Janet is an artist, but like so many creative individuals, she became the target of certain people who would prefer to stifle or destroy that creativity. This is the true story of Janet Finn and her journey through the terrifying world of psychiatry.
Having experienced a difficult childhood, Janet got married in the hope of a new life, but that was not the case when she found herself in a relationship where her husband wouldn’t keep his promises and didn’t work. It finally took its toll on her welfare, leading to tiredness and exhaustion. She signed herself into a hospital for a rest. What she didn’t know was the effect that would have on how she would be viewed in the future.
With a record of having been in a mental hospital, her family were willing to give their consent for further involuntary stays in psychiatric facilities. The horror story began in Whiston Hospital on Merseyside. Reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Janet was horribly abused.
While detained, she was subjected to enforced psychiatric treatment, specifically psychiatric drugs. She recalls four to five staff holding her, while her trousers were pulled down and while she was injected with drugs. Apart from the terror that went along with what could easily be described as psychiatric assault, the most distressing part was magnified by the fact she was pregnant. As a consequence of the enforced drugs, her unborn child was damaged and killed.
She was then moved to Rainhill Psychiatric Hospital, also on Merseyside. It didn’t get any better. Janet recalls another patient who was agitated, and who kept arriving at her bed, disturbing her. She went to the night staff to ask for help. She found the nurses watching a film but instead of receiving assistance, she was unceremoniously taken to a cell with a mattress on the floor. She was put in the cell and left there for the night.
In the morning, one of the nurses told Janet they couldn’t imagine her being violent. She learnt the cell was reserved for those who were violent and out of control. Instead, it was used to keep her quiet so the night staff could carry on watching the film. She later found out the night staff had reported her for attempting to hit them with a hair-dryer. This was used to justify her being locked in a cell.
Over the next few years, Janet was in and out of Rainhill Psychiatric Hospital, suffering with the effects of the ‘treatment.’ She had lost baby, her job, her home, her relationships and her ability to communicate. Involuntarily detained, it was at this point she was introduced to shock treatment. It was suggested to her family who gave their consent for her to be shocked.
Many years on, Janet has spoken of this time in her life. She says, “I can say without question that my health and well being have been damaged severely by shock treatment, otherwise known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say I’ve been robbed of my life because of it. ECT didn’t cure my depression. In fact it made me almost suicidal.”
Prior to shock treatment, Janet had none of the symptoms that have rendered her life an endless struggle to survive. Since being shocked, she has suffered with:
- severe migraines
- neck problems
- muscle spasms (a doctor was once called out as she appeared to be having a stroke)
- memory loss (for a long time after ECT, she could remember very few words and had to slowly build up her vocabulary)
- fear of her mind going blank in social situations, hence a lack of confidence
- buzzing in her head (for some time she had feelings of electrical activity in her brain)
- a gnawing feeling at the back of her skull
- a feeling of being pulled down from the back of her head
- an irregular heart beat since being shocked
- Liver, gall bladder and spleen problems
- sensitivity to noise and sometimes to light
Her career, her personal life and her health all suffered as a result of the psychiatric drugs as well as the shock treatment. She was also grieving for her unborn child.
Janet had to bring herself out of the effects of the drugs and shock treatment. She says it’s been a long journey and that if she had known certain things at the time, she would have taken a different path. She found an answer in Chinese medicine and has been slowly regaining her confidence and well being.
Janet is now acutely aware of the dangers that go hand-in-hand with psychiatric ‘treatment.’ She says, “Significantly, my own personal convictions and spiritual beliefs were ignored prior to being forcibly detained. The powers bestowed in psychiatrists are such that the rights of the individual can be and are entirely eroded.
“I am an artist. Anybody who is a bit different ought to be celebrated rather than punished. I was invalidated, rendered powerless and helpless. Now I’m fighting back. A lot of people get depressed because they know things aren’t right in the world and it gets them down. That was true for me. I thought I was powerless until I realised this was untrue.
“We can all find our inner strength and power and learn how to use it. Maybe that will prevent others from having to go through a similar experience to me.”
CCHR UK wants to acknowledge Janet for her willingness to share her story.