Monday, September 16, 2019

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.

From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity

There were days that I’d wake up and all I could do was cry for no particular reason, just another miserable day of withdrawal. However, the idea of taking photos would get me out of the house. Especially on those days, the absolutely only thing that would get me to move at all was the idea of taking photos. One particular day, I was just crying, crying, crying, and as soon as I got to a beautiful spot that I loved, I stopped crying, took photos, and felt at peace. I even found that the days I felt the worst were the days I took the best photos.

I Am “Pro-Healing”

Yoga helped me explore and reconnect with the body I’d abandoned and abused for years. My pain and sadness had me living exclusively in my mind, my body nothing more than a battleground for my inner wars. Through yoga and meditation, I slowly began to love myself again, learning to treat myself with care and respect. I felt a greater sense of self-awareness, and a sense of connection to something greater. This was a drastic contrast to the days when I felt as if god had forgotten about me, or like I was a mistake not meant for this world.

Just Me: A Series of Reflections on Trauma, Motherhood, and Psychiatry

It took coming off psychotropic drugs completely for me to become awake. I had the doctor I was seeing wean me off, though she didn’t want to (instead she suggested I take different drugs.) But here I am almost two years later and I am feeling all of my emotions and managing them well. I knew best what I needed, and I trusted myself. Life has shown me that I can endure many trials and tribulations without giving up, and I trust myself today to reach out for help if I need it.

Trapped

Back in 1983, I put myself in a mental ward. I desperately wanted help with my eating disorder, but no one took these types of problems seriously back then. The ward was rather nice, so I returned many times. Nothing good ever came of it, but I always hoped this time, it will do some magic. Every time I left, I'd realize my eating problems hadn't been solved at all.

Coercion in Care

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.

On the Other Side

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.

Heteronormative Violence of Mainstream Psychiatry: A Cautionary Tale

I was in a form of reparative therapy in British Columbia, Canada, for six years, after which I filed a medical malpractice suit against my former psychiatrist, “Dr. Alfonzo,” for treating my homosexuality as a disease. If these new laws are to be criticized, it is that the use of “change” therapies on people older than 18 should be prohibited as well. I was 24 when I met Dr. Alfonzo, 31 when I left his therapy, and almost 40 when the lawsuit ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2002. Nearly twenty years after leaving the therapy, I am still affected by the consequences of those six years of “treatment.”

Why Don’t They Know? A Letter to My Doctor

I am writing this letter, after much consideration, in the depths of benzodiazepine withdrawal. I need to be a voice in the midst of silence; I need to be heard before you write one more prescription for a benzo or any other mind-altering drug for that matter. It is my hope in writing this that you begin to ask questions as you sit across from your patients: why are they depressed, anxious, insecure, fatigued, paranoid, agoraphobic? Are the drugs I so readily prescribe contributing to their declining physical, mental and emotional health? Are these drugs really the answer? What are they really doing to the brain?

Made It! – Successfully Navigating Both Mainstream and Alternative Treatment for Mental Illness

I’ve come to understand that a single-minded focus on either therapy or medication can do great, if unintended, harm. I’m sharing this brief history of my journey, with both my good and bad decisions, to illustrate the importance of conscious care, and of maintaining the ability to change course.

My Recovery from ‘Schizophrenia’ through Psychotherapy and Writing

I was never told directly that I had 'schizophrenia', and I am very glad about this. I know I was feeling bad, very bad, and was unsure of what to do, but I don’t see how a diagnosis could have helped me at that time. What could I have done with it? To be marked with a label like that would likely have caused me to rebel even more.

A Caregiver’s Story- And How I Became an Addict

In 1994, my nineteen-year old daughter, Cristina, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). It was a diagnosis that came totally out of the blue and as a complete shock. Soon after she was diagnosed, it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep because of the tremendous stress, so I asked the very kind doctor who diagnosed Cristina if he could give me a prescription for something that would help me sleep. He agreed, and so began my “relationship” with Xanax. I had never taken anything like that before and didn’t know anything about it. All I knew was that as my daughter’s primary caregiver, I needed sleep in order to fight to keep her alive.

My Story and My Fight Against Antidepressants

I’d like to share a bit about what happened to me after being placed on these medications, and how I successfully got off. Until recently, I was embarrassed to talk about my personal experiences publicly, as I’m a professional who specializes in anxiety and depression. Today, medication free, I feel better than ever before, and I am now on a mission to help my current clients get off medications, and to inform others through my writing about the dangers and pitfalls of starting antidepressants.

On Running and Recovery

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.

My Mood, My Choice

With nothing left to lose, I’d reached the point at which I had to make a choice: to fight, or to give up. Though things seemed to not be going my way, I decided to take back control and make drastic changes in hopes to survive. That’s when yoga, meditation and nutrition came into my life, but first, I had to find a doctor to help me get off the medication I was currently on.

Recovering Myself

I have known altered states of consciousness since I was a child.  I clearly remember staring into the mirror in my mother’s bathroom and...

Did Electroshock Save my Life?

In July 2006, I wrote about Electroconvulsive Therapy and stated, “If I had the opportunity to have another series of treatments I would do...

My Place in the Crisis

Editor's Note: To ensure the security of her job, the author has opted to use only her first name. My relationship with the mental health...

Close Encounters with Biopsychiatry

Editor's Note: The author has written her story using a different name.  Here, she's explained why: "In my country, Poland, the stigma attached to the...

Bipolar by Definition?

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...

Dan’s Journey Through OCD

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...

Corrections Officers, Not Clinicians

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

Psychiatry Almost Drove Me Crazy

I am a survivor of severe psychiatric abuse. There was a year or so in the early 1980’s when I was in and out...

The Wind Never Lies

When I was young I believed the world spoke to me.  Lightning split across the sky to the pulse of my thoughts.  Rings around...

Seeing Mental Illness as a Spiritual Illness

I am a simple woman, 47, single mother of two beautiful children, diagnosed bipolar 10 years ago, and I want more from the way...

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...

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