“I Must Have Died and Gone to Hell” Katherine Tapley-Milton

KT-ForcedDrugging(1) (docx)   KT-ForcedDrugging(1) (pdf)


by Katherine Tapley-Milton[1]


My psychiatrist at Centracare[2] was foreign and had an accent that was hard to understand. He always treated me like I was a bad child. When he was going away for a couple of days he overdosed me with 30 mgs of Haldol. He said that it was “to keep me out of trouble”. You had to stand in line for your pills and I had no option but to take the medication or else the staff would have gotten nasty and forced me to take it.

You didn’t want to buck the hospital staff or you would end up being pinned down with a needle in your butt. I heard that political prisoners from Russia complained to the Western media that they were tortured with a horrible drug. That drug was called Haldol. Psychiatrists here affectionately call it Vitamin “H”. The overdose of Haldol put me into an “oculorgyric crisis”, which is what happens when your eye balls roll back in your head and stick there.

Wikipedia comments: “Oculogyric crisis (OGC) is the name of a dystonic reaction to certain drugs or medical conditions characterized by a prolonged involuntary upward deviation of the eyes. The term “oculogyric” refers to the bilateral elevation of the visual gaze.”

It is excruciatingly uncomfortable and terrifying. When this reaction started to happen to me I went to the nurse’s station and begged for the side effect pill called Cogentin. She rudely informed me “You’ll have to get a lot worse before we’ll do anything about it.” I went into a small room and my neck arched back and my eyeballs were stuck staring up at a light bulb. I was in physical and mental agony and could not believe the cruelty of someone who would just leave me like that. The side effects of the medication went on for days and days. It seemed like an eternity.

The pay phone was my only contact with the outside world, but the competition for its use was fierce among the patients. Also, it was difficult to hear over the din of the ward. There was moaning, crying, and screaming. I remember calling my parents long distance and begging them to get me out of Centracare. However, I was certified which meant that legally I couldn’t leave. Sobbing into the phone I told my father, “I must have died and gone to hell.”


[1] The author is from Sackville, Canada

[2] Centracare was Canada’s oldest psychiatric institution. It has since been demolish.

4 thoughts on ““I Must Have Died and Gone to Hell” Katherine Tapley-Milton”

  1. My son ls under section 3 of the MHA, and he ls lncarcerated ln a psychiatric hospital. He ls not dangerous, and needs some hope
    Hello hasn’t had any leave for over a year,and l feel his human rights are being neglected


    1. Sharon, try to find an advocacy organization near you that supports your son’s human rights to be free and to not be forcibly treated. You can email me at info at chrusp.org if you are having trouble finding someone and I can help to connect you with activists in your country.


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