Consider gratitude

I want to suggest and even underscore that practicing gratefulness does not entail denying the difficulty in our lives. I think it’s equally important to honor and embrace our pain and anger and hurt. If we are feeling those things we need to approve of and love the parts of us that feel all those things. That does not negate also being grateful for that which we can be grateful for. So many times when things like gratefulness or forgiveness or other virtues are considered the message is that we should not feel all the bad stuff. I say that’s crap. Feel it all…the bad and the good. Feel grateful and angry or defeated. It’s all good and necessary. Feelings are meant to be felt. — So today I’m grateful for the gift of gratefulness because it’s helped me transmute the despair and pain and anger I’ve also felt and sometimes still feel. We need the whole package it seems. … [click on title to read the rest]


Healing the body/mind with the willingness to feel

(Update Nov 2015) — It is through such methods of close attention to the body/mind/spirit that my healing has progressed at all. It is the foundation of everything I have learned during this healing process. I have, at this point, developed my own way of doing this stuff but I continue to learn by comparing notes with others who do similar work towards their own healing and awakening. — What is split off, not felt, remains the same. When it is felt, it changes. Most people don’t know this. They think that by not permitting the feeling of their negative ways they make themselves good. On the contrary, that keeps these negatives static, the same from year to year. A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change. If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let in inwardly be, and breath. That’s the only way it can evolve and change into the form it needs. … [click on title for the rest of the post]


Yoga tips for those with challenged nervous systems

(from the archives) Because of global and broad hypersensitivity (caused by the psych drug injury) sometimes two minutes of yoga is exactly the right amount. Sometimes two minutes of yoga right now, five minutes a hour from now and ten minutes before bed is just right. This makes taking classes difficult sometimes and impossible other times. There are many occasions during which more than a few minutes of yoga can put my nervous system into overdrive. Learning just the right amount has been critical. … [click on title to read the rest]


Meditation. This simple. This difficult.

Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness … [click on title for the rest of the post]


Nutrition and gut health, mental health and diet

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

What Hippocrates knew way back when is finding a resurgence today. There is a lot of talk of the importance of gut flora in the science media these days. Unfortunately the conclusions they come to generally involve excitement of new possibilities for pharma. Pharma is not the answer and there are people who know how to go about systematically healing the gut right now with information that’s been available for a long time but not utilized. I have been learning how to do this for myself now for close to a decade as well. It’s a fascinating adventure to come to intimately know the workings of the body/mind. … [click on title for the rest of the post]


Rethinking bipolar disorder

A collection of links to other posts from the Beyond Meds archives that look at that which gets labeled “bipolar disorder” from different perspectives so that we might be challenged to think outside the psychiatric box. … [click on title to read and view more]

click for photo credit

Rethinking depression

Depression is always a mixture of many things…there is no such thing as a monolithic state called depression…the fact that people imagine that is the case, is a problem…a collection that reconsiders what we’ve been told. Here is a list of a few articles and posts on Beyond Meds that might help one consider what is called depression in different ways, because it is not just one thing. It is always a combination of many things in the life of every individual who gets the label. This is true of all psych diagnosis, actually. … [click on title for the rest of the post]


Do antidepressants work?

Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, psychiatrist and senior lecturer, University College London: speaks. Also lots of more info on antidepressants.

To refer to SSRIs as no better than placebo is misleading because while it’s technically true in clinical trials — SSRIs are also very different than placebos…they are NOT inert…they are very active and they make EVERYONE feel differently. … [click on title for the rest of the post]

psych drugs

Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?

Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, psychiatrist and senior lecturer, University College London on video. — Also more collected info. Not everyone is subject protracted or even significant withdrawal issues. That said everyone needs to be aware of the risk so that every reasonable precaution can be made to avoid potentially serious issues. In the interest of informed consent we need to know what the risks are. Many psychiatrists are not telling people about these risks. What is worse is that psychiatrists don’t even understand the risks or recognize what they’re actually witnessing when they start happening. This level of ignorance is a criminal reality at the moment. … [click on title to view post]

19 years old, 1984

A Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs

My story written from the perspective I held a few years ago:
“Lastly but perhaps most significantly for this particular article I’ve integrated and embraced my human nature, that first manifested in a way that got labeled “bipolar.” I “undiagnosed” myself a long time ago, but since then I’ve come to more fully understand my experience. For me it was the lovely capacity to access and delve deep into not only my own psyche, but the consciousness of humanity itself. It’s been a deeply rewarding journey to reclaim these parts of me that psychiatry almost always tragically misunderstands in the people it purports to help. It is this reclaiming that allows me to feel well even while I am still physically compromised.” … [click on title for the rest of the post]

fear sky

Fear and anxiety: coping, reframing, transforming…

Anxiety is basically a clinical term for fear which everyone at one time or another experiences with or without a diagnosis of some sort of anxiety “disorder.” Psychiatry pathologizes much of the normal human experience and in opposing fashion fear and/or anxiety is often referred to in Buddhism and other alternative philosophies as normal. Which is why many techniques to cope with anxiety have been inspired by Buddhism. There are many methods to learn how to be with these normal feelings, whether they’re very intense or not. As individuals some of us may be more prone to more intensity than others. We can all work with whatever it is we experience. … [click on title to read and view more]

broken heart

What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway?

From a young age we see around us that grief is mostly an affliction, a misery that intrudes into the life we deserve, a rupture of the natural order of things, a trauma that we need coping and management and five stages and twelve steps to get over.

Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? … [click on title for the rest of the post]

how to manage trauma monica cassani gianna kali

Trauma and PTSD collected info, commentary and links

As a social worker and clinician working with “the seriously mentally ill” for many years, I never came upon someone who didn’t have fairly severe traumas in their histories. Yes, I can say those who I encountered who were in that particular labeled segment had a solid 100% rate of trauma in their histories. Mental illness in large part is a reaction to trauma. It’s quite simple really. When we start listening to people’s stories of pain rather than numbing them out and effectively silencing them with neurotoxic drugs we will start healing them. Until then people will remain broken. One of the most basic needs for a wounded human being to heal is to be seen. Recognized. Validated. Yes. … [click on title to read the rest]


Hearing voices: living and thriving as voice hearers

I’m not sure why it was ever considered good practice to deny someone’s experience. It’s cruel to do that if nothing else and seems to be a no-brainer that we should be kind to those in any kind of emotional distress. I’m happy to say that even when I worked in social services I never avoided speaking to people about their “delusions” and/or voices even when I was told not to on the job. Some of us have always intuitively understood that all this content from the psyche has meaning. It’s nice to see that finally some of the inherent cruelty in psychiatric and psychological treatment is being challenged and meaningfully changed in a few corners of the world.


Breathing technique for quick relaxation/sleep

Below is a very simple but elegant breathing exercise shared by Dr. Weil.

I thought I’d share the video and then repost some additional links on sleeping and insomnia and how to reframe possible problems in that domain. … [click on title to view video and read post]

new life upon freedom from psych drugs

The anniversary posts: the 5 years off psychiatric drugs documented

This will be posted in the navigation drop-down menu section for easy access. – Below this introduction are a list of the anniversary posts I’ve written each year since I came off. They are pieces that consider the entire process and what it’s meant to me. – After approximately two decades on psych meds I came off a six drug cocktail in about six years. This proved to be a gargantuan task. […] When we learn to listen to the body once again we find that we can come into alignment with all of life in ways I hadn’t even conceived of as possible until I was forced to start paying attention (once I was bedridden and so sick I couldn’t move or speak…that all proved to be a powerful motivator for me. I was not going to give up) — Once we listen we learn that the body has wisdom that far exceeds anything we learn intellectually. Incredible healing wisdom. Learning to listen is key. The sooner we learn to do that the better. … [click on title to read the rest]


Earning a living

Update: (To be clear: I remain committed to serving those who’ve been injured by psychiatric drugs and trauma in general. I simply need some time to find ways to make it sustainable. I wanted to thank everyone for all the love and support shared in the last post. I am, in part, taking a break is so I can finish some intense energetic healing work that I’m in the midst of now…I suspect nothing will be the same when it’s resolved. I expect to be renewed in good time. I’m deeply grateful for the loving support I feel from you all.) — I realized I can no longer continue to put out the energy involved in maintaining this website and the Facebook page until I find ways to be regularly compensated for all of the many hours of work involved. I’ve been essentially giving away a huge chunk of life force for the last (almost) decade. Much of that has made me happy and helped me heal in profound ways but at this point it’s becoming counterproductive to moving forward. I need to earn a living. … [click on title to read the rest]


Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor

Someone has stated a concern that I am not clear enough about my level of expertise and says I don’t have any authority to say what I’m saying. So this is my disclaimer: I am a human being. I read and study and experience life. I am not a doctor and never claim to be. And I ask, who is an authority?…certainly not the doctors who’ve caused us all this harm. We are all equals…every human being on the planet. Everyone needs to research their own needs…and find helpers who can treat them as the unique individuals that they are. The main thing I say again and again is that we’re all different so nothing I say can be generalized 100% EVER. That is a constant disclaimer in everything I write always. We’re all different. We all have different paths. One person’s poison is another person’s medicine. … [click on title to view the post]

right here

Right here, right now

So…how to be in the present moment? I like simply starting by suggesting paying attention. If formal meditation feels like too much how about just taking a moment — right now — to pay attention? What can you hear in your environment, right now? What does the air feel like on your body? What is the temperature? Is the air moving or still? Humid or dry? What do you see about you, right now? What is the quality of light? Are there other living creatures around? Plants? Animals? What are the objects surrounding you? What do you feel in your body right now? Are there any sensations that stand out in your body? What if you started from your head and slowly scanned your body to your toes? What does it all feel like? Sit with all this for a few minutes.

There you have it. A short meditation, grounded in right now. And yes, it’s that simple really. That is the start of a practice. … [click on title to read the rest]


Diet and nutrition dogmatic ideologies are everywhere

Everyone has an opinion about diet and most of it is simply only that. There’s so much we simply don’t really know about how our bodies heal. Once you have a reasonable working understanding that whole real food is good it’s best to then go out and do your own experiments with your own body and try not to go down too many dogmatic rabbit-holes. Diet and nutrition dogmatic ideologies are everywhere…trust your body above and beyond what anyone says. Trust your body above what you’d really like to be true too. Sometimes the truth of what our bodies need isn’t what our ego would ideally like. … [click on title to read more]


Recovering or adjusting to illness?

By Lewis Mehl-Madrona M.D. (psychiatrist) — Many of us were not surprised when the research failed to support the currently dominant biomedical model of psychiatry. A 2015 panel at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Toronto confirmed that even more research is accumulating to question the benefits, if any, of the long-term use of anti-psychotic medication. Paris raises the question, why doesn’t research change anything? … [click on title to read the rest]


The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground

A small collection of quotes and short videos for Sunday contemplation. So being that this is the case, I practice surrender, acceptance and letting go. Because like it or not we are not in charge. This is perhaps my most important practice and while I have many practices I think this one is at the foundation of everything. Surrender. … [click on title for the rest of the post]


Change, change, change

Sometimes I hear people say that nothing is changing. That psychiatry continues to harm and that for this reason despair rather than hope is warranted. — I don’t see it this way at all anymore. — I often take a moment for gratitude when I consider how many mental health professionals now read and share my work and other similar work all over social networks…it’s incredible how much has changed since I first started writing and editing Beyond Meds… I see things change everyday and am constantly motivated because the one thing I do see, everyday, is change…The monolith which is the psychiatric/pharmaceutical system may take more time, but change is everywhere…in every one of us always… [click on title to read the rest]

butterfly on the butterfly bush by Monica Cassani

I no longer hide

And so I no longer hide. I finally made the decision. And soon after, it was clear to see that 90% of the stress I’d carried through out the years was because I hid myself, pretended, smiled when I didn’t want to, silenced myself when my song was emerging from my very skin. I denied myself and so my world inside was a crumbling mess. I stopped hiding and was blown away by how easy it was to live. Living became natural again. And being me was no longer a problem. They don’t teach this stuff in schools but they should. They really, really should. Real living is about unhiding. That’s when everything starts to make sense. — S.C Lourie, Soul Notes of the Butterfly

Oh, yes. Learn to be who we are. Here is more from Beyond Meds … [click on title to read the rest]


Following the heart instead of following the crowd

Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance. ― Henri Bergson, Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, 1927

I think we all have this spiritual immune system buried beneath the layers and layers and layers of social conditioning. We need only start paying attention. Some of us have no choice, of course, and for that I am now profoundly grateful. … [click on title to read the rest]


Dancing can be healing in profound ways

Ecstatic dance is awesome in the literal sense of the word and I consider it a body oriented mindfulness practice as well. I’ve also referred to it as self-directed body-work in conversations with friends. Sometimes my “dance” is about moving and stretching my body in some really odd ways to get at something that is tightly held in the body and needs release. Dancing can sometimes be me not moving at all (on the surface) while the music courses through my body and my cells and neurons DANCE. … [click on title to read the rest]


Mental wellness: empowering ways to consider our difficult experiences

Part of coming to understand our profound capacities to heal and transform is to first know that it’s possible. I know 1000s of folks who’ve been able to discover this now. I have met them in mental health circles and chronic illness circles both. I’ve also met them among people who’ve never suffered in these ways but were lucky enough to be born into situations where they simply learned how to do it right from the beginning. Imagine that. We can create a world where we teach children how to profoundly take care of themselves and others. … [click on title to read the rest]


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