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.

turtle reason to live

Simple Things

24
Sometimes it's the simple things that keep us going, especially when the complicated ones seem so overwhelming; when there's too much chaos, too many emotions, too many possibilities and impending disasters. No one can give you a reason to live. You have to find it for yourself. Until you do, try simple things. For me, it was a turtle.

Voicehearing, Reinaldo, and My Work as The Writer

5
The Writer has outlined a significant work through my hands, dictated by the voice of someone who lived at some point a long time ago, such as London in 1682 A.D.

In Search of Reason: My Path to Antipsychiatry

30
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.

Someone I Used to Know

8
When I sit in Billie’s office, I am still 13 years old, bitter anger saturating my body. I am 23, sobbing that I cannot do this anymore. I am 24, celebrating my first year of college. I am all of these people and none of these people.
psychiatric hospital

The One That Was Away

14
I had read about such places in The Bell Jar, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. For more than a year, this place was my home.

On Running and Recovery

1
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.
love hope psychiatric harm families

Where Can Families Turn for Help?

46
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.
off meds onto nutrients

What Happened When I Went Off Meds and Onto Nutrients

17
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.
Collage depicting Cleopatra and a snake

The Psychiatric Patient: Who Is She?

7
The psychiatric patient is interesting—not your average person. She is the one who might tell you: “There is more to this reality, and I saw the proof.”

Women We Call Crazy

11
“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.
Andri Pretorius

Why I Got Locked Up in the Madhouse (Twice)

18
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.

The Mad Priestess: A Call to Healing

3
A mad priestess kicks shame and stigma in the teeth, knowing that we can do better. We could be leading the charge for healing—please don’t call it “mental illness” anymore—and take our place as the wounded healers.
road

Enjoying the Road Less Traveled

68
The people that my son and I continued to consult with over the years didn't talk of mental illness as a brain disease, a chemical imbalance, or a problem with one's genes. Depending on the therapy, they spoke in terms of restoring life force energy, changing cellular vibration, learning to listen and understand, and building a self.
psychoeducation angry teacher

“You Are Completely Screwed” – A Firsthand Experience with Psychoeducation

15
Around me in the room I could see the different faces lit up by the big whiteboard raised above us. “There are these symptoms...” The psychiatrist would talk for long periods of time, while the nurses would sit quiet, nodding. I became skeptical and thought: “You are trying to talk me into something.”
girl surrounded by masks (painting)

Peer Behind the Mask of My Smile

13
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.

Recovering Myself

6
I have known altered states of consciousness since I was a child.  I clearly remember staring into the mirror in my mother’s bathroom and...

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...

Waking Up is Hard to Do

22
Finally I’m moving in the right direction, rescuing myself from the pernicious grip of psychotropic drugs. It’s been exceptionally challenging, dealing with the adverse physiological reactions my body’s been going through. Waking up may be the toughest thing to do. Ultimately, the way I see it, it’s the only thing to do.

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.

Compassion and the Voice of the Tormentor

20
I'd like to share some personal thoughts on the nature of the Hearing Voices group method, and the insights that this kind of support generates. Through these groups, a tradition of mutual healing is being created that honors subjective experiences, and sharing our stories with each other in this way propels this exciting movement forward.

Necessary Powers: How I Became Fire

6
When a person is in hell, surrounded by enemies, without a protector or strong force on their side of any kind, that person needs to become their own powerful spokesperson.

Writing Is My Best Medicine

6
For me, writing is a powerful tool for wellness and healing, whether that involves an escape into science fiction or simply putting my dreams, emotions, memories, and observations on paper.
drug pushers

Keeping Meili Off Psychiatric Drugs

17
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?

Regarding the Impossibility of Recovery

29
Popular illness narratives tend to be of the restitution sort: I was living my life, I became sick, I got well and picked up where I left off. However, this idea that ill health is a journey to wellness doesn’t help someone with a chronic illness or disability to tell her own story, which may not have a (conventional) happy ending. The notion of ‘recovery’ can be damaging when a return to health may not be possible.

A Thief in the Hospital

16
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.