Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir


I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was just nineteen. I am forty-three now, and I have recovered – and I use the term ‘recovery’ in its fullest sense. I have been free of medication and free of symptoms for twelve years. I have a husband, a home, and four young children – all things that I never thought would be possible at the age of twenty-five when I was informed of the diagnosis. At that time I accepted what I was told by the medical professionals; that the outlook was bleak in the extreme, that I would get worse as I became older and that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life.

I was an extremely shy and nervous child. I had a chaotic upbringing – my mother was an alcoholic and my father a gambler. My father was also a very volatile character, and extremely verbally abusive. I found school very difficult – academically I excelled, but socially I was completely at sea. My only happy childhood years were those I spent at boarding school, but I had to leave this school prematurely because of lack of funds.

I fell into bad company and bad habits as a teenager, and became extremely unhappy and isolated. I left home at sixteen, lived in various bedsits and smoked a lot of cannabis, but managed to win a place to study Law at the University of Southampton. I found though, that with no social skills whatsoever and with very low self-esteem, I soon floundered at University. I had a breakdown when I was nineteen, was sectioned (forcibly detained under a section of the Mental Health Act) and spent three months in a mental hospital, St Ann’s in Poole, Dorset.

The treatment I received in hospital was brutal. Forced medication should in my opinion be outlawed, or saved for the most extreme cases— those who have been violent or suicidal. I was neither. The emphasis in hospital was on containment, not understanding, and this amounted to an inhumane system, notwithstanding the good intentions of some members of staff.

When I finally left St Ann’s I was keen to get on with life. I stopped taking medication gradually, under the supervision of a psychiatrist whom I saw as an outpatient. I went back to University and gained an Honours degree in Law. However, I was still extremely nervous and insecure. I found it almost impossible to relax in company, although I longed to be more sociable. I felt like an outsider. By the time I graduated, although I was academically qualified to do a professional job, I knew that such work was out of my reach.

Instead I took on work as a waitress and cleaner because it was all that I felt I could cope with. Over time my mental health deteriorated; I started to smoke cannabis again, and before I knew it I was sectioned once more and back in St Ann’s.

This time I did another three months’ stint. I hated everything about that place – the forced medication, the atmosphere of fear, the mixed wards, the humiliation of finding myself in such a situation once again. But by the time I left I was still very weak mentally, and when a psychiatric nurse visited me at home and offered me the opportunity to attend a day hospital, I accepted through lack of any other options. At least this way, I could claim benefits to pay the rent on my flat, and so I would survive.

I was now twenty-five, and it was at the day hospital that my life changed. I was told that schizophrenia had first been diagnosed when I was nineteen, at the time of the first breakdown, but that it had not been thought appropriate to tell me then. Apparently the condition was confirmed by my second breakdown. Although I was confused at the lack of proof of the illness – there was (and remains) no physical test – I was told that there was no chance of recovery unless I accepted the diagnosis. Then, in a room filled with psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health nurses, I was told that my life was effectively over. That there was no chance of recovery anyway. They spelled out that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life, and that I would get worse as I got older.

I believe now that this dismal prognosis was the thing that most hindered my recovery. I respected medical opinion, and I believed what I was told. In the day hospital I started smoking cigarettes again (whenever I was mentally unwell I smoked; when I was better I stopped. For me, smoking is a major marker of my mental condition). I ate constantly – meals were free and plentiful and my weight and general appearance seemed to be completely unimportant in the context of the fact that I was now a SCHIZOPHRENIC.

I gave up hope. For a long period of time I travelled to the day hospital daily, took my medication dutifully and basically vegetated there. To be fair, there was some effort made towards education; we patients were told that schizophrenics are more of a danger to themselves than to others, for example, and that there was no element of split personality to the ‘disease’ that we suffered from. However, nothing detracted from my fear of what I had become, and what I might do as a SCHIZOPHRENIC.

After two or three years of this, when I finally began to recover, the impetus came from somewhere within myself. Somehow, I decided that I had had enough. I didn’t want to live like this forever. I knew that there was more to me than this. I didn’t want to be fat any more, so I began to control my food intake. I didn’t want to be unhealthy, so I gave up smoking and started exercising – I walked to the local pool where I swam every morning. I was then lucky to be offered a flat by a local Housing Association – the wife of the manager was a receptionist at the day hospital and she put in a word for me. This gave me some self-respect; I now had a decent home at a low rent, somewhere that I could be proud of and where I felt safe.

I began to work again, as a chambermaid in a local hotel. It was menial and poorly paid, but it kept me active and was as stress-free as a job could be. Eventually I found a better job, working for an insurance company in a call centre. Here I sent in an article to the internal newspaper, which resulted in some work setting up a newsletter for the home insurance department, and writing some internal communications documents for the call centre manager. I realised my vocation – I was a writer.

It took a while for things to settle properly. I met my husband, and we had a child, but I had my third and final breakdown after she was born. I was under considerable stress – my longed-for child was born a month early and was taken directly to the neonatal intensive care unit. But the breakdown was bad – I was sectioned again. It was a huge shock to my system and was regarded by everyone, including myself, as final proof of the schizophrenia.

I could not give in to the illness though, as I had done before, because I had my child to think about. As soon as I was released from hospital my husband returned to work and I assumed full care of our daughter. I looked after her diligently – played with her constantly, took her for long walks, and to mother and toddler groups. I was determined that my child should not learn to be shy, so I forced myself to start and to share conversations with other mothers at baby groups and on other excursions. And it worked! My daughter grew into a perfect little child, and my husband and I decided to cement our union with another. Fortunately this pregnancy and birth was straightforward, and I remained well afterwards. Two years later we had another child, and eventually our fourth and last, and still I did not require medication. I gradually became more confident of my ability to cope with life.

I realised over time that if I kept my life calm and quiet, I would thrive and so would my children. I am busy these days, but still based mainly at home and my life is very child centred. My children are growing up to be incredibly smart and grounded, and the pride I take in them has given me the belief in myself that I always lacked. I have a place in society now, and I carry out my daily business as a full-time mother in much the same manner as those around me.

I now recognise and respond to signs of stress; for example if I have difficulty sleeping I make sure that I step back from the source of my unease, make an effort to calm down. I eat well and regularly. I never let myself become agitated to the point where I feel I could lose control. I bear in mind that what is important in life is my family, and that is where I direct my efforts, because I know that without me the home that my husband and I have built would crumble.

I know that I am incredibly lucky to have got this far. I appreciate everything that I have now, probably because I thought for so long that it was out of my reach. My husband has been my greatest support, and I believe that my children have been my salvation. I am not sorry for anything that happened to me – I can see now that I played a part in my own downfall. I really want to help others who are in the same position now, to see that there is hope for the future. I feel strongly about a lot of aspects of psychiatric ‘care’ and I want to help to get the injustice in the system remedied.

I have been in receipt of State disability benefits for many years, and I believe that these helped my recovery, by removing financial stresses from the picture. However, the last step in my recovery has been towards work. I have written a book about my experiences, and it has had some success, which has encouraged me to follow the career I have always wanted, as a writer. I have found it hard in some ways to acknowledge that I am now well enough to work, but I realised eventually that the benefits were standing in my way; it is impossible to fully recover when you accept money for being unwell.

This journey back to work has happened very recently, and has been aided by a course of cognitive behavioural therapy. This has made a huge difference to my thinking. I have learned strategies to combat the anxiety that I have lived with for so long that I just thought it was part of my personality, and without the anxiety life is so much easier and better.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to manage my health without medication. Although I have had three severe breakdowns, I have only taken medication for a total of roughly five years in my life. I strongly believe that medication should be used only when necessary, and only when people agree to take it. Mental health problems can be dealt with in many other ways, and anti-psychotic medications have many extremely damaging side effects. There have been times in the last twelve years or so when I have been desperate for a magic pill to relieve the effects of stress and anxiety in my mind; but I knew that no such magic pill existed, and by exercising, eating and sleeping well, staying calm and quiet, confiding in friends and so on, I have learned to manage my own life, and I recognise that this has made me a more resilient and capable person.

I have not had a straightforward path to recovery; the stigma of the condition, the very word ‘Schizophrenia’, has been a cause of shame and has certainly contributed to a sense of low self-esteem. For many years my doctor claimed not to be able to spell the word ‘schizophrenia’ and wrote ‘nervous debility’ on my sick notes instead. I wish I had taken the hint. I have rejected the diagnosis for myself now – I do not think it is a valid label, or a helpful one, and it certainly does not describe me or my life.

In recent years I have learned to cope with stressful events, although on occasions I have feared that I would not. I see psychosis as the mind’s way of escaping from reality, when reality becomes so awful that one cannot cope. In that way it is a protective device. But the final step to recovery for me has been accepting that I am now completely healed; that I am no longer any more vulnerable than anyone else, that anyone could break down given the circumstances I found myself in, and that I am in fact now much stronger as a result of my experiences. That I am fit to work, because I am fit to live.

You can find more information on my blog at<> or in my book ‘Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir’.

I would be very happy to receive any comments on what I have written here or on my blog – I am engaged at present in writing another book, about recovery from nervous breakdowns, and it is useful to hear other points of view on the subject.



Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Thanks for your story. I am trying to recover myself using a combination of Mindfulness/Meditation, ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) and I regularly visit a cognitive therapist who can help me understand why I do as I do.

    I fully support your idea that its a way for the mind to escape from reality. My first breakdown was when I serious childhood trauma appeared.

    I will put your book on my wishlist at Amazon.

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  2. Wonderful story. Thank you. I think some of the things you say make a great deal of sense. How dreadful to be told at twenty five that you will never recover and that you have no hope. That would be enough to cause severe depression and stress in itself. It was sort of like a curse laid upon you by medical people who had no idea of the power of their prognosis. We are taught as children to trust these people absolutely. What they should really be saying is that they don’t understand such personal crises, and that they will be offering support and compassion to help you recover in your own time. The trouble with the medical profession is that they weald so much power. They can successfully treat some physical conditions, this gives them credibility. Take care of yourself. Rebuild your strength. Who knows what you will achieve in the future or what might happen.

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  3. Thank you Christina. You are right – there is a lot of injustice and suffering in the world, and having escaped my own mental health predicament I am very keen to help others to recover too. I think this site is fantastic and am very proud to be associated with it.

    I am very happy with my life now – suffering adversity has given me an advantage in a way because I appreciate every moment of my current existence. But yes, hopefully things will continue to improve – what I would love above all is to be known as a writer (not just on the subject of mental health). So I should get on with my next book…

    Thank you again for your comment. Louise.

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  4. Well written Louise. It seems that you, like many others, have gotten better when they stopped buying the BS dished out by many psychiatrists. I love to hear success stories like yours because there are so many who can’t seem to “find their feet” and continue on being miserable and unhappy and drugged. Well done to you and I hope you continue to write. I will check out your site.

    Thanks so much.

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  5. Thanks Lori
    I hope you managed to get a free copy of my book yesterday – I had a free promotional day and ‘sold’ about a thousand copies – I am delighted.
    I too feel sad that so many people don’t recover, and I know I have been lucky to have got to where I am today. I think psychiatry needs a total rehaul. I don’t believe that medics are bad, but some of them are certainly misguided – these drugs are so damaging, and I think they are over-prescribed because of the fear of what would happen without them. The truth is that most people would learn to cope, perhaps simply by growing older, becoming wiser and calmer in their outlooks, and by understanding what happened in their lives that led their minds to break down.
    Anyhow, let’s all keep pushing for change, and hopefully we’ll get there eventually. Lovely to hear from you.

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  6. Hi again Louise – it’s great to read your story of recovery and to hear about your book – it’s given me the idea to write one too, with stories from the psych wards, of which I have plenty. It’s an alternative universe that hasn’t changed as much as it should have over the years.

    My mother was diagnosed schizophrenic in the 60’s but wasn’t and, as a family, many of us have resisted the labels, or only taken them when it suited us. The problem is when they get you into the acute or locked ward and you have to ‘conform’ to get out. Being non-compliant is a hard road to travel, especially for the carers, and I’ve been both user and carer. The latter for me is/was harder. Give me activism any day.

    I’m now involved nationally in mental health matters and have links with universities, nursing and psychology wise, trying to have an influence on policy and practice. For I think speaking and writing are different sides of the same coin.

    Thanks again, Chrys

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    • Hi Chrys

      Go for it – I will definitely read your book when it comes out! You’re so right – a mental hospital is an alternate universe, which goes some why to explaining why people are dogged with paranoia and other symptoms after they leave – hospitalisation is so traumatic (or can be, and certainly was for me).

      The more stories out there the better – all this stuff has been hidden for so long, because of the shame inherent in a diagnosis of mental illness. I think more openness will further society’s understanding of the problem, which should help when it comes to treatment of those suffering emotional distress.

      Personally, I find writing very therapeutic – and publishing my memoir has been beneficial in so many ways. I am sure you will enjoy writing your book – and it is so easy to self-publish to Amazon Kindle these days.

      Your poor Mum – and all of you, watching that happen to her. Not surprising the problems continued through the generations…

      I want to become more involved in mental health activism – the more I learn, the more passionate I become about helping to change the system. I will be following your blog on here in the hope of learning more about what you do, and how.

      All the best

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  7. Thanks for responding Louise – I don’t see our family’s mental distress or ill health as a problem but a normal reaction to what life can throw at you. The problem in my experience was and is the psychiatric system and how mental distress is treated.

    People might develop physical health issues in response to stressors eg high blood pressure or cancers. Or that’s how I see it. Lung cancer ended my mother’s life, she was a smoker and many folk of her generation smoked.

    Resilience is a useful trait, a bouncing back from difficult times, and I think we have this in our family, also a determination for fairness and justice. This all helps in challenging mental health services.

    So onwards and upwards, regards, Chrys

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  8. Thanks so much for your writing. I have had similar life experiences in some ways. Though not diagnosed with schizophrenia, I was diagnosed with borderline personality, major depression, bipolar – depends which professional you’re talking to. Extremely poor prognosis. I was 26 at the time of hearing this and pretty much felt like my life was over.
    I too don’t identify with my diagnosis(es) nor do I take medications. Still pulling myself through and much better today due to not using mind altering drugs and taking the time to understand what got me here today. I’m also very shy and I could relate to what you spoke about there. Basically, right now I understand how my life led me here and I’m starting to understand how I’m not much different than anyone else in that respect – I made bad choices and suffered as a result.
    Thanks so much for this. It’s rare to find any personal writing on mental health issues that feel “real.” I mean, I already know about the therapies and the pills, but there is something in me that believes that this recovery stuff is almost entirely a personal process and your writing here speaks to that – and I love it. I wish you luck with your writing and will be visiting your blog soon.

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  9. It’s really lovely to hear from you, Amanda. I am so pleased that you are recovering from your illness, and I think you are right, it is a personal process. I saw something on this site just yesterday about the link between social phobia and psychosis, and that put yet another piece of the puzzle into place for me. I think we are really lucky to have access to so much information on the web these days – I am sure this particular site will be instrumental in helping so many people, and as I have mentioned before I am honoured to be a part of it.

    If and when you do visit my blog I would advise you to look at the early posts first. (Reading the whole thing would take you forever, but the early posts are perhaps more interesting). I started to write the blog really just to clarify my thoughts: I had no idea of challenging the schizophrenia diagnosis although I knew my life was working out a lot better than the mental health professionals had predicted. The blog itself led me in new directions and helped my confidence to develop; it has been a very therapeutic process.

    I, like you, am still growing and learning, and hopefully always will be.

    I wish you every success in life. Louise.

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  10. Hello Louise, I run a recovery oriented family program in Toronto, Canada where we share the recovery messages that you personify. Families are still told that there is no hope and that medication is the only answer. I will share your blog and book with our families. You are a ray of hope on a cold and windy day here in Canada. Thank you, Karyn

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  11. Hi Karyn.

    Thank you for recommending my blog and book – I am really pleased to be able to help. It has been a long haul – twenty-four years since I was first in hospital – but I can say now with confidence that I am better than ever before, and even that I have learned some useful lessons from the whole process.

    Well done to you for being involved in such important work – helping families through recovery must feel so worthwile.

    Best wishes, Louise. PS. I hope the weather in Canada improves soon!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your story. Each time that one of us stands up and shouts that recovery is possible is extemely important. So many people who have recovered hide the fact that they were ever in the system because they fear the stigma that hinders and holds people back. I am a peer worker in a state hospital here in America. Many of the staff shun me because they are angry with me that I do not take medicine and have been out of the hospital for three years. Strange reaction but that’s the way it is. I am not allowed to talk with patients about alternatives for recovery besides the drugs. Biopsychiatry rules the hospital. I sometimes run into another staff member who believes that recovery is possible without the toxic drugs but it’s much like early Christianity, where someone would draw a fish in the sand and wait to see how the other person responded. Those of us who do believe in recovery and well being don’t talk openly about it, our jobs would be in immediate jeopardy. It is very frustrating and I see the day coming when I will have to give up my job and speak freely about the fact that people do recover their lives without biopsychiatry and without the toxic drugs.

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    • ‘So many people who have recovered hide the fact that they were ever in the system because they fear the stigma that hinders and holds people back.

      Exactly! It’s social suicide to mention it. I had to create a new backstory, a new life, new friends, no family connections, and guard every word about anything that happened to me before I was 30.
      Still didn’t work that well – career relationships aren’t as casual as buying a quart of milk -people still wanted to know why my history was a series of low paid jobs- heh ! Even that was a lie. . Ultimately, my career and life was still crippled and trying to maintain this front cost me in unexpected ways.
      I was cured in 1977. Then, my troubles REALLY started. 🙂 – no longer part of the social services system but denied simple jobs because of my past history – caught between a rock and a hard place in poverty and lack of opportunities. It took another eight years of Ghetto suffering to turn it around. I wrote it all up on my blog.
      You had a ‘fish in the sand’? :)I did not. Pre-Internet there was nothing. For twenty-five years I never met another one like myself. Like David Bowie, I was the alien that fell to earth. It was not recognized that Schizophrenics became cured, so I did and do not exist.
      I am cured, I am transformed, I am not recovered. I did not ‘return’ to any previous state of mind. I did not exist as I am now before 1977. “Recovered’ is the word Pharma uses to peddle the ‘medicated solution’ to sell their narcoleptic drugs. God help Pharma’s ‘recovered’ because no one else will.

      People need to be sick to some extent to get well. The ‘shrink police’ are blunted robotons with no capacity or will to understand human consciousness. Positive symptoms are not schizophrenia, they are the effects, the person’s consciousness is the schizophrenia The personality breaks down because the old one isn’t working – the breakdown is the opportunity for transformation in the right environment.
      This is my direct knowledge from direct understanding. Schizophrenia, psychotic symptoms etc are nothing mysterious to me.

      Now gee, perhaps some other people labeled ‘schizophrenic’ might be functioning the same as I was for the same reasons.
      Ya think?

      Big Pharma’s Megabuck ‘brain disease’ propaganda affects and corrupts everyone from the top down in all our institutions. It’s nothing less than mass mind murder for profit.

      People need to stop drinking the Pharma Kool-aid and stop lining their pockets by lobotomizing the nation with pharmaceuticals. Our entire culture is infected with anti-growth and anti-therapeutic ideas in daily living and in our socializations which make people vulnerable to sickness, encourage dependency and dysfunction instead of resiliency. Black is white and up is down – all ideas about good mental health need to be turned around. Whatever the Establishment and the government tells you about good mental health and ‘therapy’ need to be subjected to critical analysis and de-loused from the Pharma Parasites. Self-growth and self-criticism is gonna hurt and hurt real bad but no pain no gain; no pain, no real life.

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      • Hi Skyblue

        It’s great to hear from you on this blog – I have read both your blogs and found them fascinating and inspirational. I only wish I could have had therapy like yours – although perhaps I got the help I needed at the right time for me. I am certainly ok now, and that is the important thing. Thanks for commenting.

        Best wishes

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  13. Hi Stephen

    It must be very frustrating for you not to be able to talk freely to patients about the things that might help them. But remember that you are still doing valuable work – as a peer worker you are giving people hope for recovery, by the very fact of your existence and by your presence in their lives. When they leave hospital, hopefully they will come across resources like this site, and each person will be able to move forward in in the way that is most suitable for him or her self.

    It sounds as though you have a really difficult environment to work in. Don’t let yourself be pushed out of your job if you do get any sense of fulfillment out if it though – attitudes to mental health may change over time (in my hopeful moments I think they already are changing). Perhaps you should write a book (as a writer myself I think that is the answer for everyone!). You can vent your frustration in writing, and then at least if you do eventually feel that you can’t work within the system any more, you will have a starting point for your work outside it. (I know you weren’t asking for advice, but I couldn’t help feeling concerned about your position).

    It’s really good to hear from you, and I will be thinking of you and your work. All the best, Louise.

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  14. IGOMENE! Can’t believe I repeated the mistake on my last correction!

    I have briefly looked at your blog now and found it interesting, although I am not sure if I fully subscribe to your theory – but anything and anybody who helps to normalise the experience of emotional distress is a good thing.

    All the best, Louise

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  15. Another important point:
    FLuoridated water is related to psych meds. The nazis used it in the camps to make prisoners docile. They weren’t trying to make the prisoners have fewer cavities.
    it is mass medication of the population.
    Fluoride is in all the anti-psychotic and anti-depressants. it causes brain damage & stupifies people. Sodium fluoride is what they use in the water; it is the ingredient in rat poison. Toothpastes with it warn to call poison control if swallowed. The notion that it lessesns cavities is a BIG LIE sold to the public to accept this manipulation. 65% of the US & UK have it. Europe banned it. it also causes canc-, bone fractures. It is also sneakily in a lot of bottled water & many foods.

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  16. Hi louise. I have a website & wrote a FREE book that God had me write after sending me into the psych system to be a witness against it – the book exposes their atheism & genocide by the toxic drugs. For 50 years atheistic psychiatry has been falsely calling Christians and anyone who has spiritual beliefs or experiences schizophrenic. The label is atheistic nonsense. They ask “do you hear voices?” and think anyone who hears God or demons has ‘auditory hallucinations” a supposed symptom of psychosis. They are mostly ignorant of the fact that it is NORMAL Christian theology to hear voices. jesus said “my sheep hear my voice” John 10:27. The truth is that everyone hears voices, as thoughts in our heads. They come frmo the spiritual realm. The word ‘inspiration’ means ‘a spirit goes into it.”

    I became a patient at age 42. Someone had previously prophesied to me at a church “I’m gonna use you to write a manual”. Then God engineered circumstances where a court clinician actually said to me, :”if you believe in the bible, you’re mentally ill.”
    I knew they were wrong. Sadly, the majority of patients accept these nonsense diagnoses for themselves. it is brainwashing. the dr’s are brainwashed in med school to believe that everything is caused by chemical imbalances, a BIG LIE to sell drugs.
    Mental illness is really caused by demonic oppression. Jesus rebuked demons & gave his followers authority to do it. It works. Spirits jump around thru contact. I have had siprits of depress- jump on me after touching someone who had it. I coughed spontaneously or rebuked it & it left. This is how I know it is caused by spirits, not chemicals.
    All drugs are an opening for demonic spirits. This includes caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, pot, etc & psych meds. This is why the psych meds cause mental illness rather than cure it. I have friends who committed suicide from anti-depressants.
    I’d love to see what you think about my writing. My book is free at
    The title Manual for Transformational Healing-God’s answer to psychiatry came to me in a dream. God talks to us thru dreams as well as thru others, visions, directly in our thoguhts by the Holy Spirit, & other ‘signs”. I know that reading signs is considered ‘magical thinking’ by psychiatry – everything that is true spiritually, they call symptoms of schizophrenia. it is all lies. 90% of the patients I met were Christians. There was nothing wrong with them.

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  17. I also believe creativity is therapeutic. I write and have written music all my life. God talks to all of us in our thoughts. Our conscience is God. Most people don’t realize this, it seems.
    My article “do you believe God speaks to you-he Does in your thoughts” talks more about this.
    We need to know the bigger picture about what is behind psychiatry. it is the biggest threat to humanity today- the drugs are worldwide. They are a continuation of nazi genocide. The nazi dr’s killed mental patients with drugs in a secret t4 euthenasia program. This has continued worldwide ever since, using healthcare as a cover. the drugs are deadly, by design.
    My article “quotes showing the real agendas behind mental health & education” shows them to be ‘mind control, genocide, atheism, world government’. A lot of social engineers & psychiatrists supported & still support eugenics, euthenasia of people they consider inferior ; mental patients, blacks, jews, christians, the poor & others. it is their hidden agenda. They use euphemisms for everything; it is all Orwellian doublespeak. They know ‘treatment’ is really torture & genocide. Any one who has been on the drugs knows they are torture.

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  18. Just like holocaust survivors write to bear witness to their experience, psychiatric survivors are also God’s prophets bearing witness to this horror. That is the main reason God has allowed many of us to experience it. To speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves.
    I think psychiatric survivors need to tell others “I am a holocaust survivor”. Which we are, since the mental health system is literally the continuation of the nazi holocaust. Then we get people’s attention to tell them what we mean.
    I met people whose writings were total gibberish, from the drugs. When I was on them I was unable to even speak or remember what I wanted to say, at some points. It is a horror, unspeakable torture.
    I first wrote my book in l999. Then I was there again, and asked God why, And he said, “I made you a witness to all this. I didn’t give you that book to have it sit in a closet”. He finally told me to publish it for free on the web. I think what we write should be free. People can live by donations. I did that years ago with my music tapes I said ‘send what you can afford” and I got the same amou0nt as if I had charged the going rate for tapes. it was an experiment in living by faith. Keep writing.
    I would love any feedback.

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  19. Hi Louise,
    so glad i came across your article. Iv so many questions to ask/share with you. In a nutshell,iv just decided that anti-depressants are not for me, the side effects are awfull and make you much worse. Prozac gave me my worst experience, i was suicidial off them and had no control oover my thoughts and feelings. I now take St Johns wort and a supplement called “Happy Days 5HTP” from Healthspan in the UK. I think the way to a clear mind and positive outlook is exercise and not taking prescription drugs. Granted they work for some, but not everyone. I intend to look for your book on Amazon soon.
    Regards Mike

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  20. ‘Prophetess D’ – I will look at your website when I get a chance. Thanks for all your comments.

    And hi, Mike. I am glad to hear you are doing well off the Prozac – as you say, different strokes for different folks.

    I am very stubborn, so even on the occasions when I have felt extremely stressed and anxious over the years I have held off from taking medication and struggled through, knowing that no pill could solve my issues anyway (having tried/been forced to try a few!)

    It has paid off now – I am older and wiser anyway, and understand a lot more about the reasons for my breakdowns. I have recovered. The recent course of CBT that I have just finished was the icing on the cake. Yesterday I went to London and gave evidence about recovery in a room full of people with nary a twinge of anxiety or nerves – as a student at University I could not even sit in a seminar with fellow students without going to pieces.

    Time is a great healer, and I think we all have the capacity within us to heal from emotional distress, but there is no shame in taking any help that is offered along the way. I have had the support of my wonderful husband for all these years – I have also been very lucky to find such fulfillemt in becoming a mother, and to have my writing as a therapeutic tool to prop me up.

    I would encourage people to believe that they can manage without psychiatric meds – alternatives such as the ones you take are so much better for the body – but I would recommend that anybody who does want to wean themselves off drugs has as much medical assistance and therapy as possible to help them through the transition. I only ever stopped my drugs with the full knowledge and support of psychiatrists or other medical professionals – I would never have had the confidence to do so alone.

    All the best to you both

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  21. ‘Prophetess D’ – I will look at your website when I get a chance. Thanks for all your comments.

    And hi, Mike. I am glad to hear you are doing well off the Prozac – as you say, different strokes for different folks.

    I am very stubborn, so even on the occasions when I have felt extremely stressed and anxious over the years I have held off from taking medication and struggled through, knowing that no pill could solve my issues anyway (having tried/been forced to try a few!)

    It has paid off now – I am older and wiser anyway, and understand a lot more about the reasons for my breakdowns. I have recovered. The recent course of CBT that I have just finished was the icing on the cake. Yesterday I went to London and gave evidence about recovery in a room full of people with nary a twinge of anxiety or nerves – as a student at University I could not even sit in a seminar with fellow students without going to pieces.

    Time is a great healer, and I think we all have the capacity within us to heal from emotional distress, but there is no shame in taking any help that is offered along the way. I have had the support of my wonderful husband for all these years – I have also been very lucky to find such fulfillemt in becoming a mother, and to have my writing as a therapeutic tool to prop me up.

    I would encourage people to believe that they can manage without psychiatric meds – alternatives such as the ones you take are so much better for the body – but I would recommend that anybody who does want to wean themselves off drugs has as much medical assistance and therapy as possible to help them through the transition. I only ever stopped my drugs with the full knowledge and support of psychiatrists or other medical professionals – I would never have had the confidence to do so alone.

    I look forward to hearing from you again, Mike.

    All the best to you both

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  22. I am bipolar. at 16, I was a camp couselor and for the first time in my life, I failed at something. that caused a severe depression where I tried to commit suicide by slitting a wrist. I didn’t succeed, thank God. after amny shock treatments, I was on the way to recovery. Have had two hospitalizations. Never thought I’d get better after the last one. It took months to get back on my feet. I guess all of us who have walked in your shoes can relate. You fought hard and got yourself to a good place. i’m sure it wasn’t easy. I do believe what you said about not being able to cope can lead to a mental breakdown. Figuring out anxiety and learning to cope when it occurs is how we can help ourselves as you said. Your story did a lot for me and encourages me to look up and keep myself well. god bless you and anyone else who has gone through the pain that we know.

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  23. Hi Susan

    You have been through a lot – I am glad to hear you are well now. I had forgotten until I read your message how hard convalescence can be after mental illness.

    I think a lot of us need to learn to be kinder to ourselves, less critical; in other words to treat oursleves as we would treat others. I remind myself daily of my own worth now – and I am sure I have written here already that a recent course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helped me to break the old damaging patterns of thinking.

    Ten or so years ago I was astonished when my baby daughter, just learning to talk, said, ‘I love Mummy, I love Daddy, and I love myself’. I couldn’t fathom where she had got that from at just twenty months old – I was nowhere near as enlightened. But I realised that she was spot on – and that if she could hold that thought for the rest of her life she would be a much stronger person than I had ever been.

    I will be thinking of you, Susan; thank you so much for getting in touch. I am very pleased you have found this site – I think it is a brilliant resource that will be an amazing source of support to those in emotional distress in the future. Louise

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  24. Free copies of my book ‘Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir’ are available today on Amazon Kindle. It can be read on any PC or mobile device: you don’t need a Kindle. Please pass the word to anybody who might like a copy – it’s a good read (or so I have been told…).

    And a paper copy of the book is available too, finally, on CreateSpace – and will be available on Amazon within a few days.


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  25. Hi Louise,
    Its been a busy weekend so iv’e only just got around to writing back.
    i just thought id write back and explain why i looked on “madinamerica”>
    For most of my life since i was 14 i have suffered on and off from depression and anxiety. (im 54 now).
    I think the trigger to this was the suicide of my mother when i was 14 in 1972. I dont know why this happened,my only family member left is my elder sister and she does not talk about it. What i want to know is, Was my mother mentally ill or depressed?. But as i cannot find out its no good fretting over things i cant find out,so i have put all that to the back of my mind and decided that i will never know the truth.
    However i thunk that her death has had an effect on my mental health. i have realised this in the past 6 years,during which time my 24 yo son has been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia (all be it drug induced through heavy cannabis use). This makes me ask;
    Is mental illness a genetic factor in my family?
    The medical staff on my sons ward(his name is Dan)dont know the answer(this is his fourth section 3 in 6 years),so i am non the wiser. i think its better to leave the past alone.
    Sometimes i’m hit by this dark,black “thing” ,as i call it. I have had to take anti depressants 4 times, Lentizol and Gaminal both worked, Prozac worked first time around, but the second time i was prescribed it i felt frightened,more depressed than ever,couldnt eat,sleep or funtion at all and was very suicidal. I just managed to stop taking them and recovered. its surprising how strong the mind can be when its at its lowest point. (I beleive that Rachmaninoff’s 2nd or 3rd piano concerto was written when he was recovering from a breakdown). about three weeks ago i went to see my doctor because i was not sleeping well. She prescribed an anti depressant called Dosulepin, only 25mg per night,but after 10 days i felt like i was on Prozac again so stopped taking them last week, and now i feel back to normal again.
    So thats decided it for me,no more prescription anti depressants for me ever again. I’m happy taking St Johns wort and 5HTP “Happy days” supplement. I am keeping on running and cycling and listening to music as my therapy and trying to stay away from stress. (Which is difficult with dan being in hospital).
    I am staying sane(!!!) by trying to understand schizophrenia and learning all i can about it. its possible that my mental health problems are nowhere near as traumatic as what Dan is and has been through. If thats the case then he must have been living in a very frightning place.
    My wife and i have found out last week that we have been approved funding on the NHS for a place at a drug re-hab centre for Dan,one that deals with pychiatric patients. So fingers crossed that he can recover and lead a normal life.

    Take care, Mike

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  26. Hi again Mike

    Maybe it is easier to look at what you, your Mum and your son have been through/are going through as emotional distress. It manifests in various ways… and the good news is that a broken mind can be fixed.

    I am glad that you have found a way through your difficulties with exercise, listening to music, avoiding stress etc. This is the sort of thing I try to do too – I also find that what I eat makes a big difference to how I feel. And, of course, that writing is very therapeutic.

    For Dan, as you rightly say, cannabis is a major part of the problem – I smoked more than my share of dope when I was young and it was very deleterious to my mental health too. I would advise you to encourage Dan to give up smoking cigarettes too – there is a post on this website on the subject by Elizabeth Stuyt. If he can do this he will find himself on the path to a healthier life in so many ways.

    And try not to let him feel stigmatised by his mental health problems. Reassure him that he is not alone – others have been through it and survived it, and he can too. Don’t let him get demoralised – reassure him that breaking down can be just a normal part of growing up. It may take a long time, but he can and will be well again.

    I would advise that you don’t try too hard to understand schizophrenia. I don’t think anyone really understands it! It is just the medical name for a group of behavioral symptoms and there is no scientific proof of its presence or absence. When I was diagnosed my mother refused to believe the psychiatrists, and I wish now that I had listened to her rather than them – it didn’t help me at all to consider myself a schizophrenic, and I don’t believe it helps anybody.

    Your son is a human being who has suffered emotional distress – the cause is really not relevant, as it is more important to consider how best to help him heal. The drug rehab sounds great – as I said, do try and get the most out of his time there to help him stop smoking too.

    As for genetics, my personal opinion is that mental health has far more to do with environmental factors. Anyone can have a breakdown, given the right (or wrong) circumstances.

    Forgive me if I have been too heavy on the advice, and do believe me when I say that I am thinking of you, your wife and your son, and I hope that you all stay strong and become healthy.

    All the best, Louise.

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  27. Hi Antony.

    It sounds as though things must have been very difficult for you. I do hope that you feel better now, and that you receive the help and support you need and deserve. I also had all sorts of unpleasant experiences, but they are well and truly behind me now – please believe that recovery is possible, and that there is always hope for the future.

    All the best, Louise

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  28. I’ve been a mental health nurse for over 30 years and in my relationships with the people I have worked with avoid diagnoses as they are often unhelpful and in themselves restrictive. I much prefer to say to people what are the issues for you and how might I help you deal with them ? There is no doubt that there is a link between trauma and ‘psychosis’ , nor is there any doubt that helping people to recognise the signs of becoming distressed and develop the coping skills to minimise the impact that stressful events have on them helps build resiliance and can prevent ‘relapse’. The emphasis on medication that the mental health system maintains and the reliance upon a medical ‘brain disease’ interpretation of mental distress helps to perpetuate the stigma of mental illness and the concept that remission not recovery is the best one can hope for. There are growing numbers of us within the professions who are challenging the traditional medical interpretations and models and the stories and experiences of people like yourself inspire us in that .

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  29. Hi Colin

    How nice to hear from such an enlightened mental health professional, and to know that there are a growing group of you who disagree with traditional ideas such as diagnosis, medication and the ‘brain disease’ model. And how wonderful to hear that I have been of help! Moments like this make me feel that baring my soul to the world has all been worthwhile…

    Thank you so much for getting in touch.

    Best wishes

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  30. Oh, but I love replying to the comments! I am the same with text messages and emails – I can’t send short ones, mine are like mini-essays. If only I spent as much time writing my next book as I do on stuff like this…

    Thanks, Susan, it was great to hear from you. Regards, Louise.

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  31. While your article has made me smile at the hopes and possibilities for those with Schizophrenia, I wonder if your methods are possible for those that had perfectly healthy, loving and well nurished childhoods. Not everyone with SCZ is the victim of trama so I would be interested to see if you had any advice for someone that is medicated, has a great base of communication and report with physcologist/ personal doctor and is making improvements but still has bad days. Is there anything to do to help the person suffering to know life can be wonderful and “normal”?

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    • Hi sarascot

      I am so sorry for the late reply – I have been on holiday for a couple of weeks and am only just getting back into the swing of things since I returned.

      I would really like to help you – obviously I am only an expert in my own particualar case, but I do feel that there are lessons to be learned for others and that I should be able to help reduce the effects of mental upset, having experienced the extremes of mental illness and now recovered myself.

      I see ‘Schizophrenia’ as a manifestation of extreme emotional distress; I am sure that there must be trauma of some kind to result in breakdown. This need not be trauma inflicted by any particular person of course; life brings its own difficulties. Most people I saw in mental hospital were extremely poor, for example – it seemed obvious to me that the stress of wondering how they would survive physically must have contributed to their emotional breakdown.

      Usually a ‘perfect’ childhood immunises a person against emotional upset, but obviously this is not always the case. Anyway, no matter what the cause of breakdown, it is irrelevant to the important thing – how to heal.

      I found cognitive behavioural therapy really valuable; I realised during therapy that I had fallen into negative thinking patterns (understandably given my background) and I learned how to counter these. Now I am much less anxious – and anxiety lies at the root of psychosis.

      Another thing I realised was that I needed to lead a ‘clean’ life – for me that means no drugs, no cigarettes, and I hardly ever drink alcohol. I also eat well, exercise, and make sure to get plenty of sleep – in other words, I use self-disciplne as a tool to help me stay well.

      If the sufferer you refer to hears voices (often the cause of a schizophrenia diagnosis) it is worth telling him/her that the voices are just a muddled manifestation of their own thought processes, and do not have to be obeyed.

      Do everything you can to convince the sufferer that they are a normal human being – do away with the ‘schizophrenic’ terminology if possible as it is dehumanizing. Try to foster a feeling of security. Encourage the sufferer to write/paint etc as a creative outlet. Research recovery stories to reassure him/her that recovery is a reality for many. Look at the ‘Beyond Meds’ blog by Gianna Kali and Ron Unger’s blog, ‘Recovery from ‘Schizophrenia’ and other psychotic disorders’.

      It may be a long long road, but the sufferer from emotional distress can and will reach a place of happiness and peace. Just remember that it is an individual journey, and the person will know for themselves when they are ready to experience reality and will find the capacity to work to get there.

      Another handy hint – a life partner helps. Friendships are always good. Anything that reminds the sufferer that he is normal will ultimately be the best way to integrate that person back into society – so always behave and speak to him/her in a natural and normal manner. Even when he/she seems not to respond, they will be listening and taking in more than you realise.

      I would love to know how things turn out, no matter how far down the line, so please stay in touch, here or on my blog. Thanks for your comment.

      All the best

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