My Struggle with Anger Towards Psychiatry

I’ve been struggling with anger and (yes, sometimes) hatred towards my doctors and the people who “cared” for me when I was most disturbed and then the years following that, while on “maintenance meds.” I went years numbly accepting all as normal, par for the course. But no more. I’m enraged now.

I don’t believe these vengeful feelings are helpful. I, in fact, think they are destructive and could ultimately impede my continued health. I think it’s normal to feel angry and many people in the anti-psychiatry movement, I know think it’s helpful and empowering–an aid in the struggle against the establishment. While I understand this point of view, I think festering anger and hatred are poisons to the soul. So I’m determined to work through it and let it go.

My doctor of ten years, the one I hold most “responsible,” was a man I loved. Not romantically but as someone who supported me and had faith in me and believed in me. He was friendly and warm. It’s hard for me to even write about him now. I do, indeed, feel betrayed, but I have to take some responsibility for my plight as well. I am not an innocent victim, though I have a hard time taking responsibility for some of the poisoning of my body and mind anyway.

My psychiatrist saw an intelligent and insightful young woman working in social work and told her to go to medical school. He thought I should become a psychiatrist. I found this flattering, though totally unrealistic. How in hell was I supposed to do an internship and then residency when I needed 12 hours of sleep a night just to sleep off the drugs he had me on? How, when I took three months off work routinely to deal with my “illness.” (read deal with the poisoning of my system.) But I do believe he was sincere. He saw something in me. And I think he was right to see something in me. That he contributed to my complete unraveling was not something he intended.

Then…how was I partially responsible for my massive drugging? I couldn’t stand an unpleasant symptom. I would call him and cry until he upped my dose. I couldn’t tolerate my depression, my irritability my sleepiness or my sleeplessness, my anxiety. Help me! Help me! I wanted the quick fix. Of course it never came. It never dawned on either of us that I simply had to take control–to stop being pathetic. We can all learn to cope and deal with the human condition as I am now doing. It would have been nice to have someone REALLY believe in me. In my spirit and in my power to heal myself. I have those people around me now. My doctor only believed in the medication and its power to heal.

Granted, many of my symptoms were caused by side-effects, but neither he nor I knew this. Is his ignorance an excuse? Maybe not an excuse, but certainly an explanation. The power of the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries are so vast that your average everyday person just doesn’t stop to wonder. I’m not justifying this….it’s simply the case. To be ignorant does not make someone inherently evil. Most Americans are terribly ignorant about something. I was ignorant about psychiatric treatment. As a social worker, I was even part of the system that oppressed those with “mental illness.” In some cases, ignorance should be prosecuted. I’m not letting people off the hook. Some of the issues where ignorance comes into play have more serious repercussions than others, but ignorance is human, and thus ignorance is something that can be forgiven as far as I’m concerned.

This makes me think of parents you hear about, who are indeed criminal in their behavior when they leave children in cars to die by heat and suffocation. I always have great empathy, nonetheless, to hear of their pain and that they are being prosecuted. I think, isn’t their pain and guilt enough punishment? I have no problem forgiving them from afar. And yet I do think that in many cases ignorance should indeed be prosecuted. In any case, even though it’s different, doctors are greatly arrogant in their ignorance, I still believe that if I can forgive the people involved in my “treatment” I will heal more completely.

Also, I am completely aware that not all doctors are kind spirited as mine was. Some are not only ignorant, but patronizing, condescending and controlling and oppressive as well. I’ve encountered those people too. Not just doctors but also staff in psychiatric hospitals. The proposition to forgive these people becomes more difficult. They are truly hateful at times. Though I have to say, those people in my life were in and out of it so quickly–my hospital stays being brief–that I don’t have the same complexity of feeling involved when I think of them. They are just mean humiliating faces. My long-term psychiatrist was my “friend.” Like I said, I loved and trusted him—all the more reason that the feelings of betrayal I have about him are palpable.

Anyway, this is all in the realm of theory as I’ve not forgiven nor forgotten. I harbor deep anger and resentment towards all these “providers.” I think it’s okay to feel these things. It’s necessary to feel these things. Repression of these feelings is not the answer. That would only make things worse. So I will feel and I will feel completely and then I hope I will release the anger, the rage, the hatred.

It just feels heavy. I want to be light.

Brief Epilogue: I’ve grown much in this regard. After writing for 19 months now since this post the heaviness is lifting. I will write more in the future regarding this phenomena. This stage of anger was necessary for my healing, though, I believe. Forgiveness is key.

— two years down the road

11 thoughts on “My Struggle with Anger Towards Psychiatry

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  1. I left my psychiatrist last year at the same time I threw away the anti-depressants. I feel angry towards my husband and in-laws that insist that I have an “illness” and need medication. I’m so tired of it. I’m ready to go live on an island where there are no shrinks or in-laws. I could live in a hut and go fishing every day. It’s my dream!

  2. Reading about your struggle gave me perspective. I was a practicing nurse for 9 years… primarily in the Cardiac intensive Care Unit (CCU). I don’t think the “quick fix” mentality you speak of is condition-specific, it is quite global. I used to get SO frustrated when my patients wanted more meds to help them sleep or more meds for pain…etc. because of what you are saying here in your post! I knew, down the line, that feeding into the “quick fix” way out was only going to create more burdens for them down the road. I would often find non-medicine alternatives to help them sleep or relieve their pain. I could spot the “drug seeking mentality” right away and I would express my concerns to them about it, THEN offer them the alternatives I spoke of. Often they didn’t like it, but I found they they respected it. Don’t get me wrong, if there was no denying that they were in pain and needed immediate intervention, I would give them the meds, but I was very stringent and aware of what could happen and wanted my patients to be aware as well. It truly was a balancing act. Now with my husband going though depression, I am encouraging him to seek non-medicinal avenues, like meditation, relaxation, self-help, and friends (like you!). He is quite strong willed and sometimes doesn’t like what I say, because I don’t advocate self-pity or self-deprecation, which a lot of people tend to fall into in those states. He is MUCH improved (I’d like to say more “normalized”), but the one issue I still have concerns about is his issues with sleep meds. Do you have any experience you could share with me about dependence on sleep meds?

  3. Forgiving others (people who have hurt us) sets us free.
    Easier said than done, though! An easy theory from afar, but an enormous, seemingly impossible challenge when it’s close to our own raw feelings.

  4. As a psychiatrist myself I see some of the people that my colleagues have placed on multiple medications. I do see it as a form of lack of control. The meds are like band-aids to underlying problems…put enough band-aids on and the patient will be quiet. Your psychiatrist may not have had the strength and insight to deal with the complexities of your condition. It is sad that others around you and his colleagues could not see it.

  5. Hey Gianna

    Great post. I feel exactly the same way as you about this issue.

    I am a much angrier person after my hospitalisations and misdiagnoses in general and I will not allow myself to become bitter and hateful and mistrusting. Like you I long to feel lighter, I long to feel less cynical. I still have the psychiatrist – he is my access to Effexor which as you know I am still withdrawing from. But I’ve trained him well – lol – and he knows better than to be dismissive of my opinions and self-awareness!

    Anyways, the point is I really enjoy your blog and take heart in hearing your journey of recovery and how in parts it is similar to my own.


  6. Gianna, I hear you. I feel so much relief at having escaped my psychiatrist, but I still deal with anger at what I see happening to other people. I’m trying to find a way to balance all of those feelings and obviously have a long way to go. It can be all consuming at times.

  7. My theory exactly, Stephany. This sentiment coming from you means a lot, as I know what you’ve gone through at the hands of psychiatry. I’ve had contact with other people who let anger control them. Feel it’s productive. Ulimately, I just want to see clearly with no rage so that I can speak clearly to people on all sides. I think it aids tremendously in credibility as well.

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