“My first stop was the ecstatic and exotic mania of a completely different reality, Japan, where I quickly attained a celebrity status as I have a resemblance, at least according to the Japanese, to Elizabeth Taylor. I started to get rich teaching English and had to stuff my yen under my tatami mat. When I had to leave quickly to avoid deportation, I was devastated.”
Contact info: City: Portland State: Oregon Country: USA
Currently doing: Gail just finished a Masters in Arts Administration and is looking for employment within the psychiatric survivor movement.
Mental health experience: Inpatient, Outpatient, Psychiatric Drugs
Psychiatric labels: Acute psychotic episode, Schizoaffective Disorder
Psychiatric drugs taken in the past: Thorazine, Paxil (I was off psychiatric drugs since the early 1970’s, then 3 winters ago I “upped my credentials” and received a new title as a schizoaffective and was on Paxil for about 3 weeks.)
Off psychiatric drugs since:
Recovery methods: Running, Dancing, Art/Music, Self-Help, Journaling, Friends, traveling and talking, talking, talking, reading, reading, reading!
Greatest obstacle: The belief system that accompanies life in the modern corporate state that uses medicine as an agent of social control.
I was probably ascending into a state of mania, (or a spiritual emergency), in the first years of the 1970’s due to a great variety of factors. One of which was that I’d been depressed for many years and “what goes down, must come up?” I’d been back about a year and a half from a year of schooling in Mexico. I’d traveled past the billboard “warning” along the Interstate from California in a move to Ashland, Oregon that said, “Don’t Californicate Oregon!”
I didn’t look indigenous to the area. I’m 1/2 Armenian but to the folks in Ashland I looked like part of the Indian tribe that lived on the other side of the Cascades. I was on a stringent weight loss regimen and was becoming alarmed over rumors that Ashland was on the apex of a spiritual triangle. I was a busy art education student at Southern Oregon State College, and was gaining some attention as a classical musician and performer.
About 10 years earlier I’d first become depressed about the same time that my brother got sucked into the psychiatric system. He is deceased as a result of “treatment.” Now I have come to know that his disability and death are due to the gross violations of his civil and human rights along with the medical violations of the Hippocratic oath, which spanned over three decades of the 53 years of his life.
Ironically when I “slipped off the edge of the world” I was on a plane to my brother’s wedding. I had a panic attack and believed I was going to die on the plane flight to Los Angeles. I was pretty camera shy at the wedding and thought people were after my soul. I finally ended up at Ingleside Medical Center after a dangerous reaction from Thorazine at Kaiser Permanente.
After I came out, I got licensed as an Occupational Therapist (O.T.). I never went back into treatment in an inpatient unit because I believed I wouldn’t survive treatment. My brother had already been debilitated by drugs and shock, which was exacerbated by a preexisting seizure disorder. In recent years I have come to know that the psychological impact for me in response to my brother’s incarcerations parallels the experiences and feelings of families whose members have been taken by the inquisition during the witch trials or whose members have been incarcerated by dictatorial regimes and tortured.
There were other dark nights of the soul for me. In 1990 I came to the edge again. This time I bought an airline ticket for $1200.00 and began a solo journey around the world, which lasted a year. My first stop was the ecstatic and exotic mania of a completely different reality, Japan, where I quickly attained a celebrity status as I have a resemblance, at least according to the Japanese, to Elizabeth Taylor. I started to get rich teaching English and had to stuff my yen under my tatami mat. When I had to leave quickly to avoid deportation, I was devastated.
I traveled through the Islamic mainland of Java during the Gulf war and quickly assumed a Canadian National identity. I got seriously ill from the local brew (alcohol) in Bali and was brought on the back of a motorcycle for emergency treatment. I was able to celebrate five different New Years celebrations in 3 or 4 different countries due to the timeline changes in different countries. The New Years Eve in the Chinese district of Malacca in Malaysia was surreal and beautiful, like a war in Vietnam with mounds of paper money, and fireworks lighting up the sky. I celebrated Ramadan on the Malaysian mainland, and saw the Taj Mahal in India. I laid sick in a Turkish hotel along the coast unable to communicate until I was well enough to walk to a pharmacy for medicine. I traveled on the Orient Express through Yugoslavia at the beginning of the war with Serbia and last year almost got thrown in jail in Kurdish territory along the border region between Turkey and Georgia.
The difficult experiences on these journeys are all “walks in the park” compared to the so-called “treatment” my brother and I have endured in the U.S. psychiatric system, and they offered much greater healing and empowerment and adventure. Information is power and the literature of Thomas Szaz has been pivotal in my understanding of the mental health industry. Peter Breggin’s documentation of psychiatrists’ role in the engineering of the holocaust is extraordinary! Lenny Lapon’s “Mass Murderers in White Coats” is superior and Dave Oaks observations about psychiatry’s role in the maintenance of the status quo are compelling. Carolyn Myss book “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can,” is very powerful.
For me, if you can recognize the great mystery of your presence here and that you don’t know what it’s about or what it’s for then you won’t trap yourself into the idea of what you should or could have been. Because you don’t have a clue really of how this story is to be played out on a truly grand scale. What do the Gods want? This is for the Gods to decide.