Sunday, April 5, 2020

Comments by KateL

Showing 100 of 189 comments. Show all.

  • Yes, I feel the same way, Jeffrey. This is how I’ve lived most of my life also, through no choice I made. Abandoned by family and friends, people were always putting up “boundaries” so they wouldn’t have to deal with my “severe mental illness”. No one but me ever wondered if the “help” I was getting was the thing that was making my life unbearable.
    I guess it gives us a kind of strength in situations like this. Quarantine? Yes, I can do that. I’ve been doing it voluntarily or involuntarily most of my life. Voluntarily is when I “took the hint” that I don’t belong.
    And now I live most of my life in quotation marks.

  • Not to be flippant…I understand this is not the point of the article and that the emotional distress of being quarantined due to Covid 19 can be profound… but I couldn’t help but think of all the parallels there are to the experience of being committed to a psych ward. Stigma, lack of clear communication, boredom, lack of necessary supplies, fear of being contagious…anger, PTSD. It kind of makes me sorry for the whole world.

  • Very nice job deconstructing how the concept of anosognosia is used against people who are labeled with psych diagnoses as just another tool to strip them of their rights.

    The New York Times is just as guilty of this kind of thing. Liberal/Progressive? Not on this issue. Do they even recognize it as an issue–as something that needs attention, the fact that psychiatry is completely out of control and trampling all over people’s basic rights? It doesn’t seem like they do.

    A recent column by Jane Brody (NY Times, “When Mental Illness is Severe”, Nov. 18, 2019) besides being a thinly veiled plug for a recently published book by a psychiatrist (friend of Ms. Brody’s?), was similarly full of ideas about the “dangers” of allowing “mentally ill” people to forego “much needed treatment” simply because “they don’t know they’re ill”. Barf.
    A few of the people who commented called out Ms. Brody on the general stigmatizing tone of the article and it’s many factual errors, but many of the comments were right on board with the idea that “mentally ill” people had just too many rights and certainly some of those rights should be removed…for their own good.

  • I just subscribed to the Boston Globe because I was hoping to move to Massachusetts and beco part of the recovery community that exists in Western Massachusetts. In my current state – Connecticut – there isn’t anywhere safe for someone like me, who’s been labeled, brain shocked and drugged, then thrown away by the system and by whatever family I had. I’m too sick to move again and now believe there is nowhere safe for a person like me. I’ll definitely cancel my subscription to the Globe.

  • Alfie,
    The other thing I have, besides the shame and the anger, is fear. I don’t have family, and at 53, my mental and physical health aren’t good (some of it is normal aging but most is damage from the interventions. Even if I can accept what happened in the past and decide to get as much as possible out of the rest of my life, I really fear becoming incapacitated in any way and being put in some kind of long term care situation and being made to take psych drugs again or even have ECT done again and not being able to say no. I’ve looked into Advance Directives but it requires a family member or close friend to put into action, and there is no one to fill that role. Just so many negative emotions about all of it, where I also wind up feeling like I just want to be done with it, just escape. The system can just take so much from people, including any sense of safety. I am taking steps to move forward but it is a monumental struggle.

  • I understand, Alfie. At some point I need to gain some acceptance if I’m to have any kind of quality of living. One thing that would help is having any kind of validation in real life like what I find on this website. Mainly people in my real life just think I’m a loser, that I wallow in anger, that I play the victim, or that I need to find a new psychiatrist and “get back on my meds”. They see it as, I’ve had so much “help” and I stubbornly refused to be helped by the help. I guess for now I need to find a way to validate myself. I also have a ton of shame because I don’t like that I lash out at people when I feel like they’re putting me down or they think I’m just a “hopeless borderline”. Between the shame and the anger I have very little peace. I need to work on having more peace which, as you said, comes from acceptance.

  • Everything you describe – that’s how I feel, too. I spent some time going to AA also and felt the same pressure to be grateful. I was in DBT at the time, too, where everything was about being willing. The more pressure I felt to be grateful and willing, the more resentment built up inside me.
    I like what that person said to you,…the resentment is your spirit saying, don’t let them take your dignity and self respect. I would add to that, our intuition, our gut sense of what’s happening. Sometimes, when I thought I was being “played” – I really was being played. I wish I’d trusted my instincts instead of suppressing them and accepting the “party line”:. You believe someone is trying to hurt you/lying to you because you have paranoia and anger because you have borderline personality.
    Unfortunately, after spending so much time in the system, I really do have trust issues. There’s no one right now in my real life that I trust. I think I’m going to need to slowly build trust in myself before I can think about trusting anyone else.

  • My borderline diagnosis was at least in part a form of punishment – because when I learned that my psychiatrist of six years had kept no records while prescribing a ridiculous amount of drugs, I tried to report him to the APA. That was viewed as inappropriate anger by the psychiatrists, so, after shocking my brain a number of times, I was told by the ECT shrink (a close colleague of the no-record-keeper,), “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”

  • CryAngerNow,
    I’m in the same/similar boat. I’m not off meds for as long as you have been (congratulations to you for that accomplishment).
    I was on various psych drugs for 30+ years. Toward the end, there was more polypharmacy with antipsychotics, mood stabilizers (because of a borderline diagnosis). The last drug, which I’m still in withdrawal from – Cymbalta – all I can say is, I think it changed who I am.
    But, to your point – the residual resentment, the pressure (internal and external) to be “even-keeled”, to “let it go” feels like to much too ask, in a way, doesn’t it? It would be one thing if the message – the truth – that Dr. Breggin speaks (for which I am very grateful) were universally embraced as the truth, if people understood how badly we, as patients, had been harmed, it would sure make things easier. And I don’t mean so I can wallow in victim-hood, not at all. But so people who profess to care about us would understand certain things about the impact our experiences have had on us, as people trying to live in the world. So they would understand why someone with this experience might be afraid to see a doctor of any kind, why we might appear cynical or lacking trust…any number of things.
    Another reason I find it hard to let go is that, 20, 30 years ago, the information that’s available now – this website, Dr Breggin’s books, any number of other resources – was simply not available back then, when everyone was still saying, “Trust your doctor (even if he/she is a psychiatrist)”.
    So anyway, a long way of saying, yes, I have the resentment, I have rage at what happened to me, and I fear it won’t go away. I don’t like being angry, I wouldn’t choose it, just as I wouldn’t choose what happened to me. But there it is.

  • How much harm was done by SSRIs during the first 10+ years after they came on the market with no warnings attached? I wonder what list of side effects came with a Prozac prescription in 1998. Probably nothing about worsening depression and anxiety, akathisia, homicidal and suicidal thoughts.
    How many tragedies happened in those first 10+ years that were never traced back to Prozac (or paxil or zoloft etc)?

  • I’ve had people say things like that to me – “did you take your meds?”, “you should be on meds”. “You need professional help.”
    You’d think people could come up with something better. File under, “Insults For the Unimaginative”.

  • Thank you, Steve. I actually had a good relationship with that Dr in the beginning, but he prescribed the Parnate and when I had the severe hypertension even after they stopped the drug, he could not or would not admit that the Parnate had anything to do with it. Any time they came close to admitting the connection, it was still always about what I’d done wrong, like saying that I’d violated the diet. They just abandoned me to deal with the medical crisis on my own. Even the Drs and therapists that I had a good relationship with in the begining – every time, something like that would happen, they’d show they were loyal to the system, not me…then they beat me over the head about my problem with not trusting “the people who were trying to help me.”
    I should write a book. We should all write books.

  • Thanks, Steve. I was proud of that one.
    The psychiatrist who said that to me, about me getting to people, this was at the end of 5 years of hell they put me through starting with ECT, the BPD diagnosis, many hospitalizations (all traumatic), dozens of different drugs. During that 5 years I lost basically everything that I cared about.

    So I was sitting in this Drs office at the IOP, and I think he could see how hopeless I was, and he wanted to say something but I guess didn’t have much to say, so he mentioned a ketamine study they were doing at Yale for depression. He said maybe I could try to get into that study.

    I knew I’d be excluded from the study due to the bpd diagnosis, and I was pretty sure the Dr also knew this (it’s common practice to exclude “borderlines” from depression studies) so I just said, “Hey, it’s a chance to get high.”

    That’s when he said “maybe you just really get to people.”. I was so broken at that point, it didn’t even hurt my feelings. I just didn’t care.

  • When I had an ongoing (months-long) hypertensive crisis as a direct result of being put on Parnate, they did use this kind of twisted logic with me. First they said my BP had shot up to 170/140 because of my age (“welcome to your 40s, you have hypertension”), then they said it was because I had violated the restricted diet for people on MAOIs (I hadn’t, but that didn’t stop them from writing in my chart that I had). Finally, they declared that I had an innate, underlying case of hypertension which was “revealed” by the Parnate. I told them, that’s like, if I punch somebody in the face, and then tell them, “you had an innate, underlying black eye. I just pointed out with my fist.”
    A few months later, the Dr who’d prescribed the Parnate said, “I don’t know, Kate, maybe you just really get to people.”
    They don’t like being called out on their idiocy, that’s for sure.

  • Sam,
    Your whole comment, but especially that last sentence – wow. You said it so well.
    It’s true, I’ve been traumatized over and over by reading articles about “mental illness” and “encouraging those who suffer mental illness to seek treatment, stay in treatment, be compliant with treatment…blah blah b.s. b.s.” in that liberal, progressive, paper of record, The New York Times.

    Last night the police came to do a “welfare check” on my neighbor (her father was concerned that she was suicidal and he couldn’t reach her. She hadn’t bothered anyone.), which involved two cop cars, lights flashing, cops pounding on her door for an hour, threatening to break it down (I said to the cop, “if I were her, I would be terrified right now.”). Then came two fire engines and the ambulance, she was taken to the local hospital CIU where she will only be more traumatized. That’s just one aspect of the harsh reality that mainstream media doesn’t want to report on.
    Was it Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson who said that thing in that movie that was about something:. “You can’t handle the truth.”. I think it applies perfectly here.

  • Thank you for this very informative article. I never heard the term akathisia during the decades I spent in treatment.
    I was treated with benzos and SSRIs for “treatment resistant depression” then, when I got worse, with Adderall, then, when I got psychotic, ECT, then, when the ECT didn’t “work”, I was told it was because I had borderline personality, so more SSRIs and now mood stabilizers and antipsychotics (one kind psychiatrist told me that Abilify would “heal” the problem in my brain that caused the borderline), then I could no longer work, went on disability, spent the next five years in and out of Yale IOP and Yale psych ward, I was severely anemic but no one noticed as Drs wrote “patient is thought to have poor judgement” and so much worse in my chart, I started self harming, had briefly become addicted to methadone while trying desperately to hold on to my job, so methadone withdrawal, more antipsychotics, higher doses (why is she so angry??), throw in an SNRI, some Geodon, Lamictal (if you break out in a rash let us know; otherwise you can assume “your” meds are working against your powerful, intractable, innate severe mental illness), now an MAOI which led to hypertensive crisis (“just try not to make yourself hysterical”), Latuda, the new and improved Abilify, hospital, hospital, hospital, garbage patient borderline recidivist, abandoned by family and friends, spit out of the system.
    No one ever mentioned akathisia. Every time I said “iatrogenic” the understanding DBT clinicians would point out, “That’s not helpful” (treatment interfering behavior, urge to argue, please make a star on your diary card).
    Unbelievable.

  • What happened to you was awful. I’m so glad you got off the APs – no small feat I’m sure. The withdrawal part, I can imagine, would have been terrifying…even if you understand insomnia, paranoia is caused by the withdrawal, you can’t allow any representatives of the system to know you’re in that state as they will use it as “proof” against you. I went through that recently with Cymbalta withdrawal.
    The one blessing I had was the system didn’t get to me until I was 17 or 18. It should be illegal to drug children. As you said, none of it should be legal.

  • “We get a desire to be validated by the system that put us down” – Sam, this is so true in my case. I hadn’t realized it. After a filed a formal complaint and it was ignored, I became gripped by this obsession, this panic:. They have to validate me. They have to say they understand why I feel so hurt, angry and betrayed. I kept writing emails and Google reviews, thinking, if I provide this detail, make this analogy, explain it this way, if I just use the right language, they will see what they did, acknowledge it, apologize. Maybe they will even admire my persistence. One person in Patient Relations, in response to the formal complaint, said, “you should write a book. It would be a best seller.”. But I think she was only patronizing me and trying to avoid responding in any way to the complaint.
    I have to wonder, why was I so desperate for their validation? It’s not like I had the energy for all that writing. I still do it sometimes:. I’ll post a Google review on the psych hospital or the IOP explaining another facet of how badly they f’d my life. I’m reminded of a quote I heard on that show The Mentalist. Something like, “when the individual is humiliated by a group, the individual will, in response, hold the group in higher esteem.”

  • Actually, they have done this… turned sarcasm into “evidence” of a “mental illness”…one of the psychiatrists who testified for the state in the Marci Webber case claimed that Ms. Webber showed signs of borderline personality, which, according to this psychiatrist, can manifest as “extreme sarcasm”. (I’m proving my borderline diagnosis in this comment by using so many quotation marks. I’m proving it times 2 in this parenthetical remark which is also extremely sarcastic).
    While in treatment, I often resorted to sarcasm as a defense against constant blame, invalidation, disempowerment, etc. from treatment providers and people in my family who benefitted by me being seen as severely mentally ill. Sarcasm was one of the tools I used to survive.

  • Antipsychotics were added to my prescribed drug regimen after I was diagnosed with borderline perality following a series of ECT treatments in my late 30s (the psychiatrist had recommended ECT for what was then diagnosed as treatment-resistant depression – meaning I hadn’t responded to a huge variety of SSRIs, amphetamines, benzos prescribed for 6 years by the non-record-keeping referring psychiatrist.). After the brain shocks, the doctor said, “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. Once I had that diagnosis, I was always made to be on an antipsychotic along with whatever else they were prescribing. I know I became psychotic at times as a result of prescribed drugs, but most of the time I wasn’t psychotic, I was angry. Really, really angry. Angry at treatment providers. Angry about this new shitty diagnosis that the doctor who diagnosed it didn’t even bother to define for me. I went home and googled borderline personality disorder. That’s how I learned what it was. The psychiatrists weren’t treating my psychosis with the antipsychotics. They were treating my anger. The anger that they seemed inappropriate. The anger that made them angry or uncomfortable or defensive. The anger that, they seemed to feel, I had no right to. At times, the more compassionate psychiatrists would try to make me feel like the treatment relationship was a partnership, that they weren’t forcing these drugs on me or writing notes about my non-compliance in my chart. One conversation with one of the kinder psychiatrists went like this:
    Dr:. (about to write a new RX). “What dose of Ability do you think works best for you…5, 10, or 15 mg?
    Me:. “I don’t notice any improvement when I’m on Abilify, so I really can’t say ”
    Dr:. “I’ve seen you off Abilify. I’m writing the Rx for 15 mg.”
    Being made to take antipsychotics (there were also Rxs for Seroquel, Zyprexa, Geodon, Risperdal, Latuda…it just depended on the Dr) made me angry, which, by their logic, meant I needed a higher dose of antipsychotic.

  • I had the experience with a number of psychologists, social workers, etc – people I was seeing for “talk therapy”and who were not licensed to prescribe – each of whom, at some point during the course of treatment, raised the idea that I was not being drugged enough or, in one case, when I had stopped all psych drugs, the psychologist suggested that I needed to face the fact that my disorder required me ingesting psych drugs as a part of my treatment. All of these non-medically trained talk therapists turned the conversation to psych drugs, one even insisting that if I refused to take psych drugs, she would drop me as a patient. She spent an entire session talking about what she thought would be a good drug cocktail for me, based on what her other patients were taking. None of them allowed for the possibility that the drugs I was taking or had recently withdrawn from had harmed me. Psychiatry’s propaganda about chemical imbalances and patients “needing to be compliant with medications” brainwashed across the board… including talk therapists.

  • When I was last in the CIU of the local hospital, after I’d been held overnight and it was getting towards noon the following day, I felt sick, hungry, worried about my cat who was home alone and I had no one to call to go and feed/reassure him (such is the life of a person who’s been diagnosed and in the system for 15 years…friends and family give up, if they were there in the first place), listening to the cries of the other patients who were also being ignored in their cells, I started yelling. A nurse came in with a needle in her hand and 4 male security guards trailing her. They surrounded the bed as the nurse told me to lie on my stomach. She pushed my gown out of the way and shot me in the butt. I’m a 53 year old woman. All else aside (the forced drug, the tacit threat represented by the guards, I could go on), the nurse could have put the needle in my arm and the drug would have entered my system just as quickly. The point was to humiliate me as much as possible. As others have said, there’s no way to insert humanity into a system that’s innately dehumanizing. This nurse wasn’t some outlier or rogue actor. She was just doing her job.

  • Thank you for this article. We need more and more of this kind of deconstruction, to borrow Miranda’s term, so that, eventually, anyone with their eyes open will see and acknowledge the truth of what Psychiatry has done and continues to do.
    I have also heard psychiatrists state that they never claimed to have evidence that chemical imbalances caused “mental illnesses”…that the chemical imbalance theory was an urban legend, that whoever came up with it, it wasn’t psychiatrists.
    It seems like they will say anything.

  • Very true, Mary. My family took that line. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “are you taking your meds?” If I answered yes, I’d then be instructed to call my psychiatrist and ask for “my meds to be adjusted.”. I couldn’t have problems anymore. If my car had been stolen, if my shower wall had crumbled, if my upstairs neighbors were too loud, I just needed to take my meds.

  • Hi, Sam, I understand what you’re saying. I suppose I wouldn’t want to live with the knowledge that I’d destroyed lives of people who were already suffering by placing labels on them, drugging them, incarcerating them. If they even have that knowledge. As you suggested, they do a good job cocooning themselves. When I think of the psychiatrists who hurt me…2 have lost their licenses/jobs since then. Several others, the ones I now see as the “untouchables” are still either highly placed at Yale or enjoying retirement in a wealthy suburb of New Haven. Every so often the local paper runs an article on one of them:. Oh, look, he wrote a book of poetry! Look, he rides his bike to work at the Yale psych hospital! Aren’t they special, these overprivileged gray haired men who ruined my life!? Do any of them really understand the impact of what they did, what they put me through? I doubt it. I was silly enough, a couple of years ago, to think they would apologize if I filed a complaint.

  • I have accepted that I’m responsible for myself, that no one is going to help me. I’ve accepted that I need to avoid doctors, hospitals and police at all costs. I can survive alone, as I have, no family, unless/until I break another bone or have a stroke. I don’t know what will happen then. My health is terrible. Three and a half decades of psych meds, ECT and a lifetime of trauma have not left me with a functioning body.

  • Great article.
    Eli Lilly makes of Zyprexa and Cymbalta, which I’m currently in a long, hellish withdrawal from. They cover up the terrible harm their drugs do, blame the patient’s reaction to the drugs on the patient, bury evidence of the withdrawal symptoms. Doctors are clueless. My internist said, “Take Cymbalta instead of Zoloft, Cymbalta is great for pain, but have your psychiatrist prescribe it.” I told the psychiatrist what the internist said, the psychiatrist wrote the Rx. I don’t think either of them knew anything about this drug beyond what they’d read in an Eli Lilly produced brochure…no different than the situation with Purdue Pharma and the other drug companies that created the opiate epidemic. The drug companies have the plan, which has nothing to do with treating illness and everything to do with profit, doctors get taken along for the ride (because of their failure to question drug company propaganda or they’re complicit). Mainstream media has finally recognized who was at fault in the opiate crisis…there are articles calling out Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers, in depth reports looking into how this happened, where did it start, what was the FDA’s role, what part did pharmacies play, who knew what when, etc…but no such coverage of the epidemic of suffering, disability and death caused by psych drugs. Is it that the majority of the populace doesn’t care, or they’re too squeamish about anything to do with “mental illness”?…I don’t get it. Also no one is forcing people to take opiates, while this whole system…hospitals, police, the courts…can and does force people to take Zyprexa and the like despite the devastating harm to the individual. Hello, NY Times? Anyone in mainstream media? Maybe they can publish a review of The Zyprexa Papers…that would be something.

  • Lavender Sage, You make a very good point regarding statistics vs personal narratives. Sure, it’s easy for some to dismiss personal stories as anecdotal (and soft, and feminine, perhaps?) while upholding statistics as “real” (solid, scientific, “numbers don’t lie” etc) but we’ve all learned, many of us the hard way, that studies can be skewed in all sorts of ways, intentionally or otherwise. I had been considering ATMC for treatment of the protracted withdrawal symptoms I’ve been experiencing, which brought me to this article. The “anecdotal” stories that were shared in the comments told me what I needed to know. For me, the comment sections on MIA carry a lot of weight – I pay particular attention to comments from fellow survivors.
    Off the topic of treatment for psych drug withdrawal but still on the topic of statistics, after I received a borderline personality diagnosis and was referred to dialectical behavior therapy, I read over and over again that DBT was the first – and at that point, still the most – successful treatment for BPD. When I entered the program, I was told over and over again that the goal of DBT was to achieve a “life worth living” as defined by the person living the life (i.e. the patient). The clinicians would ask each patient to come up with a list of goals that, if achieved, would make them see their life as worth living. Everything the clinicians asked patients to do was purportedly in the service of achieving these goals, of realizing the “life worth living”.
    At some point, after a few months in DBT, I did more reading about the studies that had shown DBT to be a successful treatment. To my great disappointment, I learned that the studies hadn’t been concerned with how many patients had achieved their life worth living. Instead, the success of the treatment was measured by the amount of time patients spent in the psych ward. So, if the patient had a reduction in emergency room visits and a reduction in the number of days they spent hospitalized, the treatment was deemed a success. After I learned this, I brought it up with my DBT clinicians, as I couldn’t help but feel a bit hoodwinked. Turns out they didn’t want to discuss it and eventually they began to label my attempts to discuss it as “treatment interfering behavior”. I had to start marking it on my diary card as a problem behavior every time I brought up the subject of the studies that showed DBT was “successful”. As you said, the truth of a study is defined by the researchers, not the subjects of the study.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Laura. I’m horrified by how you have been treated. I’ve been involuntarily committed a number of times (more than a dozen but fewer than 20? I’m not sure). It’s hard to explain how dehumanizing the experience feels to someone who hasn’t been through it.
    Sam brings up a good point: steroids definitely effect one’s mental state. Steroid psychosis is a real thing.

  • You’re so right, Sam. They have a lot of blood on their hands. I just watched a documentary on Amazon, “Speed Demons Killing for Attention”. Despite the confusing title, it’s a very informative look at acts of violence committed by people who were experiencing “amphetamine induced psychosis” – all of them were on Rx speed…Adderall, Vyvanse. Dr Breggin and Dr Goetzche (sorry for mispelling) are interviewed. There was a part about the FDA approving chewable forms of these meds, for young children who can’t swallow a pill yet but have an ADHD diagnosis. I woke up this morning thinking I dreamed that… like, “no, that’s not real, that would be insane”. It’s a real thing.

  • So much truth in this, Sam. You’re right, psychiatry is one piece of the puzzle in the brainwashing. Everybody buys into it. Once I was diagnosed, I couldn’t have a human problem anymore. It was all, “did you take your meds? Can you talk to your therapist about that?” After I went on disability, I was sitting with a friend one day and stated my concern that I would not be able to re-enter the job market. She said, “Is that something you can talk to your therapist about?”. Later I told her that her response hurt my feelings. She said, “I didn’t think I could field that response myself.”. Field that response. Like suddenly I could only get support from people with degrees in the space of a 50 minute session. And you’re right, psychiatry/the mental health system is nothing but endless circles.

  • Krakatau,
    I’m not sure if you were writing in response to my comment…if so, I’m sorry that you had a similar experience. Now I realize, there are so many who psychiatry did a number on.
    While I was still in treatment, I had only a dim awareness of the antipsychiatry movement. It’s only within the past couple of years that I’ve become aware of the extent of the rebellion against psychiatry and it’s myriad abuses of power. When I was still a patient, they had me believing I was an outlier, one of the few who didn’t “respond to treatment.”. At least now I know the truth, but still, as you said, it’s painful.

  • I’m reminded of all the self-help type of advice that tells people to “stay away from negative/toxic people. They will drag you down. Avoid them. Cut them out of your life.”. After the borderline diagnosis, I used to feel so hopeless and ashamed anytime I saw an article or post with this advice. I knew people viewed me as negative, pessimistic, not-cheerful. I knew that a lot of people (mental health workers included) viewed “borderlines” as toxic.
    Now I think of it differently. It’s hard to be cheerful and positive when you’re being labeled, drugged and humiliated. It’s hard to smile through that. And the truth was, I was toxic, literally, but only because I’d been coerced into taking ridiculous amounts of psych drugs. I’ve also stopped reading women’s magazines and I stay off Facebook and the like.

  • Rosalee, You capture that moment so well. It’s a terrible image, greatly captured. I feel like I’ve met this psychiatrist. Actually, the one I told you about…who I found out, lost her license in 2015, had a similar demeanor. The first time I met this woman, she wore black.leather trousers and a white silk blouse. I started to tell her some of my history. She interrupted, scolding me:. “You’ve had a lot of help” (i.e. it’s your fault you’re not cured). She instructed me to write her a check for my co-pay, which I did, and then yelled at me as I was leaving the office because I tried to exit back into the waiting room instead of the correct way, the door that led to the outside. She said I was violating everyone’s privacy. Such a shame she lost her license.

  • Are they going to make euthanasia legal for cases like mine… completely alone, age 53, “unrecovered borderline”, they can’t make money off me anymore since the treatment ended and I have more and more trouble taking care of myself. Am I just being made to live so the nursing home can make a profit? If the government wants to save money it can take away my disability but I want a way out.

  • My situation is so similar to what you describe. I’m on SSDI also, for the same reasons. I do think about, if I lose the disability, that will be it for me. There’s no way I can work at this point. I only function a few hours a day… enough to shower, dress, eat, maybe clean my apartment. On a good day I might even make it to the supermarket or the laundromat, but if I do, the next day I can count on being bedridden. I have no social or family support at this point, for the reasons Sarah explained so well. Spent the holidays completely alone. I had a cat but had to surrender him when my health tanked after fracturing my ankle. So, yeah, it’s bleak.

  • My situation is so similar to what you describe. I’m on SSDI also, for the same reasons. I do think about, if I lose the disability, that will be it for me. There’s no way I can work at this point. I only function a few hours a day… enough to shower, dress, eat, maybe clean my apartment. On a good day I might even make it to the supermarket or the laundromat, but if I do, the next day I can count on being bedridden. I have no social or family support at this point, for the reasons Sarah explained so well. Spent the holidays completely alone. I had a cat but had to surrender him when my health tanked after fracturing my ankle. So, yeah, it’s bleak.

  • People who have no first hand experience of psych wards may find it easy to laugh at the idea that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has any basis in reality. For these people, ignorance (with a thick underlayer of arrogance and feeling of superiority) is bliss, I’m sure.
    My first two psych ward experiences had some frightening similarities to the novel/movie. My first stay in a psych ward – after I called my former psychiatrist (the one paid by the Board of Ed to get me through high school, the one who dropped me the day I graduated high school, leaving me with a full bottle of Elavil and no follow up care) from my college dormitory and said I wanted to kill myself (I’d learned in the nurse’s office that I had herpes. My “friend” who’d accompanied me soon spread that information across the entire small college campus). I was in terrible mental and physical pain. The Dean of Students had been calling my mother for a week, telling her that she needed to come and get me. My mother refused. I was too sick to get home on my own. I called the psychiatrist and told her I felt suicidal (she had been nice to me, offering me ‘unconditional positive regard’ in session, until the money stopped; I was naive), next thing I knew there were cops and EMTs in my dorm room. They took me to Newport Hospital where I didn’t see a Dr. A nurse simply pointed to a darkened room where I was to go and find an empty bed. I begged for aspirin but “the Dr didn’t order any”. All night, a fellow patient in my room was crying, “My baby needs me!”. No one came to speak to her.
    The next morning I was discharged, sent back to campus, no Dr, no follow up. A few months later, I overdosed on the bottle of Elavil, had my stomach pumped, no psych eval, the tubes were ripped out of my nose and I was discharged.
    A year later, my second psych ward admission. I was 5 months pregnant when admitted and discharged when I delivered my son, then I was homeless. During this stay, one psych ward nurse used to verbally abuse me, calling me a bitch whenever no one else was around. I’m sure the stress affected my son. How could it not? Of all the things psychiatry has no respect for, motherhood is near the top of that list. The follow up care was drugs. Just drugs.
    The next 3 decades it was more drugs, more labels. After ECT at age 38 came a borderline diagnosis and “You need DBT.” DBT was coping skills; they said the past was irrelevant, we should just “radically accept it” (whatever “it” was; “it” was never discussed, although there was more of “it” after the borderline diagnosis — more psych ward stays, more abuse.)
    None of the early experiences were ever addressed. My treatment providers were clueless as to my history but they did clock the fact that I had “inappropriate rage” and “lack of trust” in the people who were “there to help”.
    The final slap in the face was being denied trauma therapy, at age 53. I’m so sick of these people. They can laugh all they want.

  • Interesting what they are learning at Yale. About 15 years ago, after having ECT treatments for what was then diagnosed as “treatment resistant major depression”, in my late 40s, at Yale Psychiatric Hospital, the psychiatrist told me, “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. Talk about a declining sense of purpose – with those words I went from seeing myself as a basically good person with problems to a profoundly disturbed, dangerous person (the Dr didn’t explain to me what BPD was. I went home and looked it up online). Within 2 years of this event, I went from fully employed to “permanently disabled” according to the Social Security Administration. Though I no longer believe in the borderline diagnosis, I’ve never recovered from what felt like a gut-punch from a doctor I’d put my trust in. The fallout from getting the diagnosis was huge – it impacted all of my relationships, most of all the relationship I had with myself. I never returned to the work force and, at this point, it looks like I won’t.

  • Altostrata, I agree that there are very few Drs who are aware of/will acknowledge harm from psych drugs, and even fewer still able to ameliorate it in any way. I avoid Drs like the plague now because I’m in Cymbalta withdrawal (the last in a long line of psych drugs spanning 35 years), and based on my experience with the Drs around here, their solution would be “well, start taking it again! Why did you ever stop taking it?”
    I did need to visit urgent care about a week ago for a rash. While I was there, I asked the doctor if she would check my ears. I said to her:. “I have tinnitus. I’m in Cymbalta withdrawal, and I know that can be an effect of Cymbalta withdrawal, but it can also be a sign of ear infection, and I’d like to rule out infection, so do you think you could check my ears?”
    I thought I made perfect sense, but the Dr looked at me like I had two heads, said, “I don’t know anything about that,” and left the room. When she came back, she had her assistant with her.
    Something I said must have really freaked her out. After that I just asked again for something for the rash and got the hell out of there.

    Maybe because I spend a lot of time on this website, I start to have the – very false – belief that the knowledge of the harm of these drugs has reached the mainstream.

  • When I badly fractured my ankle a couple of years ago during a sh*tstorm of bad luck events, I wound up in the orthopedic ward of the local hospital following surgery to repair my ankle. I live alone in a 3rd floor apartment, I have no family or close friends, and I knew I was facing a terrible situation when I was discharged of how to get in and out of my apartment and how to care for myself and my cat. As it turned out it was several months before I could even put weight on the foot. I was right to be worried. I started having suicidal thoughts and confided this to one of the nurses on the orthopedic ward. Huge mistake! After that I needed a “sitter” in my room at all times. One of the sitters pinched me. I screamed. The staff came running in and threatened me with restraints. They said I was acting like a child. The rest of the time I spent in the orthopedic ward most of the nurses mocked and yelled at me. One said to another, “I heard when she came in she had bedbugs” right in front of me.
    From that ward I was sent to a rehab facility. Because I’d admitted to feeling suicidal at the hospital, the rehab psychiatrist came to see me after I’d been transferred there. Her solution was to prescribe Wellbutrin. I told her I’d been on Wellbutrin in the past, that it hadn’t worked and had made me very agitated. She just said “that was then, this is now” and went on prescribing it. I was already taking Zoloft. The Wellbutrin was an addition.
    After less than 2 weeks at the rehab I was sent home because Medicare wouldn’t pay for more days there. I was discharged in a wheelchair and when I got home I had to crawl up three flights of stairs to get in my apartment. For the next month or so – until I was able to put weight on the foot – that’s how I got around…by crawling. It’s what I had been afraid of and was one of the reasons I had suicidal thoughts at the hospital. This psychiatrist who I saw only once for 5 minutes thought she was actually doing something constructive by prescribing Wellbutrin; either that or she didn’t care at all, knew the whole thing was a charade. I stopped the Wellbutrin as soon as I was discharged. The idiocy.

  • Agreed. Marsha Linehan didn’t do people who get this diagnosis (myself included) any favors. I went through DBT and as my functioning got worse and worse I felt a huge sense of failure. Looking back on it, there is a lot wrong with DBT. They work hand in hand with psychiatrists, and as you said they completely subscribe to the idea that patients have this thing called borderline personality disorder, and yet they tout nonjudgmental stance as a core principle of the treatment. When I entered DBT, it was drummed into me that my past was irrelevant, that recovery didn’t require any trauma therapy, that as long as I learned and used the skills I’d be golden. There was something incredibly invalidating about that. The entire time I was in DBT, I was traumatized repeatedly by psychiatrists and other “helping professionals”. I was treated like garbage every time I landed in the psych ward (which happened often because I took on the diagnosis), but I was supposed to be nonjudgmental about the abuse I was subjected to. There is so much wrong with DBT that I couldn’t see when I was still in it. Now it makes me angry every time I think about it.
    The diagnosis is definitely given a lot more to women than men. Whenever this came up in the DBT group, the therapist would explain it by saying that men with borderline personality usually wind up in prison rather than in treatment. I feel like there’s an insult in there somewhere. Like they can’t admit to the bias so maybe deflect it by implying “just be glad you’re not in prison”?

  • There is so much in this that I cling to, to remind myself I’m not crazy, playing the victim, that it’s not just “all in my head” as so many people made me believe for so long. It was in their interest – in the interest of family members and “treatment providers” and even fellow patients (in my case the system was often successful in turning us against each other…if one patient gets progressively worse in treatment it’s easier, less painful, for other patients to believe that it’s the patient’s fault… I’ve been guilty of this thinking myself) – that I be seen as “untreatable” and “beyond help”.

    The line about “their immaculate teeth”… it’s easier, isn’t it, to have good teeth when you’re not being forced to ingest drugs that deprive the mouth of necessary saliva, and when you’re not deprived of dental floss for weeks or months for fear of what you might do with it, and when you haven’t been so beaten down that self-care becomes impossible.

    I had the “needle in the *ss” treatment in the CIU a few months ago, while surrounded by 4 male security guards. Yes, it did feel like rape, and it was far from the first time. It took me 3 and a half decades, and exposure to stories like this one, to finally see it for what it is: ritualized humiliation, punishment, abuse.

  • Ha ha, “blarting on”…I love it. This is what they do, they blart on and on. They love to hear themselves blart. I’m reminded of a psychiatric nurse practitioner who, within 10 minutes of meeting me, was 100 percent confident that I needed to be on Latuda. Why was she so certain? Because I had told her that my previous psychiatrist, who also didn’t know me from Adam, had been 100% confident that I needed to be on Latuda. When I asked the nurse practitioner what Latuda does that was so necessary for my functioning, she said “it makes chemical changes in your brain.” Wow, I thought, that’s real freaking specific. How much schooling did you need to learn that?
    Thank you for the laugh, streetphotobeing, and thank you, Sandra, for your story. I hope that someday I will have the courage to tell mine. There are a lot of parallels. I’m happy for you that you made it back to the side of the tracks where you belong. It gives me hope that someday I may join you there.

  • This is close to what I experienced as well. When I was “in the system” with the borderline diagnosis (after I didn’t respond to ECT for depression), it was expected that I would have a therapist and also a prescriber. Every social worker and psychologist I was in treatment with turned quickly to drugs as the solution. I had therapists tell me they wouldn’t continue to “see me” unless I was medicated. One psychologist I was in treatment with brought the psychiatrist (who she had referred me to, who I paid out of pocket for, and who had made clear that he would only treat me if I was seeing this DBT psychologist) to my session with her and told him, “Do something!” (i.e. drug her more). When this happened, some of what I was going through: my son was highly suicidal, my brother was dying, and my other brother had just admitted to molesting me as a child. But somehow the answer to what I was experiencing was more drugs.

  • I spent the last 35 years going on prescribed psych drugs and then coming off of them. I was under a false impression that I could handle anything the Drs threw at me. On and off stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzos, mood stabilizers. Usually I’d wind up on some other drug since the withdrawal symptoms were always viewed as my intrinsic mental illness.
    Then, over the last several months, I came off Cymbalta, which I hope to God is the last psych drug I will ever have to withdraw from. The intensity of anger I felt during the withdrawal (I think I’m through the worst of it now), combined with constant ringing in my left ear, and suicide urges like never before scared the crap out of me. There were many days when I didn’t leave the house for fear that I would get into an argument with someone. One day I was waiting in line for a coffee at Dunkin Donuts. A guy tried to cut in front of me. I was so angry I was physically shaking. So I isolated myself, which led to more depression and hopelessness but was still preferable to the alternative: getting into stupid arguments with strangers. I knew that if I confided in any medical person about the chronic, extreme irritability and anger I was experiencing, the “solution” would be: go back on Cymbalta, get on an anti-psychotic, and/or commit myself. I’m finally at the point where, most days, I feel confident that I can be in public and not get into an argument.
    I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories, but there is definitely a conspiracy to hide the terrible effects of these drugs, and the mainstream media, including the so-called left-leaning media, is part of the cover up.
    My saving grace was that this time I understood that my anger was at least in part a result of Cymbalta withdrawal, and I knew enough to steer clear of medical people. It is a sad state of affairs, though… knowing that there’s no actual help for psych drug withdrawal. Unless, I suppose, you have money for a private rehab/detox facility.

  • Thanks for this, CatNight. I tried to reply to you after I first read your comment but I think I got overwhelmed with it. Sometimes I need to take a step back. I spent 35 years in the system, swallowed all the pills and the lies… worked out great for my family who needed a scapegoat. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve been a fool. On the other hand, the pressure was so strong from everywhere – family, “friends”, acquaintances. “Call your therapist. Sounds like you need a med change. You haven’t found the right cocktail. Do you need to spend some time in the hospital? I’ll help you pack a bag” (never mind that they won’t let you keep anything once you check in).”. Any reaction I had to it was pathologized. my anger was seen not as a response to my human rights being violated over and over again. In everyone else’s mind my anger had its own life, it was born in a vacuum, because I was a borderline. Over time I became the one who couldn’t get well despite all the help she had had.
    Now I’m 53, alone, physically ill and too scared to see a doctor. It feels like a lot.
    When you say, “so many hidden moons circling” it reminds me of something I read (can’t remember the source) about how childhood trauma and the huge lifelong impact it has on a person physically mentally emotionally etc… This gets “discovered” once every 50 years or so and then buried. Then the line goes right back to, “we don’t know what causes mental illness. We’re really working hard to come up with new drugs and new treatments but the whole thing is a big mystery”. As many others here have said, keeping it a mystery serves the abusers and it serves an entire industry that wants to keep making money off diagnosing and drugging.

  • Yeah, there were a lot of things that I went along with…that I wish I hadn’t. This same therapist said something to me about a therapist who turned out to be “in over her head with you,” as he stated it, and when he said it I sort of tacitly agreed. Now I think back on it and I think, was she/were they in over their heads with me? Or was I in over my head with them? They’re supposed to be the experts.

  • I kept thinking about this yesterday. How does a kid make sense of this? Do they wind up thinking, I’m disabled because I got bullied? I got bullied because I’m disabled? Once you’ve taken a kid out of school because he or she is supposedly disabled, how much easier is it to convince them they’re mentally ill and need to be on drugs?
    When I was getting bullied, I wanted desperately for someone to notice it and address it. The school did nothing, my parents did nothing. I wound up taking a different bus back and forth to avoid the girl gang who was always threatening to “kick my ass”. Even then, one of them shouted at me one day, “we know what bus you take, Pizzaface. We’re going to come find you.”
    I wanted someone to address it but taking a kid out of school and labelling them disabled… you’re right, it’s blaming the victim. After reading your article I’m thinking I got off easier than these kids. So sad.

  • Thank you, Rosalee. It took me a long, long time to learn never to trust them. In my 35 years as a patient, there were a few therapists along the way that helped me. Maybe 10% of the treatment providers I saw helped me. The rest of them did a lot of damage. In a way, that 10% wound up making things worse for me because it kept me going back. The one therapist I had at the IOP DBT program who helped me was always trying to impress upon me that I need to give people the benefit of the doubt and he tried to make me give this to other treatment providers who had already hurt me. in this program, it was mandatory that patients have an outside, individual therapist because the IOP DBT program is an 8 month program and then you’re out. So they want patients to be working with a therapist while they’re in the program so that they have that when they leave the program. But almost all these outside therapists were worse than useless. The woman who talked to me about my very poor coping skills that I inherited from my parents…she was an outside therapist.
    “Let’s apply the benefit of the doubt skill in this situation,” he would say. The end result was, after giving the benefit of the doubt to people who didn’t deserve it and being badly hurt, I got furious at the one guy who did help me the most. I was so angry at him for making me put my trust in people who didn’t deserve it. When those people hurt me I took it out on them but also on him. I still feel badly for that but it was a pretty impossible situation.

  • This is scary stuff. Thanks for writing this, Julie. Very informative.
    There’s so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin. I was bullied throughout most of my years in school. The school ignored it (even though the bus drivers heard girls threatening to “kick my ass” on a daily basis) and my parents ignored it. This was late 70s early 80s. Flash forward to around 2006… after having ECT/getting a borderline diagnosis etc I applied for SSDI after 14 years of full time employment. I received disability the first time I applied. The government deemed me “permanently disabled”. That term had a real powerful effect on my psyche. I’m still on disability.
    Reading your article, it made me wonder, how much worse would it have been if, as a child, I had been bullied and then labeled disabled because I’d been bullied (and because someone had a financial incentive to label me disabled and take me out of school)? As an adult at least I had the ability to take the label with a grain of salt, but as a child…? Like, the bullying isn’t enough, now you’re disabled, kid. Because somebody is going to make money (but the kid doesn’t know that part).
    If the USA is the greatest country and this is happening to our children, God help the whole world.

  • Thank you, Rosalee. Maybe someday I’ll have another cat. I keep hoping to hear from the vet that they found a new home for Kodi. They said they’d let me know. He’s not that easy to place because he’s 9 now. It breaks my heart. Sometimes it seems there is no right decision. I know they take good care of him but he is caged most of the day.
    I wonder also why some of these mental health workers wind up in these positions. At the local hospital most of the staff seem to have lived very sheltered lives. I was there for surgery for a badly fractured and dislocated ankle about a year ago. I live in a building where the landlord is compassionate and he rents to people, like me, who might otherwise have trouble finding any housing. The women who live in the two apartments near to mine barely leave their apartments. Just before I fractured my ankle last year one of these women asked me to take care of her cats while she went to visit her father. I went into her apartment twice a day and took care of her cats. This woman never told me that she had a serious bed bug problem. After taking care of her cats for the week, I also had bed bugs in my apartment. I had brought all of my clothes and sheets etc to the laundromat to get rid of the bed bugs and all the clean laundry was piled in the living room when the EMTs arrived to take me to the hospital for the fracture. I made the mistake of being honest with them. I told them that the laundry was piled in the living room because Id just taken it to the laundromat because of the bed bugs. They were openly disgusted and started making jokes about it. When I got to the ER no one would come in the room that they put me in because of the bed bugs, for about half an hour. After the surgery I was in the orthopedic ward where the nurses all hated me. I heard one of them say to another one, “I heard she had bed bugs when she came in.”
    It made me so angry. If you live in a house that’s not connected to any other houses and you have your own washer and dryer, your chances of getting bed bugs are much lower. But they used this information about my having bed bugs as another bit of ammunition against me. I wound up thinking that they were spoiled and must have had really easy lives. I guess they wound up thinking that I was dirty.
    This is the same hospital where I was in the CIU a few months ago. I asked for a ride home when they discharged me. They said my insurance didn’t cover it. They told me to call someone for a ride but I didn’t even have my phone with me so I wound up walking home in the dark. No compassion. I hope I never wind up at that hospital again.

  • Thanks, Jonathan. Yes, this is the sort of thing I was talking about. My oldest brother, now deceased, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens. This was about 40 years ago. The notion, passed off as fact, that this was destined to be a lifelong illness, that he would need to be medicated his entire life…that’s all he heard from his doctors. After multiple hospitalizations and forced drugging, he fled to Puerto Rico. He was determined never to take another psych med for the rest of his life, and in that he succeeded. In my mind, it’s huge for someone to recover in spite of medical “intervention”, and to get across to people that having one or more psychotic episodes does not mean someone will never recover, never be able to have a life without psych drugs and hospitalizations.

  • Of course you’re right, Fiachra, and I’ve gotten a lot out of reading people’s stories on this website. I didn’t mean to dismiss this resource although I can understand if it came across that way. I guess I’ve just been dumbfounded that so few survivor experiences and survivor resources have breached whatever invisible wall there is surrounding mainstream media. I hear bits and pieces in mainstream media about “the drugs don’t work for some people” but nothing that gets across the idea that getting sucked into the mental health system people are actually in danger of having their health and their life ruined. It seems like the media would want to jump on this story…but what I read in the NY Times, etc, it’s not getting across just how dangerous psychiatry can be.
    Just as an example, there was an article in the Times about a week ago about how the pharmaceutical companies have such a bad reputation but now they’re all providing AIDS medications and other medications to less developed countries for very low cost or free. The idea of the article seemed to be, oh look big pharma isn’t so bad after all. I went right to the comments section. There were 12 comments many of them bashing big pharma and basically saying, these people don’t do anything out of altruism. The comment section had been closed after 12 comments. I had wanted to make a comment to the effect that maybe they want to export there DSM diagnosis, chemical imbalance myth, and all their psych drugs to these countries. Maybe that’s their endgame. I don’t know why the Times close the comments section after only 12 comments. I don’t know if I’m paranoid or if they are part of the conspiracy. I just wish some of the stories that I read here would reach a larger audience.

  • That sounds like the best solution…for this entire system to just stop existing. If only it would collapse under its own weight.

    It was suggested to me a number of times by treatment providers that “trauma work” would be available to me once I was stable in their eyes. Being stable meant…accepting the borderline diagnosis, being compliant, taking the drugs as prescribed, and the like.
    There was never going to be any trauma work. It was a long con.

    If we know what trauma is, then, yes, better to stop it from happening in the first place than to add a trauma informed veneer to the current system. If we can see that a policy is creating trauma, better to focus on changing the policy rather than put more money into a broken system.

  • Thank you, Lavender Sage. What happened with Kodi was kind of a complicated situation. I’d had him for a couple of years when I surrendered him a few months ago. I’d adopted him at age 7. He had a hard time making the adjustment to living with me after being in the same home, with a family, his whole life, and during the time I had him we just had one stroke of terrible luck after another. I did start to feel like we were under a curse. I don’t trust my neighbors, at all, for reasons I won’t get into, but that plus not having any family or, at the moment, even a friend, it’s just hard. I feel like it would be irresponsible to adopt.
    Kodi had 3 serious incidents during the 2 years he was with me (swallowed a lot of ribbon, needed surgery, almost died; then, fell of the deck and broke his leg; then jumped into a bathtub that had wet sealant in it which dried into his paw fur and the vet had to shave the fur to get it off) and over time I think the vet started to have serious doubts about me and my ability to care for Kodi. When I was taken to the ER, not knowing how long I would be there, I contacted my landlord who took Kodi to the vet for boarding. When I was discharged from the ER (Crisis Intervention Unit or Crisis Escalation Unit depending on your PoV), I was not okay… I’d been shot in the ass with something…it was one of the most awful CIU experiences i ever had, and that’s saying a lot. I was just a shell of myself and that is when I called the vet and she suggested I surrender Kodi, so I did. The truth is that I am so isolated and Kodi is highly social – he likes people coming and going, needs stimulation – that I felt it was unfair to keep him with me. I thought he could do much better than me, have a better home, with a family. I thought I was doing the right thing. I just decided to take the vet’s word for it that I should surrender him.
    The part that is so hard for me is that, all these months later, they still haven’t placed him. He is still living at the vet. I sent an email about a month ago offering to take him back. They never answered me. So, as much as I would love an animal companion I don’t think it would be responsible, at this point. I’m also not convinced the curse has lifted. I know that sounds paranoid but the past couple of years it’s just been a sh*t storm, one thing after another.
    Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  • “Survivor and user-led initiatives are highlighted as central to shaping interventions…”

    I totally agree with this statement. I think it’s too bad that the people running the show (big pharma, most of psychiatry, etc) seem to have no interest in hearing from survivors/service users. The people who have been patients – who have been diagnosed and drugged and locked up – have hard-earned, first hand knowledge of what needs to change, of what would have been helpful as opposed to what we were actually subjected to, but our voices aren’t heard in mainstream media. Instead, in the media it’s just a continued push for more screening, more diagnosis, earlier diagnosis, which amounts to more drugs since the system still operates on the biomedical model. It’s not so much that the people in power haven’t gotten the memo. It appears they don’t want the memo. I saw a headline somewhere the other day that said (paraphrasing) “there’s more access to mental health treatment than ever before, the stigma is less than before, but the number of people with mental illness is higher than ever, the disability and suicide rates are higher, this is very mysterious”. I thought, have they not heard of Anatomy of an Epidemic? Is this willful blindness?

    I’m curious…does anyone know of books written by psychiatric survivors that have reached any measure of a wide audience? I’m aware of books criticizing the bio medical model, psych drugs, the DSM, like Mr. Whitaker’s, Dr. Breggin’s books, etc. and I’m grateful for those as they validated what I’d always suspected was the reality. But books by people who went through the system and survived it and told their story about it?
    When I was first diagnosed with borderline, there were a few books out by people who had gotten the diagnosis and recovered, through some kind of treatment. All of those books hewed to a formula that I would now categorize as “recovery porn” – “I was crazy but then I learned I had borderline and got treatment and now I’m much less crazy thanks to DBT”. I’m looking for a book by someone saying, “being diagnosed with a mental illness and the treatment that followed made things so much worse but I survived it and found a way to escape the system” or something along those lines. The New Yorker article about Laura Delano’s experience comes to mind, but as many have expressed I don’t think it went far enough in making clear the extent of the danger and potential damage involved in being a psychiatric patient.

  • Thank you, Rosalee. You say the best things. 🙂
    That is really just what I needed to hear. I’m so glad for this website. It’s one of the only “places” where I don’t feel I’ve gone mad.
    I did read Dr. Caplan’s article, thank you. It was very good. I have finally decided I never want to be called borderline again. I reject the diagnosis.
    I heard Dr. Van der Kolk speak once…at a borderline personality conference at Yale. If only there were more like him. I had a so-called trauma informed therapist once. One day I tested the waters by describing to her an interaction that went on between my parents every day when I was a kid. It was bizarre, I’ll admit…but she was a trauma therapist. She became completely silent and said very little the remainder of the session. The following week in session, sort of out of the blue, she blurted, “That thing that you told me about your parents last week…that was ridiculous!” She sounded so angry. I didn’t know if she was angry at my parents for what they did or angry at me for telling her about it. A couple of months later, I was dealing with severe hypertension after being put on Parnate. The prescribing psychiatrist and all of the other doctors I saw about this sudden stroke-level hypertension told me it had nothing to do with the parnate and it was caused by age. My blood pressure went from completely normal to stroke-level during the week or so I was taking parnate. They were trying to tell me that I had aged that much in a week. They finally told me to go see a cardiologist. He did a stress test and then because he couldn’t find another reason and didn’t want to attribute it to the parnate, because you know, doctors, they stick together, he said, “Welcome to your forties, you have hypertension.” I found out later that one doctor wrote in my chart the reason for the hypertension was that I hadn’t followed the restricted diet for parnate. That was an absolute fabrication. So, being very upset about all of this and the idea that now I would have to be on multiple blood pressure meds for the rest of my life, I was speaking about the whole situation to this therapist. She was quiet for a long time and then she said, “You inherited very poor coping skills from your parents.” I asked her what she meant, and asked how did that relate to what I was telling her about my blood pressure? Was I doing something wrong? If I was doing something wrong maybe she would tell me what it was that I was doing wrong so I could fix it. She wound up kicking me out of her office before the session was over. So not only could she not handle hearing about the trauma that my parents had inflicted on me, she stored that info in her therapist brain and later used it as a weapon against me.
    I have so many memories like this that float around in my head all the time. Sometimes I come up with snappy answers I should have said, only I’m ten years late.
    This one psychiatrist who was, well, useless, like most of them, when he was deciding what drugs to add to my regimen, I pointed out to him that I had recently experienced 3 family crisis: the death of my oldest brother, a meeting with my other brother during which he told me he molested me as a child in reaction to something my mother had done to him, and my son having a breakdown. I told the psychiatrist, “maybe what I am experiencing is not depression but grief.” He said, “But don’t they teach you in DBT to just let it go and move on?”
    This was maybe six years ago. I was thinking about it today and thought, I should have said to him, “Right, so then what do I need you for?” and walked out.
    Maybe at some point I’ll be able to think about something else, go back to my artwork. I guess I must be resilient though, because I’m still here.
    Sorry for the ramble. Thank you for the support. I am doing a little better. I’m getting out more. I just really miss my cat.

  • I really appreciate hearing your thoughts about this, Stephen. It tells me that my feelings about my experiences as a patient had some basis in reality. Also wanted to say that with my sarcasm I did not mean to make light of the situation, although it possibly came off that way. It’s very painful for me to think about all the years I spent as a patient, in and out of hospitals. The sarcasm is my way of trying to distance myself from the pain.

  • I did find DBT helpful at times but it wasn’t worth it. I was still a mental patient and everything that came with that, like being told that I needed to be on antipsychotics because of my inappropriate anger.

    To circle back to the topic of the article, which I appreciated (wow, the $$$) I have an abilify story from the time when I was in the DBT program at the IOP. I met with the medical doctor and she was renewing my amphetamine prescription. I had made sort of a devil’s bargain with her where she would give me amphetamines and I would take an anti-psychotic. She was about to write the abilify prescription and asked me, “what dose works best for you? I can do 5:10 or 15 mg.”
    I told her I didn’t notice any difference one way or another being on or off for abilify or on a higher or lower dose of abilify.
    She answered, “I’ve seen you off abilify. I’m prescribing 15 mg.”
    In my head I was like, why did you even ask me?

  • Steve, one of the main teachings in DBT is the idea of “getting through a crisis without making it worse”. So for people who have what they call ineffective coping skills, like drug use, self harm, fighting, being an annoying mental patient, anything like that… The idea is that if you get emotionally dysregulated instead of doing your so-called problem behavior you can hold onto a frozen orange or as I was taught stick your face in a bowl of ice water. because as long as you’re holding onto a frozen orange or sticking your face in ice water, you’re not doing the problem behavior. And the idea is that your dysregulated emotions will subside and then you can I guess let go of the orange and take your face out of the bowl and be normal. Something like that.

  • Thanks, Julie. I shouldn’t have told them about the kratom, that’s for sure. I was operating under an honesty is the best policy sort of rule but that doesn’t work with these people. And once I had told them I would have had to lie and tell them that I’d stopped taking it and I wasn’t about to do that just to get back into this program. it was probably for the best anyway because then I would have been back in that IOP and there would have been so many other things that we would have locked horns about, like all the coerced drugging that goes on.
    I’ve come to think that DBT is kind of a ridiculous treatment anyway because it’s based on the idea that the past doesn’t matter, the trauma doesn’t matter. They’ll tell you it doesn’t matter how you got this way just learn these coping skills and you’ll be fine. In my case that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. They only finally just added this trauma component to the treatment. They didn’t have that 10 years ago when I first one up in the program. Just DBT, no trauma therapy. Well DBT and drugging.

  • Frank, your comment brings to mind a situation that I was recently in. Over the past year-and-a-half I was trying to go to an IOP program that has dialectical behavior therapy. I’ve been in the program before and I wanted to go back, and had an offer from the clinician who runs the program, to come back because they now have added a trauma component to the program. I never had trauma therapy before and I wanted to try it as it was pretty much the only thing I haven’t tried, and I trust this clinician, or did trust him. So I was sort of straddling the fence between giving up on getting any help thru the system and giving it one more go. Long story short, as I was trying to get into the program and they kept setting up barriers for me, like that I would have to also have an individual – outside – therapist (yeah I’m such a tough case that I would have needed this whole architecture of support. Actually all I ever needed was one decent therapist but that didn’t happen) blah blah, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I felt lied to about a lot of things that went on in prior treatments. I felt supremely patronized by some of the people I was in contact with.

    One of the barriers was, I take something called kratom which is a plant that grows in Thailand. The FDA has been trying to ban it in this country for the past 3 years or so, and I mean really really trying to ban it. They have launched a whole campaign and got the DEA involved in an emergency scheduling which is ridiculous because Kratom is really pretty safe. It has opiate like properties yes but it’s impossible to overdose on kratom and it doesn’t have the same kick as a real opiate.

    The medical doctor in this program told me I would have to go into a detox to come off the kratom before I could come back to the program. The thing that really bothered me was that they would have been fine with me being on Suboxone or methadone, as long as I was getting it from a doctor. I think they didn’t like the fact that I’m circumventing big pharma, circumventing doctors… that no one is monitoring it for me because certainly I can’t be trusted to monitor my own consumption of a legal plant (well, still legal in my state thank God. The FDA has made some inroads.)

    As I tried to explain to them many times, I have severe fibromyalgia, arthritis, I badly fractured an ankle a year ago and I’m still healing from that. I don’t want to be on methadone or Suboxone or Lyrica or any of that crap. I tried to explain all this and of course I was talking to a wall. So that was one of the last straws for me.

    But when you talk about the multiple businesses and entities that profit from the system being what it is…to me the kratom situation was a perfect example of that. As I blurted out at one point when I got fed up with what these doctors were saying, “everyone knows the FDA works for big pharma so of course they don’t like kratom.” Also, who caused the opiate epidemic? If you ask me, doctors and big pharma. They’ve got people dying on the street of fentanyl overdoses but yeah the da needs to rush in and schedule kratom.

    So the whole thing was kind of ridiculous, turns out I’m not getting trauma therapy but at least I don’t have to be a mental patient anymore.

  • Pacific Dawn, I agree about public victories…yes, we need them. Not sure what it would look like…there have been class action suit against the makers of cymbalta, but that’s maybe more about money. I’m in cymbalta withdrawal now, for the last 6 months, and it’s hell. I can be standing next to a blaring TV and the ringing in my ears is still louder than the TV. I’ve thought about writing a book about my 35 years worth of Psychiatric hell but not up to anything yet. First I need some private victories. I think Rachel said “for some the only way out is a casket”. I wonder if I’ll ever get some kind of life back. I’m not suicidal, at all, but I feel like hell mentally and physically and have no support. I don’t enjoy people anymore and basically avoid them like the plague. I don’t need anyone telling me to get back on meds or whatever “helpful” advice they would give. If I had a bazillion dollars I would open a post-psychiatric retreat center and would be the first guest. I saw that there’s a psychiatric survivor group in Vermont – I think they have IRL meetings and such. I wish there were something like that in my state. I think that would be a good start, to have more things like that?
    Sorry, this is a bit rambling.

  • I’m sure you’re right, Jeffrey. There is a strange way in which I’m almost looking forward to it. I’m sure this is not a healthy response on my part. Now that I’ve finally woken up to what they put me through, and realizing (with one or two exceptions) none of these people had positive intentions toward me, I want to “get into it” with them. I want a verbal confrontation. Even knowing that the best thing for me is to forget all of it, forget all the treatment induced trauma…it’s hard to do. I have a very hard time putting it out of my mind. It was 35 years of my life.

  • Jeffrey, your comment reminded me – a fellow brain damaged disabled miserable bum – that when my SSDI comes up for review again, I won’t be able to to pass the forms on to my “treatment providers” so they can write notes about how completely disabled I still am, since I have now quit any and all type of mental health treatment. I’m planning to answer the questions on the forms honestly, with something along the lines of, “After decades of abuse by the mental health system, I quit. Even in the unlikely event that any psychiatrist/psychologist would still be willing to treat me after all the complaints I filed and reviews I posted, I would refuse treatment. I won’t ever be a mental patient again.” I don’t know how that’s going to play but they can take away my disability if they have to. I’m not doing that anymore.

  • I would like to apologise to the author of this article for the tone of my earlier comments. I’ve been in a bad place, and the subject matter hit very close to home. I completely agree with the premise that these types of problems are passed down through generations. My son cut me (and the whole family) out of his life 6 years ago, and I don’t blame him for it. The whole family is deeply dysfunctional.
    I said in the earlier comments that the article made me feel hopeless and angry. Closer to the truth:. I was feeling hopeless and angry at the time I read the article, and I reacted. I do apologise for that.

  • I agree with the other commenters that mental illness is a social construct. Childhood trauma is real and its effects are real and yes it is passed down from one generation to another. Trauma is something that the mental health profession has failed miserably at treating. I can’t even say failed, because they haven’t tried to treat it. They ignore it. I have a borderline diagnosis and I have been denied trauma therapy for 35 years. The psychiatric profession has drugs and behavioral therapy for people with childhood trauma. They do not address the trauma. They deny or ignore the trauma (DBT: the past is irrelevant. Just learned skills) and blame the person who has been traumatized and they re-traumatize them and call it treatment. Both the drugs and the therapy made things so much worse for me, for 35 years.

  • Reading this article made me feel so hopeless. At least the comments so far have reminded me that there are people who know the truth.
    By the time I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at 38 (after I failed a series of ECT treatments according to the psychiatrist), my son was in his late teens. I had first encountered the mental health system at age 16, when the board of education of my public school system paid for me to see a psychiatrist once a week because I had dropped out of school due to hopelessness. This psychiatrist dropped me the day I graduated because she stopped getting paid by the board of Ed. She knew my parents were not going to pay for treatment. I made my first suicide attempt a year later using the full bottle of Elavil that she left in my possession. My stomach was pumped I was treated terribly and I was sent home back to the same abusive environment that cause me to overdose. Several months later I was pregnant with my son. Had I known that I had this so-called borderline pathology, tragedy could have been avoided. But psychiatry as always fell down on the job. The hypotheses presented in this argument based on new science? These things are blatantly obvious and have been for decades. This article really makes my blood boil.