Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hats Off to Whitaker

Just a quick note that last week Robert Whitaker received the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for his book, "Anatomy of an Epidemic." As regular readers of this blog are well aware, I have published at least 10 commentaries here based on his book, plus several more that used his book as a starting point for other topics. Some of my commentary was highly critical of Whitaker, but always in the context of acknowledging him as a welcome and vital voice and a breath of fresh air.

In singling out Whitaker, the IRE notes:

This eye-opening investigation of the pharmaceutical industry and its relationship with the medical system lays out troubling evidence that the very medications prescribed for mental illness may, in increasing measure, be part of the problem. Whitaker marshals evidence to suggest medications “increase the risk that a person will become disabled” permanently by disorders such as depression, bipolar illness and schizophrenia. This book provides an in-depth exploration of medical studies and science and intersperses compelling anecdotal examples. In the end, Whitaker punches holes in the conventional wisdom of treatment of mental illness with drugs.

Took the words right out of my mouth. Please-please-please, read his book. Warm congrats, Robert, from a sometimes critic but a very ardent supporter.  


Gledwood said...

Have you seen the British documentary The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive by Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is a very famous actor and TV presenter cum writer here in Britain who has bipolar (type 2) which he elects not to medicate.

I have schizoaffective or type one and would dearly like not to take drugs but I'm depressed, not on a mood stabilizer (though I'm prescribed an antispychotic I recently stopped taking it because I thought it was making me more sluggish and sleepy and I'm already sleeping 16 hours a day every day). I think I actually have bipolar 1 not schizoaffective but that's kind of splitting hairs as you know both are very similar condiitons. My doctor thinks I go too floridly psychotic to be just bipolar (and he's using the ICD 10 diagnosis because we're in London)... I know I'm probably being irresponsible by not taking meds but I just want my high back. I can't take antidepressants because they make me high and last time (on mirtazapine) I crashed horribly while still on the pills and got so depressed I was seeing dead bodies in the mirror etc. I'm self medicating with heroin from sheer desperation and this is self medicating. When I was manic I went so vehemently anti drugs it was unreal. Also I went so manic I got higher than any drug has ever taken me, and I've tried everything in large amounts. All I want is to be OK... or more to the point permanently euphorically hypomanic let's be frank.

Anyway in this documentary there's a doctor who I believe is named Liz Miller who is bipolar enough to have been involuntarily committed 3 times, lost her career in neurology and had to semi retire into general practice in order to lead a more stress free life. She said she came off all meds by eating plenty of fresh food including Omega 3 etc, cut out caffeine and did all the healthy lifestyle bit and has since been fine. Being a trained medical professional she knows her stuff.

I believe there's a book of the TV series. I know you're very well informed on your subject but thought I'd throw this recommendation your way on the offchance you haven't seen/read it. The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive is really good.

Smitty said...

Thank you for sharing this today! It made my day!

John McManamy said...

Hey, Gledwood. I hear you, but forgive me for stating the obvious:

Most of us want a clear head, but your heroin use is suggesting otherwise. Are you really self-medicating or are you truly addicted to getting high? Be it a drug high or a mania/psychosis high. If the latter, it is wise to into a drug treatment program.

Trust me, when my head is clear - this is bliss. Who wants to be messed up? But if having a clear head frightens you and you would rather be messed up - I think you see where I'm going with this.

I've heard lots of good things about Stephen Fry and need to see his video. Thanks for the reminder. Incidentally, there is good reason for Stephen Fry not to be on meds. I'm a strong believer in choice. But I know that Fry manages his illness in ways that allows him to make this choice.

PS: I'd like to hear more where you're coming from, as this can help lots of others in your situation. You may find me preaching, but I'm not judging. Rather, we're all learning.