If I had remained med compliant…

December 2014  Update: This is a repost from a little over a year ago — And this time around I’m including it in the IT GETS BETTER series. In the time since this was written, I have, indeed, continued to heal at a much faster rate than prior. I am happy and filled with awe due to being able to deeply appreciate the mystery that is life. To be clear being “happy” in my mind is not about never being sad or overwhelmed or distressed. I embrace and celebrate the entire spectrum of human emotion. I’ve learned among other things that you cannot heal what you don’t feel

If I had remained med compliant…

I would still be on a cocktail similar to the one I began to withdraw from 10 years ago now. I’ve withdrawn from:

  • 84 mg of Concerta
  • 50 mg of Seroquel
  • 200 mg of Zoloft
  • 400 mg of Lamictal
  • 11 mg of Risperdal
  • 3 mg of Klonopin

**take note. This is my experience. Not everyone has heinous experiences on psychiatric drugs. Because of my work first as a social worker serving many who took these pharmaceuticals and now this blog I do know that far too many people do have seriously negative and destructive experiences on psychoactive drugs and that is why I share my own experience that people might learn that there are alternatives that most of us have never been told about. I share my experience so that people might be alerted to the fact that they can make meaningful informed choices even if their psychiatrists and other mental health providers are not sharing such information. I share my experience so that these drugs might only be used in targeted fashion in crisis so that not so many people will be so gravely harmed.

If I had remained med compliant…

I would still have serious metabolic issues including high cholesterol and blood sugar levels. I would likely be diabetic by now, as I was pre-diabetic when I began to withdraw the medications. I was extremely high risk for heart disease and diabetes both. Instead now I have excellent blood lipid and glucose levels both. I was very heavy and found it very difficult to exercise, not because I didn’t want to but because the drugs exhausted me so profoundly.

If I had remained med compliant…

I might have continued to drive while under the influence of drugs that rendered me unsafe on the road: Driving while medicated increases driving risk. I’m glad to be clear headed when I get in the car these days. I never liked or felt comfortable driving while medicated but didn’t feel I could stop doing it. No one wants to give up such a liberty, but I was a danger on the road. I’m grateful to no longer put others in danger because I wasn’t clear headed enough to do the right thing.

If I had remained med compliant…

I would not have been able to tune into my body in order to learn how to eat so that I might heal many health conditions including my endometriosis: (Endometriosis? Mine responded to natural care. Here I email the MD who mocked me when I refused her “care”) and severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome: (How I cured my IBS–healthy gut is needed for healthy body and mind).

Learning to eat right might have saved me from ever being drugged so heavily in the first place had that sort of education been on offer when I was in crisis and the years following. It was not. Diet and nutrition can be deeply and profoundly healing and is important as a foundational factor to all well-being. The drugs mask so many issues I would not have been able to find the multiple sensitivities I had to foods had I remained on the drugs. Drugs obfuscate many things, not just food issues.

If I had remained med compliant…

I would not have had the capacity to meditate deeply. I would not have discovered how everything matters. I would not have found my voice and passion. I now live knowing that I am alive. I felt like the walking dead for many years in comparison. Even with debilitating chronic illness caused by the drug iatrogenesis I appreciate my life in ways I simply could not when I was chemically subdued. I wish I had known the drugs could harm me like this. Again, this is why I share my story, that others might not ever become ill like this. Even if one chooses to use meds it’s possible to use them much more judiciously and perhaps only during crisis.

If I had remained med compliant:

I wouldn’t understand the simple joys of caring about my hygiene and my surroundings. Psych drugs, especially neuroleptics (anti-psychotics) seem to create apathy in many people. An apathy that made no sense to me and clearly doesn’t make sense to others who experience it either, which makes it all the harder to bear and understand. The only reason I bothered tending to home and self at all was so that I might be socially acceptable. I didn’t do it for myself and it was very difficult to manage even doing it for the sake of others when I was so exhausted and apathetic from all the drugs. It was difficult to muster any energy for all the things I had to do to survive, really. Living was a drag. Plain and simple.

Now I love a clean house and I take meticulous care of my body. I enjoy chores when I’m healthy enough to do them as well. My house is not as clean as I’d like it, but it’s because I’m not well physically, not because I deeply don’t care in some sort of strange unclear guilt-ridden way. I was bedridden for so long it’s now a joy to be able to use my body for what it was intended. I love doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, gardening and doing the laundry along with pretty much anything that involves moving. I mindfully do everything I do as a moving meditation. Life is a meditation. I will never take such things for granted again. I hope some day to be able to do all these things regularly because I am healthy enough to do them again.

I want to say more about the hygiene and care of home and surroundings issue. I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time but I’ve not done it and I think it’s because I still have shame around how slovenly I became. I hid it from others fairly well most of the time, but I couldn’t hide it from myself. The fact is the drugs stripped me of some very basic elements of human care. When one doesn’t care about their immediate environment and their bodies, they really just don’t care about themselves. It’s a very painful place to be and yet when it’s caused by drugs it’s all muted and weird and not really who we are at all and so really all that is left is horrible shame because it’s really not congruent with who we are. I felt a searing shame about it all the time. And I’ve often seen the shame in the faces of the clients I worked with at that time. It’s clear that this happens to a lot of folks on these drugs. I visited clients in their homes quite frequently. They would often open their doors with the shame on their faces glaringly apparent. It was painful to see because I truly understood. But not enough to tell them it wasn’t their fault. It was not who they were. It was the drugs stripping them of who they were. At that time I didn’t understand that about myself and so I could not ease that burden for my clients either.

If I had remained med compliant…

I would still look like this:

monica-2001-e1367944492726

Instead of this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is important more because of how I feel than the weight per se. I can do many things once again that I simply could not do when I was heavy on the medications. My body simply feels better at this weight and drug free. Again, I don’t speak for everyone and I don’t believe that all fat people are unhealthy. I was. See: Psych meds and fat 

I had been an athlete prior to the use of psych meds. That was stripped away from me. Now as I slowly get better I use my body in gentle exercise. I do yoga and I hike when I’m able. I simply couldn’t sustain physical activity when I was drugged. 

So yes, many improvements, but the cost was high too. I remained compliant far too long for the well-being of my body/mind/spirit. Iatrogenic drug damage can be very serious. See: My story, the aftermath of polypsychopharmacology

I continue to get better physically. It’s slow going, but I enjoy being alive because it’s just a damned amazing thing to behold. This life. On this planet. I’m grateful to be able to deeply appreciate and observe it now in ways I could not prior.

I share my story, too, because had I been given meaningful options when I was 19 years old rather than silenced with numerous neurotoxic drugs and dismissed, I could have been spared these decades of chronic illness. I will call the years I was deadened on drugs chronic illness too, because I certainly was not well.  I want to give the option for choice and the human right of choice to young people today. I want people to know that it’s possible to heal and be free of psychiatric drugs both. On this blog there are many stories about people who were told they’d need to be on psych drugs for the rest of their lives, but proved psychiatry sorely wrong.

A few things I’ve learned as a result of having a clear head now that I’m drug free:

For a list of my posts distinctly about my personal journey go here.

Celebrating non-compliance:

and

This post was also on Mad in America where there are also comments: If I Had Remained Med Compliant…

*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention. 

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

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