Doctors refuse to believe psychiatric medications have caused my sibling, Pat, any harm. Over a three-year period, however, Pat's insurance companies have paid out more than one million dollars to warehouse Pat and to provide "treatment" that has caused complete disability.
Schizophrenia, to me, is nothing more than a word. All it really means is that you experience psychosis on a regular enough basis that it’s a factor in your life. And that you actually do, as the word “schizophrenia” indicates, have a mind that you share with some sort of outside presence.
Emotional trauma is the type of wound that, if not processed and integrated, can become a void that expands to swallow not just the traumatized person but also their children and grandchildren.
We have all become assembly line workers in the factory of mental health. At the facility, I put in at least 50 hours and live with a constant dread of not having clicked a button, of not having made another phone call, of overlooking the sadness in someone’s eyes. The risk of burnout or empathy fatigue is high, yet the machine hums along.
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.
As I continued to work in the human services field, I often found myself confronted with my past. I would hear colleagues talk about “borderlines” or describe clients as “low-functioning,” “manipulative”, or “emotionally fifteen”, and I would wonder how people were supposed to start feeling better about themselves when this was how they were seen by those who were there to help them. It seemed that our mental health system had become so focused on symptoms and finding out what was wrong with people, that we had forgotten to look for what was right, how to bring out a person’s strengths.
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was just nineteen. I am forty-three now, and I have recovered – and I use the term...
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.
“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.
The psychiatric system takes away all choices and freedom and calls the resulting state "mental illness." Psychiatry justifies alienation rather than repairing it.
Removing assumptions evoked by my family member’s diagnoses has transformed my understanding of their experience and increased my ability to arrive at solutions applicable to their expressed needs.
I realized that nobody would be able to help me if I didn't help myself. Simply because society wants a cheap, technical solution that will leave me in a state of dependency and frustration for the rest of my life.
My guardian decided to seek out “professional” advice about how to diminish my “outbursts.” I was perceived as a problem that needed to be extinguished into a compliant state.
My childhood was stolen by systems focused on labeling and medicating me instead of healing the effects of abuse and neglect.
Recovery is not a bridge we cross and never return to. Rather, it is more like crossing a stream we ford by side-stepping on different stones. Not all of the stones are as sturdy as some of the others. Yes, we slip at times, only to regain our footing and forge ahead.
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.)
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.
My world turned upside down when my daughter nearly died from a serious suicide attempt. After several years as her caretaker I began to wonder: What can we do to change the way our mental health services are organized so they won't turn a crisis into a way of life for already distressed and vulnerable people?
I was in a form of reparative therapy in British Columbia, Canada, for six years, after which I filed a medical malpractice suit against my former psychiatrist, “Dr. Alfonzo,” for treating my homosexuality as a disease. If these new laws are to be criticized, it is that the use of “change” therapies on people older than 18 should be prohibited as well. I was 24 when I met Dr. Alfonzo, 31 when I left his therapy, and almost 40 when the lawsuit ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2002. Nearly twenty years after leaving the therapy, I am still affected by the consequences of those six years of “treatment.”
Imagine my excitement, the hope that relief from the sucking tar of misery that dogged too many of my days was within my reach. From that moment and for thirty years to follow, I was the willing guinea pig for any number of drugs. Nothing helped for long.
"Let's try the shotgun method," my psychiatrist said — meaning that you load the gun with a bunch of pellets and hope that one of them hits the target. I went through 16 different psychiatric medications in five years, and they were not the right choice for me.
What if, in that moment, nothing happened? What if I was given a second to collect myself enough to engage in the conversation surrounding my future? No one asked me what I would like to do. I was never given the chance to regain my equilibrium before I was drugged and bagged for the next decade.
To test the theory that a lack of sleep would trigger mania and resumption of sleep would restore health, I conducted what I thought would be a straightforward experiment: while still on lithium and a low dose of antipsychotics, I suppressed sleep for a few days.
Tea is my weapon of choice for battling anxiety and depression. But its true power comes from the people behind the cup. Tea is merely the drink that brings us together.
I have wanted to go public with my story ever since I started getting so dramatically better via holistic means, but I consistently chickened out. It wasn’t until I hopped on a plane to Boston to meet other psychiatric survivors at the Mad in America Film Festival in 2014 that I found the community and forum to do so.