Newspaper and internet articles, Random

Declan Henry – Why Bipolar?

Why BipolarDeclan Henry – Why Bipolar?

I have just finished reading ‘Why Bipolar’, a book by Irish author Declan Henry. The purpose of the book is to demystify ‘Bipolar disorder’, the ‘condition’ formerly known as Manic Depression.

This is a great read; a collection of 26 individual stories of people who have had a Bipolar diagnosis. The fact that there are different stories make it a very easy read as it can be put down and read again at leisure. It was lovely to read about my hero Doctor Michael Corry who got a mention in one of the stories. Mary Maddock of MindFreedom Ireland, another hero of mine and a lovely lady, wrote the concluding section of ‘Why Bipolar’ quite beautifully.

Sometimes the stories were harrowing but equally, maybe unintentionally, some were very funny. Wouldn’t it be nice to be ‘mad’ for a day, go on a spending spree, say what you think to whoever you wish and  do exactly what takes your fancy? Going by these stories, not really. Reality will always break through and come crashing round your ankles. Not good!

As I suppose with life, the people were all shapes and sizes, ranging from annoying, sad, self-absorbed to kind, funny and enormously likeable. Most of the 26 people in the book gave account of their diagnosis and again most had been medicated with varying amounts of psychiatric drugs. The strange thing is, that with the exception of one person, the drugs made no difference or made the symptoms much worse.

The takeaway message here is that the pharmaceutical industry is making a mint out of drugs that don’t work, for a condition which may or may not exist. Even worse – the drugs can cause permanent debilitating adverse effects in an already vulnerable person. Anyway, it’s a great read and highly recommended. One last point I took away from this book – if anyone says ‘let me be nice to you‘- RUN!!

Newspaper and internet articles, Shanes story.

Ireland’s over-prescribing disaster.

Ali Bracken
Ali Bracken

In 2009 following Shane’s death, a ‘Tribune’ journalist ‘Ali Bracken’ decided to find out whether antidepressants were being over-prescribed in Ireland. She presented to 5 doctors with symptoms of mild-depression and was shocked when 4 out of 5 prescribed her an antidepressant. The article ‘A Pill For Every Ill’ can be viewed here. So what has happened in the last 4 years. Has the over-prescribing of potentially dangerous drugs been curtailed in any way? Nope, in fact it’s actually got much, much worse.

In the last few weeks, a young journalism student ‘Niamh Drohan’ posed as a mildly depressed student in Waterford. This time sheNiamh Drohan visited 7 GPs as part of her investigation; all near Waterford city. Sadly, all 7 prescribed her an antidepressant. Her article ‘Depressing Truth about Treating Depression In The Young’ can be viewed here. What is all the more shocking this time around, is that 3 prescriptions were issued for one month supply, 1 was for two months, 1 was for three months and 2 were for six months. Can you believe that? Two doctors prescribed a 6 months supply of a potentially fatal amount of drug, to a depressed person that they had only just met? Why not just give her a gun and play some Russian Roulette with a young girl’s life? Idiots!

So why are Irish doctor’s prescribing so recklessly? The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines  recommend that doctors “Do not use antidepressants routinely to treat mild depression because the risk–benefit ratio is poor…” Another NICE review stated that the benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo in mild to moderate depression may be minimal or nonexistent.

What about the Irish Human Rights Commission who recommended, among other things, that doctors/psychiatrists are to give an ‘oral explanation of risks/side-effects of SSRI’s in advance of prescription, together with relevant written information’ and that a ‘level of monitoring and ongoing supervision is required when SSRI’s are initially prescribed’. I don’t think that equates to ‘here’s a script, now have a nice day young lady and don’t take them all at once’.

Considering Shane had access to 6 weeks of poison Citalopram and had a toxic-to-fatal level of same in his system when he died, how many horses could a 6 month supply kill? This dangerous over-prescribing is heading for disaster. As Dr Phil would say; how’s that working for ya professor? Rising suicides and increased prescribing… sometimes 2+2 really does equal 4.

IHRC Recommendations.

NICE guidelines.

NICE Review Consultation Doc.

cipramil (celexa) stories,

Don’t mess with the mama’s.

Sometimes I wonder as i’m sure other people do, why I actually bother doing this and don’t just get on with my life and forget about what happened with Shane, as it’s something I can’t ever win. Maybe it’s the way I was brought up, to actually believe in right and wrong and the fact that good will always overcome evil and lies will always be uncovered.

We have had plenty of bad press, coming from Irish psychiatry (surprise, surprise), priests who say that “evil should never be blamed on depression” and a couple of journalists who implied that Shane was trying to get “in” with the upper classes!

I’ve been informed that this lovely “Christian priest” had a right ould Sallynoggin rollicking from a few of my mam’s neighbours. As I said to my mam “that priest has nothing to do with the same God I was brought up with” and the fact that Shane never lived in Sallynoggin didn’t really fit the picture, but never let a good story step in the way! 

Am I supposed to crawl under my working class rock? Am I supposed to apologise for bringing my children up to look after the people who are less fortunate than we are? Am I supposed to apologise for being brought up in Sallynoggin? NEVER! You won’t ever find nicer people than the people of Sallynoggin and I am so very proud to have been brought up there. ALWAYS! “Up the noggin!”

Shane would have thought it was hilarious because I have never known someone who was as comfortable in his own skin as Shane was. He was so very proud of his granny (and grandad) from Sallynoggin and often brought his friends over to meet them. He thought he was so lucky and it would never have occured to him that some people would have thought less of him because he came from a working class background, he actually thought he had it all!

Shane lived in Dalkey because it was on the dart line and was close to the college he was going to, and because his cousin, his uncle and his aunt had three of the 4 apartments in the house, and the one he was living in was vacated by his aunt and uncle when they moved to Greystones,(my sister and brother in law!)

I have been asked “how can you cope with the things that have been said about Shane?” and I didn’t really know how to answer that one. It took me a while to figure that one out and figure out why it didn’t upset me the way it did Shane’s friends and family, I thought about it for a while and wondered if I was going mad (well madder than I already was), before I figured it out, you can’t hurt a person with a broken heart because the worst thing that can happen has already happened!

I will always be aware that there are other people involved in this and can never reconcile the fact that Shane caused another families heartache, but I will never believe that Shane was capable of violence to himself or another, without the intervention of the antidepressant cipramil.


From Sallynoggin.