In many ways, I was responsible for my breakdown. I did not take good care of my mental and physical wellness. My life and work were out of balance. When I got tired and depressed, instead of rest and recreation, I trusted medical professionals to “find and fight the disease.”
I frequently worked long hours, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much coffee to stay awake. I neglected my family and personal life.
In my office. it was a badge of honor to work late at night and on weekends, to always be online to answer email.
I Ignored My Mental and Physical Wellness
Sometimes I’d feel depressed, not realizing at the time that I needed to relax, sleep more, and eat better to maintain my mental and physical wellness.
I saw counselors off and on, and that helped a bit but not enough. We talked about how my personality, heredity, and childhood experiences set me up for depression. But the focus was always to get me feeling better soon because insurance for therapy sessions was limited. So I was always offered drugs, which I soon stopped because I didn’t like the side effects.
I usually got my counselor referral from my primary care doctor, who’d say I was in great physical health, except for the depression. So the usual Rx was a pill, a referral to a “talk” counselor, and a psychiatrist to manage the pills.
I bought into “standard” medical care — finding and fighting disease (mental or physical), using expensive technology and drugs, not prevention.
Psychotherapy is only provided when something is wrong (find and fix the disease again), That’s stigmatitizing. Where’s the life coach who helps you with mental and physical wellness, to make your life better, not because you are sick?
I Needed Rest and Support, Not a Hospital
In retrospect, I think I would have taken my mental and physical wellness more seriously if my doctor or counselor had prescribed sleep, fun, relaxation, eating well, exercise, self-love, and self-awareness. I might have found it more effective and easier to swallow than pills.
But it takes time to teach a patient to maintain mental and physical wellness, without the financial rewards of the profitable “find and fight disease” system. The patient saves money and has better health but the health care system loses money.
I sunk into a major depression. I think I should have been ordered to take a vacation, or sent to a sanatorium for a rest cure, like the wealthy did in the old days, to be nurtured and nursed back to mental and physical wellness in a pleasant, relaxing, compassionate environment, allowed to be a partner in my care.
Instead, I had “a nervous breakdown” from being a workaholic for many years. I was too depressed to get out of bed. I wasn’t a danger to anyone, but was not taking care of myself. My primary care doctor recommended I go to the hospital.
I was misdiagnosed and mistreated, not sure if it was negligence or malpractice. The damage has already been done. The question is how permanent the damage will be. I lost everything:
- Putting myself through school while juggling three jobs
- I had a college degree and was working on a graduate degree
- I worked as a graphic designer in a health sciences library for 15 years, did volunteer work, was healthy, exercised regularly, didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs (prescription or non-prescription), voted and paid my taxes.
- I had no criminal history.
I was eventually hospitalized multiple times, diagnosed as bipolar, then schizoaffective (unknown to me until I got my records later), involuntarily committed, locked up in the hospital for a month and forcibly drugged with SSRI’s plus antipsychotics, at extra high doses.
I was never informed of my rights or told my diagnosis or had any say in my care or treatment plan. I was treated as if Iwas a dangerous criminal even though I never commited or threatened any crime.
I had severe adverse reactions to the psych drugs. Instead I was told I was not getting better, given higher doses of the same drugs, and kept longer in the hospital. Once, I was tackled, pinned down, and forcibly injected with Haldol because the drugs made me feel like I was dying, and I was begging for help.
The Treatment Disabled Me
I was so debilitated mentally and physically that I was unable to function at work. I lost my job, home, health, partner/spouse, good credit rating, and ended up owing $60,000 (approx) in psychiatric hospital bills. They screwed up my life and are charging me for it.
I also have nightmares and probably suffer from PTSD as a result of the horrific psychiatric care experienced.
The Hippocratic Oath all doctors take says, “First, do no harm.” Who do I see about this?
The goal was for me to become autonomous again, but the mental health care I received demanded that I be subservient and compliant. I was not allowed to heal myself.
Regaining My Mental and Physical Wellness
I have now been medication free for almost a year, and am beginning to be able to think again. The creative spark that I had has definitely been dulled by all the mind-numbing drugs. I worry if it will ever come back.
I intend to come back, heal myself, and restore my mental and physical wellness. I’m learning about peer support and the distress model. I’ve had it with the disease model. I never had a disease.
And I’m learning why more and more people say they survived treatment for mental illness, not mental illness.