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I Quit the Public System

"I quit the public system when a brand new psychiatrist changed my diagnosis to bipolar. I was happy for the first time ever and they were making it into a problem." —Anonymous Read the rest of the story...


anonymous3During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeless about your chance of getting better?

When I was in the system I felt totally trapped and held down by the professionals' lack of understanding and their pessimistic attitudes. I felt like my life was over and that I was being coached, instructed, and persuaded to give up the connections and experiences and abilities I already had outside the system in exchange for a half-life as a permanent mental patient. They often made it seem as though I had no other option and no choice but to accept their crappy care, but I knew better. The place where I went had a bunch of smartasses as staff--they used to ridicule us constantly. It was really messed up. I don’t know if that's considered normal or acceptable behavior among professionals, but I do know that of all the people I was in treatment with I'm the only one who was able to wrest control of my life back from the system.

Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could reach a personal goal despite your psychiatric diagnosis (for example, education, career, independent housing, relationship, children, etc.)?

My private therapist and psychiatrist are both totally supportive of whatever I want to do.

If you overcame hopelessness that you could get better from a mental health or emotional problem, was there a turning point for you? 

I quit the public system when a brand new psychiatrist changed my diagnosis to bipolar. I was happy for the first time ever and they were making it into a problem. I wasn't going to take those nasty medications like lithium or Depakote or any of their bi-polar medications, and even though they didn't ever force me (they couldn't) they tried to persuade me all the time. It got on my nerves that people who didn't even know me were trying to change me just so I'd fit into one of their categories. I made this list of stuff I was upset about...9 out of the 10 items had to do with something done by the mental health professionals. I figured I knew a better way, so i got a private psychiatrist who would see me on a sliding scale for medications and quit all their groups and programs.

If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?

It doesn't have to be permanent, people aren't nearly as judgmental and rejecting as the professionals make it seem. So many people take so many psychiatric medications. Somebody with a mental health diagnosis is almost in the majority these days. It's best to find somebody who understands that you still can and want to have a relatively normal life. The mental health system will give you plenty of support and opportunities for decompensating and handing over your autonomy and self-sufficiency. Don't take them! They expect you to act out and fall apart under stress. Don't do it!

Can you give examples showing you have gotten better from a mental or emotional problem, such as how you are doing well or accomplishing goals you have chosen?

I work, I live on my own, I sleep regular hours, I'm in a good mood most of the time, I don't drink or do drugs, I don't cut or burn, I don't hear voices, I'm not afraid all the time, I can control my emotions and responses to events. I get along with my family (most of the time), I learned to play guitar and I sing in a band.

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I Got Better is a project of MindFreedom International    Domain generously contributed by United by Humanity.