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.

How to Learn to Love to Write: A Mental Health Journey

5
You go from enjoying writing to dreading the idea of ever scribbling words on a piece of paper ever again. What was once your escape has now become your prison.

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.

A Tale of Two Cousins

51
Last fall, I was invited by Psychiatric Times to write an article from a mother's perspective about what is needed to "fix a broken health system." As part of my essay, I told the story of my son Jake, who was robbed of all hope by the mental health system and died a homeless man. I also told the story of his cousin Kimmy, who escaped from the mental health system and is now doing well. Psychiatric Times declined to publish my essay.

Why I Fight for Trauma-Informed Systems

5
I am not sure what was worse: being abused growing up while my community documented—then ignored—my torment, or being attacked for going public with my story.
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.
buddhist hands peers

“Peers,” Therapeutic Harm, and Buddhist Forgiveness

17
I'd like to be peers with anyone struggling against persecution, anyone struggling toward the promise of dignity and respect for marginalized communities, for freaks and weirdos. To fit the diversity of our experiences, maybe our definitions need to be as flexible and individual as we are.
criminal psychiatry

People Don’t Recover So Spectacularly from Criminal Psychiatry

75
Psychiatry and Catholicism have too much in common, both founded by men, upon questionable source materials. I knew I was in danger, not being helped.

Missionary Headshrinkers in Gold Canyons: A Survivor’s Perspective

14
Missionaries and psychiatrists have failed not through lack of compassion but through lack of willingness to take a long walk and a long, long talk to ask the neighbors what they need and the people what they already know.

Breaking with Disorder: The Invisible Flames of Mental Illness Labels

43
These labels left me docile to a broken mental health system—a carceral system that viewed me interchangeably as a patient or an object, but never a person.
off meds onto nutrients

What Happened When I Went Off Meds and Onto Nutrients

17
I remember clearly thinking, “I’m done. I’m not putting myself through this again.” I wasn’t going to settle for the side effects of a marginally better than placebo treatment again. Here is a brief look into my rollercoaster journey of recovery, returning to work, having my trauma re-triggered, finding a way through, and finally living well.

Subtle Ways Psychiatry Has Harmed Us

27
We’re not dysfunctional or bad just because there are two of us in here. What’s more important than being a socially acceptable single person is that we know how to get along and manage our trauma and our life together. We just need to be accepted as we are.
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.
insight

Chasing that Elusive Insight

12
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.

Meditation Triggered My Psychosis; Reiki Healed It

9
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.

Race and Abuse in Inpatient Settings: What Happens Behind Locked Doors

11
The problem of staff brutality towards patients on the psych wards disproportionately affects people of color and continues to happen every day behind locked doors.

My Mother Wound: Rethinking “Fear of Abandonment”

9
Therapists are quick to refer to this pain I feel as a “fear of abandonment,” as if it is a figment of my mind and something not worth the time to attend to.
turtle reason to live

Simple Things

24
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.
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.
Photograph of a blue plate shattering

When Treatment Makes You Sick: The Eating Disorder Clinic

6
Eight years after beginning ‘treatment’ for an ‘eating disorder’, I was eating worse than ever. Yet three years after quitting that ‘treatment’, food is a pleasure, not a problem.
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?”
university of chicago

Informed Consent, or Lack Thereof in My Psychiatric Experience

63
After telling my psychotherapist about my medication-fueled suicidal ideation, he said, “You have two options. We can do this either voluntarily or involuntarily.” Aghast and shaken, but assuming everyone in the medical system had my best interests at heart, I reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital without any protest.

On Psychotherapeutic Literacy

3
The counselor, a rather awkward individual, did his best to play the role of an effective psychotherapist. Our sessions continued to be a quiet standoff, a battle of nerves to see who would break the silence first.

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.
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.
love soul mate

How “Schizophrenia” Helped Me Find My Soul Mate

14
Dating someone when you have a history of “schizophrenia” is very hard. I figured that if people left me for something as common as depression, anyone hearing my story of psychosis would give me an immediate boot. My initial efforts were awkward and lacked discretion — into each date I’d burst, willing to commit for an eternity with unconditional love.