. I don’t want to hurt anybody.” On admissions patient refused to speak to this RN. Patient pointed at her head when asked why she was here. Patient nodded “yes” when asked if she was hearing voices but refused to answer other questions. …(next sentence indecipherable)

Report given to Beth RN who assumed care of patient…

At 15:19 Beth RN wrote the following:

“Pt not responding verbally to this nurse, this nurse looked through her art book and placed it back on her stretcher then pt picked it up and slammed it down on the stretcher and pointed her finger at the book. Unable to get pt to communicate. Pt pulled sheets over her head. Pt still in street clothes, will pt [sic] as is until examined by MD.”

What is not said here is that this nurse, “Beth” never asked me whether she might look at my artbook. She simply took it as her right to look at it, and then did so. She refused to allow me any means of communication, however, but demanded that I speak to her. When I was unable to do this, she did not inquire in any fashion as to why I was not speaking nor apparently make any inquiries from anyone else as to why this was so. If she had provided me with means to write I might have been able to tell her what had happened in the previous two weeks at home. Instead, she was so furious at my lack of speech that she belligerently refused to permit any other mode of communication but made assumptions that were extremely detrimental.

I was later given a hospital gown and told to dress myself or I would be forcibly assisted in doing so.

This is what Beth RN records what happened after I was provided with a meal that I could not eat because it was not vegetarian. Note that before this, I had begged gesturally for a means to communicate and all such implements had been outright refused me. This had led to my slamming the artbook on the stretcher in frustration and pulling the sheets over my eyes, effectively silenced.

Now with my meal, I at last had a means to write.

“Pt ate nothing,” Beth RN reports, “[but she] wrote messages with ketchup and French fries, ‘I need a crayon.” This nurse told pt she needs to speak because she can, pt threw everything on her table on the floor, food juice, etc. Pt then picked up fries from the floor and started eating them and gathered more and putting them in the bed with her and kicked the other food away in the OBS area.”

“Pt went to the BR, seen coming from the BR with paper towels then pt observed writing with her finger on a paper towel with something, first thinking it must be ketchup, then maybe jelly, then this nurse go up to check and pt found to be writing with her own feces, some paper was able to be removed, other paper with large piece of BM pt through at this nurse. Pt moved to room 42 [seclusion] then pt got OOB and snuck around corner and tried to attack this nurse from behind, public safety was able to get to pt first, pt to be medicated and restrained. Pt licking feces off fingers, would not let nurse wash her hands…”

Now I want to tell my side of this story because they invented this story out of whole cloth. Yes, parts of it are true, but out of order and not the way Beth related it. This is important because the way she wrote it makes me seem like I spontaneously attacked her out of the blue, which never happened. However, I was also privy to a conversation by the so called Public Safety officers, AKA Guards, who in front of me decided to create this story in order to justify restraining me, because they simply wanted an excuse.

What really happened was that due to my needing to communicate, I wrote my needs with ketchup on the paper box the meal came in, but that was taken away from me, and Beth, rather than telling/asking me to speak came up to me with a NOTE she had written to me (the irony of this is beyond belief except that it is true!) saying, “I will not speak to you or give you anything to write with until you start speaking to me…” Oh GOD! It was incredible. At this point, I was livid and also desperate to write so I had no choice but to use my own feces, which didn’t strike me as awful as it might have…What other choices did I have???? None at all.

So I did as she wrote and I tried to write journal entries about what was happening to me on paper towels with my own fecal material. This of course did not go over too well. However, I never snuck up behind Beth and tried to assault her. What happened was what I wrote in the second rap song. She snuck up on me and simply SNATCHED my artwork book out from under me and raced away with it, holding it up in triumph. I was so furious, without even a thought as to any possible consequences, that I raced behind her intending only to snatch it back. That was all. I never assaulted her, I never so much as touched her. I only grabbed for the book that she had not asked for from me. PERIOD.

That was when they dragged me to “Room 42″ and when the guards, holding me down, decided they wanted an excuse to restrain me, and though one of them cautioned that they really had no reason to do so, the other told him not to worry, “we’ll find a reason.” And as I learned shortly thereafter from accusations made by Dr Balkunas, they did so.

But an accusation made isn’t necessarily true, as we all know, and just because Dr Balkunas accused me of LYING or of making up a story doesn’t mean that was true either. He never asked me what did happen. He never tried to find out the real events of that evening, he simply designated me as manipulative and “volitional” essentially a prime-time liar…Which meant that this started a snowball of a disaster in the making. Because by the time he finally saw me on the W-1 Psych Unit the next day, he had already made the decision not to let me communicate by writing and therefore he meant not to let me tell him what was going on from the first. He had decided not to recognize the extreme state of desperation and frustration this induced, but to see only violence and willfulness and to deal with this by punishing me with torture. PERIOD.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Michael E Balkunas, MD , the self- proclaimed god of W-1, claimed to have been there when this happened, when the guards said that I just shot up off the gurney and attacked Beth, the nurse, from behind. But the record does not bear this out. In fact, he never saw me at all until the next day and all the orders were written by other physicians. Dr Balkunas’s name is not even mentioned until the afternoon of May 13 when it says only that he was at my bedside to evaluate me. Even then, from what I recall, I was so sedated after multiple forced meds that I was unable to answer any question. I was unable to speak in any event, so given the face that he refused me the tools to write with, this was as unproductive an evaluation as possible.

I was to be admitted to W-1 on the basis of his snap judgments from that evaluation,: from which he drew the diagnosis that I had a probable “borderline personality disorder.”

How could he possibly diagnose a personality disorder, something that takes time to discern in a person, after seeing me after such an extremely traumatic circumstance, for less than three minutes? In point of fact, what likely happened was that he took an immediate disliking to me, and decided to diagnose me with something that in his mind justified his egregious treatment of me as well as his immediately not allowing me to write instead of speaking. I cannot otherwise explain his behavior . Nor can I understand his apparent surprise at mine when I did not respond to him as he expected. Why did he think I would respond positively when he refused to speak to me unless I was verbal? Why did he think that coercion would bring about a positive reaction? Did he truly think this would be helpful and restorative? I doubt it. I think he just didn’t like me and so he opted as most men do to abuse and punishe me out of rage. Because he was fed up, he lost his temper with me from the get-go…

I recall thinking about the rage  in his voice and how out of control he sounded as he sent me to “Seclusion! Seclusion! “ He actually screamed this directive to the guards as they deliberately grabbed my torn rotator cuff which they had been told about in the emergency room (so they would use it to their advantage) propelling me headlong down the hallway. “Restraints! Restraints!” he shouted in a shrill and angry voice.This was retributive and nothing else. He was furious and I was going to learn not to fuck with Michael Edward Balkunas, head of the W-I general psychiatry unit in the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain or he would know the reason why!

But don’t let me put words in Dr. Michael Edward Balkunas’s mouth. Here is what he wrote, in his words. He wrote, surprise, surprise that “while in seclusion I would often scream” . Yet he states with apparent resentment that I had brought items with me “such as a large advanced directive” The nursing notes repeat this as if this is an evil thing, and proceed to disregard every item on it with relish. Not only that but Balkunas from the first accuses me of behaving with “volition” although he does not actually adduce any facts or observations to back up this thinking, except that I brought with me the large advance directive and a published book of the art work I had done.

This artbook, by the way, was was kept from me the entire time I was on the unit on the pretext that it would be very harmful for  the other patients if they were to see it.I was led to believe that the mere glimpse of my artwork would hurt them. This was emphasized to me so many times that I felt  guilty not only for having brought it with me, but for having drawn the pictures at all. The RNs seemed to enjoy my feeling so bad about it….

Balkunas further claims that he “asked if I would like to speak to him, PLEASE” but what he fails to note is that he refused to permit me any mode of communication other than verbally and that he peremptorily walked out on me when I could not utter a word. He notes that, Yes, I did throw my bed-clothes at him, but does not mention that he would not even look at my gestures in response.. Instead, he stood up in disgust and turned on his heels and strode out.

I admit that having already been so abused in the ED I was hideously upset at being unable to make him stay, unable even to make him HEAR me, that I did the only thing I could do to MAKE ANY NOISE at all, WHICH WAS TO THROW THINGS…

Both my brother and my psychiatrist claim that they told him pointblank not to draw baseless and dangerous conclusions from my traumatized behavior, that he would be making a mistake and would injure me badly if he did so. But he was of course the superman that all in-hospital psychiatrists are, the MR RIGHT that can finally fuck* you and get it right. SO he took one look at me and said, THAT IS OBVIOUSLY A CASE OF BPD if ever I saw one… Of course! And NATURALLY Michael E Balkunas is MR RIGHT, The one who fucks* you and you finally thank him for it, OF COURSE!

So THANK YOU Michael E Balkunas, You FUCKED* me OVER royally and you must have enjoyed it, because you fucked* me up the ass too. And I had to thank you in the end, didn’t I? Thanking you for fucking* me was the only I could earn my way to discharge, You forced* me to bend over and beg you to fuck* me up the ass and then Thank you again for abusing me just like any asshole who abuses women. You murdered* me, and halfway through slicing* my throat you made me beg you to fuck* me, and I did because it was the only hope I had that you might let me off with my life…Finally, with my throat half sliced* and my asshole fucked* wide open, you said, OKAY, now you can leave, you are free, you can go home now. I have had my way with you so go away…

So THANK YOU FOR FUCKING* WITH ME MICHAEL EDWARD BALKUNAS MD, GOD, THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME GO….I owe you my life, because you let me go and you didn’t in fact murder my body, I am still alive, though barely, you only tortured me and you only fucked* me and murdered my soul. You killed my spirit but you did leave my body somewhat intact so I could walk out of there and for that I had to pretend to be grateful and to thank you every day for a week, so I mouthed the words, Thank you Michael Balkunas for fucking* me and letting me leave stll alive….

But I wish you had killed me dead. Instead, you manipulated me into thanking you, for fucking* me over. You didn’t kill me quite. You made me thank you and thank you and thank you…and so now what do I do, you asshole- fucker*, but live with the torture you inflicted and wish you would crawl into your early grave somewhere and explode into a ball of maggotry.

*metaphorically, of course, but in a very real way nonetheless…So I feel it every day and wish I were dead! Note that in every other instance where an * is missing I usually mean my words literally and without any sense of metaphor whatsoever.

NOTE that this is the link to my  GOOGLE + review that I posted shortly after my stay at New Britain General Hospital..I think I was rather measured in my appraisal, after all was said and done.

MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS, MD: LISTEN TO THIS RAP – YOU MUTHA FUCKA!

Okay so here is another rap lyric. I suggest that you try to play it on an apple or iphone/ipad device as people have said that these won’t play with Internet Explorer. Perhaps because they are created through Garage Band and with ITunes? Anyhow good luck! (This is a TRUE STORY about what happened in the New Britain General Hospital in May 2014, Hospital of Central Connecticut…NOTHING IS IMAGINED OR MADE UP IN fact things were much worse even than this song describes….) If these end up being popular enough, I will redo them with a good microphone and perhaps a video…

DR. MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS, SHRUNKEN-HEAD MUTHAFUCKA RAP

Doctor Balkunas, you think you can fuck with me?

Doctor Balkunas, you think you can punish me?

Doctor Balkunas you head shrunken mofucker

G’wan, have another headfucking think on it, mofo…
They brought me by ambulance, silent and broken

Terrified, mute, and on an “involuntary”

Not even speaking and mentally ill

I could make no choices, every word unspoken.

Do you know what it means when I say I was mute,

when I could not speak and words did not work

and the world was too loud and my head was too full

and there was no bridge and no hand to pull

me out from that in-between. Even security

wasn’t there to protect me, only nurses and from me

and even the first nurse who coldly appraised me

grabbed my one book and then took my phone and fled

as if she were plotting to fuck with my head

because she had only to ask me and take it politely,

and promise to take care of things, and do it nicely.

Such fierce flames of outrage surged in me, and anger!

So not even thinking, I went running after her

wanting just to reach her and grab my book back from her

Little did I know the reaction if I touched her.

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could punish me?

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could shit on me?

Mikey, you mofo, have a new headshrinking think on it.

Quicker than quicker everyone was sicked on me,

from the aides to the orderlies, even the nurses.

Burly armed guards went piling up hard on me,

and the worst of the worst was patients made versus me

a 100-pound 60-year old lady of five foot three

upset that my two last possessions were snatched from me

without any reason or rhyme in the world really

by the usual criminal in the ER, the head RN

who knew I was powerless alone in that warren

of ER rooms, so she had me dragged me to seclusion.

where I had to bare-knuckle the dark in confusion

battling anguish and fear, with the voices’ profusion.

So to get someone to come in and hear my screaming

I pulled all my clothing off, for clothes had no meaning.

Mike Balkunas, you think you can fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, you think you punish with impunity?

Mike Balkunas, you really think you can shit on me?

G’wan, Mofo, Have another headshrinking think, now, Mikey…

I screamed from the base of my lungs for an hour

but was utterly ignored by all who had power

to relent or release me. I hadn’t a notion

of what else to do, to get help or attention

or have them return to the room, but to start

hitting my head and even tearing apart

things I could throw, chair, clothes and chart.

Then came the goon squad of six beefy men

who easily brought me facedown on the floor again

I screamed and I struggled but it did me no good,

if you fight them they justify all that they would.

Much better to lie still and let them abuse you

and get discharged and hope against hope you can sue.

The ER in peril from the dangers I posed

such a monster as me, poorly muscled, unclothed,

they wanted me, mute, completely shut up.

so they rammed three injectables into my butt.

Mike Balkunas, honey, you thought you could fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, sweetie, you believed you could punish me?

Mike Balkunas, sweetheart, you thought you could shit on me?

Aw, little boy, Balkie, do your headshrinking mofo thing with it…

Mikey? Mikey? Mofo…I’ll bet you won’t forget me for a lo-o-o-ooong time, will you?

Ha ha ha!

I wish to god I could forget you. You mofo. You mother fucker. Let this rap song be a lesson to you, not to fuck with poets and writers or you’ll get written into a history you might rather be forgotten.

Doctor Michael Balkunas, dare you fuck with me now?

Doctor Michael Balkunas, dare you punish me now?

Doctor Michael Balkunas, you head shrunken muthafucka

Mofo, Mikey go fuck another headshrinker and think on it.

TO MY “PROTECTOR” AT THE MENTAL HOSPITAL: NO THANKS!

 Mushroom-Head in Four-point Restraints: Cannibalism as RAPE by Michael Edward Balkunas, MD, the instigator…

Raped at New Britain General Hospital thanks to  Michael Balkunas MD's orders...
Raped at New Britain General Hospital thanks to Michael Balkunas MD’s orders…

TO MY “PROTECTORS” AT THE MENTAL HOSPITAL

You nurses who, wanting a quiet shift, shackled me into four-point restraints: you ought to have known better: violence only begets more violence…

I came to you, broken –

speaking only splinters of syllables –

“ma-ta-o-tam, ma-ta-o-tam..”

on fire to burn down

the house of my body,

for the meaning of my life

but I was not nice,

not nice, not nice, no,

I was not nice and quiet enough

for the balm of art supplies and human kindness.

Your uniforms ex-cruciated me, tying me

me naked to the four corners of a bed

so your eyes could flay me, the silent shame

gouging my brain to a darkness

years later still vacuumed blank.

Nurses, healers, thieves,

racked there, I lay helpless before you,

even as you raped what was left

of my human dignity.

So intent on getting satisfaction,

you violated my soul

with your smirks

and conspiratorial smiles.

READ THIS, Michael Edward Balkunas, MD of Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, CT, Before You Throw Another Psychiatric Patient Into Your Supermax Seclusion Cells!

Hospital Seclusion Room
Hospital Seclusion Room (Supermax Cell at New Britain General Hospital)

This is from the Special Rapporteur to the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON TORTURE 2013:

As the previous Special Rapporteur stated: “Torture, as the most serious violation of the human right to personal integrity and dignity, presupposes a situation of powerlessness, whereby the victim is under the total control of another person.”14 Deprivation of legal capacity, when a person’s exercise of decision-making is taken away and given to others, is one such circumstance, along with deprivation of liberty in prisons or other places (A/63/175, para. 50).

32. The mandate has recognized that medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose, may constitute torture or ill-treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned (ibid., paras. 40, 47). This is particularly the case when intrusive and irreversible, non- consensual treatments are performed on patients from marginalized groups, such as persons with disabilities, notwithstanding claims of good intentions or medical necessity. For example, the mandate has held that the discriminatory character of forced psychiatric interventions, when committed against persons with psychosocial disabilities, satisfies both intent and purpose required under the article 1 of the Convention against Torture, notwithstanding claims of “good intentions” by medical professionals .

Medical care that causes severe suffering for no justifiable reason can be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if there is State involvement and specific intent, it is torture.

63. The mandate has previously declared that there can be no therapeutic justification for the use of solitary confinement and prolonged restraint of persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions; both prolonged seclusion and restraint may constitute torture and ill-treatment (A/63/175, paras. 55-56). The Special Rapporteur has addressed the issue of solitary confinement and stated that its imposition, of any duration, on persons with mental disabilities is cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (A/66/268, paras. 67-68, 78). Moreover, any restraint on people with mental disabilities for even a short period of time may constitute torture and ill-treatment.78 It is essential that an absolute ban on all coercive and non-consensual measures, including restraint and solitary confinement of people with psychological or intellectual disabilities, should apply in all places of deprivation of liberty, including in psychiatric and social care institutions. The environment of patient powerlessness and abusive treatment of persons with disabilities in which restraint and seclusion is used can lead to other non-consensual

Domestic legislation allowing forced interventions

64. The mandate continues to receive reports of the systematic use of forced interventions worldwide. Both this mandate and United Nations treaty bodies have established that involuntary treatment and other psychiatric interventions in health-care facilities are forms of torture and ill-treatment.79 Forced interventions, often wrongfully justified by theories of incapacity and therapeutic necessity inconsistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, are legitimized under national laws, and may enjoy wide public support as being in the alleged “best interest” of the person concerned. Nevertheless, to the extent that they inflict severe pain and suffering, they violate the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (A/63/175, paras. 38, 40, 41). Concern for the autonomy and dignity of persons with disabilities leads the Special Rapporteur to urge revision of domestic legislation allowing for forced interventions.treatment, such as forced medication and electroshock procedures.

JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW,  MICHAEL EDWARD BALKUNAS, MD, YOU MOTHERFUCKER…BUT THEN YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS, BECAUSE YOU DO WHAT YOU DO TO PATIENTS DELIBERATELY AND WITH PURPOSE!

Mental Patient Anti-Psychiatry Rap

AAC FILE (MIGHT PLAY WITH INTERNET EXPLORER

TRY ON IPHONE OR IPAD OR APPLE …DOES NOT WORK ON INTERNET EXPLORER…Okay, this may not please everyone and it isn’t exactly ready for Primetime, but if you can’t hear the lyrics (and in any rap song it is difficult to catch all of them the first time, you can read them along below…Enjoy?? Or at least you  will understand, if you are familiar with Wagblog, where I am coming from. Please let me know if this file does NOT play for any reason.

Mental Patient Rap

by P.Wagg

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab.

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

VERSE 1:

I remember being locked in, tied down, drugged up,

nurses in control of me, rushing me, coercing me.

Worse than their forcing me was all the pills they pushed on me

then Thorazine or Stelazine jammed into my ass cheeks.

Abuse was inexcusable. Psychiatric orderlies

cuffed my wrists and ankles to a bed when I refused them.

Bruising me, mis-using me — and black and blues-ing me,

A/C cold as ice; retaliation taken twice.

Tied down, naked, there, I shit myself but who cared?

Just another everyday mental patient nightmare.

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

VERSE 2:

As bad as leather cuff restraints their isolation cell was hell.

so supermax it made me faint, don’t tell me they meant it well.

No one should have dumped me there, hearing voices, terrified

they stripped my clothing off then left me locked alone inside.

and told me that they had the right to keep me there both day and night

or as long as it would take, for me to learn from their mistakes

I might never get out, never get out, never get out, never get out–

but I started freaking out. I shouted, “I will not bow down

to those with nothing more to do than cause me pain, you cowards, you

you have no heart, you’re inhumane. You torture me to entertain.

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab.

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

Verse 3:

Let’s sing ring around the posey-o: “Hospital Guantanamo!”

Isolation, prison SHU, and mental patients just like me who

traumatized and tortured just go c-c-c-crazy, too.

Abuse is S.O.P. from doctors of psychiatry,

Pusher docs who love to dish out electro-shock therapy

and chemical lobotomies, but it’s all about their money.

Crocks of shit! You’re so wack. You psycho-quacks, you pricks

sized us up and tricked us. But didn’t we wise up quick?

We won’t take no more horseshit, we won’t take no more crap

Take your fucking psycho-meds and ram them up your —-!

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

Oh, you know, you know, yes I know you know,

that I ain’t nothing, never been nothing, never been nothing…

I’ve never been nothing, except a lonely nomad

in the white-coated doctors of psychiatry lab

Spoken CODA:

PT:“I want outta here.”

RN: “Uh uh, not so fast. We’ve got your ass for fifteen days.”

PT: “Fifteen days?! No way, José. You can’t keep me here. I want a lawyer!”

RN: “Doctor, we need to calm her pronto. She’s disturbing the whole unit.”

MD: “I agree. Give her 20mg, IM Haldol, stat.”

PT: “What do you want? What’s going on?! No no! Don’t touch me…Wait!

He-e-e-elp! Help me! Please somebody! Help! Help me…!”

“Punishment is Just Abuse with An Excuse”

THis is how abused children become abusers, or how spanking gets engrained in culture as appropriate to do to "things" smaller than ourselves...
THis is how abused children become abusers, or how spanking gets engrained in culture as appropriate to do to “things” smaller than ourselves…

 

We think this TIME OUT punishment is better for children, less violent, but behind it is the THREAT of corporal punishment, ALWAYS...
We think this TIME OUT punishment is better for children, less violent, but behind it is the THREAT of corporal punishment, ALWAYS…

spanking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the website Punishment Hurts Everyone, at http://abusewithanexcuse.com. This is an amazingly brave site with writing and thoughtful insights that might upset those who think that spanking kids is good for them, but for most of us, who know it only traumatizes and harms them, it will be an illuminating page indeed. Check it out! Great stuff here from a man who has put his ideas into practice and never once punished his own children, teens now and well-adjusted and happy to boot. Who’da thunk it could be done? (Well I did, for one, and maybe you too!)

New Trading Cards: Boat in Cove and Cat on Rug

2.5 inches by 3.5 inches Cat on Braided Rug,  drawing in colored pencil
2.5 inches by 3.5 inches Cat on Braided Rug, drawing in colored pencil

Wethersfield Cove Row Boat ATC

ATC card of cat on Braided rug done with Caran D’ache Luminance pencils. Best pencils available but you pay for them!

Colored pencils
Colored pencils

Also an ATC card, 2.5 by 3.5 in size, surrounded by a black mat and brown frame. This boat was pulled up on the shore of the wethersfield cove and was resting on the wooden slat of a railed fence.

This last picture of my Caran D’ache five dollar pencils… Because of their expense I make a big fuss about how to sharpen them. I used to  use an electric sharpener because it was convenient, but the pencils were seater up immensely and wastefully so. Now I use a prismacolor pointer for the leads. (In case you would not, the one on the left is made from Dad’s ? I dunno, but I would love to see hatt  picture framed and given to the, first..lI will give you a good photo and sculpture from the other book.

OK I am down for the count. Gotta of to sleep NOW.

IMG_0026

For Sensitive Bodies and Sensory Overload: A Weighted Blanket

When I first spent time at Natchaug Hospital, at the time when Sharon Hinton, APRN, was still the director of nursing and it was a decent non-abusive hospital (in 2011 and 2012), I learned about weighted blankets and the amazing benefits to be gained from their use when stressed, upset, and in need of self-soothing or calming. Not everyone benefits, I gather, but if you suffer from PTSD or any of these other disorders. you might find a weighted blanket useful.

  • ADHD/ADD
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Aspergers Syndrome
  • Autism or ASD
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Brain Trauma Injuries
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Dementia
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Insomnia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pervasive Development Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Sensory Integration
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

One problem with buying  a weighted blanket for most of us however is the cost. If you don’t have $400.00 dollars on hand, it can be prohibitive to get the best or even a full-size heavy blanket. I don’t know about you, but a mere lap-size thing doesn’t do it for me, even though they tout the uses. I tried one at Yale for lack of anything better, and it did nothing at all but feel like a pillow on my lap. This was ridiculous. They would have done much, much better if they had handed me a real live cat and not pretended to be doing something useful with that silly piece of fabric.

The heavy full-size blanket, on the other hand, was great. It felt like a cocoon or a huge hug that held my entire body without restraining me. I could move around in it, and yet it held me warmly and gently. Nothing kept me in against my will and I could get out from under whenever I wanted to. In fact, the nurses made me leave before I was ready. They actually took it away after twenty minutes which was silly. This was way too short and arbitrary a time in which to keep the blanket on me. I was NOT used to it by then or calmer. Not at all. I wanted to stay inside it  and needed it on me longer. But they said the protocol was for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off so the person didn’t accommodate to the weight. Silly reasoning. Why didn’t they ask if I felt better or was calmer? Or ask me some other question.

Anyhow, here are the directions and photos for making your own homemade weighted blanket. It is quite easy and inexpensive, and you only need to do a little hand-sewing, or if you prefer, just use some heavy-duty glue (E6000 is the best), and velcro. Both ways are fully washable.

Directions for Making A 15 pound Weighted Blanket:

The first two photos show half of the “inside, or under side, of a kingsized coverlet that I sewed Dollar Store (2 for $1) microfiber washcloths onto, making pockets. (BTW pay no attention to the the shoelace ties and buttons, which never worked but were part of a first experiment…) I placed the fuzzy side of the washcloths facedown. This is important because when I glued velcro’s stiff bristled half, face up, to the blanket at the pocket tops, the microfiber washcloth gripped it perfectly, so there was no need  for the softer side of velcro on the inside of the pocket itself.

Handmade weighted blanket with microfiber pockets for rice bags
Handmade weighted blanket

Next, (see the close-up photo) I filled quart size freezer bags (a box for  $1 at The Dollar Store) with 1/2 to 1 pound of raw rice, depending on the weight wanted, and then double-bagged these. Note: my blanket has 15 pockets but I’ve found that 15 pounds of rice is actually heavier than I personally want, despite what I thought…).Depending on your own body weight, you could prefer between 10-25 pounds of rice. The chart I found said that a person weighing 112 pounds might need 10-15 pounds and a person weighing 185 pounds would need approximately 25 pounds of weight. On the other hand, the hospital never allowed anything more than a mere 10 pounds, erring on what i consider an absurd side of caution for all…So you can gauge your needs from that.

Be aware however, that despite what a 15 pound bag of raw rice might saw on its side, it usually contains much more than 15 pounds so weigh each bag you fill carefully, don’t just divvy up a bag of rice into equal parts.

Rice Bag for weighted blanket
Rice Bag for weighted blanket

Fill the pockets with the rice bags and press-seal the washcloths against the velcro. Flap the other half of the blanket (final photo) over the pocketed half and use as a twin size weighted blanket. It works fine like this, but you could add velcro to the blanket sides themselves if you  wanted to seal it up completely.

Weighted Blanket Open
Weighted Blanket Open

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted Blanket, Closed
Weighted Blanket, Folded Closed

By the way, for gluing the velcro I used the E6000 glue, outside on the driveway on a plastic sheet, on a sunny day…I would not use anything else, but don’t do it inside without plenty of good ventilation as it is poisonous and you use a lot.

Good luck and feel free to email me or comment if you need help or have any questions. Sorry if I didn’t provide enough details but I didn’t want to overwhelm you here. I would be happy to provide more privately or in the comment section if anyone is interested.

M sleeping under my homemade weighted blanket
M sleeping under my homemade weighted blanket

 

New Art: Doctor Threatens Restraints and Shot of Haldol

Doctor Threatens Restraints and Shot of Haldol - Painting in acrylics c. 18 by 27 inches
Doctor Threatens Restraints and Shot of Haldol – Painting in acrylics c. 18 by 27 inches

This is a larger size painting than I am used to doing. I usually draw and I am scared of painting. When I have painted I have usually restricted myself to tiny sizes or just portraits. This is my first attempt at a real crowd scene or any scene at all. (I am tempted to redo the foreground doctor, to make him less cartoonish and more realistic, but for now, I will keep him as originally done. However, I don’t like the illustration quality of this painting, and want to learn how to be more painterly, so to speak!)

Made It Through the Night…PLUS Temporal Lobe Epilepsy versus Schizophrenia

This flower, whose name, Self-Heal or Heal-All, says everything, and it is not insignificant that this was the first wildflower that started me on my Field Botany path, and was also the agent of my natural history conversion experience:

Self-Heal or Heal-all (My first wild flower and the one that changed everything)
Self-Heal or Heal-all (My first wild flower and the one that changed everything)

 

Last night was a very difficult night, as you know.

I did not believe the nurse when she told me this morning that E–, who was an animal lover, would never have killed herself, leaving her beloved parrots to fend for themselves. She said it simply went against the grain of most animal people to kill themselves while their “children” still needed them. It turned out, though it took me a while to “grok” this, that E– apparently died of a combination of diabetes type 1 and asthma. The details are unclear and unnecessary but I was assured by both nurse and the building social worker that it was not suicide. Thank god.

However, early this morning things were not well, and I wonder if what  happened later on was not at work last night as well. Let me explain:

I had an appointment to see my psychiatrist, Dr Angela, at 10 a.m. and as usual I got up to drive myself there, a short distance over the bridge to the next town, maybe 6 miles away tops. It is a trip I have done dozens and dozens of times, perhaps hundreds now.

This time, however, things were different. Halfway there, on a stretch of road — I’m talking back roads not highway — a road that I know like the palm of my  hand, I was suddenly overcome by a feeling, an intense almost nauseating feeling of “jamais vu.” This is the opposite of “deja vu” — that sense that things you have never done have happened before. Jamais vu is the sense that while you are in familiar places or with familiar people, they seem strange or new or utterly unfamiliar. I have had deja vu many times, as have a lot of people, and I think it is a fairly common experience to feel as if something has “happened before” even though it is really a new experience.

 

But never before, at least not since I was ill, severely and neurologically ill, with Lyme disease, have I felt this intense feeling of non-familiarity in a situation that I know I knew very well. I was terrified, if briefly. I was not at all certain where I was. I mean, I kept driving, because my instincts told me to keep going, that my hands would make the proper turns. But my conscious brain had no recognition of where I was and no conscious notion that wherever I was I had ever been before. It was, as I said, terrifying and very, very strange.

Luckily, within minutes things had resolved enough so I knew that I had arrived at the Whole Foods parking lot, which my doctor’s office and the doctors’ complex shares. I still felt very weird. I felt in fact that I was not completely embodied, even though I carried a heavy enough bag to embody or burden down anyone.

When I got to Dr Angela’s office, the first thing i told her was that something was wrong. Yes, I had sent her the email I mentioned here yesterday, but I did not mean that. I meant the foreign feeling, the jamais vu intensity, which though faded still scared me. Thinking back, when i was so ill with Lyme it was actually deja vu, in an incredibly brilliant and vivid form, that afflicted me rather than the alienating jamais vu, but I knew that both deja and jamais vu can be commonly a symptom of either an aura or a seizure itself. Especially the much rarer experience of jamais vu.

I have had several different kinds of seizures in my life, and I have just been taken off Topamax, an anti epilepsy drug I have taken for years. I did this in preparation for a neuro-ophthalmology appointment in October (not sure why I thought it had to be stopped). So i have and had some sense that it was the d/c of this anti-convulsant that was the proximate cause if not the absolute cause for my symptoms.

But I was terrified that this jamais vu would generalize into a full-blown seizure, which I couldn’t bear the thought of. Dr Angela was quite responsive and suggested that I 1) take an immediate Ativan, .5mg as that is reasonably effective as an anticonvulsant, though better IV than oral and 2) when we found that I had stashed 100mg of Topamax in my pill compact, she had me take that as well, figuring I would get back to my usual 200-300mg within a week or two.

The appointment went — well, I don’t remember much about it, frankly. All I recall is leaving, promising to get a cup of coffee before I drove home, then realizing once I got to the parking lot that there was no way I could drive, coffee or not. I felt simply too weird. And weirded out. Too scared of having a full blown seizure, whether temporal lobe or otherwise to get in the car.

To my great luck, when I contacted my case manager, Rebecca, who works in next town over, she was immediately available and came to pick me up. That was a huge relief. I didn’t even have to wait more than 5 minutes. More, the Whole Foods grocery store people didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked if I could leave my car in the lot overnight.

Later on, Tim went and got my car for me, so I didn’t even have to do that. I simply went home and took a  nap. When I got up I felt at least ten times better. Not so weird, not so seizure-y. Less scared, and finally able to be convinced that the huge balloon of misery and terror from last night was just that, a balloon, a mistaken notion…a fiction. I was wrong, that was all. Even though the conviction and certainty felt as real as anything, they were only FEELINGS, and as so many people including my brother assured me, those feelings would change if I hung in there.

Lo and they did change and have changed. Thank heavens.

 

Now it occurs to me that perhaps even that huge balloon of certainty may have been seizure-related. I don’t have any real reason to think otherwise. I know, I know, my shrink brother has his theories. But I felt so UN-conflicted about it, so hugely convinced, that the explanation of seizure activity, comparable to the certainty that I “have never been here before” of jamais vu even though I knew I had, and also knew, as I said, that I had not caused the putative suicide…this explanation simply makes more sense and feels  “more right” to me. After all, why would I suddenly feel like I did anything to E— who was not all that important to me, or no more than anyone else in the building really. It felt morever just so hugely compelling, in precisely the same way that impending doom feeling of a temporal lobe seizure feels — it isn’t real but it is unshakable, utterly unshakable.

I don’t know, of course. The shrinks — and I include Dr Angela and my brother — would like to make it all about me, all about my conflicts and my mental illness however they want to define that. But I wonder now how much my ongoing (but unofficially diagnosed, that is, only by psychiatrists) TLE has affected me all along. I wrote about this conflict, this contamination of any schizophrenia diagnosis with temporal lobe epilepsy, and months ago. It seems strange that so many have “both”…|

Nevertheless, I have never had my seizure feelings checked out, largely because I do not want anyone curtailing my voluntary driving. And I don’t like doctors having that power over me. I also do not trust them to take me seriously, as a NON-psychiatric patient. I do take AEDs to prevent olfactory hallucinations, (NOT as mood stabilizers) and such, but why see a neurologist who might tell me I can’t drive a car for any length of time when I have never even had a fender bender from this? Or who might, and this would feel just as bad, tell me it is “all in my mind” not in my brain…!

"While I breathe, I hope"– Surviving Schizophrenia

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