If I had not crumbled, brought to my knees beneath the weight of the misdiagnoses and sordid side-effects of the medications, I would not have had the opportunity to rise up and gain such a strong sense of self—something for which many spend their whole life searching.
Researchers treat voicehearing as the sign of a disease or a disorder or a dysfunction of the brain. That it might be something more—a relationship of some kind with God that developed in this way as part of our evolution over eons—does not seem to have occurred to anyone who has worked in the field of psychology.
Western psychiatry has done a lot of harm to people, especially when it is forced upon people as their “only” option. People’s experiences are wildly diverse, and only a diversity of options can do justice to our differing needs.
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.
I still believe I was Anne Frank in my past life, and nothing is wrong with such a belief. I am no longer Buddha, though, because they crashed my spiritual awakening when it was happening. But I go on. I deserve to be happy. I have a family to think of, I want to contribute to society on some level. I want to live. They won’t crash me. Or so I hope.
I am here today because I didn't take the psychotropic medication I was prescribed. Because I didn't accept someone else's narrative about MY story. Because I listened to my voices. Because I let them guide me— into the underworld, and back.
During my periods in forced hospitalization, I did not feel that the psychiatrist understood how much I suffered. When I stayed in solitary, I felt that the earth would vanish. There I was, locked away from my loved ones. I thought I wasn’t allowed by the secret service to talk with anyone. But during my psychosis, I met God, and I found out that God is love.
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.
To be a parent of a suicidal child is to be in a terrible position, where you hold in your hands the life most valuable to you and know that any slip of your hands may end that life. In the 1970s, my suicidality was treated nonmedically and I lived. In the 2000s, my daughter Martha’s suicidality was treated medically and she died.
I am an award-winning singer/songwriter with a number one record to my credit. I also owned several small businesses and founded a 501c3 non-profit for women's health. I ate healthy, swam and cycled every day and had a very active lifestyle. This was before benzos came into my life.
After suffering PTSD in the late 1980s, I reluctantly accepted antidepressants. In time, I had resolved the trauma, but when I tried to stop the antidepressants (Prozac, and later Zoloft), I assumed my desperate feelings and “return” of depression were an indication I had an imbalance and needed those drugs. I didn’t understand I was experiencing withdrawal. (I was never told that for most people, psychiatric medications need to be tapered.)
I kept thinking, why was I the one to be labeled when my husband was doing all this unhealthy, violent stuff? I sought out doctors through health food stores and communities that didn’t believe in medications for a social and family problem. That way no controlling, pill-pushing medical doctor had authority over me.
I feel like I have been failed by the healthcare system over and over again. I expected to be able to rely on therapists, psychologists, and doctors to properly evaluate, diagnosis, and treat me… especially when chronic suicidality is in the picture. Instead, I have a lengthy list of ways I have been failed. These failures have often added to my hopelessness.
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.
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.
Why is it such a “crime” to explore alternative realities, and look for something beyond our totally medicalized society? In some cultures, one would be revered instead, and not locked away.
Much of what we term “madness” is, in fact, the awakening of the "Self" to its own Wholeness/Divinity. We are born totally pure. Throughout our lives we are subject to projections, flung at us from a multitude of directions: from Mom and Dad, from schools, religious institutions, the media, and the medical model. We are all buried, to some degree, under projections, and interesting symptoms emerge: nightmares, stress and anxiety, fear, flashbacks, and so on. These are not "Madness," but symptoms of health; of a "Self" attempting to break free from lies.
I have written this story, a story of Exodus to Freedom, a thousand times. I retell it to myself late at night while I lie on my air mattress. In the mornings I may recall these amazing events while running along the beach straight into the sunrise. I walk my dog and tell the story again, hoping passers-by don’t think I’m talking to myself, lest I be called “loco.” But that has never happened. The one aim I had when coming to Uruguay has come true: Not one person here considers me crazy.
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.
Although I saw a number of counselors and therapists for my dependency issues, they were unable to help me. Therapists saw my unhappy childhood experiences as part of me, part of who I was, but I did not see it that way. I imagined the experiences circling around outside of ‘the real me’ like moons around a planet, standing between me and the outside world.
Eventually I realized the drugs were safe and effective—for those prescribing them. Shrinks can never be sued for malpractice since it's "standard care" even if they kill you.
Is marijuana to blame for my mental health issues? Strange things started happening in my mind once I started using the medical-grade weed.
My hope and prayer is that this dramatic look at a negative effect of this class of drugs will help you understand that, in my professional assessment, their risks outweigh their benefits.
What is happening in my body? And has being on medication caused long-term side effects or damage? I’ll forever be searching for answers; I want to feel “normal” again and live a life of enjoyment vs fear and anxiety.
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.