Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Was my sister Bipolar?

After reading a piece by Sinead O'Connor, about her diagnosis of bipolar, it again started me thinking about my sisters diagnosis. Often over the years that my sister Carole was being treated for bipolar, I wondered, would things have been different if Carole had not been kidnapped and raped? Would she still have got mentally unwell?

Carole was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by three men when she was just ten years old. When we got her back home she began to act, what I would have said at the time was 'funny'. She would speak to people who weren't there, rock back and forth, keep clenching her fists and sometimes she would just keep laughing. When we asked her what she was laughing at she said she didn't know, she just couldn't help it. Her doctor diagnosed a nervous breakdown. She was then put into a secure hospital where she was the only child on her ward. She was medicated but, as I was only eight then I do not know what she was put on. What I do know is that I and our other sister got so upset by some of the visits that our parents stopped taking us to see her. She was locked in there for years until a new doctor suggested, priadel and methylene blue. After a few weeks of treatment Carole improved dramatically. Soon she was back at home with us. She stayed mentally well for years with only a few ups and downs that we handled at home. Then we were told that methylene blue was no longer to be used in the treatment of mental illness so they would need to change her medication. When Carole came off of that her old symptoms returned. It took a while to find something else that suited her. The next thing that happened was, we were told that the priadel had caused liver and kidney damage so she would need to be taken off that too. Again her symptoms returned and again it took a while to find a new drug that suited.

None of the new drugs ever worked as well as the first two had so, when in 2010 Carole was admitted to the Carsview Unit and her doctor asked me what had worked best for her in the past, I told him. He said that he could not put her back on priadel as it could prove fatal to her but, he did get the necessary permission to put her back on methylene blue. I suggested that he check her records for what else had been prescribed in place of the lithium. He did this and after only a few weeks we were told that Carole could leave the hospital. Sadly due to legal matters that are now under full investigation I was not allowed to take her home. Due to this Carole was then put onto various different 'as required' medications. I warned them how she would react on them but I was constantly ignored. The medication kept being increased despite my reminding them about her chronic liver and kidney disease and sadly aged 51 she passed away having never left the hospital again.

At the time this happened to Carole attitudes were different. People trusted doctors. They were in the caring profession. They knew best. Or so it was believed. Now that I know more, I question whether my sister was bipolar or not. Yes she displayed bipolar symptoms but, she had just gone through what would be a traumatic experience for anyone let alone a 10 year old girl. Carole was never offered counselling, in fact she was never offered any kind of alternative therapy, I don't think it existed back then, but what if she had been? Now most people know that trauma can lead to mental health problems we also know that drugs are not always the answer. I believe that if alternative therapies had been offered to Carole there may have been a different outcome. I now believe that many of Carole's symptoms were in fact side effects of some of the medication she was on. This in turn led to her being treated for other illnesses that she never had.

Carole had ups and downs all of her life, most were when her medication was interfered with. When she was at home, we never gave her the as required medication we let her work through her ups and downs and with our help, she always bounced back. This worked for her, we knew what she liked and we coxed her into getting involved and soon she was well enough to be getting on with her life again. Stimulation seemed to work. We told everyone this but no one ever listened. When on the odd occasion she did get to go anywhere it was to art classes or the gym. She detested both of these and would flatly refuse to go.

I believe that, Carole died after being over medicated while, being treated for illnesses that she did not have. Her life was taken from her. I also believe that some doctors are too quick to diagnose and medicate mental health problems. I have highs and lows in my life. I got really upset when our parents died, naturally so did Carole. No one drugged me up but they did Carole. Why?

This kind of treatment must stop. Just because someone suffers from a mental illness doesn't mean that they should be, medicated to the point of being unable to function, any time something bad or sad happens in their lives. They like anyone, just need time to deal with it.

We all know the benefits of medication, when we need it. We also know that having to take medication long term will eventually start to take it's toll physically. For this reason I believe that medication should always be kept to a minimum. Another problem was physical care. Staff need to be more aware of the patients physical condition. Carole's death was preventable. Her condition could have been treated if diagnosed sooner. I begged for a medical doctor to be called for over a year. No one would listen. They all said she was fine. Do you also believe this needs to stop. Then join my campaign. Sign the petition.

On Facebook?You can sign it here. Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients.
Alternatively, you can sign it here. Stop Over Medicating Mental Health Patients Please note that the full petition is currently still being drawn up but will be available soon.