4/9/2001 – Back-to-back documentaries tonight and tomorrow.

Back-to-back documentaries on children and psychotropic
medications, tonight and tomorrow night, on A&E and PBS.
Here’s a review from the NEW YORK TIMES.

Mark

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/09/arts/09MCDO.html?pagewa
nted=print

April 9, 2001

Television Review: Ifs, Ands or Buts of Drugs for Restless U.S.
Children

By C McDONALD

By pure coincidence, two documentaries on two different
channels are arriving back to back tonight and tomorrow to
examine the same issue: the widening and sometimes
harrowing use of psychoactive drugs in America to modify
children’s behavior. Suffice it to say that the programs ˜ the first
on A&E, the other on PBS ˜ are in many ways redundant.

They even largely look alike: both of these well-made
presentations are structured around intimate portraits of people
caught up in this anguishing phenomenon.

Thus, over two nights, we encounter seven boys and girls, some
illustrating the drugs’ benefits, others telling of depression,
malnourishment, even psychosis after being put on
medications. We’re also introduced to Adderall, Zoloft,
Wellbutrin, Cylert, Dexedrine and, most prevalent of all, Ritalin ˜
drugs administered to help troubled children sit still in school,
concentrate, get along with others (including the teacher) and
have fruitful lives.

Given the programs’ similarities, the obvious question is, which
is the one to watch: “Generation Rx: Reading, Writing and
Ritalin,” one of Bill Kurtis’s “Investigative Reports,” to be shown
on A&E tonight, or “Medicating Kids,” a Frontline special
appearing on PBS tomorrow?

The answer is not so cut and dried. Both hourlong
documentaries are serious, sometimes startling contributions to
an important discussion over the increasing ˜ and some say
spurious ˜ diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder in children (up to four million cases,
by one estimate). And for all the parallels, each program
contains an angle or two that the other doesn’t.

The A&E program, for instance, looks at the alternative of
long-term drug-free behavior therapy. The Frontline
documentary, more aggressively, suggests that drug
manufacturers and certain pliable doctors may have entered into
unholy alliances to promote the use of the drugs among
children.

What’s more, watching both programs affords an illuminating
opportunity to see how two of the lamentably few investigative
bodies still standing in television journalism can differ so
markedly in tone even when plowing the same ground.

The Kurtis production wastes no time in establishing a darkly
dramatic approach, not to mention tipping its hand to its
sympathies. “It’s scary: we’re polluting our best resource,” says
an anonymous, unchallenged voice in the opening. “Putting our
kids on these drugs when they really don’t need it.” Mr. Kurtis, the
host, asserts that use of the drugs may challenge “the very
essence of childhood itself.”

Frontline takes a more measured tack, which ultimately gives it
the edge, declaring at the outset its more open-minded
intentions: “We wanted to know why kids are being prescribed
these drugs and whether or not they help.”
All sides get a fair hearing in both reports: those who say the
drugs have rescued many children from calamitous lives, and
those who say the drugs have been wildly overprescribed,
leading in one case, recalled on Frontline, to a 12-year-old boy’s
classroom suicide attempt using a pencil.

Both presentations also acknowledge that it is too early to know
the drugs’ long-term effects. But only Frontline seems willing to
end on an honestly inconclusive note. On A&E, Mr. Kurtis can’t
resist a loaded sign- off about Einstein and the scientist’s own
apparent attention deficit as a child. Where might we be, Mr.
Kurtis seems to ask, if the father of relativity had been a child of
Ritalin?

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I Survived A Cocktail of Anti-depressants and Dexedrine

I progressed to severe suicidal feelings.”

 

I thought I was maintaining well on Welbutrin and Dexedrine. While later researching overdose effects of anti-depressants, I realized that my doctor was balancing overdose effects of both medicines by raising one or the other. When a family trauma occurred that caused me to feel threatened for the well being of my children, my “mama hormones” took effect and caused an aggressed state that surged during PMS.

I was “protecting” my children from their own father who wouldn’t keep the perpetrators away from the home (his family). I progressed to severe suicidal feelings. My Doctor still yet knowing of this tried to prescribe sleeping pills to help with my sleeplessness. Even though I had never acted out suicide (the fear of not succeeding throughout my ordeal sustained me), I was afraid of these pills because the consequence was less severe than scarring my skin or breaking my spine.

Unfortunately while in a fight with the father of my children, after throwing glass glasses into the wall, in a fit of despair of the damage I realized I was doing with this relationship and my children’s emotional well being, I picked up a piece of glass and tried to slit my wrist. My first ever attempt at suicide.

I started counseling with a counselor of the same clinic at another location. My doctor at my third month appointment after this episode, changed my prescription to Prozac as well as the Dexedrine. Was still trying to give me sleeping pills because I had resorted to Marijuana (one of my recovered addictions broken) to help me relax enough to sleep. She was aware of this ASAP after I started.

So the change was done with this awareness. I started to notice symptoms of what I felt was ADHD (this doctor had diagnosed me after numerous drug therapies as Severe Depression/ADHD though I was not hyperactive). When I called to complain of symptoms, she tried to raise the dosage of the Prozac. I complained that the symptoms were of ADHD, so felt that the other should have been raised.

She conceded without a closer follow up appointment. At my PMS – I experienced a psychotic episode in one of my suicidal states of taking my children’s perpetrator (a minor) and his family at their home and killing them and my self with the media there because I was upset at the system for not intervening with this young person when he needed help (this person is also a victim of Prozac and Ritalin introduced at nine years of age which caused anger outbursts that didn’t stop with the medicine being stopped).

But unsafe people abound on both sides of the families and all I could think was who would be at the funerals consoling my children. This also kept me from acting out aggression and getting myself put into jail. I slept three hours or less a night. I was “driven”.

My Doctor’s nurse kept canceling my appointments a month at a time. After the third cancellation, I started to get upset. I had an episode after being late for the third appointment with a nurse that was cancelled because I got lost in the bus system. I walked in and was refused to be seen. After arguing with the receptionist, I stormed off and “popped” open a solid oak door that slammed into the wall and walked close to six miles in the heat of the day (I live in Texas) before I called my children’s father to pick me up.

The break in the car rejuvenated me to stay up still yet to another three hours sleep. I was also in a PMS state. I finally got through to the office management (a nurse and receptionist was intercepting me from reaching them) whereas this doctor soon left and personnel was cycled out. I started with a new Doctor in the same office that my counselor was at that was newly hired with this clinic. He withdrew me from the Prozac and started me on Neurontin first.

It seemed to aggress me more. I would be doing dishes and feel a bubble of suicide feelings surface without provocation of trauma. Tegretol pretty much the same. When he wanted to try Depakote I couldn’t the first time because I would go into tears from fear. I tried it finally after the second time and it had the same effect as Neurontin. Finally he used Topamax. –-12 hours –- I neutralized.

Unfortunately though it made me oversensitive to trauma, most particularly trauma associated to childhood trauma. I’ve since discovered that symptoms I had been describing to the first Doctor was of PTSD. I had memories from my childhood surface after the death of an adult mentor that I had repressed. I overreacted from trauma with withdrawal and weeping episodes. Again unfortunately, I started to recognize the patterns starting with Phil Hartman’s wife and the mass murder/suicides to my psychotic episode and started to outcry. I cried at work (which I’m still suffering from the consequences of). I cried to my Doctor of twenty years (who at my last appointment had security guards in the lobby)

I cried to my daughter’s school when I associated this teacher’s grabbing my daughter in the face and raging at her to a probable connection of my same scenario because her children were diagnosed as ADHD and she was sure she had ADD. No one could understand that I was out crying a past state. A lady at work told me of road rage with a near miss with her son in the car and she chased this little old lady down the road and if she had been able to have stopped this lady she would have literally killed her. She was on Zoloft. The clinic I was at was having a lawsuit filed against them from the husband of a lady who begged to be institutionalized and was refused whereas she committed suicide.

This lawyer refused to represent me. I started to realize after several calls to several lawyers that that was a strike against me, still being alive. I was a risk. My Doctor leveled me off the Topamax by lowering the dosage when I would feel the aggressed state start to impose to where I am totally off of all the drugs. I am exactly where I was before I started to take all of the medications. I have PTSD with severe depression. I have suffered from the symptoms all but the six years with the attempt for help, with these symptoms. My son was on Ritalin, then Dexedrine. His pediatrician had been regulating his dosage which was extremely high. I’ve taken him off of the medication, but because of his obvious failing grades, I’m getting extreme pressure from his teachers. I’m still in recovery, this family is still in recovery and have yet a break for a real breather from our ordeal.

My daughter’s school is trying to get me to take her to get diagnosed as ADD when she’s suffering from trauma reactions from her prior teacher. I have refused and have had insinuations of being a bad parent. All I could do was sit there near tears and make the comment “You have to sit in my chair to understand why I feel the way I do”. I researched the medicines based on the Topamax Anti Epileptic drug in my college Psychology book and discovered the Limbic System. The Amygdala and the Hippocampus hadn’t even had a real name in that book, but it described a part of the brain that if one side were disabled, the monkey subject would show severe aggression at the slightest provocation, and severe docileness when the other part was disabled. I ironically identified with that. Prozac/Dexedrine and Topamax.

I theorized that the Dexedrine blocks of Trauma Reactions that makes you pull back from fire when the fingers are burned. Which in the evolution of infant to adult progression can get stuck like a scratched record when trauma occurs – the variables differing in intensity and level of cognitive ability and recovery depending on completion of assimilation of the trauma (if at all) at the level of the cognitive ability when the trauma occurred. If I had been withdrawing publicly from drug addiction (which I have withdrawn from all my addictions privately), I would have received more support than what I received from what I was prescribed. It also concerned me that I was more accepted while I was in my aggressed state than the traumatized state crying. I had been raging with my family for two years.

I realized I was out of control, I took responsibility for the consequences. I worked to keep the responsibility of my actions when it concerned my children so that they could at least not be made to think they were responsible for my severe reactions. I took my daughter to a counseling appointment of mine so that I could get help in interaction with her. Both of my children had their counselor to help balance against me. I called the police on myself when my children’s father and I had gotten physically violent the second time within a six-month span in a fifteen-year relationship because I was afraid of losing control. One of the Police Officer’s told me he was on Prozac. No one listened to me. Until I became traumatized from the realization to where my children and their father had been for two years.

Than I was a threat because I vocalized my trauma. I worked with animals as a teenager – Domestic and Feral. I watched all the nature shows. I could fit the scenarios across the nation to the Wonders of Animal Behaviour. “Instinct”. Hormonal/Chemical urging of nesting instincts male/female. Territorial instincts. Abortion of young and newborn infants because of the inhospitable and contaminating environment. That’s my story. I never did as much damage with my own addictions as was done to me from a professional’s prescription of our society’s addiction. We have “red dyed” Limbic System’s out their waiting for the introduction of drug addiction, of ignorant and sloppy professionals mixing unmixable drugs, ready to pop out there like powder kegs. I grant permission to publish anonymously my story.

Thank you for this outlet and validation

(Withheld on request)

11/22/1999

This is Survivor Story number 28.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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