I am 19 years old and live in Mexico City. A friend, a teacher, and me created our association; Teenagers Against Psychiatric Drugs.
My partner’s name is Raquel Achar, she is 19 as well. We went to middle school together, and that is where we started our project.
This project has been a complete adventure and a tough experience. It all started four years ago, when two friends of mine and I were barely 15 years old. We had to do a chemistry science fair project for school and we got to choose our own topic. We were bored by the same old science fair forced projects, so we decided to something significant.
When we were searching among different topics, suddenly I remembered a documentary about psychiatric drugs I once saw, and remember thinking I could not believe these torturing practices still happen today! In this century! So I shared what I saw with my friends and we decided to do something about it.
We created an amazing handmade comic book representing an episode of the life of a teenage boy who was diagnosed with ADHD and forced to take medication. Of course, the mother wanted what was best for her child. But she just didn’t know; she trusted her doctor.
Basically the story depicts the story of this boy before, during and after taking medication, with facts about the psychiatric industry, the pharmaceutical companies, and the FDA.
Our comic was simple to understand, informative, and entertaining. The day we had to expose it on school, we were very proud of ourselves and excited. All this energy, satisfaction, and pride were gone the minute the psychologist of the school called us to her office immediately. When we got there, practically the whole council was there waiting for us.
They claimed our project was completely biased and with no fundamentals. They completely destroyed our project, and made us feel as if we were monsters poisoning the kids (which is actually the other way around).
Of course they alleged that our project was biased because we were exposing the conflicts of interest and the hazardous side effects of the drugs, while there were many kids in that school taking medication. It was not in their best interest to let us inform people about stimulants. They preferred to have their kids controlled and silent. It is easier that way, but does it actually help the students?
This question kept ringing in our heads. Are they actually benefiting the patient, or do they just want to control them?
Anyways, we went crying out of the office. We felt completely invalidated. There was only one thing that brought us back to light again and onto the right path. Our former English teacher, Camilo Montenegro, saw our project and immediately recognized the potential and significance of such project, even before we knew it.
He supported us since that moment, and has never stopped since. He has always directed us into the right path and always gives his recommendations and suggestions to improve the project. We truly appreciate his support, without his help this would not have been possible.
The number of people who believe the opposite about psychiatric drugs and mental illnesses is so vast, that it was overwhelming. We did not believe we could confront them on our own, but suddenly we realized we were not alone. There are people and organizations all over the world fighting to spread awareness and tell this story. This was when we decided to start contacting them in order to work together and be stronger.
As the years passed, we continued our investigation and research. We read several books and watched documentaries to be more informed. Our readings included Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic.
These books were a huge revelation. For some time we thought, well; maybe we are wrong after all. Maybe this is not significant. But the books proved this wrong; they showed us the importance of being informed. They made us realize that a change needed to be done.
We decided to make a change in our country of Mexico. Because as worrisome as the situation regarding the medication of children is in the US and other countries, it is perhaps more so in Mexico because there is very little controversy surrounding the issue. Although there have been advances, most notably legislation that prohibits mandatory use of medication in schools, few parents, teachers and of course students are aware of the law and fewer still ever voice any concern over the issue at all.
Today, more than four years have passed, and since we are teenagers group, most “professionals” don’t really listen to what we have to say, because they believe were are just a cute project, but nothing relevant. We need to be heard, our voice needs to be heard. Currently we are forming our association with recognized organizations, doctors, neurologists, nutritionists, lawyers, human rights and addiction groups in Mexico in order to become a solid organization to inform people and give them secure and efficient alternatives.
Our mission is to help people understand the short-term and long-term effects of psychiatric medication on children, to expose the conflicts of interest within the pharmaceutical industry and to reveal their implications on our current health and education systems in Mexico.
People always ask us why are we so into this project. They say it is not our war to fight. Why would we go against all common and accepted beliefs? Why did we want to fight with such an immense and lucrative system, such as the one that exists between the pharmaceuticals and the psychiatric industry. We always respond to this . . . If not us, then who?
“What we do or don’t do right now will affect every generation to come, and too often we do nothing.”
Another question some people ask is why we started this project? Did we lose a loved one or a relative of ours because of psychiatric treatment? The answer is no. None of our relatives have suffered from these treatments, but we wouldn’t want them to. This is the reason we started this project. To inform people about what is hidden from them so they can make more informed and responsible choices about the treatments they blindly accept.
We believe our Indiegogo campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/teenagers-against-psychiatric-drugs/x/7251751) can help us achieve our mission and inform more people by raising funds that will be used to make a short video explaining the hazardous side effects and the complete information about these drugs.
We hope you can support us. We are in this together. Your fight is our fight.
We are with everyone out there who has suffered unjustly due to the use of these drugs. Let’s spread the word about what is happening!
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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.
“Demasiada cordura puede ser la peor de las locuras, ver la vida como es y no como debería de ser.
Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
Your project strikes me as very creative. I have known only one person who seems to benefit from psychiatric drugs . . . but I fear for her brain and nervous system. Already her hands shake from the lithium. At least her psychiatrist wants to get her off the drugs as soon as feasible. Hopefully some of these doctors are simply misled and like Don Quixote are seeing mental illness everywhere even usually when it is not there at all. And without a Sancho Panza for assistance they may destroy themselves in the process. How painful to believe you are helping people when actually you are doing opposite.
But money, money and more money. In 1960 when I was 18 I lived for a while in Mexico City. It was really a beautiful place then and not particularly dangerous. The food was wonderful and the warm autumn sun. But now having read some of Roberto Bolano’s novels I can see how much things have changed.
Your group is in the position of Sancho Panza as outlined here: ““Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.”
“What giants?” Asked Sancho Panza.
“The ones you can see over there,” answered his master, “with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.”
“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”
“Obviously,” replied Don Quijote, “you don’t know much about adventures.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
Brilliant, great to hear about this.
I hope it gets picked up around the world.
P.S. I want to mention that your article is very well written and even reminds me of Bolano’s novel The Savage Detectives which is about a group of teenage poets living in Mexico City. Your English teacher has probably read this amazing novel.
Another good resource is Peter Breggin, MD and his book Your Drug May Be Your Problem. He also has a web site and created a fine journal called “Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry” wherein you will find many allies. Probably a local university will have this journal in a data bank–maybe even a large public library. You may even find like minded professionals in Mexico City who will help you. Yours is a noble cause–of that there can be no doubt. But money or pesos have embodied themselves in all kinds of peoples: bankers of course and the usual suspects like psychiatrists and professors and teachers and all those who love the status quo. What is scary is these people even have children that get drugged as well. Where I live they put fluoride in the drinking water though it is a neuro-toxin. I have tried to get some attention on this in my town which a few years ago was designated the best place in America to raise children! Ha. And I am sure the drugs flow freely here as well. It is always puzzling how people immediately think you are a crank or a crazy person to imagine the good gov would poison people or start a pointless war based on lies. Too fantastic they say and walk quickly away!! Ha. Best of luck and keep us informed here of your trial, tribulations and successes.
What you’re doing is totally inspiring, and the fact that none of you needed to a be victimized personally to recognize the danger of these pseudo-“medicines” illustrates how the social and political consciousness of youth is growing and evolving. Please keep us posted.
PS The professionals you mention who ignore or scoff at you may be ageist in their attitudes, but no matter what your age they will never accept your positions because it’s not in their economic interest to do so. Don’t waste too much time trying to convince them; organize to take away their power and their ability to sway the public consciousness through TV ads, etc. (In the U.S. they can’t advertise cigarettes on TV, for example, but they can advertise “Abilify.”) I’m not familiar with the specifics of the situation in Mexico, as you are, so just do what makes sense to you & remember there are a lot of people around the world who get it and are behind you.
How inspiring that young people in Mexico are taking up this cause. I hope that I can help with this in the future.
I thought child drugging was mainly an American problem , silly me forgetting the how that the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is a bottomless pit of greed without boarders !
Hey kids of Mexico it’s movie time , El Marketing de la Locura – Vendiendo la Enfermedad http://youtu.be/3iitl6IqSRo
You’re amazing! Mad props.
I was very much like you when I was a teen and young adult. I thought that screaming the facts from the rooftops would make a difference, as if everyone didn’t know and as if such a think (the drugging of children) would have never happened if they did.
They know. They also know that acknowledging the facts will:
1) If they’re the parent, it will be considered their “fault.”
2) If they’re the teacher/school, it will be considered their “fault.”
3) If they’re the doctors, they will lose their careers and probably be sued into bankruptcy
4) If they are any of the three and such facts are acknowledged, their victims will come after them for justice.
Psychiatry has always existed to help sweep social problems under the rug for people or institutions in positions of power to support them for doing so. By the time the schools came to them for such help, the psychiatrists had already gotten on board with pharma to push drugs because medicaid and insurance companies would not pay them a doctors salary for anything but somatic treatments.
Trust me, you’re wasting your time. They know. They see the damage these drugs are doing to those kids on a daily basis. The neurological disease, insomnia, mania, tardive dyskenisia, etc. And of course they’ve heard the protests and been referred to the evidence and books such as Whitaker’s, etc. They know. You would be better off changing your focus from education to seeking justice via legal punishments for child druggers.
They’re not wasting their time, it’s not drug execs they’re mainly trying to educate but the populace at large.
The struggle, like all struggles, takes place at many levels.
Young people educating young people and challenging Big Pharma is a powerful tactic. It’s like trade union reps for school children.
You’re saving lives and making the world a better place.
That’s an amazing piece of work :).
Thomas Szasz said the same thing about the drugs or “medications”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Gr4OIkums
Thank you for all you do in the world. It’s inspiring to know that people who haven’t been personally harmed by these practices would still see that they are oppressive and work to change them. Thank you for your courage and vision! Wishing you much luck in all you do.
This is very inspiring! Thank you Jaquelin. When you contacted me I was so honored and also had no idea how long you had been working on this project or how it started, so it is great to hear the back story. And I’m sorry there is so little resistance in Mexico. So important that you are starting it and while some people wight not take you seriously due to being younger, others will. Many young people don’t realize how important their voice is and how powerful it actually is. People do listen; we are listening, and very grateful.
I remember having discussions about psych drugs in high school with my friends. It was a different time period-we had pretty much just missed being the stimulant generation, but Prozac was getting its grip on us. I remember long soul searching conversations with my best friend about what we thought about taking these drugs.
So glad you and your friends realize how much your perspective matters.