Reinventing Bipolar: Steven Morgan

First Aired: 08-27-2008 -- 2 comments | Add comment
Steven Morgan

Advocate and bipolar survivor Steven Morgan talks about his experiences with spirituality and meditation, including healing through dream work.

Listen to the recent profile the New York Times did of Steven at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/07/16/health/healthguide/TE_BIPOLAR_CLIPS.html and check out Steven’s writing at http://www.vermontrecovery.com

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2 comments on “Reinventing Bipolar: Steven Morgan

  1. Great Show! Thank you Steven & Will. I’ve listened to this particular show more than a couple times.

    In fact, Steven is a good friend of mine and his med free approach to “bi polar” which is inspired by Will and others like him has been invaluable for me.

    And so- I want to use this comment as a way to add to their contributions from my own personal experiences and encourage others who are listening and reading on the Madness Radio site to move toward increased freedom from the mental health system. Here it goes-

    *

    I was at one time diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia but now am free of antipsychotic medication. My approach of coming off antipsychotic medication (after 10 years) happened in a span of 3/4’s of a year’s time; from the highest made dosage of Abilify to nothing.

    So, my main message to the innumerable people diagnosed with a “mental illness” and on pscyh meds is to not take psychiatry as an answer. The mental health system in America and beyond is not only corrupted by the immensely profitable pharmaceutical industry, it harshly discourages free thinking and criticism. And it also doesn’t respect the largely voluntary nature of its clients.

    You cannot simultaneously be on say, Abilify–at its lowest dosage it’s monthly price tag for 30 pills is around 600 dollars–and maintain your independence. Let’s break down the reasons. . .

    1. You need health insurance whether from a full time job, the state or government. In the case of a full time job, if you lose it- you can end up having to pay over half a grand a month for a medicine. Otherwise instant withdrawal can be as severe as a psychotic break. In the second case, you end up dependent on reporting to and sharing varying degrees of privacy to any combination of local, state or federal office workers, clinicians and so on.

    2. You also need a psychiatrist and most likely other “services.” Usually a therapist or case manager or both. In the case of a psychiatrist, they decide what medicines you take and when- you have input but not always. In my experience, a psychiatrist can make significant decisions about lowering the dosage of a psych med, or tapering off, or ceasing it completely. This freedom of decision by a psychiatrist does not ultimately encourage you to challenge them or their decisions.

    3. You can experience a range of side effects; a sampling of which include permanent face deforming tics, a sense of inner restlessness, weight gain, suicide, and so on. Many psychiatrists, therapists and clinicians downplay these side effects and will tell you that even common side effects like weight gain, or flattened moods “outweigh the risks.” (Any of the information I was given about side effects came either with a prescription bottle and was impersonal and so lengthy in list, never mind extremely unsettling- that it seemed far fetched and irrelevant. Tho occasionally, I was given information about side effects, such as having to sign on one occasion a paper releasing my psychiatrist from liability if I was to develop face deforming tics (tardive dyskenesia).)

    4. You have to take the medication daily (this is so in the case of Abilify and many others). So get used to waking up or going to sleep with a psych med and a glass of water, or food or no food- depending on the medication’s requirements. (This was always for me disabling. A reminder of my otherness- that I am taking a medication to be other than.)

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    For many of us these realities within the mental health system and its services are by nature a loss of independence and freedom- physically, intellectually and spiritually. And no matter how intelligent or supportive your clinician, case manager, therapist or psychiatrist is they cannot prove factually that a “chemical imbalance” is more than a theory. This is a subtle but important point, which I encourage you to look at closely from many angles.

    Mental health in our culture is very narrowly defined, and conventional. From the perspectives of religion and spirituality- how to live a full and meaningful life is informed historically by great struggle/s. We are not and never have been living in a paradise- this is a real world with real shit happening.

    If you decide to take psych meds- it might transform your situation for the better, but psychiatry should not go unquestioned or be the only answer to crisis, trauma, suffering or any kind of anguish, fear, mental diversity- or so on.

    Will and Steven have both pointed a way out from the fundamentalist attitudes and authoritarian nature of our mental health system. They’ve done this with their lives and with their work and encouraged myself and many others to go in a direction of balanced and informed self-determination. I’m grateful to have heard their message and to play a part.

    Thank You,

    Colin Momeyer

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Reinventing Bipolar Steven Morgan: Madness Radio – Beyond Meds

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