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.

Psychiatry Almost Drove Me Crazy

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I am a survivor of severe psychiatric abuse. There was a year or so in the early 1980’s when I was in and out...

So Long, Pill Mill: A Letter to My Former Patients and Their Families

I love being a psych nurse practitioner, and I never want to feel that my only role is pushing pills. The private practice I started is my effort to move away from this dysfunctional system.

My Recovery from ‘Schizophrenia’ through Psychotherapy and Writing

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I was never told directly that I had 'schizophrenia', and I am very glad about this. I know I was feeling bad, very bad, and was unsure of what to do, but I don’t see how a diagnosis could have helped me at that time. What could I have done with it? To be marked with a label like that would likely have caused me to rebel even more.

Surviving and Thriving After a Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

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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.
snapshots of spring

Snapshots of Spring: Journeying Off Psych Meds After 20 Years of Compliance

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My prayer to be taken out of my misery was answered, just not the way I used to envision. I managed to escape the system and here I am in the same lifetime, alive and well. I’m slowly getting acquainted with this new setup and am eternally grateful for yet another opportunity at life, which I hope does not slip through my fingers.

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

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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.

I Know With a Sane Mind When I’m Going Insane

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This was my son’s answer when I was questioning him, trying desperately to find out what was going on in his mind. Why did...
drug pushers

Keeping Meili Off Psychiatric Drugs

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We first came under pressure to give our developmentally disabled and autistic daughter a psychiatric drug when she was in her mid-teens. She was attending a local school for autistic children but was unable to adapt to their program, and we were urged to consult a psychiatrist. What enabled us to resist the pressure to put our daughter on drugs?

From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity

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There were days that I’d wake up and all I could do was cry for no particular reason, just another miserable day of withdrawal. However, the idea of taking photos would get me out of the house. Especially on those days, the absolutely only thing that would get me to move at all was the idea of taking photos. One particular day, I was just crying, crying, crying, and as soon as I got to a beautiful spot that I loved, I stopped crying, took photos, and felt at peace. I even found that the days I felt the worst were the days I took the best photos.

Meds vs. No Meds? My Search for Freedom of Mind

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I have stayed on the same daily, 10 mg dosage of Abilify for the last few years. Although I am compliant, I am not satisfied: I do not feel whole. I do not feel authentic.

Self Stolen: How ECT Fried My Brain

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Extreme ECT memory loss is like having Alzheimer’s, and being fully cognizant of it. It takes away who you are as a person: your self-identity.

Schizophrenia Deconstructed

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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.

A System Built on Fear

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Experiences such as pain, turmoil, trauma and grief aren’t separate from the person—they shape how that person sees the world, how they cope with the world. To separate those experiences from the person, to call them sick, feels barbaric. It feels as if humans are being taught to fear being human.

From Self-Harm to Self-Empowerment: Liberation Through Words

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In contemporary U.S. culture, people who intentionally hurt their bodies are called “insane.” We may starve ourselves or carve ourselves, taking to the extreme culturally-embedded norms like thinness in an effort to fight against marginalization or cope with internalized shame. But instead of obtaining the voice or place in society we yearn for, we are further ostracized.
weight loss eating disorders

Your Weight is Forbidden Fruit

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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.

Breaking with Disorder: The Invisible Flames of Mental Illness Labels

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These labels left me docile to a broken mental health system—a carceral system that viewed me interchangeably as a patient or an object, but never a person.

Giving Up on Mental Health Care

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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.
winter sunset psychiatric social control

Involuntary Obedience: Rituals of Humiliation Disguised as ‘Care’

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Like slavery took such a long time to be ‘officially’ forbidden, psychiatric hospitals will be with us for some time yet. Their masters, the doctors or administrators, no longer give beatings with their hands but with the far more treacherous chemicals that allow them to keep a good conscience and distribute what are beatings nevertheless.
psychosis brain healing

Healing From Schizophrenia

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My experience is that living in a psychosis forces your brain to "stretch" — you develop extra capacity to handle things. I was pretty much living a normal life, even working some of the time, while having all of my psychotic problems. After the psychoses faded away, I no longer needed to fight monsters, but I still had that extra capacity left. After 11 periods of psychosis, my brain has never worked as well as it does now.
girl surrounded by masks (painting)

Peer Behind the Mask of My Smile

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Inside the hospital, I was a social butterfly and knew practically everyone on my wing, but at home, I was a nobody and a loner. If only I had the energy to fake it one hundred percent of the time, then nobody would suspect a thing.
woman being led away in handcuffs by two police officers

The Cost of Being Psychotic in America

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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.

A Caregiver’s Story- And How I Became an Addict

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In 1994, my nineteen-year old daughter, Cristina, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). It was a diagnosis that came totally out of the blue and as a complete shock. Soon after she was diagnosed, it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep because of the tremendous stress, so I asked the very kind doctor who diagnosed Cristina if he could give me a prescription for something that would help me sleep. He agreed, and so began my “relationship” with Xanax. I had never taken anything like that before and didn’t know anything about it. All I knew was that as my daughter’s primary caregiver, I needed sleep in order to fight to keep her alive.
military

Broken Is Not All I’ll Ever Be: Military Veterans and Psychiatric Drugs

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I had been an excellent combat medic — I had deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan totaling over 28 months of combat in Infantry and Cavalry units. Yet, after over six years on these psychiatric drugs, I felt reduced to a helpless being who would require assistance for the simplest of menial tasks.

My Chronic Illness Was Misdiagnosed as ‘Mental Illness’

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Physically ill and suffering folks are being misdiagnosed with ‘mental illness’ and sent to psychiatrists instead of doctors who can help them.

August 20, 1985: The Day My Psychotic Episodes Ended

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I didn’t know that I had never fully experienced my emotional pain until I was thrown into an altered state. With “psychosis” I plowed through layers and layers of pain, alone in the night.