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.

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.

Pills That Steal Generations of Lives

59
Suddenly I had an insight into why my dad decided to end his life in 1976. I learned that, like me, he was on antidepressant medication. It seems highly likely that his illness could have been entirely caused by side effects of medication, just like it was 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.
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.
student counseling

Student Counseling Services: Do They Really Help the ‘Mentally Ill’?

40
I used to think that the counseling center would help me to resolve my inner conflicts. That visiting the center would do some good for me. I have since realized that most mainstream “mental health” is more damaging than helpful. These days if student counselors see any problem with a student visiting the center, they send him or her to see a psychiatrist.
Little Porcupine Goes to the Psych Ward

Little Porcupine Goes to the Psych Ward

25
I was so anxious about having to raise three boys alone that I felt I was going insane. So I thought of going to see a psychiatrist. I was looking for Carl Jung. Instead I found a system where they give you pills, whether you need them or not.

Bipolar by Definition?

142
Real quick, as I’m sure you’ve heard my story before: “Medication-induced mania.” Primary care writes prescription for antidepressant to alleviate simple stress. Pill causes...

I Had No Idea That Gabapentin Could Do This…

40
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.
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.
sister

“Floss on the Waves”: My Sister’s Journey

8
It takes a long time to recover from a psychotic episode, I understand now, and I wish someone had found a way, especially during those early years of her troubles, to give Rachel more space and time to find her own path to health.
postpartum anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety, Psychiatric Drugs and Paternalism

32
My postpartum anxiety diagnosis became subsumed by an arbitrary diagnosis of depression. And this diagnosis has followed me for 30 years and counting.
passage painting psychosis

Passage

53
When I was twenty-eight, I had what is commonly referred to as a “psychotic break.” It was nothing like what I would’ve imagined, given the cultural stereotypes. It was not in the least nonsensical. There was an exacting inner logic and meaning. Twenty-two years later, I continue to believe in the harrowing greatness of what my younger self went through.

To My Black Crows of Wisdom

7
Some might wonder why I'm still stumbling in the desert when there are cars and jobs and museums downtown, but really, the turquoise dawn is in the canyons. The thing is, my people seem to need this nutrition, the rarified medicine of this particular cactus and that specific root that I haven't found anywhere else.

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

20
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...