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Default 09-24-2005, 08:47 PM

Editor's note: Carrie and her family, who have lived in the Bighorn Basin for nearly 30 years, wanted to speak candidly about her illness, but did not want to deal with the social repercussions in small-town Wyoming. Her name has been changed to protect their privacy.

CODY - Carrie's emotions were like mismatched puzzle pieces - they didn't fit the world around her.

She laughed in the wrong places. "Normal" responses eluded her. By the time she was 12, Carrie and her mother knew she was different from other kids. But when the diagnosis came back "rapid-cycling bipolar," Carrie bucked.

"They were basically calling me crazy," Carrie said. "So I decided that I would rather be known as a drug addict or an alcoholic than mentally ill," Carrie said. "I started drinking and doing drugs."

Carrie's life has been a roller coaster of soaring highs and plunging lows. Now 25, she has two children, works as a beautician and loves art, writing and rock collecting. She has been in rehab four times. Only recently has she accepted her dual diagnosis as bipolar and a substance abuser. An episode in March drove the point home.

"I was on a Robo-high (combining Robitussin and marijuana), and the television started talking to me. I thought I was Lucifer and my family was driving off to heaven and I wanted to go with them," Carrie said. She shaved her head, called a friend and said she had killed her family. She hadn't, but the cops came to check.

"By that time, I was ready to listen," Carrie said. She agreed to a voluntary commitment in the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston. But she never got there, said Carrie's mother, and what happened next inspired her to activism.

"The state hospital always is full," Carrie's mother said. "So they kept her waiting in Cody. I knew in my heart that if they were doing this to mine, that they were doing this to people all over the state."

Carrie sat in the hospital under 24-hour guard for a week. Dr. Christopher Loewther called the governor to complain. Then state hospital officials said they would release Carrie.

"The state hospital said, 'She's not homicidal, she's not suicidal, so we're going to release her,' " Carrie's mother said. "My daughter clearly needed help and they were trying to slap a Band-Aid on a cancer."

Carrie eventually got a place at the Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper. Then she was discharged and was back in the "nowhere zone" of Cody, her mother said.

"It's a zone where there are no available psychiatrists," Carrie's mom said. "There's no follow-up and no help."

Carrie relapsed into drinking and returned to the emergency room. Debra Dunn, Park County Mental Health's adult services manager, agreed to take her as a special case, and Carrie was placed in the single respite bed at Hope House.

"I don't know what I would have done without Deb," Carrie said.

Carrie's mother is involved in trying to get more care to those with mental illness in the region.

"We can't go on this way. Something's got to change," she said.

She also tries to keep her beautiful, creative daughter out of distress. She cares for Carrie's little daughter; the other lives with her father out of state.

"Most of the population doesn't have a clue," Carrie's mother said. "They want mental illness to be simple, but it isn't. I didn't understand it either, for a long time. In some ways, it's easier to admit to brain cancer. But as a mother, you can never give up. Never."

For her part, Carrie wants "a decent life without rehab and hospitals," she said. She wants to keep her daughters out of the system. She prays that they won't be bipolar, although she knows they have a greater chance. Carrie wants to make people beautiful and feel good about themselves.

"I like being a beautician because you hear other people's stories. Things are happy and rosy, and for that eight-hour shift I feel like a different person. Me, but a happier version.

"The last time I had an episode, I thought the war was over, that it was pillow fights and that the world was beautiful. When I'm depressed I want to be in prison or dead. It took a long time to realize that none of that was real. Now I'm trying to get back to reality.

"I'm starting to get used to it," she said.

Carrie has been on a waiting list to get into the Wyoming Substance Abuse and Recovery Center in Sheridan.
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House Offline
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Default 09-24-2005, 09:27 PM

Interesting article, albeit very sad.

Disclaimer: Any statements made on these forums under this handle should be vehemently disregarded, disbelieved, and taken with the least amount of seriousness possible.
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Default 09-24-2005, 09:31 PM

Fuck psychiatry. I'm anti-psychiatry to the very fucking end. :thumbsup:
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Default 09-25-2005, 02:59 PM

You know what they are going to do to "help" her? Put her on those fucking horrible SSRI drugs.

I can show you the way if you can prove that you deserve to know it.
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Default 09-26-2005, 02:23 PM

being accused of having a mental illness is probably one of the most profoundly disturbing things that's ever happened to me. The whole idea that you're sick, and all the people trying to help you are healthy, and you wonder why they're the only ones that see your sickness, because however much aware you may be of your own problems the model of mental health by which they appear to be measuring you seems to negate all your past notions of contentment and well-being.

You enter into this quagmire universe of waying the pros and cons of every proposition, of using every single one of your faculties to figure out just what and who you are, as well as what and who you should or are morally obligated to be vis a vis society and its demands.

Eventually I settled with the idea that my own enjoyment was my primary responsibility in life, and that the same goes for every other living thing on the planet, and that any action that worked towards that enjoyment of life and did not infringe on anyone else's ability to enjoy their life was by definition sane and safe!

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Default 09-26-2005, 02:36 PM

Originally posted by Hate Shade@Sep 25 2005, 12:59 PM
You know what they are going to do to "help" her? Put her on those fucking horrible SSRI drugs.
Luckily they don't perscribe SSRIs for bipolar.


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Default 09-29-2005, 01:51 AM

Originally posted by PeoplesMind@Sep 26 2005, 01:36 PM
Luckily they don't perscribe SSRIs for bipolar.
They do, though generally not without mood stabilizers. A mood stabilizer + SSRI + benzo (usually clonazepam) + next gen antipsychotic (risperidone, olanzepine, etc) is a fairly common cocktail for bipolar. Sometimes they toss in gabapentin just to give some drug company executive's daughter's dog a new designer wardrobe (because it's not good for much else). Tho IIRC there's some concern about TD with next gen antipsychotics (except for olanzepine ... but then again who wants to gain 50lb *per year*?) so they'll probably back off of those ... in about ten years, after water's been well chummed and the lawyers are circling.

Except for lithium, most of the mood stabilizers (anticonvulsants, generally) are better antimanics than antidepressants. A couple of the newer anticonvulsants (lamotrigine? could be wrong on that) seem to have enough antidepressant activity to avoid SSRIs. If you don't lose your liver or get that pesky fatal rash.

BTW, if I sound cynical about all this, please keep in mind it's often the least of a bunch of evils. But polypharmacy of this sort is at best rolling the dice. And for people who need it, well, it beats any of the other alternatives.

"... the feverish delusions and utter helplessness is learned and best not overdone. quit sucking on the teat of dr mom" - libel

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Default 10-18-2005, 11:00 PM

Luckily they don't perscribe SSRIs for bipolar.

your very wrong, yes they do
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Default 10-19-2005, 03:12 PM

B. White is correct.

They always prescribe a mood stabilizer.

Then they prescribe an SSRI.

Then they prescribe an anti-psychotic.

They may start off with just a mood stabilizer, but they'll throw in the others at some point because hey the more drugs they prescribe the more money in their pockets, ultimately.

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