Tuesday, December 7, 2010
You bet I’m pissed. Tuesday, December 7, 2010.
“The ‘mental illness’ brigade always talks about how much suffering ‘mental illness’ causes, and that everybody who doesn't buy into their ‘mental illness’ denies their suffering. Well, maybe their suffering really isn't that bad. Or they might bring up the courage to face their trauma, instead of hiding behind their ‘mental illness.’” – Facebook status of an anti-psych
Let’s get three things out of the way:
First, I’m no fan of Big Pharma. I’m disgusted by their profit margin; I believe they should not be allowed to advertise; I’m concerned about drug safety; and I feel vulnerable because I depend on corporate health insurance to afford my medication.
Second, I don’t believe in throwing drugs at everyone who complains of being depressed or anxious. Most of the time, feelings of sadness and fear are normal reactions to the trials of life, and they’ll pass when the situation improves.
Third, as someone who has experienced Haldol Hell I know what it feels like to trust a doctor only to be prescribed a harmful drug.
But I know something else. Somewhere along the line, something in my mind and body went haywire. My mind would get stuck in a loop of thoughts I could not control, and my body pumped out so much adrenaline that I couldn’t eat or sleep for weeks. This has happened to me a few times over the past 30 years – sometimes when I was under stress, and sometimes not – once culminating in a suicide attempt.
And I know that medication has helped lessen the severity of my symptoms.
The anti-psych movement (not all of them are Scientologists, BTW) believes there is no such thing as “mental illness,” simply people who think and behave outside the norm. They feel that diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar stigmatize and dehumanize people. They believe psychiatric medications are worthless at best, and deadly at worst.
They’re free to their opinions, but I start feeling defensive when I read posts calling people who take meds ignorant “sheeple” who simply “believe the ads they see on TV” and “want to be compliant ‘patients’ to please their doctors.” I get angry when I read that autistic behaviors should be blamed on faulty parenting, and that people who are delusional are simply acting out their individuality, regardless of their safety.
Most of all, I feel dismissed and stigmatized by the very people who claim that society is dismissing and stigmatizing me by labeling me as bipolar. To me, personally, understanding that I have a disorder that is biologically based and can be treated makes me feel less ashamed and gives me hope. It gives me a feeling of solidarity with others who have bipolar disorder as well as the many people who are recovering from mental illness with therapy, medication or both.
I tried, for many years and on several occasions, to control my symptoms without meds. I got a BA in psychology. I delved into my past in talk therapy, and I’ve used CBT, EMDR, EFT, Magnesium, Vitamin D, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and prayer. There is nothing wrong with any of these therapies, and in fact I am trying several of them again.
But the severity of my depression and anxiety was such that I did not begin to recover until I was on the right meds. And I ask the anti-psych people: Does that make me some kind of failure…? Because when I see words like “sheeple” and “ignorant” and “compliant,” I sure feel like one. No one who believes in the “biological theory” is calling me names like that. No one else is putting “mental illness” in quotation marks, or dismissing my suffering as “not that bad,” or saying I “lack courage.” But I didn’t choose this.
So long, and thanks for the stigma.