Suffer the little children

This post was written by Dr Irene Campbell-Taylor, a former Clinical Neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

This phrase means, of course, to allow the little children but today I want to write about children who are suffering in the other sense. The word “patient” comes from the Latin patire, to suffer or to endure. The children I write of here are suffering what I can only call medical abuse. Anyone interested however marginally in controlling what Big Pharma is doing should watch the PBS program “The Medicated Child”.

We become outraged at the actions of pharmaceutical manufacturers that negatively affect young adults, the middle aged, and the elderly; but when one sees the pharmaceutical abuse of children, outrage takes on a whole new meaning.

The most striking thing about this program is, of course, the number of antidepressants and antipsychotics these children are given, often from toddler age. It is deeply disturbing to hear parents declare that they have become convinced that their child needs to be constantly drugged and will probably continue to need these medications for life. When one mother expresses concern about the effect these may be having on her child’s development, she is, politely but definitely, dismissed. It is even more distressing to hear a thirteen year old say that she has to take several medications because they “make me more like I’m supposed to be.” Who decides how she’s “supposed to be”? It is to weep.

Having worked for many years with children and adults who have developmental and/or cognitive impairments, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the physical signs and behavioural aspects that, in this film, are repeatedly missed by pediatricians and psychiatrists. In several of the children in the program, I would want to investigate the possibility of a genetic condition, the physical aspects are so clear.

The parents are, in a word, brainwashed. Over and over we hear that “if we stop the medications his behaviour returns, sometimes worse.” Have none of these physicians ever heard of withdrawal syndrome? To illustrate just how far this propaganda has spread, we hear that the schoolteachers are suggesting medications. And being listened to by parents.

The “tantrums”, aggression and self-harm that lead to this appalling medication cascade don’t seem to be examined for what they might actually represent. There are genetic conditions in which these are prevalent behaviours and require specific approaches, depending on the particular disorder. But let’s imagine we are three years old again and are afraid of something real or anticipate fear or feel pain that we can’t express. What are we going to do to get the message across? What if you’re three years old and have been abused? How might you react? I’m not suggesting that this is the case with any of the children in the program but I have seen a sufficient number of children who have been physically and sexually abused, at ages you probably wouldn’t believe, to keep it in the forefront as a possible explanation for behaviours that have been described as “oppositional”, “aggressive”, “violent” and so on but now are…BIPOLAR.

I hardly know where to begin. Bipolar disorder in adults is extremely rare and to have the arrogance to assert, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that it is common in children is staggering. It is probably possible to do as Dr. Biedermann has done, to take the signs of several disorders, overlap them, pick out those that occur in common and create a whole new disease.

It is important to note that Massachusetts General Hospital disclosed sanctions against Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens for violating hospital ethics guidelines by failing to adequately report, internally, seven-figure payments they received from drug companies. The disciplinary actions include:

• They must refrain from “all industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year.

• For two years after the ban ends, they must obtain permission from Mass. General and Harvard Medical School before engaging in any industry-sponsored, paid outside activities and then must report back afterward.

• They must undergo certain training (type not specified).

• They face delays before being considered for “promotion or advancement.”

Each disclosed previously undeclared payments of over $1M each from pharmaceutical companies. It is inevitable that the integrity of their work has become, at best, questionable yet many psychiatrists and other physicians cling to the conviction that juvenile bipolar disorder is a real disorder probably because it gives them something to do about it – treat it with the same drugs they give to adults.

To proceed, with no supporting evidence, to prescribe ever-increasing dosages of powerful  drugs, never intended for children is, in my opinion, malpractice including medical battery because who is capable of giving informed consent? Certainly not the child and the parents are not told that there’s no scientific evidence for any of this and we really don’t know what we’re doing. Informed consent is, I submit, impossible.

I am not even going to touch the theories around “abnormal amygdala”. It may very well be the case that there is an influence but even if there is, we are far from knowing what it means. Courchesne, many years ago, identified children who have what I insist on calling “true autism” as opposed to the “autistic spectrum disorders” now prevalent. He found that they were born with a part of the brain called the cerebellum smaller than normal. Similarly, persons with Down syndrome have abnormally sized parts of the cerebellum, but in different areas than in the person with autism. This is all very well but so far hasn’t led to effective treatment although in the future we may have some sort of breakthrough based on these initial findings.

There is, however, a growing reliance on MRI and PET scanning as though these were diagnostic instead of mere tools to aid in diagnosis. This month, in the American Journal of Psychiatry, we find a chilling report of the evaluation of “92 children who were at high risk for developing autism, because they had older siblings with the disorder. At age six months, the children underwent (MRI) imaging. Additional imaging data was obtained from most of the children at 12 months and/or 24 months old. Behavioral assessments were also performed at 24 months. Twenty-eight of the 92 children met the criteria for autism spectrum disorders at 24 months.” There are literally dozens of genetic abnormalities that carry the label of “susceptibility to autism” but from this report, I can’t see that any genetic investigation was conducted. The researchers apparently made the assumption that if an older sibling had one of the “autistic spectrum disorders”, the infant was at risk and, lo and behold, by age two, they were so diagnosed. Well, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like nail and, if you can increase the numbers of MRIs and, in turn, massively increase the probability of selling drugs on a scale never seen before, so much the better – except for the children, of course.

Now, let’s consider lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder. When swallowed, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of substances. Lithium is known to be responsible for significant amounts of weight gain as do several of the antipsychotics such as olanzapine. Lithium also increases water output into the urine, a condition called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. It increases appetite and thirst, and reduces the activity of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). And we give this to children. The recent discussion about mercury and arsenic as medications seems somehow connected. I hope that one day soon we will come to regard lithium given to children as a treatment with same disbelief that we now consider mercury, white lead and arsenic.

The adverse reactions to antipsychotics, antidepressants and similar medications are very clear in the young fellow called Jacob in the program. By age nine he was showing an unusual neck and head movement. The narrator refers to these movement disorders as “tics” and, while not accurate, serves as well as anything to describe abnormal muscle movement as a result of the drugs he was taking. In Jacob, the neck muscles are the ones most involved in that involuntary contraction of the muscles at the side, back and front of his neck cause his head to roll. Apparently, no-one has introduced a simple method of controlling this when it starts and that is to touch the chin or the back of the head gently when it is about to happen. This breaks the cycle. Of course, it should never have occurred in the first place and is entirely due to the antipsychotics he is ingesting like candy. The other effect the medications have had, is on his speech. He is dysarthric, that is unclear in articulation, a common side effect of antipsychotic medications. He is at increased risk of choking because of disruption of the muscles used for speaking and swallowing and this is something I find patients and parents are never told.

Fewer and fewer health professionals seem to learn about the multiplicity of ways in which one can identify and treat the behaviours that are identified in these children as “pathologic”. No-one seems to care about treating the child and not the “disease” or getting entire families into programs that will examine what factors, environmental, familial or genetic may be causing or maintaining the perceived problems. But, of course, as one pediatrician says,” When you see a new child every fifteen minutes….” We have allowed a very wrong turn in the assessment and treatment of all of us, at all ages for conditions that are too often misidentified and then, for want of knowing about anything else, dismissed with drugs that have unknown and untold effects on DNA, physical functioning and mood.

The prescription pad is the only thing doctors now have. As the little fellow in the film, asked why he is going to see Dr X, reply gleefully and accurately, “To get medicine!”


  1. What is happening to children, often toddlers and infants, is absolutely disgusting and criminal. I can’t believe that parents fall for the rubbish and quackery that psychiatrists and many medical doctors feed them.

    And yet, not one psychiatrist is sitting in prison or jail at this point for carrying out crimes against children. The psychiatrists who prescribe these toxic drugs to children are assualting them just as much as anyone who assults them sexually or physically or emotionally. Their assult is even worse in many ways since psychiatrists,as supposed doctors, take the vow of “First do no harm.” Jerry Sandusky is in jail and soon to be on his way to prison for the rest of his life. And yet, Biedermann, Spencer, and Wilens are free and still assualting and harming children right and left. And I don’t want to hear from any psychiatrist about how they didn’t know the dangers and harm done by the drugs. That is just an excuse and one which won’t fly with me.

    The first line of defense against all of this should be parents but they’ve somehow abdicated their responsibility for seeing that no harm comes to their children. Children are not bi-polar, plain and simple.

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    • Rebecca Riley’s psychiatrist settled a $2.5 million lawsuit (paid from malpractice insurance) for the 4-year-old girl’s death from gross overmedication of so-called “pediatric bipolar disorder.”

      Dr. Kayoko Kifuji’s license was suspended for a couple of years.

      The little girl’s parents were convicted of first- and second-degree murder, respectively, for actually feeding her the drugs.

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    • Yes, they are criminals, literally murderers, who knowingly cause the death of children. I think our movement should be raising the issue of Biederman especially, because he of all of them has shown the greatest culpability.

      The horrors of modern psychiatry certainly don’t end with Doctor Biederman, and they won’t end when he goes to prison either. But underlying the power that allows the atrocities this man has committed is the cultlike belief among the public in the benevolence and omniscience of psychiatry. Removing this monster from society will make people start to question their belief in the Church of Psychiatry. As long as this religious faith exists, very little will change.

      It seems everyone even vaguely connected with our movement recognizes the complete immorality of Dr. Biederman. If all of us keep raising what he has done in our contacts with the general public, I think we could make a lot of progress. Biederman makes a fine poster boy for all that is wrong about psychiatry, and we should keep raising the issue of his crimes over and over.

      As an attorney, I believe there are many states where he could be prosecuted, as his victims are many. Venue would be proper, I believe, wherever the injuries caused by his crimes took place. If we continue to raise the issue of what he has done, over and over, I am hopeful some conscientious prosecutor somewhere will do what prosecutors are supposed to do, and protect our society from this man.

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      • I agree, we must keep bringing him up every time we have the chance. But he’s not the only one, just the most visible. As I ride the city bus where I live I often overhear conversations about how someone’s two year old is bi-polar and on the toxic drugs. These are conversations carried on by parents but someone had to “diagnose” their child in the first place for all of this to be happening. Their are psychiatrists in my city playing this horrible little game with the lives of children. I made the decision that the next such conversation of this kind that I overhear I’m going to stand up and yell that children are not bi-polar. I’ll probably be thrown off the bus but we have to speak out.

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    • “The psychiatrists who prescribe these toxic drugs to children are assualting them just as much as anyone who assults them sexually or physically or emotionally.”

      I’m glad that somebody finally said that. It’s how I feel and I know from my experiences in expressing that view that it’s far from a popular one that usually elicits rage from people who have been physically or especially sexually abused as children. If only they knew what it was like to be dragged from their parents, taken to a hospital, held down and injected with neuroleptics.

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  2. Criminal is right. There was also a great ABC 20/20 show on the use of these drugs in foster kids (which is the world I work in) – it is definitely worth watching, because it not only shows the awful condition two of these kids were in while taking the drugs, it also shows how well they recovered when they stopped taking the drugs, got some quality therapy, and were adopted by loving families.

    It is shocking that these practices are legal. Perhaps we need to do something to change that.

    —- Steve

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    • Steve, The practices aren’t legal, they just have not been accurately defined–yet. I believe Jim Gottsteins’s strategy; to target the the breech committed for receipt of government reimbursement. He points out that medicaid guidelines for medically necessary treatment are not being met by psychiatry. This brings the issue of fraud out in the open.

      recently I have met young adults in their early 20’s who were started on neuroleptics 10 + years ago as foster kids whose symptoms of mental illness amount to behavioral responses to trauma, abandonment and loss of connection to siblings. Think about the stretch using off label criteria for prescribing these powerful drugs to kids. Only when it becomes common knowledge that there is no scientific evidence for the brain disorders these kids are diagnosed with; no chemical imbalance in need of chemical correction, will the public have to grapple with the ugly truth; that we have funded what amounts to denying severely deprived kids any hope of overcoming their destinies.

      I can picture in my mind the cross examination of any of the Mass General child psychiatry hall of famers. What I cannot visualize are the facial expressions and demeanor of these hot shots when they fumble for regular everyday words to describe their abject ignorance of medicine, science , biology, child development, — law, ethics. morality, honesty, decency, compassion. It’s hard to imagine the transformation that will result from simply asking these doctors to cite the scientific sources for their practices. How surprised will the majority of those who have a ring side seat for this show be, when they learn that there are NO scientific sources to cite in support for these practices?

      Fraud that breeches the public trust, motivated by a desire for financial gain and characterized by a lacking in concern for the adverse reactions of their drugs and the potential for damaging the developing brains of traumatized kids– is illegal. I assure you.

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  3. This spring I was on a panel over at the Barton Law Clinic of Emory University discussing the medication of children in foster care. Presently, the state of Georgia now requires extra paper work when child psychiatrist prescribes antipsychotics for a foster child. Of course, the child psychiatrist on the panel complained. She wanted everyone to appreciate the pressure placed upon her when foster parents refuse to take the child home unless she, the doctor, writes a prescription. What was shocking to me, however, was when this psychiatrist off-handedly stated that child psychiatrists don’t medicate diseases, they medicate symptoms. I asked whether this means that if a child is obstreperous, then the doctor puts the child in a chemical straight-jacket. The psychiatrist did not respond. Apparently, criminals in prison have more rights than children in foster care. There are limits on what you can do to obstreperous inmates.

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  4. Society itself has a lot to answer for because of the way it is organised. Both parents work: they haven’t got time. If the child doesn’t toe the line, lets drug him/her. Experts have taken away from teachers and grown ups in general, ways of disciplining naughty kids who push the boundaries, so let’s drug them because they are disrupting the class!Doctors and psychiatrists can’t solve psychological and emotional problems in 15 minutes but they can write a prescription- the easy way out. Meanwhile the pharmacological industry is rubbing its hands: what an opportunity to make millions!

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    • I don’t see the connection between the challenges facing parents, teachers or even kids who aren’t cut out for sitting long hours & listening to irrelevant lectures AND the fabrication of disorders to assign to these kids for the very clear purpose of drugging them into submission. I don’t think time management struggles warrant giving a kid a brain disabling drug. Doctors and psychiatrists should know that it is impossible to develop any meaningful connection with a young kid in 15 minutes, therefore impossible to label diagnose them— definitely UNwise to prescribe treatment for an unknown patient. Right?

      In this chain of command, it is the doctor who is culpable, libel and without a single excuse for his actions.

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    • I used to know someone who dosed her 15 month old child with benadryl so she could go play the Final Fantasy game on-line! Anytime she wanted to do something bu tdidn’t want to be bothered with taking care of her baby she’d dose him with this stuff. I’ve come to know that this is a very common practice among many mothers and it’s very frightening to me. I’ve come to see how such an attitude can lead to dosing kids with stronger stuff (psych drugs) to force them into doing and acting the way that we want them to.

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  5. “This post was written by Dr Irene Campbell-Taylor, a former Clinical Neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto”

    My hat’s off, to Dr Irene Campbell-Taylor. Perfect post – *except* for one point: She says, “Bipolar disorder in adults is extremely rare…”


    Actually, “Bipolar disorder in adults” is quite common; for, ‘it’ is an extremely popular, fabricated construction, of psychiatry – just as is, now (thanks to Dr. Biederman and company), “childhood bipolar.”

    The only difference between the ‘adult diagnosis’ and the ‘childhood diagnosis’ – in terms of popularity – is, that: more psychiatrists (virtually all of them) fully accept the former, as a ‘legitimate’ given. …I.e., they believe “adult bipolar” exists, as a real “mental illness”; Dr Irene Campbell-Taylor apparently agrees.

    (Note: countless people of all ages suffer mood swings, of varying qualities and degree of severity – for various reasons, which psychiatrists typically fail to grasp; and, some people may even become seemingly ‘manic’ – for various reasons, which most psychiatrists also fail to grasp; when faced with behaviors and affect and thoughts, that are more or less disruptive, psychiatrists typically fail to discern cause and effect processes. So, the apparent ‘symptomology’ exists; and, that’s described in so-called “diagnostics” manuals, such as, most prominently, the DSM; but, in fact, *never* has there been any *proof* of the existence of a single ‘disease’ or ‘illness’ or ‘brain disorder,’ that’s identifiable as “bipolar disorder”.)

    I’ve commented on the “bipolar” label elsewhere, on this MiA web site…

    …I won’t go on, about it further, here – except for repeating my favorite quote, on the ‘diagnosis’ of so-called “bipolar,” by Dr. Niall McLaren: “Criteria in DSM-IV are so sloppy that I often tell people I could diagnose a ham sandwich with bipolar disorder.”

    Meanwhile, in all sincerity, my hat is off, to the writer of this post; besides her blind faith in “adult bipolar,” her message is excellent – clear and strong and entirely well-written – very, very, very well conceived. It is, by far, the single best written commentary, in response to PBS’s “The Medicated Child,” which I’ve ever read; and, I’ve read many of them; for, shortly after the show first aired, in January, of 2008, I became (briefly) obsessed with reading comments, on it… after I’d happened upon a Youtube review, of it, by John Breeding, PhD. (Actually, it was after viewing his heartfelt Youtube review, I first watched the program.)

    Ever since then, I’ve read many written allusions to it, online… but never one so pointed as this one.

    And, I often wonder: why has there been no complete update to that show??? …just one very brief, written update, as of Nov. 2, 2009. (You can Google it.)

    Nearly five years have passed, and kids are being labeled and drugged – especially with so-called “antipsychotics” – more than ever.

    http: //

    I sure hope someone produces a full update.

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  6. Flawed people are worthless people. People of low-ranking status have absolutely no value and no worth. We’re meaningless, unimportant and insignificant.

    People with “problems” are low-ranking people.
    People are “things” and objects.
    People are “snakes”, “dogs”, “monkeys” and “pigs” – animals.

    The core problem in such chemical abuse is not because doctors and prescribers whole-heartedly believe they’re performing valid medical practices, but because of the silent, unexpressed hatred for rejects, invalids, the uneducated and spoiled fruits. Problem people.

    Respect is an intelligence of the heart; not the mind.

    This doctor is confronted for his legal practice of performing medical abortions.
    Abortionist Calls Slicing Up ‘Ugly Black Babies’ A Service! on Battlefield YouTube

    It makes no difference the color of skin. White people are also devalued and degraded; retards, losers, inbreeds, hicks and rednecks. In other words, “white trash”.

    It is the silent, unspoken, unexpressed hatred and loathing of absolutely worthless people by which *some* upper-class, privileged, professional people rule and dominate multiple world arenas.

    Genetically flawed people are unworthy, worthless people. Shh.

    Ugly Black Babies.

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    • Well, let people have their opinions, but don’t let us, as individuals and agents of change in our society- take a single social/political action that gives credence to any form of discrimination— or at the very least give no energy to such warped thinking.

      Never be defeated by the base attitudes and behavior of others; that is, never give in to it by propagating *hate speech* as a public service for cowards.

      And above all, don’t ever call a baby ugly!!!

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    • And it is exactly for this reason that psychiatry allied itself with the Nazis and carried out atrocities and genocide. Paychiatrists hate being linked to the Nazis today and get quite upset with the comment. However, you can’t change the facts. The Nazis stand as the greatest example of loss of moral and ethical integrity; at least in the twentieth century. I’m getting the feeling that psychiatry is moving into that same position in this century. How can you drug people, especially children, for the movite of monetary gain and massaging your ego, when you know that these drugs are toxic, especially for the brins of children? I see that as a real loss of moral and ethical integrity.

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  7. I have had a few patients who fit what is usually referred to as “bipolar disorder” – periods of mania followed by periods of depression – but very rarely. It is grossly over-diagnosed and in children? Rubbish! When the APA decided that there was a category called “autistic spectrum disorders” suddenly millions of children were so diagnosed making millions more patients.
    The DSM is not based on any real evidence but is useful for billing. After all, one won’t get paid without a billing code.

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  8. Quote from Littrell:

    “What was shocking to me, however, was when this psychiatrist off-handedly stated that child psychiatrists don’t medicate diseases, they medicate symptoms. I asked whether this means that if a child is obstreperous, then the doctor puts the child in a chemical straight-jacket. The psychiatrist did not respond.”

    This is the ugly secret of psychiatry: they don’t even bother with diagnoses anymore, at least when kids are concerned. They KNOW they aren’t medicating a disease – they KNOW they are drugging “symptoms” without ever asking why those symptoms might exist or whether they are even an indication of anything wrong at all. Kid is “too active,” kid gets drugs, kid is less active. That’s the whole process. They are trying to make bad thoughts/behaviors/feelings go away, and “bad” is defined by them or whomever is in charge of the “patient.” The idea that diseases are involved is only window dressing. Not even the psychiatrists themselves really believe that.

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    • But.. it is what the psychiatrists documents in order to receive payment for his/her services., a diagnosis, disease, disorder… written down as the reason for a visit to the psychiatrist and a trip to the pharmacy.

      How foolish is it to document a blatant falsehood for money? not very— unless you are called to testify under oath regarding the truth of the matter.

      Actually, I am glad medicaid guidelines have coaxed psychiatrists into committing a very serious error as a doctor. Medicaid asks *their doctors* to diagnose a kid with something— anything to support the cost of the doctor’s visit and the drugs prescribed…. and the silly ‘ol doctor, just goes ahead and lies *in writing* in order to get paid. Like— who’s gonna know? When no one really cares. Two more serious errors in reasoning we should all ask *our doctors* to explain to us.

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      • As long as everyone plays along, no one gets in trouble. Oh, except the “patient.” But since the ‘patient’ is “mentally ill,” it’s easy to blame any negative results on “the disease” instead of the doctors’ own insensitivity and stupidity and corruption. Anyone who commits suicide on an antidepressant: “Well, depression is a serious disease, and sometimes people take their lives despite our best efforts. Sigh…” Of course, the fact that the victim was never suicidal until they took your drug does not get mentioned.

        Until both patients and our government representatives (go, Chuck Grassley!) call them on this and make them PAY in both monetary and criminal penalties, these criminals will continue to bilk us all and maim and kill their own patients with impunity.

        — Steve

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  9. I was five when my mother decided she could no longer be a mother. I was a fearful, anxious child with reoccurring nightmares. Luckily, my diagnosis of ADHD allowed her an excuse for even her more psychotic behaviors. My diagnosis at 14 with Bipolar Disorder has followed by her hospitalization for what appeared to be disassociative seizures. She wouldn’t be released for several months, but without several years of memory, and a vaguely manic belief that she was twenty, and she didn’t want to share center stage with her 14 year old daughter. Do you know what a diagnosis of Bipolar really means? It mean my institutionalization for nearly five years without ever seeing a court room till the last. My parents were affluent, but luckily for my mother, her decisions tended to be a bit more extreme, and she and my father made me a ward of the state. They didn’t even need to interview me first, but a diagnosis is more than that. I lost those years, but even in the twenty years after I (a month from my 18 birthday) was picked up by my father, I have never mentioned my experience or her illness to them or anyone else except my husband, and that was only once I remembered I forgot. Even those moments, almost twenty years of my life are vague and in frequent. For the year after my release, my mother would randomly have me institutionalized, and the look when she pronounced my diagnosis, was enough to cement the idea that I had to be wrong. My other two sisters adored my mother, and people don’t really live like that. I doubt even my own perception because I was sick, and I assumed any allegation she made had to be true. That was my childhood with Bipolar Disorder, and whether or not I was sick going in, I was very sick coming out. The kindest thing she may have done for me, at my sister’s funeral, she told me, “I prepared myself with you. It was never supposed to be Corinne” And I for the first time, I knew I wasn’t as crazy as I had believed. By then, I had been killing myself for twenty years. It’s easy to have that level of disregard when your life isn’t yours. That moment, as awful as it was, gave me my life back. And as little as I remember, I wouldn’t wish that life on any child. To do it simply for profit, seems almost inhuman.

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