Psychology

Breaking with disorder: the invisible flames of mental illness labels

The heavy doses of trazodone and Klonopin caused a severe loss of inhibition and I felt a dangerous sense of apathy toward my well-being… The only identity I was presented with by each clinician was that of a sick individual.

I started drinking heavily to try and regain any sort of emotion. I was neither happy nor sad; I accepted my bleak existence in my heavily medicated state… deep down, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed, harboring intense feelings of both depersonalization and derealization. I would soon come to find that drinking only helped my symptoms temporarily. In my intoxicated state, I could sense a glass barrier between myself and the rest of the students. I felt vulnerable and isolated, an easy target for strangers who were eager to feign interest in my well-being. With multiple diagnoses and a stack of pills in my bedside drawer, I never developed any self-worth… I could feel integral layers of my existence evaporating during each therapy session. I was internally screaming into a void that felt boundless. My psychologist encouraged me to keep engaging in the exposure response prevention exercises during my free time. I told her that the exercises made me feel disassociated, terrified, and hopeless. Nevertheless, she insisted that this was the gold standard of treatment. I felt infantilized. She stated that if I did not continue this treatment, I could never expect to recover. The power dynamic was locked: I was the patient with intrusive thoughts, and she was the expert psychologist. Any input that I provided would always be deemed erroneous by her standards… In 2020, I was extremely fortunate to see a physician who diagnosed me with an iatrogenic injury from benzodiazepines. I had endured virtually two decades with dozens of clinicians… in my continued list of unexplained health conditions. This was the first time I had encountered a psychiatrist who did not provide me with a diagnostic code for mental illness, but instead, a clear explanation… an onslaught of questions started to flood through my mind. Who would I have been if I had never been diagnosed? What if I had never taken psychiatric drugs? My mind started to unravel at all the possibilities and my identity felt at odds with this new discovery. How was I supposed to move forward with this knowledge?

Original Article (Mad in America):
Breaking with disorder: the invisible flames of mental illness labels
Artwork Fair Use: F.RdeC

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