My Mental Health Awakening

Starr R. Stoddard, MSW
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My mental health story begins in 1993. I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school who had no idea what “mental health” was. All I knew was that something felt off inside, and I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. Lo and behold, a dark, relentless, persistent, sinking feeling crept in, which has followed me for almost 26 years. The symptoms of chronic sad days, which is not foreign to many other individuals, were hijacked by a group of glib people with letters after their name. They created a mental health manifesto, calling it the DSM, and I believe it was created in order to capitalize financially on affliction, by labeling a very common feeling of trying to adjust to change, 296.30, major depression, which is merely a billing code — one that almost made me a lifelong consumer of a very sinister, poisonous mental health industry.

To make a long story short, high school was rough. I’d cry a lot and especially at the sight of other students walking with one another, laughing, connecting, making plans for the weekend, and there I was alone, feeling left out. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I had a very difficult time connecting and now believe it stemmed from not fitting in at home either. My parents struggled with their own mental health. Because of their personal struggles with their own demons, I believe I came up very empty handed in learning the tools, skills, strategies, and social savviness to navigate and find solutions to life’s inevitable challenges. This made me easy prey to be condemned as “mentally ill.” Being socially awkward, uncomfortable, curious, intense, confused, sad, and lonely are not symptoms to medicate with poison nor are they prerequisites to be institutionalized, although that part did not come until a while later.

When I hear about the nightmare stories of children and teens being medicated for mental health reasons and sedated for “inappropriate” behavior, I know that I dodged a bullet because, thankfully, that isn’t part of my story. However, I do remember seeing a counselor during my sophomore year for a very brief duration, who was kind and attentive, but medication was never part of my treatment. I count myself lucky because I think my life would have been much harder for me if I was being poisoned by medication so early in my brain development. I came to know the drug Zoloft in 2001 when I was in college. Like I said, that heavy feeling of not being good enough was around me constantly. I was encouraged to “talk with someone” about the way I was feeling. I followed the instructions by making an appointment with a counselor because I was trained to believe that professionals know more about my mind, body and spirit than I do. After the first session with the counselor, I was put on 50 mg of Zoloft. I remember about two weeks into taking it, I not only stopped crying, I couldn’t cry. That sticks out like a sore thumb, and at the time, I found it strange. Even though I lacked the awareness I have today around this, I knew medications weren’t for me. I wasn’t on Zoloft very long; however, my life changed forever, due to many years of being a test patient to see if different pills would work for my “symptoms” of sadness.

After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in 2002, I white knuckled it for four years without any help, but still couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I wasn’t enough. In 2006, I tried going back to school and ended up becoming overwhelmed again, and I began frequenting the mental health department, where I started to see another therapist who wanted to start me on Prozac. I remember going home and researching Prozac articles to read about the horror and success stories in an effort to make a sound decision about whether or not go on it. I found one that really resonated with me that was against taking it due to the research on the placebo effect and showing how detrimental it is in the long term to the body and mind. I placed it in the therapist’s box and we discussed it during the next session. I remember him reporting that he read it but that it really didn’t have an effect on him because he still encouraged me to take it. Basically, he said these medications are more helpful than harmful, and that I might need to be on it for the rest of my life, “but, everyone is different.” Truth is, I started it and discontinued it after a year or so, still never feeling quite right about taking medication like that.

After a couple of years spinning my wheels on what career path to choose, working odd jobs here and there, and beginning a long, painstaking road of failed relationships that began passionately and ended just as fast and fervently, I attempted to end my life in January 2008. It was right after Heath Ledger took his own life. Hearing the news planted the seed and I found myself envious that he was able to take his life so successfully. During this time, I somehow ended up on three different types of medications (Zoloft, Trazodone, and Seroquel). In a rush to leave this world, I gulped all of them down and hoped I did not wake up. Well, I did wake up and the details are foggy, but I was then hospitalized, and my life changed. During this period, I discovered a gem. The “aha” moment came to me when a particular social worker in the facility asked me how I was doing and we ended up talking about the work he did. I was immediately intrigued as if hope had just knocked on my door, giving me something else to think about rather than my fantasy to end my life. I was impressed, and when I discharged, I did feel optimistic about using my struggle to help others. However, I was still desperate, and the brain chemist within had a very difficult time getting my mind back to stability and balance after taking all those pills as I was still fixated on how to end my life. Two months later, I ended up swallowing a Costco sized bottle of Tylenol, since the other pills hadn’t worked.

Well, that didn’t work either and I found myself at a different psychiatric hospital with a list of diagnoses, ranging from Bipolar I, to Borderline Personality disorder, to Generalized Anxiety and Dysthymia. I began believing I was a lost cause and was very scared, but still, in the back of my mind, the inner voice that was still alive was nudging me to wake up to my divinity. I knew I could heal on my own. It was during that second hospitalization that I allowed myself to engage with others who were also struggling. Not only that, but I also went to groups on how to cope with depression, tools to manage anxiety, anger management, cognitive behavioral therapy, and partook in art classes, all the while taking note of the mental health workers leading these groups. There it was again, that gem, the light, the way out of this mess, and it was through discovering my purpose in going through all this and realizing that nothing that I was going through was accidental; it was all part of my path. I left the hospital believing that I was to become a beacon of light for others by intertwining my lived experience with mental health and my newly found passion to become a social worker. I came to learn that many people called this kind of a person “The Wounded Healer” and they are the best kind of professional in the mental health field because they are relatable and understand the conundrum one faces as they try to make sense of their mental health.

I decided in 2008 after the second suicide attempt to never go back on any medications, as the nudge within to go a different route was very clear to me. After the second hospitalization, I moved home with my parents and struggled a lot. All those feelings of inadequacy, which had plagued me for years, reared their ugly heads again. I still had health insurance from my job at the time, so I began an intensive outpatient program as I took some time off from work. I was encouraged to try medications again, from well-meaning but programed mental health professionals, but I continued to refuse. Per usual, the drug-based paradigm was putting the pressure on me, as it made me feel that I could not do it on my own. Because I wouldn’t go on medications, the therapist from the program made me verbally commit every day before I left to doing no harm to myself and had me sign a contract to hopefully keep me safe. I persisted medication free and graduated from the program feeling empowered, renewed, and a bit more equipped to handle the dark night of my soul and life’s inevitable setbacks.

Fast forward to January 2009, I began getting my feet wet in the field of social work and started a master’s degree program in the field of Mental Health Rehabilitation. I knew change was always difficult for me, but the challenges hit me like a ton of bricks and within the first week of school, I completely stopped sleeping and for four weeks I tried to beat it and became very paranoid due to the lack of sleep. My mind raced with worst case scenarios and fears, and sadly I became so frantic, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who convinced me to go on an antidepressant called Remeron, which he reported, “also helped with sleep.” I began taking it right away and initially, albeit due to the placebo effect and because I was convinced by the doctor that I would be able to get off of it at any time, I began sleeping right away. Little did the psychiatrist know about the hellish experience I was going to encounter years later, while trying to get off of it, or maybe he did know the truth, but prescribed it anyway. The Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm does not apply in the mental health field.

During the two years while earning my degree, I was still experiencing relational struggles with others and internal problems accepting who I was and who I wasn’t. However, I began working as a substance abuse counselor at a detox facility and was so excited, because I was finally in the field ready to share my personal experience and the knowledge learned in school, so I could help others. I was in complete shock during the first few weeks on the job, as I came face to face with the reality that legal drugs, such as benzos, antidepressants, pain killers, etc., were the most difficult for individuals to withdraw from. This reality was so perplexing to me, because I had no idea these drugs were so addicting and excruciating to discontinue. I was under the illusion that I was taking a magic pill of my very own, because I was sleeping, even though I had used many other varieties of pills to take my life and had also vowed to never get on another one again.

I ended up quitting the job at the detox facility and began a position at a community mental health agency as a mental health counselor. I was the group leader and was doing what I dreamed of doing and I also graduated with a master’s degree at the top of my class in 2011. I was excited about the future and was really good at helping others struggling with addiction and mental health. Yet, I also saw once again the devastating consequences from long-term use of tranquilizers, SSRI’s, antidepressants, benzos, etc. Most of the people I worked with started out just like me… sad, that’s it. Disappointed with life, traumatized by neglect and unfortunate events, who went for help and ended up on disability because of the effects from the psychotropic medications they were put on to treat their symptoms. The reality hit me hard because I was also taking a medication like that and fear set in regarding what that drug was doing to me. This moment was the catalyst to my mental health awakening.

At that time there was also a dream of mine that resurfaced: to work as a social worker and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduation, I ended up taking a job in that area doing very similar work, where I became completely desensitized, burnt out, and on a crusade to speak out against what I witnessed, all while also trying to get off Remeron. In early 2015, I visited a psychiatrist to discuss a safe way to wean off Remeron. After the psychiatrist stopped trying to convince me to continue the medication, I was told it was easy to wean and that I would be able to within two to three weeks. Oh, how wrong she was. After six years of being on that drug, I found that I couldn’t get off without experiencing insomnia, intense depression and anxiety, and panic attacks that were accompanied by suicidal thoughts. I was scared, to say the least. Sadly, I started to see why so many get tricked into believing they will have to be on these drugs for the rest of their life. When I was tapering off Remeron, very familiar symptoms resurfaced, which frightened and misled me into thinking that I was doomed to this life. However, after much research, I got in contact with a scientific advisor from CITA (Counsel for Information on Tranquilizers, Antidepressants, and Painkillers). CITA assists people trying to discontinue these drugs, by providing a handbook called “Back to Life,” which included tables in the back of it describing the withdrawal process for various drugs and how to safely taper very slowly. It was a shock to me, because I realized it takes a lot longer to taper from these drugs than we are told. The person from CITA who wrote me gave me so much inspiration and encouraged me to keep going, while also expressing that it will continue to be difficult, due to the idiosyncratic nature of these drugs.

After many attempts to get off Remeron during that year, two things happened. I was hospitalized again at the same place where I decided to become a social worker and I began another master’s degree program, but this time in social work. This is where my life took a pivotal turn. During this hospitalization, I was faced with a psychiatrist that was as burnt out as I felt. As I sat waiting for him to look up from reading my chart, he asked me, “Have you ever been on lithium?” I remember the goosebumps that flooded my body and I thought to myself, “Lithium, really, that is straight poison.” I asked him, “Isn’t that the drug where one has to regularly get blood work done to check on the kidney function?” He said, “Yes, but you obviously have Bipolar and this is your third hospitalization,” while still not looking at me. I took a big, deep cleansing breath and said, “Okay,” because I knew the game. If I argued or challenged him, he would keep me there, locked up, like a criminal. I began the drug only to get out of that hospital so I could continue school and acknowledge the dark shadowy corners of my psyche. Right then, sitting in that dank, dreary, heartless office, I knew I had to do this life without synthetic medications.

A day later, I was released with a prescription for lithium. My parents were very worried for me and pleaded with me to stay on the medication; and every time I took it, I cried, and that lasted for one more week. I referred back to the handbook I was given from the scientific advisor from CITA and the chart laying out the process on how to slowly taper and he was right, it was really challenging to completely wean. Even after finishing the process and stopping the medication, I continued to feel some withdrawal symptoms for six more months. It has been almost four years now that I have been medication free. Not only that, but I am also a bona fide Social Worker with a master’s degree in Social Work, working towards my licensure.

A celebration is in order, because I have never felt more alive and because I make up a very colorful, complex mural of all the many battles I have won throughout my life — this truth makes me a walking art piece. Think about it, I am sitting here today with a 100% track record of getting through really tough days. I feel less afraid, less alone, and less desire to end my precious life. Although it’s taken me a while to acknowledge my right to be in this world, I know that I am not “mentally ill,” but rather have a dynamic spiritual and emotional sensitivity to this world. I am here for a reason, and having to go into the depths of a very dark cave in order to see the light is how I was able to grow and come to the conclusion that there is another reality, another modality in treating mental health — and it doesn’t involve having to take medications for the rest of my life. I had to face this, feel this, and then free it. There is beauty and freedom in facing the truth, yet, speaking my truth regarding all of this has saved me from having to go through all of it again. That is what I was missing… I had no idea who I was and I was not living in my truth. Now I know, and it had nothing to do with a “chemical imbalance,” but rather a spiritual imbalance.

Lastly, I leave with a quote from one of my heroes in the field of mental health, holistic psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan, who wrote the book, A Mind of Your Own. She states, “The ugly, often unspoken truth is that these medications are habit-forming and debilitating. The withdrawal symptoms they precipitate can potentially undermine your ability to commit to the process of healing with a positive and determined attitude of self-empowerment. That increases the risk of relapse, which is why psychiatrist Peter Breggin called drug withdrawal programs ‘the most urgently needed intervention in the field of psychiatry.’”

184 COMMENTS

    • Hi Starr. I’m a “Wounded Healer”. You mention CITA – Center for Tranquilizers and Antidepressants. Where can I get more info? Sounds like a good resource.
      Also, in my experience even 20 years ago you would have never been able to openly share your history and be hired professionally in many parts of the US. I knew many mental health professionals (myself included) who were forced to stay in the psychiatric “closet”. We have made tremendous progress. Thanks for sharing your insights.

      • Hello, fellow Wounded Healer,

        Thank you for reading and reaching out. CITA IS a really great resource. Here is the link: http://www.citap.org.uk/. I wrote out the acronym wrong in my story but emailed the editor to see that it gets corrected. Please note, CITA closed, but all the information is still there and the handbook is still available to download. Please let me know if you need anything else or have anymore questions.

        Starr

        • Hi – I just read the CITA brochure, and it is excellent.

          However, when tapering, it is vitally important to not alternate days. While their schedule is pretty non-intrusive – alternating days can throw you into little withdrawals each time, and over time this effect can be cumulative and destabilising.

          http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/300-important-topics-in-the-tapering-forum-and-faq/?p=2864

          People go to these kinds of schedules because they cannot imagine chopping, crushing, liquifying – and all the other techniques we use to taper (like counting microbeads)…it’s considered “forbidden” by doctors and pharmacists, and yet we have good success with tapering using these techniques.

          At Surviving Antidepressants, we do a 10%-of-previous-dose taper per month. It takes 3 weeks for neurotransmitters to adjust, and a month gives you a week of “just to be sure” before tapering again.

          https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

          it’s sad that CITA closed – you’d think there would be interest in getting people off these dangerous drugs. But no. There doesn’t seem to be.

          • Hi Starr!
            Yes, there are many doctors who stop prescribing, and start with natural and nutritional interventions.

            When they do this, I become afraid for them.

            Hearing Dr. Jennifer Daniels’ story is very enlightening. She had to leave the country – but at least she is alive to tell the tale.

    • Thank you for sharing your all too common experience…..with a few tweaks and several different life choices, it could be my story. This past February 21st, marks year five of the end taper of antidepressants (SSRI and the SNRI) and Ambien. After seven years on these potent medications the destructive effect on my halted emotional and spiritual growth, I like you knew intuitively (not often recognized in the medical field) I needed to be free of mind-altering medications. I’m clear, as you noted, even before I began these brain altering, dangerous medications, I was spiritually ill, split off from my inner spiritual compass, I lived solely in a fear-based ego. This was true even though I was sober in AA, had worked the Twelve Steps in earnest and completed many behavioral health therapies. Somehow, through “grace” I awoke to recognize the one thing missing, was an acceptance of my sensitive humanity and a surrender to the spiritual solution. Now, at the age of 70, after a close to thirty years in human services, with twelve of those years as a clinical social worker, in community mental health and addiction services, I now offer contemplative spiritual guidance to those who suffer from the same. In this venue, in this centered place, my heart I have a deep recognition of the spiritual solution. In my experience as a contemplative companion, I bring my human understanding, and spiritual availability. In my offering of Presence, which is mostly missing in the psychiatric and medical field of the modern world Love works miracles. Thanks for being you. https://inwardgrace.com/

    • Hey, all. I got quacked in high school, too. Only, by then, the public schools were defacto “brokers” for our friendly neighborhood pill mills. By the time I quit high school, I was already butchered by #FAKESCIENCE .

      Fortunately, I escaped psychiatry, in much the same way that Starr did. School and work were essential to my post-psychiatry life. But, first, I spent YEARS on my trial-and-error efforts to de-quack. I had to. The psychiatric narcotics had weakened and destabilized my body. My plans had to go on hold, until my body was able to pursue them.

  1. You have a compelling story, especially the part when you talk about having a “dynamic spiritual and emotional sensitivity to the world”. It reminded me of the song lyrics by Jewel that I keep so close in my own heart. She sang “I’m sensitive and I want to stay that way.” It also reminds me of some of Laura Delano’s writings about learning how to really feel all those deep feelings and that having deep feelings doesn’t mean you’re emotionally or psychologically broken. Perhaps just the opposite.

    • Hi there, kindredspirit,

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Jewel is a great poet/song writer! I grew up listening to her music and always found it to be relatable. Being an empath can be a double edged sword, I know this all too well. Being an empath makes one that much more susceptible to being hurt and because the empath feels very deeply about everything, wounds penetrate to the cellular level, making the pain from the wound that much more intense. Emotions and feelings are my guides and now I just pay attention and go towards joy, happiness, love, warmth, the light, because if I pay attention (feed) to pain, unhappiness, anger, cold heartedness, I just sow the seeds of those things and they tend to manifest in all that I do and experience. I try to be more intentional these days about how I am feeling. I see my feelings more like visitors now rather than long term roommates that I have to put up with…I just let my feelings come and go. I would rather feel deeply than be a surfacey, emotionally inept robot.

  2. Thank-you, Starr, for sharing your story. I actually enjoyed reading it! At first, it looked “TLDR”, but I persisted! And glad I did. But 2 points I need to make. You repeatedly refer to psych drugs as “meds”, and “medications”. Those false euphemisms are promoted by PhRMA to $ELL DRUG$. Me, I no longer call them “meds”. They are DRUGS. DRUGS are drugs are drugs are drugs are drugs are drugs are drugs are drugs are drugs….. *NOT* *MEDS*. You probably do NOT have any legitimate “medical” condition that these DRUGS are “treating”.
    You’re incorrect about the Hippocratic oath. The phrase “first, do no harm”, does NOT appear in the Hippocratic oath. Look it up!
    What I found most telling, was how LITTLE you had to say about your parents, and your childhood. You barely mentioned them at all. Of course, it helps to have *some* *idea* about your 4 grandparents, who they were, what they were like, their lives, how they raised your parents, etc…. I think you need to look at the RELATIONSHIPS between your grandparents and parents, and between your parents and yourself. This is NOT a variation of the “blame the parents” game, however. The goal is UNDERSTANDING, which explains, clarifies, heals, and replaces the hurt feelings, fear, pain, regret, etc. Based on the little bit you said about your parents, and “their own mental health issues”, or whatever, I think there’s a vast, deep, untapped vein of knowledge and understanding there. And healing.
    To close, you need to understand that the LIE about you “needing these drugs the rest of your life” is exactly that, – a *LIE*. This lie was fabricated by the marketing folks of PhRMA, and the pseudoscience drug racket and means of social control known as “psychiatry”. Psychiatry is 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. Psychiatry has done, and continues to do, FAR MORE HARM than good….
    But I’d say you’ve found the Yellow Brick Road, and the “good witch” sure is Dr. Kelly Brogan! She’s one of the FEW EXCEPTIONS, along with Dr. Peter Breggin, and a few others, who prove what I say here about the FRAUD of mainstream psychiatry and the mental health system….
    WELCOME to >madinamerica<, Starr!….

  3. A very deep and heartfelt story, Starr. Thank you for sharing. I resonated at every single level, except that I managed to avoid medication, pretty much, believing profoundly that my feeling ill and even “psychotic” had something to teach me. And I’m a Brit with the happy experience of living in Ethiopia as a kid, where diversity was the norm and VALUED!

    I recommend Russell Razzaque’s book “Breaking down is waking up” and Mark Wolynn’s book “It didn’t start with you.”

    (When I was very ill, I found Open Dialogue therapy, which is also in the US, which helped me accept and heal my childhood trauma, without any medication.)

    Sensitivity and a deep spirituality appears both in light and dark ways, as we both know. Two sides of the same coin. I’m so very grateful that you are a Wounded Healer able to help many others. You clung to your dream and are now living it, and that’s amazing. What a hugely resilient woman you are. Not a survivor – a Thriver. Namaste sister…..

  4. HI Starr! Thank you for sharing your very courageous story. I resonated with your experience, especially the part about feeling like you never fit in or weren’t good enough. So many of us feel this way, and it helps to know that fact alone. The goal is to learn how to activate your inner resources, usually with the help of a kind mentor, so that you can undertake the very human journey of blossoming into wholeness.

    I went through an experience very similar to yours in the 1990s as did my mother back in the 1950s. Both of us were so severely overmedicated that it became impossible to tell what was a result of the drugs and what was a result of inner struggles. I was also medicated with opioids for a migraine along with taking psych drugs—mind-altering drugs. When I read Joseph Glenmullen’s book Prozac Backlash, I decided to discontinue all of my psych drugs and tapered off easily from them, except for an older tricyclic. That took me almost a year and I had lots of rebound symptoms. I got off opioids with the help of an energy healer in 4 months and the headache disappeared.

    When I had tapered off the drugs and told my psychiatrist, he told me I had a damaged brain and would get more depressed than ever without the drugs. Now I know that may have happened, but it would not have been depression returning, it would have been withdrawal symptoms. Seventeen years later, I am drug and depression free. I am so grateful to be well!!!!

    It is hard for anyone to speak out against the drug paradigm—even though the chemical imbalance myth has been thoroughly debunked–it persists in society at large. Most people think I’m on the fringe when I talk about the harms of the drugs…..I am so grateful that you made it out of drug hell and can help people in a more holistic way—-and sorry that your job has such constraints around the drug issue—–which is all about money anyway.

    I am taking the webinar offered on MIA on informed consent…..maybe you could advocate for that in your workplace. Bravo for you and for all the good work you are doing!

  5. Hi Starr, thanks for telling your compelling story with such candor and sincerity. We learn so much from each other by sharing our personal experiences. Speaking your truth provides support and validation to others. Congrats on finding and living your truth! All the best to you.

  6. So glad you managed to get through your education. Like I have often said I don’t believe that the walking wounded should be diagnosed mentally ill or prescribed psychiatric medication. Seems it comes into a lack of training for doctors. However, being drug free doesn’t work for everyone and sometimes the condition does not leave us.

    Saying people are spellbound whilst taking these medications and that they don’t know if and when they are helpful is like saying the mentally can’t make their own decisions. Obviously the medication didn’t work for you but then you are the walking wounded you did not suffer psychosis or delusions or mania for that matter and managed to complete your education. My husband was on medication for 17 years and did not become severely manic in that time which he did before and severely depressed. He was well until our marriage broke up. You can’t treat everyone the same. Everyone is different. Living one’s best in life is not possible for everyone dear I’m afraid. This is not a perfect world and never will be. Some of us have to be content with nothing,

  7. Anyone involved with mental health in these times should be aware of Hubbard’s work on the subject. It is a disservice to the subject to not even mention that he pioneered a workable therapy starting in 1950 and since expanded it into a whole set of technologies for mental and spiritual healing.
    My own experience with the system was, thankfully, very brief (less than 2 years) and did not involve any drugs. This was back in 1979-1980. When my Berkeley psychologist heard I was thinking of visiting a real psychiatrist or two to see what they were doing with Transactional Analysis, she was aghast, and warned me not to go near any psychiatrists. That was my first real hint that something was seriously wrong with the system.
    Years later, I discovered that my father raised his young family and went to graduate school with the help of a very generous grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. He taught Social Work students, which field psychiatry was trying to take over. So be warned! Social Work has long attracted many people of goodwill, but it is under serious attack from psychiatry, and has been reduced in many places to a bird dog activity to find the Mental Health System new “patients.”
    I so sympathize with your desire to help people avoid the chasms you almost fell into. This website gives us lots of good ideas in that direction. But it leaves Hubbard’s work and CCHR out of the picture. And they should be part of the picture. If you include them as part of your picture I think you will be very happy that you did.

    • Hey l_e_cox –

      CCHR is to Scientology like Social Work is to Psychiatry.

      To use your terms, CCHR is the bird dog that wants to send people to Scientology.

      While they do not use toxic drugs, they do use toxic methods. There’s a new special coming out by Leah Remini who is pulling no punches.

      I do watch their docos, if you can turn down the bass (they make threatening music to “drive the point home”), and not allow any of the medium massage you – there is frequently excellent information in their docos.

      But – if you read Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” – affiliation with Scientology is one way that psychiatry can dismiss you as a crackpot. Honestly, it was one reason I didn’t believe in the harms of the drugs, because – well, Prozac was just a Scientology lawsuit, wasn’t it?

      “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is fraught with peril.

  8. If I was just a walking wounded I never would have consulted psychiatry. Seems walking wounded have choices it’s their own fault if they make the wrong choices. Therapy works for life’s discrepancies.

    As for drug companies controlling the masses I don’t buy that I’m afraid. People are actually living longer. Child mortality rate is at its lowest. Here in the UK we have our issues like most nations but the NHS is not a business.

    Without medicine people die. Sometimes things don’t work out as expected.

    Social work here has many departments. We never had much to do with them. Kept to family. We werent considered a problem.

    I have known the MH social worker here for years. A great guy. Available if I need him. Don’t need him.

    Seems you people have social issues not MH issues. Apart from the stigma I have no issues socially. I find I still have choices. Not unlike you people.

    • I hope that you realize that medicine is the third largest killer of Americans at this time. With medicine people also die. And I hope that you realize that the neuroleptics cause the human brain to shrink, they affect the frontal lobes of the brain (which makes us who we are as thinking and unique beings), they cause heart problems and weight gain and any number of other health problems. Young veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan campaigns are dying in their sleep because of the psych drugs they’ve been put on. I have the feeling that you trust doctors and “medicines” more than they should be trusted.

      Drug companies are controlling the masses to the tune of billions of dollars in profit from their sale of psychiatric drugs alone. And the price of these drugs is ridiculously high. What’s wrong with that picture when these expensive drugs are supposed to be paid for and taken by some of the poorest people in our society?

      And could you please explain what you mean when you refer to the “walking wounded”?

      • “neuroleptics cause the human brain to shrink, they affect the frontal lobes of the brain ”

        Stephen, I have got to challenge this. Despite the amount of these drugs and length of time I was on them (tons, and close to 20 years), I do not ever believe it shrunk my brain. If that had been the case, I would not have been able to very capably manage 2 departments and 45 people in a retail setting, nor graduate with a 3.8 GPA when I went back to complete my bachelors while working part time, nor do as well as I did in graduate school–including internship–despite my mind and body already showing signs of deterioration due to all of this, by that time. My mind was fogging up but my brain was not shrinking.

        I was fully aware and trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me, despite all of my efforts to heal and remain stable, grounded, and functional. I was steeped in the academic world of “Integral Counseling Pscychology” as well as receiving weekly psychotherapy myself, and reaching out to everyone in the network as I got worse and worse and worse, and I knew it, no one had to tell me.

        That’s where it got extremely confusing and ultimately quite discouraging because, in the end, no one knew anything of value nor could steer me in any helpful direction, but instead, right down into the biggest rabbit hole ever–not an uncommon story, it turns out.

        They did cause many other issues–some overt side effects like weight gain and skin issues, and some subtle erosion to other organs like kidney and liver, and basically creating blocks in detox organs, which is how these things are toxic.

        The subtleties caught up with me after all that time and then I had to repair all of that, which is doable. That’s when I went to a Chinese Medicine Practitioner and herbalist, to heal my body. And I did the gut health repair, too, to develop balanced and healthy inner ecology. Those organs–stomach, spleen, etc.–had taken a hit, too.

        My brain did need to come into balance, as well, it was not unaffected. But I wouldn’t say it “shrunk,” that feels drastic to me. It eventually got scrambled and I’d say also filled with false thoughts. I had to fix that, too, which I did with a combo of herbs, accupuncture, Qi Gong, and learning to ground again. Also being around emotionally intelligent and centered people, that always helps when we can find them. They became my examples.

        I also had to learn to relax and have fun again–things got so doom and gloom at one point–and to stop thinking about things which only made me feel anxious, frustrated, and depressed. That took some shifting of negative thought habits and patterns, etc., that kind of healing. We can heal our own brains this way, train them to focus in a more light-feeling way, and not always “shadow staring,” so to speak.

        Maybe some people feel “brain shrinkage” but even if there were to be some kind of “evidence” out there that this might happen, I’m sure that this was not one of the side effects for me, and I doubt for others, I hope not. That would terrify me, were I to feel that! And I believe that is a reasonable emotional response to having my brain shrunk. No way.

        At this point, it would depress me were to I find that out or suddenly feel that, and on the contrary, I’m feeling pretty good and happy these days. I don’t think I could live happily and feeling good about life were my brain to be in any way impaired right now. It was at one time, without a doubt, and it was torture for me, worst feeling ever. But that’s way in the past, all those illusions. With all due respect, I just wanted to counter your fatalistic remark with a bit more hopeful and encouraging news 🙂

        • I base my statement on studies done on animals, in which the drugs cause shrinkage. But of course those studies don’t deal with the human brain.

          There are studies of the effects of the drugs on the human brain done by the Godmother and Grand Dame of biobiobio psychiatry. Her name is Nancy Andreasen. She wanted to refute the claim that the drugs shrink peoples’ brains so she carried out a study to prove that there were no such effects by the drugs.

          What she found was that brain size was affected. She didn’t believe the results and thought she must have made a mistake in the study. So….she repeated the study a second time and got the same result. According to her she was so disturbed by her findings so she sat on the results for two years but then finally published them. On the internet you can find an interview that she did where she describes what she did and her response to the results. It’s interesting that at the end she states that people should continue taking the drugs despite her findings.

          I’m glad that you don’t feel any of the effects and you’re doing great work despite everything that you experienced. I’m just putting this out there for people to look at and investigate if they so desire.

          • My concern with this is that to me it comes across in a way similar to “chemical imbalance,” in that it strongly implies something which cannot be naturally corrected, a permanent and chronic condition, and I will in no way buy into that conjecture. I’d call that “a program,” in that it is a false belief to serve the elitist marginalizing system, one way or another.

            The brain is affected negatively by these drugs, no doubt about that, but it is healable. To call it shrinkage would imply a permanent defect, to my mind, which I know is false. I believe this is more about neural rerouting and synapses misfiring, thanks to the drugs, and there are so many ways to fix that once the chemicals are out of the brain.

            Plus “antipsychotic” refers to all sorts of different specific drugs, which I’m sure would have different effects on the brain. So I would question this entire study, as well as Dr. Andreasen’s motivation and agenda. Does not ring true in any way to me. Plus, of course, she is a DSMer from way back, so in whose interest is this, exactly?

            “She has also contributed to the area of psychiatric diagnosis by serving on both the DSM III and DSM IV Task Forces. She was responsible for building the foundations for the study of stress disorders by writing the definition of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for DSM III.”

            http://www.nancyandreasen.com/

            I did find this article written by Mr. Whitaker, from which I am infering this is the basis for his work. I came off the drugs before Anatomy of an Epidemic or Mad in America were published and healed from the damage done by these before even hearing about this website. Had I taken in any of this information and believed it in any way, my healing would have been much more complicated and I would have imagined things being much worse. That would have only been to my detriment.

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mad-in-america/201102/andreasen-drops-bombshell-antipsychotics-shrink-the-brain

          • This is all propaganda, neither one of these articles is persuasive in the slightest, it’s merely jargon and conjecture. Why should I take anyone’s word for this, when I have my own experience to go by? Who would know better than I do whether or not my brain had shrunk? Am I an exception? Because whether or not YOU believe it, this is not true about me, never has been, not in the slightest. I’d have to be shown clear physical evidence for me to even question my truth here.

            And so far, there has been absolutely no evidence of this for me, and I do not expect there can be, it would be impossible because I know for a fact it does not exist. And if there were some kind of evidence of this, I have no doubt I would notice this, and at least my partner would, and people around me. I’m mirrored back to be a pretty smart cookie, always have been. I’m a math wiz as I’ve always been, more creative than ever, and my mind is quiet and focused. I do know logic and reason, and I can process my emotions just fine. I’ve always been a fast learner, still am. My IQ is probably a bit higher than it used to be, in fact, because my head is much, much clearer now and I can process rather quickly. I’ve always been quite intuitive, too, on top of this.

            I am clear and fluid in my thinking, I know this unequivocally. This would not be the case were my brain to have shrunk. Quite the contrary, it has healed to become stronger and more clear than ever before. My healing was thorough and regenerative, as is the case with natural healing.

            Withdrawing from the drugs caused static and fog in my brain, and for a brief period of time I could hardly do math, even though I had been a bookkeeper and payroll administrator, and had always been able to do complex math in my head. And this is while on the psych drugs, I had no reason to think my brain was shrinking, I got awards for my excellent work in both customer service and as an administrator. Damage became apparent during withdrawal, years later.

            The damage the drugs did plus the effects of withdrawal and temporary extreme attention deficit (super monkey mind) greatly impaired my cognitive skills due to lack of focus and chaotic synapses, but I got those back into balance and after 15 years of healing from this, I have no trace of this any longer. My head is perfectly clear. I’ve worked hard to get it that way. Couldn’t have done it with a “shrunken brain.”

            I am going to go with my own lived experience over academic pontification and projection from the outside. We all know about the reliability of the irovy tower propaganda. It only serves a small elite group, to dehumanize and demean (make lesser than) everyone else. It is designed this way. It’s pure crap, and what leads to all the false programming that causes all kinds of social abuses and divisions.

            “Studies” (I even think from Harvard) used to say that different races = different brain sizes. I don’t think so! But the implication and agenda would be obvious, I hope. Please let’s not fall for this.

          • Mark and Stephen, do you guys believe that the drugs shrunk your brain? That’s what I’m infering from your statements, and by the fact that you are trying to somehow convince me of this phenomenon, which you will never be able to do. I have yet to see anything persuasive here, it all stinks of divisive programming to me which makes the ground fertile for marginalization and dangerous discrimination.

            But if that’s what you all believe about yourselves, then that is what will affect you the most, that belief. I feel people own their reality by what they believe, so I do make it a point to not argue with the beliefs of others, that is really none of my business.

            But sometimes, I’m so tempted to break that rule, because from what I’ve seen in both of your posts, I don’t see how your brain could be shrunken, you both seem rather wise, alert, awake, and brilliant to me. I’m sure there’s stuff going on, from what you have both described of your experience–like with anyone, really–but I would venture to guess that none of your issues are in any way about a having a “small brain,” due to “reduction in mass.” If that’s what you want to believe, I wouldn’t argue, but I would at least give it a gentle challenge. If I am wrong, I do apologize. This is not intended to invalidate your beliefs or question your reality, I’d go with what you say about yourselves.

            But from what I’ve seen, I’d imagine the two of you have more brainpower than all the shrinks in the world put together. That’s just my intuitive hunch, based on what I’ve experienced in the world during my lifetime, in addition to what I have read on here over the years. You guys have your finger on the pulse of truth, whereas we all know that *mh anything* is devoid of this. Frankly, there is no power in that, only the illusion of it. And it’s a powerful mass illusion because it’s been around for so long and pushes our most basic buttons to create fear, and because so many people have bought and continue to buy into it.

            But, this illusion can be broken, when we make the truth stronger and more powerful and way more relevant than these institutional scams we’ve got going on now, and especially psychiatry, the poster child for institutional scams. Our voices do, indeed, matter. They are essential.

            Please do not insist that this negative and fear & shame based truth is more powerful than my truth of healing and well-being. That would be a travesty in this community, don’t you think? What purpose would that serve, other than to feed the beast?

            This is how everything is upside down right now, to my mind– wrong people in power, wrong people disempowered. Reversing this would go a long way in healing society. But how???

            Truth is the only leader, really, and it can come through anyone. It’s up to us to discern what is real for us vs. what is negative and disempowering programming. That’s the way to freedom, systemic transformation, and social change, and in that particular order, I do believe. Feel freedom, first, and the system will begin to transform, not the other way around.

            Freedom of speech and speaking truth is where it begins, to my mind. Censorship of any kind will negate truth, no exceptions, I believe. Anything can happen once truth finally comes to light, and it’s rather unpredictable, for the most part, I think. New manifestation will come from this, so it’s a creative process to follow. We can make anything we want of that, and that is what determines our reality–how we interpret and respond to the process unfolding, because it determines our emotional experience, and from that, we project our reality. That is my firm belief at this point.

          • Neuroleptics do shrink the brain. The question is – was it a part of the brain that you use?

            I’ve watched this happen with many of my friends and loved ones. I’ve watched IQ loss, decision making falter, inability to perceive and discern “grey areas” (black/white thinking), and complications get immeasurably simplified due to the drugs. I help people come off of neuroleptics, and these qualities are common among many of them.

            You got away young enough to rebuild neuroplasticity and connectomes. It is still possible to be highly intelligent with parts of your brain missing. My husband has a golf-ball sized hole in his brain due to stroke. He is intelligent, analytical, communicative, etc. I can perceive his gaps because I am his wife, but I’m the only one who can.

            The fact of the hole in his brain is not something one can perceive by his functioning. But it sure shows up on MRI.

            Likewise, the neuroleptics clearly shrink frontal lobe white matter (I hope I got that right) on MRI, causing volume loss. That doesn’t mean that your brain doesn’t function – and you’ve had decades to re-wire, utilise neuroplasticity, and form new connectomes so that your brain functions quite well.

            Size and shape of brain is not always function of brain. Certainly, the drugs exacted a price, and certainly, because you are a curious and driven human being, you may have recovered a great deal of functioning. Brain and mind are not the same thing.

            But we will never know what we “could have been without the drugs,” except in a parallel universe.

          • The drugs create brain shrinkage on the average, according to studies. How each individual responds is, of course, different. Also, brains can heal, so some may only experience temporary damage.

          • Sorry, I believe you are both wrong and speaking fallaciously. JanCarol, I’m aware of myself and I’m surprised you are trying to explain me to me, and I’m sure none of my “brain is missing,” if that is what you are implying. I’m also aware of the interconnectedness of the brain, the mind, the heart, and spirit, and I also recognize and understand heart intelligence (or lack thereof). This is what feeds the mind.

            Talking about “brain shrinkage” and insisting on it is only going to feed prejudice and lead to greater misunderstanding and misinformation. I believe that those of you who insist on “brain shrinkage” in this context are delivering a very dangerous and misleading message.

            Forget studies, Steve, we’re talking about real people in real life, not these academic illusions which are constantly perpetuated by people who have absolutely no personal or first hand experience with what they are “studying.” No credibility here.

          • I think the importance of this particular study is that it was done by a mainstream psychiatrist whose interest was to prove that “the disease” was causing loss of brain matter, and accidentally proved it was the drugs which did so. The loss of brain matter (on the average) claimed to be seen in long-term “schizophrenia”-diagnosed people was used to support the idea that “untreated schizophrenia” was dangerous and was used to promote “early intervention” for anyone with the slightest indication of what they call a “thought disorder.” This study has almost silenced that argument. I think it’s important to know about and use these studies to make our case, even as we all know that every individual case is different, and that recovering even from long-term use of these drugs is possible for many so exposed.

          • “I’ve watched IQ loss, decision making falter, inability to perceive and discern “grey areas” (black/white thinking), and complications get immeasurably simplified due to the drugs. I help people come off of neuroleptics, and these qualities are common among many of them.”

            This somewhat reflects my experience when I was in withdrawal from 9 drugs after 20 years on one mix or another, and indeed it was temporary, there is healing for all of this, and it is layered and complex.

            For me, part of it was neural pathway rerouting and also nourishing brain cells (herbs, light, conscious relaxation); and another part of healing my brain was about healing tremendous fear–dread, terror, to be precise–from all the negative messages that were ruminating in my brain (also causing sleep disturbance/chronic insomnia for a period of time), due to heart and spirit wounding and the disorientation which comes with that, from all kinds of systemic vampirism. That’ll throw the brain–and one’s entire energy system–off-kilter but good after a while. That is a very intricate and humbling healing, and it is the transformation.

            Systemic abuse can be very subtle, yet powerful to the unsuspecting. That has the potential to impair brain functioning in an even more powerful way than the drugs because we have a hard time recognizing abuse in an abusive culture, and it does involve recognizing toxic relationships, which can be understandably terribly challenging for people.

            This is the complicated part, healing the brain/mind/heart/spirit from gaslighting and negative projections and other dysfunctional relationship patterns which ruin peoples’ health and lives, because they lose their clarity and are filled with doubt, worry, and chronic negative ruminations. All because others like to send messages of doubt and fear. One has to be careful about this. I remember this well from my experience.

            That is what I had to heal in order to feel good, be healthy and clear, and experience the joy of life, once and for all–drugs or no drugs.

          • Alex: “This is the complicated part, healing the brain/mind/heart/spirit from gaslighting and negative projections and other dysfunctional relationship patterns which ruin peoples’ health and lives, because they lose their clarity and are filled with doubt, worry, and chronic negative ruminations. All because others like to send messages of doubt and fear. One has to be careful about this. I remember this well from my experience.”

            That’s the crux of the biscuit! When I observe neuroleptic damage or cognitive troubles, I’m always extremely careful to **NOT** **SAY** **SO**!!!! Because in 5, 10, 15, 20 years, it may have recovered enough to be satisfying. (if they can walk away from the diag-nonsense, gaslighting, and other bad programming they’ve received.)

            Or, in the case of the people who insist they need their neuroleptics to keep their brains from exploding (????WTF but it’s true, people really believe in these treatments) – I bite my tongue and cry inside.

            Because it does no good – if someone is not in a position to choose to come off of the drugs (usually due to the programming you describe) – to hammer home that the drugs are destroying their brain. And – sadly, the longer they are on the drugs, the less free will they have to try and come off of them, as their choices and ability to choose becomes limited.

            Neuroleptic = means brain destroying. And the gaslighting keeps one down. Combined, they are formidably life destroying.

            That said, I know people on the drugs who work full time, read physics for fun, paint, play music, etc. etc…brains are amazing!

            I’m glad you got your brain out!

          • Yes, the neurotoxin/gaslighting combo is a killer, without a doubt. The worst of the gaslighting and abuse took place for me as I was in withdrawal. I was in a social services day treatment program which had several groups with a variety of psychotherapists/facilitators, while at the same time I was seeing the last psychiatrist I ever saw. I’ve never been around so many assholes in my life.

            I was rather defenseless in my withdrawal state, and they took full advantage, like kicking around a sick puppy–which at the time, I was, and nobody really understood what was going on, but they pretended they did and made things up to justify their thinking (false projections), as per the norm in “mh practices.” Made me feel insane, depsondent, and hopeless, and indeed, it almost cost me my life. And all of this, as the result of actively trying to become more healthy, clear, and functional. Not in psychiatry! That would be a false expectation, without a doubt.

            But I eventually recovered from all of this and got it all straight, the truth of the matter was clear: the psychiatry driven “mental health” system kills people, as it came so close to doing with me.

            “I’m glad you got your brain out!”

            Me too! Or conversely, I’m glad I got all of that out of my brain. That was friggin’ over-the-top crazy!!! My truth of the matter, and message to others, is: it can be done.

          • Responding to Steve, above (I don’t have the capability to insert my comment into the thread like you do, so I’m responding down here)–

            “I think it’s important to know about and use these studies to make our case, even as we all know that every individual case is different,”

            “Our” case? To whom are you referring in the first person plural? MIA? Other?

            Besides, I think it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, in that you are simply creating another so-called “damaged” group–with new labels to support that–in order to scapegoat and make people feel lesser than and marginal, not to mention, dependent.

            And the systemic issues persevere, despite any shifts in perspective here. That’s not the change which I seek, that would go deeper to the core of systemic and social dysfunction than this argument does.

            “and that recovering even from long-term use of these drugs is possible for many so exposed.”

            Yes, that is the main thing, and many of us have done just that. It is vital for people to have living and breathing examples of healing from this crap, in order to hold hope, encouragement, support, and validation for their unique healing process, as opposed to more judgment and stigma and self-defeatism that inherently come with discouraging, fatalistic, and downright scary messages, such as “your brain has shrunk.”

            Even with holding that perspective while not revealing that you are thinking that, one can tell, people pick that up after a few moments of communication, and it can be detrimental. Best to know a better truth, from my perspective, as a former client. That would be of benefit to anyone, I believe.

          • “Our” case means the case of anyone who wants to ditch the current DSM label-drug-and-shock paradigm of doing business. These folks aren’t going away without a fight. I don’t see the “brain shrinkage” argument as being about permanent brain damage (though we know that does occur – Tardive Dyskenesia and the like) so much as being about undermining the disingenuous and unsupported arguments from the psychiatric mainstream that there are good reasons to believe these “disorders” are biological in nature, and that their wonderful drugs actually repair some “imbalance.” The entire enterprise is founded on that faulty mythology, and I don’t think it’s possible to undermine people’s faith in it without some hard evidence that the psychiatrists are full of crap. Science alone won’t do it, but it is part of the picture if ending psychiatry is the goal.

          • Ok, thanks for clarifying.

            “I don’t think it’s possible to undermine people’s faith in it without some hard evidence that the psychiatrists are full of crap.”

            I know they’re full of crap and you know that and many who read here know that, because we have interacted with psychiatry for years and know first hand that dialoguing with a psychiatrist is risky and downright crazy-making from the irrationality of their thinking.

            Overall, however, I believe people are going to have to discover this for themselves, if, in fact, they are in the realm of thinking about turning to psychiatry for anything. I’ll still speak about my experience to help shed light on the reality of psychiatry and “mh” anything, and I will help folks to bypass all of this with good alternatives to mainstream thinking, but I won’t go with this strategy, though, and I reject the “shrinking brain” theory as a tactic, because I don’t believe it is truth and it continues to serve elitist ideology.

            The only “strategy” I use in every facet of my life is following the truth of my heart, including activism. I’ve had a few victories against the system, fighting it pretty much on my own (until I got a legal aid attorney to help me when legal issues came up, for which I had to pay nothing), which was based solely on simply following my truth intuitively, and as a result, some pretty big changes occurred, inside and out. I’m going to stick with that. But thanks for explaining how this particular information is being used here.

          • Alex, the problem with your position in my view is that you can’t refute what you see happening on brain scans. So you either believe it is due to the underlying disease process or you believe it is due to the drugs themselves. The fact that schizophrenia patients have long documented hard evidence of shrinking brain tissue isn’t disputed anywhere as far as I know. The only scientific dispute is the cause.

            There’s little to be gained by saying that you don’t believe you experienced brain shrinkage from the drugs because of course not every brain was damaged in that way but the studies showing brain shrinkage in this cohort are pretty solid.

            And the fact that a study designed to show the neuroleptics weren’t the cause but instead showed they were is solid evidence. It seems you can’t accept that others may have been harmed in this way because you don’t believe you were. I’m trying to understand this position and failing.

          • “Alex, the problem with your position in my view is that you can’t refute what you see happening on brain scans. So you either believe it is due to the underlying disease process or you believe it is due to the drugs themselves.”

            How many people on the planet have had brain scans? These are selected fractions of the population, as with all of these studies. There are so many factors that affect the brain, above and beyond the two choices you give. I would call these studies “not reliable,” for so many reasons. A discussion regarding these reasons is beyond the scope of this forum, that would be a long discussion which would merit a better space than this, imo.

            “The fact that schizophrenia patients have long documented hard evidence of shrinking brain tissue isn’t disputed anywhere as far as I know. The only scientific dispute is the cause.”

            I actually do not know terribly much about “schizophrenia,” per se (I’m more versed and better suited to speak about anxiety, pts, depression, bipolar, and dissociation. “Schizophrenia” is one diagnosis that was not applied to me, so I cannot speak to that experience).

            Personally, I do not feel science is capable of solving this, these are issues of human experience and each one is individual and unique, which personally, from my pov, I’d call that a hard and fast rule, no exception. So it does not stand to either reason or logic to me that just because some sample population is showing something like this, that it is necessarily true. Too many variables and competing agendas here.

            To me, one of the most powerful features of “psychiatric survivor-ship” is that we honor our individual selves and that is our truth, regardless of anyone else’s truth or experience–and most definitely beyond academic research. That’s the first thing I would throw out if we want a new paradigm. Otherwise, it’s the same poison, different flavor.

            “There’s little to be gained by saying that you don’t believe you experienced brain shrinkage from the drugs because of course not every brain was damaged in that way but the studies showing brain shrinkage in this cohort are pretty solid.”

            I disagree, I feel there is a lot of gain to this because I believe that our beliefs are what shape and create our reality because it is what most influences our thinking and feeling responses. When we change beliefs, we change how we think and act, and we feel differently about our experiences because we’re coming from a different and broader perspective.

            I once believed I was “permanently damaged” for a lot of reasons, and for a while I really spiraled downward from thinking this way, from practicing these beliefs. Then I learned some new things, new ways of looking at my experience, and how I could influence it with the power of my own thought and focus. THIS is how I busted through false programming, which is where I took back my power. Took a while and it was a surreal ride, but it did the trick, and my thinking is now completely my own, and I apply it to my life as I wish, like the free-thinking individual which I am.

            Where I believe there is nothing to be gained is believing that one is damaged beyond repair, or even that one’s brain has shrunk, because “studies say so.” I believe that holding that belief is what causes impairment (and fear, and frustration, and discouragment) because we will create these ourselves if we believe our brains have shrunk, and in turn, we feel damaged, lesser than, and limited. No thanks.

            “It seems you can’t accept that others may have been harmed in this way because you don’t believe you were.”

            I’m not going simply by my experience, not in the slightest. I’ve been around people on and off these drugs for a really long time—in my practice, as peers, and in everyday life. Not one of them would I say had a “shrunken brain.” Were I to think that of any of my clients who are or who have been on these drugs, I would not be able to help people heal at the core, the way I do.

            I’m not even thinking in these terms. I’m looking at a person’s heart (open or closed), spirit (where it does not feel free), and with respect to their brains, as long as we can carry on a fluid conversation, that’s what I will notice. If not, I’d look at why, and it is always 100% of the time some kind of relationship trauma, because that is when we start projecting.

            Things get challenging here, it’s kind of a fork-in-the-road because this is where our most core beliefs are challenged, when we are in relationship to others. But never, ever has it been because I think someone has a small brain, or smaller than “normal,” or what have you. Honestly, I can’t even wrap my mind around that. I find it useless information on the one hand, and damaging to believe it, on the other. I think this trumps “studies,” so if no one is challenging these, then let me be the first.

            “And the fact that a study designed to show the neuroleptics weren’t the cause but instead showed they were is solid evidence.”

            No, I don’t think it is solid evidence. I think it’s, at best, a fraction of the story, and one which makes the ground fertile for generalizing about people in a negative way, which is bad news as we all know.

            Overall, I cannot see the logic of this. I think it is way too limited in perspective, and is not accounting for so many factors in a variety of different people. To me, this particular cause (whatever it is) is beyond science. It is about individual truth, because that is what dictates our path more than anything. We want freedom, not more programming and negative beliefs crammed down our throats, that’s the case with me, in any event.

            I’m going to believe what I’m going to believe because that is the sum total of my experience with this so far. That serves me tremendously well, and I don’t see how it hurts anyone else, and in fact, I’d be happy to relieve anyone of this burdensome thought or belief about themselves, which I think would serve anyone well. But that has to be a choice. I think it’s important to pay attention to what we believe about ourselves, way more than what others believe about us.

            If you or anyone tells me, “Well my brain shrunk from these drugs, and that’s my truth and don’t mess with it!” then ok, I won’t. But what I would be thinking is that this belief of having a “shrunken brain” (from wherever it comes) will haunt that person in a way that is neither helpful nor healthful.

            I appreciate your asking for clarity, KS, and I hope that in some way this provides a better idea of from where I’m coming. If not, this is the best I can do with this right here and now. We know what we know, and we see what we learn as time passes and more and more info comes to light. But this is definitely my position with this, and the foundation for why I now hold that belief steadfastly. It certainly does serve me, and others around me, quite well.

          • It doesn’t matter that it’s a sample population. It’s a population that’s been harmed by neuroleptics and there’s physical proof of the harm and your arguments that the proof of that harm is somehow not reliable is illiogical. I’m stunned. Totally done here.

          • I just don’t want it generalized, as it is being when used as a “tactic.” It’s not based on universal truth, and it is harmful to those to whom it does not apply, which is a lot of people, probably even the majority.

            Honestly, I’m not sure what you are “stunned” about here, nor why it is so hard to understand why I would not be agreeable to this from the tendency to overgeneralize and in turn, harm a specific group. I thought that’s what we notice in here, how groups are projected onto and marginalized, and therefore are treated differently in society and their rights and freedom are compromised. I just think this study and using it as such perpetuates this, and indeed, it’s not necessarily true of everyone who has been on neurotoxins. Not even close.

            And the people who have been measurably damaged can heal, if they wish to do so. But it might challenge core beliefs. That is the nature of core healing.

            Thanks as always, KS, you make me think deeply about the issues. Done here, too!

          • JanCarol, yes, that is beautifully stated and to the point.

            And I’d expand this to: the beliefs of our heart, along with our will and determination to overcome obstacles, are our keys to healing and manifesting the life we truly desire. I believe this to be absolute truth.

            My opinion about this “brain shrinkage” study has all to do with truth and integrity in activism. If these are missing in whatever info comes forth, then I find it useless and counterproductive. No change there.

          • The fact that schizophrenia patients have long documented hard evidence of shrinking brain tissue isn’t disputed anywhere as far as I know. The only scientific dispute is the cause.

            Was about to hang it up for the night but…”schizophrenia patients”? While I know you know there is no such thing, just people falsely labeled as such, I have to raise my eyebrows even at the suggestion that those labeled “schizophrenic” consistently reveal brain shrinkage. For one it’s not a legitimate category, other than in the sense of “people who got caught.” Plus who has their brain checked ahead of time to see if it will later shrink? Plus any study of “schizophrenics” is invalid by definition.

          • I think the correct statement is that people who TOOK ANTIPSYCHOTICS showed brain shrinkage, regardless of their spurious psych “diagnosis.” But I agree that avoiding psych terminology is an important strategy in decreasing the power of the psychiatric profession to control the narrative.

          • “I think the correct statement is that people who TOOK ANTIPSYCHOTICS showed brain shrinkage, regardless of their spurious psych “diagnosis.'”

            Right, that’s how this convo started out. And I’ll repeat that this is an incredibly gross and irresponsible overgeneralization because it hardly covers the majority of people who take or have taken neurotoxins. So this sample population “studied” is not at all an adequate representation of this group, but more so, there was something else going on with that group, if their brains had, indeed, shrunk. Saying that it is the “neuroleptics” is misleading and just plain wrong, and it contradicts the truth for most people.

            I’d deem this a bad study, it is not truth. Therefore, it is useless and false, exactly like psychiatry. This study, and any extension of it, is what would, to me, be spurious, misguided, and misinformed.

            And of course, I do think these things are toxic, and they do impact our synapses and neural pathways, and I know they affect our bodies and our organs negatively, throws them out of balance. That can be remedied. But as far as the brain actually shrinking? I will not buy this. That’s preposterous, and lends itself to dangerous and marginalizing prejudice. This is what I, at least, target in my activism.

            It’s thinking like this (“their brains are smaller than our brains”) that sets people up to be treated like crap and marginalized in society, based on “scientific” mythology via academic ivory tower “research.” To me it’s rather obvious. Status quo.

  9. Ah Bippyone – you have brought a loaded gun into the room.

    If you read Robert WHitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” you would learn that – ***with*** medicines people die.

    If you read around this site, you will learn that people here have been stark raving mad, “delusional,” “psychotic,” or any number of diagnonsense terms. I’ll go with stark raving mad for my own self-description. There are many people here who have experienced extreme states which are frightening, or amazing – or just awe-some (in the old sense of the word, as in, the Awe felt in the Presence of the Divine.)

    What I have learned in my experiences of extreme states, is that they are lessons. It is indeed helpful to have someone to help you process these states, whether it is a shaman, a religious person, or even a therapist.

    What the drugs do, is dampen down the experience. This enables us to live in society – however, perhaps it is the stressors of society which may have brought on the extreme state to begin with. Being numbed as you go back into it will only drive the crisis deeper. Additionally, they create and contribute to the extreme states you are trying to avoid – “antidepressants” cause depression. “antipsychotics” induce psychosis.

    But these extreme states (some call them “spiritual emergencies,” there are a number of terms bandied around) – as frightening and challenging as they are – are important keys and lessons. When you go THROUGH the experience, you become a stronger, better, more creative and productive person. Often, a non-drugged spiritual emergency, when handled as a lesson – results in growth and insight.

    Yes, I’ve been stark raving mad. Stripping naked so that I would be invisible. Talking to wasps. Stalking the man of my affections (clue: he was one of the contributing factors to my extreme state). I have never been hospitalised, so I might qualify as one of the “walking wounded,” as you say. However – it was only the Grace of God which kept me out of hospital.

    Yes, I submitted to the medications. The trick about the medications – besides dampening down the keys, the lessons, that your emotions and extreme thoughts are trying to teach you – is that the longer you are on them, the cumulative effect of them increases illness. It may be a mysterious illness that seems unrelated to the drug, such as Irritable Bowel, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, or even susceptibility to autoimmune disorders.

    People who use the drugs, on average, die 30 years younger than people who don’t use the drugs. This is an average, and there are always exceptions.

    You say you suffer delusions – I would ask you – what are your delusions trying to tell you? Jung might say that they are symbols of a deeper distress which needs to be addressed.

    And honestly, while the NHS is “not-for-profit,” there are a number of Brits in here who can tell you how badly they were abused under the NHS. The corporate pharma is just as happy to sell to governments as it is doctors, hospitals, clinics and individuals – and ALL of the drug information propagated by these profit centers is skewed and dangerously wrong. NONE of these drugs are tested in the long term.

    The challenge is – from an extreme state – finding the ability to address the extreme-ness, and strive for the lessons that YOUR OWN BODY AND BRAIN are trying to teach you. It’s not easy, it’s not a cakewalk. It may be that this path is too challenging for you to pursue. You’re widowed, you’re tired, perhaps diving into the fog of drug numbness is what is your choice.

    But I’m telling you – the people on this site who say that diagnosis is diagnonsense, the DSM is a lie, and psychiatry is not science – have experience in the extreme states you are struggling with. Everyone is different, truly, and your choices are your own.

    I’m only scratching the surface here, Bippyone – but I hear defeat and surrender in your voice, and it is my desire to give you hope that there is another way besides drugging your brain into compliance.

    Normally at this point, I would offer you http://www.survivingantidepressants.org, where many people have freed themselves from the ball and chain journey of the drugs. But instead of that, please consider reading Robert Whitaker’s excellent, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” to discover the long term, disabling effect of the drugs and treatments promoted by the fake science of psychiatry.

    I feel your distress. I remember a time when I would do anything – ANYTHING (even considered ECT) to make the extreme states stop. I can see you are close to that place now. SO perhaps my words will fall on deaf ears. I hope I’ve said this in a way which is sensitive and not aggravating to you. But perhaps, over time, as you start to pay the price of the drugs – perhaps you will remember.

    There are other ways. Psychiatry is not needed. It is not science. It is not even art. It is social control.

  10. I don’t believe my psychosis or delusions were in any way spiritual at all. I simply believe they coincided with my imagination taking off at the time they occurred. All different and although very meaningful when happening really they like some dreams had no meaning. Although very profound. Nothing that could be deciphered and I had therapy for 5 years. I believe these conditions are a dream like state. Dreaming while awake. We know so little about dreaming and sleep i’m afraid. Once we learn more then people will benefit from this.

    In the meantime people find different help from different aspects of their life. Do I wish I had never had the condition I can’t say I have always had it. I believe I use part of my brain that some others don’t and that people might use with hallucinogenics. I use this naturally. Does it make me superior it makes me very different from the norm.

    I could have done with recognition of my condition without the labeling and stigma attached to it. I would very much have liked to have fitted into society in some aspects and not to be outside the herd. This I found to be the most debilitating aspect of the condition. I would have liked to have worked. I enjoyed working. I could have worked.

    I very rarely enjoy my delusions and psychosis and mania gets me into trouble. Would I prefer not to take the meds? No, because I suffer very little on them personally. I never give up but do become overwhelmed and want out of my situation some days. I happy to have the support I have. I have my negative and positive days. Today was very positive and I am happy. I haven’t been delusional since last July. I haven’t had psychosis either since then. I can go years without having it. Sometimes my days are really negative and I want out as I have wanted out so many times before. But I do something about that. I have a son to live for.

    I came off my med for three months last year. Then had another breakdown. I didn’t want the drug in my system but was forced to take it. I wrote journals for two months and read them back and realized just how I responded to medication. It did in fact help me. I believe it helps me still and certainly does me no harm.

    I have read Bob’s books including his poetry books. I met him in 2015. I keep in touch with him.

    Do I believe everything he writes. No. Like I don’t believe everything in most books I read. I read a lot. Research online a lot.

    I think people seek help and find it as best as they can. I believe people like us need sanctuary. I believe that we don’t always know what is good for us and bad for us. Sometimes you have to trust in professionals. I don’t believe that psychiatry is a business here in the UK. Or for that matter psychiatry is out for mind control of individuals. I’d say people today are more in tune with their emotions and so much is more acceptable.

    I will continue taking the drug and although I became very happy to be there the last time I was admitted to hospital I will keep out for several years now. If not for good. But I have my ups and downs and sometimes have to reach out for help. I will deal with this and overcome it. I lost my husband 10 years ago now and it has been difficult but I have had some very good days and have achieved what I wanted out of life. Except to go out to work because I have always had sleeping issues.

    As for people dying yes I have watched people die. Like all treatments sometimes they are not safe and people die or become injured. It is all there is at present. Talking therapy would never have helped me overcome my condition.

    As for losing 20 years. I am 68 this year. In two years I will be 70. I am old.

    My mum and dad taught me to question everything and I do and always have.

    Like I say today has been a very good day one of many. Tomorrow might not. That is life as we know it.

    • Bippyone if you are dissociating, I would postulate that there is a reason for it. It may be “spiritual” or traumatic, or situational, or just the way you’ve conditioned yourself to react to loneliness or stress.

      Your brain and body are trying to tell you something.

      But you’re content the way you are, so perhaps you don’t care to consider the options.

      We don’t need “treatment,” but we may need support. Nobody (and I mean NOBODY!) needs ECT. And while there may be a small number of people who don’t have the wherewithal to survive without drugs, most people don’t need them, either (they make matters worse).

      I would hazard that your withdrawal from the drugs was too fast, causing rebound psychosis. This is common, and has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with the craziness of the individual. Psychiatrists and doctors took some “antipsychotics” (properly called neuroleptics) and they went stark raving from it. Found it intolerable. David Healy ran that trial, I believe.

      And the UK psychiatrists are in bed with pharma, regardless of the governmental model of treatment. UK prescribing habits are just as bad as everywhere else in the world.

      KindredSpirit – I got an email saying you posted – but I don’t see your post here?

  11. When psychiatry diagnose and people don’t react to the medication the way they expected then they say everybody is different yet they treat everyone with the same treatment. Very similar anyway. There are no tests given in order to confirm diagnosis.

    My friend Sandra Breakspeare has come up with her charity Chy Sawel where tests can be given. Treatment should be different for everyone because no two people’s brains are the same. Some people benefit from psychiatric drugs while others are damaged. Some people need ECT while others don’t and are damaged.

    We need treatment.

    Here is Sandra’s charity and if I ever came into £500,000 i’d gladly give it to her so she could open her treatment center

    .
    http://chy-sawel-project.co.uk/

    • We don’t have good evidence that the brain is the correct target for treatment. This is what psychiatry wants us to think. Well, why take their word for it? We are taught that the brain houses the mind, but this is false data. So it is likely that the brain is not the correct target for treatment.

      • Most of those who buy the current paradigm fully actually think the brain IS the mind, that there is nothing else to “treat” except the brain, in my observation. They get quite confused when I talk about mind being more than just brain. They think they are being “Scientific” by not believing that anything beyond “brain” could exist.

  12. Anything that stops suffering of any description is a good thing. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison. Shakespeare tended to know about life.

    My son and I have prolonged suffering. I would try anything to alleviate this.

    You can’t change the status quo overnight and really although Soteria in some ways is better it doesn’t change much. Some people still need medicine. We still don’t know enough about our brains.

    I don’t believe people should be misguided or forced about medication if they are not violent and i believe in informed consent. I do know about side affects have suffered much in that regard but not permanently thank goodness.

    I do believe malpractice should be brought to justice which very rarely occurs within the UKs social justice system as regards MH.

    Like all nations there is injustice.

    I’m not saying the walking wounded don’t suffer but people like me and my son dont recover.

    Sandra Breakspeare is doing something really constructive about MH. And being an in patient so many times in 45 years I know some people can be violent and disrupt a ward so they need to be sedated.

    It isnt fare on others struggling or staff.

    Sanctuary is tantamount for people like us. Everyone needs it especially those emotionally injured. But it has to be under a controlled setting and I prefer people trained with experience rather than those untrained.

    Whether we have an illness I doubt it very much. It is a condition. It brings about great suffering. Whether you are the walking wounded or not you are wounded by life’s events. Wounds need to heal. Sometimes people die sometimes people have wounds they are born with.

    I believe people get wounded by life. I believe people sometimes never recover. People given the right help do and can. Everyone is so different.

    I don’t believe within the NHS doctors go into their profession to make money or dominate people for power. I think they go into the profession because they care. There are good and bad doctors there are good and bad nurses. It takes a University degree and lots of hard work to become a nurse in the NHS. Margaret Thatcher made the right decision there and created a better trained nurse.

    If alternatives come along that could stop my son’s and my suffering I would go for it. Like most human beings I look for answers.

    So far we haven’t tried orthomolecular treatment.

    • “I believe people sometimes never recover. People given the right help do and can.”

      You are correct that some people, for reasons that no one understand, can’t seem to achieve recovery. This was seen in the old days before the advent of the neuroleptics. Over 60% of people experiencing what the system likes to call schizophrenia had one or two episodes where they were “hospitalized” and then they went on with their lives, never to be seen by the mental health system ever again. About 35% never were able to achieve this.

      My problem with your statement is that I have the feeling that you’re going to say that the “right help” is the drugs. You seem so very determined not to see anything outside of your acceptable view of all this, which is your right. But you don’t seem to even want to entertain the thought that there might be other things out there besides the drugs which might help people get their lives back. No matter what people post you just restate, in one form or another, your adamant response that the drugs are the answer.

    • As long as you are waiting for the “experts” to “fix you,” you will sadly, not get better.

      If you know that the experts are corrupt, that the treatments you espouse were designed and marketed – not for your benefit, but to make money. . . (you’ve read RW, I almost question if you understood it. It is the *same* in the UK as in the USA, it is also the same in Australia. National Health just means that you have centralised records – the doctors behave the same.)

      The best person to make you better is yourself.

      I’m not saying that distress isn’t real, it is. But if “anything that stops suffering” is alcohol – are you okay with that? What about heroin? What if “anything that stops suffering” is a bullet? The current “treatments” are no different to these.

      It’s the same thing, really.

    • Which is rank discrimination, plain and simple. I could easily have been diagnosed, in fact, I probably was in my 20s when I went for therapy for a year or so. I’ve been tremendously successful as a counselor and social worker, according to my clients, which is the only measure that’s worth looking at. Why would they not want me as a social worker? Some of the best social workers I’ve known have had rough lives. It helps them empathize with the clients.

  13. This is a non-clinical mutual support group meeting for anyone in any stage of thinking about or making changes/reducing/coming off psychiatric medication.  It is meant as a space to support one another, share resources and relevant information.
    There will be an online Psych Med Support meeting every Tuesday at 7PM Eastern/6PMCentral/5PM Mountain/4PMPacific time!  The group meets for 90 minutes.
    https://zoom.us/j/436860888
    [email protected]

  14. Please bare with me but I have been doing some research this weekend. There is a link to copper and the mentally ill and most mentally ill people smoke. My son has never smoked. However I have been attempting to find a link between my son and me. He never was exposed to abuse. Nor was he in care. In fact apart from being separated from his father and me there is nothing to suggest he should get depressed or suffer mental illness.There was no link in my husband’s family. Except when he was little my son was exposed to orange juice and he became extremely depressed. This is the link between us now. Orange juice. I know it contains copper. Some people might have a predisposition to taking copper. Do people on here drink orange juice or eat oranges? I know this sounds crazy but there might be a link?

    • In orthomolecular, copper is associated with emotionalism.

      The copper in orange juice is minimal, however.

      Balance copper with zinc.

      Most modern people are zinc deficient, so it doesn’t hurt to try it. Our chemists have a thing called “Zinc test” which you drink a sip of, and if it tastes good, you are deficient. If it tastes neutral, you’re probably okay, and if it tastes awful, you are not zinc deficient. This keeps you from OD’ing on zinc.

      I never suggest a supplement without a means to test it.

      The other thing your son has been exposed to is a father who was on neuroleptics much of his adult life, who had extreme states. Children absorb the distress of their parents, even if it’s not “abuse,” it can still affect a developing mind. Children also learn their coping strategies from their parents, and if his was taking pills, and yours is taking pills – then he’s gonna want to take pills, too.

  15. Hi Starr, please forgive me, I got caught up in a dialogue here on your blog and I haven’t even acknowledged your story.

    Very well done! Awesome, in fact. Congratulations on getting through it all and assimilating your life experiences into living your truth and life purpose. I would predict you have an exciting and very enriching and rewarding life ahead, and you will help many people with your empathy, wisdom, and insight by way of personal experience.

    I lived in San Francisco for 17 years, I know the “mental health” industry well in that city, was associated with a variety of agencies–in client and professional capacities–before leaving the Bay Area a few years ago.

    A lot of change is needed there, there is so much discrimination and social abuse against people with diagnoses and on disability, it is the norm. I have so many examples of this, from my own experience and from witnessing this with others repeatedly, on a daily basis–including the example from a legal action I took against a non-profit, to help fight this from the inside. It is extreme and I strongly believe it threatens the quality of life in the Bay Area, which has sadly been in decline for a while now.

    I largely credit the San Francisco “mental health” system, and its extreme incompetence, for the city’s decline. They are so confused, to say the least! And creating all kinds of social ills, not to mention individual crises. In the meantime, “disability” and homelessness are growing industries there, so I say they are not doing their jobs.

    Instead, clients on the whole tend to be judged, dismissed and dehumanized, not seen as thinking/feeling adults with the same rights as anyone. That is a terrible rift in the social fabric, and I’m sure you have noticed that it is palpable. I blame the mental health industry for this. They’re supposed to be helping heal and mend, and instead they are divisive and marginalizing. Change is needed right in this area, not sure how that would come about.

    You sound like a social warrior, so I am wishing you the very best of luck and cheering you on! You’ve got a tough job, but you are needed. Glad you are heeding the call!

  16. Thank you for this article; it is a community service. I contend that neuroleptics have a sedative affect that naturally causes a loss of brain volume (nervous tissue volume) through atrophy. Neuroleptics have a sedative effect that reduces nervous tissue usage; reduced nervous tissue usage causes atrophy consistent with how reduced usage causes atrophy of all other body tissues. Increased brain activity from cessation of neuroleptics will increase nervous tissue volume (brain volume) consistent with rebuilding muscle tissue when a cast is removed. It is illogical for scientists to attribute loss of brain volume to a mythical disease when it is readily understandable through basic physiology theory.

    • Good comment Steve S. I’ve always heard neuroplasticity of the brain gives it the ability to modify existing neural networks and to create new ones. Having gone under anesthetic a few times in recent years I worried about the long term impact on my brain but I found things returned to normal after a bit of time by making sure I increased my brain activity and by taking a good brain supplement daily that includes L-Glutamine, Lecithin, Ginkgo Biloba, DMG, Huperzine A, B12 and Folic acid. Also adding good fats to the diet, avocado, etc. I think any impact on the brain from neuroleptic drugs could also be healed in time. I agree with the atrophy theory and the saying ‘use it or lose it’ that applies to the brain and the muscles.

        • I am sympathetic to this viewpoint, but “mental health” as a term has been around for a long time. I can’t see realistically replacing it with some other term at this point.
          There have been many perfectly appropriate terms hijacked and misused by persons or groups with questionable intentions. I feel a more productive path would be to demand that people and groups, especially in the professions, be honest and competent. These qualities can be improved in people, though I know many have all but given up. I think we have to go forward believing that reforms are possible.

          • I think the problem with “mental health” is that it implies that people who are suffering are somehow “ill” and that “healthy” means not being upset in any way with the status quo. I’d rather go with “crazy” or “nuts” or “bonkers” than “mentally ill.” But there are better terms that can be used. I believe that controlling language is part of controlling the narrative.

          • “‘healthy’ means not being upset in any way with the status quo.”

            No way. Is that really the implication? Where are these “definitions” coming from? That’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?

          • Yes, it is, unless your goal is to “capture a maximum market share” by implying that any divergence from being mildly happy to mildly irritated is a sign of “mental illness.” It is also rooted in the assumption that “normal” people are always happy (but not TOO happy, that would be MANIC!) with things just the way they are. This kind of thinking lets our leaders off the hook for the damage their institutions, agencies and corporations are doing by blaming anyone who is unhappy for having a “bad brain” instead of seeing if maybe we have some bad institutions creating problems.

          • I can’t see realistically replacing it with some other term at this point.

            Exactly, it needs to be jettisoned completely, just like psychiatry and all its other fraudulent terminology.

          • The underlying problem is trying to categorize all these people who are suffering some kind of emotional/mental distress as being in a group that has anything in common with each other. Kind of like talking about Native Americans as if they were a group who are all the same, or children, or women, or gay people, or any large group. It’s bigoted at the least to view people as being the same based on one shared characteristic. The terms “mental health” or “mental illness” both seem to imply that there are some people whose brains work right and others whose brains work wrong, and that being in the second group implies some kind of pathology. It’s not a good starting point for a positive discussion of how to help people who are suffering for whatever reason.

          • oh-oh – I’m down to the last “reply” level.
            Well, it’s true I feel much different about the term “mental illness” than I do about the term “mental health.”
            Illness tends to imply an organic problem. But the mind is not an organic entity. So that term definitely miscommunicates.
            However, Mr. McCrea’s comment points out that many people identify “mental” with brain function, which is a point of ignorance that needs to be resolved.

          • “The terms “mental health” or “mental illness” both seem to imply that there are some people whose brains work right and others whose brains work wrong, and that being in the second group implies some kind of pathology. It’s not a good starting point for a positive discussion of how to help people who are suffering for whatever reason.”

            I don’t see “mental health” as having this implication, per se, but of course “mental illness” most certainly does. I’m not seeing these as necessarily opposites, nor have I experience these as such. “Mental health” is used in a variety of ways and is quite broad; whereas “mental illness” is more precise in what it connotes, with a network of very specific false assumptions attached to it.

            Not feeling “mentally healthy” doesn’t necessarily imply “mental illness,” as people mean this. We may just not feel up to par for a time, so we rest and switch focus, until we feel our groove back. That seems natural and human, and not dramatic.

            With regard to all the categorizing of and projecting onto people which this profession practices, I’d call it lazy and superficial thinking. It’s easier to go down a checklist and put people into categories than actually understanding their humanity, which would require depth of thinking AND to be comfortable with their feelings, both of which are SERIOUSLY missing here, from what I’ve experienced with clinicians. Not to mention, it’s way more lucrative to work the human assembly line system.

            But it’s lazy and shallow to me, pure and simple. Why do you think so many mh clincians (at least that I’ve known and have spoken with) get so defensive, passive-aggressive, or avoidant whenever they get presented with an intelligent argument? They’ll get mad and quit before reaching clarity and mutual understanding, because they cannot maintain focus and grounding and have no idea what they’re talking about and simply cannot own it. That has totally been my experience.

          • I think you are right on. Any time a supposedly professional person gets defensive with someone they’re supposedly trying to help, it suggests that the person doesn’t actually know the subject matter at hand and their client/customer is hitting too close to home.

        • “Any time a supposedly professional person gets defensive with someone they’re supposedly trying to help, it suggests that the person doesn’t actually know the subject matter at hand and their client/customer is hitting too close to home.”

          Hmmm, not so cut and dried as all that, that’s a generalization which could easily lead to false projections based on presumptions. I’m actually talking about the ability to think and feel beyond the superfice. I’ve been shocked at the shallowness I’ve encounterd in the mh world, I’m sorry to say. But it’s true! And that’s what leads to trying to solve problems with drugs and diagnoses. If it’s not “in the book,” they are lost. That’s a fact. And there is no blueprint for healing. That’s what I’m talking about here. That is a creative process and the mh world does not get high marks in creative thinking. It is stale!

          Re what you say, Steve, I’d say we’re all human and getting defensive might be reasonable, given what clients can project, as well. Although, indeed, a good healer would know how to read the energy of this and not get bogged down by it, but instead, use it as part of the healing. Our initial reaction to things are the most authentic information there is, whether we reveal it to others or not. And when we do, it is an opportunity for truth to come to light.

          I’m talking more about a pattern of shutting down communication in all sorts of ways–distracting, avoiding, even emotional “punishment.” I’d call it more of a relationship issue, where communication becomes impaired due to avoidance. That’s when I think things might be hitting close to home, with chronic avoidance and defensiveness. Happens ALL the time! But I wouldn’t get it confused wtih impulsive projections. That would be repeating what is most destructive and violating about psychiatry, in all its delusional thinking.

          • It is perhaps a generalization, and as I often say, “All generalizations are wrong.” However, what I’m talking about here is an extreme of strong reaction to normal feedback, for instance, a person says, “I’ve felt really weird since taking this drug, it doesn’t seem to be working and it’s keeping me from sleeping and making me itchy.” The doctor says, “This has nothing to do with the drug. You have to wait for it to work, you can’t expect instant results, besides, maybe you’re just not used to feeling good and it seems weird.” Or even worse, “I’m the doctor here, and I know what these drugs do. Just report your experiences and I’ll decide what’s working. I have medical training and experience, you can’t possibly understand these things.” This person is clearly uncomfortable with plain old FACTS as presented by the patient. To me, it’s a bad sign. Sure, it might be caused by something else, but the odds are very strong that this person is trying to establish authority over you for some reason, and very often that reason is that they don’t know how to help you and that this drug is their only tool, but they can’t admit it. To me, it would be a HUGE red flag that I want to go elsewhere for advice.

            There is no reason for a professional person to feel threatened by a client reporting the results of an intervention. At a minimum, it would take a very insecure doctor to find this kind of feedback disturbing or upsetting. But I guess there are a lot more insecure doctors around than one might expect, especially in psychiatry.

          • I call that malpractice. In fact, I call psychiatry systemic malpractice. I believe that is as clear as crystal.

            At this point, I think a class action suit against APA would be in order. There seems to be overwhelming evidence of this–ridiculous diagnoses with no foundation, toxic drugs, abusive practices, tons of harm and death, total blood on their hands, and how injurious this is for people, and costly in all ways, including financial–BIG TIME. While they are getting so rich doing this to people!

            I am living proof because I can tesitify what it’s like on the drugs and how all that ends up, and then how my health came back and life blossomed for me, not only when I came off the drugs but also when I quit seeing psychiatrists. The only thing psychiatry did for me was to temporarily destroy my health and tank my life, all while following that particular protocol. And I know there are plenty of others who have simliar stories and trajectories. It’s obvious, and many of us are here in one place, desiring reparations which I know we richly deserve.

            Any brave anti-psych personal injury or malpractice lawyers out there who are true to their word? Lots of us are here with very compelling stories to tell. And clear, articulate, and determined voices with which to tell them.

  17. Steve just said: “the problem with ‘mental health’ is that it implies that people who are suffering are somehow ‘ill'”; I agree totally. “Mental health” implicitly legitimizes “mental illness” and “mental illness” pathologizes natural emotional suffering (emotional pain) from distressful personal experience- from cruel and unjust life circumstances.

    Steve also said that “mental health” “means not being upset in any way with the status quo.” I agree assuming that “the status quo” references the cruel and unjust life circumstances that cause natural emotional suffering.

    Steve also said: “controlling language is part of controlling the narrative”; I totally agree. I have experienced extreme emotional suffering from cruel and unjust life circumstances that naturally promoted behaviors that the DSM describes as “bipolar disorder.” My emotional pain caused me to react in ways that others might consider “irrational” but this is unfair focus since expressions of physical pain are generally irrational and not judged as pathological. People experiencing physical torture see visions and hear voices but are not judged as “mentally ill.” Personally, I relate to having been an “emotional sufferer”; I consider terms like “crazy” or “nuts” or “bonkers” to falsely imply that my thinking or behavior was less than natural.

    • Why can’t “mental health” (or even “mental clarity”) refer to how we feel about ourselves and our own lives and our own problem-solving skills, and our ability to navigate our lives and manifest what we need and want with some degree of confidence? Not always 100% of the time, after all we are human and inherently imperfect, striving for this or that, to keep us motivated.

      I’ve experienced solid mental clarity and also extreme mental choas and confusion. The latter was brought on by a variety of life factors converging. That made me feel mentally confused due to emotional overwhelm, an issue with being human, happens to everyone at one time or another. It signals us to look at something in order to grow, like a life passage.

      One by one, looking at each issue which was causing me confusion or painful anxiety and disorientation, I could take care of these. Sometimes, it meant shifting a life situation, where I could. Sometimes, it meant shifting a belief, and that would bring relief and change. Eventually, I felt mental clarity, which made me feel healthier in every respect.

      I don’t think our suffering is always in relation to others or life circumstances, although it can start out that way. Sometimes, we do it to ourelves, with our own critical and self-judgmental voices, which would be what we carry inside of us due to early trauma. We judge others we judge ourselves. That is, indeed, the result of trauma and can cause suffering and mental confusion. We can take care of that, and come to mental clarity. That seems both neutral and natural to me.

      • I mostly agree with you and admire your approach; it seems valuable for replicating. I believe that all emotional suffering is natural based on personal experience. I specify emotional suffering from “cruel and unjust life circumstances” as a means to challenge psychiatry’s advocacy that emotional suffering is unnatural regardless of life circumstances.

        However, you seem to support my point about distressful life circumstances with this concluding remark: “Sometimes, we do it to ourelves, with our own critical and self-judgmental voices, which would be what we carry inside of us due to early trauma.” It seems like a distressful, “unjust life circumstance” to carry critical self-judgement due to early trauma.

        • “It seems like a distressful, “unjust life circumstance” to carry critical self-judgement due to early trauma.”

          Yes, I agree Steve, and not everyone has this to the same degree.

          Although I do believe that when we’re subject to particularly cruel and unjust life circumstance–especially if our lives start out this way, being born into a traumatizing family or the like–as we come to a better and deeper understanding of it and do whatever healing feels right to us, then we can become powerful and well-informed spokespeople for change, as we are doing here. We know what went wrong, so let’s be examples of “doing it right”–meaning specifically, let us be just and fair with ourselves and others, as opposed to being cruel and invalidating, which can, indeed, cause people to suffer if they are unprepared to take on such callous projections.

          That’s one way to heal (what I’d call “transmute”) the energy of trauma, and in that process, we shift our self-perception and self-identity from “victim” to “empowered.” And thus, we embody the change we want to see in the world. So much to learn as we grow, I don’t think it ever ends.

          I tend to agree with your perspective as well, I feel I know from where you are coming when I read your posts.

      • I think “mental clarity” is a very different term than “mental health.” Clarity is a much more specific quality than “health”, especially in the “mental” sense of it. I’m also OK with “spiritual well being.” I think the problem now is that “mental health” as a term has been coopted by the industry, and brings a whole lot of negative assumptions along with it. I’m for not using it except in quotation marks. But that’s just MHO.

        • However we interpret these and apply them to our own experience, in general, I think, mental clarity feels a whole lot better than mental chaos, confusion, and disorientation, which is a human experience at times, and which can feel very painful. And even more distressing is that we can’t always put our finger on what would be causing this–at least not until we can move through the heavier feelings, which is when light can begin to come in and truth can reveal itself.

          Learning to navigate this with consciousness is a good and practical skill to have. In fact, these times of profound confusion tend to occur as a signal to awaken to something about ourselves which we’d been resisting seeing (another natural human quality), which is where we find relief, when we do that inner work. We may or may not be motivated to awaken and feel fear in doing so. All of that would depend on our level of trust in our own processes. Definitely a hot spot.

          But overall, clarity feels much better in the body, and it moves us forward, whereas we have to sit with confusion if we want to reach a point of clarity, and that can be challenging to the point of making people feel stuck. It’s all about the process, I think, and when we feel we are moving forward with relative ease vs. when we feel stuck and in constant effort. To me, that would signal relaxed vs. stressed.

    • Just to clarify, I’m not a fan of “crazy” or “bonkers” either. But I’m saying that I find “mental illness” a far more damaging term, even though professionals claim that they use it to decrease “stigma.” If you say I’m nuts, at least I know you’re not trying to help me out!

  18. I understand everyone’s point of view on the term “mental health” (as I am very opposed to the term mental illness) but what should “it” be referred to when a person is experiencing natural human reactions to difficult life circumstances and are distressed, depressed, or even become suicidal and are not in a good frame of mind?
    Also what to call psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers etc, if they are not “mental health” professionals? Can anyone clarify what they should be called?

    • Rosalee, after all the conflicting opinions I’ve seen on here over the years, I think it boils down to individual interpretation. Some might say “there is no ‘it,'” while others try to understand something about themselves or others close to them, when something in life doesn’t seem to be working to our satisfaction. So many reasons for that.

      Personally, I like to focus on how to get back on track, which would also be different for each individual, but it takes some introspection, and sometimes, trustworthy feedback, depends on each person, their process, circumstances, etc. That’s how I see it and it can happen to anyone who is a human being.

      As far as what to call these professionals in a way that would reflect the reality of the situation, I’m sure you can get all kinds of responses here. If they are part of the public system, I call them government bureaucrats because that’s exactly what they are. Definitely NOT healers.

      • Thanks Alex, as always your words are very insightful! I do get a lot out of reading your comments. I am still on a learning curve here and trying to find the right terminology. And yes to “government bureaucrat”, that is what many are. They are not healers and in my experience, and yours and many others, they are the exact opposite.

        • Thanks, Rosalee, and yes, defining these things for ourselves can bring good clarity and is on the healing path, imo. My personal definitions have changed over the years as more and more of all this came to light, and I discovered I wasn’t alone in all this. “How are we all relating?” (from this particular “psych experience”), would become my question.

          I like what Steve S puts forth (as per T. Szasz), which I’ve seen before. Like you say, it is accessible, and I feel it covers us all here in the human race. It’s perfectly neutral. If we’re human, we’re going to encounter problems with living. It’s where we have opportunities to grow in all ways. And that’s life!

          It’s interesting that this blog is called “My Mental Health Awakening.” Seems like a lot of awakening is happening here! You asked very key questions and basic overall clarity is growing, I think. Feels good right now, in that sense.

          Thanks, Starr, for opening this dialogue with your story. I believe that truth-laden blogs foster forward moving and energized discussions leading to clarity and light. It’s why I love it when people share their stories, leads to all kinds of liberation.

          • “It’s interesting that this blog is called “My Mental Health Awakening.”
            Yes, good point Alex. Sometimes the terminology thing gets confusing (for me anyway).

    • What is wrong with Szasz’ term “problems with living” and “people experiencing ‘problems with living’?”

      I contend that psychiatry pathologizes expressions of natural emotional suffering. The World Health Organization supports psychiatry by defining “mental health” as “emotional well-being” and thereby implying that natural emotional suffering is pathological. I like the term “problems with living” because it is broad enough to go beyond emotional suffering to include other natural problems with living that the DSM pathologizes as unnatural.

      • I like this, too, re “problems of living,” and it is universal. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t experience this at one time or another. So then we can go on to ask “what problem(s) am I having, and how do I resolve them?” I believe much of this depends on our problem-solving skills. Which doesn’t necessarily mean taking action, it can also mean changing how we perceive our situation. That can open a door to resolution, too.

        As long as we’re in problem-solution mode, then “problems of living” would be a clear way to address our issues in a way that we solve the problems. It can be a complex network of issues, so one step at a time. We’re only human!

    • what should “it” be referred to when a person is experiencing natural human reactions to difficult life circumstances and are distressed, depressed, or even become suicidal and are not in a good frame of mind?

      There is no “it” to mislabel — that’s the whole point. Why do you need a label for what “a person” is experiencing (actually your own description was just fine)? We need to talk about specific individuals and their unique circumstances, not “categories of behavior.”

      Also what to call psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers etc, if they are not “mental health” professionals? Can anyone clarify what they should be called?

      Parasites? 🙂

    • Stephen, thanks for that clarification. The only reason I’m surprised about this is because of how you’ve identified as a “survivor of psychiatry” and all that you have shared re your opinion about neuroleptics. You’ve also talked about being hospitalized so I guess I thought psych drugs would be part of this. Thank you again for sharing this information, it does bring more clarity here.

      • Yes, I was hospitalized but not forced to take the neuroleptics. I was very lucky in that I had an advocate within the hospital who my psychiatrist admired and respected.

        Also, I’ve experienced psychosis for a period of only two days. I was held in the ICU in a medical hospital for four days. On the fourth day there I had a conversation with my spirit guide. It happened when I was on the edge of sleep and my unconscious was beginning to surface and take over my thoughts. I am a follower of Robert Johnson’s active imagination work as well as Jung’s spiritual guide ideas. Don’t laugh, but my spirit guide is a miniature, lime green Triceratops dinosaur. Long story but understandable if you follow Johnson’s and Jung’s work. For part of one early evening my spirit guide sat on my bed and we held a long conversation. I think that the nursing staff must have thought that I was delirious. I don’t remember one thing that we talked about but I am sure that it was important and useful. The next day I was sent to a regular room, where I was caught talking with my spirit guide by a nurse passing in the hall. She came in and asked who I was talking to and I told her she must have been mistaken since she could see that there was no one in my room but me. That was a close all. But that was the only time I’ve ever hallucinated in my entire life. I was lucky because if they’d pursued the “talking” incident I’d probably have been on my way to a good dose of neuroleptics when I arrived at the psych facility. Luckily they missed all of that.

        During my wonderful stay in the psych “hospitals” I was always lucid and rational and in what they love to refer to as “consensus reality”. This was why I was able to advocate for myself against the staff.

        However, not taking the neuroleptics doesn’t keep me from understanding how damaging they are to people in every way possible. My office window looks out into the cement courtyard shared by two units of the “hospital” where I work. I watch people come into Admissions being full of life (and often saying things that staff find offensive) and then I watch them deteriorate over the months that they are held there. I watch it on a daily basis. It is heart rending and heart breaking and what little power I do wield is not enough to stop it from happening, at least not for now.

        I work from the first rule of the battlefield, which is that you never leave your wounded behind. As far as I’m concerned everyone that I work with and for are people that I must work to carry off this battlefield, even if it’s only one person at a time every once in a while.

    • Let’s not confuse psychiatric drugs as a category with neuroleptics as a class of drugs under the psych umbrella. Neuroleptics are also known as antipsychotics. Many many psych patients have not been prescribed neuroleptics/antipsychotics, which are usually used as an adjunct (secondary) treatment for “mood” disorders, and as a primary treatment for “psychotic” disorders, but which would not usually be given to someone for garden variety depression, though it certainly happens.

      Kids and seniors are more likely to be given a neuroleptic for behavior control of ADHD, OCD, or dementia without an SMI diagnosis.

      Steven, I assume you were referring specifically to neuroleptics and not saying you were completely psych drug naieve.

      • When we use the term “neurotoxins,” we’re referring to any of the drugs typically prescribed by a psychiatrist, including SSRI, benzos, etc. We are claiming that they are all toxic to the brain, one way or another.

        For “neuroleptic,” (which I use interchangeably with “neurotoxins,” although I find that “toxic psych drugs” covers all of it), I found several varying definitions, and some do say specifically what you say, KS, but this is the first one that popped up on bing, and others keep it general, too, fwiw–

        “neu·ro·lep·tic
        [ˌn(y)o͝orəˈleptik]

        ADJECTIVE
        (of a drug) tending to reduce nervous tension by depressing nerve functions.
        synonyms:
        tranquilizing · calming · depressant · soothing · calmative · relaxing · [more]
        NOUN
        a drug that depresses nerve functions; a major tranquilizer.”

        When we talk about these drugs, seems we should be on the same page regarding what we’re talking about, given all the different things we call them. I think the prescribing patterns don’t really follow rhyme or reason, it’s pretty random at this point. They are all addicting, dangerous, and hell to come off of.

      • The only thing that I was forced to take while in the “hospital” were the devil’s tic tacs known as antidepressants and benzos. I’ve never been forced to take anything else but as I stated above I was lucky in that I had an advocate in the “hospital” where I now work and this person guided my treatment through my psychiatrist because he admired and respected this person very much. No ethical boundaries were broken but the psychiatrist consulted this person and asked for advice since he didn’t know what to do with me because I was so damned contrary and non-compliant. I’d known this person for 25 years before I ended up in the very “hospital” where the person worked. The person who was consulted thought that I’d died a few years before because we lost touch and I disappeared off the grid for a while. It was all by chance but I’m lucky that the psychiatrist was a wiser man than most psychiatrists I’ve met or have to deal with at work. He consulted and took the person’s advice about how to deal with me, which was to let me find my way back to a balanced life at my own pace and doing what I needed to do for myself. This is not usual practice. I created art every day and painted my way back to health and well-being and they eventually released me.

        This is not the typical experience of the people I now deal with on the units. I was a very atypical “patient” in every way and am very lucky that things fell into place the way that they did. Very few are that lucky.

          • And the minute that I got out of the homeless shelter that I’d been discharged to (where I was forced to take the benzos and “antidepressants” because I was discharged with them and the policy of the shelter was that you’d take your drugs no matter what) I took those damned things and threw them in the trash in my new apartment. I’ve never touched a psych drug of any kind since and I don’t plan to do so. But I do understand what they do to people, the harm that they cause.

          • They do, indeed, cause chaos to the mind and body. And I think it’s so important to emphasize that the damage needn’t be permanent. People can and do heal from psych drugs damage.

            My healing from having taken so many of these drugs over a long period of time was complex and I had to take leaps of faith and be open to learning all kinds of new things about how our bodies work and how to bring each organ back into balance, including my brain. That took focus, diligence, and trust, along with guidance from an ace 5th generation herbalist.

            After 20 years of these things, I took my last pill 17 years ago, and I am healthy and in balance from head to toe. No brain trauma (or trauma of any kind to any organ) has remained, for which I am most thankful to God every single day. Every day of my life is a miracle, and I want people to know it is possible to heal from these 100%.