Finding meaning and healing outside of ‘isolating’ psychiatric system

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My walks of life got me into an exceptional position where I was given up by the medical establishment by means of the psychiatric system. They told me that I had a severe psychiatric condition for which I needed to be medicated for the rest of my life. But little did they know that I knew better. You see, thanks to my study homeopathy and my spirituality that I have developed throughout my life I have become a very independent and free person who didn’t buy into their nonsense. After my ordeal I did set myself up as a social entrepreneur, blending homeopathic medicine and social sciences. 

I had a lovely childhood and came from a very warm nest, but I didn’t fit in the Dutch education system from the seventies and early eighties. As we know, education is organised top-down, where a few educators at the very top decide on your curriculum in line with socio-economic demands and expect children to do their best to meet the criteria for being successful. A good-natured child as I was, I did my best at all cost and managed to get through it but ended up in mechanical engineering where my career was short lived as this was not me. Subsequently, at the stage in my life where many people of my age started their career, I felt utterly unfulfilled and didn’t know what to do with my life. The education system pushed me in a direction that was not mine, yet it was helpful in understanding the basics of modern physics and so the essentials of being a truthful observer in this world. Also, from childhood I have cherished deeply spiritual inclination which were hard to share with those around me.  

The education system didn’t suit me and as a consequence I found it hard to cope with the demands of this society and its productivity ethos. But I felt confident about the path that I was on, guided by my spirit guide Gideon and my faith in God. Naturally, the loneliness and isolation that I was suffering from made it difficult to communicate what was going on in me but I knew for sure that my psychiatrist would not have been able to understand this as they seem to have a very poor understanding of human dignity. So, I dressed up to the nines every time I attended my psychiatrist and revealed as little as possible about all of this as I knew it could be used against me.

What helped me in busting my confidence and increasing my awareness about my mission in this life was my compassion. From the first day I left the psychiatric unit I started to help those in a worse off situation to the best of my ability using all my skills and talents that could be developed yet. From rock bottom, hampered by the psychiatric drugs that I was forced to take, I have developed new ways to reach mutual understanding and create hope for my peers still under the spell of the industry. As luck would have it, I met the right people at the right time and took every opportunity to enhance my skills and ability to listen. The idea took shape of setting up self-help groups that would benefit social cohesion in our communities by focussing on the social inclusion of the marginalised and myself. 

I started this new life straight after my last admission some eight years ago and aided by self-prescribing homeopathic remedies and a psychiatrist who genuinely helped me to taper the drugs, I became a totally free man in 2016. This self-prescribing is hard to imagine for any bystander unknown to the homeopathic principles but professionals in this field would understand that something like this cannot be done without an honest appreciation/homeopathic assessment of your whole person and in my case, this was made possible thanks to my spirit guide Gideon.  With his help I was also able to gather like-minded people around me and made a success of each of the three self-help groups even though I definitely had my ups and downs on my very challenging sharp learning curve.

One group is called Dilemmas-in-Care and is meant for people in a caring position; people, for example, in care of their troubled family, a person with Alzheimer’s, a child with learning difficulties or a family member in distress under the spell of psychiatry. So, people carrying a weight on their shoulders in the care of others more vulnerable persons and who wish to relate their predicaments and dilemmas to their faith and own spirituality. In this group we hold on to the principle that we are in it to support one another first and we do this with the intention to listen carefully while one person speaks out his/her heart’s content. This is made possible by holding a candle and as long as it is in your hands the others listen fervently in an attempt to truly understand what you are going through. As the candle goes around, round after round, the bonds of friendship strengthen and we help to carry each other’s burden. Now, the language in which we are sharing may differ from person to person, because there are many different opinions in this field, but we all share the same faith and have utterly different back grounds as well. However, this difference in language plays an insignificant role because our mutual support in the care of someone vulnerable is number one and so, through sound openminded listening with a heart and a half we rather influence one another instead of imposing our opinions. In this way we establish common sense among the participants in relation to the care of the most vulnerable and we pave the way for unity in our church from a grassroots level. This group is going strong since its establishment in 2017. In similar ways this group format definitely could benefit the many voices in care of the distressed and will help us to find common ground leading to one voice against psychiatric malpractices. 

Another self-help group based on the same format of faith, hope and charity is called Know-what-you-Eat. In this group we share the faith that Mother Earth provides us with all we need as long as we diligently care for her in the way we treat the soil and the life she makes possible. Just like in Dilemmas-in-Care the format allows us to listen attentively to one another and someone who holds the talking stick may speak to his/her heart’s content about the challenges met in growing vegetables organically. Listening fervently to one another this way helps to overcome strong convictions that knocks the balance in the group where we aim to appreciate all input equally. This means that every opinion or lifestyle remains socially included as long as we continue to make an effort to listen and comprehend. In continuing this way, we share the responsibilities, generate companionship and enhance our efforts of sharing insights in good horticultural practises on behalf of the next generation, our children. We have established 6, wheelchair accessible, raised beds with the option of a poly tunnel on the local National School grounds in 2019. We have the intention to pass on our vital knowledge of growing vegetable sustainably to the children in cooperation with the teaching staff. Growing together with our children in this way helps to create some wriggle room in the curriculum that is offered to our children and that provides a little more freedom for self-expression and help to appreciate other talents in aid of more child centred teaching. Know-what-you-Eat is very beneficial for the social integration of people who feel side-lined and socially excluded as it requires cooperation from the community to maintain the vegetables outside school hours as well. When we care for Mother Earth by growing our own vegetables together in an organic and sustainable way, making use of this group format where listening is paramount, we care for each other and our children who are our future. 

Over the years I have noticed how working with nature enhances my personal wellbeing a lot. It makes me feel grounded and forget about my troubles. Also important to mention is that it enables me to meet like-minded people who are willing to support me in the challenges that I meet in making justice happen for me and my peers who carry the psychiatric burden. And this brings me to introduce my third group which is called Listen-to-your-Heart. This group is for the benefit of the social integration of people who, like myself, are- or have been troubled with, the way they have been treated by the psychiatric system. After my last psychiatric incarceration in 2013, I was adamant that something like this should never happened again to myself or anyone else. Psychiatry isolated me from family- and social life and so I took it upon me to care for somebody, it could have been any peer, who was in a similar situation but worse off. With this person I committed to the first steps of establishing this group. I have tried to find more people to get involved but unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone else given the isolated position I was in, drugged up to the eyes myself. Together we started listening to one another, sharing our experiences and we made sure we felt secure and comfortable in an atmosphere of mutual understanding. I made it a trial and with the help of a sociologist I wrote a report on this effort to self-integrate. 

While one holds the candle and speaks up his/her truth, the other participants are listening attentively in an effort to fully comprehend what is being expressed. As the candle goes around, we celebrate being different, we feel genuinely understood by our peers and accepted for who we are. We meet in the faith, namely the faith that after all what has happened to us, life still has something on offer for us and that indeed justice must prevail. As we continue to listen, we form strong bonds of friendship and an increased need to support one another also outside the group. This will generate the hope that together we have a future. Finally, the need will arise to also make justice happen for those worse off, and so by listening alone we will manage to awaken our self-esteem in aid of our peers outside our group. In this way we provide ourselves a charitable focus and determine our direction together. This is extremely important, because just listening attentively alone will help us to generate our self-esteem that has been trampled on by psychiatrists over the years. This systemic cancelling of self-esteem with the aid of drugs, ECT, seclusion rooms, social isolation from family, your young children, your friends in combination with the stigma reinforcing diagnosis makes people losing the will to live and to speak up for themselves. Reviving self-esteem through attentive listening among peers is essential for making real change happen. 

Me and others have established a national group of 8 experts in surviving psychiatric industry that works independently but in full support of our mother organisation MindFreedom Ireland. We aim to continue influencing politicians and make our voices being heard in an attempt to create upheaval. In the mean time we will erect local self-help groups that work according to the described listening format based on the principles of faith, hope and charity. These groups will operate independently with each having a representative in the national team online. Sharing is caring, that is what keeps us united in our one goal, namely to raise the voices of so many forgotten about that will entice politicians to call on a national debate in which our testimonies will be centre stage. We will give a workshop at the upcoming Critical Voices Network Ireland Conference in University College Cork, November 16th and 17th this year.  If you wish to help us out, please get in touch on the days or contact me at 0877503243. 

As a homeopathic practitioner and social entrepreneur, I apply a “Robin Hood” business model. This means that I help my peers for free who support me, who are a member of one of my self-help groups or who help me while I work with them. Meanwhile, I will earn my money from treating patients who can afford my consultations. 

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