To say a person is out of touch with reality is to ignore the validity of the reality that they are in touch with. This is not only disempowering, but also fails to celebrate the journey that the person is on.
The bipolar label and the drugs you prescribed after talking with me for half an hour robbed me of my humanity. What did they not do? Prevent any of the psychotic episodes I had after the first one.
Had the hospital simply treated me for heatstroke, they would have made next to nothing. But 11 days in the hospital (10 on a locked ward) and a battery of tests and psych drugs? Well, I’ll let you do the math.
Flying from Anchorage to Cleveland while suffering from life-threatening akathisia was going to be a constant push-pull between the urge to freak out and maintaining my body and psyche so as not to scare the other passengers.
An ER doctor told me I was experiencing venlafaxine withdrawal, then told me to go home and take care of myself. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to enter pure hell.
I believed I needed the drugs to keep me going, because every time I tried to get off, I couldn’t function. Years later, I learned the truth: The meds had only been masking the festering sores beneath the surface of my stability.
Withdrawal felt like: evil feeding on my soul, my spirit being tortured, not being able to feel love, constantly feeling like I was falling in a dark tunnel, and wanting to get out of my body.
In my experience, psychiatry is a discipline in which treatment and gaslighting exist in a complex braid. One side might show more than the other at times, but they’re closely woven together and hard to pick apart.
I am here today because I didn't take the psychotropic medication I was prescribed. Because I didn't accept someone else's narrative about MY story. Because I listened to my voices. Because I let them guide me— into the underworld, and back.
It should have been safe and healing for me in the hospital. Instead, it was like being at home with my stepfather: I was abused and invisible, just trying to protect myself.
My brain zaps—symptoms of benzo withdrawal—were like having a mini seizure on a daily basis. But my doctor kept telling me that my “underlying” anxiety was causing all my distress.
I was a victim of racial and criminal profiling on campus. I worried whether, as an introvert and someone who also identified as mentally ill, people thought I was a potential shooter.
Hospitalized for "grandiose delusions," I began to wonder: Was my dis-orientation really just a sickness? Or in "treating" it, was I missing a powerful re-orientation toward healing old wounds?
The psychiatric system takes away all choices and freedom and calls the resulting state "mental illness." Psychiatry justifies alienation rather than repairing it.
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.
After a failed suicide attempt following my son's death, New York State incarcerated me in a mental institution for 21 days. The environment was degrading, stultifying, and downright depressing.
Early in my social work career, I truly believed that medication and forced confinement helped heal “mental illness.” Then an abrupt awakening completely altered my worldview.
When I was 17, I took Prozac for five days. Ever since, I have been completely unable to experience sexual pleasure.
If I ever lose my mind again, I hope that psychiatrists in charge of my care will grant me but one wish. Please do not force me to take drugs that fill me full of fear.
The psychiatric concept of insight rests on the assumption that the psychiatrist, designated sane, knows what’s best. But if we question that assumption and consider that the medical model of mental illness may be incorrect, then the question of which party actually possesses insight becomes less clear.
James and I started talking about how we each fell on the path as seekers. He told me that he was a reiki master. A seed was planted within me. Even though my previous meditation practice did not work out, I still had spiritual longings and wanted to try again.
It's really hard to talk about suicide. We are constantly constrained by the notion that our mental health is our individual responsibility to manage, told to “live our best lives” by a never-ending campaign of exploitative wellness fads. A more collective conversation is needed.
If I had not crumbled, brought to my knees beneath the weight of the misdiagnoses and sordid side-effects of the medications, I would not have had the opportunity to rise up and gain such a strong sense of self—something for which many spend their whole life searching.
A friend said to me recently, "Oh, he suffered such a lot. That’s over for him." I know their words were intended to comfort me over my son’s suicide. Our fine, excellent son, Abraham, had committed suicide a month before Christmas 2019. Nevertheless, I bridled inwardly at the suggestion, not wanting to remember Abraham as merely the sum of his sufferings—he was so much more than that.
After suffering PTSD in the late 1980s, I reluctantly accepted antidepressants. In time, I had resolved the trauma, but when I tried to stop the antidepressants (Prozac, and later Zoloft), I assumed my desperate feelings and “return” of depression were an indication I had an imbalance and needed those drugs. I didn’t understand I was experiencing withdrawal. (I was never told that for most people, psychiatric medications need to be tapered.)