Dear James, Thank you for your most detailed and insightful comment on this piece. And a separate thank you for your moving and vulnerable descriptions of your terrible TMS experience. I totally agree with your astute observation about kindness and empathy — for sure people usually mean well and honestly believe they’re helping and relieving suffering, and that’s “The best we can do given the circumstances” and this last assertion is never questioned. Whereas what they are really saying is “that’s the best we can do when it comes to quick and cheap (for us all) fixes.” I had a near miss with TMS when the same psychiatrist who tried Ketamine on me (described at the end of the piece) suggested TMS as a “safe” procedure and only my husband’s wisdom and resolve restrained me from “giving it a try” — thank G-d. Thank you for being part of MIA community! Report comment
Thank you for your most detailed and insightful comment on this piece. And a separate thank you for your moving and vulnerable descriptions of your terrible TMS experience.
I totally agree with your astute observation about kindness and empathy — for sure people usually mean well and honestly believe they’re helping and relieving suffering, and that’s “The best we can do given the circumstances” and this last assertion is never questioned. Whereas what they are really saying is “that’s the best we can do when it comes to quick and cheap (for us all) fixes.”
I had a near miss with TMS when the same psychiatrist who tried Ketamine on me (described at the end of the piece) suggested TMS as a “safe” procedure and only my husband’s wisdom and resolve restrained me from “giving it a try” — thank G-d.
Thank you for being part of MIA community!
Dear Someone Else,
Thank you for your sincere reaction and question, and for giving me the option not to answer.
The issue of psych drugs is more complicated than many would assume but that’s a long story. The short answer is that I weaned myself of the whole cocktail (very slowly and with medical supervision that I was lucky to have at the time) except for a very tiny maintenance dosage of lithium. Maybe it’s more of a placebo effect but I feel this low dosage has a preventative effect against further episodes, most survivors would disagree with me.
As for the ‘bipolar’ label, I don’t use it anymore, I’m just a psych survivor — and yes many psych drugs can make your mood/cognitive symptoms much worse, and meds induced bipolar is one of many examples of that. My first manic episode was way before I knew how to spell “bipolar”, at 19, so it’s not my case –but I’ve seen this with others.
And last but not least — thank you for saying “Yael” sounds serene, agree! The Biblical character from the Book of Judges wasn’t serene at all but I love the story 😉
Thank you again for describing this horrible suicidal feeling as “internal akatisia” — as I just published a new story on MIA about my experience with ECTs it occured to me that these are the exact words to describe what was happening to me at that time (that essay) –WOW!
THANK YOU! Naming things is so powerful.
Thank you for your thoughtful questions and comments, and for reading the piece carefully. I’d try to reply and clarify and feel free to ask further questions.
Maybe my story doesn’t make things clear but it’s not because I was evasive — rather because things are not always black and white. I surely believe that ECT is a rather harmful treatment, there is a lot written about it, see the great book “Doctors of Deception” by Linda Andre for example. But I also try to show in my essay that the desire to administer ECT can come from good intentions and concerns for the patient’s safety, even if the decision is misguided. And as for blame yet I blame the ECT industry for promoting this “treatment” but particular practitioners are honestly misguided by what they were taught to do…
With regards to your question about religious guilt feelings yes it could be a major factor for many people, I see it in my work as a chaplain. I doubt it was a major factor for me (I grew up completely secular) but it could be a factor.
With regards to akathisia I definitely had my share of it and at the time described in the essay I did suffer from it, and yes it probably was responsible for the intensity of my mental anguish. You asked about psych meds — well, aside from giving me side effects they weren’t helpful in dealing with my suicidality and bipolar symptoms. The only medication I ever found more helpful than others was Abilify but then maybe it was simply a correlation with other positive changes in my life.
As for hospitalizations, I’m by far not an expert on those since I had only a handful of short inpatient psych stays and of those two were for the purposes of administering ECTs. I found them quite traumatic for sure but they were a rather small part of my 20+ years of experience with psychiatry. And last but not least — we’re psychiatric survivors by virtue of calling ourselves this way, it’s not something you have to “qualify” for. It’s an identity.
Thanks again for reading and commenting, and blessings to you!
Thank you for sharing your ongoing struggle of 70 years… Can’t even imagine how you’ve endured that… Hearing that another survivor felt moved and encourages me to keep writing means a world to me, honestly.
Hope you find the MIA community healing and supportive. Blessings to you!
Dear Diaphanous Weeping,
Your comment about society not fighting for the lives of those who feel Suicidal is very true. Our society often doesn’t do what is hard, it does what’s easier. Helping desperate people to choose life and renew their souls is hard work, and our communities often don’t do that…
Thank you for naming this sad truth.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your own experiences with suicidality, and for your kind words about my bravery.
Yes, I chose to post this piece exactly because only those who have the lived experience of those Suicidal states truly “get them” — and I wish we could all share in this hellish pain…
And as for akatisia yes, I’ve had some during my “mixed states” of bipolar episodes, and yes it’s an awfully hard thing to bear. I never thought of describing intense suicide feelings as “internal akatisia” but it is, in fact, an apt and powerful imagery. Thank you!
Suicide is by all means complex. It involves thoughts and feelings and tons of other aspects.
And so feeling Suicidal means feeling that you want to die asap. This FEELING makes you think of ways to kill yourself which might or might not result in actions, depending on a bunch of complex variables.
And to say that it’s not a FEELING is not just a mistake, it’s a tragic dismissal of lived experience of deep soul pain that causes millions (!) of people untold suffering.
Last but not least this piece is a blog and as such I’d appreciate readers refrain from words like “lie” with regards to descriptions of one’s own deeply personal experience.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤ for sharing your story. And for reaching out.
I’d be happy to hear more, sorry about the typo that crept into the email, here is the correct spelling:
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you so much for sharing your most tragic story of losing your daughter…It pains me so much that there are countless stories of young bright lives lost to psychiatric abuse… Being a hospital chaplain I hear them a lot, and they are so heart breaking… Talk about man-made evil.
Hope that writing your memoir would bring you comfort and would empower many to fight that oppressive industry. Thank you for being witness.
Thanks for sharing your horrible experience with the crisis line — sadly I’ve heard this story from many….
And yes, tragically there are no groups that are run for Attempt Survivors as much as there is a huge need. The reason seems to be the same as why it’s so hard to find psychotherapists in private practice willing to take on Attempt Survivors as new patients. Hate to name the reason but it has to be named: professional liability. Those patients are objectively “high risk” and thus most professionals don’t want to take on the risk…
I know chaplains who’d be most honored to facilitate Attempt Survivors groups but can’t find a mental health colleague to partner with… it’s a shame.
Joshua, thank you for saying this — yes, I try to promote “NOT outsourcing” Suicidal states amd people who suffer from them to mental health professionals or support groups or crisis lines or some “other”.
When people say “I’m afraid to make it worse” … what they are actually doing is making it worse by abandoning the person, leaving them alone with their soul pain, outsourcing the problem and the person….