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How Awesome is Haldol?

November 19, 2010

Photo by Uh_Andy


Greenwich Village, 1995

I remember. I had taken Haldol. It was bad, bad, bad.

From a first psychosis, jabbering, talk of a stay at Bellevue, four pointed and screaming – I don’t know how long. It felt like forever. I had just turned 19 and was going to NYU.

I had shaved my head bald. Chris Farley had died. I felt I could see racism, understand it, and it hurt me. I screamed. I tried to explain, to warn everyone. “Saturday Night Live! And the President is not in charge! You don’t know! Listen to me!” I howled and thrashed and I could not stop.

Mom had told me they were going to have me checked for Mono, something my boyfriend had. I realized what was going on and tried to run. I was quickly subdued and restrained in a dark room with no windows. I had no idea what was happening to me. It was bad and seemed inevitable.

A friend of my mother arranged to have me released into the care of my parents and a doctor instead of going to Bellevue. Bellevue sounded like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and I winced and cried and panicked when it was discussed. “No. No. No. No. No! No! NO! NOOOOO!” My parents – both of them – had flown up, first my mother. The University provided a room where we all could stay.

I don’t remember where they gave me the Haldol. I think they sent me home from the hospital with it just in case. I remember after in the university room when my body was palsied, cramped. My jaw clamped down on my swollen tongue until all my front teeth were loose. I could not stop making a gutteral moan over the bloody tongue, through the clenched teeth, lying on a bed with T-Rex arms.

We made a joke out of it. My dad saying, “Mmmmhghghghgh!” in a conversational tone, an answer to my half closed throaty, unceasing growls. I laughed through my nose. I tried to walk. It looked like I was holding an invisible cane. My knock knees hinged together, my hand bent like a bird wing, neck cords popping, chin forward, rigid, a David Lynch dance. My dad imitated me and I cracked up. There was nothing we could do but wait.

My boyfriend was so good. He didn’t run away. He stayed and when my parents left us alone with some condoms, he had sex with me in my rigid body. Halfway off the bed with my bald head, my body not doing what I wanted it to quite yet, but almost. It broke something inside me to lose him later. Believing I was understood, loved even when I’d been so crazy, even without hair, even in a body that cramped and pulled, my bloody mouth, my loose teeth. Such tenderness.

I wanted to go to get acupressure. I had not been able to sleep all night for the cramping. I had not been able to eat because my mouth wouldn’t work.

They took me to an acupressurist from somewhere else. Israel? He started on me and I slept while he took the pain away, pressed the drug out of me, kneaded me like a baker. I woke up and felt much better and they took me to a cafe for a strawberry milkshake – the only thing I could get past my mouth disaster.

As we went back to the room, I vomited most of it along the sidewalk, limping, sick, miserable, it dribbled out in spasms I couldn’t anticipate. A California voice loudly said, “Ewww. Guhhhh-rossss!”

I was beyond humiliation. She had no idea. I felt like those words ran into a block of rock around my head, walking down the sidewalk with a cane, my parents and boyfriend, vomiting pink.

UPDATE: It occurred to me that there are people who don’t know about Haldol. It’s a horrible, horrible thing. You can read about the adverse effects here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haloperidol#Adverse_effects

Someone told me today, and I have to say I found it surprising, that this drug is still in common use. This is deplorable and makes me angry, even if my reaction was atypical. I just don’t understand how someone can take an oath to do no harm and then prescribe this drug.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2010 9:39 am

    how hideous. I suppose someone somewhere doesn’t have the kind of reaction you did. Loved the California reaction to your milkshake Vesuvius. Your prose is so intense!

    • November 19, 2010 9:55 am

      Thanks, Eileen! Still, people describe Haldol as being in a drug induced prison. It often causes drooling and inability to form a coherent thought, complete emotional numbness and lethargy to the point that the person who is taking it or who has been injected with it can not really walk or move properly. It’s really a very bad drug. Really.

  2. haldol sucks permalink
    January 29, 2011 8:14 pm

    Haldol is especially dangerous in autistic non verbal patients. To see dystonic reaction (oculogyric crisis with retrocollis within hours of receiving Haldol) in autistic patient, see “Autistic Patient In Crisis Goes Unnoticed” on you tube. Dystonic reaction in this patient was quickly reversed with ‘cogentin” and ‘benadryl”. Interesting.

  3. May 31, 2011 10:22 am

    Kate, I have taken Risperidone (Resperdal) and other antipsychotic drugs, being prescribed by the psychiatrist. I had similar experiences as you described in this post, albeit less dramatic. But all the while I never felt good taking the drugs, doing it only because my parents and friends kept persuading me that I had to in order to get better. Then I read some controversy theory articles on the internet that convinced me that such drugs and the whole mental health industry are really nothing but hoaxes. So I dropped the drugs and have never felt better before.

    • C.D. permalink
      November 13, 2011 1:12 am

      Ernest… It is true that most medication have harmful sideaffects as well as adverse reactions. If you don’t mind, were you ever diagnosed with a disorder? What has helped you overcome whatever was ailing you?

  4. Elise Gingerich permalink
    November 19, 2012 3:50 pm

    mental doctors are uncaring control freaks! mental doctors really are uncaring control freaks! the university of iowa and the state of iowa where i am originally from, really likes to use this crap on everyone and everybody! (everybody and everyone!) the university of iowa and the state of iowa, are just basically mean! i don’t hate my home state of iowa, my home state of iowa can be very mean to people though, but i don’t hate my home state of iowa, where i am originally from. i wish i could make an actual rewind button, and just go back before all of that! i really do wish, that i could just make an actual rewind button and just go back before all of this happened!

  5. Michael permalink
    December 29, 2012 7:45 pm

    Haldol is terrible. It was the best of all the 8 or so medications I took for anxiety; because I was misdiagnosed with psychosis by two failure therapists none of them worked. I am withdrawing today and plan to never take medication again. I have no symptoms.

    I felt okay on Haldol whereas on Zyprexa I felt better than okay sometimes but with more ups and downs. If I have anything, it’s depression and I don’t have depression.

    • December 30, 2012 6:59 am

      OK. For me Haldol is the worst thing that could ever happen to my body or mind. But then I’m the girl who gets violent on thorazine: in other words, who knows with me? But I only go up and only need an anchor. In my case, seroquel is the lifesaver.

  6. Suzanne permalink
    December 8, 2013 5:06 pm

    I also once took a haldol, it was by accident though, someone gave it to me and they thought it was a peach xanax. Well, the same evening i took it, my neck started spasming, and contorting, i would be trying to talk on the phone and start these uncontrollable moans! I called and managed to get an ambulance, but the problem wasnt resolved in 1 trip to the hospital, but2!

  7. March 21, 2015 4:27 am

    This same shit happened to me! Except I was an idiot and took them from some dude who told me they were benzos. My legs twisted and my eyes were pointed up for like 5 hours. I was also in New York and it sucked cause the spasms randomly started in union square and I had to literally feel my way back to brooklyn cause my eyes were in the back of my head. Scariest fucking shit in the world. I did some research on haldol and am totally freaked out that it’s being used for anything at all anymore. I’m a lot more empathetic towards people with tourettes now, at least.

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