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Robert Whitaker, NAMI conference, and the antipsychiatry movement

Posted Jul 05 2013 12:00am
Robert Whitaker really shook things up at the national NAMI convention, as you can see here on Pete Earley's blog. I was at Whitaker's workshop, and listened intently to his lecture.

Here are my thoughts...

If it is antipsychotic drugs that are making me psychotic, why was I psychotic for the seven years before I ever took any antipsychotic drugs? You know, those seven years when life was hell, utter torment, constantly living in an alternative universe manufactured by my mind?

Why is it that, when I'm on antipsychotic drugs that work for me, I can hold down a job, take a shower most days, pay my bills, go to college, and do advocacy work - things I couldn't do when I was floridly psychotic and unmedicated?

Why is Open Dialogue therapy only being done in Finland? It sounds great, but I can't move to Finland. What alternative therapies actually exist here in the US? There are no respite centers in Florida. What are we supposed to do to help ourselves if we're not taking medications? Therapy doesn't do shit for me when I'm totally delusional. I don't go to therapy then. If I do go, I think the therapist is a CIA mind control programmer the whole time, and I don't trust her.

It's not that I'm trying to discount Robert Whitaker's theories or the research he cites, or the whole anti-psychiatry/ Mad in America movement. But I truly don't understand it.

I think if I stop taking my medications, it's pretty obvious from past history what will happen. I will quickly become totally psychotic again (remember I was just in the hospital this past March for that after going off Risperdal), and I will inevitably kill myself. That is the way it has gone historically for me, that I have become suicidal due to the voices, the delusions, the negative symptoms, etc. And I'm not willing to put my life on the line to test some journalist's theory that my medicine is making me more sick and is not helping me.

Admittedly, I have not read all the research Whitaker cites. I haven't read his books, and don't knowv if I will. But I have seen enough people hit disaster zone after deciding they should go off their medications because of some stuff they read online about psychiatry being evil (which was probably written by Scientologists) to know that I think it is dangerous, telling people to go off their medication, or insinuating that they should.

A lot of people were really confused after Whitaker's talk at the NAMI convention, and I was one of them. It isn't that I enjoy having the label of a mental illness, or that I relish taking all these tons of meds. None of you knew me when I was walking around thinking I was pregnant and a CIA operative and that I had a microchip in my leg. None of you knew me when I was homeless. And because I'm doing better now (never completely well, but better than I used to be) I feel I have the responsibility to speak up for those people whose voices aren't being heard. The women still living in homeless shelters, still hearing voices, still needing, quite desperately, some sort of help. What are we going to do to help them? Tell them to move to Finland? I think they deserve medical intervention into their medical problem. And I am one of those people who was forced to take medication for months and is here today to say I am grateful for it.

It's not perfect, obviously. The meds don't always work, but they do seem to always make me fatter. I wish there was an alternative. I would love to have one. But until a tangible alternative is readily available to me, I'm going to keep up my close relations with my pharmacists and continue treating the disease that plagues my brain with actual medicines.
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