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.
Peer supervision is often silent and stigmatizing instead of including necessary, robust discussions around relapse.
The court found me “not guilty by reason of insanity” and sentenced me to a 30-day evaluation at a psych facility. A crisis had been averted, and my life could return to normal... oh, how far from the truth that idea was.
I wondered how many others have experienced coercion, abuse, and have had their lived experiences of mental illness used as weapons against them by mental health professionals?
I now am more conversant with the latest literature on the medications I take than my prescriber is. While I consider his opinion and clinical judgment, I no longer accept every word as the Gospel truth.
Through journaling, I realized that my lifelong confusion surrounding my memories of traumatic events was the direct result of the psychiatric labels and drugs I swallowed alongside years of parental abuse.
When I sit in Billie’s office, I am still 13 years old, bitter anger saturating my body. I am 23, sobbing that I cannot do this anymore. I am 24, celebrating my first year of college. I am all of these people and none of these people.
The intensity of demand faced in the acute ward is exhausting. No one has a clue what I’m supposed to be doing, least of all me.
I knew by then that there was a thief, but I tried not to rush to conclusions. I couldn’t even think of the possibility that it could be one of the staff. They go into the field in order to help people.
My childhood was stolen by systems focused on labeling and medicating me instead of healing the effects of abuse and neglect.
At the hospital, what traumatized me the most was that my freedom was in the hands of a professional who was steadfast in his conviction that I was feeling things I was not.
We need to come up with a plan that destigmatizes mental health issues for all races, including respectful and non-punitive treatment in in-patient settings.
In the wake of psychiatry, there was a fracture, a gulf that opened between me and the authentic sound of my voice when it is connected and resonates with my truth.
After 34 years, I've concluded that some psychologists/psychiatrists may genuinely want to help people, but they certainly don't have a good toolbox to do it with and, quite likely, never will.
The pandemic lockdown last year afforded me a precious gift of time to explore my creative spirit, and that, in turn, gave me a powerful way to cope.
Missionaries and psychiatrists have failed not through lack of compassion but through lack of willingness to take a long walk and a long, long talk to ask the neighbors what they need and the people what they already know.