I am Sue Clark-Wittenberg
I am antipsychiatry activist as well as a former psychiatric and electroshock survivor.
I was psychiatrized from 1972-1990 in Ontario psychiatric hospitals for severe depression. I had been brutalized at home as child by both my parents and an uncle.
At 17 years old I experienced a "spiritual breakdown" or a classic "nervous breakdown".
I became homeless as I ran away from my upper middle class home. I had never wanted anything material like food or clothes or a place to stay before. My dad had an executive job in the federal government and made good money.
I was experiencing many symptoms of stress like not sleeping, being agitated, being fearful of my impending future as I had no money and nowhere to go.
A high school chum of mine said I could stay at her house while her parents were away in Florida. It was March of 1972 and I was in grade 12 at Sir Wilfrid Laurier High school in Vanier, a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario.
I missed lots of school and the high school psychologist suggested I go to the Royal Ottawa hospital (ROH), a psychiatric facility for a meeting in the Emergency ward to see about my "nerves".
Well I did go to the ROH and did not know anything at all about psychiatry.
A doctor and a nurse were waiting for me and noticed my panic attacks and anxiety and that I was under considerable stress at the time. They both suggested I come into the hospital or a few days to rest and so I agreed - as I had nowhere to go and had no money and did not know about the community resources that may have been able to help me.
So I was admitted to Whitney 4 ward which was a locked ward. I was given a physical and an interview by the ward psychiatrist. I had never been locked up before in my life and my freedom taken away from me.
I told the psychiatrist I had been abused for 17 years of my life. They asked that both my parents come onto the ward to see my psychiatrist which they did.
One night as the nurses were sitting in a office with the door closed, I managed to grab my file in a hurry and looked at it. My file said "parents denied ever abusing Suzanne (me) My psychiatrist concluded: diagnosis for me was:"schizophrenia".
Right then and there I was labeled on my medical file forever. A schizophrenic I was being called. I was confused when I read that and angry that my parents denied ever abusing me which is not uncommon for most abusers to do.
I was given heavy doses of psychiatric drugs that kept me incoherent, had difficulty with my co-ordination, had a dry mouth, made me sleepy (I slept 20 hours a day only to get up for meals when awakened by a staff member) and I could not think straight at all.
Psychiatry tried to dissect my soul and they did indeed. They took away any bit of self esteem I had, any ounce of dignity I had left in my life, and they made me afraid for my life as the staff scared me and told me I was sick and I had to take the meds to help me get better.
I am an animated person and I am emotive. I told the staff what I thought of being tortured with their psychiatric drugs, chemical restraints (a needle put into my hip when I yelled at the top of my voice to someone to get me off the ward - no one ever helped me when they heard my cries). I was not violent.
I was prisoner on a locked ward and I had done nothing wrong, I was an abused kid who was trying to get her freedom back.
Psychiatry put a label on my head and gave me the drugs to go along with my so called mental disorder.
When the meds did not work, I got another label to go with the new psych meds.
In the 18 years I was psychiatrized I got 15 different psychiatric labels/disorders and 14 different types of psychiatric medications/pills. I was forced to have 5 electroshocks (ECT)against my will in 1973. On my 5th ECT my heart stopped and my ECTs were stopped.
I tried to hang myself on the Whitney 4 ward and a nurse cut down the rope and saved my life. I could not handle being on that ward at all.
I survived all of that and now know psychiatry is the biggest medical fraud out there today.
I later became a speaker at the Royal Ottawa Hospital in their Consumer As Expert Program in the 90s in their education department and spoke on antipsychiatry issues.
Believe it or not it is true!
Label jars not people someone said, I don't know who said this but it is one of my favorite quotes.
All I needed at 17 years old was a foster home with a stable family who were caring and safe. My childhood home was not safe and there was no love. I had the best of clothes and food and went on vacations and grew up in a huge house but that is not what really mattered. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and tell me I was good kid, and feel special to someone but did not happen.
Child abuse can emotionally cripple someone and for a time it did. My brother calls himself an "emotional cripple".
I feel through the cracks so to speak at 17 years old and I did.
Psychiatry sitll continues to print their DSM book,the psychiatrists "bible" with more bogus mental illnesses, over 300 or more mental disorders everything from A to Z. bipolar, manic depression, schizophrenia, and the list goes on and on. The DSM V is being developed soon by the American Psychiatric Association. Consultants get $10,00 paid by pharmaceutical companies nevertheless.
I am starting to reclaim who I am, what I want to do and where I want to go.
Yes, I am different. I am not a fashionable person, do no wear makeup, I talk loudly, wear brightly colored clothes, am a neat freak, talk alot, say what is my mind and do not follow the crowd and never did. In high school I did not realize there was an " in crowd".
A social worker wrote down on my file that I was "eccentric". I told a friend what the file said and I was very upset and she told me "that is a compliment, it means you are an original person". I am who I am and I like that now.
Some people put me down but I shrug it off and I say well that is their problem not mine.
I have tried to put back the fragmented parts of soul that psychiatry tried to destroy.
Psychiatry tried to destroy my individualism, my creativity, my spiritual visions, and tried to destroy my core, my soul. They did not succeed.
I was damaged by psychiatry but I am healing in my own way.
I speak my truth and no one can take that away from me.
I have my medical records and they tell the horrors of what I experienced in the mental health system.
This mental health system has to be fixed because it can be toxic and it sure was for me.
I don't want anyone to go through the many tortures I went through on the psychiatric wards that still exist to this day.
Written by Sue Clark-Wittenberg on January 9th, 2009
Ottawa, Ontario firstname.lastname@example.org
Websites: suzyo.wordpress.com - The Sue Clark Story