These labels left me docile to a broken mental health system—a carceral system that viewed me interchangeably as a patient or an object, but never a person.
It’s at that point of asking for help from someone in authority, someone we should be able to trust, that many have their story stolen from them.
Akathisia is truly an indescribable thing—and has to be one of the most hellish experiences on earth. It’s like your brain is hijacked. Every day I thought could be my last.
Every day, psychiatrists in Australia’s mental health system write reports denying the sanity of women who are victims of sexual assault, rape, or domestic violence. I know: I was one of them.
When a person is in hell, surrounded by enemies, without a protector or strong force on their side of any kind, that person needs to become their own powerful spokesperson.
Before my nightmare with psychiatric medication began, my life was full and happy. But since being prescribed 12 different psychiatric drugs in one year, I have become bedridden, ill and jobless.
I am not sure what was worse: being abused growing up while my community documented—then ignored—my torment, or being attacked for going public with my story.
Eight years after beginning ‘treatment’ for an ‘eating disorder’, I was eating worse than ever. Yet three years after quitting that ‘treatment’, food is a pleasure, not a problem.
It was my experience, which I later found was supported by research, that exercise had the power to help me heal, but it also had the potential to exacerbate my trauma symptoms.
I love being a psych nurse practitioner, and I never want to feel that my only role is pushing pills. The private practice I started is my effort to move away from this dysfunctional system.
After finding a cop at my door, I learned it wasn’t safe to talk about my feelings of wanting to die. As a result, I spent the better part of the next decade not telling anyone when I was suicidal.
I have stayed on the same daily, 10 mg dosage of Abilify for the last few years. Although I am compliant, I am not satisfied: I do not feel whole. I do not feel authentic.
The horrors I was forced to undergo to “treat” my homosexuality are now unthinkable, but continue to raise questions about psychiatry’s ethics.
My brother’s sudden death and Mental Health Awareness Month spurred me to spend May making small, very personal efforts to both honor his memory and move the mental health conversation forward.
The goal of creating a legacy for my mother required that I go beyond managing my symptoms to confronting my OCD at its roots. I had to fundamentally change my understanding of anxiety.
I watched my son’s life change almost overnight. He developed akathisia from antidepressants, taken as prescribed for just a few weeks for garden-variety anxiety.
A conflict in my personal life made it possible for me to imagine the power of emotional trauma to trigger a mental health disorder—and gave me new insights about what can help heal it.
We need treatment providers that listen to their patients and treat them like human beings. Their job is to support our recovery, not stymie it.
How long would I have to be off meds and stay safe and out of the hospital before my story would mean something to you and the advocates for chemical interventions?
What I want to share with you, dear readers, is how spiritual experiences like mine have been reflected in so many people’s stories of being labeled with psychotic disorders.
Therapists are quick to refer to this pain I feel as a “fear of abandonment,” as if it is a figment of my mind and something not worth the time to attend to.
Compared to the last six years, compared to how intense the drugs are and how grueling the side-effects, my first psychosis at 17, I admit, was honestly not that bad.
Going into psychiatry as a naïve 25-year-old, I had no idea what I would discover. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have chosen this field.
What my doctor had told me would be a two-week withdrawal from Seroquel turned into a 14-month nightmare with lasting repercussions: the movement disorder tardive dyskinesia.
“You’re so different,” people would say to Betty and me. We joked about the thinly veiled criticism—people thought we were crazy because we were women who consciously defined ourselves and how we wanted to live.