I don’t believe in the biomedical model of mental illness. It never made sense to me and seemed to be a red herring or diversionary tactic, along with the brain chemical treatment of psychiatric drugs. In 1970 when I first believed this, upon seeing my mother locked in a psychiatric ward with other mad women, I didn’t think that I would ever have to engage with psychiatry as a mental patient. The optimism of youth. I thought that my levelheadedness and natural resilience would keep me sane in a mad, mad world.
To some extent I was right to think this but I hadn’t counted on the spiritual effects of childbirth and menopause, transitions for a woman that can produce mind-altering states. Giving birth to another human being is a transformative experience and life for me was never the same after. In a positive way. However, the pain I experienced after sons two and three, due to chemical induction, and having to deliver on the day shift, was traumatic and caused me to be spiritually and mindfully affected.
Thirteen weeks after the birth of my second son and a couple of days after the birth of my third I was experiencing an alternative universe of sensitivity to the world about me. I remember psychiatrists coming to my house the first time, in 1978, speaking to me, trying to engage with me when I was in this state. There was a reluctance to admit me to a psychiatric ward. But no other alternatives were available and so I voluntarily went in to “get better”, separated from my baby and older son.
And so began the psychiatric drugging and mind control, topped up by ECT which was still in its heyday then. I resisted all of it as I didn’t want to be taking pills from strangers and I knew that ECT was dodgy. Having a psychosis didn’t mean that I had lost my sense of what was right and wrong. A psychiatric ward then as now is no place for a person in their right mind, even if that mind is too sensitive, and I was forcibly drugged until taking the chlorpromazine in liquid then pill form, fortunately managing to avoid the ECT. The psych drugs have always quickly brought me out of a psychosis.
But the psych drugs have also dulled my mind and creative functioning, taking away my imaginative capabilities and dreaming potential. Mind control if you like. Subjecting me to a grey universe of conformity and compliance. Making life very difficult and hardly worth the living. I don’t like to be controlled by anyone or anything. To be free in mind and will is the essence of life as I see it. So in the midst of the psychiatric drugging I was planning my escape. One year on the drugs and no more was how I saw it. And worked towards it in 1978 and 1984, succeeding and leaving psychiatry behind.
The 2002 mind control episode was harder, took longer, but I eventually got out from under the mind fog, made a plan, got involved in lots of voluntary work in mental health and charity shop work. Dragging myself out of a morning, psychiatric drug induced lethargy, to do stuff while going through menopausal hot flushes and indecisive thought processes. Gradually it got easier although sometimes lying longer in bed and missing appointments.
I started tapering the anti-depressant, a maximum dose of venlafaxine, informing the psychiatrist, and I felt better as I reduced it. This left lithium at 800mgs a day to deal with. It was around 2004 and I googled the internet about coming off lithium, couldn’t find anything so decided to taper it by 200mgs a month. I informed the psychiatrist, who said I should be on it for life as I had a lifelong mental illness. I told him I didn’t believe it. He talked about the DSM and the chart of diagnoses. I said I didn’t believe it. I’d never been on a community treatment order so they couldn’t force me to stay on the drugs. Fortunately. I was only ever on a detention, of 72 hours, in 2002 after going in to the psychiatric hospital voluntarily then being detained when I wanted to leave. In 78 and 84 it seemed they could forcibly treat, as in grab and jag, without detaining.
The psychiatric drugs were mind altering chemicals in my experience, taking away my personality and free thinking spirit. Although they made me conform at the time that doesn’t mean I believed in the need for forced treatment or chemicals going into my body. Being forced to submit makes me even more determined to resist and oppose the system that does this. Some people might say they are fine about being forced. Well that’s OK for them but please don’t expect me to go along with it. I didn’t like being forced and I didn’t deserve it. Whatever psychiatric label they pin on me and write in my notes.