Monday, January 20, 2020

Comments by KateL

Showing 100 of 142 comments. Show all.

  • 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.

  • Thank you, Rachel.
    I was being hypothetical but maybe should have worded my question differently or used another example, as my next comment had to await moderation. I am and have been feeling low but not suicidal and appreciate the kind words.
    To use a different example, my eldest brother Michael, who is now deceased, begin to have psychotic episodes in his teens. At one point he was walking around in some kind of warehouse store, whatever the precursor to Costco and BJ’s was. He was walking the aisles for a long time and I guess it made people uncomfortable so someone called the police. A policeman walked up to my brother in the store and asked to talk to him and my brother punch the policemen in the face. My brother was taken to a hospital, where the treatment he received was harmful to him. In a world without psychiatry, would he have been taken to jail? In an ideal world I suppose the police would not have been called as my brother was not doing anything other than wandering around the aisles in the store. I guess in an ideal world there would be a safety net that is not psychiatry and has nothing to do with psychiatry, or any type of force or coercion.

  • When I posed the question, what would replace psychiatry, I was thinking of my own life, my own perspective, which honestly is the only perspective I have. I’m not going to pretend to be capable of seeing this from other points of view. I was wondering, since so many times in the past when I had been suicidal and let anyone know it or had made an attempt or what have you, the police came and the police took me to the hospital. I didn’t have a voice in the matter. The police didn’t ask, “do you think it might help you to go to the hospital?”. they took me to the hospital because that is the law, that is their protocol, etcetera. So I was wondering, simply from a hypothetical standpoint, what would happen if say in the future psychiatry doesn’t exist. There are no psychiatrists and no mental hospitals. So again very hypothetically, let’s say a person makes some sort of suicidal gesture in public. Let’s say again hypothetically, this suicidal gesture does not involve endangering any other person. Do the police get called and if so what do they do with the person? Will the person be viewed as having committed a crime?
    that’s really what was on my mind when I asked that question and maybe I should have been more specific but these things are difficult to talk about.

  • I’ve had that thought as well… If psychiatry doesn’t exist, does the thing that replaces it serve a purely punitive/social control function? At least there would be more honesty in that approach.
    Whenever psychiatrists make that argument, “for anyone to say mental illness is a myth is dangerous”… because whoever says it is somehow going to prevent people from accessing help? The argument that mental health is a myth is in no way arguing that people don’t need help sometimes. I’m sure there’s another logical fallacy at play here, on their part.

  • Thank you, Rosalee. Okay, I will try to remember this. I know you are right and that’s the direction I need to go in. Sometimes when I think about everything I get angry but other times when I think about what I did I feel very guilty but then I start to think about why I did it and I get angry again. And I’m just trapped in my head. If I could just live outside of my head and outside of these thoughts for a while. I guess I have to discipline myself. Less thought, more action. 🙂

  • Thanks for your insight, Julie. I think it will help me to remind myself, “this fear is protective” and I can learn to care for myself better. It’s really helpful for me, at the stage I’m at, to read these comments from you, Alex, so many others…to know that you found a way through it. I have a lot of shame to work through, some of which is “mine” based on hurtful things I’ve said or done, but much that was “put on me” by this system and by family members. Looking back over the past 35 years, I recall so many instances of these two powerful forces working together to scapegoat me. I don’t actually think that they were plotting against me but the way the system is set up, I feel that in many situations my family and the system shared a common goal…to silence me. To make me the problem.

  • Me, too, Julie. I can’t have any interaction at the moment with anything medical. I also fear the police. I used to like to go for a massage or acupuncture at times and found it helpful in the past but right now I can’t bear the thought of any kind of interaction like that. I hope that these fears will dissipate over time, although the medical fear might actually be rational. I can’t afford right now to have any person with any kind of authority seeing that I “present as depressed” or whatever the terminology.

  • Frank, yes, and that was, for me, a big part of it. I now see my problems in living that began in my teenage years as a response to experiences I’d had as a child…traumas. None of these experiences were addressed in any of the treatment I had, as the labels and the drugs piled up. The result is that now the childhood trauma resides alongside 35 years worth of mental health system trauma… detention, restraint, rote humiliation.

    Thank you for this blog post…it really puts the New Yorker article in a perspective that makes sense now. Maybe we will see our tipping point…with the New Yorker article a beginning?
    In the meantime, reading this post and the comments reminds me that I’m not alone, that there are many other smart, sensitive, articulate people who have been caught in this mental health trap and who are brave and strong enough to tell their stories.

  • Sometimes I lie awake remembering things people did, things they got away with, and it makes my blood boil. Many years ago, about 5 apartments ago, one of the therapists had called for a safety check on me. There were 4 cops and 2 EMTs in my apartment. One of the cops was looking through a pile of mail I’d left on the table; my guess is his reason for doing this was to show me that he could do it – just invade my privacy like that. He said to the other officers, “things can’t be that bad, living on Everit Street.”

  • Kindred Spirit, what you describe regarding expected/coerced psych drug compliance is my lived experience. When my diagnosis was switched from major depression to borderline personality, the pressure became much stronger, even though “there is no drug for borderline”. Then I was expected to comply with poly pharmacy (an antidepressant, an anti-psychotic, and a mood stabilizer) and of course I was on my own dealing with the “side effects” (aka the effects) of all those drugs. When I gained weight on the meds, the internist would be there pushing the Mediterranean diet but there was no acknowledgment that the drugs had anything to do with it.

  • I’m curious about the concept of reparations, particularly in instances of clear ethical violations such as the studies done on people with schizophrenia that Bruce mentions in his post. It’s really just a sort of question of intellectual curiosity on my part…not planning on seeking reparations for myself, I’ve wasted enough time :/ …but is reparations a thing that ever gets discussed? Has it ever happened?

  • “Just because your life has been destroyed…”. Exactly, Rachel. After I filed my formal complaint with the Yale Patient Relations Department, which detailed several instances of what I consider abuse that happened at the Yale Psych Ward and the Yale IOP, I got a voicemail from a woman who said she was director of Ambulatory Psych something something Services at Yale and she was so so sorry about what had happened. She asked me to call her so that we could discuss it. When I called her, there was no “sorry” but there was a lot of patronizing unsolicited advice from her. “You should write a book! It would be a bestseller!” When I explained to her that these treatment experiences had resulted in me being very marginalized and isolated, she simply said, “You should buy a Life Alert and wear it around your neck.” Okay, problem solved, I guess. It was like everything I’d written about in the complaint…all things that were very painful when they happened and still very painful to write about years later….was at some level almost amusing to her.

  • Ramesh,
    Thank you for providing this perspective. It’s scary to learn that as bad as it is in the U.S., it could be that much worse. It makes me wonder if at present there are any cultures in which people showing signs of mental distress or simply acting outside cultural norms are treated humanely. I’ve heard that in the Scandinavian countries, treatment is a little more compassionate.

  • Thanks Rosalee. I love reading things like this article, I think because I feel validated. All those times when I thought treatment providers were being dismissive toward me, felt they were blaming me for the problems I came to them with, instead of offering any semblance of support or understanding…I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t being paranoid. They really were being dismissive. It’s nice when someone in the field lays this out…like, yup, that’s the reality.
    I met a couple times with this one therapist who talked to me about a paper he had written with some colleagues. The paper was called Compassion Deficit Disorder. It talked about all of the ways that therapists blame and mistreat patients with a borderline diagnosis. I only wound up seeing the therapist a couple of times because I wound up moving away but he seemed like a cool guy. He mailed me a copy of the paper at my new address. I think I still have it around somewhere.

  • Julie, that’s crazy (on their part). Sounds like a police state. What happened to freedom of speech. Are people really afraid of us or of their precious world view being shattered? I was just trying to make a point in my review. The point was that staff at this hospital discriminate against certain groups of people. Case in point, the security department had my keys but refused to look for them because I was coming out of a psych ward. 10 years ago, I would have never written a public review like that because I would have been to ashamed to admit that I had been in a psych ward. Now I’m fine admitting it because now I have some better understanding of what happened to me. There was nothing in the review that warranted them sending the police to my door but they did. I’m glad I knew what my rights were and that I didn’t have to open the door for them.

  • Julie, your experiences sound horrifying and yet I’m not surprised. How have they gotten away with so much for so long?
    A plain clothes police man knocked on my apartment door earlier today. I spoke to him and the social worker who accompanied him through the door. They wanted to talk, they said, to make sure I was okay. I told them I was fine and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t know who sent them. My only guess is that this was prompted by a Google review I wrote about the hospital where I was in the CIU a few weeks back. in my review I told the story about how the hospital security department had my car and house keys when I was discharged from there once. They refuse to look for them. I was stranded in the ER oh, my car in the parking lot but I couldn’t get into it. This was a long and horrible saga. Finally three days after my discharge, a friend of mine called and reamed out the security department head. That prompted him to finally look for my keys. They had them in their possession the whole time. So in my review I wrote, people say don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re in mental distress oh, but there are so so many reasons to be afraid to ask for help. I guess that prompted them to me to do a safety check on me so they could cover their butts.

  • Very true. This diagnosis is all over my medical records. After first being diagnosed and winding up in DBT, I was naive enough to think that I needed to tell any doctor I saw, whether and internist or specialist of any kind, about my diagnosis. Because then they would be able to help me better. What the diagnosis really meant was that nothing I said from that point on would be given any credence by any medical person. If I spoke of pain, I was hysterical or drug seeking.
    One of the worst things that happened was I had been put on a trial of Parnate by the psychiatrist at the IOP program I was attending (the DBT group met downstairs, in the windowless basement of this building that had originally been a morgue). My blood pressure got crazy high within a week of being on the parnate. I was taken off the parnate and my blood pressure was monitored. Everyone including me fully expected for my blood pressure to come back to normal. I was getting readings every day in the 170/140 range. Back then I was really healthy physically. I was a good weight and I exercised everyday. I juiced for god sakes. Noone – not the psychiatrist nor the internist I was seeing nor the cardiologist that the internist referred me to nor the ER doctors that I saw on one occasion when my BP got even higher than high – would acknowledge any connection between the parnate and the blood pressure. They just said things like, it’s out of your system now. One psychiatrist wrote in my chart that the reason for the hypertension was that I hadn’t followed the restricted diet for people on parnate, which was absolutely false. Cardiologist ran the usual stress tests and ultimately concluded that this sudden hypertension was due to age. “Welcome to your forties, you have hypertension.” All of these doctors did everything in their power to make this problem not about parnate. I had no history of hypertension of any kind prior to the trial. At one point, I said to the psychiatrist who had prescribed it, “since parnate is contraindicated for anyone who has any history of hypertension, did you check to see that I had no history before prescribing the parnate? And if so, you would have seen that I had no history of hypertension.” He said, “I don’t know Kate, maybe you just really get to people” and that all the anger that I had was raising my blood pressure. The internist had me on three different blood pressure meds. I was responding to none of them and she kept raising the doses. Eventually I asked for my records from the Yale psych ward, since every morning when you’re an inpatient they take your blood pressure. I made clear when I requested the records that I was only interested in the BP readings. What I received was a stack of paperwork, most of it scribbled or otherwise unreadable. There was one doctor’s note in my chart that said, “patient is thought to have poor judgment.”
    Another note repeated the accusation that I had failed to comply with the parnate diet.
    Finally the doctors came up with the line that I had had some kind of latent hypertension all along and that being on the parnate just made that latent hypertension un-latent. The night I showed up at the ER, they almost admitted me to the psych ward. Why? I wasn’t suicidal. I believe it’s because I had the nerve to challenge them, to challenge their authority, which is the same thing that got me the borderline diagnosis to begin with. I’ll never forget the doctor who shook his finger in my face and said “the problem here is that you don’t listen to your doctors!”. No one came to bat for me. Not the DBT clinician I had so much trust in.
    I totally identify with your experience, Julie.

  • Thank you, Rachel. I’m so distraught over my cat right now and yes, probably stewing in my own pain. Marinating in it. Swathed in it, etc. It’s just been a frankly awful couple of years. I know I will need to find a way forward at some point but seem to have lost my compass at the moment. For now, I find MIA to be a safe space where I can find validation for my anger at the system and be reminded that I’m not alone. And also a safe space to vent, something that I learned in DBT treatment was “ineffective”. There may be some truth to that, but at a certain point it amounts to self censorship. In a feminist theory class I took in college, the professor said, “Ask yourself, who does it serve?” Who does it serve that I remain silent about my past? Is it incidental that my silence serves the people in the mental health system who did what they did?
    I really want to get back to working with animals, one way or another. There’s a shelter within walking distance of my apartment that I hesitated to get involved with for a long while because they had so many reviews posted about the animals being kept in very substandard living situations and a lot of people had adopted from the shelter animals who turned out to be very sick with infections etc. In the past year or so, the reviews seem to have gotten better and I thought maybe they had cleaned up their act. It turns out though, that the state is currently trying to shut this shelter down for all sorts of violations. It would be so painful to see animals being treated this way. This shelter and the one that I worked at are the only two that are local to me. I’m not ready to adopt again as I am still grieving the loss of my cat.

  • Rachel, it stands for dialectical behavior therapy. The idea that two seemingly opposing ideas both have truth, and finding the truth in both, finding the middle ground, or something like that. It’s a nice idea I guess. Everyone has access to the truth but some people’s access is better than others because they’re not deranged, is what it really comes down to. The clinician’s truth always trumps the patient’s truth, in my experience with DBT.

  • Julie, this is so familiar, so in line with what I experienced. Did the sicko girl in your DBT book have a cartoon drawing where her face was all screwed up? I stayed in the DBT program as long as I did because I trusted the lead clinician. Not anymore. He let so many abusive behaviors from other treatment providers slide. It was always a matter of me learning to use my communication skills to get them to stop abusing me.
    In my group there was a lot of fidgeting too. Also some people were sound asleep in their chairs, often due to being on high doses of antipsychotics. The clinicians would tell these patients to hold a bag of ice to stay awake, or to go splash cold water on their face. How about lowering the antipsychotic dose, clinicians, since that’s why they’re sound asleep in their chairs (either that or it was methadone maintenance since I was in the substance track)?
    I’ve had similar ultimatums from treatment providers, the “I won’t treat you unless you’re ingesting X.” Even from self-billed trauma therapists who had no education or training in medications. That in itself is a trauma.

  • I actually did volunteer at an animal shelter for a long while, which led to a part time job at the animal shelter, which led to being relentlessly bullied by other staff. I lasted about 6 months, eventually couldn’t take any more and quit. While I was there, I adopted a cat who I loved dearly. Had him for several years. Wound up having to surrender him a month ago after former DBT therapist called cops on me sending me to ER. Cat was left alone and by the time I found someone – my landlord – to bring cat to the vet for boarding, vet said I should surrender him, so I did since I have no backup if something happens to me. I’m broken hearted and exhausted and not sure I can blast anything anymore. People can look at me as self pitying or victimy or any way they choose, as people have always taken a disparaging view toward me I’m very used to it.

  • Thank you, Kindred spirit and Rosalee. I wasn’t sure how to reply to either of your comments directly. KS, yes, but it is the patient, supposedly, who needs to work on her communication skills. Shit rolls downhill, also yes – I’m also the baby, youngest of 4. Your last paragraph 🙂
    Rosalee, I have this book. It’s very good. I keep meaning to crack it open again. I heard Dr. Van der Kolk speak once, at the Yale BPD conference. I have so much respect for him. He is willing to stand up in front of a roomful of prescribers and well meaning (to give them the benefit of the doubt) therapists whose focus is mainly on teaching the patient to think and behave more effectively in the present. He stands up in front of all those people and says that the root cause, severe childhood trauma, needs to be acknowledged and addressed. And, as per his book title, it’s not just in the patient’s head. It’s in their body at the cellular level.
    I can’t say that DBT never helped me, but when I was in the DBT program the philosophy was that the patient’s history was irrelevant. It was all a matter of changing behavior, replacing “ineffective” coping with effective coping. I found that stance very invalidating but stayed in the program because the lead clinician was smart and compassionate, and he did listen, just not about the past. I did my last stint in that program 5 years ago. They have since added a trauma treatment aspect – prolonged exposure therapy – to the program.

  • This is awful, Rachel. I’m sorry. Although my family background is different, I totally relate to your story in terms of not fitting in to a very circumscribed, impossible role and then being made a scapegoat.
    When I was in the hospital waiting for my first ECT treatment, the psychiatrist called a family meeting, ostensibly because he wanted to see if I was playing some role in the family by having depression. I’ve been depressed since I was a teenager and I was then in my late 30s. I had not responded to 6 years of weekly appointments with a psychiatrist. That was why he recommended the ECT. So he called this meeting to see if I was playing some role in my family. My mother, my sister, and my sister’s husband showed up. My sister started the meeting by saying to the doctor, “the problem here is that nothing has ever been good enough for my little sister.” Her tone was just dripping with hate. For the next 40 minutes or so, my sister, my brother-in-law and my mother took turns taking jabs at me. I don’t remember that the psychiatrist said anything. The family members were all in agreement that whatever this illness I had was all my fault because I was a spoiled brat. The hilarious part is that, from what I remember, this meeting had no impact on my psychiatrist and it was never spoken of again. Several weeks later, after having had eight or nine shock treatments that I didn’t respond to, I got the borderline diagnosis. Sometimes the memory of this meeting surfaces and I want to call up that psychiatrist on the phone and say, “Really?” But I know it wouldn’t get me anywhere and he’s about the last person I want to talk to anyway.

  • Treatment made me afraid of myself and afraid of the world. The labeling convinced me I was garbage. I believed if I couldn’t even get along with the people who were there to help me, the treaters – and I couldn’t – how would I get along with anyone else. For a few years after the borderline diagnosis, I told every new person in my life that I had the diagnosis, out of fairness I felt I should warn them. The drugs and iatrogenic abuse weakened me physically and mentally. People were constantly pushing me away from them and toward treatment – “have you talked to your therapist about that?” “Maybe it’s time for a meds adjustment?”. These are some of the reasons it was hard or impossible for me to leave. But what actually had to happen is, it had to get to a point where they wouldn’t treat me anymore. I couldn’t leave on my own. Now I’m in hiding. I can’t even go to a regular doctor because they’ll see my “affect” and tell me I need to “talk to someone/go back to my psychiatrist/go to the hospital/get back on meds.
    I always had this fantasy that someday I would meet a therapist who I could tell my whole story to, and they would hear me, and understand how one thing had led to another, and with that I would start to heal. That’s all it was, a fantasy. No one had the time or inclination to hear my story.

  • The system is incapable of self correction because the people running it are incapable of admitting error or wrongdoing. I say this as a former patient who submitted a formal complaint 6 months ago through the Yale Patient Relations Department. The complaint was ignored and the people I was in contact with in Patient Relations stopped answering my emails. They patronized me, in the beginning, saying that they were “very interested” in hearing about my experience as a patient of both the IOP and the Yale Psych Ward. I spoke with 3 of them on the phone for 45 minutes and I followed up with an email that provided more detail regarding what I’d spoken of on the phone. I never heard another word about it. My guess is that they recognized that I did have serious grounds for complaint and… maybe they were afraid of a lawsuit if they admitted that? I can only guess.

    The first time I ever tried to file a complaint was about 15 years ago. I’d been seeing a psychiatrist once a week for 6 years for talk therapy and medication. When after 6 years he decided he couldn’t help me, he referred me to the psychiatrist who ultimately performed the brain shocks on me and then, when those didn’t work, that psychiatrist told me it was because I have borderline.
    The ECT psychiatrist, after my initial evaluation appointment with him, asked me to ask the referring psychiatrist to send the records of my six years of treatment. I found out from the referring psychiatrist that there were no records. He told me that he hadn’t kept records of anything, not even the medications he prescribed over the course of six years. Upon learning this I became furious and I contacted the APA to file a complaint. They told me that unless I could conclusively prove that this psychiatrist not keeping records had caused me serious harm, there was nothing that they would do. They would not take a complaint from me.

    The cherry on top of this s*** sundae was that the ECT psychiatrist determined that my anger about psychiatrist #1 not keeping any records was inappropriate. The inappropriate anger I displayed about the lack of record-keeping was a main reason I received a borderline diagnosis.

    In my experience, mental health professionals are so used to not having to answer to anyone at all that they are, as a group, incapable of change. As they are incapable of reforming, they need to have their power wrested away by any means necessary, to protect the innocent.

  • I, personality, would love to see the Yale Psych institute permanently shuttered for human rights violations. That would give me a lot of hope. I won’t hold my breath though.
    But really, if one of these places were closed down, for what basically all of these places are doing, would it send a message? I’ve seriously considered protesting in front of YPI, alone. It would get me out of the house.

  • Yes. In other fields of medicine, getting a diagnosis, in better case scenarios, can be the first step toward a cure. Or if not, the diagnosis plus education, following a treatment plan, etc., …at least it gives a patient direction, some sense of control. “Here is the prognosis, here is what I can do to improve outcomes.”. Except that a psychiatric diagnosis can lead…or, in my case, led to loss of control. After I got diagnosed borderline, I read everything I could about it, because I wanted to understand my diagnosis. But the more I read, the more horrified, hopeless and distraught I became. I went to my treatment providers with the concerns I had about what I’d “learned” about my diagnosis, and every one of them told me to stop reading. Stop reading about this illness that we say you have. It won’t do you any good to educate yourself about this. I didn’t know it then, but know it now: I was in upside down world.