Conversation Among the Ruins

For those of you who have recently been released from locked wards of psychiatric hospitals, cut off from the unceasing flow of news and information,  allow me break the news to you that the seven time winner of the Tour de France has finally admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs to win his bike races. In a high – profile two-part interview with the renowned American chat show host Oprah Winfrey he openly admitted his misdemeanors, bullying  the peleton, slandering fellow professionals, giants of the sport who had questioned his success, such as 3 time winner of the Tour de France Greg Le Mond. He admitted to pursuing people who doubted his honesty through the courts, and taking millions of dollars in sponsorship on the back of his vacuous success.

His reputation lies in ruins, and he tried to use this media platform to try to resurrect his reputation, and salvage an athletic career as a tri – athlete, something he is banned from for life.

A conversation in the ruins.

What about those of us who have been taking drugs that are marketed as improving the performance of people (like myself) to function more effectively and find that the effect of such treatments cause a whole host of dreadful side effects? I am one of the lucky ones who has only been troubled twice by unwanted side effects a couple of times – feeling sea – sick when I was prescribed my first ever anti – depressant (Prozac). More recently I struggled with grogginess on a dose of 500 mgs of a drug that otherwise suits me on a lower dose – Quetiapine. I could go into details of the most attractive side effect I have ever had – vastly increased libido – but on second thoughts, let’s not.

I have heard many accounts of people who have suffered from vomiting, diarrhea, sleeplessness, poor motor control, lack of libido, severe headaches – and in some cases – suicidal ideation as a result of taking prescribed mental health drugs.  What impact do I hear time and time again from peers who share these experiences with me?  They stop taking the pills.  Then what?  The inevitable return of distressing, disabling symptoms such as suicidal depression, anxiety, distressing psychosis to name but a few.  Doctors talk of the ability of patients (that’s people like me) to tolerate such treatments.  The implication is clear: the best we can hope for is to come to a point when can put up with these treatments.  ‘Recover from psychosis?’ I hear doctors say,’ impossible.’  To suggest such a possibility with a diagnosis is simply dismissed as a symptom itself – delusional.  The response? You guessed it – increase the dose.

A conversation in the ruins.


At least they’re talking.  The U.K. charity Time to Change aim to shift perceptions of mental health and of the people who have to cope with them.  You can find out more about their work here:

I have written nearly 100 editions of this blog since I started in the summer of 2010.  While it’s true that readers regularly ‘like’ what they read by clicking on the relevant button at the bottom of the page, it’s not a conversation.  96 comments in response to these musings over the last 2 and a half years doesn’t really amount to a conversation, does it.

Sounds like self-pity? No, just venting my frustration that readers from Argentina to Zambia via New Zealand and Nepal are comfortable reading, but not in engaging in a discussion.

A conversation in the ruins?  Don’t all rush at once.

Conversation Among The Ruins

Through portico of my elegant house you stalk
With your wild furies, disturbing garlands of fruit
And the fabulous lutes and peacocks, rending the net
Of all decorum which holds the whirlwind back.
Now, rich order of walls is fallen; rooks croak
Above the appalling ruin; in bleak light
Of your stormy eye, magic takes flight
Like a daunted witch, quitting castle when real days break.

Fractured pillars frame prospects of rock;
While you stand heroic in coat and tie, I sit
Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot,
Rooted to your black look, the play turned tragic:
Which such blight wrought on our bankrupt estate,

What ceremony of words can patch the havoc?

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

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