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Personal Stories

Robert J Gray

“At first, I was tricked into voluntarily taking Navane and Haldol by being told that I had to take them as a condition of having shelter.”


31 July 1962

Contact info: St. Paul, Minnesota,USA

Currently doing: Robert is a 411 operator.

Mental health experience: Inpatient, Outpatient, Commitment, Psychiatric Drugs, Forced Treatment, Coercive Treatment, Restraints, Torture/abuse, Solitary Confinement

Psychiatric labels: Manic-depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder

Psychiatric drugs taken in the past: Navane, Haldol, Cogentin, Klonopin, Prolixin, Risperdal, Zoloft, Geodon

Recovery methods: Self-help, Peer Support, Diet, Exercise, Psychiatric Drugs, Social Activism, Spirituality, Meditation, Literature, Consumer-run groups, Art/music, Family/friends

Greatest obstacle: Haldol

Brief History:

I was abused mentally in graduate school which lead to the problem, and was also subjected to financial and justice abuses. I felt my rights are/were being violated. I was given my psychiatric labels by doctors, mental health workers, and the government.

When labeled I felt anxiety. The last time I was in a psychiatric institution was 1995, and I have been in an institution a total of seven times. The best part of being in the psychiatric institution was the outings, but the worst part was the constant claustrophobia. I wasn’t sure whether to trust the mental health services at first. I was open. Now I do not trust the mental health system because they blame the patient for everything that goes wrong by affixing psychiatric labels.

In the hospital I was forcibly drugged seven times with Navane, Haldol, Cogentin, Klonopin, Risperdal, Zoloft, and Prolixin. Navane gave shaky feeling in my stomach and intestines. Haldol had a deadening effect. Cogentin caused dry nose. Risperdal lessened voices.

Haldol left me insane without drugs possible permanently. I was mislead about the effects of these drugs. I was not told what the positive goal of the drugs were. I was advised about side effects of Cogentin. At first, I was tricked into voluntarily taking Navane and Haldol by being told that I had to take them as a condition of having shelter. My most intense periods of emotional distress included being taken over by evil, liberal spirits after going on and off Haldol.

I was forcibly restrained by being strapped to a stretcher, but can’t remember how long or how many times because I was unconscious when it happened. Also, I may have been forcibly electroshocked. It could have happened on several different occasions. Reasons were not given. If it happened it left me dazed and scrambled for several days. In the long run, it gave/gives violent thoughts, with even the possibility that it might have happened. I was placed in isolation; don’t remember how many times or when. One time I was left to urinate on the floor. I felt too dazed and drugged to remember.

In regard to one-on one interactions with mental health professionals some have been helpful, some not. Recently psychiatrists have always given me what I ask for, which of course is good. Before that almost all the forced-drugging people have done what they did based on some theory that wasn’t even true. I associated group therapy with hospitals. They were nothing more than brain-washing attempts. Get the group to gang up on me if I didn’t say the party line.

I have experienced stigma based on psychiatric labeling. My credibility is much less and I am believed very seldom. I am open about my psychiatric history, the problem is staying quiet about it. I am not a person who wants to have a lot of secrets. I do keep it secret from several people because they are normal and wouldn’t understand. I fit in with mainstream society poorly, but it’s getting better. I am devoted to research concepts I discovered many years ago, but I had no credibility because of psychiatric labels. Recently I have been accepted into Iowa State University which may solve the problem.

Currently I am on medication (Geodon and Zoloft) and I feel that I have support now from Support Coalition, Well Mind Association, family, friends. My family has been very helpful especially recently. My friends, some of them are people I can share my ideas with without being put down. Consumer-run groups have been very helpful. I like the idea of the mental patients governing themselves. Social activism gives me the feeling that maybe the world is not so bad after all. Self-help, identifying flaws in myself and fixing them myself, had definitely helped. I try to sleep now until completely satisfied, I go on yearly religious retreats, play tennis, walk around lakes, and bowl. The single most important factor in my recovery process was to recover from the Haldol, which took other meds for me to do.

I knew I was making progress in recovery when I got my own apartment and did not get put back in the hospital for several months. I have more of a feeling that I am owed by the psychiatric system since I first encountered it. Recovery to me means fixing the damage done by Haldol. It does not include the other growth that would have happened in any case.

My vision of the ideal mental health system would be people mold their minds into what they themselves choose for it to contain.

I currently work as a 411 operator. It is rewarding but I need new challenges. I do volunteer work by supporting people through the Support Coalition and teaching my friends the computer.

Year told: