Loss, Grief, and Betrayal: Psychiatric Survivors Reflect on the Impact of New Serotonin Study

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Loss, grief, and a sense of betrayal are felt deeply by many who have been affected by the myth of the chemical imbalance—a myth given so much attention over so many decades that it became the most pervasive way we understood emotional suffering. The myth of the chemical imbalance became so powerful that it overcame the truths of the human condition itself.

With the recent publication of the Moncrieff et al study, which reviewed decades of research, the chemical imbalance myth was shown to have no support in scientific evidence. The theory of a chemical imbalance is a myth, and has always been a myth.

As psychiatric survivors, we—Karin Jervert and Marnie Wedlake—were inspired by the paper and the attention it gained. Thinking about all those who are now realizing they have been lied to by doctors, family, and friends, we took some time to look back on what it felt like when we came to that realization. We hope it will help those going through the endless layers of anger, grief, and loss after learning of this betrayal. 

A collaborative art piece by Marnie and Karin. A drawing of the solitary cell Karin was in days after 9/11/2001 overlayed onto a photograph of the window in the room Marnie spent 333 days in, the longest of her inpatient stays at the London Psychiatric Hospital during the early 1990s.
What do those in power do when a significant weapon of control, like the chemical imbalance theory, is deconstructed and decommissioned?

Karin: The chemical imbalance theory has served a very real purpose of social control.

So, it’s really important that we realize where we are as a people right now. At its root, this is a public conversation about human suffering. With the serotonin theory of depression finally being put to rest and the biomedical model in question on a wider scale, it is open hunting season for a new narrative around why we suffer.

Who else will take the reins of public opinion and use it to their advantage? So many people are realizing the massive harm that has been done to them and their loved ones, and we should be watching for anyone sowing more discord rather than encouraging the very careful and purposeful healing that needs to be done here.

The biomedical model, of which the serotonin theory of depression is a part, has always been best at two things in Western society. One of those things is self-blame—drawing the external circumstances of systemic oppression, in all its forms, into our own bodies so we would ignore the ways the system we existed in failed us.

Secondly, it was and still is such an effective way to make a profit from taking a group of discontented people suffering under oppressive systems and shut them up—pile on the stigma, and put them away.

Marnie: Psychiatry may admit to not knowing what causes “mental illness.” Psychiatry may profess dedication to finding what causes “mental illness,” but only if these “causes” align with the heavily favoured biomedical narrative. Too often, suggestions of anything that might be causal which do not align with the biomedical narrative are met with venom and vitriol. This is not scientific inquiry. By its demonstration, psychiatry is not doing research to find the cause of mental illness.

Psychiatry is doing research to confirm the narrative needed to legitimize its existence. Survivors are left wondering, where are our voices in this quest to find the cause? How is it that an entire sub-specialty of medicine, aided and abetted by all of its secondary players, can be deaf to the voices of those of us who say we have been harmed by our time in their systems of care? Simply stated, our experiences do not fit in their story.

How do we live with the constant fear of being ourselves after being involuntarily detained or treated by psychiatry, an industry that can coerce, gaslight, inflict violence, traumatize, and chemically restrain a person at any moment for any reason?

Karin: The trauma of being put away for what we term as psychiatric experiences, without any say in your care, left me knowing one thing more than anything else in this life. The cruelty of others is immeasurable and can never be underestimated. Especially those who say they care.

Can you imagine? This is what I walk in the world with every day since I was 21. It is not true. The opposite could be and is often just as true. But because of the treatment I experienced and the betrayals of doctors, my family and friends, this is what I know better than anything else. I also know I am not free. I have a note on my medical records that makes me less free. If freedom is a real thing, I am less free because I cannot get angry, sad, or frustrated. I cannot call out anyone with power over me or be myself for fear of retribution in the form of incarceration in a psychiatric institution.

I am even afraid being a queer woman with tattoos. Because that seems one more way this power dynamic could be used to put me away on a hair trigger. This fear is not negligible, it is not dismissable. It is real.

The thing to keep in mind, for those who have learned about the Moncrieff et al study, is that when you go to your doctor to say, “so, I don’t have a chemical imbalance…?” Please be prepared for the gaslighting that will ensue. There are resources for meeting with your doctor from the organizations we mention below.

Marnie: Being deeply entrenched in the system as a patient was, for me, a prolonged period of assimilation and indoctrination. How I was supposed to think about and understand my thoughts, my feelings, my self—all of this was dictated to me by those who were in charge of my care. Accepting their authority, without question, was expected. In this regard, there was no choice but to accept the biomedical narrative, and what that narrative meant for me.

The brutality of coercion, especially on the inpatient units, was stealthy, not visible to outsiders. Orders were given. Consent was not informed. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Looking back, I see that so much, that was so wrong, was dictated to us, as patients in a psych hospital. We were made to believe the unacceptable was acceptable.

And there was no choice but to use psychiatry’s beliefs to explain the distress and internal chaos that were my norm. To question those beliefs was to question psychiatry’s authority, and questioning that authority was akin to being a non-compliant “behaviour problem.” It didn’t take long before any will to question, to wonder, was gone. This is just how it was.

Through willful blindness, psychiatry, and mental health care more broadly, push people to the margins of their own communities. Inherent within the experiences of being identified and “treated” as one who is “mentally ill” is a process of separation. To identify someone as a mental patient is to render them fundamentally different from a socially constructed norm. To be distinguished in this way is to be separated from one’s kin. Being isolated in this way creates a loneliness like no other.

Ad nauseam, mainstream mental health care responds to statements like ours by saying, “this is stigma, we’re fighting against stigma!” That same willful blindness disguises the fact that this stigma, that mainstream mental health care is apparently campaigning so valiantly against, is actually a direct by-product of a system of “care” that insists on medicalizing and pathologizing natural and expected responses to trauma and adversity.

What does a person do who finds they have been so deeply betrayed by those who claimed to be helping them—by doctors, society, friends, and family?

Karin: In all my work as an activist there was something reassuring, I guess, about the narrative being something like a barge that we had to turn, and that barge was stubborn and heavy and big…and slow. It was reassuring because I also knew very well how slow healing happens. Something about the slowness made me think that the healing that needed to happen could happen while we moved people towards understanding their suffering differently.

But the Moncrieff et al study is waking a lot of people up to their psychiatric survivor status very abruptly. Some may be realizing that a loved one who died by suicide might have been a victim of psychiatry. That is a lot to come to terms with.

I look at what happened to me when I realized the damage that had been done by those that peddled the “chemical imbalance” theory of suffering, when I realized the lie I was told. And the thing I remember most is the betrayal and anger. The rage really. I mean, I can still feel it. It’s very real inside me still when I think about it. I nearly threw up thinking about how many people this is happening to right now since this study was published because I remember what this was like.

For those who are feeling this for the first time, I want to say something important. Please listen to psychiatric survivors’ experiences with withdrawal and do not cold turkey the antidepressants. I know they are a little grenade in your mouth, swallowing some kind of trauma bomb, the pain of that is real. It ends up feeling like a retraumatization every time you put that thing up to your lips. And you know there was so much more wrong with your world than a broken brain when they put you on them. You know no one was listening to what you told them about the ways they hurt you, the ways your grief was silenced and ignored, the ways the abusers were just given a pass to keep abusing you…I know.

But, the dangers of SSRI withdrawal are real and so horrific, too. I know… when does it end? You know where it ends? When you find peers to talk to about what this feels like. We’ve got some resources at the bottom of this page to check out for support.

Marnie: Friends disappeared. Family members chose the diagnoses. Society saw me as a mental patient. “Healers” were anything but. Everyone who knew me saw a mental patient first. No one listened. It seemed they saw no need for this. What I had to say was filtered through a prescribed lens, the lens of psych diagnoses.

My self? My person? My individuality? These were exchanged for the identity that was applied to me by psychiatry, the ruling authority. This was an authority that became everything. It didn’t take long to figure out that speaking as me was viewed as “talking back.” Accepting the silencing and the oppression was essential. To do otherwise made all that was so hard, that much harder.

If those who care about and for us don’t know they are betraying us, is it actually betrayal? Yes. Absolutely and without doubt. And when I think about this, and I think about speaking with family about this, my history of experience suggests their responses would show their sensibilities had been offended. “We didn’t know. We did what we thought was best.”

Really, it felt as though no one genuinely wanted to know … about me, about why I was so distressed. References to trauma and adversity were stuffed behind the diagnoses. The diagnoses were what mattered. And so, like many, I internalized the belief that all I had experienced didn’t count … none of it mattered, and certainly not enough to offer any viable explanation … I was the problem. Like those nightmares where you’re screaming but no sound is coming out of your throat … it doesn’t take long to learn there’s no point in screaming … apathy takes root.

Long after the time when I emancipated myself from the system, the silencing and the oppression continued. I used to think it was possible to move beyond this sense of betrayal. I’m no longer so sure … so much damage was done … I see subtle signs that broken trusts may not ever be repaired. When I watch myself, I see that I’m guarded, almost always … I don’t need to wonder where this comes from. What do I do with this sense of betrayal? Mostly, I keep it hidden.

How do we sit with the layers of grief and loss as we look back at the ways our lives could have been different?

Karin: In the last few years, I have turned to earth based spirituality—camping, gardening, art making (of course), and writing. These things saved me from falling into a constant state of rage. And that kind of rage, I feel, is more effective than even psychiatry at destroying a person. So I had to let it go the best I could.

But, still, with everything I went through, the anger and the pain are sometimes so overwhelming. The fact that what I was told about my suffering was all an unproven lie, that I had nearly lost everything, including my life, to their treatment while everyone I loved looked on, convinced of their compassion for me, was a betrayal of almost unimaginable proportions. Even as I got well, a horrific journey towards it through withdrawal, and forgave the people in my life I could, the anger only amplified—how much suffering could a “healer” inflict on someone who came to them in pain?

It’s mind blowing. It was absolutely horrific. Like Marnie, I lost friends, was in conflict with seemingly everyone just to find freedom from what I knew was killing me. I was isolated from my community. The feeling of this loss, for me, was like a grenade going off in my chest every day.

To all those bombs going off all across the world right now post-Moncrieff et al, please, please find us—psychiatric survivors—we can get through this together.

Marnie: The past is the past … many talk about the importance of letting go, of moving on … but awareness isn’t in the past, and there are times when the layers of grief, the feelings of loss, can feel as though they will crush my chest, taking away my very breath. Grief comes in waves—tidal waves—without warning, they wash into, and over, my life, my self. Awareness of all that was lost, taken, stolen … this lives as a permanence within me. How can it not?

While my emancipation is without regret, my history is alive. All that never was and will never be … these realizations come as a deafening roar that can fill my mind. In those times when this despairing turmoil lands in my awareness, it brings with it a loneliness, inspired by knowing that most of the people I know and interact with in my day-to-day life do not—cannot—come even close to relating to any of this. It’s a deeply felt loneliness, and these feelings of invisibility and invalidation stay fresh in my mind. Choices are made based on this sticky residue. And so, sitting with this grief means living with more self-silencing. It’s become the lesser of evils.

How is our culture isolating us from each other and preventing us from feeling safe being ourselves in the world?

Karin: This for me, has always boiled down to marketing. It’s important to ask what, about any messages you receive, is in their own interest for you to believe about yourself and others? Regarding the question here, who does it serve to limit what resources in mental health we believe are available to us? What we believe about what dangers lurk in the community around us? The media creates narratives around all this, and narrative creates our “reality,” or a version of it anyway.

The stories we tell each other about mental health and community resources around emotional suffering are at the core of our survival—as individuals and a community.

Sowing divisiveness and conflict is a part of a constant barrage of messaging. There is an “us” and a “them.” And emotional suffering makes you a vulnerable “them,” so it should be avoided, “fixed,” or shut down immediately. No less important is the narrative of lack that makes its imprint on our social and inner lives—constantly putting us in a state of disappointment in ourselves, our bodies, and our identities. We always have something to reach for to “fix” what is wrong with us, but it is never reaching for one another, or community resources, for the compassion and validation we need.

Alternative resources exist in the Mad Pride Movement, the Psychiatric Survivor movement and other movements in the field of mental health. Alternative narratives that conflicted with the biomedical model, like Open Dialogue, for example, which is a wonderful way to approach altered states, never gained the traction they deserved. Because it dared to think people could recover, and considered the faults of the systems around a person instead of blaming their chemistry.

Marnie: To be a mental patient is to be exposed every day to layers of messages that become deeply internalised. These shape us. They shape our sense of self. They shape how we see ourselves. They shape how we see ourselves in relation to others. They shape how we see ourselves in relation to the world around us. This is institutionalization. This is indoctrination. This is oppression.

We are all individuals having individual experiences. If we cannot be fully human without worrying what this means for us, if we cannot experience the full range of our humanness, without worrying that there might be something wrong, then we cannot be in the world in a manner that is safe.

To this day, all these years later, enormous ongoing effort is required to go against, to undo, these internalized messages. Some days, to walk in the world, while habitually looking over my shoulder, requires a lot of energy … and FFS it requires a lot of grit and courage. It feels as though this grit and courage is invisible to most people … how can it not be?

There is a growing international community who are creating safe spaces where those suffering with emotional distress can be seen, heard, acknowledged and validated.

Karin: The dialogue here isn’t turning towards peers and that is deeply disturbing to me. There is still such a deep distrust for those who have suffered and survived psychiatry, withdrawal, and emotional distress. This creates yet more space in this void of the story of suffering for those who have no idea what it actually means to survive it to dictate treatment for it.

If there is anything I would like to see from this space that is open to new voices around the cause of mental distress since the Moncrieff et al paper, it is that peers, activists, and critical psychiatry voices get the say they deserved all along. We have been silenced long enough.

Marnie: People are seeing through the illusions. They’re seeing the disconnects. They’re asking questions. The dominance of the biomedical narrative is fraying, fragmenting, breaking down. The flimsiness of this “neuromythology” is becoming increasingly apparent. The false nature of these things that have been widely sold as discrete, discernable “mental illnesses” is being seen for what it is, by more people than ever before.

Our human condition is anything but tidy. To be fully human is to accept, even embrace, the chaos that is inevitable, and essential to negotiating the messy terrain of daily living. Being ourselves without fear of reprisal, without fear that any part of who and how we are will be medicalized or pathologized, is essential to wellbeing. For me, living with my grief, my internal chaos, the thoughts and feelings that are challenging for me (and sometimes others) has been made that much more bearable by the international community of like-minded people …. those of us who fully inhabit our humanness.

Conclusion

For six decades, a highly effective propaganda campaign sold the chemical imbalance theory to millions of people all over the world. Whether psychiatry believed it matters little when juxtaposed against the countless lives that have been damaged by the myth of the chemical imbalance.

An uncritical acceptance of the dominant biomedical narrative by health care systems and providers, the media, and Joe & Josephine Citizen, has enabled what Paulo Freire called a “pedagogy of the oppressed.” The oppressors and the oppressed are blinded to a vicious cycle of oppression. Feeling states that are not happy and/or peaceful have become widely rejected aberrations. Tolerance of suffering has become diminished to the point that any despair, fear, or states of distress and internal chaos have become “symptoms of disorder.”

This widely adopted, societally constructed belief, enabled intolerance of suffering as well as a form of social control. Restricting the full range of emotions that are part of the human condition, through the psychiatric/pharmaceutical paradigm, has created strict rules of which emotions are “good” and which are “bad.” The psychiatric survivor movement brings forth the idea that all emotions, held safely and together, can lead to healing.

If you now realize you are one of the countless lives that have been damaged and you are feeling betrayed and overwhelmed by grief and loss, know that the psychiatric survivor network is here to help you heal.

Resources

Project Lets: https://projectlets.org/
IIPDW (International Institute of Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal): https://iipdw.org/
Inner Compass: https://www.theinnercompass.org/
Will Hall’s Harm Reduction Manual: https://willhall.net/comingoffmeds/
Surviving Antidepressants: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/
Wildflower Alliance: https://wildfloweralliance.org/
Fireweed Collective: https://fireweedcollective.org/
The Ashton Manual: https://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

***

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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Karin Jervert
Karin Jervert is an artist, author and psychiatric survivor. Certified in eCPR and currently working towards certification in Personal Medicine. Her artwork including essays, visual art, graphic narratives, and poetry explores self empowerment, normalization of suffering and the power of creative expression to transform trauma - particularly trauma experienced as a result of forced psychiatric treatment. Her study of Buddhism and improvisational comedy find their way into her work as well.
Marnie Wedlake
Marnie Wedlake is a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario, a registered psychotherapist, and an ex-mental patient. In the early 1990s, she was embedded deeply in the mental health system. In 1994 Marnie extricated herself from the system, started volunteer work, then completed a master’s degree. She started working full-time again, and went on to do her PhD.

50 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you, Brain Chemical Imbalance is a myth, a very harmful myth. Everyday people in vulnerable circumstances are being convinced of this, and hence led into distrusting their own feelings.

    And this is true as California Governor Gavin Newsom is setting up special courts to subject people to involuntary psychiatric procedures.

    And behind this are people like Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg who put his own daughter into the psychiatric system at the age of 13, and State Senator Susan Eggman whose family also put someone into the psychiatric system.

    And then Thomas Insel, Newsom’s Mental Health Czar, who seems to want everyone to be on medications to regulate and normalize them, and he also has drugs which make people feel the euphoria of sex, and also LSD. And his Mindstrong start up will have people on drugs, checking in with their therapist via their cell phone.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2022/04/saving-lives-cementing-stigma-review-just-like-you/#comment-199275

    Joshua

  2. Thank you for giving voice to the feelings I’ve been having since the study came out. I do feel like the media are trying to diminish, dismiss, and even mock, the study and or it’s authors (Rolling Stone did a real hit job), which robs people who have been through the psychiatric ringer of being able to enjoy feeling vindicated and validated by the study. Well, that’s par for the course isn’t it?

  3. Betrayal by psychiatry starts with their DSM. All the DSM is, labels to hang onto
    people.
    It only serves psychiatry and medical.

    The nicest shrink is part of these betrayals and lies.

    Psychiatry is responsible for much more disability, suffering, than there ever needed to be.
    Not to mention destruction of the person, even to point of death.

    They are no more than the gossip in schoolyards, where a group of kids starts labeling someone for whatever it is the group wants to pick on.

    The problem starts when the receiver of these labels believes these lies. And even if a big part of them does not believe, it will rock their confidence in themselves for a lifetime.
    They have been labeled, branded, like a heretic.
    And the records that follow them is nothing short of being hunted.

    It is the witchhunts and labels of being a heretic of old.

    People do not change. There will always be a segment of the population that delights in
    labeling, always a huge segment of those who believe this garbage.

    And there will always be those who find out just how ruthless the powerful can be.
    If we want to believe in Mental Illness, we can start right at psychiatry. We can call the
    ruthless lying business of psychiatry “ill”.

  4. Clive Staples Lewis:
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.”

    • Absolutely, the “mental health professions” are the “omnipotent moral busy bodies” of our society. They nose themselves – and repeatedly try to nose themselves – into your life under the guise of “help” … but do nothing but lie, defame, gas light, discredit, silence, and poison you.

      Thank you, Karin and Marnie, for speaking out about the justified anger one has at being repeatedly lied to, silenced, defamed, and neurotoxic poisoned – by people who had promised to “first and foremost, do no harm.”

      I pray some day that the crimes and lies of the “mental health professions” – especially against the artists – some day is truthfully told in the art history books. In part so psychiatry, and everyone else, can learn from history … instead of repeating the worst of history over and over and over again.

      Marc Chagall, a Jew who survived the Nazi psychiatric holocaust of the Jews, painted the war within, that psychiatry wages against the people of every country. But he also painted the love story that exists within the collective unconscious of all of humanity.

      I pray that some day, we may bring to fruition the love story that exists within the collective unconscious, and end psychiatry’s and psychology’s ongoing war against the people of their own nations.

      I pray for a mutually respectful society some day. And a book of scientifically “invalid” stigmatizations has less than zero to do with a mutually respectful society, it promotes the antithesis.

  5. Okay. When Prozac was new, my mother was working as a receptionist for a psychiatrist. I was depressed. Perhaps because my marriage was failing. But, I was diagnosed as bipolar2 at 59 decades later. A week after starting Prozac, I felt so amazing! I phoned the doctor. He laughed at me. Said it takes at least 3-4 weeks to have effect. I don’t want to write a novel, but SSRIs literally ruined my life. Induced Hypomania! Lasts me 3 months minimum. Followed by severe depression. Rinse and repeat. They freaking knew!!!

  6. From what I’ve read and understand on the topic, it seems there has been a critical media mistake on the interpretation of the meta research paper in question. My understanding is that the paper, using meta analysis, demonstrated that serotonin drugs do not work through what was once thought to be the active pathway for alleviating depression. IE through moderating serotonin levels in the brain. This does not disprove the theory that depression may be due to a chemical imbalance, nor that serotonin drugs are of no benefit for alleviating depression, only that they don’t work via moderating serotonin levels. Furthermore, drugs used for many other psychoactive and non psychoactive purposes, rely on moderating the levels of a variety of neurotransmitters, and other chemical compounds found in the human body. Therefore, these drugs, working through a multitude of chemical pathways exert their beneficial effects by influencing concentrations of chemical compounds in the human body. Therefore, it can be strongly argued that these compounds work by restoring, or creating a more benificial balance of chemicals, such as neurotransmitters.

    • Here’s the thing. In science, the hypothesis is considered FALSE until proven otherwise. It is not anyone’s job to ‘disprove’ the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory, it is the claimant’s job to prove that there IS such an imbalance present. Moncrieff is quite specific in stating that there is no proof of a ‘chemical imbalance’ in serotonin in depressed patients. That’s her conclusion, and her only conclusion. And that is sufficient. The claim has been out there since the 1960s, it is now 60 years later and there is no evidence that it is true. In the world of science, this means it is considered FALSE. Especially given how many billions of dollars have been invested in unapologetic attempts to prove it is true. At some point, we have to accept that failure to prove truth is ultimately proof of falsehood, and Moncrieff is saying we have reached that point.

      Of course, it does not mean no one has a ‘chemical imbalance’ or that some other chemical might or might not be ‘imbalanced’ or that no one experiences relief from feeling depressed via taking antidepressants or other psychoactive drugs. It simply proves that what is currently defined in the DSM as ‘depression’ is not CAUSED by low serotonin. This truth was actually known as far back as 1985, before Prozac was even brought to market. The main reason people believe in this idea is pharmaceutical marketing, product placement and script alteration in TV shows and movies, and the support of the psychiatric industry for this fiction. There was never a time when the serotonin theory was supported by hard data.

      Finally, the argument that the drugs make people feel better by mysterious means does not suggest that these drugs are correcting chemical imbalances. Alcohol is possibly the world’s best short-acting anti-anxiety agent. Are you arguing that getting mildly intoxicated corrects a chemical imbalance? Humans have taken in various substances to alter their mood since the beginning of history. Saying that ‘psychiatric drugs make people feel better’ is a trivial result. So do non-psychiatric drugs. Discovering that ingesting substances can alter moods is hardly new news. What would have to be in place to prove something of this nature is that people lacking a particular chemical ALWAYS or ALMOST ALWAYS feel a certain way, and that altering that chemical ALWAYS or ALMOST ALWAYS makes them feel OK again. People lacking in iodine have certain characteristic symptoms. Most have some or all of the same symptoms. Taking iodine almost always resolves the situation. This shows a lack of iodine is the cause of the symptoms. Nothing of this nature exists for any psychiatric ‘disorder’ or drug. That is what Moncrieff is saying. No evidence means no evidence. Depression is NOT caused by low serotonin, regardless of how people feel when they take serotonin-enhancing drugs. That is science, not opinion.

    • I could come up with a bunch of theories and hypotheses too but I’m not about to call myself a doctor and Drug people based on my made-up theories and hypotheses and then tell patients it’s their fault when they get worse and that they are treatment resistant and that everyone else responds excellently to my drugs and maybe it’s time for some ECT.
      This line of thinking makes me want to puke. Psychiatrists need to admit that they’re not real doctors, they have never been real doctors, they just play at science, play at medicine (take money from Big pharma) and are never held accountable for their lies and destruction of lives.

  7. things will never get better

    we are a few and the other side is millions of times stronger

    try adding someone’s fucked idea of god to the fuckage

    there is no cure for the rage

    Dem Us Sen Debbie Stabenow from my state Michigan (stay away hellhole) public enemy and public danger who spreads “chemical imbalance” has been working on so called mental health care and drug prices for a long time and doesn’t feel it convenient for her political career to recant “chemical imbalance.”

    https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2022/08/09/stabenow-pushes-lower-drug-prices-more-mental-health-centers/10264696002/?fbclid=IwAR0rBQOqJBlTdx282alwgKgh3HuafcpCOTP4yZ3xLG8aiKryBzspO6tfouA

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/post-live-2019-mental-health-and-the-addiction-crisis/?utm_term=.817dfe822a26&fbclid=IwAR1jcKc4iocVBZi4EcSHZnD9OGC22G-yqdDlOy9jFhoBnooJG7cQqwolf2E

    I monitor the media some. there has been very little positive coverage of the old news of “chemical imbalance.”

    Cheerleading is nice, support is nice, but the reality is things won’t get better and the rage and criminal psychiatry will kill me slowly.

  8. I still remember sitting in the office of a psych NP in my early 20’s, being told that “you need medication in the way a diabetic needs insulin.” Or “you need pills to be who you really are.” I was devastated, and humiliated to hear that. I’m sure there are some people who benefit from meds, and I may still need some, but a lot of what my doctors labeled a Chemical imbalance was really the emotional dysregulation and instability that came from trauma, and growing up in a codependent family system. I really did feel humiliated and upset to have my symptoms dismissed as “you have issues.”

    I was eventually diagnosed with BPD. Getting that diagnoses, and going through trauma therapy opened the door for me to find real healing, and help for my condition. Learning to re-regulate, developing a more stable sense of self has helped me immensely.

  9. “know that the psychiatric survivor network is here to help you heal.”

    I have found this to be untrue… for myself. I tried accessing support from several of the resources listed, and was made to feel inadequate, wrong, and a burden. I was told by one of these agencies that if I wanted support I should contact the Social Security Administration, an answer that was in direct conflict with the support and advocacy services listed on their website. I also encountered people who bought into the stigma around borderline and people who suggested that what I needed was more treatment.
    Project Let’s advertised a psychiatric survivor workshop, then said it was postponed and they would be in touch with the people who signed up,…that was the last I heard. I emailed them 3 days ago to ask if there were any updates and I have not heard anything back.

    Some of us are truly alone after enduring the horrors inflicted by this system. In my case, those lasted 40 years and I have no confidence that I will never be harmed again by the system. I am aging alone without family, friends or support of any kind and I am terrified. I wonder who these resources are designed to help.

    • Case in point, the below was just copied and pasted from the Project Let’s website, on a page that makes it seem like they have crisis support available and that there is an intake form, but then there is no intake form. When you click on the link that looks like the link for the intake form you get nothing.

      This is irresponsible and runs a very real risk of re-traumatizing people. I have run into similar situations with Wildflower Alliance. Probably the worst thing you can do to someone who has been abused, traumatized and sickened by the mental health system is to offer support that doesn’t exist. Maybe for people who are in their 20s and 30s and still have some energy left, or people who have family or other resources, and some time to figure things out, this could work (I was told by someone at the Wildflower Alliance that it takes years to find support in Western massachusetts. Not everyone has years). If there is no support service don’t advertise on your website that there is. Someone might actually take you seriously and then use whatever energy they have left to relocate only to be disappointed and rejected once again. Don’t say that there are people who will go to the doctor with you. It’s not true and it’s extremely irresponsible.

      Project Lets

      CRISIS SUPPORT
      Crisis situations often stem from multiple unaddressed issues with a person’s ability to exist comfortably in their environment. Whether you are in crisis, approaching crisis, or supporting someone in crisis — slow down, take a moment to sense what is happening in your body, and remember that you do not need to navigate this alone.

      I need immediate crisis support.
      PROJECT LETS PEER SUPPORT SERVICES:

      Fill out and intake form.

    • Kate (I thought you were Katel…), thank you for voicing the despair so many of us feel. I don’t have the words to tell what happened to me. And, while I have family, I am alone. I was sucked into the mental health system beginning in 1967 or 1968. I am autistic but that did not exist back then for people like me. No one ever stopped to determine what was actually going on with me. Instead, drugs, ECT treatments, hospitalizations… I lost most of life. My husband lost his wife. My children lost their mother. My siblings lost a sister and my parents lost a daughter. I am still here, obviously. But the scars run so deep that they will never be eradicated. Over a 30 year period, I was prescribed nearly 40 different drugs. I was told my condition would likely deteriorate and that I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life. But I was never “mentally ill”. I was (am) autistic and lived in an alien world. No one ever asked what was going on. I quit the drugs in 2018. It was hell. For years. I am in my early 70s and am navigating my own life. I really appreciate people like you and the authors of this article who can voice more articulately what happened to us. So, thank you. And, like you, I really, really wish there was some support out there for people like us.

      • Thank you, Anna. Your story mirrors mine in many ways. We were never “mentally ill”… just needed some support and understanding. At the very least, I hope that this website and others like it serves as a repository for all of the stories of people who’ve suffered in this inhumane/inhuman system. Maybe 50 years from now, historians will write books about how atrocious this whole thing was — the labeling, the drugging, the ostracization, based on almost zero information about the person they are purporting to help. The way they write books about lobotomies and asylums now.

        • Hi Kate, hi Anna Magdalena

          My heart hurts when reading that you find yourself without support and have to find a way how to live on in the wake of the psychiatric violence and harm that you have endured. Please know that I will include you in my love and compassion prayers.

          I will pray that you may be held in compassion in your pain and that your pain may be eased. And that you may find the support from others and from inside of you to take one day after another until you feel again that you will make it because you realise again that there was never anything wrong with you. Not in the past, not now.

          I am healing myself by praying these for myself and I find that it very powerful.

          I can fully relate to the difficulties that you describe in finding adequate support in this situation. I cannot guarantee that you will find those helpful, nor that you can find immediate support but you might still want to try these resources:

          East Side Institute’s Creating Our Mental Health monthly online group: https://eastsideinstitute.org/creating-our-mental-health/

          You might find help with your local re-evaluation counseling support group: https://www.rc.org/
          (I imagine the quality of these groups varys wildly but I know of several people that have received invalubale support in such groups)

          The online courses at the peer-run Copeland Center and their training in Wellness Recovery Action Planning with their
          Seminar I: https://copelandcenter.com/

          You might also think about trying a mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) course. It might not be sensible to disclose the fact that you were harmed by psychiatric treatment given that the facilitators are often believers of clinical psychology and psychotherapy. But the training itself is not a clinical approach but very much the opposite. For me this is the most important foundational practice that I do to help myself grieving.

          • Thank you, Lina. I think having an adult son who went through hell as a child and now takes it out on me in attack texts, for the last 5 years, while I am alone and disabled, practically bedridden (but when I told him that he got more angry, “poor you, playing the victim”.) I think the damage is too much.

  10. “The feeling of this loss, for me, was like a grenade going off in my chest every day” this is exactly what it feels like.

    When you’re harmed by psychiatry, you’re not just destroyed once and it’s done.
    This harm and grief has to be carried every second of every day.

    We have to somehow put our lives back together after having our nervous system decimated by these drugs while grieving for the loss of what our lives could have been.

    Thank you to the authors for putting this into words what I’m still not able to say.

    • “Could have been”. I was pretty darn happy with my life. I accomplished so much, in spite of occasional bouts of depression, or its opposite. Took my wife continued urging. Sought help at 59!
      I feel … I can’t describe it. Without being offensive.
      You all understand. She’s learned to.
      I’m not a failure. I want to live long enough to see justice done. It, and my dependents give hope.
      Edit. I’m so happy I can edit!

    • “We have to somehow put our lives back together after having our nervous system decimated by these drugs while grieving for the loss of what our lives could have been.”

      That is wonderfully said!

      I developed severe OCD five years ago following a very traumatic break-up. What I didn’t realise back then was that my OCD was probably a trauma response and needed specific psychotherapy in order to address it. Instead, I went down the psychiatry road because they promised relief from my symptoms. And they were doctors, weren’t they? And who else can you turn to when you’re suffering? In hindsight, I really wish I knew better.

      A year and a half later and my OCD was still not healed. I was told that I had a chemical imbalance to my brain and that the doctors were trying to find the best cocktail mix in order to “cure” me. Later on, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2, for what reason I still don’t know. I took antidepressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilisers. My doctor terrified me by saying that I should take them for life or else I risked serious injury in my brain from continuing depressive-manic episodes. Because according to the psychiatrists I have talked to, every depressive-manic episode in bipolar disorder destroys more and more parts of the brain. When I tried to tell him that I never had any manic or hypomanic episodes in my life he wouldn’t take it – he was so full of himself and wouldn’t hear a thing.

      But the damage had already been done. I ruined my body, my metabolism (I gained 30 kgs. in the process), my libido, my sexuality, my feelings, my self-esteem. I stopped feeling anything. I became apathetic and lethargic. And because of this I developed serious suicidal feelings. I just didn’t want to live like that any more: being drugged all the time and feeling chemically castrated.

      Finding forums like yours here is so liberating. I can finally put to words my own experiences with psychiatry. I can’t believe that I was so naïve and believe that I could be cured by taking these poisons. I carry a lot of grief inside me for the 5 years that I lost from my life. Five years that I will never get back. But the worst thing I believe, is the psychological damage being done by psychiatrists, who try to convince you that your brain is broken and that you are broken for life and all you can do is take your meds and be content with that. I feel severely traumatized by all this.

      For a few weeks now I have started tapering off the medicines on my own. My doctor refused to help me on this. He said he didn’t want to have anything to do with tapering off, because in his own words it would be like putting a gun on my head and he couldn’t live with that! It is very convenient of him to say so, yet he never bothered to explain to me in detail the drugs’ side effects even when I asked and he never took the time to explain the withdrawal process from these drugs. I only remember him saying that he really liked the fact that I was emotionally flat and numb, because this way I avoided the risk of experiencing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder!

      There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think what might have been had I gone for a drug-free psychotherapy instead, in order to treat my OCD and my (i believe non-bipolar) depression.

      • Leonidas, I totally hear you. My experience was similar, but with differences, of course. Rather that the OCD, I am Autistic. It sounds like both of us began our psychiatric journey because of trauma.

        Like you, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (for me, I believe the diagnosis was based solely on drug reactions) and told I would need to remain on medication for the remainder of my life and that my condition would likely deteriorate.

        I never had bipolar disorder, i am no longer taking any psychotropic medications, and while there are residual effects (trauma and chronic kidney disease from the drugs) i am back to where i was in 1987 when i first saw the psychiatrist.

        A great injustice was done to us. We were robbed of a life we could have had. My thoughts, and i expect few to agree with me, are that psychiatry is not a legitimate branch of medicine. For myself, i now want absolutely nothing to do with the mental health profession – but with one exception. There is one professional, a therapist, who caused no damage and is, in fact, very affirming. I adore her. She understands having to grow up being someone she wasn’t. (As an autistic person, i had to appear “normal” in order to fit in. It’s called “pretending to be normal.” ) She is trans.

        Leonidas, i wish you healing and happiness.

  11. Wonderful article. I, too, have had my life hijacked by psychiatry and the mental “health” system. I will never have a life and lately I’m so heartbroken but alone in it.

    I have trauma and abuse, as a baby and toddler, and child. I did not understand what was wrong. I feel psychiatry was used to silence me and blame me. Mind you, at the time I believed the drs and adults that my brain was broken, etc. I still have never healed from the original problems, much less psychiatry.

    I was 13. Language’s lies became my identity. I hated self even more. And everyone else then and now did/does too. I ruined the family cuz mental illness shame. Have zero peers cuz I’m the ill one. Been in and out of many psych wards. Many meds.

    I had horrific experiences in hospitals. Nobody believes me. Family, others, just still say, well you need to take meds. The public HATES us crazies. Shunned. Bullies telling people stay away from her she has mental problems. I avoid doctors at all costs but when I’ve been super sick even drs are atrocious. A dentist sent me to Dr for infected tooth, Dr came out told me to go home it’s just anxiety. Staff making fun of me. I have hundreds of examples. I’d rather get sick and die than go to any Dr.

    Had a psychiatrist tell me in my 20s that I will have a hard life cuz I’m not that smart or pretty but I listen and do what told fairly well so that’s good at least. I believed him. Told by psych staff oh everyone knows you can’t get well, first time meeting them. Told my severe eating disorder is vanity. It wasn’t !

    I could on and on. Family loved the medical model I think in hindsight. Nothing to see here it’s HER, she was BORN with crazy broken brain. Take your pills. Shut up. Therapy is nonprofit, just take your pills to fix your brain.

    Most therapists aren’t good either. They believe psychiatrists are god.

    My whole life has been in hospitals in and out, therapy (which only ever had a couple in my 40years even mention that my problems aren’t all me, that I had severe severe childhood trauma and abuse. Yet it does not matter. The system is captured by the devil.

    I was blamed for going through med withdrawal when it was drs who kept switching me. If I was crying r sad cuz all I did was sit in a hospital, bored, drugged, or if out sit alone except once a week for therapy that was not helpful….I was forced back in a hospital forced on meds. Told I could not leave unless took them. I’ve been taken by police for crying because of being unsafe. Medicated. Sent back to same situation. Message was be quiet. You deserve it.

    I have zero hope. Public r pieces of shut, sorry. People have told me nobody wants anything to do with me and keep problems self and nobody likes mentally ill ppl so take your meds and be good.

    I am disabled cuz all this. Paid by government to be silent. I sit alone all day. Not suicidal but pray every day I drop dead.

    No dating experience. Very little job experiences. It’s too late now. 40yrs old. So lonely. Nobody would or will ever love me. I gave up on it cpl years ago. Branded crazy so I don’t even try to date. If try and have friend if I’m not 100percent happy at all times I’m told to take meds. If I have a normal problem like ppl I’m told to find a therapist.

    The public does not and will not let u back in. I am meant to only have therapists as “friends”.

    Been told nobody wants to hear about my life, it’s too upsetting for ppl. Keep quiet. Feel my self and life is a burden to everyone an society.

    People are mad I don’t take meds. Literally angered. I am better not on the meds. It’s only been a few years. I am shunned for not taking tons meds, even tho they never helped. That was my fault too. I did all they said. No, they say, you didn’t do it right, or you just need the right med.

    My whole life has been sitting n assessments hospitals, appointments groups medications appointment etc.

    The medical model lie is a dream come true for abusers. Trust me.

    I was told by medical staff that nobody woukd love me, that cuz of my illnesses anyone who would want to live me would be using me. Same with friends. I attract mean people cuz my trauma yet I still believe it’s my fault. I do believe the only ppl who would ever want anything to do with me would be to hurt me. So when I had a very mean friend, that I let go of the staff blamed me cuz mentally can’t pick friends or dates. Result is I even further do not trust ppl. And the only people who DO want anything to do with me often have ill intent.

    I was told in an eating disorder hospital that most never get better cuz we are difficult.

    I had a nurse tell me that if she could let suicidal patients die she would cuz some people have real problems. I was a young teen. I had drs where all they ever did was listen for ten mins and up my prescription if I wasn’t all sunshine.

    Fact that I’m old and still crazy is my fault, according to the world.

    It doesn’t matter the truth. Psychiatry’s lies will always in in the public’s mind. YOU are crazy, NOT them. So they think.

    Nobody will ever believe me, my story. I gave up col year ago even trying. Just staying my apt waiting to die. Literally. Kill time. I am not wanted in society. I hate self. However for fact I was harmed deeply by psychiatric system. I am a nothing, so it doesn’t matter. I gave up on self and life cuz hard truth is that the public will never believe me, will never believe the Drs were wrong.

    I know of many young ppl that there whole life so far is hospitals, pills, appointments, sickness from pills, more pills, groups. That’s it. Ppl in teens and 20s 30s. Just like me. Most believe in the system. I got out. Kinda. Am a living dead girl. It’s too late for me. Hopefully in the future ppl won’t have this. I was robbed. Oh well. Doesn’t matter I just hope to die fast. Nothing on this hell planet or from hell humans I want anymore. Just stay the fuck away from me all humans or kill me asap. It’s how I fell now. Sorry. So lonely. Hurt. Was lied to. Only been past few years see thru the BS of “health” care.

    But if you disagree with psychiatry most ppl say you are crazy and its part of an illness.

    Have been at urgent care for body issues, came out with even more psych labels, after 10mins.

    Put in room naked, with cameras, for safety supposedly.

    Given meds and when I asked told they dont have to tell me a I’m patient.

    I was put on psych meds at 12/13 (!!!) for depression. Crying. Isolating. Quiet. Straight As but depressed. Family member took me to Dr. Dr said I needed meds. I got way worse after the antidepressants. Hurt myself. Had to go to court cuz hurting self is against the law. Shunned at school cuz crazy. Had zero social life from age of 11 til current (almost 40). On and off meds. Drs upping meds if I was still sad. I’m allost 40 and so to spare you a long and boring story, I was very harmed by the system. I will never recover. Oh well but I am deeply sad. I tried talking to a few ppl about this. Never again. Was told I’m making excuses for my mental illness and mistakes and that all crazy ppl lie. Yep, I will never be believed. Worse than the original trauma almost that’s what psychiatry is. I pray every day for heart attack. Kill time with Netflix. No therapist will work with me. No friends. If I cry the neighbors call police and I know shut up no crying else the police take me to hospital and I’m Locked up medicated for at least 3 days, then go home and keel pain to self better. Is an attitude of, just waiting for her to die. Mental patients r looked at as a nuisance. Wish they had euthansia as it would be more humans. But no you can’t die, just be torturd by humans. Psychirtry has lead me to fear and despite sanity, including self.

    In was 13 years old. Told I was broken, born broken, for life.

    Many people are silenclng trauma with psychogogical vs

    Sorry if I offended anyone.

    I am beyond repair and half is my fault. But YES the system is abusive, and wrong, and I hope they all go to hell.

    I hate earth, humans, and life. I am in fear and heartache all the time, because of the American medical mafia. Humans r the most shit species hope god floods you all again then. I do not identify as human cuz humans r the devil, they invented psychiatry ffs. Can’t wait til I’m free of this shit body, mind, heart, species, society, planet. Dreams died. To the humans I am a lost cause mentaly ill worthless thing.

    Thanks to those trying to fix this system. Many of us r very damaged from it but will never be believed. I have no hope so glad you do. Great, important article. Sorry for all the words and offense.

  12. I’d like to reiterate that I believe many people conveniently use psychiatry’s medical disease religion/model as a way to shut up people who have been abused/harmed. Consciously or not. The drs themselves, sure, but also the public.

    For example, members of my family, and other adults, latched onto the “her brain was born broken” idea from the get-go. Nothing questioned as to why all of a sudden this child is having problems. Can’t be circumstance, abuse, adult failings, society failings. Nope. Brain broken. End of.

    For over 20years I was told my brain was broken. I still am only just seeing this isn’t true. Even to this day family, community, anyone reminds me that i have a chemical imbalance so there is no reason for my problems, it’s just me. Take pills. Shut up.

    Family member: you known you have a chemical imbalance, in your genetics, deal with it.

    Society does this too. And many people want mentally locked up. No joke. Have heard many people complain in general about how, yeah, well it’s not their fault born with broken brains but we dont have to put up with it nor should we, lock them up.

    So they tried to destigmatize mental illness, saying it’s nit your fault but faulty brain. All that did was make us hopeless and worthless to society. To be tolerated, ignored, hopefully locked up. Out of sight. Believe me, this is what the public wants. Scary.

    I am effectively paid by the government to keep silent and out of the way, and medicated. If I don’t, I will be locked up, forced. Can never be hired anywhere. Lost too much time, will never have a career. No money. Either stay in your apartment, make no fuss, have or show no sadness or fear, don’t feel lonely, ignore your body since gp docs will never believe you if your body is ok (apparently people with mental illness never have physical problems). Wait to die.

    They dont WANT you to get well, get a career, a family. Just take meds and remember you r broken for life. Not your fault, but it’s no one elses either. Wow!

    Adding to that is the fact that they bore us to death. Sit in a hospital with barely anything to do. Take meds. Go home. I was in a place where all we did was sit, maybe watch tv or a board game. Everyone complained of being bored. Staff were verbally irritated and always said, we r sick of hearing you are bored. Just sit, take pills, decline to death. Yep, those hopeless crazies. In a different hospital we were not allowed to sleep except at night. Rooms locked during day. Nothing but 1 tv a few games. Very medicated, hence drowsy. Staff would bark at you, no sleeping if you nodded off. I spent all day forcing self to stay awake praying for bed time.

    Mental staff have huge disdain for us.

    Years of youth sitting. Doing nothing. Maybe learning about coping skills you’ve heard 100x and to sleep 8hours. And yet the public calls US useless. We aren’t allowed to do anything else. Eventually you are out of work force society so long it’s very hard to get back. Most ppl I know are teens, 20s, 30s, on lifelong /term disability for mental illness. Any problem in life is solved by pills or sticking you in hospital for a week.

    I would cry and was having a hard time in life. Was put in hospita at least 1x a month for a few days or more.

    I’d cry I was lonely. No friends. Suggested I talk a therapist or call a crisis number just to chat. Suggested I check myself in psych ward cuz then I’d have people to talk to. I actually did 2x, so lonely. Found out staff in psych wards aren’t there to talk to you. They are busy! Patients…well hit or miss, depend who is there.

    Public cries cuz too many crazy ppl, want drs to fix it. Society does not want to hear our struggles, listen, or care. Only demonize and gloat and bleat on and on about crazy ppl just need to take their meds or get new ones if on some.

    People want to make selves feel safe,in that if you have a mental illness, then they don’t, and they are safe knowing they aren’t crazy like you. It’s THOSE crazy people, I’m fine.

    If you think public is on our side. Lol, nope. It’s hopeless. Tho I hope not.

    I’ve heard guys say they only get with girls with mental illness cuz they are broken and have no boundaries and so they can do anything to them.

    Had someone tell me that he could hurt me anytime he liked and if I cried I would be locked in the loony bin and if I hurt myself i would be locked up, but he could hurt me.

    I was robbed of a normal youth. Instead of friends, hobbies, etc, I had appointments, hospitals, worries about how I was broken meds to suffer with. I did not socially develop right cuz I was in the psych system. As a kid. And after.

    I had a Dr ask how in was in school. I said I isolated and had own problems but academically got straight As. Was accused of lying cuz ppl like me well in school. It’s shit like this.

    Never dated. Told not to. Now older shunned cuz, well must be something wrong with her if no one’s ever wanted her but to hurt her. People in town telling everyone, oh that’s that crazy girl, steer clear.

    Told ppl with mental illness cannot have relationships or friendships that are health. So quit crying about being lonely. Be grateful l. And don’t expect to put your problems on ppl. I believe it tho still. Expect to be alone til I die. Been alone most life. It is lonely sitting in hospital or at home taking pills.

    Well, I say all us “crazy” people should shun society. Refuse to help it, engage, etc. Eventually there will be so many of us that society has no workers. We are too crazy remember?!!! Let the government pay us to go away and be silent. Eff em then. Take pills, be sick watch tv. That’s what they wanted!!! We should help them have it backfire. We will be the useless baggage that brings society down, then they will have to deal with it. Yep, can’t help in society, sorry, crazy remember, that’s what you said. Nothing else we can do. Our deaths might matter maybe prob not. Seriously, this system made me a useless member. I only just realized all this past cpl years. 25years in system. Still am. Hoping vivid, heart attack etc kills me asap. I have zero faith in society just as bad as psychiatry. The public WANTS you crazy, so villify you. What can we do? Nothing. But I don’t belong and tbh eff society anyway.

    Sad thing is, I will be marked for life. Wish they’d just shoot us quick, would be more humane. God please save us, the humans are enemies to your soul!!

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