I Made It Out Alive


I thought I had better get my personal story written as my health is in decline.

As a child I always thought and acted outside the box, totally oblivious to people around me. My interests and fascinations were with the natural world. A creative rather than a scholar. I was always getting into hot water, frustrating classmates and teachers alike. I just could not seem to toe the line socially, always missing cues. High school was exceptionally brutal with severe bullying resulting in my running away to the other side of the country. While there, I was told I needed counseling and I complied. I received counseling and more counseling, not really knowing the what for or why. I was so naive.

psych drugs

Following two failed marriages, I married for the third time. Life was fairly normal and quiet with children and clotheslines and school. However, following the birth of my third child, I became quite depressed and so the medication hit parade began. Doxepin, Amitriptyline, Prozac, Zoloft… I sought help again from a family doctor who gave B12 shots and diet advice and checked me for thyroid disease. Of course, the typical TSH and T4 tests did not pick up my soaring antibodies. I was sleeping 12 hours a day.

I had seen a presentation by a psychiatrist on Seasonal Affective Disorder and so I consulted him. Oh yes, I had S.A.D. He checked thyroid antibodies and the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was also made. This is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid gland.

He did not leave it at that, clever guy. The drugs hit parade started again with Trilafon, an antipsychotic as I was to learn decades later.

Following a move to California, another primary care physician perpetuated the drug parade by adding Xanax. I couldn’t sleep because I was exercising at night to try to lose the weight that the Zoloft had put on me, to no avail. The antidepressant and the benzodiazepine really messed me up. I couldn’t remember things and I was overweight, emotionally flat and unresponsive to sex.

A further move to another town in CA and a health system that preyed on the unsuspecting and uneducated signaled the descent of my life course. So much for my budding literary career. A nurse practitioner said I had to go to psychiatry because she couldn’t deal with my anxiety. (She had cold turkeyed me off of Paxil.) So off to the psychs I went. I didn’t understand why I had to go. I just wanted my simple life back.

Enter polypharmacy. Over a period of 17 years, I was drugged with over 47 different psych drugs. Maximum doses of neuroleptics and benzos and antidepressants, the psych telling me I had schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder and then saying he didn’t know and then saying tardive dyskinesia was not possible with Geodon. He was getting paid good money, though. My God! What the hell kind of monster was I ensnared by? I developed akathisia. I was depressed. I called a hotline, only to have the police come to my door with a mental health worker and cart me off to the psych ward. Suffering from drug side effects, I couldn’t eat or sleep. Due to such heavy and prolonged doses, paradoxical reactions occurred. I would go to the hospital numerous times for help and was tricked into being admitted by them (at least six times).

Locked up. Denied water at times. Denied a washer and dryer at times so I had to wear dirty underpants. They cut off my sweatshirt ties which were only about six inches long. Paranoid people. I remember standing at the window longingly looking out on the beautiful summer days, wishing for someone to come rescue me from such an awful place.

In the hospital you got herded like cattle to the nurse’s station to be force-fed your drug cocktail. Cold-turkeyed off your benzos. So constipated that you had to ask for a brown and white all the time. Denied showers at times. Filthy showers in staph-infested wards. The staff would say that Medi-Cal pays better than Medicare and they kept Medi-Cal people much longer. Punishing you for having emotions. I was locked in a room with no windows and only a hospital gown the first time I was there after calling a hotline. People gorging on food from taking Zyprexa and Seroquel. One man gained 10 lbs in a month and had akathisia so severe he never stopped pacing the halls all day until they gave him the Zyprexa. Horrible memories.

I don’t know what the catalyst was that sparked my mind but I do remember seeing a photo of myself and thinking I was going to die within a year if I didn’t do something to get off the drugs. I did do it. It took seven years, but I got off all of them and I am drug-free for 2 ½ years now.

There is no replacing the near 30 years that psychiatry took from me and my family. I am now 70 years old and in failing health which I attribute to those damn drugs. I hate psychiatry. It is evil and those drugs do kill people. I lost two friends to those drugs. I have seen productive and lovely people turned into dead-eyed robots like I was. I will never agree that any psych drug did anybody any good. I have seen too much to the contrary. For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by my experiences with pharma psych drugs and the legal pushers.

As an aside, the psychiatrist who drugged me was disciplined. The trial transcript is available online. Too little too late for many, though, and small consolation for the enormity of damage endured by myself and my family.

My remaining years, though complicated by chronically declining health, can be described as none other than exquisite, as my senses are fully restored and I made it out alive!

Editor’s note: The author has chosen to publish under a pseudonym due to concerns for her safety.


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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  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for what you and your family went through, and the huge losses you suffered.
    I believe that personal stories like yours are the most important ( more do than observations and opinions of people working in the field, no matter how well intentioned) thing that will bring about change.

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  2. Thank you for writing this. There aren’t even words for how horrendous this is:

    Enter polypharmacy. Over a period of 17 years, I was drugged with over 47 different psych drugs.

    You obviously have great courage to be able to survive what was done to you. I understand why you would detest psychiatry, I do as well. I wound up with probably a hundred “side” effects of pills I was given, many of them serious. I don’t believe the narrative of “but the drugs help some people”, the only legit medical use of these pills is to prevent someone taking them from getting a severe withdrawal syndrome. The pills cure nothing, and the sorry part of all of this is I have found there are tons of way safer alternatives, like a long list of herbs that treat anxiety and sleep issues for instance, so the pills were not even needed to begin with.

    I hope your recovery continues to bring you joy, life is truly beautiful, as long as we can get away from the hell that is (at least some) other people.

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  3. It extra sucks that you don’t feel comfortable sharing your name. The reach of psychiatry is too long and strong. It never ends once they get their hands on you.

    I’m in a writers group about mental health care. Even with real life in the flesh examples from the oldest members, that I would hope send the message to not take the drugs, the younger people who don’t fully trust psychiatry and are critical of it are still taking the drugs.

    So many reasons, I’m sure. Young people don’t think an old age besotted by drug cocktails will happen to them.

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  4. What can we do to prevent damage in new patients? By providing information and demandig that no prescription may be written without informed consent including warning of difficulties with tapering. Healthcare providers should also be obliged to check every three months whether medication is still the best solution. After all, coming off medication becomes more difficult after longer use.

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  5. To the writer of this piece

    I too have lost years – 50 years, in the pursuit of my Treatment Resistant Depression source. Just this past week I realized a key to my healing and want you to consider this thought.
    Never once had I recognized, that while I was undergoing the 50 years of treatment selections, that I was also experiencing TRAUMA simply by this pursuit. It was simultaneously happening with each new attempt that led to the wrong solution.
    – Up to now, I hadn’t known how to label the lost fifty years.
    Hoping wellness reaches you soon.

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Do you mean you suffered trauma from the constant struggle; step by step, medication by medication,
      to get the right treatment for your depression?

      It’s something that I am able to imagine. As a member of a patientsassociation for safe withdrawal I read stories like yours every day.

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      • Both – Trauma from Each individual attempt to find the right solution and the culmination of AN ENTIRE lost time period of 50 years as a Trauma.

        No one ever considered my emotional stamina or pain while I suffered from Treatment Resistant Depression treatment searching.

        Fortunately I changed paths from the psycho pharmaceutical world after 30+ medications and 3 hospitalizations and nearly every conventional treatment idea and headed to nutrition and nutrient supplementation with lab supported testing to verify nutrient deficiencies.
        Wonderful book ‘Nutrient Power’ /Wm. Walsh.

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  6. Please know at least consider that it is not always better to live. Criminal psychiatry ten years no end in sight, ro relief, no mercy, no justice. Criminal psychiatry, actual violations of the state mental heatlh code, coupled with state retaliation. Sounds crazy but true, documented. I have never found a story anything like mine, and I read these pages. The retailiation has made it impossible for me to earn a living. The mental torture and other damages has devastated all areas in my life. At 58 losing my ability to walk. Isolated. Terririfed. Suffering too much, too long.

    Why should I be terrorzied with homelessness and the possiblity of another retaliatory lock up on top of isolation and extreme mental and physcial pain?

    There should be euthanasia for victims of psychiatry like me. Forcing me to endure mental torture and endure annihilation slowly is not okay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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  7. Mary thanks so much for writing part of your story.
    It can and will save someone, or perhaps a few and that makes
    it so very worthwhile.
    Someone will read this and warn the younger ones.

    I NEVER doubt that there is a lot of worth to personal accounts and
    getting them out to the public.

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