Monday, July 26, 2021

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.

My Letter to an Advocate for Involuntary Treatment

47
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?
Caleb Chafe

A Best Kept Secret

35
After working in the field, I have found that the majority of people in the mental health system are not getting adequate care like I received during my first psychotic episode. I was lucky enough to have a doctor who took a nontraditional approach to schizophrenia and worked with me on coming off of medications.

I Am Not the Next Headline in Tragedy

18
I may be psychotic but I am not the next headline in the news. I am thoughtful and questioning. I am different and unique, but I am not violent and my life will never be anyone's tragedy. Would you like to stand with me?
schizophrenia 1960s hospital

Against the Odds: ‘Unimproved Schizophrenic’ to Yale PhD

59
Forty years after I had first been admitted to the hospital, I was ready to confront my past. So, I sent for my hospital records, and I read them. As an experienced clinician, I recognized immediately what the doctors hadn’t been able to see in 1960: my problem wasn’t ‘schizophrenia’ but PTSD, connected with incest.
the word "drugs" in a bear trap

Drugs? Thank You, I’ll Pass

22
 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.

Letters to My Doctors (Part 3)

2
Rape is to Love what Bombs are to Peace and what Behavioral Eugenics are to Mental Health. So I choose noncompliance with psychiatric force.

The Mystery is Solved, and Now I’m Undoing the Harm (With Strength and a...

I’d like you to get to know me as you read this.  I think I have an important personal story to tell.  Frankly, I...
pill bottle with skull and crossbones label

Gabapentin Horror

14
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.)

A Veteran’s Letter to Congress

54
I am a former Lieutenant in the US Navy, and on August 30, I sent a letter to the US Senate and House Committees on Armed Services, and their respective committees on Veterans' Affairs. I titled the letter "Concerning Mental Health Treatment and Suicide in the United States Armed Forces and the Veteran Community." Here is what I wrote:

Schizophrenia Deconstructed

139
After a few weeks it became clear to me the complete lack of comprehension that I faced as a person claiming to have been cured of psychosis. Being a schizophrenic claiming to no longer suffer from schizophrenia only made me seem more schizophrenic due to the current culture of psychiatry.

Boy, Interrupted: A Story of Akathisia

49
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.
hospital discharge

My Hospital Discharge Summary: An Intriguing Work of Fiction

42
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.

Dear Son: A Mother’s Experience of Psychiatry, Racism and Human Rights

14
I wanted to spare you, my son, from suffering like I did. I wanted to give you every opportunity I could. You have grown into a good man, a caring and successful man, yet you still have to fear for your life in this country. You still feel pain when you see what is happening.
hearing voices attic

Fighting for the Freedom to Hear Voices

51
We were caught in a tug of war. They wanted my voices gone. I was not going to let go of my voices, my confidants and protectors, regardless of what they did to me. We have the right to hear voices and no longer be hidden away in the attic of taboo and misunderstood experiences. The freedom to hear voices is truly a fundamental human right.

How Big Pharma and the Medical Doctors Killed my Father

141
When the nurses tried to give him other medications, my father refused. They accused him of being “combative” and “uncooperative,” and they injected him with the highly toxic, incredibly dangerous, mind-bending antipsychotic HALDOL.
Photo of hand with pen drawing a sign that says Creativity and COVID: Art-making During the Pandemic

Creativity and COVID: Art-Making During the Pandemic

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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.
iatrogenic harm symptoms

For the Record

22
Here and now, I am Ativan-free and slowly tapering off Wellbutrin after 25+ years. Unable to work due to the severity of iatrogenic injury, I sometimes think of myself as a healing journeywoman. When the terrain is especially rough, I reflect on the words: "The best revenge is living a happy, healthy life." When circumstances and symptoms permit, I’m doing just that.

Falling Through the Cracks

35
I am an award-winning singer/songwriter with a number one record to my credit. I also owned several small businesses and founded a 501c3 non-profit for women's health. I ate healthy, swam and cycled every day and had a very active lifestyle. This was before benzos came into my life.

Navigating the Mind: What Medication Cannot Address

9
I believe there's no harm in giving meds a try—it worked for me. Just be aware that they can only do so much. The rest of the journey requires some navigation and self-direction.
love hope psychiatric harm families

Where Can Families Turn for Help?

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Watching my son be subjected to continuous harm by the drugs, how can I pretend that it's okay to maintain this abusive system of care? Who will push for accountability? As a mother, I want to share a meaningful connection with my son. I want to witness him happy, healthy and living the life he chooses.
A black rubber duck stands out among a group of yellow rubber ducks

“Please Be Normal!” My Experience Working for NAMI

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At my job with a NAMI affiliate, I heard daily from people who looked at family members with “mental illness” as non-people, non-human, the “other.” In the office, it was no different. If NAMI had a tagline, it would be “Please be normal like us.”

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir

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I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was just nineteen. I am forty-three now, and I have recovered – and I use the term...

Our Day in Mental Health Court

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For weeks I had been trying to get released from the psychiatric ward, and none of my arguments, compliance, or attempted air of normality had made an impression on the barely-visible ward psychiatrist. I had, I was told, made a very serious suicide attempt and this was a predictor of future attempts. They would let me know when they thought I was sufficiently remorseful and stabilized to be released.

Meditation Triggered My Psychosis; Reiki Healed It

9
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.

Up in the Air: Surviving 24 Hours with Akathisia

22
Flying from Anchorage to Cleveland while suffering from life-threatening akathisia was going to be a constant push-pull between the urge to freak out and maintaining my body and psyche so as not to scare the other passengers.

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