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.

avalanche

My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

14
A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.

Seeing Mental Illness as a Spiritual Illness

30
I am a simple woman, 47, single mother of two beautiful children, diagnosed bipolar 10 years ago, and I want more from the way...

Self Stolen: How ECT Fried My Brain

67
Extreme ECT memory loss is like having Alzheimer’s, and being fully cognizant of it. It takes away who you are as a person: your self-identity.

Schizophrenia Deconstructed

140
After a few weeks it became clear to me the complete lack of comprehension that I faced as a person claiming to have been cured of psychosis. Being a schizophrenic claiming to no longer suffer from schizophrenia only made me seem more schizophrenic due to the current culture of psychiatry.
psychosis brain healing

Healing From Schizophrenia

90
My experience is that living in a psychosis forces your brain to "stretch" — you develop extra capacity to handle things. I was pretty much living a normal life, even working some of the time, while having all of my psychotic problems. After the psychoses faded away, I no longer needed to fight monsters, but I still had that extra capacity left. After 11 periods of psychosis, my brain has never worked as well as it does now.

Escaping The Shackles of Psychiatry: What I’ve Seen and Survived, as Both Doctor and...

100
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke. This is as true on...
clozapine medication

My Mother Accidentally Took My Medication

46
Although I have usually been the one suffering from side effects, with others watching on, the roles were reversed in this incident. Seeing my mother impaired caused me heartache, and I am now rethinking my treatment regimen. Is this stuff good for me for the long term? Is this the only stuff that can help me, or is there an alternative?
brain zaps antidepressants

Dangers of Antidepressants: My Personal Struggle with Conventional Medicine

43
I believed my doctor knew best about my health. I trusted that he knew it would be safe to switch me from an anti-anxiety drug that I had been taking for several years and put me on this new drug. It was only during the horror I went through afterward that I found out everything about this evil drug all on my own. To this day, I still get brain zaps in my sleep.
sertraline antidepressant withdrawal

Ambushed by Antidepressant Withdrawal: The Escape Story

29
I’m alive. More than 30,000 veterans in the past decade alone are not. I was not warned of the risks of this drug. I was not told that once on it, I might never be able to get off it, or the nightmare that would ensue when I tried. I know millions of others were not told either.

Waking From the Nightmare: Is Recovery From Akathisia Possible?

53
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.
stoned or schizophrenia

From Stoned to “Schizophrenic”: My Mental Healthcare Journey

54
During a period of self-doubt, I chose to see a psychiatrist because I was engulfed in negative thoughts and couldn't find a direction in life. The slightest joys came only when I was high. Though my weed addiction was likely causing all of my symptoms, my psychiatrist’s response was to prescribe antipsychotics.

Drowning in Doubts: Why I Think About Leaving Psychiatry

125
Going into psychiatry as a naïve 25-year-old, I had no idea what I would discover. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have chosen this field.

Inadequately Trained Therapists Pose a Risk to Childhood Trauma Survivors

11
Mental health professionals must be trained in the dynamics of addiction and abuse if they are to help survivors of childhood trauma.
mental health maze

Functional Medicine: My Path Out of Psychiatry

149
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.”

Once Upon a Time in Withdrawal

60
I’ve seen people put more research into how to cook a turkey at Christmas time than previous psychiatrists did for my health. From the DSM to the prescription pad, if it wasn’t there, it didn’t exist. It’s a very cut-and-dry, mix-and-match method to modern medicine that has harmed millions of people, and it nearly killed me.
insomnia drugs

Polydrugged With 12 Different Drugs… For Insomnia

27
Before my nightmare with psychiatric medication began, my life was full and happy. But since being prescribed 12 different psychiatric drugs in one year, I have become bedridden, ill and jobless.

Why Don’t They Know? A Letter to My Doctor

52
I am writing this letter, after much consideration, in the depths of benzodiazepine withdrawal. I need to be a voice in the midst of silence; I need to be heard before you write one more prescription for a benzo or any other mind-altering drug for that matter. It is my hope in writing this that you begin to ask questions as you sit across from your patients: why are they depressed, anxious, insecure, fatigued, paranoid, agoraphobic? Are the drugs I so readily prescribe contributing to their declining physical, mental and emotional health? Are these drugs really the answer? What are they really doing to the brain?

My Story and My Fight Against Antidepressants, Part II

49
Healing mental health issues through correct supplements as well as nutrition is, I believe, the final factor for me in my journey. This is possibly what was missing in my first attempt at coming off, and why my brain and body couldn’t handle the extreme anxiety I felt in December 2013. I am ensuring that as I prepare to taper off the Lexapro in 2015, my brain and body are being supported in every way possible.
dementia

The Monster in Our House: What Psychiatric Medication Did to My Father

41
When we eliminated his last psychotropic prescription, it was as if my father came back from the dead. All of the monster-like qualities that we thought were severe symptoms of his dementia have practically disappeared. We’ve found ourselves questioning whether he has dementia at all.
Joey Marino

The Death of Joey Marino

18
There needs to be more informed consent with these medications. If Joey was more aware of the potential side effects at the very beginning, I feel he would still be here today.
akathisia suicide

No More Tears: In Memory of Kathleen Fliller

66
My friend Kathleen Fliller ended her life last month. She had written a chronicle of her struggles with psychiatric drug withdrawal and akathisia, which she asked me to share with Mad In America to be published in hopes that it might help others not feel so alone.
Queen Ekaterina

Dialogue with a Psychiatrist

107
“You need to realise that what we see and hear in our madness might be very real!” I tell the psychiatrist. “It isn’t just delusions, hallucinations or nonexistent voices! What if it is indeed all real? And magic does exist?”
trapped in mental health services

Mental Health Services Turned My Daughter’s Crisis into a Way of Life

18
My world turned upside down when my daughter nearly died from a serious suicide attempt. After several years as her caretaker I began to wonder: What can we do to change the way our mental health services are organized so they won't turn a crisis into a way of life for already distressed and vulnerable people?

When the Help Becomes Part of the Problem

6
The feeling of being institutionalized and medicated over minor ailments is difficult to shake. I have been to countless therapy sessions attempting to deconstruct the feelings of dehumanization into digestible morsels.

What I Learned as a Moderator for an Antidepressant Taper Support Group

48
Medication support groups are saving lives and brains because doctors do not know how to safely taper off psych meds.