A memoir revisited: 20 yrs on psych meds and beyond the withdrawal

This is a rework of some of my previous work for a small publication. It will be mostly familiar to long-time readers. I’m republishing here now since it’s somewhat different from previous pieces I’ve written. It’s also additionally edited for this posting.

purpleAfter approximately two decades on psych meds I came off a six drug cocktail in about six years. This proved to be a gargantuan task and left me gravely disabled.

I see in retrospect that some core, vital part of me was always there during the drugged years, learning and remembering much that would help me in these years of coming off meds and now being med free. I no longer believe that I “lost” my life to drugs. This is, as Mary Oliver, puts it, my “one wild and precious life.” Yes, this is it and so I celebrate it. I do think that it’s sad that I could not be more conscious during those years and that my body became toxic, polluted and chronically, painfully ill; and this is why I help others learn to avoid what happened to me. I’m highly motivated to help others avoid extreme suffering and so my experience is not lost; in fact it was stored in my body to be processed when I got free of drugs. This is what trauma does. The body keeps the score. It’s all there and really cannot be lost. This is one of the many ways that psych drugs act additionally as agents of trauma.  Part of the healing process, for me, and clearly many others who’ve been on psych meds and come off, is one of working through layers and layers of trauma — that which was incurred prior to psych drug use as well as that which is incurred as a result of psych drug use and exposure to the dehumanizing psychiatric system. I have done this mostly through self-enquiry, meditation, yoga and ecstatic dance. Trauma becomes embodied. Embodied practices have proven very important for me.

Yesterday on Facebook I posted a very brief status update that has proved popular since others seem to resonate with this process of unlayering as well.

Nothing to do but feel, feel, feel…such is the peeling and healing of the trauma onion…

It is a job of sorts, to do this unpeeling, and we do it as much for ourselves as we do it for each other. This is a community effort of healing happening among everyone brave enough to face the pain of our lifetimes. This is the work of being human.

As many readers know, the process of drug withdrawal made me much sicker before I began to find wellness. I was one of thousands of people who develop serious protracted withdrawal issues that lead to grave disability. Still, I have not had one moment of regret for having freed myself from these drugs because my mind is clear. I have a clarity of mind that is so beautiful I can cry if I spend time thinking about it. My clarity was stolen from me for almost half my life. I have it back and even while gravely impaired I was grateful for that.

My healing journey has entailed learning about our deeply holistic natures as human beings. EVERYTHING matters. The body you were born with. The body you have today. Your relationships with others and the planet, the food you eat, and the air you breath…. how often you move your body and the thoughts you nurture in your mind and soul.

That is what understanding ourselves as holistic beings entails. Understanding our relationship to EVERYTHING in our environment and our bodies, what we’re born with and how it’s all connected. It’s not some sort of new age hogwash. It’s just plain and simple reality.

So, by that slow and painstaking, but ultimately joyous process of coming to understand how everything matters, I’ve been healing and bringing back well-being to this body/mind/spirit.

We need each other in this process. Building non-coercive healing community is the most important thing to me these days. Community comes in many different guises and does not require giving up your autonomy and self-determination. Psychiatry and the mental illness establishment often steals both. I envision a world where people are empowered to make the choices that work for them in the context of their lives. Everyone’s path is going to be different. Respecting and celebrating that great diversity is key.

Below is a collection of links which contain many links to reconsider and reframe our experiences that otherwise get labeled mentally ill so that we might heal and transform and thrive.

See also

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

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