It should have been safe and healing for me in the hospital. Instead, it was like being at home with my stepfather: I was abused and invisible, just trying to protect myself.
My brain zaps—symptoms of benzo withdrawal—were like having a mini seizure on a daily basis. But my doctor kept telling me that my “underlying” anxiety was causing all my distress.
I was a victim of racial and criminal profiling on campus. I worried whether, as an introvert and someone who also identified as mentally ill, people thought I was a potential shooter.
Hospitalized for "grandiose delusions," I began to wonder: Was my dis-orientation really just a sickness? Or in "treating" it, was I missing a powerful re-orientation toward healing old wounds?
The psychiatric system takes away all choices and freedom and calls the resulting state "mental illness." Psychiatry justifies alienation rather than repairing it.
The Writer has outlined a significant work through my hands, dictated by the voice of someone who lived at some point a long time ago, such as London in 1682 A.D.
After a failed suicide attempt following my son's death, New York State incarcerated me in a mental institution for 21 days. The environment was degrading, stultifying, and downright depressing.
Early in my social work career, I truly believed that medication and forced confinement helped heal “mental illness.” Then an abrupt awakening completely altered my worldview.
When I was 17, I took Prozac for five days. Ever since, I have been completely unable to experience sexual pleasure.
If I ever lose my mind again, I hope that psychiatrists in charge of my care will grant me but one wish. Please do not force me to take drugs that fill me full of fear.
The psychiatric concept of insight rests on the assumption that the psychiatrist, designated sane, knows what’s best. But if we question that assumption and consider that the medical model of mental illness may be incorrect, then the question of which party actually possesses insight becomes less clear.
James and I started talking about how we each fell on the path as seekers. He told me that he was a reiki master. A seed was planted within me. Even though my previous meditation practice did not work out, I still had spiritual longings and wanted to try again.
It's really hard to talk about suicide. We are constantly constrained by the notion that our mental health is our individual responsibility to manage, told to “live our best lives” by a never-ending campaign of exploitative wellness fads. A more collective conversation is needed.
If I had not crumbled, brought to my knees beneath the weight of the misdiagnoses and sordid side-effects of the medications, I would not have had the opportunity to rise up and gain such a strong sense of self—something for which many spend their whole life searching.
A friend said to me recently, "Oh, he suffered such a lot. That’s over for him." I know their words were intended to comfort me over my son’s suicide. Our fine, excellent son, Abraham, had committed suicide a month before Christmas 2019. Nevertheless, I bridled inwardly at the suggestion, not wanting to remember Abraham as merely the sum of his sufferings—he was so much more than that.
After suffering PTSD in the late 1980s, I reluctantly accepted antidepressants. In time, I had resolved the trauma, but when I tried to stop the antidepressants (Prozac, and later Zoloft), I assumed my desperate feelings and “return” of depression were an indication I had an imbalance and needed those drugs. I didn’t understand I was experiencing withdrawal. (I was never told that for most people, psychiatric medications need to be tapered.)
Imagine for a moment that you had a sleepwalking episode in which you tried to commit suicide. When you awaken you are in a hospital bed, having no idea where or even who you are nor how you got there. Then someone who loves you tells you that you tried to take your own life.
If I disclose my situation, then professionally, the attributional association of “the therapist with schizophrenia“ will necessarily and inevitably follow. But this is not who I am. Rather, I am a therapist with a private medical issue and I prefer to maintain its confidentiality—no further justification needed.
There is such shame and social punishment around experiencing extreme states of mind and being given a psychiatric label that is itself profoundly isolating. This is a kind of isolation that people who are merely practicing social distancing will probably never know.
My personal and professional experiences have taught me that the only way to address mental health is holistically. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, I believe it is necessary to attend to all of your bodies—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—in order to achieve wellness.
People living with psychosis—people like me—are dying because we are being discriminated against by people who’d rather see us hurt than attempt to work with us and give us the decency and respect that should be accorded us as a human right. And nobody deserves to be assaulted or shot after they’ve reached out for help.
I recalled a brief intercourse with a lady two months earlier that went something like this: “Why don’t you want to take medication?” to which I replied, “Because I think psychiatry is a sham.” Needless to say, my response hastily resulted in a temporary though adequately lengthy loss of my autonomy.
I did not suddenly develop some perverse form of mental illness out of thin air. I was a victim of repeated misdiagnoses, unrecognized adverse drug reactions/drug toxicity, and profound polypharmacy.
Some might wonder why I'm still stumbling in the desert when there are cars and jobs and museums downtown, but really, the turquoise dawn is in the canyons. The thing is, my people seem to need this nutrition, the rarified medicine of this particular cactus and that specific root that I haven't found anywhere else.
Researchers treat voicehearing as the sign of a disease or a disorder or a dysfunction of the brain. That it might be something more—a relationship of some kind with God that developed in this way as part of our evolution over eons—does not seem to have occurred to anyone who has worked in the field of psychology.