A plea to end all harmful labeling, and to embrace each other with kindness

Psychiatric diagnosis is a hate crime. To give another person a harmful diagnosis is a crime against all humanity. We are all guilty of having done this in our lives, having judged another based on a derogatory word others use to describe that person.

A diagnosis does the following:

Psych diagnosis monetizes your suffering. This does a disservice to anyone who is a “patient.” It minimizes and trivializes your suffering, putting not only a number (DSM) but a price tag on it.  I and many others are working to stop the System from turning valid and worthy human beings into commodity.

Psych diagnosis assumes the ufferer will never change. This conclusion is false.  While many do not change, you are doing a disservice to a person by concluding that a negative psych diagnosis is “for life.” I personally do not accept that a person is permanently angry, permanently anxious, permanently depressed, permanently “bipolar,” or permanently psychotic. A person can change bad habits no matter how ingrained they may seem.  Nor is anyone a permanent “psychopath” nor possesses any permanent “personality disorder.”  We need to eliminate the notion of “chronic mental illness.”  I do believe we are all made differently. I think that’s fantastic, actually.

Psych diagnosis mean less compassion and caring. If a person with a diagnosis becomes upset or causes disturbance, our communities can now railroad that person into “services.” It’s handy to do so and eliminates having to touch that person, speak with her, spend time with her, or give her a hug. I am saddened when I see this happening.  The last thing we need is more “services.” Instead, we need to be a more loving community.

Psych diagnosis causes bigotry. As soon as a person’s diagnosis is shared in communities, that person is now seen through a colored lens. This means all actions by this person will be interpreted as “symptoms.” This is another way that suffering is minimized. It also causes people to misinterpret the actions of the diagnosed person. If a sufferer is convinced, “I have a disease,” then often the sufferer reads her own life through that lens, too.

Psych diagnosis justifies the barbaric practices that are now praised as “help.” This leads to societal assumption that “mentally ill” people don’t have the same human rights as the non-diagnosed.

Psych diagnosis obliterates hope. The idea of permanence harms sufferers and especially their families.

Psych diagnosis is a form of genocide. People with diagnoses die young, typically 25 years younger than otherwise, from the various “cures” that are mass marketed all over the world. Many are incarcerated or are forced to live marginalized lives.

This is why I see labeling not as a health crisis, nor a healthcare crisis, but a crisis in human rights. This is the crux of the many problems we see today in the System.

That said, I will tell you a couple of stories. One happened a couple of years ago, and the other, a few hours ago.

1. The sex offender

“Sex offender” is a harmful label. It assumes that a person will never change. However, we have seen many people change who have committed sex crimes. Labeling assumes the person’s sentencing was done correctly, however, we know that a person can be framed. I certainly believe we need to address these crimes but should not be dependent on ease of capturing and then bringing a person to trial.

I believe instead in restorative justice.  I have met many people who were crime victims who tell me that putting person behind bars wasn’t particularly satisfying. It doesn’t reverse the harm done. Nor does the death sentence. It satisfies no one but an angry mob, and a life is snuffed out with no chance of bringing that person back. I have seen first hand convicted killers turn their lives around. I was friends with one from Georgia. This wonderful man reached out to me when no one else would, and it’s fair to say he saved my life.

I believe it was 2012 when I heard that a known sex offender lived in my town. I saw an article about him and was dismayed. I immediately saw this story from his point of view. I refused to chime in with the mob.

What happens to a person with the label “sex offender.” We can liken it to what happens to a dark-skinned, young man wearing a hoodie. When bigoted cops approach such a man, what happens when he reaches into his pocket? Immediately, the cops shoot, assuming he’s reaching for a weapon.

What happens when a known sex offender reaches into his pocket? Nothing. Not unless someone who sees him through the colored lens of diagnosis witnesses this action. Then, he is reported by witnesses to have reached for his penis. This is due to a false assumption brought on by labeling.

I heard that someone had reported a minor incident like this. Know what I did? I wrote to him. I have no clue how I got his email address, but I did. I wrote and said that I, too, was the target of bullying and hatred. I told him I knew what it felt like to have to live in such a manner, shunned by all around you. I told him he could write back if he wanted. I hated the idea that any human being was subject to this.

I know what some of you are thinking. That by doing this, I minimized rape and other sex crimes. I am not, and I feel that such crimes should be dealt with firmly. A person who rapes should be asked to provide compensation, an apology, and asked not only to change their ways, but to do good for the world, ensuring that no more people will be subject to such horrific acts. I wonder if this approach would mean that far fewer people who commit these crimes will get away with them. I wonder if restorative justice would reduce rape and other crimes.

I was sad that this man didn’t write back. I was also aware that most likely, his email was being monitored, and that my email raised a few eyebrows over at the local police station. I didn’t care about that, since I care more about human life. I want to see rape and other sex crimes obliterated, and for such harmful labeling come to an end.

2. A misunderstanding, joyfully resolved.

I normally don’t turn on the computer nor check email in the middle of the night. But last night, I did. There was an email from my beloved friend from whom I had not heard for a while. I had assumed she had been busy with her family, or perhaps away from home. This wasn’t the case. She told me that a while back, I had posted that I had been in prison for attempted murder. I now know that although in the same article I later explained this statement, I can see how my short explanation could have easily been overlooked. This would especially be the case for a person who knew me well and perhaps was upset and dismayed that I had kept this Big Secret from her. You can see the article here. As you can see, the error was entirely mine. I added explanations before and after the article. I think my one-sentence explanation stating that I used the term “prison” to mean “mental prison” and “attempted murder” to mean “attempted murder of self” was too hidden within the text, even though I had it set apart in its own paragraph.

I can see my friend laughing right now, imagining her response once she read my return email. I want to say that I was incredibly moved by this experience. I saw a person who knew me, who saw that her conclusion about me seemed to lack congruence with her prior experience. Her letter was incredibly kind, saying that she liked me and didn’t see me in that light. When she realized it was all a misunderstanding, and wrote back again, my eyes were further open to possibility.

While we might want to condemn all psych diagnosis, we must honor those who see beyond “reputation.” We must rejoice that there are wonderful people out there who do reach out, who throw off society’s colored glasses. It is my hope that our current system can be smashed down, allowing for a new one to emerge, based on kindness and compassion. We will indeed put an end to psych labeling. I believe any shrink out there can change their ways and adopt a way of being helpful that doesn’t include harming a person, especially not through diagnosis.

Will you reach out to your fellow human today?

They tried to put me lock me up because I blog, posing a danger to THEM, not to myself

More and more evidence is becoming clear to me. People who speak out against the AMA, the APA, psychiatry in general, or a specific institution or doctor, and especially those who have a strong Internet presence should be aware of this. Did you know that psychiatric diagnosis can be assigned arbitrarily, without proof such as a blood test or xray? This means free reign for psychiatrists to diagnose a person they want to dispose of with any label they please. All you have to do is to show up. They can nail anyone they want, claiming this person is “dangerous.”

Anyone can be determined to be not only “dangerous” but potentially “dangerous.” That is, they can lock someone up with no evidence of a person’s current danger to self or others. Yes, it’s true! I just read an article on this in a medical journal. So with no evidence whatsoever except fortune-telling (best left to psychics, eh?) a psychiatrist can determine a person as being possibly violent in the future, and see to it that this person (someone who is inconvenient to them) will be out of their hair for a good long time.

This is how they silence bloggers who speak out about REAL harm done inside institutions as we speak. Folks like me, who tell the truth, are surely a danger to them because we make a point of exposing medical wrongdoing.

Do you wonder why so many whistleblowers suddenly take sick and disappear? Look no further than that person’s psych evaluation. These are done arbitrarily and on a whim, based on “opinion.” Isn’t “opinion” always biased? Of course it is! I learned this in grad school where I studied creative writing. By definition, opinion IS bias.

More later.

Rewriting myself

How you use words is vital.  Are you ready to rewrite yourself?

Who has called you “mentally ill”? Think about it.  Think about what it means to be ill and well.

When we were young, we’d get a sore throat.  First, just a scratch, then our throats would hurt more and more.  We’d begin to feel tired and unusually warm.  Finally, maybe we’d tell our mom or dad, “I think I feel sick.  I don’t feel up to going to school today.”

Some kids didn’t say a word and they’d try to go to school anyway.  Maybe something fun was happening at school that day, or more likely, they felt pressure over homework or sports.  Sometimes, a teacher or coach would notice the kid looked sick and would send the kid to the nurse. The kid would end up going home with a note.

That was what “sick” meant in my day.  You couldn’t do things you usually could do, and you spent a lot of time in bed and not in school.  I liked the “not in school” part and I liked that I got to spend time in my room alone.  If you were sniffly and your sore throat didn’t go away and your fever wouldn’t stop, someone eventually dragged you off for a throat culture, which came out positive or negative, and depending, you’d end up on penicillin.  What was good about a positive throat culture was that it guaranteed more private room time. Or that’s how I saw it.  More private writing time for me.  Sleeping felt good.  It sure beat school with all the mean kids and teachers.

So what is “mentally ill”?  It’s something different, isn’t it?  You can’t measure it with any thermometer, especially not those cheap plastic ones they now insist we buy. Not even that old-fashioned accurate glass one you secretly stowed away and you hope never breaks (I won’t tattle on you) will EVER detect mental illness. So if your kid has mental illness, how will you know it?  How will you be able to properly measure it and make a decision to your kid home from school?

Answer #1: Not everything is measurable with scientific tools.
Answer #2: Not everything that’s human is within the spectrum of “illness” and “wellness.”  Therefore, not all human experience needs a medical “diagnosis.”
Answer #3: When making decisions about the direction of the lives of our children, we should include them in the decision-making, depending on their willingness to take responsibility for themselves.  As elders, we can only hope our children’s maturity and wisdom increases with time.

You may be surprised to hear me admit to Answer #4: Not everything can be expressed in words.

I can’t speak for others.  I had heard of “mental illness” when I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but I thought it was for young Frankenstein monsters and their new, adopted brains and for runaway kids or for unlucky kids who accidentally took very bad drugs at teenage parties and then afterward, no matter what anyone did, the very bad drugs wouldn’t come out of their bodies.  I knew there were kids who were rumored to be “screwed up,” but if I asked around and investigated, I’d eventually find out the kid had been in a tragic car accident or had a very bad sports injury that didn’t heal properly.  I spoke with a girl who took many pills.  I asked her why she did this and she said her head hurt all the time and no one believed her, so she took pills to make the pain go away.  She said the pills made her stomach hurt.  I asked her what the pills were.  She said it was a new thing called Tylenol.  she said she found it in her parents’ bathroom but there was more at the corner drugstore.

These memories I have from my school of these kids represented the typical ones thought of as “screwed up.”  These kids, I believe, eventually were sent to “shrinks.”  That’s the last I heard and I have no idea how their lives ended up.

There were the drinkers and party-goers.  These were popular kids and this drinking activity, even if done to excess and even if occasion breaking of the law was done all in good fun and even if a car was involved, unless a kid died of course, this was all considered “normal” and the kids ended up “successful,” got married and made loads of money.  Our class presidents and various popular offices up and down the lines, over the years, drank quite a bit, and this was “acceptable.”  Kids like this went to college after public school as pre-meds and such, partied their way through college and then became a rich doctors, accountants, business people, and proper law-abiding citizens that we all admire.  Can we measure this, please?  Numbers?  Diagnosis?  How many “friends”……

Oh, the road not taken……

Anyway, no “shrink” sitting in some office today believes I came from such a town. Who knows what they think! The shrinks assume I am hard of hearing, that my vocabulary is severely limited, and surely, I am incapable of remembering my hometown at all, so what does it matter? They take one look at me and assume I’m a dimwit. Great diagnosis.

I must be a mass of confused emotion.  Mania.  Tourettes for sure.  What’s that one where you deliberately pull pieces of hair out?  It begins with T.  That’s one I don’t want cuz I happen to value my hair.  I need a disease that causes me to pull my boobs out and hopefully they stay out and don’t pop back in. That would be handy so I wouldn’t have to put on a bra every day.

Maybe shrinks need to get “obsessively staying on a permanent vacation break” disorder. Every single one of them.  How about putting them all on a leper island?  We need to put thick walls around the island with secure locks on those gates to keep the shrinks locked in.  Let’s protect our society!  Homeland Security at its finest!

Maybe I have “Silly Blogger All Alone on Thanksgiving with Nothing Better to Do Disorder.”

It all depends on nomenclature.  What you choose to call it. So around age 23, and surely, by 24, I had adopted the term, “Mental Illness.”  This was my new identity.  I threw it around like Halloween candy.

I didn’t have mental illness, but what I’d found in fact was a new bunch of folks to hang out with and the new bunch of folks seemed cool and accepting enough.  I have no clue what was REALLY going on with anyone there. Cuz under all the layers was a history I never, ever heard. It all got buried.  Therapized and translated into MEDICAL and PSYCHIATRIC terminology that wasn’t our true life experience.  These professionals translated it and gave us a new vocabulary. We then adopted this vocabulary.

It’s essential to retrain ourselves to stop using their language if we want to ever think for ourselves again.  No, I don’t agree with some of these “programs” that insist that “medical terminology” and all “clinical language” is TABOO.  No way. I do agree that we need to redefine ourselves AS WE ARE, NOT AS WE HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED BY SOMEONE ELSE.

YOU ARE NOT A DIAGNOSIS.  Are we clear on this?

Do you believe rumors about a person, or do you believe what you see based on your own five senses when you meet the person face-to-face?

The diagnosis is the rumor.  You are who you are face-to-face.

From now on, I don’t suffer from Binge Eating Disorder.  Before I entered therapy, I had never heard the word “binge.”  Nor had I heard of “eating disorders,” and you bet I had no imaginary “Ed,” either, and no fairy godfather Voice of Ed ever talked to me! I’ve tried and tried to hear this “Ed,” and the therapists insisted that I talk to this imaginary “Ed,” but really, I would rather talk to God and tell God to please take the therapists off my hands.

I do, on the other hand, suffer from an inherited set of traits that lead to periodic polyphagia, that and my varying desperate strategies with this oddity.  If anything went wrong that you could call “disorder,” it was the disorderly fashion that the World of Mental Health and its totalitarian personnel and structures dealt with me over the next three and a half decades.

The sad consequence was the split in my immediate family following my dad’s death.  No, I didn’t do anything wrong.  I didn’t sin.  I didn’t do anything morally bad that caused the split or say anything or omit anything. But I feel that if I hadn’t been immersed in the System, that is, the Mental Health System, this split wouldn’t have occurred.  No way do I blame any kind of “illness.”  I didn’t have one as I define it.  The System decided I have one and what was this but a rumor, their definition, someone else’s opinion.  I guess most of my family made up their minds based on rumor alone.

Today, Thanksgiving, this saddens me.

I had a great day, though.  Puzzle and I hung out.  I wrote this piece.  I realized that much time has passed and I am moving further and further away from the System.  As this happens, I am regaining my ability to write.

Gradually, I am shedding my old ways, and adopting new ways.  It’s amazing that now that I no longer have to cope with pressure from “therapists,” hounding me about my eating, I no longer feel the need to go running to the scale to “check” my weight to make sure I still have a meager amount of “control” left.  I’m thrilled that I can make my own food choices without someone grilling me all the time about what I eat, or forcing me to make some grueling confession once or twice a week.  Sure, I mess up plenty, and would love some advice, but the freedom sure has been worth it.   I am far less panicky over my weight than I ever was.

Slowly, I am making new connections and reconnecting relationships that lay dormant while I was far too immersed in “therapy,” not my fault, but thankfully, a few friends realized this and stuck around patiently.  I am grateful for their persistence.  I am amazed that while some, true, have turned their backs, many others have stuck around and see what happened for what it is and nothing more.  They know that in time, I’ll be okay.

As for those that turned their backs, it’s sad.  Many simply didn’t know me “before,” or they think that I was always the “Angry Julie” I’ve turned into over the past two years or so, not realizing that it was only a due to psychiatric abuse (abuse from therapists, etc) and not some weird personality fluke of mine or moral problem or even starvation.

I’m actually getting better.  Not only trying to figure out how to rebuild my life, but I’ve already started rebuilding it.  This excites me immensely.  You have to start somehow. You put down one brick.  Then another.  Eventually, I’ll have a built myself a enough stepping stones to reach the mainland.  They say no man is an island, and if I keep at it, I won’t have to be alone anymore.