FILM #2: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHILDREN
About the Film
- by J.A. Carter-Winward
It's easy because it can't happen to your child. Or it didn't. Or it won't. It's easy because your children have a stable, good family, a supportive community, good friends, good grades, they were taught values. They're accomplished (insert musical instrument of choice HERE) or play sports. Active in their church or civic communities. They're good kids. They want for nothing. But with all the pressure, they need a little help. Counselling—so drastic. Why not try the medications first?
It's so easy to ignore.
A friend of mine from Indiana had been going back and forth from Utah to her hometown to see her father, who had been ill for some time. She was so glad she was there for his final days.
After he passed away, she had a doctor's appointment with her primary care physician. During the routine chit-chat, she expressed she'd been having trouble sleeping because she had been so close to her father. The doctor asked her when her father had passed. She said it had been about 5 months.
The physician told her he'd write her a script for her insomnia, and an SSRI for the grief.
"Six weeks," he'd said. That's the average length of time someone should mourn a death in the family.
Six weeks after being a daughter for 50+ years.
A former friend of mine lost her dog. She was quite close to the dog.
I found her, wraith-like, at her place of employment. She seemed rattled, frazzled, and distracted. I asked her what was wrong, even though at the time, the friendship needed to end. I knew the look in her eyes intimately and she's a human being.
But I was so sure, so certain it couldn't possibly be what I thought it might be. After all, she'd been at the film premier, in person, to watch the horrors of what happens when prescription medications turn on you. She knew intimately how it had impacted our lives.
She wouldn't have been so careless.
She let it out in a flurry of sobs, frantic and wrenching with pain. After the loss of her dog, she too had insomnia and so her family physician prescribed her benzodiazepines to take for insomnia occasionally.
She didn't take them regularly, she told me.
I told her it didn't matter.
She was too terrified to drive, she couldn't work, she'd made the decision – she knew how she could make it look like an accident.
I told her to call her doctor. She was experiencing benzo withdrawal and it could kill her in a way worse way than driving her car off the side of a mountain.
Both of the stories above are true. I withheld their names because they are true.
It's so easy to ignore.
It's easy because it couldn't happen to your mother, your brother, your partner, or friend. Or it didn't. Or it won't. It's easy because they come from a stable, good family, they have a supportive community, good friends, solid values, community standing, a good job, an education. They seem okay, and they would certainly ask for help if they needed it, wouldn't they? You even asked, and they said that they thought yes, the new medication(s) were helping.
It's so easy to ignore.
My current friend declined the offer of help for sleep, her grief. But she told me the story, stunned. She told me she wouldn't have taken the pills anyway, but still…"medicating grief?" she asked.
"Yeah. Grief, sadness, loss, stress, bad life choices, loss of a job, you name it. If it's a human emotion, the window of acceptability for it has been tainted and warped and shrunk."
The former friend is a former friend for a lot of reasons, but happily not because she's dead. It's because medicating the grief, then staying on the medications she was given, was the path of least resistance, and she took it. I don't judge her for that, but I think she judges herself.
In short, our friendship ended over a broken promise.
She'd made a vow to help me create awareness for the dangers of medication side effects and black box warnings. It was the "most important fight" there is, she'd said on the Zoom call the next day. She told me I saved her life.
Then, she ghosted me.
When you make a promise to help someone save their own life after they save yours, you should really keep it and take it dead serious. She didn't.
It's so easy to ignore.
It's easy because only people who need "help," you know, mentally, take medications like that. Weak people, people who can't "figure it out" on their own. People who are used to crutches. People unlike you and yours.
That's why it's so easy to ignore.
There are over 800+ medications on the market today with Black Box Warnings. Some are antibiotics, others for asthma, migraine headaches, nausea, or are used for nerve pain that comes from an injury or diabetes (neuroleptics). All of them have neurological implications and no one knows what they are.
The second film in the BBWI series, "It's Not Just About the Children," is about what happens when we allow money to make our healthcare choices and abdicate our personal responsibility about what we put in our bodies.
And while there "are no excuses anymore," there are. Because even people who know everything there is to know (supposedly) about medications find they're no match for how badly they are damaged. If the science, research, studies aren't DONE, the information isn't there, is it?
That's not so difficult to absorb.
I'm not warning anyone about "triggers." This film should trigger you.
And if it doesn't, own it like my former friend owned it by walking away from me instead of helping me save my own life, your lives and eventually, unfortunately, her life, in favor of covering her ears and "la-la-la-ing" all the way to the end of her borrowed time.
Go ahead. Next time you go to the doctor, see if it's easy to ignore after this next film. Like that fair-weather friend ignored me and her promise until one day, she won't be able to anymore.
But then, I won't be there, bumping into her at her work because she doesn't work there anymore. I won't be there to save her life.
The medication she's on, by the way? I'm on it, too. I take them because I don't know if my body and brain can handle another drug withdrawal. I have seizures and that's what benzodiazepines were originally designed for. Folks with epilepsy. But they began committing suicide and there was just no way to get "epilepsy makes you suicidal" to fly.
Different when you're a nervous wreck.
So they took an EPS (the extrapyramidal side effect, which was it calmed people down) and made it the drug classes' main function.
"Mother's Little Helper."
And remember, if you need help like I do? Like she did? You're mentally ill. So if you take your own life or want to, that's on you. You, your upbringing, your family, your community, your intelligence, or lack thereof. It's your failure, your lack of character and will power. It's on you.
That's why it's so easy for everyone to ignore.
But it's not just about someone else's kid or someone else anymore, is it? And it's not about whether you take medications or not. It's not hypocritical to say "Yes, I was unwittingly put on something I was told was safe by someone I trusted, and now, I can't come off of it. But I can sure as hell make enough noise about it so other people don't have to suffer my fate."
That's what it means to be a good human being.
Watch the second film here.