In public health, we talk about death. But we don’t talk about grief or bereavement. We don’t study the hole left behind in the family system or social sphere.
“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.
Dear Psychiatry: We are done with your juvenile black-and-white bullying tactics that argue that because you cannot neatly contain Us in a box of your design that We are somehow the problem.
It was my experience, which I later found was supported by research, that exercise had the power to help me heal, but it also had the potential to exacerbate my trauma symptoms.
In 1959, my mother suffered what people referred to as a nervous breakdown after my sister’s birth. I puzzled over why Mom never recovered, until I found Dad’s collection of medical records in my sister’s attic. How could anyone give a nursing mother with three small children so many drugs in such a short period of time?
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 blood work indicated a host of issues that had been lurking under the surface of my “psychiatric diagnoses” for years. I’d seen various mental health professionals and none had recommended these types of tests, or stopped to think about any underlying factors, aside from the well-known “serotonin myth.”
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.
I have grown a lot through my experiences, and would not have made the changes I have made, nor be the person I am today, had my madness not returned a second time. It returned because I did not pay enough attention to the wake-up call the first time around.
I was toeing a very precarious line working in a psychiatric hospital. I knew how tenuous my perceived sanity was.
The minute you sit down in the chair in a mental health professional's office, you’re no longer seen as a person. The mental health system is incapable of seeing past the solid wall of your current label. Their only cure is drugs. "First Do No Harm" are powerful words. It’s unfortunate they don’t apply to psychiatry.
He could have asked me if there was a specific event that had precipitated my suicide attempt. He could have asked if I had a history of trauma. He could have simply asked, “What happened?” “What are you feeling?” or “So what’s going on?” Nope. He chose to open our meeting with an accusatory remark about a make-believe eating disorder.
The Detroit Free Press did an excellent job in bringing to light the conditions at Pontiac, its loss of accreditation, and closing. Still, they didn't quite grasp the severity of violence there.
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.
The pain has gone now, and I am grateful for who it has made me — a happier person than before. Perhaps broken open a bit, but in a good way.
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.
Without doubt, Extended Leave profoundly curtails one's freedoms and rights, and the threshold for what is deemed “unacceptable” behaviour is invariably lowered. My only crime was being offensive towards an ACT team member. It seems that the goal I am now reduced to fighting for is merely the right to be rude in my own home.
Psychiatry and Catholicism have too much in common, both founded by men, upon questionable source materials. I knew I was in danger, not being helped.
I had a chemical brain injury from medications. The only help doctors could offer was more medications: treating the failed treatment with other dangerous treatments.
The label bipolar validated that I was suffering, yes, but it was also a bargain that asked me to see my suffering as unreasonable, the result of a deformity within my body.
I lost three years of my life to my first psychosis. I am living proof that your entire world can be smashed into a trillion pieces and you can recover and turn the broken pieces of glass into a kaleidoscope.
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.
I remember clearly thinking, “I’m done. I’m not putting myself through this again.” I wasn’t going to settle for the side effects of a marginally better than placebo treatment again. Here is a brief look into my rollercoaster journey of recovery, returning to work, having my trauma re-triggered, finding a way through, and finally living well.
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.
Much of what we term “madness” is, in fact, the awakening of the "Self" to its own Wholeness/Divinity. We are born totally pure. Throughout our lives we are subject to projections, flung at us from a multitude of directions: from Mom and Dad, from schools, religious institutions, the media, and the medical model. We are all buried, to some degree, under projections, and interesting symptoms emerge: nightmares, stress and anxiety, fear, flashbacks, and so on. These are not "Madness," but symptoms of health; of a "Self" attempting to break free from lies.