Reinvisioning the Celebration of Mental Health Awareness in 2018

Waiting (with my Dad) to speak as the keynote for UC San Diego Health’s Lighting Ceremony for Mental Health Awareness Month, May 2016.

Two years ago, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at #UCSanDiego’s lighting ceremony for May’s #MentalHealthAwarness month.

Little did they know, my journey involved going completely off medications and thriving. (The eyes of the psychiatrist behind me say it all at that point in my talk ).

It’s now been 34 months medication free. It’s a constant learning experience. I am ever grateful I met Dr. Humiston in January of 2017 when I was ready to give in to Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and go back on meds. He understood the underlying biological condition surrounding why not only was my body requiring higher and higher dosages of micronutrients to maintain clinical stability, he also understood the underlying cause of my illness–Toxic Encephalopathy from systemic candida (Semon, B. A., 2014). He’s healed my gut to the point that now, with correct food choices and continued antifungal treatment, my life is no longer controlled by symptoms previously misattributed to Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type with Catatonia.

2018, reaping the benefits of living with an accurate diagnosis and following an effective treatment plan.

Moods, delusions, psychosis, anxiety, insomnia, mixed mania no longer come out of the blue. They only occur when I deviate from my diet or have exposure to blood-borne biotoxins. It’s taken since January of last year to rein in the worst misdiagnosis ever. I finally have control of my brain.

Complicating the matter was the iatrogenic injury* caused by 17 years of five classes of psychiatric medications and more than 100 ECT treatments. I will forever be grateful for infused NeuroRecover and the central nervous system healing which continues today. No longer is my life gripped by the throat by iatrogenic illnesses  like acquired sensory processing disorder, acquired tardive akathisia, REM Sleep Disorder, or medical treatment-based PTSD. However to this day I am healing from the iatrogenic injury to my dopamine receptors, manifesting as neuroleptic induced parkinsonism and Tardive Dystonia. Bizarrely, it only surfaces when I am exposed to aerosolized mold spores. Gratefully, I am slowly healing from mold toxicity, too! It’s been quite a recovery journey.

I am so grateful for the many people who could see beyond the misdiagnosed label and treat me as a valuable human being worthy of having an opinion, voice, choice in treatment, and willing to explore new treatment options when the others failed (I think 37 different combinations of five classes of psychiatric medications over 17 years qualifies as having done more than my part in psychiatry’s grand experiment).

This comic by Wiley Miller details the reality of complex diagnoses (Non Sequitur January 20, 2016). Unfortunately the insurance and psychotropic models have deviated from sound medicine.

There are too many people misdiagnosed like myself. Understand there really are no simple answers as the Insurance Model and Pharmacological Model suggest. True mental health is only achieved when addressing the health of the entire body and spirit. It’s not all in your head.

Treating psychiatric symptoms with the primary goal of stabilizing neurologic anomalies is as grossly negligent as taking the batteries out of a fire alarm because it makes too much noise–without extinguishing a raging fire. Its akin to thinking you successfully, momentarily treated a fever with Tylenol, only to discover the person is fighting meningitis.

The problem is too many mental health professionals are all too willing to blame genetics, weak minds, or not taking medication without a willingness to dig deeper to understand how medicine impacts lives, taking time to identify the underlying biological cause of symptoms. Here’s a hint: There are no chemical imbalances (Breggin, P., 2012). Researchers have yet to discover a person is deficient in Prozac, Ativan, Depakote, Ritalin, Haldol or Ambien.

In fact, they’ve discovered quite the opposite. Psychiatric meds cause akathisia, enlarged ventricles (Murray, R. M., 2016), tardive dyskinesia (Jeste, D. V., & Caligiuri, M. P., 1993), alterations in neurotransmitter receptors (Benmansour, S. et al., 2004),  activation syndrome (Amitai, M., Chen, A., Weizman, A., & Apter, A., 2015), dystonia (Angelis, M. V., Giacomo, R., Muzio, A., Onofrj, M., & Bonanni, L., 2016),  and a host of frightening issues yet to be recognized by the doctors who prescribe them.

This year for Mental Health Awareness Month, why not break stigma by taking a stand against established psychiatric care? Research GutBiome, Candida (Semon, B. A., 2014), inflammation (Smith, C. L., & O’Malley, B. W., 2004), Thyroid (Bathla, M., Singh, M., & Relan, P., 2016), Stress/Adrenal issues (Slavich, G. M., & Irwin, M. R., 2014), Allergies (Wamboldt, M. Z., et al., 2000), Toxic Mold Exposure (Gordon, W. A., et al., 2004), imbalanced hormones (Monteagudo, P. T., Falcão, A. A., Verreschi, I. T. N., & Zanella, M.-T., 2016), heavy metals and a host of blood-born biotoxins that can cause altered mental status.

In 2018, let’s not accept the marketing ploy of the biochemical imbalance (Breggin, P., 2012). Recognize that forcing the brain to operate in a way other than it was designed further exasperates the problem longitudinally (Whitaker, R., 2005).

This year, let’s diffuse the tidal wave known as a  Mental Health Crisis by actually healing people.  It will take time. It will take patience. It will take trial and error. Finding appropriate support requires doctors, counselors, family members, friends, and associates to be willing, collaborative partners in figuring out the mystery of mental health.

There are no easy answers; the effort is totally worth it. Promise! I am the evidence.

* Iatrogenic injury is one which is caused by the medication or medical treatment as administered by a physician.

Works Cited

Amitai, M., Chen, A., Weizman, A., & Apter, A. (2015). SSRI-Induced Activation Syndrome in Children and Adolescents—What Is Next? Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry, 2(1), 28–37.

Angelis, M. V., Giacomo, R., Muzio, A., Onofrj, M., & Bonanni, L. (2016). A subtle mimicker in emergency department: Illustrated case reports of acute drug-induced dystonia. Medicine, 95(41), e5137.

Bathla, M., Singh, M., & Relan, P. (2016). Prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms among patients with hypothyroidism. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 20(4), 468–474.

Benmansour, S., Altamirano, A. V, Jones, D. J., Sanchez, T. A., Gould, G. G., Pardon, M.-C., … Frazer, A. (2004). Regulation of the norepinephrine transporter by chronic administration of antidepressants. Biological Psychiatry, 55(3), 313–316.

Breggin, P. (2012). Do You Have a Biochemical Imbalance? – Dr. Breggin’s Simple Truths. YouTube. Retrieved from

Gordon, W. A., Cantor, J. B., Johanning, E., Charatz, H. J., Ashman, T. A., Breeze, J. L., … Abramowitz, S. (2004). Cognitive Impairment Associated With Toxigenic Fungal Exposure: A Replication and Extension of Previous Findings. Applied Neuropsychology, 11(2), 65–74.

Jeste, D. V., & Caligiuri, M. P. (1993). Tardive Dyskinesia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 19(2), 303–315.

Monteagudo, P. T., Falcão, A. A., Verreschi, I. T. N., & Zanella, M.-T. (2016). The imbalance of sex-hormones related to depressive symptoms in obese men. The Aging Male, 19(1), 20–26.

Murray, R. M. (2016). Mistakes I Have Made in My Research Career. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 43(2), sbw165.

Semon, B. A. (2014). Dietary cyclic dipeptides, apoptosis and psychiatric disorders: A hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 82, 740–743.

Slavich, G. M., & Irwin, M. R. (2014). From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: a social signal transduction theory of depression. Psychological Bulletin, 140(3), 774–815.

Smith, C. L., & O’Malley, B. W. (2004). Coregulator function: a key to understanding tissue specificity of selective receptor modulators. Endocrine Reviews, 25(1), 45–71.

Whitaker, R. (2005). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 7(1), 23–35. Retrieved from


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