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messed up situation, where to turn?

By needinghelp - 23 November 2013 41

I’m seeking the help of the hive-mind to try and get further help.

From around age 18 on I was repeatedly prescribed extremely high doses – including what I now know were overdoses, of a particularly nasty psychiatric medication, all the while being led to believe I was taking ‘normal’ doses. I’d been on something different earlier on and was advised by the doctor (and pressured by parents) to take this other drug – unbeknownst to me I went from the minimum dose of one drug to the maximum dose of another. I was healthy, academically and socially successful at the time this was done – everything was going well after a lot of problems in earlier years. I was however in what I now know was a dysfunctional and at times abusive family situation and ended up back there repeatedly over the years as my life fell apart.

After the switch I gradually went insane, getting worse and worse as time went on, did a lot of terrible things, made crazy decisions regarding university and career that don’t make any sense and have led me to ruin. For years and years I had terrible insomnia, couldn’t concentrate, just degenerated intellectually – all the while I was told I was suffering worsening depression. I was repeatedly told I needed to take this medication for life. I never recognized the importance of the ‘switch’ that happened when I was in year 12, and never associated what was going on with the drug everything just crept up, a lobster boiled slowly.

I’m now in my mid 20s – I’ve finally gotten off the drug, though I’m still suffering a whole lot of problems which I’m trying to seek treatment for  – however the worst of the issues are lifting as the months go by.

It is abundantly clear (acknowledged, with caveats by a psychiatrist) that these problems were caused by the drug, however nobody seems to care and I’ve had doctors basically call me a liar as far as the symptoms I’m suffering now. The moment medication history is mentioned they get ultra-defensive, outright deny I could be suffering any long term effects at all.

In terms of my life I’m ruined, have been in and out of unemployment for the better part of 3 years, studied something that doesn’t even make sense to me – I can’t really remember the past 8 years properly, am socially isolated and on the verge of homelessness. I’m still extremely confused and I can’t understand how much time has passed.

I’m getting some help for the immediate issues, but I’m never going really recover from this and desperately need help with longer term things – I’ve contacted a couple of law firms but nobody will touch it because of statutes of limitations. There’s meant to be a role here for the ACT human rights commission, but I don’t really know how to put together an effective complaint and whether it’s even worth it.

Where can I go for this? I desperately need help from someone or an organization that can act as an advocate and help with figuring out what to do now and actually doing it.

I tried ADACAS but it’s not really their area, though they were very helpful in other ways.

What’s Your opinion?


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41 Responses to
messed up situation, where to turn?
Masquara 6:11 pm 23 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

I’m 26 and an utter failure.

That’s pretty young. Stop thinking litigation and think about getting your life back on track. You’re in an affluent society with a generous welfare system and well-funded support available to you. Look at life in refugee camps in Kenya, or on rubbish dumps in downtown Kalkata, and count your blessings.

milkman 5:30 pm 23 Nov 13

Nobody is an utter failure at 26. In 10 years time you could be a qualified professional doing whatever you wanted, and the previous time just a memory that you used as determination to succeed.

needinghelp 5:05 pm 23 Nov 13

I don’t want to turn this into a sort attempt to blog and air dirty laundry – but this is such a messed up, long-running situation. I don’t really know what to do in the long run. I’m terrified that I’m going to end up living out my days as a dependent or worse. Canberra is riddled with people that hate me because of things that happened over the past eight years, but I have nowhere else to go.

Definitely going to look into PHaMs on Monday, tried adacas already, lifeline/beyondblue/ect have been little help as I’m not at this moment suicidal. Been seeing a psychologist for a while as well.
I don’t understand how I seemingly have no access to any kind of justice for this, it’s not fair.

My life was just beginning, there was so much I wanted to do, and suddenly it’s all fast-forward and I’m 26 and an utter failure.

IrishPete 5:02 pm 23 Nov 13

Thanks for the extra detail. I’ve never heard of Lexapro making anyone “insane”, but you do seem to be right about being on excessive doses.

Most likely you were going through some bad times which the Lexapro was doing nothing for, and so you shouldn’t have been on it at all.

Another possibility is that if you weren’t taking it regularly, then your body (brain) was dealing with constantly fluctuating amounts in the bloodstream, and that can be very unsettling. Look up Discontinuation Syndrome for SSRIs and other antidepressants – you can get a similar experience when you recommence, or increase your dose. Most people don’t realise that if you’re not taking the medication regularly, then this is happening continuously – the levels in your blood are up down, down up, all over the place. Often it is better to stop altogether under medical advice than to take these medications intermittently..

GPs who are out of their depth should stop prescribing to you and refer you to a Psychiatrist, or the public mental health system (where you can access a psychiatrist of a psychiatry registrar).

If your parents wanted you doped up, an SSRI antidepressant would not be the drug of choice. They simply don’t have that effect.

IP

needinghelp 4:40 pm 23 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

Sorry, but the advice from this psychiatrist sounds wrong – they should never say NEVER.

Could you identify the medication, and the dose?

The main medications that I can think of which would have the kind of problems you mention is Ritalin or Dexamphetamine, and they are grossly overprescribed anyway (less so now that Canberra’s worst offender was forced to retire).

I was on earlier in my life, but not when I was in year 11/12. – all of that is an entirely different story.
It was an antidepressant. I’d been put on one antidepressant (zoloft) at 14 (for very spurious reasons) and left on that, but that was by a psychiatrist and pediatrician.
The drug was lexapro – and look, I haven’t given a detailed list of everything I did over the past 8 years (that I remember) and really can’t for obvious reasons, but I’d say the psychiatrist was probably fairly on the money.

This particular doctor, a GP insisted that my whole family had “Genetic depression”, that we all needed to be on antidepressants for life. I was told over and over “you have a chemical imbalance in your brain! you need to be on these drugs for life”. It’s all through the medical records – “genetic depression”, “chemical imbalance” ect.

He had 4/5 members of my family on antidepressants at one point, both my parents and a sibling – the sibling called BS though – he’d have been about 14 at the time and he was in no way depressed, he was just obnoxious.

The very moment I was no longer under the care of the pediatrician this GP pounced with lexapro – I was started on 10mg, then told a couple of months later that I needed to take a higher dose because I was growing – so from then on I was on 20mg. Because of the way I’d been switched, I assumed I was on a more or less equivalent dose of lexapro as what I’d been on zoloft. I know now I was actually on the maximum adult dose, equivalent to about four times the zoloft dose. I only found this out this year.

I have a feeling my parents were insisting I be doped up, I don’t know though. All I know is that at that time (year 12) I was pretty much the best I’d ever been at school, I was about to go off to uni, I had a bright future, there was no reason to mess with anything. I was actually a credit to my school for once, had gotten into the paper for a couple of achievements.
At home there was constant conflict, 5 people in a 3 bedroom house, mother refused to discipline younger brother who was aggressive toward my father and me, both parents blamed me for everything (because I’d had all these problems through high school). I still have this messed up memory of being driven to my first job by my father, him screaming at me about how much money I’d cost them and threatening to run the car into a light pole.

I don’t know if it was stockholm syndrome or the drug or what, but most of that stuff is only really hitting me now.

A different doctor at the same practice had me on 30mg (overdose) about a year and a half later, then the original one advised me to take 40mg after a spectacular relationship breakdown. Everything spiraled out of control after that.
I never really got things back together after that. I became more and more dependent on my parents as my life fell apart.

Treacle 4:06 pm 23 Nov 13

Statistically low rates of success (around twenty percent) have been reported in this medical profession: the medico-legal side has become well positioned to deal with a high percentage of dissatisfaction as well as actions. Years spent on legal subtract from resources available with best fit medical or psychiatric or clinical psychological services. Be aware internet and television stories will repeat success claims that have either some missing evidence or target a narrow population (for example people of age ranges different to yourself being much younger or much older).

Masquara 3:56 pm 23 Nov 13

“I was verbally advised to take ‘two’ tablets during a consultation booked by one of my parents many years ago, which seems not to be on my records”

… I don’t want to contradict you harshly, but all prescriptions have printed instructions on them. It was definitely your or your parents’ responsibility, wasn’t it, for you or your parents to check with the pharmacist and say you had been told to take two, and was there a mistake?

Again, amateur advice like mine is pretty much useless, but perhaps you could investigate possibilities more along the line that there is likely to be a medication that will help you get the chemical balance in your brain right. There are lots of people with severe mental illness functioning well in society on the right medication.

Are you eating well, not smoking, not taking drugs, not drinking, getting exercise? Those sorts of steps are things you have immediate control over.

miz 3:14 pm 23 Nov 13

While you could pursue legal/rights avenues, it is unlikely that you will get any kind of ‘closure’ or resolution from this. It will just keep you ‘stuck’ in a kind of victim vacuum. No one can turn back time, so you are probably going to have to accept that you have lost a chunk of your life.
HOWEVER . . .
You sound like a sensible, intelligent person who has had a difficult time of it and now wants to have a crack at a fresh start. I suggest you make a conscious decision to let go of the past. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down the things you want to do in the future, short term and long term.
Meanwhile, maintain proper medical care for your current symptoms (irrespective of the cause) and get psychological support to rebuild your confidence so you can get back into some kind of education/career pathway. I believe you can get access to Medicare rebated psych counselling if you get your GP to set up a mental health treatment plan.
All the best.

IrishPete 2:34 pm 23 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

Masquara said :

Believing that your doctor was prescribing you overdoses might indicate that you are not recalling right. You say you are ‘off the drug’ – it could be important that you stay on your medication. I hope you get the help and support you need, and there’s every danger that amateur advice on this board, other than directing you to professional help, might do more harm than good.

At least some of that is in the medical records, a copy of which I’m looking at right now.
Nope, not imagining anything. It really should have been picked up by the pharmacist too. That was 150% max dose, definitely recorded.
I was verbally advised to take ‘two’ tablets during a consultation booked by one of my parents many years ago, which seems not to be on my records – I don’t know if that means it wasn’t recorded or whether it was on their record, after that I went completely psychotic. It’s only been years later since I’ve been well and truly off the drug for many months that I’ve actually understood what happened.

Funny enough I was repeatedly told to ‘stay on “my” medication’ for years all the while I was going crazy, by doctors, parents and other assorted go-gooders.
I’ve been advised by a psychiatrist to NEVER take any drugs in that type ever again. Though now I’ve actually regained sanity somewhat I’m very well aware of how crazy I was while I was on said drugs and wouldn’t anyway.

Sorry, but the advice from this psychiatrist sounds wrong – they should never say NEVER.

Could you identify the medication, and the dose?

The main medications that I can think of which would have the kind of problems you mention is Ritalin or Dexamphetamine, and they are grossly overprescribed anyway (less so now that Canberra’s worst offender was forced to retire).

And Masquara may have a point – I’ve seen plenty of people who blame a medication for their illness, “Doctor, this antipsychotic medication is making me paranoid” when actually the paranoia was already there, getting worse, and the medication is being used to try to control, it unsuccessfully to begin with.

PHaMS sounds like good advice for support, but there are other non-government organisations who could provide advice or support. Possibly start with an umbrella group like the Mental Health Community Coalition and ask them for their advice on a group (or have a read of their website first). Ultimately having a good trustworthy GP would be a good idea too. Sounds like you are too old for HeadSpace now (up to 25) but if not, they would be a good place to contact. Even if you are too old, they may be able to give good suggestions.

IP

Treacle 2:29 pm 23 Nov 13

Advice to people under 25 for males and under 23 for females is a professional area particularly because they are being to know their individual adult identity. The brain and nerve memory throughout the rest of the body is very plastic: learning mindsets and habits often need to be countered with physical effort in order to retrain the limbic system (muscle memory).

Masquara 2:25 pm 23 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

Masquara said :

Believing that your doctor was prescribing you overdoses might indicate that you are not recalling right. You say you are ‘off the drug’ – it could be important that you stay on your medication. I hope you get the help and support you need, and there’s every danger that amateur advice on this board, other than directing you to professional help, might do more harm than good.

At least some of that is in the medical records, a copy of which I’m looking at right now.
Nope, not imagining anything. It really should have been picked up by the pharmacist too. That was 150% max dose, definitely recorded.
I was verbally advised to take ‘two’ tablets during a consultation booked by one of my parents many years ago, which seems not to be on my records – I don’t know if that means it wasn’t recorded or whether it was on their record, after that I went completely psychotic. It’s only been years later since I’ve been well and truly off the drug for many months that I’ve actually understood what happened.

Funny enough I was repeatedly told to ‘stay on “my” medication’ for years all the while I was going crazy, by doctors, parents and other assorted go-gooders.
I’ve been advised by a psychiatrist to NEVER take any drugs in that type ever again. Though now I’ve actually regained sanity somewhat I’m very well aware of how crazy I was while I was on said drugs and wouldn’t anyway.

That is a terrible story. Perhaps the statute of limitations might be got around under the circumstances … good luck!

needinghelp 2:17 pm 23 Nov 13

Masquara said :

Believing that your doctor was prescribing you overdoses might indicate that you are not recalling right. You say you are ‘off the drug’ – it could be important that you stay on your medication. I hope you get the help and support you need, and there’s every danger that amateur advice on this board, other than directing you to professional help, might do more harm than good.

At least some of that is in the medical records, a copy of which I’m looking at right now.
Nope, not imagining anything. It really should have been picked up by the pharmacist too. That was 150% max dose, definitely recorded.
I was verbally advised to take ‘two’ tablets during a consultation booked by one of my parents many years ago, which seems not to be on my records – I don’t know if that means it wasn’t recorded or whether it was on their record, after that I went completely psychotic. It’s only been years later since I’ve been well and truly off the drug for many months that I’ve actually understood what happened.

Funny enough I was repeatedly told to ‘stay on “my” medication’ for years all the while I was going crazy, by doctors, parents and other assorted go-gooders.
I’ve been advised by a psychiatrist to NEVER take any drugs in that type ever again. Though now I’ve actually regained sanity somewhat I’m very well aware of how crazy I was while I was on said drugs and wouldn’t anyway.

Masquara 1:52 pm 23 Nov 13

Believing that your doctor was prescribing you overdoses might indicate that you are not recalling right. You say you are ‘off the drug’ – it could be important that you stay on your medication. I hope you get the help and support you need, and there’s every danger that amateur advice on this board, other than directing you to professional help, might do more harm than good.

Gerry-Built 12:00 pm 23 Nov 13

That’s a particularly nasty past – It is terrible to hear what some people experience. Are you prepared to “go public”? I’d suggest if the legal options are not open to you, that approaching the media and advocacy organisations might be an option. People need to know this kind of f-ed up situation happens – and what the results for the individuals are… perhaps then you might get a more appropriate legal response and raise some awareness… and where you (and other people) can go to get help. Perhaps Lifeline, Canberra Connect or other organisations can point you in the right direction for some support?

other than that, I cannot offer anything else, except perhaps to try and get more social support by sinking your teeth into some groups that partake in activities that are (or have been in the past) of interest to you; camping, cars, theatre etc…

would sharing your experiences by blogging or YouTubing help you?

I hope you can get some help that assists you to regain some “normalcy”

morerhythm 11:46 am 23 Nov 13

Hey there, I wanted to recommend your local PHaMs program. PHaMs stands for Personal Helpers and Mentors and there are different branches of PHaMs in different areas of the ACT. I think what you’re looking for is help to get your life back on track and to get through your horrific past. Here is the website for PHaMs Belconnen http://www.rfact.org.au/phams/whatisphams.html , you can apply through them and if you are out of area then they can send your referral to your appropriate area. I want you to know that you don’t have to go through this alone. If it turns out that PHaMs isnt the right place, they can at least refer you to someone who might be able to help. I wish you all the very best.

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