When Samantha Parnell was just 15 she, like many teenage children, experimented with recreational drugs, her choice being skunk, a selection of selectively bred cannabis strains.
Her parents, Sharon and Steve, became aware when she started behaving out of character, in fact her mother thought that her daughter had a brain tumour such was the drastic change she had seen in her. Alarmed by this Sharon took her daughter to a local hospital whereupon Samantha finally admitted that she was smoking cannabis.
Confused and showing signs of agitation a doctor injected Samantha and told her that it would help calm her, the hospital then prescribed her Risperdal, an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia. The hospital told her parents that Risperdal was a standard drug they used to treat teenagers who had taken street drugs. Samantha's parents were also informed that the "medicine" was well tolerated.
As weeks turned into months Samantha found it difficult to tolerate the Risperdal, in fact, recalls her mother, "the Risperdal made things worse." When Samantha told the health care professionals about her intolerance they simply upped the dose. She was told by medical staff that they needed to keep adjusting the dose until "they got it right" as everyone needed "different amounts."
In 2007, seeing no marked improvement, Samantha was prescribed Zyprexa. Concerned, her mother told the prescribing doctor that she was not happy that her daughter was being prescribed drugs and asked if there were any alternatives.The doctor told her there were no alternatives and that this was the standard treatment.
Things went downhill for Samantha and her behaviour became worse, so bad was her behaviour that she was sent into an acute young persons unit where she was given more psychiatric drugs.Her parents noticed that Samantha became lethargic and showed little or no emotion and also learned that she was self-harming, she also lost track of time and didn't know what day it was, recalls her mother.
In a phone conversation with Sharon, she told me:
It was just a downward spiral, by this time she was a shadow of her former self. She asked Steve and me several times please help me too die. Can you imagine that, she even said I’ll write you a letter so you and daddy don’t get into trouble.
Samantha was becoming more violent and her mother noticed that it became worse just a couple of weeks prior too her menstrual cycle. Sharon relayed this to Samantha's doctor as she felt it may be of importance. Her doctor, apparently, never investigated this finding.
During 2007 Samantha was in and out of hospital units and was also sectioned under the mental health act where she was prescribed Clozaril, an atypical antipsychotic, her parents had to sign a consent form and were told that their daughter's blood would be checked regularly as it could interfere with her white blood cells.
I didn’t like the sound of it at all but it was said this was the last she could try as this is the drug they use for treatment resistant people.
At this point Samantha was taking three drugs, Zyprexa, Abilify and Lamictal, a fourth, Clozaril, was added to the mix and each time medical staff tried to 'up' the dose Samantha's heart reacted which ultimately saw Samantha admitted to a cardiac unit where she was told the Clozaril had to be stopped with immediate effect. Her mom recalls:
Whilst introducing Clozaril they reduced her from Zyprexa. Each time they tried to raise Clozaril her heart reacted so the cardiac doctor said it must be stopped immediately. They then proceeded to put her back on Zyprexa and also adding Abilify and lamotrogine.
Samantha's Clozaril was substituted with Diazepam, a benzodiazepine used for the short-term relief of symptoms related to 'anxiety disorders'.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if we knew then, what we know now, I would have said no. Sam’s life at this moment in time is a mess; I never want to hear of another child being abused by so called doctors again with these so called medicines. Sam has been so violent and she has hurt people and damaged lots of things too but their drugs have done that to her.
On 20th May 2011 Sharon took Samantha to a private hospital too see a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist. She explained all of her daughter's mood swings and violent outbursts. After discussion, he prescribed Oestrogen patches for Samantha to wear two weeks on and two weeks off and said, "if you get a 10% difference after the two cycles then I will put her on the lowest dose to start just too see and then maybe go up to the next dose if it works for her."
The patches seemed to calm Samantha down somewhat, although she was still experiencing rage. The patches,recalls her mother, "stopped her more violent outbursts, she stopped attacking people and smashing up the place."
Unfortunately, Samantha, had previously attacked a bus driver who had refused her on a bus, Samantha had tried to board the bus with a train travel card and lashed out when she was refused to board.
Yesterday, Samantha, now 19, was sent to a medium secure unit. Her mother wrote a letter to the court explaining what she believes to be the reasons why her daughter acts the way she does. It bore no weight with the magistrate.
The final words goes to Sharon:
I know from the research that I have done on these so called medicines that two of the drugs Sam was on, clearly says can interfere with women’s hormones and they never told us that in the beginning. The same as they only chose too tell of what they call minor side effects. Anyone who has been on these drugs and anyone who has looked after anyone on these drugs know they are actual side effects.
Sharon Parnell has been creating awareness about the use of psychiatric drugs in children and wishes for parents across the UK to research any psychiatric drug prescribed to their children. Her website, Revelations UK has been running since 2010.
To date Samantha Parnell has been prescribed the following psychiatric drugs;
She is currently spending time at a secure unit, a young woman trapped in the mental health system, hooked on psychiatric medication that has escalated her problems and eradicated nothing.
Her mother sought the help of professionals, that help resulted in misery starting in 2006 and, it appears, continuing throughout 2011. Samantha Parnell has been punished enough, it's time for those responsible to remove their heads from the sand, it's time to stop the chemical cosh whipping of this young woman.
She is one of many thousands of children, teenagers, adults and elderly caught in the mental health trap.
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