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.

Overheated, then Overtreated: My 10-Day Involuntary Hold

44
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.

A Mental Patient’s View of the Body

7
In 20 years of inpatient hospitalization, the psychiatrists that I encountered focused almost exclusively on treating my diseased mind and had no concept or interest in the body. While the wheels of “progress” turn slowly in mental health, I hope that along with ongoing advocacy there will be a focus on responsible health counseling and supporting people in healthier eating and living.
ADHD

Parenting Changed My Perspective on “ADHD”

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My experience of raising a son who was bright and creative but didn’t fit the mold helped me to approach my restless, impulsive students more compassionately and creatively.

The Misery of Being Misdiagnosed and Overmedicated

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From an early age, relatives and doctors alike had told me I was severely mentally ill. Naturally, I believed them.

Life Sentence: Life Behind the Bars of the Mental Health System

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The minute you sit down in the chair in a mental health professional's office, you’re no longer seen as a person. The mental health system is incapable of seeing past the solid wall of your current label. Their only cure is drugs. "First Do No Harm" are powerful words. It’s unfortunate they don’t apply to psychiatry.

Connecting the Dots: My Toxic Workplace Made Me “Mentally Ill”

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In 1996, I suffered my first manic episode. My mother was convinced it had been caused by chemical exposure. But I wouldn’t hear it, and neither would my psychiatrists.
ECT

Negatively Charged: ECT and the Truth I Could Never Forget

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I live with the changes every day, even now, four years later. It often feels as though the shocks have rendered me one-handed, only ever capable of dealing with one thing at a time.
depression sleeping woman

The Breaking Point

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How did I become someone who could barely function? I was a high-performing sales executive ranked in the top 2% of an international business communications company. But now, after using powerful psych meds for depression and anxiety for more than a decade, I couldn’t do basic things like go to the grocery store, plan a meal, make dinner, or get together with friends.

Inadequately Trained Therapists Pose a Risk to Childhood Trauma Survivors

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

On Running and Recovery

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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.
geriatric depression

The Year I Lost Everything, Psychiatry Offered Nothing

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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.
nonsense

On Making Non Sense

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I have lost interest in making sense. Insofar as anti-stigma entails a reassertion of my apparently forgotten humanity via the retelling of some personal narrative in which I generalize my unique experiences toward some universal wisdom, I have lost interest in the reduction of stigma. I would much prefer it if you didn’t need me to be comprehensible.

“Don’t Worry, You’ll Be Fine”

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I was prescribed a “baby dose” of diazepam for pain management. Over the following months, everything got progressively worse.

Being Mad is Liberating

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Being mad is liberating. Well, at least with practice and determination, because, let’s face it, being mental (with a confirmed diagnosis) is not a high status on the scale of popularity in our society, defined as it is by the standards of normality.

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.

Living Together – With More Resilience and Less Medication

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My own experiences have shown that specific exercises can help me to recognize the early symptoms of psychosis even earlier and more subtly, and reduce their intensity — even the delusions!
Boy with wings in the field in the afternoon against the blue sky

Trying to Fly Above—An Example of Sequencity

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I consider synchronicity and sequencity connections to be gifts. The meaning involved is often much deeper and more personal than other people will recognize.

Narrow Escape: My Prescribed Nightmare

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It has taken me close to three years to be able to live with my memories from the hospital, where I felt completely and utterly alone, despairing that I might never live a normal life or see my family again.

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

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

Not Seen

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I am The Invisible Woman. A woman with a nice enough bag, a calm demeanor, and well-put-together clothes (they are not “odd,” they attract no attention). You might see me walking my dog near where I live, smiling at my neighbors, making small talk. People make all sorts of comments to me about the crazies. It never occurs to them that I might be among this so-called population.

Southern Vapors: A Comeback Story Not Born of Chemistry

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Imagine my excitement, the hope that relief from the sucking tar of misery that dogged too many of my days was within my reach. From that moment and for thirty years to follow, I was the willing guinea pig for any number of drugs. Nothing helped for long.
children of parents with mental health labels

Invisible Trauma: The Children Left Behind When Parents Are Hospitalized

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It would take decades before I recognized the trauma caused by repeatedly being separated from my mom when she was hospitalized. I grieved almost exactly the way children did who had lost a parent to death. Yet it was grief without closure because my mom was not dead, just... gone.

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...

Not Just Another Stain on the Wall

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During my 96-hour hold in the psych unit—despite that I was rational and a danger to no one—I was made to feel ashamed and somehow unclean. I went home feeling more depressed than ever.

Nerve Damage, Mouth Ulcers, & More: My Battle with Drug Side Effects

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Since 2020 began, I have had a minimum of two to five excruciating ulcers in my mouth most of the time. I believe they're a side effect of the psychiatric drugs I am on. Yet most doctors won't take my symptoms seriously.