Saturday, June 25, 2022

Comments by LavenderSage

Showing 578 of 581 comments. Show all.

  • Yeah, this doesn’t begin to convey how I feel.

    Julie was one of those people (like Stephen, but in a different way) who was being a force of good in the world just by living her life and putting herself out there and being who she was full-tilt. She was more brave than me. I live who I am full-tilt, yes, but I don’t put myself out there, really. I share who I am with people who express an interest (unless there’s reason not to), but Julie took that extra step of broadcasting herself- she wanted to share with as wide an audience as she could, share her missteps, so others could avoid them for themselves, and share her victories, so others could attain their own. Julie didn’t just live her truth, she shouted it from the rooftops. I admire her; takes guts.

    We are losing the good guys. These are hard blows.

  • Oh my Gods, this hits so hard! Julie saved my life. This past summer, when I discovered my BP was through the roof, and the pharma pills the doctors prescribed were not only not working but put me in the ER 3 times in a week, I was losing hope. Julie told me about Ayurvedic herbs that she takes for BP. Brought it down to normal in one day, with no adverse effects. Whenever I would call, Julie was happy to hear from me. She was my friend. She was one of the good guys, like Stephen.

    I miss Julie.

  • What to do in those circumstances is respect the stance of the person living with (or dying with) the condition. Offering the possibility of other viewpoints can be helpful to some people sometimes, but it depends on how receptive they are to other ideas, to being influenced.
    In my opinion, cancer “treatments” take advantage of people’s need to feel hope, exploit it. They sell, at a steep price, misery in the guise of hope. Doctors assume that people would rather suffer for the possibility of living longer, that they are willing to trade quality of life for (maybe) quantity. Most aren’t willing to face the truth of it, let alone be frank with their patients about exactly what the “treatments” entail.
    Once a person is on a path, it can be difficult to support the person when you disagree with the choice they’ve made, but that’s what makes the distinction between friendship and paternalism.

  • I miss Stephen’s presence.
    I discovered MIA several years ago, and read the comments for quite awhile before penning my own. And there are those folks who, whether they know it or not, made an impression on me. Folks who, just by putting themselves out there, shine a beacon of caring, of kindness, of virtue. From every comment of his that I read, Stephen was one of those people, Just knowing he was out there in the world, being who he was, was a bit of solace in very dark hours, even though I never reached out. I would like to think that he knew this about himself, that he was regarded this way, even though I never told him I felt this. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Stephen deserved a gentle death. I hope someone advocated for that for him.

  • What you assert, KS, is absolutely true. This became crystal clear to me in 8th grade. We were staying with friends of my mother. Their son, labeled a juvenile delinquent, did not attend school but was instead on a program of home instruction. Once a week, a teacher would deliver a packet of worksheet assignments and collect the ones from the previous week. I looked over the packet and it was 100% pro-military propaganda designed to steer him into enlistment. I was disgusted by it, and so was the target pupil.

  • I hear you, Someone Else! I took Effexor for less than a year in 2003 and developed allergies I’d never had. Scented products had never been an issue before that drug. Just this past month I have noticed that I can walk through the laundry aisle now without my nose itching and stuffing up, and the angel trumpets in my backyard are no longer a source of headache. The scent is lovely; I can actually enjoy it again. It took 15 years for the drug to lose its hold on my nose. Maybe there is hope for your brain zaps.

  • I have only just begun reading the article and noticed this mistake:

    “In the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Texas last month,”

    I’m sure you meant to write: “in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio”

    Okay, reading on now…

  • There’s no reason not to record every single interaction with every doctor you encounter “to review later.” Privacy laws are to protect the privacy of the Patient, not the doctor. Keeping good records is a big part of being your own healthcare advocate. And speaking of records, get a copy of yours. I think it’s important for them to know that they are being held accountable.

  • Hi Jane, thanks for sharing. I took effexor for less than a year in 2003 and “accidentally” cold-turkeyed off it by forgetting to take it when we moved. It gave me vertigo from hell. I could not have my eyes open, really, because it was all moving. Lasted just over 2 weeks. But what it really did a number on was my ability to feel love. It has been 15 years and only a couple weeks ago, for the first time in 15 YEARS, did I feel the sensation of that rush of love for my wife I used to feel all the time. The drug was an expert thief- stole my ability to love without me noticing until the damage was done. I do not know if I will ever get everything back. But I love my wife, and love my cats.

    Re: tinnitus, I have what they call pulsative tinnitus, which is not a ringing in the ears, it is the whooshing sound of the blood coursing through my carotid artery. Most times when I am experiencing it enough to bother me, my BP is running high. (Oddly, smoking cannabis sometimes brings on the whooshing even though it lowers my BP, a weird I have not yet figured out.) If you have access to a BP monitor, you might want to check it during these episodes of over-stimulation just to see.

  • I’m sure it was very intense to be in it. Like I said, I could hear from my tent. But it was a distance away from places like Family Camp, Childcare, and the camp where they held 12-step meetings (can’t remember the name). It was at the other end- where he drummers and bonfire were in the evenings/nights. You could escape the noise if you needed to, but I was actually in awe of it. It sounded raw, yes, but beautiful, in the way impromptu freeform chanting can produce strange yet beautiful chords. It was like a chorus of agony, haunting. I sat for a bit really listening, letting it blow through me like a wind, but I kept a respectful distance because it was not the space I was in- I was there with my girlfriend, a new relationship, which is a very different energy. I had nothing that I was grieving at that time in my life.
    But a couple of months ago I found out that a friend had died, and I was reminded of that Keening Circle when the waves of grief came. It helped me honor the loss, and make space to have my process with it.

    I fully agree with you about words, by the way. I also think that for those traumas that are beyond words, where there are no words, or that happened pre-verbal, the Keening Circle could provide a space for cathartic release where words are not required.

  • And some pain is way deeper, way more intense and primal, than words can ever touch. I went to a Pagan festival once that had a ritual called The Keening Circle. It was exactly that- people all wailing and keening and sobbing as they gave themselves over to grieving profound losses. I was scheduled to do something else when it started, so I didn’t participate, but it went on for quite some time. I could hear from my tent. We need this: Elders created safe space for the community to gather and share their deepest pain and grief. a place where even words could be too cerebral, too limiting to express the raw emotion. The step beyond graphic detail.

  • Hello Peter,
    I was struck by your response to JAMA’s rejection of your letter, and was not surprised to see it was not well-received. Instead of interpreting this sentence: “we determined your letter did not receive a high enough priority rating for publication” in terms of JAMA’s values and whatnot, why did you not simply ask them how they determine a priority rating? What are the criteria? What is included in consideration of this rating? After you get clarification of “the rules,” you can hold them to their own standards. But your reply, instead, reads like an indictment. It comes across as juvenile and reactionary, and I think you can do better. It is also the way that psychiatrists all too often frame their interactions with patients: instead of asking directly, they interpret in a way that reinforces their prejudices and biases.

    This is constructive criticism I am offering you, and I hope you receive it that way, and decide to change your approach.

  • I feel a kinship with much of what you’ve written here, Lee. Thank you for sharing your truth. I used to wander a lot too, both walking and driving. And when I was in high school I used to lay on the stage in the auditorium- because it was the place that could receive all the stories, always accepting the truth of the story, whatever was revealed. The stage received it all , without reserve, without judgement. The stage whispered “Tell me. Tell me what is.” The stage would echo whispers and secrets, stomps and leaps. The stage never interpreted, only received and accepted and echoed whatever truth you could be strong enough to bring to it. It was my solace.

  • There was nothing wrong with viewing ‘abnormal’ behaviors as supernatural, when the culture doing so did not also automatically assume that supernatural things were also scary, evil, dangerous. There were times and cultures where people understood supernatural to mean “something unusual, that only certain people are capable of,” and usually it was after coming close to death and living through the injury or illness. Remove the dirty lens of evil that religion places over the supernatural, and look through the lens of tribal cultures and you see a shaman, one who can walk between the worlds, and speak with the dead, and see visions of times/places not present. These individuals were valued, they were acknowledged as having access to sources of information the average person did not. And when they shared their visions, their wisdom, the community respected their words and their ways. It would be unthinkable to dismiss a shaman’s wisdom, disregard them as senseless, worthless, etc.
    Turning away from this reality has dismembered us as a species; we are maybe half as human as our ancestors who understood this.

  • All of this would be cleared up if fully-informed consent was the mandate. Then prescribers would have to disclose the fact that they don’t know how to safely de-prescribe these drugs once patients start taking them. How many would even start?
    There was an excellent Sample Consent Form on MIA several years ago that I’ve tried to find again. Any regulars here better at searching than me? Could somebody provide a link?

  • I wish all parents were so well-informed! They have no idea what they are costing their child by allowing the child to be labeled in order to get “services” or accommodations for their child’s learning needs. Dr. Caplan- do you know whether a parent can give consent for assessment with the stipulation that the child NOT be labeled with a DSM diagnosis? (I bet the answer could vary from state to state.) When I was doing educational advocacy, I had a couple of families that held their ground on not drugging their child, but I don’t ever recall a parent drawing the line at diagnoses. Even if I were woke then like I am now, by the time they were assigned to me, they were already labeled.

  • Please contact the Hearing Voices Network so they can educate you about how very important it is to approach your child’s experience not as a pathology. Also, please read some of the blogs that other parents have posted here- you will see story after story of parents warning others not to make the same mistake (trusting the “mental health” system) that cost them the life of their precious child. I know that you are scared, and feeling tremendous pressure to do something, but pathologizing this experience will cause damage. Have you tried asking your son about the voices he hears? Has he tried dialoguing with them, asking why they are there and what they want?
    I’m posting this in both places that you posted your message.

  • Please contact the Hearing Voices Network so they can educate you about how very important it is to approach your child’s experience not as a pathology. Also, please read some of the blogs that other parents have posted here- you will see story after story of parents warning others not to make the same mistake (trusting the “mental health” system) that cost them the life of their precious child. I know that you are scared, and feeling tremendous pressure to do something, but pathologizing this experience will cause damage. Have you tried asking your son about the voices he hears? Has he tried dialoguing with them, asking why they are there and what they want?

  • Man, I remember what snow days were supposed to be: you got up, saw the feathery ice patterns on the windows, got really excited and turned on the radio, listening to see if you’d hear the name of your school on the list of closures. And then you’d get so excited, and quickly finish your breakfast and get in your coat and snow pants and boots. And then you’d grab the sled and hit the best hill with the fewest trees, and the kids would play outside in the SNOW and make snow angels, and build forts, and throw snowballs, and knock down icicles. That’s what snow days are for. Now stuck in front of a screen.

  • Kinda feels like an episode of Whistleblower reading this. Good job, Juile- on writing it, on investigating, on keeping good records, but especially on being a voice against systemic abuse. Thank you for taking on the heroic duty of standing up for what’s right.

    And… I almost missed this blog. Yours seem to get posted with very little time to be read, commented on, discussed before the next blog pushes you off the stage. I wish MIA would give *each* blog its due.

  • I been thinking about your cat situation, Kate. They have those gravity-fed dispensers for food and water. I have 2 cats and it’s almost two weeks from full to empty for the food. I’ve never let the water reservoir get below 1/2 because one of my cats is a messy eater and drops crumbs into it, but they have ones that actually circulate/filter the water. We keep 2 litter boxes for them- they prefer the one by the door, so that one gets icky first, and then they move on to the one in the bathroom.
    If you were able to do these things, do you think you’d be able to take care of a cat again? That way, kitty would be lonely but otherwise un-neglected even if it did take a few days for someone to come be your back-up.

    I so want you to have your kitty back. Our animal companions give us so much love, comfort, and make it all bearable. You need that; you deserve it. It saddens me to think of you doing without.

  • Sera,
    Thank you for putting out this blog. What you’re feeling/describing just sounds so much like what the system does- attend (perhaps) to what you say, the words so carefully chosen to articulate exactly what you mean and not something else… and then hear almost exactly the opposite of what you said. It’s another way the system silences. This is me empathizing with that experience, and offering a pat on the back.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Lauren. You are in very good company! There’s really good survivor-led support networks online to help you get through the withdrawal while tapering off. Best of luck to you.

  • But how do I warn others without coming across as unbalanced myself?

    Well, that depends on whom you are addressing:
    If you are having a conversation with a fellow parent, you will be thoughtful of this as you speak with conviction and facts. This human-to-human interaction will likely go well, as they will likely see you for you: a caring, concerned parent who’s been there trying to give others the benefit of their experience. A lighthouse beacon warning of danger, so long as your message is not so bold as to be blinding.
    However, if you are attempting to dialog with the system, at any level, you will encounter an agenda, and you will encounter tactics they consistently use to advance their agenda. One of the classic tactics is to attack not the valid argument being presented, but rather, attack the credibility of the person making the argument. So, regardless of your efforts, it is establishment strategy to paint you as “unbalanced;” when this happens to you, see it clearly for what it is and do not take the bait. Rather, calmly redirect back to the point at hand, managing this tactical behavior as you would a toddler’s tantrum.

    That’s my best advice on how.

  • The sexism is only 1 facet of the problem, Elizabeth. The biggest slap in the face comes, as you found out yourself, when you seek legal redress and are told there is none because the doctor’s actions fell within the standard of care. They all endorse each other’s malpractice and call it their “standard of care.”

  • Hey Someone Else, have you ever thought of starting a support group, since you can’t find a good one? I think you’re onto something. If you’re leading it, setting it up, you could set the ground rules, the focus, etc. You might consider whether you’d want to be consciousness-raising, planning activism, and such in addition to facilitating the members’ sharing of their experiences and feelings. Just a thought.

  • olhead said: “P.S. Being a stickler for semantics I would add that these are not “our” social policies unless you identify with the ruling class; these are their social policies.”

    I DO appreciate that! Thank you for woke-ing my vocab! Lemme just fix that wording: should’ve been “America’s policies…” rather than “our policies…” because frankly, I cannot in good conscience claim as my own this country that America has become. And the thing about eschewing the elitism, too. 🙂

    you do get me, buddy.

  • I understand that the physicians doing this research have the best of intentions, and that they believe the data they are generating will be used for good purposes, or that is at least their hope. But that Pollyanna viewpoint is at odds with the actual reality of health “care,” at least here in the US. In Scandinavian countries, there is a much bigger sense of communal responsibility, not the toxic individualism of the US. The cultural response to this tidbit, for instance, is vastly different:

    “After the WHO released its World Report on Violence and Health in 2002, Butchart became acutely aware of how a history of child maltreatment was an important risk factor for violence.”

    Unlike Scandinavia, the US is more likely to use this info against the adult survivors of child abuse. Reveal that you were routinely subjected to “maltreatment” (isn’t that a nice, safe word?) as a child, and you will be forever branded as someone the community must be protected from. Our social policies are not driven by compassion, or a sense of responsibility for one another; no, they are driven by fear and control, and that situation is only getting intensified. The fact the CDC named their survey the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is chilling. So that’s on the societal level.

    On the personal level, when somebody asks you these ACE questions, do your own risk assessment. Ask yourself: why do they want to know this about me? Is it in my best interest to disclose? or to lie? or to refuse to answer? ?How will divulging this information effect the health care I will receive?

    When Patty (the patient in the article) made the connection between the molestation and her weight gain, what did disclosing that info get her? Psychiatry, of course! I daresay she’d have been MUCH better off if she’d kept that revelation to herself in that moment. She could have used it to understand herself better, to find healthy ways of feeling safe in her own body. A course in self-defense, perhaps.

  • Rachel,
    I’m so glad your parents finally puked up the kool-aid. I remember when you feared they never would. You were very smart to taper off the poisons without anyone being the wiser, and only sprung it on them after you’d been clean long enough for them, to remark on your vast improvement.

  • I used to coordinate services for families with developmentally-delayed kids, mostly autism. There has been a loosening of the criteria, and many parents sought that dx for their child in order to force the school system to provide services; it also got them other forms of much-needed support from our agency, like respite care, specialized daycare and summer camp. So, that does explain some of it.

    But, I cannot tell you how many families had the exact same autism origin story of “My baby was perfect, hitting all the milestones, talking, affectionate and engaging. And within a day or two of getting the MMR shot, it was gone. My child has not returned.” Not just my caseload. Every caseload. A mountain of anecdotal evidence that I personally find infinitely more reliable than any official study. When you have watched the pre-MMR videos of these kids, then seen the devastation in its wake, its just undeniable that the shot is somehow implicated. I’ve seen enough evidence with my own eyes; nobody will convince me otherwise.

  • “Thirty-eight participants were then randomized to read one of the two articles and take the test that came with the CME module. Twenty-three of those participants were asked to summarize the main points of the article, and 15 were asked whether they thought they received the industry article. “

    Why did they even bother doing this study?? They only recruited 38 participants! A study with n = 38 is barely above anecdote, the results easy to dismiss as incidental, nowhere near conclusive evidence of anything. And then, instead of having ALL of them summarize the main points AND guess whether the article was industry-funded, they split the 38 into two groups, n = 23, and n = 15. Pointless!

  • you said:
    “If we are going to practice a non-authoritarian therapy which empowers our clients, we are going to have to transform ourselves to become co-creators with our clients…”

    I do not believe that someone can shed the habit of authority while simultaneously wielding its power. It is your default position, and will be unless it is unavailable to you. If you really and truly wanted to place yourself on an even level with those you purport to “serve” or “help” you’d give up your license and do your listening and “helping” as a true peer, and discard the safe comfy cloak of authority. Not jusy you, Hugh, but all the “helpers” who make these claims.

  • I read it.
    Feels Icky, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. I don’t disagree with Alex, but his comment doesn’t quite capture why this piece feels so icky. These authors did a similar conversational-type piece awhile back, and it felt icky too. I wish I was feeling sharp, so I could be eloquent and accurate, but for today, “icky” is the best I can come up with. Maybe others will hit on the right words to describe it; if so, I will echo theirs.

  • You are right KS, about the pharma companies, of course. But I do not let prescribers off the hook They are wielding a very dangerous tool, and there is no excuse, imho, for not feeling the gravity of the responsibility that ought to come with. I remember as a teen, when all my friends were getting their license I had already bought myself a car but I put off driving because I felt the weighty responsibility of wielding that machine– I could kill someone with it. Drugs should be considered with that much gravity, but are handed out like candy. So, no, I expect more from the people who seek that level of power/responsibility.

  • Let’s get one thing clear, s_randolph:
    Marci did not murder her daughter; the drugs that made Marci “psychotic” and twisted her thinking so much that she felt killing her was the only way to protect her are what murdered that child.

    “Debt to society”? Really? If anyone in this scenario owes a “debt to society,” it is the prescribers whose poisons murdered this child. Place the blame where it belongs.

  • and leaches excrete a very powerful anticoagulant that makes them incredibly helpful in re-establishing blood flow to a re-attached finger or other situations where blood flow has been compromised and needs a boost, frostbite and such. I have read of this, but have no personal experience…

    However… I saved my wife from certain leg amputation by treating the MRSA lesions on her shin with medical maggots. We got them shipped direct from the lab where they were grown, with a Dr’s prescription. They excrete digestive enzymes that not only break down the dead tissue, but are also amazing antibiotics- delivered directly into the wound! She also had a prescription antibiotic, but it was not effective. We know this because there were a couple times when she had to go a day or two without “the critters” (sometimes they run out at the lab and need to grow more larvae) and each time, the wound got red, inflamed, hot, painful, and within an hour of getting the new batch of critters in the wound, those symptoms would resolve again.

    People are too quick to dismiss the old ways of healing.

  • I had always assumed that military suicides were due to moral injury, that these individuals had either done or witnessed atrocities of war that left them unable to live with themselves. But apparently not (or not anymore?):

    “Many of the cases are young Marines who have not deployed overseas and have not been in combat — a situation that has been seen in other branches of the military as well. “

    The military culture itself is killing them.

  • Barbara,
    When you have a set of fucked-up family dynamics that others can’t/won’t/don’t see, it can be hard to get the understanding and validation you need from people close enough to think they know the situation. You are more likely to get that from total strangers– like from some of the folks here.

    Also, grieving the loss of someone you were conflicted with can be much more complicated than grieving someone with whom you had a mutually respectful, loving relationship. I think that’s, in part, because there’s not the repository of good memories that keeps the good things you did share alive for you; it’s slim pickings. You gotta salvage from whatever’s left. Another part is losing the possibility for anything ever to get better, of building something new from the ashes. They die and those dreams die too. And then there’s the question of where to put all those unresolved feelings. Ranting at a headstone just aint the same…

    At least, that has been my experience.

  • Aw, Kate, your cat. I’m so sorry. My heart breaks with you, and tears are rolling down my face as I type this. You keep getting kicked, your supports getting kicked out from under you (damn that therapist!).

    I don’t see you in the ways you describe at the end of your comment, Not At All. I don’t imagine that any of the other regular commenters here that you have connected with see you that way either. I see you as someone who is still trying to be okay, still trying to find some enjoyment in life and reasons to keep wanting to. I see you as part of my tribe. I see you as a potential friend (when I let myself feel social). I see you, Kate. You are not alone.

  • That would fly if everyone were on the same footing, but that is not the case. You are conveniently ignoring/dismissing the enormous power differential between the two groups (which, btw, most of us would NOT characterize as ‘sick’ and ‘not sick,’ and the fact that you do is very telling): one group has the power to strip the other group of their civil and human rights. As long as this is the case, there is an inherent us v. them dynamic; survivors didn’t put it there. To paraphrase Animal Farm, all humans are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Wanna be really fascinated? Go get yourself a nice juicy SMI label and walk a mile in our moccasins, doc. See whether your equal humanity gets respected, or acknowledged. See how fascinated you are by how quickly you get othered, maligned, infantilized, disregarded. Write it up for scientific research.

  • “I think that the War on Drugs was a pushback, in the early 80s led by the Reagans, to the Young People’s successful effort to end the war in Vietnam in the 1970s. The culture was angry at young people in the early ’80s; so no wonder the DSM began to expand exponentially.”

    Thanks for pointing that out, johnchristine. I’d never put that together before, but you are onto something. Psychiatry as retribution for (and the reining in of) young people’s challenging the illegitimate authority and pointing out the hypocrisy of their parents’ generation and the powers that be; also for their exploration of consciousness, spirituality, and experimenting with substances that can expand those aspects of self and society.

  • One goes to a doctor, the doctor is almost required to intervene, whether that is drugs, procedure, device, etc.

    Which is why every person should practice their assertiveness before setting foot in a medical office: saying “that’s none of your business” to intrusive queries, to screenings; and No to un-informed consent- make them give you every scrap of info that they’re required to. Make sure you are clear on whose agenda you are there to serve, and don’t be persuaded into theirs instead of yours.

  • As Rachel and then kindredspirit pointed out, it’s a common story of the assembly-line conveyor belt that can lead to a “bipolar” dx.

    Reminds me more than a little of reading up on childbirth back in the day when I was having babies. One of the best pieces of advice for avoiding unnecessary surgery (aside from birthing at home, of course) is to refuse the earlier interventions. So when I went into labor with my first child and arrived at the ER and they went to put in an IV, I refused. I did not climb up on their conveyor belt by allowing that very first unnecessary intervention. Women before me sharing their childbirth horror stories is what allowed me to understand the conveyor belt that leads to the scalpel and steer clear.

    Sounds to me like Rachel wants to gather stories that demonstrate the conveyor belt that leads to a “bipolar” dx so people can be aware of it and refuse that very first step onto the conveyor belt. I steer clear of it by never allowing such “screenings,’ and answering questions about my thoughts/feelings with “that’s none of your business,” but a lot of people don’t know any better.

    I don’t see any gaslighting or fear-mongering in any of this. It’s no different than a woman with the belly scar of unneeded surgery wanting to warn other women of childbearing age about the insanely high rate of cesareans and how doctors manipulate women into accepting it for their body, their baby.

  • There could be a million informed consent laws on the books and they are all nullified by those “Consent to Treatment” forms that are basically carte blanche, stating you consent to whatever they deem necessary. I ran into one recently that explicitly stated that nothing could be stricken from it or amended “without approval of the Board.” As long as they get to pull that shit, we are all at risk whenever any kind of medical care is needed.

  • This is certainly evidence of how well their propaganda campaign has worked. The kiddies have absorbed the message that if they have any deep-felt, intense, unpleasant feelings there is something wrong with them and they need to seek help.

    Add to that the whole standardized testing thing. Even before No Child Left a Dime ramped up the pressure on kids (and teachers) and created “teaching to the test,” the very format of multiple-choice tests kills the thinking process, re-shapes it into guessing well. The only options are the ones presented, with no opportunity to self-generate an answer. There is no opportunity to look at the problem from any other angle than the one intended by the people who wrote the test. The “right answer” (and there’s only ever just one) does not flow from a process of evaluating the information available to come up with a solution and building on one’s mistakes, the way natural learning occurs. No, it is provided for you among other “wrong” answers that kids are taught to dismiss by process of elimination.
    Then there’a all the social interactions at school, and all the possible ways for those to go badly, with teachers, admin, other kids.
    And kids are no longer allowed to just wander into nature and spend time alone exploring, inventing, just watching the breeze, because now that is considered neglectful and unsafe parenting.

    There’s no place for a sensitive, insightful kid with a mind of their own; they will be intervened upon. They’ve been programmed to think they need it.

  • it’s not that. When I get so soured on humanity that I have to retreat and be a hermit for awhile, the inbox can feel too overwhelming to approach. I’ve been re-engaging a bit, at my own pace, lately and will find my way back to the land of Inbox when I can face the terrain. But the more the world keeps dealing blows to my ability to give a shit, like the cops trashing a homeless encampment in my neighborhood, kicking the people when they’re down, or the white supremacists who shot up the mosque in NZ the other day, killing people while they prayed, the less shits I have to give.
    Been gardening these last couple weeks– well, ripping weeds out by the roots, no green thumb here– and that has been helping.

  • Hi Starr.
    I know. I have never trusted doctors on the whole. Trust is earned, never handed out like candy by me. I have never been the type of gal that sought routine or preventive care. Nope, I’m the gal that fired her OB at 31 weeks’ pregnant because he was pushing for a completely unnecessary cesarean, found a midwife and birthed the baby at home. Then about a year and a half ago, I started having problems with my vision. I had been having headaches which presented exactly like migraine for almost 3 years at that point, but I dealt with them using cbd, aspirin, and napping a couple hours. Turns out it wasn’t migraines; it was intense spikes of pressure in that eye. Now I’m functionally blind in that eye, and I return to the ophthalmologists every 3 months to keep tabs on the pressure, optic nerve health, and visual field in the remaining eye. My perspective on the medical field has not changed. I go to these appointments and put up with “medical science” because they are my only means of accessing important info about the way my body is working (or failing to), but it is not without pause.
    I went to a GP appointment last week because I’ve been having troubling sensations in my head (very hard to describe) and also high BP. I don’t think the two are related, but I am unsure. What I need to do is consult a medical intuitive who can tell me what direction to point the doctor in, so I can tell them what tests to run, what to rule out. Now that I’ve put this intention out there, may the right person be drawn to me to help with this.
    Anyway, I liked the GP I saw (actually an NP) but I will know more about how much to trust her when I ask next time to see the notes she wrote about our first interaction. Her response to this, as well as the notes themselves, will tell me a lot.

  • Please do. People need someone they can trust to give them info on what nutrients they may need to tinker with in order to attain optimal health; “an apple a day keeps the fake-ass “doctors” away,” so to speak. I’m sure if I had more information, both general (which minerals can’t absorb together, for instance) and individual to my body, I could do a much better job of improving my quality of life. But please call it something else (though, I gotta confess, I chuckled at the notion of a back-alley psychiatrist, my twisted sense of humor.)

  • I actually make it very clear to any doctor I have to see that I am, in fact, the one making decisions here, and that their advice is advice which I may accept or reject, and if they don’t like this attitude, they should let me know now so I can find another doctor.

    I do the same thing, Steve. I make it very clear that although they have expertise in medicine, I am the only expert when it comes to what is best for me. The doctor is my consultant; their job is to give me ALL the pertinent info, period. I decide by their reaction whether they get to be my doctor or not. I don’t hesitate to fire the ones that can’t color within my lines.

  • He went to the counseling center, which is officially-sanctioned ‘friendly’ people. Most college towns have pubs and bars, plenty of clubs to join, etc. where you can encounter friendly people. But when people are encouraged to ‘reach out’ in their time of struggle it is always with the message that the people to reach out to are officially-sanctioned ‘helpers.’

  • Yeah I think it’s Jan Carol who I’ve seen using the word ‘diagnonsense’ and I really dug on it, so I adopted it. I love wordplay!

    Bait & switch is exactly what is going on. I think most people actually believe that people who seek emotional support from the mh system are getting talk therapy, that they are getting listened to as they spill their guts about the situations in their life that are causing their distress. The only ones who know otherwise are the ones who’ve been in the system, on one or both sides of the desk. I think there are a lot of people who, if they understood the reality of what happens to people who “seek help,” would never utter that phrase again, but they are duped into believing there’s still a couch.

  • Yes, the bait & switch. But the trailhead of that path is the notion that feeling the natural effects of life situations necessitates seeking professional help. People used to recognize and respect the fact that life is not all roses and rainbows, that bad shit happens to good people– that is the human condition, and we are all in it. Having bad shit happen and feeling bad about it is NORMAL, but we’ve been sold a bill of goods that says it isn’t, that convinces people that only professional “help” is the proper response. That is the first dangerous lie, and the other lies that follow it (diagnonsense, chemical imbalance, unmasking, etc.) are set in motion by the lie that natural supports are not good enough, that trusted friends are not equipped to handle the job of hand-holding through life’s rough spots.

    Not to put words in oldhead’s mouth, but I think that’s what he was getting at.

  • I haven’t read the article, just the blurb of it here. That being said, here’s my take on why the higher rate of suicide among physicians:

    Simply put, doctors have firsthand knowledge of what an institutionalized death (standard of care) truly entails; they have firsthand knowledge about the reality of (and consequences of seeking) “mental health care”; plus, they have access to the least traumatic means– drugs that will end their life effectively, quickly, and painlessly. Doctors are in a position of making a truly fully informed choice about their own end-of-life scenario, and they are in a position that allows them to enact their own choices without having to seek anyone else’s permission or assistance. If the regular Joes of society had the physicians’ access to unvarnished truth, and their access to easy means, plumbers’ teachers’ and waiters’ suicide rates would be as high as physicians’ rates.

  • Not gonna read the sciency-sounding drivel article (not worth the eye strain), just gonna answer the query posed by the title:

    No, “anxiety” is not to blame for kids’ missing school! The awful school environment and the horrible, dreaded experiences it dishes out on a daily basis, are what’s to blame.

    How about this: create an educational experience that fosters curiosity and exploration (the essence of a desire to learn), and you wouldn’t need to make school attendance compulsory.

  • Rachel, you said:
    ” if HUD opens Mom insists it must be within less than 25 miles of her and Dad.”

    So what if Mom “insists”? Does she wield any actual power over you, like a conservatorship? Or does she just become (more) emotionally manipulative and unpleasant? If she holds actual power over you, thst’s one thing. Then her “insistence” holds weight, but if it’s just the risk of ruffling her feathers, ruffle away! Far away.

  • the other thing about personal stories vs. statistics is whose truth is getting reflected. Firsthand accounts tell a more complete truth, the truth as defined by the storyteller. But in statistical research, it is only the truth as defined by the researchers. And how “success” gets defined by researchers, as we all know, looks very different from what the folks who’ve had to live through “treatments” would define as success. The devil is in the details, they say, and it is for sure in the operational definitions.

  • Sam Ruck,
    I have an enormous amount of respect for your choice to take the role you have taken for your wife and for the girls who share her consciousness. I’d like to point something out to you (well, 2 things, actually, but one is a little more pertinent in this discussion, so that first): you’ve stated many times, in explaining about the love and respect you have for her/them, that you never pushed anything on them, that you always let them be in charge of the agenda. That is what a good ally does, so good on you, and good for her/them! So that’s the first thing. The 2nd thing is the one way in which you violate this respect for them: you have written before that the girls have asked to be referred to as simply that “the girls” and yet you continue to use the language of pathology when you refer to them as ‘alters,’ a behavior that you know on a gut level is wrong because on more than one occasion you write in a (gag) after referring to them in this way. You do not have to use the language of pathology; there are other options. Example: “My wife shares her consciousness with several little girls” gets the situation across just as well as “My wife has d.i.d.” but does not reduce these little girls (whom I truly believe you do love) to merely ‘symptoms’ of a ‘disorder.’ I’ve tried to point this out to you before, how this use of pathology language flies in the face of the love and respect and healing intention you claim to treat them with. There is cognitive dissonance here. How can you so dearly love these little girls yet still speak of them in those awful, demeaning terms? It baffles me; it angers me. I wish you would give this issue deep consideration and change this one sticking point. You’d be more credible as an ally, at least in my eyes.

  • Stepping in to second *everything* oldhead said here:

    “Self-determination is not identity politics. Survivors will organize as they see fit. We will not have our agenda determined or “approved” by others. True allies respect this. ..
    PS If you made similar statements demanding inclusion in the inner circles and strategic discussions of Blacks or women organizing against patriarchy or white supremacy they would immediately be rejected as sexist or racist.”

    Could not have said it better myself, especially not these days…

  • Steve and Rachel,
    Even if they did have an individual “conduct the orchestra” and come up with a recording that accurately represents that person’s voice-hearing experiences, they’d still be making a huge error in trying to generalize that person’s experience to everyone else, as if “hearing voices” is the same experience for everyone, as if the “voices” mean no more than intrusive white noise. Trying to present “the experience” as if there is such a thing only serves to reinforce all those attitudes they love to refer to as “stigma.” And, it reinforces their mis-understanding, “oh yes, I understand hearing voices- I took the training” and since they now know all about it, there’s no getting them to listen.

  • Pulling for you, Kate. Please keep in mind that you are “under the influence” so to speak, of the CT from the drug. This current state does not reflect the real you, underneath. I know that one of the things I do with anger when I cannot use the energy to address the real cause is use the energy to clean (usually scrubbing- bathtub, oven, kitchen floor). Putting on upbeat music helps. You will get through this. The AA folks use the “one day/hour/moment at a time” thing to ride it out.

    and Kate, unless you are actually neglecting your cat, please don’t deprive yourself of the stability, comfort, unconditional love, etc. that an animal companion provides. It can be one of the most important relationships in your life. In fact, one of the first things I read on MIA was a survivor’s tale of how nursing an abandoned turtle back to health saved her life.

  • This is exactly why I avoid doctors like the plague. This, and the carte blanche ‘consent for treatment’ forms. The last one I encountered even contained a clause stating that nothing in it could be stricken or amended without approval of the admin. It is a legally binding document giving them permission to do “any and all” that they deem necessary, and you have 2 choices: sign it and be at their mercy, or don’t sign it and get no care whatsoever. Daniel Webster got a better deal with the devil.

  • I’m in complete agreement with you, oldhead. And since the Greek suffix -cide simply means “to kill,” and not “to murder,” I don’t have the same reaction to the word ‘suicide’ as you expressed. But I take great offense at the term “commit suicide” because it connotes criminality.

    Sera just happens to be my favorite regular MIA author here, not because I agree with everything she asserts, but I really dig the way she gets her point across. Unlike many other authors here, she doesn’t use convoluted language; her writing is very accessible. But yeah, I don’t want the masses banging down her door!

    This paragraph
    We need to delegitimize not only psychiatry itself, but the idea that frightening and painful emotions are something exceptional needing “expert” attention, which is a mystification of the fact that a toxic culture based in corporate greed is the culprit, and trying to “adjust” oneself to the filth should at best be contemplated only as an immediate survival tactic, not the end goal or “success.”
    captures the gist of MLK’s creative maladjustment idea. A few years ago there was something on here about suggestions for celebrating Creative Maladjustment Week (mid-July, I think?) but then I haven’t seen anything about it since. I think we need to revive that.

  • You’re welcome, Kate! Yes, reliving the experience is one of the downsides of writing about it. I encounter that too. I believe that the purpose of anger is to provoke change. We get angry because things are not right, because we have been wronged, because of the injustice. Anger is a very powerful energy, and if allowed to stagnate it can be harmful (i.e. hypertension) but if it is channeled into action, it is the fuel of change.
    One of my favorite regular MIA contributors is Sera Davidow. She is a survivor and a professional, trying to change the system from within. There are a few of those folks here. But I have come to the conclusion that the entire notion of having a system where people in crisis have to turn to professionals for support needs re-thinking.

    Oh, and speaking of re-thinking, please re-think this statement:
    “I did at different points have both ECT treatments and then TMS treatments for unremmitting depression… I failed at both!”
    I assert that it is the other way around- those “treatments” failed YOU. You called yourself a very, very bad patient. To that I say “congratulations!” When you see Rachel777 or Julie Greene (regular commenters) on here, ask them what being a “very good patient” got them!

    Welcome again, Kate- you may indeed have found your tribe! 🙂

  • Hi Kate,
    I have not written a blog post here, but I will say that I have definitely found writing about my experiences helpful, in terms of connecting dots and gaining a deeper understanding of the whys and hows of what I have been through, and what I still experience.

    I also find these comment sections very helpful, both in terms of finding validation and a feeling of comradeship with some of the survivors here, and also some of the professionals who write here (those who have done sufficient self-reflection to understand the impact “the system” has had; many have not). Then there are those professionals whose comments serve as a solid reminder as to how dangerous it is to turn to anyone who does not stand fully opposed to forced or coerced “treatment.”

    So, welcome, and please stick around- you will get quite an education! Expect to encounter a lot of strong feelings in the voices of the survivors who frequent here. Your reactions will teach you a lot about yourself, too.

  • Steve,
    When I went to the hospital to have my first baby, they came in with a consent form for circumcision four times while I was in labor. When they came at me with it the second time, they acted like it was an oversight the first time, like “oh, we must have forgot to have you sign this.” The third time I got huffy about it, but the fourth time, I demanded that they stop harassing me and compared them to rapists, who also refuse to hear no means NO.

    The nurse got really offended at that, but they didn’t try to push that shit again. It is scary how eager they are to mutilate an infant!

  • Anja,
    Are you aware that these DSM “diagnoses” have no validity, and very low reliability? Are you aware that many of the drugs (since they do not address a disease process, they are not medications, and I do not mis-label them as such) actually cause people to experience the very things they are purported to resolve? and that many people develop new problems in thinking, living and relating because of the psychiatric drugs? Please educate yourself, and don’t accept the “mental health” rhetoric without questioning it. You will save yourself a LOT of pain, and may even save your life.

  • hey JanCarol, have you ever seen the show Doomsday Preppers? Youtube has a lot of the episodes. Those folks are serious about the security of their bunker locations! There are a lot of north-facing hills, so I haven’t given too much away, LOL.

    hey Steve,
    here’s one of those contrast moments for ya:
    So when I was just about fully dilated, but not quite yet feeling the push imperative, the midwife couldn’t locate the baby’s heartbeat. Here’s how the midwife handled that scenario. First, she reassured me that this was not a cause for alarm because babies move and twist. My water had not broken yet (never did actually ‘break’ with the first birth, either) and the amniotic fluid would indicate if the baby was in distress (very unlikely to be the case). She asked my permission to rupture the membrane during the next contraction to check. I consented to that, but it was unnecessary since my water broke on its own at the start of the next contraction, to which my midwife replied, “well how’s that for the power of suggestion!”
    Fluid was clear, baby was fine and out about a half-hour later, perfect apgars and all.

  • Well I’ve never been to the site, but like I said, I’ve seen it on here a lot, with folks having good things to say. It was 15 or so years ago that I cold-turkeyed off effexor without actually intending to. During the chaos of a move, I forgot to ingest the drug for a week or two when I suddenly had intense dizziness and low blood pressure (not scary low, just low) and it dawned on me that I hadn’t been taking the drug. I decided to ride through the withdrawal, and relied on a lot of cannabis (indica strains) to help get me through it, which helped with other things, but didn’t lessen the vertigo. It did give it a context, though, which alleviated the anxiety I felt at being that dizzy all the time. Took a little over 2 weeks to be ok enough again to function.

  • Earthships start off by excavating a few feet of earth, and using trash tires to construct the outer wall, curved like a ‘C’ with the opening facing slightly southwest of south. Diameter can be from 12′ up to 20′ for each of these domes, which can be constructed to link together. You use a sledge hammer to pound the excavated dirt into the tires, creating what they call a “rammed earth dwelling” which is not only incredibly sturdy, but also serves to stabilize temperature. Inner walls can be made with bottles or cans and cement or adobe. The bottle walls are beautiful when the light shines through!

  • KS, I couldn’t find a midwife for my first birth, and though I did not experience the horrors I have heard way too often from other women, my infant was basically used as a teaching dummy (an unnecessary spinal tap!) so I was already fuming at hospital birth. First baby was almost 10 pounds, natural birth.

    So when I’m 7 months along with the 2nd baby, and they start pushing for major abdominal surgery instead of birth because that’s their policy with babies over 8.5 lbs(?!) and told me they’d get a court order to do it regardless of my consent, I fired them on the spot! Husband went to the library and got books on homebirth, which had lists of resources at the back, no internet back then (the 80s). So we called a medical supply house to order a birth kit, and they had a list of midwives. So I met my midwife when I was 8 months’ pregnant who helped me birth my 9-lb baby in my living room a few weeks later! No trauma of any kind, no fear-stoking coercion, my body encouraged to follow its wisdom– I gave birth crouching on my knees, which is the best position for a big baby because gravity assists. And her fee was $500 (yes, that’s 5 hundred, not thousand), not counting the 1 office visit to her back-up OB to confirm labs and the baby’s position (was breech when we met but my wise midwife had an easy and painless trick up her sleeve to get the baby to flip!), but he took my insurance. I would never advise giving birth in a hospital unless it was absolutely necessary. Pregnant women are the other class of people that docs routinely mistreat and infantilize.

    I would love to be tapped to join an intentional community like you describe. It’s been my heart’s desire for many many years now to live in such a place. Where people could truly live, be themselves, bring their talents to bear, and share the wealth. Sustainable, off-grid, apart from the crazy that consensual reality has become. Actually bought some land, but it sits on a north-facing hill, so not an ideal spot for a solar home (sigh) but maybe could work if wind-powered too. Haven’t looked at that dream in quite awhile– the dust on it is thick.

  • yes, please stay away from that- those who have drunk the kool-aid are in no position to offer anything resembling support.
    There’s, I see that a lot on here. I think there’s other good survivor-focused resources too, but I’ll need other folks to chime in about them (slipping my mind right now).
    Most docs are unwilling to de-prescribe, and have no real knowledge of how to taper safely, so anybody who refers you back to your doctor is not a resource.

  • omg KS- Spiritual Midwifery was one of my favorite pregnancy books! I had my second child at home, in fact. I dunno if I could do true communal living- I need my own space to do whatever the heck I want to in, and my own haven to retreat from other people, and from unwanted energies. But the cool thing about Earthships is that you can plan ahead for adding on a room, or build completely separate domes.

    Okay, we’ve got drum and flute covered- I can make us a stained glass windchime!

  • It sounded like the comment might be alluding to a “mental illness,” hence the quotation marks. I did not want to assume, though, so I asked. If it’s Lyme, the quotation marks I put around “disease” should be struck, of course, because that’s an actual, biological disease. But KS didn’t mention her Lyme here- that’s in the comments on a different article.

  • I actually have books on how to build a sustainable, nature-friendly home called an Earthship. Was my dream to do that, but I would have to get somebody else (not Someone Else- she’s making lunch!) to do the excavating and swing the sledge. I could help construct the inner walls, though. Had though of creating a little village of Earthships, a community of like-minded weirdos like me.

    But I like the idea of a cave with ancient art already “installed” better.

  • hey Rachel, have you ever thought about starting your own business? Maybe selling stuff you create? Can’t work or be employed doesn’t necessarily have to mean not having a self-generated income. You are very witty, have a great attitude, and I know you can write well. I have no idea what other creative pluses you might possess, but I’d bet you have what it takes to entrepreneur yourself an income. Money you generate that way is also much more gratifying than landing even a dream job, imho.
    Regardless, you ain’t gonna stay stuck. You’re going places. Your story does not have a tragic ending, I predict. (and, yes, as a matter of fact I am psychic.) 😉

  • A lot of people who would rather not be taking psych drugs feel they have no choice because their withdrawal experience has been misinterpreted as either a rebounding of “symptoms” of whatever DSM label they’ve been branded with, or “emerging symptoms” of a different DSM label. They get chastised by the prescriber, and the chemical imbalance story gets reinforced, tightening the shackles. I would advise getting support from the Real Experts- people who have successfully tapered off the drug you’re on, so that you can benefit from their experience and gain tips they have learned so that you don’t fall into this trap.

    Nobody can change your mind but you– and even you can’t change your mind if you keep telling yourself the same story about your life, your self, the meanings you make of it all, as you’ve been telling it since you were a kid. It is possible to evolve into more mature thinking on that, but psych drugs do tend to inhibit this ability. I hope you claim your freedom, author.

  • When a doctor tries inquiring about things which are not related to my presenting problem, I refuse to answer, because “that’s none of your business” is becoming just as important a phrase nowadays as “where is the bathroom?”

    And context is everything. I will never answer an “alcohol screening,” for instance, but if I come in complaining of feeling dizzy, spinning, or woozie-headed I will answer as to whether I have recently consumed alcohol, because it is pertinent to the presenting issue.

  • Hey, George, I realized I forgot to mention:

    Regarding tapering off the psych drugs- the vast majority of doctors don’t know what they are doing, and the guidance they offer is usually inferior to that of the Real Experts- people who have successfully navigated their own taper from the same drug. I encourage you to get in touch with the online support groups that can help you in that process.

  • Richard,
    Like oldhead, I also have had friends who are strong, proud feminists who have chosen to provide sexual services of various sorts for money. They do not resemble any of your projections. There were no ‘pimps’ involved, nor did they feel exploited or denigrated. The sex work they engage in is not “inherently oppressive;” in fact, they’d say it was liberating. The services they provide are valuable, both monetarily and personally. These women are talented, and like other talented professionals, enjoy their work. Why should they be deprived of this choice?

  • this deserves repeating:

    “This is another feature of psychiatry. If distress proves that the distressed are ‘defective’, it also proves that nothing much is psychologically distressing and damaging. It means that both cause and effect are located within ‘defective’ individuals. It is effectively a not guilty verdict for every form of oppression and abuse and sympathy and solidarity with harm doers, and with the harm itself.”

  • Yeah, I read it and that just sorta smacked me in the ovaries.. It’s pretty much the same thing as when a man who speaks his mind is lauded as bold, outspoken, etc. while the woman who speaks up is disregarded as either whining or bitchy (depending on the content). Another example of workplace sexism.

  • Will,
    I don’t know whether you wronged the young woman in question by pursuing a romantic/sexual relationship with her, but you certainly wronged her afterward:

    Note how when you spoke with people about this relationship, you get to characterize that as you getting help with self-reflection, yet when she spoke to others about this relationship, you characterize that as “gossip.”

    And you went so far as to tattle to her employer(!), threatening her livelihood in order to silence her. And even in hindsight, you deem that action merely “questionable.” Wow.

  • Welcome, George.

    I’m so sorry you daughter did not survive. It is beyond tragic that it took her death to illuminate the lie that very likely killed her. Thank you for telling your story. May it reach parents (and teens) far and wide, and make them ask themselves the questions and gain the insight before it is too late for them. And in that way, Martha’s death could be the wreckage in the road that keeps them from traveling that same path and heading over the cliff too. In an odd and twisted way, Martha’s death could save many lives. I know that is no consolation. I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you.

  • Frank,
    When you are expecting, is it the obstetrician’s job to baby-proof your house?? Of course not! If the parents fail to do so, and the baby sticks a fork in a wall socket, is the doctor to blame?
    Parents control the environment of their home, and what is accessible vs. locked away. If they fail to do that, and their kid ODs on mom and dad’s prescription pills (of whatever variety), the parents have themselves to blame.

  • Yes, Frank, opiates are deadly.
    And keeping them out of teens’ curious, thrill-seeking hands is their parents’ job.

    Just like parents who keep liquor in the house should be storing it in a locked cabinet, because thrill-seeking teens can binge-drink themselves to death.

    And parents who have a gun need to keep it secured in a locked gun safe, because duh. And if they fail to do this, and the kid gains access to the weapon and uses it, the parents are held responsible. Same holds true for illegal drugs. Why not prescription drugs too? Kiddies gain access, you hold their parents responsible.

  • Lawrence,
    What you are describing here is a parenting issue. Responsible parents recognize that teens’ thrill-seeking behavior is to be expected, and take appropriate measures. I agree with the_cat about stashing a few opiates for dental pain in one’s survival kit. Enough with the nanny state.

  • I’m a refugee from small-minded Midwest myself, who landed on the left coast. I heard an interesting theory once that the level of comfort with eccentricity here goes back to that sense of pioneer spirit, the need to strike out on one’s own and get out from anyone else’s thumb. A lot of folks stopped at Denver. Others didn’t stop until they hit the ocean.

  • I see the shadow of the ‘just world’ crap in it, too, oldhead. It’s in the sentence that ties personal success with the ability to give and receive love. While I didn’t read the condemnation of those who have been unloved, I also really had to call Bullshit on the notion that ‘successful’ people got that way by having a greater capacity to give/receive love than those of us whom life continually shits on.

    In fact, I see way too many instances of really hateful, bigoted, greedy, selfish individuals coming out on top for me to consider this as a truth, or a pearl of wisdom. No, they ‘earn’ their success by cheating, writing the rules so the underdog can never win, granting each other pardons and golden parachutes, etc.

    And I’ve seen some of the most loving, giving, generous people get used up, taken for granted, their love abused or even used against them.

    It simply doesn’t square.

  • I was speaking to oldhead, remarking to him about his interaction with you, and he knew to whom I was referring when I said, “I don’t think she’s gonna get it.”
    Just because you are the author of the blog post does not mean that every comment must be directed to you; we talk to each other here, too, not just to the authors.

  • the refusal to eat shit and pretend to like it. wasn’t that the essence of MLK’s creative maladjustment thing? I think we all need to be creatively maladjusted to this craziness the society has become!

    Reminds me of a line from a song in the musical Rent: The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.

  • I didn’t make that connection at first, but yeah, duh.
    What struck me about that exchange Hurford had with the audience member was the absurd comeback “So you’re saying send him to a third world country?” I read that and thought, “No, it’s you that needs to visit the third world country– visit their viewpoint, their way of looking at this.” Because her response was so condescending!

  • So I read up to this point:

    In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews with participants who identified as having a “severe mental illness” were conducted to explore their perspectives of “where family were positioned in their recovery.” [emphasis mine]

    and I realized that this article is not at all for me, since it only sought out the experiences of those who have drank the kool-aid. I can’t relate; not gonna try. I quit reading the article right there.

    Read the comments, though, and I think dru8274’s experience provides some very good advice: don’t give them access to your family, keep them away from the kool-aid dispensers!

  • Ekaterina,
    If you got my point, you would not keep using the term ‘psychosis’ at all. But here you are, still using it, not even putting it in quotes, so you clearly don’t get my point. I can’t make my point any clearer, so we have reached an impasse.

  • Ekaterina,
    Your aims are laudable, but I find your logic flawed. One doesn’t refute an idea by using the terms that reinforce that very idea. Every time you use the words ‘psychotic’ or ‘psychosis’ (or any of the other bogus ‘mental illness’ terms, for that matter), you are propping up the very system you are aiming to knock down. Using their terms is like paying dues into their legitimacy coffers.

  • Ekaterina.

    Well, that is what you are attempting to do. But from my perspective, the result of using the medicalized language is ALWAYS to reinforce the concepts that such terms stem from: that people who experience altered states of consciousness are having a symptom of an illness.

  • Also, valerian root is the herb from which they derive valium. Brewing some valerian root tea can help insomnia, and anxiety, and I believe it poses less risks than the refined drug. Be warned- it is very stinky! The taste is somewhat bitter. I used to combine it with catnip and chamomile for a sleep tea. The valerian root should be boiled several minutes (a decoction, since it is roots), then the catnip and chamomile steeped in the still-hot-but-no-longer-boiling tea (an infusion). Then strain it and let it cool enough to sip. I was on SSRI and SNRI before but never ‘antipsychotics’ so I can’t say how the herbs fare in the face of that drug-induced insomnia.

  • When I started grad school, we were a cohort of 55 MSW students. Our very first assignment was to write a paper on the subject: Systems Theory of Biology, Quantum Physics, and How They Relate to Social Work. At first, this seemed way too broad. I had a panic attack when I first sat down at the keyboard to begin putting thoughts to “paper,” in fact, and I was not the only one (5 dropped out of the program that first week). But when I persevered and did a little light (haha) reading on the subject, I quickly surmised that every single person seeking a degree in social work, psychology, any of the ‘helper’ professions really needs to write a paper on this. Looking into the intersection between systems theory and quantum physics provides a deep understanding of interconnectedness, of the force of our own expectations, how focusing attention on any thing always changes that thing. So much more. And it completely blows psychiatric dogma out of the water!

  • CrazySharks,
    Trusting someone like you is so very dangerous! Why are your fears and your interests so much more important than those of the person who truly is vulnerable? Sera Davidow’s piece here ( gets into the nitty-gritty of that dance. Start there. And if you are still patting yourself on the back that you are doing the right thing, go read a few dozens of the survivors’ stories that are out there, about their experience of being locked up (call it a ‘hospital,’ I won’t) and how much it damaged them. People like you (who wield the power to remove another’s civil rights) seriously need to immerse themselves in the aftermath of their paternalism. Then either change, or find another line of work.

  • Ohwhatisthatlight,

    Okay, so you have a belief (that reincarnation isn’t a thing). So what? It is exactly and only that: a belief. Everybody has their beliefs. Yours isn’t special, correct, or right. Everybody has an anal sphincter, and I’ll bet you have one too. I’m reminded of the one about the guy who walked into a bar with an opinion and an anal sphincter (both of which tend to stink when they’re in-your-face). Anyway, the bartender takes his order, and serves him his drink. Because “he’s just like everybody else.”

  • Hi Ekaterina,

    Love this title!!
    As to you having been Anne Frank, and that psychiatrist’s question as to what should be done about that belief:

    There are literally millions of people around the world who believe in reincarnation. Does she propose they all correct their religious beliefs to match hers? And why must anything be done about your belief in reincarnation, in having been Anne Frank? Where's the harm in that belief?

  • I’m sure psychiatrists would have a huge problem with it if I told them.

    And where do they get off asking about spirituality anyway? What’s between you and your God is nobody else’s business! Answer that type of question with a question of your own: Do you let anybody butt in between you and *your* God? Or are your spiritual beliefs nobody’s business but your own?

    The level of entitlement to even ask such questions!!

  • out, you said: “This morning I woke feeling so bitter and angry. It burns me – but only me. I need to let it go, but to find a way that doesn’t involve forgetting.”

    I have a suggestion for that: make art. Take the experience that fuels the anger, take something physical about it if you have some token, and transform it into a statement. There was an article here some time ago by a woman who had procured some of her hospital records (was her name Dorothy?) and cut out words and made a very powerful collage out of it. Her article sprang to mind when I read your sentence.

    Carrie Fisher (poor lost lamb) is quoted as saying, “Take your broken heart. Turn it into art.” I think she was very right about that. Because, it IS important to honor the experience, but to give it a place to be where it is not wreaking emotional havoc. Art grounds the intense emotion (in this case anger, but could be grief, sadness too) into a physical form. Art makes powerful statements that invoke feelings in others, art is meant to do that, that’s art’s job. Art gets displayed, prominently, not hidden or forgotten. And the act of making the art, of transforming, literally, a piece of the experience into a powerful statement about the experience, is freeing. The act itself can be transformative. And the art piece you end up with takes the experience out of “it burns me– but just me,” because now the “burn” lives in the artwork, too. It ceases to be just internal; your pain/anger/sadness/whatever is now a message that others can take in. A message of warning, perhaps, or a message of camaraderie to those who have been “burned” too.

  • I love reading your stuff Sera.

    One nit-pick (since the whole point of the article is the words used): I got to the section ‘Anti-Stigma’ and saw you had incorrectly identified NAMI. It is not National Alliance FOR the Mentally Ill. Nope. Looked it up. It’s actually National Alliance ON the Mentally Ill. Now let’s think about *that* for a minute!

    Ok, now I shall continue reading!

  • The law is useless because the white coats all agree that it’s the “standard of care.” BUT in this age of social media, public shaming has a helluva lot more impact! So, I love your idea about sneaking in the camera, but add all the social media outlets to the distribution list, not just lawyers (since you’d probably have to shop it around to several lawyers before you’d find one willing to fight the good fight).

  • You’re welcome, oldhead. I have not been keeping up with every word, but reading new comments now & then. What you said made sense to me, which is why I expounded on it.
    In my point of view, it is just as absurd for people who are not psych survivors to try to have (leadership, ownership, a primary voice, etc.) in the psych survivors’ movement as it would be for:
    whites to have a leadership voice in the racial justice movement;
    or men to have any ownership/leadership of the women’s rights movement

    In my point of view, an essential part of being an ally is the understanding that fighting with a group of people for their rights/causes does not mean you are fighting for that group. Being an ally means that you understand that it is not your fight.

    I have not spoke up much in all this, but this seemed a very important thing to pipe up and say, because self-determination is a core value for me. I demand it for myself, and for others as well.

    When someone who thinks they are an ally (and may indeed have been one previously) begins to encroach on the leadership decisions, they are no longer behaving like an ally.

  • It sounds pretty straightforward and simple to me, oldhead.

    Just like in the feminist movement, men need to learn to take a backseat;
    and in racial justice movements, white folks need to learn to take a backseat

    Anyone claiming to be an ally in the psychiatric survivors’ movement needs to learn to take a backseat

    btw, do you notice that punctuation mark behind the word ‘survivors’? It’s there to denote possession, as in “The psychiatric survivors’ movement belongs to psychiatric survivors themselves,” (but I do not digress)

    Voices of other interested parties (friends/family of survivors, woke professionals, etc.) should never be given primacy. Anyone who is truly an ally would never dispute that, or try to angle for more power than a backseat position.

    We all learn in kindergarten that if it doesn’t belong to you, it’s not yours to do with as you please, so don’t try to take it, didn’t we?

  • “…the side effects of neoliberal capitalism are contributing to mass malaise.”

    There. Fixed it for ya.

    Capitalism– plain, old-fashioned capitalism– is fundamentally based on exploitation and domination. Of the planet’s resources, of the people. Let’s be clear about that. No buzzword needed.

  • I’m glad your brother made it through the ordeal alive.

    Vanessa Marquez didn’t. Go read up on it- the call was placed not by a doctor, not by a therapist, but by her Landlord. According to the news stories, the landlord expressed concern that she was having seizures.

    The cops don’t verify the veracity of the account the caller gives them before they leap into action (ever heard of “SWATting?”) and once they are told by a caller that the subject of the call is “mentally ill” there is absolutely nothing that person can say or do to change their course of action: come hell or high water (or tazer or bullets) the subject of the “wellness check” is going to be dragged off to a hospital.

    And what if the report is bogus? a prank? an act of retaliation? What if the caller is a vindictive ex and not the concerned neighbor, friend or landlord they profess to be? Having committed no crime, the subject will be (legally!) assaulted and kidnapped, humiliated and likely assaulted some more, with no way at all to challenge this violation or prevent being traumatized.

    I cannot join you in singing the praises of the “wellness check.”

  • You are so missing the point.

    Go read any survivor’s account of rights violations. Seriously, there are So Many- take your pick.
    Now, think about all the other people who witnessed that “patient’s” rights being violated. How many are thinking “holy shit! I better keep my mouth shut and not even dare to mention that I have rights, or else they will do to me what they just did to him/her!”

    Can you honestly try to assert that it was only that one “patient” the staff retaliated against whose rights were abridged? Really? The fact that they get away with it is, in and of itself, a threat to everyone at their mercy- everyone who witnessed it firsthand or heard about it afterwards, and you know it.

  • Ok, knowledgeispower, let’s recap:

    You pulled out a quote from the beginning of Fred’s comment, and began your response to that part of his comment, not the part you now claim to be responding to as if he had called you out by name to address that part. He had not.

    Fred calls you out by name at the end of his comment, where he makes a request of you, and others:
    ” respectfully I ask if you would please read carefully the comments posted by survivors and take some time to consider and post a response to each of them.”

    So you address (defensively) something he didn’t ask you to, and claim he did, but you remain silent on what Fred actually asked you to respond to (the end part) except to assert that that was the part you were responding to, when clearly you were not.

    I point this out to you, and you reply by getting all huffy and defensive about your right to respond to Fred’s comment (something which, btw, I did not challenge) rather than doing any self-reflection.

    And you’re a therapist.

    Does anyone else recognize the gaslighting behavior in this exchange? Or is it just me??

  • ah, yes, I see he adressed you further down in the comment… where he asked you and others to read, consider, and respond to the posts that I, and the other survivors he named, had written.

    how you respond (or not), and what you choose to zone in on (or ignore), speaks volumes.

  • Steve McCrea, you have my permission to facilitate an email exchange between me and Stephen too! He is one of my favorite people here and I’d be happy to hear from him too (jumping on oldhead’s bandwagon here!)

    Stephen- please do ask Steve for my email if you are at all inclined to contact me. I feel a heart connection with you through some of the comments exchanges we have shared, and would love to connect with you further 🙂

  • knowledgeispower,

    You are responding here to fred77”s comment that began with:
    I’d like to draw attention to the posts above of lavendersage, Alex, Richard D. Lewis, oldhead, and BigPictureAwareness because I think they are really getting to the heart of this issue.

    and you start off replying with “since you named me…:”

    But, he didn’t name you. He named me, Alex, Richard, oldhead, and BPA and pointed to us because we are survivors with an important message to be heard and considered.

    Your next sentence quotes fred77:
    “Anyone who finds they are standing back and watching an amazing transformation take place for a client and thinking “wow, I did that, I love my job!”, I’m sorry to say is completely off the mark, and is needing to do a lot more inner work. If a client transforms, its because they transformed themselves.”
    and then you proceed to respond to/defend yourself about this.

    So if that shoe doesn’t fit you, why put your foot in it?

  • Thank you for posting this, Fred. I don’t know where you might have it posted before, but I hadn’t seen it. And I think it’s very important for people to read this. Especially certain recent posters, who will probably feel defensive when they read this sentence…

  • You’re welcome, Morgan! It’s a shame he is not with us anymore for you to have discussions with him. I’d love it if, after reading his body of work (the articles here, and the blog entries they link to, but I kept reading other of his blog entries as well because I found them … chewy 😀 as in a hardy baguette type of food-for-thought) you’d come back here and state what you thought. I’d be interested to hear what this sparks for you.
    (this is coming from a place of deep intuition- that there is something in his blog that you Need to Encounter at this point in your journey. There’s your Free psychic reading by LavenderSage )

  • Hi there,
    Gotta start by saying I have not watched the video. That being said, there was a blog called 1boringoldman by Dr. Mickey Nardo (rest his soul) who did an EXCELLENT job of picking apart the methodological and statistical flaws and fallacies and deceptions in the published research. If you were presenting the new research in the way he did, exposing it, and interview folks you’ve so educated, that would be a service.
    So please go read up on him- there’s articles here on MIA, which link to specifics, but really immerse yourself in his work. Please. Presenting “research” can be done in a way that helps empower people, as Dr. Nardo did, so if that is your intention, good! Go study his example.

  • thank you, oldhead, and thank you, JanCarol. That one’s been brewing sround in me for awhile now. Sometimes it takes me a bit letting my feelings percolate through my thoughts before I put words to it, but then I respond pretty clearly.

    One more “voluntary” scenario I forgot to add: the one where the school staff basically threaten parents with a medical neglect report to CPS if they don’t go along with having their “disruptive” child assessed.

    (and, as Steve has pointed out before, nobody ever assesses the educational environment that kid is trapped in and reacting to…)

  • omg, I ad not scrolled down that far.
    Haven’t watched the video, so I can’t comment on its content… will reserve judgement until I can stomach watching it, but with the very first screenshot saying “Lancet Psychiatry” it really puts me off. We’ll go from there.

  • I gotta challenge this notion of “voluntary” that keeps getting tossed around. When basic needs like one’s housing, or income, or medical benefits (some folks have physical conditions that require this) are contingent upon accepting “treatment,” as they too often are, just how voluntary can that really be? Refuse “services” and lose your place to live, or your check, or your access to your medical doctor.

    There is nothing “voluntary” about it when the consequences of refusal are that dire.

  • Steve: “Expecting the same approach to work for everyone with the same emotional challenges is the first place the psychiatric system went off the rails.”

    Gotta disagree with you there Steve. Expecting that they would know what approach would work for ANY person with “emotional challenges” without even hearing that individual’s own take on their experience, thinking they are the “expert” of anyone else’s meaning-making, is the most fundamental leap off the rails, imho.

  • “Asked if he had ever considered suicide…”

    This pisses me off so much! That is so inappropriate, asking if someone has ever considered suicide. That has no bearing whatsoever on their current state, which is what they were supposed to be assessing.

    Asking this is no different than asking if someone has ever peed their pants, and declaring them incontinent!!

    Most people, at some point in their lives, have peed their pants– maybe you got tickled (literally or figuratively) as a youngster and laughed so hard you peed; maybe in college you got so drunk once you passed out and peed yourself; maybe in your 30s you had a really exhausting week and finally catch a good deep sleep only to have that too-realistic going to the bathroom dream (you know the one). But nobody jumps to the conclusion you need to be put in adult diapers right away, do they? Of course not! That’s preposterous!

    AND… Most people, at some point in their lives, have a thought of suicide. Doesn’t mean they’re suicidal weeks or months or years later when some dolt asks such a ludicrously worded question!

    So, feel free to borrow this response if anyone asks you if you’ve “ever…” and answer their question with mine. “Have you ever peed your pants? And does that fact make you at risk of incontinence right now?” Use it as a teachable moment.

  • Hi Vortex,
    I know of some hydroponic farmers that either put strong fans in the growing space or move the small plants outdoors (as weather permits) because without this stress the main stalk never grows strong enough and as the plant matures it cannot hold itself aright under the weight of its own buds (let alone fruit!). Unless you tie the plant to a stake, it will break,

    I think the same thing is true of all things in nature. Children are born with natural curiosity and will explore their environment as much as possible. They are naturally scientists- testing out: what happens to this thing if I do this action? This is the beginning of confidence in one’s abilities; it is the seed of autonomy, watered by periodic failures and nourished in the light of successes.

    But in this nanny-state that modern culture has become, babies don’t even get to crawl anymore! Children are constantly supervised, all their options are provided for them– no room to explore and discover, or invent their own way. They hit school and are actively discouraged from coming up with their own ideas– the tests consist of guessing well. Their thinking is confined to the bubbles- no more are they asked to explain why/how, or to compare/contrast two things. Parents who dare to let their children have a smattering of independence, of responsibility, find that some busybody has called the cops and/or social workers and they are scrutinized for months (or even years) as neglectful!

  • Megan, I hope that you do deliver this letter personally to this “marriage counselor” and I hope that they have integrity enough to bring it into their professional supervision sessions. I think you should (strongly) suggest it. I also think you should send a copy to the licensing board that issued him/her their certification to do this work. You have a claim for malpractice here, you know, if you wanted to pursue it. Perhaps you should point that out as well.

  • oh but they ARE equipped with tasers and guns, by way of the police, who are required to go do those “wellness checks” whenever a “mental health” pro tells them to. The jobs go hand-in-hand. As soon as they pick up the phone to make that call, they are accessing those guns and tasers, and they don’t even have to get their hands (or consciences… not that there’s evidence they possess a conscience) dirty.

  • Want to understand why a particular person isn’t more physically active? Well, here’s a novel approach: ask them open-ended questions, like 1) whether they’d want to be more physically active, 2) what physical activities they already enjoy doing, and whether there are new ones they’d like to try, 3) have they cut back on (or stopped doing) physical activities they used to do more of, and why/how did that happen. Then actually listen to them when they tell you.
    For a lot of people, “exercise” is a turn-off: Folks who were bullied in gym class or on sports teams. Folks who were always made to feel at odds with their own body because it is “too fat.” Folks who fear injuring themselves and compromising what mobility they still have left. But there are usually some physical activities that people do enjoy, and others they might/would enjoy if they had whatever support they need to pursue them. To swim, you need access to a pool and appropriate swimwear. Given that, you can do it independently, but other activities require someone to be your “spotter,” (think lifting weights or climbing rocks).
    Maybe if they were less concerned with getting people to “adhere to” or “comply with” imposed directions, they could begin to listen. Tell me I’m going to jog, or tell me I’m signed up to play soccer and I will tell you to go fuck yourself. But put on some disco or ’80s pop without trying to impose an agenda on me, and just watch my body dance! Because it wants to move like that, and I enjoy the way it feels, even if it leaves me sweaty, breathless and spent.

  • one more example of how organized religion, like psychiatry, is a tool of social control. If your feelings are “too” intense, uncomfortable, truthful, etc. for the status quo, religion tells you it’s “sinful,” or “of the devil,” or “a spirit of anger;” whereas psychiatry will tell you it is “chemical imbalance,” or more generically “something wrong in your brain.” All tools of oppression to keep you in line and keep the emperor’s tailors well-fed.
    I wonder what they would say to the Jesus who threw a fit and upended the pharisees’ tables at the temple? Social justice warriors get labeled and crucified, then and now.

  • Please don’t take offense, Alex, but I don’t think you and I are assigning the name “rage” to the same experience. From the way you describe your experience of “rage”, it does not resemble mine at all.

    In my experience, rage must be “bled off,” so to speak, in order for the intensity of the energy to be dissipated enough to be approachable. Like I said, once the rage is cooled to merely anger, the energy is then accessible to be worked with productively. I’m not random with my rage, it’s too powerful to project it willy-nilly! Once released, the energy returns to its source, of that I have no doubt. Chickens, as they say, do indeed come home to roost.

    And, I find destruction quite useful, actually. I rip old clothing to shreds, for instance, in order to create the strips of fabric I can then weave into rugs. Destruction is an act of transformation!

  • Oh, binra,
    Folks going blank, avoiding, yes. And those that use “sympathy” to extract from you, get you to take care of their needs when you most need to be able to turn within and just Be. I so get that!
    Something I don’t often revisit: When I was a teenager, my little sister (pre-school age) was murdered. I had moved out a few months before and was living with relatives several states away when the arson happened. I would have been sharing a room with her had I still been living with my mother, so my feelings of grief were very much compounded by survivor guilt, as I’m sure you can well imagine.
    The day after, I decided to go to school, because I needed to be surrounded by my friends– they were my support system. Before lunchtime even hit, I get called to the office. There was a call from my mother, begging me to fly out with my aunt and grandma to be with her at the funeral. I was so torn! I knew what I needed for me, and it was to NOT go, to NOT take part in the whole funeral thing, to NOT meet anyone’s expectations around how to deal with her death. But she sobbed, and she begged, and I relented.
    The funeral was in the desert, on a gorgeous clear sky-blue day. I was wearing a deep purple dress and heeled shoes. The little casket sat in front of what seemed like a hundred rows of folding chairs, all of them occupied except for 2 in the front row- one mine, one my mother’s- my brother sitting in his seat trying to be the “man of the family” at 12 years old. And all the mourners, many I recognized and so many I didn’t. My sister was a little ray of sunshine that touched everyone she met, had a smile and wit that could melt the most stubborn, cantankerous heart. It was a small town, and it felt like half of them were there.
    I turned away, back through the parking lot, walking slowly out towards the desert, the vast sky and joshua trees, the stillness I needed to be engulfed in. But one of my mother’s friends caught up to me, asking those “concern” questions, pointing back to the canopy and my mother as her knees buckled under the weight of her grief and she collapsed onto the astro-turfed “floor” into a wailing, keening puddle. And though a part of me continued on into the desert, my body turned and I went to her. Someone had poured her into her chair, and I spent the service kneeling in front of her. literally holding her together through it. I did not resent that sacrifice, did not resent my mother for needing me, though it was waaay too much on me. But I resented the hell out of those mourners who foisted themselves on me afterwards, in lieu of my mother, who was in no shape to receive their “sympathies.”

  • Wow, binra. That is profound.

    First, let me say I’m so sorry your daughter hung herself. As a parent, my heart goes out to you.

    I usually find myself reading only part of what you post because I get lost in the verbal imagery you use, or the way you use language. Not sure, exactly, I just find it hard to follow and give up. This one I persevered through, and am so glad I did. Those last two paragraphs are chock-full of very deep, and liberating, truth. Thank You!

  • Thanks Steve! I used to keep a stack of throwing saucers on top of the fridge when my kids were toddlers. The house we lived in had a backyard full of spearmint (mint is very aggressive and will take over a whole yard if you let it, and I let it!) and the alley behind our house was my “hurling range.” Used to keep a broom propped against the back fence to sweep up the bits of shattered rage. Satisfaction smells like mint! I’ve been living urban for many years now, and have no safe “hurling range” nearby anymore. Pity.

    I know the CRASH sound, enjoyed it, ceramic is more dull/deep than bottles. But it was the feeling of power being transferred, flowing out of my hand into the rage object as I hurled it into the asphalt, and the rage energy shattering as the saucer exploded into bits on the asphalt that was so satisfying, not so much the sound per se.

    I have a special love of shattered glass, though. Have bins and buckets of it in my art space. I choose a larger piece to be the base, grind the edges smooth, and arrange and layer smaller chunks and slivers, along with bits of found objects — like shiny foil candy wrappers, or a strip of holiday tinsel, or a twisted piece of wire– on top of the base. I seal it with epoxy, and voila! I wish I could post a picture here so you could see, because my description does not do it justice.

    The sound of the shattered glass tinkling as I sift through a bin, or the soft roaring sound it makes if I tip/twist a bucket of glass shards to watch the cascading bits and wait til just the right one catches my eye, is the sound of creativity. It’s the doorbell signaling that the Muse has arrived! Well worth the blood sacrifice – I almost always get a small finger cut, it’s the price of playing in broken glass!

  • For me, rage is, by definition, blindingly intense, meaning I cannot access words and cogent arguments. Rage is the primal stuff of cavemen. Once the burning-hot rage has cooled to merely anger, I can use my words to release anger. But rage? Vocalizing that would only ever come out as SCREAMING and be quite counterproductive to actually communicating anything that could be received. I cannot release something as white-hot as rage via something as civilized as language.

  • Problem is, so few people read (or understand) the appendices. I’d hazard a guess that most folks only ever read the Abstract and Conclusions sections, and take that as truth. But so often, the statements made in these sections actively contradict the actual data! We really lost a gem when Mickey Nardo died. He was so very good at scouring the research for this crap and bringing the contradictions/lies to light.

  • I’d like to suggest that there are other things you could do with the rage than either a) contain it, or b) beat up an innocent person. Chopping wood comes to mind. Or an intense workout with weights (think bench press). Or scrubbing the bathtub, which is my go-to if I give a shit about being productive. Or hurling garage-sale saucers onto the asphalt, if I don’t give a shit about productive and just wanna make something “explode.” (If you do hurl saucers,though, mind the flying ceramic chips and protect your eyes.)

    Rage is such intense energy that it takes something really physical to release it from the body. Personally, I have found that suppressing my rage is VERY detrimental to my being, on all dimensions (physical, emotional, spiritual) so I only ever contain it just long enough to get myself to a space where I am safe to release it.

  • Instead of the dump, make the pieces available for psych survivor artists to transform into some thought-provoking pieces. There was an article on here some time ago by a lady (named Dorothy, I think?) who took her psych file and cut out phrases, made a collage with photos. Transforming articles of oppression into creative artwork is quite cathartic and liberating, and can have a ripple effect on others as well, get them to look at things from a new perspective and challenge what they thought they knew.

  • Wow, Eric. I don’t usually find myself connecting to the things you write, but this was quite beautiful! Thank you. Ann’s art piece reminds me of those little fridge magnets that you can arrange into poetry. However it departed from you, I hope it has found a home with someone to appreciate it.

  • The gaslighting-est thing in the book was the letters between Freud and that doctor who had treated a woman’s sinus infection surgically and left a sponge in there, but even knowing that fact did not stop the two of them coming up with all kinds of crap about her mental state to explain away her problems!

    And there was something about a toddler with a doll. I don’t remember the details, as it’s been a couple decades since I read the book, but it was so unsettling/horrifying I had a hard time getting the image out of my head.

    If there was a list of anti-psychiatry must-reads, this book should be at the top of it!

  • I only got about halfway through the article, myself. It seemed very unfocused to me, as well as the general sense of ‘ick’ that I felt while reading it. I liked Rachel’s response to the quote you pulled from the article, about the YA novel she read that told of a world where they branded the children who were born essentially enslaved, and the usefulness of the branding to those in power.

  • CatNight, have you read The Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson? He had access to Freud’s private correspondences, and was appalled. This book was so illuminating! I highly recommend it. Goes into great detail about Freud’s abandoning of his initial theories/discoveries, and of his patients.

  • Effexor definitely shifted my emotional range- anger comes on much more quickly than before, and I no longer feel love the same way I used to. I have the memory of how very much I loved my wife before, I can remember how the love I felt for her would bring me to tears of gratitude at the sight of her smile. I know that I love those that I love, but cannot seem to connect to the love as deeply, as fully, as intensely, as I was able to before that damned drug! I’ve been free of it well over a dozen years, only took it for less than a year, but that’s all it took to do this damage. I don’t think our marriage will ever fully recover.

  • Alright, I have been afk for weeks due to having an old computer whose components don’t always cooperate, but I’ve been reading.

    Ever heard that phrase “Last, but not least…?” It exists for a reason: everyone knows that lists are made in order of priority. That is not “in Frank’s head,” that is the English language!

    Did you even take a moment, Mickey, to consider the validity of Frank’s point before you decided it was all in his head? Did you stop to consider that the way you enumerated these groups is an expression of your own values and prejudices, however unconscious? Because both the enumeration order, and (most importantly) the way you responded to Frank pointing this out to you, speaks volumes about whose voices, opinions, and viewpoints you value, and whose you don’t.

  • Don’t you just love the language they use?

    Results of the study indicate that over three-quarters of zolpidem users are not following FDA recommendations to reduce risks of side effects and drug dependency.”

    Those irresponsible users! Don’t they know they’re supposed to follow FDA guidelines, even if the prescriber doesn’t?

  • Thanks Auntie, I was wondering where oldhead was, and was hoping it was just a glitch, but pre-emptive moderation? Wow. I know oldhead rubs some folks the wrong way (hey, so do I, I’m sure) but I have never seem him post anything that would merit this recourse. I trust oldhead to not compromise his integrity. I will wait and see how this plays out to know whether I can say the same of MIA. Wow.

  • Trusting untrustworthy people is dangerous, especially if they hold real-world power over you. Doctors have been given such (illegitimate) authority by the legal system. I think your client deserves to know that this doctor holds this (pejorative) opinion of them, so that they do not entrust this person with any disclosures that could be used against them.

    “Informed consent” should include that Miranda clause “Anything you say can, and will, be used against you,” especially by doctors who cling to that “lack of insight” crap. They are already subordinating their clients’ realities.

  • Sounds like you are not planning on sharing that tidbit with the client. Color me: Disappointed, but not Surprised.
    And I concur with you that that attitude is quite prevalent in the MH world.
    Do you show your clients their charts? Do they get to read the (official, btw) statements that have been made about them? My own therapist (Goddess, I miss her!) had no qualms whatsoever about handing over my chart whenever I asked to see it. That was one of the ways she earned my trust.

    I mean, why should a client trust a “pro” who won’t trust them, or balks at this very personal example (seeing one’s chart) of Nothing About Us Without Us?

  • The author makes an erroneous assumption that fear of death is universal. It isn’t. Sure, the physical act of dying can be downright unpleasant depending on the circumstances, but death as an existential fear? A lot of people have a different relationship with death than that, especially those who experience it as a natural part of the cycle of things: Life–> Death –> Rebirth. Nothing scary about compost 🙂

  • I hope you plan on sharing that email letter with your mutual client, so they will know just how trustworthy that doctor is! Are you planning to inform this client of their right to change doctors, and support their choice?

    Doing so would demonstrate trust in your client, and would demonstrate your commitment to the paradigm shift that places client autonomy and self-determination as core values of your work rather than doing what’s expected and acquiescing to the institutional culture that prizes professionals’ “insight” over the individual’s own truth.

  • Yes, and Amerika has learned from the Cold War- don’t wait until dissidents are actively opposing totalitarian control, with adult ideas and intellect and a coherent message that could draw in and mobilize potential allies. Nope, catch those deviants when they’re young, still brewing their ideas, brand them early and forever, drug them up, blunt the intellect, problem solved!

  • shaunf,
    As to determining who is a potential dissident, Bruce Levine and Eric Maisel have addressed this better than I could. Please go read

    The Systemic Crushing of Young Nonconformists and Anti-Authoritarians (link: Pay particular attention to paragraphs 6 and 7.

    Psychiatry’s Oppression of Young Anarchists — and the Underground Resistance (link:

    The Diseasing of Defiance (link:

  • I do not believe there is a “political function of these medications” as you say.

    I seem to remember the Soviets used Thorazine (wasn’t it Thorazine?) to silence and punish dissidents? They used the argument that only a crazy person would criticize the Motherland. Speak up? Locked up. Drugged up. Shut up.

    I’m not a history buff, but some of you regular commenters are. Please refresh my memory and give us a history lesson. I know there’s one around this very topic.

  • As a Christian, I see actual evil in Mental Health, Inc., as well as bondage and oppression, and lies…lies, lies, lies, all the way down…

    You aren’t the only Christian here who feels that way… Someone Else immediately springs to mind.

    I’m Pagan, and I agree with y’all that “MH Inc.” is evil. I’ve often wondered how many of our present-day seers and prophets, who would echo the message of so many before them– that we must not lose sight of our humanity, our connection to our Mother Earth and to one another– have been drugged out of their gourds. Who knows what planet-saving technologies, for instance, we have missed out on? Feels to me like psychiatry is just one more faction pushing the doomsday clock towards zero hour.

  • Psychiatrists get away with it again and again because patients like me don’t have the energy, time, resources or whatever, to report this abuse and sue those responsible for it.

    Those that do squander their precious, hard-fought time/energy/resources on filing a grievance find it dismissed by whatever authority they are appealing to, and lawyers? Try finding one that will take the case.

  • Good decision, Amy. Wise to taper off only 1 at once. The sooner, the better, though, because the longer you take these neurotoxins, the more damage they do. I was on effexor for less than a year- that was over 13 years ago and I am *still* recovering! I didn’t taper though- my routine got disrupted when I moved, and it was over a week later, feeling light-headed (low BP) that I realized I had not taken it. A few hours later the Vertigo set in (capital “V” vertigo- it was extreme!) and I decided I would not take that shit again, no matter how hellish the ride coming off it. The worst of it lasted almost 3 weeks, and I got through it staying very high on medical MJ- which made the vertigo less disconcerting because it gave it an acceptable context, and allowed me to eat without puking from the dizziness.

  • Speaking of Pies’ words, here are the words that stood out to me:

    I am not one who easily loses his temper, but I confess to experiencing markedly increased limbic activity whenever I hear…

    I read this, and thought “Goddess! The man can’t even cop to feeling an emotion!” Instead of having emotions like a freaking human being, he has to relate to himself with this strange and twisted biological reductionism.

  • komarek,
    The medicalization of distress is THE CORE of why people are “unsatisfied,” so why on earth would they appeal to the medical/insurance community to support their programs?! The moment you give them a voice, you are inviting co-optation. Seems the folks you are referring to are aware of this- Good for them! People escaping the fire don’t wanna end up in the frying pan either- it ain’t much of an improvement.

    Rachel has the right idea- underground support networks. More power to them!

  • It sounds to me like pretending to be a “good mental patient” was useful in making your escape from the system, kind of like the battered spouse pretends to be invested in the day-to-day routines of the marriage whilst laying the groundwork of an escape plan so as not to arouse the abuser’s suspicions. I’m glad you escaped, Rachel. Doing so has allowed you to begin building a life. Where do you think you’d be if you had continued doing what they told you, if you had followed the role model of a “Graduate” of the MH program you were in?

  • I admire your efforts Corinna, and always find your pieces thought-provoking. One thing hit me in the gut, though:
    I was offended by the notion of “Graduates”- as if the MH system had a curriculum to impart, that if you internalize their “lessons” you will achieve wisdom, insight. Oh HELL no! The better an MH student you are, the more likely they’ll attach that little diploma to your toe!
    It is those who Escape the MH system that actually have a chance of achieving something meaningful in their life.
    Recovery? (if you even embrace that paradigm; I don’t) is something people do despite the MH system, not because of it. Escapees. I get why it makes them uncomfortable. It ought to.

  • Steve-
    It can also be an energy thing, the kid holding the energy of family secrets, even if the kid does not know the content of the secret. A kid sensitive to energy might not know that mom has a drinking problem or dad is having an affair, but they feel the burden, the heaviness of the secret going on and internalize the energy of it. And to feel the energy of something you can’t explain, but to feel the extent you are subjected to it, is truly crazy-making.

  • Oldhead, you articulated the two goals of the folks who frequent MiA so very clearly! I think you should store this statement somewhere for future reference as new folks come in, so that they understand that this is the best way to move forward on either of them: to not impede progress on either of them. Both are not only Valid; both are Needed.

    I, personally, support both goals. But I am much more equipped to work on the goal of providing avenues to get the support people need when they need it, than the goal of social and political reform. The latter overwhelms me, and knocks all the wind outta my sails.

  • The Lion King came out 25-ish years ago. That’s not “fresh” enough to be relevant to teens. You’d need something more recent than The Lion King, and something more age-appropriate to appeal to teens, methinks. Disney cartoons are for the grade-school (and younger) juice box crowd.

    I don’t claim to know what teens are into these days, but I can tell you it ain’t The Lion King. Before you go putting any real effort into such an endeavor, you might want to bring on a consultant who is young and hip and in touch.

  • Well, when Step 1 is Admit that you are Powerless (or some such, my mother was an AA-er, not I), that does not go over well with trauma survivors- who already feel too powerless. The whole higher power thing doesn’t work great for atheists, either. My mother, btw, did not use AA to get sober. She already was sober when she started going– for her, it was more a religion.

  • if you scroll down past ALL the comments, there is a box to type in your comment. The heading reads “LEAVE A REPLY” and then lists the user name you are logged in as, or prompts you to log in. Hope that helps!

  • Have you tried helping them literally map it all out by introducing them to genograms? (I did one of my own life, looks like a freaking highway system, LOL.) I had one older lady I was working with who was essentially trying to make sense of her life. She had several chronic health conditions that were getting more severe and didn’t think she would live much longer. She *loved* the idea of a genogram and found the process so helpful in understanding some of the things that had happened in her family and how those had impacted her life. Such clarity! I saw her making shifts in her relationships, even though these folks were long gone and she was relating to them through memory. Helped her put her wounds into a larger context, of what was going on in the larger constellation of her family at the time and what preceded. And that helped her to take things less personally, because she could see a lot of the intergenerational traumas that had been in play.

    I wonder what it could do for somebody who has more time to re-vamp their life?

  • “I’ll take every label—every single one—knowing that we will find each other that way.”

    Here’s the thing, though, Chris. In my experience, whenever I have attempted to find connection or community with others who are having a similar experience of this life, if I look for pathology (i.e. use the mh labels, or lingo), I find the pathologized. I find people who see themselves as psychiatry has told them they are. These folks have drunk the kool-aid, and are therefore not my tribe.

    A related anecdote: My ancestors are from Appalachia. They have a very easy way of telling if someone is an outsider: by the language they use (specifically, the way they pronounce the names of the towns). You hear that, and you know to be wary because this is not one of us. I react that way whenever I hear somebody using the mh lingo.

  • Thank you oldhead! I had exactly the same appraisal of something you expressed recently but didn’t say so in the moment and then couldn’t find it again.

    I’d like to think I’m both 😀

    I’ve been feeling all this discourse around language, around reform v. abolish, simmering itself out, distilling into its essence. For me, it comes down to arguments of realistic vs. ideal. I look at how the mh lingo, and the system it represents, is mis-leading (as in leading in the wrong direction) and determine that it has to be scrapped in whole and re-made because the fundamentals are flawed and as such cannot contribute to the desired outcome. I am an idealist because I want things to be right and good enough. But this is different than being a perfectionist. People who say “well, yeah, the system isn’t perfect, but it’s what we have so work with it and change it” don’t get it. It isn’t easy for me to scrap anything, and I don’t come to that conclusion lightly. I’m a conservationist– that means I don’t throw away what is still useful. I’m also resourceful, meaning I can see uses in a thing beyond merely its intended one(s). I was raised by people who lived through a world war and the Great Depression, the opposite of this culture of disposability all around me. I’m also a baker, and have had many dishes turn out differently than planned. Usually that’s a happy accident, something that is not what I’d envisioned, is different than what I wanted or intended, but is still edible, still good– usually delicious! But there are those mistakes that ruin the whole thing, and if you refuse to acknowledge that and you just keep on adding things and tinkering with it, hoping for an acceptable outcome, you’re just wasting good ingredients.
    Trying to reform psychiatry is like trying to salvage a cake batter that started out by creaming the butter with salt instead of sugar. No matter how much you tinker with that batter, it will never be edible food, and if you try to bake it up and choke it down anyway because it’s all you’ve got to eat, it’s still doing you more harm than good.

  • Regarding the naming of the things we experience and the terms we use to describe them:

    I am all for reclaiming words that are used as weapons. I think Lenny Bruce had a very good point about that, about how doing so can strip those weapons of their power to do so much damage. I am all for that. And Chris, you make a very good point about finding one’s tribe. I, personally, will never claim any “mental illness” identifiers because I refuse to define myself using that paradigm. However, the language I use to define/describe myself and my mode of living, though much more accurate and authentic to my experience, is not often easily grasped by others, especially those who have not experienced other-ness. Some might say it would better facilitate a conversation if I were to use the familiar mh lingo, and they would be right, but it would be facilitating the wrong conversation. The lingo sets the rules. The moment you put your personal picture into the frame of “mental health” you paint it over with all the assumptions inherent in the illness paradigm: that the individual experiencing these things is having symptoms; that the divergence they are experiencing from consensual reality is a problem- both for the individual and the society (which begs the question of who consented to this reality, and can we take another vote?, but I digress); and that the expertise about these experiences somehow lies in the wisdom of people who pathologize or outright refuse to acknowledge the spiritual emergence happening.

    I have more to say, but need morning coffee first 🙂

  • Exactly what I was thinking, Steve– *Exactly* what I was thinking!!! I mean, who is imparting those messages to kids about their intelligence? Primarily teachers! Stick a kid with a teacher who thinks they are not that bright and can’t really improve, and they will pick up that message. If they are resiliently rebellious anti-authoritarians, they will think “Fuck those teachers! They don’t know me!,” but if they aren’t built to rebel, they will likely believe that as their truth and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • You bet your ass healthcare needs to be PROTECTED and PRIVATE! Many individuals at the end of their rope are there BECAUSE OF the trauma they suffered at the hands of their family! And you would put these individuals who’ve managed to ESCAPE their toxic families right back under their thumb!

    I am truly sorry you suffered the loss of your son, and I have no idea the reasons he may have had for choosing to end his life, or the relationship he had with you, but he did not turn to you. And if he HAD trusted you enough to reveal his reasons, I guarantee that violating his trust by intervening upon him would have caused even more damage. Go read the June 6 article here called The Forced Psychiatric Treatment of a Child. Parents who are truly trustworthy give their child 1 safe place to land when the world is assaulting them beyond bearable, even if it’s only in memory. I, like so many other children, did not get that. Giving my family access into my healthcare would put me, and many many others, at significant risk of further damage.

  • Yes, Rachel I agree with you that we need to fight the narrowing of acceptable behavior. It’s not just sadness that gets people upset (I’ve experienced a flavor of what you’re talking about, just not church flavor)- try being eccentric. We need to fight for our right o be Sad, our right to be Weird, and frankly our right to be Pissed Off in the face of all the abuse and injustice/betrayal we’ve suffered at the hands of those oh-so compassionate souls who want to see us “helped.”

  • Would love to Julie! Writing is good for me, but I pretty much stopped when my job situation dried up and I had to come up with other means of supporting myself. I’m trying to love myself better by devoting more (any, depending) time to pursuits that feed my inner well. Your invite has provided motivation for me to spend some time and attention on myself in the form of writing. So thank you! on many levels. I need this.

  • Yes, Julie, your name allows you to blend in easily. I have an incredibly unique name (both first and last), so leaving a trail is something I always have to give a thought to. I do intend to write my story, and I hope that MIA would be willing to publish it without insisting I out myself to do so. I haven’t carved out the time to do so yet, but it is on my Want To list.

  • Ah, but here’s the difference, Gabi-

    I would not presume just by looking at you that I know anything about your “financial health”- I recognize there are lots of people with a lot of financial security who do not feel the need to advertise it via displays of wealth, and there are plenty of folks living quite flashy well beyond their means. So I’m not about to presume at a glance that you have a financial problem and need help. And even if there was a big hack/reveal tomorrow and I could peer into your accounts, see all your transactions and judge your choices, I would recognize that I’m intruding because your finances are personal and none of my freakin’ business to feel entitled to opine about.

  • Thanks for being willing to answer that, something so very personal. I wonder if the location, the fact it was your face (the thing most visible, the thing we are defined/recognized by) was a deliberate communication of feeling invisible or masked-over? Not laying on an explanation, just wondering. I was also age 7 when my body suddenly went from average to very fat. I know some women who feel that their fatness was a way of hiding inside their body, of protecting themselves from unwanted advances. That was never my truth, but I do know that I have always felt that if my fatness was an expression of anything, it would be about being more than I was allowed to be, about not being willing to be diminished in order to fit. Of course, it also expresses the fact that I am waaay more fond of ice cream than jogging! 🙂

  • Thanks, Emily.

    I wouldn’t say that I am “proud of” my arms, or any part of my body at all. I rarely made goals about my body. There was a period of time between graduating high school and getting married where I went to the gym every morning, and I’d have to say I was “proud of” my body then because I was actively making efforts to change it. I did nothing to earn my Anywhere Pillow Arms; they are a result of the set of activities I have chosen to pursue with my arms: baking, sewing, writing, art. If I had had the opportunity to spend more time/resources on other activities I enjoy, such as rowing in a canoe, I would have a different set of arms.
    What I did have to put a lot of work into was my attitude about my arms, about my well-curved body. I was heaped with all the fat hatred messages growing up, but I was also blessed with a rebellious nature that made me more resilient against others’ attempts to define or devalue me. Regardless, it gets in. What woman can say she has a very easy time of it if she tries to stand naked facing her body head-on in a well-lit room facing a full-length mirror? I have an art project in the works– it’s a mirror off an old-fashioned vanity, set into a frame that’s lined with niche shelves. On top I’m going to paint the phrase Face It. Embrace It. which is what I have done with very conscious effort since I was a teenager. So I am definitely proud of the fact that I can appreciate my arms for all they do for me, proud of the fact that I do not regard my body with shame or disgust or whatever else society might.

    I read your piece, and am glad you were able to own it rather than BS or deflect. I’ve known several people who cut themselves for emotional release, and most (not all) of them picked spots that were generally covered by their clothing, so as to avoid being questioned or confronted about the marks. So it made me curious why you chose a part of your body that would most obviously draw attention. Seems like an invitation for comments/questions. Was that a conscious choice?

  • So Julie, why did you answer the questions that did not pertain to your eyes? Personally, I refuse to answer screening-type questions. Or I at least challenge their reason for asking: “and that’s pertinent to my presenting issue how?” before I decide whether they get info or an education.

    I agree wholeheartedly that health care should be a choice, not pushed on a person. Have you tried responding to their pushy “requests” with the simple statement “I choose not to,” or does that get a bad response? I feel very free to tell them “that’s none of your business,” or in the case of preventive crap (flu shots, mammograms) “No means No.”

    Also, unless a change in weight is one of my presenting symptoms, or they need to carefully titrate the dose of a drug I’ve agreed to, I do not step on the scale for them. I realize that if I had an ED label, I’d get hassled about this refusal, but fortunately that label was never attempted on me.

  • Here is the thing I have learned about the power of shame: it lies in collusion. What I mean by that is that if you observe my body with disgust– no, let’s get specific– if you see the large flabby skin that hangs from my upper arm and say something that expresses revulsion, and I agree with you, then I feel ashamed and I carry the weight of that shame. I have colluded in your shaming of me. But if you see my arm and say something vile and I am firm in knowing that you are a troll who oughta be ashamed of their behavior, if I hold firm in radical self-acceptance and kiss my arm flab and thank it for being my Anywhere Pillow when I wanna rest my weary head, then YOU get to be the one to carry the shame because I have refused to collude with you and bully myself.

    One more example of choosing which headspace to occupy and therefore which world to create.

  • What bothers me here is this either/or assumption about “voices”: that they are either “psychosis” (auditory hallucinations) or they are “parts” of a singular fractured personality. Both assume they are generated within the self. But what about the possibility that they might be hearing voices that actually are outside the self? Never raised is the possibility of other explanations: that they may be the voices of ancestors, of spirit guides or guardian angels (depending on your paradigm), of past-life selves, or voices of non-corporeal spirits/dead people.

    Please remember that we are spiritual beings, and leave room for that, Ron.

  • Some parents get threatened by the school admin that if they don’t drug their kid they will turn them in to CPS for medical neglect. Of course, rich parents who were capable of filing a lawsuit were not intimidated in this way, but your average Joe? I’ve seen it. It’s sickening.

  • “Happiness is like a great secret that you wish more people would keep to themselves.”

    OMG Frank, that made me cackle! When I was in my twenties, I was one of those people who was a Very Perky Morning Person. I was in-between apartments, staying with friends for about 3 weeks, and this was Tammy’s response when I offered her a fresh–baked muffin:
    “Honey, you know I love you, but before I’ve had my coffee you make me wanna drive a spike through your head, okay?”

    Thank you for the laugh!

  • Thank you for putting it so keenly into words, oldhead.

    “…the idea that people need some kind of “program” to understand and accept (often in abstract, clinical sounding terminology) their persistent inclination to react in human ways to living under a constant state of oppression. I think if people were more keenly (and confidently) aware that their very humanity is indeed under attack every day they would not need to “search for an answer” to their misery…”,

  • I was never “critical” (though I have many specific criticisms, of course) or “rethinking.” But I didn’t know I was anti-psychiatry until I knew there was such a thing. I got an MSW rather than doing a PsyD because social work (as I was taught it) is based upon Systems Theory. When there is a problem, the whole system must be explored to see where the intersection/interactions between the presenting individual(s) and the systems they are embedded in are going wrong. Whereas psychology might acknowledge those problems, the central question is still “what is wrong with this person?” rather than “what is wrong with this situation?”
    And psychiatrists? Deceivers, power-hungry pill-pushers on authority trips. I’ve seen a few (so very few that only Sandra Steingard- I think is her name- comes to mind at the moment) write here that are clearly woke and trying to change things from the inside, which I think is a positive thing. But they are the minority in the extreme, and I don’t know how they continue in the profession in good conscience. I imagine they struggle quite a bit. Incidentally, I did not use my degree in a “mental health” capacity. I did case management for families with kids/young adults who had developmental delays- helped them advocate for their kids’ educational needs at the IEP meetings, laid out the case for funding of specialized daycare and respite care, and when necessary worked with CPS to find emergency placement. And I was only in my job a few years before having a crisis that put me out on disability for over a year. No job for me when I was ready to come back! I have not been back in the profession since, and doubt I ever will, though I do miss the advocacy and I miss being the person that these parents could vent/cry to when things got dark. I miss being of service in those ways.

  • McB18,

    I do think you bring a useful analysis to this discussion. It has always appalled me that children are viewed as essentially property, and that children have no rights as a class. They are at the mercy of either their parents/family, or of “the system” if the state steps in.

    I believe though, that if the sources of societal oppression were addressed, there would be more equitable distribution of resources, which can ease stresses on parents and families, and they can do a better job. I agree with you about de-institutionalizing everyday life- taking back birthing/medicine, education, and care of both children and elders. I’d add producing one’s own food and power to that list, too. I’d love to live in a world of self-sufficient, inter-dependent communities. And btw, I’m one of those dyed-in-the-wool “Lefties”- a real tree-hugging hippie; and here I am agreeing with you.

  • I’m pointing out the erroneous assumptions you’ve made, Gabi: that pregnancy is always a result of a sex act that was the woman’s choice, and that if she’s smart enough to understand how babies are made and smart enough to use birth control, there would be no unwanted pregnancy to contend with!
    I think it’s mercy to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, since you asked. As a child who was abandoned by both my parents, I firmly believe it would have been better for me not to have been born. As a mother, I felt “the quickening” and that’s when the pregnancy became the baby. Both babies. What I miscarried (twice actually) at 11 weeks’ gestation was indeed just a bloody glob. And when I got pregnant a few years later and knew I could not handle another pregnancy (not to mention baby!) at that point in my life, I had an abortion. It was right at the end of the first trimester, by the time I had enough money saved up, and would surely have been viable. I do not regret that decision; it was what I needed to do for me and my 2 kids. So I’m very clear on what’s a life.

  • as to your first paragraph:
    Yes! That is just like telling someone that their head hurts BECAUSE they have a Headache!

    as to your second paragraph:
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And an addition to the list: even if the partner is not abusive, pregnancy did not allow for sex after about 6 months’- I was too big to breathe! And lying down flat (no matter the position) was impossible from the heartburn that caused. Between that and postpartum recovery (I suffered a 4th degree tear with my first child), it was about 6 months of no sex. Not having that release available also took its toll- on the marriage, and on me as a person.
    And then there’s Birth Trauma- the things women are subjected to while in labor/birthing is horrific. And having that possibility looming ahead sure makes subsequent pregnancies fun! I was not willing to be traumatized again, and had my second child at home with a wonderful midwife, but not all women can do that.

  • I have witnessed a form of that phenomenon, too, McB18.

    I watched this same lack of empathy, of comprehension even, play out in my MSW program. For two years, we went through this program as a cohort, taking classes together all weekend every 3-4 weeks. One of the students was going through an awful divorce. She did not really share many of the details, but you could see clearly the toll it was taking on her. The husband was a wealthy professional, and she was completing her degree as one of the building blocks she would need to build a life for herself and her kids. When she did open up, it was usually in response to one of the other students in the class making some asinine statement about wealthy people not being in need of social supports. There were a couple of folks in the class (both of them die-hard Republicans, btw) who just could not even fathom that money can’t buy you peace, or emotional safety. In their minds, her account balance canceled out any possibility of her having an emotional crisis.

    It definitely IS a thing, but it is not just a “left” thing.

  • this is in response to Gabi’s request: “If someone has another emergency first-aid way of getting someone “down” from a mad spell that threatens to turn very violent, I’d like to hear it .”

    How about being on their side? Not pacifyingly, but agreeing with them, radically being with them. Instead of countering their fear, terror, paranoia with rationality and trying to bring them around to agree with the consensual reality, flip the script. Try being in their reality with them, as an ally. You cannot be an ally while insisting they are wrong and you are right. Doing that only paints them into a corner and makes you another thing they need to protect themselves from, so don’t allow the consensual reality to dictate your interactions.

    Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson gave a lovely example of this in one of his blogs here on MIA, a story about a woman who spent all her time under her bed acting as if she were a fish. What made her finally talk to someone about why was that the man had joined her in being a fish: he laid down under the other bed, assumed the same position, looked at her and said “glub” probably through puckered fish-lips. He did this patiently until she trusted him enough that he was an ally fish, and finally trusted him and herself enough to be willing to be human again.
    Now, granted, there was nothing threatening in her demeanor as a fish. But the technique would be the same in terms of gaining trust. Can’t be done if you are frightened, feel threatened, or are pacifying them long enough for them to drop their guard so you can proceed with your agenda. You’d have to be open and curious and caring, willing to step into their reality and be on their side. Being an ally can often de-escalate a situation that otherwise would escalate to somebody getting assaulted (and yes, needle rape is definitely an assault!).

    One of my favorite shows is Grey’s Anatomy, and I can think of several examples on that show in interactions between the doctors and patients with Alzheimer’s. When Dr. Ellis Grey was admitted to the hospital, they needed to do a basic exam, check vitals, etc. but she thought it was decades earlier and that she was running late to perform a surgery. When Dr. Karev went with that narrative instead of insisting she agree to the consensual reality, and told her it was a new hospital policy, she rolled her eyes and allowed it. That’s just one.

    I would think that people who have experienced the “yes, and” of improv theatre would be good at this.

  • Wow, what a powerful statement:

    People unable to take responsibility for their deaths are also unable to take responsibility for their survival.

    I felt this truth in my gut, literally, when I fired my obstetrician at 30 weeks and decided to have a homebirth with a midwife instead. I Trusted her, this midwife. I was unwilling to cede the responsibility for the well-being of my child and my Self to this man my gut told me was a Danger, “specialist” or not. Thank you, Sylvain, for words that perfectly express what I felt in that decision. The assumption of risk belonged to Me and nobody else. I had no regrets in the least doing what I knew from the heart of my intuition was right, and my baby (over 9 lbs) was born at home, perfect APGARs, and I did not tear or require even 1 stitch. Neither of us would have had a sunny outcome had I not followed my gut and just caved to the threats and fear-mongering he tried to pull on me. But I trusted Myself, put my life and the life of my baby in my Own hands instead of trusting him more. He was flabbergasted at being fired!

  • Back in the early ’90s, I noticed a strong correlation between the darkening of the days and the darkening of my mood. I used to journal almost daily, so it was right there in the pages, a big difference between the me that wrote in spring/summer and the me that wrote in the fall/winter was easy to discern. So I located a guy who made high-intensity full-spectrum light boxes (not easy before the internet) and bought one. Mine was 10,000 lux and I used it first thing in the mornings, for about a half-hour. The theory went like this: our circadian rhythms are primarily cued by the light we see. For some people, during the darker months when mornings are not as early or as bright, the light cue they take in visually is not strong enough to signal the brain to slack off on its melatonin production. So you boost the strength of morning light by adding the light box. Later, they came out with a “dawn simulator” version that you’d set like an alarm clock to brighten your bedroom gradually each morning. I never tried that- the light box I bought worked wonders.

    Yes, it is another neurotransmitter imbalance theory. But considering that the biggest risk to the “treatment” was a little bit of UV exposure (less than I experienced in the summer sun) it was easy to test this theory on myself. I slept better. I had more energy in the day. I felt more human and less like a grumpy hibernating bear. So yes, my system improves dramatically with the introduction of a strong light cue to help my body regulate its melatonin production. To me, that’s no different than drinking extra water when I’m constipated: I’m just giving my body a bit more of an essential it needs to perform basic functions better.

  • Wow, Stephen, what a beautiful affirmation of my experience! Thank you very much! I always love reading your comments and replies. I wish there was a way to have MIA as a physical place, a coffee house maybe, that we could Tron (movie reference) our way into through the computers, so we could sit and have deep discussions together. Folks lonely or in pain could find soft eyes, warm hugs, hot cocoa. Really support each other, you know?

    I have a friend who had done some chaplain work in prisons. I was contemplating that- what it would be like to hold sacred space and be able to connect with a person who had committed heinous crimes, how would I get past judgement, how could I possibly open my heart? And I realized that the answer was simple: they are no less a manifestation of All-That-Is than I am; there is no separation. I find comfort in the notion that we choose to embark on each human journey we take as spiritual beings, that we have informed consent, if you will, about the circumstances of our birth. I am not a victim of my life, though I have been victimized/traumatized by others. I know profoundly that some of the most awful experiences can produce growth and change that would not come about otherwise. Like my friend’s mom who is grateful for all that she discovered about herself on the healing journey she found herself on after being raped. The rape experience made her look deep within, it challenged her faith- in God, in herself, in humanity at large. She found places within herself that she had never had reason to access before: founts of strength, determination, courage to fully inhabit her own life. Her rapist had facilitated that growth experience, and in acknowledging that, she forgave him. Kinda like without Pilate’s role, there would be no resurrection story.

  • Hi Au,

    Let me start off by saying I love it when they post stuff you’ve written. I like what you have to say (content) but also appreciate the way you express yourself.

    I have no experience or knowledge of Open Dialog, but I used to be a social worker on IEP teams- I was the bane of districts that railroaded families the way you describe. I was the type of advocate who would set the tone of the meeting right there as I introduced myself to the rest of the “team,” and remind them that the student and parents would be the ones driving the meeting, which put them front-and-center. Special educators loved me- they knew they could call me ahead of the meeting and let me know the real situation, not the district’s CYA version of things we would hear at the meeting, because in my role I could be effective at fighting for what the student needed without risking my job like they would be if they stuck their neck out. I really miss doing that job- I hated that the systems made it so difficult for families who were already facing so many difficulties/challenges. It was my honor and privilege to be on their side of the table, to be the one they knew they could call if they needed help.

  • Hi Betsycam, I used pot for Effexor withdrawal. My worst symptom was the extreme vertigo- for two weeks I could barely walk, could not read at all or watch tv, nothing that required me to track visually. It did not take away the vertigo, but staying really high during that time gave it a context that made it bearable existentially, if that makes any sense. I’d recommend a good sativa-dominant hybrid strain that’s potent in thc and mix it with one that’s high in cbd. If you know your tolerance for edibles, I found it helpful to have an edible on board especially through the night, BUT I would caution against experimenting with edibles during withdrawal if you aren’t used to ingesting cannabis, because edibles can be a completely different experience than you have smoking cannabis and many first-timers ingest too much because they underestimate the time it takes to feel the effects (can take up to an hour, depending). Ingesting too much can be an unpleasant experience, and defeat the purpose.

    Hope that info is helpful for you, and best of luck withdrawing!

  • and they call us “crazy!”

    Reminds me of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a death row prisoner scheduled for execution in 4 days is brought in because he was stabbed. He has a brain bleed and they do surgery, but his intercranial pressure keeps rising and they want to go back in, but he refuses. He wants them to let him die and donate his organs to the boy in the PICU dying of liver failure (he’s a perfect match). They insist on intervening as soon as he loses consciousness.

  • Puppies are “cute.” Kittens are “cute.” Rainbows and unicorns are “cute.” Existential matters? Not so much.
    And I agree that you should consider stepping away from the keyboard until you are no longer tired and livid. The “troll” did not personally attack you as you did him. I hope the site moderators are reading all this. Him saying “It sounds like you have a lot to live for…” is not a personal attack. You calling him “a vile and disgusting human being,” however, certainly is.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. We need to reclaim our rights of personal freedom from the ENTIRE medical establishment. I used to be a case manager for families who had a child with developmental disabilities, but I had a few adults living independently as well. One of them had high blood pressure but stopped taking the pills his doctor prescribed for it because of side effects he found intolerable. The independent living assistance agency threatened to drop him from services. He didn’t care; he knew his rights, and was quite assertive in saying so. They relented, but sent a nurse out to explain all the dire possible health consequences, documenting it to cover their liability. She did not change his mind, and they grudgingly accepted his choice. This was years ago- I have no doubt that the same situation today would result in a medical kidnapping (in the case of adults, should it be “medical abduction?”) as the law has changed making it easier for them to strip the rights of those labelled “gravely disabled.”
    I am not home-bound like your elderly friend, but I share his fear/concern. My wife and I have a very clear understanding that if any life-threatening event happens to me in public, she is to whisk me away before any first responders can arrive on the scene.
    I am with you about avoiding hospitals, but I went to the ER a few months ago (was losing sight, not something I could treat at home). Not only did they expect me to sign a carte blanche Consent for Treatment, they wanted me to sign it electronically before they even printed it out! No way. I do not sign those without altering them, crossing out the word “treatment” and replacing it with “diagnosis.” The whole notion of informed consent seems to have gone the way of privacy: people don’t insist on it anymore, they just sign it away without even reading the fine print. Seems people have forgotten the time-honored wisdom “never sign anything until you’ve read it twice.” They’ve also discarded the phrase “none of your business.” Those “assessments” that ask about my emotional state? None of your business. That’s the only answer they get. It’s the flipside of informed consent- informed refusal, which should also be our civil right.
    Catholic-run hospital systems now own 60% of the hospital beds in the US, and it’s been in the news a lot regarding women’s reproductive health, but not much has been brought to light about how this will effect end-of-life care. With the baby boomers aging, though, it’s bound to become an issue. Everyone has a stake in this, you are right about that. I hope people wake up and realize that.

  • Suicide should definitely be a civil right! It is the ultimate body autonomy. Whose life is it? Whose body is it? None but your own. Nobody else can know what makes anyone’s life worth living; that is entirely personal. Nobody else can know what personal values drive any personal decisions. People like to say “you only live once,” but I know that to be untrue for me. I do not just believe in reincarnation, no more that I believe in rocks or clouds- it is simply a reality, something I have experienced many times before. I remember past lives, and I remember what it is like to die. There is the sense that you are dissolving, and if you cling to this life, this ego-self, there can be fear and existential suffering. If, however, you can hold fast to the reality of universal connection, the understanding that we are each a unique expression of All-That-Is, surrendering one’s ego-self is freeing. For death is not dissolving into nothing; it is dissolving into everything. That is my truth, because that has been my experience.

    My grandparents avoided doctors like the plague. They both insisted that they wanted to die naturally, at home in their own bed. I watched as their health declined, each of them in turn got coerced into a medical facility (with my grandmother it was a hospital; with my grandfather, a nursing home) and neither had what anyone would consider a “good death.” I made myself the promise that I would not travel that same road. I have my eye on my “canaries in the coal mine” that will let me know when to get out before it is too late. Of course I have my advance directives, my DNR, but I know that I can’t put much faith in them being respected, especially with the proliferation of Catholic-run hospitals (and they make it near impossible to find out whether a hospital is subject to the bishops’ directives). When my body can no longer do the things that make life worthwhile to me, I will have no qualms about ending it rather than endure the existential (and physical) suffering. Those that really know and love me know me well enough to understand this, and though my dying will cause grief, that eventuality is inescapable- everyone will die, and those left behind by them will grieve the loss. Loving me means letting go, means not wanting to let me linger in suffering when living becomes nothing but existing in suffering and misery. I never won an attendance award in school; I’m not looking to win one in life either.

  • Let me provide a glaring example: I was seeing a psychiatrist through my HMO, because I was off work due to an emotional trauma and the disability insurance that came with the job would not kick in without an MD’s signature. He seemed okay, did not seem to play the usual crap. We got along well enough; he was signing off for me every couple of months, which was all I required of him. Then, he became unavailable. I had to see whatever psychiatrist was covering for him, and they would only sign off for a 2-week period. When asked when he would return, they always said “in a week or two.” Now, it took a huge toll on me trying to recover my equilibrium whilst having to report my “symptoms” to a brand new face every time I turned around. I got exasperated about the situation and gave them my 2 cents on it all in a conversation with the doc who was 2nd-in-charge (vice chair? whatever the title) of the psychiatry dept. And he blurted, “you gotta give the guy a break; he’s depressed!” speaking about my original doc. I confronted him big-time. Asked him how he determined that disclosing that private information about his colleague to me, said colleague’s patient, was in my best interest. Asked him whether he had a release signed by my doc allowing his personal, confidential health info to be revealed to me. He could only stammer.

  • Exactly! Journalism used to be about truth. There were ethics about things like confirming an account from reliable sources rather than speculating, and also about following leads until you got to the nitty-gritty truth, not pulling your punches or avoiding the tough questions. I was reading Ronan Farrow’s article in the New Yorker titled My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked the other day. Here’s the link: ( He discusses how journalists are told by their editors not to ask, not to pursue certain stories. He’s talking about sexual abuse and assaults, but the same thing is going on regarding the psych drugs’ role in all these killings. I remember in the late 80s and early 90s when ACT UP began outing gay politicians in order to get policy changes and funding for AIDS research. We need more courageous journalists like Robert who are willing to “out” these dangerous drugs as the real killers that forced the hands of the people in the mugshots.

  • Yes! And I have always felt a need for more sleep in the winter, less in the summer. And pre-industrialization, summer was when the work at hand required he most energy: out in the sunshine, harvesting, building, canning, tasks that were pretty draining. But in the winter, the tasks were more like quilting and sewing, and weaving blankets or rugs.

  • You do realize that Christianity is just as violent as Islam, don’t you? (go read the old testament if you have any doubts about that) And yet, the acts of terrorism committed by Christian extremists are rarely labeled as acts of terrorism and are never chalked up to Christianity’s inherent violence, as a stain on all Christians. There’s plenty of denial about holy books to go ’round.

    This was supposed to be a reply to the first comment, by the way.

  • Thank you, Danielle, for investigating this, and introducing us to Jim, Steve and Rich. It’s horrific what passes for medical science!

    One request, though: Please don’t use the term “committed suicide.” Jim was not a criminal; he committed no crime. Say he ended his life, say he chose to die, say he killed himself, but please don’t use criminal terminology for the act he took. It’s demeaning. Words matter. Thank you.

  • Scott,

    You never mentioned in this piece whether you yourself have ever taken MDMA. In my spiritual tradition, substances (usually natural/herbal, sometimes chemical) can be used to journey and gain very deep insights and connections, personal as well as universal. But one cannot be a guide on another’s journey unless they themselves have been down that road. Personally, I cannot even fathom handing that level of trust over to someone in a medical-paradigm context. This is spiritual work.

  • Bonnie (and Julia),

    I’m very glad to see another post from you. I was surprised to see you are allowing comments considering how you’ve been bashed so unfairly here before. I am very glad that parents have your studies to turn to when they are being pressured by school to intervene on an active child. Thank you for doing the work that you do. And thank you for not leaving MiA.

  • Julia, I agree whole-heartedly with what you say here:
    Everyone can be a burden at times, regardless of DSM diagnosis. I hope that if someone told me that a certain aspect of my behavior was causing someone else pain, I would be able to respond honestly and with a desire to solve that problem. I understand that it’s painful and that people with a background as psychiatric victims are defensive about this. But denying that aspects of your trauma-induced behavior causes others very real pain is not going to help anyone.

    I’d like to add, though, that there are (at least) 2 sides to every pattern/dynamic, and many of us have been scapegoated as The Family Problem, the “identified patient” whose perspective is completely disregarded, or worse yet, twisted to confirm the pathology narrative. Most every psychiatrized person I’ve met has greater sensitivity to the fucked-up family dynamics they are caught up in. We get “caught acting crazy” but nobody ever seems to catch the crazy-making behaviors of those around us to which we are reacting. This website is our safe space, our haven from that crap.

    Please understand that I am making generalizations here; not talking your family or mine, but rather, the shit that tends to happen to us.

  • Hi Emily,

    I think the reason you are getting so many replies that echo the same message about labels and dysfunction and telling you not to define yourself with the label psychiatry slapped on you is evident right there in your title, and heartily reinforced in your very first sentence.
    Perhaps if you had started the piece with something more akin to: My intention with this essay is to make the case that maybe having a fear of abandonment isn’t a bad thing that needs to be overcome and then proceeded to literally question the basis of the label, as such:
    I’d like to ask you – who gets to decide how much fear of abandonment is excessive? Who gets to decide whether it is my fear of abandonment harming relationships, or whether it is our society’s counter-dependence/fear of those who are too attached/dependent? Who gets to decide which person’s fear of abandonment needs to be overcome and which person’s fear of abandonment is helpful and okay? Would you agree that the answers to these questions would all vary according to cultural context and personal preferences/values?
    before naming the label, folks would not misunderstand your position.

    I think you confused your message from the outset by giving their label such deference as to place it front-and-center. I think you unintentionally misrepresented yourself a bit. People are responding in a way that challenges why you chose to give the label such power, because the words you chose do reinforce the label.

    (this perspective comes from the writer in me.)

  • Hi Ally-
    I am dealing with the realities of being someone whose pain tolerance differs markedly from most others’. I have a very high tolerance to physical pain. Sensations that would register as quite painful for most people don’t hit me as “pain” until the problem is severe. For instance, I’d been having headaches that I thought were migraines, very light-sensitive and would go away after lying down a couple of hours. I avoid docs whenever possible, but had to go in when I started to notice a change in vision. My eye pressure was over 400% above normal that day and was only beginning to feel “pain” so I run the risk of missing pain cues that would alert your average person that something is terribly wrong. (Consequently, I am now blind in one eye.)
    My sensitivity to existential pain, though, is on the other extreme. It makes me different; it does not make me disordered. It does, however, make it difficult to feel at all understood by those who seem to experience pain “normally.”

  • Many thoughts on your article, Emily. First off, thanks for putting yourself out there. That’s very brave, especially in light of how your young life has handed you experience after experience that naturally produces a greater sensitivity to abandonment, and greater pain than everyone else seems to feel within that universal experience of existential loneliness. Life dealt me that kind of hand too, so I get it.
    “Abnormal” is such a powerful toxin, and anybody trying to sell anything (a product, an ideology, a lifestyle) uses it as a tool of control. Get people to feel that they are lacking, and you create a need. Narrow the definition of “normal,” and you create that need in more of the population. Did you know that before psychologists got involved, advertising was basically just product info? Psychologists introduced the idea of creating an emotional need for the product by making people feel inferior without it.
    The only way to take the teeth out of “abnormal” is to not assign the power to define what your normal is, but keep a firm hold on that power for yourself, the power to self-define. I read the other day that the official definition of high blood pressure is tightening. 120/80, once the definition of normal, is now on the border. Same thing with the blood glucose number a few years ago, when overnight 140 became borderline. You must ask yourself: who gets to define your borders? Who has the authority to decide whether you are “normal” or not, and in what respects? Will you give that power to a doctor? a professor? a researcher? an ad firm? I choose not to.
    One more thank you, and that’s for referencing “people of size.” I learned long ago that language matters, words matter. I watched the gay community reclaim words of hate, thereby depleting their power to inflict harm. My body has a substantial layer of fat. Yup. And most people are put off by that, romantically. But I do not have to agree with them that I am unattractive. Whatever put-downs were leveled at me in my formative years did enough damage at the time. I do not need to continue the abuse by agreeing with those destructive messages. Neither do you. Even if nobody else in the world (including myself 30 years ago) appreciates the ample flesh on my upper arm that sways when I wave at someone, I do. Is it the defined bicep I find so sexy on women like Michelle Obama? Hell no. But it is always a pillow if I need to nap on a long drive, for instance. It is a part of me that I can love for what it is, rather than be ashamed of for what it’s not. I invite you to try on those lenses in your own life. Flip the script and be the author.

  • Is there a possibility of offering the courses to non-professionals without a fee and only charge for the CEU credits? The info on psych drug withdrawal seems an especially important topic to reach as many of the folks who are suffering and have no other support as you can. Keep in mind that many folks have to taper themselves down without any medical support because they can’t risk the very real possibility that their prescriber could freak out and strip their liberties, and that those who have been compromised the most by the drugs are often on fixed income at the poverty level (disability payments) and cannot afford to pay.

  • Even if they get the concept, Steve, there’s still going to be the question of whether the data is trustworthy. Most folks are intimidated by math as simple as fractions, percents, probability. Statistics is math that’s way too complicated for most people to understand, and people just don’t trust what they can’t grasp. Research is suspect.

  • I think it’s a matter of trust. People trust what they know, what they can observe for themselves or hear second-hand. But aggregate data is too many steps removed, and is subject to so many levels of manipulation there’s no integrity in it. From the outset of a study, the researchers are seeking a particular outcome and make choices that are most likely to yield the desired result. Who do we recruit to participate, and how do we access them? Is there a control group? Are they truly a control group, or are they cold-turkeyed off a drug right before “testing” another? Do effects get reported as stated by the participants, or interpreted (as in suicidality being watered down to “emotional lability”)? And then there are the definitions, and whether the researchers’ idea of a good outcome, of “treatment success” looks remotely like what the participant would consider to be successful. And that’s before we even venture into statistical manipulations! Wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “there’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics?” Most people find math as basic as fractions and percentages intimidating- don’t ask them to trust advanced statistics! Personal stories are always going to have more of an impact. Research is dry; stories are juicy. Research is elitist; stories are accessible, people can relate to them, can empathize with them, can trust them. Not so with stats. A voice spouting stats is never going to ring as true as the voice of experience.

  • There was a blog post here quite some time ago- the guy was so flatlined emotionally from his anti-depressant that he found himself frequenting a website that was ultra-violent videos because they actually provoked an emotion in him. He had to go that extreme to feel anything. And there was a discussion section at the website- he found out he was not the only one. And the discussion at the end of the blog post about it, the MiA discussion, had a lot more people echoing that truth: their anti-depressant was an anti-feeling pill. So yeah, what you are experiencing is normal, FeelingD.

  • Thank you so much for sharing that experience! You are so much better off having escaped that cult, and that marriage, before you got in too deep.

    Self-acceptance, why does that seem like such a radical concept to people? Maybe because it doesn’t create the ripeness for control that guilt and shame do. I’m reminded of the father of advertising (John Watson, I wanna say, but attribution is not my strong suit), a psychologist who changed ads from merely product information to a story that creates an emotional need for the product based on the fear of rejection and inadequacy. Create the problem so you can sell them the solution. Ah, but if you refuse to buy into the idea that you have a problem that needs solving, they gotta find another mark.

    And by the way, you did not create the 9/11 massacre when you were six any more than I created the Jonestown massacre when I was seven! How absurd! Reading that, it felt like a tactic for assessing how fully you’d been hooked, and who she needed to bully more thoroughly.

  • I ran out of Reply buttons, so this is in response to kindredspirit:
    Boy are you right about other fields of medicine, especially end-of-life care! Things are only going to get worse with that as now 60% of the hospital beds are in Catholic-doctrine run hospitals, meaning that no matter what the patient’s values, it’s the Bishop’s Directives that dictate care! Forget expecting an advance directive to be honored at these places- they honor that about as much as they honor a woman’s reproductive rights (read: not at all).
    Just as I chose not to entrust a hospital with birth, I will not entrust an institution with my death either. Once my body gives out and life is no longer a joy but a burden, I have no intention of suffering and waiting and depending on professionals to dispense mercy. I will die where and how I choose, comfortably.

  • Hi Steve and kindredspirit,
    After the first baby was born almost 10 lbs., a successfully medication-free birth, my OB moved and I found myself with a new doctor. Throughout the pregnancy, he kept seeming to find one bogus reason or another to suggest a cesarean. And when I made it clear that I was not going to let him do that, he started making threats, and I fired him on the spot. I was 30 weeks along, and decided right then and there that I would rather have an unassisted birth than have him involved AT ALL. The husband went to the library and got books on homebirth that had resources at the back- where to buy birthing kits, how to find midwives, etc. and that was how I found my midwife. She was perfect, very well-trained, and had an OB back-up in place just-in-case. But the most important thing was my body trusted her. This was 30+ years ago, so “birth rape” was not a term, though it was not at all a rare phenomenon, and it was not a risk I was willing to take. Nobody is ever going to bully me into siding with their “expertise” over my body’s own wisdom. Not ever. The second baby was almost as big as the first, and I had not one stitch- no birth trauma whatsoever.

  • I first encountered the term when I was pregnant with my first child, and researching the way that childbirth has been medicalised. Iatrogenic injury is why the US has such a dismal record on childbirth outcomes, business as usual involves many unnecessary interventions (electronic fetal monitoring, labor induction, epidurals) which almost invariably lead to the ultimate intervention: major abdominal surgery. I couldn’t find a midwife to homebirth the first time ’round, but I managed to avoid most of these by refusing the initial unnecessary intervention- an IV line. When I got pregnant the second time, I was even more determined to have a positive, trauma-free birth. I found the perfect midwife, and was tended by her OB nurse friend for the hour it took her to get to my home (she was out of town at a wedding when labor hit strong). It was perfect, and I’m a huge homebirth advocate.

  • Witches, by the way, have not been eradicated. You’re speaking with one. Wiccan training involves accessing and using altered states of consciousness, and is very pertinent to this topic of discussion. Thanks for bringing it up, Fiachra!
    Many of the experiences that psych would label, are indeed essential on that spiritual path. How an individual experiences themselves in the midst of it is very much influenced by the paradigm they look to for clarity. Look to the toxic paradigm of psychiatry and you will be told that these experiences are something to be feared, shunned, fixed. Witches and Shamans will tell you that these same experiences are meaningful, useful, a step towards greater awareness. Hearing a voice others can’t? Depending on the message and the context, you might have just become aware of a spirit guide- perhaps an ancestor, or “guardian angel” (in quotes because Judeo-Christian concepts are not my paradigm, though to many, this explanation would make sense) or totem animal. Witches train to master abilities like scrying: gazing into a focal object to see into the past, to see into the future, or to see into the present moment somewhere far away. What some would call dancing on the edge of madness, we call walking between the worlds. But it starts with self-awareness, and self-discipline: recognizing and owning your energy; containing it; directing it; learning to erect a shield, an energy barrier that keeps unwanted energies out. One of the most important aspects of Wiccan training is discernment: not every spirit that wants access has beneficial intentions, for instance. Many people seeking training are just learning how to open themselves to altered states, but for those who arrive already adept at that skill, the first thing I address is psychic self-defense so that they can be empowered to safely travel those realms.

  • Well that really depends on the nature of the handouts, and who is receiving them, doesn’t it? Corporate welfare is doled out on a Maybe- if we give huge tax breaks to rich corporations, then maybe they will use the funds to create new jobs. Very little oversight, very few hoops to jump through if you’re a corporation with your hand out; no Nanny State for you, it’s just assumed you’ll do the right thing. But if you are an individual who is truly in need, there must be something wrong with you, some moral failing that gives us the right to dictate how you spend “our” money. It all sources back to the Calvinist work ethic, that god reward$ people who are good and punishe$ those who are not. Wealth is seen as proof of morality through this fucked-up lens. How many times I have wished I were born Scandinavian!

  • Tina, once again, Thank You! What you do is invaluable.
    As I was reading this, it occurred to me that this sense of being entitled to control others springs not only from fear that an ‘other’ might not control themselves, but also from this mindset that “if I pay for it, I own it.” I see parallels to food stamps, and “welfare” here in the US. If we had the mindset that supports a basic universal income for all citizens, if a basic standard of living (including decent health care) were the right of every citizen, that would strip away that particular rationale for subjugation. Thoughts?

  • Since psychiatrists love to tout the explanation that “mental illnesses” are just like physical illnesses, I challenged mine about this notion of “symptom reduction” being a good thing this way:
    Okay, so somebody says they are having chest pains. You do NOT tell them to take painkillers for the rest of their life and if the pain is deadened, (i.e. “symptom reduction”) then treatment goals have been met and they are a-ok. You investigate the SOURCE of the pain, because you recognize it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed; whereas if you just send them off with a drug to numb the pain, the underlying cause is going to get worse, and the heart attack that could have been prevented may well kill them.

  • Stephen Gilbert,
    You are one of the people whose words have been the most valuable and meaningful here. If you do jump ship, I will sorely miss you. Please consider leaving a “forwarding address?”
    I come here and I read, and you and Alex, Steve McCrea, and oldhead and madmom and acidpop and humanbeing and kindred spirit (and others) make me feel less alone.

    The thought of any of you being driven from this home has me crying right now,

  • Thank you so much for explaining that! I must admit to being intrigued and have thought about visiting your site, but was very reluctant to do so for the terminology used here. Additional info changes the picture, so please re-post the link?
    I intend to write my own story here on MiA, but I don’t carve out the time required to do so, and life has been throwing a lot of challenges at my family these last few months that have me feeling spent, so I don’t know when it will be complete and cohesive enough to present. But I will say this for now: I am on a similar journey (there are way more people in my house than there are bodies). But my experience is very like, and very unlike, that of folks who claim the label DID or MPD. I, too, have tried to connect with others with whom I could find community, but I don’t fit and the needs a community might meet for me go unmet. Reading the psych terminology very much puts me off (it is self-preservation to tune out) and I find myself unable to trust those who seem comfortable using those terms, and so, unable to connect. If you are inclined to ditch that vocabulary, I encourage you to do so. Would make you/your story more approachable.
    I have found it liberating to self-define, and refuse to cede that to doctors, therapists, screenwriters, even other Mad folk. I don’t need to wear their shades to see myself, and can’t really be seen by anyone looking through those lenses. My hope for your wife (and more importantly, for her girls) is that they can separate the truth of who they are from the “self/s” others have imposed on them.
    Ok, I feel like we’ve “met” each other a bit, now I’d like to come visit on your turf 🙂

  • Hi samruck2,

    Sometimes I sit with things awhile to have a better understanding of my reactions before speaking. Uprising’s characterization of your comments didn’t feel on-spot to me, but in the middle of that feeling sat some sort of grain-of-truth, so I clicked on your name and went back and read the entirety of your comments, and I think I get it now. I do not see what uprising sees. Please hear that. I understand that you are here expressing your thoughts and feelings relating to this healing journey you are taking with your wife, you’re being real about it, about how hard it’s been. Please know there is room for that. Sometimes the way you express yourself might cast shadows that resemble those that hurt us, and that’s what I heard in uprising’s comment. Reading the exchange, the phrase nothing about us without us kept resounding for me. You use the psychobabble terminology (system, alters, host) even though you’ve expressed clearly that your wife’s girls just wanna be referred to as girls, and even though you’ve expressed clear discomfort of your own using them- one of your comments had “gag” right alongside ‘alters’- so why do you use those terms? To me, it feels disrespectful to do so when the psych terminology doesn’t really seem to sit well with either you or her/them. I find myself wondering how your wife would present herselves, and how different it might be hearing about the journey from their perspective.

  • A few points:

    1. Science only acknowledges as real those things that can be observed and measured. It is rarely acknowledged that this is a fundamental limitation on its authority to deem anything not real. Germs existed before we had microscopes to observe them, radiation existed before geiger counters, etc. Some people are very sensitive, and can detect things others cannot. How many people out there felt an awareness about the US gov’t spying on us all and got labeled paranoid or worse before Edward Snowden’s revelations confirmed their knowledge? Have you ever considered the possibility that their perception is based on more information than yours? That they may be sensitive to things that you are unable to perceive?
    I can sense energy fields/auras around people, and put full faith in my ability to discern certain things about an individual based on their energy. Someone with bad energy is not trustworthy in my world. Period.I have often made this determination upon a greeting handshake, without even a word exchanged. I do not talk myself out of following my intuition, and cannot be swayed by rational arguments. I am more sensitive than most people; that is my truth.

    2. Children often express their knowing with the best vocabulary they have, which is often symbolic. Let’s revisit the example of the child who says they were placed with their family by aliens. Perhaps they were adopted, and though it’s been kept strictly confidential the child feels the truth. Or perhaps the child, though natural-born, does not at all fit in with their family, is a shy quiet bookworm in a family of rambunctious jocks, and aliens is the explanation they have found for this situation and why they feel so different/out-of-place. There are kids who realize they are gay from very early, and others who feel a pervasive sense of “otherness” long before they understand why. I was one of those kids, though gay is just one facet of my “otherness.” Take them literally and you not only miss a precious opportunity for deep understanding, but you damage their trust in their own intuition.

    Rev. Dr. Epperson wrote in a previous essay here on MiA about a young woman in the hospital who would not interact with anyone, but would only lay under her bed and claim to be a fish. A young man decided to be with her “where she’s at” and laid under the other bed, facing her, and only said “glub glub” and this went on for a bit, until the woman felt safe enough to share with him (a fellow fish) the atrocious thing she witnessed that made her so distrustful of humanity that she decided to be a fish. By entering her aquarium, he was able to help her build a sense of trust in some humans again, and she was able to heal. Your approach would not.

  • There are also folks like me, whose melatonin system is outta whack somehow. I do not say this because of anything a Dr put together. I recognized a seasonal pattern to my life- winters were way hard emotionally, I had low energy, craved sleep and carbs. I was a journal-er, so it was easy to go back and read and confirm. And I happened to read an article about this very phenomenon happening in northern latitude regions. The theory was that sunlight taken in through the eyes triggers a waking response in the brain, signaling us to slack off the melatonin production because dawn is breaking and it’s time to get up. If there’s not enough sun to trigger this response, the melatonin production doesn’t slack off enough. The solution is very bright full-spectrum light, which you can switch on and read your morning paper by, or a dawn simulator that wakes you up with light, soft at first and gradually full intensity. Light therapy worked for me! This is the one and only brain chemical imbalance that I claim, but I do claim it because it rings true in my center, that place of wisdom that knows what’s what. And it makes total sense because my eyes have always been very photo-sensitive; ever since I was a kid I squinted.

  • I watched the whole thing, and it’s not easy, especially the last 2 episodes. But it is very worthwhile, and I am very grateful they portrayed everything the way they did. In that way, it was like watching Schindler’s List: bearing witness. It is not supposed to be easy, or comfortable.


    I felt a kinship with Hannah, and with Skye, and somewhat with Clay and Tony. Hannah made several attempts to hang on to living. Each time a door closed, she tried to find a window. She tried the old adage that to have a friend you have to be a friend, continuing to have compassion for the closeted girl even after the girl spread more slut rumors about her. How many times can a vulnerable person get kicked in the gut before they stop trying to get on their feet again? She finds herself trapped in her parents’ disappointment when her mother refuses her offer of restitution for the bank deposit she lost, blocking her only avenue of making things better. Hannah’s last effort (school counselor) caused exponential harm to her situation, so where to turn? I was glad they depicted that there are real risks to turning to the official “helpers.” Jessica sums it up great when Clay asks if she needs to see somebody, “Who? Did you listen to the last tape? Do you know what happens to girls who try to get help?”

    I can’t help but wonder whether Hannah might have noticed the support the adult members of the poetry club were poised to offer if she had encountered the librarian before the school counselor. Even though she had attended the club only briefly, Hannah definitely made an impression. “We’ve missed you at the group- Linda even wrote a poem about it” felt like the possibility of a lifeline, but Hannah was already too battered, too betrayed to feel the possibility there for understanding, support, love. She had no trust left after the counselor’s victim-blaming misogynist assumptions over-wrote her story before she could even tell it. She had already experienced the catharsis that recording the tapes brought, and writing might have “bled off” enough of the toxic emotions of the moment to get her through the rest of high school. It was that feeling of catharsis that gave her the glimmer of hope to attempt to keep living. If she had entrusted that spark of hope to the Lindas in her world instead of the Official Helper, she might have had a chance.

    Throughout the series, we see Clay being torn up by Hannah’s pain as he goes through the ordeals with her via the tapes. One of the best scenes, that conveys the best support, is toward the end, when Clay reaches out to Skye and asks if they can hang out sometime, like now. She asks if he’s okay, and their exchange is perfect: “No. Is that alright?” And Skye replies that yeah, that’s alright. That’s the message we all need when we are Not Okay: it’s alright that you’re not okay, I will be with you as you are.

  • Here’s a fine HIIPA story for you, Steven. The last time I interacted with psychiatry was about a dozen years ago, give or take, but HIIPA was in effect at the time:
    I’d gotten the call that one of my parents was dying, and made the trek back to my hometown, where deathbed admissions were made and family skeletons tumbled from the closet, confirming memories I’d had of incest. They ended up slipping into a coma but woke after a few weeks. The whole experience shook me to the core, and the standard 3-day bereavement leave was nowhere near enough time off work to integrate everything that happened. Even though I had been working with an MFT for awhile, the insurance required an MD to sign off on the time off. Kaiser assigned a psychiatrist that seemed to be sufficient, but after a couple of appointments with him, he suddenly became unavailable (but they always assured he’d be back in a week or two), and no matter which psych-du-jour it was that was filling in for him would only write me a 2-week extension. Having to address my situation with a new person every 2 weeks made healing impossible, and when I got fed up and demanded to be assigned to a doctor who was actually there to do the job, his boss got exasperated with me and said “Cut the guy some slack, he’s depressed!” This was the guy just beneath the head of the department, and REALLY should have known better! I lit into him: Did DR. Depressed give you written permission to disclose that to one of HIS PATIENTS?! I rather doubt that. And you don’t even know me! You have no idea how that info will be received by me, or what I might do with it. I’d call that reckless disregard for his emotional well-being AND mine!” The next call I got was from the dep’t head, who gladly signed off on the 8 months’ leave that an independent eval suggested. I was too twisted up by it all to follow through on my intention of reporting him to the AMA, APA, medical licensing board, etc.

  • I’m not good at attributing quotes, so I’m not sure who said this, but it was something like:
    “if you see me struggle, and want to help me, no. But if you see that your struggle and mine are bound together, we should join forces.”
    Whatever the exact wording was, the message speaks to the fact that too many “helpers” are on an ego trip that makes them think they are better, smarter, more evolved than those poor unfortunate souls they are “helping.” This mindset puts everyone on an equal footing, instead of one-up, one-down. You should find the quote, and put it in your lecture.

  • Personally, I just find it appalling that it is anyone other than the PATIENT making their OWN life-and-death decisions based on their OWN values, regardless of which way that pendulum swings. That anybody would ever feel so entitled to impose their own ethical values on another’s Most Fundamental Choice (to live or to die) just offends me to the core!
    I am very different from the mainstream, in many fundamental ways, and I never want anybody assuming anything about what it is I want. They’d almost always get it wrong. If you assume I’d want mustard on my sandwich or peppers on my pizza, I live with a temporary condition of discomfort: I go without a meal, I get hungry, maybe grumpy. No big deal in the long run. But if you assume that I’d want to fight through terrible pain/trauma/debilitation and keep on living, you’d be Dead Wrong, but I’d be the one stuck with the consequences. If you assume I’d be okay sacrificing my ability to sing in order to keep on breathing (or breathing via machine, for even one minute), you’d be Dead Wrong. If you assume I’d accept a transfusion of someone else’s blood in my veins for any reason, you’d be Dead Wrong.
    Now, turn the tables: think about how you would feel if I were an MD and felt entitled to decide YOUR care based upon MY personal values. Really sit with that scenario.

  • To me, the scary thing about all these Catholic hospital buys (6 in 10 hospital beds in the US!) is the fact that the healthcare you will receive can go directly against your own values because it is the Bishops’ Directives making the choices. There’s lots of talk about sex (contraception, abortion) but what about death? Advance directives don’t mean shit to the bishops making your decisions once you are in their beds.

  • Sharing LSD stories? I only have one, but it’s a good one. Was 1990-ish and I was at my favorite dance club with friends. I knew it was coming on when the neon flamingo hanging on the wall started dancing too! We went back to my house, laughter sitting on the porch roof, hilarity when somebody came with pizza dough they had dumpster-dived and we played with it like pulling taffy. Very good times. At some point though I decide that it’s time to get some sleep. I lay down and close my eyes but sleep will not come, so I gaze out the window and the street light captures my attention- so beautiful, the rainbow halo effect that surrounds the glowing source. And the motion of the bugs around it is mesmerizing, and they get bigger, become butterflies, and one especially gets bigger and more majestic in its winged beauty as it flies away from the light. I am transfixed, even as I watch it changing, growing darker and larger the closer it gets. It is the grim reaper by the time it approaches the window, and it taps on the glass with the tip of its scythe. And I laugh, wag my finger and say something to the effect of “go back to the light, you silly butterfly!” It made me laugh, and I shifted into this dual-perspective place where I was able to have the experience and be in it, but also aware of it being a chemically-induced thing, and thinking observational thoughts. And I think I might have been coming down a bit by then because sleep came maybe an hour after. I really enjoyed it, all of it. Next time I would have better snacks around (we had potato chips and cream soda), and art supplies on hand, tactile stuff and colors and glue. When the cream soda spilled up on the roof, I remember tracing patterns in it with my fingers, watching the light play off the wetness.

    For me, there is important transformative work in those places, that is best done when I have something I can destroy and then create from. I didn’t know that at the time. I was 20-something; I thought I was just taking drugs. Now I know there’s no such thing.

  • I don’t have any answers for you, Robert, wish I did. But I couldn’t have the only response to your plea be a scam pitch (why do those keep popping up here?!) and just wanted to say stuff you already know, I’m sure: you are not alone, so many of us doing better but not doing okay enough. I feel you. Me too. And anybody who wants you to shell out $300/mo on supplements through them, that screams of exploitation of your vulnerable state and desire to heal, and I find that repugnant. I wish you healing, with plenty of discernment along the way, same wish I have for me.

  • Alex- I did as you suggested and emailed Hana asking her to forward my info to you, but have not heard anything back. I, too, value my privacy, and don’t have any contact info that’s for public consumption I could just post here. But it has taken me quite awhile to take this step of reaching out to you, time to ride the seesaw of need vs. risk (heart-trust being the fulcrum it balances upon), and then once decided, time to gather my courage to actually express that need. And now that I’ve done so I’m eager-bordering-anxious to get on with the process and communicate directly with you.
    I’m wondering whether it would get a quicker response if I hit the “Report comment” button for this comment, just to get the attention of any MiA moderator with the ability to help me with this? They can reply to this comment and let me know to email my info to them, perhaps be on the lookout for it.

  • Alex, can I please reach out to you to converse privately? You’ve put your heart energy out often here in these pages, and I feel a level of trust and understanding with you. I am very vulnerable and do not trust easily, but I need to trust someone and my heart feels you are trustworthy enough to take the risk.

  • Wow! Is that all in the court transcript? Because it seems like there ought to be some way to appeal this. It’s just so Wrong. Have you contacted Tina Minkowitz (one of the authors here)? She has a law degree- I just have empathy.

  • That’s the first time anyone’s asked me that! Lavender is my color- I experience my personal aura field that way, and unless I am experiencing distress that changes it, that is the color others (who can sense these energy fields) perceive my aura as well. Sage is my favorite smudge for clearing and aligning energy, the scent of burning white sage is always significant for me in dreams– it feels like an ancestral connection, a way of my own ancestors getting my attention, the ancestors who were herbalist/shamans. So I guess LavenderSage represents the me I can stand in when I am healthy, balanced, confidently walking my path. LavenderSage is she who I am and yet aspire to be, me without the clutter of ego-struggles and pity parties.

  • I wish there had been someone there at the time that she would have allowed to “interview” her about it! I wanted to hear all about it! But from the very beginning she was not apt to entertain others’ curiosity, not a people-pleaser type, so there was no pumping her for info! She was invested in a shared memory, and once she realized I could not give her that, the experience was over for her– kaput!– despite my piqued curiosity. “Move along, nothing more to see here…” became her position.

  • Oh, I’ve never felt punished by this hard life. Frankly, no child could do anything to deserve what I endured. I got sent to a Baptist private school in 3rd grade to avoid being bussed across town when desegregation was imposed. I was being raised by racists grandparents at the time, racial tensions were high and they said they feared for my safety. Hellfire and brimstone, and the God described in the Bible, always felt incongruous with anything I experienced as divine. I find my spiritual connection in the heart of nature, the awe I feel in the presence of the ocean, the greensong heartbeat of the forests. I’ve no use for an adolescent “God” who keeps score.

    No, I was just making a karma joke. See, I’m the kind of person who, when I feel “thumped” by the Universe, will do a u-turn and pick up the hitch-hiking hippie couple with the rambunctious dog. And when the couple was unable to reach the family member they were heading to stay with and said we could drop them off just anywhere in Berkeley, same “thump” says they’d be in mortal danger if we did that, and we took them home and put them up in our spare bedroom for the night. Sent them on their way in the morning, well-fed. I just mean I’ve answered the call so many times, I’ve banked a lot of good credit, I can afford to deduct some of the interest! 🙂

  • Thank you! I have many stories that I rarely tell because they are likely to be judged as weird or impossible. I cherish those memories and only share them when I feel safe to do so. I’ve been letting some of them trickle out here, because I feel connections here, I feel received and honored by particular folks here (hugs to Alex, for instance), and as I do so I feel a surging desire to share more. Pacing myself is a good thing, I have to remind myself, because it feels so good to be my authentic self. I have much to offer, but also much to learn and digest from these kindred spirits, and am trying to leave space in me to do both, if that makes sense.

  • Getting vulnerable here: I think it also made me cry because I had never realized there were old souls here for that purpose– helpers to those of us who took the heat this time ’round. It hit me hard that I need those helpers in my life; this past year-ish has been particularly hard. I am open and ready to receive that kind of support in my life. I’ve certainly racked up the karma points to deserve it!

  • Another past-life story, this one from my daughter.

    When she was about 2 or 3 years old, she was trying to get me to recollect an incident she remembered very vividly. It was a visit to the state fair and she described seeing livestock and riding rides, and insisted that we had gone to the fair with my brother when she was a baby. I wracked my brain trying to think of a time that this might even have been possible, because there had been very little contact with my brother, who lived far away. He had stayed with us when she was a baby, but only for a month or two, and it wasn’t during the summer when fairs take place. She was getting pretty frustrated with me for not recalling it, and I apologized to her “I’m sorry, C, but mommy just doesn’t remember that.” And then her exasperated reply: “Not when I was C! When I was a baby before.” And then it dawned on me, and I asked “Before you were C? Did you have a different name before? (she nods hard, like I’m finally understanding) I bet you had a different mommy then too, maybe that’s why I don’t remember?” And she says “Oh! Yeah! That’s why you don’t remember it. You weren’t there.” And now she had me so freakin’ curious! I wanted to know more! But once she realized that there was no way I was gonna remember she completely dismissed me and went back to playing with her toys.

  • Thank you, Kjetil, for an awesome article! The thoughts you enumerated rang true for me, as well. All except one, and it made me cry:

    Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones.

    I am one of those old souls, lived countless lives. I remember several past lives, some in great detail and some just vague snippets of memories and whiffs of who I was in that time. I have encountered people I knew before, and shared a mutual sense of recognition. Sometimes those shared experiences help clarify the knowledge of who I was but what is more helpful is when I gain an understanding of the why, the purpose of that lifetime. I can tell you that past life traumas carry over, and it is important to understand when something in the here/now is triggering past life issues. I know, for instance, that my complete intolerance for what I call “intentional mis-understanding” (someone twisting my words and using them against me for their own agenda) stems from my death as a lawyer in the French Revolution. I was beheaded by the very people I had been advocating for, and the betrayal I experienced still stings to this day when I am in a situation that evokes those feelings. I know I am still working on healing his wounds.

    But the reason your words made me cry was that although I have known and accepted that I’ve chosen hard lives, I don’t think I ever realized that I could choose this: Sometimes mature souls come back in relatively easy lives in order to be helpers for the souls who take the hard ones. I’ve never considered that, never felt permission to approach a lifetime in that way. That insight was such a profound gift, Kjetil. Thank you.

  • I *do* actually! But not as much as when I was younger, when I was much more open just in general than I am now. Before I learned to shield and discern, I would sometimes feel “overtaken” (maybe not the right word, a little too strong a word, but close) by the experience. And my life was not what it is now, not so many petty details constraining me to this consensual reality. But I still channel very easily when reading Tarot, as I’ve trained my psyche that that’s the appropriate environment to flow free in that way (not unlike the way our bodies are primed to open and release when we sit on the potty, all the cues are there). I also do get messages from ancestors, and they tend to be very insistent until the message is delivered. I am one of those old souls, and definitely chose a service path for this lifetime, and not an easy one. But I truly have no regrets about that. It’s not a lifetime of ease that puts one in the shaman’s cave, dancing the energy between the worlds. I heed the call; I deliver the messages. I’ve never feared doing so in this lifetime.

  • Okay, I will.

    I grew up in the way back, LOL, before cell phones and GPS and whatnot. When I was 14, living with my mother and younger siblings, my sister got sick and spiked a dangerously high fever. Picture of poverty: living very rural in a house with running water and electric but no phone and no neighbors near enough help. Tylenol didn’t touch it, and what ice we had on hand went very quickly. I could see by the look in my mother’s eyes that she was very scared (this from a woman who is very hard to shake) and I knew it was getting dire. I have no idea to this day what came over me, but I rushed into the kitchen, grabbed several large onions and gave them a quick rough-chop, not even bothering to peel the skins. Found a plastic bag and dumped them in, brought it back to the couch where my sister was laid out, my mother cooling her head as much as possible with wet cloths. I got very directive: “Quick now! Get those shoes and socks off her and get her feet in the onions! Get that fire outta the child’s head!” Her fever was 104? 105 by that time, and she was very close to febrile seizure. But, miraculously?, those onions did the trick– pulled that fever right out of her head, and down into her feet, the onions sweated and limp, her feet afire but her forehead cooled almost immediately once her feet were smothered in onions. After the danger had passed and we had a moment to reflect, my mother told me she heard her grandmother’s voice telling her through me what to do when I got all directive with the onions. They tell me I met her once, as an infant, but I have no recollection of her whatsoever.

    That’s one story. I’ll leave others, one per comment per your request so as not to extend into “read more…” territory 🙂

  • Yup. I too have stories from my MSW training that made me really hope these folks don’t get the credentials that will allow them to harm the vulnerable people desperate for help. And horror stories of my own as a client. And then I had my perfect therapy support, Catherine. 17 years she was the person I could tell anything, show everything, without being pathologized. But she closed her practice last year, and I told her when she did that there wouldn’t be a next one so keep the referrals. It took me years to really trust her and be completely vulnerable. Years of her proving consistently that she was worthy of hearing the stories at the core of the damage, of her letting me read my file whenever I asked, years of dwelling in her unconditional positive regard for me 2 hours a week, is the path it took to get to where the healing could begin. Because my trust had been so very damaged, first by my family and the family doctor, then by teachers and classmates and religion, then by men, and then by the “mental health” system.

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head right there, madmom. They’ve got the monopoly. There are some caring and competent therapists out there, but they either get paid by you out-of-pocket, or they assign you a billing code (i.e. dx) in order to get paid through the system. Some check out of the economics of it completely by offering a sliding scale or barter, but they are such rare gems to find. And the support they can offer doing that tends to be inadequate to meet the needs of people who are actively in crisis. We have to divert the funding streams away from what harms, and find a way to channel it to those who do the real healing, or to improving the conditions in our society that are intolerable and drive us mad.

  • Thank you! I was thinking the same thing about that phrase “While medication may have role to play in alleviation of symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity”

    Why do so many of the articles I read here, that are otherwise hopeful, include concession language about the drugs? Why do the authors feel the need to give the drugs a nod at all? I really don’t understand this.

  • There is a really excellent book I read awhile back: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. She lists many physical ailments/symptoms along with attitudes and personal outlooks they seem correlated with. Often (though not always) when I am experiencing something physically, and look it up, the corresponding attitude rings true. When that’s the case, changing my attitude/outlook often clears up the issue significantly. Sometimes pain and ailments are happening for you, not just to you.

  • About loss of boundaries, taking on others’ energies: I experienced this as a side effect (somebody suggest a better term- oldhead? Frank? help me out here) of the drug Effexor. I basically could not maintain energy shields that, as an energy empath, I rely on. Without that drug in my system, energy maintenance was something I kind of just did throughout the day without really thinking about it. But under influence of Effexor, I constantly felt misunderstood by and in conflict with the people in my life. I did not recognize that my ability to shield had been compromised to the point of not being able to distinguish my own emotions and energies from those of people around me. It was only after withdrawal (vertigo from hell!) that I came to understand what I had been experiencing.

  • When I have a lot to say on a subject, I sometimes mull it over for a bit before expressing myself. I do have a lot of thoughts on the topic of forgiveness. Alex mentioned something about people having different internal definitions of words, and I know for me the visceral reaction to “forgive” has changed (somewhat, but it really depends on the context). Children are taught very early to rotely offer apologies they don’t mean– you can almost hear an echo of “say you’re sorry!” right now, I bet. Even as a kid, I thought that was a crock, and refused to accept bogus apologies. It’s either sincere, or it’s an insult, frankly. So my first concept of forgiveness sprung from that, and was something I wanted no part in. Later down the line, I encountered a different concept of forgiveness. It goes something like this: Somebody has wronged you, and this act has created emotional baggage. You can carry it around with you, dwelling on it, essentially dragging it around with you, or you can drop it off in their corner and let the consequences be theirs. But here’s the catch- you have to walk away and not look back to check and see how the consequences play out for them; you have to quit being emotionally invested in any particular outcome. For me, that still feels like relinquishing my claim on some justice for the one wronged. The wronged deserve justice! So, yeah, if that is what forgiveness is, it’s still not my cup of tea. Accountability is.

    So here’s how I define accountability: you must account for your actions and your intentions, up to the limits of your ability. So in these instances where folks committed crimes because they were placed on an Rx that created a situation beyond their control, in my view they should not be held to account for that. Behaving better in that situation was beyond their ability. Each person is operating out of their own set of resources and challenges, which fluctuate for everyone but more so for some of us. I will not be held to account for what is beyond my ability, and I cannot hold others to account for what is beyond theirs. And often, the more you know, the picture of the situation changes. So add Understanding to the list next to Accountability.
    I have a personal example. About a month before I turned 12, I found myself living in a new family: my mother, her boyfriend of 3 years, and my younger half-siblings (brother, sister). How this came about is a different tale for a different time. These were not his children, but he was Dad to them and shortly to me as well, a welcome change for me since I had never bonded with my own father. Picture family life: county fair, swap meets, demolition derby (nosebleed seats but who cares?!), backyard garden and BBQs. Then one night, a few months before my 13th birthday, my mother walks into my bedroom late at night to find her boyfriend naked in my bed and touching me. I remember her turning on the light, and then almost immediately turning it off and walking out of the room. He followed her, grabbing clothes on the way out and trying to say something to her, I don’t know what. Memory of that night gets hazy after that flash of light, but I remember very well up to that point. Nothing in his demeanor had been predatory. No, he was being like a trusted friend, a confidante, a mentor. He expressed interest in my life, my friendships; he listened. He was being very open, very real, no canned adult responses. We were talking about school, boys. He asked if there was anything I wanted to know about guys, about sex. He said that in a family, mothers teach sons and fathers teach daughters. That made sense to me. I didn’t even question it. (I would come to understand why decades later in a conversation with my aunt, who confirmed a pattern of intergenerational incest in my father’s family, and disclosed that I had been molested as an infant by his parents. Again, another tale for another time.) My mother grilled me the next day about what had happened and I told her what he had said. She twisted things into some weird Freudian knot, pathologizing my reaction of trusting him. Something along the lines of “If he’s like a father to you, you must be really fucked up to want to fuck your own father.” Her story was that I seduced him. She was awful to me, psychologically cruel and physically abusive, for the next to years, until I escaped the situation. But an interesting thing happened when I was 14: my mother’s parents drove out to visit. They didn’t stay long, and she had not one good thing to say about me to them, but their visit stirred memories in her that she had long buried and I became her confidante. Horrible, horrible memories of things her father had done to her, her sister, her brothers. She told of being raped at age 4, and being blamed, and how the beating that followed almost killed her. And that story of hers changed the picture of my story, of why she reacted the way she did. Having the context did not change how wrong she was in treating me the way she did, but it explained the why of it, and that made it easier to bear. Given her history, she could not fathom that it could be his fault. The man was never to blame, the woman/girl always was. And somehow, she had never challenged that. She was operating out of her own trauma, creating trauma for me. But having the fuller picture helped me understand the limits of her accountability for reacting that way.

  • I still feel angry sometimes. Sometimes it’s debilitating. Sometimes it fuels me.

    I have learned that in my own emotional world, the purpose of anger is action. That’s why my anger feels like fire- because its purpose is to fuel change. I get angry because something is wrong and needs to be changed. When I feel my anger instead of trying to tamp it down, I have clarity about what I need to address and change in my interaction with my world, and the physical experience of the anger fuels my ability to take action. Anger demands action, in fact, and if the changes needed are physical (re-arranging a room so that the processes that happen there can flow more functionally, for example), that’s great! But often the changes are to do with interpersonal relations, I still have to use up the energy or I experience a crash (that can easily and erroneously get labeled “depression”) and feel the need to retreat from the situation instead of dealing with it, which takes guts. Same thing happens if I subvert the anger experience entirely by tamping it down in the first place. I try to remind myself of this essential truth in the moment, and at least use the energy to scrub something that needs it– bathtub, oven, kitchen floor, whatever– even if I know I don’t have the guts to take on the big life changes that I know the anger is trying to demand. But that’s still only a temporary fix, until the situation shows its imbalance and creates more anger for me to change it!

    Anyway, that’s how anger works in my world, in case anyone finds that perspective useful.

  • I just love you, madmom. You are very wise, you measure your words carefully. I hate that you have to tiptoe through the system, but I’m glad you’ve educated yourself and are able to balance your emotions (for having your loved one be caught up in, and at the mercy of the system certainly engenders a whole rainbow of lovely emotions like fear, frustration, anger/rage, injustice, helplessness…) with your knowledge of how the system operates to prevent bad from getting worse. You are right; they would use it against you. They twist and pathologize; it’s what they do, and you are wise to acknowledge and remember that.

  • I’m so sorry you went through that. Trauma, particularly sexual trauma, is so often the root of emotional distress that sends people to seek help. You can’t expect a child who has been raped repeatedly to not suffer injuries to their sense of self, to their ability to trust and feel a basic sense of safety. That’d be like dunking a book repeatedly in a pot of soup and expect the pages to remain flat, readable. Books should not be subjected to dunking, and dunked books sustain water damage. Why people cannot see that it’s the trauma that’s the source of the damage is beyond me. It’s still your book, still your story to write. Just know you aren’t alone. There’s a whole library of smeared and ruffled pages out here.

  • That’s why I have never conceded to anyone else the power of defining my experience, my truth. People should have an understanding of the power differential they are expected to buy into when they “seek help,” and be very clear within themselves what is helpful and what is decidedly unhelpful for them in their situation. A pregnant woman who wants a natural birth should avoid an obstetrician with a high c-rate, for instance, and consider turning to a midwife.

    Surgeons cut, the lens they see you through casts the shadow of a scalpel. Psychiatrists pathologize and prescribe, and everything you tell them will be viewed through that particular warped/dirty lens. Understand that.

    I, personally, accept that a certain degree of interdependence is simply part of the human equation: there are things that an individual cannot accomplish for themselves, by themselves. Humans need one another, and there is no shame to being in need of help. But it has been my experience too often in seeking emotional help, that simply by virtue of needing help with emotional/interpersonal issues, my ability to define what help is best for me, i.e. my basic right to self-determination, can be called into question. Those in “helping professions” assume an entitlement to be the one who defines what help is needed. It is inherent in the relationship, and is one of the most toxic “flies in the ointment.” You can’t even trust me to know what I need, but you expect me to entrust you with my vulnerable, emotionally injured self? No way.

    I’m reminded of a quote (I might have read it here) that goes something like, “If you are here to help me, I have no use for that. But if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together.” I might have mangled that; if so, feel free to correct me/it.

  • I found myself reflecting on several things as I read this post, so I’m going to remark on them before I read the comment section, which will certainly inspire other thoughts/reflections.

    About the antidote being inclusion: I’m reminded of 2 elementary schoolteachers in the ’70s who decided to do a bit of social engineering for the common good. I don’t remember their names, but will never forget the lessons. One taught her class (2nd graders, maybe 3rd?) about discrimination by segregating the class according to eye color Brown eyes vs. Blue/Green/Hazel. The first day, one group was made to wear a felt collar indicator (more visible) and told that people with that color eyes were inferior (less smart, less moral, less worthy, etc.) and they would not be permitted the privileges that the other eye group received. The teacher reinforced these notions throughout the day, and the othered eye group was miserable. The next day, they changed places. So every single child had their turn at experiencing what it was like to be subjected to institutional and personal discrimination. The next day was spent with the whole class discussing how silly and arbitrary it was to attribute characteristics to a group of people based on their eye color, and the feelings it engendered for the children as they were subjected to it, and how it felt to reinforce superiority when they were the ones “on top.” All the children decided it was just as wrong to judge people based on skin color, and they delighted in throwing the felt collars into the trash bin. The other incident wasn’t laid out like an experiment, but was an edict instead: you can’t say “You can’t play.” Nobody is allowed to exclude anyone else.

    About Fear: it is the currency of authoritarians. I’m reminded of a documentary I recently saw called The Brainwashing of My Dad, about Fox News’ use of fear and flashing visuals.

    About being an “expert by experience,” we are in excellent company. I was reminded of Jane Goodall, and of Temple Grandin. I echo your wish “for lived experience to be valued as a credential.” I know many here at MiA feel a yearning for that validation as well, by sentiments expressed in the comments.

    About the “hidden recovered” and the need to be Exceptionally Okay and Thriving: I know I experience a sense of having to always put my best foot forward. I cannot trust others to adjust their assessment of my capability as my resources and challenges wax and wane. I do not want to be dismissed, discounted, diminished by the limitations of someone else’s ability to see beyond their own issues. I’m talking about the kind of people who take issue with Sera Davidow’s barefooted-ness, that type. I truly think they are jealous of the freedom we express when we dare to be our true selves; when who we are will not fit the box those folks have defined as “societal norms,” and we dare to be okay with that. We are brazen enough to challenge the notion that we are what is unacceptable in the scenario; we see that it is the box that has limitations, not us. How dare we be free when they keep re-inventing one-size-fits-all! I, personally, have always felt pride in the ability to challenge the norms. Powers-that-be can get very threatened by that, depending in part on their personal sense of insecurity, which underlies their desperate need to be recognized as an authority. There simply is no more legitimate an authority than one’s own personal experience. Ask Jane; ask Temple.

    About coming out of the closet: I’ve done that, a lot. I’m Bisexual; I’m Polyamorous; I’m Pagan. And just to look at me, I pass as just another default. I’ve learned that unless I declare otherwise, people assume about me what most people assume about most people. Until they see me with my wife; then they assume I’m Lesbian instead of assuming I’m straight. I am one of those people, though, who’s magnetic– in the sense that people tend to be pretty immediately either attracted/repelled by me. Or, another apt description: I’m like cilantro; people either love me or hate me. I get that, and it weeds out some folks right away (good riddance to ya!) but from there it is a choice of how much real me I reveal. I learned in college that it can be fun to wait awhile before challenging their assumptions. If someone has assumed about my spirituality, for instance, it might not come up for awhile, long enough for a comfortable rapport/friendship to have developed between us. So then when they ask what I’m doing for Halloween and I answer that I’m a Witch and I will be hosting the Circle for my coven and all our ancestors, that’s a conversation where they get the chance to be curious & ask questions, and I get the chance to disabuse them of erroneous notions about what Witches are and what we do.

    About the APA: Was it the late ’60s? early ’70s maybe? where the gay psychiatrist came to the convention wearing a paper bag over his face because he needed to keep his anonymity while challenging the designation of homosexuality as a mental disorder? I’m reminded of that. We need a whole panel of APA members with bags on their heads so they are free to reveal their madness journeys to the entire body of members at the convention. And NASW members at their convention too, for that matter. In the meantime, please post a link to your study/article when it is published because I’d love to read it.

    So those are my ponderings for now.

  • Daisy Valley,

    Sarah is suggesting that people who are experiencing crises should not be forced against their will into a setting where they would feel more threatened than whatever their present situation (not necessarily “on the streets,” as you assume). Did you read her blog? Have you read the responses by people who were subjected to the dehumanizing experiences that are inherent in forced incarceration? What makes you think someone experiencing “psychotic mania” is less vulnerable in that setting than wherever they’d choose to be? How safe is it to be locked in with people who have total control of you, refuse to recognize — let alone respect– your basic human rights, violate your bodily autonomy at will, for as long as they say so? Do you have the capacity to empathize with those who’ve had exactly that experience? Walk a mile in those moccasins and see how quick you are to advocate “forced incarceration.”

  • I concur with your assessment, oldhead, which is why I have kept silent as the level of provocation continues to rise, the idea being that engagement feeds the trolls. But I think that was the wrong stance for me to take on this. I won’t be engaging that troll, but I shall be engaging the MiA staff to step up and enforce so that those of us who treasure this community as a safe haven can continue to do so. Thank you for saying things here that made me challenge my reaction to this provocateur.

  • I doubt it. They put him on this crap when he was FIVE, for behavior control, and he apparently started growing breasts a year later. So yeah, they took him off this particular toxin. But the parents, and doctor, that thought it was a good idea to put a five-year-old on an antipsychotic are not likely to scrap their notion that “medicating” his behavior is the appropriate reaction to it. Usually, they tell themselves that though that particular drug had a bad “side effect” they should stay the course and keep trying different psych drugs until they find the “right one.”

  • May the surgery have the desired effect (or better than!) and may you heal well and quickly!

    Also, I checked out your page about creative maladjustment week and I love it! I want to celebrate, probably in small ways, hopefully with friends! An excuse to celebrate embracing the different, the quirky, the tellers of the twisted truths? Sign me up! Perhaps I will spend a day wearing a pair of fairy wings (I make those) while I run errands. I love the idea of guerilla kindness (and gorilla kindness, why not?), leaving handmade notes to uplift, inspire, or ‘make you go hmm’ in places for strangers — and also myself, and my wife — to find. Maybe I will host a Mad Hatter Tea potluck, and serve tie-dye cake! Ah, the possibilities!

  • Thank you for posting this on MiA.

    Please everyone, contact your “representative” (why the quotes? Because I’ve never once had a “representative” in government who even comes close to representing me) and urge them to reject this dangerous attack on our civil rights!

    We can gripe to each other until we are blue in the face, but that doesn’t accomplish anything. We don’t get a vote on this, we have to rely on these elected officials to vote on our behalf (ugh!) so let’s make sure they understand how we feel, and what is at stake.

  • Upon re-reading, I realized this sounds perhaps judgemental: “That uneasy feeling is something we used to call “women’s intuition” and if it got the respect it deserves, instead of being brushed aside as dumb or crazy, she would have had the sense to act on it.”

    That was not my intention, so please allow me to clarify:
    Ever since the Enlightenment, we have been taught to elevate Science (that which can be observed and measured with the physical senses) far above Mysticism (that which cannot be observed and measured). We’ve been taught that knowledge is solely the monopoly of Science. Any claim of knowing that is based on the unseen is scoffed at as superstition, or pathologized as madness. Only with the advent of technology that allowed for observations at the quantum level did scientists begin to question this basic underlying assumption, and we now know, for instance, that the mere attention we pay in the act of observing changes the outcome. But we have all bought into this idea that scientific knowledge, gained by controlling the variables and testing the hypotheses, is inherently valid whereas other ways of knowing are inherently dubious.

    Now, my dear mother started out with such a lot in life that she did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being deemed as an average, normal person. Being on the fringe of society was where she would always reside, unless she was willing to completely subsume/sacrifice so much of herself that she would have little to no authenticity left. She was always unable and/or unwilling to do that. (For that alone, she is my hero!) She accepted her role as Other, embraced it even. She scoffs at Normal, sees through the saran wrap the emperor calls clothes in a lot of ways, and refuses to abandon or adjust those parts of her that mark her as an outcast.

    I’ve read quite a few of your posts (you being one of my favorite authors on this site, I’ve gone back into the archives to read more) and your mother sounds pretty normal. Our society, the way girls are trained to be gracious, makes it a rare exception that a woman would pay any attention to the things that give her “that uneasy feeling” let alone know how to open that channel to inner knowledge, and interpret the feeling and act on it. Left-brain, rational thinking rules supreme. But to negate the other ways of knowing sets us up for such dysfunctional imbalance, and denies us the benefit of our intuition, which I believe is our birthright as women.

  • Your mother knew, Sera. Not cognitively, perhaps. But on a gut level, she knew. The way he touched your hair made her uneasy.

    That uneasy feeling is something we used to call “women’s intuition” and if it got the respect it deserves, instead of being brushed aside as dumb or crazy, she would have had the sense to act on it. My own mother is such a mixed bag– she did a lot of damage to her children, given the upbringing she’d had to work with, but she never let *anyone* dismiss her intuitions and she never dismissed ours, either. Some of the things she taught me about being a woman were really messed up (!!) but she made certain I understood my intuition, how to recognize its messages, and most important, to ALWAYS respect it. She explained that it is encoded in our earliest DNA, from the time before our lunking brains created societies that told us to disregard/conquer our baser instincts, when we knew we were part of the food chain, and had to be keenly aware of danger. That first whiff of danger doesn’t come from the nose, it comes from within– that uneasy feeling– that makes us pay closer attention to what is going on around us. She didn’t discount my brother’s intuition, either. But she felt women have a stronger innate sense of it, likely due to the increased danger pregnancy presents. She taught us to use our intuition, to respect it, and to not be dissuaded by others who don’t have respect for theirs. I wish all mothers did this– planted a seed of confidence in the innate ways of knowing that we all possess but have been talked out of by ‘authorities’ who assure us we are wrong and they are right.

    Please, mothers, teach your daughters to truly value themselves as women, not just their women’s bodies, but their women’s wisdom too!

  • “It is truly unfortunate that this thread has taken over a blog about something else entirely that I feel is valid and important.


    You wrote a blog that spoke to the silencing of rape victims, and get your voice drowned out by guys who should have just gone off and wrote their own piece about psychiatry and slavery instead of having their discussion overtop yours!

  • Thank you for writing this, Sera. It’s personal for a lot of us.
    You ask whether there was a “vibe” being sensed. Oh, yeah. Just like sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away and zero in on the source, sexual predators seem to have a very sensitive meter to detect the vulnerability of injured selves. They don’t choose their victims at random, they look for an easy in. How many stories of early sexual violation have you heard where there is no subsequent perpetrator? That’s not the pattern. The early violation paves the way, and subsequent predators recognize the trail blazed.

    Sera (4-year-old Sera, and 15-year-old Sera, and 16-year-old Sera, and 17-year-old Sera):
    I hear you and resonate your truth. I believe you. I stand in solidarity with you.

  • After seeing so many headlines using the phrase “former Stanford swimmer” to identify/define Brock Turner, I finally just yesterday saw one that got it right: Convicted rapist Brock Turner. And this one had his mugshot, unlike all the others that show the suit & tie yearbook smile.

    Reminds me of the language contortions that Big Pharma uses in their commercials, using soft-spoken (boring, soothing even) voices reciting watered-down terms to describe their side effects, while using the most alarmist voices, tone and words to name/describe the “condition” they are trying to scare you into thinking you need to “ask your doctor” about.


  • I hear you. I’ve experienced both sides of that equation, I feel.

    My mother has an extensive and horrific trauma history, starting from infancy. And I’ve witnessed many instances of her bearing up under way more than most anyone could handle; I’ve witnessed several instances of her breaking and unable to cope, and get by as best she can– and in those times, her best looks atrocious. I’ve also witnessed several instances where my mother “turned on the crazy” willfully, in order to manipulate. The differences between these states of hers became unmistakable to me, though others often got snowed. So I get that feeling that your spouse uses past trauma as a tool; my mother certainly did.

    But I also know how it feels to be accused of slacking when it takes every ounce of everything you are just to be okay enough to get yourself fed once today, and maybe cleaned since it’s been almost a week since you were last able to get yourself into the shower. I also know how humiliating it feels to be told by your spouse that he’s “not doing you any good enabling your depression” (according to the family therapist) so the dishes are gonna stack there in the sink until you do them because it’s your turn to do that chore. No energy to be pissed about that, you just crumple into a bit tighter ball to hold yourself together at the seams and hate yourself a little harder for not being even close to good enough. Vicious, the words you use to describe yourself in this condition, and maybe you can be stern enough to slap yourself out of this pit you tell yourself is self-pity, because if it is, maybe you can drill-sergeant yourself out of it. So much pain, so much harm in the blame of it, the shame of it.

    I feel much compassion for you; I feel much compassion for your spouse too, and hope each of you can find the healthiest way for your family to weather all the emotions inherent in these situations of trauma aftermath. I truly do. Deep hugs to you.

  • So the other day I read where Swiss voters decided to reject a proposal to guarantee all citizens a minimal monthly income, and there was a quote, the jist of which was that people will just be lazy and do nothing if they did not have to worry about earning enough money to live, if it was just provided. And I thought the exact opposite: without the worry of having enough money for a decent living, what amazing endeavors would people be able to achieve?

    Okay, let’s get real radical and expand that: What if every person was provided all the essentials for a fully-realized, healthy, robust life, just because they exist? Just because they are part of humanity? What if there was a universal acknowledgement of the capacity of the human spirit, and the wisdom to invest in it, as a society? What if there was no need to dull the existential pain, because there was plenty of opportunity to experience the full range of emotions- plenty of joy, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction to look forward to during the darker moments? What if each person’s “job” was to plunge into their passion and bring forth their inherent talents and gifts. We could all share in each other’s because with everyone enjoying full support, there would be no need for stinginess.

    I want to live in that world.

  • Hmm… how does this relate?

    I took an acting class once with a really cool teacher who used a lot of different kinds of exercises to help us connect to genuine emotional states that were called for in the script. I was pretty amazed at how easy it was to create an intense emotional state by simply engaging in the behaviors associated with that emotion. For instance, he had us stomp, and clench our fists and tighten our faces– anger wells up, and now the line you said less than one minute ago that rang hollow is rich with emotion.

  • Hi knaps,

    I don’t know if the author or any of the commenters will see your reply, but I did. 🙂 I have also commented on older posts/articles, usually they pop up in the “Best of MIA” section, and wondered whether they’d be seen. I noticed yours in the “Recent Comments” section and intend to read the article above, but had to chuckle seeing my own reflection in “if you ever read this,” and “this feels like home.”


  • I’m not going to rely on the law and the government to give me rights which I should already have, including how to treat my pain or how to die.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I believe that each of us, if we are truly being honest with ourselves, has a Fates Worse Than Death List: those circumstances/situations we would rather die than life through, or life in the aftermath of. Think about it (something people often try hard to avoid doing)- have you ever read the classic Poe stories? Ever seen the film Open Water? or Boxing Helena? What exactly your list consists of, and why, depends on a lot of things. Mine is based on my own personal values, and what gives my life meaning. I learned long ago that I am, in many ways, essentially different from most people, and this definitely includes my beliefs and values regarding death. I do not belief anyone should ever be asked to suffer that which they find intolerable. Most especially if the person is suffering with no end in sight. And here’s the thing: NOBODY BUT YOU can assess what is tolerable, or for how long, or what circumstances you’d list as a fate worse than death. Because NOBODY BUT YOU experiences your life: your joys, your pain, your sources of meaning and belonging. Nobody can even begin to map that terrain but you. I know that I do not deserve to wither away institutionalized because my body, mind, or both, no longer support me living the life I choose. I will either die by the hand of fate before that time, or by my own hand when I’ve determined my life has reached that crossroads. I’ve stated this to those I love, and let them know that though I do have advance directives, my Prime Directive (to borrow from Star Trek) is: Do Not Call 911, because frankly a DNR is about as much protection as an Order of Protection. Both get routinely discarded. And now that 1 in 6 hospital beds is under the Catholic Bishops’ Directives, they state right in those that their religion trumps the patient’s. No CPR, No Blood, No Intubation, No Meds, just a whole lotta Leave Me Be, Let Me Go, and Do Not Interfere.

    I had the natural birth I chose, and did not get bullied into unnecessary interventions during that vulnerable time, by refusing the very first one: the IV the nurse wanted to place “just in case.” Um, no. I am not going to consent to something that makes it easier to disregard my right to informed consent. No nausea, no dehydration, so no IV.
    By the same token, no 911 means no opportunity for anyone to decide otherwise once I (or fate) have decided it’s my last day.

    I think we all should have the right to die when/how we choose, but I also think it’s shameful of policymakers to force people’s hands who’d much rather have access to whatever works to help them find relief enough that makes their life a Life Worth Living rather than a Fate Worse Than Death.

  • There are people finding cannabis very helpful in breaking free of opiates. And smoking it is not the only option. There are cannabis mints and hard candies, and now even melt-away strips, that begin to take effect as you suck on them, entering your system sublingually and through the cheek/gums. Inhalation brings the quickest pain relief, but we also have endo-cannabinoid receptors in the gut. Lots of people find that eating cannabis-infused food relieves their pain long enough to get a full night’s sleep. The indica strains with a good ratio of CBD to THC are particularly effective for this purpose.

    There are also topical cannabis preparations (balms, salves, lotions and liniments) that are applied directly to the painful area instead of being taken systemically. Just like rubbing alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, topical cannabis doesn’t get you high. Depending on the type and source of the pain, these can be very effective, though the relief is not as long-lasting as eating cannabis edibles. Topicals usually need to be re-applied every couple/few hours.

    The safety and efficacy of cannabis seem pretty well proven, since it’s been used medicinally by so many cultures for centuries– the ancient Egyptians used it! And the side effects are predictable and manageable. I’ve known people who use it for chronic pain, and others who’ve used cannabis to ease the withdrawal from psychopharms, and from opiates.

  • Hi madmom,

    I know this is from awhile ago- this article popped up on the Best of MiA section of the main page; I didn’t catch it fresh. I’ve been reading here, a lurker, for many months and only just recently logged in and started commenting. So though I’m a new voice here, there are many of the frequent commenters I feel allied with, and you are one. I feel hugs for you and your daughter, in my heart, as I read your heart’s struggle and hope and pain and passion and anger and love. I hope along with you for her freedom, and her eventual healing from all the trauma they have put her through, and for understanding of the personal meaning behind the initiation of her altered state that was so terrifying and confusing it sent her and you to seek the help of the wolves in sheep’s clothing. May you both see the day where she is whole and well.

    My mother is one of those martyrs you speak of in your last sentence– though never silent! She is one who has chosen homelessness as a way of life. I want to share some of her story with you here. Her childhood was a horrific one. I know the details, but suffice it to say that she was subjected to neglect (from both poverty and alcoholic parents) and to physical and emotional abuse from infancy. The incest began at age 4; the psychiatrist and his pills, shortly after she started kindergarten. At 15, she suddenly became head of household (in charge of the house, the bills, the younger siblings) when her father was jailed for shooting her brother and her mother had a nervous breakdown. She didn’t know what the pills she took were for– I think she initially was told they were vitamins, and just never questioned swallowing her pills as a child. But she began to question everything she had ever been told, and more importantly not been told, when she got her first period at 16 and thought she was dying. Getting the real truth about that made her start asking questions. And when she started getting answers, she quit the pills cold-turkey. Or her self-medicating version of cold-turkey. But she never got okay; sometimes okay enough, but never for long. And she gets pulled through the revolving door whenever she stars in this play: go to an agency that is supposed to provide a basic human need, like food or shelter, and encounter a series of convoluted hoops to jump through (always) presented in a condescending way by a frontline worker who is burned-out and projecting (often); get legitimately frustrated and pissed-off in public; interact with the management in a loud, obnoxious way using excellent vocabulary they don’t understand, making demands that come off as threats; someone calls the authorities, and off she goes to jail or psych hold.

    My mother is amazing and wise and intuitive beyond belief, and she is feisty and belligerent and dangerous to my emotional well-being; so though I love and admire her, I’ve had to have lots of boundaries with her. When the economy tanked, so did my household finances and we had to cancel redundant bills like cable and home phone (the number she knew by heart), now there’s no way anyone could contact me as her next-of-kin; it’s a situational estrangement. I hope that she is okay, but I will never know if/when she becomes one of those statistics. Thank you for acknowledging her, and the countless others like her. And thank you for being vocal, and involved, and advocating for change.

  • I agree with you Nomadic. I think the grass-roots revolution starts with small acts of rebellion that challenge the paradigm, and the direction this is taking politically, policy-wise. Here is a real-life example: the other day, I went to a dental clinic to have a tooth pulled. After the dental assistant takes my vitals, she starts to ask her list of “routine questions.” First one was whether I felt safe at home. I saw no reason not to support this broad level of assessment for domestic violence, so I responded that yes, I do. However, the next “routine question” was clearly the beginning of a depression screening. This got a very different response: “You are a dental assistant, not my therapist, or my spiritual advisor, or even my hairdresser; you have no business asking about my feelings.” When she replied that she “has to ask,” my response was, “No, you don’t actually; it’s intrusive and inappropriate, and I decline to answer. If you need to fill in a blank, write: MYOB.”

  • Thank you! Being an intern, I was expecting to have to defend that choice when I discussed the session in supervision, but she had the same feedback. It used to bother me to hear that word used: having a “gift,” being a “gifted therapist,” was something I struggled with because it felt like an obligation. It chafed, I think, because it highlighted the dilemma: how to use (and thereby be worthy of) that gift, without absorbing the toxicity of the framework of psychology? Every time I was on the receiving end of that wording (and this was by no means the first person who’d said that, nor was it the last) I felt like the fruit suspended in the jello-o: you can see through it, but you can’t escape the matrix. Have not puzzled that out yet- the MSW sits dusty on a shelf, unused for many years now, but the calling remains. And yet the need for those gifts just keeps growing… I have felt for awhile now that my path is spiraling back to a place where I find a healthy matrix wherein I can truly surrender to those gifts.
    Thank you, Stephen, for providing an opportunity for me to check-in with that word; it does not chafe anymore, it fits comfortably like a shawl around my shoulders.

  • Thank you! It breaks my heart that so many women are cheated out of their birthing rite-of-passage by doctors and nurses who instill the fear and guilt that makes them hand over their power and submit to unnecessary interventions!

    I have also used that homebirth moment, going back to the memory of being the gateway of creation, in times of existential crisis- the times when I feel insufficient. And I loved that experience of surrender- I managed the pain by diving underneath its waves, my consciousness safely in the stillness beneath all that activity, encouraging the tight spiral passage within me to unfurl like a blossoming flower.

    I have never yet reclaimed my body’s strength- was sheltered from any activity that was remotely dangerous as a child, ever-scolded for climbing trees!- but during pregnancy and birthing, I did. I’ve recently discovered that I need to be doing yoga, and never thought of it as a way to create the same surrender conditions and psychic empowerment, as birthing! Thank you for this insight.

  • Oh, Alex, thank you! Such gratitude to you, to the All-That-Is (that healing light you spoke of in another thread) moving through you into this sacred moment! Let me explain:

    So I’ve been sharing very openly here, which has been healing and necessary for me but not comfortable (though Elizabeth’s responses are comforting- you noticed) so I’ve been brave, after lurking here on MiA for months. But I recognize that sometimes I share a bit overmuch overquick. I have come to understand it as a litmus test to see whether someone new is solid ground or quicksand- you gotta discern that quick when you are on a journey and feel you’ve spotted a fellow traveler!
    Okay, so I saw Elizabeth’s last reply and was gonna reply something nod-like, but there was no button for that this time. And I wondered whether that was a superpower she has as an official MiA author, to turn off the button as a kind of a “it’s been great talking with you but I gotta go now” sort of cue. Hear them monsters rustling under the bed? 🙂

    So then I see the email that alerts me there’s more on the thread. Lo and behold, it’s from another fellow traveler I been really jiving on, whose comments in other threads been opening up wonderful avenues of possibility in my awareness! Blowing my mind in the best way, the past few days, been letting it all simmer and steep in me before it settled into words, but knowing I’d approach connecting with you soon.

    So even if I was doing my thing that I do, it was worth every ounce of self-doubt, embarrassment, and awkwardness I felt. Sometimes that is the risk, so worth it, this being the outcome!

    I’d like to share another story, about taking risk, being seen, being of service. Many years ago we had neighbors that we became close with- 2 siblings from a large Polynesian family, and when one of them married we were invited. At the reception, some of their family members (sisters? nieces?) performed amazing hula, and I was mesmerized by one of the women- the energy coming out of her hands, her feet, every nuanced movement of her torso. She was transcendent! She was their sister that I had met once before, at a New Year’s party, and I knew little about her except that she’d had some substance-abuse issues. The performance ended, the drummers stopped and the DJ took over, the party continued on. But after we left, I could not shake the memory of her dance- it was her prayer, it was so much more for her. Did she know? Did she see the power there? This is her healing place, the beat of her dancing heart! Does she know? I saw. I had to tell her! Urgency gripped the pen as soon as I found paper, and I found myself opening to these messages for her, messages from her ancestors. Telling her to dance her way back when she loses her way in the darkness. Telling her these dances are as old as the waves of the sea, that they are the prayers that beckon the ancestors to her call.

    Even as I wrote, I understood the risk that I was taking, risking being mis-understood. By that I do not mean the innocuous “misunderstanding” of the oh-that’s-what-you-meant variety. No, I mean the way the landlord was certain he had a complete understanding of Linda, when he had not the first inkling of her. But transcribing the letter for her (for I was not the author, merely the messenger) was something I felt called to do, having agreed to live a meaningful life, one of service to the highest possible good. And I gave it to the neighbors, who looked at me a bit askance as skeptics do, but they understood about the role of ancestors, and had already had enough experience of me to know that I was coming from a good place, and promised to deliver it. I;m sure their ancestors made sure they followed through on that promise, as much they were “thumping” me to write the letter for them!

  • It was constructed that way! There is a book called The Assault on Truth (here’s the link about it:
    that lays out Freud’s early training experiences, theories, and profession’s reaction to them. It was clear from the very start of the foundations of psychiatry that trauma is at the root of the problems, and Freud sacrificed his patients to his career!

    This is NOT the author’s opinion, by the way. No, this comes direct from Freud‘s own private papers and writings and correspondence! Psychiatry has been a self-serving sham from its very inception!

  • I think you’re onto something there, Nomadic. When I was a kid, one of the biggest reasons I felt profoundly sad and lonely around the winter holidays was this constant stream of Norman Rockwell happy family imagery that the advertisers bombard us with, and how my own family did not measure up. The ramped-up nostalgia caused a deep longing to recapture a family dynamic that had never been real in my family in the first place.

    I love how you envision an inclusive community at the end, where no group is “othered.” Count me in.
    Blessed Be the Revolution!

  • All the things Steve McCrea said below, I echo.

    Liz, I understand that midwifery is afforded the respect it deserves in other countries. Unfortunately, it is quite different here in the US. Each state sets its own laws and regulations. In some states, it is highly regulated; in others, less so. My midwife had no formal medical degree, but extensive training via experience (assisting more senior birth attendants), and had a longstanding transfer agreement with a local OB who would take over my care in the event of an emergency. I trusted her, based on her level of expertise, yes, but also based on my own gut instincts. We lived in a state where it was legal for her, a “lay midwife” to be my birth attendant. In other states, it would not have been, because they have laws that require all birth attendants to have a nurse-midwife degree at minimum.

    My point is: Who should choose how much training is sufficient, and what that training must include? The individual in need of service? Or the bureaucracies (government, professional societies, etc.)?

  • Hi Frank, I think Gary may have omitted a necessary piece of punctuation. It takes on a very different meaning if you add a comma:

    “the large majority of people receiving core psychiatric services are not under section, yet still seek the help”

    Kinda like the difference between:
    “It’s dinnertime. Let’s go eat, Grandma!” (Grandma’s been invited to dinner) vs. “It’s dinnertime. Let’s go eat Grandma!” (Grandma is the dinner)
    Grammar saves lives 😀

  • Yes! Healing is found in genuine, open human connection. In one of my MSW internships, one of my roles was doing weekly in-home counseling sessions with seniors who had health issues that mostly kept them home-bound. One of my clients had a stretch of almost two months where every single week a new tragic and overwhelming event had happened in her immediate family: husband in ICU with a health crisis; sibling died suddenly from cancer; one of her grown children suffered a near-fatal heart attack, another a debilitating stroke. Blow after blow. And when, after she had endured all that, the next week brought her a fresh tragedy, I decided that the very best thing I could do for her was to sit with her and hold her hand and cry with her. My heart was breaking for her losses, and I did not attempt to close my heart to her so that I could maintain some sort of professional distance. She needed the opposite: my presence, steadfastly with her in the moment of her deepest grief. And because I did not close, she did not have to either. She was able to release emotions in my presence (being so present there for her), emotions that she felt the need to hide the depth of from her friends and family, to protect them. Just being present with her, remaining open to her amid the enormity of her pain, was the most emotionally healing experience I could provide.

  • I agree with: The real question is “Should people who help other people with their emotional and psychological problems be paid?” but I see another question being raised here: “Should people who help other people with their emotional and psychological problems be under some official authority?”

    I’m reminded of the debate about midwifery. Many birthing women are mistreated in the same way as “mental patients,” subjected to drugs and other interventions despite their objections/refusals. Some women have responded to this situation by refusing to turn to traditional OB care and arrange to have their birth at home or an alternative birthing center, with a birth attendant that they are most trusting of and comfortable with. Should a pregnant woman be “allowed” to choose a homebirth? Should she be “allowed” to choose a layperson whose experience and judgement she trusts, to be her birth attendant? Or must the state protect her from that choice by prohibiting anyone without official medical training from providing that service?

  • Thanks for having this conversation, Elizabeth! I gotta confess to feeling a bit like Linda, in the sense of being a tad overwhelmed by your warm reception to my responses, and your genuine interest. Our interaction is being very good for me- really making me miss Catherine, waves of grief crashing on my shore, opportunities to work that. So, deep thanks!

    You are right- been feisty all my life (and many of the past lives I remember too; it’s a constant); and you’re right that I’ve been through a lot. If all the traumas in my life were a buffet, that story would probably rank with the jello: mild, easy to take in. Not that I’m trying to medal in the Trauma Olympics or anything 🙂 just being real.

    I, too, am glad I have been able to claim a healthy sexuality. Actually, the discovery that I was bi came right on the heels of my first time having sex with a woman, which was not exactly consensual. I had a boyfriend who plied me with alcohol and heavily coerced me to have sex with our friend Karen so he could watch (a fantasy of his). And though that emotional experience with him was rape-slimy, the experience I had with her left me with a lot to think about because I really enjoyed it. Separating those two aspects of the experience was not at all difficult, which surprises me because I was really drunk; I have a low tolerance since I rarely drink. But I went out with my best friend the next night, to our favorite dance club- which was also the town’s coolest gay bar- and talked to her a bit about it all on the drive, my confidante. And I’m out on the dance floor, and out of nowhere I’m hit with this poem about my high school best friend. For me, I get inspired and the words wanna come out in a rush, grabbed napkins off the bar and dug a pen out of my purse, and the words fly out. And when I read it the next day, really read it, I realized I’d had feelings for her that were much more than I had felt safe at the time to admit to anyone, myself included. That poem was my coming out, to myself. (It’s in a journal of mine; if I come across it, I might share it here.)

    It’s kind of a miracle that instead of damaging my sexuality, that experience actually clarified it. Despite what instigated it, my experience with Karen opened the door to a path of self-discovery that allowed me to fall in love with my wife. And for that I am grateful. We have had a real path together- often it’s been beautiful, but sometimes really messy, and on rare occasion downright ugly! Whoever it was that said “Marriage ain’t for sissies!” was not lying! But I suspect you know that 🙂 I read your story Passage, and am so glad that you also found your Person- the one who gets you, and always genuinely wants to and tries to, even when they can’t. I do have that in my wife. But she’s no Catherine.

    Can I just take a minute and talk about that loss? I got Catherine when we were both in grad school- her pursuing her counseling degree, me my MSW. I sought therapy as it was highly suggested by my Family Therapy professor, because the coursework included constructing our own genogram, and as you begin looking at your own family in that context, issues often come up so it’s good self-care to have that support on-board. I concurred, and contacted Catherine to set up an interview-, not an appointment, but an initial consult wherein I would lay out my conditions, and determine by her reactions whether this would be a good fit. I explained that I’d had negative experiences with the “mental health” field before, and knew quite well what I needed as well as what would be harmful. She had to agree to view herself as my witness on my journey, not an expert. She had to be willing to earn my trust by pulling out my file without hesitation if I asked to review it. She had to be very self-aware and not allow vicarious traumatization to occur for her, and never ever expect me to take care of her emotionally. She had to agree to never pathologize me or assign a dx; I paid her out-of-pocket, sliding scale. Most important, she had to accept that I was the only author of my story, the only one able to know what rings true for me. That’s not to say she was not allowed to challenge me to look deeper, or consider a different perspective; I’m more than willing to do that. But when I say what rings true and doesn’t, my inner wisdom will always trump another’s learned knowledge. She was good with all that. Never once did she disrespect me, or judge me, or make any attempt to subjugate me, or “water-down” anything I expressed. Irreplaceable.

    Thank you for listening, Elizabeth. I miss Catherine a lot. Losing her is so very hard. This helps.

  • I so totally agree with you Alex. Being a support to someone in distress or experiencing an extreme state shouldn’t be considered the purview of any particular profession. I heard a definition of a shaman once (don’t know where; attribution is not my strong suit) as someone who has been through hell and out the other side, so has a map. I trust “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” way more than “Went to school to study that. Wrote a paper on it. So I’m an expert.” every day of the week. Doctors as a category, but psychiatrists in particular, in my experience, demand a level of trust they have not earned.

  • “People generally do not want to see they are being/have been abusive; that can be a hard truth to own and the guilt from awakening to that can be overwhelming.”

    Everyone who enters a “mental health” profession has the duty to be able to handle deep self-examination. If they can’t handle that heat, they’ve got no business near other peoples’ kitchens! Psychiatrists cannot be afforded the luxury of lacking insight into their own motivations, or the consequences of their behaviors. If they can’t take a good hard look inward, go into another line of work. (Lay tile, mix grout, prune bonsai trees, but don’t go near vulnerable hearts and minds!) They have not earned the right to guide others on a journey they can’t handle themselves!

  • Thank you J! If we had a time machine, I’d loan you the set of brass balls I acquired in that time of my life!

    Like I said, this was on the heels of almost back-to-back births. I was very in touch with my body’s wisdom at this point, because I’d had experiences around pregnancy/birth that made it impossible not to be. When I first got pregnant, I kept having periods for like 3 months, so had no physical signs to suspect pregnancy. But my body knew, and my psyche knew too- I kept having two very distressing thoughts/gut feelings: that someone was stealing my stuff; and that I could never get even a moment alone to myself. Newly-married, we were sharing an apartment with my best friend to split the rent, and I’d come home from work and literally check that my belongings were exactly where I left them. Nothing was ever amiss, and I thought I was going bonkers, until my body caught up and stopped the monthly and my boobs got suddenly very sore which prompted peeing on a stick. I was immediately relieved because both those pervasive thoughts make total sense in the context of getting pregnant! And as soon as I knew I was pregnant, I knew a couple other things: baby was a girl, and she was gonna be big, 9 or 10 lbs. So then came the due date dilemma: usually, they calculate this based on last menstruation, but that was obviously unreliable so they estimated based on her femur length from ultrasound images. And their calculations were based on the average birth weight, not the big baby I was carrying, so they were convinced she was due about 3 weeks earlier than the date she finally decided to arrive. So the pressure to induce. Nope, not based on your guesstimate, that’s not a good enough reason to risk the complications. Then the concerns that the baby is getting big (I knew that going in, so this was a non-concern for me) and that that could be an indicator of gestational diabetes. Okay, so then we test to rule-out that problem. Glucose tolerance test was negative, and I made it clear that unless there was evidence of a problem, no more talk of inducing. When active labor finally hit and I went to the hospital, I refused the IV they wanted to put in “just in case.” I had the unmedicated birth I had planned; the baby was a few ounces shy of 10 pounds, just as I’d known she’d be.

    We got pregnant again right away (an oops!) and the doctor I ended up with for this one seemed okay at first, but over time it became clear that he was pushing for a C-section. I was 7 1/2 months along when he made it clear he felt entitled to override my decisions if he decided that to do so was in my best interest. I fired him on the spot, got dressed without even waiting for him to exit the room, and politely requested my medical file from the receptionist (she gave me a form for that) and left without a second thought.

    Nobody challenges my right to bodily autonomy. And I will never cede to anyone else the right to determine what is in my best interest because it is me and mine that will be stuck with the consequences!

    So yeah, I was already a veteran of firing uppity doctors who don’t know their place! 🙂

    – and in case you’re curious, I found a midwife a few days after firing the OB, had the baby perfectly healthy at home. Baby #2 was still over 9 pounds, but I had not one tear, not one stitch.

  • In the late 80s I turned to a psychiatrist for help because I was having a very hard time dealing with life, having the will or the energy to do even the most basic self-care tasks, and had 2 babies barely a year apart to care for on my own. He diagnosed depression, prescribed prozac, and scheduled a follow-up appt for a month later. I tried the pills but quickly found the effects intolerable (a sense of being inside a bubble of not-feeling) and quit taking them. When he asks at the next appt how the pills are working and I tell him I’d quit taking them, he demands to know who told me I could stop. As if I needed anyone’s permission! I disabused him of the notion that he was in charge: “I am the only one living my life, feeling my body, thinking my thoughts. I am the expert on my experience; you aren’t. Your role here is as a consultant, not an authority. But your ego seems to require a power differential in this relationship, which is the opposite of therapeutic, so you’re fired.”

  • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for replying to my response!
    I learned pretty early that I had to hold tight o my authentic self or risk losing annihilation of it. From before birth, my purpose in my family was set out for me as fulfilling others’ needs and agendas. Conceiving me provided my teenage mother an escape from her horrific home life when she came to live with my father’s parents- my grandparents were thrilled to have a baby girl in their home that they could pretend was theirs (this grandmother had longer for a little girl to dress pretty ever since she was a little girl herself, but only ever had boys). But I was often at odds with her: I was not quiet, I did not “go along” and I insisted on my point of view being heard even before I had the words to articulate it. I was feisty, like my mother, which Mammaw hated. I was that kid in Sunday school who insisted on knowing how Adam and Eve’s kids had kids, not the kid who would drop the subject because it flustered the adults. And I was stubborn, in the sense that I refuse to cede to someone simply on the basis of their authority. So she quit acknowledging my existence when, at age 7, I refused to sign up for another year of tap dancing and insisted on baton twirling instead. Being alone with her was awful, but school was no refuge either- I had no friends, and had been the object of torment, ridicule, and well-declared ostracism since kindergarten. That’s the first existential crisis I recall, wondering whether (like that tree falling in the forest) you cease to exist when there is no one to acknowledge the fact that you do. Profound loneliness, and the first deep spelunking ensued.

    For me, the need to be known, to be understood (or, at the very least, not mis-understood) is primal, vital as breathing, and as impossible to repress as the need to pee!

    Claiming my authentic self has not been easy, because so much of my identity goes against the grain: at 8, I knew I was a Feminist (capital F) though I may not have known the word. I knew that it wasn’t fair that boys got things girls didn’t (like early dismissal to be a crossing guard) so I told the school principal what I thought of that and became the first girl crossing guard. This was at a Baptist school, same school where 2 years later I kissed a girl under the mistletoe, and was confounded by the ensuing uproar. I grew up in the 70s in the Midwest, though, so the notion of bisexuality didn’t even really occur to me until my early 20s, so I was a bit late coming out of that closet. I discovered Wicca as a teenager, though, and came out of the broom closet as a Witch. After 2 short marriages, I realized that though my sexual orientation (who I’m happy sharing a bed with) was bi, my relational orientation (who I’m happy sharing a home/life with) was not, and my wife and I celebrated 20 years together last month. Our vows did not include fidelity, though, because I had discovered another facet of my identity is that I am polyamorous, not monogamous. What we promised is to each walk our path with integrity and support the other in doing the same. And we mostly have.

    But now I’m standing in the threshold of another closet, about to declare my identity as one of the Mad, and make a wider reveal than I’ve had to do. In December, I lost my therapist of 17 years. This is what I wrote in my journal a few weeks later:

    i never understood until just recently how much it meant to have someone in my corner who understood the entire ball of wax- catherine knew all the challenges i face, all the time, all the things you just dont sport around, what nobody sees because it’s just too much, and too ugly in places and too sad, and too likely to get you judged. catherine was already with me on the journey when a whole lotta shit surfaced for me and the picture of this life started to make sense. she was my witness, she never flinched from even the hardest doscoveries, she earned the trust to hold it all with me.
    and now catherine is gone.
    i feel this loss, of her as someone who was an unblemished mirror- could see me, all of me, take me in and reflect me back, warts and all as they say, no warp in the reflection. i had no idea how much i needed her for this- to be known by someone I could always count on to know what it takes for me to live my life, to know the scope of the energy it takes sometimes just to be ok enough to get by,

  • I’m also reminded of an experience I had in my junior year of college, which for me didn’t happen until my mid-20s. I had decided to add Social Work as a double major (was already getting BS in Clinical Psych, which I later came to realize was my way of knowing the enemy, learning the tools/lingo of their oppression so it could not be turned on me, but that’s another post) because I preferred the systems approach: that asks not “what is wrong with you?,” but rather, “What has happened to you?” and “What is wrong with the systems you are immersed in, or their point of contact with you?” as the starting point to address distress. And I had had a lot of distress, definitely falling into that Wounded Healer category. So one of the classes I added had a community-service component and I decided to do my hours at the local state hospital, but their regular volunteer activities did not fit my crowded schedule so other arrangements were made for me, and I got to do my service hours in activities that other volunteers had rarely participated in. But it took awhile to arrange so I started late. So when I accompanied a group into the gym for volleyball and a long-time patient introduced himself by name and dx, and asked essentially “so what’re you in here for?” and I grinned and stuck out my hand and said “volleyball- I’m a volunteer, and this is my first week. It’s good to meet you!” and the guy was so embarrassed, like he had offended me by assuming I was a patient (not at all!) and tried to explain: “You don’t act like a volunteer! They all act real scared and keep checking where the door is and if anyone gets close they really get nervous! But you didn’t act like a Staff either, you know, all in-charge, looking-down-your-nose. Your smile was too real to be a Staff. So, yeah, I assumed you were one of us. I’m real sorry!” I told him, sincerely, “Not at all; in fact, I take it as a high compliment. I believe people ought to treat people like they are people too, no matter what, so thank you very much for letting me know I’m doing okay with that!”
    I was the only one in the room who knew that about a year and a half prior, I’d spent a couple weeks in a Respite Center deciding whether and how to live on after swallowing plenty enough sleeping pills to die. Somebody called an ambulance and ER docs pumped my stomach, but I’d ingested a lot and was unable to carry on a conversation (high as a kite!) so they let me sleep it off but insisted I talk to a social worker before I checked myself out AMA. I agreed to that, and the guy was very real with me, somebody I felt I could be a bit real with too. They had just opened the Respite Center- was out in nature, very tranquil, private rooms. I read the rules of the place and their mission statement, and there were no contradictions in the two. So I checked myself in there. The staff were ever-present, available, supportive but not intrusive. I did a lot of reading, and writing, and sitting out on the back patio that faced a forest. I was there almost a week and still pretty angry at having had my plan to be free of all that tremendous pain I was in be thwarted. It was night, and I shook my fist at the sky full of stars and issued my ultimatum to the All-That-Is (what some would call “God” but I do not) that if I would not be supported in pursuing death, I’d damn well better be supported in living because this half-assed life of barely surviving the emotional blows that just kept coming too hard and too fast was not acceptable! I set out my conditions for continuing: that each next step in my path be illuminated, recognizable, and that everything I’d need to take that next step would always be provided. I demanded that my life from there on out had to be meaningful, and do-able. “You do that,” I said, “and I will live on faith. But you gotta provide, or I am outta here!” After about a week of inhabiting that mind-space, the staff and I both agreed that I was strong enough to leave and be okay. And I pretty much was. I found new sources of strength, some that had been there awhile and just needed to know I was needing it, but also places within that really only get spelunked in the depths of existential crisis.

    Nobody but me knew that even though I was playing volleyball as a volunteer that day, it was not long before that I’d had my turn serving from the other side of the net, so to speak. But it showed, and I was glad to have been seen.

  • Thank you so much for writing this, Elizabeth!
    And thank you for seeing Linda- in another time/place/culture, she would have been recognized as a shaman, someone who has placed herself in the deepest part of the river of consciousness in order to serve her community and bring them the wisdom. Her community would have graciously received her gifts, demonstrating their appreciation for her service by seeing to her physical needs in this world while she is Otherworldly, and address her as Wise Teacher upon her return.

    So many of us hide in plain sight! You inspired me to write this poem:

    Playing in the Shards

    The sign says: I Make Jewelry from Recycled Stained Glass!

    It does not say that I play in the shards to create beauty from brokenness, but that is what I do. It does not convey the sacred healing wisdom that is enacted each time I transform a pattern that was fused in the flame, the power I reclaim as I crack the patterns I want to re-form, re-arrange, into a new creation of my own design. The sign does not betray the kinship I feel to these broken bits, because I have been shattered, so many times; and though some would look at these sharp, jagged edges and feel they aren’t safe to hold, or look at, or gaze through– indeed, most would insist they be swept up and tossed in the trash (carefully wrapped in newspapers first!)– I see their inherent value, their remaining beauty, their potential to be more. My shards are never discarded- they tell the stories; yes, of the blows that shattered, of the pressure that caused the cracks, yes, but also the tale from there. Of how even the smallest sliver has its place, that even the tiniest chip of mirror has something to reflect.

    No, the sign simply says : I Make Jewelry from Recycled Stained Glass!