The proverbial light…

lightToday I called my neuropsychologists office. It was when I met him that I decided to start the journey off meds. It was a gradual process. First he simply said he believed it was possible for some people to get off meds and he shared stories of people he had assisted with neurofeedback to free themselves from meds. He is the reason I started this journey. He planted a seed and it has now grown into a big tree.

The day of my first consultation with him I basically decided I would try to get off  5 of my meds but stay on just the Lamictal. The Kool-Aid I had drunk was strong enough to have me still believing I couldn’t be med free entirely. I definitely needed to stay on my mood-stablizer, of course. The moodstabilizer that has been proven no more effective than placebo, but I didn’t know that at the time.

I got off my antidepressant with his help in about 5 weeks. No withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. I can’t say why it was so easy. Some people have hellish times with Zoloft. I had come off Effexor before and I that was harder but not hellish either. I think that perhaps being on so many other drugs protected me from the hell some people experience when going off SSRIs and SNRIs, but I really don’t know. The fact is some lucky people come off this shit with no symptoms whatsoever. So maybe SSRIs just weren’t my nasty poison. I had problems with all the rest of the drugs.

In any case that success made me feel high. Well, the neurofeedback worked too and I simply had a really good and stable mood for the next 2 years while I tapered off the Seroquel and then got my Risperdal down from 11 mg to 3 mg. I felt good those two years. Better than I had in my whole adult life.

I quit neurofeedback at some point feeling it wasn’t any longer helping me. I still had a long way to go though. I was still on four drugs and high doses of all of them still. Quitting at that juncture was most likely a mistake because about 6 months later started feeling like shit.

I ended up taking a bit of a detour and trialed a drug or two but only for a couple of months at which point I had my hard-core conversion to live drug free. When I did the drug trials this time it was obvious the drugs messed me up worse. I decided to get off everything but I realized neurofeedback wasn’t going to be enough when I started up again and didn’t get the same results as the first time. Perhaps if I hadn’t taken that break it would have been, but when I went back I never got the great calm I had the first couple of 2 years.

So then I started researching all sorts of recovery methods and this blog was born. There are dozens of roads to recovery. I share stories of all sorts of people living drug free. Some of them do a super clean, holistic life that includes diet and nutrition, meditation and all sorts of other healing arts like I’ve chosen and others don’t. Some do a combination of one or two things, others find their own combo of things. Some people if it’s early enough in their induction into psychiatry just throw away their meds and walk away…no big changes at all!

There is no one right way. Everyone must find their own path.

I also feel strongly that it is not appropriate for everyone to withdraw from drugs if they’ve been on them for a long time. People need to have certain foundational internal strengths and usually some significant support systems on the outside as well. Withdrawal can be a dangerous business, it also doesn’t have to be.

Some day if we ever have a different infrastructure of care and drugs are not grossly misused this may no longer be an issue. But as long as people are getting drugged up to the gills instead of learning how to cope in a variety of natural ways, there will be some folk for whom withdrawal poses too many dangers to proceed safely.

Anyway. I called my doctors office today to find out the date I decided to start withdrawing from my psych meds. My consultation was on 10/23/03. My first neurofeedback appointment was on 11/11/2003. I started tapering the Zoloft at that point.

So what I discovered today is that I’ve been on my withdrawal journey for 5 years and 7 months. Longer than I had realized. It made me happy to learn that date. I’ve got a hell of a lot of will power and determination and I’m almost at the end. Can I say I’m proud of myself? Even sometimes awed with what I’ve accomplished? Well, I just said it and it’s true. I feel like I’ve found internal strengths I never knew I had. I’m still discovering them daily as well.

I suspect I’ll be done in 3 to 6 weeks—give or take a few weeks—I have no crystal ball and I’ve been wrong, oh so many times before, as you have all witnessed if you’ve been following me for any length of time.

The IV nutrient therapy is really awesome though as far as I can tell. The amount of Valium I was on had I not discovered the IVs would have easily taken another whole year to withdraw from given my condition before I started the IVs.

I’ve gotten off 15 mg in one month. With no worsening symptoms. I have 15 more mg to go, but the cocktail I’m on now is better than the one I started with so I may be able to chug along even faster…but again this is basically unchartered territory. I don’t know anyone who’s documented or reported this on the net. That has always been how I’ve found my way in the past. This method simply has not been used as much but I have talked to a few now since I’ve started.

I’m perhaps more tired, but in less pain (much less pain!!) and I sleep well. I still have nasty intermittent nausea and little appetite, but I’m okay and not getting worse. My weight seems to have stabilized, probably because I don’t move too much. I only do the exercises my physical therapist taught me to do in bed and that is really all I can handle. I also still cook quick meals now and then and very occasionally go and eat at the health food store buffet.

Oh, my mood is good too. Especially considering my physical condition. The detox has rendered me bed bound, but my will to live and thrive and DO THINGS is wonderfully alive. I am interested in doing stuff all the time. The tragedy is I can’t do most of them because of my physical condition. But now, I feel that will change too, once the drugs are all gone and the detox complete my body can actually start the real healing.

So, well, I only started this post to report on the date I began all this and look at all I’ve written!!

Anyway, it’s not over yet, but shit, that light is starting to shine brightly in my eyes.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

15 Responses

  1. Hey, way to go!

    It’s amazing that so many of these drugs can be no more effective than a placebo for their prescribed use, but they have SO many profound and undesirable effects that often some other drug is prescribed to control the “side effects”…. and this continues.

    And, that people get sicker and sicker while they’re on this stuff – and DON’T NOTICE IT!

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  2. Shelby

    Yes, my psychiatrist kept saying he’d never heard of the side effects I was having. Later I met a lady who’d been on major psyche drugs since age 17 and she had the same problems. So someone wasn’t listening….. She and I discussed the funny smells, flashing lights, weird tastes, weight gain and muscle spasms. So how come we knew more than the doctors??? Cause we were the ones taking the crap.

    I’m so very glad for your journey to be near the forest clearing at last. When I first really saw the beauty in the most obscure things I realized how much I’d missed.
    The sunshine is awesome.

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  3. Gianna,
    This is great news. It seems that the IV nutrient therapy is working really well, and your doctor has been a big help! I know it’s been a truly difficult journey, but it does sound like you’re almost there!

    With love and hope,
    Susan

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  4. Jeanne Allyn

    Gianna, I’m so glad you were able to put your experience at the detox in Fla. behind you. When recovery becomes dogma the individual gets lost. It was validating to watch you stand up and say that you and your body and your needs were the critical element, NOT the PROGRAM. I hope that by sharing our healing stories we can show that true healing comes from listening very carefully to our inner state of being, not from conforming to some predigested, authoritarian plan.

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  5. Emma

    Congratulations on all that you have achieved to reach this point of your journey. I hope and pray all continues well in the weeks ahead. There is a hope, lightness and peace in your writing which is heartwarming to read. Resilience is an oft forgotten and unappreciated strength, yet it is what one needs when challenged, and the path becomes difficult. It is an inner sense, a ‘knowing’ or trust which allows one to inch forward even when all seems impossible. Honour yourself, and all you have accomplished!!
    All good wishes Emma

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  6. Jan

    Wow Gianna! What a journey and thank you for sharing it with all of us. And it will truly be quite an incredible day when you take that last amount of valium. To be able to come off of it in this time with the IV nutrients is remarkable. I am so happy for you but I know there is still much healing to do. Your story is helping the rest of us to take control and be our own advocate and not simply listen and be obedient to everything the doc says. You go, girl!

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  7. Congratulations on your progress. You have demonstrated a great deal of courage. You have helped many people by sharing your battles.

    Vallium was one of the last pills I gave up. I cut down at a slow, gradual pace. I did not experience too much discomfort until I got off the last bit. I weighed around 300 pounds and was down to splitting a little white pill in half. I think I took the half twice a day for maybe a month or more. I had to take it 45 minutes at a time. I kept the half in my pocket, while trying to get through one period of teaching at a time. I knew that when the bell rang and the kids left that I could take the half if I needed it. For a day or so, it seemed like bugs were crawling just under my skin. I’m still amazed that I had any symptoms, for I was on such a tiny dose for my weight. However, each day was better. In maybe 3-4 days all symptoms were gone. I feel good that I have not had to go back to pills for mental illness for over 30 years.
    Good Luck,
    Jim S

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