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.

25 Years Later: Honoring a Stress Breakdown

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This was no illness. And I knew my biochemistry was not the primary issue. I chose to call it a severe stress breakdown.

My Mother Wound: Rethinking “Fear of Abandonment”

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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.

Bipolar by Definition?

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Real quick, as I’m sure you’ve heard my story before: “Medication-induced mania.” Primary care writes prescription for antidepressant to alleviate simple stress. Pill causes...
mental hospital

Ten Hospitalizations in Three Years

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When the psychiatrist prescribed me Zoloft, he did not warn me that it could cause a manic episode. So my second hospitalization was a disaster. A mental hospital is like a deranged dystopian high school. The upstairs was chaotic, dangerous, and violent. Sometimes people were yelling and throwing things. But these weren’t the most harmful moments.

A Patient Reads His Psychiatrist

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Dr. W.’s description of me, that I was agitated, insulting, uncooperative, did not match the emotions I was feeling. I felt distraught, hopeless, terrified, and desperate.

Letters to My Doctors (Part 2)

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Why am I whole when I dance and paint but deathly ill when faced by a European/American medical mechanic? Why was I locked in a room for a week in the first place? Was it to heal? Or was it to fill a bed?

Understanding Psychological Disorders: My Personal and Professional Journey

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A conflict in my personal life made it possible for me to imagine the power of emotional trauma to trigger a mental health disorder—and gave me new insights about what can help heal it.
the word "drugs" in a bear trap

Drugs? Thank You, I’ll Pass

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 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.

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.

The Undervalued Potential of Living Without Psychiatric Drugs

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Compared to the last six years, compared to how intense the drugs are and how grueling the side-effects, my first psychosis at 17, I admit, was honestly not that bad.

I Can Barely Breathe

97
The psychiatrists broke my body and my brain and now they are washing their hands of me. When I think about what has been done to me and what has been taken from me, I can barely breathe.

Corrections Officers, Not Clinicians

15
Six months ago, I was just starting in a position called "Treatment Team Coordinator" at a secure residential treatment facility. In my home state,...

Suicide: Shhhhhh

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When we have a strong urge to live, it must be very difficult to understand another person’s wish to die. So far, no one has been willing or able to “go there” with me.

Children Are Vulnerable Cogs in the Psychiatric Machine

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My guardian decided to seek out “professional” advice about how to diminish my “outbursts.” I was perceived as a problem that needed to be extinguished into a compliant state.

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

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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.

My Journey Through My Daughter’s Madness, My Research, and My Book

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And so I embarked on the darkest journey of my life, one for which neither I nor my husband were prepared. I soon found out that there was no one who could help us. The psychiatrists, even the more sympathetic ones, were not making sense to me. I was coming from the business world and I was not used to accepting superficial answers. They could not tell me what was wrong with Helia and why this had happened to her. They could not answer my challenging questions about the scientific research in the field.
yellow wood therapy

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood: A Tale of Psychotherapy

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and not knowing which one to take, I stood straight, watching my life pass me by. But in therapy, I began to feel the knots of my life come alive inside me. The point is not just to talk, it is to feel your story inside, to hear your silences, and to realize who you are… and who you can be.

I Know With a Sane Mind When I’m Going Insane

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This was my son’s answer when I was questioning him, trying desperately to find out what was going on in his mind. Why did...
suzuki book zen buddhism

Searching for Zen and Finding a Cow

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If I had a clinical problem, why was something as ancient and simple as meditation helping me? And if normal positive human habits could be so profoundly useful, why the heck was the field marketing pills and “clinical” coping mechanisms to me instead? This frustration helped me jump ship from the medical mindset and hop into the world of humanity.

Mental Health Liberation and Spirituality: Ex-Psychiatric Inmates Share Their Thoughts

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What I want to share with you, dear readers, is how spiritual experiences like mine have been reflected in so many people’s stories of being labeled with psychotic disorders.

“It Is What It Is” — Learning From the Past Without Getting Stuck in...

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My first mental-ward stay would not be the last. At last count... I lost count. Fortunately for me, I've learned much from my experience and vicariously from my peers.

Creatively Managing Voice-Hearing Through Spiritual Writing

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I am a psychiatric survivor of over thirty-six years. Since my nervous breakdown in 1978, I have undergone multitudinous experiences ranging from the subtly humiliating to the horrifically debilitating at the hands of incompetent psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists who, in the name of medicine, did more harm than good.

The Best Medicine

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Today I am not only medication-free but also thriving. While many people in my life are delighted by my transformation, most did not think it possible. How did I transition from being a chronic, "seriously mentally ill" psychiatric patient to a vibrant being?
emotions

Recovering Emotions After 24 Years on Antidepressants

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My therapist and I jointly made the decision to wean me off of the drugs. In the beginning, it was a very scary process for me. Since I had twice gone off medications on my own, I knew how bad it could get. The good news is, I am alive. I feel alive, and I now have emotions, both good and bad. I am very grateful to have all of them.

Coercion in Care

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To this day I do not know how I found my way back. I think it might’ve had something to do with willpower, as I was NOT going to lose myself. I was NOT going to end up like those people who were living indefinitely in the hospital—those “chronic schizophrenics”, as they say. I was going to find my way back, back to myself.