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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.


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messed up situation, where to turn?
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sportsmum 10:10 pm 26 Nov 13

It seems pretty clear that you need to see a highly qualified, experienced psychologist or psychiatrist who you trust and click with to work through these issues. Brain chemistry is no joke, but as others rightly point out, you are young and there is plenty of opportunity for you in the future to bounce back from this. There are a number of threads on here about good psychs. I suggest you look up one or two of those and see if you find one you like. Certainly wallowing in your pain is not the way forward (even though it might feel impossible to escape). So many people have been where you are, albeit for different reasons, and they have found their way back to a positive and normal life. You can too with the right help and support.

Spiral 7:01 am 26 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

Why do you need to see a psychiatrist? Most wouldn’t see their patients six times a year anyway.

See http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/gettinghelp/consultingaprofessional/psychiatrists.cfm

They can set their own rates. But if you approach ACT Mental Health their psychiatrists are free. Private Health insurance may pay some of the cost of seeing a psychiatrist too (not sure if you can double-dip with medicare).

IP

Was a psychologist and was for depression.

T1G3R 12:59 am 26 Nov 13

Do you actually want to be helped? you cannot blame the drugs for the problems you are experiencing. Ive been taking zoloft 100mg at first then 200mg for 2 years and back down to 100mg as ive been getting drowsy. Lexapro is similar to Zoloft as well and would have been an easy transition. The drugs are a tool but it sounds as if you have been popping them expecting them to magically fix everything.

Depression/anxiety etc does not just suddenly happen, it builds up and you failed to acknowledge it. I think you need a new perspective on your situation and illnesses with more \ self awareness.

What i’ve learnt from being on anti depressants since i was 18 is that they are just a tool to help you level out but you have to face your problems, anxieties and fears to overcome the hurdles.

Honestly i’m on your doctors side and you are just looking at the easy explanation to your issues. You needed counselling and therapy but your GP failed to advise you on that unfortunately, don’t worry its happened to me as well but i’ve found help but i had to help myself first to get over it.

IrishPete 2:23 pm 25 Nov 13

Spiral said :

On a bit of a side note, how affordable is psychiatric help here in Canberra.

I looked into it earlier this year and even with the Medicare rebate for the first 6 visits a year it was looking like we were going to be out of pocket around $150 per visit.

How do people afford that, or is there something I missed that makes it cheaper?

Why do you need to see a psychiatrist? Most wouldn’t see their patients six times a year anyway.

See http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/gettinghelp/consultingaprofessional/psychiatrists.cfm

They can set their own rates. But if you approach ACT Mental Health their psychiatrists are free. Private Health insurance may pay some of the cost of seeing a psychiatrist too (not sure if you can double-dip with medicare).

IP

Spiral 1:12 pm 25 Nov 13

On a bit of a side note, how affordable is psychiatric help here in Canberra.

I looked into it earlier this year and even with the Medicare rebate for the first 6 visits a year it was looking like we were going to be out of pocket around $150 per visit.

How do people afford that, or is there something I missed that makes it cheaper?

breda 11:55 am 25 Nov 13

OP, when you say things like “I have nowhere to go” (from Canberra, where you have burned a lot of bridges), it tells me that you are locked into a cycle of negativity which prevents you from getting better. Less sympathetic observers might call it “self-pity.”

Of course there are other places to go. There is this huge continent, where you would be able to get similar support services in many locations, if that’s what you need. Then there is the rest of the planet to explore.

I must agree with PPs who suggested that seeking revenge is not going to help with, and may well hinder, your progress to a better place. It looks like a form of displacement activity to postpone getting on with your life.

Please don’t think that I am criticising you. You have been through an awful time, and most of us can’t even imagine what it has been like. But looking after yourself and your future is much more important than getting even. People who are much more stable than you claim to be have had their lives ruined by going down that road.

needinghelp 11:22 am 25 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

If you have ever had MDE you’ll recognise it pretty quickly – yes, I have, yes, I know I am susceptible to it again, and as a mental health professional I also know how to avoid it, and how to respond to it. (Sometimes it can’t be avoided – when life gives you lemons, all you can do is try to make lemonade as quickly as you can.)

No… I really wouldn’t know it.
I’ve been either on or withdrawing from antidepressants from nearly half my life. There’s ‘major depression’ all through my medical records, but only over the course of the past few years (ie: after when I was overdosed and completely lost the plot).

I don’t remember being ‘depressed’ at 14, that came out of the blue after visiting a psychiatrist.
From then on there is no baseline, I don’t know what normal feels like, I probably never will now after what’s been done to my brain.
Nobody knows the effects of chronic antidepressant use, and few people are on doses like 20mg lexapro for years and years, it’s usually 20mg paxil, 50-100mg zoloft ect.
I can’t believe I never realized what was happening, it all feels like a dream, yet here I am, November 2013.

IrishPete 2:11 am 25 Nov 13

BimboGeek said :

Yes IP I think what you said about drug companies spreading lies is common knowledge… Sad that the GP knows less than the man in the street.

As for the psychologist in question, well as usual we agree. She’s rubbish, which is why that conversation was our last one. Sadly she’s at a fantastic GP clinic which probably lends her some undeserved credibility.

They should make these people sit a test!!

Well, they sort of do make people sit a test, in obtaining their psychology degree. After that they can choose to do the rest of their training on the job, and if their supervisor for their first two years is a shonk, then they will make them in their image, and lo and behold another shonk will be created. Once fully registered, though, the psychologist can merrily forget everything useful they have been ever been taught by anyone, supervisor or university. Although required to undertake continuing professional development and supervision, they can seek out like-minded people to do it with. A psychologist who is in their 60s may not have had any reputable training for 40 years. And think what psychology was like 40 years ago. Homosexuality was still considered a mental illness back then!

A postgraduate degree is a sign that they have been tested beyond Honours level. Often the postgrad degree is taken years after the undergrad/Honours, so it will detect and/or undo some of the crap the psychologist has picked up in between. It is also generally more specialised in a particular field – Clinical, Counselling, Forensic, Educational…

If you took me too literally then you would only seek out a youngish psychologist with a postgrad degree, but unfortunately experience counts too, and you have to be older to have experience! So you’d be looking for a combination of experience (not necessarily age, as they may have gone to uni late), qualifications (preferably a Masters or DPsych or a Clinical PhD; an ordinary PhD is near useless in this context), specialist registration with AHPRA (i.e. entitled to call themselves a Clinical or counselling or Forensic Psychologist; generally goes with the postgrad quals, but not entirely), and membership of professional associations.

A I always say on here, if the psychologist is not a member of the APS you should be wondering why they won’t spend a tax-deductible $400ish a year on keeping in touch with developments in their profession. There are alternative organisations, but they have a much higher tendency to shonkiness, because they are populated with people who don’t like what the APS says about psychology.

IP

IrishPete 1:53 am 25 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

IrishPete said :

There was no attack in my post. I do not troll. If you have no “diagnosis” then what are you getting “treatment” for? Even a psychologist needs a “formulation” to work with if not a diagnosis, and basically they are the same thing. If your psychologist hasn’t told you their formulation or diagnosis, ask them.

Believe it or not, given all of this, I’m quite depressed at the moment.

IrishPete said :

I did not ask about childhood diagnosis because that is obvious from the medication. It would be illegal for a doctor to prescribe you Lexapro without diagnosing you with depression. However, childhood mental health disorders are often misdiagnosed, and/or develop into something else.

The doctor who did this wasn’t one who ‘treated’ me during childhood, this all happened the moment the pediatrician was out of the picture. All I’d ever gotten from the GP before was antibiotics and the like. Obviously there was already a diagnosis though, from someone else.

A doctor who changed your medication was treating you, by definition. Perhaps I am misunderstanding, and you mean you were no longer a child.at that point. Doesn’t really matter when it was – if they prescribed you an antidepressant then they have told Medicare that you are suffering from depression.

No doubt you are feeling down at the moment. It sounds like a tough way to be thinking and feeling. But feeling down, even feeling depressed is not the same as a diagnosis of depression, which if I wasn’t being lazy I would have been calling by its proper name – Major Depressive Episode. There are a whole stack of criteria that one needs to have to get that diagnosis – sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, lack of energy, loss of interest in things, suicidal thoughts, and so on, not all of them but a minimum number. Wikipedia lists them. As Bimbogeek pointed out, they also need to last for a while, not just be fleeting.

If you have ever had MDE you’ll recognise it pretty quickly – yes, I have, yes, I know I am susceptible to it again, and as a mental health professional I also know how to avoid it, and how to respond to it. (Sometimes it can’t be avoided – when life gives you lemons, all you can do is try to make lemonade as quickly as you can.)

Sorry for not being able to edit this down – your quoting skills are much better than mine.

IP

needinghelp 11:03 pm 24 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

There was no attack in my post. I do not troll. If you have no “diagnosis” then what are you getting “treatment” for? Even a psychologist needs a “formulation” to work with if not a diagnosis, and basically they are the same thing. If your psychologist hasn’t told you their formulation or diagnosis, ask them.

Believe it or not, given all of this, I’m quite depressed at the moment.

IrishPete said :

I did not ask about childhood diagnosis because that is obvious from the medication. It would be illegal for a doctor to prescribe you Lexapro without diagnosing you with depression. However, childhood mental health disorders are often misdiagnosed, and/or develop into something else.

The doctor who did this wasn’t one who ‘treated’ me during childhood, this all happened the moment the pediatrician was out of the picture. All I’d ever gotten from the GP before was antibiotics and the like. Obviously there was already a diagnosis though, from someone else.

BimboGeek 10:48 pm 24 Nov 13

Yes IP I think what you said about drug companies spreading lies is common knowledge… Sad that the GP knows less than the man in the street.

As for the psychologist in question, well as usual we agree. She’s rubbish, which is why that conversation was our last one. Sadly she’s at a fantastic GP clinic which probably lends her some undeserved credibility.

They should make these people sit a test!!

IrishPete 8:18 pm 24 Nov 13

BimboGeek said :

Isn’t there some way you can report this kind of massive incompetence? Not for compensation, perhaps, but at least to stop them hurting other people? Any doctor who says “your depression is caused by a chemical imbalance” might as well be talking about humours and leeches. At minimum they need retraining!

I’m familiar with the questionairre used to diagnose you. It specifically asks how you’ve felt in the past week and then is used by lazy therapists to diagnose you with a long-term mood disorder. I took it about 2 years ago when I went to a psychologist to get help dealing with a close family member’s freakout and suicidal tendencies and was told to take an antidepressant. Luckily I know the difference between month-long depression and a bad week. Teenagers are supposed to be able to trust their parents and therapists to help them see the difference but with morons like this licensed to hand out drugs, no wonder people get hurt. week.

Bimbogeek, you are probably referring to the Beck Depression Inventory, but no competent psychologist will use that to diagnose. It may assist them, but not by much.

Nor should a psychologist be telling you to take an antidepressant; at most they should say you should consider it and encourage you to see a GP or psychiatrist for their opinion.

As for doctors talking about chemical imbalances, that is what they are taught, it’s what they are told by drug companies who give them lots of fancy presents and holidays (I mean conferences) in exotic places, and it’s what the doctors try to tell psychologists too so that there is no dissent.

Sometimes it is true – there is no apparent cause for depression and it may be entirely biological (post-natal depression is an easy example to think of). But if your dog just died, your wife left you and took the kids, you lost your job, the bank has taken the house keys, and your car broke down on the way to the doctor’s surgery, I think a chemical imbalance is probably not the cause of your low mood. But there’s a drug company that wants to say it is, so they can make you and the Federal Government buy their product for the next few months or years.

There is of course a way to report incompetence – you contact AHPRA. Google it.

IP

IrishPete 7:59 pm 24 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

IrishPete said :

I think Zoloft is the only SSRI approved for children, which is probably why you were started on it, and I’m guessing that your doctor has their favourite medication, so when you became old enough they switched you.

As for you being “sickening well educated” on your mental illness, I am afraid your commentary does not reflect that. You haven’t even mentioned what condition/illness you have. From what I have read so far I am going to say it is a personality disorder, quite possibly Borderline. There’s a lot of stigma associated with that condition, so many professionals (haha) won’t tell you that’s what they think you have. Of course, those professionals (haha) are the ones perpetuating the stigma.

If your childhood was as difficult as you imply, then that would explain how you developed Borderline Personality Disorder (if that’s what you have).

You cannot treat a personality disorder with medication (some of the symptoms can be helped, though), it needs long-term and sometimes quite intensive psychotherapy. Someone’s suggestion of contacting GROW is a great idea – they are an excellent service, particularly for people with personality disorders, but for other people too.

I wish you well with your journey. But being bitter about the past will probably make your journey harder – we cannot change the past, but can change the present and the future. And we can change how we think about the past. If genuinely criminal things took place, then the perpetrators need to be published, but there is some much discretion in medical practice that I think nothing you have said so far will be taken seriously by the doctors who police the doctors.

IP

Yeah you’re pretty much trolling now.
Not schizophrenic, not bipolar, no personality disorder.

As for stuff I was diagnosed with as a child? I haven’t mentioned it because it wasn’t really relevant, I shouldn’t have bit the bait and gone into details on drugs, it’s pretty clear that anything I say will just be used to attack me and I’m not looking for advice on mental health itself and I can’t really go into sufficient detail to ‘prove’ anything, not that there’s any point. I’m already getting ‘treatment’, it doesn’t fix my life though which is what I’m trying to find help with.

There was no attack in my post. I do not troll. If you have no “diagnosis” then what are you getting “treatment” for? Even a psychologist needs a “formulation” to work with if not a diagnosis, and basically they are the same thing. If your psychologist hasn’t told you their formulation or diagnosis, ask them.

I did not ask about childhood diagnosis because that is obvious from the medication. It would be illegal for a doctor to prescribe you Lexapro without diagnosing you with depression. However, childhood mental health disorders are often misdiagnosed, and/or develop into something else.

I repeat what I said before about being bitter about the past being an obstacle to recovery.

IP

staria 4:01 pm 24 Nov 13

Hi needinghelp,
Unfortunately I don’t have any practical advice to give you regarding help groups or pursuing legal avenues, but I wanted to wish you all the best in your recovery.

I have been in a similar situation, but for completely different reasons, where I basically “lost” 5 years of my twenties to mental illness. I still have big holes in my memory and sometimes grieve over the loss, although not so much nowadays now that I am better.

I was lucky to be in a more supportive environment than you seem to be stuck in. However, what struck me was your comment about your life being ruined. There was a time I felt exactly the same way. I don’t know if this helps at all, but for a long time I was actually scared of getting better. It sounds dumb, but my mental state was so bad that I was trying to imagine having to live a productive life but it was with my (at the time) shocking mental state – it just didn’t seem possible, my ability to learn and retain info was almost non-existent. With a lot of help from a psychologist (I had been to a psychiatrist for a few years and tried many different meds and combos with limited success), I gradually realised that I was putting unreaslistic expectations on myself and that everything would take time. Eventually I began to have a little faith that one day I would get better and from that point I was able to keep telling myself that one day I would actually be “better” and that only then all the parts in my life that seemed so hard wouldn’t be anymore. It took a long time and a lot of work, but eventually I got there.
I now believe that the human brain is simulaneously a stupid and amazing thing, and that as a race we are not really physiologically suited to our current lifestyle, but that’s just my point of view.

As I said, not practical advice, but it is possible to get through this, even if you don’t currently believe it’s possible.
All the best.

miz 11:56 am 24 Nov 13

Masquara raised forgiveness. This is apt. And remember to forgive Yourself, too, for the things you are beating yourself up about, or you are never going to be free of the past.
You seem unwilling, or unready, to let go of the thought that you should get some kind of justice for what has happened to you. I reiterate that it is rare to have a successful result in such avenues, and even then there is rarely a sense of closure and you will have wasted even more of your life. (I refer you again to my previous post #8.)
However, you’d be amazed at the number of people who have had a really awful time of it and manage, with the right support, to get past it and have a successful, peaceful, normal life. Please, don’t waste any more of your still-young life on the crappy stuff that has already wasted so much of it!!

BimboGeek 11:36 am 24 Nov 13

Isn’t there some way you can report this kind of massive incompetence? Not for compensation, perhaps, but at least to stop them hurting other people? Any doctor who says “your depression is caused by a chemical imbalance” might as well be talking about humours and leeches. At minimum they need retraining!

I’m familiar with the questionairre used to diagnose you. It specifically asks how you’ve felt in the past week and then is used by lazy therapists to diagnose you with a long-term mood disorder. I took it about 2 years ago when I went to a psychologist to get help dealing with a close family member’s freakout and suicidal tendencies and was told to take an antidepressant. Luckily I know the difference between month-long depression and a bad week. Teenagers are supposed to be able to trust their parents and therapists to help them see the difference but with morons like this licensed to hand out drugs, no wonder people get hurt. week.

Masquara 10:27 am 24 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

I’m already getting ‘treatment’, it doesn’t fix my life though which is what I’m trying to find help with.

If you do find that the legal route simply isn’t going to work, I hope you will find the tools to develop resilience. It could be worth working on forgiveness one day (may be ages away, but the sooner in your still-young life the better most probably). If you need to lose yourself and get all this out of your mind, head for the National Library and the other cultural institutions for doses of poetry, visual arts and culture? Best of luck with it all.

needinghelp 10:11 am 24 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

I think Zoloft is the only SSRI approved for children, which is probably why you were started on it, and I’m guessing that your doctor has their favourite medication, so when you became old enough they switched you.

As for you being “sickening well educated” on your mental illness, I am afraid your commentary does not reflect that. You haven’t even mentioned what condition/illness you have. From what I have read so far I am going to say it is a personality disorder, quite possibly Borderline. There’s a lot of stigma associated with that condition, so many professionals (haha) won’t tell you that’s what they think you have. Of course, those professionals (haha) are the ones perpetuating the stigma.

If your childhood was as difficult as you imply, then that would explain how you developed Borderline Personality Disorder (if that’s what you have).

You cannot treat a personality disorder with medication (some of the symptoms can be helped, though), it needs long-term and sometimes quite intensive psychotherapy. Someone’s suggestion of contacting GROW is a great idea – they are an excellent service, particularly for people with personality disorders, but for other people too.

I wish you well with your journey. But being bitter about the past will probably make your journey harder – we cannot change the past, but can change the present and the future. And we can change how we think about the past. If genuinely criminal things took place, then the perpetrators need to be published, but there is some much discretion in medical practice that I think nothing you have said so far will be taken seriously by the doctors who police the doctors.

IP

Yeah you’re pretty much trolling now.
Not schizophrenic, not bipolar, no personality disorder.

As for stuff I was diagnosed with as a child? I haven’t mentioned it because it wasn’t really relevant, I shouldn’t have bit the bait and gone into details on drugs, it’s pretty clear that anything I say will just be used to attack me and I’m not looking for advice on mental health itself and I can’t really go into sufficient detail to ‘prove’ anything, not that there’s any point. I’m already getting ‘treatment’, it doesn’t fix my life though which is what I’m trying to find help with.

simsim 9:21 am 24 Nov 13

I suspect you need somewhere in your life that is absolutely not about your illness, and has nothing to do with your mental health problem – some outlet or other. This might be volunteer work, it might be the arts … it probably shouldn’t be talking to random people on a comment board because … well, people’s socialisation on the web is often pretty damn horrible (people have no compunction about making assumptions, calling each other names, generally behaving like dickheads).

I don’t know what that is because I don’t know what your interests are. But finding a reason to get out of the house and your own headspace should be a priority. Whatever it is.

IrishPete 9:01 am 24 Nov 13

needinghelp said :

apstoo said :

I was on Lexapro for a while. It never did a thing for me sothe doctor started upping the dose. I think I was taking 50mg a day by the end and all it did was give me massive headaches so I stopped taking it. That psych was a bit of an idiot. I kept telling her that lonliness was causing my depression why she kept saying it was a chemical imbalance.

Sure it was lexapro and not celexa? cause if it was lexapro that’s truly disgusting. There is a serious problem with the medical profession, that these doctors feel free to give people double or more the maximum dose – particularly something like Lexapro, which is known to have cardiovascular side effects that increase with dose.

As for the rest:
I was put on zoloft and left on it based on a single questionnaire filled in as a 14 year old. I wasn’t depressed when I was switched from zoloft to lexapro. I only became ‘depressed’ after I psyched out and ruined my life in 2007 (after having been overdosed).
This is a nightmare, I cannot believe that this is my life now.

I think Zoloft is the only SSRI approved for children, which is probably why you were started on it, and I’m guessing that your doctor has their favourite medication, so when you became old enough they switched you.

As for you being “sickening well educated” on your mental illness, I am afraid your commentary does not reflect that. You haven’t even mentioned what condition/illness you have. From what I have read so far I am going to say it is a personality disorder, quite possibly Borderline. There’s a lot of stigma associated with that condition, so many professionals (haha) won’t tell you that’s what they think you have. Of course, those professionals (haha) are the ones perpetuating the stigma.

If your childhood was as difficult as you imply, then that would explain how you developed Borderline Personality Disorder (if that’s what you have).

You cannot treat a personality disorder with medication (some of the symptoms can be helped, though), it needs long-term and sometimes quite intensive psychotherapy. Someone’s suggestion of contacting GROW is a great idea – they are an excellent service, particularly for people with personality disorders, but for other people too.

I wish you well with your journey. But being bitter about the past will probably make your journey harder – we cannot change the past, but can change the present and the future. And we can change how we think about the past. If genuinely criminal things took place, then the perpetrators need to be published, but there is some much discretion in medical practice that I think nothing you have said so far will be taken seriously by the doctors who police the doctors.

IP

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