Sunday, July 1, 2012

After Seroquel

I assume just about everybody who reads this blog also reads the Mad in America webzine, but I want to draw your attention in any case to the Op-Ed piece After Seroquel written by Nancy Rubenstein Del Guidice. The article speaks for itself, but it's the comments from the readers that really caught my eye because of the great variety of the content and the wisdom therein.

Nancy Rubenstein Del Guidice's comment comes toward the end in response to another reader.

"The point I want to make is that there is a gap in our mental health reform movement that I think is a symptom of a larger phenomenon. The denial of Victims. As long as this persists, the perpetrators will not be brought to justice, and the Victims will continue to be disappeared; in institutions, in hospitals, homeless, and in unmarked graves. I am not intersted in standing by while the “Mental Health” profession turns to new markets and engages in turf wars. This is genocide. This is not about medecine. It is about murder."


  1. Ok, but how do I help my 22 year old son who has no insight into how his behavior is affecting himself and others? He is doing dangerous things (throwing a dorm refrigerator out of his third story dorm window, speeding at 105 miles/hour to Washington D.C. to meet with the President, walking into neighbors' homes uninvited, etc). He has been hospitalized 5 times since 2009. The first time I found a psychiatrist who helped him ween off the drugs, but since then he just goes cold turkey when released. I can't even get him to discuss recovery because he thinks he's fine the way he is. I don't want him on drugs, but now believe that he needs the drugs to get to some level of insight so therapy can help him before he gets hurt or inadvertently hurts someone else. What do others do in this desperate situation?

  2. Hi, Anonymous,
    I've been in the place you are in, and there are no easy answers. I had to just do a lot of reading, and one of the best things to do is to learn from other ex-patients as to what they say works and what doesn't work. My first suggestion is that your son needs to be able to talk to someone who speaks his language - meaning that the person is non-judgmental and encourages him every step of the way. Parents are often not the people who can provide this space for the person to grow, although it can be done if you are willing to have your son at home with absolutely no expectations placed on him, but lots of validation for him. My son is 28, and he has been living at home with us since he was 20, after he dropped out of university. I'm sure you can't imagine the time it can take to help someone get well. My son has been seeing a psychiatrist twice a week for over three years now for talk therapy. Before that, he was seeing her once a week for talk therapy. He is now finally getting to a place where he is confronting himself. Unfortunately, the huge emphasis on medication only confuses the issue of a young person who is terribly anxious and needs emotional support. If your son is living away from home there is not much you can do to offer this support. Even if he were on prescription drugs, if you are not there to monitor his intake, to get him to his therapy, to talk to him without judging him, I doubt the drugs would do any good. My was becoming a danger to himself, and we finally had to put him in the hospital - that was three years ago. But, it was a learning experience for everyone, including him. It was also a chance for everyone to acknowledge that try as we were doing, we still needed to go further in learning how to help each other. You aren't there yet. It's a long process. Believe me, I really feel for what you are going through right now. But, if he can't change right now, then you must change something about the way the situation has been handled up until now. Maybe it's finding the right therapist, maybe it's something else.

  3. Rossa, thank you for your swift and caring response. Your blog has been a godsend because it gives me hope. I have tried to discuss your and Chris's journey with my son, but to no avail. Unfortunately, my son had to be hospitalized 2 days ago. He has been full of rage and it was getting worse and worse. He charged a neighbor and then went after my husband and myself. He still refuses to discuss any wellness or recovery plans and is still raging at us. We have tried talking him through it, staying quiet, but present, and yelling back. His rage just continues, along with delusions and inappropriate behavior. His hearing is tomorrow and we are not going to take him home like we have in the past. Is it ok to leave him in the hospital? My fear is that we will lose him completely in the system. We are now trying tough love and have told him that we're here when he is ready to go somewhere for help, but can't come home because he is not getting well at home. He continues to use pot and other drugs (LSD most recently) with his friends around here. Has anyone else gone through this and what worked?

  4. Hi, Anonymous,
    Pscychiatric ospitals fulfill a function, and sometimes that function is to help everyone, including the patient, that something in their life isn't working. When my son entered the hospital three years ago, I was so mad at him I remember telling our minister that I wasn't planning on visiting him there, he could stew in his own juices, because I was fed up. Wiser heads prevailed, and I visited him every day and just sat with him and said kind things. I also decided that the staff at the hospital could be helpful to him, and he could learn something from them that I couldn't teach him. While I didn't agree with their drug policy, I also thought that it wasn't the end of the world if he was on them for a while. I really decided to stay out of the debate as much as possible and just let the staff do their thing. We are in a jurisdiction that doesn't put someone on a cocktail of 5 different drugs -it was two drugs - and there is now valid data backing up the use of one drug only. I think I'm rambling now. What I want to say, is that his hospitalization isn't the end of the world, use this as a learning opportunity, support him unconditionally, and let me know how you are getting on. (If you live in North America, chances are your son won't be in the hospital long enough to pick up bad habits - my son has always been hospitalized for three month stretches. A great break for the family, but time enough to pick up some oddities.) You're son will recover, believe me, with unconditional support and validation. It's a rough ride for a long time, but there is a maturation process involved that's needs time to play out.

  5. Rossa,
    Such a relief to see that you were mad at your son too. After 3 years of struggle, I am getting mad and I have felt so guilty for feeling so mad. Thanks again for the hope. I do live in the United States and right now my son is on a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic. That would have scared me to death 3 years ago, but I believe you are right that hospitals do fulfill a function and I am not going to battle the doctors this time. THanks for bringing me down :). I will stay in touch.

    1. Despite all the bad news about the drugs, it's really not the end of the world if the person is on them in low doses for a short period of time. It's been a huge struggle for me to dog the doctors to make sure that my son was on them no longer than he had to be, but that's a story in itself. Thinking of you, I posted today about the Toronto program, and I urge you, every time you get down, to read this kind of information, the positive, encouraging news that your son can and will recover with good family support. Good luck today! (Another aside: Despite the fear and worry of having to deal with an institution and psychiatrists, at a certain point, I found it made my life a lot more interesting than it was before. Not that I would recommend this path, but there was a certain perverse interest on my part in being exposed this side of "medicine.")


I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.