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

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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.
life unarmed

Life, Unarmed

14
When I was born, everyone was expecting me to have arms. The doctor's mind raced; how am I going to tell this mother and the father that their son has hands but not arms? If he's missing so much in his extremities, mustn’t he also be missing a mind? My mom looked into my eyes and knew - in a way that only mothers know - that I had a mind, and spirit.

Recovering Myself

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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...

A Moment Passed Too Often

9
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.

Trapped

27
Back in 1983, I put myself in a mental ward. I desperately wanted help with my eating disorder, but no one took these types of problems seriously back then. The ward was rather nice, so I returned many times. Nothing good ever came of it, but I always hoped this time, it will do some magic. Every time I left, I'd realize my eating problems hadn't been solved at all.

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.

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...

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...

I Am “Pro-Healing”

15
Yoga helped me explore and reconnect with the body I’d abandoned and abused for years. My pain and sadness had me living exclusively in my mind, my body nothing more than a battleground for my inner wars. Through yoga and meditation, I slowly began to love myself again, learning to treat myself with care and respect. I felt a greater sense of self-awareness, and a sense of connection to something greater. This was a drastic contrast to the days when I felt as if god had forgotten about me, or like I was a mistake not meant for this world.

Made It! – Successfully Navigating Both Mainstream and Alternative Treatment for Mental Illness

4
I’ve come to understand that a single-minded focus on either therapy or medication can do great, if unintended, harm. I’m sharing this brief history of my journey, with both my good and bad decisions, to illustrate the importance of conscious care, and of maintaining the ability to change course.

Close Encounters with Biopsychiatry

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Editor's Note: The author has written her story using a different name.  Here, she's explained why: "In my country, Poland, the stigma attached to the...

From the Loony Bin To Stand-Up Comedy

0
I was sixteen and going on seventeen and I had never gone crazy before.  I think the most startling aspect of it is how...

My Mood, My Choice

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With nothing left to lose, I’d reached the point at which I had to make a choice: to fight, or to give up. Though things seemed to not be going my way, I decided to take back control and make drastic changes in hopes to survive. That’s when yoga, meditation and nutrition came into my life, but first, I had to find a doctor to help me get off the medication I was currently on.

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.

Creatively Managing Voice-Hearing Through Spiritual Writing

17
I am a psychiatric survivor of over thirty-six years. Since my nervous breakdown in 1978, I have undergone multitudinous experiences ranging from the subtly humiliating to the horrifically debilitating at the hands of incompetent psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists who, in the name of medicine, did more harm than good.

2017: My Descent Into Mayhem

1
It’s time to seek out and rescue those pieces of me still trapped in that time and allow them to finally be at peace.