How to Survive Enough To Say, “I AM Better”

Anna Leonide Brown; Oakridge, OR

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

The turning point was a personal moment when I was about to take my medication and I gagged on it; something told me, instinctually, that I had to stop taking the pills that were making me sick. I slowly weaned myself off of the meds because I had lost my insurance and the writing was on the wall about my ability to buy the medications without insurance. I was right, despite all the people around me telling me I had to take medicine for the rest of my life.

How long has it been since the last time you took any psychiatric medication?

5 to 10 years

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

I found psychiatric medications extremely harmful in that they “flatlined” my emotions partly and sent me flying emotionally at other times. I also felt I was a ‘guinea pig’ because I was prescribed several medications, one after the other, in hopes one would be a ‘good fit’. None of the meds given to me ‘fit’. I gained an alarming amount of weight while I was on medications and ended up with high blood pressure, edima, manic episodes, suicidal thoughts, one attempted suicide, estranged family and friends, loss of employment/career (a professional psychiatric nurse told me I couldn’t do the work I had spent a decade educating myself to do) in the Professional Counselor field and loss of motivation/faith in self to reach out and try another profession. It has been 9 years since my “psychotic summer vacation, 2003”, and I am just now ready to reach out and educate others on what can happen and how to survive it enough to be able to say, “I AM better”.

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

Recovery means freedom to me. Freedom from believing doctors, nurses, anyone, really, outside of myself who presume to know what I need to be successful in my life.

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 maintained years of employment, financial stability, and personal successes over the past 9 years of recovery from psychiatric traumas, with out the aid of mediations and/or psychiatric interventions of any sort. Seems someone made a mistake with the Bi-Polar diagnosis…

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?

Just keep living, loving, learning and laughing. Keeping one’s sense of humor is paramount to recovery from psychiatric trauma. Develop a loving, supportive relationship with yourself and relationships with others will follow, because you will know what works and what doesn’t for you. Having and maintaining personal boundaries also extremely important to survival of mental health diagnosis/issues.