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The Rest of My Life

"I simply did not believe that at the age of 50 I had suddenly developed a biologically based psychiatric illness that I would need control with medications for the rest of my life." —Anonymous Read the rest of the story...

Anonymous


anonymous4In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful, if any?


During the 13 days I was forced/coerced to ingest psychiatric psychiatric medication, I experienced an acute dystonic reaction to forced injections of Prolixin -- twitching and cramping of my arms and legs followed by loss of control over the movements of my head and neck.The experience of these painful and frightening side-effects convinced me to orally ingest the drugs the doctor wanted me to take: Risperidone and Valproic Acid. After discharge from the hospital, during the 5 months it took to carefully withdraw from the psychoactive medication I was court-ordered to ingest, I was unable to feel any genuine emotional response. I felt like I was totally out of touch with my own life. When my dosage of valproic acid was reduced to a half tablet/day, the change in my outlook was dramatic. I felt like myself again.


During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeful about your chance of getting better?


I experienced a brief psychotic episode caused by extreme stress and sleep deprivation which lasted only a couple of days; however, since I refused medication, I was kept in the hospital for 6 weeks, until an order to administer medications was obtained through the court and I had been "compliant" for 2 weeks. Throughout the entire time I was incarcerated in the psychiatric hospital and forced to take medications, I knew that when I was released I would keep my stress level down, get enough sleep, and never experience another episode like that.


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


I simply did not believe that at the age of 50 I had suddenly developed a biologically based psychiatric illness that I would need control with medications for the rest of my life.


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.)?


The private psychiatrist and therapist I hired after my release from the hospital were very supportive. They helped me safely withdraw from medications and get my life back in order after the trauma of incarceration and forced medication. The also helped me gain perspective on the events that led to my short psychotic break and expressed no doubts that I would realize my goals.


Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could not reach a personal goal because of your psychiatric diagnosis (for example, education, career, independent housing, relationship, children, etc.)?


In the hospital, doctors, nurses, and therapists not only indicated that I would be "ill" for the rest of my life, but they also refused to believe that I had accomplished anything prior to arriving there.


Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?


For me recovery from emotional problems means learning to cope authentically with difficulties without surrendering to despair or hiding behind irrational views of reality. It means getting on with your life.


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?


Find a professional who does not buy into the biological paradigm and get out of the system. Get off the drugs carefully -- Sudden withdrawal from many psychoactive medications can cause severe physical and behavioral symptoms. Find people who believe in your future and listen to them. Trust yourself.


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 have been free of medication since early February, 2004. I completed a program for alternative certification to teach in Texas public schools. While I was completing this program, I also worked at two of the part-time jobs I had prior to my confinement and acted in several community theater productions. I am currently under contract with a Texas independent school district teaching children with special needs. I have been working in the same elementary school for the past 8 years. Three years ago I was nominated by my district for a regional Special Educator of the Year award.

 

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