My Polypharmacy Predicament


My tumultuous love affair with psychotropic medication began in May of 2017, when I voluntarily admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital. For the past few months I had been flirting with the idea of suicide, haunted by a series of traumatic events that left me distraught and desperate for relief. I had been taking Lexapro for many years, but evidently it was no longer helping. Perhaps, I thought, my suffering would dissipate if I could attain new medication, and the quickest way to do this was through inpatient hospitalization. Little did I know that in the next month I would be given seven different psychotropic drugs, many of which were prescribed hastily and simultaneously as my doctors acquiesced to the precarious practice of polypharmacy.

I was admitted to a hospital called Pinecliff* late on a Wednesday night, and the following afternoon I met with my psychiatrist, Dr. Patel, a portly woman with a terse manner who wore skintight business clothes in shades of mustard yellow and rustic red. My request to try new medication appeared to please her.

“Let’s try you on Cymbalta,” Dr. Patel said after spending approximately ten minutes piecing together my story. “It’s in the same class as Lexapro but addresses two neurotransmitters instead of one.”

“Okay,” I nodded.

“I also want to put you on a low dose of Ripseridone. It’s an antipsychotic that is sometimes used to supplement antidepressants when a patient isn’t responding well to them. It might make you a little drowsy, so you’ll take it at night.”

I nodded again, a quiver of hope running through me. While I was anxious about adjusting to new medications, I had nothing to lose and no reason to doubt Dr. Patel’s expertise.

“That sounds good,” I replied. “Thank you.”

* * *

I remained on the ward for six days, and secretly, I was relieved to be stuck there avoiding my fears of real-world reintegration. Other than nodding off in armchairs after my 8 p.m. Risperidone, I felt the same, if not a little foggier. I mulled over the past, contemplated my future, and prayed for the medication to kick in. Psychologists say it takes SNRIs two to three weeks to have an effect, so I convinced myself it was normal that I didn’t feel better, not yet.

I was released on a Tuesday with a practical discharge plan. I would attend a ten-day outpatient program run by a hospital affiliated with Pinecliff. I would find a therapist in the area and get a job. I would attempt to resume a “normal” life.

Exiting the hospital’s double doors with my parents, inhaling the first breath of fresh air I had encountered in days, I held my head high, attempting to portray a newfound stability. Yet, beneath this façade, I felt utterly petrified and alone. My confidence resembled that of a low-hanging spider web: delicately wound, glistening in fragility, and prepared to be torn apart at any moment.

* * *

The next few days passed in an acute haze. I noticed myself slipping into what can only be described as a dissociative state. A thick, moist fog crept over my mind, creating a porous barrier between my brain and body through which messages were haphazardly transmitted. On a peripheral level, my thoughts remained synced to my bodily actions, but internally it felt as if I were morphing into two separate entities. My subconscious was displaced from its home, floating in some imperceptible sphere around me, witnessing helplessly the deterioration of its other half. I existed but was no longer there, feeling absent in my own life, devoid of character.

It was difficult to discern what was causing this out of body sensation. Was it the antipsychotic medication? Or had I become so ill that my overwhelmed mind was detaching itself from my body as a protective mechanism? Or, could this all be psychosomatic — a reaction to my fear of the medication’s side effects and the fact that I was gripping my sanity by a thread. Either way, I woke up each morning sweating in terror, having to shove this feeling aside to make room for basic functioning.

I attended my first week of the outpatient program, staring blankly at the group counselors, engaging listlessly in their presentations and handouts but absorbing nothing. I was too distracted by the estrangement of my body and mind and the frequent brain shocks I was now experiencing, a side effect of changing or withdrawing from medication that feels as if one’s brain is being electrocuted every five to ten minutes. I also landed a mediocre job, something tangible to grasp onto that made me feel like more than a psych patient; something, I hoped, would guide me back to stability.

Yet, by day seven in the real world I was at my wit’s end, curled up in an awkward corner between life and death. This is the part of the story whose rationale is impossible to relay; the part that is humiliating and harrowing and irreversibly imprudent.

One night after a dull day at work, I made the decision. Whatever pills lay around my bedroom were hastily consumed: the remainder of my Risperidone, some stray Benadryl, a handful of Cymbalta, some year-old Ativan. Whatever would knock me out instantaneously — not necessarily end my life, but transport me to another realm, somewhere I could bask in a blissful, insouciant stupor. Anywhere but in this torturous reality.

I have almost no recollection of the next forty-eight hours save for a few minutes here and there. When I regained consciousness, I was told that my parents had found me in the morning, mumbling incoherently with vomit strewn across my comforter. They rushed me to the emergency room and after some time I was transferred back to Pinecliff, the only place with an available bed. It was there that I awoke, disoriented, drooling, and outfitted in a fresh set of pajamas with a small bag of belongings leaning against my dresser.

Neglecting my appearance, I stumbled into the common area and confronted a mental health tech. “When can I see my doctor?” I inquired desperately.

“Dr. Patel should be making her rounds here in the next hour,” he replied. His face looked familiar from my last stay. Was it Jason? Josh maybe? “It’s good to see you up,” Jason/Josh continued. “You should get your meds from Erika and then you can have breakfast. We saved you a tray.”

I nodded meekly and approached the nurse’s station.

“Amy! It’s so great to see you awake!” exclaimed the nurse, apparently named Erika. “How are you feeling?”

“Umm… okay. Kind of confused.”

Erika smiled, flashing a set of straight, pearly whites. “That’s understandable. Your body just went through a major shock, it will take a little while to feel totally normal again.”

Normal, right. It felt unfathomable that I would ever feel normal again.

“Ready for your meds?” Erika prompted. “I’ve got 75 milligrams of Effexor, 1.5 milligrams of Invega, 50 milligrams of Lamictal and .5 milligrams of Klonopin.”

Excuse me, come again? None of these drugs were part of my previous regimen. I had never even heard of Invega or Lamictal.

“Uh, did I meet with Dr. Patel yesterday?” I asked in bewilderment.

“You did,” Erika replied, glancing at my computerized chart. “I believe the two of you talked in your bedroom.”

“Right,” I stretched out my hand for the pills. “Um, would you mind printing out the drug information for each of these when you have a chance?”

Erika smiled again. “No problem.”

* * *

Through the wisdom of WebMD, I discovered that Invega is an antipsychotic primarily used to treat schizoaffective disorder, which can also decrease symptoms of depression. Dr. Patel had substituted Invega for the Risperidone, surmising that Risperidone simply wasn’t the “right” antipsychotic for me, and completely overlooking the possibility that its side effects could have precipitated my undoing. Lamictal is administered to prevent seizures and extreme mood swings, and can also be effective in amplifying the properties of SNRIs, such as Effexor, which had been swapped for my Cymbalta. Effexor is in the stimulant category of antidepressants, meant to bolster a patient’s energy level so they can return to daily functioning. Given that this was my second hospitalization in less than two weeks, Dr. Patel had made radical adjustments. And apparently I had consented to them.

This potpourri of new medications served to counteract one another. The Effexor made me implacably antsy and skittish, as if I’d just downed five shots of espresso, while the Klonopin thankfully ameliorated these symptoms, sending a marvelous, anesthetizing haze through my body and mind, smothering the disquietude of my thoughts and the intensity of my emotions. The Invega plunged me deeper into a trance of dreamlike proportions, causing me in certain moments to seriously contemplate the tangibility of my experience. In this spell of stupefaction, the effects of the Lamictal were rendered null. Hence, it was impossible to discern whether any of these new drugs were helping me or merely having a depersonalizing effect. If anything, they helped in the sense of shutting me off, replacing my mind with that of a docile robot. In retrospect, such numbing was probably preferable at the time, since the thought of facing my distress seemed insurmountably overwhelming. Yet in terms of my future healing and return to selfhood, this multiplication of medications had traumatic and time-consuming consequences.

* * *

I stayed at Pinecliff for another six days as Dr. Patel and my family contemplated what to do next. After many phone calls and a torturous waiting period, I was discharged from Pinecliff and flown directly to one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the country. There I was assigned an extensive team of practitioners: a psychiatrist, a psychologist who administered all my testing, an individual therapist with whom I met twice a week, a substance abuse counselor, a social worker who facilitated family therapy, a primary nurse and a mental health advisor. A significant portion of my treatment was dedicated to straightening out my medications. After undergoing gene testing, where a swab of DNA is taken from the cheek to identify specific genetic markers that help match a patient with the most fitting medication, my psychiatrist Dr. Kay put me on Pristiq, an uncommonly prescribed antidepressant. She kept me on the Lamictal and added Gabapentin, which is primarily used to reduce nerve pain, but because of its relaxing and non-addictive nature, can also be prescribed for anxiety. The plan was to wean me off the Klonopin in a few weeks once I stabilized, and allow the Gabapentin to take its place.

This proved easier said than done. At four weeks in, Dr. Kay pronounced it time, and as the rapturous effects of the Klonopin slipped away, a cascade of distress poured over me. I hit a startling low, refusing meals and company, thrashing around in bed and cursing out every doctor for denying me Klonopin — my salvation, my lifeline. I swore to die of starvation before acquiescing to the gentle coaxing of my team. “Just come sit in the common area for a little bit… why don’t you try eating a granola bar… You’ll feel better soon… just be brave…”

No. I was done being brave.

But then, suddenly, I wasn’t. Thirty-six hours into my hibernation, I emerged, peeking around the covers, putting one foot on the ground and then the other. I tiptoed into the common area, squinting into a foreign light, and was immediately surrounded by the solace of my peers. I ate a granola bar, then a full plate of dinner. I performed in the talent show. I talked and talked and cried until my head pounded from dehydration. My mental and physical state began to improve, slowly, and then rapidly. I never touched Klonopin again.

* * *

Today, I take low doses of Pristiq and Lamictal, with the intention of weaning off the latter medication soon. My mental health has been stable for over ten months, allowing me to finally graduate from college and work a full-time job while maintaining a strong support network. Ironically, my post-traumatic stress disorder no longer stems from the events that led to my hospitalizations, but from the maltreatment I received within the hospitals. Now, every time I take my medication late, or forget to refill my prescriptions and miss a day’s dose, I feel the unsettling presence of dissociation creeping in, the terrifying panic of losing my mental bearings and being rehospitalized. While this physical response is likely primarily psychosomatic, it is a testament to just how powerful and destructive the practice of polypharmacy can be, and why it must be curtailed to protect individuals, like myself, whose livelihood it has harmed rather than helped.

All names of institutions and persons in this piece have been changed to preserve anonymity. 


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.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.

Previous articleWhat Exactly Do We Mean by Overdiagnosis?
Next articleCredo by Sarah Walker
Amy Hoopes
Amy Hoopes is 24 years old. She lives in Western Massachusetts and recently graduated from Hampshire College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education, where she wrote a thesis about inpatient mental healthcare. She currently works as an editorial consultant, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Counseling in the next few years.


  1. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing your story. This is a similar story I hear from my clients who have found themselves to be in the unlucky position of being hospitalized. Pills and more pills with a lack of informed consent. I hear from too many of my clients as well that they recall seeing the doctor very little while in the hospital, even though this is the person who supposedly is there to make an informed medical decision about these powerful drugs. I usually hear from my clients that the feel worse after being discharged. What is the point of doing this to people if we make the situation worse? Oh, yeah, I forgot, money.

    Report comment

    • Totally. I have another portion of my thesis that discusses the lack of psychotherapy in public inpatient hospitals, which goes hand-in-hand with overmedicating. In the future I may submit that story as well, but if you have any interest in reading it, let me know!

      Report comment

      • Hi Amy,
        I would certainly be interested in reading anything on the lack of psychotherapy in inpatient hospitals. From talking to my clients who have been in these places, they get generic group therapy which they find unhelpful. I suggested to my boss (we work in an outpatient community MH setting) that maybe clients would feel better in inpatient settings if they were just listened to and validated; I also expressed my dismay that too many of my clients have been overdiagnosed and overmedicated in these facilities, and he did not seem to be nearly as concerned about these problems as I am. But he’s worked in the system for decades and is clearly a believer of the medical model.

        I am pissed off that “professionals” dismiss and minimize client experiences. Seems to me it’s often ineffective or harmful, so maybe we should try something novel like talking to people about their lives?

        I was also highly encouraged by my agency to use “motivational interviewing” get get clients to reconsider seeing a doctor about pills when they are considered high risk for re-hospitalization. My thought is that if a client doesn’t want to see a doctor, they shouldn’t be pushed in that direction. But hey I believe in client autonomy, which is clearly not as popular as MH systems like to pretend to care about.

        Report comment

        • Using “motivational interviewing” to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do is a perversion of the approach. Motivational interviewing is supposed to engage the person’s internal motivations and goals and engage them in the process of deciding what it is they need/want and how to get it. It’s supposed to be very open-ended and put the client in the position of deciding what path to take next. Not really compatible with the “accept your disease” paradigm, though the psychiatric profession can coopt and poison anything that works.

          Report comment

        • Shaun, the people you mention are NOT “patients,” and the places you refer to are NOT “hospitals.” Further, “mental health” is an absurd and impossible concept. You need to continue deprogramming yourself from the psychiatric mindset and broadening your perspectives; as it is you’re stuck in “reform” mode.

          Report comment

          • Oldhead,
            I’m pragmatic. I do believe that reform is more realistic than abolition. Also, I think that inpatient hospitalization is necessary for some people, like those who are temporarily homicidal, suicidal, or gravely disabled. I do have a question for you, Oldhead, which is what would you do with people who are clearly dangerous or unable to care for their basic needs? I think impatient treatment is necessary for some, because over the course of my career I’ve seen too many people in an altered state of distress who need a safe, structured environment to stabilize and move on with life. We don’t need to create lifetime “patients” in the process just because we have inpatient treatment.

            Report comment

          • Shaun,

            An important question: why does the need to protect some people from other people’s behavior (a social control function) have to be connected to some sort of “treatment?” Why can’t we simply create a space where people who are dangerous can be safe until they’re no longer dangerous? The Quakers did this in England centuries ago – took people out to the country and walked with them and held their hands and communicated with them and created a safe place for them to be, and most of them seemed to “get better,” if that’s the right term. To me, enforced “treatment” isn’t treatment. It’s just plain force. Force is sometimes necessary, but it’s never “treatment.”

            Report comment

          • (See what I mean Lavender?)

            @shaun — I try to mind my own business and not make presumptions about people if they don’t want my help, to answer your question. Also, it is not a crime to be dangerous, only to harm others. That’s why there are police and courts, not to mention shotguns. Not clear how this relates to “health.”

            I think impatient treatment is necessary for some

            “Impatient” for what is the question.

            over the course of my career I’ve seen too many people in an altered state of distress who need a safe, structured environment to stabilize and move on with life…We don’t need to create lifetime “patients” in the process just because we have inpatient treatment.

            Again, the term is “inmate.” And who is this “we”?

            This is the essence of paternalism. It appears your epiphany has been short-lived, or maybe someone has given you a good talking to. You don’t mention whether you believe these pathetic people also need to be forced by the courts to receive “help.”

            How would you have “reformed” slavery btw?

            Report comment

          • Shaun, Who decides who is dangerous and who isn’t? I, for one, was called dangerous when I wasn’t. Is psychiatry or therapy the Almighty God who has such divine wisdom as to know these things? How many times has psychiatry been wrong and perceived a person as dangerous when he or she has not been?

            You probably have had patients who have taken themselves to the ER because they felt suicidal (or because they couldn’t make up their minds so some shrink made up their mind for them). How long do suicidal thoughts last? These thoughts are most often transient, as you know. How many patients have you known whose suicidal thought dissipated while they were still waiting to be seen?

            Speaking as one, I recall that most of the time, for me, the thoughts disappeared during the time I spent in the waiting room. However, when I was interviewed, now no longer suicidal, I was so embarrassed that I either lied and said I was, or I said I was fine (but they always kept me anyway, for THEIR safety).

            Many times I went to the ER because I couldn’t get my doctor to speak to me off hours, or because he/she was unavailable. Or because the crisis team refused to handle eating disorders.

            Having lived the life of a person perceived as dangerous when I wasn’t, this for years, I can assure you no one wanted to talk to me at all. No one tried even. It was fruitless discussion because I as seen as either a liar or lacking insight. I could have said the sky is blue and they would have had to go check the color themselves to see if I wasn’t delusional.

            Psychiatric holds do not protect the patient or society at large. Many times the patient is held only because the institution is terrified of a lawsuit, certainly not for the well-being of the patient.

            Patients are smart now. They wised up and know that the only way to complete a suicide is to refrain from letting on, lest one be locked up. Many see lockup as a worse fate than death itself.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, you clearly see no utility in the current system, and as a result think it should be abandoned in its entirety. I think it should be considerably reformed so that the whole person is treated and fully respected. More pills clearly isn’t the answer.

            Please remember that reasonable people can disagree with each other and still find common ground. Nobody has talked to me. And to be clear I’m more antidiagnosing and antipills than I’ve ever been in my career. I just told my boss this week that I think it is not our place to push clients to see doctors unless the client asks for this service. I’ve been using my influence as a therapist to help people better understand the problems with pills as well. I see that as progress.

            Report comment

          • By that logic a serial killer could also be considered to be making progress if he went down from four victims per year to two. Not that I’m calling you a serial killer.

            Prisons can be made to house people under less torturous conditions, but they remain prisons. I am aware that you are doing your best to improve things within the context of the parameters that have been drawn for you, and that you are basically powerless as an individual to effect systemic change. But “reform” is a term generally applied to institutions or practices which have a legitimate function. And as Szasz pointed out, institutions such as concentration camps cannot be “reformed,” only abolished.

            Report comment

          • Julie,

            “Shaun, Who decides who is dangerous and who isn’t?”

            Well, in general it works like this: A client tells me they have a plan, intent, and means to imminently harm themselves or someone else, and they cannot agree not to act on these thoughts or intentions, I decide that they need to go to an ER to be further evaluated. This is a legal requirement. Of course this system can be misused, but the bottom line is that if someone is saying that they can’t guarantee they won’t harm themselves or others, then professionals cannot ignore this. We are legally and ethically compelled to act on this. We also have a duty to warn if a client is saying they plan to kill someone. I don’t enjoy getting involved in this stuff, but it’s a reality of being a professional. Since I’m licensed, if someone says these things, I cannot just look the other way. Also, if someone cannot do activities of daily living, they will qualify for being gravely disabled and will be placed on a hold because they aren’t taking care of themselves.

            You are right that people are usually temporarily in these states. The problem is that I cannot read the future, so I have no clue how long it will last. I talk with my clients every week about their suicidal thoughts. That isn’t the issue. Sometimes people will act impulsively if they are in a very vulnerable state, and this is why we have the laws that we do.

            Report comment

          • Steve, regarding your question, I didn’t create the law. I am expected to follow the law. I don’t know why everything was set up like it is regarding acute psychiatric concerns.

            “Why can’t we simply create a space where people who are dangerous can be safe until they’re no longer dangerous?”

            We already have this, which is being at an ED (most people who are sent for a hold don’t get hospitalized) or inpatient hospitalization. We don’t have other alternatives because that is how the whole of society has chosen to deal with imminent safety issues. I agree that other options should be considered.

            Report comment

          • Well, we really don’t, because obviously the ER is not a safe place. You are in constant danger of being forcibly detained, restrained, drugged, or whatever if you say/do the wrong things. I’m talking about a safe place, like Soteria House, where people will listen to you and not hurt you and be there with you. It’s not an “alternative,” it’s a completely different concept. And it’s very possible, if we can all wake up enough to make it happen.

            Report comment

          • if someone is saying that they can’t guarantee they won’t harm themselves or others, then professionals cannot ignore this.

            Definitely something for anyone to make note of, but that’s not what you mean I’m sure. By “not ignore” you mean involuntarily subject the person to psychiatric torture. Can you absolutely guarantee that you will never harm anyone else or yourself?

            Report comment

          • Oldhead,

            Imminent: About to happen.

            If someone says they have a gun and are going to kill Aunt Sally, I do talk to them. But if they don’t agree to give up the gun and talk about why they want to harm their relative, I have no choice but to call an ambulance and take them to the hospital. People shouldn’t tell their healthcare workers they have a plan and intent to kill self or others unless they want to go to the hospital (and we inform people before they become clients of this legal obligation in our mandatory disclosures). This is how it works. I wish there were other options for sending people to, but that is the current system.

            Report comment

          • Steve, the percentage of clients who go to an ED and become inpatient is very low, as there are fewer and fewer inpatient beds even open anymore. The push continues to be for outpatient treatment because it’s cheaper. I’d love if there were more Soteria Houses available. Tell me, how many are open in the US? Until there are multiple Soteria House’s open in every major city, the main option is going to the hospital.

            Report comment

          • Why is mental health an absurd concept?
            Is it not physical sickness that is absurd?
            Or rather, once the physical is elevated to the status of Cause, and we are relegated to Effect – then a world arises in which “Everything is BACKWARDS; everything is upside down! Doctors destroy health, Lawyers destroy justice, Universities destroy knowledge, Governments destroy freedom, Major media destroys information, And religions destroy spirituality”. (~ Michael Ellner)

            The backwards or reversal of our conscious foundation – which has been developed over millennia generates a world in which living under SHOCK is normalised and called sane.

            Mental wholeness or integration in all that we are is only insane or sick to those who seek to make insanity and sickness normal – so as to feed upon it for private or personal ‘survival’ in its terms.

            The ruling out or exclusion of the spiritual or psychic-emotional (Consciousness) by the intent of mapping and controlling life (self, other and world) is simply false and its underlying complex of denials communicate energetically regardless of the ingenuity of social masking.

            You give the situation all the meaning it has for you – and that can be in alignment with the true of your being or in seeming opposition – because you WANT something untrue to be validated or ‘made real’.

            Report comment

          • But if they don’t agree to give up the gun and talk about why they want to harm their relative, I have no choice but to call an ambulance and take them to the hospital.

            While they’re holding a gun? Must be a very patient and discriminating psycho. How many gun-wielding Aunt-killers have you dealt with?

            PS Don’t they have cops where you live?

            Report comment

          • Until there are multiple Soteria House’s open in every major city, the main option is going to the hospital.

            Forced commitment to Soteria Houses? I’m sure they’ll appreciate your suggestion.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, it is clear to me that you are most interested in making sarcastic remarks than having an actual conversation with me. That is unfortunate but it is what it is. Look at the conversations I’ve had with Chris and Alex to see the difference. But this is the internet after all, so I gotta keep my expectations realistic. I wouldn’t want to have one of those nasty cognitive distortions!

            It is frustrating to see youcherry pick my posts without looking at the entirety of my comments. That is probably asking too much I guess. If you read everything I’ve said, I would think we have a lot in common in terms our beliefs about the system. I do notice that you usually only comment on my posts if you have something negative to say. Just an observation.

            Finally, I’ll point out that I seem to be a target here whereas the author of the original story made similar comments around the system and hardly got the same scorn I’ve received. Strange, don’t you think? Well, it is the internet, so there’s that.

            Have a good day. And I sincerely hope we can have more productive conversations in the future.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead there are SOME individuals so “out of it” they can’t take care of basic needs. Is a nice place in the country run by compassionate non-psych people going to hurt them? Most likely the TLC will bring them back to reality. You can’t gain their consent because they can’t communicate. And yes these are a tiny minority. I have known only 2 or 3 in my life. Most folks at “hospitals” or psych centers are okay except they’re sickly from being drugged up and unhappy at how family/friends have cut them off due to their psych labels. 🙁

            Otherwise only voluntary folks would stay at these places. That might pose a problem if too many folks crash there and refuse to go back to life again….

            Report comment

          • “I see Alex as being irresponsible by coddling your self-aggrandizing arrogance at the expense of survivors.”

            You do? Seriously? To my mind, I was merely having a dialogue with a someone whose identity creates projections for me, and moving right through those to have a meeting of the minds and to be mutually supportive in our respective life journeys, each of us seeking truth. I felt really good about it and it helped me to move through stuff.

            I’m not going to start trying to analyze everyone’s motives. Not only is that going to lead to projections on my part, inevitably, but that’s also not going to help bring clarity on things which I feel are of value here, nor is it going to create the change we’re looking to create.

            Where does this cynical interpretation come from, oldhead? I am honestly baffled by this. In many ways, I believe we’re on the same side. Perhaps we do not agree in all ways, but it seems to me we have plenty of common ground to work with.

            But when you start with these insults and slanted interpretations of things, based on your opinion, I don’t see how we could work together. I obviously bug the shit out of you, and I’m just being myself. I’m pretty well-liked in general, so I don’t know, maybe something to do with how I translate on the internet.

            In any event, I respect you because you are passionate about your truth and you seem very dedicated to it. But what you’re doing by throwing around these insults or whatever you would call them, is just not going to help things any, that I can tell. We’re all pissed on some level, you’re not alone in this.

            And thanks, Shaun, I read your response after I posted this, moves me deeply. Oldhead, what is stopping us from all working together here? Shaun is obviously working hard to deepen his understanding, and I’m following my own intuition to the same end. Why the condemnations? Why not support for moving things forward a bit?

            Report comment

          • Shaun, if anyone tells their healthcare provider, or psychiatrist, or therapist that they have a plan to kill themselves, they clearly want to be hospitalized. Talking about suicide is the most effective way to get admitted. That way, the person gets a warm place to stay where they don’t pay a heating bill, hot showers with no water bill, and free food and you don’t even have to apply for food stamps to get it. You can easily and quickly get away from the roommates you don’t like, or escape from abusive spouse or parents, or get some relief from caring for your kids. You can even use the heck out of the ADA and get excused from work. Not only that, taxpayers pay for your holiday.

            Only invariably you get there and realize maybe you shouldn’t have opened your trap after all. You realize you could have gotten your needs met more efficiently by staying out. Now what?

            There are no voluntary patients on a psych ward. The ward doors are locked and we are trapped in there. None of the staff give a shit who is deluded into thinking they are voluntary and who is not. You are all slaves now and they can do what they want, or do nothing, and get paid for it.

            Now if you really want to do yourself in, in this day and age you keep your plans to yourself. People know better. We may be called “patients” but we aren’t stupid.

            One alternative, of course, is not to make plans at all but just decide and do it very fast before anyone can stop you. Many fail… in fact I think most do. They end up imprisoned and treated like total shit. You don’t want that, as if that happens it’ll wreck your life.

            Given that all this is extremely messy business, and for me, ending my life means I can’t write anymore (some might be thrilled about that!) and I won’t be able to do activism, I choose to live. And live every day as if there’s no tomorrow. Life is precious. There’s no debate there, not in my mind. No debate.

            Report comment

          • “Ask shaun whether he ever supports the use of force by psychiatry (ask about Aunt Sally and the Psychokiller). Then get back to me.”

            I don’t know at all to what you’re referring here and it sounds like you’re trying to inform me of something that would make me change my tune and either fight with Shaun or not engage with him as I do, perhaps more confrontationally.

            But even if I were to read up on whatever this is and it would bring something to light, I’d actually have a dialogue with Shaun about it the way I have been. I have found him to be reasonable and flexible in his thinking, he clearly hears me, I can feel that, and I believe he truly cares about helping people. Is he perfect? Of course not, and neither am I nor are you nor is anyone.

            We’re all doing the best we can here but at least Shaun is actively on a quest for truth and clarity in this mess. I genuinely applaud that and definitely I welcome that here, unequivocally.

            So please, oldhead, whatever you think about ego here or whatnot, can’t you open up just a bit to see that we’re all trying? I get that you have suspicions and feel free to have them, doesn’t make them true.

            I’m being watched, eh? Hmmm, what does this remind me of? Oh yeah, now I remember…wow.

            Report comment

        • Shaun,
          In my own experience the generic psychotherapy you refer to (mostly variations of CBT, etc.) is, in my opinion, the (structural) ‘organized forgetting’ than Henry Giroux and others write about. The psychotherapy administered in these ‘like’ facilities is not only designed to negate critical consciousness (ones biography to its historical and dialectical formational process’s, etc.,) but reinforces the very herd mentality that delivered the patient there in the first place. Moreover, the faux medical model fetishization is used like a hammer from which little to no ‘real; psychological (read consciousness as social and political unconscious) growth is possible, save not undermined. Yet…

          Report comment

          • Plebtocracy,
            I’m not a big CBT fan, but I do see it’s limited utility. I’m more a fan of Carl Roger’s humanist perspective on therapy and tend to focus my work with clients based on his teachings. No doubt the medical model has infected therapy models of care, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to work to change that.

            Report comment

        • Shaun, if you are curious about the “groups” in hospitals which are billed to insurance at a ridiculously high cost to taxpayers, these “groups” consist of watching TV, Bingo games, and use of worksheets that are at the kindergarten intellectual level. None were therapy. I recall addressing this with my doctor, saying that the groups were insulting to me. I was either threatened and told they wouldn’t let me out unless I attended, or they claimed that the fact that I refused to attend these insulting groups meant I wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle them. When I tried suggesting “meaningful discussion,” the staff claimed “Patients will be triggered.” Or, “Patients lack insight and aren’t smart enough.”

          I can tell you where meaningful discussion happened in those places. Invariably, it took place among us patients when the staff weren’t in the room. It was whispered in the halls or late at night, and any such conversation, if staff witnessed it, was shut down immediately. They also listened on to phone calls routinely and shut the phones off to silence that, too, or ordered us off the phone.

          Report comment

          • Julie, what you describe and experienced was not clinical or justifiable. My clients who’ve been hospitalized typically go to CBT or DBT based groups. May I ask how long ago you experienced such groups?

            Report comment

          • Your approach continues to show that you do not understand the systemic nature of psychiatric oppression, as you continue to ask leading questions with the implication that the problem is not with psychiatry itself, but this or that individual’s “malpractice.”

            Maybe it would help your analysis to separate those functions you perform at the behest of psychiatric hegemony from the “human services” aspects of what you do.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, you might be correct, but until big pharma is no longer the significant driver of care, I don’t see much changing. They simply have too much power and influence. Our political, economic, government, and legal systems have been corrupted by the ultra wealthy.

            Report comment

          • Saying they have been “corrupted” is also to posit that they were once beneficial. Do you have any evidence of this?

            “Big Pharma” is powerless if people refuse to use their drugs. If they want to start bringing injection teams around to bang people’s doors down that would raise the issue to a whole new level, but would also increase the level of resistance, and heighten public awareness of the political function of these “medications,” i.e. that they are weapons used against the people by the state. Not a pleasant thought, but we need to be prepared.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, what are you asking? Big pharma corrupted medicine in America. Before direct-to-consumer marketing was legal, we did not have an epidemic of prescribing practices. I think it was 1987 where the tide changed with Prozac and direct marketing. Since then Big Pharma has done a great job of being the most profitable industry in the world.

            I do not believe there is a “political function of these medications” as you say. You realize that there are tens of millions of highly functioning people on these meds. Many of my friends and other professionals I know are on sleep aids, SSRIs, mood stabilizers, and the like. Literally all walks of life are medicated, which is a larger social problem–we’ve been conditioned to believe that a pill is a answer to our woes. People aren’t magically happier on these pills; however, most are relatively functional. I do suspect most would be better off if they got off the meds, but that is another discussion.

            The US economy would quickly collapse if the government’s goal was to directly harm a large number of the populace. Also, they’re pretty stupid if this is the goal, since metabolic syndrome is expensive to treat in the meantime.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, you missed my point. These people who take these pills report to me that they believe they help them function better, as evidenced by keeping full-time, professional jobs, maintaining their relationships with others, etc.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, I appreciate that and agree with everything you have said throughout this thread. My only question for all – and it’s one to think about and not necessarily respond to – what about those who voluntarily seek inpatient treatment because they’re fearful for their own safety? This was my situation, and as much as I hated the psych wards and regret admitting myself initially, I needed a place to feel safe; to protect me from me. Where does someone like me go without some form of inpatient system?

            Julie – your experience of groups, staff and patient dynamics, etc. is a mirror of mine. And my hospitalizations took place last year. So yes people – things are STILL like this in these hospitals.

            Report comment

          • There should be safe places for people to go when they are feeling unsafe. No “treatment” is needed, just a place where it’s OK to be who you are and not have to “fix things” and not have to “be productive” and “manage your symptoms” and so on. Soteria House is a great example, as was the Quaker concept of taking folks out into the country and having people walk and talk with them in a calming environment. The idea that one needs a hospital because one is feeling stressed and finding the environment overwhelming is ridiculous. It puts the blame on the person having a hard time with the crazy environment rather than looking at what is going on around them in their lives. It is sad that the hospital seems to be the only option for someone feeling unsafe and seeking support.

            Report comment

          • Shaun F, a lot of folks need drugs to function because they’re addicted. Heroine addicts can become horribly sick if they suddenly can’t get a fix. That doesn’t prove heroine is a life saving medicine.

            Addiction to prescription drugs is a major problem in our society. Doctors lying to patients is behind it. I’m angry to see little old ladies at church wax eloquent on how “antidepressants” helped them; they know because they feel bad without them. “Dr. Quackenbush told me my brain was sick. He’s a wonderful man who would never lie.”

            Inexcusable and unconscionable! Like diagnosing patients with diabetes and selling them heroine by calling it insulin.

            Remember Dr. Farid Fata? More doctors are like him than most people admit.

            My mom is on two SSRIs and swears they help her “nerves” since she feels anxious when she misses a dose. Smokers make similar claims about cigarettes.

            Report comment

          • Are you kidding, Shaun? Those groups they claimed were therapy were nothing but filling in grade-school level worksheets. Discussion was minimal. The lazy staff person handed out worksheets, we filled them in, and everyone read their responses. That was the more advanced groups. Bingo was just one level under that. Art therapy insulted the patients who were truly talented at art. You bet “writing group” insulted me. I’d usually go off in a corner and scribble off like ten pages. They never let me read anything I wrote, and if I squeezed in the words (really fast before I got interrupted again…) they’d kick me out of group.

            Oh, speaking of that, I’d write for the psychiatrist, too. I worked very hard at this, then, I’d walk into the psychiatrist meeting and he’d refuse to read anything I wrote. Or he’d insult me by saying, “Sum it up in one sentence.” I can’t tell you how furious that made me, but they did it many times.

            The worst was when I had about six pages to show the psychiatrist. He literally pretended to read them. I knew he wasn’t. As he read, he tossed each page onto the floor, just to let me know how superior he was.

            Report comment

          • Julie,

            Like I said in my initial comment, clients whom I work with tell me they have been in more clinically focused groups. It’s clear many others experience something very different elsewhere. I do hear from my clients that they rarely see their doctor in inpatient settings, which is ridiculous. Your experience doesn’t surprise me. Doctors within the impatient settings are not so interested in hearing out their “patients.” Clearly the status quo isn’t supportive nor helpful. This does need to change.

            Report comment

      • I am very interested in hearing your story about the lack of any kind of therapy and the over drugging of people in inpatient “hospitals’. I work in a state hospital where this is the standard treatment for people no matter what their issue is. It’s totally disgusting and destructive of people’s lives. Nothing is actually done to really help people and we end up warehousing them for the financial benefit of the system, the psychiatrists, and the drug companies.

        Report comment

        • Stephen,
          If you were to redesign the inpatient model, what would you do differently? I think that more than anything people need to feel safe, understood, and respected as equal human beings. While there are probably some instances with drug therapies are indicated, I think we are doing much more harm than good, especially in inpatient settings. Primary care is also a part of the problem because they overprescribe as well and don’t give adequate informed consent.

          Report comment

          • If you were to redesign the inpatient model, what would you do differently?

            Why would he want to do that? The point is to eliminate such “models,” not perpetuate them. The correct term is inmate btw.

            Report comment

          • Shaun As a former professional in tbe system I know the process of seeing and then acting on all this new information is not the easiest. You need to read all the histories of otherness and start thinking beyond
            A stand alone trauma center open 24/7 with alternatives and ohg free services or low cost would be so helpful. The rural and urban areas are shut out except for some 12 step programs and their are entire counties without any.
            The other idea is what is the basis of altered stars? Def from drugs but also in First Nation cultures and others altered states are induced. To this day I am not sure how much drugs and then my spiritual/ artistic/Empath makeup was part and or parcel.
            Trauma and some is severe and what to do after you have seen genocide?
            Getting the dx off would be a great way to make amends and help psych survirs or whatever tripe of human label one uses
            This has been the worst for me.
            Despite my past professional record I still have the dx in the records. And attorney help no tried that in various ways- THEY DONT WANT TO HELP
            Say a certain phrase and you have turned to nothing literally nothing in their eyes.

            Report comment

          • oldhead – I don’t think eliminating the model completely is the right move. There are people that need to be in inpatient facilities, ideally for the short term, who can greatly benefit from them if the correct care is being facilitated. I speak from experience having gone from several public psychiatric hospitals that made my condition worse, to a private hospital where I worked with a team of doctors who had a tremendous impact on my healing process.

            The question, in my opinion, is not how do we eliminate inpatient care, but how do we redesign it – make it more personable, accomodating, comfortable, less stigmatized, productive, etc. Inpatient facilities are a necessary component of the mental health system, otherwise where would the people who need them go? Getting rid of them will not solve the system’s problems.

            Report comment

          • The system IS the problem. I’ll be interested in seeing how you feel about some of these things after you’ve hung around MIA for awhile.

            The “mental health” system, like other tentacles of the gulag, is not in place to help people but to control them and suppress their aspirations. This is all disguised as “medical,” but has nothing to do with medicine, or health.

            Anyway, it’s fine if you dismiss the above as paranoiac extremism, as long as you keep it in the back of your mind to refer back to. 🙂

            Report comment

          • Lavendarsage,
            Thank you for mentioning Soteria House. I have never heard of it before. I will definitely look into it, as it sounds like an interesting model of care from my brief Googling so far. I think we need to continue to look outside the box for solutions.

            Report comment

          • There are no mysteries to be solved, shaun, and you can discard the box at any time. You just need to open your eyes, though this is unlikely to happen until you get this “careerism” thing out of your head.

            Report comment

          • Amy, Redesign torture, maybe with newer, better, or cheaper tortures, and spiff up the prisons? Really?

            It may look fancy, but reality is you still have no rights in those places, you are still unable to leave, you are still labeled with a mental disorder, too. Despite the plush carpet and smiling faces of “staff.” In many ways, those “nice” places are worse since patients are deluded into thinking it’s “care.”

            I recall going to those “nice” places and thinking the exact same thing as you did. But in retrospect it was the nice places that turned me into a permanent mental case.

            Report comment

          • Julie/Amy — The first time I was locked up was in a state institution, where I actually convinced my Dr. that I should be allowed to stop taking mellaril.

            The second time was in a “nicer” ward in a general hospital, with potted plants and the whole 9 yards. It was also where I was given 400 mg. of Thorazine four times a day.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, my clients tell me they are most disturbed by the trauma’s they experienced in childhood, such as sexual assault, invalidation, growing up in drug addicted homes, living in group homes, and neglect, just to name a few. While some do note that psychiatry hasn’t always helped them, and in some cases they believe have harmed them, they do not believe this is at the heart of their issues in life. I provide EMDR, which is a non-pathologizing, compassionate, treatment to address the core issues of trauma. I will not apologize for providing such interventions which reduce human suffering and decrease the need for psychotropics. Do you know much about EMDR? I would love to have an actual conversation about it, as it can quickly reduce negative emotional states for trauma survivors.

            Report comment

          • I’m more focused on the term “intervention,” which generally has an involuntary component when people use it. Plus you’re still playing with words when you talk of “reducing the need” for neurotoxins, which clearly implies such a “need” exists, and that it’s just a matter of degree.

            Report comment

          • Oldhead, as is typical, you ignore my question. Do you know what EMDR is about? It has nothing to do with psych drugs. It doesn’t require any diagnosing.

            Regarding psych drugs, yes I think there is a small number of people who benefit from them. I, for instance, know that helping people avoid seizures and DTs from alcohol withdrawal that short-term benzodiazepine use is indicated. The problem with psych drugs is they are being prescribed for long-term use, which we need to avoid. I also think doctors need to be a lot more judicious with their prescribing practices. They are too liberal with handing out antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and SSRIs.

            Report comment

        • Stephen and whoever else – I would be happy to share the rest of my story with you if you want to send me your email address. The piece here is actually part of my college thesis and the entire thing is 130 pages, but I can pick specific sections that I think ya’ll might be interested in.

          Is there a way to private message on this site?

          Report comment

  2. Hi, Amy. I think and pray that you now understand that psychiatry is nothing but a tangle of lies and self-interest. My advice is to withdraw – super slowly- from the pristiq as well, and wash your hands of the whole system. The only true healing comes from within, and understanding we are all struggling, we all have weaknesses, we are all quirky- and we are not sick, we are human. And it comes when one is free of the whole psych system, and takes control of and responsibility for his/her own life.

    Lots of luck and all the best,


    Report comment

    • Hi Erin,

      I do intend to taper off the Pristiq as well but I’m only going to come off one drug at a time. I’m just too traumatized and have too much to lose by risking tapering off both at once. But I have faith that in time, I will be off both!

      Report comment

      • Good decision, Amy. Wise to taper off only 1 at once. The sooner, the better, though, because the longer you take these neurotoxins, the more damage they do. I was on effexor for less than a year- that was over 13 years ago and I am *still* recovering! I didn’t taper though- my routine got disrupted when I moved, and it was over a week later, feeling light-headed (low BP) that I realized I had not taken it. A few hours later the Vertigo set in (capital “V” vertigo- it was extreme!) and I decided I would not take that shit again, no matter how hellish the ride coming off it. The worst of it lasted almost 3 weeks, and I got through it staying very high on medical MJ- which made the vertigo less disconcerting because it gave it an acceptable context, and allowed me to eat without puking from the dizziness.

        Report comment

  3. Hi Amy. Your comment near the end about how you fear missing a dose or missing a refill resonates with me.

    The way psych patients are trained to view those pills as magical talismans is amazing. For years I felt the same way.

    But, once you come off them you realize you had what you needed inside you all along. The “meds” aren’t responsible from your achievements. You are. You did it IN SPITE of the chemical ball and chain!

    Glad you are coming off them while you’re still young. 🙂

    Report comment

  4. Extraordinary story Amy. Our own situation has a similar timeline. This time last year was a nightmare and got worse into the Autumn as each vist to the psychiatrist was a sleepless night of wondering what on earth the guy would do next. Psychiatry made a really difficult situation worse, when you didnt know what was real and what was medication, and they panic and start maxing out doses. But we had nothing like the ludicrous cocktail they put you on. People say its about the money, but I think the reasons lie in Jock McClarens excellent piece. They are a cross between sheep and idiots- I don’t think they have the gumption to be in it for the money. Your treatment has no evidence of efficacy, yet they do it anyway, just to do something, and justify their existence. What they regard as evidence are a few words on a press release, a drug leaflet, a soundbite somewhere. They never dig deeper into the nature of what evidence really is. Like other posters here, I think the way forward lies within is, and it may take time, but letting these twits loose with your brain chemistry is a disaster. So glad you are on the road to recovery and congrats on the degree.

    Report comment

    • I completely agree. I think it’s a mixture of a lot of factors – money, corporate and social pressure, political influence, the expectations that are associated with the practice of psychiatry, etc. I appreciate your insight and am not familiar with Jock McClarens piece. Could you share the link if possible?

      Report comment

  5. Thanks for sharing your story, Amy. As to, “It was difficult to discern what was causing this out of body sensation.” When the psychiatrists combine the antidepressants and/or antipsychotics, they can create a “psychotic” or “hallucinatory” state, via something known as anticholinergic toxidrome.

    That medically known form of poisoning is likely what caused your “hallucinations.” Your “brain shocks” are finally medically known as a common symptom of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, the doctors didn’t figure this out until 2004. Hope they’ve gone away.

    I agree, yours “is a testament to just how powerful and destructive the practice of polypharmacy can be, and why it must be curtailed to protect individuals, like myself, whose livelihood it has harmed rather than helped.” I, too, lived it, researched it, and I hope my research helps you a little bit on your healing journey.

    I was able to get the “mental health” stigmatizations off my medical records by pointing out that the antidepressants created my “brain zaps,” which were misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” And by pointing out that the “psychosis” my doctors then created, with the antidepressants and antipsychotics, was actually caused by anticholinergic toxidrome. And it’s good to have some truth in your medical records, rather than just a bunch of scientifically invalid DSM psychobabble.

    Report comment

    • “I was able to get the “mental health” stigmatizations off my medical records by pointing out that the antidepressants created my “brain zaps,” which were misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” And by pointing out that the “psychosis” my doctors then created, with the antidepressants and antipsychotics, was actually caused by anticholinergic toxidrome. And it’s good to have some truth in your medical records, rather than just a bunch of scientifically invalid DSM psychobabble.”

      In the UK you can not change your medical records, but you can request your views/comments be placed on your medical records. Ofcourse in MH it will highly likely been seen as lacking insight. So in reality once you have been labeled that’s it for the rest of your life.

      Not only do we not have a recognisation of the fraud, human rights abuse and harm this really is, we have people fullsteam ahead demanding more diagnosis of ‘ADHD’ and ‘autism’ in children

      as if it wasn’t a drug abuse tragedy already:

      Ofcourse when toxidrome or akathisia happens it is asserted by the authoritative ‘doctor’ as a deepning fo the illness and more drugs/abuse applied to the point you have tanks and armed police on peoples doorsteps.

      Report comment

    • Wow, thank you for sharing that information. I have honestly, surprisingly, never heard of anticholinergic toxidrome, which you’d think a doctor would have mentioned at some point during my various hospitalizations. This condition or “poisoning” I experienced makes total sense given the combination of drugs I took when I overdosed, and the variety of meds I was put on in each hospital. I really cannot believe that NOBODY, not one single psychiatrist, mentioned that my symptoms might be a side effect of this. I can only speculate that I might have felt better knowing that there was a reason for my depersonalization – that I wasn’t truly losing my mind. But then again I’m not surprised the doctors covered their tracks and blamed the “hallucinations” on my unmanageable mental illness, rather than taking any ownership for their recklessness.

      I haven’t considered getting these hospitalizations removed from my medical records yet, or haven’t seen a reason to as they haven’t interfered with anything (yet), but I will keep this information in mind. Thanks again!

      Report comment

      • Hi Amy, it is easy to get those “hospitalizations” off your record. Relocate (out of state is best) and DO NOT SHARE your old records. Don’t tell medical professionals your history. Lie and say you never saw a shrink. Don’t tell your relatives who your doctor is, if you have one, and don’t tell your doctor (if you have one) who your family is, so they won’t be contacted. Don’t put your doctor’s name on your refrigerator! Don’t share your pharmacy records. Minimize contact with Western Med. Don’t call yourself sick and don’t borrow diseases either. I wrote a whole book on this technique, which many have used successfully.

        Report comment

  6. Very very scary,

    “..Ironically, my post-traumatic stress disorder no longer stems from the events that led to my hospitalizations, but from the maltreatment I received within the hospitals…”

    That was me too.

    Report comment

  7. Please be aware doctors often rapid taper people off of psychotropic drugs. The psychiatrist that specialize in deprescribing (stopping psychotropic drugs) like Dr. Kelly Brogan Dr. Peter Breggin etc. recommend a taper of no more than 10% of the previous dose every 10 to 14 days. Other experts like Ann Blake Tracy recommend an even slower taper. Even the drug manufacturers and the FDA warned that large changes in dose up or down can cause suicidality, homicide, mania and psychosis. If you do a conventional rapid taper like what most doctors recommend, you could end up in long-lasting withdrawal called postacute withdrawal syndrome. Doctors are taught in medical school that long-lasting psychotropic drug withdrawal does not exist. So you must be careful and find out how your doctor feels about tapering first before you decide if it’s worth the risk telling the doctor you want to stop the medication because some doctors get offended and will refuse to write a prescription.

    What a story. I’m so sorry you went through that.

    Report comment

    • I will definitely be following a very specific, slow taper plan. I am actually in the process of getting a new psychiatrist because my current one is incredibly unreliable and unprofessional in terms of following up with me, which is a whole other story… but once I’ve made this happen I intend to start the taper, first with Lamictal and then sometime in the future, the Pristiq.

      Here’s another good article addressing the post-acute withdrawal you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your advice!

      Report comment

      • I also weaned off lamictal at 24. I was also on risperdal, zoloft, and paxil at the same time as the lamictal, so perhaps that is why, but it was the easiest to taper of any of the drugs I had been on. I hope it goes smoothly for you too! And no matter what your calculations are, if the withdrawal gets out of hand, go slower.

        Report comment

        • Oh I’m really glad to hear that coming off Lamictal wasn’t too bad. I’ve heard the same from others, and am not too stressed about it. The bigger project will be getting off the Pristiq, but if it takes a long time so be it. I’m willing to be patient if it means wiping my hands clean of psychotropic meds

          Report comment

          • You could try what I did. Leave psychiatric “services” like “day treatment” and therapy if you aren’t court ordered. Ask nicely if you can get your “meds” through an MD instead of a shrink.

            I moved to the middle of nowhere. Off my drugs altogether. Leaving infantilizing “day treatment/clubhouse” really helped my morale. If you feel down you don’t need to be told how hopeless, sick and crazy you are day after day. That was very depressing. Not enough drugs to numb that sorrow away.

            Report comment

          • I get the allure of ditching psychiatrists altogether, but I frankly don’t think it’s any better to be prescribed psychotropic drugs by a physician – if anything it’s worse because they don’t have the training or authority to administer these types of meds.

            Even though I’m in full control of my medication regime and can make my own decisions, I don’t want to perpetuate the practice of physician prescribing any more than I want to be a puppet of psychiatry. In a perfect world I would just ditch it all… if only I could write my own prescriptions for the next six months…

            Report comment

  8. Hi Amy,
    Your story is so similar to mine I could have written much of it verbatim. In December of 2008, after 5 years of insane drug cocktails, it all ended abruptly when my doctor added Pristiq to the cocktail replacing Effexor. The cocktail caused electrical rhythm changes in my heart and my heart stopped. At the time I was on Seroquel, Lamicital, Pristiq, and Klonopin. The electrical changes caused an episode of syncope and I fell face first onto a concrete floor and crushed my face destroying my jaw and facial bones. All meds were then stopped abruptly due to severe facial trauma leaving my jaws wired together for 6 months. I went through several surgeries and eventually bilateral prosthetic implants and artificial joints. I also had to undergo a cardiac ablation to correct the heart problem caused by these drugs. The sudden drug cessation caused severe withdrawal side effects like brain zaps, tremors, slurred speech, twitching muscles, etc. I wanted to die and contemplated suicide for the next year.

    It has now been 9 years since taking any pshciatric meds and I have severe memory and cognitive problems as well as depersonalization. I wake up every day and my yesterday is like a dream that leaves me questioning reality. I have lost large chunks of memory about my life. My neurologist has declared me permantly disabled. All of this started because I went to a doctor for depression due to a family crisis. I am so regretful, but I can’t change what’s happened. I was the CIO for a large company before all of this and today have trouble doing simple things. Thanks for sharing your story. I really understand what you went through.

    Report comment

    • Wow – your story warrants its own submission! I’m so sorry that this misprescribing had such a severe and long-lasting debilitating effect on you. I can only imagine the anger and frustration you must feel at the situation that the practice of reckless overmedicating put you in.

      Thankfully, other than PTSD, I don’t have any permanent disabilities. However, I am forever terrified of tapering off my medications and I think it’s going to be a very difficult process for me, no matter how slowly I do it.

      I appreciate you sharing your experience and definitely encourage you to write a post about it, if you want (or haven’t already?) Sending positive thoughts your way and I truly hope your condition improves.

      Report comment

  9. Holy crap! What an insane (forgive the choice of words) story! And the part that continues to baffle me again and again is that they don’t see that you were made WORSE by their ‘treatment!’ It should be obvious that going from feeling bad to feeling completely numb and overdosing on every drug available is moving in the wrong direction, and yet at no time do they ever stop and say, “Wow, this really isn’t working – maybe we need to consider a different plan?”

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I hope you are able to find a different path that moves you forward. I think coming forward and telling your own story in your own words is a great start.

    —- Steve

    Report comment

    • Telling my story and writing a thesis about it has done wonders for my self-confidence and ability to feel like all of this happened for a reason, or at the very least, I can use my suffering to educate / empathize with others.

      To add to your comment, I find it maddening that there is no accountability for these practices. Psychiatrists get away with it again and again because patients like me don’t have the energy, time, resources or whatever, to report this abuse and sue those responsible for it. I just want to move on with my life – which I have – but I’ll never forget what happened to me and will now forever be skeptical and to some extent, bitter towards the psychiatric community

      Report comment

      • Psychiatrists get away with it again and again because patients like me don’t have the energy, time, resources or whatever, to report this abuse and sue those responsible for it.

        Those that do squander their precious, hard-fought time/energy/resources on filing a grievance find it dismissed by whatever authority they are appealing to, and lawyers? Try finding one that will take the case.

        Report comment

  10. when my anti-depressant pooped out my psychiatrist just replaced it with another anti-depressant…that was 30 years ago…now when the drug poops out it is replaced by 2 drugs and maybe 3…treatment resistant
    depression is the buzz word now….my psychiatrist knows better not to
    go with the flow….there is a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ to be made from our mental sufferings……..

    Report comment

    • I hate that term. It’s not “our treatment stopped working” or “our treatment doesn’t work” or “we don’t know how to help you.” Instead, you are “treatment resistant.” In other words, it’s the CLIENT’S fault that the PSYCHIATRIST failed. I wonder how long you’d take your car to a mechanic who said your car’s engine doesn’t work because it has “repair-resistant fuel injectors?” INFURIATING!

      Report comment

        • True enough. However, the point is that when one’s approach fails, it’s not the patient/client’s (or their “disorder’s”) fault. Just because you can’t help a person doesn’t mean it’s because s/he is “unhelpable.” A more humble approach might suggest that you, perhaps, need to learn more about the person you’re trying to help instead of doing the same thing you did before harder and harder and being baffled when it continues to fail.

          Did you see the recent article where “treatment resistant” veterans got better with sham “magnetic stimulation?” The fact that people paid attention to them and gave them some kind of hope suddenly changed their “treatment resistant” condition. So were they “treatment resistant,” or were their clinicians incompetent? I think we know the answer.

          Report comment

        • Interestingly, people are built better than cars. Cars do not have decision-making power, nor do they grow as they age, nor do they have the wisdom and insight that humans have. They don’t reason. They cannot take care of themselves. Do they change their own oil? No. People refuel themselves, bathe themselves, and don’t need “tuneups” despite what the medical community claims.

          Report comment

      • Steve McCrea wrote: “I wonder how long you’d take your car to a mechanic who said your car’s engine doesn’t work because it has “repair-resistant fuel injectors?” INFURIATING!”

        It won’t be too long, Steve. People want a new kind of consumer language that protects their feelings. A car mechanic is nowadays going to tell you that your broken fuel injector is beyond repair, is utterly knackered. I don’t think people generally want to hear that kind of language about their brains. And then to be told that the only practical option is to have a transplant.

        These car metaphors don’t work though. Because the engine is the body and the brain is the person behind the wheel.

        But? Julie Greene wrote:

        “Interestingly, people are built better than cars. Cars do not have decision-making power, nor do they grow as they age, nor do they have the wisdom and insight that humans have. They don’t reason. They cannot take care of themselves.”

        Artificial intelligence is coming on apace to replace that less-than-perfect driver behind the wheel. I’m surprised you’ve taken this flawed metaphor and run on with it, given we live in the age of the emergent autonomous vehicle.

        This discussion is back to the MIA obsession with the infallible and perfect human brain that never gets knackered or becomes beyond repair. This is a widespread faith here, shored up by the sub-belief that all possible things that can go wrong with the brain are known and dealt with by neurology… everything else is a fiction or the result of psychiatric drugs. MIA’s number one scapegoat.

        In other words, if the mechanic considers the vehicle a write-off, it’s the mechanic’s fault for projecting negative feelings onto the engine.

        Report comment

        • I think you missed my point. The analogy isn’t between the human brain and a car. It’s between the mechanic and the psychiatrist. The mechanic, in being unable to fix your car, will tell you one of two things: I don’t know what is wrong yet, or the part involved needs to be replaced. They will not tell you that your car is “repair resistant” and yet ask you to bring it back for a “treatment” every week that doesn’t actually fix it but “reduces the symptoms.” Either they can fix it, or they can’t. They might even suggest taking it to a specialist who is more expert in the area of fuel supply, as it’s possible the injectors are working fine but some other part of the fuel system is malfunctioning. But under no circumstances would they tell you that your car is to blame but you should still pay him money to “treat” the car’s “symptoms.”

          The psychiatrist, on the other hand, is dealing with a situation that is inherently uncertain. S/he does not have the same kind of objective understanding of what is going on in the mind as the mechanic does with the car, so s/he should be even MORE cautious not to make bold pronouncements of cause. To blame the patient they are unable to help for being “unhelpable” is actually far MORE egregious than the mechanic saying, “Your injectors are shot.” Because the psychiatrist has NO IDEA why this particular person didn’t respond the way they expected to this particular “treatment.” To me, the ONLY proper response to a treatment failure is to say, “This treatment did not work for you.” To blame the client by calling him/her “treatment resistant” is a complete and total cop out. This is reinforced by the recent MIA article showing that something like half of the “treatment resistant” veterans in a study improved with sham “magnetic stimulation”, in essence, improving solely because someone paid attention to them and gave them hope. The concept of “treatment resistance” should NEVER be applied to “mental illness,” because the psychiatric profession is not in any kind of position to even pretend to know what they are “treating.”

          This is not to say that a brain can’t be damaged. It’s to say that they have no way of knowing this just because someone doesn’t “respond” to their “treatments” the way they want them to. Any honest clinician would start from a place of saying, “We don’t know what’s going on, and we’re going to try some things and see if they work.” There is no “resisting” of “treatment.” The “treatment” works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, then treatment failed. It’s not the patient’s fault that the clinician doesn’t really know what s/he is doing.

          Report comment

  11. im fairly convinced that mental hospitals create patients. ive only been in 2 hospitals, 1 stint in each. both are ‘well-regarded,’ and both set out to destroy me (no…really). happens. “rinky dink middle class loser” with good insurance = 50s state hospital treatment, in a private, for profit setting.

    now, of course…im regarded as a “mental patient, from a good family,” so different rules apply. 0 hospitalizations, I get to “recover,” etc. My experience of “treatment” is one reason why I’ve dusted off the old Kate Millet and Shulamith Firestone…social class is a huge issue, “the personal is political,” etc.

    Anyway…thanks for sharing your experiences. You write well. I do hope things get better for you. Supplements help some people taper or discontinue psych drugs. I personally recommend Orthomolecular, but some people swear by well-formulated herbals and such.

    Report comment

    • As a Christian, I see actual evil in Mental Health, Inc., as well as bondage and oppression, and lies…lies, lies, lies, all the way down…

      You aren’t the only Christian here who feels that way… Someone Else immediately springs to mind.

      I’m Pagan, and I agree with y’all that “MH Inc.” is evil. I’ve often wondered how many of our present-day seers and prophets, who would echo the message of so many before them– that we must not lose sight of our humanity, our connection to our Mother Earth and to one another– have been drugged out of their gourds. Who knows what planet-saving technologies, for instance, we have missed out on? Feels to me like psychiatry is just one more faction pushing the doomsday clock towards zero hour.

      Report comment

      • Psychiatry goes against my basic upbringing, which was to be as autonomous and self-reliant as possible. We were Jewish. We went hiking, learned survival skills, camped in the wilderness, learned to ski, and to steer a canoe, and I carry a knapsack to this day. Psychiatry goes against the post-Holocaust Jewish culture in which I was raised, and my basic agnosticism, which oddly, it seems I must have been born and blessed with.

        Report comment

  12. Should have had a Cytochrome P450 test from the start before any drugs and it should be done independently from any psych ‘doctor’ and the results given to you so that you understand them and therefore make your own decisions. But it’s not good enough when your subject to polypharmacy – it’s an out of control situation, plus they do not take into consideration all the common food stuffs herbs and spices which inhibit the enzymes. This is something that MiA has yet to look at from what I’ve seen on here, especially food stuff enyzme inhibitors.

    Report comment

    • Not to mention that since most public inpatient facilities (at least the one’s I was in) shuttle patients in and out on a weekly basis, the doctors don’t have to deal with the effects of the drugs they’ve prescribed once a patient is discharged. If the individual experiences side effects two weeks in, it’s no longer the doctor’s responsibility to handle the situation. They get to make these life-altering choices for people without facing the repercussions. Must be nice…

      Report comment

  13. I did suffer traumatic events in my life. When I was 17 i became paranoid and detached. But there was a completely good reason for it as someone I knew t school wished me harm. I never descovered exactly why. Every time I encountered this person during my life she did me harm. Also at that time a young relationship was coming to end. Then my mother because I got rather distressed and overdosed took me to my local gp a family doctor who put me on librium. I can’t remember exactly when after I was convinced for some reason that I had cancer of the womb. So my mum said i should go for an internal examination. To my local family doctor. My mum was in the examining room This doctor had his back to her whilst examining me and he was leering down as he did it and it was very much a sexual act.

    I did tell my mum eventually when he molested my sister and she slapped his face. My mum said in disgust I should have slapped his face. But at the time I was convinced I had cancer.

    Traumatic events can take many a disguise come in all shapes and forms. Eventually through life’s events I did become overwhelmed and my brother arranged for me to see a psychiatrist.

    That was 42 years ago.

    I have never suffered abuse in any hospital stay. I did have one young nurse verbally abuse me. She warmed to me before I was discharged. I have been pinned down and injected when I refused medication but you can’t go cold turkey.

    I have been attacked by other patients. I have defended other patients being abused.

    I don’t recall my husband ever being abused either. He reacted very badly to shock treatment because of the anasthetic.

    Generally the nurses respected us. We got on fine with them.

    The doctors too.

    I still do.

    Report comment

    • Electroshock IS abuse. Locking up a person IS abuse. Thing is, we are trained to believe it isn’t. We are trained via our diagnoses to believe it is treatment, when logic and common sense (and the law, to some extent) tell us otherwise. Like say, the Bill of Rights. I can only conclude that once you are a patient you stop believing you are truly 100% human, but a subspecies that has no rights.

      Report comment

      • they’ll drill that into people/”patients,” too. happened to me. “You are (),” “You do (),” “DO NOT QUESTION MY AUTHORITY!,” etc.

        I think one reason I converted to Christianity and hold Jesus so dear is because Christianity teaches that -every- human being is created in God’s image and -every- life matters, even if the person in question is wretched, ugly, stigmatized, rejected, etc. in this (fallen) world. Of course…

        I am coming to think (note: not believe, not feel…think…) that Mental Health, Inc. is a godless, possibly anti-Christ industry. Oh, and the “Christian” mental health people are (sadly…) sometimes some of the worst offenders. The talking ones…the counselors, psychotherapists…are numerous, often mediocre and just as terrible as the non-believers…

        but its really the Christian psychiatrists who straight up scare me. They somehow combined the aboslute worst organized religion has to offer with psychiatry, and the result is…not of God, possibly evil. OK…probably evil. But..profitable, no doubt.

        Report comment

        • I can see that happening. 17% of shrinks are atheists. These guys like to argue Darwin’s Law. I think Christian shrinks must leave their Christianity at home.

          Dr. McSadist forbade all talk of God or quietly reading Bibles in the lobby. She locked people up in solitary because they were crying quietly with the head down. She said they were praying–proof of sickness.

          Yet she claimed to be a “good Catholic.” If “good” means her religion never made her uncomfortable I would agree. But Christianity is supposed to afflict those comfortable with harming others.

          Report comment

          • I have no idea why someone zapped my following comment, which was re-introducing the following amazing statement by shaun f:

            I do not believe there is a “political function of these medications” as you say

            I suppose I should have said something more “nicely”? I merely pointed out for shaun f’s benefit that the political function of psychiatric drugging is to dull or distort people’s consciousness so that they are more easily jammed into the mold of a system which exists to accumulate profit at the expense of all life.

            Something controversial about that?

            Report comment

    • I do not believe there is a “political function of these medications” as you say.

      I seem to remember the Soviets used Thorazine (wasn’t it Thorazine?) to silence and punish dissidents? They used the argument that only a crazy person would criticize the Motherland. Speak up? Locked up. Drugged up. Shut up.

      I’m not a history buff, but some of you regular commenters are. Please refresh my memory and give us a history lesson. I know there’s one around this very topic.

      Report comment

        • Today they’re getting more sophisticated, with their mh “screenings” to identify possible dissidence at an early age so it can be nipped in the bud. Have you noticed any Ken Keseys, Abbie Hoffmans, or John Lennons around lately? Today’s generation of potential rebels are either drooling in a corner somewhere or bragging about their “bipolar” diagnoses. Better living through chemistry.

          Report comment

        • I think it’s a lot more subtle than that, Shaun. I think people’s “dissidence” is what is being drugged, not specific to a particular instance of political dissidence. It’s much more preemptive. For instance, a kid doesn’t like going to school, it’s boring, seems pointless, the teachers have arbitrary power over the kids, the other kids are suffering but say nothing, etc. This kid (a 6 year old) starts to rebel in whatever ways he can, maybe not even conscious of why, but knowing he is encountering oppression and must oppose it. He is punished for this but continues to rebel. He is then routed to the “mental health professionals” because he “can’t pay attention” and is “oppositional and defiant.” He is diagnosed with ADHD/ODD and given drugs so he will fit in better to the artificial school environment. Somehow, he is thwarted despite his efforts, and he knows it, but not exactly how or why. He’s given the message that his rebellion was a mistake, a failure of his brain, but more importantly, he gets the message that he will never be able to succeed against the power of the system. So he never grows up to be the rebel or the political organizer or the radical songwriter, because he’s learned that there is no point.

          Obviously, this doesn’t happen to all rebels – some avoid drugging, some see it for what it is and push through it anyway, but it thins the ranks considerably. And it makes it easier for society as a whole to dismiss such people as “mentally ill” and pay no attention to their ideas.

          Report comment

          • Steve, I hear what you are saying. I’m dismayed at the astronomical diagnosing and drugging of children because “they are different” than what is expected of them (compliance with teachers and other adults). In this sense adults are trying to quell children into behaving in ways which are more controllable. Given that our brains aren’t fully developed neurologically until our mid-20s, any drug treatments should be of very last resort kids and young adults. Thanks for taking the time to explain your thoughts.

            Report comment

          • It actually goes beyond the idea of “drug treatments being the last resort.” It goes to “treating” things that aren’t unhealthy but are merely inconvenient or threatening to the adults. So it moves away from helping kids who need help into suppressing dissent or oppressing indications of stress or failure of the classroom or school system. I don’t see it as a matter of “overdiagnosing” or “overtreating” – it’s a matter of overt oppression that is built into the ‘education system.’ For reasons which I could go into in great detail, these childhood “diagnoses” are incredibly destructive toward kids who just don’t happen to fit into what the adults expect of them. And mostly, what they expect is for kids to do as they are told and not make too much noise or trouble. To use drugs to keep kids in line when there is strong evidence that there are many other, more effective and more supportive ways to accomplish these goals, is nothing short of evil.

            Report comment

        • Yes, and Amerika has learned from the Cold War- don’t wait until dissidents are actively opposing totalitarian control, with adult ideas and intellect and a coherent message that could draw in and mobilize potential allies. Nope, catch those deviants when they’re young, still brewing their ideas, brand them early and forever, drug them up, blunt the intellect, problem solved!

          Report comment

  14. Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much to all of you who contributed to the conversation! I really appreciate all of you who have shared your experiences with and perspectives on mental health care. This discussion has touched on so many important topics – abolition vs. reform of the mental health system, alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization, psychiatric drugs and withdrawal, and human rights.

    At this time, I will be closing the comments section, as I feel that most of the comments that have been coming in are off topic and have led to some arguments including personal attacks. Please feel free to continue the discussion in a respectful way on our forum.

    Best regards,

    Emily Cutler
    Community Moderator

    Report comment

Comments are closed.