Collecting Psychiatric Survivor Stories



As people with lived mental health experiences, each of our stories is unique. We are gathering stories, poems, and art pieces to paint an overall picture of the impact forced treatment has had on our community as a whole. Please complete the form below to add your story to ours!

Submit your Stories, Art, and Prose


Submissions Below 


"Proposition 1 on the March ballot is supposed to get those in need into California’s mental health system compassionately by overhauling it to create more in-patient and intensive outpatient treatment facilities.
Overhauling a failing mental health system seems like a good idea, but I have been in outpatient
treatment and my needs have seldom been met. I have also been in the in-patient facilities and
they are anything but compassionate. Once one is in those facilities, they are stripped of their
rights, they have very little to no privacy and they are almost always at the mercy of nurses,
doctors and judges. What is clear to me after experiencing a conservatorship is that the lack of
transparency in the system does not shed light on how Proposition 1 is supposed to solve its
existing problems.
Right before I was put into a conservatorship, I was taking medication for attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder and an anticonvulsant as a mood stabilizer, both as prescribed. However, I
was unaware that one of my other medications was not working properly. I knew something was
wrong with my mental health, so I walked myself to the emergency room. I was admitted, the staff
observed me, did some lab work, then wrongly concluded that I was on methamphetamine and
PCP. The combination of ADHD medication and anticonvulsants can cause a false positive on a
test for those street drugs, but the emergency room staff did not recognize that.
I was required to sign a safety contract agreeing not to self-harm to be discharged, but I was
released with the bare minimum of care, possibly because there were so few community service
funds. That bare minimum was to see an outpatient therapist who had no medical training or
experience. I needed medical help, not help from a therapist. In an ideal world, I would have gotten
a bed from community mental health services instead and I might have been fine all along.
Two months went by with little, if any, help from the therapist and the crisis center staff to ensure
that I was OK at home. Then, my mental illness got so bad that I broke the safety contract and I
was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
The psychiatrist there did not change the medication that caused my crisis and did not even talk to
my outpatient psychiatrist of several years, which could have helped me immensely by figuring out
which medications I needed to be on.
I was sent to the same psychiatric hospital again a week after my discharge, and was put into
conservatorship. During my conservatorship, there were medication problems that should had
been addressed before, and during, my arrival at a board-and-care. My family, are my best
advocates, but they were unable to help. I went to a locked facility. I was then stigmatized,
confined, overly-medicated, and even assaulted. I was lucky to be out of conservatorship in
eighteen months. It takes much longer for many people. The medication works in a matter of weeks, but the residents only saw their doctor for five minutes a month. The mental health
facilities are more like warehouses for people than actual treatment centers.
Please do not take Proposition 1 lightly. It would cost more money and not fix the system’s
underlying problems. It will take nearly one-third of the current funding for mental health programs
and divert it to housing, leaving community programs that help people stay out of the hospital
worse off. It will cause an even bigger influx of people that want help to be subjected to involuntary
treatment when funds that can be saved with better, and less expensive, outpatient treatment and
community services
In conclusion, patients will have even less community service support and will likely go
back into the system. In-patient services are for people in severe crisis and
conservatorships are for people who can’t, and/or won’t, take care of themselves. They are
not replacements for inadequate services. Prop. 1 is not a sustainable solution."

"As someone who has been involuntarily hospitalized, I firmly believe there is no better way to undermine trust in the mental health system and ensure that people do not seek out the treatment they need. I was placed against my will in a facility and over-medicated, with no say in my treatment plan. Despite being at a hospital with a great reputation and receiving better than average care, it was an experience I wish to never relive, and I shudder to think about the awful conditions those who receive average or below-average care will endure. It will never make sense to me that proponents of this approach claim this is for a patient's safety, when I was taken away from those who love me and everything that was familiar to me, and placed among providers more interested in controlling me than helping me. Where's the safety in that?"




"Within these walls, a tomb of stone, No whisper stirs, no life is known. A silent cage, my soul confined, No voice escapes, no hope entwined.

The air hangs heavy, thick with dread, Each breath a struggle, words unsaid. My heart, a drum in muffled beat, No rhythm shared, no solace sweet.

I pace the confines, bare and stark, Echoes bounce, mocking the dark. My cries for help, a whispered plea, Lost in the void, unheard, unseen.

The shadows gather, long and thin, Mocking whispers, drawing me in. The silence presses, crushing weight, A tomb of self, a sealed fate.

But wait, a tremor, faint and small, A crack in stone, a light I recall. A whisper born, a spark ignites, Pushing back the endless nights.

With trembling hands, I claw at stone, Each shard a hope, a seed to be sown. The echoes fade, the darkness wanes, A breath of dawn, the silence drains.

I break free, stumbling into light, The walls dissolve, and morning's bright. The air, a song, the world unbound, No longer walled, no echoes to wound.

Though scars remain, the memories deep, I rise anew, where shadows sleep. For even walls, in their cold might, Cannot contain a burning light.

So let me sing, with voice unbound, No echoes here, only solid ground. The walls are gone, the silence broken, My voice, unbound, a new path spoken." -SINK



"In hushed chambers, stone and cold, My voice a captive, story untold. Shadows cling, in corners curled, Whispering secrets to a silent world.

Brick by brick, they built the shell, A fortress forged of doubt and fell. No windowpanes to let light through, Just echoes mocking, "Me and you."

My heart, a drum with muffled beat, Longing's rhythm, bittersweet. Each breath a sigh, a whispered plea, To break these chains, and finally be free.

But hope, a ember, flickers low, In dreams of skies where wild winds blow. One day, I'll crack this granite tomb, And sing a song that shatters gloom.

Till then, I'll dance with ghosts unseen, And let the echoes chase between These walls, a haunting lullaby, Until the dawn paints freedom in the sky." -SINK