The manifesto of a noncompliant mental patient

This is a beautiful piece. Please read!

Submitted and authored by Aubrey Ellen Shomo

I see it everywhere: People with mental illness need medication. It sounds reasonable.

Today, there are even political organizations that seek to make it easy to force a person to take it.

It’s easy to look at another and assume things like that.  It’s human.  After all, it’s compassionate to help someone who isn’t able to ask for help, right?  They’ll thank you in the long run, won’t they?

No one asks why their child, or sibling or friend refuses to take their meds.  Why bother?  It’s an illness.  It’s meaningless.  The doctors say so.  They know these things.

Have you ever questioned the logic of the phrase “She wouldn’t be refusing medication if she wasn’t ill”?

I am a noncompliant mental patient.  I have been for years.  I beg you.  Ask why.

Look into my eyes and see me.  Try to understand where I’m coming from.  Even a crazy person has a human will.

I am someone’s sibling, someone’s child, and someone’s friend.  I could be yours.

I’ve been told more times than I can count that I won’t make it without medication.  I’ve been told that I have a chemical imbalance.  My brain’s broken.  I need it.

If I refuse, it’s the side effects.  They can treat them with more medication.  If it isn’t that I lack insight.  I don’t know I’m sick.

Why would I possibly want to stop?  How could I wish to do so?  Let me ask you:  Have you ever taken these drugs?

They call it anti-psychotic medication.  It sounds good enough, but did you know these drugs are also called major tranquilizers?

They speak of side effects, but do you know what it feels like to have them?  Can you read that on the label?  On my label?

What’s that?  You learned all about this in medical school?

Can you learn what it is to be in love from reading a medical description?  Heart rate, neurotransmitters, behavior patterns.  Three criteria out of five.

Can human experience be described in such simple terms?  I bet you don’t think yours can.  Why, then, do you insist on describing mine?

I know how major tranquilizers feel.  I’ve had to.

They change a person.  The vigor of human experience fades to shades of gray.  Life becomes dull, boring, long.  Creativity slips into nothingness.  The very human spirit is dulled.  You can go from the rapture of being alive to wondering if you even are.

They will make you calm.  They will make you behave.  They might even help with your problems, but they can dampen what really matters – what makes you alive.

They majorly tranquilize.

“She prefers her mania – her madness.  It’s a symptom of the disease.”

How can you say what matters to me?  Is that your right?

For this broken mind of mine, I have been locked up.  I have been threatened.  I have been restrained.  I have suffered at the hands of a system I’m told is helping me.

And they wonder why I don’t trust them. How could I be hesitant, even bitter?

“She’s paranoid.  She won’t take her medication.”

They might be right, but all I ever wanted is to make my own choices.  I’ve only wanted to scream, “What about how I feel?!”

I am a noncompliant mental patient.  Hear my voice.

A cancer patient can refuse chemotherapy.  A religious person can choose to trust God over penicillin.  A doctor would call both irrational, but acquiesce.  All I ask is the same right.

“She’ll decompensate without it.  It’s the only thing keeping her even remotely sane.”

I stopped all my medication twice.  I was hoping once would be enough.

The first time, I failed.  I lost it.  They were right: I went crazy.  I was strongly encouraged to take my meds.  It was a fight I knew I would not win.

“Patient has been compliant – though hostile.”

A façade of normalcy regained.  High functioning.  Working, going to school, socializing.  All the things you’re supposed to do.  All so hollow.  The spark was gone.

“The medication is effective.”

But the drugs felt the same.  So, I stopped again.  Lots of people do.

“Compliance is a major problem in the treatment of mental illness.”

I was told that I’d need medication forever.  The facts spoke clearly.  I was mentally ill.  As long as I took my medication, I would be fine.  Without it, I was doomed.  Why did I want to stop?

I told them how it feels, but it didn’t matter.  I told them I would recover through force of will alone.

“Patient is grandiose.”

So, I told them I didn’t believe I was sick.

“Patient lacks insight.”

In truth I was terrified.  I believed I was insane, I had failed before, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off on my own.  After all, the facts were clear – no one does.

But I did.

Later I learned that many have.  No one talks about them.

John Nash never took medication again – it was key in his recovery.  They left that out of the movie.

There are many others who were told no one recovers – told that they would be ill forever – but who proved them wrong.

I am a noncompliant mental patient, yet no one would try to hand me a pill today.

To get here, I had to ignore good medical advice.  I had to have poor insight and bad judgment.  Without it, I would never have achieved what I have in life.

So, now when I hear about family members who should have made sure their relatives were taking the medication, or courts that should have forced it, I think to myself about doctors who should have listened.

I often think about people who may have succeeded in stopping their medication, if only they had the necessary support instead of assurances of failure.  I wonder how many more I should be able to name.

I wonder why so few people speak of the validity of the desire to not be medicated.  Even a crazy person has a human will.

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This work is Copyright © 2006 Aubrey Ellen Shomo. It was first published in the Spring 2007 issue of Open Minds Quarterly. It may be reproduced, copied, or reprinted in any medium now existing or invented in the future, so long as it is reproduced in its entirety, including this copyright statement, and so long as it bears attribution to the author, Aubrey Ellen Shomo. Spread it to the wind.
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13 thoughts on “The manifesto of a noncompliant mental patient

  1. I just recently quit taking all my meds. I know they are major tranquilizers they stole my soul & replaced it with a person who goes with the flow & obeys orders obediently. A revolutionary who opposes all forms of control suddenly just going along with the flow. That is not me. I know this has nothing to do with my real personality. The withdrawal is hell so far all I do is sweat & feel panicky but I know that will all fade in time & I will be back to being more my authentic self. Call me crazy or bi-polar at least it’s me. I don’t want to live under major tranquilizers stealing my soul. Sometimes the labels get to be too much & you begin to believe what they tell you. It doesn’t matter it’s not real & all of it is subjective. Who is to put a label on me & tell me what is right or wrong? Do they have to live my life? No I choose to do that. I choose to live as crazy as I am at least it’s authentic. How can I continue to live a lie? I don’t want to fit into their idea of who I am. I don’t want to live another day of this boredom they call reality. I was born to be something greater than this. I was born to be free & be myself. I don’t want to be easily controlled. I don’t want to be another robot to the machine. I want to be original, unique & myself. I really hope I don’t go back to being on these drugs they are soul destroyers. They robbed me of everything I hold most dear. I am no longer the creative genius I once was. I hope to gain it all back again. I know in time it will all come back to me. I want to love my life not dread each passing dull day of infinite monotony. There has to be more to life than this & without psych meds I can actually feel it.

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  2. They should make taking those drugs for a period of time mandatory for all doctors while they are still in medical school. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute for about a year. Patch was told all the same things we were and he fought it–quite successfully as it turns out. He’s a pretty amazing guy. If you saw the movie–there is truth in the scene with the roomate and the squirrels–what they changed in the movie was that they took out how sad that man’s situation really was. I never liked that scene because they sacrificed that man’s agony to get a laugh. Yeah. The doctors should be forced to live in the twilight for a while. THEN maybe they would understand. Finally. Then they might actually be able to find real compassion and start treating us like human beings and stop making our very real suffering from the drugs into a pathology.

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  3. I used to trust the medical profession.
    On medical recommendation, which I now recognise as flimsy, I took some antidepressant medication which sent me manic and was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The medication that was given to control the bipolar made me very ill so I eventually stopped taking it in protest. All sorts of dire predictions were made by the doctors. Nothing serious happened apart from a relatively mild manic rebound from stopping lithium. I am basically OK. Although for a good five years or more the medical profession kept warning me I would relapse. I didn’t. if I don’t take antidepressants, I don’t get manic.
    If I had continued taking the lithium I reckon I would be dead by now from renal system failure. Even small doses were poisonous to me.
    I was stupid enough to be talked into taking lamictal as an alternative to lithium. This provoked a serious allergic reaction. This allergic reaction (Stephen Johnson’s syndrome) was not recognised by the doctor due to abnormal presentation. Fortunately I disregarded him and stopped taking that as well. I later confirmed that this could have been fatal. My GP is still eating humble pie, and I will never ever trust the medical profession again.

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  4. The book mentioned that John Nash,who was featured in both a book and a movie titled “A Beautiful Mind”,stayed healthy by not taking his “medications”. The book mentions that he got better by not taking psychiatric drugs. But the movie distorts the picture and only makes it appear that Nash was on a new drug regimen.

    Psychiatric drugs are more about controlling people than helping them. The same is true of psychiatric “diagnosis”, which is highly subjective. Many psychiatric labels pathologize behavior that was never considered “sick” a century ago. For example, “ADHD” is a pathologization of typical childhood behavior.

    In many authoritarian societies, dissidents have been labelled with “mental illnesses”. In Soviet Russia, many such dissidents were sent to gulags. Janet Frame, a New Zealand writer whose story was told in the film “An Angel at My Table”, was labelled “schizophrenic” because she upset some powerful people. She was on the verge of being lobotomized but was saved when some of her writings won a contest.

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  5. Thank you giannakali….. smiling…. I’ve been asleep for years.
    I’ve had a computer, but ahhhhhh couldn’t deal with the light, the typing, the focus. I’m coming into spirit and feel so much better.

    I put my email address in there 3x….. you missed one. : )
    Thank you for looking out for this soul. I so appreciate it.
    It is angels like you that have brought me through this experience in one piece…… giving me a place to shout…..
    a place where I am not alone.

    Bless you,
    P E A C E
    and loving light from these hands to all eyes, down to the very soul.

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  6. I cannot believe what I just read. I could have written every word.
    I am just coming alive having been overmedicated for years.

    I thought I was the only one and am finding hundreds, then thousands, multi thousands
    of people that have gone through the same thing that I am going through. Anti depressants, over/mis medicating.

    What group is working to change laws? Anyone who would like to discuss this please email

    Diagnosed with Seratonin syndrome in January. I’ve been coming off of my meds since Jan ’09.
    I have spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

    No insurance….(I was on Depakote),
    “We cannot accept you because you are medicated with Depakote”.

    It was these anti psychotic medication that made me hide in my bedroom for ten coming eleven years.

    I had one doctor for eight of those years.

    I am bipolar.

    I was put on high doses of anti depressants for 8 years.
    Bi polar patients not should not be on high doses of anti depressants.

    “I am non a non complient mental patient”. I would not take a “mood stabalizer”.
    I HAVE BEEN CRYING FOR TEN YEARS that is no joke.
    My very best long time friend kept saying it was the anti depressants. He was right.

    Finally, after seeing a
    Neuro/Psycho/Pharmacologist/Internist/Teaching Doctor
    A ONCE IN A LIFETIME DOCTOR WHO ACTUALLY LISTENED AND CARED.

    A doctor from South America…… Heads up people, every Hispanic doctor I’ve ever dealt with have been compassionate listeners, with a heart felt emphasis on care. That is my opinion. I am a caucasian who knows good heart and spirit.

    “He said, let’s get you off all of this medication at once, you are sick from the MEDICINE”.
    OMG I was so mentally messed up from medication I lost all interest in what gave me life. A N I M A L S, My dog has gotten old, I gave my horse away…..(the absolute love of my life)
    I am a non complient mental patient who has friends family and loved ones who are clueless.
    Why don’t they understand? I cry now as I type this and my ol girl is looking at me with those beautiful eyes.
    Saying please lets go out of this house.
    Today I see it my heart listens I’m coming girl
    Nothing will ever make me hide in this house again.
    NOTHING DAMN YOU PHARMACUETICALS sp?

    I’m sick of it.
    I see children, adults…. and even animals on these drugs. Yes, prozac is available for animals. Should be animal abuse.

    please write if you have similar stories.

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    1. givesmehope,
      instead of putting your email all over the internet which really isn’t a good idea…spammers will pick it up…why don’t you join the social network associated with this site….

      there are almost 300 of us who feel similarly.

      http://beyondmeds.ning.com/

      I’m gonna take your email address out for now..if anyone does want to write to givesmehope please write to me and I’ll forward you her address.

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  7. Thank you so much. I see my therapist tomorrow and have been struggling all day with letting her know my intention to go off meds. This piece gives me the courage to be non-compliant with gusto!! I will post to my website with gratitude, and when I have the clarity of mind, again, once off meds . . . will share my story, too. So, tired of being told what’s wrong with my brain . . . what’s wrong with me, for trying to follow my own brain’s natural calling . . . even though it hurts. I will work find my synaptic way to comfort, too, even if the dance looks a little unstable from the outside. I want a different cane than what Big Pharma has offered thus far.

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  8. Preaching to the choir here, LOL. Keep tellin’ it!

    If the psychiatric drugs were MEDICATIONS, something that could help or even cure the problem, more patients would be taking them. They are DRUGS. The effects are worse (for many of us) than if we were taking heroin or meth. Don’t tell me about “side effects” — they are all effects, even the undocumented ones the drug companies are hiding from (or hiding from us). These drugs do not control our “disease”, they control US — which is the whole idea. Make the person unable to harm anyone, best way to do that is keep them from being able to do anything other than drool helplessly. (See “chemical lobotomy”.)

    Hugs,
    Moss

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  9. I completely agree… honestly I am starting to believe my neurologist when he says tongue-in-cheek, “the secret to a happy life is to stay as far away from psychiatrists as possible”

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  10. This was a great post. I can relate so well with the experience of being on an anti-psychotic. It literally destroys the soul. I was left feeling nothing and unmotivated to even live life. It took away my creativity, my spiritual side, my ability to experience pleasure, it took away me. When I explained that I was weaning off Risperdal to my family doctor she just wanted to replace it with yet another drug. I refuse to do this. I want myself back.

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