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.

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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.

  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,


  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. 🙂

  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.

  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.

    • “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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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

  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……..

    • 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!

        • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • Rasselux, I think we’re all aware of brain injuries beyond drugs. I can think of a few. Electroshock. Anyurisms (sp?). Stroke. Atherosclerosis. Tumor. Trauma to the skull/head. MS I believe is a brain thing. Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Fluid buildup. Diabetic coma can damage the brain. Seizures. These may be related, or not related, to psych drugs.

          • Julie you forgot to add that addiction to illegal and legal drugs as well as early childhood trauma damages the brain.

            Also comments on MIA rarely mention addiction which causes significant human suffering.

  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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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?

    • 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.

      • Lavender,
        I am referencing current times in America. Are are drugging up political dissidents in America? What you are referencing is 30+ years old.

        • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

      • Yes Lavender, very true. Also sort of a slippery slope in that American shrinks for years attempted to evade responsibility for their own identical crimes by pointing the finger at the U.S.S.R.

        • 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!

  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

Comments are closed.