Snapshots of Spring: Journeying Off Psych Meds After 20 Years of Compliance

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By spring of 2016, my ability to say “no” to suicide was holding on by a thread. I wanted to be well or I wanted to be dead. I couldn’t stand the in-between anymore. My inner world was growing increasingly dark. Hospitalizations had always felt like warped sanctuaries, where a sophisticated bulldozer demolished the little sense I had left while holding me, powerless, in a trance. I did not want to end up there again.

After my parent’s divorce and my first suicide attempt, I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in the spring of 1998. Since then, I have been diagnosed with ADHD, borderline personality disorder, psychosis, etc… I have attempted suicide and been hospitalized many times. For about 20 years, I tried my best to adjust and comply with the diverse medication cocktails I was prescribed. They immediately sent me far away in and from my mind, and for the enormous cost of treatment, the system never taught or encouraged me to heal myself. Instead, I was told my condition was incurable. The term ‘recovery’ within the system was a confused and confusing concept. It didn’t mean I was going to recover my true self, but I kept falling for the bait, desperate for relief while remaining treatment resistant. Recovery meant I was integrating into society as a shadow self, my brain invaded by foreign, hardcore psychotropic drugs that supposedly knew how to run my life better than I did. A few scripts with lifelong refills provided ephemeral first aid, but rather than addressing my original problems, stifled and added to them.

I felt I had failed my mother, my rock, so many times in life, I could not fail her now that she needed me. Her Alzheimer’s was worsening rapidly and she had appointed me her health care proxy. Before, during and after work, I did things for my mom every day, but by spring 2016, I was showing up to my life with deadly scenes playing in my head. At every turn, a part of me ruminated about suicide uncontrollably. My brain enacted reruns of the darkest variety where I was both predator and prey. As weeks passed, it became increasingly difficult to resist the lure to act on them. Many times a recurring daydream (taking up too much of my headspace) was of me going to the convenience store next door, stealing a gun from a cop, and bringing it home to shoot my mom, then me, so neither of us would be a burden anymore.

Other times I envisioned renting a storage unit, parking my car inside and letting the CO2 end me. I would hold my mother close as if for the last time while simultaneously thinking of hiring a double to care for her and play the role of her only daughter — someone sweet and smart, not the damned mess I turned out to be, so I could kill myself in peace already. No matter how much I prayed, suicide was getting harder to fend off. I went on Amazon to buy Final Exit by Derek Humphry since I had failed at killing myself multiple times. Once online I was instead guided to buy A Promise of Hope by Autumn Stringam and Med Free Bipolar by Aspen Morrow. My mother and I owe a debt of gratitude to these women. The first story slowly restored my hope and the second gave me instruction on how to get off the medications which were likely contributors to, if not the causes of, my suicidal ideations and dark psychosis. With the help of Aspen Morrow’s book, I started addressing what I was putting into my gut and by January of 2017 I added micronutrients to my new treatment plan. I wanted to die and be someone else and little by little that is exactly what is happening. The necrotic parts of my life are slowly falling to the wayside or being restored back to health.

Through the years, the worst part was the ongoing blurring of the line between what a side effect was, what a response to a stimulus was, what a symptom of the so-called disorders was or even what my personality was. It was challenging to be myself, if that even existed anymore. I was no longer able to fully engage my prefrontal cortex — and everything connected to it. Some meds made it very hard to swallow. My body has fluctuated form like a blood pressure cuff. I’ve had terrible adult acne. At night, I have felt paralyzed, unable to move my body in bed with much difficulty breathing, consumed by fear, feeling things crawl on me and stalked by demons. Most days I believed I was being punished by God because I was such a disgrace to humanity.

I’ve been arrested. I’ve had to report to probation officers. I’ve done so many things that make no sense to me right now. I have left home to be homeless, I’ve slept on the subway or in the Port Authority, I’ve asked for money from strangers. I have been on disability. I’ve picked up cigarette butts off the sidewalk to smoke them. I have felt lower than the cigarette butt on the sidewalk that got trampled on all day. Most of me seemed to have checked out and whatever semblance of self and self-worth I had left was negative. Once a bright young girl, I had turned to trash. Like most folks, I have also had countless experiences of flying high through life followed by crash landings. I’ve lost good relationships with my unruly behavior. I’ve lost jobs and opportunities as if they were grains of sand slipping through my fingers without being able to adjust my grip. My college transcripts are filled with all sorts of letters and I remain without a degree.

I’ve hit “rock bottom” countless times to find that it is, in fact, a bottomless pit. As long as there’s a pulse, life can always get worse. I’ve endured akathisia and tardive dyskinesia as a result of my medication regimen, but the worst side effect of the medications and the system was the loss of my sense of agency. I never addressed the issue that catapulted me into the system in the first place. I never found meaning in my life experience. I just became a “mentally ill” person and I saw myself as an untrustworthy stranger who had to consult therapists and psychiatrists about every move I made regarding my life, which was worse than the brain damage, memory loss, cognitive malfunction, threat of developing diabetes and organ failure among all the other adverse effects from the medications I was prescribed.

In spring of 2017, I took a Narrative Healing class online with Teleosis Institute, taught by a coach, author and a high school English teacher of mine, Reggie Marra. The class helped me improve my footing on the track to a “new way of being.” The writing assignments were like physical therapy for my mind as I was working through mental scar tissue on lower doses of meds in a supportive environment. One of the assigned readings in the class was by Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D. Ph.D. who holds degrees from Stanford University and the Psychological Studies Institute. He is a prodigy, psychiatrist, geriatrician, author, etc. with decades of experience helping many heal from mental and physical illness. A lifelong student, he integrates indigenous, eastern and western medicine to help activate and assist each client’s system’s innate ability to heal itself.

When I was one month off meds, Dr. Mehl-Madrona agreed to doctor me, and in our sessions, he treated my mind, body, and spirit without partitions by using Narrative Medicine, Osteopathic myofascial release and ceremony within a community. Integrating the Native perspective into my recovery offered my starved intellect a potent dose of common sense that has resonated deeply and taken root. The First Nation healers’ way of acknowledging the environment as well as the individual who is afflicted makes more sense than the dissection of the afflicted (and affliction) from its environment and mistreating it independently from its context, which had mostly been the case for me in mainstream care. Everything is connected. Dr. Lewis also introduced me to The Red Road. Its profound simplicity makes it a practical way for me to get back in alignment with what is important when I feel myself getting off track. Even though my time as his client has been brief, I can testify that while his combination of practices is atypical, this ex-treatment-resistant consumer is more proof of the effectiveness of his methods. Recently, his partner and wife Barbara Mainguy, MFA, MA has agreed to become my therapist. A Canadian creative arts psychotherapist among other disciplines, she is well versed in Quantum Psychology and has implemented with me a variety of modalities that in my two-decades-plus of attending therapy I didn’t even know existed. A hard-working, forward-thinking professional, she is not alarmed when my supposed “psychosis” surfaces.

It is long overdue that the numerous longstanding and effective “unconventional” therapies be covered by insurance. They need to be brought into the mainstream so more people have the resources to recover from mental illness instead of continuing to perpetuate their dis-ease within the current system’s confined parameters. As I stand amid the ruins of my past, parts of me that I thought were dead somehow keep crawling out from the wreckage. My life has much room for improvement, but I could not be happier with this homecoming — that mainstream psychiatry overcharged me for and was unequipped to offer me. In spring 2018 I was even strong enough to go on a pilgrimage along The Camino de Santiago in my deceased mother’s name, nine months after her death and six months after quitting psych meds. This mission fortified me in many ways.

To be fair, I’ve had plenty of good times throughout my life, but they have felt like misunderstanding the rules of the game, trying to hide the cracks in my best poker face and holding a hand of cards I didn’t know how to read, while balancing on a high wire trying to shake the relentless fear of free-falling back into the abyss at the next misstep. It’s hard to have control over your life when you are ingesting prescribed mind-controlling substances which were not designed for long-term use for good reasons.

Now, in spring 2019, I am reconciling my past with my present with the intention of better tomorrows than my yesterdays. I’m 39 years old and have been living medication-free since my mother’s birthday, December 2nd, 2017. Off the meds, I do not recognize my life as my life. I feel like a survivor stumbling around her own ground zero, looking over her shoulder, unsure what just happened, how I’m still alive or how and if it’s safe to build a life worth living. No matter how much I would have preferred not waking from that hell and possibly reincarnating as something else, I managed to escape the system and here I am in the same lifetime, alive and well. My prayer to be taken out of my misery was answered, just not the way I used to envision. I feel out of my depth with my new lease on life. I’m slowly getting acquainted with this new setup and am eternally grateful for yet another opportunity at life, which I hope does not slip through my fingers.

I’m a non-smoker and live medication-free after 20 years of dependence. My life may not seem like much from the outside, but to me it’s everything. I’m so grateful to be regaining the use of my brain again! I live in a cozy little apartment by myself and have kept the same job for almost 10 years. I’m a psychiatric survivor making small changes towards a purposeful life. Yes, I sometimes have intense symptoms that I now reason through organically, unencumbered by psychotropics. As I remap my mind, my brain rewires itself. The practice of running new circuits in my brain allows for the possibility that perhaps the so-called symptoms are a good thing, making me human instead of a member of the walking dead.

The substance-free view is so different, at times dizzying with the wondrous vastness of life. As being med-free has blown my consciousness wide open, I struggle with the basic mechanics and maintenance of life. It is a challenge to find my place in society and not get lost in the shuffle. I get tripped up by mundane things that I take as reminders for me to stay slow and steady, which makes it a challenge to integrate more life changes more quickly. Time continues to slip away and I did not attain the goals I had in mind for my first-year-plus med-free, but I thank the Creator for this thoroughly frustrating yet humbling experience. I have so much to be grateful for. I can sleep without drugs and I can cry when I need to again! Each day I am becoming increasingly more able to use words to show someone the view from my perspective — which used to be a delicacy reserved for rare, special occasions. To connect to life this deeply feels so vulnerable, intense and embarrassing, yet awkwardly awesome.

I hope it’s not too much to ask that it never end. It feels like on some offhand merit, or perhaps my mother’s putting in a good word for me, I’ve been allowed back into the human race. In a way, I feel like an almost-forty-year-old teenager finally going through a kind of puberty. I hope the process won’t be interrupted again. As I cautiously navigate this beautifully patterned and infinite shared mind space within and among all of us, I pray to continue to thrive so that someday I may be of service to others who may find themselves at a dead end within traditional psych care and need a hand out of it. This new path may not have any markers or guarantees but makes more sense than the burning hell from which I have risen. I may have come a long way, but I’m just getting started.

In closing, I’d like to thank the people I mentioned above, and their like-minded peers, for not giving up when the mainstream offered them resistance for daring to think, practice medicine and build lives outside of the “black boxed” norm. If it were not for them, I would not be here. They are the pioneers and beacons of light that continue to illuminate the dark path towards a new dawn within our healthcare system.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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86 COMMENTS

  1. wow…amazing. miraculous, even. I am–speaking as someone who has also been thru “the system,” and was completely destroyed by my own behavior and also by “treatment”– incredibly proud of you and the new life you’ve worked so hard to create for yourself. I hope that doesn’t come across as condescending…its The Internet, so all anyone has to go on is what’s typed out…I just mean that I’ve experienced much of the same, not quite as extreme, but similar themes, and…

    your story, your new life, your efforts…really made my day. I really enjoyed reading this, and your writing style is hi-quality, too.

    I wish you well in your new life, and as you journey on, take on new challenges, make a new way forward, day by day. We probably have different belief systems, but no matter…my prayers are with you. 🙂

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    • yeah_I_survived, sorry for my delayed response. I was sort of in shock this got published & it’s taken me a minute to react. Thank you for the compliments especially the one about my story making your day. We’re a hard crowd to please, a compliment like that means a lot. I’d like to hear/read your story someday if & when it wants to be told. I can’t thank you enough for leaving such a supportive comment as I find my footing on this new terrain. All the best to you as well & my prayers are also with you.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Graciela. I agree the “bipolar” drugs are the worst, because they basically include ALL the psych drugs. Glad you were able to get off the drugs safely, my journey getting off them was both less difficult and more difficult, in different ways.

    But I absolutely agree, being on those drugs is like living in hell, and the crimes the “mental health” workers go to keep people within their disempowering system are staggering, which makes escaping difficult. I’m glad you were finally able to break free. And I hope you live a long, happy, drug free, and stigmatization free life. God bless.

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    • Hello Someone Else. I hope you’re doing alright. If you feel like sharing, how do you think your process was more difficult & less difficult than mine? Even though I don’t know what you mean, I like the way you phrased that & I’m inclined to agree with you already. I wouldn’t say my process has always made sense, been safe or been recommended. There have been harrowing times where I have no idea how I’m still alive. I pride myself on being both stupid & stubborn. I feel they are the best qualities for enduring the endless nightmares of withdrawal & all the other nightmarish terrors that came before that. There’s always time to be smart, but to outsmart something like bipolar (with 20 years of psych med dependance under my belt), in my experience, you have to be good at playing stupid. For me, it was my smartest move; the medications were killing me & what the heck is bipolar anyway? I’m glad you found freedom from that hell too. Thanks for reading my story, thanks for the feedback & God bless too.

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  3. Ms. Signes, I am familiar with the unsettling notion that when the last drug is gone, there may be no ‘there’ left.
    I allowed myself to feel & react to what came next: the PTSD thing was messy. After most of that had worked it’s way out like a splinter, I became open to tenatively feeling happiness. That became a mash-up of old and new memory-muscle and clear new choices.

    I found my brain was finally straining at the leash, rolling in the grass like a puppy.

    It was just waiting, healing, resting, & exuberant in it’s eagerness, firing on long-dormant cylinders.

    The relief was massive.

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    • Krista Hartmann, you can’t tell right now, but I’m giving you a standing ovation in my head. Bravo! Well said! I know those places too that you speak of in your writing. Oh my, this “rolling in the grass puppy” of mine is a handful, but there’s nothing quite like trusting the supposedly untrustworthy, beating the odds and cautiously unleashing whatever needs to be unleashed. We should be providing safe spaces for people to let their nature unfold & teaching them ways to manage their humanity not drugging them because their brand of humanity doesn’t fit into society’s norm. Thank you for reading my essay & thank you for leaving a comment — all the best to you.

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  4. Yes, thank you Graciela for sharing your story. Glad you decided to stop using lethal psychiatric poisons.

    As I see it, we all have to also completely reject Psychotherapy and Recovery Programs too. All of these things, with the mental health system, are just ways of creating and managing a huge underclass.

    We share our experiences with Comrades, and we find these fighting shoulder to shoulder with us on the barricades.

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    • PacificDawn, you said it! The whole system feeds into itself, charges the stranded a fortune & if they survive, they get to join the rat race or work for the system that never healed them in the first place & return the favor for the next victims online in the name of ‘recovery.’ Since this has been my interpretation of life, I have not known how to do it, but with this different view, I’m hoping to find my place & get into the swing of things soon. Thank you for taking the time to read & respond. It means a lot to me, comrade.

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  5. You were NEVER “worthless”, Graciela. Not at your “sickest”. Not at your most pathologized. Not ever. And, those “opportunities”? All an illusion. I’ve enjoyed years off the psychiatric narcotics, and my liberty has allowed me to finally grasp the truth about potential: It’s NOT a bitter, and, inevitably, futile fight between you and the world. If *anyone* is waiting, fighting, obeying, and learning, and STILL falling further and further behind, they’re NOT “failing”. Rather, they’re BEING FAILED, MISERABLY! Even the biggest self-saboteur will pull back before they put themselves in the gutter. The instinct to survive is universal and unstoppable. And, it’s especially potent among victimized people, such as those who’ve been tortured by #FAKESCIENCE . For now and forever, LOOK AROUND when you’re plummeting into the abyss. Odds are, you’ll see a loud and prowling mob of sick f*cks. And, at your age, you’re bound to quickly recognize their lying, brutish, and manipulative antics. Despite the massive cost of your experience, it’s, nonetheless, a gift, at this point. Use it. When whack-jobs start to invade your life, run FROM them, not TO them. No psychiatry. No toxic family members. No dead-end schools or jobs. Restructure your life to lock them all out of it. Then, make your next move. No matter what you’ve been told or what your fears are, you CAN stay away from the #FAKESCIENCE clown world. Except for psychiatry’s “true believers”, there is NO ONE “too sick” or “too undeserving” of an un-quacked life. So, get it, hold onto it, and don’t let it go.

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    • Wow, J, for a minute I felt like I was back in the sixties, my hippie self was attending a peace rally in time of war & my wide-eyed self was watching you preach-it on the megaphone, like wow, look at him, or her go. You speak a lot of truth here. This #FAKESCIENCE crap is so messed up; it’s hard to believe it has so many people fooled. I’m fortunate to be (mostly) out of its grip. I pray I will figure out a way to get stronger & make a difference in an effort for our new society to stop failing people like we were failed. Thank you for reading & leaving a comment. All the best to you!

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  6. Wow! I’m not sure which blows me away more, your courage to tell this story as you have, or the courage in your having lived it? But I’m pretty sure you’re living the hero’s life from here on out, from which a most fortuitous fate not possible before your first psychiatric encounter, will find you a most deserving representation. You Rock! And your story only grows in leaps and bounds from here.

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    • Wow, plebtocracy, you think so? You rock too! Thank you! I don’t feel brave I feel like history repeats itself & I’m just another stubborn girl that tried all the short cuts, hit all the dead ends then eventually realized the only way out was through. Oh & since I’m quoting people now & we’re talking about heroes, Arya Stark’s voice has been ringing in my head lately, as suicide rears its ugly head from time to time, to say, “What do we say to the god of death? Not today.”

      Thanks for taking the time to read my essay & leave a lovely comment. I hope your story grows in leaps & bounds from here too! All the best to you!

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  7. Dear Mad in America community. Thank you so much for making a little room for my submission here. Finally, somewhere it fits in. A year ago I submitted my personal story to MIA, but it was not accepted because I was having trouble following the guidelines, but attached was a kind note from MIA personnel Emily Cutler who encouraged me to keep trying. So, I tried again, and one year later, my story is now guideline friendly, honors my journey & is published thanks to Emmeline Mead’s patience & assistance. It took me a while, but here I am, a little scattered, but in one piece. Thanks for having me. p.s. I misspelled Aspen’s name in the essay. It’s Aspen Morrow. Her book, ‘Med Free Bipolar’ saved my life when & how it came into my life.

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    • The anti-psychiatry community at MIA welcomes you and looks forward to seeing your consciousness evolve to the point of joining us in the struggle to eliminate this odious institution of repression. Eliminating all belief in the labels you have been burdened with, and in the lie of “mental illness” will be a gradual process, but well worth the effort. Allowing yourself to feel anger at the deceptions which have been foisted upon you is a necessary step too, so don’t fight it if & when it happens.

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      • Dear oldhead,

        I look forward to being of service in the struggle to eliminate the repression. It would give my life significant meaning & be an honor to be of value within the anti-psychiatry community. Thanks for reading my essay, for welcoming me & for the encouraging comment. I hope you’re having a good day.

        In solidarity,

        Grace

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        • While it has been an odious institution, without it, since my mom knew nothing else, I would be dead if she had not hospitalized me with or without my consent & if they hadn’t sedated me heavily for so long. So, although I’ve been mistreated within it, my rights violated & I’ve had grounds to sue & haven’t, I’m also thankful for it. In all its misguided misuse of power, it’s all I knew & it’s all a lot of people have. I’m a first generation American, I know a dictator when I see one & they’re all the same. My argument or dream is to be part of the solution, to bring to light the alternatives, the things that work & keep in mind the following words that do not get old for me.

          “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
          To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

          ― Buckminster Fuller

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          • “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
            To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

            ― Buckminster Fuller

            Yup. This is truth.

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          • Dear oldhead, I don’t know what your intention is with your commentary & I find your tone slightly challenging. Therefore, I thank you for the challenge amidst the accolades making my first stab at taking a wobbly stand in this arena feel more genuine. There are other Psychiatric Survivors whose ‘consciousness’ you might resonate with more than mine & I invite you to go check them out because I pray my consciousness does not get ahead of itself. I feel strongly about what I’ve written & don’t foresee myself outgrowing this belief until I no longer see a use for it. I don’t think seeking or promoting alternatives to the Psychiatric standard is a dead end to managing ‘extreme states of consciousness’ since society, on average, is currently maladapted to accommodate these states. Since we’re all on the same side, I vote we continue to work just as hard at tearing down old beliefs/institutions as we do at constructing new ones that could support this growing need. Otherwise, too many would be left hanging (or at least more than the ones that currently exist.) As I mentioned in my essay, I’m only just getting started besides I’m just here to tell my story, which is the story of the underdog & how she is winning her life back. I’m just adding to all the other stories here that speak to the largely untapped human potential for self-healing. What is your story? I never caught your name.

            Also, I admire those slaves I remind you of that love their masters and gain their freedom. Perhaps, it might mean I’m on the Red Road where you look at your enemy in the eye and shake his hand in gratitude for making you stronger. I sure hope so; I didn’t make it this far to get off course.

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          • Hey Alex, hope you’re well & thanks for the resources. Your last email is so bright I need darker shades just to read it. Lol, but seriously – so much light! Thanks for taking time out of your day to reach out to a fellow Psychiatric survivor and offer so much wisdom. I’m sending you love & light for you & your partner. Hope you’re having a great day & yeah, Buckie is the man!

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          • Graciela, the new model is political consciousness raising and political activism.

            Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery, all focus on the individual in isolation, making them believe that they are the cause of their own problems. Blinding them to the broader reality.

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          • PacificDawn

            Political consciousness raising & political activism are invaluable & not only our right but also our obligation. I have participated in protesting the APA in the past. What I meant was a model of care that reallocates resources more efficiently than the current model so the seeker can effectively recover from their dis-ease as we have (assuming you’ve also outgrown/survived psychiatry). My vision of a new model might be totally different than yours, but I can assure you they don’t clash; they might just run parallel to one another. As you can tell, I hold many conflicting viewpoints I’m in the process of reconciling. I got this far & I will figure it out. Thanks for your input.

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          • I don’t think seeking or promoting alternatives to the Psychiatric standard is a dead end to managing ‘extreme states of consciousness’ since society, on average, is currently maladapted to accommodate these states.

            Challenge is positive, please don’t confuse it with derogation.

            There’s a lot of confusion & debate about this idea of “alternatives” even among those who consider themselves opposed to psychiatry. Briefly, it has to do with one’s analysis of what psychiatry is or is intended to be. Some people see the role of psychiatry to “help” people, others see it as a form of control which uses the idea of “help” as a pretext.

            If one comes from the latter perspective, it begs the question of why one would want to “replace” something which is not even intended as a force for good, again, anymore than one would want to “replace” slavery, genocide, etc. So you need to ask “model of what?” Also to examine why you see the issue as a matter of “care” for especially traumatized people (as opposed to the “moderately” traumatized, which describes the rest of us), and where on the continuum of traumatization someone becomes a “special case,” and why. Also why “extreme states of consciousness” must be “managed” — what do you mean by that?

            Not even making “debating points,” just trying to suggest some helpful questions you might pose to yourself.

            Finally, why must everything good and helpful be referred to as an “alternative to psychiatry”? — especially since nothing psychiatry does is good or helpful. Don’t you think this gives psychiatry way too much credit? Why not just say “these are good things”? Is breathing pure air an “alternative” to breathing carbon monoxide, or just the way things should be?

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  8. Loved reading this, thank you! I came off of Lithium (and several other neurotoxins) after 20 years also. I’ve now been 17 years psych drugs free and have been living by my own power and heart-felt guidance ever since. Life has a way of teaching us and seeing us through, if we are attuned to our nature. It most certainly gets better and I agree with Fiachra, that the best is yet to come. Congratulations on accomplishing such personal growth and finding your voice of truth. Beautiful!

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      • No, no, you are a hero to me. I could never even nearly have articulated, as you have so vividly and spirit-filled and humbly, the journey while you are in the midst of it as you are now. That is a serious accomplishment, to my mind, and a testament to your fortitude and faith. Even the story of your persistence and humility to get it published, and trusting that process in your transparency, is noteworthy, I’m so glad you shared that.

        One phrase which caught my attention from your story was “slow and steady,” which, indeed, is key. So much to sort through, and we’re taken on a quite a ride in order to do just that, what I’d call our spiritual journey. We all have our guidance to follow, however it shows up for us at any given time.

        I can tell from your writing and also from your beautiful and extremely gracious responses to commentors, that you are a bright shining light, I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing this. I’m extermely moved by your spirit, truly. You’re making a difference, and will continue to–in a big way, I have no doubt. The honor is mine, truly, and anyone who reads your story.

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        • Oh Alex, reading your comment has got me all sorts of choked up & my eyes are leaking again but in the right way. I guess everyone here has been through “The Hero’s Journey” making all of us heroes, but if I could point out that 17 years is a long time. I look up to you & you’re still my hero. Lol. What I have gone through has made me realize how resourceful & resilient humans are. There are all these built-in features to being human I discovered out of necessity. When that light you were talking about decides to shine brightly, I wish I could go around life rooting for all humans everywhere who are going through struggles like a cheerleader saying, “You’re human, so you got this!”

          I can’t thank you enough for your feedback. I would never know how I sound in my writing if you didn’t tell me. Sometimes I think what’s the point of telling my story, so many others have told their stories, my essay is not needed, but you never know who you might reach by your particular choice of words or perspective at least that’s what someone wiser than me told me. Now I’m even more curious about your story. Someday, I hope you decide to share your story. I would really like to read/hear it. I hope you have a great day Alex!

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          • I do feel very strongly, and have talked about it often on here and wherever I have given presentations, that sharing our stories of these journeys we take, for the purpose of inspiring others to keep going when it gets really, really rough and confusing, is vital. I believe it is also very healing to ourselves when we can share as we do, and hear our own voice of truth above anything else.

            My personal belief is that we are all different aspects of One consciousness, so anything we do to uplift ourselves uplifts the entire collective, one way or another. This is how we break ground and open doors for others. I believe it gives deep meaning to what we have been through, that it has a purpose for us and for our fellow human beings. That is the nature of human evolution, to my mind.

            The comment in your above reply is perfect, I think, exactly matches my intention and vision–

            “What I have gone through has made me realize how resourceful & resilient humans are. There are all these built-in features to being human I discovered out of necessity. When that light you were talking about decides to shine brightly, I wish I could go around life rooting for all humans everywhere who are going through struggles like a cheerleader saying, ‘You’re human, so you got this!'”

            Being human is what we struggle most with, I believe. This combination of our spiritual nature and our human nature is quite a dance we do in life, and once we’re in step, the journey shifts to something more interesting and eventually enjoyable, rather than a constant battle with oneself.

            These battles are the progrmas and negative beliefs we’ve taken on from life’s traumas. Healing, I believe, is where we can see through these programs of stigma and denial and harsh self-judgment of our natural self. When we can embrace our humanness, the journey gets a bit easier because we are not fighting ourselves, but more so, we are supporting, encouraging, and guiding ourselves, as we wish to do with others. In short, to use your words, being our own cheerleader!

            When I discovered this and applied this consciously, it was a game-changer. I know it may sound simplistic in words and indeed this is easier said than done, but this is my concept of how this works, best as I can describe it in words. As you know, life has to be lived first before we can articulate it.

            So, with that said, I will share with you a bit here, without going into a really, really long post, which I do not want to take the attention away from what is important here, which is how we share our voices and inspire one another, as you have done by sharing your story here. Since you have asked a couple of times about my story, I can easily share with you here in a streamlined way.

            While I don’t like to compare stories at all, since, as you wisely say, we are all on a hero’s journey (I think just being born into this lifetime is highly courageous!) I will say up front that your story is way more profound than mine, and I’m actually still self-conscious about sharing what I do, but it seems to make a difference, from the feedback I get, so I will trust that.

            Part of my healing was to share my story, which I did around town for a few years, as part of a speakers’ bureau, so I’ve shared quite a bit. I talk a lot about my family dynamic, which is what led me to “mental health” services to begin with, and where my healing was most core and profound.

            My healing work centered around forgiveness, this is what came up most powerfully for me after I got off all the psych drugs. My personal healing path is centered around “heart consciousness,” that was the big shift for me, working from this perspective. It was a life-changing shift, and I continue this trajectory.

            While in the speakers’ bureau, I made a film documenting our stories, from our presentations, and then I added interviews and a discussion among those of us on this healing journey, speaking about discrimination and stigma from the system, which we had to somehow intergrate into our experience as we went along, a huge awakening for me. This was in San Francisco, so a lot of urban politics come into play.

            So, as per your request, here’s the film, which contains the family part of my story, along with 5 others sharing the most personal aspects of their journey, as well. I think there’s something for everyone, we’re diverse. I hope you find meaning and inspiration from this–

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtDGxJWmj5w

            And, as a bonus, here’s the follow up film which I made 5 years later, after my life had transformed from the healing I had done. Thanks to speaking my truth as I was doing, the universe rewarded me with new guidance and insights, put me in a profoundly creative place, and a new location.

            I teach about co-creating and manifesting through healing. This is to where my journey led me. My job in life is to ground light to the planet, to make it real and physical, and there are so many ways to do this, it is our innate creativity.

            We need to improve the world to alleviate suffering, however we are moved to do so. This is about sharing love through music, only 28 minutes, a musical documentation–

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8epJMOi3cwY

            I hope you enjoy these films and are inspired by them. You have touched my heart in many ways, Graciela. Deep respect and love to you ♥

            And you have a wonderful day, as well! May it be filled with light and inspiration 🙂

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        • Wow, Alex! I just shrank a little after reading your message. I’m a regular girl who swears a lot, is not very educated & goes to the same job every day for the past ten years like clockwork. I alternate between mostly blending into the background of life & once in a while when I can’t hold it in anymore; I make a splash. I don’t have a community; I don’t do any peer work, I don’t have a support group or credentials to be of service to psych survivors or those in transition. Your life & most people’s experience on this site sounds so accomplished & meaningful to me. I’m sure you live your life & you don’t realize that to me you are living the dream. You’re so much more far along than I am. Someday, I pray to have some value so I can help the healing movement. I’d love to be an activist eventually like you & fully live my purpose, whatever that means & whatever it is. I have some blurry disconnected notions, but I still can’t fully articulate what that is or what I think it is so I can dream a blueprint into existence. It’s hard to build a life on shifting sands, you know? I’m still in the beginning steps of working things out with myselves that you wrote about, but I/we will get there. Thank you for sharing your accomplishments with me. It will take me some time to appreciate the resources you’ve shared. My email would be [email protected] if you wanted to keep corresponding. It’s an honor to me that my essay had a positive effect on you since you have experienced entanglement with Psychiatry first hand. Thank you again for reading it & for taking the time to share your feedback with me.

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          • It is amazing to me how we all serve such a valuable purpose to each other, when we allow our heart felt authentic truth to come forward. I’m actually blown away and so incredibly humbled by your response, Graciela. Blown away by your impeccable honesty and humbled by your mirroring. Getting to know one another is an adventure in and of itself, isn’t it? It’s how we get to know ourselves, too, I think. Our humanity is more diverse than we can imagine, I’m sure.

            Of course who we are is who are and where we are is where we are, all due to our unique set of circumstances in any given moment, along with our unique personality and perspectives. How we come together is an interesting mystery to me, and also why, for what purpose? Again, at any particular moment in time.

            What I created was the result of the only good choices which the universe offered me, as my healing and way forward. I had no resources, this is all raw and from the heart and hip. It’s all I had with which to work, and I believe we all have the power to access what we need, if we understood a bit better our process of co-creating, and how we influence our reality as we go. We are by no means powerless, even though we may perceive ourselves to be. We’re simply not seeing our own big picture in that moment. So much to say about this.

            Thank you for your feedback, very meaningful and I take it to heart.

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        • Alex, lots going on here. I hear you loud & clear. I agree we are by no means powerless. I’m just trying to be as honest as I can be with myself & whoever else is listening in regards to where I’m at in terms of my ‘recovery,’ now that recovery has a whole new definition, in fact, it has the original definition. Thank you for reaching out & sharing your thoughts, experience & advise with me. I do appreciate it. Good night.

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      • Ms. Signes, I would like to repeat, I admire your steel when dealing with ‘distractions’ to the TOPIC presented in your essay. Staying ON TOPIC is fundamental to civil discourse. Your TOPIC is clear and easily identified.

        As I have read many ‘regulars’ exchange personal contact info on this forum in the past, check out your mail on your medfreeinsaneasylum.com for more TOPICAL information regarding the issues presented here.

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        • Dear Krista,

          Just another day in the neighborhood? I’m trying my best to hold my ground on what feels like shifting sands & I have a lot of experience with ‘distractions.’ Lol. Thanks for the encouragement & for reaching out. Oh & thanks for trying to visit my site in the bio. It’s called med free sane asylum dot com. It’s very rough around the edges & intentionally a work in progress.
          https://medfreesaneasylum.com/

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      • My story and name are irrelevant. Too many people are preoccupied with names and egos. We are engaged in critical discussions here, at least theoretically. So I’m not sure what is causing you to respond to my very sincere and polite questions with such hostility and accusation. Maybe someone else is egging you on?

        Accusing someone of “gaslighting” is never something one does casually btw, so when you make such charges it is your responsibility to specify and explain them.

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        • If there is one thing that will support mental clarity and ease in moving forward in one’s life, it is running in the other direction from gaslighting. This is the cause of extreme mental distress and confusion, and overall sabotage.

          Trying to explain oneself in this situation only deepens the rabbit hole of gaslighting, and can cause a person to feel drained and insane after such an exchange. I’ve heard it compared to having an eggbeater in one’s brain, after dialoguing with one who is prone to gaslighting. Indeed, it is, and there is healing to do after this. It’s a form of post traumatic stress, if one has been gaslighted for a long period of time. That’s hard to wake up to if it is a familiar, and for a lot of people it is.

          And which, unfortunately, IS something that some people do quite casually these days, when it has always worked for them, to disorient others as a way of feeling “powerful.” I think it becomes a neural pathway, from chronic gaslighting as a life strategy, which I believe is more common than not these days. This is an important awakening if one is on a healing path.

          Gaslighting causes internalized oppression, we bind ourselves up with conflicting thoughts. Life changes when one frees themselves from gaslighting and the pts thereof, a huge dark cloud of anxiety and fear lifts as that eggbeater dissipates and the mind, brain, and nervous system become calm and relaxed, for a change. That’s a complex and extremely valuable healing, if one desires for truth and clarity to come to light, not to mention more ease in living.

          But no, I say do not ever argue with a gaslighter. They will only be aggressively defensive and tell you that any interpretation you give to whatever they are expressing is “wrong,” that’s how it begins–classic double bind–and then they put YOU on the defensive, yet again. It is a complete waste of energy and creates nothing of value to humanity, just more chaos and confusion, frustration, stuckness, rage and despondence. Status quo, and how it is protected as such.

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        • It’s hard for me to get the full picture of what we are discussing since some comments have been removed for moderation. I’m just going to chime in if that’s ok with you guys. Life has made me tough, but lately, I’ve felt the need to break down some walls of toughness to nurture other neglected parts of myself & get to the next stages of healing from Psychiatry. I haven’t received instruction on how to do this & it is terrifying to feel this vulnerable & trust my intuition to light the way as if it were a flickering candle in my inner darkness. Two reasons why I wrote this essay were in hopes of feeling more aligned with my truth & possibly to meet other ex-psych patients. There are no support groups around me & I hadn’t met any ex psych patients friends before writing this.

          Oldhead, I appreciate your effort to challenge me, but I assure you that life has taken care of challenging me plenty. Since entering this essay, I have gotten into a car accident & experienced a few other triggering events as if my life (the way I’m living it) were attempting to evict me. Life has gotten increasingly more difficult since adding my story here.

          Thanks to MIA, I met a woman named Isabel R & she shared with me that a famous Dr had written, “healing is a subversive act.” That is 100% true for me. I’ve boldly interrupted the norm with my ‘coming out’ story & I’m doing my absolute best to face the music or ruckus of all my internalized parts protesting within. I need to answer the call for change in my life, but I’m struggling to surrender my old comfort zones. This stage feels like the hardest one so far in the process of recovering from Psychiatry.

          Krista/Alex, thanks for writing such supportive & insightful feedback. I’m fortunate you’ve both shared your perspective since you are farther along in the healing process than I am. Hopefully, in the future, it could be the norm for ex-psych patients to have mentors like AA participants have sponsors. I’ve learned a lot from you. Thanks for sharing with me.

          Thanks for all the comments. I hope everyone has a decent day as we continue the painstaking process of pioneering into off-limit frontiers within & sharing our findings for the sake of our collective need for change.

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          • Graciela, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve endured more difficult events and were also in a car accident. I hope you were not injured and are okay? I agree, it would be so helpful to have mentors and/or at least a local support group to meet up with others who have similar situations.
            Did you read this blog on MIA… https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/05/healing-subversive-act/
            I realize that to escape the rabbit hole of psychiatry one must become a freedom fighter for themselves and also fight back against the whole disabling concept of psychiatry. Sending healing vibes your way. 🙂

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          • Dear Rosalee,

            If I wasn’t having such a hard time answering the call to figure out how to be of service in this arena, I’m sure I’d be further along by now, but I have to hold out for something that feels right. No, I didn’t read this article until now. Thanks for sharing! Life is coming at me fast. I go in and out of isolation very cautiously. It’s tricky to gauge how to regulate my exposure to life, let alone interactive information hubs like MIA & even trauma or psychiatric survivors support groups (even if they existed near me) in person or even online without becoming dense with the participants’ energy. Many times this kind of ‘support’ makes me feel helpless, stuck in some hell of my past again, not knowing what hit me. I’m in the process of figuring out how to educate myself & regulate myself as this exposure triggers old reactions & memories without resorting to my old tactics of becoming someone else to survive the moment.
            Deep breath.

            Dr. Gabor Mate is on the other side of the counter, I’m on this one, living the subversive act of healing. I find it’s quite a different perspective yet at the same time his thought process resonates with mine. The only thing I read by him was ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts’ & he had me laughing for days every time I pictured his addiction wearing ‘dainty white gloves.’ Lol. This guy is hilarious. I’m very much looking forward to reading ‘The Myth of Normal.’ I’m so grateful for people like him.

            Thankfully, I didn’t get hurt in the accident. Thanks for asking. My car is in the shop & I’m doing my best to put myself back together again every time life cracks me open. It is what it is.

            Thanks for the healing vibes – right back atcha : )

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  9. Graciela…you cease to amaze me…I have know and witnessed your inner conflict being stuck in a system that is broken and painful to endure. I believe in truth that there is nothing wrong with us, that we manifest into the “psych system” because of we endured in our lives which can be “crazy making.” Graciela you are a courageous warrior woman blessed with insight and massive determination!

    I remember the evening you came to my home and read me your submission to Mad in America; pained that your piece was rejected by MIA. As I heard you read your writing to me; I was personally struck by the constant tearing down of your truth almost as if discrediting yourself, your knowingness in almost an apologetic way. Graciela please don’t discount your truth and the ability to articulate your story, your truth in a very powerful and succinct way. All I can at this point is BRAVO and again you cease to amaze me by your profound and very powerful journey; escaping the trapped broken system. I applaud your tenacity.

    Graciela, you are the most beautiful blossoming flower that has been born out of your own raindrops, your tears and Graciela your inner knowing, are the sweet yet sometimes painful conflictuality that can emancipate and set “us” catapulting out of the darkness and painful truth that the existing system is broken dictating to us in their illusion “just take a pill or pull yourself out by your bootstraps, or the condescending I know what’s best for you.” I believe we all have within the power and tenacity to heal. Yet when drugged, I know from my own experience how painfully destructive numbing existed; feeling like a zombie, walking around life like the living dead. Our feelings need to be respected and respected tenderly…I believe all feelings are messengers saying pay attention to me…yes sometimes the journey out of “hell” can be terrifyingly painful yet are the keys that unlock our own personal prison. Again, whose definition of “normal” do we allow to dictate our lives; allowing doctors and other “well meaning people” in our lives to give our power away, maybe from that “hopeful child” position and ascribing others as “gods” in our lives. My denying my truth was for me the ultimate betrayal; allowing others to both define me and diminish my painful truth.

    Graciela I applaud you and your amazing journey out of the hellish existence; the dance with suicide…the utter blackness and despair and seemingly no hope of change, the hopelessness, WOW. All I can say Graciela is you have graced my life by your presence and your powerful story of your emancipation from psych drugs, smoking, suicide…yes, you Graciela are a beautiful flower of grace that can and already have touched others profoundly by your amazing story and eloquent portrayal, expressions through your gift of words! You are an abundant blessing to others and I wish for you continued blessings of grace wrapped in “LOVE” love for yourself and love for your precious existence.

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    • Dear Jenna Rai Miller,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my submission & to leave such a beautiful response. I have admired you since you trained me to give IOOV NAMI presentations. I remember how I shook (filled with flashbacks) as you held the door for me & I struggled to walk into the intensive psych unit in New Canaan to give a presentation where I had been hospitalized. I don’t work with NAMI anymore, but I will always admire you & am grateful you are in my life. Thanks for the support. How you’ve been able to accomplish so much with all the obstacles that were in your path is impressive. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me & for all the encouragement. I’m happy you are pleased with my essay. Thank you, Jenna, all of you.

      w/so much love!

      Grace or Graciela Signes

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  10. Graciela, what a beautifully written story. As a fellow survivor I get your story. I’ve been med free for almost 3 years, now. I was fortunate like you to find someone who could really help me. My story was published on this site too. Isn’t it wonderful to get a life, again??? I’m just sorry it took until my mid 60’s to get help. I wish you a wonder filled life. Congratulations!!!

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    • Dear Cathy Kreisman, thanks for reading my essay & sharing your story: ‘Recovering Emotions After 24 Years on Antidepressants.’ These days it’s so hard for me to accept that medications are the norm of treatment while research shows they are largely ineffective, harmful & not cost effective on society or the consumer while there are so many other ‘alternatives’ that on average, are none of those things. If only they didn’t have to compete. I’m happy you got in touch with your inner guidance via mediation. The picture you paint of your new life of self-discovery in Oregon sounds so lovely to me. Congratulations to you too!!!

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      • Yes, I don’t really trust the pharmaceutical industry at all anymore. The are pushing drugs with evidence that, at best is deceptive and at worst, lies. They probably manufacture some good drugs, but I don’t know what they are!!! No wonder people are interested in natural remedies. SIGH. At any rate, what you are going through will continue to evolve and improve. I’m amazed at how much your article has affected me. Know that I am thinking of you

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        • Cathy Kreisman
          I’m right there with you. I have no trust either. I’m haunted by the souls who are failed & dependent on the pharmaceutical industry. I have to help them, but I know I have to help myself first or else I will be no help to anyone. I’m thinking of you too. Your story is awesome & affected me as well. Thanks for sharing it.

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  11. Graciela, Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy you escaped the clutches of psychiatry and have your life back. It boggles the mind how people psychiatry routinely labels as disordered and hopeless are actually some of the most courageous and resilient people around.

    I noticed exactly what Alex did re your writing and beautiful responses to commenters and that “you are a bright shining light” and certainly have a beautiful spirit. I wish you all the best going forward.

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    • Rosalee, you said it, so much about this system boggles me too as I feel like I’ve just woken from a deep slumber to an upside down world. How did we get here as a society? How have we created this monster? How do we work together to keep shedding light on solutions. How do we upgrade the system so it can start supporting recoveries like mine & the others on this site? Seems we have a lot of work to do. Thank you for your good wishes & all the best for you as well.

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      • Yes Graciela I was asleep and brain-washed into believing the supremacy of psychiatry. I am now ashamed that I was relieved when my younger brother started getting “help” from a psychiatrist for depression following the breakup of his marriage. It wasn’t until he unexpectedly died under psychiatric “care” at the age of 40 and no reason for his death ever provided that I began questioning psychiatry. Then I had a very bad experience with a psychiatrist I unwittingly saw for “help with sleep meds” while in cancer treatment. I thought it was just my bad luck to have run into a narcissistic and VERY dishonest psychiatrist, that is until I found the MIA site in June of 2018. That was my awakening. And now I make it my mission to tell everyone I know and meet (including all mental health personnel) to check out the MIA site. There is strength in numbers, and every voice, every story will help wake up more people.

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        • Rosalee
          What century are we in & how is this legal? I can’t begin to imagine the whirlwind of emotions you were swept into after receiving news of your brother’s passing under Psychiatric care. Especially since you were also simultaneously attempting to gain clarity in regards to your life circumstance. I suspect you have your brother’s back up from the other side every step of the way on your mission. You must be a powerhouse of a woman for enduring, death, psychiatry, cancer & everything else that did not end you. Thanks for sharing some of your resilience here with me. I agree, there’s strength in numbers, and every voice can help wake up more people.

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      • How have we created this monster?

        “We” have not created it. “They” (social engineers backed by guns) have created it to define an “acceptable” reality which reinforces existing power structures, and to define those who step out of line as “disordered” and “sick.” And it works well for them, especially when we pick up their narrative of “health” and “illness” and run with it.

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  12. Ms. Signes, I applaud you in not only declaring succinctly how YOU feel regarding YOUR experience but ‘brushing back’ folks who attempt to disparage those views.

    My essay “Full Moral Status” Parts 1& 2 MIA/Feb & Comment section-may give u some insight on another perspective regarding this issue you have remarked on when publishing.

    Respecting any ‘veteran’s’ views on THEIR psychiatric experience & conclusions is essential on MIA…and everywhere else.

    Stand firm; your inherent graciousness should never be presumed as weakness or malleability waiting to be formed by another.

    Respect.

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      • Ms. Signes, re: about being a ‘bad girl’…I was an iconoclast and pirate to nth degree when I got lassoed into my lost decade; complex sedation seemed to be the way to make me want a conventional life, a Stepford Wife.
        I wrote with more detail regarding the interior process in my July-August 2018, 4-part essay on Rxisk.org, Dr. David Healy’s website- “The Unicorn: Changing a Diagnosis”.

        Part 2 & 3 are more detailed about how thoughts leading to a transformation; outrage and a clear assurance I was smarter than them all. All they cared about was the cost and liability issues. I had righteous ideology on my side (and research, legal experience, and preparation). I was dripping disdain…turned out I was right. They completely underestimated me.

        In the end I used that snarly energy to wrangle a massive reversal from the industry, with some luck and never giving up…and I was very ‘side-effect’ sick.

        Some people think expressing pride is unseemly. No one tells a Super Bowl champ they can’t be proud of their performance on the biggest stage… my ‘performance’ was much more significant.

        There are similar passages, as Dr. Healy allowed a much larger word count, etc. Sorry for any repetitions. I have a new essay coming out (somewhere) about how my exit doctor, following 2.5 years of trust, attempted to sexually blackmail me with only 30 days before release. Ugh.
        “Sex and Psychiatry: The Tranquilizing Drug of Trust…A White Knight Turns Dark”.

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        • Ms. Hartmann
          Thanks for bearing with me & keeping me on course as I got a bit off track in my last response. You’re right about pride. In my case, only, for now, I feel I have my ego on a tight leash, but I’ll cut it some slack as I get the hang of it.

          Also, thank you for sharing your accounts with such detail in “Full Moral Status” & “The Unicorn: Changing a Diagnosis.” You are one bad@ss unicorn. Your essays are surely helping many shed light on their realities as well as offering them instruction. I look forward to reading “Sex and Psychiatry: The Tranquilizing Drug of Trust…A White Knight Turns Dark” & other essays you might feel inclined to share.

          You’re inspirational. I love the quotes you share of those who inspire you. Here’s one that messaging with you has brought to mind, “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

          ― Nelson Mandela

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  13. Its not just the APA, its also Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family. They are two sides of the same coin and that coin is named “Self-Reliance Ethic”

    Its all a serious and potentially lethal source of denigration and toxic shame. Psychitary, Psychotherapy, and Recovery are just some of its enforcers.

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  14. I’d very much like to support Graciela here. Her courage and authenticity are palpable, and I believe she is breaking ground with her story and how she is using her voice. This is the brightest and most transparent example of transformation in process I’ve ever seen, word for word and in present time.

    Sharing beliefs is one thing, and has value in how we become familiar with the diversity of humanity. But imposing beliefs on another in a double binding way, expecting everyone to think, believe, and perceive the same way or something is “wrong” with you (or just plain, “you are wrong about you”), is EXACTLY what psychiatry does that is most oppressive and violating, and which does great harm if it is constantly chipping away at our own personal truth and questioning our sense of self. That is maddening. Mimicking this is, to my mind, what would keep psychiatry alive, because it validates their tools for oppression.

    Graciela, thank you for your powerful voice of truth and inspiration, and allowing your humanness to shine along with your light, paradoxes and all. It is refreshing and real. And I’ll go ahead and call it “change.” We are on our way. Blessings to you ♥

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    • Dear Alex,

      You hit the nail on the head. Mimicking the disturbing and indeed maddening tactics used by psychiatry is what will keep it alive. It can be a lot of work to shed the old ‘institutionalized’ consciousness, but it’s the only way we can transcend it. We have all been debilitated severely by the current model of care, including the commentators who give authors a hard time. Our voices have been snuffed out only to be resurrected by our innate superhuman-like efforts & fomented in forums like these. May we continue telling our stories until the same old narrative is but a memory. Thank you for noticing my faults & for your encouragement on the most challenging journey of my life. I’m fortunate to have received resonance & guidance from an ex psych patient like yourself. Many blessings for you as well & thank you.

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      • You speak good truth here, Graciela, glad we both resonate with this. A couple of things on which I wanted to comment, caught my eye and been sitting with these–

        When you talk about “commentators who give authors a hard time,” what that brought up for me immediately is how it makes me very uncomfortable when psych survivors give other psych survivors a hard time, that is my beef on this website, and what I most fail to understand as consistent with the desire to somehow unite for a purpose.

        And while I try to have eye to eye dialogues with established professionals on this site, I can certainly slip into giving some of them a hard time, because to me that is where we are looking for accountability. Maybe I shouldn’t be so discriminating, but I can’t help it. My only point with other surivors is to offer support and of course to dialogue and generate ideas and clarity (even though many have often given me a hard time), but I feel compelled to challenge the professionals, always respectfully, I hope, while also attempting to dialogue for the purpose of clarity and perhaps to manifest something new.

        But to challenge anyone practicing in the field feels totally reasonable, just, and fair to me, considering that we are looking to, AT LEAST, shift the balance of power in the “mental health” industry. To me, that is presicely the issue, and where this industry is most toxic, in the power dynamics. That’s where it is pure crap and totally undermines any potential for healing, imo.

        Problem is, this particular shift would more than likely bring down all of “mental health, inc.,” since it is totally 100% founded and based on power relationships, and I don’t think they can let go of this, which I believe is a recipe for disaster–exactly what we are constantly witnessing and about which we are protesting, most justifiably. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

        Also, I had a reaction when I saw “ex psych patient.” I have no issue or shame about this, in fact, I’m quite relieved that EX is part of this. Still, not sure I’d enjoy going through life with this as my primary identity, I think it carries stigma–in fact, it kind of IS the stigma. Were I to where a T-shirt that said this, I’d be branding myself. This may also give psychiatry legitimacy, this identity, I’m wondering about that, which is why I am bringing it up.

        I’m quite aware that a lot of people feel that things like this inevitably recur and that once “crazy” always “crazy.” For sure, I’m still crazy after all these years, but only the way any of us have our craziness, that is simply our shadow. Knowing who I am now, that’s what saves me from ever going back into such a perpetually ungrounded state, I’d have no excuse at this point, given all that I have learned, including powerful tools for energy maintenance. That’s just part of my daily regimen now, the way I nourish my body with food & water. Our energy needs clearing on a daily basis for us to remain fully in present time. That’s where we have the most power to heal and make change, in the NOW.

        But I’m done with living in fear of “recurrence,” I dropped that long ago. Healing is healing, and at some point, there is no going back, it sticks. We learn eventually how to not get too far away from our center, and always, always, always know how to get back to it. Biggest lesson ever because it heals fear and worry, and that is a huge relief to the body. Life should be fun and adventurous, and I believe taking risks is part of creating the life we most desire. But living in fear of recurrence can block us from doing this, I think, so at some point, it is helpful to address and ascend this, remembering our power of co-creatorship.

        I know, I know, yet another long post, but as always you inspire me! Idk, Graciela, you have a way of connecting me to my deeper information, which is really helpful to me. I hadn’t been able to get quite this clarity before, until I sat with what you had written.

        Not sure what I’d call myself now. Fully human, maybe? That feels good, and truthful! And hopefully, non discriminating. Aren’t we all just this?

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    • Hey Alex and Grace, re: ..imposing beliefs…”. One would think that if anybody had experienced the absolutist dictates of psychiatry and the attendant damages, they would be particularly sensitive to imposing that ‘method’ on anyone else, ever. Clearly, that’s not the case.
      Everybody experiences life, religion, politics, love….and psychiatry differently. There are some commonalities but always unique, important details.

      Some insistent voices ‘re-interpret’ other’s words, thoughts and meanings, ‘correcting’ them to correspond with their own beliefs…..relentlessly. Many of us have had enough of that outside of MIA ; this should be a safe venue to speak. I somehow believe Mr. Whitaker shares that thought.

      It seems self-sabotaging to offend the people you are attempting to ‘recruit’ to your POV. Browbeating is not an effective tactic for success.

      Having experienced drugged recruitment and enforcement in the psychiatric system, it’s terrible…but as a free-person, RESPECT regarding everyone’s unique lens, yet feeling free and safe to disagree appropriately is rare and so valuable.

      Life’s a buffet; if I don’t like it, I don’t choose it. As an adult, I don’t want anyone telling me EVER AGAIN….what’s best for me to put on my plate.

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  15. Thank you for sharing. I’m living in hell now. Along with my son who has been severely traumatized by psychiatric abuse and over drugging to point of almost death and time in ICU. I am his caregiver-advocate-payee-mother-and more. It seems I’m living from crisis to crisis with no break. I’m trying to taper off 23 years of meds. Klonopin being the most evil of meds to me. I’m suffering horribly. There seems to be no end- no meaning to my life. Please pray for me. I am where you described- I need to get better or die.

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    • mmarti2007, I have been praying for you & your son. If you haven’t already checked this site out, it might help as you taper: https://withdrawal.theinnercompass.org/
      I’m sorry you’re spread so thin with little relief. I have faith you will find a way to continue to navigate this warped system while you wean off benzos. By the way, congratulations on deciding to embark on the awesome & awful journey of coming off meds. I had been prescribed the same drug a while back too. It took me an eternity to realize that not even the scorching fires of hell can burn me forever & crisis mode is not the only way to get around in this life. Well, honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out or “rewire my brain.” I believe you got this, mmarti200. From my perspective, that son of yours is lucky to have a mom that cares as much as you do. Even on a bad day, thanks for reaching out to me.

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