A few paragraphs from Life After Lithium

We certainly weren’t all “manic” when the drug was initiated. I was not. I’m fairly certain that Gould Farm, the facility where I was initially put on lithium, was sick of hearing my complaints about how much I disliked it there and wanted to leave. In my case, lithium was initiated as a “we don’t know what else to do, so maybe the placebo effect will stop her from complaining” drug. This was not a decision based on any scientific test, but on guesswork and “last resort” mentality. If so, this was a bad administrative choice because even if lithium were to “work” as a placebo, to silence me simply because it was a pill, it would very quickly destroy my thyroid and kidneys.

I never asked what they had for my diagnosis, but I am fairly sure I was admitted and released from Gould Farm with a “depression” diagnosis. Afterward I was a private patient of Dr. Charles Capers, who clearly did not know what he was doing at all, he very well may have changed my diagnosis several times to suit his fancy. My parents, also, noted his incompetence, not only as a clinical professional, but his billing practices, they later informed me, were so sloppy they couldn’t figure out what on earth he had billed them for. I recall feeling embarrassed having to correct him on several occasions, wondering if he drank like Dr. Finlayson in Vermont. I knew he kept no written records on me at all, even though likely he was legally required to do so. But I didn’t want to say anything. I was afraid to. Maybe he was just getting old. Dr. Capers wasn’t the only clinician I went to over the years who failed to keep records. Just about all of them were sloppy record-keepers.

I also noticed Dr. Capers had this odd twitch that I now suspect might have been Tardive Dyskinsia. It’s not uncommon for psychiatrists to dabble in experimentation with the very same drugs they themselves prescribe. Maybe he had gotten himself dependent on antipsychotic pills! It was very clearly a mouth twitch, but again, I said nothing.

One day, Dr. Capers told me in his office that I had schizophrenia. He said this the same way someone might tell me the weather had turned rainy or the bus was going to be three minutes late. Like I was supposed to take it all in stride. “But you knew that, right?” he said.

I had no clue why he was saying this, as I had no signs or symptoms of schizophrenia, and never had. Should I believe him? I didn’t know. Was he some old wise fool now? Should I just pretend I take this seriously?
I didn’t want to rile him up, so I nodded and left the appointment as usual, thinking about what he had said. Could it be true? Even remotely true? I felt obliged to humor him because I didn’t know what else to do.

Feedback and comments welcome!