Personal Stories

People with “lived experience” tell of their interactions with psychiatry and how it impacted their lives, and of their own paths to recovery.

clozapine medication

My Mother Accidentally Took My Medication

46
Although I have usually been the one suffering from side effects, with others watching on, the roles were reversed in this incident. Seeing my mother impaired caused me heartache, and I am now rethinking my treatment regimen. Is this stuff good for me for the long term? Is this the only stuff that can help me, or is there an alternative?
mental hospital

Memories of a Childhood in a Mental Hospital

11
My stay at the hospital had no impact on the problem that led to my admission. But it did exacerbate other problems and change me in fundamental ways. I am a deformed product of that ‘cutting-edge facility’ and the ‘treatments’ I received there — social isolation, pills and shots, ice bath and ECT.

Psychiatry’s Failure to Acknowledge Who I Really Am

27
This is not how the mental health system should treat "psychotic" people. Mental health providers should treat them with compassion, empathy, respect, love and understanding. With a circle of loving and understanding people surrounding a person in crisis, I have no doubt that most "psychosis" would normalize in time.
NGRI island

NGRI: The Gilligan’s Island of the Criminal Justice System

16
I approached the NGRI system with the belief that my commitment would be short and sweet and that in less than one year I would be back to living in the community. That year turned into nearly two decades.

I am Insane

121
I have been here at Western State Hospital for almost five years. While I’ve been told that I’ve met all the criteria for a conditional release, the hospital won’t grant me this because I can’t prove that I won’t be dangerous in the future. Can anyone prove this? Even convicts don’t have to prove they’re ‘safe’ before they are freed.

Regarding the Impossibility of Recovery

29
Popular illness narratives tend to be of the restitution sort: I was living my life, I became sick, I got well and picked up where I left off. However, this idea that ill health is a journey to wellness doesn’t help someone with a chronic illness or disability to tell her own story, which may not have a (conventional) happy ending. The notion of ‘recovery’ can be damaging when a return to health may not be possible.

Race and Abuse in Inpatient Settings: What Happens Behind Locked Doors

11
The problem of staff brutality towards patients on the psych wards disproportionately affects people of color and continues to happen every day behind locked doors.
Wooden pawn-like figures surrounding a gavel

Guardianship Destroyed My Family

37
People who can’t take care of themselves need support and protection, but guardianship provides neither. I know: I've lived it.

The Many Battles of a Benzo Injury: Jean’s Story

15
Jean was never warned about Librium's potential to cause physical dependence or the subsequent withdrawal effects that can result from its long-term use, nor was she counseled on an exit plan. So when she decided to taper off the drug, her withdrawal symptoms were so severe that her life and health quickly spiraled out of control.

Living Together – With More Resilience and Less Medication

21
My own experiences have shown that specific exercises can help me to recognize the early symptoms of psychosis even earlier and more subtly, and reduce their intensity — even the delusions!

The Worst Thing: How My Mother’s Death Pushed Me to Overcome OCD

5
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.

On Being Forced Out in the Clinical Psychology Field

39
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?

Inadequately Trained Therapists Pose a Risk to Childhood Trauma Survivors

11
Mental health professionals must be trained in the dynamics of addiction and abuse if they are to help survivors of childhood trauma.
weight loss eating disorders

Your Weight is Forbidden Fruit

16
In inpatient eating disorders care, we were required to step on the scale but were not allowed to know what we weighed. We were told it was “against recovery” to know our weight; that knowing it would surely cause a devastating relapse.
moral compass

WARNING: May Cause Moral Failure

16
As the SNRI molecules sluggishly evacuated my bloodstream and I progressively regained my emotions, the gravity of what I had done descended upon me. I couldn’t believe I had actually been capable of committing several crimes over an extended period of time, without stopping to think about the risks to my wife and kids, or even myself.

First Do No Harm: Restraining the Restrainer

9
I was face down on a cold hospital floor. My submissiveness came before the needle made contact. The shock and shame of such a violation silenced me.

Child Abuse and Psychosis: My Healing Journey

40
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?

Validating Psychosis: The Missing Narrative  

30
I am here today because I didn't take the psychotropic medication I was prescribed. Because I didn't accept someone else's narrative about MY story. Because I listened to my voices. Because I let them guide me— into the underworld, and back.

Patient or Prisoner? My Hospital Experience

48
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.
lithium

Lithium Toxicity and an Almost-Human Hospital

32
Lithium is a notoriously toxic substance, and if it isn’t managed carefully enough, can have some very nasty effects. I discovered this the hard way. It got to the point where I could barely eat or drink or walk around. Yet lithium never made a dent — not for a single moment — in what was going on in my head.
avalanche

My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

14
A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.

The Suicide Police: Harm Disguised As Help

27
It’s easy to tell a dead person they mattered. Humans are great at writing eulogies. But we are shit at making people feel like they matter while they are alive.
mental health awakening

My Mental Health Awakening

184
Although it’s taken me a while to acknowledge my right to be in this world, I know that I am not “mentally ill,” but rather have a dynamic spiritual and emotional sensitivity to this world. I am here for a reason, and having to go into the depths of a very dark cave in order to see the light is how I was able to grow and discover that I don't have to take medications for the rest of my life.

I Had No Idea That Gabapentin Could Do This…

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I am now a few months off of Gabapentin, and my withdrawal problems have not passed. I still deal daily with internal tremors throughout my head and back.

My Story and My Fight Against Antidepressants

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I’d like to share a bit about what happened to me after being placed on these medications, and how I successfully got off. Until recently, I was embarrassed to talk about my personal experiences publicly, as I’m a professional who specializes in anxiety and depression. Today, medication free, I feel better than ever before, and I am now on a mission to help my current clients get off medications, and to inform others through my writing about the dangers and pitfalls of starting antidepressants.