If you think that you couldn’t possibly be sucked into the “mental health” system, please read this. The woman involved was forced into treatment against her will. It has cost her everything, including her health, her career, and her independence.
She’s afraid to give her name, worried that her situation could be made even worse—worried that the perpetrators of her destruction might make things worse by suing. They’re already coming after her to pay tens of thousands of dollars she doesn’t have for the incarceration and drugging they forced on her. So, we’ll simply refer to her as Jody*.
Jody was, by her own description, a workaholic. She was successful, owned a home with her life partner, held a degree in fine arts and worked for the same company more than 15 years. She loved her work—but she didn’t know how to say no, so accepted all projects.
When her mother became ill, she added to her workload by caring for her. Jody never took the time to grieve. There was too much work to do. Her employer needed her.
Vacation? There just wasn’t enough time. Of course, the more she worked, the less she slept, and the less efficient she became. And that meant she needed more time to accomplish the same things. Her need to please everyone was taking a hit. She couldn’t keep up.
Jody didn’t know the concept of vacation, or if she did, reckoned it had nothing to do with her. She pushed herself until physical and mental exhaustion, not to mention grief from her mother’s death, brought her to collapse. She couldn’t get out of bed. She’d always been a perfectionist, had a tendency to be anxious, but until then, it had always worked to her benefit—until she’d overtended her mental and physical resources.
Jody realized she needed help. Asking for it proved to be her undoing. She went to a psychiatric ward for one night. No one ever asked what had happened. No one cared. She was given the SSRI antidepressant Prozac, but read the label information and decided it was too dangerous, so didn’t take it. She wasn’t allowed to wear her own clothes. Forced to wear scrubs, she felt demeaned. A flashlight was shined in her face several times during the night. No explanation was given to her for anything. She heard people moaning and wailing all night long.
In the morning, a psychiatrist and social worker saw her. They expressed no interest in what had brought her there—but they wanted her to stay. She refused. The psychiatrist was quite angry, and he recorded that she’d discharged herself against advice.
The experience had, of course, added to her trauma. So once back home, she was no better, and her listlessness resulted in not eating or drinking enough. Within a week, she became dehydrated, making her even more listless, so went to an emergency room. She was given a glass a water, and immediately felt better—more clear-headed and energetic. She though she’d be able to go home.
Instead, Jody was about to discover how thoroughly one’s rights as a human being are destroyed once the mental health system latches onto you. She was hauled off to a locked ward for the criminally insane! She had no criminal history and had never been violent. But that had little to do with her treatment.
Jody was kept for ten days, the maximum allowed under her state’s laws without a court order. All it takes is the agreement of two psychiatrists. She was drugged, and though she reacted very badly to them, her complaints were ignored—other than to use as evidence of noncompliance. As a person with no experience of any sort of incarceration, she was unprepared for the humiliation and mistreatment. She says:
I was so isolated from the outside world – they only let you make phone calls at certain set times, no computer access. I couldn’t use my own cell-phone. Certain books were deemed dangerous because they were too heavy and had a hard back. No dental floss. I couldn’t have a hair brush because it was seen as a weapon.
She was told to mix with her “peers”, but the people there weren’t her peers. It was, after all, a ward for the criminally insane. She overhead one man talking to his attorney about killing his mother. The people there simply weren’t the sort she’d ever encountered.
She was given the SSRI antidepressant Prozac, which caused uncontrollable tremors in her feet. The psychiatrist’s response was, “This is a one dog town, not a two dog town. I’m the one giving orders”, and he stormed out. The social worker’s response when told was simply, “You didn’t hit it off.” That’s as close to compassion as Jody was to receive.
She was given another SSRI, Zoloft. It made her extremely anxious. The response to that was to increase the dose. Complaining was taken to mean noncompliance, an excuse to increase dosage and add medications. At one point, Jody felt like the drugs were going to kill her. She says:
I felt like I was going to die—so I kept going up to the nursing station asking the nurses for help. They responded by telling me that I was not dying so I should go back to my room. I persisted in begging for help because I was extremely frightened by the way I was feeling. I was not threatening anyone, or acting agitated or threatening to kill myself.
Then an armed security guard showed up with two of the male psych techs. Without saying anything to me, the security guard waved the baton as if threatening to hit me and pushed me into a corner. The two psych techs, large men, then tackled me, and dragged me to my bed where they pinned me down, while the security guard pushed his baton against my neck almost strangling me.
Then my scrub pants were pulled down while the nurse injected me in the buttocks with what it turns out was Haldol (I wasn’t warned that they were going to do this). As I lay on the floor crying the nurses and psych techs stood over me and laughed. And as they walked out, one of the psych techs said sarcastically “This will make you stay in your room!”
The next day, with the Haldol still in her system, she was taken to a court of law and went before a judge to determine how she could be medicated. Of course, this incident had already clarified that the system would do whatever it wanted.
Before long, they’d put her on Risperdal, an antipsychotic. Jody had never hallucinated. She never heard voices. She had no symptoms of schizophrenia. Her reaction to the drug was horrible. She felt like she would die. Her heart raced. Her blood pressure skyrocketed. Her psychiatrist didn’t care, saying, “You’re just finding an excuse not to get with the program.” But he never told her what “the program” was. She had to figure it out for herself.
The “program” was never explained by the psychiatric incarceration staff. She learned from others who were incarcerated that the “program” was to be obedient. Never disagree with what staff said or wanted. And, of course, take the drugs, no matter what. She’d simply had a breakdown from overwork. But no one cared. The psychiatric system’s only interest was to make her compliant, to get her to take the drugs and stop complaining. As Jody says:
Never did the doctors look at the person I had been for all of my years and consider that I had shown great capability to be a solid, good member of society, productive, and highly functional. They took no more than a few minutes to diagnose me as severely mentally ill and treated me only as a brain diseased human who needed to be “cured” —whether I agreed to the “cure or not”.
There was nothing to do. Day after day. The only treatment was drugs. As time went on, more drugs. On discharge after 10 days, Jody was given prescriptions for high doses of Prozac (SSRI antidepressant), Trazoedone (another type of antidepressant)Risperdal (antipsychotic), Xanax (to counter panic symptoms from other drugs), Cogentin (to lower heart rate caused by other drugs), and Ambien (to sleep).
*Relatives and anyone else referenced are changed to disguise her. However, all the particulars are accurate. Do not believe that it can’t happen to you because you aren’t in America. I recall my shock in the UK at being told by a woman I knew and had worked beside. She’d been forced onto medication. Her home had been taken from her to pay for the treatment—all against her wishes. She sobbed in front of me. Any hope she’d had was gone. Without her home, she had no place to go. Could anything more effectively destroy hope?
Tagged mental health system, pharmaceutical drugs, pharmaceuticals, psychiatric incarceration, psychiatric victims, psychiatry, psychiatry grief, psychiatry loss of independence, psychiatry workaholic, schizophrenia