Asylum Squad

In 2007, I was living in shared supportive housing with four other women, crying myself to sleep every night on a bedbug laden mattress covered in sheets with cigarette burn holes in them.  My only "friends" were criminals living around the corner whom I shared pot with, who downloaded crap like Pitbull onto my hard drive.  This was also the time that I was on a Community Treatment Order, which is when psychiatry acquires the legal right to force medication into your body regardless of your consent.  Life was bleak, my mind was weak, and my diagnosis was Paranoid Schizophrenia.

In 2009, during that soul crushing year in 1001 Queen, I had a psychiatrist who told me that I instead have Schizoaffective Disorder.  Then she told my outpatient psychiatrist that I have Schizophrenia (and that I "had to learn to accept it"), and secretly told my mother that she, quite frankly, didn't know what I have.  Post discharge, my outpatient psychiatrist wrote that I have Schizoaffective Disorder, even though I didn't have the mood disorder component, and had zero need for antidepressant or mood stabilizer medication.

In 2013, I had a mild crisis during the summer, where I spent 2 and a half weeks on another CAMH ward due to negative channeling and the sensation that my body had been taken over by a force beyond my control.  I was hearing voices and I was having unusual experiences, but I was articulate and clear.  My diagnosis at discharge: Spiritual Problem with symptoms of psychosis, -not- Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder.

Labels.  Psychiatrists just love to pathologize and put a stamp on human experience like that, don't they?  Some argue that we need labels, that they help us identify underlying clinical problems so that people can get the treatment needed in order to get on their feet again.  Some patients feel relief when they are given a mental health diagnosis, they feel it justifies their pain and suffering.  I am not one of those patients.

We've all heard of the placebo effect, unless we've been living under a rock for a very long time.  This is of course when an ineffectual substance or idea is entered into our bodies or minds, paired with the notion that it is going to somehow help us in some way, bringing about healing.  The mechanism of the placebo effect remains a medical mystery.  Nevertheless, it is very real.  It's the same thing as Dumbo's feather in the Disney movie.

Well, the flipside of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect, which is when something harmless is introduced, but because of our fears that it could negatively impact our health, we suffer as a consequence.

To my mind, psychiatric labels, at least in general, are presented in a way that encourages the nocebo effect.  When we pathologize human experience as disease, especially without laboratory proof that the experiences are in fact the result of a disease (as it is in psychiatry), when we tell people things like "they have to accept that they have a chronic, debilitating illness" and that there's no hope in coming off medication or living a life beyond rooming houses and hospitals, it depletes the chance that the person will ever recover, because it reinforces negative ideas that fuel the nocebo.  It is not helpful, it does not promote good health, and quite frankly, it's a lie.

I am still waiting for my PETscan, for my MRI, to see how vastly different my brain is from everyone else's (my EEG came back normal).  I am also waiting for a consistent diagnosis, because this has gotten absolutely ridiculous, and really demonstrates that the Emperor has no clothes... or lab coat, as the case may be.

Psychiatrists really should watch what they tell vulnerable people when making a "diagnosis".  They should be honest that they are practicing a pseudoscience, that it's speculation, and that there is no way to prove that these illnesses are chronic, or a product of bad genes.  Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

More to come on this subject matter - I am currently reading an interesting article my worker gave me about this sort of thing.  Stay positive, and remember - labels are for t-shirts!


Let's Stop Saying "Mental Illness"! — MFIPortal

How can we show those who have been marginalized by psychiatric labels that
we ... This is a call to stop the use of the term "mentally ill" or "mental illness" and

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