I had been involved in an abusive group cult relationship. I was a victim of cult abuse, including but not limited to their use of mind control, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, and emotional abuse for two years. During that time, I was trapped in the cult and got very little sleep. I followed the cult leader’s demands of prayer and of doing activities for the cult that took a lot of time out of my days. My schoolwork during this time also caused me to get very little sleep due to overwork. I was worn down and malnourished from the high demands. The symptoms I was having as a result of the cult experience were high anxiety, depression, running from place to place, being scattered in my thinking, unclear thinking, feelings of intense fear, agitation, hyperactivity, and having racing thoughts. Additionally, I was thinking I was going to die, because the cult leader had said that the prophecy was that if I told anyone about her, I would die a painful death. I was seriously depleted and upset because of the abuse and sought help from a psychiatrist in mid-July 2011.
I told the psychiatrist about my intense fear that I would die and that all the horrible things the cult leader had said would happen would happen. These thoughts implanted by the cult leader lasted for a drawn-out period of time, as I worried about how I might die, as if it was a known fact that I would. I had thoughts like this that were unrealistic, and they were results of the brainwashing by the cult leader. I had these strange thoughts and strange behaviors from the strange thoughts until I went to Wellsprings and was deprogrammed from the cult.
At the Behavioral Health Unit at a Kaiser Permanente facility, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in early August of 2011. After I left the hospital in mid-August, I went to an outpatient facility until late August. I was later diagnosed with Psychosis and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at Kaiser Permanente in Riverside, in early September 2011. Later my doctor changed my diagnosis to Psychosis and Major Depression. Subsequently, the doctor changed the diagnosis again, this time to Schizoaffective Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I was diagnosed with three different disorders and combinations of mental illnesses within a three-month period.
After leaving the Kaiser Behavioral Health Unit, I was admitted to an outpatient mental health facility in mid-August 2011. There, a doctor diagnosed me with Schizophrenia and also prescribed Cogentin and another powerful drug for Schizophrenia. After I started taking these medications, I felt even worse than before: I was hyperactive, nervous, nauseated, felt like a vegetable, and was very depressed. I overslept, couldn't calm down, was afraid of everything and everyone, and had no appetite. Once a person is diagnosed with DSM labels, psychotropic drugs are highly likely to be prescribed.
After leaving the outpatient facility in late August 2011, I saw a psychiatrist. I was very hyperactive, my mind was racing, I obsessed about writing, and I was doing certain things related to the cult mind control material from the brainwashing. I felt like I was in an altered state, very out of it, and very afraid. My doctor at the time diagnosed me with Psychosis and Major Depression in early September 2011; she did not think I had Schizophrenia. Then the doctor admitted me to another mental hospital in mid-September 2011, where a different the doctor took me off the Cogentin and changed my medication to Luvox (200 milligrams a day) and Zyprexa (25 milligrams a day).
I was released from that hospital in late September 2011. I went to the intensive therapy program for former cult survivors from abusive groups and relationships at Wellsprings in early October 2011. The program is specialized for those who have been targeted by destructive mind control tactics that were used by the cult leaders. I healed greatly in this program and overcame all my paranoia, high anxiety, deep depression, hyperactivity, altered state, unclear thinking, racing thoughts, and speech problems. My doctor at Wellsprings diagnosed me with Post-traumatic Stress after I had undergone intensive therapy with him. This therapy was specifically for ex-cult member victims.
After overcoming the residual level of psychological trauma from the cult, I had very little anxiety, almost no depression, and no other symptoms, only symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress, such as flashbacks and nightmares. After this, all of the previous symptoms I mentioned were gone. I was back to my old self after two weeks of deprogramming from the cult and from the therapy. Then I was diagnosed with only Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Then in January 2012, at my last appointment at Kaiser Permanente in Riverside, my new psychiatrist said I most likely only have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and the Schizoaffective Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Psychosis, and Major Depression do not apply anymore. This was after I went to Wellsprings.
I believe I was harmed because Schizoaffective Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Psychosis, and Major Depressive Disorder were not developed on the basis of sound scientific research, that the decisions about which criteria and which labels to apply to a given patient are so subjective, and that there are no warnings in the diagnostic manual that these labels should not be applied when the behavior is easily explained by something terrible that has happened to the person. In my case, the very fact that I was in rapid succession given five different labels and combinations of these labels is totally consistent with the research showing the unscientific nature of each of these, because that lack of science makes it easy for professionals to throw in one label after another without the restraint of stringent science to rein them in.
Ever since the therapy at Wellsprings for cult survivors in October 2011, I have felt stronger and stronger every day. The damage done was from the Zyprexa, Luvox, and Cogentin medication, which caused me to feel ill from the negative effects. The fact that all of the previous diagnoses before Post-traumatic Stress Disorder were incorrect and false was infuriating to me, because my rights as a patient were not being respected by these false diagnoses given to me in a period of four months. The most debilitating effects of the false diagnoses, which also infuriate me, have been the effects from the medications the psychiatrists prescribed, and the unwillingness of my psychiatrist to lower the dosages in spite of the serious negative effects that I had before seeing a helpful doctor.
Some of the severe side effects that I experienced while taking the prescribed dosage from the Cogentin have been severe constipation, depression, dilated pupils, dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, pounding heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of appetite, nervousness, nausea, and stomach upset. Luckily, I am not having the negative effects from this drug any longer. I am no longer taking this medication. The Zyprexa caused dizziness and weight gain. I have low blood sugar even after eating, and I have had increased sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, one-sided weakness, headache, swelling of the feet and legs, increased hunger, increased thirst, uncontrollable muscle movements, unusual bruising, and numbness in my legs and arms. I still suffer from some of those effects. I was unwell before the therapy at Wellsprings in October 2011, yet it was very unnecessary for a doctor to prescribe such high doses of medication after I became well upon completion of therapy at Wellsprings. Thankfully, I am seeing a doctor who is helping me with medication reduction.
I am thankful to be very well now in February 2012 from Wellsprings, which I attended in October of 2011. I have very few flashbacks and no nightmares to speak of. My Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has improved with time. I am enrolled in college full-time and I am successful in school. I am flourishing in my social life, my academic career, and my life in general. I feel better than I have in years thanks to the wonderful staff at Wellsprings, my therapist Greg Sammons, and Paula J. Caplan, who encouraged, supported, and recommended wonderful resources. I am also grateful to Dr. Daniel Dorman, who helped me tremendously.
Economic losses incurred
-$7,600 from the effects of the DSM diagnoses, which includes approximately $1,000 for the emergency room, $1200 in copays for the medication, and the $5,200 in lost college tuition for the semester when I had to withdraw as a result of the DSM diagnoses and what followed from that
Noneconomic losses incurred
-interruption of my college career because of being diagnosed as severely mentally ill and as a result being put on many heavy, harmful drugs, something that would not have happened if DSM labels did not carry the weight of supposedly being a scientifically-grounded, serious mental illness
-confusion because of having been diagnosed so rapidly with so many different mental disorders
-fear and shame because of believing that I would never recover from the many mental disorders I had been told that I had, that I was damaged goods for life and always had been
-social isolation because of being stigmatized by the labels and because the effects of the drugs made it impossible for me to have normal interactions and relationships with people
-for periods of time, I had severe constipation, depression, dilated pupils, dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, pounding heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of appetite, nervousness, nausea, and stomach upset. I also experienced dizziness and weight gain.
-I still have low blood sugar even after eating, and I have had increased sweating, irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, one-sided weakness, headache, swelling of the feet and legs, increased hunger, increased thirst, uncontrollable muscle movements, unusual bruising, and numbness in my legs and arms and continue to have some of these.