My Story On Meds
The Psychiatric Sentence
Yes, I’ve been laced on psychiatric medication for 22 years. After my failure of a trip to India in 1994, (where I suffered from acute dysentery and almost died, and subsequently had a near-death-experience on my plane trip home), I had a mental meltdown due to the trauma, and I landed in a psychiatric hospital. I had no idea of the dangers that lurked ahead. Thereafter classified as a mental case, I began early on to understand how the psychiatric medical establishment was not in the business of health. They were in the business of sickness. And the pharmaceutical industry only wanted customers. Today the business is booming more than ever before because the pharmaceutical industry is funding studies to prove their primary business model of biological psychology, which supports the need and use of pharmaceutical drugs. The news, the studies, the research flooding in all over the internet supporting this biomedical model is inaccurate, inconclusive, and not scientific. It’s funded by Big Pharma with the interest in keeping us forever dependent on their food.
As soon as I was inside their system, reconditioning was already taking place as they tried to convince me I was sick. And as soon as I got on the meds, all my memories about India had begun to fade. When the medication suppresses your racing thoughts, it also instigates amnesia of emotional memories. Although the medication had eliminated from my memory the depth of my pain, I sadly learned that the goal of brain meds was not to help you work through the trauma, but to simply suppress it in your unconscious.
After the long run of evaluations and without anyone really knowing what was actually wrong with me or why I had slipped into psychosis, the doctors casually prescribed to me a life of medication supplemented with an indeterminate, ongoing regimen of therapy. I was at a devastating loss because after what I had just experienced, I was as vulnerable as a person could possibly be. My usual frame of reference was sorely dampened, and I could no longer see through the same lens as my “normal” friends and family. And since I felt I could no longer understand my reality, I thought I might be better off trusting in something other than my own judgment, which the psychiatric institution seemed to offer. So succumbing to an extensive treatment of meds seemed to be a sane solution at first. Little did I know my body would become addicted to such drugs, despite the claim by the pharmaceutical companies that these medications are non-addictive.
Over the course of time, the psychiatric institution created a world for me where my family, friends and medical team became the main directors of my life. They were assigned the task of watching for my abnormal activities, wants, and drives, and were instructed to make sure I took my meds no matter what. But the medication they forced upon me made me physically fatigued and mentally comatose. I knew instantly that my dreams of being a Broadway actress were quashed because my once very expressive and animated nature was eradicated under the drug.
On the meds, my artistic talent was dying a slow death. They annihilated my creativity, and my very imaginative essence was being systematically stripped away as they helped me live a “normal,” average lifestyle like everybody else. Living a “normal” lifestyle can be soul-crushing for a passionate bipolar artist. The stuff that makes life worth living for us is inside those wandering states of mad inspiration that allow us to create art within our minds and then translate it through our mediums. In order to achieve something beautiful, often the artist needs less scheduled time and more time alone wandering around their homes talking to themselves and looking crazy. It is a process and all of us have different ones. But they are all alike in that they can only be accessed through a commitment to inspiration, which is eradicated on the meds. Many creative bipolars risk getting off meds to return to a better life with moments of brilliance, but because they are addicted, those days are over. Once a person goes on these brain meds, when they try to remove themselves, they are much more likely to suffer from the “symptoms” that got them into a weak mental state to begin with. And over the course of time, if one cannot find decent meds to help them live within their own natural skin, they are commissioned a life lacking depth, meaning, and inspiration. This is no way to live.
The establishment with tell you that not taking medications as instructed is the most common contributing factor in the relapse of the illness. They see it as a major clinical problem with people who have bipolar disorder. They believe that people with bipolar disorder fail to comply with their treatment because they do not understand the “nature” of their illness. Neither do their family members or friends. So with no one knowing what this illness actually is, the psychiatric institution has somehow been assigned to be the caretaker to all those who only they can recognize as sick. They go further and say that failure to comply with medication can be a sign of the illness itself. So one has no choice but to comply because otherwise everyone really thinks you’re crazy if you don’t, and they have the proof in your behavior. Bipolar artists do not comply with their meds not because they are mentally ill but because they have gifts. When one is off the meds, the kind of explosive artistic energy we all need in order to be our most evolved selves, daring to achieve Maslow’s hierarchical stage of self- actualization through our gifts, is nullified. The meds I took for years controlled the same part of the brain that also helps artists access creativity.
And yet, we have no choice but to remain on them because mental illness treatment plans can be enforced if the doctor deems it necessary, and non-compliance not only goes in your permanent record but also has potential for an actual court hearing. And bottom line, many of us are addicted, and personally, I would need a team of doctors working around the clock to reverse the chemical alterations the meds created in my brain over the course of the last twenty years.
Disability By Prescription
For half my adult life I had barely tolerated the slew of drug cocktails that were prepared with a maraschino cherry just for me. Anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, the works. The side effects were debilitating with everything from dry mouth, slurred speech, restlessness, tremors, inability to read, and chronic fatigue. The drugs had successfully molded me into a full-fledged imbecile.
The delightful anti-psychotic I was first prescribed, Haldol, was supposed to suppress psychosis but the drugs emotionally tranquilized me, creating a black heaviness around my thoughts, making it impossible to express myself verbally with the slightest bit of inflection. Since the drug is also used to control motor and speech tics in people with Tourette’s syndrome, it’s no wonder that I could barely talk. I basically couldn’t react to my world emotionally, and the meds mentally numbed me, which shaved away the edge from my personality.
The anti-psychotic Risperdal, which is used to treat bipolars, schizophrenics and autistic children, was so deadening to my intellect that I might as well have gone back to nursery school and learn how to read again from square one. I remember my mother during this time gave me her thick copy of the dense Anna Karenina. “I read this once when I was depressed,” she said. But when I leafed through it my mind was so deadened by the meds that I could barely get through the first paragraph. An English literature major in college, now this book seemed to me practically impossible to ever comprehend in this lifetime. The drug caused me to have flattened, dead feelings and a personality wrapped in a straightjacket. Cogentin was the co-treatment. It’s used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors, sweating, drooling, and poor muscle control. So after they create the imbecile, they treat the symptoms associated with what the meds have created.
During the time I was on Meleril, I had a shitload of strange ticks, making me not the most attractive one at bars. As with all antipsychotics, Meleril has been linked to cases of tardive dyskinesia—an often permanent neurological disorder characterized by slow, repetitive, purposeless and involuntary movements. I was fully aware that I wasn’t able to stop my legs from shaking or my head from twitching while I sat in public on the bus no matter how much mental attention I gave it.
Then there was Lithium, my favorite. While trying to keep mania at bay, the drug creates a feeling of nothingness which makes it difficult to think, much less be creative. I was the least creative in my life during the time I was on lithium, and it’s one of the main drugs used to treat bipolar artists. I also suffered neurological effects from the drug’s toxicity and had a sweet-ass postural tremor in my hands, which made it impossible for me to paint. But the doctors felt it was worth it because my “illness” was being treated. The cognitive effects were abysmal. I had slowed reaction times, impaired memory, and a mind of blackness. Naturally, dysphoria set in.
On the anticonvulsant, Depakote, (which is also used to treat epilepsy), I had to worry about liver toxicity and had monthly bloodwork for years to keep my doctor abreast of my levels. During this time period, because there was no generic drug yet for Depakote, I was forced to spend over $200 a month on meds, (which made each pill about $7), so that I could be like everyone else. This mind-numbing medication stimulates an internal time clock, which makes it feel easier to adapt to scheduled time all the while killing an artist’s need for inner spatial freedom within which to operate in a timeless creative state. I gained a handsome amount of weight while on Depakote, while I walked through my day in a lethargic movement with a slowness of thought connections. The drug deadened my cognitive acuteness, my memory was weak as ever, and it ruined my ability to commit full attention to anything.
In the book, Flowers for Algernon by Danielle Keyes, mentally retarded Charlie Gordon is chosen by a team of scientists to undergo an experimental surgery designed to boost his intelligence. After rising to genius status, Charlie becomes despairingly frustrated because his scientific knowledge has advanced beyond Professor Nemur’s, the man responsible for the experiment. He feels that Nemur treats him just like another lab animal, refusing to recognize his humanity. After his intellectual apex is reached in the experiment, he declines from a state of mental virtuosity through one of average intelligence and back to retardation. The reader sees how tragic it is to lose such an expansive state of mind because with his loss of supreme intelligence comes an obliteration of his free will to create the life he was seemingly destined to inherit.
Not one of my doctors seemed to care that I was once highly intelligent and now appeared retarded because these results suggested that I was responding well to proper medical treatment. They bought into the mind control, and would probably agree with Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Abraham Myerson when he said, “The reduction of intelligence is an important factor in the curative process…The fact is that some of the very best cures that one gets are in those individuals whom one reduces almost to amentia (feeble-mindedness)…”.
At one time I considered myself a gifted, talented individual, and I had high hopes in fulfilling my big dreams of becoming a successful actress and writer. But the meds made me disabled, and I had to let all those dreams go. In my twenties, the formative years of my adulthood, while I appeared retarded on bad meds, my peers were experiencing personal growth and achievement in their fields, confident in launching their lives with the belief that they had the capacity to make their way in the world, feeling safe with a dream for tomorrow. On my end, the meds caused my regular interaction with the world to be an inadequate embarrassment. I despised ingesting these chemicals for causing such grief in my life. I longed to perform, but the new medication sedation simply would not let me. I humbly left theater, and my life soon changed into one with no passion nor ability to become the artist I was meant to be, which was encoded in my DNA.
In time, as I grew older and wiser, I began to see that the men in charge long ago had interests in controlling the minds of a certain sect of the population. The drug was made and symptoms were created later to mark certain types of people who had trouble adjusting to an insane society. And yet, many who are considered “mentally well” and fit into the jobs and expectations of the beehive community, are really not healthy at all. They exhibit plenty of “symptoms” of mental illness, but because they fit into our current structure, they are regarded as normal and mentally well, never having to contend with the illegitimacy of the psychiatric institution. In the words of the Indian philosopher and social commentator, Jiddu Krishnamurti, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” The medicated consumers, (as the mental health industry calls them), who I met along the way who couldn’t adjust on the outside had some of the most incredible gifts and insights into the meaning of life, but they were considered the ill of our society. Somehow we have been led to believe that their brains are mentally defective.
There was nobody who could see the attempt at mind control shaped by prescription meds that was leading us astray, but I was finally waking up to the bullshit. They couldn’t see what I saw, what psychiatrist, Nathan Kline described perfectly in 1967:
Those of us who work in the field see a developing
potential for nearly a total control of human emotional
states, mental functioning, and will to act. These human
phenomena can be started, stopped or eliminated by the
use of various types of chemical substances. What we can
produce with our science now will affect the entire society.
Sanctioned in 1953, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency designed and undertook an illegal and clandestine experimental mind control program called MKULTRA. In 1973, the program was halted, but the program’s findings have influenced modern day psychiatry to a lengthy degree—especially in the area of pharmaceutical drugs. The CIA was particularly interested in research involving the use of drugs or psychological deprogramming to alter mental states. A CIA document that was included in the transcript of the 1977 US Senate hearings on MK ULTRA shows the CIA’s ambition to develop drugs that would transform individuals and society. A number of psychiatric drugs developed since 1955 reflect the CIA’s agenda in the program. The document starts on page 166. It’s labeled “Draft,” dated 5 May 1955. The following illustrates a number of desired drugs the CIA wished to develop:
- Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
- Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
- Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
- Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
- A material which can be surreptitiously administered and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a man to perform any physical activity whatsoever.
I have a lifetime of experience on these substances, and I can say with conviction that I have experienced every one of these effects on the brain. I think it’s about time we rethink this psychiatric model because it’s too damn close to successfully creating an ignoramus mind controlled society who believe that only chemicals in a laboratory can cure their ills.
Scottish-born Dr. Donald Cameron was the psychiatrist who was president of the American Psychiatric Association from 1952–1953, and was best known for his MK ULTRA-related and other behavior modification and mind control research. Dr. Cameron saw the human brain as an information-processing machine, similar to that of a computer. Cameron essentially believed mental illness could be cured by erasing bad programming recorded in the mind of a poorly functioning individual and replacing it with good programming. Part of this technique involved heavy use of drugs. After de-patterning the human mind—after scrambling it up and emptying it of any organized content, or “washing it clean”—Cameron induced amnesia by heavily drugging up the patient. Keeping patients asleep for days generates the loss of space/time perception. The patient would then be retaught new conditioning through extensive cognitive reprogramming. These practices were commonly used on the inside of mental institutions and continued in the outpatient programs as well, and if you were unlucky, the practice of mental reconditioning was brought right into the hospital psychiatrist’s office later on down the line for an indefinite length of time.
During my 2012 stay when I was illegally held in the mental hospital by unlawful detainment, on one afternoon after Tai Chi class was finished, in the common area I overheard my roommate Rachel being spoken to like a retarded child by her psychiatrist. Rachel sat with an incredulous look on her face, which I am sure translated into a bitchy attitude towards her doctor who was trying to convince her she needed double the meds for her treatment plan.
Rachel lashed back, “But I don’t want any more. I’m sick of sleeping all day.”
“Well, I understand how you may feel, but you don’t really understand what you need to get better,” said the wise one.
Rachel did not yield, “Why then? Tell me why you think I need more?”
“Because you are not responding well to the meds. You have a poor attitude and don’t know what you are saying. Your thinking has not yet returned to normal. More meds will allow you to further relax and think straight again.”
Yeah, a catatonic state is the true manifestation of a normal mind. The tone and the language in which the staff spoke down to us infuriated me because I saw so clearly how they were brainwashed by the system.
I take meds today for one reason alone. Without them I cannot sleep. And if I cannot sleep, I linger too long in my shamanic journeys and enter a dream state in my waking hours that is similar to a deep REM state. I almost believe that it is because when I was so sick in India, when I was praying my heart out to God in a tearful opera of redemption begging him to save my life, I was so desperately afraid to fall asleep because I believed I was on the brink of death; and if I fell into the unconscious world, I might remain there never to wake up again. Since that point in time I didn’t have the capability to sleep again on my own so my body is prone to the wakeful dream state, particularly during moments of inspiration. But I am lucky. Because after only 10 long, debilitating years of my young life being on mind-numbing drugs, I finally found one that is decent enough to provide me a dose of relaxation coupled with the ability to sleep with no side effects. But for the many who suffer from bad meds with side effects or an overdose of toxins in their systems, their lives are damaged because of the meds, not enhanced by them.
After my last visit while stuck in a shamanic journey in the beginning of this 2016 year, the hospital switched my working medicine of Lamictal to two older meds that my body had not previously reacted well to: Depakote and Risperidone. I had no choice in this decision. It had been ten years since they last tried to change meds on me. After the switch, my mind was put on slow-mo, and I couldn’t believe how right I had been about them. They had successfully made me an average thinker with their effective medicine. But this time, unlike when I was 22, I was painfully aware of this reality because now I saw through the bullshit. In trying to slow down my thoughts, the medicine in actuality took away my abilities to use my talents. My mind had been on turbo finishing my book only months prior, and as soon as the meds did their job, I was no longer a writer. My abilities had vanished. And that’s a damn fact. I have the documentation to prove it. I did no writing on my home computer or website between mid-January when the medication switch occurred, until mid-March because I could not think. Meanwhile, prior to this obscene intrusion upon my life in changing my medication, I finished a final rewrite of my book within 5 weeks, which included five brand new chapters. Quite the opposite, during those three months on the bad meds I had barely a couple of journal entries, and it took me all day to compose one email. I must have been a goddam Einstein bipolar genius to have worked as a high school English teacher in Westchester under those meds years ago—or that just goes to show you how retarded our school system is.
Naturally, as soon as I could, I enrolled my prior psychiatrist, (who knew what the fuck he was doing), to get me off the Depakote and Risperidone, and back on Lamictal. The sad thing is, I only knew what to do because I happened to have decades of experience with meds, but it still took three months out of my life to fix the problem that had resulted from the switch. My psychiatrist had asked me to keep a log during the transition. The following is straight from an email:
New Meds Regimen beginning on PM of March 17, 2016:
Cogentin 1mg, morning only
Risperidone 2mg bedtime
Depakote 750mg bedtime
Immediately I felt a difference on the morning decrease of Risperidone from 4mg to 2mg. A heavy constriction lifted from my brain, and I could think about small tasks needing to get done that I had been putting off. I also felt I could speak a little more quickly at my usual pace without such concentrated effort. I came out of “hopeless” to “hopeful” overnight. Depression setting in for months quieted down.
Today was a bit better. I began to remember small ways I communicate with my own conscience. Like in my using phrasing patterns to make sense of my environment inside my own mind. I think the docs think these are “voices” but they are just natural ways we all remind ourselves to do things. Like in looking at a license plate and repeating the numbers and letters in your head to make meaning of a message or memory. As in 234UFB. Today I said to myself: “1, 2, 3, 4 (like a musical prompt) You are free to be…” after I saw it. This is a basic letter/number interpretative message play that people do with their own free minds all day long. On the meds, this is shut down, and one can just look at this blankly with no thought behind interacting with it.
Today I was actually able to work on the synopsis part of my book proposal draft, which I was not even able to read through on the prior meds dosage. I completed the 3 page document in a fair amount of time and brought it to final copy. This level of cognitive concentration has begun to be restored.
Three days of change in meds and it is getting easier to make flowing sentences without pressurized speech when talking to people again. I can fully hear my own thoughts again.
Had trouble concentrating today with finer details in my work. Losing stride. Still finding it extremely hard to break out of sleep mode. Since I’ve come home from the hospital, every morning I’ve had my parents call me all morning until I finally can rise out of bed.
My brain activity is plateauing again. I can’t hold the information of the work I need to do inside my head at the same time as the menial tasks I need to accomplish during the course of the day and find myself stopping dead in my tracks unable to do either. My productivity mode is freezing up again. I can’t think that quickly, and I lose concentration after working for only a little while on a project. I need more brain space for all the things I need to do right now. My anxiety is acute because of this.
Today was OK. I was a little less in a fog and was able to clean up one of my work spaces but wasn’t able to concentrate on my work. I’m looking forward to getting my old brain capacity back. I need it to move forward.
Sad. On a good day, I was able to clean up my desk. How can we as a society allow substances to enter our brains if they create cognitive impotence? What is wrong with this picture?
After the adjustment period passed, within days back on Lamictal the fog had lifted, and I was back at my computer writing away. FYI: I don’t know what the industry thinks the drug is supposed to do outside of keeping the bipolars in line. But it’s good for other medicated bipolars out there to know that at least for me, this particular drug doesn’t clash with my manic moments of inspiration. I can think like an artist and be productive as an artist and live the lifestyle on the clock my biorhythms naturally align with; and think like a writer and be productive as a writer and still walk within timeless shamanic journeys with my ancestors and guides. But, I may never have needed any drug from the beginning. If the system was different, and it didn’t choose medication as the first course of treatment for mental breakdown, my mind would never have become dependent on such powerful substances. Nowhere else in the medical establishment is treatment forced upon someone as in the psychiatric institution. This establishment had abused my brain chemically for decades and created for me a sub-standard life because of it. But I had no choice but to comply. When dealing with the psychiatric institution, resistance is futile.
You are so literate for being on those drugs. I was on three of those too. I am now on a low dose of solian only. And a vitamin regime & cbd oil. I’m leaving psychiatry. Fuck em. You recover better outside it. Thanks and hug.
I know full well your sentiment. I say fuck ’em too.
Interesting read. Ken Kesey’s exposition of mental health as control and punishment, and the concept of “normal” comes to mind. I’m interested to hear more about the onset and manifestation of your bi-polar condition, and how that factors in the equation.
The concept of normal, as you know, is the most subjective thing in the world, and yet we hold it as the ultimate absolute. My bipolar “condition” is simply who I am. Its “manifestation” is revealed through the story of my life, which is normal to me. It may not seem normal to the psychiatric institution, therefore, they have convinced everyone else that we have a sort of “condition” that needs curing. It’s time for a new language. My inner self has been waking up for years into the clear conviction that it’s a full sham, and I’m sick of living my life wearing a tag like a damn dog as to what my mental ills are. But you know I love you, Michael, and thanks for the comment!
I’m clearly impressed with this incredibly articulate and artistic lady. “When dealing with the psychiatric institution, resistance is futile,” sadly true. My time was 3 decades (30 years) after naively and foolishly signing into a state hospital in the 80’s, then for 5 months of neuroleptic compliance drugging until I was disabled, signed myself out against medical advice, then back in and out, chemical imbalance b.s., the rest is unfortunate ironic history until my last dose of atypical neuroleptic 7 months ago, horrendous withdrawal and hopeful continued recovery in my late 50’s. Support is crucial to us, yet so lacking. After so many years, many rocky relationships and career attempts, a B.A. and M.S. in the earth sciences, two completed running marathons and other running races and my healthier nature sustaining me, yet and my hopes and dreams for a former life not realized, my journey continues… I’m yet struggling for my survival.
Thank you so much for telling your story. You sound like an amazing psychiatric survivor yourself. It’s so great to finally reach a point in my life where people can share these pasts and others will finally listen. We’ve gone through a lot, but in the end we can change things because we show people the way to break free. It’s a long journey ahead in my mission to be a voice in the anti-psychiatry movement, and I am most of all driven to do it for my son. Because after all, he has a bipolar mom and he has my genes, so they will be watching out for him, and he will be labeled soon enough. So my mission is time sensitive. It’s great to connect with someone who sees the truth.