Will We Wake for Pity’s Sake


Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. While antidepressants, and other psychotropic, mind altering medications, are designed to decrease symptoms, they often have the opposite effect and are known to increase suicidal thoughts and actions for people from all walks of life and all ages. The impact suicide has on the lives of family members, friends, co-workers and the community is devastating. The loss of human potential is enormous. 

 “But will you wake for pity’s sake?”

In Christopher Fry’s play, A Sleep of Prisoners he writes: “Thank God our time is now when wrong comes up to face us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men ever took. Affairs are now soul size…it takes so many thousand years to wake, but will you wake for pity’s sake?”

I have met too many young, thoughtful, sensitive and intelligent people who hated being medicated by the mind altering, psychotropic medications. They were not aware that there was a choice, and being told they would have to be on these medications the rest of their lives, they chose suicide. They were not prepared to live in a fog of pain, disconnected from clarity of thinking, heartfelt feeling and creative initiatives: the essential qualities of being-human.

Not many people know that indeed there is a choice. There are legitimate ways to work through, understand and digest the debilitating and traumatic challenges that come with simply being human. But one needs to be proactive and willing to break old patterns including unhelpful self-images in the understanding, loving and supportive company of family or friends.

With the best of intentions and in trust, parents/individuals seek professional advice when wrestling with life challenges for themselves or for their children. Of course there are exceptions, but typically, due to ‘big pharma’ prioritizing profits and insurance restrictions, within a few minutes and without really being listened to or offered supportive, empowering alternatives, struggling individuals are stigmatized with a mental health disorder, told the chemistry in their brain is out of balance and given a psychotropic medication, soon to become a cocktail of psychotropic medications, which they will be dependent upon maybe for the rest of their lives.

Wouldn’t we all agree that human beings are dynamic and complicated! One honest psychiatrist stated, “…You think we understand the brain? It is more complicated than the universe!”

Isn’t it time we look deeper? Some experience that the state of soul, the seat of our emotions and habits which is influenced by life situations, actually informs the brain. Could it be that the medications are actually what significantly disrupt the chemistry in the brain which naturally is flexible and forgiving?

Could the term “mental health” be a reductionist term for “soul health”? Are we not speaking about “soul trauma” when one is caught in the ‘out-breath’ where we have no center trying to escape this body of pain, or stuck in the ‘in-breath’, afraid of breathing out for fear of falling apart?

For some people, these addictive medications keep us in the victim mold. They disconnect us from working with our life challenges which need to be dealt with in order for us to continue to grow and to evolve. Challenges are opportunities for growth, they are not meant to hold us down!

Looking through the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), one would imagine simply being human is an illness. For example: if you mourn the loss of a loved one for over a certain amount of time, you may be labeled as depressed and then medicated…so that you will no longer feel. Why? Don’t we, men and women, all have tear ducts? Tears are a reflection of the soul breathing out, of letting go. Imagine how it would be if we could be reassured that we will cry for as long as we need to, and when we have worked through the loss and the need is no longer there, we will simply stop crying. Perhaps we could choose to see tears as enablers, assisting the soul’s recovery and digesting process.

As human beings we are creators, but, at times, we certainly can feel like victims. In my experience, we more or less consciously seek out challenges, which stretch us to go beyond ‘our box’. We are surrounded by, and certainly history is filled with, inspiring individuals who have made their way through unenviable and unbelievable hardship guided by the resilience of their Spirit.

An English doctor-colleague referred to “us doctors” as “the pushers”. Look at all the people addicted to pain, sleeping, and other medications. Any addictive substance we take, disempowers us at the expense of cultivating our own inner strength. The subliminal message is: “you are a victim of life circumstances…and need me or this pill to fix you.” Well, this fixing is not working! We are not machines!

These psychotropic medications are turning too many of us into zombies. We are experiencing an epidemic. Opioids, alcohol, sugar, and the prescribing of the mind-altering, psychotropic medications are causing chaos in our society. The spiritual essence of the human being is being eclipsed.

I’m reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Ask anyone wrestling under the influence of their medications, how they feel. When we cannot feel, then incredibly awful things can happen. What are we doing to our people? Never before in the history of the world have so many people been so intensively medicated, via both legal and illegal drugs, as they are in the U.S. today. The United States accounts for about 4.4% of the global population and yet consumes more than 30% of the prescription opiate drugs in the world.” Some estimate U.S. prescription opiate consumption to be as much as 80% of global demand.

What life have we created for our youth? Are we listening to them and helping them to connect with their divine, creative, resilient Self? How else will they develop the confidence to take on the challenges that life presents?

An elderly, wise friend stated once: “What sensitive, thoughtful person today would not be depressed?” We have so much to transform: we have many schools which are like prisons where our children do not thrive, our prison system is punitive and has little belief or interest in transformation. We can feel paralyzed by the overwhelming challenges but the secret, I believe, is to get involved with whatever you feel needs transforming, find your colleagues and try as best you can to ‘walk the talk’. Remember, you never know when you might save a life simply by taking the time to be interested and to listen with your heart. Please do not underestimate your efforts and your positive thoughts…they are more powerful than you might imagine.

I want to believe that all those struggling individuals for whom life became unbearable under the influence of the psychotropic medication cocktails have not died in vain. I have chosen to see their action as both a sacrifice and statement to all of us: “But, will we wake-up, for pity’s sake?”

Will we remember that a human being has a body, a soul and a spirit with an innate wisdom, and despite challenges is always in the process of seeking balance and healing? Will we take the time to listen and support rather than shut up and medicate? Will we allow people to feel and work through the challenges which belong to them? Can we be motivated and catalyzed to bring a deep and lasting humane alternative to the ‘best practice’ of medicating? Will we choose to enhance and nurture out of our Love for our brothers and sisters, believing in their resilience and healing journey?

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Beatrice Birch is Founder and Executive Director of Inner Fire, Inc. a licensed, not for profit, proactive, healing community in Brookline, VT. Inner Fire offers striving individuals the choice to recover from debilitating and traumatic life experiences, which typically lead to addiction and mental (soul) health challenges, and thereby to strengthen oneself on a deeper soul spiritual level but without the use of the mind altering, psychotropic medications. Inner Fire supports striving individuals who want to avoid medication in the first place, taper to a level which works for them, which could mean off, and supports those still reeling from the horrendous withdrawal symptoms of the benzodiazepines. Organizations such as Inner Fire need to be available for everyone regardless of race, religion and financial situation; it is crucial that we simply meet in our common humanity. However, at this time there is no state/insurance funding, so such organizations are dependent on donors and private pay. Beatrice is not anti-medication but believes in the power of choice. For some, the medications have been supportive for a time, but for too many, the lack of visible choice has been devastating. For more information: www.innerfire.us