Beyond Recovery: Stage Five


My name is Dustin and I live in Michigan. When I was seventeen years old my mother put me in a psychiatric hospital called Forest View. The abuse I felt violated me to the core! I felt like I was being raped having to submit to all the rules, the bullying and the emotional abuse. To have your dignity removed when you are an innocent patient and just want genuine, kind, gentle care, and get unprofessional jerks who you can tell are fake and just care about getting paid is a horrible experience.   If anything it only caused me more traumas with the trauma that I already had. I am now twenty-two years old and live on disability while also living my life as a hermit because now I am afraid of people due to the awful treatment I endured.  I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by a REAL professional at the age of eighteen. I now have no social life and it sucks, it really does…

Dear Dustin,

I know it really sucks.  I’ve been there and it’s awful.

Here’s my prescription for recovery: 

  • Focus on what you may need to do in order to get a good night’s sleep.  Sleep–without drugs–is healing. 
  • Exercise.  This will “change your mind” and also improve your sleep. 
  • Eat healthy.  No junk food–cut out most sugar, salt and fat.  Eat fresh vegetables and fruits. 
  • Develop your spirituality; find God, in whatever form you conceive. 
  • Connect with nature–walk, garden, go kayaking, whatever.  Become grounded in nature. 
  • Do something creative–write poetry, paint, make pots.  The creative process brings together your intellect, emotions, spirit and memory and knits them into a whole. 
  • Serve others. Do something that is of value to the community.

It will take you about three years to develop these seven steps as a lifestyle.  Pick one to start on today, then gradually take actions in the other areas as they appear to you.  Also, as you move forward in healing, gradually reduce your medications.  Your medications may prevent you from recovering, so reduce your drugs as soon as possible.

What you say about what happened to you is absolutely true.  I’ve been there; I know you’re right.  Now, the only path for you is to take the job of recovery as your own; the psychiatric industry isn’t going to help.

The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is bullshit; don’t worry about it.  During the years I spent as a “psychiatric patient,” I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, major depression, narcissim, paranoid schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and a bunch of other stuff.  What I actually had was immaturity, bad parenting, and over-medication.

I took antidepressants every day for twenty-six years.  The damage from the drugs has left me catheterized, in a wheelchair, and on a breathing machine.  My body was wrecked by the drugs.  You are young; you still can protect yourself.  Do not take drugs.  Emotional healing comes through contact with emotionally healthy people (which, as you know, does not include people who work on inpatient psychiatric units) and through spiritual maturity.  Find God.  He’s there and he created you; he knows what you need.

There are certain steps through the psychiatry system. 

  • The first step is trusting them—the doctors, social workers, nurses and aides—and believing what they tell you:  you are sick.  Your sickness is inside you and cannot be cured.  The best you can hope for is some kind of life based on taking drugs.
  • The second step is discovering that the people who work in psychiatry are not very nice.  Most of them are unkind, judgmental, power-hungry and financially greedy.  They have created systems and social orders that are destructive of human growth.  With this goes the discovery that the drugs don’t work.  They also prevent you from growing as a person.
  • The third step is extricating yourself from the control of the psychiatric system—getting off drugs and renouncing the authority of psychiatrists.
  • The fourth step is spreading the alarm about the dangers of psychiatry and trying to fix the broken psychiatric system.
  • The fifth step is getting a life that is so interesting and fulfilling that you get bored with the whole psychiatric thing and stop paying attention to it.

Any one of the first four steps can take anywhere from a year to several decades.  Many people become stuck in one of these stages and never move out of it.

I am writing this today because I am in stage five:  issues of psychiatry no longer interest me.  I have become a Citizen with a capital C.  My concerns are the interrelationship between God, Caesar and the citizen.  What is power?  Who has it?  How should it be used by those who govern and those who are governed?  In short, what the heck is wrong with the country and how do we fix it?  I refer you to my other blog, .

This blog, “Behind the Locked Doors of Inpatient Psychiatry,” tells the stories of what I suffered from psychiatry—not my “mental illness” but the dangerous and damaging things that were done to “treat” my mental illness.  It covers a time period from my first therapist in 1960 to my last psych meds in 2001.  It is, in fact, the story of a life lost to psychiatric treatment.

I stopped writing for this blog in July 2012, nevertheless, it continues to receive an average of 70 hits a day.  Apparently I have written well and wisely for the ages.  Now I’m officially quitting:  I have things to do that are more important to me.

In the twelve years since I stopped taking psychiatric drugs, I have given speeches, done interviews and written tons of stuff to educate others about how emotional distress should and should not be dealt with.  I will always be available to answer questions and speak from what I have learned, but I no longer will actively pursue issues of psychiatry.

I have a life now.  I have moved beyond recovery to the point where psychiatry no longer matters.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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11 Responses to Beyond Recovery: Stage Five

  1. I mean, you seem to have MET many of the obtuse people!…


    • annecwoodlen says:

      Would you believe that I had to look up “obtuse”? “Dull-witted, stupid, insensitive.” I would say that describes the majority of civil servants and since I live on Social Security, with HUD housing, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and HEAP, then–yup–I’ve met a lot of obtuse people. I wonder how Bill Gates would run the government?

  2. Reblogged this on WAGblog: Dum Spiro Spero and commented:
    I want to reblog this brilliant post by Anne and then i will add my own editorial comments if i can in a later post or edit. In the meantime, i think it speaks for itself and says just about what i would want to tell a lot of young people newly diagnosed with bpd or did or add or even bipolar disorder and getting on disability, preparing for a life “in the system” – it sucks and it isn’t worth it unless you are floridly psychotic. And even then, don’t believe what they tell you about antipsychotic drugs. There ain’t no such medication, only sedatives that may or may not quiet things down temporarily. The only way out is through, if you can do it with a wise and caring guide and community. Don’t get stuck as i am, on multiple antipsychotic drugs, addicted to them so that getting off them only means you get more psychotic than ever. Psychosis need not be a lifelong problem, but it certainly will be if you keep taking high doses of the drugs and never explore other options.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Every word of what Ms Wagner writes is true. (From the Grammar Nazi: BPD, DID and ADD should be capitalized.) I love the phrase “floridly psychotic”–yeah, I’ve met a few of those in my career.

      Additionally, there is proof, particularly from Dr. Peter Breggin, that antipsychotics actually cause loss of brain mass over time. People who continue to take antipsychotics end up with smaller brains, and how scary is that?

      I am sorry that I have never studied psychosis in depth. I know a bit about schizophrenia but little about psychosis (and I know damn everything about depression). Best of luck to you, Pamela; there are always options.

      • Hey Grammar Nazi,

        Thanks for your corrections, which of course i knew but was too LAZY to correct for myself… No excuse at all. I like that you are perfectionistic enough to change those things, even though i myself keep hoping that small case or upper case the intent woule be clear, obviously you do not trust any such thing, nor should you. People can be very dense and obtuse! You seem to have many of them! In any event, as writers, we both appreciate the value of good editors and the keen eye of a good copy editor. At least lord knows i do! Take care and hope you are doing a little better physically …my thoughts are with you. Pam

      • annecwoodlen says:

        Pam, me and my homeopathy are chugging along. Of course it helps that it’s summer and I can get outside a lot. It’s not about being a perfectionist in writing. It’s that in order for communication to take place we all have to use the same written forms–for example, capitalizing acronyms. Consider the difference between did and DID. I consider it my responsibility to self-edit, not rely on somebody else to do it for me. Anne

      • Consider the difference between did and DID. I consider it my responsibility to self-edit, not rely on somebody else to do it for me. Anne

        Of course, you are right. No arguments with that. I am glad that the summer is treating you well. Homeopathy is not something I have tried or known whether to trust, but the one thing I am certain of is that it can do no harm, unlike allopathic meds… TC Pam

  3. Wow, anne, if you dont mind i am going to out right steal this post from you, give you all due credit and back linkages and use it on my blog. I may add some editorial comments where i dont necessarily agree but i wont change a word of what you yourself wrote. Brilliant!

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