Once again I find myself recently released from a psychiatric ward, blessed with a paper bag for clothes and a prescription in my fist. Olonzipam and I are getting to know a lot about one another in the coming week. So far I’ve been a eight days on the stuff, and as you probably know, antipsychotics are maybe the one drug that have so little abuse potential that, for me, they have zero use potential. Yet some people swear by the stuff. I know people who claim drugs that have been found to shrink the brain in clinical studies have saved their lives. So I decided to review the different sorts of these wonderful drugs should you ever consider taking them.
Risperidone was the first antipsychotic I tried.
“We’re considering Risperdal and Abilify for you,” my psychiatrist said.
“Can I have some information on both?”
She gave me some papers to look over during that afternoon. After careful consideration I’d thought I’d made up my mind.
“I’d like to try Abilify, I think.”
“We’re giving you Risperidone.”
For some reason when doctors say risperidone it sounds to me like “despair.” This is apt, as taking risperidone for a long amount of time produces symptoms concurrent with being a morose Asian housewife. One of the many side effects of this is apologizing nearly constantly.
“You spilled that tea, Eiko.”
“Eiko, you’re getting blood all over me.”
“Sumimasen, sumimasen, sumimasen.”
“Stop stabbing me, Eiko.”
“Make more tea.”
“Hai, hai. Arigato gozaimasu, masuta.”
At some point, before the doctors realized that my Oriental marital-gender-dysphoric psychosis was probably more damaging than the “paranoid delusions” they’d meant to treat, the ward staff mentioned that a side affect of using risperidone for an extended period of time is lactation. Risperidone, as it happens, can be used as a female hormone replacement.
I became obsessed by my nipples. I would check them nearly constantly for moisture. Soon, my Japanese-housewife fantasies subsided and I began to believe that I had been chosen by a group of human scientists to join an elite team of cattle. The apologizing didn’t stop, either.
Eventually, I was on the drug long enough that I had almost run into its diabetes risk. The doctors were OK with my increased delusions, but they decided to cut me off when I risked physical disability.
My parents once described one of their friends who was on Abilify.
“She was really, um, on top of things,” my mother said.
“Yeah,” my father said, “Really, uh, really hot.”
“Yes, she became rather sexy,” my mother said.
“Not that she isn’t, normally, attractive, but…” my father said.
“Yes,” my mother said.
“…abnormally sexy,” my father said.
Wondering if Abilify could truly make me an attractive young woman, I agreed to try it about a year after I’d done risperidone. However, wanting to make an informed decision, I asked one of the girls in my hospital unit about her experience with it.
“Oh yeah. Abilify. Yeah. Once when I was on Abilify I became convinced that my parents were tracking me with my phone.”
“Yeah. So I took apart my phone and hid the different parts throughout the house.”
“Oh, that’s smart.”
“But then when I stopped taking Abilify, I seemed to forget anything that had happened to me when I was on it.”
“Yeah. So I forgot where I hid the parts of my phone.”
“I’m sorry. That’s too bad.”
After hearing this exciting bit of paranoia, and giddy at the idea of reliving some of the paranoia of my younger days, I agreed to take Abilify. What I found was total boredom. My face had a smile and my face had a frown. I became morbidly depressed and habitually happy. Abilify ended up being the most boring medication of all.
This is what all of my schizophrenic friends take. Most of their parents take it as well. Schizophrenia is a current fad in contemporary youth culture, and all things schizophrenic are in. I’m sure I’ve met at least a couple girls who lied about having it. Saying you have schizophrenia and talking about your fantasies is a common way that shallow girls try to seem interesting. It’s a symptom of the John Green society of today’s youth.
Actual schizophrenics don’t have the beautiful hallucinations that schizo-charlatans have. They have paranoid fixations on teddy bears or constant hallucinations of child-abusing cartoon animals. They see clowns’ penises in their mother’s eyes and if they’re far enough down the line they take the time to explain to you that a clown’s penis is just like a normal penis, but white. There’s no paint, because it grew that way. That’s the kind of detail that seems important to an actual schizophrenic.
One of my friends’ schizophrenic parents likened Seroquel’s effects to cocaine. I found this ridiculous, since the last thing the types who prescribe antipsychotics want is for you to be awake. Perhaps this is just because of how it affects schizophrenics, though I can’t imagine heavy sedatives affecting you differently based on whether or not you hallucinate.
Seroquel got bad press a couple of years ago because a subject at the hospital I used to go to was forced under threat of incarceration to take it. Weighing his options, he entered a pharmaceutically funded trial by the corporation that produced the drug. After graduating to a halfway house, he committed suicide by halfway beheading himself with a box cutter, leaving some of his neck attached.
Sooner or later I joined the club with the schizo kids and found myself with a prescription from my doctor at the university. All the stuff did was put me to sleep, and after taking it, a psychiatrist in Chicago warned me the week afterward not to take it. He told me the stuff was useless at treating types like me (obsessive compulsives) and that he had no idea why a doctor would prescribe it to me.
I walked out of their with a prescription for an anti-Parkinson’s glutamatergic. Before I was out the door, I asked him if he’d ever heard that Seroquel had a similar affect to cocaine. “That’s ridiculous,” he said.
I’ve spent a week on the stuff, and all I can say is this: It turned me into a puppet dinosaur.
This is an extra, because I’ve never tried thorazine. The only person who has in my family is my grandfather, whom I never met. He took it in his last days before he bit it in the mid-nineties. He was in the hospital with Alzheimer’s and was fading when they started giving the stuff to him. The medical care in Steubenville, OH, is better than West Virginia and worse than Pittsburgh, and by the time my grandfather was dead he was missing watches and rings on both hands.
Before that, however, his brain “twisted and fizzled,” as my father was fond of saying, while the antipsychotics carpet-bombed his brain. By the end of things, my bipolar grandfather was seeing his wife and his son on the final days, occasionally accompanied by cows and camels, which would follow my family members into the room when they paid him visits.