Jabari Bird of the Boston Celtics arrested for DV

Apparently he is being “evaluated” at this time. Will they check for head injury? Typically, it’s the football players that are subject to head trauma, but any athlete should be screened for this automatically.

Add to that list children, roofers and others who work high-risk occupations, anyone who has recently had a car accident, anyone who has been in the penal system, mental institution, or hospital due to high risk of unreported injury, elders at risk for falling, and anyone who was subject to child abuse or domestic violence, even if it was in the past. Examiners should remember that many abuse victims have been threatened and told not to squeal.

Now I didn’t say domestic violence is okay, did I? If anyone thinks I said that, please read what I wrote again.

Anyone who is exhibiting unusual, concerning, or out-of-character behavior should be screened for head injury. Asking, “Did you bump your head recently?” is no excuse for not checking, especially if the person is showing the classic signs of head trauma. Head trauma sometimes causes memory lapse. Not only that, but while under the duress of a psych exam a person may feel uncomfortable sharing certain details of their past.

One type of TBI often overlooked is electroshock, also called ECT. Many people show marked personality changes in addition to cognitive difficulties after electroshock. Also we might see apathy, depression, and suicidality. The number of people who complete suicide after electroshock is poorly documented because facilities do not disclose that a person had ECT. Institutions claim HIPAA prevents them from disclosing this information. Of course this policy is not protecting the victim or their family, but protecting the offending institution.

ECT victims generally do not realize that electroshock always damages the brain, often rather seriously. A victim of something called “treatment” rarely realizes that something sanctioned by doctors and medical institutions could possibly do harm. This means that any question, “Have you had a bump on the head recently?” used as screening for TBI will not get a YES answer. In fact, many ECT victims do not acknowledge the ECT during examination or in therapy sessions. This may be due to memory lapse, shame, or emotional trauma over the procedure.

Some people who have electroshock eventually make a partial or almost full recovery. Recovery can be very slow and usually takes years. I personally made an almost full recovery, but from speaking to other shock survivors I am realizing that the media has distorted the effectiveness and safety of this procedure. When you see a shining star interviewed on television or in magazines who claims the procedure doesn’t damage the brain, please do not assume this story is a typical one. If you read between the lines, you might learn of damages. For instance, a victim of ECT may state, “My life is wonderful now, but of course I have some memory gaps.” How can this not be brain damage?

As for myself, I have a few memory gaps left but not a lot. Mostly I forgot some of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  My recovery took a very long time. As of now, I am  unsure if ECT damaged my musical ability. I am very afraid to find out. I am so afraid of being devastated over it that I avoid doing music altogether.

Electroshock aftermath: The victim compensates for unexplained, negative effects of “treatment” and coverup

A person with memory deficit due to TBI or dementia, if confronted (“Have you forgotten again?”) might feel embarrassed or threatened. Perhaps the victim has not done well at a particular task he or she once excelled at, or forgot to show up, or failed to follow instructions due to inability to properly retain information or had trouble filtering out what was unimportant.

I have witnessed elderly people become defensive regarding memory loss. They do this for a good reason. I have seen just how truly frightened they are. I have seen families of elderly people come pounding on their doors, accusing them over and over, “If you don’t clean this place, you’re going to a nursing home!” or, “If you can’t manage your own affairs, you can’t stay here!” Whatever they can threaten, they will. If they knew I was there and overheard them, they would not have said such things. Meanwhile, you can bet such families have already made sure that “insurance” pay for the nursing home. It won’t come out of their pockets.

These frightened elderly folk were well aware of this. They lived in fear. They may or may not have been experiencing any memory loss at all. The point was that they needed to make it look like everything was fine, and this meant patching up anything that could be used as a legal loophole. At the nearest opportunity, a son or daughter might find “evidence” that could hold up in court that would allow that offspring some way to take legal guardianship, whether the evidence truly represented anything substantial or not. One “wellness check” could lead to losing one’s independence. Police or EMT’s make extremely arbitrary and quick decisions, and tend to err on the cautious side. I know, since I myself have been subject to such decisions on the part of emergency personnel, which were either correctly done or not so correctly done. We all have read in the news about the rather quick decisions to “shoot” simply because a person who was profiled was “wasting their time.”

What I saw was this: Elderly people compensated. If they lost things, they invented ways to keep track of stuff so they would either not lose anything, or they would cover up the fact that they’d lost it.

When I was starving, I kept an insanely neat house. I always put stuff back in the exact same place. The reason for this was NOT obsessive compulsive disorder nor was it any sort of psychosis nor mood disorder. I did this because I was desperate to hide the fact that I couldn’t remember where I had put anything. I was fastidious about keeping things in certain spots because I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d never remember where I’d left them.

That’s the state they saw me in at the hospital. I continued to do that, to put things in certain places rather obsessively, fearing that I would lose track of them. They claimed I had “odd behaviors” that required antipsychotic medication. I tried to explain the dementia-like state that I had been in before my arrival, but I always got cut off mid-sentence before I could explain.  They were out of the room already, shaking their heads and not understanding a thing.

After ECT, I was similarly embarrassed. I hated it whenever someone mentioned that I’d forgotten anything, or said that perhaps I was deficient or damaged  now, or stated that ECT was a stupid decision on my part. I think anyone might be insulted by this, wouldn’t you be insulted? I had chosen it, or thought I had. In fact, I asked for it.

The truth is that I wasn’t properly informed of the consequences. I wasn’t told that the effects are so unpredictable that it wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t told that if I was damaged, they’d lie about it and wouldn’t own up to what happened. I wasn’t told that I’d be talked into bilateral while lying down 30 seconds before anesthesia, in dehydrated state, without being told the differences nor risks, nor asked to sign papers regarding potential risks. At the time, all I wanted was a drink of water!

I weighed well under 90 pounds for much of the ECT, and I was close to 40 years old. Each time they gave me ECT I had to refrain from drinking fluids. I have diabetes insipidus, meaning that when I finally arrived at ECT, I was desperately thirsty, most likely medically dehydrated to the point of possible electrolyte imbalance. I repeatedly reported the severe thirst, and requested that if possible, they could have the ECT as early in the morning as possible. I said that late morning ECT was “like torture for me due to thirst.” (And still, they didn’t even think to test for diabetes insipidus!) Since I was dehydrated and at a low weight, I know now that they were administering anesthesia when it wasn’t even safe to do so. I was far more of an anesthesia danger risk than I was a danger to myself from potential suicide. Often, all I could think about was surviving the thirst in the waiting room, which was the biggest challenge.

ECT is never voluntary. The first treatment may or may not be. Consent may be voluntary, but is it informed consent? I begged for ECT but I wasn’t properly told what it was nor why it worked.

It works because it damages your brain. Brain injury causes a “high.” You don’t even know it. It feels like you have been miraculously snapped out of your depression. But really, you have been brain-damaged, similar to being delirious following a concussion. This is why you feel just the same a few weeks later, and need either another brain injury or get back on antidepressants and you are back at square one.

Proponents think this is great since it prevents suicide. But does it? If a person really wanted suicide, would they take the trouble to submit to ECT if they believed the ECT would save them? I kinda doubt it. If I wanted to do suicide, I’d kill myself first, and bypass putting money into the shock doc’s purse. Why bother? A person who wants to die that much doesn’t want to be saved nor rescued, not so much that they will voluntarily have an electric lobotomy to prove it.

After ECT, which I am sure I could have done without, I was confused intermittently. Sometimes I was okay, others not. There seemed to be no pattern to it. I didn’t want to be accused of “losing my mind” due to a stupid decision I  myself made. So I begged for some explanation. What was wrong with me?

They should have admitted fault. Later, they did, long after the fact, but didn’t admit their error upfront. This was done rather subtly. “Well, yes, we gave you too many in 1996, but we promise not to do that again.” They never owned up to the coverup. They didn’t own up to the fake diagnosis of borderline that was given to me to explain my confused demeanor. They lied, claiming I was “dissociating.” They lied to me, to those caregivers who had not known me prior to ECT, and to my family, claiming I had a “dangerous personality disorder.”

I tried to read up on dissociation. Everything I read about it didn’t seem to fit what I was going through. I felt that what was happening was cognitive, but I wasn’t sure. Thinking straight was hard. I wrote things down, because this made it easier for me to keep my thoughts straight. I had heard that the confusion from ECT wears off quickly, that no way could I be experiencing permanent effects. No one did. No one became a basket case from ECT, did they? That couldn’t possibly be true, could it? But it was indeed true.

Dr.Michael Henry, who practiced ECT at McLean, is fooling himself, even now, wherever the hell he is, if he thinks the thousands of patients he shocked came away undamaged.  What he should have done was to sit down with me and tell me the truth. I had nothing, no word from anyone that this had occurred. Instead, a make-believe lie about “dissociation” that had no basis in truth.

I made up my own name for the confusion. I called it “The Thing.” What else could I do? This name that sounded like it came out of a Stephen King novel didn’t help relationships with my doctors much. However, I didn’t want to say, “I’m dissociating,” since I knew I wasn’t. I knew this wasn’t some “personality disorder” that suddenly struck me out of the blue.

You bet they poked fun of me. The Thing gave them plenty of golf course and elevator jeering material. Late night drinks, I’m sure, included enough jokes about The Thing. Maybe, too, they felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that what was behind it all were a few too many zaps of electricity, a few too many destroyed brain cells.

People compensate. They don’t want to look bad. They don’t want embarrassment. Embarrassment is extremely uncomfortable. In my confusion, I compensated by reinventing The Thing, by fitting other parts of my life and working them into The Thing. I stated that these stories from earlier parts of my life were due to my present condition. This doesn’t make logical sense, however, I was not being treated with logic anyway. The doctors allowed me to conclude anything, as long as they were not being accused nor seen as at fault.

For instance, I saw the fact that I’d been fired from a job when I was a teen “due to The Thing.” This wasn’t true at all. Many college-bound teens had a hard time getting jobs in some geographical areas during that time. This may be true even today. Many bosses are hesitant to hire a teen only to see that teen leave for college in a few months. When I was fired, my boss’ reasons were vague. However, my mother pointed out that I had not once called in sick, and had not once been tardy. When I asked for more hours so that I could get properly trained, the manager had made excuses, week after week, then fired me. She said he never even gave me a chance, and that I should forget about that job. I did.

I didn’t want to admit that The Thing was from ECT. Above all, I didn’t want to face the truth. So without changing facts, I explained my past via The Thing. The Thing caused me to lose my job. However, I don’t at all recall being confused on the job. I didn’t like the job, it was not something I wanted to do all my life, but I didn’t have severe cognitive problems and that wasn’t why I was fired. I was an inconvenience to the boss, and I was probably too smart for the work that was required of me. It was a bit embarrassing wearing that Brigham’s uniform.  Scooping ice cream wasn’t my thing. I wasn’t the first nor last who was fired from food service. Life goes on.

Nonetheless, after ECT, I rationalized many past life events, and fit them into The Thing. I finally concluded, quite incorrectly, that I’d had The Thing all my life. By then, time had passed. Winter was approaching, 1996.

Bingo. Now was the time. McLean had to make their move to seal this. Get it into the girl’s head that she has had this condition all her life, that it is impairing and permanent, and that she will have to ACCEPT IT. What else could these criminals do? They’d fucked up badly. They didn’t want a lawsuit. Dr. Henry couldn’t do this himself, oh no, not admit fault directly. They needed a Deus Ex Machina.

What’s that, you ask….I will tell you. This is an Unknown Hero who comes in and saves the day. It’s a terrible plot move on the part of a writer. They say not to do it. Audiences end up dissatisfied. That doesn’t matter, there was no audience. Guess what McLean did? They had a new medical student doing a rotation in psychiatry at the rinky-dink program I was in. So he was the hero who took me aside one day. This was during late afternoon. I didn’t know him. I’d only met with him and the doctor together once or twice and he’d only been there as witness. This was carefully planned, trust me. I’m trying to recall his name right now. It’ll come back to me.

He had been briefed, Possibly only partially, I’m not sure. Did they tell him, “She was damaged by ECT and we need some good lying right now.” Probably not. I had the whole conversation written out somewhere. I had a tendency to do that, believe it or not.

He tried to reason with me, saying that since The Thing had been with me all my life (which was what I had finally concluded, and they were going along with it), and I had the “best possible treatment” for it there at McLean, he said….He stated, “The best possible doctors, the best possible technology, the best possible research….”

Do you hear me laughing now? Under such honest administration!

“Even the best treatment hasn’t been able to help you. You will have to accept that you will have to deal with this for the remainder of your life. Our object now is not to cure you, but to help you learn to cope with it.”

I repeat,

“Even the best treatment hasn’t been able to help you. You will have to accept that you will have to deal with this for the remainder of your life. Our object now is not to cure you, but to help you learn to cope with it.”

That statement was true to their perspective. He wasn’t referring to The Thing as I had rationalized it, nor to any sort of personality disorder they invented, but to ECT damage that they didn’t want to honestly admit. Their aim was to avoid a lawsuit, to keep me from associating the changes with the ECT, and to keep my friends and relatives (those that remained) from making this association. As far as they were concerned, my mind was a lost cause. I was a permanent basket case. I was best off put away for good.

None of that was ended up the case, eventually. The damage turned out not to be permanent. It was extremely long term, as it all lasted a year and a half, then went away.  Their lies outdid them. Now, what about this personality disorder lie? What about their claim that I couldn’t sit in a roomful of people? And yet I had functioned fine in the classroom. With my memory coming back, it seemed that this “personality disorder” hadn’t been present before, nor had this “dissociation,” and I hadn’t spent my whole life cutting, running from partner to partner, doing street drugs, and threatening suicide. My next therapist, without being asked, said to me that she’d never understood why “borderline” was on there, and told me that she’d had it taken off ages ago. I myself didn’t like it on record, since I knew that people with BPD diagnosis were treated terribly in medical and psych situations across the board. Some Boston area facilities still had it on record and some didn’t, but for the most part, it was eradicated.

I believe the most permanent damage was to the cohesiveness of my family. My family was outright lied to. They were told things about me to cover McLean’s ass that simply weren’t true.  This was done through my mother, after my father died. She was taken aside while she was still grieving, and told that her daughter had a dangerous personality disorder. She was told she’d better detach from me, and to instruct my brothers to do likewise.

Imagine that. You lose your beloved husband to this thing called cancer, now, your daughter. My poor mother. I know her. Do you know my mother? I know her darned well. This bit of information, which was a lie, went in one ear and out the other. Clear and pure, in one, out the other, untouched. My mom most likely kept up that smile of hers, nodding and acting like she heard and understood everything. She did, but knew it was meshugana.

DSM lies, sure, it’s all meshugana. My mom knew me, she had faith in me and so did my dad. I was me.  I wasn’t a diagnosis. She was an artist, my dad was a scientist, so we kids were half-breeds, were we not? They say mixing the genes is a good idea. The scientist part of people’s brains can wreak havoc. The DSM lie went through my mom untouched and unbelieved, but sadly, I suspect my brothers decided to heed the warning. I haven’t heard much from either of them since 1997.

For decades, I wondered why the heck I didn’t have family. It really wasn’t until recently that I was able to put two and two together. I was often accused by people who had never met me, never knew much about me, saying, “You must have done something horrible for them to barely speak to you….” However, I haven’t done a thing! I never did nor said anything, nor was an asshole, nor acted badly, nor did anything wrong, nor (I hope) embarrassed them so badly as to give them reason to excommunicate me in such a manner. My family consists of wonderful, well-intentioned people who only want good things. They are good boys I raised myself. I taught them to speak and to read and to play baseball. I taught them to say hello when they pick up the phone and to pay a penny for candy. I helped them with Halloween costumes and played pretend with them. We played all sorts of games. I defended them when we all got yelled at. I taught them how to get away with skipping school if they really thought they had to.

I know I didn’t do anything to warrant being given the cold shoulder, to explain away years of silence, coldness, and noncommunication. I hadn’t done anything! And yet a lot of the time, I was treated like “Julie the asshole,” or, “Julie who really should be kept at ta distance” and I didn’t know why. I hadn’t been irresponsible, hadn’t, say, gotten drunk and acted disrespectful in their presence. I hadn’t been verbally abusive. I hadn’t been violent. In fact, there had been no chance for any of that to occur, since there had been ZERO contact.  It’s like believing a rumor about someone that you have never met. I even asked, but received no response. I was never given a chance. I can only guess that the phony diagnosis was believed, and that to this day, they are keeping their distance, believing in this fabricated “dangerousness.”

This is how stories get twisted around. When you don’t know, when you are deprived of all the information, either because someone doesn’t want you to know, or the information isn’t available, what can you do but to compensate just to survive? Perhaps my brothers only wanted to protect themselves and their families from this perceived “danger.” It saddens me that they only deprived themselves and their kids. And me, too. I don’t believe they really wanted to believe the lie in the first place, and honestly, I doubt anyone did.

¡No más electroshock! International Day of Protest South of the Equator in Montevideo, Uruguay

Katherine and I had been so busy with our own stuff that we put off the protest organizing until the last minute. Suddenly,, it was upon us. Katherine had put together a six’page informational piece for us to distribute, entirely in español. It was night before the protest and not a creature was stirring…But no, that wasn’t true. The earth was stirring below us as always and sunrise was coming awfully soon.

Katherine keeps a local mailing list so she sent out a notice to everyone on it about the event. The lack of response was dismaying, but I assured Katherine that maybe people just hadn’t gotten home to open their email yet. I in turn emailed someone I knew might be interested, but I honestly don’t think she received the message. I, in turn, didn’t pay much attention to my cell phone Friday night. Katherine showed up at my door, a bit concerned that perhaps I’d crapped out on this.

“No way!” I said. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything!” She said she’d pick me up at 1pm, or, rather, 13 horas, as it is called around here. The papelaria had prommised they’d be done printing out the information sheets by then.

Wow, i knew that was cutting it close. We live in a laid-back country here where timeliness is based on a real or perceived time warp. Show up..or not. Take your pick. Would the printout be ready?

Suddenly, I received an email from Katherine saying her truck was leaking water again. Last time we tried this, the truck stalled in the middle of Avenida Italia. That was not only embarrassing, but inconvenient for sure. I recall the texts Katherine received from a couple of ther other expats that day asking if we needed to be rescued. Oh no, we gals were just fine without the men. We figured out what the problem was and then were goood to go. But neither of us wanted to go through all that again. We deciced to take the bus.

I told Katherine I’d make some signs we could hold. I so much wanted to hold up my sign from the Justina protest, that said, “Never, ever shut up.” Could i even find it? My apartment goes from messy to “Why can I never find anything in here?” When tt gets that bad, I spend an hour or two doing a Grand Scale Cleanup. Then, it goes safely back to messy.

I found a box that had nice large sides. I cut out the largest pieces for a backing.  Then, I printed out two signs in the largest print I could muster up. I taped the papers with giant words on them onto the cardboard. I told myself I was all ready for a hitch-hiking trip. Time to hit the road.”No má Electroshock.” “Electroshock destuye las vidas.” Destruye? I was happy to learn a new word.

I was just about all set to leave when Katheirine texted me again. The papelaria hadn’t colated the pages. I told Katherine we should do it on the bus and not be late.

We drove back to her place so she could park her car at home, then walked from there to the highway. Buses were on weekend schedule which meant there might be long intervals between buses headed for Montevideo.

Buses were on weekend schedule. The wait was long and we were debating whether to walk to a different bus stop where perhaps we could see more buses headed to Montevideo. However, just as we were about to walk westward, the bus we wanted arrived.

I can’t see well enough to read the lit up signs on the fronts of buses until they are too close to flag down. Usually, I have to ask another person to read for me. This is rather difficult to explain to a complete stranger in Spanish. Today, Katherine was my eyes. She managed to get the bus driver’s attention so he’d stop and let us on. I’m not particularly good at that, either. I was so grateful for her presence. We were even able to get seated together. This was going to be a long ride.

It has now been a year since my drastic relocation, my move here to Uruguay to escape impending forced psychiatric care. These days, I look back on my last years in the USA with horror, and also feel a huge sense of relief that the three and half decades I endured of psychiatric slavery are finally over. I feel sorry for the people I know in USA who are obliged to endure the drudgery of endless appointments and programs, and have to live their lives with the threat of psychiatric imprisonment hanging over their heads.

I have taken this bus ride to Montevideo many times. The first few times, I couldn’t hold back my tears. So many times I wept while riding buses back in the USA. I hoped I could just cry quietly and no one would see my tears behind my glasses. These days, I weep for joy when I ride the bus. I watch the towns fly by, the mercaditos, the farmacias, the ferreterias, the almacens, minimercados, and the carcinerias. We often joke that it takes all day to do what in the USA would only be one trip. I don’t miss the giant supermarkets, giant malls, muzak, and pervasive TV in USA. For me, I’d gladly trade all that luxury, lined with beeps and buzzes, sirens and “security” cameras, for the freedom I have found here. Mostly, I rejoice that I am finally free from psychiatric “care,” the bogus system and all its false beliefs that almost killed me. I thought of all this, while the kilometers rolled on.

I imagine readers have a concept of what a ream of paper looks like. Imagine two women trying to collate them on a bus. We couldn’t quite deide who would colate and who would staple. We managed by trading off. I practiced my español while hading papers to Katherine. Katherine said to me, “Julie, do you really think you should hold  the papers in your lap that way? I think they are going to spill.”

I said, “Naw, don’t worry, that won’t happen.” That’s when the entire two entire reams of paper fell from my lap to the floor. Eight hundred sheets of antipsychatry literature were sprawled out on the bus floor in a most manic fashion. Such delight!

Just then, something amazing happened.  The bus fare collector came and helped me pick up the papers. He made sure they were re-stacked neatly and securely. I said, “‘¡Gracias!” Kindness like that is rare in USA, where two wonen with far too many bags and loose papers would get scorned by both  passengers and bus employees, maybe even looked at with suspicion as potential criminals, but here in Uruguay, kindness is the norm. Nor were we called crazy. We were being efficieint, since doing this at her house would have delayed us.

Finally, I sat down, with the papers back into stacks. We began collating again. I said to Katherine, “I think my writeup of this story is going to have a twist of humor in it.” We laughed, and continued to chatter on in ingles y español.

We managed to get perhaps 100 copies collated and stapled. Then, I noticed we were getting rather close to our destination, Tres Cruces, which is a mall-type shopping center. Katherine confirmed with the driver that he was pulling right into the station and then stopping to let passengers off. Usually, buses drive by and continue down 8 de Octubre, without entering the large bus area. We gathered our things, not wanting to cause delay or awkwardness exiting theh bus.

We took a cab to La Rambla, our national road that follows the shoreline. Many people were out walking with headphones, pushing baby carriages, and walking their dogs. Our original plan was to bring Puzzle, my dog, but I couldn’t bring her on the bus. I managed to convince Katherine that we might be better off handing the flyers to pedestrians and answering their questions rather than trying to pass them to drivers of moving vehicles. Cars were passing by rather quickly. Surely, La Rambla, the seaside road that traces the shoreline is quite different out in our town, where the beach is usually completely empty. This, in fact, is where I love to run in the mornings.

We found a bench to sit at and rest for  a bit. We realized that maybe it would be easier to sit there and wait for folks to walk by. So we perched the three signs I had in our bags, then waited. Whenever we saw someone, we handed them our information, saying, “Informacíon médica.” Some refused to take the pamphlets. Of course, people are affronted with such things all the time, most advertising and information about political candidates.

We learned that people who are doing fitness walking, or running, wouldn’t be good recipients, because they cannot carry the papers while doing athletics. People talking on cell phones were too involved in their conversations.  But casual strollers seemed interested in our literature. I began to learn just how to approach people, never forgetting to admire their dogs or babies.

We were delighted when Mariana, a friend of Katherine’s who lived not too far from where we were, joined us. The two of them seemed to have a lot to catch up on. I walked away a bit, to give them privacy. I knew Katherine was filling Mariana in on the status of her son, John Rohrer, who has been stuck in an Ohio state mental prison for six years now. Katherine has been working night and day trying to get him out and free. I myself will be filled with such overwhelming joy when that effort succeeds. I believe we will win this one. To me, seeing even one person get free is as if an entire nation if people were taken out of its chains. Let my people go.

Sometimes, people approached us to ask what electroshock meant. A man came and told us it was so awesome when a doctor put electricity into his heart to start it up again. Why were were protesting against it? I explained that this was “ectricidad en la cabeza, no en corazón. En cabeza, es mal, porque electricidad destruye un parte de corazón. I didn’t know if my español was correct or not. But I thought it was a good thing that he was happy to be alive. Now, I am, too.

A couple approached us later on. The man spoke a small amount of English, so I was able to tell him that I am a survivor of this barbaric practice. i told him that this stole a year and a half of my life. I also told him I had many hospital roommates who took their lives or died in some other manner as a direct result of psychiatric “care.”

True, I don’t speak of this at home, but my town is rather far from Montevideo, where three million people live. In  Montevideo I am anonymous enough to come out and speak of this. Here I do not. The town is too small, and gossip is always a risk.

We stopped to collate more papers. I was glad we had two staplers and extra staples. We joked that this was secretarial work. Women’s work. How many times had we been told, in our childhoods and beyond, that our place was at the right hand of a man, and of course, many steps below him.

We had both defied all that. Katherine became one of the most outspoken attorneys in the states where she practiced. Even now, she continues to infuriate the judges, but never hesitates to point out their crooked rulings and favoritism. As for me, I was supposed to be a dutiful wife and mother, who so lovingly tended her Kosher kitchen and never disobeyed. My dad would always remind me to “be civil,” didn’t he? I am happy and proud to have defied what was expected of me, and even prouder to civilly disobey as much as I can.

Freedom. What does it mean? For psych survivors, or at least for me, it means living well, living in a manner that says, “I never needed them and I am better off now without them.” This, actually, gives hope to others around the world that we can indeed survive and thrive postpsychiatry.

A man approached Katherine and began to sputter angrily. I couldn’t understand him since he spoke so quickly. Apparently he was a shrink who performed shock, only I didn’t even realize it. As soon as I told him I was a survivor of shock, I noticed he began to disregard me, as if I wasn’t there and didn’t matter. Why? Because to him, I was useless waste. However, he continued to yammer on to Katherine, telling her we were a danger to society just for exercising free speech.

Think of it this way: Had we been advocating not educating children, not teaching them to read nor write nor do arithmetic, and then, leave home and do criminal acts, would we be a danger to society? Or course not. We could speak all we wanted but not too many parents would take heed. But now, many were. Who is dangerous but those who are doctors of dubious science, but don’t know much and do illegal acts. A fellow survivor tells me he questioned a shrink, and discovered the poor man didn’t know what the scientific method was, nor could recite the very first line of the Hippocratic Oath. First do no harm.

After a couple of hours, we were exhausted. I was, especially. I needed water. Sometimes, when I get dehydrated after a long day, agua is all I can think of. This is because I took lithium for twelve years. I took it because I was told I couldn’t live without it. I was told it wouldn’t hurt me. It did.

My kidneys are half the size they should be as a result, and only partially work. But to me, kidney disease isn’t a death sentence. I look back on that kidney doctor I saw who offered me no hope. They were only waiting for me to die, or perhaps hoping for it, since my writing has infuriated them so much. Today, I ran 11 km by the ocean first thing in the morning, bringing Puzzle with me. I felt more joyful than I have in decades.

Joyful, yes, but also, centered. I hate to use that yoga word since therapists pushed the yoga on me in such an annoying fashion. Maybe think of centering in pottery. Think of the clay, held lovingly between the potter’s hands. I am that potter, and the creation I am holding is my life.

I never get depressed anymore. I know now that even the most debilitating depressions always come to an end. Shock will see to it that a person keeps coming back for  more, destroying more brain cells, memories, and with that, hope.

I am home now and Puzzle is asleep at my feet. I look back on our day with pride in my heart. If we touched one person, one family, and steered them away from ECT or any of the other psychiatric tortures, thereby saving a life, our mission was fulfilled.

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I posted photos to the Montevideo Protest Facebook page here:

I hope you enjoy them!