Just Because I’m Righteously Angry Does NOT Make Me Mentally Ill
“It’s not all that bad. Besides, many of our most creative minds were bipolar. Mentally ill.”
GREAT, I thought. It was 1995, and a doctor had just delivered a diagnosis that weighed on me like a lead blanket. I was mentally ill. Super. Terrific.
After being referred to a treating psychiatrist, I was given Lithium, the drug of choice for us nutbags.
Within three days I was seriously suicidal. Beforehand, I might have been agitated, but with Lithium I was certifiable.
I had the presence of mind to dump the rest of that toxic shit in the trash, not the toilet. We have enough seriously drugged salmon as it is.
We also have a seriously drugged nation, full of people who have no business being on these drugs, and who never needed them in the first place. It’s costing us our lives, our livelihoods, our relationships and our treasure. And we’re taking those bitter pills along with the ones from the drug store.
Decades of Drugs
There followed decades of one prescription after another, all because of a single diagnosis. That diagnosis was based on a single written test. Nobody actually talked to me. Nobody bothered to establish the boundaries of my so- called mental illness, nor discover the whys. Most of us develop anxiety or anxiousness for damned good reason. Unfortunately, when we fill out a pat questionnaire, the answers force us to conform to a wholly unrealistic norm. If we fall outside that norm, we get drugged. Who precisely decides what’s “normal?” Why is it that traditionally, white male researchers get to decide what constitutes “normal” for women? A man? A kid? Anyone at all? Or any other culture for that matter?
Let me give you an example. In Aboriginal tribes, it’s “normal” for a member of the tribe who has been ostracized to be sung to death. The judgment of his tribes people, the medicine men’s cursing of him and singing, cause him to die. http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/news/2006/palm/aust23dec06d.html For these communities, this is normal. Who gets to determine what is normal, average or proper? While it makes sense to have norms that allow us to be respectful and polite to one another, the richness of individual expression that is a law conformable part of the human condition in all its complexity should not be labelled mentally ill.
You Make Me Uncomfortable
One in four women over forty is on anti-depressants. You can get a hangnail and walk out with a script for Celexa. That’s how widespread (how great for the shareholders of pharma companies) this is. However, for so many of these women, the #MeToo movement has peeled back not only for them but also for me the constant badgering, abuse, beleaguering, attacks and rapes that too many of us have lived with most of our lives. Walking While Female. Showing Up Female. The Female Body Belongs to Everyone but Herself.
After so many years of this, living in societies that deny or place wet blankets on our claims of abuse or battering, what do you expect of us? We’ve been expected not only tolerate brutalizing behavior but act like we like it. Like we’re grateful to be noticed. Depression is unexpressed anger. And a great many of us are mad as hell for very good reasons. We were given pills to shut the hell up. Because we make people uncomfortable. Like now. The #MeToo movement has been making a great many people uncomfortable. We’re tired of being bullied. And in this I include LGBTQ people who are in their unique ways bullied out of proportion to others. We are not allowed to be angry. Women are typically medicated when we express our sadness or hurt or anger. Rather than be validated for the prices we have paid for being female, we get pills shoved at us as a way to shut us up.
We’re not sorry about it, either. In fact, we’re tired of the knee-jerk apologies for having been born female. But we still need to take our brains back from the medical community. Addled by decades of anti-depressants, drugs that caregivers know virtually nothing about, millions of women have had their vitality and especially their truths stolen. I’m one of them.
This is hardly limited to women. The wholesale drugging of America is an equal opportunity offender: men, women, kids. Big Pharma- just like Big Tobacco- seeks to get you hooked as early as possible. We buy the notion that anything different about you is a flaw, and has to be medicated out of you. Makes it very difficult to cut the ball and chain off your ankle. However, I am specifically addressing women here. There’s little question that ADHD is largely a bullshit diagnosis. Just ask anyone in France, for example. It’s practically unheard of there. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd. But very big business here and increasingly so in the rest of the world.
To check into how the industry sells their lies: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/health/the-selling-of-attention-deficit-disorder.html. Even more, here’s how profitable this bullshit business is to the industry: https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/adults-are-now-prime-market-for-adhd-drugs-u-s. They are bragging about bagging more adults, when the real answer more likely has to with slowing down, eating well, exercising, and meditating more often. The more sugar we consume, the more hyper we are. Funny how that works. Take the crap out of our diets and it’s remarkable how much calmer we are. The more we bury ourselves in bad news on Facebook, the more anxious we are. The more we compare our lives to our unrealistic notions of others’ “perfect” lives on Instagram, the worse we feel. Funny how that works. Unplug, eat better, exercise more. Instant peace of mind. No drugs necessary- although I am very much a fan of marijuana products. I don’t smoke, the gummies help me sleep and the THC cream is terrific for angry joints and injuries. No wonder Monsanto/Bayer wants to gain control of the worldwide seed supply https://zenpype.com/are-monsanto-and-bayer-really-trying-to-take-over-the-cannabis-industry/
Toxic drug withdrawal symptoms
Two years ago, I decided to stop taking all my drugs. Cold turkey. This after taking a suite of very powerful drugs for more than two decades. I didn’t know at the time that I was also dealing with post-concussion syndrome. What followed was terrifying. The withdrawal symptoms were awful: screaming matches, emotional upheavals, no sleep. Like most who try to withdraw without gradual stair-stepping and especially without proper supplementation, and pressured by my VA caregivers, I went back on the drugs. Most do. It takes a lot to weather the storm as the body struggles to make the chemicals it needs to restore you back to full natural health.
About eighteen months later I was dogged by a series of unexplained symptoms that made no sense based on my exercise and diet regime. Symptom after symptom, from dry mouth to an inability to sweat to kidney stones. Constant suicidal thoughts. One doctor insisted that I increase my meds. However, I made a list. Thirty-five separate and discrete problems. Problems that the geniuses at the VA treated as though suddenly there was a new problem. Nobody ever questioned the meds.
Then I researched all the meds I was on: Celexa, Rispirdal, Trazodone, Topirmate and a bunch more.What a chemical soup. Meds to keep me up, meds to bring me down. And I was popping some four to six caffeine pills per day to keep me focused. Sure, that’s healthy. The norm for women in their sixties is to be on fifteen prescriptions. Those twenty years older even more. This is called polypharmacy (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-brenoff/elderly-taking-too-many-pills_b_7079060.html). Is it any wonder our folks are turned into zombies? This causes billions in medical problems, and to my mind, has a great deal more to with the reasons most of us who are older are getting sicker. Fall down, smash our heads on the bathroom sink. All preventable.
Not remarkably, nearly every symptom I had could be traced directly back to long-term use of every single one of these meds.
In the terrific book A Mind of Your Own by Dr. Kelly Brogan (a doctor, psychiatrist and holistic healer to boot) she comes after Big Pharma with her claws out. For good reason. Her book was one of my two bibles as I detoxed, a quarter of a pill at a time. Within a matter of days, I felt 100% better. Suicidal thoughts dissipated. By now, seven months later, all but perhaps three of the symptoms have disappeared.
The drugs were killing me, day by day, hour by hour. If I didn’t take my own life (multiple drugs listed suicidal thoughts as a side effect) then the symptoms eventually would. And this was despite a disciplined exercise regime, a very strict dietary practice and meditation. That is how powerful these drugs are. In fact, some drugs undermine the benefits of your exercise regime.
I’m Not Mentally Ill
In no way shape or form am I mentally ill. I’m probably dealing with strong feelings that I’ve been taught to repress from the time I started having to deal with two dysfunctional alcoholics in my family. A predatory big brother. My story is no different in nature from millions upon millions of kids who have had tough experiences growing up. That didn’t make me bipolar; it made me very angry. With no safe place to express anger and grief in our society, that anger turns inward.The result is depression- or in other instances, rage. This is how the mind/body connection deals with unresolved grief, anger and hurt. Toxic pills don’t fix this. The utter nonsense that we are “chemically imbalanced” is simply a way to convince us that we are flawed, and oh, by the way, take these five pills and they will fix you right up. Make you act normally, which is doctor- speak for shut up and show up and be a good (girl, boy, LGBTQ, etc).
No one can determine for you what normal looks like. Most of us have no clue what our own normal looks like. We’ve been completely hijacked by societal norms, our digital equipment and the desperate need to be liked by people who don’t give a shit about us that we have sold our souls for conformity.
This is not to say that some folks really are certifiable nutcases. The psychotic, the truly insane. That’s very real. But when doctors and Big Pharma start tossing their net over millions who simply need better food, more exercise, a good mentor, more friends, any one of a thousand thousand non-pharma solutions to being angry/depressed/frustrated, we are in trouble. And we are.
Finding our Voices
Canadian Margot Talbot, world-renowned ice climber, told me in an interview last year that when she had been diagnosed with bipolar illness, she was told by a “fat, white, bald, unhealthy doctor” that she had to take Lithium. After two decades on street drugs, her response was that this was just another street drug. She walked out and handled her history of sexual abuse by finding her voice in the outdoors. During a guiding trip to the Antarctic, she was in her tent making tea. Surrounded by the white nothingness of a storm that whipped her tent, she heard voices in her head she’d never heard before. They were her own authentic thoughts, no media, not the radio, not others. Hers alone. That’s when she realized that Nature was the gateway to finding out who she really was, and how hijacked her life had been. Now she speaks on mental health, leads retreats, and is a voice for sanity and sobriety gained through Nature and adventure. I do the same thing.
What we do need are tools to better deal with the inevitability of the occasional shitstorm that hits. Many of us end up with damaged family members, or partners, and little to any real guidance on how to better navigate life, which is full of potholes. Better that we gain confidence, learn to trust our emotions, which are at times terrifying, and better flex the muscles of emotional maturity. You can only do that with a clear head and a crisp mind. When we’re addled by drugs that cause memory loss, dizziness, stumbling, loss of words, and that lovely little side effect, suicidal thoughts, we can hardly learn competency.
That’s why Talbot eschewed drugs. It took me several decades to do the same, but we got the same result. I keep my sanity by pushing my outer limits doing adventure travel. That reminds me of my competence, capabilities and the skills that are authentically mine. I cannot afford to have toxic meds interfere with my cognition when I am in the wild or paddling white water. Those enviroments allow me to feel deeply, freely, richly. Raw, untrammeled emotions. I’m free. It cost dearly but I am free. At 65 I’m in insane shape, productive, happy, and by all accounts slightly mad.
You’re damned right I am. Compared to a drug addled population, I’m crazy indeed. Crazy happy.
As we all deserve to be.