About

BEYOND MEDS — ALTERNATIVES TO PSYCHIATRY — A RESOURCE
BeyondMeds-header1This blog documents and shares many natural methods of self-care for finding and sustaining health in body, mind and spirit. This blog also deals with wider issues in the socio/political and spiritual realms as they pertain to mental health and human rights issues surrounding psychiatry.

My own experience as both (now – ex) patient and a mental health professional allows for some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable insights into the mental health system in the United States.

The blog and the content has evolved over time. The archives reflect that.

For an introduction to the scope of this site in general there is a drop-down menu at the top of the page. I continue to work on presenting the archives for easy access. There are well over 4,000 posts on the blog now, many of which remain topical. It’s an ongoing job so the navigation menu is always under construction. Visiting often to check for additions.

This is a new article I highly recommend be read as an introduction to this blog: Stop taking your meds, right now… (NOT!)

A personal note to my readers — why I’m not available for correspondence..

~ ~

The archives of this blog now span close to five years. They are a record of a time in my life when I was learning and transforming at a rate unlike any other time in my life. I say this as a way of disclaimer. In the earlier years of this blog I am processing shock and dismay. In the early years I am undisputedly angry. I have worked out much of that and see things in a much less judgmental manner now. This continues to evolve. I sometimes want to take down old posts because they no longer convey how I feel, but I realize that they may still be helpful to people who are going through something similar now. The journey got me to where I am today, it’s just odd to have some of it in writing here for all to see.

See also: Who is this site for – Readers share what Beyond Meds has meant to them.

SEE: Beyond Meds Facebook page and Twitter, too

This blog began as a documentation of my journey off psychiatric medications. That thread remains as well.

This blog also serves as a source of critical information about psychopharmaceuticals. This aspect is not kept up to date as much as it was at one time but the archives remain full of such information.

Beyond Meds is not only for people who have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder as the original URL seemed to suggest to some. As I say in my “Undiagnosing Myself” post I do not believe that the diagnosis of bipolar is terribly significant and I chose the original URL and original title of the blog to attract people who may have experiences like mine and believe themselves to be bipolar. (the current URL and title no longer reflect this, still many often consider, incorrectly, that this is a “bipolar” blog)

This blog may be appropriate for anyone with any psychiatric diagnosis. All diagnosis can potentially respond to natural treatments and alternative perspectives. The biopsych model is at best controversial. There are many different ways to consider difficulties of the psyche.

So it’s also possible for anyone to consider life without medication. This blog is a contemplation about healing ourselves through means other than medication whether you’re on medications or not. And I might add whether you choose to stay on them or not.

Warning and Some thoughts to consider before deciding to reduce your medications and Stop taking your meds, right now… (NOT!) and The truth is often ugly

New video: Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs: A Harm Reduction Approach | Will Hall

Along with documentation of my experience this blog covers the journeys to drug freedom of many other people as well as information and resources about alternatives to standard psychiatric care. It also covers the news about drugs that allow for consideration of other options. Often drugs are most useful in crisis, but not for long-term care. Once one is aware of options one has a real choice. I didn’t have such information to make a choice when I entered the mental health system. It’s my hope that I can help people see that there are choices and alternatives.

This site is in no way intended to be someone’s sole source of information for withdrawing from psych meds or for taking care of oneself with alternative means. I speak only from my own experience and am not offering advice that should be taken without professional help. That being said there is lots of information here that one could take to said professional. It is an unfortunate reality that most doctors know next to nothing about alternative treatments for psychiatric distress. I’ve had to educate my psychiatrist along the way and am grateful for his trust and respect.

My professional history:

I got my BA in Religious Studies at UC Berkeley. After graduation a San Francisco state MSW graduate friend of mine helped me secure an interview for a graduate internship program for social workers at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. After losing a close friend to AIDS I had worked in an AIDS hospice as a volunteer for a couple of years.  Once interviewed by the Foundation it was determined I was qualified to do the internship. I completed the program with social work graduate interns from UC Berkeley’s and San Francisco State University’s MSW programs. After that internship the San Francisco AIDS Foundation hired me on as a social worker on their front lines. The bulk of the population I worked with at the Foundation had significant psychiatric diagnosis. Later I took positions in mental health agencies. Because of my background my positions were generally filled by master level candidates. I worked side by side other social workers, therapists of all kinds and psychiatrists for many years. The clients were generally designated “severely mentally ill.”

My “patient” history:

The aftermath of polypsychopharmacology: my story on Dr. David Healy’s site (new) –this is the most complete short synopsis of having been grossly over-drugged and my path to drug freedom.

And now too a mini memoir at Mad in America: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs

The above two pieces can serve as a mini history of my personal journey in and away from the psychiatric system.

For posts on Beyond Meds that are largely informed by my personal experience see:  Monica/Gianna personal journey

***The information provided on this site is educational and not intended to replace any treatment prescribed by a licensed physician. That said, finding knowledgable physicians can be like finding a needle in a haystack

Everyone’s journey to wellness includes different combinations of healing and healthy lifestyle practices. No two of us are the same.

Access to the archives can be found at the top of the blog via the drop down menus. 

Visit the Beyond Meds BOOKSTORE for books that cover the range of topics covered on the blog.

The navigation menu:

If you have found my work helpful and can afford to do so, please consider making a contribution and becoming a supporting subscriber of Beyond Meds.

Click here

Comments

  1. I wish you the best of luck.
    As someone who is diagosed bipolar, who has had a full psychotic episode, my life is constant journey of coping and growing with mental Health, and for almost two years this hasnt included medication. There have been set backs, and i regularly see proffessionals. But it can be done, but i am always weary of the risks.

  2. Thanks Chris for letting me know there is yet another soul out there living without meds. If you feel up to it I’d love to hear your story. Either here or you can send me an email.

    Of course, only if you choose and if you send an email it will remain private unless you indicate otherwise.

  3. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago and was put on a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. I couldn’t imagine going off my meds. I know it would mean a breakdown or even suicide for me. My life was torturous hell before I was finally diagnosed and put on meds. I was given Paxil at one point, but after I lost my job I could no longer afford it. The result was disasterous as far as the side effects of withdrawal. My doctor had never warned me that Paxil could have some pretty awful withdrawal symptoms. I give you alot of credit for coping without meds and wish you all the best.

  4. Yes, Paxil is notorious for being one of the absolute worst drugs to withdraw from. It’s downright dangerous to go cold-turkey. I hope you are doing well now. Good luck to you.

  5. I am wondering why you made the decision to come of medication. I was diagnosed in February after a terrible mixed episode and suicide attempt. The medication I am on has helped me get back on my feet. I am terrified to stop taking medication because I never want to repeat the episode I had earlier this year. Thanks for your response. You have shown great fortitude in your struggle.

  6. azureone,
    I made the decision to come off my meds because after being on them for 20 years I was able to look back and see how they made me deteriorate over time. I was also able to see how the doctors did not ask the right questions at the time I was put on them and I was not treated appropriately. I believe this happens a lot.

    I also studied alternatives and chose to treat myself without using toxic drugs.

    I’ve also come to see that the pharmaceutical companies control medicine and doctors. There is not a free flow of information about what can heal us. We are not given complete information. We are made to believe that taking meds is the only way. I’ve learned that is not true and know many many people who have chosen to move away from psychiatry successfully.

    If you read enough of my blog—go through the archives—– all my reasons are here.

    Drugs never made me feel any better over the course of time. They made me feel worse.

    that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel shitty some of the time. Everyone feels shitty some of the time.

    I don’t do any of this lightly. I’ve changed my life in radical ways. I don’t advocate anyone do this without careful reflection, study, research and support.

  7. Wow! I give you ALOT of credit for being able to get off psych drugs after 20 years. You go girl! I’ve struggled to get off and stay off the drugs since 2002 when I was “involuntarily” put on them. I also believe that the doctors did not act appropriately and neither did my family. I’ve been off all psych drugs since March of 2007, and even though I had help getting off them (titration schedule/supplements) the first 5 months were hell. In September I started seeing a new doctor (Chiropractor/Nutritionist) who was willing to look for physical problems versus labeling with mental illnesses. In his mind it didn’t add up – How could I be fine for 40 years and then turn “Bipolar” after the birth of my child. He tested and found food allergies, toxic heavy metal levels and a lack of good bacteria. With oral chelation, eliminating the allergens, daily exercise, organic food, lots of EPA/DHA, B-Vitamins and Pro-Biotics and now starting “natural psychotherapy” with a PhD Psychologist he recommended who is handling my disability case and a PhD Psychologist and Hypnotherapist who is teaching me to handle stress, I’m feeling great! I still feel fragile and am becoming very protective of myself in terms of making time for nutrition, exercise and sleep and avoiding stress, but it’s definitely working. I enjoy life again and am making great plans for 2008. I too believe you can live better without psych drugs. We’re not alone either. See http://naturalpsychotherapy.info/default.htm, Label me sane,
    etc. The drift is strong, but one person can make a difference.
    Don’t give in to the “there’s a pill for that” mentality. Psychiatry never “cured” anyone.

  8. Cathy,
    what a fantastic story and congratulations!! It sounds like our lifestyle choices are very similar. I take much the same sorts of nutrients too. It’s great to hear from you. thanks.

  9. I’m looking for an MD in the Milwaukee area who will help me get off Prozac and Lamictal. Any referrals? Thanks!

  10. Hi Carl,
    Duane, one of my readers, has a good website with a ton of links with resources on the side bar….

    There are referral sites for naturopaths and orthomolecular psychiatrists etc.

    http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/

  11. Kudos to you. This is week 2 of being [nearly] med-free for me. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in August of 2004 after having been misdiagnosed with Major Depression, thusly having been on nearly every SSRI known to man. I’ve also been on a slew of mood stabilizers, and even benzos.

    The reason I say “nearly” is because I remain on a low dosage of Trazodone because I cannot sleep regularly. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that my brain has now become dependent on sedative-type medications or what after having been on them for about 7 years now– all I know is that it’s very unfortunate. I have tried herbal remedies, Melatonin, exercise, etc. etc. and nothing works. If I don’t take the stupid Trazodone, I go days on end without sleep. Any advice on that one?

    I am proud to say that I am off of everything else I was on though (Lamictal, Rozerem, and Wellbutrin).

    I hope that one day I will truly be med-FREE 100% like you.

  12. Hi Kristine,
    Well, I’m certainly not 100% med free yet, and I have no idea if I will make it. Though I have great determination.

    I understand the frustration and I’m still experiencing it in spades as I am stuck in my withdrawal just trying to stabilize enough to resume.

    It sounds like you’re doing wonderfully.

    I hope you’re supporting your body with healthy diet and exercise and meditation etc. It can heal more over time and you can stay healthy that way.

    Staying healthy once we’ve been on these mind altering drugs takes work.

    It’s good to hear from you. Congratulations and don’t worry to much about taking a bit of something to sleep from time to time. (you might want to look into inhibitory amino acids for aid—those are natural and I’m sure much better for you than the trazadone)

    Be happy and healthy—-and remember you need sleep.

  13. A small puff or two of weed before bedtime helps with sleep a lot too. And I feel better about that than taking something synthetic. Like any drug, though, it’s not without it’s disadvantages (feeling slightly slower the next day), but just occasionally when you feel like you must sleep or you’ll go nuts, it can be helpful to use anedoteally like that.

  14. Hi Gianna, I was wondering if you’ve received an email from something called “PeoplesMD” at peoplesmd.com… they’re asking me to join something like a Health Digg site and they’ve got you up there as well.

  15. ***answered Gabriel via email.

  16. This site is great. Fighting mental illness is really tough, especially because you feel all alone. Reading these messages helps one to not feel so alone.

    My story is similar to other in many ways: I did some stronge things when having major mood swings, was put on a great deal of medication, was told I would have to take the medications forever, was given the idea that I would never have a normal life. I remember when everyone in my life gave up on me–my parents, relatives, friends, girlfriend. My pills caused some bad symptoms like severe sunburn and a 100 pound weight gain.

    I’m different them some bipolars because I’ve proven all the doctors wrong by slowly getting off of my medications and staying off for decades. I’ve had a full life with education, travel, hobbies, and many awards. My life has been and is beyond my wildest dreams. By the way I lost the 100 pounds, ran 26 mile marathons and earned a black belt in martial arts.

    I’ve discovered many methods to control my moods, especially exercise, yoga, self-help groups, and volunteer work.
    Jim S

  17. thank you Jim,
    there are many like you out there but hardly anyone knows it. keep talking!

    If you feel like writing your story for this blog I’ll post it.

  18. Just noticed Jim does, indeed have his story here. Click on his name in the message he left to learn more about him.

  19. Gianna,

    I’m slowly making my way through your site and the many links it has. You have done a lot of good work.

    Again, reading this information makes me not feel so alone or so different. I like the way you are taking your time getting off of meds. I did it the same way. I know many who quite cold turkey; they end up with major problems, plus those lose the courage to ever try to get off.
    Jim S

  20. missisyphus says:

    after so many years of wrestling and being a very good, compliant patient i decided to jump ship and loose the meds. i’ve really enjoyed reading your page and the links have been so helpful!

    i got a little brave and decided to start a blog page. i have no idea what in the “internet world” i’m doing but…i seemed to have run out of options with in my usual repertoire so i tried hunting around and found a bunch of great blog sites that were nothing like the “rants” i had become accustomed to reading many years ago (and the negative attitudes turned me away…there weren’t any real supportive or positive qualities…it just got me more agitated so…). i hope that as i get out of the withdrawal fog and get more intuned, i will have more experience, strenght and hope to offer and hope i can get involved in the awsome blogging community. you all have been so helpful to me.

    i added your site link to my page and wanted to let you know. you have wonderful resources and i love what you have to write.

    best
    suzanne

    http://missisyphus.wordpress.com

  21. welcome Suzanne both to this site and to the blogosphere and best wishes on your journey. I will come visit your site soon. I get internet access at home tomorrow night….will have more time to spend on line after that.

  22. Reading over your post I am thrilled to see the hard work you are putting in, and the healing that is going on. Yes,it is hard, but it can be done, getting off the merry go round, that one can find themselves on after signing on with a shrink: really any doctor who is tied to Big Pharma.www.naturalnews.com

    No one could have covienced me that I could be totally off all prescription drugs, or that I was not indeed, extreamely Bipolar. It took me 3 years to enpower myself and to forgive, educated, and love myself. Depression, componded by antidepression is the loest common denominator for so many, at least it was for me, and with mutiple anidepressants, and mood regulaors, in my system, I was in a deep dark hole. Throw in isolation, an immediete family that took no interest in “my problem” which led to the disintergration of my family, yet another dark deep hole, my Mothers death, after a 5 year period, which corresponded with my 5 year struggle, and you get major disfunction!

    We do not acknowledge differences in each other. I was shinning as a kid, untl I began school, and my uniqueness was smothered, and eventually lost. I always felt different, special and rarely did anyone seem to notice. I did not feel I had “landed” until I had my fist child, and then I was the person I always knew myself to be. 2 more within 6 years, but realizing my marriage was not what I needed, but I hugn in there. My body began to manifest, stress related illnesses, and I ended up on Zanex, for a severe spastic colon, and addicted without knowing I took 5 per day for a 2 week period. 17 days in a psychatric ward, 89, and then in 93, I began medicating, for bipolar, which I now understand was superhypersensitivity.http://www.hsperson.com
    He walked out in Dec 98, and it was not until 04, that when a med change brought mania, I began my exaustive research, and began to heal. It ain’t for sissies!!!! The occassional Remeron, to help me sleep, otherwise it is all natural. Is everything perfect, NO. I am very seperated from my 3 sons, and 2 grandsons, but I have extended family[sometimes you MUST loose the disfunactional family, as each person plays a role, and until they understand that, you are the one blamed], and I have my faith, Nicherian Buddhism, which gives me strenght, and clarity of mind, I never knew possible.
    And I continue to educated myself and speak to anyone who desires information. At the ripe old age of 56, I understand it is the foods you eat,Nutition, the childhood infections, and vaccines, the social issues, [I was molested before age 4] my lack of resources, and the ever ready established medical communtity, that wants to push those pills, never warning you abut the fall out. I refuse to be a guini pig any longer.
    I wish I could say, I am 100%, as long as my sons are estranged from me, [an 2 grandsons] there is a place in me that will always be raw. Beause it is not natural, nor normal, but I pray…. and my strenght is renewed to my untimate goal…. helping the kids, as the epidemic of prescibing psychatric medications that do much harm.

  23. thank you for your story Dona,
    May your healing continue.

  24. anglwitch says:

    I am so lucky to have a therapist who has respected my wish to be drug-free in dealing with this. She has put me on medication (well, refered me with recomendations to the pdoc in her office) several times for very short periods, just to get me past the suicidal/dangerous manic points, then quickly weans me back off of them. She sees meds as cruches–use them to fix what’s broken, not so long you depend on them. And every time I’ve had to go on something, she has selected something mild and got me off within 6 weeks. I’ve been med free for 5 years now (except ocasional bynadryl to help me sleep), and as long as I continue with my structure that makes me take care of myself first, I hope to stay this way.

  25. I was given reglan and previcid for bloating. I was a young 33 year old basically happy person 4 years later I am still battling akathesia and musle spasms. it has gotton better but I don’t get out much. I would like to know if people ever recover and how email me if u like

  26. I’m sorry Maria,
    those aren’t psychiatric drugs and I don’t know anything about them.

    I would recommend finding an alternative doctor or an integrative doctor or naturopath. They can sometimes find ways of treating you without drugs that cause awful side effects.

  27. Hey,

    You did it! Way cool, Now there ain’t no mountain you can’t climb!. I just read the good news on my blog group, atypicalanti-psychotics, and was so thrilled for you. I too did the same, differnt drugs, same drill.

    OK my nurapath practiced as a shrink for 12 years, and here is what we are doing.
    metals and mercury, I am very sensitive, and most detox, and the organs and brain can be served by
    using DMSA. go to his website and read up
    http://www.mountrogersclinic.com. He also spoke to me of enzymens and Vt D. I take drops of D, up to 10,000 iu, again check this out. Please get refernce, and back up on this.
    My thyroid function is 21. which is very low. And I must say I sleep a low, have no energy, and it feels like dep*******, but after I got my test back I knew what it was, and dismissed that it could be dep*******, and I am going to be ok. This was the case when I began in 93, but shrink dismissed it.
    . I started a blog on recovery on Reveloution health, after I was booted out of a group for speaking of healing!:}

    So welcome, to our AA blog and CONGRATS!!

    You GO GIRL!

    Love,
    Dona

  28. Maria,

    BRAIN GUT CONNECTION< either do an elimination diet, and or gluten free. I bet that would cure, or help. You might have candidia, and that must be treated.
    I started with a sever spastic colon, and yes I bloated.
    I have a lot of deep feelings in my gut.

    Peace
    Dona

  29. Hi Dona,
    I’m not quite done but almost…should just be a matter of a couple of months…after 4 years…

  30. fairybasslet says:

    Thank you for keeping such an interesting and frank blog – I hear elements of your story every day from people I support and only wish that they had the clarity and strength of mind you clearly have to achieve half of what you have done so far. Be well in your journey.

  31. Adam West says:

    Here is my story:

    http://resveratrolandmooddisorders.wordpress.com/my-story/

    Over one year now, no swings!

  32. thanks Adam…you’re now featured on my top post today. and are being added to my blogroll…

  33. I am glad I stumbled on your site!!! I’ve been off meds for about 2 1/2 years now but frankly, the last week has been trying my nerves and I wish I had something to take – it will pass…I know it will pass.

    Things like yoga, reiki and intuitive counseling helped me as I got off meds. Exercise and talk therapy helped too.

    I will be back to check out more of your site and I plan to add you to my blog roll ASAP!

  34. Christa,
    great to meet you…if you want to send me an email I might be able to suggest something calming for you…

    I’d also love to hear your story and your website looks like you’re doing awesome work.

  35. The longer I take pills, the more I know they do not work. I see patterns of predatory capitalism in how pharmaceutical companies work. I should know, I worked as a scientist, maybe 15 or so of my work years, were spent working for various Pharmaceutical companies.

    I’ve been stuck on pills since I was around 25, and I will be 47. Some pills I’m taking, I know, will shorten my life with known side effects, such as heart disease for some of the atypical antipsychotics. I certainly wasn’t thinking about that when my doctor told me they were a miracle cure. I guess when you’re 25, you maybe are more gullible but you have to admit, nobody gave me full disclosure on the side effects of antipsychotics. My body has been gracious in my not having any serious side effects, but as my body ages, I’m sure it will be less able to filter out the toxins that antipsychotics represent.

    Now they’re advertising Abilify for depression. I don’t think the TV ads go into anywhere near full disclosure for an atypical antipsychotic.

    Not long ago, I tried a couple of meditative techniques taught at a meditation school. For me, they worked incredibly well for only 20 minutes per day. I’d had such bad anxiety, and already on so many pills for bipolar, I thought I was a lost cause. I am stuck on 2mg of Xanax XR, and still had debilitating anxiety. The anxiety seemed to leave on it’s own, but I”m still taking the Xanax, which most likely does not function any longer. I’ll try to wean myself off of it in summer.

    Because of that success with meditation, I have purchased some biofeedback, called Heartmath, which I saw a lecture on, at the U of Minnesota. Have not received them yet. Biofeedback is usually more expedient than meditation. I’m hoping for the best. I’m not sure but I think Heartmath has been used at the Mayo Clinic.

    I think it’s good to have a blog like this, it kind of undermines what seems to be a totalitarian regime run by the pharmaceutical industry and brainwashed doctors.

    We are the resistance fighters.

    I think you can do whatever you set your mind to, including getting off psychiatric drugs. It helps when you know you are not on your own.

    Best,
    True

  36. Arianna,
    great to hear from you.
    yeah, the xanax probably isn’t doing anything anymore…my last drug is Klonopin and I’m getting off that now…it does nothing but give me withdrawals…

    good to hear your success with meditation…try to keep it up even with the biofeedback…I don’t think they are exactly the same at all…

    best of luck on your journey.

  37. Yes, did you know that Klonopin has a half life of 3 days!

    So, I have this klonopin prescription, and I’m doing dangerous activities that require your full faculties, like jumping horses and even driving. My doctor knows this.

    Basically, if you have one klonopin, it stays in your blood that long so that if you ride the next day, or even the day after that, you’re basically on a tranquilizer.

    It would have been nice if my doctor mentioned it.

    Best,
    Arianna

  38. Hi everyone, so we are developing the second edition of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, listed as a resource. You can download the first edition for free at —

    http://theicarusproject.net/downloads/ComingOffPsychDrugsHarmReductGuide1Edonline.pdf

    Gianna has offered to provide some help expanding and including more information. I would really love people to send comments and ideas on anything at all you think would improve the guide, make changes, add anything that’s missing, whatever needs to be fixed, add additional resources we missed (such as this website!) – any feedback at all.

    The guide has already reached more than 12,000 people and we want to make it as good as we can and keep improving it. All contributors will be acknowledged (anonymously if you want) in the thank yous.

    — Will Hall

  39. thanks Will..
    everyone if you’re not familiar with Will and his work you need to be. He founded Freedom Center and does Madness Radio which has really great interviews with a lot of awesome people…scouring the archives is totally worth it.

    http://www.freedom-center.org/

    http://www.madnessradio.net/

    I’ve posted his recovery story here:

    http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/will-halls-recovery-story/

  40. Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting :)

    I too, am handling my recovery sans meds. I don’t know if I could have done that if things were any worse than they’ve been… not that things haven’t been bad, but y’know!

    Anyway, I’m adding you to my RSS and I’ll be reading along…

  41. thanks Svasti,
    I’ve really been enjoying your blog…I hope you’re not finding me troublesome right now!! I have a special interest in what you are writing about right now…and I’m critical…but in a sort of academic way…it’s not about individuals…hope you understand that…I’ve met some guru’s who deeply move me…cheers.

  42. G-

    Just stumbled upon your creative genius-blog– wonderful!

    Keep up the good work and angsty-gusto!

    -shanti *t

  43. I am a 5yr survivor of psychiatry.

    I spent many years being used as a guinea pig for doctors who guaranteed relief. Nothing worked.

    I finally made the decision to try alternative natural solutions. With the use of neurotransmitter,allergy and toxicity testing, Naturopathic doctors were able to determine my bodies deficiencies and develop a program that worked for me.

    I have never felt better in my life.

    There is hope!!

  44. great for you Doug!
    yes there are lots of alternatives to drugs…we just have to get to a place where they are offered at the onset not years later after drugs have damaged us…

  45. Doug, you and I are in the same boat! Kristine, I know the galaxy of SSRI’s.

    Been on meds since early 2002. I, too, was a psych drug guinea pig. One “doctor” changed my meds every 6 to 8 weeks for almost 2 years. I’ve been on so many meds, some 2- 3 times. Now I’m so sensitive to psych drugs I must start at “baby” doses, even though I’m 6’3″ and 230 lbs. Back in 2006, I went almost a year w/o a doc or drugs and that sent me downhill. I can totally identify with those people in the Cymbalta ads.

    I’ve aged rapidly and look older than my 43 years. That doesn’t bother as much as trying not to lose hope in a satisfactory drug or drug cocktail mixture.

  46. Claire Lapointe says:

    Hi Gianna:

    This is someone who just joined beyondmeds. Thanks for welcoming me. Wanted to check out some of your blog. Are you more & mainly active on beyondmeds now? Have you finally gotten off your meds yet? I feel like it is time for me to finally get off all psychiatric drugs. Would like to hear from you sometime as to your progress & any helpful support & encouragement that you can offer. Am starting to get around a little on beyondmeds & want to keep things very managable.

    Hopefully talk to you soon. Claire Lapointe

  47. Claire,
    I’m assuming when you said you just joined beyondmeds you mean the support group. The support group was created in response to this site because so many people needed support, but this is where I do most of my work. The support network is for all of us…to support one another.

    I am active both here and there. I have helpers on the social site so I’d say I’m more active here.

    If you want my daily updates on this site you can request email updates on the right hand side bar…I don’t post most of what I do here on the support site.

  48. PrincessMoon says:

    I was first put on medication when I was about 7 years old. Within years following that in adolescence I was put on cocktails of stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, amphetamines, benzodiazepines and a mood stabolizer once. I had generalized anxiety disorder and ADD, diagnosed at the age of 3. I was put on Risperdal when I was in the eighth grade and had just turned 14. The thing is, the reason I was put on Risperdal was generalized anxiety disorder, but more of the reason I was put on it was the side effects of the stimulants I was on for ADD. The stimulants changed my entire personality, made me this totally different person. My entire personality was changed by the stimulants for ADD and because of that I was put on Risperdal to calm down. The side effects I experienced as a result of the ADD stimulants led to inaccurate medication cocktails and doctors viewed the side effects as personality traits. Being put on an antipsychotic in middle school because of my reaction to stimulants and amphetamines by the same doctor who prescribed the stimulants and amphetamines which changed my personality. On the Risperdal I stopped getting my period while I was on it. I got off it and was put on other drugs. Eventually, I was put on Abilify, that didn’t last long because I got akathisia from it. I was put on a lot of stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics and amphetamines. They all didn’t work because they all would cancel out each other’s effects. I remember back when I was 14 and put on Risperdal, a couple months before that my boyfriend at the time and I had broken up and I was in middle school and it was on my mind all the time. When I was put on the Risperdal, I somehow got over the break up really fast and it wasn’t natural. I noticed a similar thing years later as a teenager, a different boyfriend and I had broken up and I was thinking about it all the time, then I was put on Seroquel and I moved on which wasn’t natural. Eventually, I was put on Effexor as well as a huge cocktail of medications. The Effexor made me act manic and I was also on an amphetamine stimulant with it and an antipsychotic and benzodiazepine which totally changed my behavior. Effexor made me this totally different person. I did a lot of things I regret on Effexor, a lot of things that were totally out of character and that weren’t me. Eventually, I stopped taking all my medications and got off them cold turkey, because no one had ever told me about withdrawals. I got off all the medications for a long time. The medications really changed my personality. If you ask the boyfriends I’ve had at different times in my life, each of my boyfriends will describe my personality differently, depending on the drugs I was taking while dating him. My different boyfriends all have descriptions of me which fit how my personality was on each drug. I find your blog very interesting and thought I should comment. It’s funny, the reason I first got off my medications about a year ago was because I enjoyed the “high” feeling I got when I missed a dose and then I just stopped taking the medications. Sorry for the long post, just wanted to comment. Medications do change your personality and you don’t even realize it until you get off the meds and your personality changes back. Nice blog.

  49. thank you so much for sharing the harrowing tale of your adolescence. I’m guessing you’re still a relatively young adult and I imagine that is why you managed the cold-turkey withdrawal…or at least in part, since young people, too can also have awful withdrawals….

    I hope you continue to find your way without drugs changing your personality every few months. We all deserve to know who we really are.

    peace.

  50. Where do I begin?… I just went through this blog and my mind is spinning. I had a “nervous breakdown” in 1983. I was off and on SSRI’s because I did not want to take meds. Finally, I think around 1995 I began taking Prozac everyday, resigned to the “fact” I would need to take the med for the rest of my life. My anxiety is under control, I have not had any major depressive episodes, but this blog has made me reconsider by decision to continue taking the meds…. I’ll keep you posted! Peace & Love, Connie

  51. Connie,
    welcome…
    I’d like to suggest you take your time and don’t make any precipitous decisions…

    withdrawing from drugs can be an arduous and difficult process and shouldn’t be taken lightly, nor without much preparation….

    Glad to have you here.

  52. I appreciate what you are attempting to do, I admire you. I been swimming through the mental health system for most of my life, I am forty four. My diagnoses is bipolar disorder with psychotic features. I am generally pretty stable, I do still get manic but rarely suffer depression. I really want to go off meds but to be honest it scares me a bit. I never want to experience psychosis again, it is a devastating experience and I doubt I could survive it again.
    Like I said I admire you, I think it takes a lot of courage to attempt to do what you are doing, I want this to work for you.
    I discovered your blog today and I will follow your story, maybe one day I will share mine.

    ciao Jake

  53. I’m 44 too.
    Coming off meds is not something that should be done lightly…it’s dangerous and so your caution is appropriate…

    but if you want to learn the safest ways to do it start with studying this page…there is a ton of personal experiences as well as books about how to support your body mind and spirit.

    you should be very well prepared with plenty of supports if you choose to make the sort of changes involved in coming off meds.

  54. Hey there Gianna — I would say “coming off meds is sometimes dangerous” or “often it can be dangerous” rather than blanket saying it is dangerous, meaning always dangerous.

    The reason for this is that the profession puts fear into people about coming off. In fact the danger of staying on is sometimes much greater. Let’s not give the meds more power than they have or make people more scared than they should be.

    Statistically speaking a lot of people come off psychiatric drugs with no problem at all, if we are talking about everything from benzos to ssris to sleep meds as well as the anti-psychotics and anti-convulsants. I realize since there are so many horror stories, and since the dangers and risks are so real, that it is hard to believe many people come off without a problem. We hear about the problems more than the easy stories. The MIND study shows this: “Before launching into descriptions of the vast array of adverse effects experienced by people trying to come off their drugs, it should be noted that 40 per cent did not experience any significant difficulties.”

    http://theicarusproject.net/alternative-treatments/mind-uk-coping-with-coming-off-psych-drugs-guide

  55. I don’t argue with what you say Will, but too often people enter into the process unprepared. I choose to err on the side of caution when I’m talking to someone I’ve never met before…

    any regular reader of my blog knows that I repeatedly speak of the “spectrum” of experience of coming off meds…

    but frankly if one is not respectful of the potential danger…that is dangerous…

    if people prepare themselves as I recommend they’ll find all the stories that include the whole spectrum.

    I’ve seen too many people flip out and be way worse off as a result of coming off meds quickly.

    That does not negate the fact that some have no troubles at all.

  56. and while the “profession” does put fear in people…the greatest reason they have this fear is BECAUSE they rush people off without proper supports!!

    If the “profession” showed a modicum of the caution I do we wouldn’t have these problems!!

    the first time I tried to come off drugs my doc had me come off 17 pills constituting 6 different drugs one pill a day…he called that tapering…

    I call that COLD TURKEY—we “discovered” I “needed” to be on meds…it was the worst experience of my life!!

    so the danger lay in the not knowing what the fuck the doc was doing—not the withdrawal itself…done cautiously and safely…here I am…off all but a fraction of the last drug.

    caution is not putting fear in people…doing shit like my doctor did IS putting fear in people.

    and yet he was allowing me to come off meds…!! and he wasn’t afraid…HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

  57. I agree with you – but I think the fear the profession puts into people is more the fear not of the withdrawal process, but fear that the medications are the only thing preventing psychosis and there is no way to live without them. People are told again and again, Stay on your meds or you will end up a suicide, or locked in a hospital for the rest of your life…

    the whole issue of fear, danger, risk, harm — it’s a huge area that needs to get looked at carefully, because the mental health system largely traffics in people’s fears, and fears drive a lot of treatment decisions and health policy.

  58. the term fear-mongering was coined for a reason…all medicine practices it…and pharma capitilizes on it, but we’re talking about different things…

    caution vs. fear.

    I fearlessly move forward with my withdrawal with great caution.

  59. I agree Gianna caution is the way to go. I found this page because I have been on a journey of sorts to emancipate myself from my pharmaceutical straight jacket. Ten years ago I quit drinking cold turkey, it was tough I did not access any support, but I did it. Three years ago I quit smoking tobacco, I have not had a smoke since. A month ago I quit a thirty four year pot habbit, it tough has been a tough go, but I am doing it.
    I am giving myself six months and then I am going to begin the gradual weaning. I just need to read more and work on my plan.
    I think medicated or not I need to set up a good support network and then go for it.
    As far as the pharmaceutical companies go, they do create a climate of fear, I could not tell you how many times I have been told that if I did not take psyche meds I would either be on the street or in jail.
    I reject that notion. I believe many aspects or symptoms of my “illness” are gifts not curses. Psychosis is freaky do not get me wrong but just before the tipping point into oblivion I feel like the world is flowing through me and I am absolutely connected. I want a little more of that back. Like you suggest, I will be cautious.
    I will explore this page further today. thanks. jake

  60. Psychosis is freaky do not get me wrong but just before the tipping point into oblivion I feel like the world is flowing through me and I am absolutely connected. I want a little more of that back.

    we all do!! psychosis is spiritual!!

    for some perspectives on this look at this page on recovery from extreme states:

    http://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/recovery-from-extreme-states-psychosis-etc/

    the thing is once meds have been involved things get much more complicated…especially if it’s been years…

    but you can get it back…the good stuff…I am…it’s slow and painful for me, but it’s coming and it’s beautiful as often as it’s painful…

    best to you!!

  61. Jackqueline says:

    I take Wellbutrin, Lamictal, and Lithium. For the past year, I have been reducing the klonopin from 2 mg per day to none as of 2 weeks ago. Since then, sleep has escaped me.
    I want to get off the Lamictal as soon as I am stable from the benzo withdrawal. I found your site while researching what I may expect for Lamictal withdrawal. You mentioned at some point that you were working your way off klonopin. How is that going for you?
    The best news I had last year was starting thyroid medicine. I haven’t been suicidal since (well, except for a fleeting moment two weeks ago at the end of klonopin).
    Thank you so much for the work you have done and continue to do in helping others with this blog. God bless.

  62. Hi Jackqueline,
    welcome…know that not everyone has a nightmare time with Lamictal…some people have and easy time….but DO take it slow and easy…

    lots of people actually need thyroid who get diagnosed with a pscyhiatric illness…it’s not particularly psychiatric if there is a physical cause like low thyroid. Good for you for finding your answer.

    yeah, I’m withdrawing from Klonopin and it’s hell…but it’s the last of 6 drugs I’m coming off so the end is in site…

    check out our social support network if you like:

    http://beyondmeds.ning.com/

  63. downcastmysoul says:

    Great blog:

    Hope it convinces people to try to stop these life sapping “meds” that most people don’t need anyway. I was put onto antipsychotics at age 15 and was on and off different “meds” for years thinking they cured or controlled my “mental illness”. Now I believe my “mental illness” was a crock to get me ostracized by society and that the drugs only made things worse, not better when I was on them. The drugs I took the longest were antidepressants. I gained tons of weight on them and also had lots of heartburn and other weird symptoms like arthritis like pain and stiffness and a sort of blah lack of feeling emotionally.

    My friend is forced onto antipsychotics again and still trusts the psychiatric establishment even though they have screwed with her in horrendous ways. I once heard that neuroleptics take 20 years off one’s life. Is that true? Plus they make some people horribly fat. I have some views on psychiatry and why the people who run society need psychiatrists to control possible rebels, but I won’t post that here.

    I think falling into the hands of the wrong psychiatrist is a sorry fate.

  64. yes, these drugs take up to 25 years off on AVERAGE…so more and less both happen. My friend right now is facing death…she is 30 years old…as a result of these drugs.

    and yes, I had that sorry fate…I fell into the wrong hands and am now physically disabled from gross over-medication and a detox that crippled me. I still hope for recovery, but frankly don’t know how it will go…the sickest part??

    I”m virtually off all the drugs and totally sane, but physically destroyed!

  65. downcastmysoul says:

    Wow,

    I didn’t read your story but I’m assuming it was teen angst that got you in contact with psychiatry? I went to see a shrink because I could not make friends at school. The bitch (psychiatrist) put me on antipsychotic drugs that made me so depressed I tried to take my own life. I ended up in the state hospital for months then as a runaway, then as a high school dropout…I went back to school (college) but the damage had already been done: I’d been labelled and stigmatized. Strange, though, the “label” always changes whenever I see another new shrink. Remember all those weird tests they give. The inkblot test is a riot but I think I answered it “wrong” hence yet another antipsychotic prescription.

    Every time these freaks have put me on antipsychotics I have had to go off them due to extreme depression on them plus like a total LOSS of appetite. I guess I was lucky that my shrinks did not make a total guinea pig out of me and had me on only one drug at a time. I have been “tried” on FIVE different antipsychotics at different times and the result is the same: total misery. I’m also wondering if one of them caused a serious stomach/intestine problem that I have now.

    I tolerated antidepressants better and was on them for over a decade..what a waste. After awhile they don’t kill depression at all. They just make you feel emotionless and I had a huge appetite to boot. My huge weight gain caused me early arthritis and bone loss. I’ve lost some back but I’m still in the obese category per BMI.

    Detox from antipsychotics was H-E-L-L everytime. I did it cold turkey, too. I now wonder how I avoided hospitalization. I’m physically, ok, but not great. I don’t have a ton of energy but I’m also heavy and have other health problems unrelated to psych drugs. I hope you can heal yourself with diet/herbs/exercise. I’m very bad with food, but I try to eat better. I eat much less fast food now that I’m broke all the time and am forced to eat at home mainly. My cholesterol is down and my BP is only high normal and I guess what’s left of my broken (emotional) heart beats.

    Do you mind if I link your blog?

  66. of course you can link to my blog….no one never need ask that….

    if you want my story go to the top of the page to the Personal Tab…that gives my story in bits and pieces…up to date.

    thanks for stopping by and welcome.

  67. downcastmysoul says:

    I’m over 40 so I was tried on the old antipsychotics first?

    What is your friend withdrawing from? I had one HELL of a time withdrawing from 2 of the “newer” antipsychotics: Risperdal and Geodon.

    Is Abifily a bad one to take? My friend is forced on that one for now.

  68. benzos are what are killing her…and it’s the last class of drug I’m coming off of as well and I too am grossly ill…they are probably the worst class all in all in terms of causing permanent physical disability in general…

    but they all can do that too in various ways…

    I started out on thorazine myself! 25 years ago!

  69. downcastmysoul says:

    Do you mean antipsychotics like Seroquel and Risperdal and Clozaril? I told my friend when she was on them a couple of years ago don’t get attached to them or get certified again because going off them is next to impossible. I was only on them a few months each time and it was an emotional hell to go off them. I probably have lost brain function from the short times I was on them.

  70. no benzos are things like Klonopin, Ativan, and Xanax…

    but the drugs you mention are soul killers as well as killing people with metabolic problems and also hellish to come off of…

    benzos as a class seems to be the worst to come off though..

    but anyone can have a nightmare with any drug so comparisons are only generalities…they are all nasty and addictive and dangerous to be on and come off of.

  71. wonderful, inspiring site. thanks so much gianna for all the work you do here. with love, nancy

  72. Hello all,

    I’m new to the blog and the whole issue of bipolar disorder. Actually, I don’t have it myself, but it seems that my 7-year-old daughter is suffering from it, although her symptoms are not very severe at this point. After having done extensive research, I decided not to have her formally diagnosed or seek any type of professional help (I’m not even going to mention it to her doctor), as I don’t see any benefits in doing so. From what I gathered, the only thing the doctor would do is refer my daughter to a psychiatrist who would put her on medications. I’m determined (for now) to try and deal with her illness in a “natural way”. I composed a list of things we can do, and it would be great if any of you shared your ideas/suggestions:
    – fish oil supplement;
    – low carb, low sugar diet;
    – exclusion of artificial color/flavoring;
    – diet overweight in fats, veggies, eggs;
    – valerian root (when in crisis);
    – meditation;
    – yoga.

    I’d greatly appreciate any input.

  73. Lisa,
    most of us here are adults dealing with our own adult problems on this site. though I do have one reader I know of who greatly helped her 13 year old son with the information she gleaned from this site.

    I still feel inclined to direct you to where there might be other parents to help you through this.

    One place is Safe Harbor where I am a member…it’s a yahoo group. You can join here:

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/safeharbor2/

    Also carefully studying my about page and buying some of the books can be very helpful. Nutrition and diet is a good place to start…(valerian won’t do anything for a real crisis) but if you give her a good foundation of healthy food it may help and there are other things that may be more appropriate should she run into more serious issues. I would find a naturopathic or alternative doctor who works with kids though if at all possible while educating yourself as you go along.

    Most kids who exhibit the sort of behavior that get labeled bipolar should probably get some good trauma informed therapy as well…you would simply need to find a therapist who is opposed to using drugs in children who also work with troubled kids and they do exist. If you send me an email I can put your story out on some of the professional lists I’m on (I’m an ex-social worker and communicate regularly with professionals who choose not to medicate)

    Trauma can be incurred in ways parents are completely unaware of often…it can have nothing to do with being “bad” parents but just being normal dysfunctional human beings and having a delicate child, or alternately she may have been exposed to some trauma you are not aware of and she does not know how to speak of…whatever the case may or may not be one needs to be fearless to look for the answers and be willing to find things that may be painful.

    I wish you much luck and love.

  74. Your journey awes me. I am a second generation survivor–similar childhood to what I’ve seen you talk about–alcoholic, abusive father, messed up mother. My mother had what they called a “depressive psychosis” when I was 8 and got pumped with tons of Thorazine–the though in those days was that if a little works then more will work better. She did time in the hospital, spent most of my childhood in bed. I’ve always struggled with a sense of abandonment (BIG fear for me now–I try not to ruminate on what happens if my husband dies but still get into that place sometimes). My feelings about my mother’s troubles have always been a combination of anger at her for leaving me and at the mental health system for taking her. Now I’m utterly outraged because she’s got brain atrophy and I’m losing her again in bits and pieces and studies are showing that it’s probably the GD Thorazine causing it. Damn them and their drugs!

    Anyway, when I started having my own problems I fought the system, fought drugs (not always winning). Sometimes I would get so depressed I would do ANYTHING to get out of that place and for many years all they offered was pills so I settled into a sort-of twilight life. Worked just enough to pay the rent and eat and always at night. Night has always felt safest for NOT sleeping–safer to sleep in the day (that’s where dad comes in but I won’t go into details–I’m so tired of talking about it). It seems like I spent half of my life hoping and looking for someone to help me and the other half trying to overcome my sense of my different-ness from everybody else on the planet. Sometimes I would go looking for help from the system because it seemed like there was nowhere else to go and I couldn’t get over wanting to die/not wanting to die. I never got locked up-now I know how lucky I was–maybe my mother’s experience helped with that–I always had this thing in my brain repeating over and over “I will not be like my mother” so I got really good at disappearing before they started thinking about dragging me off. Lots and lots of loneliness. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I began to emerge from that place. Things changed some in the world too I think as people started fighting back against the system and a few alternatives began to appear. It was only then that I allowed myself to get locked up for a little while on a trauma unit in Baltimore. The shrink there was the first one I ever met who had no problem with my choosing not to take drugs. Then I lucked into a therapist here at home who also had no problem with me not taking them. I did eventually agree to see the shrink he worked with because I had seen his work–he would take people just out of the hospital and start lowering the doses until they became coherent again. His name was Dr. Maltese. I let him give me some very low doses of Trazadone because I had a problem with not sleeping for days at a time (trauma does that to you and none of the ways I had learned to deal with it med free were working at all). He’s at the local VA hospital now and as much as I don’t like it that I can’t see him any more I’m glad that he’s there to help the vets–at least one shrink at the VA won’t be drugging them into a comatose state.

    Wow–how did I write so much? I read your stuff and I see what your interests are since you became my facebook friend and I feel like there are a lot of shared interests and experiences. Also I’m in the midst of healing from some serious emergency back surgery I had in March and so I’m in the strange (for me) position of being able to pay attention to my thoughts. And you share so much of yourself–it’s such a great gift you are giving allowing people to share your journey. I guess I want mostly for you to know that you are not alone and that lots of positive thoughts are being directed your way.

    Thanks for reading this BTW–your going through a lot right now I know. I admire your fight–and I think I sort of understand it, having fought for so long myself. Anyway, I wish for you a peaceful day and a night without nightmares–sleep that refreshes and joy in your accomplishments.

    Take good care–I’m sending good thoughts!
    Joan

  75. Wow! Thank you for putting all of this work together! Amazing! Thank you thank you thank you!

  76. you’re very welcome…I love it when people actually use these pages!!

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