The latest dish on the journey beyond meds

So what’s happening in my journey lately? I’m finding it harder and harder to share as the issues become subtler and more personal simultaneously.

I am trying to find the right person/people to help me on my journey. I already have several key players in place. Some have been in place a long time. My prescribing, traditional psychiatrist continues to be awesome. I saw him today, and while every single time I go I approach his home in fear, based on my past history with other psychiatrists, every time I leave his office I am relieved and grateful. He trusts me and my process even though he’s never seen what’s happening with me in anyone else. I’m very lucky to have him. I know he still pushes pills on others, but he completely respects my right to self-determination. I can’t argue with that. I just wish I’d stop being scared of him. He proves again and again that he trusts me but I live in terror because of what other psychiatrists have done to me.

Strangely enough I keep bombing on the alternative care front now. While I pick up valuable pieces of information from the various people I’ve consulted with in the end I am repeatedly failed by the alternative practitioners I’ve chosen. Strangely enough I was treated with more respect by my favorite traditional docs and now continue to be as I share with my current psychiatrist my discoveries. I don’t quite know how to make sense of that.

Granted, I would not be here without the help of alternative docs and practitioners who have helped me understand the role of nutrients and diet in my healing process, but emotionally, they’ve all bombed.

My other favorite practitioner who has been on my team from day one of my withdrawal efforts is my neuropsychologist. Another traditionally trained doctor, but it is he who planted the seed in my mind that I could be drug free. I consult with him from time to time. He is part friend, part therapist and when I want neurofeedback he still does that for me.

Newer arrivals are my acupuncturist who has helped my endometriosis pain considerably. I am not 100% pain free all the time, but it’s gotten so much better and I need only a fraction of the pain reliever I was using. (I just use ibuprofen, I do not respond well to anything stronger and am in fact essentially allergic to all narcotic like substances) I’ve been with my acupuncturist for about 4 months. She is kind and gentle. I ask her not to use needles so she simply does acupressure, as I discovered the needles were too stimulating for my delicate state. This is something I learned from one of my helpful alternative practitioners who ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable working with, but who has played an important part in my accumulation of knowledge on how to safely take care of myself.

The newest person on my team is one of my best friends mothers. She is a trained shaman. I’ve known her son for about 15 years and have always really liked her. I felt moved to call her one day given what she does for a living and didn’t regret it. She offers me archetypal good mother energy. She is simply supporting me as a friend and has done a shamanic journey for me to get information on my situation. She will help me determine my next moves in choosing the right person to work with more closely in some sort of therapeutic fashion. I want a energy healer, or intuitive healer of some sort. Some one with an understanding of trauma and spiritual healing. I don’t think I want it to be anyone with traditional mental health training or if they do have it I want them to have let go of most of it. I’d also like it to be someone who has gone through some of what I’m dealing with. Having healed from trauma and psychosis would be nice. There are people like that out there and I’m looking.

Also when I’m ready I will have a shaman do a soul retrieval, which can profoundly help with past traumas where we lose pieces of ourselves. A good book on this is by Sandra Ingerman.

Often when I meditate my meditation is interrupted by severe dissociation and I’d like someone to help me heal those parts of myself. I don’t know if I should continue attempting to meditate when I’m dissociating for example and need someone I trust to help me. A teacher, more than a therapist. And one who trusts my process and doesn’t want to shove their experience onto me. I need to do some of this work on my own before a soul retrieval is appropriate.

My shaman friend told me today to write what I wanted in a person to help me. I hadn’t intended this post to be that, but I guess that is what I’m doing to some extent.

The other thing I need in a person who helps me on my journey is someone with very good boundaries. The last two people I got involved with failed to have appropriate boundaries and ended up hurting me badly. One of them offered quite a bit of insight into some of my dysfunction for which I am grateful, but was so blind to her own problems I couldn’t continue working with her. I have been re-traumatized lately by professionals.

I know some of this stuff sounds like voodoo or something. Don’t get hung up on the words. If I did I wouldn’t be able to do it. Something I learned in my religious studies was how to listen to all sorts of different spiritual vocabularies and integrate them into my being on a spiritual level.

I use different language at different times. I am not stuck on the words but the energy that the words carry. Whether you want to call a our psyche, soul or center, or whatever does not matter to me. Our essense is our essense no matter what we call it.

Well, I’m tired and want to go to bed. I also wanted to do a personal piece again because it seemed like it had been a while.

On the withdrawal front: I’m on 1.9 mg of Klonopin. I was on 3 mg just a couple of months ago. But about 3 weeks ago I cut .25 mg and had a nasty reaction and had to reinstate back up to 2 mg. I waited until I felt relatively better and cut .1 mg with a solution I had made at a compounding pharmacy. So for now it looks like it will be a .1 mg cut hopefully every couple of weeks, but as you know, if you’ve been following my blog, there is no schedule here. At some point .1 mg every two weeks could end up being too much and I might have to slow down again.

So now, I’m again thinking it might be another year before I’m off my final drug. Oh well. I’ll use the time wisely to heal my hurting spirit. I need this time really, so it’s okay.

As a recap for anyone new. I have withdrawn from multiple drugs in the last four years:

84 mg of Concerta

200 mg of Zoloft

50 – 100 mg of Seroquel

11 mg of Risperdal

400 mg of Lamictal

and now 1.1 mg of Klonopin with 1.9 mg to go.  Wowsee.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

23 Responses

  1. hey gianna,

    just stopping by to say hi! sounds like you’re still keeping up the good fight. you’ll get where you need to go soon…i believe. ever since i got myself seriously committed…to yoga of course…i’ve almost been a walking miracle. i do take neurontin (for pain) and a small dose of wellbutrin. i admittedly keep my klonopin around for emergency nights when i’m positive i won’t sleep well because loosing even one night of sleep is a disaster…i won’t take the klonopin for more than a couple of nights because i don’t want to get hooked, but ambien etc…they don’t hit enough receptors to be effective in me (being a recovering alcoholic/addict).

    now, another leg of the journey has turned up…multiple bone tumors. one is 3cm x 6.5 cm on my proximal tibia another is in the shoulder i broke (plus 3 broken ribs). but i believe with all that i’ve learned through the journey off a previously much longer list of meds and now yoga (yes i’m a yoga junky….the eight limbs of yoga rock my world)…my friends…this will be o.k.

    so, holiday prayers for all of us as the battles continue…life is just one grand learning experience after another isn’t it! but it takes a lot of manure to grow a garden…as they say.

    warm hugs
    suzanne

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  2. Just wanted to share an experience with you, brave warrior I relate to so much. I recently went through an extremely bad time, a real down slide. I couldn’t figure it out: you know I’m big on nutrients, and I was chunking them down. But physically, emotionally and spiritually…I really thought this might be the dead end, if you know what I mean.

    Okay, what happened is not going to sound that shattering. But it was for me. I realized I had been carrying around a ton of SHAME about not being able to have a biological child (my kids are adopted) for this past decade now. But there was more–I carried the shame for the difficulties in my marriage because I thought it was related to this, that I had failed him and thus deserved these rocky years. So I did two things.

    I decided to start talking about both issues, the adoptions and the spousal verbal abuse. Not willy nilly of course, but not in therapy. I have a trusted women’s spirituality group, and I spoke with friends, and I used a life coach and a spiritual mentor who is actually a Methodist minister! But really, just the breakthrough not to keep the secrets anymore AND to follow through healed it. I mean it was like dropping a ton of weight. Nor have I had a migraine since this breakthrough, knock on wood! Just writing about it here is part of my effort to keep on top of this; I trust your community of readers.

    So I’m beginning to think about Shame in a new way again. I read all the John Bradshaw stuff, back when it was popular. And gained from it. But I went through the family-of-origin stuff. Funny how big shame can come up through other things. It may not be what ails you, but if so, I can guarantee it is huge, heavy, and soul-damaging. I really had no idea I was hiding so much of it.

    And I could relate to the disappointment with altmed practitioners. I was even disappointed in nutrients a few weeks back in this supreme funk. Sometimes, not to preach here, but it really does just come down to making a huge choice and a leap of faith that we will divest ourselves of the sad baggage of the heart. I believe we all really do heal ourselves.

    I think you are on the right track with shamanism. It teaches that there are tests along the way–when we almost give up but mustn’t. You, me, and the likes of us are experiencing them in spades.

    Keep telling us of your journey. We are all collecting signposts and guide-ropes, and we will get there.

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  3. kim

    you are so amazing.

    i’m having severe short/long term memory issues right now thanks to a few medications i was prescribed (short-term by request) because i was in a very dark place, feeling suicidal and all of that. having said that, forgive me if you have discussed this before here: i’m wondering if you’ve tried acupuncture? i have a wonderful, kind third generation acupuncturist who I wish I could afford to see more often. it works for me on so many different levels and i feel on some visits he knows my body better than i do.

    I’m in agreement with sue, i have been working on releasing some old pains (shame, guilt and trauma as you mentioned) from my past. it has helped tremendously. i’m sure some of them (the trauma from my rape) will return but i’m figuring out a way to not let these memories/pains consume me…which they have so many times in the past and left me frozen.

    anyway, my best to you, as always….
    it’s a long journey and road-but you’re on the right one.

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  4. robaroot

    It’s so wonderful that you have had the money and support to help you along in your journey off medication. So many of us are alone and poor, literally going to food banks to find a meal. Shamans and neurofeedback, supplements, accupuncture…ah, the luxery of beyond meds. And an assistant to screen your email too? I bet this comment doesn’t make it. I keep trying, but it’s oh so hard when your family wants you to stay sick, you have to rely on the mental health system from the County or State where you live, and the “compassionate” buddhists that you know are too busy to sit and have a cup of tea and talk about suffering.

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  5. Ana

    Thank you Gianna. You’re making me think that I have to try once again.
    I still don’t know how I can withdraw Effexor since the tablets are not on the market.
    I’ve spent 18 months tapering 225 mg Effexor all by myself. It was hell. But after three months off the drug living was impossible.
    I went back to 150 mg.
    I’ll try to find a way.

    robaroot,
    If it was for my family I would be on a mental institution. I know it’s hard but do all you can.

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  6. Bonnie

    I am wishing, as so many times before, I could be supportive to you in a tangible way. I was amazed to read the dosages of medications you’ve discontinued. Wow. I am heartened to hear of your connection with the woman doing Shamanic practices. I have been fortunate to have hooked up with someone who has become a Medicine for the Earth teacher who trained with Sandra Ingerman. Several people close to us and some in our journey group have been in need of healing energy and that’s where our focus has been placed. Is it alright with you if I include you in our healing journey?
    With much gratitude for the courageous woman you are,
    Bonnie

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  7. As I believe it is the case in the U.S., public health insurance in Denmark pays for medical treatment, not for alternatives. – You’re entitled to a certain amount of therapy sessions if you’re a relative of someone with a “severe mental illness”, not if you’re the “severely mentally ill” him-/herself. Fancy that! – I know a whole lot of people who have more money on disability than I had when I decided I wanted to see a therapist. Instead of turning to the system for help, that would have been for free. Still, these people keep on telling me, they can’t afford therapy sessions – or other alternative help. And, btw, apart from the therapist, whom I paid for it, I had no support, no friends, no family, zero, at that time.

    It’s a question of priorities. It’s one’s own choice – if one wants to remain the “victim”, or take responsibility.

    Usually, I get slammed for saying this. In defence of those who choose to remain the “victim”: the system victimizes additionally. Which, of course, makes it a great deal harder to take responsibility.

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  8. ef

    GiannaKali,

    Thanks for the personal update. There are many of us out here who check in with this blog and glean SO much information, and we are so grateful for your very objective servings of links+info, which show us how big the network is of people who are recovering from meds, and/or discovering alternatives to psychiatry.

    but ya know what? we all look between the lines for your personality and we all wonder how you are doing in your journey. not just mgs and meds, but how you are feeling heart and brainwise.
    your blog is so valuable for the above reasons, but your voice is so so so compelling and valuable because in reporting your own progress, setbacks, frustrations, sadness, and outrage, …it is an honest and human voice and it connects we out here who have much in common with you.

    boundaries aside, there are many people out here rooting for you, and this peculiar form of digital compassion has made tangible differences in lives you may never even be aware of.

    so: thanks for the update and your honesty and candor and for having the trust to continue and report!

    as for RobaRoot’s comment, I applaud his bravery for voicing it and Gianna’s for posting it.
    It is really really really easy to begin to hope and start researching ways to get healthy, nutrition and supplemts, and alt everything, and then to just become completely awed and dejected by the sheer dollar cost of all of it. To see hope of recovery as being only available to those who have achieved a middle class life is just an ironic and bitter feeling. More people than ever are barely eking out a life after major psych issues, or just cannot imagine ever affording medical services [or alt services, or even therapy] when they need things like basic transportation, shelter and food, and ANY work.
    Many of us are not on the grid enough to ever hope to go on disability, and some of us are mostly transient.
    I know faith and belief in your core self will help in the longrun, but many of us also have no real support system or family [or sometimes worse, an unsympathetic family or spouse ] to rely on in bad times here and now.

    this site is one I adore, and obviously this person only read barely any before posting that, but I have left comments pretty similar [if more long-winded of course] as robaroot’s on sites that i have felt were smug and assuming everyone is born into the same level of affluence or ‘chooses’ to be ‘negative’ about such facts as how poverty and social inequities mold experience with psychiatry and other illness.

    again, brave to send it, post it, and to compassionately respond to it.

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  9. Ana

    I’ve just read Suzanne’s comment and I would like to tell her to avoid taking Klonopin.
    This is highly addictive and promotes severe imbalance.
    Gianna,
    I’m sending e-mails to Wyeth in Brazil asking them how is their method on withdrawal since they stopped selling the tablets last year.
    I had to start taking the XR version and side effects worsen.
    The tablets are sold in US, UK and I believe most countries.
    I’ve got no reply.
    I cannot write to Wyeth in the US site.
    I’ll write an e-mail in English to Wyeth and post it in my blog asking blog buddies to send it to US Wyeth site.
    The psychiatrist I see, and all the others, think that it’s possible to taper 37,4 mg XR.
    I know it’s impossible.
    I will never understand why they don’t listen to us.

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  10. Ana

    I was thinking about writing this e-mail the whole month. I guess you’ve not only helped me sending it but also believing that trying to is worthwhile.
    Thank you for both.

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  11. Andrew

    Have you read The Power of Now and/or The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle? You might find it helpful.

    He did a ten week free web course on The New Earth with Oprah. It’s still on her site. He took questions from people around the world. I feel things like this, the Tao, etc. are vital to BP recoveyr. His work just seems to cut through things more than most.

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  12. froscha

    “Don’t get hung up on the words. If I did I wouldn’t be able to do it. Something I learned in my religious studies was how to listen to all sorts of different spiritual vocabularies and integrate them into my being on a spiritual level.”

    Wonderful that you wrote this, as I struggled for a bit with the language before, because I tend to alternate between spiritual acceptance and skepticism, and now accept it all as metaphor. I’ve stopped worrying about how “true” these different spiritual and philosophical modalities are in an objective sense. Instead, it’s about how these words influence my own personal energy — “energy” being another one of those words that can be taken literally (like chi) or figuratively (motivation, enthusiasm) — and how I can illustrate and understand what is going on in my mind.

    This is so effective too in withstanding psychiatric labels. When I realized emotionally, not just intellectually, that they are only words representing the speaker’s own narrow path of training, they began to have less power, less effect on my energy. Many psych professionals are stuck in one modality, so they are stuck in their language as well. Stunted vocabulary!

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  13. Wow, that’s awesome! Good for you. I hope to be off meds some day. It was really inspiring to read what you wrote about your neuropsychiatrist. I have a neurologist who is also board certified in psychiatry. I see him on the 12th for the first time in 7 years, and the first time since I was dx’ed with BP disorder. He doesn’t believe in psychiatry or mental illness and I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I’m feeling hopeful that he might give me the same guidance to get off meds, too.

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  14. I like the way you’re writing about the sources of healing you’d like to find. I think if you’re aware of what you need, it will come to you. It may come in the guise of a traditionally trained therapist, or it may come in some way you would never have imagined. I think focusing on the concept, rather than the actual manifestation, is the key, and clearly that is what you’re doing … holding and cherishing your own needs.

    You’re such a wonderful inspiration, Gianna.

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