the “crazy” activist- a short reflection on being able remember my life after coming off psychiatric drugs

When I think about my capacity, organizing strategies and behaviors, and determination for the ICC CHANGE Campaign- Diversity and Inclusion in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology, see CIIS ICC CHANGE petition– I’m realizing that a lot of the unrelenting fuel that powered me, came from reserves- really high momentum that had been stopped in its tracks. In 2003-2004 I was a lead student organizer and researcher at Yale for a transparency campaign on university investments, and an investigation of one of our university investors- a hedge fund called Farallon Capital Management, which was investing the school’s money in a very lucrative way, that had deep harmful environmental and social impact in the United States and globally. The campaign got big and extended to other schools, and got national attention and coverage. I, along with my fellow student organizers, interviewed with the Wall Street Journal and other really big papers. During the campaign- I tried to come off Lithium- which I feel had been very haphazardly prescribed to me by my clinician at Yale University Student Mental Health- which was then called Mental Hygiene, long before the campaign. He wouldn’t listen to my complaints that the drug had started to slow me down significantly and made me feel dead inside, and had started really effecting my schoolwork. He would not let me come off. Trying to come off Lithium cold turkey threw me into a world of altered states, not sleeping, being really sped up, hearing voices, paranoia, deep emotional instability and erratic behavior- this had never happened ever in my life before – I’m sure it has parallels to chemical withdrawal from street drugs. I was removed as a lead organizer from the campaign, which made sense. But as I eventually got put on heavy antipsychotics by Yale mental health services and psychiatrists in my treatment path, I lost access to much of my long term memory, and honestly, eventually forget much of my involvement in the campaign, -and eventually with long term usage, forget much of my life. The myth at the time of American psychiatry then and unfortunately still present now- was that my bipolar illness was coming back, off the drug. But I had never had these symptoms before. I had gone, what’s known as, psychotic. I was thrown out of school in 2004- but because of tenacity- I was re admitted after a few tries, and was able to complete at Yale. The UnFarallon investment transparency campaign I feel, fizzled, partially, I feel, from the loss of one of its main organizers. After I was recently finally able to get free of psychiatric drugs, after 15 years, just last February, with an integrative psychiatrist, who like no other psychiatrist, put effort into helping me come off, I had so much frozen momentum. I was able to use that momentum towards a good cause though- The ICC CHANGE campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology. I’m so glad to be off psychiatric drugs and have memories return. I hope with time that the damage the drugs did to my brain in terms of long term memory access, will completely repair. And glad that my organizing momentum that had been shut down got put into good use, once again. It got put to good use too in 2008 as well on another activist initiative- during another time I was trying to come off psychiatric drugs, but didn’t have proper clinical support, because my psychiatrist refused to help me. I have to say now I feel I have used up the momentum. Sketch of me speaking in 2003 by my friend Ralph Ferrucci. Not sure what event this was- prolly an anti-war rally. No blood for oil. George W’s War in Iraq. One of Farallon’s investments was a water privatization venture in Colorado at Baca Ranch- which involved taking and destroying the resources of indigenous community. So many big money repeats of plundering behavior. And we see it happen again at Standing Rock.  For any of you interested in the the Unfarallon campaign’s work- here is the campaign’s web archive, Unfarallon Campaign Web Archive, i feel transparency and divestment of big university money can still be a very effective way in the fight to save our planet.  Also if you’re interested in reading about how the Unfarallon campaign had big impact years after it was over- this is an interesting article- Tom Steyer lives in San Francisco- he’s know as the green billionaire. Before the unfarallon campaign it was oil and dirty energy…Tom Steyer- An Inconvenient Billionaire14947417_10154682779424458_2735766557347099829_n