Some words written to someone in protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal…

I’ve  added a “protracted withdrawal” link to the drop-down menus above. I have it in three places right now. The one in the most obvious place will come down after it gets a bit of traction and people know it’s there.  I wanted to call attention to it and so I’m also sharing a bit of correspondence I recently had with an injured comrade with protracted withdrawal syndrome below. 

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Dear *****,

I think of you often. I hope that you have found some easing in the agony of your symptoms since we last spoke. I had an idea of something that might help you. I always hesitate with anything resembling advice because I know what we need varies so greatly.

Two things first: if its not helpful now maybe sometime in the future and of course if it simply makes no sense let it go. Trust the wisdom of your response to hearing the words as you read them.

I have found massage and various body work very helpful –I know you are likely in too much pain to be touched much. I was thinking if you could be seen by a massage therapist who could just gently touch as much as you could stand just your hands and feet. Gentle touch while being with you in presence. Once you trust this person you might allow yourself to emote whatever arises as you let them touch . This might be helpful. Having witnesses who can hold what we are feeling can be very therapeutic. Of course the key is finding the right person that you can feel safe with and that is not always easy, to say the least. That is something you would need to feel out as you spoke with people in preparation to meet with them the first time and then developing safety can often take several visits. And of course if it ever feels wrong trusting yourself to walk away too, is good.

So, if you can stand to be touched a bit and either have a friend you can trust or if you can find a massage therapist you feel safe with anyone can do gentle touch/massage for your hands and/or feet. Finding someone who is okay in the face of your pain might be harder. When I was bedridden and non-verbal an angel (who happened to be an ex-nun) found me and gave me reiki once a week for some months (that was no touch at all…really just presence which is great too). I got very lucky…she came to me through a volunteer reiki group and stuck with me. We remain good friends now.

Being allowed to express your pain…through emoting can be helpful and it can be helpful if someone can hold it without judgement. If you don’t know of anyone safe to do that with trust your gut and don’t do it unless you feel safe.

anything else…I don’t know. the fact is I’m not well and I’m still in a lot of pain. Not like you are anymore but my life remains very difficult and I don’t feel like I’ve learned some deep secret of any kind about healing…it’s always a work in progress. This is a bit ironic given there are people out in the world that claim I’ve saved their lives…by telling them how to live etc. But the only thing I’ve ever done really is tell people to trust themselves. There are no tried and true exterior rules we can just apply to everyone. So, that remains, all I can say.

Trust yourself and given what happened to me last year I had that severely tested…it’s harder for me to say now and yet it’s still all I’ve got. The alternative is far worse than the challenge we face in learning to trust. I know that it’s very often hard to trust ourselves and yet, my only choice was to get back up and start practicing doing that again when I drastically fell of the horse last December.

Much love to you sister. May we all heal in ways that astonish us.

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See also: The It Gets Better series

and (I had to come back to what I speak to in this video in December after the week I spent in the ICU last year):

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*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 safer alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters