A New Start
I like new beginnings. Fresh starts and clean slates are exciting but also daunting when I don’t know what to expect. It has been very hard to be silent during the last month. Even though it was necessary to step away for personal reasons, a month is a long time to hold your tongue when you are as passionate as I am.
Every single day the barrage of pharmaceutical mishaps, law enforcement misjudgments concerning the rights of those with mental health issues, and the simple lack of humane treatment of individuals threatened to send me back to my keyboard. I would think I will write about that or post it on my facebook page and the next day there would be more and the following day, even more.
The year before last, I spent writing a book about my daughter’s search for help throughout our country’s psychiatric system. It was a long and sad year.
Last year I devoted myself to my blog, borderlinefamilies.com.
Then, in May I read Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. During the next few months, I began to question everything I had been taught about mental health by the psychiatric community. After years of following the doctors’ orders, a voice inside began screaming, “I knew it!”. It was all a sham. Our family had attached ourselves to an industry built in the marketing departments of the pharmaceutical industry with little science to back up their claims.
I still gasp when I hear the most common misconception – that there is a “chemical imbalance” in the brain which needs to be treated with psychotropic drugs in order to live a meaningful life. This singular myth created by psychiatrists and perpetrated by Big Pharma is accepted without question by publishers of every kind in our country. It is so pervasive and beyond doubt that novelists use “it must be chemical” as a plot device. Newspapers and nationally distributed magazines treat the “chemical imbalance” as a given, not a red flag as it has become for me.
When I learned that no chemical imbalance exists prior to the introduction of psych meds, I stepped into the alternative movement.
The burden of lifelong “illness” was lifted from my daughter and our family began the difficult job of rebuilding.
Unfortunately, my daughter cannot so easily step away; she is a product of years of abuse by the system. We will never know if, by using alternative methods – diet, meditation, acupuncture, etc., the emotional distress she experiences today would be less. I do know that the drugs made it worse.
So, as I look to this New Year, I want to start something, make some waves, see change. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “Don’t listen to the doctor telling your loved-one to take another dose! Don’t add an anti-psychotic to your anti-depressant! Don’t step onto the slippery slope Big Pharma has groomed.”
I want to unite the loved ones of psychiatric survivors and give them a platform to voice their unhappiness, outrage, and, yes, even guilt at having been duped. When my daughter entered the psychiatric system, an impenetrable door slammed shut between her and the rest of the family. This is the industry’s way of seizing control – by telling the families that they cannot manage the degree of “illness” demonstrated and then translating the behavior of our loved ones into baffling, complex psychobabble.
I was completely taken in by the industry; I handed my daughter over with trusting hands. I have written in the blog about my shame at having encouraged my daughter to stick with program even when it clearly wasn’t working. I want to regain what we lost.
There are legions of us – those who experienced the deception personally and parents, siblings, spouses and friends who watched, hands tied and mouths silenced, as their loved ones were lead away.
This year I am going to devote my energy to uniting the loved ones of psychiatric survivors. We can make a difference! If each of us can stop even one unsuspecting family from entering into the system, it will be well worth the effort.
NAMI stands, arms out and gathers in the newly-minted diagnosed and their families. Let’s be the alternative. Let’s be loud and clear and give people entering the system hope for a life without diagnoses and drugs.
Let’s complain about the unavailability of options offered when people seek help.
Let’s tackle the language problem and ensure that all conversation about emotional and cognitive distress is NOT filtered through what the industry has “normalized” through advertising. The very word “illness” is a misnomer.
Let’s do away with involuntary psychiatric intervention.
Let’s force doctors to reveal the side effects of drug therapy before they write a prescription.
I could go on and on. I am open to ideas on how to develop a counterpunch to the efforts of NAMI. I am sick and tired of seeing them throw their Big Pharma- backed weight around.
The science is on our side. With authors like Robert Whitaker publishing accessible, critical views of the psychiatric industry, I sense a groundswell of dissension. More articles are are making it into mainstream media exposing the corruption of the pharmaceutical industry. This is where I want to devote my energy next year.
In the meantime we have today, the last of 2010, and I want to take the time to thank all my new facebook/blogosphere friends for joining me on this journey. I have struggled and this community has held my hand through it all with patience and kind guidance. Thank you.
As we step into 2011, let’s unite and create meaningful change!