Monday, February 27, 2006

A Survivor of ECT Tells Her Story

(Click the article heading for the source)
My biggest thanks and appreciation to Don Weitz and the members of CAPA. Thank-you for having this event and thanks for inviting me to speak. The impact of these types of forums is far reaching and although the result is mostly - unknown - I am alive today because of hearing survival testimonies and the truth about psychiatry.

Psychiatric treatment has taken a tremendous toll on my life. I would very much like to put the entire experience of being locked up and drugged and shocked behind me and move forward with my life, but it's been 14 years, and so far I haven't been able to. ECT destroyed brain cells filled with memory. During my first ECT seizure my kneecap dislocated. The needle which held the muscle relaxant drug "slipped" out of my arm. The kneecap was surgically removed. One of my heart valves was permanently damaged and a recent head CT scan revealed irregularities.

After 14 months of being locked inside the psychiatric unit, I returned home to a family I had no memory of. I didn't know how to be a mother to my young sons or a wife for my husband. I had to learn my name, how to speak, do up buttons, brush my teeth and so on. I didn't even recognize my own parents, sisters and brothers. My social work career and law aspirations vanished.

The intent of ECT is to kill brain cells. Just the bad cells which are causing the illness, they say.

Electricity going through the head which is largely composed of fluid destroys everything in its path. Electricity hasn't changed throughout the ages - so when you hear that ECT is new, improved and safe - it's an obvious lie. When you hear that they don't know exactly how ECT works, it's a lie. But when you hear that it is effective - well, it's true. It is very effective in causing closed head injury/memory loss which inevitably alters lives..

People always want to know what was wrong with you that you needed psychiatric treatment. "Were you depressed?", "Were you having problems in your life?", "Was there mental illness in your family?"

The truth of the matter is that I wasn't depressed, didn't have unusual problems in my life, and there wasn't any mental illness in my family.

I consulted a family doctor for a throat infection expecting anti-biotics. Through the fever and pain, two tears fell down my face and as a result, I was prescribed a "new drug" Prozac instead of anti-biotics. Of course I was assured that it would be more effective.

10 days of not eating or sleeping led to the diagnosis of clinical bi-polar depression.

During the next 14 months of incarceration in a psychiatric unit, I acquired every disease listed in the DSM and was treated with drugs and ECT.

Would it matter if I HAD been out of my head crazy or had a difficult life problem to deal with? I think not! Psychiatric treatment involving incarceration, drugs and ECT constitutes abuse. Is it better to abuse people who have problems or people who don't have problems? The devastating result will be the same.

I spoke recently to a person who had read my book and was horrified
about my experience. He said that that kind of thing would never happen where he lives - Ontario.

It's likely that if I hadn't personally encountered psychiatric treatment, I would have believed the exact same thing: forced psychiatric treatment perpetrated on healthy strong people is a horrible thing that used to happen or just the stuff of horror movies, and that if it does in fact happen - it happens somewhere else.

Even if through magic I could put the ordeal "in the past" I wouldn't. I have learned some ugly things but I have also been blessed to know exceptional people doing exceptional things in order to put ECT and other horrendous abuses away for good.

I wish I could have learned the truth about psychiatric treatment in a less harmful way. For those of you who haven't learned the truth through first hand experience, I urge you to listen well today. And to those of you who have learned the truth through personal experience and have survived, I beg of you to keep telling your story. This is what saves lives and leads to laws that protect Canadians from psychiatric treatment.

Thank-you again for allowing me to share a few words from my heart.

Feel free to contact me if you Ever need a safe person to talk to, or a safe place to be.

Wendy Funk (ECT survivor)
21 Iron Horse Drive
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 6V2


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, here I am in 2014, seven years after this article was published and what has changed. Nothing. People are still being assaulted with shock. Often the victims have, like Wendy, been driven to an iatrogenic mental state which is used as an excuse for administering this toxic intervention.
Patients are lied to about the risks and naively listen to the "doctors". Often in a desperate state, they have no one saying to them " you are in withdrawal" or "you are having a drug reaction". This abuse continues with the PR campaign trumpeting ECT as " safe, new, and improved", none of which ate true.
The fact no one has commented in 7 years suggests few people know this goes on and perhaps they just do not care.
For some bizarre reason, the govt of Canada continues to support the use of ECT, which is a human rights violation. It is shameful that nothing has been done.

8:50 AM  

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