You! Stop It RIGHT NOW: ADHD meds and Psychosis

Alright, everyone STOP.

I found something to rag on already? Damn, it must be a divine plan for me to come back to this blog.

I need to stop this shit before it gets out of hand. I can’t even get through ten posts on my reader on WordPress without seeing: “ADHD medication may increase the risk of psychosis”. And I can’t read one fucking article related to that without getting this bullshit statistic of “rates of ADHD have increased by *enter bullshit number* within the last year”.

Let’s tackle this one stupid point at a time.

First of all, let’s review: The ADHD medications which are being talked about are stimulants. They are not, and let me repeat this, THEY ARE NOT CLEARED FOR NOR RESEARCHED FOR CHILDREN CONSUMPTION, and yet they are given to toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and people under 25. What do all those age brackets have in common? Their brains are still developing.

Some idiot doctor is quoted in this article saying “We compared amphetamines [Adderall and Vyvanse] to people who were prescribed methylphenidates [Ritalin and Concerta]. We found that the Adderall type drugs had an increased risk of psychosis”.

Wow, you guys! Really? Is that what you found? And did something similar happen when you asked people to mainline some meth? Bump some cocaine twice a day? And moreover, did you ask a thirteen year old to do it?

Someone please just take a bat to my fucking head so I don’t have to read this nonsense anymore. No one should be surprised that a type of amphetamine that has a very similar chemical structure to illegal amphetamines is causing something illegal amphetamines cause in otherwise healthy people quite fucking often.

If anything they need to take this opportunity to learn from this. They already fucked up multitudes of people’s lives. So do us all a favor. Do something you should have been doing from the beginning. Scan the brains of your patients before you put them on this shitty medication and scan their brains afterwards, when they decent into brutal, prescription induced psychosis, and publish the results. And tell us exactly what these psychiatric medications are changing in our brains.

But you won’t do that. That would harm your fucking business.

Now, obviously, not everyone experiences this side-effect. Don’t get fooled–that does not mean the structure of your brain doesn’t change. Let me share an article I posted on my job’s facebook page. And let’s really, really talk about this.

This article here is posted on Mad In America. It’s essentially an interview with a man who was on psychiatric medication, anti-depressants, and has his doctorate now, in medicine, and doing research on behalf of medication withdrawal. It was found in some studies that as much as 1/40th of a general starting dose of an antidepressant immediately effects every serotonin synapse, 70% of which are in your gut.

So let’s think about that. I was started out on 10mg on my antidepressant back in the day. 1/40th of that is .25. .25mg of that antidepressant would have had an immediate effect on me. Would I feel it? Probably not. But your body and your cells and your synapses would. And over time, eventually you would too.

Adderall is an amphetamine and therefore directly effects serotonin levels. The recommended starting dose of Adderall for adults is 30mg. Not quite sure how they came up with starting dose for anyone other than adults considering it’s never been researched on children.

.75mg of Adderall will have an immediate effect on your system. Think about that.

We have absolutely ZERO clue as to what any of these psychotropic medications do to our brains. That’s not me hating on the system, that, my friends, is simply a fact. The research is biased, often perpetrated by bribed researchers, and the media is so inept at reporting truth half of what the studies actually say are never reported. Don’t believe me? If you’re in college, take your university library card, get on the database, and go read some real journals. Trust me, if you understand statistics a lot of these studies will ultimately disappoint you.

On a child, on an underdeveloped brain, even half of 30mg is going to have a lasting effect on them.

This idea that ADHD is rising is also bullshit. Why? Firstly, doctors get paid to prescribe these medications. They get little kick backs from pharmaceutical companies. So, if you come in with your child who has a few tantrums a day and has trouble sitting in school, that doctor isn’t going to ask you what the nature of the classroom is or the nature of the household (i.e, whether or not the child is being stimulated in school, whether or not there’s enough physical activity, whether or not the child’s diet is overdosed with sugar, whether or not the child is glued to electronic devices, whether or not your parenting just sucks ass).

What this is doing is invalidating the people who really do have deficits in their attention. You could go in a doctor’s office and say you’re having trouble focusing and walk out with a fucking Adderall prescription.

Recesses are being taken out of schools or the time outside is being shortened. You think that’s not going to affect a child? Even though I was silent throughout my school years, when it was raining and we weren’t allowed to go outside I got fucking restless. Why? Because I was a fucking kid. That’s why.

I feel bad for the children who really can’t focus, who literally spend every day and every night fighting their brains, trying to finish a paragraph in a book they’re assigned to read. While their classmates talk out of turn one time and are suddenly given a prescription.

Then everyone wonders why, when that child turns 13, she has a psychotic break.

For example, I have attention problems. I start things and I don’t finish them. I space out when people are talking and then randomly blurt something. I’m either very interested in one thing, or interested in nothing. But I function like every other person. I love school, and learning, and my attention issues have never been a problem for me, even as a child. I didn’t grow up with the t.v on every second, with a smart phone in my hand, eating freaking Frosted Flakes with extra sugar. Whenever a psychiatrist asks me if I have attention problems I always say no because I’m not going get punched with a label I don’t need when there are people out there who literally have breakdowns because they can’t focus.

Everyone STOP this MASS HYSTERIA. And think CRITICALLY. Please don’t believe everything you read–including me. Go research for yourself.

And stop trying to find quick fixes for every little hiccup in your life. Because quick fixes don’t exist.

Loss

Eleven years old was the first time I wanted to kill myself.

I remember the day pretty well. We were living with a family in their house behind Burger King. We’d been there maybe a few weeks, and had a room to ourselves–my mother, father, and me. It was better than where we were a few weeks before, which was some hotels and a tent. The woman who owned–or rented, I’m not sure which–the house worked as a worker at an animal shelter and liked adopting and fostering different kinds of animals. At one point there was at least four+ dogs in the house, one of them as large as a medium sized bear. The PitBull puppy they brought home they named DeBo (think about the movie Friday) was six months old and he helped me overcome my fear of dogs. I’ve loved Pitbulls every since. They are a bunch of sweeties.

But the day I wanted to kill myself DeBo wasn’t there. I was with a small white kitten who loved me. I can’t remember what they’d named him. But he curled up next to me on a bench they had shoved underneath a tree in the front yard. I was listening to fucking Chamillionaire’s “Rain”, writing, and crying. I remember the words coming into my head: I should kill myself. What did I have? I didn’t have a home, I’d lost all my stuff (what we couldn’t fit in a small storage unit, we had to toss in the dump, including my bed), I didn’t have friends at that point, my father was drinking a lot, and my mother worked all the time. I didn’t see prospects of the future, and I certainly couldn’t see me sitting here at 23 writing about this.

I remember feeling hopeless, feeling worthless, feeling confused, and listening to a depressing song really wasn’t helping. I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, a lot of crying, a lot of writing, a lot of music. It’s like the moment is just a snapshot in time.

This was before the woman’s daughters and her friends slashed the tires of our car and put a sign on our door that said they didn’t want us there. Because we really wanted to be there, with her mother drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and taking pills and threatening to kill herself every weekend. Yeah, great environment, I really, really wanted to stay there.

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Anyway, we lost that car to their ignorance.

I think I’m thinking about these things because my therapist called our conversation out on being too logical. I don’t speak with a lot of emotion often, or include a lot of emotion when I talk about things that have happened to me, or things I have done, or pain I’ve been through. I think it’s a coping mechanism I learned over the years that needs to be broken. But it’s interesting to feel as I write this the same sense of loss I felt as a child. It’s weird for it still to linger and still to be so ingrained. It feels like I’m eleven again, sitting on that bench with that cat. It feels like I just learned they slashed our tires and one more thing that I loved dearly (it was a 1972 Ranchero) was being left behind and therefore taken away from me. Something I’ll never get back. It sounds silly, but I didn’t think three years of running around living from place to place could have this much of an impact on me as an adult ten years later. That’s trauma, I guess.

I suppose this is why I don’t think about things emotionally, or talk about them emotionally, I can never handle the emotions that surface. I’m trying to stay present to finish this post, but the tears are heavy and the dissociation is real. Emotional flashbacks, I’ve learned these are called.

I guess the conversation yesterday that I overhead about people’s depression and when it started got me thinking about my own depression. It’s interesting that these feelings mimic those feelings of loss I had when I started getting paranoid and lost all my academic abilities. There’s been a lot of loss in my life, over and over again, as I’m sure it is in many people’s lives, and I’m curious how other people deal with it in a healthy way. I’m not sure I know how. I don’t think I ever learned.

When did your depression start? How have you dealt with it? How do you deal with loss? Those are questions I wonder about you, reader.

And that’s today’s mental truth: loss is a bitch.

How Intelligent Are You?

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I need to speak about this.

This may not be as whimsical or joking as my other posts, because I’m disturbed. I’m deeply disturbed and actually a little hurt. Not for myself, but for the people who have been reaching out to me specifically and confiding in me. I see a disturbing trend in a subject that’s only ever touched on briefly in the media.

I’m on a website to help people dealing with depression or crisis or other mental health issues. (Yes, they train you, but what better training is there than having been in such situations yourself?) I spent a few hours today talking with a deeply saddened individual who was cutting themselves as we spoke and I stayed on the inter-web line with them until I could confirm they were safe to the best of my abilities. I also gave them resources links. I’m used to speaking with the deeply depressed and hopeless.

What I was not prepared for today was the influx of high school students applying to college, and undergraduates.

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Obviously that’s a stressful time in many people’s lives: it was stressful in mine because I realized spending the last two years of my high school career smoking weed in the back of the school wouldn’t help me get into Stanford and that I was stuck in my home down for another three years. Who would have known? Life is a mystery.

I’m sure you’ve all heard recently that this generation of college applicants and high schoolers are under the most amount of stress yet. I’m sure you’ve all heard that because that’s all you hear–that one line. Maybe they mention the price of tuition (which, by the way, I was seriously considering sawing off my left leg and sending it in with one of my applications just to see if they’d willingly accept the payment) or the average required G.P.A (U.S.A standards here).

We don’t talk much anymore about how we force kids to intertwine their identity with their grades or about how we constantly compare their grades to their level of intelligence and therefore knowingly pressure them into perfection? Something we tell them from birth doesn’t exist

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I went through college prep; the class was small and I felt generally comfortable around them. We knew each other all four years. They stressed a 3.5 G.P.A and above, labeling 3.5 as the absolutely worst you could do.

Because I had nothing else, and because it was the only thing the school and I felt I could excel at, I turned to academia as my savior. So when I went to college and pushed a 3.9 G.P.A, I had self confidence. I could do something right, and people respected me for it, particularly for my writing. Each essay I wrote had to be better than the last. Each paragraph I wrote needed to be ingenious, particularly since I wasn’t so great of a talker.

Part of my drive to become an M.D came from the fact that people expect me to do something they consider great.

I’ve since found my own reasons to strive for it.

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The Stamp On My Forehead I Wore Not So Proudly

It all fueled my self-esteem and I wrapped my identity around it all. So when my mental health decided to tear me down and my G.P.A fell from 3.9 to 3.5 I almost killed myself. I was self-harming like crazy, sitting in my room, the stress and depression getting worse the more I focused on it, figuring out ways to kill myself with style.

I wished I could have a gun, that would have been the ultimate way to go out, like the man who took his life right down the street from my house in his car. Quick and painless if you do it right. They say those who use violent weapons are generally self-loathing and I certainly loathed myself at that point in my life.

Slitting the wrists vertical was an option, but I couldn’t leave the mess. I considered jumping off that one cliff again but could never find the energy to drive out there. Perhaps I didn’t want it enough.

If I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want to be alive. I hadn’t even turned 19 yet.

These are values instilled in some of us in this education system. If you don’t live up to these expectations, if you don’t become this, if you don’t get into this school than what’s the point of your life? You can’t get a job without college, you can’t be happy without college, you’re NOTHING without college.

I beg to differ. Greatly.

I spoke to so many students today who scored spectacularly on the SAT (perfect score I believe), maintained amazing G.p.A’s and did everything right. Most of them got rejected from the schools they wanted.

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Now let’s think about that for a moment. What does it take to get into an Ivy League school? Often money or Fame or family history or ethnic background help tremendously because let’s not forget that all too important quota to fill.

So the system they make us strive for perfection in, the system they say will guarantee us a good reputation (as if that defines our character), is one of the most imperfect piece of shit machines man has corrupted in the last few hundred years.

That’s how desperate we are as a society for perfection. It’s not what you do with yourself, it’s not how you handle or acquire the knowledge you do, it’s all about how it looks on paper. 

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This is why I loathe the reality of resumes and professional interviews; it’s all just a way to make yourself sound like some perfect, well oiled machine when you’re really just a ratty old human.

We’re obsessed with the idea and theory of intelligence, not so much the actuality of it. Everyone wants to be “smart”, but most people are conflicted on what that means. And for good reason.

I talked down another medical student ready to give up on life because he felt like his fellow students were more successful and perfect than him.

I saw an influx of people my age who could think about nothing more than their reputation, than who will be proud of them when they get finished slaving over a pot of grades on the stove of college, as if any of that determines a happy life. I took the time (a couple hours each person) to pull them from that warped mind set and got them into the present, talking about the good things about themselves, their personality, the other things in their life besides the pressures placed on them. I helped them see, for a brief moment, perfection doesn’t exist and I’m living proof.

gifted_childI don’t see this as much in people who were not pushed as children to be better than everyone, in people who were exposed to other things besides academic education, in people who were allowed to develop their own interests instead of their worthiness as humans being placed upon their unusual level of intelligence.

So, more than anything, this is a message to the future college students and current college students who feel that stress of living up to a certain reputation that has somehow been placed upon you. A G.P.A is about as relevant to your life as your I.Q. Your I.Q is about as indicative of your intelligence as the bottom of my shoe, the one that stepped in the dog shit.

I mean, think about it. IQ tests mainly measure processing speed and vague understanding, (as well as learned knowledge they don’t tell you about). But who said that was the definition of intelligence? If the validity of science is determined by what it can measure and what it can detect, and the measurement is horribly inaccurate because of that fact that what you’re measuring can’t actually be measured unless you yourself create the parameters and definition of said thing being measured (and therefore end up with a biased definition), than how in the world can you logically conclude you can pinpoint the level of someone’s intelligence?

My point? Live by your own terms. It saves a lot of heartache on your part.