Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the flip side

When I am using Twitter, I don't spend much time promoting myself. Usually I am watching what others post, and reading a lot of articles (yes Twitter is yet another source of things to read for me).  I promote, or retweet, what I like or think might have some value to others.  And of course I chat with my Twitter friends.  For me, Twitter is a place to exchange comments and get instant feedback.

I recently saw a link to an article posted on Twitter.  It mentioned something about bad psychiatrists, or why not to use a psychiatrist, and my antennae were immediately waving in the air.  I decided to keep an open mind and read the article.  You can read it here

As many of you know, I wear many hats.  I write, paint, photograph, and I am also a nurse.  I work in the field of mental health, but also have had extensive nursing experience in many areas.  (Read this for a little more about that.) 

So as I read this article, the first thing I thought was, people will automatically believe this because Stevie Nicks wrote it.
The second thing I thought was, the information was misleading.
The third thing I thought was, Ms. Nicks doesn't have very much insight into her own addiction.

So here are my thoughts on this article, for what they are worth:

Stevie Nicks states in the article "The biggest mistake I ever made was giving in to my friends and going to see a psychiatrist."  Her friends basically badgered her into going to a psychiatrist until she finally gave in.  She had just gotten out of rehab, and felt great.  But she went to a psychiatrist anyway.  Who got her hooked on Klonopin, and ruined eight years of her life.

Why do I have problems with that little paragraph?  Because where were the friends who sent her to the psychiatrist when she became addicted to Klonopin?  If they wanted to help her stay clean, why didn't they speak up in those 8 years she says were destroyed?  And why did she stay with a psychiatrist who she thought was a "groupie"?  That relationship started off on a very nontherapeutic foot. 

The next thing that caught my eye was the fact that she let the psychiatrist prescribe a medication that is a controlled substance.  One thing you learn in any rehab, the number one rule, is NOT to take any controlled substance.  NONE.  There are even guidelines for recovering addicts for how to deal with any surgery they have to have, and how to deal with pain control without relapsing.  So the statements Ms. Nicks is making are in direct conflict to what recovering addicts are taught.

I am not going to dwell on what happened with Ms. Nicks relapse.  I will tell you all that from my experience, few people are successful their first time through rehab.  Or their second, third, fourth or fifth.  It takes dedication to staying clean, following the information you are given in rehab (and there is a LOT of teaching and information given) and finding someone for support.  Ms. Nicks, sadly, had none of this.

What really bothered me the most is that Klonopin got such a bad rap.  I have been giving Klonopin to patients for YEARS.  Prescribed correctly and taken under the care of a doctor, I have seen Klonopin enable people who could not function, to lead normal lives.

How do I know this?  Because my daughter was one of those people.  She has been going to college off and on for years.  Has accumulated many hours, and much debt trying to get a degree.  Why didn't she finish?

Anxiety.  She has panic attacks, that totally unnerve her to the point that she won't even try.  The big hump for her in college was math (something she gets from me...math is not my strong suite either).  She attempted to pass college Algebra at least 5 times, and had to drop it in a panic because she thought she couldn't "get it".  I tried talking to her, and although she calmed down, she had no self confidence.  Her anxiety destroyed that.

Years later, this same beautiful, smart daughter decides she is going to see a therapist.  Because she is tired of dealing with this anxiety and wants to finish college.  She is determined.  She talks to the therapist, and begins to gain some insight into why she is having this anxiety, and ways to deal with it.

Then the therapist gets a psychiatrist to prescribe 0.25 mg of Klonopin as needed, and tells my daughter to take it before class.  And if it doesn't work, they will find another medication to try.

Side note here: this is the way therapy is supposed to work.  Medication IF NEEDED, and tweaked to the lowest possible dose to provide the desired response.

And guess what?  My daughter takes the medication, takes the Algebra course, and.....

PASSES WITH AN A!!!!

The moment that touched my heart, and that I will never ever forget...is the moment Wretch told me:
"I thought I was a failure, but I realize now that I am not.  That I am smart."
She told me this through tears, and we cried together.  In celebration.  In triumph.

Wretch has tried other medications since then, and together, she and the therapist have found alternative medications that increase her alertness and keep her from having a racing pulse and panic.

And she has passed every course since then.  Even accounting and statistics have been passed with flying colors.  Her grades?  Mostly A's.  And her self confidence has soared.

And so my answer to Ms. Nick's article is that in the right hands, and managed by a caring professional, medications can be a wonderful adjunct to treatment....
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