Finding our own language

Myra Kovary

I was incarcerated in psychiatric institutions in the USA twice in the late 1970s and diagnosed with an 'acute psychotic disorder'. My experiences were technically voluntary admissions, but I was held against my will and forcibly medicated both times. In the mid 1980s, I was incarcerated again and received a diagnosis of 'Bipolar Disorder I'.

I have no use for such a diagnosis. It is not helpful to me in figuring out how to deal with my physiological and my psychological issues, however I have 'accepted' the label of 'Bipolar Disorder I' because, without being so labeled, I cannot buy health insurance that pays for the services I need, let alone the so-called 'services' that have been and will likely again be forced on me against my will.

I have had a total of seven 'psychotic episodes' in my life and have managed to avoid psychiatric incarceration during only one of those. The most recent 'episode' was in 2008. I know that I experience some kind of 'altered state' and I wish I could find non-medical language to talk about my experience without having to recite a whole chapter of my life in order to explain what I'm talking about. I have chosen to take 'anti-psychotic medications' during those 'episodes' to reduce the risk of getting locked up again. On one occasion I was lucky enough to avoid incarceration during an 'episode'. At times, I have also taken 'maintenance medications', but I do not tolerate them well.

I applaud your research and hope that, at very least, we can find language to describe our experiences that does not rely on words that have been appropriated by psychiatry.