If you’d have told me when I was diagnosed, in 1989, with bipolar disorder and put on Tegretol and Prozac, that my Prozac would mysteriously ‘poop out’ on me and drive me to psychotic depression, I’d have told you that you didn’t know me very well. I was too smart to let that happen.
If you’d told me I’d end up on antipsychotic medicine marketed and packaged sans the scary sounding word ‘antipsychotic;’ later developing Tardive Dyskinesia, I’d ask you what you were smoking.
Well, all these things did happen and the six years of navigating a series of numbskull neurologists who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) diagnose me, while class action lawsuits against Geodon ruled my search result box, was not a high note in my life. I barely survived the indifference and the sleepless nights, which for a bipolar like me, are a threat to mental stability.
For the first year I went without a diagnosis because no one was willing to ‘step in it,’….but eventually, I got a diagnosis and a dire prognosis from the top guy in town. “You’re Hopeless,” he said. “You need to learn to ‘suck it up.'”
Yeah, and it got worse before it got better. My six year search for information and a doctor with the skill set to help me taught me more than I ever wanted to know about an ever faster moving FDA, sweeping changes in clinical research that lend a whole new meaning to the words ‘private,’ and ‘for profit’….things any consumer of our healthcare system should know before making decisions about what medicines they want to take. I wish I’d known then what I know now.
But then, I wouldn’t have anything to tell you…because TD would never have happened to me. Not all atypicals are alike with regards to their side effects…and comparative, head-to-head research of antipsychotics and atypical antipsychotics are all available online, hiding in plain sight.
It’s just a question of knowing where to look.
It’s hard reliving it, as I try to slog through the writing of my book, “All shook Up from my Sedatives: A Tardive Dyskinesiac Talks Back,” and yet I soldier on, because someone has to speak up for us. Our population has tripled in the last five years; reflecting an explosion in the prescription of the antipsychotics that cause it.
Antipsychotics are not just medicines for ‘crazy’ people anymore. Antipsychotics are being used for aids, adhd, autism, dementia-related agitation, and I haven’t even gotten through with the ‘A’s yet.