invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

lost and confused December 30, 2008

I just watched a video thanks to an entry at Beyond Meds.

*this video runs about 10 minutes and I hope you watch in its entirety-Dr. Breggin has some interesting things to say regarding children and psychiatric medications towards the end.

this video is powerful, informative and yet i feel… lost. confused. deceived. this video has triggered so many emotions. i don’t even know where to begin.

i’ll start with this. age 13. telling my parents i wanted to die over and over until….a trip to a psychiatrist’s office and i left with a diagnosis of depression. i have repeatedly discussed here my rape at 15 which i assumed only heightened my depression. it was so brutal, i blocked it from my memory for nearly 4 years. during my early 20s, i checked myself into a mental hospital because i wanted to feel normal. instead i was given dixie cups filled with medications and then kicked out because my insurance company would only pay for three or so days. at 30, five years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar. and I have seen several psychiatrists since then that agreed with that diagnosis.

after watching this video, my mind…is spinning. you see, I have ALWAYS believed I have a mental illness. and now, i question that. is there such a thing as a chemical imbalance? i believed so and now i have doubts. i cannot describe to you what that feels like. there are millions of us with a ‘mental illness’ and all we’ve ever really wanted was to be understand and loved unconditionally. unfortunately our behaviors tend to push people away or scare them. they may very well be incapable of understanding, therefore, getting too close is impossible. that has usually been my experience with some family members and some friends. if there is not a name behind this, like, mental illness (even with its misunderstandings) i feel i will never be understood, only by those that are either open-minded or like me. again, my entire life i have wanted to be understood. my sister has a rare disease. it has a name and people understand, they comfort her, doctors care for her. what if mine does not have a name? what if it is much deeper than i ever imagined? my gut and my heart are both telling me right now (and I should probably listen) I don’t need a label, I just need to live my life.

i know my maternal grandmother was sick. she had ECT treatments and of course this was back in the day when people like her were completely misunderstood, ignored and treated cruelly by society. i have always assumed my grandmother’s illness was passed onto me. how does one explain suicidal thoughts at 13? suicidal thoughts again recently at 35? but, there was a trigger this past time and i would bet money there was a trigger at 13. and I have to remember a few things I have been told about my grandmother-her father died in a fire when she was 5. I’m pretty certain she was abused. pain. and a lifetime of triggers i would assume.

when I was in the hospital, I befriended a woman in her 40s who had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder. I have few memories of her today (thanks meds) but I clearly remember being in her room one day and she had several drawings on her desk. and the one i remember most was a picture of a little girl and an older man. the handwriting was that of a child’s handwriting. she later told me she was molested by her father. and it makes me think now….i am seeing a pattern.

this second, this is where my mind is going….

I completely understand what Dr. Peter Breggin is saying. I have experienced first-hand (many times) what psychiatric drugs can do to ones brain. Ironically I cannot remember a lot of the medications I’ve been on over the past 15 plus years because of the brain damage caused by these drugs. I do remember taking these drugs: Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Seroquel, Lamictal, Celexa and Abilify. and i cannot remember the side effects I had on the earlier drugs like Prozac and Paxil. except for one foggy memory, about 15 or so years ago. I think I was taking Prozac…anyway, I went off the medication and I remember being at my parent’s home. I thought I was on fire. I remember lying on their master bathroom floor because I thought the cool tiled floor would put the fire out. I certainly know what Seroquel did to my body, I gained 50 pounds, slept all the time, I was a walking zombie. Who knows the effect it had on my brain. Lamictal, the kindest of them, but horrific headaches every single day from 3p-11p which is what lead me to acupuncture in the beginning, to treat the headaches. oh, the body aches, too. Abilify-my speech was slurred and I couldn’t complete a sentence, severe memory loss after only a couple weeks on the drug. Wellbutrin, allergic reaction. a rash covered my body and off to the hospital i went. today, we have children taking these very drugs. i cannot not even imagine what these drugs will do and are doing to their innocent little brains/minds. it is heartbreaking. it infuriates me and always has.

however, now i find myself, yes, lost. and at a crossroads. have i been deceived? is there such a thing as a mental illness or chemical imbalance? and if not, where do i go from here? which road do i take? the road that calls to me is the road that would require many life changes: better nutrition, exercise, vitamins, supplements, yoga, meditation. the other road is the dangerous road (full of big pharma BS, corrupt doctors and pills) but it is the only road I have known my entire life. the road that calls me is frightening. and yet i feel it might free me. although i believe it will be the most difficult road. and i don’t know if i’m strong enough to travel it. especially now that i must question that last 22 years of my LIFE, beginning when the words ‘you have depression’ were uttered by some fancy, high-dollar psychiatrist. and I say my LIFE because my illness has played a very large role in my life. i must question what led me to being suicidal at 13. i must face the repercussions of so many things I most likely have ignored, especially the rape and growing up in a Cleaver family.

However, questioning these things and facing them…might indeed free me.

one thing is for certain, as soon as I have the money I will be buying Dr. Breggin’s book.


7 Responses to “lost and confused”

  1. giannakali Says:

    hey sweet Clementine,
    I can recommend a bunch of books…unfortunately I just mailed 13 of my favorites to a friend of mine who is currently a resident in medicine…!! If you had been having this crisis just a few days ago they would have been yours instead!

    When I get them back I’ll mail them to you as well…but in the mean time I can recommend some stuff that might help clear some stuff up…

    I know this sort of awakening is frightening, but I also experienced something similar as very liberating…

    I’m here if you want to talk…

  2. Christy Says:

    Reading your writing is almost like reading my life story. Like you, I have been diagnosed with numerous “mental illnesses”, spent time in a hospital (twice for me), two suicide attempts, have had bad docs and bad therapists and so many different meds that I have lost count and ECT. I was molested at age three and raped at age 21.

    I don’t think we have “mental diseases” per se; we have had painful lives and haven’t had anyone to understand our pain and anger. I know that you feel lost- I did and still do. I wish you peace and love. I’ll check back here often.


    P.S. giannakali, do you have the names of those books on hand. If so, I would like to read them. Maybe some of them will be at my local library.

  3. duanesherry Says:

    I found your blog a couple of weeks ago, and haven’t made a comment….mostly because I’ve been trying to take a vacation from blogging…

    It’s a great site. Thank you for putting it together….

    I felt a need to comment because you had so much to say, and the feelings you are going through….confused, betrayed….I think many of us have felt these things….and, it is all very confusing and disorienting at times I think….

    I like what you had to say about the need to find unconditional love…..and, I think you hit the nail on the head there – I think it’s our greatest healer….which is why I think so many people reach out to one-another through the internet….on blogs….

    When it comes to Breggin….I’ve found it helpful to continue to see him a man….a very good and decent man….but, someone who doesn’t have all the answers….because nobody does…..

    There was a time when I first started reading his work, that I held him on a pedestal (in some ways, I must admit I still do)….But, he’ll be the first to admit he doesn’t know much about the human brain – none of us do! At least he’s honest about it….

    And, just because he discounts the ‘biological model’ doesn’t mean there isn’t something to some genetic predisposition….especially in the area of nutritional deficiencies….It’s hard to know which comes first….families of origin, and/or traumatic life events, or if these (possible) predispositions for such things as nutritional deficiciences, food sensitivities aren’t part of the mix….It would be hard to argue that these “mental” symptoms don’t run in families….and, it would also be hard to argue that many people get well with really good diets, supplementation, meditation, exercise, and beginning to balance their lives….(in my opinion, with a heavy emphasis on good food and supplements)….

    I would encouarge you to be open-minded, and search for things that work for you (even if they don’t seem to work for someone else)….I know people who swear by one nutrient or herb, and others who can’t take it…..And, when it comes to trauma….counseling/therapy helps some….but, not everyone….I know practitioners who swear by Emotional Freedom Techniques (acupressure), others who use Nuerofeedback, or meridians (NET) with chiropractic……

    Of course, if you’re like so many of us, money is an issue….I understand…..but, at least you might be able to learn about some things….try a few as you go…..find what works for you….meditation is free, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t practice it….it works quite well…..

    I didn’t mean for this email to run so long….I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a couple of weeks….and, when you opened up about your feelings of confusion about Breggin’s piece on the Fox affiliate….I just wanted to tell you that “you’re not alone”…..

    Sometimes, what works for me (as hard as it is) is to tell myself I’m okay….right where I am….just the way things are….as I work to make my life better….It’s not always easy, but I think it can become a good habit to form…..I’m still working on it…..

    Anyway, with the New Year coming up, I just want to say that I hope you find some things that work for you…..and, when your life becomes more peaceful and happy as you use the things that work for you, then you’ll know they work!

    If you haven’t already joined, you might want to consider Safe Harbor –
    Go to Support Group/Listserv

    I think learning what things make us feel better, and beginning to live happier and more meaningful lives is the answer….and as we do – whether it’s all biological or not is kinda moot,

    My best,

  4. clementine Says:

    first of all, thanks for your kind words and i’m sorry for all you’ve been through. as you know, i understand.
    also, you might want to join this network that gianna started and you could send her a message regarding the books:

    thank you so much for your wisdom, advice and kindness. and you are correct. nobody has all the answers which is why i have decided to travel my own path. my best to you.

  5. duanesherry Says:

    My best to you too – hope 2009 is a great year for you….

    I think the words that we use to describe ourselves are important….I love the title of your blog – “invincible”….what a great word!


  6. giannakali Says:

    Christy…sorry I didn’t notice that request earlier…

    here is a partial list (I copied it from facebook where someone asked me the same question…hence the strange format…please do join the group I started that Kim mentioned …it’s going rather nicely:

    you know I sent them off without making a list–I’ll see if I can do it by memory:
    Toxic Psychiatry
    Your Drug May Be Your Problem (both by Peter Breggin)
    I also recommended his latest to my friend —Medication Madness
    Generation RX
    Mad in America — Robert Whitaker
    Depression Free Naturally–Joan Larson
    The Mood Cure–Julia Ross
    The Brain Chemistry Diet—Michael Lesser
    Comfortably Numb—Charles Barber
    I can’t remember more right now…
    I’m also recommending Alison Bass’s book
    and Addiction by Prescription
    Overtreated by Shannon Brownlee
    Also Charles Medawar Medicines Out of Control? Antidepressants and the Conspiracy of Goodwill
    anyway there are five books I can’t remember that I sent…
    I’m going to ask him to send me a list…I’ll finish it for you then…
    oh…one…how could I forget…is Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs—by Grace Jackson…total MUST READ

  7. markps2 Says:

    awesome video!

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