Peer support? This is the real thing. Free of institutionalization. (psych drug withdrawal)

find-your-tribeI’m posting a correspondence between myself and a long-time reader and friend who has dealt with severe protracted withdrawal issues much like my own.

We who choose to come off psych meds and then especially those of us who end up with serious long term protracted issues from the drugs have only one another to help us through the grave illness. Doctors, in general, have no idea what to do with us and often cause further harm if they attempt to treat us since they don’t know what they’re dealing with.  And then worse, many MDs actually deny that what is happening to us has anything to do with iatrogenic harm. It’s too hard for them to face up to the reality of their own responsibility in this epidemic of medical injury.

So, we turn to one another to find a way through the darkest times of our lives. I’ve had many mentors that helped me get through the toughest times…men and women both who went before me. And now, through this blog, and also in some long-standing relationships I developed in the trenches, I give back to those still in the hardest phases.

We see those ahead of us heal, we start healing and in turn we offer hope to those still fighting to survive. Peer support never meant so much to me. And this is seriously grassroots stuff…no institutionalization…it’s grassroots and it’s organic…it arose out of a vacuum of need. There was nothing there and we simply together created it and it is sustained in that way too. It’s really quite a wondrous thing. And of course the internet made it possible. I’m so glad to know that the younger generations can now find this information if they’re inclined to question the status quo. I looked for other options when I was young, but didn’t have the means to find out that there were people doing different things. Not like we have now.

I got this person’s permission to post the below email exchange. There have been some links added and it’s been slightly edited for the purposes of this blog. I thought others might find the correspondence helpful and perhaps be inspired to create their own connections of this sort.

Hi Monica,

Just a quick email to say hello and ask how you’re doing. I see from the site that you are venturing out into the world once more. Bravo!

Unfortunately I’m as ill as ever, and currently trying to cope with the most awful psychological symptoms, on top of the relentless physical stuff.

Anyway, I’m delighted that you seem to be on the mend, somewhat at least.

Warmest wishes,

J.

✶✶✶

Dear J.
yes, I’m doing better…this last year things have finally started to change at a rate I can be aware of changes as they happen.

I’m sorry you’re not finding improvement. Please don’t give up…how are you coping?

✶✶✶

Hi Monica,

I’ll never give up, don’t fear on that score. How am I coping? Not well, I must confess. The relentless nature of the symptoms is such that I have never had a window, just varying degrees of misery. I’m quite ground down by the experience, and find myself more psychologically challenged than at any point in the process. To think, I had a stand-alone, passing case of situational anxiety, and I am now a psychological mess brought about by “treatment”. I guess I’m no different to the many, many people who have been damaged this way.

A part of me still believes I will recover, but i do find it hard to cling to this idea most days.

Apologies for being so downbeat. It’s just where I am at the moment.

Warmly,

J

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Dear J.

it’s normal to be downbeat when it’s really bad…I spent years in that place most of the time…still if you have a piece of you…no matter how small that knows that you’ll recover you will. One of the two very good MDs I’ve found during this ordeal…and one that has seen people like you and me heal said that bottom line is persistence…if people keep going and doing that which they can they will get better eventually…that seems to be true.

I still have my own very dark and difficult moments too…but it’s starting to make sense in a much larger context…kind of spiritual or universal context…so it’s getting easier for me to cope with the difficult times having developed this understanding, too.

let me know if I can be of additional support…

Monica

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Hi Monica,

You wrote:

I still have my own very dark and difficult moments too…but it’s starting to make sense in a much larger context…kind of spiritual or universal context…so it’s getting easier for me to cope with the difficult times having developed this understanding, too.

I feel like that too, at least in part, although I feel quite disconnected a lot of the time too.

I wonder, did you experience what I’m going through now – as well as the horrifying physical stuff, I am tormented with non-stop, cascading intrusive memories and fears – like a “who’s who” of everything difficult I’ve ever experienced in my life. Some of these are “real” genuine concerns; others seem little more than benzo spawned paranoia. They mix and swim throughout my mind all day. It’s exhausting.

I found it tortuous when this latest bout started up (about three weeks ago) but I’m learning to watch it rather than “be” it. Unbelievably challenging though. To link to your quote (above), I’m choosing to see this as a spiritual experience – it’s trying to teach me many things: what’s important, what’s not; what I need to let go of; forgiveness; compassion; etc etc.

Any thoughts you might have would be of interest to me.

J

✶✶✶

Dear J.

yes, I had that experience and still do…I wrote this today on Beyond Meds facebook page:

Trauma and psychiatric drugs together create a sort of critical emotional constipation…it all needs to be slowly unpacked and let go…

it’s still going on, but at this point I have a very developed witness…and just watch…but yeah, it’s heavy and intense. The best thing I’m learning to do with it is avoid narratives…to instead let the emotions wash over and be released…when necessary vocalizing pain is helpful too…since you have kids that might be difficult but when the house is empty it can be helpful.

really this is a deep cleansing and transformative process…people enter this sort of thing even without the psych drugs…but the psych drugs make it particularly intense and heavy. We are not alone however and I’ve found help all over the place…in chronic illness circles and in various spiritual circles too…it’s amazing…

there is kundalini which speaks to this stuff

then in evolutionary Christian circles they call it the transfiguration process…of the body being transformed into the body of Christ…

new age types call people who go through similar things and have extreme sensitivities like we do lightworkers and see this phenomena as a waking up process…that we are starseeds from another planet!!

I’ve found mythology (both ancient and modern) that explains this stuff all over the place…in all different communities. It’s also what alchemy is about. Jung liked to talk alchemy, the metaphor being turning lead into gold.

what is happening to us is happening to people all over the planet! and there are a lot of different interpretations of what it means. it’s rather amazing…and people do come out the other side of the tunnel healed and often report being in a better place than ever before.

anyway, regardless of the belief system one embraces it’s clearly a maturation process and one in which wisdom and insights are gained.

Monica

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Hi Monica,

I really enjoyed and got a lot from your last email. I’m very, very tired today, and my ability to write is poor, so I can’t convey fully how much your emails and your site fill me with hope. They allow me to recontextualise what is happening to me, and its especially important that the psychological and spiritual aspect of this experience is validated. It would be all too easy to suspect one had “lost it”, if the usual cultural benchmarks were used to assess what we are undergoing.

I have many questions I’d like to ask, and many things I’d like to discuss, but I’m just too exhausted today.

J.

✶✶✶

And so this person helps me too…as we find our way together through the maze of protracted withdrawal syndromes.

This person called the process we go through to heal and make sense of our experience recontextualization. I generally call it reframing…it’s the same idea. For more on that idea see:  About reframing: embrace your experience 

It’s very important to find others to talk to about our fringe experiences. There are so many people who can relate we just have to reach out and find them. The internet makes this very possible. I suggest creating community in any way that you can.

And still: There is nothing unique about our suffering. Coming to appreciate this fact, is also liberating and in finding our story in multiple places in diverse communities of human beings all over the planet this profound truth is also healing.

If you are still withdrawing from psychiatric drugs here is a page on getting online support: Support in withdrawal

Please do not attempt to discontinue psych drugs without first very carefully educating yourself on the risks involved so that you might minimize the chances of developing grave iatrogenic illness if you decide to withdraw: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

*note: I am not able to strike up new correspondences at this time. I’m sorry.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters