Monday, November 20, 2017

Comments by Laura Delano

Showing 100 of 332 comments. Show all.

  • Thanks so much, humanbeing!
    And yes, recognizing and validating the reality that for many, getting off psych drugs means an extended period of serious impairment of basic day-to-day living, is a crucial step to be taken in the medical community, and of course, in society at large. The intolerance, cruelty, coldness, and lack of support and validation that people in withdrawal, and especially those in lengthy withdrawals, experience on a daily basis is simply unacceptable. There are some great videos and pieces of writing in our section that talk about this.

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Alex,
    I agree- in my personal experience I too found that there was a tremendous amount of internal work to be done (especially in regards to the “issues” that got me into the “mental health” system in the first place as a 13-year old, which of course I’d never really had a chance to truly address once I was labeled and put on psychiatric drugs). For me, this inner work happened entirely outside of the realm of “mental health” and far away from any “professional”, and only really began once I got through the serious impairments I had in the first part of my withdrawal journey. That work is what really allowed me to change my life, and reconnect with an authentic sense of self.

    Thanks for your supportive words about our new initiative!

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Fiachra,
    Yes, isn’t it amazing how options that on the surface might sound so simple– too simple it feels like, when in the throes of serious withdrawal struggle, to really have an impact– actually end up making a huge difference, even if it’s just a short-term respite from the storm? I found needlepointing and doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles to be absolute life-savers for me in the worst times of anxiety and akathisia. Who would’ve thought!

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Jonathan,
    No lawsuits to my knowledge… And I hope it stays that way! I completely, totally agree that given the inflexibility and close-mindedness of the conventional system it’s especially critical to build spaces at the grassroots level for people to support one another. And though I certainly think it’s important for doctors and therapists to get educated about safe tapering (even more fundamentally, for proper research to be conducted on withdrawal in the first place, and for the voices of those of us who’ve come of ourselves to be heard and listened to, especially by professionals), I also think it’s important to emphasize that people can and do successfully come off without the support and guidance of doctors and the mental health system. Of course, it’s much easier to have the support of a knowledgeable doctor (and one is necessary to write prescriptions), but people every day are coming off on their own and with the support of each other, family, and friends, and this is a message that people need to hear.

    I’m curious, Jonathan– how many colleagues do you have who are both supportive of withdrawal, and have a sense of safe tapering protocols?

    Glad to be connected here!
    Laura

  • Hi sanderella,
    I am so sorry to hear about the terrifying and painful experience you had as the direct result of not being properly informed about safe drug tapering! I hope you are hanging in there OK on your healing journey.

    It is certainly our intention to house information pertaining to safe psychiatric drug tapering so that people out there can make better informed choices around how to come off psych drugs, and not have to go through the experience you’ve had to go through. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story here.

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi lvoo,
    Indeed, it’s like there’s an entire realm of potential dialogue, engagement, exploration, and discussion that’s being left unspoken in society, and even worse, is totally invisible to many. In all the years I was on psychiatric drugs, it never once crossed my mind that I could perhaps find a way to live my life off of them, bought into the medical model as I was. So there are plenty of folks out there who don’t even know it’s possible. And for many people today who do in fact think and wonder about withdrawal, just mentioning the word can be dangerous and alienating (losing friends, family support, and of course potentially one’s freedom if their doctor doesn’t like the idea.) So the stakes are high, and it’s kind of like the “wild, wild west” out there much of the time for those who try to forge a path on their own.

    The message that there is life after psychiatric drugs, and that there are safe ways to get there for those who so choose, is still largely invisible to the greater world. (This of course is both due to fear and lack of access to information, and also to greater forces of industry– Pharma/Psychiatric/etc.– that intentionally try to keep these message silenced.) The more we all speak out about this, and force open spaces online and in person, the greater the chance that people like the person you heard speak last night will feel like they have a chance at another way, and can get empowered through information and support to try getting there.

    Thanks so much for commenting.

    Best,
    Laura

  • AA,
    Yes, indeed, a very real fear. In my life outside of MIA (i.e. something totally unaffiliated with MIA), I started a mutual support group almost two years ago for people thinking about/in the process of coming off psychiatric drugs and though we have a very clear disclaimer that it isn’t therapy, counseling, medical or clinical advice, and the group is structured in way that tries to ensure no one tells anyone else to do, it is, of course, a real fear nonetheless. But regardless, in my opinion we must force open these kinds of spaces in society, otherwise, how will people support one another and make change happen? Haha, wouldn’t it be great if we had a team of international lawyers who could help every group make sure they were structuring themselves safely?

    Best,
    Laura

  • Glaucus,
    I’m chiming in here as personal stories editor. Mad in America doesn’t support/endorse any particular withdrawal program, but we do respect the many ways that people find healing from psychiatric drugs, which might include use of a program, and feel it important for us to keep space open for these individual experiences to be shared. I think it would be great if folks from our community had feedback to offer about this program or others, and wanted to start a respectful discussion about the benefits/harms, efficacy/inefficacy, etc. of supplements, the Road Back program, or other withdrawal programs. And perhaps the author of this story will choose to chime in here, as well.

    In fact, this might be a good topic to get a thread going on in our Forums, which can be accessed here: https://www.madinamerica.com/forums/forum/psychiatric-drugs/

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Rossa,
    As the editor of the personal stories here at MIA, let me respond. Many of our readers have personal experiences with forced psychiatry—experiences that have altered the course of their lives in significant ways. This note is for them, so that they can have a head’s up on what they’re about to read.

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Julie,
    Thanks for this comment. I really appreciate you expressing how you’re feeling—I think it’s brave to do so. We’ve missed you in the group since you left the area; it’s not the same without you.

    I can relate very much to feeling lonely and isolated. I’ve found that out of all the obstacles I’ve had to move through in getting out of The System, learning how to be in relationship with other human beings has been, by far, the most difficult. I think this has been true for a number of reasons, but two in particular: the shame and all the secrets I’d carried for so many years about who I “really” was (i.e. a mental patient) had led me to compartmentalize myself to such a degree that I didn’t know how to feel integrated and whole again. And secondly, being labeled and put on psychiatric drugs beginning as a fourteen-year old completely impacted the way I saw myself in relationship to others, and the more I believed in the story Psychiatry was telling me about myself, the harder it became to maintain sustainable relationships, to establish boundaries, and to be present with myself and others. So, putting my life back together post-Psychiatry has also meant letting go of all of this, and learning how to interrelate with my fellows.

    I share this to say that it really is hard to find meaningful, sustainable relationships in life post-Psychiatry. I’ve had to learn through practice, and through making mistakes, about how to find the balance between using my voice and listening; how to establish boundaries; how to sort out who is nourishing and enriching for me and who isn’t; etc. It is hard work. And when one has come from near-total isolation, it makes it even harder to learn these “skills”, so to speak. (I put that word in quotes because it feels kinda funny to use, though I believe that all of these are, in fact, skills that one can learn through practice.)

    While I’ve never made the promises you’ve said here that I made—that becoming an ex-patient will guarantee you friends and a “great life”, I can understand how you’ve drawn that conclusion. Through a lot of determination, commitment to myself, and energy, I’ve been lucky enough to have established some really meaningful relationships in my life today. It is something I view as sacred, this gift of friends. And being given the chance to write my story at MIA back in 2010 was HUGE for me—I literally and symbolically took my life story back from Psychiatry through the experience. It gave me a space to express myself. It led me to many of the meaningful connections I have in my life today. And it was all through luck and circumstance—I happened to connect with Bob at a time when he was looking for a “person with lived experience” to write their story for the website. Becoming a part of MIA has been instrumental to my process of knowing myself and then expressing myself to others. Not a day goes by in which I don’t feel gratitude for the opportunity Bob offered me. But all of that said, establishing the relationships I have in my life today has happened solely through commitment to myself to unlearn all those lessons I was taught by Psychiatry, and re-learn how to be in authentic, balanced, meaningful, sustainable relationships with others. It has been a lot of work, and it’s something I’m still learning about each and every day, despite what you may think.

    I must say that it hurts me to read some of what you’ve shared here—that I “had a bunch of admirers around me”, that you see me as someone who “makes false promises” or is a “guru” (while you didn’t directly call me that, I’m assuming it’s what you’re insinuating.) I am acutely aware of power today as the result of spending the most formative years of my life entirely disempowered, and it is incredibly important to me that I live each day with intention, and with an awareness of how each and every one of us has power, and how the power I have as a human being in this world should be used justly and in the spirit of equality and dignity for all. So, as I said, it hurts to hear you suggest that I might somehow be using my power unjustly, though I respect the hurt you feel and like I said at the start, I think it’s brave of you to express it here.

    All of this said, I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate the world post-Psychiatry. What I’ve found, Julie, is that it’s not about making a “great life” for myself that is happy and sunny and joyous and care-free every day. My life is far from that, nor would I want it to look like that. What I’ve found is that, for me, it’s about building a meaningful life for myself, one in which I see each day as an opportunity to learn something new about myself, to practice being in the world so that I feel more settled in it and a part of it, to live my life to the best of my abilities with the utmost of intention, and to immerse myself in whatever I’m feeling, even if it’s painful (which it is, a lot of the time.) If I’ve somehow conveyed to you that life is about being rosy and happy and free from pain, please let me know when and where I did that, so that I can learn from that miscommunication.

    I want you to know that when you told me you were leaving Boston, I was incredibly sad. I also thought it was very courageous of you, and I felt a lot of respect for you in making that decision. Having you as a part of our group was very meaningful to me, and I always appreciated your voice, your strength, and your unwillingness to stay silent. It certainly inspired me, as it continues to. I’ve followed your blog, and read the posts you’ve written about me, and they’ve hurt me—hurt me a lot, actually—but I’ve done my best to not take them personally, because I know that it is really damn hard to be in this world, and that we’re all doing our best every day given our life circumstances.

    If you ever make it back to Boston, please let me know. I’d love to get together and hear about how your adventures have been going.

    With love and in solidarity,
    Laura

  • hi don,
    thanks so much for this email! i am so glad i had the chance to spend time with you the other week in toronto. your decades of commitment to our cause are nothing short of inspiring to me– thank you for all that you do. the process of deprogramming oneself of the medical model is so incredibly painful and confusing and complicated, and i completely agree that finding writings of activists who’d come before me was absolutely critical to my own process of awakening.

    i look forward to seeing you again soon, i hope!

    with love and in solidarity,
    laura

  • Hear, hear, Someone Else. Imagine if the fine arts world got even a fraction of the support Psychiatry and the Pharmaceutical Industry receive! Indeed, the world would be a profoundly different place…

    You are so right that art so oftens serves as the notifier of oppression and injustice, as well as the signpost for change and revolution and a more beautiful world. There’s no better vehicle, IMO, for making manifest the way in which the personal is political… Every time we write, paint, act, sing, perform, sculpt, build… we are offering to the world another chance to come face to face with the ways in which we are destroying ourselves, but also the pathways towards transformation.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi friend,
    Thanks for this message :). Haha, yes, that response you got from your friend when you told her you were studying philosophy is all too common. I studied social/medical/psychiatric anthropology in college, mostly because by the time I had to pick a concentration I was already psychiatrized and so completely consumed by trying to make sense of “my mental illness” that I gravitated towards a field of study that promised such an exploration; I definitely got similar responses to you when I mentioned what I studied because it wasn’t a funnel to finance, law, etc. I remember not really caring because I assumed I wouldn’t make it out of my thirties alive anyways, so why should I have even been thinking about a “professional career” at all!

    What a wonderful thing that your path through the education system mostly avoided the rat race, and that your connection to social justice, meaning, and authentic values was cultivated throughout your schooling!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Maria,
    Thanks for the question! It’s a big one… And one I get asked often. It’s always strange trying to answer this question both because I can only speculate, and also because I’m actually grateful that my life went the way that it did (if I could go back and “do it differently”, I wouldn’t!) But I’ll offer a few ideas.

    For starters, had I had a safe space to talk about what I was going through with peers and without adults, perhaps that might have helped, though honestly, I don’t know if it would have, because the culture around us was so secretive and private that I can’t imagine that space ever having existed… What I never realized was how natural and “healthy” my issues were… That I wasn’t the only one who was feeling totally messed up inside– that one is *meant* to be totally disoriented and anxious and afraid and sad when one is hitting puberty. That message might have really helped me, though again, I can’t say for sure, as I might have said, “F– you!” upon hearing it, for I was so full of anger back then.

    Additionally, NOT being labeled and drugged would have helped– really, I can’t speak strongly enough about the destructive impact that being labeled “Bipolar” had on me as a fourteen-year old. Of course, my parents were doing what they thought was best– as parents do today– so I hold no blame for them. I just wish parents were able to access the message that it’s not “bad parenting” to avoid turning to the “Mental Health” Industry when your child is struggling– of course, as long as there aren’t alternative places to go to, they’ll continue going to the MHI, even if they realize it’s not helpful, so this is a critical issue to tackle.

    Best,
    Laura

  • Dear chrisreed,
    Thanks so much for your comment. Wonderful to hear that you’re at the last stages of weening yourself off of Klonopin and Zyprexa! How are you feeling? Can I ask, how long have you been tapering for? Twenty-five years… Wow, a long time on so-called meds. I am sending you solidarity as you move along the journey of liberation from Psychiatry 🙂

    I am appreciative of you sharing some of your and your son’s story here! Thank you, and good luck to your son as he moves into his final year of high school! If I was to give one piece of advice to a high school senior, it would be this: listen to your gut and your heart as you make your decision about college. (I never did! Nor did I feel a connection to my gut or my heart by the time I was a senior…)

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the comment! I’m curious– how is that alternative charter school that you helped start going today? It sounds pretty cool :). I have a great deal to learn in the world of “alternative education”, if that’s an appropriate phrase to use. If you have any resources that you think I might be interested in, I’d love to hear about them!

    What an interesting juxtaposition between your brother-in-law and your wife. I know many, many people from my hometown, my high school (a New England boarding school), and Harvard who ended up struggling– just as I did– with self-destruction. It’s taken me a really long time to find peace with myself and to let go of the powerful relationship I had throughout my life with turning all the pain I felt inwards on myself. Years of cutting and burning myself (which served multiple purposes for me, from giving me the pleasure of sensation when I was totally numbed out, to acting as a form of punishment, to serving as a channel for all the turmoil I felt inside of me), of horribly enslaving “eating disorders” (finding freedom from that prison has been, perhaps, the most difficult of all the existential prisons I’ve worked to liberate myself from), of drinking myself into oblivion with alcohol… all of this, I see now, came into my life as a way to regulate my deep, deep, deep feelings of eternal inadequacy in the midst of the totally obsessive and overwhelming drive I felt for high achievement and perfection. I don’t want to minimize the role that being psychiatrized played in all of this, as well– in fact, it’s hard to say whether I would have become as fixated on high achievement as I did had I not been labeled “Bipolar” as a child, for I had to work that much harder to appear “put together” and “successful” on the surface knowing that I was harboring the secret of my brokenness and abnormality and eternal difference, thanks to the message I internalized from Psychiatry. But I digress!

    I think Evergreen State sounds fantastic, and I hope your youngest child has a blast there this fall! I am so inspired by this thread about unschooling and as I said, I’m eager to learn more from you guys!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear RISN,
    Thank you so much for making me aware of this movement to “rethink schools”! I’d never before heard of this, and I will certainly be looking into this history. How unfortunate that it never took off… Do you know if there are still ways to obtain the zine you mention? I bet you’re right, that we can learn from the failures of the unschooling movement… It does sound like quite a parallel to the psychiatric liberation cause, especially in so far as I imagine it is all about empowering families and communities to pull themselves away from dependence on these deeply embedded institutions of social control. IMO, it’s going to take a lot of creative and critical thinking to build grassroots community infrastructures that can sustain young people and adults in times of distress/so-called “psychosis”/etc. so that we can slowly chip away at our collective reliance on the “Mental Health” Industrial Complex (I’ve begun saying MHIC instead of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex because I think it goes much deeper than simply Psychiatry and the Pharmaceutical Industry!) I imagine that’s what you guys were doing when you were a part of this “unschooling” movement?

    One thing you might be interested in… Have you heard of “hackschooling”? I don’t know much about it but saw a TED talk a while back from quite a remarkable kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY.

    I would love to have the opportunity to exchange experiences with your children… As someone who spent countless– and I mean COUNTLESS– hours consumed with thoughts about grades and scores (and spending COUNTLESS hours working hard to get very particular grades and scores!), I am very interested in hearing about a different way to have gone through adolescence and young adulthood, educationally speaking :).

    Thanks again, RISN!
    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • hi jonah,
    i SO appreciate this feedback– thank you. i do agree that the phrasing of my words is, perhaps, not the clearest. indeed, the “gift” that i’m speaking about is, really, a second chance at life and at being, and it feels like a gift to me because there are so, so, so many people who went down a similar path as i did and never came back. but perhaps “gift” really isn’t the right word at all, because it’s not as if someone/something “gave” me this liberation– it’s been a combination of my access to resources, my own will, my own human spirit, and, of course, the support of loving friends and family around me. i guess it’s just that i feel so overwhelmed with gratitude and deep appreciation for this new chance at life that it often feels like it was something given to me, not something i’ve worked really hard for!

    going forward, i will be much more mindful in how i speak about psychiatric liberation, because your point is really a good one. i am very grateful that you raised it, jonah. i wish i could write more here but i’m trying to get to the MindFreedom conference in CT and i’m running horribly late!

    in solidarity,
    laura

  • hi oldhead!
    thanks for the comment. haven’t heard of eric berne… will certainly check him out. and indeed, your insight wasn’t too shrinky– i completely agree with you that the environment i was in did not allow for my awakening consciousness to continue moving through the discoveries it needed to move through. again, i don’t think this was an intentional silencing/shutting down on the part of anyone, but it was simply in the space between me and the world around me, and in looking back, i think it’s safe to say that i was likely FAR from the only young person having these shutdown awakenings in my community… (in fact, many people from my childhood over these last few years have reached out to me through my blog to affirm this fact– imagine if we’d all known how far from alone we each were in those times of painful, repressed adolescence!)

    and yes, i appreciate your comment about privilege. needed to hear that, my friend. thank you!

    running a bit late… need to head to the MindFreedom conference… so i’ve gotta make this brief!

    in solidarity,
    laura

  • Dear Sally,
    Yes, it would certainly be even nicer to create a society in which we don’t need to create separate spaces to feel “safe” from our world! Of course, such a society would take generations upon generations upon generations to cultivate, as we’d have to slowly chip away at all the fear-based greed, oppression, violence, trauma, etc. that is so deeply embedded in our social fabric today (and that has been, well, it seems forever!) and we’d have to dismantle the various Industrial Complexes that keep us imprisoned literally and existentially (Psych-Pharma-“Mental Health”, Food/Agra, Military, Educational, Prison, etc.). It would also, IMO, take a complete re-envisioning of our economic system, but that’s a topic for another time!

    IMO, as long as human distress/suffering/fear/anxiety/altered states can be exploited for profit gain and can be taken hostage by Psychiatry (who, as we know, has absolutely complete free reign to imprison and to dehumanize and to violate and to silence human beings with no accountability from anyone), and as long as we as a society continue to surrender ourselves to the “Mental Health” Industry to “take care of us”, we will continue to fear ourselves and stay just as alienated from ourselves as ever, and thus, separate “safe spaces” will be needed.

    As we transition out of a reliance on the MHI and into a still intolerant world, these “safe spaces” will be vital, but hopefully, over time, the values and philosophies of these “safe spaces” (humility, open ears/hearts/minds, love, acceptance, patience, non-judgment, critical thinking, etc.) will seep out into society more generally, hopefully reaching our young people.

    I am realistic about what I might see unfold in my lifetime– in other words, while I believe in total social revolution and the abolition of the “Mental Health” Industry, I acknowledge I won’t see that before I die. What excites me, however, is exploring, with others, ways that we can both draw people out of the MHI, and help keep people from ever having to enter it in the first place. This, to me, needs to be done through the cultivation and nurturing of a collective consciousness of our grave oppression at the hands of Psychiatry/Psychology/Big Pharma (and, of course, broader social forms of oppression that I won’t get into here for the sake of time!)– nothing was more liberating for me than to realize (a) how gravely oppressed I’d been my whole life both by society and by Psychiatry, (b) that I’d never been the “problem”, that I wasn’t broken, and that it was the world I lived in that was causing me distress, not “faulty biology”, and (c) that with this knowledge, I now had reclaimed the power to completely transform the way I thought about myself, the world, and my relationship to the world– especially around letting go of the idea that I was a segregated, separate, individual “self”, for I now believe that I exist only in symbiosis with life around me. I want to help spread these kinds of awakenings to young people (and adults!) everywhere– imagine if enough of us awakened to our shared oppression… Revolution would be on the horizon, I’ve no doubt.

    Thank you for your kind words, Sally. I’m really grateful for your comment!

    Best,
    Laura

  • hi cataract,
    yes, there is SO much fear attached to the drive for perfection and high achievement, in my opinion. over these last few years, i’ve come to realize that fear has sat at the heart of nearly all my suffering, and all my so-called “Bipolar” experiences, and that because i never cultivated an inner sense of authentic self– perhaps authentic being is a better word, actually, because i don’t ascribe to the notion that i have a distinct self– i clung desperately and out of fear to all these outside things– grades, sports, the size of my body, etc.– to stay afloat.

    i wish there were more safe spaces in our world– especially at the level of local neighborhoods and communities– to explore the fear that we have as human beings of failure and success, of love and of being unloved, of fitting in and of feeling alienated, etc. nothing has been more liberating for me than to (1) name all this fear i’ve been carrying through my life, and (2) face it bravely and explore it to understand its roots. i know i’ll always have fear, as it’s a part of being human, so for me the end goal isn’t to achieve fearlessness. rather, it’s to learn how to coexist with life around me in a way that isn’t going to overwhelm my spirit, or paralyze me, or alienate me.

    in solidarity,
    laura

  • hi chaya,
    thanks for the comment, and for sharing this here. glad to hear this article is getting spread around to schools like stuyvesant. i think it’s great you were turned off by the cutthroat, overly competitive environment you saw around you there, and that you didn’t, as you said, “compete as high as you could” and instead found your own path.

    in solidarity,
    laura

  • Indeed, madmom, there’s a lot of work ahead of us to reach our young people, and to help them connect to the oppression they’re experiencing at the hands of the Education Industry, the “Mental Health” Industrial Complex, and society, itself. I truly believe that once they realize how oppressed they are, this will empower them to come together and create radical and revolutionary transformation both within themselves as individuals, and as a social collective. So many are deeply indoctrinated into the medical model, however, that it will take a great deal of gentle, understanding patience and clever strategy to reach them with the message that their suffering is not evidence of pathology, but of the fact that they are healthy and connected to the pulse of the world.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear Carina,
    What a beautiful comment and vision– yes, I wholeheartedly agree! I think the role of professionals can be, in large part, to help people connect with their oppression– whatever that may be, great or small, visible or invisible, acute or long-lasting– so that they find their own path to liberation, not to just readjusting back to the society that harmed them in the first place. I am so grateful for your work and I can’t wait to meet you this fall at Mad in America’s International Film Festival!

    Love and solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear travailler-vous,
    Thank you for this comment. I did read Tina’s piece and found it to be one of her best; in fact, one of the best I’ve read at MIA. I’ve been meaning to write her, actually, to take her up on the offer she mentions at the end to talk further with people interested in what she has to say, but I haven’t yet!

    I think she’s spot on in politicizing healing; I, too, cringe when I hear words like “wellness” used, for they primarily mean within an individual. When I talk about “recovering” from Psychiatry (the only way I’ll use the word “recovery”), I’m talking about it in a political way—I have come to realize that I was sucked into a vortex of power that stripped me of many things and that turned me into a silenced, degraded, absent, powerless shell of a person. In cultivating political consciousness of this—and in coming to see the role that gender, class, race, sexuality, etc. play in Psychiatric Power, and how I am a part of this interplay—I’ve reclaimed my identity, my agency, and my power. Recovering from Psychiatry, for me, has nothing to do with “feeling well” or “fitting back in” or “being stable”; it has to do with becoming alive again, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and using that aliveness to fight oppression. This, to me, is healing.

    Just as you said, individualized “healing” and “recovery” have come to mean adjusting oneself back to the status quo. Politicized “healing” and “recovery” is, in fact, the opposite—it’s about transformation, awakening, revolution. It has nothing to do with “balance”, “stability”, “wellness”, and the like.

    Those of us who understand this distinction must come together to strategize. We are a part of a “Movement” that in large part is trapped within this individualized framework, and it is unfortunately giving the “Mental Health” Industry more power than ever before.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear abbot,
    Thank you for this comment! Yes, indeed, the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, with all its many varied tentacles of “mental health” has grown to serve those who maintain power well. What a great way to silence dissidence, resistance, revolution… Pathologize that inner human fire and numb, silence, and disable it through psychopharmaceutical intervention.

    We’re on the revolutionary path, my friend… While there are huge obstacles before us– including obstacles within “The Movement”– we will get there.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Andrew,
    It sounds like you’ve accepted the status quo as a given Truth that has always been and will always be the way it is. I’d be curious to tease that out a bit with you, because I’m not sure I agree!

    While I do fully agree—as I’ve already shared in earlier comments—that there are fantastic, loving, caring, humble people who work as “mental health professionals”, to me, this doesn’t change the fact that the institutions within which they work aren’t inherently oppressive and dehumanizing. This is one point where I disagree with you, I think—you say, “The place for persons who choose to make that duty of service their life’s work will also probably not go away.” What makes you think this is so? In truth, social work, “mental health” counseling, psychology, and psychiatry are all socially constructed entities that have taken shape in the way they have because of social transactions of power and authority. How we define so-called abnormality, dysfunction, pathology, problems, etc. is all determined by who is in a position of social power to shape the language, the values, the ideals, and the spoken and unspoken rules about how to be a member of society. This also means that the institutions that have evolved as responses to those who are so-called abnormal, dysfunctional, pathological, problematic, etc. are also shaped by power. They didn’t arise in a vacuum—they evolved slowly and surely alongside the evolution of our increasingly dehumanizing and reductionistic and individualistic American society.

    Just because the “Mental Health” Industry is today a massive beast, why does this mean it always has to stay this way, and that folks who offer paid support always have to work from within it? It’ll take generations of work… But I have to believe it’s possible to topple this vast institution of social and behavioral control, just as the institution of slavery—which of course created an entire infrastructure of jobs, income, resources, personal and professional identities, etc., benefitting many millions of white Americans—toppled in a relatively short period of time (side bar: racism is, of course, alive and well in our society today, but that’s a topic for another time.)

    Another point I’d like to contest: do you truly believe that individuals are “voluntarily” coming to your organization? Or are they coming because they’ve been socialized to believe that this is what they must do when they suffer and struggle, and because there’s no other option visible in sight (or if there is, it’s been totally delegitimized by our psychiatrically and medically indoctrinated social discourse)? Imagine if there were free, reliable, safe, community-based (by community-based I mean in the hands of The People, not professionals) options… Do you think as many people would come to your org if this were the case?

    This is not in any way to delegitimize the work that you and your fellows are doing—honestly, when I remember that you and my other “provider” comrades with whom I feel aligned are out there, my heart is filled with hope. You are doing incredibly important reform work on the path to what I believe will one day be the abolition of the “Mental Health” and “Mental Illness” Industries. It’s really more to emphasize the importance of stepping back to look at the institution within which you work—how it evolved, how it maintains power (and how you as an individual within this institution have power because of your degrees and professional status), what that power is and where it comes from, etc. I do believe that in the future—unfortunately, not a future I’ll be alive to see, for this work will take many many years—the power to support someone through a crisis, to get through struggle oneself, to educate and inform others about the nature of human experience, etc., will be in the hands of The People, free from “health care” institutions that reduce people into patients/clients to be observed, written about in charts, talked about in meetings, and seen as entities on which to enact power through “care” and “treatment”.

    I am grateful for our friendship and for your important, humanizing contributions on the inside of this dehumanizing beast we call the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi cannotsay2013!
    In the future I envision, I am in agreement with you in that individuals should have the right to offer paid services as counselors/social workers/etc., and other individuals should have all the right to *choose* to pay them for these services (choice, of course, is only truly choice if there are other options in the mix, so that people don’t feel like this is their only option; and it goes without saying that there should never be force or coercion). I also agree about the total abolition of legal authority of all “mental health” professionals—a very important point. However, I’d like to add that I do believe, as well, in the total removal of these services from the medical/health care realm. In the future I envision, these services can be offered as human/social/community services of some kind, but IMO as long as they retain the ability to call themselves “health care providers”, and as long as they are trained in medical schools and inside hospitals and health care clinics, we will be oppressed. At the end of the day, there is great power transmitted through biological/medical/scientific discourse. I am reminded of Foucault here, and of his concept of biopower—basically the capture and subjugation of human beings through their reduction into biological entities that can be monitored, controlled, measured, and made subordinate. As long as we allow ourselves to be reduced to biology, there will be “professionals” who enslave us through the guise of science and medical expertise. As long as “professionals” work inside an industry that defines itself as rooted in biology/science/medicine—even if they are trained in humanistic, non-labeling, non-biologically oriented ways—they will be infused with this kind of oppressive power that is keeping us disconnected from our humanity.

    Of course, today, because of the power of the Managed “Care” Industry, it is nearly impossible to obtain “help”/counsel/support/etc. without reducing yourself to a biological entity via DSM diagnosis. Only those with access to resources and privilege can avoid this trap, which of course is a huge dilemma that many of my comrades are faced with—they are stuck with their labels and with “taking their meds as prescribed” because their health “care” and their government assistance depends on them being good, obedient patients. Thus, we must entirely reconfigure the way we think of health insurance and government assistance. While I agree with you that tax-payer dollars should no longer go towards anything “mental health”, I do believe (and this is where our politics diverge, which of course is totally OK, as I respect your position completely) that We the People need to offer support to those who don’t have access to resources and opportunities, and to those who struggle and experience altered states of consciousness. That support just won’t be under the oppressive umbrella of “mental health” in this future I envision!

    Lastly, I should add that we *must* be building true community-based alternatives like the mutual support vision I laid out here in this post that do not rely on paid professionals so that people are really, truly making choices when they do decide to go pay a counselor/social worker/etc. Right now, paid support is, for most, the only visible option in sight. This, to me, is not choice.

    Thanks for the comment here, cannotsay2013—great stuff!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • I do, as well, uprising. I know that there’s in the very least a handful of us who share values, vision, and a liberationist mission. We must find ways to come together to organize effectively so that we can make change happen and show that there’s another way forwards than simply entering into the “Peer/Recovery” Industry, and thus increasing the power of the “Mental Health” Industry.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi comrade,
    I understand your frustration and I’m glad you spoke up. I intentionally kept the word “professional” broad to encompass more than just psychiatrists because I do, in fact, believe that the answers lie entirely outside the “Mental Health” Industry and in the minds and hearts of The People in true, grassroots community. This vision I have is one of mutual support and self-help—where young people (adults, too) sit as equals with each other and without people who’ve gone to school to study “about” them (even with the best of intentions, as you and some of my closest friends and comrades whom I love and hold dearly to my heart have done!!).

    I simply don’t believe we have to exist in a society in which human-to-human support must be professionalized. I realize how ridiculous this might sound because of how vast and massive and deeply rooted the phrase “mental health” is in our social fabric… But it simply doesn’t have to be this way. And the fact that it sounds ridiculous shows how far we’ve fallen from true community. It will take many generations of work to bring ourselves as a collective human family to the point at which we can turn to each other without having to exchange money and support each other through difficult times. I mean, jeez, it’ll take total social revolution, well beyond just the realm of psychiatry and “mental health”. And indeed, it will take generations of hard work by folks like you who are trying to help people in non-pathologizing ways. I really want to acknowledge this—I believe the work you’re doing is so very important, and I am so very grateful to know that you and my fellow comrades who self-identify as “mental health” professionals are out there doing what you do. But I see your work as important reform on the path towards an abolitionist end. And I also have to name that no matter how much humility, deep respect, and human connection a “mental health professional” may have, that person inevitably has *tremendous* power—in the transfer of money, of “expertise”, and of course because of all the social and political meaning that is embedded within the doctor/therapist/counselor–patient/client relationship. That is the power that I believe needs to be reclaimed by The People.

    At the end of the day, the abandonment of the very phrase “mental health” is my vision, because truly, it is just as oppressive as the phrase “mental illness”. I recently delivered a talk on sanism in Vancouver and spoke about this false and oppressive dualism, because the two go hand in hand and if we are to leave behind the concept of “mental illness” we must also do so with “mental health”. It is a phrase that is medical in nature (i.e. “health”) and that places the locus of intervention on the mind (i.e. “mental”), thus completely disregarding the social context in which the so-called “mental health issue” arose and focusing on the individual. It is misleading and destructive and rooted in neoliberal notions of individualism, productivity, “functionality”, etc., and IMO, it is only leading to more suffering and disconnection and disillusionment and hopelessness. Unfortunately—and please correct me if I’m wrong—all of psychology, social work, and counseling uses this phrase today, and anchor their practices in it. Indeed, it is put on a pedestal as the final destination for counseling/therapy. If we are going to insist on using the word “health” (which I don’t agree with), we should be talking about community health. Social health. Not “mental health”. Because while suffering is experienced within an individual, its source is from beyond, in society.

    I’m curious to ask what issues you might have with my vision beyond the noticeable absence of professionals you’ve drawn attention to? Do you not believe in the power of mutual support and self-help? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about this.

    With gratitude for our friendship and for your work, and in solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear AgniYoga,
    Such a great comment—thank you. Indeed, psychiatrists go through an intense indoctrination of their own, one in which they’ve invested tremendous time, money, energy, etc. While I believe that the vast majority of people who go into this work have the best of intentions—they want to help people, to resolve suffering, to get people back to their lives, etc.—the entire educational and professional infrastructure into which they immerse themselves is rooted in dehumanization (via psychiatric label), physical disabling/silencing/impairing/injuring (via psychiatric “treatment” like drugs, shock, etc.), and disempowerment. I should say that some of my closest friends, and some of the people I have most respect for, are psychiatrists, so I do believe that there are individuals who do not lose themselves to this indoctrination, but on the whole, yes, this is the case, I believe.

    Yes, the psychiatrist I saw at age fourteen had absolutely NO idea the impact that her labeling of me had on my identity, my relationship to my family/friends/society, and my future. Honestly, I don’t know if she would have done it differently had she had the foresight to see where my life would head as the result of “becoming Bipolar”… I think she really, truly believed that she was helping me by reducing my experiences to a label and offering two bottles of pills as my solution. And yes—as you say, her safety, security, professional identity, etc. all depended on me being “mentally ill”. This is a really, really important point because it speaks to a broader issue that we psychiatric liberationists face in the future. If we are going to dismantle the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, how can we possibly bring these professionals (of which there are many, many thousands if you take into account all the various professional arteries running off of Psychiatry) on board who rely on the medical model, the “treatment”, etc. in order to pay the bills, their children’s college tuitions, etc.?

    I do think psychiatrists have a role to play in the revolution. If properly trained (likely by those of us who’ve done it themselves), they can be helpful in tapering people off of psychiatric drugs. They can engage in truth and reconciliation processes with those they’ve harmed (many inadvertently of course). They can be a kind of bridge for people to get back to their humanity, provided the foundations are rooted in a newly learned humility. Perhaps I’m being way too idealistic here… I know that this will take many, many generations of work. I know I won’t see abolition in my lifetime. But I believe it’s possible. I have to believe it’s possible.

    I’ll close by mentioning your really profound question about my first psychiatrist—what happened to her when she was in ninth grade? What unfolded in her life that led her to want to reduce human beings to psychiatric labels and pill receptacles? We need to keep those embedded within the PPIC as human beings in our mind—and as human beings who suffer, themselves!—as we do this work. In my opinion, we must come from a place of love—this is what I try to practice every day, even when I’m speaking most strongly against psychiatric oppression. Those who oppressed me are human beings who (mostly) were trying to help me. How can we hold this truth while also holding the vision of abolition? And how can this actually make our work more effective?

    Thanks again for the thought-provoking comment, AgniYoga.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear oldhead,
    Thank you *so* much for this comment. I am smiling and feeling more invigorated and inspired than ever before; hearing this kind of feedback and feeling this kind of deep solidarity (even through a computer screen!) keeps me fired up to keep fighting this fight!

    Though I am still quite new to “The Movement” (which I put in quotes because I don’t believe that there is, in fact, a unified movement!) I have been observing over these past few years the divisions you articulately capture here, and they are saddening and concerning to me. It seems that the vast majority of those who would identify as a part of “The Movement” are reformists, not abolitionists, folks who are seeking to make the “mental health system” “better”, “more humane”, etc., rather than working to make it obsolete. I will and always will be an abolitionist; while I believe that reforms must happen on the path to abolition, and indeed I support them as a means to an end, a future free from the very notion of “mental health” and “mental illness” and from the idea that medical doctors have any business interfering with the affairs of the human spirit is a vision that sits at the core of my being, and of the work that I’m trying to do.

    I should say here that I respect that people will be called to do different kinds of work (inside The System versus outside The System, in other words), and that I a stand in full solidarity with some of those who’ve chosen to go on the inside. The Western Mass RLC, for example, is an organization that gets government money but that, IMO, completely embraces the values I am aligned with. They are brave and refuse to be coopted or silenced by those who give them money, they are doing unbelievably important, revolutionary work, and I am proud to call myself their comrade. There are also folks like Deron Drumm and Greg Benson in Connecticut who are doing seriously radical and important work within traditional “consumer/recovery” settings, and I think they are planting some really important seeds, and making significant change happen.

    I also want to draw attention to the fact that privilege and access, of course, play a significant role in the decisions many folks in “The Movement” make about employment. I happen to have been born into a situation that affords me the opportunity to not have to rely on a System paycheck by working as “a peer” (though I chose to for about a year and a half while still naïve and believing I could make significant change happen on the inside of a traditional “provider”; I started to get burned out and disillusioned and had to leave about a year and a half ago). I know people who work for The System because they are struggling to find other means of employment, and because they need to pay the rent and put food on the table. I respect this and am very aware of the socio-economic-political obstacles that our society throws in front of our fellows seeking to do important liberationist work, and I want to acknowledge and name this.

    There are, as well, radical, dissident, liberationist practitioners out there like Bruce Levine, Richard Lewis, etc. who are politically conscious and who view their responsibility as workers to connect people to the sources of their oppression so that they may liberate themselves. (I recently read the complete series of the Radical Therapist and Rough Times, published in the early ‘70s; are you familiar with this publication? Fantastic stuff… All situated within an anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-sexist, anti-racist framework, all highly critical of all “mental health professions” that seek to adjust individuals so that they may fit appropriately back into the society from which they came. I hope self-identified dissident practitioners connect with this literature; it is very important, IMO.)

    I’m digressing a bit here because I get so excited talking about this stuff! Let me rein myself back in a bit to what you were saying in your comment. Yes, I completely agree with you on the need to bring “The Movement’s” understanding, organization, and strategy to a level deeper than force and coercion. While of course I am adamantly against both, it seems silly and completely fruitless to me to try to fight them while still allowing the medical model to continue on. FORCE AND COERCION EXIST BECAUSE OF THE MEDICAL MODEL. Plain and simple. There are plenty of folks who believe we should quiet down the fight against the pathologization of human experience because it’s polarizing or because it’s pushing away people who would otherwise be willing to “sit at the table”, and instead focus on finding common ground with mainstream, conventional voices around force. While some of these people come from totally noble and well-intentioned places, and are truly hoping to bring rights and justice to people, I have no doubt that this will go nowhere except making the “Mental Health” Industry more powerful. Force is legitimized because the experiences that scare, confuse, sadden, and concern society are perceived to be medical in nature. We *must* be attacking the medical model—albeit in skilled, articulate, calm, thoughtful ways—if we are to truly change anything. In fact, I believe it’s more important than ever before.

    This is the area I’m definitely finding myself most drawn to at the moment—contesting the medical model by talking about what it means to be human, what it means to struggle, what it means to experience what gets called “mental illness”. I think because of my own profound transformation along these lines—having been the brainwashed, indoctrinated good mental patient that I was for so many years—I am feeling it very important to be putting into words just how I’ve had my existential awakening in the hopes that it might help make some kind of change in the lives of others. (I do it, as well, for myself, for every word I write helps me to feel more empowered, more free, more connected to myself, and more connected to the world.)

    I think your idea about reaching youth through consciousness-raising is a great one. Bruce Levine, IMO, is doing a great job of this already. Imagine if we found ways to help young people connect to their oppression—all the various forms of oppression they’re experiencing, well beyond that of Psychiatry—and imagine if we then empowered them to actually DO something about it… Man, the world would change! And yes, making it “cool” to take a stand against the medical model is likely the way to go with young people… I like that idea. I think in order for our young people to really grasp the absurdity of the medical model, we should be positioning the message of psychiatric liberation within a broader framework of oppression, for most people end up labeled “mentally ill” because they’ve responded to some kind of oppression they’ve experienced in life, whether it be within the family system, the foster “care” system, the school system, or society more generally via racism, classism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc. Really, the PPIC is the final resting stop for the oppressed… and of course, few make it out alive… literally.

    My use of the term “Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex” is indeed rooted in these other industrial complexes you mention, especially the Prison Industrial Complex. I am intrigued and incredibly inspired by the prison abolition movement, and I believe we have *much* to learn from them. Just as the vast majority of people out there simply can’t grasp what society would look like without prisons (I mean literally, they just can’t comprehend it), they are also unable to do so in regards to the “Mental Health” Industry. People say, “Well where on earth would people go to when they’re struggling?” just as people say, “Well where on earth will we put these people who commit crimes?” When I read Angela Davis’ “Are Prisons Obsolete?” I was inspired (though unfortunately it seems that she—like so many leftists—has drunk the medical model koolaid, for she talks about the oppression that people of color with so-called “mental illness” experience in prisons through lack of access to “treatment”; I wonder if there’d be a way to reach her with our message, as she’d be a VERY powerful ally, and imagine how fired up she’d be if she “got it” re: the absurdity of the medical model…)

    I talk about the PPIC all the time now because I think we need to name this beast what it is. It isn’t a “system”, it is an entire complex rooted in capitalism and in the exploitation and profitization of human suffering. We simply cannot ignore conversations about this. We must find ways to engage people at this level, for in truth, so much of psychiatric oppression is rooted in the drive for profit. I don’t think one has to call oneself anti-capitalist to participate in this conversation, either.

    OK, I’ve gotta move on to the other comments here… I would LOVE to find ways to keep this conversation going, perhaps here in this thread so that others can see, and maybe even on email? My email is [email protected]… Would love to talk further about strategy and ways to organize those of us who refuse to participate in the “peer/recovery/consumer” realm…

    Thank you, oldhead…. Here’s to liberation for all.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear uprising,
    I am sorry, too, that you got psychiatrized at fifteen. I would love to start a discussion about how we can effectively organize to implement these kinds of opportunities for our youth so that we can break the PPIC’s vicious cycle of dehumanization that we got sucked into. Any ideas about how we can get this going?

    I am so glad you’re here, uprising!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi again, Copy_cat,
    Yes, the “dual diagnosis” phenomenon is troubling to me, as well. As someone who spent about two years very active in the twelve step world (before realizing that it was just another institution giving me a label, telling me I had a life-long “condition” [albeit a spiritual one], and instilling in me the idea that I was someone “different” from “non-alcoholic” people; I left that world and the “alcoholic” label behind about two years ago), I can’t tell you how many people I came across who self-identified as being “dually diagnosed”. It was hard to keep quiet when I’d hear people speak at one month sober about how their doctor had just diagnosed them “bipolar”, and how they’d been told they’d been “drinking to self-medicate their bipolar”; of course, they sat there loaded up on the typical cocktail like I had, and it was really difficult to watch over and over and over again. Much of the conventional medical and psychiatric profession refuses to acknowledge, at least with their patients, that psychoactive drugs like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc. will have significant effects on the CNS, leading to significant alterations in personality, mood, cognition, etc… Of course they can’t acknowledge this, because there’s a tremendous opportunity to be needed by these struggling folks if they’re kept in the dark about the fact that the ups and downs they’re experiencing while excessively drinking aren’t something separate (i.e. “alcoholism” and “bipolar”) but one and the same!

    The Addiction Industry– which of course emerges right out of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex– is thriving more than ever, creating life-long dependents who are told they’ll be on disability indefinitely, can never work again, and will need to take “medications” to keep themselves “clean and sober”. I know in Massachusetts that Bain Capital recently began investing in methadone clinics… Clearly, there’s big money in this world and financial folks are realizing this. It is so tragic to see how many people get “clean” by getting hooked on “medications” that are, in fact, just as difficult to get off of as the “street drug” itself.

    Anyways, I’m going off a bit here so I’ll end! Thanks for this comment, Copy_cat!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear Copy_cat,
    Indeed, the closing of TeenScreen was a really good thing, though unfortunately the “mental health” screening of young people is alive and well in America… I’ve heard stories from friends with kids who’ve had primary care doctors try to sneak in “mental health” questionnaires in appointments, and especially in the wake of all of these mass shootings, I’ve heard, as well, about schools implementing trainings for teachers to pick up on potentially “troubled” kids… So yes, while TeenScreen is gone and that is great, we must stay diligent about all the other ways that Psychiatry creeps into the lives of our young people!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Russ!
    So great to see you and Carol yesterday. What a great day it was!

    And yes, the image you paint here of human beings conditioned into zombies lining up for morning, noon, and night “meds” is one that I too know, and it is a painful one to think about. They are walking ghosts, silenced and removed from society, and it is our responsibility to keep them being fully forgotten, and to use our voices to fill their silences, and to fight so that they can have the chance to remember themselves again, as well.

    Big hug, and in solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear larmac,
    Yes, I of course remember Shane and his story and am so glad that you’ve written here. His story will help many, many young people survive Psychiatry; please keep writing and speaking out. Families all around the world– mine included– have been and continue to be denied access to the truth and we must demand transparency and the right to truly informed choices, if we are to prevent young people (and old) from heading down the same path that Shane and I went down, and that I was so lucky enough to have gotten off of.

    Thank you for your commitment to making change happen and for continuing to fight on behalf of Shane so that others have a shot at life free from Psychiatry. Grateful for your solidarity, and sending it back to you!

    -L

  • Hi Russerford,
    Yes, the “it’s in your best interest to not see this records” and the “these records might harm you” lines were the ones given to me when I tried to obtain my records (oh, and by the way, each page costs 20 cents, or something like that!! Have you had to pay for the records of your daughter’s you’ve gotten?) Really great to hear that your insistence and determination has led to success getting records. I backed off after realizing that it was in my best interest to let things lie still for a while, until I have a better strategy.

    You’re right that there needs to be better organized advocacy around obtaining psychiatric records. If only we had a lawyer committed to this cause!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi comrade,
    Saddened to know you won’t be there in person tomorrow, but we’ll feel your energy and spirit with us as we march and speak out!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Someone Else,
    We will be with you in spirit on Sunday, as well. Wow, so you’ve been able to get access to your medical records! I have about 75% of mine… The primary hospital I went to for “inpatient”/”outpatient”/”day treatment” is refusing to give me my records for all of 2010 (the year I became “non-compliant” and came off the drugs in the “Borderline Center” I was going to every day) and while I’m aware that this is illegal of them to do, I’m also aware of the time/money/effort it’s going to take me to fight them… It feels very important for me to do so, not necessarily because I care about what my records say (I’m sure they say some pretty ridiculous stuff!) but because it symbolically feels like I’m reclaiming my full self from Psychiatry if I can get my complete records.

    Anyways… Enough rambling… Your journey through Psychiatry is, while so dehumanizing, so important to share with the world… Thank you for doing so!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Carl,
    Yes– Off Label is a really powerful film (I was lucky enough to see it last year!). This is certainly on our list of films to explore. Thanks for the suggestion! And thanks, too, for all the important work you’re doing to change the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry, and to bring justice for Dan Markingson and Mary Weiss.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Thanks for the comment, Hermes! I too love to read, especially when I’m interested in learning about something. (And listening to podcasts while trekking through the woods sounds absolutely wonderful!) Film, for some people (not all, certainly!) can provide an added layer of emotionality, connection, and resonance, because it’s brings to life the things we read on the page. But as you said, not everyone feels this way, and that’s totally OK!

    Best,
    Laura

  • Hi Faith,
    I’m so glad that YOU survived, too! Yes, it really is amazing how life, self, mind, spirit, all continue to change. Some of the most beautiful moments of realization for me have been the seemingly teeny shifts– like, I remember back a year and a half ago or so that I woke up and WANTED to take a shower. WOWWWW! That was a big day. Or the first time I was in some kind of social situation and didn’t feel that pressing urge to run away. Or the first time I caught myself smiling as I was listening to Sigur Ros. (That was only this past spring!) And to have friends and comrades who GET IT– who know what a big deal this “little” milestones are… That’s one of the many reasons why I truly value friendships like the one I have with you.

    Sending love to you, and thank you for all you do,
    Laura

  • Hi David,
    Thank you so much for this comment! Wow, I love “The Caterpillar Screams”… Haha, I most definitely get that! And yes, I certainly agree that spiritual growth and human transformation can happen without having an intense crisis (and certainly without having to be dehumanized by the “mental health” system); important to say that, for sure. That being said, it’s been so valuable for me to learn from people like you that if one does find oneself in the midst of a crisis (or in a life that has turned into a seemingly continuous crisis) it doesn’t have to be an empty, meaningless experience. For me, I see that in having my entire identity, my entire self, my entire life snatched up by Psychiatry, I was given the opportunity to strongly reclaim it. I look back now and see that no moment was wasted, no experience of emotional pain felt in vain. And today, when I find myself in the middle of a tough day, I know the same.

    So glad to call you a friend and comrade and I look forward to the day we meet in person!
    With love and in solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear Copy_cat,
    I once felt the same way… I’ve been able to let go of my guilt slowly over time, after I discovered that it was keeping me just as emotionally dependent on Psychiatry as when I was its patient (only in a different way). I’ll often say to people that it makes total sense that we bought into the “mental illness” narrative because it is simply one of the most powerful, deeply ingrained narratives we as a society have, taken as a Truth. That, and also because we trust doctors and medicine, and most often, never think to question what we’re told by people who’ve spent years and years in school and training.

    I know, for me, that when I found myself in such a desperate place of agony back as a teenager, I needed an answer and an explanation, which is why I eventually succumbed to the “mental health” system. Had there been other options for me– other places to go to, spaces to explore my suffering, more humanistic explanations for why I was suffering, or just the simple awareness that I wasn’t alone– perhaps I never would have had to meet Psychiatry, but in American society today, there really are very few other options (and often times, those alternative options won’t be taken seriously because they’re not medical in nature).

    I once thought of those thirteen years I spent under “mental health” confinement as wasted years, years stolen from me, as lost time… I now no longer do, because, as it turns, out, SO much good has come from all those years of isolation, hopelessness, and agony (indeed, they’ve given me my life’s purpose!). I believe that surviving oppression can end up being a really transformative, awakening, empowering opportunity to reclaim oneself– at least, this has been my experience!

    Glad to be connected, Copy_cat.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Duane,
    Yes– one of the greatest tragedies of the medical model is that it completely shuts off the idea that growth/change/transformation is possible. I remember believing so deeply that for the rest of my life– my ENTIRE life– I would be “symptomatic” and “ill”. Imagine!!!

    Glad to hear from you, Duane, and I hope you had a nice holiday!

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Greg,
    Clear, simple, powerful argument against forced Psychiatry. I hope you’re submitting this as an op-ed to the Courant and/or local papers! So glad to know that you’re down in Connecticut working hard to prevent the creep of community psychiatric force.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi DruggedKid,
    I think you’ve touched on a really big, important issue– children and psych drugs, and the lack of voice and agency that children have in their own lives. This, and, as you said, the fact that the vast majority of parents out there have incorporated the Biological Psychiatry narrative that says, “Your kid has a brain disease. This isn’t your fault; you have no responsibility in their struggles. They’re not bad kids, they’re sick kids.”

    In my opinion, public education is absolutely critical if we’re to effectively tackle this epidemic of the pathologization of childhood. The more we can show parents the evidence showing that long-term use of psychiatric drugs (for adults, let alone for the developing brains/bodies of children) creates physical disease, cognitive dysfunction, emotional blunting, etc., the better the odds of building alternative coalitions of parents besides NAMI. Mother Bear in North Carolina is attempting to do this, I believe.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment!
    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Dear uprising,
    Thanks for this comment; I’ve been inspired by many people/books/ideas and feel as though I’m simply passing on a message I’ve been given by others. Life is really just a circle of exchanging and receiving, if you think about it! And I totally agree– nothing is more powerful that storytelling; hearing the stories of others has definitely been a critical part of the withdrawal and healing process for me too. I send you solidarity as you finish with the taper and am so glad you’re a part of the MIA community.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Alex,
    Thank you for sharing this painful and beautiful part of your story. You are spot on that a life sentence in the “mental health” system means that the ‘big picture’, as you put it, is completely blocked from view. We become our “illnesses”, and that’s that. I am so glad that you found your way out, and to freedom! I am so very appreciative of your voice here at MIA.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi S. Randolph,
    Thanks so much for this very humbling comment. I am incredibly appreciative for all the advocacy you do out there in Illinois!

    I would be curious to hear more about that “Mental Health First Aid” course you took… I’ve heard pretty, ahem, “interesting” things about it!

    And thank you for the important reminder of the inherent subjectivity of human experience ☺.

    In solidarity,
    Laura

  • Hi Steve,
    Wow, thanks for the thoughtful words about my post! I always appreciate your comments here, too. It sounds like the support you provided on that hotline was invaluable. It reminds me that there are people out there already listening and helping people to find the meaning in their experiences; I need to continue to remind myself of that!

    Indeed, the DSM and meaning exist in an inverse relationship. Let us continue to speak out about this!

    Thanks, as always, for your contributions to MIA.

    In solidarity,
    Laura