A Survivor’s Story
By Anne Marie Brian
Key Themes: psychiatry, mental health, medication, schizophrenia
Toxic drugs, toxic atmosphere, toxic “professionals” with toxic attitudes … welcome to the Toxic Ward. This is a survivor’s account of life on a psychiatric ward, and how being labelled “mentally ill” changes your world. These were sometimes funny times, but mostly tragic times; times which nobody should have to go through, but millions do. Human rights do not exist for mental patients. They are routinely humiliated, abused, tortured, and made to feel it is all “for their own good”, so they rarely complain. Modern treatment for mental distress consists of drugs, drugs, and more drugs. The “chemical imbalance in the brain” theory has yet to be scientifically proven, and yet everyone working in this field believes in it as surely as they believe in gravity or that the world is round. This book is my attempt to blow the lid on everything that is wrong with the mental health “system”, where one group of people have too much power over another group of people. I have offered some alternatives, and I am sure many more ideas could be come up with, if only mental health professionals would take off their blinkers and see that what they are doing does not really “help” anyone at all.
About the Author
Anne Marie Brian has been “sectioned” and held on a psychiatric ward against her will many times since she was first incorrectly diagnosed as “Schizophrenic” at the age of 29. She was born in London in 1959 but she has lived in Berkshire for most of her life. At the age of 14, she was expelled from a Convent School for writing a letter to a newspaper in which she described life at the school as “hell”. Before she was 16 she had taken LSD twice and lost her virginity once. In her teens she spent a lot of time on tour with a headlining rock band, when she should have been at school. At 17 she passed her motorbike test. At 22 she lived in a tent for 3 months, travelling to 11 different countries in Europe. She has half of a BSc (Hons) degree and has worked in about 50 very dull office jobs. In 1993, she met Iain, her present partner, and a year later they had a son, Callum. When Callum was 7, he was taken out of school and educated at home, because he is bright and gifted and he found school unbearably boring. Anne Marie’s current diagnosis is “Bipolar”, but she is not keen on being labelled. She has found that by far the best thing for her “illness”, much more effective than any drugs, has been regular swimming. She has always been a “scribbler” of sorts, mostly writing letters to various people who have been important to her over the years. In 2010, Chipmunka published her first book, “Don’t Breathe a Word”, which is a collection of poetry, some of which deals with her experience of having mental health problems.
Something Better Change!
I don’t know if anyone who has the power to actually change things will ever read this book, or care about the issues I feel I have to raise. I am 52, and since I was 26 I have been told by mental health professionals that I have a “mental illness”. But it is beginning to dawn on me like a terrible awakening that “mental illness” could actually be a construct of society and the psychiatrists who are making a very good living out of telling people they are “ill” and need “treatment” like someone with a physical illness. And then of course there are the massive pharmaceutical companies who deliberately seek to hide the inadequacy of the drugs they market for mental distress, because of the huge profits involved.
What is happening to us, when children who can’t sit still in a boring classroom are drugged until they are zombified into conforming? And adults who find our modern way of living difficult are similarly drugged. I thought that we fought the Nazis, and yet the scenario that is unfolding in today’s “enlightened” society seems like something Hitler could have dreamed up.
The thing is that mental distress is NOT something which can be fixed with a chemical.
The drugs marketed for “mental illness” actually damage the brain and make it harder for the distressed person to make sense of what is happening to them and recover. Lobotomy has been illegal for years, and yet drugs routinely prescribed to people in psychiatric units and out-patient clinics have exactly the same effect as a lobotomy, dulling the higher brain functions and turning bright, intelligent and gifted people into “zombies” with robotic movements, staring eyes, and expressionless faces.
Then when these people lament the loss of their former selves and cry, they are called “depressed” and yet another drug is added to the cocktail. The way people are treated in the mental health system is nothing short of a violation of human rights, but the reason these people hardly ever complain is because they are made to feel that the system is doing all this to them “for their ownxgood”.
The fact that people with no history of mental illness will show psychotic symptoms after four days and nights of sleep deprivation surely would indicate that the brains of people with “mental illness” are not in fact that different to everyone else’s. There is no scientific evidence for the widely held belief that mental distress is caused by “a chemical imbalance in the brain” which can be fixed with drugs. The complex chemical workings of the brain are as yet still not properly understood, and so tampering with them is a very dangerous thing to do.