Can I taper the rest of my drugs in a maximum of 16 weeks??

 

I have spent the last few days researching a residential facility that specializes in getting people off psych meds in eight to sixteen weeks. I’ve known of the facility for months and initially dismissed them completely, but recently I’ve spoken to a number of people who are familiar with it including a woman I know who knows ten people who have been through it successfully and who are fully recovered. I ended the first conversation with a receptionist with a terse, “thank you very much, click,” when I heard the price of the program but she called me back a few days later and we had a very nice conversation.

Today and yesterday I spoke with the director. We talked like peers. For the first time I spoke with a professional who was on the same page as I was. We spoke the same language of nutrients and blood work. I’ve not spoken to a single professional that knew half as much as I did up to this point and I’ve now talked to a lot of so-called integrative, orthomolecular and other complimentary and alternative doctors and practitioners. This guy is the only guy so far who does only drug withdrawal. And he’s done it himself. He was on neuroleptics for so-called schizophrenia. I’m starting to be sold on it.

He knows the same things I do and more, and it’s clear he has a sophistication and understanding about the variables of nutrients working synergistically for a persons particular needs. He admits it’s not always easy and he needs to closely monitor and observe so that minute changes can be made as necessary and with no time wasted. This is all stuff I have been unable to do on my own—I’m well aware that some of what I’m doing may be aggravating my withdrawal. I have only been doing the best I can. We also talked about particular combinations of nutrients and amino acids that I didn’t know about specifically, but that I knew enough about that when he talked about using them together I had a bit of an aha! experience.

There is a staff of doctors, addiction specialists, nutritionists, yoga instructors, acupuncturists and counselors. It’s promising in that the director truly spoke to me as a peer. It was clear he did not see me as damaged or in need of saving or coddling. The woman I know who knows the people who’ve been through the program said they all said the staff was extremely caring and warm. This does not feel like traditional mental health services at all.

Three months to get off the remainder of what I’m on (because the director doesn’t think it will take the full 16 weeks.) It feels too good to be true and maybe it is. But I’m considering it seriously enough that I’ve negotiated a price for the program that would allow me to empty my (meager) retirement accounts and pay for the whole thing. If I can get healthy and back to work, filling up the retirement accounts again won’t take long. It may be a gamble, but it may also be a risk well worth taking. I’m figuring without this kind of expert assistance it will take me another two years to get off the shit I remain on.

My husband is in England. I just had a conversation with him and when he gets back he will talk to the director. He is better at reading people when it comes to stuff like this where I get excited and hope that I’ve found the answer.

Anyway, I’m being vague about the place because I don’t want to name it, so that I can speak freely about it throughout the process. If I go through it and when I’m done I will reveal the name of it and give it a rating based on my experience.

It’s almost four in the morning. It’s very strange that I can’t sleep—I’ve been sleeping like a rock lately. I really am not aware of feeling overly excited, but nonetheless, I have this on my mind and it’s keeping me awake. I’m not chomping on the bit to go there. I feel like I need to take it slow and easy and ask a lot more questions. My husband will play an important role in that process. But I guess, bottom line, I am getting my hopes up. I think I have enough sense, though, to think through this carefully and make a good decision—I will most likely visit and interview graduates.

On another but broadly related note, I’ve recently found a school in New York associated with Columbia University—it’s actually part of the continuing education program there that certifies one in holistic health counseling. It also allows you to test to become a Certified Nutrition Consultant. This is what I want to do. It’s a six month program with the option to go an additional intensive year. You only have to be in class one weekend a month. I have people I can stay with in New York. I want this. I want a new career. I’m already imagining that whatever I learn at this treatment facility I’ll be able to use along with my certification. Yes, my imagination is running wild, but god, all I want to do is work again and help people do what I’m doing—freeing themselves from the oppression that is psychiatry.

Tonight I will dream while I wait for sleep.

If I do this I will start in the beginning of February. In the meantime I still intend to begin tapering the Lamictal again.

Update: detox centers are not safe. Read: Many existing detox centers for psych drug withdrawal are dangerous

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

20 Responses

  1. Val

    Wow! This sounds very exciting…
    I certainly hope this works out well for you — I’m curious who the dr is & where is this place?
    Good luck.

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  2. Liz

    Well, it is an interesting idea- the treatment center. If you really can interview with people who have been through the program- both successfully and not, it would be very helpful, and I would not sign up without it. Peer recommendation is vital, I think. It all sounds good in theory, but I do have to wonder what it is that they can do that you can’t do, at a fraction of the cost, and the idea of getting off the drugs in a shorter amount of time still does not account for the necessary time needed to heal those little receptors in your brain. This is, after all, the bottom line, right? I don’t want to put a damper on this at all, so may be I best stop here on this one!!

    Your idea of holistic or nutritional counseling sounds really exciting, and I have no doubt that you could easily make a contribution to this area and iatrogenic drug dependency. 6 months, eh? hmmm. Pretty enticing…..

    Keep me posted on both!

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  3. Mike

    A treatment facility can’t speed up your recovery and you probably know more about psychotropic drug withdrawal than they do. You could do so much more with that kind of money on an outpatient basis. I am sure this is a different place but I know someone who went to such a facility and the outcome was extremely sad.

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  4. Duane Sherry

    Gianna,

    You keep dreaming – you dream until your heart’s content – you’ve been through hell (and back) –

    You would be so WONDERFUL at nutritional counseling.

    I hope you are able to finish out the withdrawal – inpatient, outpatient, or on your own – you’ll figure what’s right for you, and you’ll get it done.

    You keep dreaming!
    Life is meant to be full of dreams.

    Duane

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  5. Denise

    Dreams do come true! There are many people who have successfully gotten off the drugs and stayed off them. John Nash for one.

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  6. Duane Sherry

    Denise,

    Thanks for the reminder –
    I think of John Nash as a hero

    We don’t need to be Nobel Laurette’s to experience our own genius – to release our gifts to those around us, and the rest of the world……

    We only need his courage – and to believe that we too have ‘genius’ inside – each of us.

    What an example –

    Duane

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  7. Zoe

    I’m hopeful for you Gianna…it sounds good so far and I so hope that it works out. I know you won’t do anything rash! I’m really interested in Nutrition as a career path too, the only trouble for me is that all the courses I found required a lot more science background than I had. I still don’t rule it out though, because, like you my real passion is helping people to take their own health into their own hands. You CAN do this, and if I were in your shoes, I’m pretty sure I would want to take the chance. Good luck anyway.

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  8. Anything that gives us hope is worth getting excited over! I can imagine your loss of sleep over the excitement of the prospect of finally getting your life back, and having all of this take you into a new career based on experience–what better a person that you for that job, in a holistic nutrition based setting. We will probably all line up at your desk asking for your help! Good luck, and I agree, it would be loss of money at best–because what you learn there could only improve upon a center based place you could start up on your own, how’s that for dreaming? Hell, same town as Jayme’s respite house for that matter! this could keep me awake all night too.

    Good luck, and also, smart to bounce the idea off of someone you trust[your spouse] to gain another perspective.

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  9. I would also like to add a story here, that is the main part of my 19 year old daughter’s journey. I am sharing it here, because this is the kind of place I was told “does not exist” when she was stopping all medications in Summer of 2005. Advised by a psychiatrist, that after 6 years of being medicated with a wrong dx of Childhood Bipolar, the doctor told her “No meds are needed, you are P.D.D. only.”

    My daughter was 17 years old then and was so excited, the idea of no more meds! She had already researched Zyprexa, recorded agitation and a connection with Depakote–she was so excited, as one who reads Gianna’s quest to feel good off of meds here can imagine.

    The doctors removed all 3 medications, Depakote, and Zyprexa and Lithobid within about a 2 month time frame and all 3 at once. She had not titrated anything down, such as Gianna, has removed so many medications already.

    My daughter crashed, and she was able to tell me, “this is bad this time mom, really bad, fight for me.”

    I called the pyschiatrist and told him I think we removed the last med [Zyprexa]too fast, and he agreed to increase it modestly. She couldn’t handle the witthdrawals, starting ripping her hair out and screaming, to take her to a hospital.

    THIS was when I said, “Can she go inpatient, and have a safe place to continue this med wash? she has come this far, what if it is withdrawals? what if she has withdrawal induced psychosis?

    The answer I got, was one that was disheartening, “No, hospitals don’t do that. They medicate people.”

    Now, a quandary, a 17 year old capable of admitting self to a hospital and begging me to drive her there. I respected her wishes, and she has never been the same since, not only did that hospital [same doctor who said no meds needed] place her back on meds, they proceeded to trial 11 in 13 weeks at high doses.

    I hope by reading this post, others can understand that there is nothing in the psychiatric world that promotes wellness off of medication.Period. There was no where for me to turn for my daughter, and one can only wonder if there was a place like Gianna talks about available to her–would her outcome be different now?

    This is why I am excited for Gianna, it could be something so many people have and do need.

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  10. Stef

    Good luck to you. I am not on a lot of meds or very high dosages and am on my 4th day of NO prozac and 1/2 a pill of my Topamax.

    After reading some of your story and reading the articles that you had linked, I feel even more sure of myself.

    I wanted to say thank you for the links and research, it was very encouraging.

    I will keep you in my thoughts!

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  11. Carolyn

    I’m desperate to find such a place for my 21year old daughter. She’s down to 100mg Clozapine and can’t get down any further without severe withdrawal effects. Her troubles all started with Effexor at 16. Since then she has been on 12 different drugs and crashed when she came off Risperdal. I’ve found an outpatient clinic in Houston, but inpatient would be much better. I’m willing to stake all my retirement savings on this, because of what the drugs have done to a beautiful young girl. I need some help.

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