Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Comments by KateL

Showing 281 of 281 comments.

  • These recommendations put all responsibility for coming off and staying off psych drugs on the patient. If the patient has trouble finding a doctor who is willing to listen to the patient, provide informed consent, and/or support the patient in the often extremely arduous, painful, and sometimes life threatening process of coming off prescribed drugs, then the patient needs to keep looking for a doctor who will do these things which is like finding a needle in a haystack, or the patient needs to find a book or a website for support. Not everyone has a support system in place for something like this. Often people wind up in psychiatric treatment simply because they have no support in their life, because they have been traumatized and are afraid of people. Not everyone has the capacity to carry out these suggestions. When a person is bedridden, as I was during cymbalta withdrawal, it’s very hard to shop for healthy food and prepare healthy meals.
    I can attest that during the 1990s and early 2000s, when many new psych drugs came out and were being touted as miracle cures, there was absolutely no information or indication of how dangerous these drugs could be and there was no suggestion that stopping the drugs could be dangerous. I was prescribed one drug after another for 6 years by a psychiatrist who didn’t keep any records of what he was prescribing to me. It’s all a blur of Prozac Paxil Klonopin Wellbutrin Effexor Zoloft Adderall. And then I was labeled with treatment resistant depression and sent for ECT treatments. Then I was labeled with borderline.
    The best thing a person can do is avoid psychiatry all together and these suggestions prove it. If you never go on the drugs in the first place you don’t have to worry about how you will get off the drugs. Things like eating healthy foods, exercising, spending time outdoors and with animals… these can all be done without the help of psychiatry.

  • Yes, sometimes when I think about the all the ways Psychiatry harms and gets away with it, all the invisible unprovable damage they cause to people they purport to help, it seems like some kind of sick genius to me, committing The perfect crime over and over again and profiting from it over and over again. But I’ve met enough of these people to know that there’s no genius going on here, they’ve just stumbled into something, and they probably realize at the same time how lucrative and how horrible it is and keep doing it because the former is a bigger priority.

  • One psychiatrist I saw for six years, once a week for 50 minutes and who I paid out of pocket (I was a secretary and a single mother), was Yale educated, still Yale affiliated, lived in a rich suburb of New Haven, was the Commodore of the New Haven Yacht Club, prescribed a ridiculous amount of drugs over that six year period, beginning with Prozac and ending with Adderall, everything from Klonopin to Wellbutrin to Paxil in between, kept no records of the treatment, not even of the drugs he had prescribed, then passed me on for “a consultation” with a psychiatrist who recommended ECT (I was already well on my way to hell, this was just the beginning).
    When I found out the psychiatrist had kept no records for 6 years, I spoke up. I contacted the American Psychiatric Association and tried to file a complaint. They claim to you done nothing wrong. The psychiatrist to suggested the ECT claimed that the first psychiatrist and not keeping any records “was trying to protect you”. No one was trying to protect me. No one made any effort to protect me. But plenty of people protected him Mr Commodore of the yacht club who was too busy commodoring the yachts to bother writing down what drugs he was prescribing. And speaking up earned me a new diagnosis:. Borderline personality disorder.
    It’s all political.

  • Exactly, Willoweed, You said it better than I could have.
    Back when I was in the throes of DBT treatment for borderline personality, which got diagnosed after a series of ECT treatments did nothing to help my “treatment resistant depression” and caused memory loss problems to the extent that I could no longer work, I had a neighbor who also had a diagnosis but had managed to keep a full-time job and had a pretty extensive social network and support system. For a long time I thought that she was my friend until I realized that she wasn’t. Over the years she saw me being excluded in all kinds of ways, denied opportunities and left out of social engagements. I spent every holiday alone. After another stint in the psych ward I was always sent home in a cab because there was never anyone to call for a ride. She said to me one day, “I try to pass for normal.”. I believe the subtext was that if I tried harder to “pass for normal” then I would be more welcome in society. It was something I had to earn by being less obviously in pain. I’ve now stopped trying. I’ve been considered an outcast for so long, and even if it was possible for me to “rate” a place in society again, society isn’t worth it.

  • Thank you, rebel, for your earlier response, and this one. Thank you for helping me see a different perspective on moving away. I hope I can come to see it at some point in a more positive light.
    It makes complete sense that you fear any kind of medication. I fear them too. I fear the people working in the medical system just as much. What your neighbor said about the local hospital is so telling. Sometimes I wonder if the problem is that the general public doesn’t know what goes on in psych hospitals or that they don’t care. Now I’m leaning towards the latter. I’ve heard comments like this before from people about different psych hospitals. You’re right it is a kind of prison. The fact that any of it is ever packaged as some kind of help or treatment for an illness makes the situation that much more maddening.
    Thank you again for your perspective and encouragement. I meant to say more but am having trouble putting words together at the moment.

  • The term “refugee” has come to my mind at times when I consider my situation. I understand that using that term may be self-indulgent, victim-y, and disrespectful toward actual refugees. I think of it in terms of the fact that I had to pick up and move twice as a direct result of my being a mental health patient. The first time I had to leave was because there had been too many ambulances, with police of course, and often the fire department at my door to take me to the psych ward. This happened over and over again after the ECT treatments and borderline diagnosis and while I was being drugged with what I now understand to be brain disabling drugs. There was one incident when the police had my apartment number wrong and were preparing to break down my neighbor’s door. My neighbor did not take kindly to that. They often showed up with flashing lights and sirens on and it got to the point after I had been taken away between 10 and 20 times in the space of a few years that my neighbors made it clear to me that I was not wanted there.

    The second time I had to move was because of a string of incidents with the local police and the local hospital. The message from the police on multiple occasions was that they viewed me as a criminal and someone who should not expect to be treated with the same rights as a “regular citizen”. At one point I was interrogated in my apartment by two police, at length, when I had done nothing wrong, and in fact someone else – a neighbor – had made a false 911 call alleging that someone in the building was being held at knifepoint. I hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone all day, I’d been in my apartment and I’d been quiet and yet that did not protect me from having the police in my home, searching it, making all kinds of accusations, and demanding to know “why I looked so upset”.
    That was one of multiple incidents with law enforcement. The other main reason I felt unsafe in that apartment was that I knew if I had any kind of a medical emergency I would be taken to a local hospital where I had already been abused on multiple occasions, sometimes when I was there for so-called mental health reasons and other times for physical issues like broken bones. I lived in fear of winding up in that hospital again. I also lived with the constant worry that one of my neighbors would call 911 and say that I was acting strange. Based on their past behavior this was not an unreasonable fear.
    I moved to another state and I’m trying to keep my “record clean”, which means not seeing a doctor even if I feel very ill. I would have moved even farther away if I had had the means.
    I wasn’t forced to leave either of those places.
    I chose to leave because I felt unsafe. Refugee is probably not the right word. Maybe exile or outcast is more apt.

  • I wish I’d had the knowledge that I have now about psychiatry 15 years ago, when I consented to ECT as a fix for my “treatment resistant depression”. After the last in a course of 10 or 12 ECT treatments, when I was suffering from severe short term memory deficits that were a direct result of ECT (prior to my consenting to the treatment, the psychiatrist assured me that memory loss was a very rare side effect of ECT, that none of his ECT patients had ever suffered memory loss), I had a short appointment with the doctor in his office, where he laid the following on me:. “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work. You need dialectical behavior therapy.”
    He didn’t offer any explanation beyond that and his tone and demeanor made clear that he was not open to questions from me. I went home and looked everything up online because I had never heard of borderline personality disorder or dialectical behavior therapy before. That day was the beginning of 15 years of hell.

  • This account tracks closely with my own experience. I spent years after ECT as a full time mental patient, and one of the most painful and dangerous things about the experience was that my family and friends – what the treatment providers call “natural supports” – either ignored me and my increasing disability, many outright abandoning me – or they believed what the doctors said about me, that I had a severe mental illness called borderline and needed to be drugged and hospitalized. Every “episode” I had was attributed to my “severe mental illness” and failure to “use your coping skills.”. More drugs were piled on, I was threatened with more ECT. I lost everything. No one talked about withdrawal syndromes or medication spellbinding or akathisia. I was repeatedly reminded to take my meds, or told to call my psychiatrist to ask about a “meds adjustment”, or sent to the ER, often escorted there by police.
    Today, at 54, I am extremely isolated and have given up hope that will ever change. I don’t see any kind of doctor for any reason. I am very lonely and sad and carry tons of shame. I’m afraid of people. My entire focus is on surviving and staying out of the hospital.

  • Your story is so disturbingly familiar. I had multiple psychiatrists over a 15 year stretch when I was being treated for borderline personality disorder. Some of the psychiatrists were just arrogant, demeaning and callous from the outset, but there were others who seemed pleasant, caring…a couple who even seemed to actually care about me as a person and who, I still believe, really wanted to see me doing well. The common denominator between all of them was that not one ever attributed my often extreme agitation, accompanied by suicide urges, to the drugs they were prescribing. Those episodes, which often landed me in the psych ward, were always put down to my “severe mental illness” and repeated “failure to utilize coping skills”. None of these doctors ever told me – or probably any of their patients – that the drugs they were prescribing could cause a not-rare condition called akathisia.
    In retrospect, I think the psychiatrists who seemed caring at the outset caused more pain than the ones who didn’t — I was devastated when they each, in turn, gave up on me. Now I feel a huge sense of betrayal and a lot of rage.

  • Thank you for raising awareness about this awful condition. Your work has the potential to reduce suffering and save lives.
    I spent decades in treatment for what was termed mental illness — first it was treatment resistant depression, after I didn’t get better despite a psychiatrist prescribing a large amount and variety of SSRIs and then Adderall. He sent me to another psychiatrist after six years of this drugging which he kept no records of. That psychiatrist said I was a good candidate for ECT, so I submitted to a course of ECT. When I became much more symptomatic after the ECT, that psychiatrist rediagnosed me with borderline personality. Once I had that diagnosis, the polypharmacy went into overdrive. It was no longer just an antidepressant. There was always an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer and or antipsychotic. The particular drugs and the doses of these drugs were constantly being changed as I got passed around between prescribers and as they grew frustrated with me, they would often up the dose of my antipsychotic. I remember now that I used to sit in the group sessions of an IOP DBT program I attended five times. There was one stretch when I felt so agitated every day during group that I would take a pen or marker and draw flowers in a notebook during the entire group session. I needed to do something with my hands because I felt so agitated and I was trying to stay in the room and be a good patient. One day another patient came up to me and mentioned my drawings. She said to me,. “Your flowers? That’s true crazy.”. She was right. Every flower looked like it was shaking, like it was having a seizure, like it was about to explode off its stem. I probably still have some of these drawings around. I don’t think I threw all of them out. But back then I had never heard the term akathisia. It was only a couple of years ago, on this website, where I learned what it is and realized that that’s what I was suffering from all those years.
    When Jill talked about people losing their family and friends over this condition, because from the outside it can appear that the person is just being willful (as they say in DBT), I felt that deeply. I lost so much. To this day I’m afraid to go to the doctor for any reason.

  • In my case, having been through what I’ve been through with the mental health system, having been denied medical care after being drugged and brain shocked (I was even coerced into “non invasive” tms treatments which it turns out is just as bad as ECT. The news just keeps getting worse, but I guess it explains why I can barely dress myself), I’m not afraid of Covid. They always leave borderlines out of this anyway, since no one really knows what it is beyond a way to scapegoat and gaslight a person.

  • Unfortunately, the ignorance/denial of the horrors of psych drug withdrawal is just one symptom of much larger problem: the predisposition of the large majority of treatment providers to discredit/deny the experience of the patient, as reported by the patient. The diagnoses – especially borderline, which I received after “failing to respond” to electroshock treatments, after trying advocate for myself upon learning that a psychiatrist who’d been drugging me for 6 years kept no records – are another symptom of the same problem:. the predisposition to discredit the patient. The denial of the impact of childhood trauma – yet another symptom. That psychiatry continues to deny the debilitating effect of both being on psych drugs and of withdrawing from these drugs – is really just par for the course.

  • Lisa, I am so sorry for how you were treated, and I’m grateful that you are here and that you had the strength to write this. Your last few paragraphs give me hope. Someday, I hope to have the courage and the strength to tell my story — there are many, many parallels — including that I was punished in various ways on multiple occasions for committing the “offense” of trying to advocate for myself. I want to re-read your post and will probably have more to comment, but for right now I just wanted to say thank you.

  • I wish I’d found this website, or something – some kind of literature – in time. I was lied to, and drugged, with what I now realize was so a huge amount and variety of psychiatric drugs that I’m astonished I can still form a sentence (but in many ways I realize I am horribly impaired), for 40+ years. Plus ECT. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, benzos, amphetamines… just a never ending trail of drugs. I didn’t know about akathisia. I’d never heard of it. The cycle went on for so long adding drugs, my functioning would get worse, I’d land in the psych ward, I’d be called non compliant, and other names, more drugs, more drugs. I’m 54 now, have been on SSDI for 10 years, and am literally completely alone in the world. I’ve lost everything including my health. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. The immense cruelty of psychiatry is astounding.

  • Rebel, you said it very well. How many are in just this situation? “Regular” doctors don’t believe psych patients, much less former psych patients, and we have to live in fear of saying too much or saying the wrong thing for fear the doctors will send us back to the ones who caused all the damage in the first place. I’ve been in this exact situation for years. No one who hasn’t been through it understands that it can actually be dangerous for me to seek medical attention if any sort. My body always goes into a trauma response whenever I’m in a medical setting, and my blood pressure shoots up. It’s just an awful situation, particularly as I age and my health problems get worse.

  • I don’t understand this article. Traditional psychiatry is integrative psychiatry is holistic psychiatry? Well traditional psychiatry destroyed my mind, body and spirit so I’ll take a pass. Maybe it’s the brain damage from all of the brain shocks and the forced/coerced polypharmacy which always included antipsychotics but I don’t understand how one thing can also be it’s opposite. If it’s about breathing exercises and eating well and having boundaries and relationships — how is it psychiatry? Do people get diagnosed by integrative or holistic psychiatrists? I don’t understand it at all.

  • Thanks, Sam. I hope they are unhappy. That was one small event over 15 years of hell that I went through as “a mental patient with borderline”, or, as they like to call me, “a borderline”. I had been in treatment multiple times over the course of my life prior to the borderline diagnosis but the hellish dehumanizing treatment got much worse once I had that label. From the moment the Yale psychiatrist who had recommended ECT for “treatment resistant depression” told me, “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work” it was 15 years of absolute hell. I doubt I’ll ever recover from the damage they caused.

  • One of the last actions I took as a “mental patient with a borderline diagnosis” was to contact the office of a psychiatrist in my state who advertised himself as providing “holistic psychiatry”. I called and scheduled an appointment with him, for which there was a 2-month wait and for which I was willing to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket as he did not accept Medicare. I filled out the forms as instructed by his assistant and sent them back prior to my scheduled first appointment. The day before my first appointment, he had his assistant call me and canceled the appointment… Reason being, “he’s not taking any more borderline.”

    There’s no such thing as holistic psychiatry, or integrative psychiatry, or compassionate psychiatry. It’s all dehumanizing, othering, putting a label on the patient, putting the patient in their place. That’s what psychiatry does, and in the process, destroys lives, including mine.

  • Registered,
    I told them in that phone call that I didn’t need an appointment with the pain doctor and then I called and canceled my upcoming appointment with the rheumatologist (the referring doctor in the same system. I don’t know why I said neurologist in my earlier comment, it was a rheumatologist who referred me to the pain doctor, but I didn’t know she was doing that. I only made an appointment with her because I wanted her to order blood work, which even that I would have done on my own and looked into it, but paying out of pocket for blood work it turns out is very expensive) because of what the pain doctor’s office said. The rheumatologist did call me back and left a message asking me to call her so that we could “discuss your concerns”, and I give her credit for that. I don’t know what that conversation would have looked like but at that point I decided to move away and start up with new doctors in a different system. So I’ve gone from Connecticut to Western Massachusetts and already found a primary care doctor. Of course she wants my records from the other system and I already told her that they are going to contain derogatory things about me. She said she’d take it with a grain of salt.
    At the time that that demand was made, I didn’t even have a psychiatrist. I fired the last psychiatrist I had about 3 months prior to that phone call from the pain doctor’s office. So meeting the demand would have meant going out and finding another psychiatrist who would be willing to coordinate my appointment with the pain doctor, which I don’t even know what that means, like, at all. I just know that any attempt I made to meet their demand would have resulted in a s*** show and then that s*** show would have been blamed on me. That’s how it’s been for the last however many decades.

  • Yes, or in my case, it meant being referred to a pain doctor by my neurologist, and the pain doctor demanding that he would only grant me an appointment if it were “coordinated with your psychiatrist.”. When I asked why, the woman on the phone said, “because of some things in your file.”. I said I didn’t need an appointment with the pain doctor as I will never again have a psychiatrist and then called the rheumatologist office to reiterate what I had already said about being a psychiatric survivor. Coordinated care didn’t exist, for decades, and then it was finally implemented to show that they were all against me and I would never be believed.

  • Looking back at my, “time in treatment” (journey through hell), this dynamic makes so much sense and the realization makes me nauseous. I was familiar with the concept of the male gaze, but wasn’t strong enough/didn’t trust myself enough to make the connection.
    Most of the psychiatrists who were “treating” me were older men. I wonder if I became less interesting to them as I aged (following the ECT/borderline diagnosis/onset of polypharmacy, I aged quite rapidly). At a certain point, I became a freak to them. One of them whispered into my ear at the end of a “medication consult, “How many psychiatrists have you seen?” Ah, they are all gross, and I hope they do see some form of punishment.

  • I’m going to let myself off the hook for that last bit – believing credulous bullshit. I was never a customer of psychiatry, always a patient…. sometimes voluntary, often involuntary. I was intelligent enough to poke holes in the logic of what these people were saying to me – that (the speaking up) led directly to more abuse. The societal pressure to “listen to your doctors” and “be compliant” (nothing worse than an unmedicated, non compliant borderline running around, was the general feeling) was immense. I don’t think we should let anyone in a position of power off the hook (certainly not the FDA, which has done nothing to protect US citizens from these poisons they call psychiatric medications. But psychiatrists, as, technically, medical doctors, took an oath to do no harm and to put the well being of the patient above their own self interest, and in both of these they continue to fail miserably.

  • Great article and deconstruction of this interview. Thank you, Dr. Hickey.
    I wonder if these men ever tire of their own BS. I can’t imagine how exhausting it is, keeping up this ruse. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit… maybe it would only be exhausting for people who value honesty.
    As far as these *doctors’* failures/refusals to name the antipsychiatry miscreants who are causing the profession so much trouble…one obvious reason for the vagueness comes to mind. As Sam and others allude to, many of the people who are most outspoken about what a fraud psychiatry is are former psych patients. The drs can’t come right out and admit they have zero respect for patients even though they know damn well that the experience of being a psych patient is what led a large percentage of “troublemakers” to become vocal about what a fraud the profession is, to become vocal about the human rights abuses psych patients are subjected to. They have to pretend to care about patients (even former patients) or their house of cards will fall down. They seem to feel comfortable enough to attack whistle blowers with a lot of ad hominem b.s., but imagine if they did that to former psych patients – like people who have bravely shared their stories on this and other websites about the damage psychiatry had done to them… about how they barely escaped with their lives? If Pies and his co-horts came after these people, they’d reveal themselves as the monsters they really are. But they know damn well that many antipsychiatry voices are voices of ex-patients.

  • I’m sorry, Lauren. I believe you, if that means anything. I think I may be experiencing something of a permanent/chronic nature also, in terms of psych drug damage. I’ve lost basically everyone and everything and my body is in survival mode. I try to explain it to the couple of people who still speak to me, and they say, “So then, what’s the solution?”. It makes me so angry. Like I’m supposed to know the solution is to what the drugs did that no doctor I’ve ever seen believes me about. Somehow that is our responsibility when we were the ones who were lied to by people who took an oath to do no harm.

  • This “clear eyed explanation” would have been “timely and significant” a few decades ago. Not now.
    “I’m so tired of this shit.”. I second that.
    Psychiatry should take responsibility for what they’ve done including launching a huge information campaign so that every therapist, GP, family member — everyone that a person who’s been harmed by the drugs is now disbelieved by – knows that everything Psychiatry said before about these drugs is completely false – no one had a chemical imbalance (at least not one that the shrinks discovered), the drugs were never safe or effective, and people are suffering. Psychiatry needs to own up or shut up.

  • Thanks, Oldhead. I think I have to agree with your point about the media – the lid has been blown; the fraud of psychiatry has been uncovered and written and spoken about in ways that are easy to understand, so it must be something else. It must be that the media doesn’t want this story and in fact wants to continue to perpetuate a false narrative about “mental illness”.
    I guess I just wanted to believe in something. I had a somewhat romantic idea of “the free press” and loved the slogans – Democracy Dies in Darkness, All the news that’s fit to print/ the “paper of record”. I loved the idea of investigative journalism. And I thought that even though they were late to the party with other stories (like the story of how the pharmaceutical companies were in large part to blame for the opiate epidemic and the FDA let it happen and a bunch of doctors became drug dealers), they did get there eventually, and I thought they might just be late to the party with this one too but…it appears not.

  • Good point, Gerard. I also notice an implicit assumption in Aftab quote that “these critics” who “have no skin in the game” couldn’t possibly be ex-patients – who have all their skin in the game, not to mention their brains, livers, and every other organ; the assumption that a former patient… just as an example, I’ll use myself… couldn’t witness their own profound impairment and suffering that resulted from psych polypharmacy and for this reason became a vocal critic of the current paradigm of care. Aftab, for whatever reason, completely removed ex-patients from the pool of potential critics. The question is, why? Because I can say for certain that I am a critic and have way more skin in the game than I would ever wish for.

  • “I guess you have to approach (doctors) in a very deferential way”. Why I can’t/won’t see a doctor. Seeing a doctor and being deferential would be tantamount to lying. I’m not going to say the doctors know better than me, they have more information than I do. I’ve taken the drugs. I have first hand knowledge, in addition to having more book knowledge than most doctors I’ve met.
    If doctors can’t handle the truth about what these drugs and this health care system have done to patients, that’s on them.

    People got an idea from the media that maybe they have a chemical imbalance. The media did not come up with the idea of chemical imbalance. Where did the media get the idea from?

  • Someone Else,
    Hhm, what does it say that that disclaimer was removed from the dsm? Did the psychiatrists know that it was possible for psych drugs to create bipolar-looking “symptoms”, and then they didn’t know it anymore so they took that out? I wonder if the reason was that they worried about malpractice suits… because it sounds like an admission that the drugs can cause major problems, and the people prescribing the drugs know this, or should know it.

  • Someone Else,
    Hhm, what does it say that that disclaimer was removed from the dsm? Did the psychiatrists know that it was possible for psych drugs to create bipolar-looking “symptoms”, and then they didn’t know it anymore so they took that out? I wonder if the reason was that they worried about malpractice suits… because it sounds like an admission that the drugs can cause major problems, and the people prescribing the drugs know this, or should know it.

  • It’s so painful to read this and know, this is what happened to me, to my life, why I’ve lost my whole family, my ability to work, and any friend I ever had, because I was labeled and drugged for decades (leaving out the ECT), was never provided with informed consent, and never believed. I finally learned the term akathisia on my own, after years of hell, still no one in real life believes me. The message is “get over it” or, “if you really feel that bad, go to the doctor”. For what? More blame and invalidation? More labels? Another trip to the psych ward? And an entire profession that maybe is unaware or maybe is aware but dares not say anything.
    Where does that leave me and the thousands of others who are suffering in a way that is long term, chronic and soul killing because they committed the “crime” of asking for help, of putting their trust in doctors?

  • Thanks Evanhaar. Yes, the proper use and tailoring of supplements can be very complex, and hard to figure out with this brain fog. The last naturopath I went to, I made very clear, prior to signing up for a very expensive, “personalized” program, my history with psych drugs and the fact that I was in withdrawal from Cymbalta. I filled out all the paperwork, met several times with the “salesperson” on the staff (who called herself a case manager), but in my first meeting with the naturopath, he was surprised to learn that I “hadn’t been taking my meds” (he hadn’t read my intake forms, I guess) and tried to make it seem like I’d misrepresented my situation. I was outta there. Most of these people (most people) have never heard of akathisia, so how can they really help? It’s nice to feel like someone will hold my hand/can lead me out of the woods, but I need to find my own way.

  • Yes, Sam, I think it’s hard for medical people to deal with the system they’re a part of, they must see every day how inadequate it is. And then there are the bullies, and the ones who will treat patients like criminals when just acknowledging that a person is in pain, scared, exhausted – would go a long way.
    “…they caused me to pick up stakes after 30 years and become obsessed with how the rest of my life should look…” – this is where I am now. I gave my landlord notice and am busy packing.

  • evanhaar, I will look into these Thank you. I have an entire cabinet of supplements but don’t take any consistently because I don’t really know what I need. My modus operandi is to see a naturopath maybe once or twice, then deciding that they don’t get it/are talking down to me/are trying to rip me off. I often purchase some supplements before I quit. When anyone takes a tone with me or when something about their demeanor reminds me of being in a and an appointment with a psychiatrist, I swear I going to a PTSD response.
    Or I’ll read something and buy them online. The brain fog is tremendous – that’s part of the problem. But I will look into the manganese and b3. There are so many different B vitamins!
    I do try to stay hydrated. Doing better with that.

  • Thanks, Steve. I’m going to try to move, again, for the 5th time in 6 years. I don’t know where I’ll go… just far enough away that maybe my medical records won’t follow me. This way if I get sick I’ll be able to have a medical emergency or see a doctor and not face judgement based on what’s written in my medical record/medical rap sheet. I’d like to have a dog or a cat at some point. The idea that this is still possible is what keeps me going.

  • Thank you, Boans. Yes there is maybe nothing so painful as false hope. I have open myself up so many times to the possibility that I would be heard, weather by a doctor, a naturopath, a family member (no chance), a friend. I try to tell them what happened and I see the defense has come up in their eyes and then they will interrupt or tell me about some coping skill that I need to learn. I remember hearing Amanda Knox speak once and she said something about the fear that people have around her, that they are somewhat programmed to believe that someone and her situation must be guilty, because if she is innocent that means that this kind of thing could happen to anyone and that thought is too frightening for most people. I think a lot of people come to the conclusion that I am wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, playing the victim. That’s a part of it but I think a small part. More than that I want to be believed. Unfortunately this website as the only place where I feel that I get that kind of reception, without skepticism.
    I really need to work on my faith in something, my spirituality. I need to find a way to make meaning from what has happened because the idea that it was all just random is very painful. I wish I could say that I’ve learned something from everything that’s happened but mostly what I’ve learned is not to trust anyone.
    This may sound really out there. But I think there’s a child in me that is still desperately looking for Hope comfort and love. I had thought that that child was dead but now I see that as long as I’m alive that child will be too and I’m the only one who can comfort her. I need to find a way to be mother and father to myself.

  • aria, the experience you describe – pacing for hours just to not scream – I can relate completely. I remember being in IOP level DBT, where I was allowed to make “coaching calls” for help “using your skills” – which included “crisis survival skills” like intense exercise and sticking my face in a bowl of ice water. I was having crises almost daily; this was all put down to “borderline symptoms”. During the 5 years I was in and out of that program, I was prescribed so many different drugs – antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, amphetamines – by so many different prescribers, it was ridiculous. No one ever said that maybe the drugs were at fault and I only learned about akathisia within the last year. When I first learned about it, the feelings of betrayal were immense.
    I remember feeling like such a burden and a failure making those calls every day. I was always getting messages that I needed to learn to use my skills more on my own. I remember one time when I didn’t call and instead went into my storage area and smashed all my Christmas ornaments into shards.
    I admire your resourcefulness and perseverance in tapering off the drugs. They sure don’t make it easy.

  • Thank you, KindRegards, yes, looking back I see how much misogyny entered into the treatment that I received. I had a good mind and found so many holes in the logic of my treatment providers, and wasn’t shy about saying so. This led to a lot of harm. I can see that now.
    Actually it was probably even more than 30 years. It started when I was 17 and the board of education sent me to a psychiatrist because I dropped out of school and their numerous calls to my parents or ignored. She immediately put me on Elavil and I saw her once a week until the day I graduated at which time she terminated treatment because she stopped getting paid, and she left me with a full bottle of Elavil. I only learned the term akathisia within the last year and I’ve seen lists of drugs that cause akathisia or can cause it and Elavil is on it. I know there are so many for whom the drugging started even earlier – when they were young children. That the general public does not see this as a crime and human rights violation is beyond me. Now they have chewable adderal for children who are too young to swallow a pill, and the FDA is fine with this…I don’t get it.
    Thank you for your compassion.

  • Thank you, ThereAreFourLights, yes, sometimes coming to this website and reading the posts and the comments is the only thing that reminds me that this is not all in my head. There is nowhere else I can get this kind of validation. As much as it pains me to hear what’s happened to so many others, there is a comfort in it as well because it tells me that all that time I suspected my symptoms were due in large part to iatrogenic harm, I didn’t have the faith in myself to follow through on that.

  • Thank you, Steve. I was actually planning a move to the Springfield Massachusetts area because of the recovery Community there and the chance to be around people who had similar experiences. It seems that those are the only people who can really understand. Then covid-19 arrived and I’ve been in a state of limbo / paralysis ever since, wondering what to do. I’m grateful for this website and was so hurt by my friend’s comment that I cut off contact with her. Maybe a mistake but as much as I’ve tried to explain the situation to her, she thinks it’s something I can just put behind me. I completely relate to the idea of having a wolf at my heels and dealing with an existential threat. One of my biggest fears is becoming physically unable to care for myself and placed in a nursing home where I believe I would be in danger – definitely of being medicated and possibly of receiving more shock treatments against my will. When I was briefly placed in a nursing home after fracturing my ankle a couple of years ago I was made to take Wellbutrin in addition to the Zoloft I’d already been taking. I explained to the psychiatrist, who I saw once for 5 minutes, that Wellbutrin had made me very agitated in the past and I didn’t want to be taking it in addition to the Zoloft. She said that the Zoloft wasn’t working because I was still depressed and that whatever the effect I thought I got from the Wellbutrin, that was in the past so it would be different now. I was only in that facility for a couple of weeks and I can’t imagine what would happen if I was in a place like that long term. I don’t have any family. I’ve looked into the living will kind of thing, the thing that would give me some power to say I don’t want this or that done to me, but my understanding was that the living will needs to be carried out by a family member. So I don’t think anyone who is not in a similar situation can understand that this is not something in my past. I suppose if I get lucky and use a lot of self-discipline I might be able to get my physical health back to a better state, but most people as they age needs some form of assistance and that terrifies me.

  • I’m going through withdrawal akathisia after coming off Cymbalta. At this point I doubt the hell will ever end. I was prescribed an ssri or snri of one kind or another for the past 30 years. Eventually they added antipsychotics, shocked my brain, and said I was borderline. For some people there is no way back from hell. I have zero support. I’m completely alone and was recently denied a medical appointment because I wasn’t willing to “coordinate it with your psychiatrist.” So I guess it’s just survive until my body gives out. I’m 54 and physically broken so maybe it won’t be too much longer. No one believes me so I’ve walled myself off from the few people who still deigned to speak to me. The last friend I had said “stop going to that mad in America website. It only feed your anger and despair.” She compared it to an alcoholic taking a drink. I have no faith left in humanity.

  • I’m sorry, Rachel, for you, for me (I feel/think the same), and for everyone who’s been victimized by psychiatry. I’ve been accused in the past (not by anyone here), by multiple people, including therapists and immediate family members, of “playing the victim”. I was just lying in bed, wondering if the overwhelming exhaustion, weakness, and trouble breathing was due to Cymbalta withdrawal or due to some other shit, knowing at the same time that it’s a moot point because it’s only getting worse and there is no help for it, medical or otherwise. I hate my apartment and thought I had it in me to move again so I gave my landlord notice. I need to be out by the end of September but day after day has gone by where, not only did I do nothing to prepare to move, I barely got out of bed. It would be so much simpler to just die in my sleep one night rather than deal with yet another move where I don’t even have a place to go and there’s no where I want to be, I just don’t want to be here because I can’t deal with my neighbors anymore, or the noise. I’m not suicidal, just done. The most positive emotion I have left is apathy. I’m sorry, it sucks, and we didn’t/don’t deserve it.

  • Miranda,
    I came across the “off his meds” term yesterday, in a movie review of all things. The movie was about the apostle John, and the movie critic complained that the character seemed less like he was trying to spread the news of Jesus and more like a ranting person who had “gone off his meds.”
    It burns me up that this phrase and others are so widely accepted despite their obvious connotation. I would love to read a blog post on this.

    Thank you, Caroline. Great article. I would add borderline personality to the list of diagnoses in which any perceived misstep is viewed as a threat. Once I had that diagnosis, anything I did or said was questioned.

  • Yes, Sam. So many people want to delude themselves that the people involved in the manufacture and prescribing of psych drugs have more honest intentions than the people who were involved in the manufacture and prescribing of the opiates that caused the epidemic. They’re the same people. Pharmaceutical companies and doctors. And in both cases the FDA lets it happen. And in both cases the victims are the patients who wind up incarcerated in psych wards or in the case of opiate addicts, in prison. We get treated as criminals. The pharmaceutical companies and the doctors are the real criminals.

  • Cymbalta is poison. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “right” since coming off it. I still have terrible tinnitus, profuse sweating, and serious problems with agitation/irritability/paranoia. The GP who recommended it to me gave me no warning of the dangers (she just said, “you have pain. Cymbalta is great for pain”), and because I’ve been denied actual medical help for everything from a fractured ankle to severe arthritis and degeneration in my neck to hip bursitis while they chalk my pain up to fibromyalgia (i.e. they see me as drug seeker/hypochondriac), I broke down and started taking it. My body is so broken from the ECT and all the drugs they’ve thrown at me and told me I needed from the time I was 17. I’m 54 now and the Cymbalta withdrawal on top of other additional trauma I’ve been through the past couple of years while being denied any form of medical help, changed my entire personality and outlook on life. I see the world as a very dangerous place and life as an endless nightmare. I used to have a light in me but it’s gone now.

  • Sam, thank you, and yes that psychiatrist did hate me. I couldn’t see it then but I see it now. He couldn’t stand the fact that I was vocal once I learned that the psychiatrist I’d seen for 6 years who had prescribed everything from Prozac to Klonopin to Zoloft to Paxil to Effexor to Wellbutrin to finally Adderal had kept 0 records of anything. I knew right away that this was unacceptable/illegal and I did try to report him to the APA. They told me that unless I could prove definitively that the lack of record-keeping caused me serious harm, there was nothing they could or would do. At one point the ECT psychiatrist, who is the one who had asked for the records (that was how I finally found out that there were no records) tried to tell me that the referring psychiatrist hadn’t kept any records “because he was trying to protect you”. Um, protect me from what? I wasn’t buying it and that made him crazy. That made him decide that he had better label my anger as inappropriate, hence the borderline diagnosis. I wish I had had the strength back then to see clearly what was happening and to realize that these people had no concern at all for my well-being and in fact were more than ready to punish me for having the nerve to defend myself.
    i.e. cox, I’m not sure if your question was for me about reporting these abuses to a watchdog group. I did file a formal complaint with Yale, where the ECT was done. They never answered it. At one point I spoke to a woman in patient relations after I had filed the complaint and it was just a lot of BS from her. When I explained to her that the experience I had in treatment had left me very isolated and afraid and physically unwell but also afraid of doctors, she suggested that I get a Life Alert, as though that would solve everything. Of course that just made me angrier and then I started posting tons of Google reviews telling my story of what had happened. I see now that filing the complaint with Yale was similar to if I had been a prisoner and had been abused by a prison guard and had filed my complaint with another prison guard. I considered going to the state but then figured it would just be more of the same. I realize that I have risked legal retaliation based on some of the Google reviews I put up but I was willing to risk it. I tried to go through what they would call appropriate channels, and of course while this was happening I tried to defend myself very vocally, but I was just dismissed, ignored, ridiculed and punished. I learned a lot in the past couple of years about the lengths that they will go to to silence someone like me.

  • Rosalee, what that psychiatrist did was criminal and sometimes I hope there is another life after this just so that these sorts of people will have to face what they’ve done, the pain they’ve caused others. Kicking a person when they’re down seems to be a specialty of a lot of psychiatrists.
    I know from our conversations that you have tried to get these labels removed from your record just in order to get medical treatment that is not harmful.
    A lot of people have told me, when they hear pieces of my story, that I should get over it because it’s in the past. But we know it’s not in the past. The harm is still happening. I was just denied an appointment with a pain specialist because he made a condition that our initial appointment would need to be “coordinated with your psychiatrist”. I explained that I was a psychiatric survivor and would never have another psychiatrist again if I have anything to say about it. Of course I was denied the appointment, which I don’t even care because anyone who starts a treatment that way has nothing but more pain in store for me. In my head I was like, do you need the psychiatrist to explain to you the pain I experience with a fractured ankle that never healed right?

    So how do we just get over it when it’s still happening? I guess it’s just the sort of thing that people can’t understand unless they’ve experienced it.

  • Yes. I had a similar experience to DBT, where the so-called “core assumptions” of the treatment we’re completely disregarded by the certified DBT therapist I was in treatment with and when I tried to talk to them about it they acted like I was crazy, overreacting, inappropriately angry blah blah blah which just made me angrier, and then they just flat-out refused to talk to me about it.

    The DBT therapist I was sent to (by another fully certified DBT therapist), and who accepted me as a patient, was not in consultation. The party line goes that you have to follow DBT protocol, including being part of a consultation team, in order to call yourself a DBT therapist.

    I thought that the other certified DBT therapists would be as offended as I was by the crap this woman pulled but they just shrugged it off and still blamed me for what happened. She wasn’t in consultation when she accepted me as a patient, and a couple months in, when the therapy was clearly going nowhere, I brought up my concern with her, during a session, that she was not in consultation. The following week she started our appointment explaining how she had tried to find a consultation team but one was too expensive, the other one was too long of a drive, the other one had therapists who were too inexperienced, blah blah blah. The solution, she said, was for me to go back to the IOP DBT program I had just come out of. She had even gone and got the paperwork for me to re-enter the program. She told me that when she talked to them and picked up the paperwork they said, “tell her this will be her last time”. That really burned me up, that she tried to pass it off like it was my idea, like I had asked to go back there instead of the truth: that she was trying to send me back there so that she wouldn’t have to go and find a consultation team on her own.

    I asked the therapist whether she didn’t need to be in consultation to treat her other patients. She told me no, that her other patients did fine without her being in consultation, that I was the only one she needed consultation for. A couple of months later she dropped me with no warning.

    When I try to report her to the DBT governing board they told me that they don’t deal with complaints about therapists and if I had a problem I should report it through the state. Obviously no one at the state is going to care that this therapist wasn’t following DBT protocol.

    The thing that burns me up is they make such a big deal about their treatment protocol and how important certification is and fidelity to the treatment is so so important and then when I point out their behavior goes against stated protocol, that they’re breaking their own rules that they made such a big deal about, they tell me that my anger is inappropriate and they cut off contact. This was maybe my most painful experience as a mental patient because all the other treatment experiences, basically everyone was an a****** and a hypocrite, but there was one DBT therapist, the one who ran the IOP program and who referred me to this outpatient DBT therapist, and I really thought he had my back. I trusted him. And then it turned out they’re all hypocrites.

    I think the reason she took me on as a patient even though she was overwhelmed in her life and didn’t have a consultation team going was that she was up for a job in a new program that the referring therapist was running, a nice cushy job at Yale with benefits, and I knew she was in trouble at her job with the state because she confided to me in the session where she ended treatment, where she spent the whole session telling me how overwhelmed she was, that her colleagues at the state had filed a complaint against her. She needed the job at Yale so she accepted me as a patient and then she just dropped me with no warning after jerking me around for months and I emailed the referring therapist, the one who ran the IOP program, and I told him that the treatment had ended and that she had never been in consultation. He answered my email but he didn’t say anything about her or have any response to what I told him about her not being in consultation and then years later I found out that he gave her that job probably within a month after my sending him the email.

    And then he refused to talk to me about any of it. I sent him one email where I said this is very important to me, I feel profoundly hurt by what has happened and I need to talk to you about it. If not, I said, I need to write to dr. Linehan. He just ignored the email and months later when I asked him why he didn’t answer it he said that he thought I was being sarcastic or threatening in it. And then I was like, yeah I said I was profoundly hurt, and you read that as sarcastic or threatening…maybe because you didn’t want to address it, how convenient.
    The whole thing just makes me sick. And it makes me sick to think how much time I wasted and for how long I fell for all their b.s.

  • Joanna,
    I appreciate your comment and understand where you’re coming from. You make a very good point that you are actually saving the government money in not use utilizing psychiatric services, and also pointing out the additional hurdles that people face finding and keeping employment once they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. I faced the same hurdles and tried many times to re-enter the workforce but never succeeded.
    When I first went on social security disability about 12 years ago after having been employed full-time for over a decade, I felt very guilty and I felt ashamed. I’m still on disability but I no longer feel guilty about it. The psychiatric treatment that I received is what led to my becoming disabled. After being treated for what was diagnosed as depression for 6 years by a psychiatrist who prescribed dozens of different drugs and, I found out at the end of the six years, kept no records, I was referred by him to another psychiatrist for what was then being called treatment-resistant depression. That psychiatrist told me that I was a good candidate for ECT. I did some reading about it and I read that ECT could cause memory problems.
    At my next appointment with the psychiatrist I asked him about memory issues from ECT. He told me that he had never had a patient who experienced memory issues from ECT. I don’t know how many ECT treatments I received. I did agree to it but I was not informed of the dangers.
    After coming out of the hospital once the ECT treatments had stopped I drove to my follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist (I had no family support and was trying to navigate everything alone even after the ECT despite the severe memory loss I did experience). When I met with this psychiatrist in his office, he had a very grim manner and look on his face when he said, “you have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work. You need dialectical behavior therapy.”. The psychiatrist didn’t explain what any of these terms meant to him. I had never heard of borderline personality disorder or dialectical behavior therapy. He left me to look that up on the computer when I went home where I was alone.
    That was just the beginning of the treatment trauma that led to my being disabled. So no, I no longer feel guilty. I do struggle with shame everyday but I believe that is also very much inflicted by the treatment I received. I live a very isolated existence now.

  • These were drugs prescribed by doctors. In my case, and many others, I was told over and over by the doctors thatI needed to be taking these drugs because they were safe and effective and would control the symptoms of my mental illness that they had diagnosed me with. I was also coerced by friends and family and even acquaintances into continuing the medication/drugs. I was brainwashed into thinking that my belief that the drugs were doing more harm was again due to my mental illness…i.e. that I wasn’t sane enough to understand that I needed to take these drugs. When I stopped or tried to stop taking the drugs I was called non-compliant.
    Yes there are long-term effects but most people who were prescribed the drugs were not giving informed consent on the long-term effects of these drugs which was the duty of the doctors to provide.

  • Rose, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was deeply affected by it and find it so upsetting that what you experienced is far from uncommon. The absolute confidence of the first psychiatrist in her abilities, as she was doing you so much harm; the complete dismissal by doctors of what you knew…and tried to tell them…to be the cause of the problems (the drugs); the addition of more drugs and more diagnoses by the psychiatrists you saw subsequent to the first psychiatrist (the one who sent you down this hellish path)…this all happened to me, as I know from this website it also happened to many others. I applaud you for writing out what happened so clearly and concisely. I can imagine how much work it took.
    I’m having trouble verbalizing my thoughts at the moment, so I will just say thank you for sharing your story. I am deeply appreciative on a personal level and I believe that…eventually…these histories will gain a wider audience and lead to systemic change.

  • mmarti2007,
    I have to say, I’m as discouraged as you are by all of this, by the sense that once a person gets on the Psychiatric merry go round (often through no fault of their own), there is no way off… certainly no easy way off. I was just denied an appointment with a pain specialist (who I’ve never met or spoken to… the referral came from a rheumatologist) because I refused their demand that “the appointment be coordinated with your psychiatrist”, whatever that even means. I explained to the woman on the phone that I’m a Psychiatric survivor, that I don’t have a psychiatrist and won’t ever see another psychiatrist. Of course I was denied the appointment, despite having multiple “legitimate” reasons for physical pain.
    That said, I think these articles are important. They tell the truth about psych drugs, and may be of help to people who are not yet on the merry go round – it’s a proper warning to stay away from psych drugs. I wish I’d had such a warning, 35 years ago.
    I do share your frustration and discouragement. It’s not an easy road by any means.

  • Amnesia,
    I am so sorry. I wish I had something useful to say to you. All I can say is, I believe everything that you say and I am so sorry that these things happened to you. I can’t imagine how strong you must be to have survived all of it. All of us who have survived these atrocities are stronger than anyone “looking in from the outside” gives us credit for.

  • Yes, Steve. It’s like a verbal shrug. No thanks. She said, “you’re self medicating (with Kratom) and that has it’s risks.”. I told her I will continue to self medicate, that being my safest option. I really don’t need to hear more from the rheumatologist about how safe Cymbalta is as long as it doesn’t make me feel so good that I want to…you know. I don’t need to hear anything else from any of these people. Imagine how much more money they would make off of me if I listened to them though. That’s a rheumatologist, a pain specialist, a psychiatrist to, you know, coordinate my appointments with the pain specialist, a primary care doctor which they keep telling me I need…and then the stay in the hospital when they all drive me over the edge.

  • Sam,
    Thanks for your comment. As painful as it to hear that you have also experienced this level of discrimination and intimidation from people in the “helping” professions, it’s also validating in that it reminds me that it’s not in my head, I’m not paranoid. This is really happening to me and countless others. I had hired a patient advocate and told her a bit of my history and I emailed her to let her know about what happened with the pain doctor. She wrote back saying, “I’m sorry you got bounced around today,…but this is the system and we can’t change the system. I recommend that you reinstate your appointment with the rheumatologist.”. I didn’t get bounced around. I got discriminated against, based on my record, my medical record, my medical rap sheet… As far as these people are concerned. Yes you’re right they hate tears. They also hate anger and hopelessness and being contradicted. They hate everything except robotic agreement that the ridiculous things they are saying actually make sense.apparently they can’t handle anything except a doctor knows best attitude even when they’ve proven over and over again that they know nothing.

  • SE,
    This makes sense. Sad, though…for them. I hope they cry themselves to sleep at night, or at least wake up with headaches.
    I broke down and had an appointment with a rheumatologist a few weeks ago, by video chat. I wanted to get some blood work. If I could have ordered it myself I would have.
    I thought it would be easier to do a video appointment than an in-person appointment but I still was crying by the end of our chat. This doctor, who was very nice and sympathetic to my issues, couldn’t understand why I had gone off Cymbalta because, she said, Cymbalta is a safe and effective drug, the only danger is a slightly higher risk of suicide when people first start taking it, because they feel so much better.
    Yeah, she really said that. Unbeknownst to me she referred me to a pain doctor who’s office called me yesterday. I called back to schedule the appointment today and learned from the assistant that the pain doctor would only agree to have an appointment with me if it were coordinated with my psychiatrist. I asked why this was and the assistant said something vague about “issues in your medical records”. Yeah I’ve been blacklisted. Probably all the Google reviews I wrote. I explained to the assistant that I do not have a psychiatrist, that I will not have a psychiatrist, and that I am a psychiatric survivor and do not need an appointment with the pain doctor. I just got finished writing a Health Grades review of the pain doctor describing this experience.
    I was so upset about this all day. Now I just think it’s stupid and kind of pathetic on their part. I have Kratom for pain and I don’t need a prescription for it so I don’t need a pain doctor anyway.

  • Someone Else,
    Yes, they are gaslighters, in my experience too.
    After I wrote that comment, I said to myself, if you could rewind why wouldn’t you rewind to *before* you had the ECT?
    Maybe some residual damage from all the years of drugs and shocks lol.
    I don’t understand why other doctors… internists, rheumatologists etc…stand with psychiatry as if it’s real medicine. You’re right, it makes them all untrustworthy.

  • I wish I could rewind my life 15 years to the day I was sitting in the office of an esteemed Yale psychiatrist who, after having shocked my brain a number of times (he’d told me prior to my agreeing to the ECT that I was a “good candidate”, what with my “treatment resistant depression”; he’d assured me that his patients did not suffer the “side effect” of impaired memory.) explained why it was my fault I didn’t get better. What he told me in his office that day:. “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. I wish I could go back in time. I’d throw this article in his face and never speak to another psychiatrist again. Instead I wasted another 15 years letting them gaslight me.

  • Thank you for your response, Sera. Yes, accepting that people don’t get it because they can’t get it, because they haven’t been there, is painful but maybe necessary. Whenever I’ve tried to explain the loss to someone who hasn’t experienced it, any validation I get is usually couched in a “yes, but…” type of statement. “Yes, but that’s in the past…”. Not according to my nervous system.
    I didn’t realize Jaffe is not a Dr. That he’s given a platform is depressing. Not that most psychiatrists deserve a platform either.

  • Hi, Sera, Thank you for a great article.

    I have a story that I’d love to share with Dr. Jaffe, not that he would listen.

    Yesterday morning I looked out my bedroom window and saw a city fire department vehicle in the parking lot of my building. On the door of the vehicle it said “Community Risk Reduction”. I didn’t then and still don’t have any idea why this vehicle was in the parking lot. There was a woman in the driver’s seat talking on the phone.

    Because of my long history of being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, accompanied by the police, who show up first, and deposited in the crisis intervention unit against my will, my brain came up with a theory about why that vehicle was there. My brain said: The police are on their way, as well as the ambulance. The woman in the community risk reduction vehicle is on the phone with them planning how they’re going to get me out of my apartment and into the ambulance without exposing themselves in the event that I have covid-19.

    I tried to convince myself otherwise. I tried to tell myself that the reasons for this vehicle to be in the parking lot had nothing to do with me and that probably soon the woman would start the car and drive away. That didn’t keep me from going into a full body PTSD response, literally shaking, standing at the window and peering through the blinds, then getting back in bed and curling up in the fetal position and trying to forget what was happening, then back to the window, for an hour. Finally I went from bed to window and saw that the car was gone. I wasn’t so much relieved as spent. The relief came later.

    Like the book says, The Body Keeps the Score, and mine had no doubt that I should be very afraid in that situation. Yes, those hospitalizations/incarcerations have left a mark. I related this story to a compassionate friend of mine who happens not to have a psych history, and she suggested that if that happened again, I could go outside and politely ask the person in the vehicle why they were there. I thought, I couldn’t do that, not in the state I was in. Maybe it’s something you have to have experienced to understand. That’s what keeps me coming back to this website – the wisdom and validation of people who get it.

  • You’re right, Steve. I may have a touch of Stockholm Syndrome or over-identification with the perspective of my former treatment providers (it was a long 35 years). If I think of complaint-filing in another context, I see that the act in and of itself is not an aggressive one.
    A few weeks ago I was driving on the highway and somehow I wound up with two flat rear tires. My car was towed to Pep Boys, where they replaced both rear tires and said I was “good to go”. I got back on the highway and, after driving 20 miles or so, I saw that both of the new tires had lost quite a bit of air. By the time I got to my destination, both tires were almost flat. I had the car towed to another Pep Boys, where they replaced the valve stems and put the lost air back in the new tires.
    If I write to Pep Boys corporate office and say, “Such and such happened, when they replaced my flat tires they should have checked the valve stems and because they didn’t I wound up in an unsafe situation…I’m glad that the second time my car was brought in, they replaced the valve stems but that really should have been done the first time…etc.” that probably wouldn’t be interpreted by the powers that be at Pep Boys as an act of aggression but more of a straight-talk, here’s my opinion about the service I received and how your company could have done better type of thing.
    So, you’re right…people providing services should in general be open to feedback from the person receiving the service. So when I say, “I would have preferred, rather than the doctor saying, ‘You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work,’ that he would make the diagnosis prior to needlessly shocking my brain thus sparing me brain damage” it’s just feedback from a service-user. Thank you for reminding me that it was my right to provide that feedback.

  • “Are there people with lived experience who can speak personally and articulately to things that damaged them as well as things that worked?”

    From what I have read on this website, there are such people. But as you suggest, Robert, the personal stories shared here are being read by others who have been hurt by the system and/or who already believe the system should be reformed if not abolished, so these authors are for the most part “preaching to the choir.”
    I filed a formal complaint with a hospital where I’d received treatment, and although the filing of a complaint might be seen as an inherently “aggressive” act, I worked very hard, in describing my experience, both verbally and in writing, to maintain a non-aggressive tone because I did not want the people tasked with hearing my grievances to be “on the defensive”. I very much wanted them to be able to hear me…because what I wanted from them, at that point, more than anything, was validation. Validation that I had been put in several discreet situations in which my health, my ability to trust treatment providers, and my prospects for recovery were threatened and/or damaged. Unfortunately, I did not get the validation I was seeking. Instead, the response was to patronize, then ignore me. At that point, I lost diplomacy and reverted to an aggressive tone…I felt I had put in the effort and still had not been heard.
    The other thing I’d hoped to achieve in filing the complaint was to present an argument for the need for a patient advocate who is not in any way beholden to the system to be assigned to any patient receiving a hospital level of care. I tried to get across the idea that, in my experience, any therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc who is employed by the “system” has an inherent conflict of interest, in that if they speak up about what they see as a patient being unfairly treated/harmed, they are very likely to experience repercussions due to the tacit agreement between treatment providers to “stick together”. To my disappointment, I got no feedback on this argument.
    While systemic reforms require people with lived experience being able to speak articulately about what harmed them and what helped, it also requires people working in the system who will listen. In my case, it was the absence of people who would listen that led me to conclude that the system can’t be reformed.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I wish I’d learned everything there is to know about psychiatry when my oldest (and closest sibling to me) brother was locked up in Yale psych ward and diagnosed schizophrenic. Doctors put him on Haldol. He had a dystonic reaction. Doctors kept him on Haldol – they said he was faking it. Faking a dystonic reaction. I was 11 and didn’t understand what was going on but that is psychiatry in a nutshell. I’d no clue what was going on or what these asshats had in store for me. Sometimes just thinking about things that happened, I literally start shaking with rage. Can’t confide in people about it though because “inappropriate anger” is one of the criteria for borderline, so they’ll just attribute it to my “mental illness”. This website is the only safe place to even share any of this.

  • Getting a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder 13 years ago effectively ruined my life. It was delivered thus: “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. Innumerable psych meds, treaters and treatments later, I’m now fully disabled with no friends and no family. I rarely leave the house. I had a full time job and had just completed a graduate degree when I got the diagnosis. I went home and googled bpd, as I’d never heard of it, and read about Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Congratulations, psychiatry.

  • Wow. Julie, Thank you for saying this. I really needed to hear that right now.
    On a side note, my mother recently called me “The Other.” I don’t think she meant it in a nice way – more like, “this is why no one wants to talk to you” – but it’s a badge I wear proudly.

    I wonder if people who identify as liberals tend to be pro-psychiatry because they see all mental health services as “helping” services? It’s just convenient, if they see someone suffering, to say, “go over there and get some help from the helping people.” And then they can stop thinking about it, without considering what psychiatry’s “help” entails.

  • JanCarol,
    Exactly. I love the idea of a healer’s hut. I know that during the phase when I was in and out of the psych ward over and over again a lot of it just had to do with feeling scared to be alone. I needed to not be alone… I didn’t need to be imprisoned and drugged but that came with the territory.
    I have come off, with no help guidance or support from doctors, so many different prescribed meds. I don’t remember one instance where I was getting a new prescription and I actually received anything like informed consent. Benzos, amphetamines, antidepressants. The doctors it seems do.not even have a protocol for coming off the drug. In some cases they didn’t want me to come off the drug but in other cases they did. I was first prescribed adderal by a psychiatrist who prescribed it for my depression – not ADD. In the ten years following, as my mental health declined, I saw doctors who were in favor of the adderal and would prescribe varying amounts of it or doctors who were opposed to it and would not prescribe it. The last psychiatrist I had who prescribed adderal decided he wanted me to stop taking it. I said to him, I agree with you, I also want to stop taking it, but I’m terrified of the withdrawal. I was having a hard time anyway at that point – my son was having a psychotic break – and I feared I would go into a suicidal depression when I stopped the adderal. The doctor replied that there is no withdrawal from adderal. He said, “you might just feel tired for a few days, but that’s it.”. Maybe there’s no physical withdrawal from adderal, but there’s a huge psychological withdrawal.
    The existence of websites like SA is yet another indictment of psychiatry. There’s a part of me that thinks I can “woman up” and do a cold turkey withdrawal from the cymbalta, but that hasn’t been going well. I feel a little better since I reinstated at a much lower dose the past couple of days. Now I just feel very weak, but not as agitated.
    Thank you for pointing me to the SA website, JanCarol. I’m going to try to do the drug signature tomorrow.

  • Oh…I love Squeak. Love her. ☺️ They’re all so different aren’t they? They have their own personalities just like people. Except more so because I they don’t try to conform to a standard. They’re just who there are. The cat I had before Kodi… George, but she was a girl… Was very dear to me also. She kept me going through a lot. I always imagine how well she and Kodi would get along. I think they’d really complement each other. Maybe that’s a weird thought, I don’t know. I did register with the surviving antidepressants website. I submitted my topic and am waiting for it to be approved.

  • Oh, that’s so awesome, JanCarol. I need to find a way to take Kodi places with me. He doesn’t like the car and he won’t wear a harness but he does love adventure. I’ve taken him to hotels on two separate occasions and both times he loved it. We would go and explore the hallways at night. He probably also likes it because I get stressed out a lot in my apartment because of things that have happened here, with my neighbors. I think he sees that I’m calmer and happier and then he feels better. He did like the more expensive hotel better. He’s got good taste.

  • Thank you, JanCarol and KS for the information about the other websites. I’m still trying to figure out how these comments work…It seems like sometimes there’s a reply button under a comment and sometimes there’s not? Is there a way to take a conversation off the thread or a different part of the MIA website where people can chat and share information?
    Anyway, yes I am going to look at the web sites you listed. I’m realizing that there is a part of me, maybe a big part of me, that wants somebody else to fix it for me. Maybe that’s what kept me a patient of psychiatry for so long. I’m definitely doing a lot of self validating, though, which is good, I think… I need that, otherwise I would feel so ashamed about being so very angry and about some of the comments I made to former treatment providers. I emailed the one clinician I had at Yale who had been helpful to me. I’ve been sending him a bunch of email rants and for some reason he hasn’t blocked my email yet. I said to him, “I realize that I’ve been very disrespectful towards you & I’m sorry for that, however/and, there’s nothing I could say to you or anyone else in an email that would match how disrespected I feel as a person about the treatment I’ve received from the mental health system.”
    Maybe he’ll get it or maybe he won’t. I need to focus on what I need to do to pull myself out of this.
    I think someone had suggested a naturopath? That’s something I might look into. I realized that I don’t have the skills that would be required to access help through the normal medical system that is available with Medicare. I start to fall apart as soon as I walk into the doctor’s office. Traditional medicine seems to be designed for body parts and not actual people. I did see a chiropractor/naturopath for a consultation appointment about eight months or so ago. She used supplements from a company called Standard Process and what I found online about this company made me doubtful, so I didn’t go back to see her again.
    Thanks again to everyone for your support. My emotions have been so intense and painful the past couple of days. It helps to know that I’m not completely overreacting to this situation and that I’m not imagining how bad the system can really be for a lot of people. It’s so weird when I think about when the MIA book came out. I devoured it. Also Peter Breggin’s book. Nobody but nobody wanted to talk to me about it. I think they looked at it as just one of my symptoms, that I was so angry at and suspicious of the treatment I had received and was receiving. I think they just heard it as a crazy rant… F psychiatry, F the pharmaceutical companies, F the FDA, it’s all about money, it’s all a scam. They were like, “sure, Kate, did you take your meds today?”

  • Thank you for the article. I have often had strong reactions to practicing mindfulness and I do believe that it’s much more complicated for people with trauma. After I was diagnosed with borderline personality, I was referred to a dialectical behavior therapy program that was part of an IOP. So in the DBT group room, I learned about mindfulness. I learned about sacred self skills and listening to my wise mind. But I was in IOP patient, which meant I had to see the doctor at least once a month, and the doctor prescribed meds. It created a lot of cognitive dissonance for me. At that point, I’d been on meds for the better part of the past couple of decades, and had not benefitted from them. In fact I think the drugs made me a lot worse. But if I or any of the other patients in the DBT program spoke about wanting to get off their medication or skipping their medication because they didn’t like the way it made them feel,… because they’re wise mine was saying, don’t take these meds, we would always get asked, “are you a doctor? Did you go to med school?” if the doctor wanted you on meds, you needed to be on meds, no matter what your wise mind was saying.

  • I just took down most of my Google reviews (including the ones for the ECT doctor and the TMS doctor) mostly because I couldn’t deal with the negative energy having them up was bringing up for me. That’s the last thing I need is to create more negative energy. This is scary. I wonder if this is what leaving a cult feels like. Except that in my case, the cult doesn’t want me either. They’re like, “bad cult member! Off with you!” I also finally split with whatever family members I was still in contact with because that wasn’t doing me any favors.
    I saw some pet knapsacks on Amazon with the little space bubble window in the back. So cute. I think kodi’s too big though. He’s like 13 pounds.

  • Thank you. I do feel “nuts” – just not in a mentally ill way, more of a human person responding to situations way. Although I’m sure most people I’ve been in contact with lately would say it’s the first way. I’m trying to tell myself that even though I’m not okay right now, this is a moment in time.
    Is it okay to just talk randomly about different topics in these threads? Probably a little late to ask since I’ve been doing it for a while. :/
    Rachel, Abby sounds awesome. Kodi is the most high maintenance cat I’ve ever had, but he’s also the most rewarding in some ways. He’s very intelligent, a Russian blue. I adopted him from the shelter where I was working at the time when he was six. He’s eight now. he was with the same family the first six years of his life, … it must have been quite a rupture to him to wind up at the shelter. So I think his needs are more than those of other cats I’ve had, but I also feel like we understand each other because we’ve both been through a lot.

  • Thank you, Kindred Spirit. I think I’ve been trying to shut down emotionally because the pain is too much, but then the cat senses that, I can’t be there for him if I’m shut down, he gets scared and sometimes he attacks me. I don’t fault him for it. I would want to bite me too if I was him. It’s just hard. I just got a call back from the vet who I called this morning about boarding him and they said that if I decided to surrender him I can just bring him there to surrender him at any point and they will find a home for him. I know they’re interested in his welfare but it’s so easy for me to get paranoid and think, they think I shouldn’t have him. They think he’d be safer elsewhere. I have no idea if that’s what they’re thinking, it’s just hard right now.

  • Thank you, Lavender Sage. I’m doing a little bit of cleaning now. I was thinking of taking my cat to the vet for boarding for a few days while I figured out what to do but I haven’t yet. I just feel awful about the effect that this is having on him. He’s so sensitive to me and there is no one else for him to go to. I put a bird video on for him. I still haven’t looked on the website you sent me the link for. My mind is so scattered right now I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to figure out a protocol regarding the cymbalta. I’ll try to at least go to the website after I have some coffee. There were some useful things about DBT, although at this point I find it on the whole overly simplistic, invalidating and demeaning. There is a “turning the mind” skill. I’m going to keep turning my mind back to what’s right in front of me, what’s real. Like my cat. Thank you so much for the support. It means so much to me.

  • Thank you, all of you, for the supportive comments. I’ll keep trying. It just feels very dark right now with the holidays and everything. and I was stupid enough to think that the one clinician I had had at Yale who was helpful to me at times and I thought cared about me… I thought I would be able to file the complaints about what happened there and still maintain some kind of contact with him. But he’s written me off. It’s like that movie, the pod people or something, where I talk to somebody and explain it and I think they get it and I think they can see it through my eyes and then they say something or do something that lets me know they absolutely can’t see it through my eyes and they’re judging me and blaming me.

  • Agreed. This is probably the least answerable profession. Unless you include, I don’t know, psychics. But psychics do less damage.
    I know this for a fact – that they are not answerable – because every time I tried to raise my voice against what I knew was unjust treatment, my words were pathologized and I was silenced. I recently initiated a formal complaint regarding the treatment I received at Yale in both the psych ward and their IOP. I was met with a wall of silence higher then any wall even Trump could imagine. That was after writing statements about four of the most egregious abuses I endured there. Actually, I had to stop writing after the third because I was getting too suicidal. I did my absolute best to relate these experiences in a calm and modulated tone. I sent the statements to the appropriate people in the patient relations department. I got no response.

  • My house is disgusting and disorderly. I’m about to surrender my cat back to the shelter since I can’t take care of him anymore. I don’t know if it was all the trauma, the ECT, the TMS, the drugs, the commitments that included isolation and restraints, the abandonment by everyone in my life, or the current withdrawal from cymbalta, but I didn’t used to be like this. I used to keep a very clean home.

  • I guess I’m not going to worry about it. I didn’t write anything that isn’t true. If I had taken my car to a mechanic and they made the problem worse, and still charged me, the review I would write would be true and angry in that case also. They’ve already taken everything from me that they could. In the example you cite, the end of the review would be: he said he never had a patient who had memory loss from ECT and because he was a highly regarded Yale psychiatrist, I put my trust in him. He shocked my brain eight or nine times and then told me it didn’t work because I have borderline personality. He didn’t explain what borderline personality was, he just told me that I had it and that that was why the ECT didn’t work. I think it probably comes under free speech. Most people I would guess would not do something like this because they wouldn’t want such personal experiences to be made public, but as I’ve said I have nothing left to protect.

  • Hi Steve, I’m still trying to figure out how these comments work so I’m not sure if your comment was toward me, but yes I’m aware that just my rebelling against the mental health system is not going to solve anything for me. To be honest I don’t see a solution. I have no family, no friends, my health is poor, and I just survive. Finally realizing that in seeking help from the system I was only going to continuously get abused… That just led me to speak out. That’s all I can do at this point. My family and then the system took everything from me but I still have a voice and I’ll use it until I don’t have that anymore either.

  • Hi Rachel, sorry I wasn’t sure how to directly reply to your comment…but yes, how is this any different from name-calling? It had a terrible effect on me. I just took it on, the BPD label -it must be true because the name was given to me by a highly-regarded doctor at Yale. I still remember the way the med students used to follow this psychiatrist around the halls of the psych ward like he was God. For years I believed that I could not have any type of romantic relationship or I would turn into Glenn close in fatal Attraction. Even though, prior to the diagnosis, I’d never done anything like that.

  • Hi ebl, I haven’t seen this article yet, but it doesn’t surprise me. Big pharma and the FDA have also been going after kratom, a natural supplement that many people have used successfully to get off opiates and to manage pain. I use it myself and have benefited from it. The FDA has been trying to schedule it in the same category as heroin, for years. It’s all about money. I’ve heard some reports that big pharma is trying to isolate the active ingredients in kratom so that they can come up with a chemical version. Once the FDA has made sure that real kratom is illegal, then the pharmaceutical companies can step in and make their money. So they have an answer to the opiate epidemic that they, in large part, created.

  • This is terrifying. It’s so much worse than I thought it was, and I thought it was bad. The greed. The abuse.
    As a 52 year old woman without family or friends who is only just freeing herself from the system after 35 years, I fear the future. All it would take would be a broken hip or similar type of injury and I’d become a nursing home ward. I got a little taste of this when I fractured and dislocated my ankle in May. I made the huge error of admitting to suicidal thoughts when I was in the orthopedic ward post-surgery (was in a lot of pain and on a lot of opiates and already very traumatized). I unleashed pure hell on myself.

  • Thank you so much, JanCarol. I will read up about it on the website. Thanks for the link. Going off cold turkey was kind of an act of rebellion for me. It was sort of my symbolic, that’s it! But I realized it might not work out well for me because I know this is one of the trickier drugs to get off of. Emotionally I’m not right, at the moment. I don’t feel like myself at all.I don’t know how much is the cymbalta withdrawal, though because there are so many other things in the mix. The recent split I had with the mental health system, with being a patient, was kind of a big deal for me, particularly since there is one clinician that had helped me at times in the past. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been in a cult. When MIA first came out, I read that, and I think Peter Breggin’s book also. There were a few that all came out around the same time, as I remember, all saying basically the same thing. The people I spoke to about it then, many of them friends who also had experience as psych patients, were very opposed to the arguments put forth in these books, that psychiatry is mostly made up. Since that time I’ve spent more time as a patient, more time taking different meds that I didn’t respond well to, and this is like my second awakening. I also take a couple of other things, like Kratom and phenibut, so it’s hard to isolate what’s what. anyway I will look at the protocol for cymbalta taper. I have some of the med left, so I might be able to do it without seeing a doctor. Thanks again.

  • Oldhead, yes, I have come to understand that, finally. Of course now I have all this grief that I lost so much time and my physical and mental well-being to being a mental health patient. One thing I won’t do is go and speak to a mental health treatment provider about the grief. A couple of months ago I visited Brazil with a friend who is from there. It was only my second time out of the United States, excluding a trip to Canada. It was so beautiful there and I just kept thinking, wow, I could have been doing things like this, I could, have been traveling, learning about other cultures, could have been doing so many things instead of being in treatment and in and out of the hospital most of my life.

  • Apologies if this is too off topic… but in the last few months I have undertaken a “project” that entails writing Google Maps reviews of multiple former providers, detailing the negative experiences I had with them. The doctor who did the ECT. The doctor who did the TMS. Some of the reviews are very rage-filled and I don’t know if this is paranoia, but I do worry that one of these people is going to take legal action against me or try to have me locked up. I don’t know if what I’m doing is productive. It is cathartic at times, to call people out publicly… people who, as a group, are not accustomed to ever being called out. My goal is that if someone reads the reviews in their entirety it tells a kind of cautionary tale of what can happen when a person allows their life to be hijacked by the mental health system. Sometimes I worry that people will read my reviews, and think, “now there’s a dyed-in-the-wool borderline.” But most people thought that about me anyway. Also, it’s hard to maintain a neutral tone when detailing experiences that made my life so much worse than it already was.
    Jan Carrol, thank you for your comments and the link to the website. Luckily I am not on any psych meds at the moment. I went off cymbalta cold turkey about a month ago. The psychiatrist who I’d been seeing for about a year-and-a-half who had been prescribing it… shall I say, disappointed me, in a big way. That was one of the final straws for me.

  • Thank you. Yeah they did a number on me. After I got the borderline diagnosis I was so afraid of the scary person they convinced me I was that I spent a lot of time trying very hard not to be scary. Trying to be compliant and agreeable and friendly and pleasant and not to go off the rails when say, somebody shocked my brain for no good reason (he didn’t look into my history at all really before he suggested the ECT. The referring psychiatrist, who I’d seen for six years, had not kept any records. If the ECT doc had looked into my history he would have seen suicide attempts, anger, all of the things that point to borderline. I do have issues with this diagnosis but I do also believe that there are a set of symptoms that tend to hang together that make up what they call the borderline diagnosis. All of these symptoms had been present for two decades prior to him recommending ECT.) This idea I had…that I had to try very hard not to be scary…put me in a very vulnerable situation. I wound up in a DBT program where I had a clinician who I believe did care about me but he is part of the system. He used to talk to me over and over again about this skill called benefit of the doubt. If you’re not sure of somebody, like for example an outside therapist, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Looking back, I can see that in almost every situation where I granted the benefit of the doubt to a psychiatrist or a treatment provider, I gave them the opportunity to hurt me more than if I had cut and run when my instincts told me to do so. I also see, looking back, that as the patient, I almost never was granted the benefit of the doubt by any treatment provider. Just one example off the top of my head, when I went into a hypertensive crisis a few days after starting a parnate trial, the hypertension… which was severe, I could have had a stroke… was attributed to the fact that I had not followed the restricted diet. Absolute BS. So, so many instances just like that one. And then all the doctors stuck together in telling me that the parnate had nothing to do with the hypertensive crisis, which went on for months after I was taken off the parnate. I was in my very early forties then, in great shape… I ate well and exercised daily. I finally saw a cardiologist who gave me the usual series of tests, including a stress test which I passed with flying colors. He said, “welcome to your forties you have hypertension”, and ushured me out the door. When I finally confronted the Doctor who had prescribed that parnate trial with the fact that parnate is contraindicated for anyone with any history of hypertension, and I asked him whether he did not first check to make sure I had no history of hypertension, or whether he did check and saw that I did not have any history of hypertension. His response, “I don’t know Kate, maybe you just really get to people.” They wanted me to believe that I had aged so much in the week or so that I was on parnate that my BP had gone from normal to 170 / 140.
    There’s a part of me that wants to beat myself up for having let myself be gaslighted by this industry. There’s another part of me where I’m more understanding of myself because as a child I was always made to believe that there was something wrong with me and things were my fault. So I started out vulnerable.
    I’m glad that I found my way to this website.

  • I was just watching a documentary that talked about this…I had never realized there was such a strong connection between psychiatry, eugenics and the Holocaust.
    When I was considering my new psychiatrist proposal of ECT (I’ve been referred to him after six years with the psychiatrist who basically prescribed and slept during sessions and kept no records,… Referred to the second psychiatrist for a second opinion),I told the ECT psychiatrist that I’d heard a lot about short-term memory problems for people who underwent the treatment. This psychiatrist, who used ECT more than anybody else at the large teaching hospital where he did the treatments, told me that he never had a patient of his have any short-term memory problems after undergoing ECT.

  • I have similar feelings toward medical doctors. They seem to have a real unwillingness to look at obvious connections. At one point I was on three or four psych meds, all of the weight-gain variety, and my internist was hyper focused on my metabolic syndrome (I’ve had high blood pressure ever since a short trial of parnate made my blood pressure skyrocket), but didn’t want to talk about the psych meds and the effect they might be having.
    I’m 52 now and I’ve read a lot about childhood trauma causing physical problems in middle age, like early aging. I would love to find a new primary care doctor who would be willing to have a conversation with me about that. Not even to suggest solutions. Just to have the conversation. That would feel validating or something to me. But I have Medicare, so I don’t think that will happen.

  • Thanks again, Lavender Sage. I understand what you’re saying about anger. I went through dialectical behavior therapy, which was somewhat helpful,but looking back I feel like a lot of it was about stuffing anger about things that I had every right to be furious about.
    I was being a little sarcastic about failing at the ECT and then the TMS. Because now, many years later, I realize that it wasn’t my failure. How can you fail at something where you just lie there while they attach things to your head? But they had me convinced at the time, both doctors, that I had indeed failed the treatments. The first doctor, the one who did the ECT, said afterward, “you have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. Then about eight years after that people in my life were pushing me into trying another treatment, TMS, one that I had no confidence in, but I let myself be talked into it. After those treatments didn’t work, I met with the dr. who oversaw the treatments in his office and he told me, “at some point you’re just going to need an entire personality makeover.”. This doctor barely knew me. He had no idea what was going on in my life at the time of the treatments. And I had told him that I had a borderline diagnosis in our initial consultation. He told me that wouldn’t be a problem and he bragged about his huge success rate, 80 something percent, with the TMS. So yes they both had me convinced that I had failed but now, looking back, it’s like, no, don’t put that on me, Doctor.

  • Thank you, that’s very helpful. It is, for me, a trap that’s easy to fall into… Winding up back in an ER if I don’t prioritize keeping myself “together” over anything else. I also wonder sometimes if my dozens of trips to the crisis intervention unit or whatever they call it are some kind of a compulsion to repeat the trauma, but that’s a thought for another day. I’m glad to hear that you have found a way that works for you. That gives me hope.

  • Thank you so much for your response, Lavender Sage. So far I’ve only read a couple of the blog posts, including this one, plus a lot of the comments in this thread. I have to say I feel like I found my people 🙂
    I really “get” the strong feelings in the voices of survivors. I’ve started to do a bit of writing about my experience, and I find it hard to modulate my anger. It’s like I’m reliving the experience as I’m writing about it. When things like this (treatment induced harm) happen to anyone who is in the act of seeking help, it’s hard not to take it personally. For me, anyway. The best I can do is throw in some black humor.
    Thanks again.

  • Hello, I am brand new to this website, although I did read the book when it came out and it very much resonated with my experience. I have a question that may be a little off topic, although I did at different points have both ECT treatments and then TMS treatments for unremmitting depression… I failed at both! Yes, I’ve been a bad patient. A very, very, bad, bad patient. Anyway, my question is: Do those of you who have written about your experience with the mental health system on this website find it to be a generally useful and possibly healing experience? I ask because I, too, feel that my problems stem from childhood trauma and were exacerbated by traumas I experienced as a mental health patient. At age 52, after an adult lifetime spent as a patient, I am no longer interested in being a patient of the mental health system or our medical system at all, to the extent that I can help it. I do feel that I need to process some of the traumas experienced as a patient somehow if I am to have a chance at any kind of a life. Friends who have not had the same experiences can’t really understand what it’s been like for me and when anyone sees I’m depressed, which I would be the first to admit that I am, they quickly recommend some form of treatment. Have others found that writing about these experiences and hopefully connecting with others who have similar histories helps to “clear” some of the trauma to some extent? Thank you.