More Head Games

The last time we reported on Troy Anderson, known on the street as Evil, he'd been trying for more than a year to get an appointment with a psychiatrist at the Colorado State Penitentiary. Being locked down with little human contact for year after year can do things to your head, but Anderson already had a long history of mental illness and violence before he ever reached CSP, including several suicide attempts and two shootouts with the cops.

Thanks to our inquiries and the resulting article, "Head Games," Anderson finally saw a shrink and was evaluated for new medication. But it hasn't been smooth sailing since; Anderson recently wrote to complain that Colorado Department of Corrections medical staff are still messing with him.

Anderson's version of the dispute is that a doctor promised to put him on Wellbutrin, a version of the antidepressant buproprion, which has had some effectiveness in treating attention disorders similar to Anderson's. But buproprion isn't part of the standard DOC formulary, and the doctor denied he'd agreed to any such move. Anderson called the doc a liar and refused to see him; the doctor, he says, retaliated by taking him off all his medications.

"I am no longer on any meds," he writes. "He actually told the evening nurse that if I wouldn't talk to him, then no meds at all — after he'd said he'd put me in to see someone else."

One of the meds Anderson had been taking is Effexor, an anxiety disorder drug. Check here to see what happens when use is suddenly discontinued rather than gradually stepped down; the long list of possible adverse reactions includes vertigo, nausea, sensations of electric shock, muscle twitching, hypomania and seizures. "I spent three days throwing up," Anderson reports. "It's been a rough couple of weeks. He did it to make me sick. I have no doubt about that."

Despite a medical waiver from Anderson, his caregivers have refused to discuss his treatment with Westword. And a recent letter from this newspaper to Anderson was intercepted by the CSP "reading committee" — with no explanation or notification offered to us.

Anderson recently wrote to state senator Sue Windels, who's a member of a multiagency task force that's trying to reform the state's patchy mental health system. "CSP is full of inmates who should not be here," he wrote. "Prisoners who have no history of violence, those who are mentally ill, and even more who are due to be released to society shortly...DOC needs more beds to address the growing number of mentally ill prisoners rather than ad-seg beds.

"I know that anything coming from a prisoner will be read with a certain amount of doubt. All I ask is that you treat what DOC says with the same doubt. They have a vested interest in continuing the current policies." —Alan Prendergast

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun