Sunday, August 18, 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.

A System Built on Fear

Experiences such as pain, turmoil, trauma and grief aren’t separate from the person—they shape how that person sees the world, how they cope with the world. To separate those experiences from the person, to call them sick, feels barbaric. It feels as if humans are being taught to fear being human.

A Mental Patient’s View of the Body

In 20 years of inpatient hospitalization, the psychiatrists that I encountered focused almost exclusively on treating my diseased mind and had no concept or interest in the body. While the wheels of “progress” turn slowly in mental health, I hope that along with ongoing advocacy there will be a focus on responsible health counseling and supporting people in healthier eating and living.

Being Mad is Liberating

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.

Our Day in Mental Health Court

For weeks I had been trying to get released from the psychiatric ward, and none of my arguments, compliance, or attempted air of normality had made an impression on the barely-visible ward psychiatrist. I had, I was told, made a very serious suicide attempt and this was a predictor of future attempts. They would let me know when they thought I was sufficiently remorseful and stabilized to be released.

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...

One Gutsy Woman

The childhood and psychiatric abuse altered my neurological, hormonal and other bodily functions and it was difficult to say which abuse left what mark. The doctors used medication to fix the changes and the taking of prescription pills became a habit. I took pills to calm me, pills to sleep, and pills to make me happy. A few months after stopping all medications, I was a bundle of nerves and I opened the cupboard for a pill. Living on autopilot as I had been doing for so long had to stop. I switched gears from absentmindedly resorting to pills, to purposefully calming myself without using drugs by breathing the way the psychologist had taught me.

A Moment Passed Too Often

What if, in that moment, nothing happened? What if I was given a second to collect myself enough to engage in the conversation surrounding my future? No one asked me what I would like to do. I was never given the chance to regain my equilibrium before I was drugged and bagged for the next decade.

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.”

Southern Vapors: A Comeback Story Not Born of Chemistry

Imagine my excitement, the hope that relief from the sucking tar of misery that dogged too many of my days was within my reach. From that moment and for thirty years to follow, I was the willing guinea pig for any number of drugs. Nothing helped for long.

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...

What Does it Mean to be Anti-Psychiatry? Thoughts of a Cartoon Anteater

How did I get here? What turned me from loyal acolyte into fearsome-clawed rebel, itching to take on the high priests of psychiatry? Well, there is nothing like being given a taste of psychiatry’s vile medicine for igniting the revolutionary furnace and getting it glowing white hot.

Waking Up is Hard to Do

Finally I’m moving in the right direction, rescuing myself from the pernicious grip of psychotropic drugs. It’s been exceptionally challenging, dealing with the adverse physiological reactions my body’s been going through. Waking up may be the toughest thing to do. Ultimately, the way I see it, it’s the only thing to do.
lightning

I Almost Got Hit by a Lightning Bolt

I am so thankful that my brain healed from the damage caused by psychiatric medications. Most importantly, finding my purpose in life and living an authentic life helped to ground me and prevent further psychosis. Psychosis is the psyche’s cry for transformation and healing. When one listens to the call, one is brought from darkness to light.

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...

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...
Dahlia and Tzviel

Letter From Israel

Here in Israel we are assigned to only one hospital according to our address — there is no freedom of choice. Why is the choice of psychiatric institution so important and urgent? Because conditions in psychiatric hospitals are often unbearable. We believe that if people have a right to choose, the worst hospitals will have to improve.

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.

From the Loony Bin To Stand-Up Comedy

I was sixteen and going on seventeen and I had never gone crazy before.  I think the most startling aspect of it is how...

Dear Son: A Mother’s Experience of Psychiatry, Racism and Human Rights

I wanted to spare you, my son, from suffering like I did. I wanted to give you every opportunity I could. You have grown into a good man, a caring and successful man, yet you still have to fear for your life in this country. You still feel pain when you see what is happening.

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.
weight loss eating disorders

Your Weight is Forbidden Fruit

In inpatient eating disorders care, we were required to step on the scale but were not allowed to know what we weighed. We were told it was “against recovery” to know our weight; that knowing it would surely cause a devastating relapse.

Compassion and the Voice of the Tormentor

I'd like to share some personal thoughts on the nature of the Hearing Voices group method, and the insights that this kind of support generates. Through these groups, a tradition of mutual healing is being created that honors subjective experiences, and sharing our stories with each other in this way propels this exciting movement forward.

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

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...
planet

Moving On

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.

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.

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