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 with a happy ending.

Shelby’s Recovery Story

I had promised Gianna I would work on my experience as a “Mental Patient”. I was taught by the psychiatric profession that it was what I was always suppose to be. Mental patients would take drugs for the rest of their lives.

I had a serious car accident 20 years ago. I started crying at work, in my car and all the time from pain and not sleeping. I didn’t know what to do so I went to a psychiatrist because the other doctors said the pain was all in my head.

I didn’t know anything about psychiatry except it not to be mentioned due to the embarrassing stigma.

The psychiatrist was nice—we chatted and he gave a prescription. I wasn’t getting better so the psych gave me more drugs and suggested I go into a psychiatric hospital for a needed rest. Didn’t realize the words-“I’ve been in the psych hospital” would send future doctors I’d see writing pages on me being mentally ill that would follow me from one to the other.

My kind psychiatric put me on every anti-depressant, every anti-psychotic, every tranquilizer and mood stabilizer in the whole PDR. I gained 100 pounds, became agitated, 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 were all horrid drug induced side effects that the doctor only saw as worsening mental problems. 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. When I felt worse I went back to the hospital.

My family withdrew-I was the fat weird woman who they no longer wanted to invite for the Christmas holidays. Finally I was no longer invited. Not once in all the years on these massive psych drug cocktails did any family member ever take me for a second opinion or try to talk to my doctor.

The years went by and it now seems like a foggy memory that didn’t really happen to me. Lost years. I find pictures of events I attended that I don’t remember.

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. The doctor said my reported problems he’d never heard of.

All this time I was driving a car.

In 2002 the massive drug combo blew out my Pancreas and I was put in Intensive Care where I was told I was going to die. Somehow I survived and after quite a struggle was able to come home. My best friend noticed I was different when in the hospital-she’d never seen me with a clear mind. She knew immediately when she walked into my room I was changed. I wasn’t aware my mind had cleared from all the trauma to my body being so ill.

Only a chance consultation with a neurologist for pain was I 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 45 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—-what was drug toxicity??

I went to my kind doctor who said what does this letter from the neurologist mean you have “Akathisia”? I had written a long list with all the symptoms I had endured and endured is about the best word for the hellish conditions I’d had for years on these drugs. I asked what have you done to me all these years. Why? Why?

To my utter amazement the kind psychiatrist looked hard at me and realized I was well. He started crying. He knew at that moment he was responsible for ruining my life. I watched him and felt nothing.

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 was scared I would sue him—not that I was in withdrawal. His wanted to save his ass.

I went to another psychiatrist but the kind one had sent a letter saying I was insane—still covering his ass. That doctor threatened to have me forcefully given neuroleptics—I ran from his office.

So my journey withdrawing from seven hardcore psychiatric drugs began. I chipped pieces of my pills very carefully. The panic attacks knew no bounds. My skin was being ripped off. Every nerve was raw and screaming. Days of pacing and nausea. I had to return to the original psychiatrist to get more psych drugs for withdrawal. Of course I didn’t tell him I was going off the benzos, mood stabilizers and sleeping pills. I needed them for tapering. My long time therapist “fired” me for not being compliant with taking the drugs and said my clarity of mind wouldn’t last. She was wrong.

My great 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—I was Chemically Lobotomized and feeling real feeling again would be so difficult to handle. Real emotions. 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 adjust—too understand what this world was off drugs and it was scary. I crawled and dragged myself through the longest year of my life.

Others noticed I was different—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 stopped when I was halfway off the drugs.

So here I am 5 years into being completely drug free and am my own person. I will never trust any doctors again. Never. I will never take any psych drugs again. I certainly don’t tell any of my new doctors I was treated for “mental illness” or took psych drugs. I did go later for further evaluations . They said if I was Schizo-Affective/ Schizophrenia I would have never been able to work especially at the job I had. I felt validated being told I was mentally sound.

I slowly was able to start new relationships with healthy people. I lost all the 100 pounds—it fell off. It had been impossible to diet on those drugs. Now I can walk again. I enjoy simple things—gardening, my felines, reading, being content with myself. For too long I believed I was the “mental patient”.

I unfortunately still have trouble with my family. I have learned I am not responsible for their issues. I am responsible for my own happiness, contentment and success as a whole person.

I am glad at recent exposure of psychiatry—it’s cruelness, the labeling, making person think there is no hope, no future, no meaning. That taking mind altering drugs is all they have. Offering no other choices. We are not a label. Hope should never be taken away.
I think I’ve had my say. This is the story of a former mental patient who is now free. Free to be me. My mind is clear.

I am no longer “Alice in Drugland”.

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