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.

snakes and ladders

Snakes and Ladders: How Psychiatry Took Away My Choices

77
The psychiatric system takes away all choices and freedom and calls the resulting state "mental illness." Psychiatry justifies alienation rather than repairing it.
winter sunset psychiatric social control

Involuntary Obedience: Rituals of Humiliation Disguised as ‘Care’

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Like slavery took such a long time to be ‘officially’ forbidden, psychiatric hospitals will be with us for some time yet. Their masters, the doctors or administrators, no longer give beatings with their hands but with the far more treacherous chemicals that allow them to keep a good conscience and distribute what are beatings nevertheless.
Kelli as a child

The Forced Psychiatric Treatment of a Child

28
This is my story of forced psychiatric treatment as an eight-year-old girl, from my perspective as an adult mental health professional. Being held down kicking and screaming to be injected with a benzodiazepine is a human rights violation no child should endure for saying no to a pharmaceutical. In hindsight, when I reflect on that day, it feels like a form of child abuse.

A Troubled Teen With a Pocket Full of Lithium and Nowhere to Go

33
Despite the full awareness of Congress and hundreds of deaths in these facilities, little has been done to enact standards in private pay facilities that house troubled teens.
benzodiazapine withdrawal

How 1 Panic Attack Led to 15 Years of Psychiatric Drugs 

59
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.

Why I’m Glad I Did Not Complete the Mental Health Counselor Education Program

16
One needs no psychiatric or counseling degree to have the common sense of displaying some good manners in a profession that claims to be all about helping people. I’m glad I did not get further involved within a field that seems to be so hypocritical and moody.

Dan’s Journey Through OCD

9
Editor's Note: To protect the anonymity of her son, this author has published under a pseudonym. With the help of the Internet, my seventeen-year-old son...

From ‘Madness’ to Self-Mastery: Overcoming a Life of Disconnection

8
You are trained to trust a system, to trust a professional… But I was always following my intuitive self telling me that there was a way out of the madness and the labels.

On the Other Side

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It was the first time in my Klonopin journey it occurred to me the problem might not be inherent in me. The problem might actually be the Klonopin. Convinced my very life was at stake, I made the firm decision to get off the stuff once and for all.
depression sleeping woman

The Breaking Point

30
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.
mental hospital

Memories of a Childhood in a Mental Hospital

11
My stay at the hospital had no impact on the problem that led to my admission. But it did exacerbate other problems and change me in fundamental ways. I am a deformed product of that ‘cutting-edge facility’ and the ‘treatments’ I received there — social isolation, pills and shots, ice bath and ECT.
drowning in antidepressants

Ambushed by Antidepressants for 30 Years

93
They helped me function for a while, but the debilitating side effects of antidepressants held me prisoner. I'm still having a hard time understanding how this could have happened. It's been suggested to me by a therapist that what I'm going through now is another kind of PTSD: the ongoing trauma of realizing what antidepressants did to me for 30 years.

What’s Missing from NAMI and Pro-Psychiatry: Lived Experience

22
Since many psych patients become forced consumers, their advocates have a duty to be educated and concerned with adverse reactions.

Child Abuse and Psychosis: My Healing Journey

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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?
involuntary commitment

What It’s Like to Be Involuntarily Committed

40
Ten years after being fired for taking a mental health leave after the Virginia Tech massacre, I was diagnosed as "schizophrenic" and involuntarily committed to a hospital. Now I have a job and a life, but I'm still forced to take drugs and report to a social worker.
schizophrenia 1960s hospital

Against the Odds: ‘Unimproved Schizophrenic’ to Yale PhD

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Forty years after I had first been admitted to the hospital, I was ready to confront my past. So, I sent for my hospital records, and I read them. As an experienced clinician, I recognized immediately what the doctors hadn’t been able to see in 1960: my problem wasn’t ‘schizophrenia’ but PTSD, connected with incest.

Recovery of Soul After 22 Years on Antipsychotics

6
After 22 years and many attempts I finally stopped taking antipsychotics. I still feel weak and quite injured by the accumulated doses of numbing drugs, though I feel brighter, and love life more than ever.

Harmed by Psychiatric Drugs Prescribed for Acid Reflux

23
I was unaware that metoclopramide is in the same drug class as antipsychotics with the same potential for serious side effects.
mental health awakening

My Mental Health Awakening

184
Although it’s taken me a while to acknowledge my right to be in this world, I know that I am not “mentally ill,” but rather have a dynamic spiritual and emotional sensitivity to this world. I am here for a reason, and having to go into the depths of a very dark cave in order to see the light is how I was able to grow and discover that I don't have to take medications for the rest of my life.

The “Shotgun Method” – A Story of Mental Health Crisis in Iceland

37
"Let's try the shotgun method," my psychiatrist said — meaning that you load the gun with a bunch of pellets and hope that one of them hits the target. I went through 16 different psychiatric medications in five years, and they were not the right choice for me.

The Poison Isn’t the Medicine: Antipsychotics, Mania and Sleep

97
To test the theory that a lack of sleep would trigger mania and resumption of sleep would restore health, I conducted what I thought would be a straightforward experiment: while still on lithium and a low dose of antipsychotics, I suppressed sleep for a few days.

Out of the Abyss (with a Little Help from My Friends)

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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.

The Hidden Harms Within the Psychedelic Renaissance

17
If I would have read a story like this before I entered into psychedelic-assisted therapy, I would have been more careful, which might have prevented a lot of unnecessary hurt.

I Want Change

35
Only two hours after we got home, Dan fearlessly told me of the suicide plan that he'd devised while in the hospital. He had all that time to think about it while nobody was listening. He'd lost his dignity, his identity and his place in society. He had lost the will to live.
Caleb Chafe

A Best Kept Secret

35
After working in the field, I have found that the majority of people in the mental health system are not getting adequate care like I received during my first psychotic episode. I was lucky enough to have a doctor who took a nontraditional approach to schizophrenia and worked with me on coming off of medications.