JOURNEYING BACK TO SELF

Laura Delano is a psychiatric liberation activist, writer, and community organizer.  She entered the “mental health” system as a thirteen-year old and escaped it fourteen years later, after accidentally stumbling upon Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic.  Today, Laura works with individuals looking to free themselves from psychiatric labels and drugs, and communities seeking to build alternatives to the “mental health” system.  She lives near Boston, Massachusetts, where she’s founded a mutual support group for people coming off psychiatric drugs, and can be found at her website, www.RecoveringfromPsychiatry.com, on Facebook here and here, or on Twitter.  She serves on the boards of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, and Mad in America, Inc.

In Journeying Back To Self, Laura has written the story of what happened in her life after being labeled "Bipolar" at fourteen up until the point at which she accidentally discovered Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic thirteen years later, in May 2010.  The story of how she left the "mental health" system is being saved for a larger writing project, and in the meantime, Laura now writes more generally about her experiences as an ex-patient.  New readers to her blog might want to start here: story from its beginning.

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May 21, 2015

I know from firsthand experience how hard it can be to read a simple sentence about withdrawal when on or coming off psychiatric drugs, let alone to feel clear-headed enough to track down information on the internet, sift through it all, decide what’s trustworthy and reliable and what should be ignored, and make a safe and responsible plan. The purpose of our psychiatric drug withdrawal section is to make it easier, clearer, and more accessible for those in our community to get informed about coming off psychiatric drugs.
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November 3, 2014

Three weeks have passed since Mad in America’s International Film Festival took place at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA. I’ve been spending a lot of time in solitude, reflecting and processing the whole thing, for in the Festival’s wake, I was taken over by a powerful, albeit interesting mix of great physical and mental fatigue and even greater emotional energy. Most importantly, what the Festival has set off in me is a resurgence of hope—hope for Mad in America’s future as an organization and an ever-growing space for people to come together in community, hope for this mission we’re on to transform the way the world makes sense of the experiences that get called “mental illness”, and hope in our collective human capacity for personal and collective transformation.
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August 1, 2014

What I find most compelling about the message of RECORD is its reclamation of pain, for the album makes clear that Dylan’s is not the story of a journey to happiness and bliss and total peace of mind, but rather, one back to the truth of what it means to be human— pain, anguish, and all. It is an embracing of suffering, not a leaving behind of it, and this, too, has been my journey. This, I believe, is what psychiatric liberation is all about.
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July 23, 2014

I grew up in an environment that taught me my worth as a person was directly tied to my grades, my athletic performance, my list of extra-curricular activities, and my SAT scores. That if I wasn’t the best, I was the worst. That if I wasn’t perfect, I was a failure. At thirteen and in all my psychiatrized years to follow, I never had the chance to step back and process what this all meant, and whether these were values I wanted to hold onto, and I continued through high school and on to Harvard in this existential limbo, simply because I saw no other way.
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June 8, 2014

My heart envisions a future of grassroots community-based, free, accessible, welcoming, non-judgmental and safe spaces for young people in the middle of the hurricane of adolescence. They will be spaces completely free of the false and destructive dualism of “mental health” and “mental illness”, spaces in which no professionals are in sight, no illusions of quick-fix solutions offered, no top-down authority to direct the conversation. They will be spaces facilitated by those of us who’ve reclaimed what it means to be human—to suffer, to yearn, to fall into the depths of darkness, to fly high on the waves of euphoria, to think about death as a solution to life, to hear voices, to experience paranoia, to be debilitated by panic and anxiety, to feel completely helpless, hopeless, and alone.
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Categorized in: Bipolar, Blogs, Children and Adolescents, Featured Blogs, Rethinking Psychiatry/Medical Model

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June 5, 2014

Our Film Festival’s mission is to foster the pursuit of social justice and human rights by bringing together an international collective of voices, perspectives, and artistic presentations that challenge the current mental health system and explore alternative understandings of “mental illness.” We have confirmed speakers coming from across the United States, England, Iceland, Sweden, and Canada, all of whom share a commitment to rethinking psychiatry and the current mental health system, and to cultivating effective alternatives.
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May 1, 2014

This — this moment — is a gift, just as every moment of my post-Psychiatry life is, and I view it as a second chance, this life I’m living on borrowed time. This is why I’ll be protesting the APA, because Psychiatry took me as far from this life as I could possibly have gone, and it is my duty to use this gift to fight for the freedom of those still enslaved.
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January 31, 2014

The mission of Mad in America’s International Film Festival is rooted in a commitment to human rights and social justice, and our intention is to tell the evolving story of psychiatry over the past century, and to present films that question our current mental health system and highlight past and present-day alternatives.
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November 28, 2013

The ocean’s waves are constant and unchangeable, bound by earth and gravity; for a long time I believed life was this way, too—that who I was and how I felt and what I believed about myself were all bound by some invisible force that would always keep me trapped in a perpetual state of agonizing being. What a beautiful thing to know that after so many years of believing this, I’ve proven myself wrong.
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October 14, 2013

This summer, Sera Davidow, Laura Delano, Sean Donovan and Caroline White began a collaborative process with many others from the Western Mass RLC and beyond to develop two new films (not yet titled) focusing particularly on the topic of psychiatric drugs. And that’s where YOU come in.
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September 9, 2013

I am alive today in the most intense, sometimes painful, always beautiful of ways, and one of the many reasons I credit for my life is this: I am a failed product of ‘Suicide Prevention.’ For this, I am eternally grateful. While this statement may sound like a confusing paradox, I’d like to explain what I mean.
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June 22, 2013

Earlier today, Matthew Cohen announced the launch of Mad in America’s directory of providers who support psychiatric drug withdrawal.  Many thanks to him for his hard work building the technology behind it!  The process of putting this directory together has …
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May 12, 2013

If, a little over three years ago, you asked me who I was, my one and only answer would have been, “Bipolar.”  It was the word that defined me, that explained my emotions and behaviors, that gave me answers to the questions, Why am I so unhappy?  Why do I want to die every day?  Why is it so hard to get out of bed in the morning, to shower and brush my teeth and leave the house and interact with the world?  Why do I find it impossible to keep a job, a relationship, a responsibility?  Why do I never feel OK?
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April 23, 2013

For the last month or so, Mad in America has been hard at work building a directory of “mental health” providers across North America (and eventually, we hope, the world) who will work with people wanting to come off psychotropic drugs.  I’ve been honored to have been tasked with the responsibility of building this directory, and I have to say, it’s been inspiring to talk to people all over the country who do this work, and who “get it”.
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March 27, 2013

On March 26th, a small group of us gathered outside the State House in Boston, Massachusetts, to rally and protest against several oppressive, dehumanizing, and dangerous bills put forth by the House and Senate.  If you’re interested in reading more about them, go to www.malegislature.gov/Bills, and search for House Bills 110, 141, 1802, 3253, 1792, and Senate Bill 41.  This is my speech from the event.
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February 23, 2013

(dictionary.com) Cult, n. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers. the object of such …
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December 18, 2012

As I write these words on a Monday evening, my spirit aches.  It aches with grief for the lives lost in Connecticut last week; it aches with dread for our collective American future in Sandy Hook’s aftermath; and it aches with love and empathy for Michael, a thirteen-year old boy whose once private life has, for the last day and a half, been on display for millions to see, exploited by a mother whose opinions are representative of America’s most pervasive mass delusion: that “mental illness” is a biologically-based condition requiring psychopharmaceutical “treatment” and “mental health care”, and that “the mentally ill” are a class of Other that threatens the safety, security, and health of America.
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November 10, 2012

I was never voluntary, no matter how much I convinced myself I was. Only now, my mind, body, and spirit fully free from the mental health system, am I coming to understand this. After desperately searching for answers to that once perplexing question of “Who am I?” I have found that I’m connecting with a true, authentic sense of my Self for the first time.
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October 14, 2012

Psychiatry’s desperate drive to legitimize itself as a profitable medical authority has resulted in a mass delusion so pervasive and destructive that it’s put us on a path towards societal collapse. This is not an overstatement, in my opinion, as the statistics are mind-boggling— one in five Americans are on psychiatric drugs. One in five. By my calculations, this means that 62,913,200 people ingest mind-altering, body-altering, spirit-altering pills they believe to be “medications” on a daily basis.
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October 6, 2012

Standing up for what I believe in with a determined voice is a new experience for me, and I sometimes find myself riddled with self-doubt and insecurity. But the beauty in this is that I know with firm resolve that my feelings, my thoughts, and my unique experience of reality will never again be violated by psychiatry, and that my purpose here is to help others gain the same freedom.
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August 27, 2012

When I first read Anatomy of an Epidemic in 2010, something inside of me ignited.  I had no idea that such a sensation was possible to experience, let alone for someone like me, who hadn’t felt alive in a long, …
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July 19, 2012

Silent hours unfolded as I devoured the words, a symphonic consciousness crescendoing as door after door of new awareness opened inside of me.  It was May, 2010, and I was alone in a Vermont hotel room, as I’d let my …
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May 6, 2012

To Readers: I’ve decided to sway, briefly, from my traditional story-telling style on this blog in order to post my short speech from this weekend’s ‘Occupy APA’ event in Philadelphia.  —— It is an honor to be in Philadelphia, the …
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April 14, 2012

A deep blue blanketing of 1AM sky envelops my car as I sit in my parents’ driveway in February 2010, pondering my next, last move.  I have just driven home in a blur from someone’s house after a typical night …
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March 17, 2012

It is Christmas Eve of 2008. I am leaning against the kitchen counter of an old friend’s house, arms tucked tightly across my stomach, as I observe crowds of people from my past, bottles of beer in their hands, filling …
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