Shelby’s recovery story

I met Shelby in one of my many email groups. Shelby agreed to share her story on my blog. It is a story of a trauma which led to legitimate suffering leading to psychiatric diagnosis and the spiral downhill once on the drugs that happens to too many people. Thank god Shelby finally escaped and is now living a peaceful life free of the psychiatric drugs that nearly killed her. Thank you Shelby for sharing your tragic story and how your life has since greatly improved drug-free.

Shelby’s Recovery Story
I had a serious car accident over 20 years ago causing severe neck and upper body injury which the medical profession dismissed it as “whiplash”. I stared crying at work, at home and all the time from pain and not sleeping. I was frantic for sleep-some relief from the injury pain and in desperation went to psychiatrist thinking he could help me.

The psychiatrist was nice-we chatted and he gave a prescription.I wasn’t getting better so the psych doctor gave me more drugs and suggested I go into a psychiatric hospital for a needed rest.I had no idea of how “being a psychiatric patient” would cause other physicians to deter any medical treatment I needed for years to come.

My kind psychiatric put me on every anti-depressant, every anti-psychotic, every tranquiler and mood stabilizer in the whole PDR. I gained 100 pounds, became agitated, had panic attacks, bouts of insomnia for 3 days, restless legs, excruciating muscle spasms, slurred speech, tunnel vision, shaking, not making sense, laughing for no reason, strange thoughts, nightmares, hysterical crying and profuse sweating.These was all horrid drug induced side effects that the doctor only saw as worsening mental problems so he increased the drug doses even more. I was switched from drug to drug like an out of control merry go round.I had no idea I was like this to others.I was literally drunk on prescription medications and didn’t know it. I was in massive drug fog.

I went from being labeled “depressed” to “Schizo-Affective Manic Depressive”even though he said he’s never seen me manic-so why write that in my chart?? Then he said I might be Schizophrenic.

In 1999 the kind psychiatrist put me on the new neuroleptics: Seroquel and Zyprexa. They literally tore me into shreds. All the above mentioned problems became worse.My body twisted in agony from the spasms they caused. I drooled and shook. I couldn’t wake up and wet my pants from the drug induced stupors.Every time I told my doctor what problems I was having he said he’d never heard of the drugs causing them.I thought I must truly be crazy to be feeling like this.I stayed on the drugs having no idea they were the real culprit causing all my trouble. The doctor kept promising me one of these drugs would work-I’d be myself again.I believed him.To him I was a psyche patient-give her more drugs and see how she does.

All this time I was driving a car.

In 2002 the Seroquel psyche drug combo blew out my Pancreas and I was put in Intensive Care where I was told I was going to die. The massive IV fluids I was given to save my life flushed all the psychiatric drugs out of my system and I was no longer in a psyche drugged state. My best friend immediately noticed this new me just by my face as she walked into my room. My mind was “clear” and she’d never seen me like this before.I wasn’t aware of the drastic change in myself from the psyche drug fog. After several months I was able to come back home again.

A few months later I had a consultation with a neurologist and was told the psychiatric drugs I was on were killing me. He said I had the worse case of drug induced toxicity he’s ever seen in his 35 years as a physician. He saw that I couldn’t stop moving-my hands, my body, jerking my head and profuse sweating from the toxic reaction to neuroleptics.I didn’t know what he was talking about-toxicity??

I went to my kind psychiatrist who said what does this letter from the neurologist mean you have “Akathisia”?  By then I had realized that the problems I’d been having were very real and all drug-induced.  I read him my written list with all the symptoms I had endured and asked what have you done to me all these years. Why? Why?

To my utter amazement the kind psychiatrist looked hard at me (probably for the first time in years) and realized he had wrongly labeled me as being crazy. I was completely lucid. He started sobbing”’Loud shocked sobbing. He knew at that moment he was responsible for ruining my life by prescribing unneeded mind altering drugs. I watched him and felt like I was in a horror movie.

He said stop the Seroquel-you won’t have any problems.So I did and entered withdrawal hell. When I went back to him he treated me as a liability.He was scared I would sue him-not that I was in unbearable withdrawal.He said the drugs
he’d prescribed me did not cause my physical symptoms. He actually turned his body away from me and wouldn’t look me in the face. No more being the nice psychiatrist.

I went to another psychiatrist for drugs to use for tapering off and he couldn’t find any thing wrong with me. By the second visit he’d received a letter from my original doctor saying I was totally crazy and I would say the drugs caused it.The new doctor read me this letter and threatened to have me forcefully given neuroleptics.That was the last time I saw him.

So my journey withdrawing from seven hard core psychiatric drugs began. I chipped pieces of my pills very carefully. The panic attacks knew no bounds. My skin was being ripped off and my brain/nervous system was going through pure hell trying to adjust to no longer getting psyche drugs.Days of pacing, no sleep and nausea.Words can not describe what I went through getting off these drugs. Thank goodness I stumbled across books and online support that gave me information about others who had tapered off psyche drugs. I was able to see I was not alone. Others had been profoundly drugged like me and were now drug free.

My long time therapist “fired” me for not being compliant with taking the drugs and said my clarity of mind wouldn’t last. I was shocked at how caviler she was to abandon me when I was acting fine. How does that make sense?? I thought she’d be glad for me.My clarity of mind is still here years later. She was wrong.

My friend helped walk me through the long uncharted road to being drug free. She said it would be so hard.That I had been Chemically Institutionalized and Chemically Lobotomized and feeling real feeling again would be so difficult to handle after years of being anesthetized. Real emotions. Being out in public in stores, dealing with people, sounds and in every possible interaction. Dealing drug free with life.I even had trouble talking on the phone-how do I listen?? Am I making sense to this other person? I was trying so hard to be “normal”-too understand what this world was off drugs and it was scary.I crawled and dragged myself through the longest time of my life.

Others noticed I was different just by looking at my face or hearing my voice-people I knew and doctors who I’d been seeing for years for reasons caused by the drugs (acid reflux, dry eyes, skin rashes, breathing problems, loss of urinary control, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting). All these problems stopped when I was halfway off the drugs.I have in my medical records physicians saying I was off all psyche drugs and completely lucid. I did have further evaluations and was told I never was Schizo-Affective/
Schizophrenia let alone mentally ill in the first place. I’d been in a stressful situation but was polydrugged before it could work itself through. A physical injury from auto accident lead me down a horrible road to years of drug induced hell.

For too long I believed I was the “mental patient”. I am responsible for my own happiness, contentment and success as a whole person.I slowly was able to start healthy new relationships and lost all of the 100 pounds. I am glad at recent exposure of psychiatry-it’s absurdity, the labeling, making person think there is no hope, no future, no meaning. That taking mind altering drugs is all there is. Offering no other choices.We shouldn’t be branded for life. Hope should never be taken away.

I trusted my psychiatrist completely after all he was a physician and thought he knew what he was doing. I had no idea at all what these drugs were doing to my body, my mind and my whole life. How they affected my behavior and caused  me to act so completely different from how I really was. I now realize that these drugs was indeed extremely dangerous and to question what ever any doctor tells me.

I lost so many years in a drug haze. Years of my life that can never be gotten back.I look at pictures of me at my own surprise birthday party and other special events but I have absolutely so memory of any of this. I had to accept this and go ahead with my life.

As a side note I have developed a very rare progressive neurological disease that destroys the nerves ability to send signals to the muscles. It can be caused by drug toxicity…..

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

9 Responses

  1. Ana

    Dear Lord!
    I’m appalled!
    Shelby, thanks the Lord you’ve found this neurologist that told you that you were on drug-induced toxicity.
    And congratulations you have succeed withdrawal!
    I’m very happy for you.
    I went to hell of withdrawal but had to take some drugs again due to lasting withdrawal symptoms that let me in such a state that it was impossible to live.

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  2. naturalgal

    Hi Shelby,
    Good for you!
    Yes, thank God for the neurolgist who told you about the toxicity.

    Much of your symptoms are similiar to mine. I did not gain 100 pounds…I started to gain and since I thought I would get heart disease or diabetes, I only took the drugs during “manic episodes.”

    I used to wet my bed, drool, shake, be foggy…etc., etc.

    GOOD For YOU, GOOD For YOU.

    To bad docs are so worried about being sued nowadays. My psych-docs were “nice” people too.

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  3. Thanks for sharing. We have some similar features. I also gained over 100 pounds, and later lost it. I’ve been off my meds for years. I just came in from my garden. I could not garden much when on meds because they made me sensitive to sun.

    Your journey was truly a trip to hell. Welcome back.
    Jim S

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  4. Thank you for your story. I am director of a peer-run program in Philadelphia, and am trying to start a house where people can be supported in getting off psychiatric drugs.

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  5. Seroquel and Zyprexa are linked to causing Pancreatitis and Diabetes. Major class action lawsuits came about because of this.

    I called myself Rip Van Winkle for some years-the lady who sleep for 20 years-that was me.It seems to have happen so long ago-maybe that’s good. It’s a nightmare that’s fading. There was always some part of me hidden that knew one day it could come out to bloom. A part the drugs couldn’t touch. That was my strength-it got me through this.
    Thank you for your comments-what happened to me is still happening. When will it stop??

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  6. If I knew how to hookup my digital camera I could send ya pics of my flower garden. Had to grab some Portulaca on sale at WalMart earlier and it’s waiting to be planted.
    I’m glad the trauma’s fading. I had wanted so to sue the shrink/make it very public.He did such harm. Doctors wouldn’t take me seriously when they show the drugs I was on.

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