By Heidi Everett
Content note: Implication of self-harm.
Heidi is a musician as well as a writer, and suggests listening to this song as you read this blog (description and lyrics at the end).
“Psychotropic medication, behaviour support and behaviours of concern”
Psychotropic medication: ‘Any medication capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behaviour.’⁺
Psychotropic: From the Greek ‘psycho’ (the mind) and “trop” (a turning).¹
A turning of the mind.
My mind: From the Middle English ‘mi’, the Old English ‘mīn’, and the Latin ‘mens’.¹
It’s not complicated. It’s deliciously intertwined.
When did ‘mi’ become separate from ‘mind’?
When did ‘my mind’ become ‘psycho’?
When did ‘troppo’ become ‘my mind’?
And why didn’t I notice?
Welcome to my world.
World: From a Germanic compound meaning ‘age of man’; related to the Dutch ‘wereld’ and German ‘Welt’.
I love words. I love writing.
Like Gotye sampling Luiz Bonfá’s 1967 track ‘Seville’ and the first nine notes of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, I used to know, and love, my mind.
Maybe, like Gotye, I never actually gave it enough credit.
Some Doctor prescribed me Valium. I was 19 … one-nine. Yeah, ninneteeeeeen maaan, don’t worry about it.
At 24, I was given drugs with catchy names like “stelazine”, “flupenthixol” and “mellaril” because, oddly, the Valium did not stop the bad things happening.
The drugs gave me Parkinsonian tics and a sweet lullaby known as tardive-dyskinesia which I can sum up by saying my tongue got a lot bigger than my mouth.
At 29, I was told to take quetiapine, AKA Seroquel, Suzie Q.
I also trusted Abilify and olanzapine, but I jumped out of a car on Abilify, and olanzapine made my eyes roll to the back of my head,
To the back of my head.
To the back of my head.
To the back of my friggin’ head!
Some Doctor (plural: Doctorii) looked at me, looked at a chart, and said in his mind: ‘A man in the trial takes 2000mg of this drug. This woman is the same height and weight, and she might even have blood and guts inside her too. What the heck?’
He scribbles ‘2000mg nocte’ on the script.
Needle in the butt, pills down the throat.
Heidi goes to sleep and wakes up at 40.
Common side effects include: sleepiness, constipation, weight gain, tachycardia, high blood pressure, seizures, prolonged painful arousal, high blood sugar, tardive dyskinesia, breast swelling and pain, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
In older people with dementia, its use risks death.²
Admittance to any public psychiatric unit is Grandma’s recipe.
A few months of traumatic stress – post, active or repressed.
A stopping of medications because:
a) You forgot to renew your scripts before the Christmas/New Year holiday and you can’t get a script, because:
a) The mental health clinic is shut, and when they do open between 2pm-4pm on 28 December, they say you can only get your scripts from:
a) Your treating psychiatrist who is either:
a) On holiday.
Wish you were here.
I have my own room. The staff are wonderful; so much care and attention.
The meals are top shelf; an array of exotic ingredients I’ve never seen or tasted before.
Everyone is relaxing, and I often feel like I’m the only one here because it’s so peaceful.
Really glad I took the flight!
Dear Some Doctor,
Wish you were here.
My bed is a plastic mattress that stinks of urine.
The staff grab me when I’m scared and put me in a concrete room.
The food reminds me of why I stopped eating two months ago.
Everyone here is terrified and I can taste fear in my sleep.
There’s nothing to do, so people yell and scream to interrupt the infinity mirror of torment.
The courtyard is occupied by cigarette smokers, so I don’t go outside much because the smell, sight and taste reminds me of that drug den.
I have no meaning apart from the daily pills.
Really wish I could fly.
Behaviour: Late Middle English from ‘be’ (thoroughly) and ‘have’ (in the sense ‘have (oneself) in a particular way’).¹
Support: Middle English tolerate from the Latin ‘sub’ (from below) and ‘portare’ (carry).¹
Concern: From the French ‘concerner’ or late Latin ‘concernere’; from ‘con’ (expressing intensive force) and ‘cernere’ (sift, discern).¹
Psychiatry: From the Greek ‘psukhē’ (soul, mind) and ‘iatreia’ (healing).¹
⁺ Psychotropic medication definition (2020)
¹ Oxford Languages (2020)
Song: “Speed of Light” (Flute Demo) by Heidi Everett. A slow song featuring Heidi’s vocals, acoustic guitar and a flute.
Soft is the rhythm that flows through my veins when I’m lying close to you (x4)
Clear are my dreams when I sleep late at night, when I think of what you do;
Feel the rush at the speed of Light when I’m flying next to you (x2)
when I’m lying next to you
Hope is a hunger that can’t be designed, as it grows inside of you;
Don’t pull away from the past so fast, as it falls away from you (x2)
Heidi Everett is a multimedia artist and arts producer living and working on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung land (Melbourne). Heidi directs disability led arts organisations Schizy Inc and Qualia Theatre, and has living experience of ‘wall to wall’ neurodivergence. Heidi is recipient of Victorian Independent Producers Initiative 2020 and teaches creative advocacy.
If you feel impacted by anything you have read here, remember you can always call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
You can also call the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468. This service is set up specifically to support people impacted by anything related to the Disability Royal Commission.
Photo provided courtesy of Heidi Everett. Photo taken by Therese Quinlan.