Category Archives: Psychiatric Industry

How the Pharmaceutical Industry Works

The unfortunate truth is that Pharmaceutical companies value profit margins over their market’s health. This is the process from laboratory to your medicine cupboard.

First it has to be approved by running drug trials. The drug trials are usually sponsored by the drug companies. The drug trials will only monitor people for a short period of time, so that long term effects are not known. Any deaths or serious health complications resulting from drug testing will be swept under the carpet or otherwise not included in the reports. The drug gets approved.

Millions are spent in marketing campaigns towards physicians, including pharmaceutical conferences held in tropical locales with 5 star hotels and perdiems, all paid for by the company. Swag and hundreds of free samples of expensive medication is given to physicians. Sponsored drug trial results will be quoted.

Physician, under the impression this is really the latest cutting edge pill for (whatever health issue) will prescribe it to patients and give free samples, especially if they can’t really afford it. Side effects are rarely, if ever, mentioned.

Large groups of people get complications like an additional disease or there are sudden deaths, a class action lawsuit is made against the company. The company has made 1.5 billion dollars off said drug, but only has to pay 1.5 million to settle claims.

A sad anniversary

Four years ago at around this time I was admitted to the psychiatric ward at Saint Luc Hospital in downtown Montreal. Every anniversary that comes around involves a lot of mixed feelings in me. The nice part is realizing I’ve spent four years since then outside of any institutional settings, even though I was told that I would probably have to go back there three more times, or once a year for the rest of my life. Since being told to scale back expectations of what I could accomplish in my life, I’ve gone back to school and finished my BFA. I’ve written a feature screenplay. I’ve become involved in the Crazy Community. I’ve curated programs for queer film festivals. I’ve continued giving artist talks. I’ve made more videos which are being screened internationally. I have so often felt like giving up and giving in, but I keep trying. Sometimes I feel like I’m going nowhere, and then sometimes I feel everything is happening as it should.

The anniversary is hard though. It brings up a lot of feelings about how I was treated during my code red level of crazy. I think what has upset me the most about it is people demanding that I be grateful for being put in there. Sometimes when I try to talk about the abuse that happened there people just go “Ehn, I don’t want to hear about it,” and in the next breath will tell me some bizarre thing I did like try to drink hand cream, which I don’t remember at all. It’s embarrassing. I often wonder what it would be like for people to do that about other health issues, like making fun of a Poz person for the time they lost control of their bowels, or ridiculing an epileptic who has tonic clonic seizures.

The creepiest part of the anniversary is the knowledge that I could be forced to go through that again. I asked my Aunt once who was also hospitalized way back when she finally got over her hospitalization. She said it was just in the last year. That’s at least 30 years of healing. It does take a really long time to heal from psych wards, and that’s why I don’t think they are a good idea as they operate today. I think they should be abolished and a more humane system put into place, like one that involves temporary supervised housing in a residential area. They could still have nurses and orderlies, just make it more like a normal living situation. And those pdocs only ever breeze in for an hour of patient to doctor appointments anyway. Compounding someone’s mental health issues with an additional layer of PTSD is fucked up man. Also, if someone is upset ask them why, even if they are in a mental health crisis they can usually still explain what the trouble is.

I’ve written about what it’s like to be in a locked ward before, but I recently found an amazing description of it from Ballastexistenz’s blog which I think says it all.

In the meantime, this anniversary lasts until around about Valentines Day, so I’m going to be taking it easy (read: smoke more pot). I’m going to use this anniversary to contemplate on my feelings around it and try to come up with a way to do some more advanced healing on the subject. I don’t know any other people with diagnosed M.I.’s in Saskatoon except for family, but it’s different talking to someone outside the family about it. I do have a friend who hears things too though, so at least I have someone to chat with who understands where I’m coming from more than most. We can even laugh about weird things we’ve heard, or ask each other if there really is a noise. She’s pretty cool, it’s true it’s true. I just think she’s tremendous.

She’s also the one who gave me a shit load of health supplements to boost my immune system, which has gone to crap during all of 2006. It started with a two week flu where I actually wondered if I would die, and then after that any cold that came along I would get. ANYTHING. I’d be healthy for a week or two and something else would hit. The last year was pretty stressful, with a bad job, the death of my cousin Chris in an industrial accident, the fact that I was living in Saskatchewan after nine years in Vancouver, being in close proximity to family again (which I hate to say, are overly dramatic, we’re the Desperate Cuthands), on and on.

It was, as the Queen would say, Annus Horriblis. Anyway, right, so she gave me all these health supplements and I have to say they’re working. I’m taking vitamin C, oil of oregano, anti-viral liquidy stuff with Clinically Proven echinamide, multivitamins, and cod liver oil. She is probably the only person in the world who could actually compel me to take cod liver oil. She even made me eat a fish egg sushi roll, which if you know how fussy I am is a remarkable feat. She should get a medal, really. I’ve still picked up about three colds in the month I’ve been taking it, but they go away after a couple days and aren’t nearly so severe. So I’d say it’s working. But this morning I woke up with a sore throat again and got frustrated. So now I’ve added Reishi mushrooms to my regimine. Reishi is supposed to be like, the granddaddy of immune boosting supplements. It’s used in people with Lupus, cancer, and HIV, it’s just that good. So we’ll see what happens. I also have to start eating better, I flake when it comes to the fruits and veggies, and I could use some more legumes too. I’m still sort of worried I have an immune system related illness. I should see my doctor about that. I had my HIV test and sadly I haven’t had sex since, so I know it’s not HIV.

If I was still on the West Coast I know a Coast Salish person would probably chase me around trying to get me to eat Oolican grease to fix what ails me. And then I would have to eat it and make yummy faces so as not to offend. I’ve avoided the Oolican issue the entire time I was in BC, so I hope it doesn’t come up. Oolicans are sardine like fish which have a VERY strong taste, anyone who can eat Oolican grease is like, so brave. Even braver than the most hardcore SM bottom.

Oolican grease BDSM. Wow, that would be bizarre.

Valproic Acid Toxicity, Oh Crumbs!

I called my nurse back finally about whatever she wanted to talk about. I was paranoid I was dying. I was kind of right about that. It turns out my Valproic Acid levels are terribly high and I’m heading into toxicity. Among the fun things that could happen to me are respiratory failure, coronary events, renal failure, coma, seizures, etc etc etc. Fuck me. Soooo, I’m going down to 1000mg a day instead of 1500mg. I thought this might happen because Lamictal ups Epival levels. And it also explains why I’ve felt kind of fucked recently. For one thing I’m starting to get totally nauseous and not being able to eat properly. I can’t sleep. I’m crabby as hell and I keep being mean to my mom. I feel tired and just generally run down.

Oh the joys of early onset of toxicity. Lucky for me in about three days of a lower dosage I should be fine. It’s 3:00. I’m at work. I’m confused and unable to concentrate. At least I know why now. Poop. I’m in one of those weird transitional states at the moment because I’m going through a long ongoing med change, Lamictal is going to be replacing my antidepressant, I’m down to 10mg of Celexa and I’m scared of stopping it because SSRI withdrawals are physically painful and fuck you up for a week. My last Cree class is tonight but I think I have to skip it because I really do feel like shit. Not even shit, like if shit took a shit. I need to sleep. I tried to call mom to come pick me up but she wasn’t around. Sadness! I have no bus fare either.

It’s weird being a chemically altered human being. According to Donna Haraway this makes me a cyborg. I kind of like that, Cyborg Thirza. Resistence is Futile. I will adapt.