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The Other Side of Everything

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Written on February 3, 2006, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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In 1966, I was four years old. My parents divorced. My mum hooked up with a new dad. I was, quite understandably, confused and depressed. I don’t recall anyone ever explaining to me where old dad was now, or where my paternal grandmother had disappeared to, or where my old toys were. There were five of us. I wasn’t priority.

The moral support I received was a trip to the doctor when I couldn’t sleep for nightmares.

The doctor, a well-meaning, half-trained ex-army medic, pressed into the National Health Service at de-mob, prescribed tranquilisers. He figured that half an adult dose ought to be correct, and I distinctly recall being fed these nightly concoctions of horror, foul-tasting pills crushed up with awful tasting jam. The sugar was disguising a dosage fit for an elephant. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t remember much else about that period for many years, and it was a long time before I even started asking questions.

They tried again at age ten, with valium, but this time, I was wise to it and started pretending I had taken them when I hadn’t.

It is even more common now for children to be given mood and behaviour-altering drugs and very little research has been done to examine the results of this long-term medically sanctioned experimentation upon children. Read this BBC news article. “90% of medicines for new born babies and 50% of those aimed at children are untested after collating evidence from doctors.”

I have long since adjusted to the fact that this series of large chemical doses interrupted and interfered with my emotional and mental development far more than a failed relationship and a broken family ever did. What else could I become but an explorer of my inner world, since that was where I became trapped, unable to seek rescue, zombied into quiescence? What else to become but independent, cynical, and drawn to self-medication? If it wasn’t for the things those kind souls in charge of my welfare actually did right, I may never have discovered this awful wrong years later, sitting in the office of an eminent psychiatrist, as he left to answer the phone.

As I sat and mused that it had taken me nine months to work my way through the medical system in order to get his referral, and that, by now, I had recovered from my terrible depression, more or less, and had no longer need of this bearded figure’s expertise, I saw the fat pocket of my medical notes on the table in front of me, picked it up and started reading. There it was, page two.

In came the doctor, saw me reading the notes, raised his eminent eyebrow.

“I believe I am allowed to do this?” I asked politely.

“Go ahead,” he confirmed, taking his seat at the desk opposite. I read, absorbed, checked a few things.

“Isn’t this drug banned now?”

“We don’t use it anymore. We’ve found much more effective medication. Are you interested in that?”

“I don’t have clear memories from this time. Perhaps this is why…”


His non-committal reply not quite masking a genuine flicker of concern began a process of astonishingly rapid understanding in me that I had been the victim of drugging, disempowering and emotional isolation, aged four and a half, perpetrated in good faith by loving parents. These adult-strength drugs severed the connection to my previous self, my previous life, which had been already confused by the ongoing struggle to feed five young mouths, my mother’s unresolved grief, and combinations of love, sex and jealousy. My own unresolved, unseen emotions would haunt me until I was twenty one, until I was twenty nine, until I was thirty six.

At thirty six, having suffered regular depression, and dealt with it in my own various independent and untrusting ways, I sat down and started to recover memories. Seeing that medical reference in my notes released a tiny dose of clarity into a black, deep pool, the sound of one drop echoing down long tunnels of years. One after another after another, realisations disturbed my waking mind, in the havoc of my recovery, like enormous manhole-cover-sized pennies dropping, dropping, one a week, barely enough time to absorb it.

I made notes.

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This thing has 2 Comments

  1. Leilouta
    Posted 4 February, 2006 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Aaaaaa!…that is horrible!

  2. Indigobusiness
    Posted 6 February, 2006 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    When they got around to trying to drug me into submission, the poison they used caused my tongue to swell and cramp til I feared I’d swallow it….convincing me I’m better off drugging myself.

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