What is a Mental Illness Myth?
Welcome to Mental Illness Myths, a website designed as an alternative to the prevailing myth that you have a chemically imbalanced mind and need treatment by Big Pharma. The website is full of videos and articles, mostly written by me. They all point to one basic idea. The idea is:
You are NOT a mistake!
Uppermost in my mind at this time is the promotion of my recently published book Mastering Madness. By way of introduction, I have spent the majority of my life dealing with mental illness. The most profound experience I had was my own personal descent into the whirlpool of mental illness. My diagnosis was manic-depression with psychotic features. Believing in the diagnosis, I immersed myself in psychotherapy, took the psychotropic medications for three years and at the end of treatment found myself on the streets, out of money, out of pills and heading down into an abyss. The book details my experience and describes my avenue of escape. The people in my intimate circle who did not escape stir up my passion to help others. The first was my baby brother who ended his life at age 27, following treatment by the Rhode Island Psychiatric Establishment. His course of treatment featured stays at three different mental asylums and a course of Electro-Convulsive “Therapy.” The second was my best friend, Bill Yattaw, genius, poet, revolutionary thinker, who reluctantly took Lithium for many years to tame his extremes. By age 50 he was debilitated, unable to take care of himself, and died at age 60 in a shabby nursing home.
Close to 20 years ago I gave up my free-wheeling, counter-culture lifestyle and accepted employment in America’s group homes for the mentally ill, and gained valuable first-hand experience of the debilitating effects of the accepted treatment of mental illness. I got to meet some thoroughly wonderful and fascinating human beings who were existing in this limbo land, a world of chemically-altered perceptions. They all had psychiatric diagnosis and corresponding psychotropic medications, designed to keep them stable. Their treatment plans had such lofty goals as: 1. Will shower on Tuesdays and Fridays, 2. Will attend all scheduled medical appointments, and 3. Will refrain from threatening to kill the administrator. I never came across a goal such as: Will recover sanity, taper off meds and reunite with wife and kids. It quickly became apparent that these facilities were not designed for healing. This was the end of the line, the terminus. No exit. No hope.
Mastering Madness is an adventure story with a happy ending. It is offered with the fervent hope that it will persuade many people to look at their present life situation under a different light and to perhaps realize that the strangeness of their life is not a mistake, and that the “strangeness” is your own unique mystical reality.
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