The final visit to the psychiatrist (part 2 of Goodbye psychiatry)

See part one of this story here here: Goodbye psychiatry

flowerbuddingI hadn’t seen this psychiatrist or any other now in several years. I chose to make this visit to the man who prescribed the drugs for my 6 year long psychiatric drug withdrawal for several reasons. Upon reflection, I think the primary one was ritualistic. Something to mark the end of that phase of my life. A goodbye to psychiatry concretized.

Secondarily I wanted to thank this man. I really am profoundly grateful that he provided the service without challenge even when I couldn’t leave my home to see him. I, in fact, stopped being able to talk and my husband was contacting him for me when I was really ill. This man didn’t question my interpretation of affairs and that was critically important and frankly unusual. Many psychiatrists would not only have refused to continue their involvement, they might have also tried to hospitalize or otherwise institutionalize me. I’ve seen those kind of scenarios play out numerous times on withdrawal boards among those of us who have serious complications while withdrawing. It’s horribly dangerous and I’ve seen people gravely harmed. People can die in such circumstances. I would have died had I been institutionalized. I have no doubt about that and so I also remain profoundly thankful, not only to this doctor, but also to my husband who also had the clarity to let me move through this process and give me the 24 hour care I needed without considering dumping me into the system. Wow. It does seem that the universe was looking over me when I think back now. At the very least I was damn lucky.

Lastly I also hoped that this doctor would now show some interest in what had happened to me once we were again face to face. He didn’t disappoint.

He wanted to know everything, he said. I laughed at that, told him I had no idea where to start. We had half an hour. I packed a lot into that time. I’m not sure I can meaningfully recreate all that I said in this post.

So instead I’ll paint a picture of what it was like to be there. First of all I felt like an expert, and I believe it showed. Get me talking about this stuff and I’m on fire. Confidence is a good thing in these situations.  What’s more, I do know how to talk to mental health professionals since I worked in the field for so long and had many psychiatrists as colleagues over the years. The fact is it’s a sort of comfortable niche for me. I’m actually comfortable talking shop with these guys, so to speak. Not in all circumstances, no, not at all. I’ve been disrespected far too many times by those who have no interest in listening to the likes of me (an ex-mental patient who questions the primacy of psychopharmacology and psychiatry as practiced, oh no!), but when any given professional is listening to me with even a modicum of respect, hell, yeah, I can certainly hold my own with the best of them.

So basically I talked about a whole lot of what I write about on this blog all the time. Some of the info was completely unfamiliar to him and he was okay with acknowledging that. He asked me to send him links to information and I did.

At the end of the half hour we hugged goodbye. He refused payment for his time. I thanked him for his kindness.

I sent him the below links to info on withdrawal with an invitation to discuss it all further whenever he liked.

My story (a bit of a history in two parts):

and

I at one point in our conversation I referred to the psych drug withdrawal syndrome as a brain injury. At that point he almost jumped and said incredulously, “brain injury?” I said, yes, brain injury.

So I also sent a link to this post:

The neuropsych guy I’m referring to in that article is actually someone this psychiatrist went to school with so they know each other. I know this guy respects this other guy, so it’s a good article to share. He was the first person who helped me understand this phenomena as a brain injury…later I also started networking with folks with traumatic brain injuries (like vets, etc) and found we had a lot in common.

Lastly I thought I’d share a response I made to a comment on the Mad in America thread. Jon Keyes brought up the fact that talking to old shrinks might be triggering and difficult. I wanted to repeat what I’ve said elsewhere before:

It certainly can be both challenging and intimidating as well as potentially traumatic to go back to see old shrinks…I don’t by any means suggest everyone do it and there are doctors I certainly would never want to see again.

I had a good relationship with this guy and, in general, being I worked in the system as a social worker I had very professional relationships with the doctors I worked with later in my career as psych patient.

I know how to “talk psychiatry” like a professional because of the work I did in the field. This afforded me relationships with doctors that differ from that of a lot of folks.

in a post where I shared about talking to the psychiatrist who got me on the massive cocktail I say,

This sort of communicating with our old doctors is by no means appropriate for everyone. This is something I do, not something I recommend to others unless they too feel comfortable and confident that it’s something right for them. It’s simply not always possible nor is it always appropriate or safe. I support protecting ourselves and NOT retraumatizing ourselves or risking our safety in any way. That is why it depends on the person and the situation. Again, it’s not always the right thing to do. So no one need imagine I’m advocating others do this.

The reason I wrote that in another post was because I used to get comments from readers who talked about how horribly triggering and dangerous it would be for them to do something like that. So by all means everyone should follow their own guts about this and not do anything that risks wellbeing and safety.

I’ve had plenty of relationships with medical professionals I would never revisit ever because of how badly I was treated. I know what that is like too. And I have no interest in subjecting myself to those people ever again if I can help it.

So that’s the story of my final visit to the psychiatrist. It’s been about 6 years since I’d seen him. It felt like closure. It was good. I’m good.

Now on Mad in America where you can leave a comment if you like: The Final Visit to the Psychiatrist (Part 2 of Goodbye Psychiatry) 

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. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

 

The Myth of the Chemical Cure: The Politics of Psychiatric Drug Treatment

Joanna MoncrieffThis won’t contain new information for long time readers of this blog, but gratefully, Beyond Meds is always finding new readers. This contains a good synopsis of a lot of the issues surrounding the high prevalence of psychiatric drug use in the mental illness system and why it’s not good medicine.

The book: The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment

UNE Center for Global Humanities and its founding director, Anouar Majid, host Joanna Moncrieff on “The Myth of the Chemical Cure: The Politics of Psychiatric Drug Treatment.”

Joanna Moncrieff – The Myth of the Chemical Cure: The Politics of Psychiatric Drug Treatment

Other posts on Beyond Meds that feature Moncrieff’s work:

Psychiatric drug withdrawal in tweets

SEE: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

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Click here

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Benzodiazepine withdrawal — “it really is that bad”

“Unless you’ve been through it, it’s impossible to know how bad it is.” 

I’ve posted this video before and am posting it again in the interest of letting yet more people learn about the grave risks involved in starting to take benzos.

What Matt Samet talks about in this video is sadly the truth. Those of us who get protracted withdrawal issues come to know an alienation and isolation that no one should know is even possible. If you are someone who has found themselves in that place I’ve written quite a lot about it: The isolation and sense of abandonment many people deal with when sick with protracted withdrawal illness. While it’s a very painful and lonely process one can work with this in many ways and people do come out the other side of it.

Since I last posted this video Matt has published a book: Death Grip: A Climber’s Escape from Benzo Madness

He also now has a blog at Mad in America

benzoFor a long list of information and resources on benzo use and safer withdrawal tips see here: BENZO INFO

See also: “The biggest mistake I ever made was…going to see a psychiatrist” (Stevie Nicks) a benzo story

It’s possible to minimize illness upon withdrawal by tapering very slowly. Cold-turkey or any sort of abrupt withdrawal can make any potential issues much worse. For more information about withdrawing from psych drugs in general as well as information on withdrawal syndromes. See here:  Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

If you’ve never been prescribed a benzodiazepine I strongly recommend considering natural means of healing first should the occasion ever arise. For information and resources for alternative methods of healing and self-care check the drop-down menu at the top of this page. It is not an exhaustive list but it can get you thinking about the vast array of possibilities your doctor might not be familiar with.

Warning: do not withdraw from benzodiazepines without first educating yourself on the very real dangers involved. Dangers can be mitigated with safer practices. 

*benzo free image contains a link to the site I found it on. I am not associated with the seller of those items, nor do I know who they are.

You know we shouldn’t tell anyone about the grave harm psych drugs cause so many of us…

This is a status update from Facebook that people seemed to like. So I’m sharing it here now too.

celticYou know we shouldn’t tell anyone about the grave harm psych drugs cause so many of us because heaven forbid someone who *should* take meds hears us…That’s the message one gets in response from people who are sadly filled with so much fear and terror…the truth becomes their casualty…

Information is always dangerous. That is why so many people want to control it.

Insist on it anyway!  Why I remain pro-choice as long as it’s informed choice when it comes to drugs and medications

To inform yourself on how to more safely withdraw from psychiatric drugs see here:  Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

People recover and live med-free everyday!  — Recovery Stories 

It’s real! And it’s possible.

Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs – video and info with Will Hall

How can anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and other drugs be used wisely? What are the risks and benefits? How can we collaborate effectively with prescribers, and what about reducing and discontinuing medications? Come learn a pragmatic harm reduction approach that is neither pro- nor anti- medication, but instead based in mental diversity. Everyone is welcome: professionals, survivors, students, family, and anyone taking or not taking medications.

See also:

●  Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs & Withdrawal

and

●  Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

 

Psychiatric drug withdrawal information and resources

 

This page is regularly updated. Below the initial commentary is a collection of links with lots of information to better inform the reader on psychiatric drug withdrawal. Educating oneself and preparing for a safer taper goes a long way in mitigating the risk of serious protracted withdrawal issues.

NEW: Psychiatric drug withdrawal: preparation for before you begin

Update 2016: 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.

*feel free to share this page via social media. You are also free to copy and paste and republish as widely as you’d like. 

Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, psychiatrist & senior lecturer, University College London:

 

Not everyone is subject protracted or even significant withdrawal issues. That said everyone needs to be aware of the risk so that every reasonable precaution can be made to avoid potentially serious issues. In the interest of informed consent we need to know what the risks are. Many psychiatrists are not telling people about these risks. What is worse is that psychiatrists don’t even understand the risks or recognize what they’re actually witnessing when they start happening. This level of ignorance is a criminal reality at the moment.

See: the “It Gets Better” Series if you’re sick and in the midst of psychiatric drug withdrawal

In the course of my work with those coming off psych meds I’ve learned that there are few people, even among critics of psychiatry that have a clue at the potential severity of psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes. That also means there are virtually no professionals that can offer meaningful support when people encounter serious issues. We remain dependent on each other.

Other than those who’ve directly experienced protracted withdrawal or those who have lived with those who have experienced it, it simply remains under appreciated and therefore under treated and under recognized even, as I said, among critics of psychiatry. It’s rather horrifying for those of us who find ourselves struck by such illness. While perhaps a minority, we are not an insignificant minority. I alone have had contact with 1000s of us.

The other thing to consider is that we are perhaps not even a minority because the fact is so many issues with withdrawal are not recognized at all and are instead considered and then treated as the “underlying illness,” many folks simply get sicker and sicker on meds and never even know why they’re ill. Those people never come to understand that all the multiple trials of drugs and the numerous times of coming off and on them has actually been the cause of their illness.

I’m putting together a collection of withdrawal links for the navigation menu since the drop-down menu has become rather long. I will post it as a new post and then it will be accessible permanently from the top of the blog.

Generally, prolonged withdrawal syndrome is not recognized by medicine. You will find very few doctors to diagnose it and still fewer to treat it. This is a collection of links that might help you educate yourself so that you can find more appropriate care when the time comes as well as hopefully avoiding falling ill at all. I found that being well-educated and finding doctors who respected how much effort I put into educating myself helped me. It must be said, though, that it is also a curse because for every doctor who appreciates a knowledgable patient there are likely 15 or 20 or maybe even more who feel threatened by that same patient. Still, it is a plus to know what we are doing.

I will update this page as appropriate and as I remember about older posts from the archives.

NEW:

 For additional information on psychiatric drug withdrawal support and withdrawal boards see here: Support in withdrawal 

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

This post and it’s content really only scratches the surface of the issues we face. Still it’s a good place to start.

NEW:

More:

See: the “It Gets Better” Series if you’re sick and in the midst of psychiatric drug withdrawal

Share all of this information with the doctors in your life:  A plea to prescribing physicians and psychiatrists: please help us heal

MORE  RESOURCES: a list curated by Laura Delano:  Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Resources

See here for the Freedom Center and Icarus manual:  Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs & Withdrawal (newly revised edition)

For general information on withdrawing from psychiatric drugs see here: Withdrawal 101

 For additional information on psychiatric drug withdrawal support and withdrawal boards see here: Support in withdrawal

I also have a page that is a collection of my own withdrawal documented.  It has a lot of posts that talk about what I learned on the withdrawal boards while I try to recover from my own protracted withdrawal and so a lot of it has value to others in withdrawal: Monica/Gianna: withdrawal documented

The story of my withdrawal and subsequent disabling iatrogenic illness was published on David Healy’s site, RxIsk: Monica’s story: the aftermath of polypsychopharmacology 

My history on Mad in America’s website: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs

And for ways to support your recovery you can visit the Healing Arts and the Nutrition sections at the top of the page. There are drop down menus available with lots of options.

If you’ve found yourself very ill from this process I also have a section at the top of the page to support those with Chronic Illness. Check that drop-down menu too or click here.

***

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 or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal or Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!

Ode to my (big) feet

I have big feet. Very big. A full size 11.

Some years ago I realized that while I should hate my feet. I did not. Us women are very hard on our bodies and from a young age we learn to hate most of our body and often really hate some parts of our body. This is particularly true for parts that we think are too big or too small.

I didn’t hate my feet and I still don’t. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to find shoes, although that is much less a problem than it was some years ago. More women must now have big feet, perhaps.

I’ve given some thought about why I might not hate my feet. I think that perhaps it’s because they’ve really served me very well AND it’s because I’ve always been a barefoot walker. Regular contact with the earth kept me in touch with the lovely utilitarianism of my feet even while I perhaps succumbed, like other women, to hating other parts of my body.

Swimming down-river included moving through this wonder wall of rock

I started this habit in childhood and by high school my favorite thing to do was go to Arroyo Seco Gorge every weekend in the summer where I would hike to the river and then swim all day long all while being barefoot.

In college, while attending university, I continued walking about barefoot even on campus and around my neighborhood in the city streets of Berkeley. It wasn’t unusual to see college students doing things others didn’t normally do and in fact there was a famed naked man close to the time I was going barefoot. That sort of thing made being barefoot pretty tame. I remember the bottoms of my feet used to be a frightening black. City streets and our student co-op floors, too, were not clean!

More recently since I’ve been recovering from severe psychiatric drug withdrawal iatrogenesis (chronic, disabling, illness caused by medical care), I discovered that regular contact with the earth while barefoot has helped me feel more grounded and has become an integral part of my healing protocol. I recently wrote about some scientific research that supports such contact with the earth: Earthing: the science behind why it’s good to walk barefoot on the earth.

Another picture of Arroyo Seco Gorge

I’ve mentioned it several times on this blog and it’s part of my larger healing arsenal. On days that I’m not well I simply go into our backyard and walk around on the grass a bit while barefoot. On good days I’ll do a whole yoga routine out there. My favorite thing to do, when I’m able to leave the house is to walk barefoot in the woods. We’re blessed to have rivers and streams everywhere around here too, so a dip in the river with my bare-feet is not unusual should I make it to the forest!

So…I celebrate my big feet. They allow contact with the earth and have taken me to many beautiful places.

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