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HOW I FOUND OUT I WAS MENTALLY ILL

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How I Found Out I Was Mentally Ill

by Cheryl Froehlich

 

Back in the late 60's, women were quite often presecribed Valium for any emotional complaints or what used to be called "hysteria".  It became the "new normal" and the Rolling Stones, in 1966, came out with their song "Mommy's Little Helper".  I was prescribed Valium back then but I really don't remember why or what my complaint was.  It does the trick to sedate and has a calming effect on anxieties and that was the goal; to help, mostly women, deal with life's frustrations.  I was working for the local newspaper office at the time proofreading and collating a cookbook.  I would take some Valium in the morning before going to work and a couple of hours later, I was snoozing and salivating with my head buried in the hamburger casserole recipe on page 20.  

I needed the job and napping wasn't listed as a job perk, so I didn't take the Valium for any length of time and don't remember having any withdrawal effects.  From what I know from studying these minor sedatives/anti-anxiety drugs is that Valium has the longest half-life of all of them so probably that helped with the withdrawal and that I wasn't yet "hooked" on it.  Valium, being a benzodiazipine, can be quite addictive and very difficult to get off but much easier than those with a shorter half-life.  Half-life meaning the time it takes for half of the drug to metabolize and be eliminated from the body.

Help!  I'm Suicidal!

My second experience with psychiatry back in the early 90's was, admittedly, a cry for help.  Without going into detail, I will just say that my life seemed to be falling apart.  I felt suicidal and desperate.  I picked up the phone book (yes, we used them back then) and found a psychiatrist's name and dialed the number.  I nervously, in panic mode, explained to the receptionist why I was calling.  She told me she would have the psychiatrist called me ASAP.  I was very relieved when he returned my call but was completely baffled by his response and what he asked me was a blessing in disguise.  He asked if I had health insurance.  I said no and his reply was "Then I can't help you".  I knew little about the ''system" back then and was very confused by his response to a suicidal person.  What I realized years later is that no insurance meant no treatment.  Money trumps suicide.  The desperation and contemplating suicide faded and life went on without the help of the "compassionate" psychiatrist.  I know now that if I had insurance at the time, I would have been a psychiatric unit on suicide watch with all my rights taken away and on a regimen of medications.  I thank God to this day that the psychiatrist didn't care if I committed suicide or thought I wasn't worth the bother if I couldn't pay.

I did eventually see someone for a couple of therapy sessions at the local mental health clinic and of course, given a prescription for Prozac.  A wondrous drug!  Emotionality gone. Sleep is good.  Sexual pleasure non-existent.  I joined the Zombie Nation!  I have never been good at following medication regimans, so I think I eventually would just forget to take them.  Prozac also has a long half-life, so with not being on it very long didn't cause any issues with withdrawal that I can remember.

Mentally Ill????

Then in 2001, my son was "caught' in the psychiatry web when he had a unusual experience when he abruptly stopped using marijuana and alcohol during his third year in college.  He was prescribed Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant.  This brought him into a lifetime of cycling in and out of hospitals resulting in not knowing who he is anymore.  His experiences within the psychiatric system led me to my "official" diagnosis of mental illness.

During one of my son's hospitalizations, I was furious what the meds and psychiatry were doing to him.  I spent many hours compiling a letter to the psychiatrist, the board of directors, state officials, and anyone else I could find that might listen.  I explained how the meds were making him worse and went into detail after many hours of reserch about the meds.  I knew I was right.  I did get a response from one agency and a patient advocate that said they would investigate my claims, but I never heard from them again.  My son was eventually released, and I sent for his medical records.  I found my answer as to why the agency and advocate did not follow through.  This is where I found out I was mentally ill; diagnosed by my son's psychiatrist whom I never met.  It read "This patient's mother is as mentally ill as her son".  Wow!  Did I get angry?  No.  I shrunk to the size of a mushroom.  I was literally sick to my stomach; afraid, humiliated, and scared.  He went on to state that his staff were in full agreement with his assessment of me.  I learned to shut up...to be silent...not to make waves.  I was the neurotic mentally ill mother.  I wondered what his diagnosis of me was.  Schizophrenic? Bipolar? Delusional? Paranoid?  When I think about it now, I know it was the psychiatrist's way of silencing me and to ward off the agenices I had contacted to protest his harsh treatment of my son.  Of course they would believe a doctor over a neurotic mother.  I found out later I could have sued him for his diagnosing me without me being present for a thorough assessment but fighting these guys in court is pointless.  That's another story to tell.  The Court of Sham.  No, I did not misspell sham.

Deja Vous!

I fell into the trap again a couple of years later when life got overwhelming again.  I was taking care of my aging mother at the time along with my son being hospitalized again.  I had brought her to a doctor's appointment and as I sat in the patient room waiting for her to return from them running some tests on her heart, I felt an overwhelming sensation of exhaustion and emotionality that surrounded my entire being.  I hastily went to the appointment desk to see if anyone was available to talk to.  They sent me to a Nurse Practitoner who dismissed my story midsentence and calmly stated "Oh, your depressed".  Within minutes, I was given a prescription for Lexapro, a newer antidepressant than Prozac.  She also referred me to a counselor and I engaged in a couple of therapy sessions along with a prescription for Wellbutrin!  

I had not started the Lexapro yet as I was having apprehensions as to be expected.  I decided to try to the Wellbutrin first.  If you want an upper, this is it!  Can't sleep..restless legs...a bit of akathesia anyone?  Akathesia is the worst.  I couldn't sit still.  You pace because your body feels like it's on fire from the inside.  I chucked them in the garbage.

Now for the Lexapro.  By now I knew that these drugs were a disaster, but I decided to see what exactly it would do.  That was a big mistake because this one is a "Big Whopper" compared to the regular "Whopper".  I was so numbed out that I lost every bit of what it is to be alive.  I was taking college classes at the time and studying was impossible.  I would sit at the table rereading the same page over and over; not comprehending a thing I had read.  My oldest son was so alarmed by my robotic, non-emotional presentation, that he insisted I throw them away.  The last straw came one night during dinner with my husband.  He must have said something that made me angry and my reaction was shocking.  I was holding a fork and I turned it into a weapon as if I were holding a knife.  I held it up with the impulsive urge to stab my husband with it.  I stopped myself before plunging it into his throat.  It was a sensation I had never experienced before and was very disturbing to me and to my husband, to say the least, as he stood there with his mouth open in confusion.  I knew at that moment that it was a result of the Lexapro and needed to get off it.  Caution!  Physician's Desk Reference of Psychiatric Drugs lists homocidal ideation as a side effect!  I quit taking it cold turkey which was another bad decision.  My legs jerked non-stop and the brain zaps were intense.  I couldn't sleep.  I knew I had to go back on the Lexapro and wean off slowly.  I did just that and still endured withdrawal effects but I made it through and that was the last time I took any of their dangerous drugs.

Hello Prednisone!

I developed severe diverticulitis resulting in a very inflamed colon and needed very high doses of Prednisone after I was misdiagnosed with Crohn's Disease around 2014.  I had lost so much weight from not being able to eat and had become anemic.  Prednisone is quite an interesting steroid which affects the adrenal glands.  I would lie in bed and never sleep.  By 2 a.m., I was ready to go grocery shopping at Walmart.  I cleaned my house from top to bottom, rearranged all the furniture, painted all the walls, redecorated the bathroom, and tremored constantly.  I felt a bit manic and it rather scared me that maybe, just maybe, I was mentally ill until I mentioned by behaviors to several nurses.  They described having the same experiences while on Prednisone!  Ok, I wasn't crazy.  Prednisone can be crazy-making!  I had to be taken off the Prednisone prior to colon surgery.  Coming off Prednisone is a process because of it's dysregulation of the adrenal glands and the doctors were very careful in tapering me off.  I have experienced such a difference in medical doctors compared with psychiatrists in regards to tapering people off medications.  

Morphine Psychosis Anyone?

I was finally off the Prednisone and in the hospital for colon surgey which quite a common procedure these days but does result in a lot of post-surgery pain.  Trusting my surgeon and the medical staff to take care of me was not questioned...until the morphine drip made for a wild ride.  It was like being awake and but not really awake.  I would see the doctor and a nurse standing by my bed conversing and the next second actually waking up with no one there.  This kept happening!  Relatives came to see me that were never there.  My husban built a wooden fence gate on my bed!  After a couple of nights of these bizarre experiences, I explained what was happening to the night nurse and asked him if they could switch pain meds.  He obliged and the hallucinations went away.  Am I crazy?  No.  These drugs are teaching me how they can mess with the brain.

From my own experiences on different types of drugs, I know that I was right in defending my son.  When Big Pharma can't tell me how they "work", what in God's name are we doing subjecting so many to drugs we have no idea how they are affecting, not only the mind, but the body!

Psychiatrists only see us as a walking chemically imbalanced brain as if separate from the rest of the body.  Was the psychiatrist correct in declaring me mentally ill?  Nope.  It was a cop out.  I have little respect for them and am no longer scared of them.  They practice their own religion with their delusions of miracle pills and pseudo-science.  I am okay.  I have anxiety at times.  Who doesn't?  I feel depressed at times.  You too?  I get overwhelmed at times.  Welcome to the club.  That's life.  That's being human.  I learned that psychiatry is all about little blue pills, green pills, and pink pills. Colorful little things that remind me of candy at the local Widman's Store with the nostalgic soda fountain when I was a kid.  Aren't those pills pretty?  What harm can they do?

I learned not to trust psychiatrists from my own experiences and from others who should never have been subjected to psychiatry's paternalism, narcissism, and laziness.  Their belief in a science that is questionable and has all but destroyed too many lives.  I survived.  Thank God I did my research.  I read books like Mad in America and Anatomy of An Epidemic by Robert Whitaker and many other books.  I read my textbooks.  I went to University to study biological and clinical psychology.  In Pharmacology classes, they teach only the minor side effects and not a hint of withdrawal problems.   They don't teach about the brain changes that might become permanent; creating a community of chronic patients.

I taught myself to "question everything, assume nothing".  A very wise Suzy Kassem wrote "Most of the time, we see only what we want to see, or what others tell us to see, instead of investigate to see what is really there.  We embrace illusions only because we are presented with the illusion that they are embraced by the majority".  I agree with her.  Tomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, stated in one of his blogs "We lack cures, we lack vaccines, and we lack diagostic markers.  Terms like 'depression' or 'schizophrenia' or 'autism' have achieved a reality that far outstrips their scientific value".  

It's like looking at the forest through the trees.  The real cause is right in front of you.  Can't you see it?

 

 

 

 

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If I can help be a beacon of light in your own struggle, help ignite even a spark of questioning about where and what your own situation might be and lead you closer to your truth. Then, I have done my job. Thank you so much for the incredible time it has taken for you to read this.

I apologize in some ways that it was long, but there’s a lot to say after not being able to speak for a lifetime. And if your story is just as long or longer, that’s fine with me. I just think it’s important to tell it. It’s important to our human community. And you never know who may resonate with it and find a piece of themselves in it.

Now you also know why I have a website called nomorelabels.us. Because in my world it was the labels that did and continue to do the most damage. It is that which ultimately has and continues to divide us. Because as long as you don’t have one, you’re safe. So who would in their right mind ever willingly give up that safety zone? The problem is that it’s a false safety zone and no one knows that better than those who have been given a label.

I survived without ever being given one except for by my family, which did enough damage to make people believe I’d been given one. And those who’ve been given one to feel a certain kindred spirit with me. What does that tell you about the power of them?

So why not then listen to and learn from those who have had the strength to come out the other side of those labels? It may be just like getting stuck at the top of the Ferris Wheel… they may have the best view of all.

So I encourage all the “experts” to let go of their labels and all the letters after their names that give them supposed greater and more credible value and try going without for a while. You might find that it just might be the greatest view you’ve ever seen. You may just see your own authentic self. And finally see that of others. As my dad used to say, “try it, you might like it”.

If there is anything you get from my story I hope that is it. Beware of labels both “good and bad” and beware of taking them on or dishing them out. It is human understanding to me that should be sought the most, not labels.

I realize in telling this story, yes I’ve gone into the past. But there was a reason. I wanted you to understand who my father was from the beginning, not at the chapter when he became two words. I realized as I was writing it, I needed to rewrite his history, if not, just for the sake of my own family and posterity. So that-those after him who maybe didn’t know him pre-diagnosis understand he was so much more than a diagnosis and also what he went through as a result of it. But mostly that they know he was a rich and full human being with so many incredible life-giving qualities.

In many ways, my dad was pure love. Yes flawed like all of us but just if not more beautiful, deep, rich, funny, kind, incredible, inventive, creative, filled with a passion for living at the heart of which was a desire to simply and truly connect.

I’m not interested in rehashing tragedy, but moving out of it to rediscover ourselves, the parts of ourselves that got shutdown or hurt along the way. To open the door back up to them again and allow them to live again, free of judgment. And injected with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning – and to understand the real definition of power.

The purpose of this website is to chart a new way forward for us. Only to revisit the past, in the sense of moving beyond it and getting validation that the problem may not have ever been YOU! It is a very flawed system and it needs our help to improve!

If you are in the system and being massively medicated. Your behavior may be explained by the effect of these drugs. Yes, these drugs may have made you act crazy or feel crazy. Read “Anatomy of An Epidemic” to find out exactly how and why. Or find Peter Breggin’s “Simple Truths About Psychiatry” on Youtube or go straight to his website and begin reading his books!

The only problem is that coming off of these drugs is incredibly dangerous and must be done with a doctor’s supervision. In fact with some you can actually die if you come off cold turkey and they state it in their black label. It is true of benzodiazepines, and it is a condition called “status epilepticus.” Also you can look up “drug-induced parkinsonism” which these drugs can also cause along with a host of other horrific side effects. This is what my father suffered from and I believe died of.

And this is where we still have much head way to make. Because while there are plenty of doctors who will get you on these meds, few actually really know how to take you off of them safely. So we have to work together as a community to help support each other in finding ways forward whether it be on or off the drugs.

Hopefully this can bring to you what it did for me and my father-a vindication I could never have imagined and a new life of greater freedom and choice - one where I have felt welcomed back into the human family and a community I didn’t know existed.

It is a literal international movement calling for change. And I definitely no longer feel alone. You can find much of that community at madinamerica.com...and on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour and hopefully here too in growing numbers. And all the places they refer you to.

This information literally gave me the ability to do again what I imagine my father would have wanted most for me - the ability to self- define. My hope is that what you find here will do the same for you.

I am putting together a group of people to present these stories in in theatrical format. If you are interested in getting involved, please let me know.

I have considered starting support groups for families and consumers alike like AA or Al-anon, one for each, but I notice that we are not a community to whom group activity comes easily, perhaps because of our backgrounds, or our fierce independence by necessity or nature, and the traumatic experience of coercion.

This is why I have just created it as a gathering place and leave it up to individuals to reach out to each other and each build their own support networks that work best for them. Some people you may click with more with than others. But support is the salve to the isolation born from shame and stigma. It is the belonging that we all need as human beings. Thus my latest definition is we are “the human community”.

If you have or know of any resources for information or alternative treatments, please post them on our resources page, share your information. Reach out, or just visit occasionally whatever works best for you.

Above all at least you know we are here. And you are no longer bound by the label you may have been given. It’s time to free yourself, re-invent and redefine! SELF-DEFINE!

The goal of this website is to be a resource center and place of support where you can come to find empathic support and understanding, not societal judgment and isolation. We do however support children so if any of your content is mature, this would not be the place to explore those kinds of experiences. Thank you for your consideration and time!

I hope you will check out our #metoo/NOMORELABELS! social media campaign and participate! Simply write on your hand, “NO MORE LABELS!”, snap a picture of yourself and post it in our gallery, then onto Facebook or do it using one of those fancy apps on the phone like Wordswag or Over, which lets you superimpose words over a picture of yourself. Or feel free to also save and share any of my memes like “the definition of crazy: EVERYONE”…

I’ll be working on getting a line of t-shirts out with my different sayings soon that are in the t-shirt/meme gallery! And feel free to tune in any time to my radio show, which I will also be posting on the website here, but also on my youtube channel, “comealivewithmk” in my “people’s radio show playlist”.

If you’d like to come on my show as a guest and tell your story I welcome you with open arms! That’s in large part what it’s for! And please stay in touch or join our community to find and meet other people like you. That’s what it’s about! I’m paying out of pocket to host it, I hope you will use it!

 

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There were so many like-minded people from Irving Kirsch, Peter Goetsche and David Healy, to Joanna Moncreiff, Bonnie Burstow, Lisa Cosgrove, Sami Timimi, David Oaks, Kelly Brogan, Nicholas Rose, Alan Frances, Jennifer Bahr and an endless number of them, even with their differences of opinion – their root message was on point. The need to save the human experience and stop pathologizing it.

I discovered one after another, from working professionals to experts by so called “lived experience”, which was the category I came under. I’d wished so much that I could have discovered this when my father was alive, but once again even the stigma had gotten in the way of that. And I don’t say this to berate the point but to expose the many layers of its persistent existence and to highlight the need for it’s removal.

Because when I came across Robert Whitaker’s website, madinamerica.com, I remembered it from my previous days researching on the web years before my dad died during my Thomas Insel days when I was led to believe it was a “brain disease”, yet another explanation that only half worked.

But it’s name with the use of the term “mad” steered me away from investigating it. At first glance, my stigmatized state made me not want to get anywhere close to anyone that used the term “mad”. I hated that word or any like it as much as I did the drugs, if not more. But, after what I discovered once I was into the website, I more fully understood what and why the term “mad” was chosen. And I was mad.

Mad at what had so tragically happened to my family. Even rageful but I used that anger to fuel me to find out everything and anything I could to learn more. I now understood why they chose to keep the term and it fit, perfectly.

If I couldn’t help my dad, perhaps at least I could help someone else. Others in the same unknowing predicament.

I signed up for their webinars and joined as many as I could. And within that process, I discovered yet more experts like Bruce Levine. And even more that aren’t on the MIA website, but on their own journeys with very similar messages, like Harriet Fraad and Dr. Hammerschlag, most of whom I’ve had on my radio show. And I continued to discover only more via madinamerica.com-Another of my leading favorites is Daniel Mackler, a film maker and outspoken critic who is the visionary and boldly leading the way for this next generation, you can find him at wildtruth.net. And others like Laura Delano, and Debra Lampshire.

Most recently I had the distinct pleasure of meeting yet another extraordinary woman, via Dr. Peter Breggin’s radio show who I define as a psychiatric miracle… Sarah Price Hancock, who has an amazing unbelievable story where she survived over 100 electroshock treatments and is now a psychiatric rehab counselor and circuit lecturer in charge of training working professionals to become better educated on “trauma-informed” care: the treatments that can actually cause more harm than helping. She can be found at psychiatricrecoveryandrehabilitation.com and has her own podcast every Wednesday.

And there are so many more extraordinary people like Emily Sheera Cutler from MIA and revolutionary pioneers bringing things like Open Dialogue into this country like Louisa Putman and Kermit Cole, and others like Kevin Hennely who works specifically with people who hear voices, and Ron Coleman founder of the Hearing Voices Network. And artist Rararabbit who uses lucid dreaming to help deal with his hearing voices. And cutting edge assisted living facilities who work to de-stigmatize people suffering mental distress like Casa Milagro in Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded by Meryl Lieberman where they encourage art, ownership of pets and community belonging. The list goes on and on.

Another ground breaking book for me that was helpful was introduced to me via a madinamerica.com webinar and that was “Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis and Drugs”. It is written by Doctors Stuart Kirk, David Cohen and Tomi Gomory. And the reason I like it so much is because it is THE comprehensive view of exactly what happened to my father, family and me. It is the entire explanation on paper.

There’s a great interview about it all on Madness Radio with Will Hall, another pioneer helping people withdraw from the drugs in his internationally acclaimed “Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs And Withdrawal”. And you can find my interviews with both Cohen and Gomory in my archive files from my “Dialogue” radio show.

Kirk, Cohen and Gomory’s “Mad Science” book brought all the pieces together for me in a way that summed it up. They use the term “biomedical industrial complex” to describe the overall mental health system. Dr. Breggin describes it very similarly.

Also, important to my journey out of a life of misinformation ironically was an incredible therapist who was his own person and who always treated me with an equal voice and who helped me find and hone mine. I’ll never forget his words, “you may be bent but you’re not broken” and who among us isn’t a little bit broken if they’ve lived at all? But just as central as all this information was to me - was the whole host of extraordinary people I have met in this process that are my peers. And critical are the friends in my life like my dad’s friend Drew who loved and accepted me despite the labels, for whom most never endorsed. And supported me in fighting them.

I now have a community. Sometimes we talk to frequently, other times not. But those of us previously silenced and shamed - at least now know that we are out there in the world. I would mention their names but I haven’t okayed it with them yet. I’ve encouraged them to tell their stories and am still waiting to hear them. This has been an incredibly therapeutic process to me, just finding people who understand.

And I find that most people out there in the world do - to my still great surprise, not unlike my real friends. Ironically, I have found the people in the mental health field the most resistant, except for the visionary and bold ones. My colleague calls those resistant to this information “learning averse”. What does it reveal about their own agenda, fears or shame when people are so resistant?

And education in mental health is not necessarily a sign of superior knowledge or expertise. In fact in many ways it is a sign of only further indoctrination which is difficult to unearth, especially when people’s professions rely upon it and their sense of safety.

It’s unfortunate when education actually leads people down the wrong path yet, because they have it, are led to believe they are on the right path - but isn’t that the way it should be after all? Isn’t that the very purpose of an education? To learn more and become an “expert”. You have only to read the book “Psychiatry Under The Influence” to understand the level at which the pharmaceutical companies have infiltrated our universities and governmental agencies with their billions of dollars in budgets to influence and literally help shape public opinion on “mental illness”. One that has led many “experts “ to unknowingly cause a lot of damage in the one area they went in to try and fix.

Yes, there are still plenty who just don’t get it nor have any interest in doing so. But, I’m not so worried about those folks anymore. I just figure we walk in different circles and for now, I’m just interested in walking forward together with my new community and keeping my eyes on that prize. And what a prize it is! We are finally now all free to be ourselves.

There are still those suffering within the system, but at least they don’t feel as alone as they did once before. And hopefully even that is a move in a forward direction. Extracting oneself from this system can be a very difficult process, especially the drugs, but equally the learned helplessness and addiction to labels that have enabled our literal identities albeit mistaken. What’s most important to me, is that I don’t feel stigmatized anymore. I understand that I am not the problem, the system is. And I don’t care what others think of me anymore even that small percentage that may call me “crazy”.

I now realize that in many ways because all this began happening to me when I was a child, I literally became unquestionably “indoctrinated”. This is why I now use that term to describe what happened to me. And I believe even rob my family from me whether any of them might or might not agree with me.

My mother had been a nurse and herself came from a generation where you trusted what the doctors say. And as a type 1 diabetic, insulin had allowed her to live a rather normal life. The same was in some ways true of my father only he also knew better, being a doctor himself. He was a medical whistleblower in some senses by calling out or questioning the system as he went along. But there is a reason whistleblowers usually don’t survive well. He had no real support. This is what the mental health system so often exploits. It thrives and profits from it. Isolation.

But there was one thing that I am thankful for that allowed me to find these answers - and that is a somewhat still childlike heart - the part I never let the system get a hold of. The part I was determined to protect - no matter what it cost. And my mother’s advice to always listen to my intuition, which I believe is it’s seed.

Because it was my heart that read the plea in my father’s eyes at the time of his death. And the desire to reinstate his dignity and find the evidence for what I’d seen with my own eyes. And now I have a renewed sense of life I would never have imagined existed. The opposite of that previous nightmare – and now a community I would describe in many ways as the best definition of heaven on earth, simply from the hope and new life it represents.

And I followed that child-like yet wise heart regardless of what the doctors had said, or how much they denied it. I trusted it after a lifetime of swallowing their maybe well-intentioned but rather useless and in the end deadly explanations.

Sadly this new information has only further ruptured my relationship with my mother. That is another story to tell for another day: the nightmare of waking up from the worst nightmare you’d already had to discover it never needed to happen in the first place and the resistance people have to that awakening and/or even information. In some ways it introduces a new loneliness. The family I thought I could get back didn’t happen.

My mother still doesn’t believe the information I have discovered or that it might have the level of legitimacy that it does. I attribute that to her own unfortunate shame and guilt about everything that happened, which I believe the biomedical industrial complex only makes worse, maybe even helps create and most certainly enables.

And it works to protect them from lawsuits. Because if we could unite, we could sue the bastards for the damage they’ve done. But, the stigma is too cemented in, my mother’s perception of me too skewed to even give me or her own self a chance for reconciliation yet only more fall-out from the bio-medical industrial complex and its biggest weapon - stigma.

But they can’t stop me from speaking the truth and as Janis Joplin says, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. My retribution to the bio-medical industrial complex will be hopefully the lives I may deter from going into that system. One life alone is worth far more than any settlement I might incur.

I wonder about my mother’s inability to process what I have to say, perhaps it is just simply too much to process at the end of an already long and too difficult life, too much of a lie to comprehend, too great a betrayal. My middle brother is most likely gone forever. The rift between us too great to potentially ever mend.

However, my oldest brother and I have reunited in a way I never imagined. And now I even feel as though I have a piece of that family that I lost so long ago. We talk almost every day and he is a huge piece of my network of support. And I feel extraordinarily lucky to have him and his wife and their children in my life. They are a literal blessing that does not go uncounted – EVER.

And I have a new family of sorts, as they say a chosen one.
I have my new answers, the ones I have sought for a lifetime and along the way as I have shared this newly discovered information with people, I have found many more like me. And that’s why I am here.

 

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MK'S STORY - THE RESURRECTION (PART THREE)

To me, there was no dignity in dying by overmedication, especially for my father.

But once again, what got in the way of hearing my complaints as the one family member who had known the most about his medical care before he went into their custody? Stigma.

No they didn’t hear me because, well I was the daughter of that crazy man, so I just had to be guilty by association. Treated as though my concerns were a matter of mental vulnerability or weakness not legitimate medical concern. Never mind that I might have just simply been right that he was overmedicated for the fourth time. Any time he had been before they would back off on the meds and he would get better.

But this time, my complaints went entirely unheard and there was nothing I could do. I tried calling people, reaching out, finding anyone who could help me in any way, but the clock was ticking. I knew it would only be a matter of days, which quickly turned into hours. And as always and of course it all fell on the weekend.

I will never forget the look in my dad‘s eyes as I saw the meds taking over his entire body and inhibit his ability not just to move but in the end swallow or even speak. The look in his eye was that of a man trapped in his own body unable to get out and without understanding exactly what was happening to him or why, pleading with his eyes to help him. The opposite of the empty eyes I’d seen those many years before. This time they had all the presence of a man screaming from the inside in utter helplessness.

I knew unquestionably at that point it was the meds. I’d seen their affects plenty of times before. I could only ask myself why they would give an increasingly fragile old man even more drugs he was already potentially toxic to?

Desperately trying to walk that fine line of not losing my mind - once again - that line between not going absolute apeshit crazy pissed off and telling them all to go fuck themselves to attempting to peacefully placatingly quietly and ever so patiently tell the doctors and care-givers with as much seeming compassion as I could possibly muster that they and their drugs were yes, about to kill my father. The kind and compassionate approach didn’t make a bit of difference.

So, yes I finally went maybe a little apeshit crazy. But not enough to make a difference, nor for them to take me away thank god. It didn’t matter anyway. Wouldn’t have, guess that’s finally why I let myself go temporarily insane for that moment. I had to, or I’m not sure I would have survived it. I might have then for the first time in my life maybe actually even gone legitimately crazy.

But it didn’t matter. Nope, nothing did. None of it changed a thing. Not the slightest impact. One way or the other.

I finally lost the battle. Yes, the bastards actually won.

My beloved and devoted father died. The one who no one could ever entirely take down even against all odds, finally got not just knocked out but entirely taken down. My butterfly pop’s wings were finally broken, gone. Forever.

By the time the doctors even began considering that I just might be right, it was too late. They didn’t even bother to call us to tell us he was getting that close to death despite my having been there for the past four days knowing full well that I would have wanted to be there along with my oldest brother. No, instead they reassured me that hospice had been there to help “make his passing more peaceful” by having given him a little added morphine on the way out. My dad hated drugs. All drugs, except maybe a little occasional pot with best friend Drew, the only friend and definition of a real one, who’d remained a friend even after the label.

They knew we wanted to be there at his time of death and that we cared. We were not an unloving family. But somehow they couldn’t be bothered enough to give us a call to let us know he was getting close to death. And possibly weigh in on what he might have wanted for his death. How he might have wanted to go. No, they made that decision for him just like the rest of the ones they’d made for him in the second half of his entire life.

And once again - what had gotten in their way of making that potential call to the family, that call that most families have the dignity of receiving? Stigma – how and why you might ask? Stigma renders us inhuman, unworthy of that consideration.

And that was the beginning of my journey back.

I did not shed a tear when the rest of my family showed up. I was determined to be strong for my dad, not an emotional basket case. I have never felt so alone in my entire life. And that’s what psychopharmacology did to my family and me. It destroyed it.

Long gone were the days of my once happy childhood. But my love for my father remained as it always had - and was now only stronger than ever before. Because see, love can’t be killed. Bodies can - but not spirits. And I was still alive. And my dad’s spirit alive in me, perhaps even stronger than ever before. Death has a way of bringing us closer to our loved ones. And perhaps even more able to see what I might not have before and – him – at last and more clearly than I’d ever been able to before.

Now, the anger of a lifetime of not being seen or heard rose up in me and transformed itself into sheer determination. I would find out what had happened to my beloved father and give him back the dignity he and we deserved. I knew these drugs had hastened his death and I was going to get to the bottom of exactly how and why. And that’s when the world changed and shifted in a way I would have never imagined possible. I knew what I had seen with my own eyes and ears and nothing and no one could or would ever convince me otherwise. The drugs had killed my father.

THE JOURNEY HOME AND A FINAL UNEXPECTED TWIST:
Just previous to my father’s death, I had begun doing something I never did before and that was finally talk about what it was like to grow up with a father who suffered from “mental illness”. And I credit this in large part to one man by the name of Douglas Crawford and his non-profit organization thecrookedhouse.org. It was a day and conversation I will never forget. His website is devoted to bringing voice to children affected by parental “mental illness”. It was then that I began realizing that this had affected me and my family more than I’d ever imagined.

Because I could finally begin to speak my truth about exactly what had gone on. I didn’t have to pretend I didn’t have any problems anymore, because when required I could be queen of pretending all was ok when and if I needed to. One had to in order to survive it all.

Doug and I shared many similar things, even a common language of sorts, much the way Al-Anon folks do - but an experience all our own and quite different than that of AA or any other group I’d ever known. It was like finding a long lost tribe member. We mostly shared what it was like dealing with the stigma and chaos brought on by erratic behavior.

But when it came to the meds and diagnosis, we had a slightly different experience. His mother was never officially diagnosed. My father clearly had been. And while we did share similar experiences, I realized that this distinction was important. Not better or worse per se, but critical to my own internal voice.

Why? Because once again, my dad’s label had been societally sanctioned. It carried with it a certain power as did his involuntary hospitalizations. And they impacted me. I couldn’t hide that reality away, even if Doug and I had suffered a similar silence. I knew of a power few people would even believe existent, and I had witnessed it with my own ears and eyes. It wasn’t the family secrets of chaos that can be hidden away. It was about knowing a reality few people would even believe and if you tried to explain or share it, most would just think you were crazy or be too scared to hear more about. It wasn’t something most people wanted to talk about much less know about.

And it’s coercive threat could be and often was used against me, albeit silently. It was the ultimate subtext – getting put away and drugged against one’s will. It didn’t need to be asserted by anyone. It just was - a reality I never wanted to know. Maybe even scarier in my own mind than reality but I had no desire to test it. The silent threat of that potential living nightmare always loomed in the background and it wasn’t an imaginary one. My father’s life, the evidence.

And I had seen it destroy him. The idea that it could potentially do the same to me terrified me. So I railed against it – and got called “so angry” all the time – only furthering the set-up. And trap of being damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.

I could never accept his involuntary treatment as “normal” despite everyone wanting to paint it into pretty pictures of “loving treatments for his own good”. “Loving treatment” that came with an insistence that felt like it was being shoved down my throat whether I liked it or not. And if I didn’t accept it, the price was to be cast out in one way or another. I was essentially robbed of any voice. The price of admission into that world meant the negation of my own self, my very existence.

Their “for his own good or safety” explanations never entirely worked for me, mostly because I saw it not work for him, even when I had to employ them for the seemingly same reasons. My dad only went along with it to survive it -out of pressure and pressure alone, not his own free will. And that is what bothered me most of all. It robbed him of a voice, a self-determined destiny.

I was the youngest in my family and the only female. So, this made me an easy target for the next generation of scapegoat. I had also witnessed the long-term use of drugs that had out right disabled him. And now to my mind killed him.

So, I continued my journey researching the drugs and that’s when I came across Robert Whitaker’s lecture on youtube and later his website, madinamerica.com and award-winning book “Anatomy of an Epidemic”. When he described these drugs as potentially addictive in nature and that there was no real scientific proof of the “illnesses” listed in the DSM, all the pieces finally came together for me of exactly what had happened to my dad.

When I began to understand exactly how these drugs worked. Everything I’d ever seen and questioned over a lifetime finally came together. This was the explanation I’d been searching for- for so long: The answer to the eternal question of whether my dad was actually ever really even crazy at all or not.

His normal rebellious reaction to the abnormal treatment of being stigmatized and coerced alone explained a lot of his initial so-called “crazy” behavior. But the meds cemented it in. And this new information explained exactly how. When he would go off the meds, he would get so much worse. Thinking back I could almost put a graph up to it in relation to his meds and hospitalizations which always involved the further tinkering of his meds. In retrospect, it made total sense that much of his so-called “crazy” behavior could have very easily been in fact, a withdrawal effect of coming off the drug, not “his disease returning” as the doctors said it was.

It was the most plausible explanation. It just made sense. It was the truth of what had happened to my dad and finally explained it all. It was in my mind exactly what had happened.

Wow! It was the answer I’d been forever seeking and that no doctor could ever explain. Now I understood why I’d spent a lifetime half believing that my dad was crazy because he was!!! Half crazy - and why in large part he’d never returned to normal again.

Now I could see how he had in large part been crazy due to the effects of the meds, the on and off again cycles, the hospitalizations and then simply slightly tranquilized once he leveled out. Not to mention the effects of “the diagnosis”, the stigma and coercion. It was also why he never really got back to normal.

In the end, my dad was right he wasn’t crazy, we were and certainly without a doubt, the mental health system and its treatments! And why it alone had felt so crazy-making, because it was! In more ways than one!!It also explained why we’d always somehow inherently disliked the drugs and treatments so much, no matter what the doctors said. Our reservations always remained.

This explanation fit. It explained the previously persistently inexplicable.

This also meant that I too was now equally vindicated. Welcomed back into the human family again as even potentially a credible member of society. And maybe even a chance to get my own family back - that family I and we had always yearned for from so long ago. Only time would tell.

I knew as the proverbial scapegoat it would be difficult to provide a convincing argument. The stigma once again overshadowing and upstaging my own voice. In fact I would go so far as to say it replaced my voice. But it wouldn’t stop me from at least trying. I’m a fighter, remember? After all what did I have to lose? Pretty much nothing. This experience had already taken most everything away. I had only to gain.

Meanwhile, I also had the incredible luck of coming across Al Galves, an activist and therapist from mindfreedom.com. When I met him, I could only have wished he could have been my father’s therapist and if so it would have been an entirely different story. It would have changed our lives. He would have never given him a diagnosis. He didn’t believe in the benefit of them.

I also soon thereafter discovered Dr. Peter Breggin, the legendary man who was behind stopping the lobotomy. That in and of itself told me a lot - after all which doctor would you trust ? The one who stops the lobotomy or the one who advocates for it?

From what I understand he did so nearly single-handedly. Apparently at the time he tried to reverse the lobotomy, there were plenty who supported it, just like those who today support the continued use of these psychiatric drugs, while he once again - against the grain - warns against them and psychiatry’s treatments.

This told me all I needed to know as far as whose medical word to trust. When I then went on to listen to his “Simple Truths About Psychiatry” on youtube, and ordered the pluthera of his books, from Talking Back To Prozac, to Toxic Psychiatry to a host of many more and read through his website, it only solidified this newly discovered information. It was the origin of much of it.

I’d discovered the doctor, I wish my whole family had known. It even felt as though he and my dad could have been buddies. If he had met my dad, he would never have let happen to my father and family what did. It was all both tragic and a huge relief to find all of this out. Yes, tragic in what had happened to us, but it also provided a vindication and validation of what I’d always known to be true in my heart about my father and my family - and now that previously shattered heart sang with joy and victory.

When I went onto Robert Whitaker’s website, madinamerica.com, and began listening to the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, (Dr. Breggin’s radio show) I discovered a whole host of working professionals and experts in the field who agreed with my perspective, which only gave it more professional credibility, especially because they were driven mostly by integrity not profit.

And all this time I had felt so alone in my struggle, too consumed by it to even look up or around to discover the many more like me. And I couldn’t get enough of them. This was indeed the exact long lost tribe I’d been looking for.

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