Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Comments by farmor

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • As I read H.S.’s letter, I felt as though she must surely have had knowledge of many details of my own distressing encounter with the American psychiatric system. So much of the abuse she suffered is strikingly similar to what happened to me. I have learned over the years, however, that there are many many – too many- who have been in similar circumstances.

    At age 48, I was a single mother of four children, a former (operating room) R.N., and a new graduate of Harvard Law School, still contesting (Pro se) the sequelae of my recent divorce and custody battle. I had no money and no assets because I was married at a time when it was customary that almost all financial assets and instruments were kept in the husband’s name. Consequently, I did not have money to hire an attorney, and the Court denied my motion for attorney’s fees pending the outcome of the case. I struggled to put food on the table and pay my half of the mortgage to keep a roof over our heads since the child support I had been awarded was woefully insufficient and was predicated on only two of the children. The two oldest who were 18 and 19 years old and living at home were not factored in by the judge. I had been a stay-at-home mom since the birth of the children and had not worked outside my home in several years. In fact, my medical license had lapsed. I, therefore, decided to go back to school to start a less physically demanding career and was able to obtain several scholarships and grants to attend college and law school full time.

    My former spouse was agitating all this time to have the house sold which meant I had to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and preparing my defense as well as caring for the children while doing my own school work. I was not yet a law graduate. I should state at this juncture that I am also an alcoholic who had long-term sobriety.

    My former spouse and his attornies finally prevailed and the Court ordered that the children’s and my home was to be sold. It was, and we were literally out on the street. I was even living in my car briefly. There is much more to this tale, but the foregoing is sufficient to show the high level of stress and anxiety under which I was living just prior to my emotional breakdown.

    I was feeling overwhelmed, fearful, anxious, and like I had nowhere to turn. I could not think what to do or how to plan and had no family or friends who I felt I could turn to. This is when I made my greatest mistake. I went to the emergency room of a Boston hospital and told them I was in complete despair. I had also picked up alcohol again the previous week after 15 years of sobriety, and my second son had been rendered a quadriplegic the prior month as the result of an auto accident (fortunately, what is referred to as a “super quad”). He was out of the house also with the rest of us.

    For the next 8 years, I was caught in the system, in and out of mental hospitals and mental health facilities and put on one psyche. medication after another. It was determined that I had a “brain disease.” I love that obfuscation! First diagnosed as severely depressed (who wouldn’t be in my situation?) and then when it became apparent that I was fairly bright, adaptable, and didn’t fit with the usual cohort of patients seen at the hospital (the “frequent flyers”) my diagnosis had to be changed so the medical professionals wouldn’t look foolish. So I became Bipolar (in their subjective opinion). Still, that diagnosis didn’t really fit because I did not exhibit the swings of highs and lows and the degree of dysfunction that would neatly fit the DSM criteria. Fortunately, the committees that come up with new diagnoses had just recently formulated a new one: Bipolar II. So, happy day, the doctors could all slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves that they had solved the dilemma of me and which box they could put me in.

    The only remaining problem was that none of the medications they convinced me I must take seemed to have any effect. So I was put on one after another. I even developed Stephens-Johnson Syndrome and spent a week in a medical unit. I did not respond to any of these medications, and did not even have the common placebo response and just felt less and less like a real living human being. I spent most of my day sitting in a chair at home dozing on and off all day where I was now living with my sister. I was pretty much just a zombie with no quality of life whatsoever and had put on close to 40 pounds. This went on for 7 years, years when I should have been working, engaging with my family, engaged with life, and contributing my talents instead of simply surviving biologically. I think one of the greatest things I lost during this time was that I couldn’t read, an activity that had been pivotal to me prior to my psychiatric abuse, that and my sense of curiosity and wonder.

    Eventually, my eldest son was able to get through to me and convinced me that the medications I was taking were the problem and were kidnapping me from me. I told my doctors that I wanted to come off my medications. They, of course, gave me all the reasons that I could not possibly do that. I told them that if they wouldn’t supervise my withdrawal, that I would titrate down each medication separately myself. I had some medical knowledge and told my family members what I was proposing. I asked them to be alert along with me to observe anything untoward.

    It has been almost 20 years since I discontinued all psyche. medications and despite the dire warnings of doom from the various psychiatrists, I have had no further mental health problems. I have experienced the usual ups and downs of being human, but the joys have vastly outnumbered the sadness. I am incredibly angry at the abuse I endured and at the hubris of the so-called healers. I am also livid at the pharmacology industry which has an outsized roll in the abuse and the destruction of peoples’ lives for the sake of profits. Of course, when those such as I write screeds such as this or try to talk to others about the malpractice of the psychiatric profession, we are mostly dismissed. After all, we are not doctors, and we have the scarlet letter of mental illness forever inscribed on our foreheads. Even now, I watch with great sadness and concern as friends and family members are prescribed poisons to treat what are mostly social and emotional problems. Usually, it is not the patient who is sick, but society.

  • Excellent post. Thank you. I would only add that there is no such thing as mental illness. There are, however, coping mechanisms people learn that allow them to function after a fashion in the face of overwhelming emotional trauma/abuse. These coping mechanisms tend to make others uncomfortable and so they label these people as mentally ill and do all they can to eliminate this source of discomfort for thenselves.

  • Good for you! I also informed my doctor that I would not take statins as well as some other “preventive” meds. he wanted to put me on based on so-called guidelines (influenced by big pharma. I’m sure) I think I had an edge on you, however, because I was a former R.N. before becoming an attorney. I am 73 and take only one med. for mild COPD (Yes, I’m a smoker). I was almost killed by psychiatrists at a time when I was suffering a severe situational depression. I had nowhere else to turn, no resources, no support network, and was desperate. I stupidly bought into their claptrap and was on numerous SSRIs for almost 8 years believing them when they said I needed them. I eventually realized that being a zombie was not living and weaned myself off. At that point, my recovery started. I have had a wonderful life since then, but my former psyche. diagnosis is still in my record and causes me problems.

  • It seems noteworthy that the various diagnoses in the DSM are so clearly delineated in that they match up quite well with the approved use of the medications that the pharmaceutical industry is hawking. I was a captive of the mental health system for eight years and was not able to recover until I obtained a good living situation and family support that enabled me to wean myself off all medications. In the past fifteen years, I have experienced a full and joyful life and am a constructive member of society, a loving mother to my four grown children, and an involved grandmother to my grandchildren. How sad that the mental health system now shuns the wise shamans.