on being an observed phenomena

in 2012 during a time of psychiatric drug withdrawal from Abilify and intense sleep deprivation as a result- i literally went through rapproachment again with my mom- i became a two year old testing boundaries around attachment- i just wanted to color and draw and sing and make messes and i was living in a world of symbols. my friends and my partner at the time were supporting too- they all watched me 24-7, in shifts. i eventually got involuntarily hospitalized by my co-workers at the Department of Behavioral Health- i had forced my mom to go to work with me- i had been missing from work for 2 weeks- once i got to work with my mom, i went on a manic rant at work about corruption and problems in mental health services there. i had completely tapered from Abilify. the involuntarily hospitalization was definitely necessary at that point. i had tried many things to myself to sleep- over the counter sleep meds, benadryl, and strong herbal teas. the psychiatrists at University of Pennsylvania’s hospital, of course, prescribed me 15 mg of Abilify- a very high dose, because that’s what they do. i got myself out early through some legal procedure that i can’t remember, and they were pretty upset about that. and then i tapered down to 5 mg in a few days, and i was totally fine again. for me getting down past the 2mg of Abilify taper was always the hardest. i was on that drug for 12 years. so happy to be psychiatric drug free. i also had to do one of my interviews for Grad School at CIIS while i was in the hospital. talk about managing a lot. My mindfulness coach and my therapist at the time had both gone to CIIS, isn’t that funny, but i didn’t know that at the time i started working with them…i believe my skype therapist, Will Hall, was off vacationing in Costa Rica for some of the time i was dealing with the drug withdrawal- he’s the one who encouraged my coming off. My mindfulness coach David Zeitler was very interested in Childhood Development and had worked with Ken Wilber. His dad had schizophrenia. anyway, i guess i’m a pretty interesting phenomena to observe apparently….i was also dating someone at the time who had connections with Julian Assange. He got called off to Spain for interviews before I got hospitalized. Or was it to deliver a suitcase of money? i think it was both. My father also wanted to support me at this time, but I was afraid of him at this time. During this time I also had a vision of the intergenerational legacies of pain in Bangladesh and South Asia.

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I love my parents so much. They found the Gold in the Shadow. So thankful to them. This is them at my birthday party in Philadelphia in June this year- jetlagged- they had just come back from Bangladesh the night before.

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it’s the drugs (rework of on triumph: 1 year after 14-15 years of psychiatric drugging)

On February 5, 2017, I celebrated my 1 year anniversary psychiatric drug free, after having been on psychiatric drugs from age 19 to 34. I’ve been caught up in wanting to make this article really good. But what I’m realizing is that I’m tired of proving things. I know for myself that I am free of bipolar symptoms. I had struggles with anxiety, and emotionality, and I was prescribed drugs that gave me bipolar depression and manic psychotic symptoms while I was on them and while I was trying to withdraw from them. I do have to negotiate with a deep grief and bitterness because of everything that happened in my life as a result of psychiatric drugging, including long term memory loss. But I am moving forward. I am incredibly happy to have my body back- I’m 35 lbs lighter, my skin is great and has cleared up, and my hair is growing in full- it had been falling out in clumps. I am incredibly happy that my memories are returning to me- sometimes I am flooded with them. My skillset is returning. I can play piano again- I was classically trained from age 7 to 20 and had lost access to my ability to play. I can speak Spanish again – I had lost the capacity, even though I had completed Intermediate Spanish at Yale. I can paint again- I have fine arts training, and I had felt blocked for years because I was afraid of my creativity and associated it with mania.

Essentially I feel I received a chemical lobotomy, had my self esteem destroyed by a myth, and got forced addicted to psychiatric drugs for sleep, and had to deal with an LSD and/or cocaine-like trip with the flu every time I tried to withdraw from whatever I was on- Lithium, Abilify, Klonopin etc. And I got a label that made me a pariah in society. It took me over 9 months after coming off psychiatric drugs to come back to stability, since my brain and body had been altered so much by the chemicals put in it without my informed consent and true choice. I am so glad for neuroplasticity and resilience of the body and spirit. Since I’m training to be a therapist, I have the unique lens of also being able to see potential directions for clinicians to help those who have come off psychiatric drugs after long term use. Since there are already detox programs for drug and alcohol addiction, I feel a lot of the knowledge and expertise for helping people come off is already there. Clinicians are needed to help deprogram people who have been diagnosed by the myth of biomedical psychiatry and deal with the grief and losses that resulted from the mistruth. Therapists, especially those with Jungian training, can help people who are interested integrate their fractured and dream like drug-induced material back into their lives. Many trauma issues – personal and intergenerational -surface in waking dream drug states. I feel therapists could also help people deal with “dry drunk”-like behaviors, that might show up after coming off the drugs- like i said, it took me that 9 plus months of recovery to return to emotional stability- I found myself acting like an unhinged teenager at times. Also during my long arduous, extended journey to come off psychiatric drugs, especially during periods of tapering (but really my brain was changing from chemical alteration the whole time), I feel I acted and behaved like a person in active addiction sometimes – risky behaviors, hypersexuality, selfishness, thoughtlessness, extreme emotionality, outbursts and impulsiveness.  I benefited so much from AA in the past and talking and sharing with people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, but of course I wasn’t completely accepted or part of this community because I was dealing with psychiatric drugs, not street drugs or alcohol. I hope there is a push for funded and supported 12 step groups for people who are trying to come off psychiatric drugs, specifically.

There is so much potential for therapists to support people during tapering and the recovery process after getting of these drugs, but unfortunately it seems to me that graduate school education in counseling psychology- at least confirmed by my personal experience at graduate school- teaches the same pathology as the mainstream psychiatrists, although it may look at it with more flexibility and more emphasis on trauma and social factors. When I was working in Philadelphia as the Certified Peer Specialist Trainer and Coordinator for the County ten years ago, and then continued as a Recovery Initiative Specialist, a big part of my role was to help integrate Peer Specialists, and peer or lived experience culture into the behavioral system. Honestly it began as an incredibly huge uphill battle against mental health and substance abuse stigma, discrimination and prejudice from service providers. I feel that so much has been accomplished with the Systems Transformation in Philadelphia because of it’s all voices inclusive approach and dedication to the value of client-led services and commitment to honoring the voices of people who receive services in the system. As a person who received a diagnosis and had to navigate the mental health system, I am overjoyed that Dr. Arthur Evans, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association.

It’s my one year anniversary month, as a person free from chemical dependency and mayhem, from drugs that were prescribed to me by doctors and couched as treatment. I am living proof that it can be done.

On Triumph: One year after coming off of 14 (well maybe it’s 15) years of psychiatric drugging

On February 5, 2017 I celebrate my 1 year anniversary psychiatric drug free.

I’ve been caught up in wanting to make this article really good. But what I’m realizing is that I’m tired of proving things. I know for myself that I am free of bipolar symptoms- because those symptoms were caused by the psychiatric drugs and the withdrawal and the harmful mythology.

I do have to negotiate with a deep grief and bitterness because of everything that happened in my life as a result of psychiatric drugging, including long term memory loss.

I am incredibly happy to have my body back- I’m 35 lbs lighter, my skin is great, and my hair is growing in full. I am incredibly happy to have memories continually return, and my skillset return. I can play piano again (I’m classically trained). I can speak Spanish again (I forgot that I could- I completed Intermediate Spanish at Yale). I can paint again (I have fine arts training- I had felt blocked for years). Etc, etc, etc.  Essentially I feel I received a chemical lobotomy, had my self esteem destroyed by a myth, and got forced addicted to psychiatric drugs for sleep, and had to deal with an LSD or cocaine-like trip with the flu every time I tried to withdraw from whatever I was on- Lithium, Abilify, Klonopin etc. And I got a label that made me a pariah in society.

I have a lot of grief and fear and anger because this ‘treatment’ has harmed me and harmed so many people I know, and many others I don’t know.

What’s also sad is that graduate school education in psychology- at least my experience teaches the same pathology as the mainstream psychiatrists- although it may look at it with more flexibility and more emphasis on trauma and social factors.

Since I’m an activist as well as a mental health and substance abuse professional- I’ll add some political commentary too. (I’ve posted a version of this part previously). Racism, profit over people, and other-ing and stigmatizing, so sadly are foundational and a huge part of the fabric of the United States of America we call home. The biomedical psychiatry industry sustains itself on racism, other-ing stigma, and profit over people.

When I think about my capacity, organizing strategies and behaviors, and determination for the ICC CHANGE Campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology- a successful campaign to expose and help unroot institutional racism that deeply harmed people of color therapists in training at mygraduate school of counseling psychology – see CIIS ICC CHANGE petition https://www.change.org/p/ciis-community-icc-change-diversity-and-recognition-in-the-ciis-icp-program – I’m realizing that a lot of the unrelenting fuel that powered me, came from reserves- really high momentum that had been stopped in its tracks. In 2003-2004 I was a lead student organizer and researcher at Yale for a transparency campaign on university investments, and an investigation of one of our university investors- a hedge fund called Farallon Capital Management, which was investing the school’s money in a very lucrative way, that had deep harmful environmental and social impact in the United States and globally. The campaign got big and extended to other schools, and got national attention and coverage. I, along with my fellow student organizers, interviewed with the Wall Street Journal and other really big papers. During the campaign- I tried to come off Lithium- which I feel had been very haphazardly prescribed to me by my psychiatrist Dr. Adam Spivack at Yale University Student Mental Health- which was then called Mental Hygiene, long before the campaign. He wouldn’t listen to my complaints that the drug had started to slow me down significantly and made me feel dead inside, and had started really effecting my schoolwork. He would not let me come off. Trying to come off Lithium cold turkey threw me into a world of altered states, not sleeping, being really sped up, hearing voices, paranoia, deep emotional instability and erratic behavior- this had never happened ever in my life before – I’m sure it has parallels to chemical withdrawal from street drugs. I was removed as a lead organizer from the campaign, which made sense. But as I eventually got put on heavy antipsychotics by Yale mental health services and psychiatrists in my treatment path, I lost access to much of my long term memory, and honestly, eventually forget much of my involvement in the campaign, -and eventually with long term usage, forget much of my life. The myth at the time of American psychiatry then and unfortunately still present now as we are learning- was that my bipolar illness was coming back, off the drug. But I had never had these symptoms before. I had gone, what’s known as, psychotic. I was thrown out of school in 2004- but because of tenacity- I was re-admitted after a few tries, and was able to complete at Yale. The UnFarallon investment transparency campaign I feel, fizzled, partially, I feel, from the loss of one of its main organizers.

After I was recently finally able to get free of psychiatric drugs, after 15 years, just last February, with an integrative psychiatrist, who like no other psychiatrist, put effort into helping me come off, I had so much frozen momentum. I was able to use that momentum towards a good cause though- The ICC CHANGE campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology.

My organizing momentum that had been shut down got put into good use too in 2008-2009 as well on another activist spirit initiative, during another time I was trying to come off psychiatric drugs to return to myself and release the momentum.

This time it was putting tons of energy and fight into integrating Peer Specialists into the Philadelphia Community Behavioral Health system as the Certified Peer Specialist Trainer and Coordinator for Philadelphia and liaison to the Philadelphia Department of a Behavioral Health in 2007-2009. I also continued this type of work as a Recovery Initiative Specialist and Storytelling Trainer with DBH in Philadelphia for another 2.5 years. It began as an incredibly huge uphill battle against mental health and substance abuse stigma from service providers. I feel that so much has been accomplished with the Systems Transformation in Philadelphia in terms of recognizing and honoring the value and voices of people who receive services in the system and their huge capacity to give back and mentor and work in the field. I’m so happy that the Commissioner at the Department of Behavioral Health, Dr. Arthur Evans has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association. But during this time of hard change work,  my psychiatrist, Dr. Claudia Baldassano at the University of Pennsylvania, refused to provide clinical support with the tapering process even though I informed her that is what I wanted to do was trying to do. She was an incredibly negligent clinician, and I struggled with deep harmful side effects of withdrawal while I continued my work. Professionally I was ok for a long time- but in my private life I was developing hoarding behaviors, loss of consensus reality, hypersexuality and risky behaviors. This eventually led to an involuntary hospitalization by my workplace- it was so interesting- I was on the credentialing and monitoring team at DBH- and my team was sent to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital while I was there as a patient, and my team member saw me on the floor, and said, ‘Naas, I didn’t realize you were assigned to help with the audits of the hospital today, and I shrugged and said, ‘Nope, I’m a patient today’.

I have to say now I feel I have used up the unfinished momentum from the 2004 Unfarallon campaign. But I have lots of wisdom from my experience. One of Farallon’s investments – this hedge fund that was investing billions of Yale’s money and other school’s money- was a water privatization venture in Colorado at Baca Ranch- which involved taking and destroying the land and water resources of indigenous community who lived there. We continue to see many big money repeats of plundering behavior. And we saw it happen again with Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline. For any of you interested in the the Unfarallon campaign’s work- here is the campaign’s web archive- https://web.archive.org/web/20060208124208/http://www.unfarallon.info/intro.asp

I feel transparency and divestment of big university money can still be a very effective way in the fight to save our planet (especially since climate change doesn’t exist now according to our President of the USA). Also if you’re interested in reading about how the Unfarallon campaign had big impact years after it was over- this is an interesting article- Tom Steyer, the former manager is now known as the green billionaire. Before the Unfarallon campaign it was oil and dirty energy http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/tom-steyer-an-inconvenient-billionaire-20140218

It is very much a time now both of hypocrisy and uncovering with our new President, with race and other intersectional identity issues very much in the spotlight  (I believe the ancient Indian texts- the Vedas – predicted this, but I haven’t closely studied the texts- a close friend told me at my graduate school). I choose to continue to uncover the hypocrisy even though it has and will continue to make me a target of those who don’t want it exposed- those who believe in and/or are entrenched in with the value systems of racism, -isms, profit over people, other-ing and stigma.

the “crazy” activist- a short reflection on being able remember my life after coming off psychiatric drugs

When I think about my capacity, organizing strategies and behaviors, and determination for the ICC CHANGE Campaign- Diversity and Inclusion in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology, see CIIS ICC CHANGE petition– I’m realizing that a lot of the unrelenting fuel that powered me, came from reserves- really high momentum that had been stopped in its tracks. In 2003-2004 I was a lead student organizer and researcher at Yale for a transparency campaign on university investments, and an investigation of one of our university investors- a hedge fund called Farallon Capital Management, which was investing the school’s money in a very lucrative way, that had deep harmful environmental and social impact in the United States and globally. The campaign got big and extended to other schools, and got national attention and coverage. I, along with my fellow student organizers, interviewed with the Wall Street Journal and other really big papers. During the campaign- I tried to come off Lithium- which I feel had been very haphazardly prescribed to me by my clinician at Yale University Student Mental Health- which was then called Mental Hygiene, long before the campaign. He wouldn’t listen to my complaints that the drug had started to slow me down significantly and made me feel dead inside, and had started really effecting my schoolwork. He would not let me come off. Trying to come off Lithium cold turkey threw me into a world of altered states, not sleeping, being really sped up, hearing voices, paranoia, deep emotional instability and erratic behavior- this had never happened ever in my life before – I’m sure it has parallels to chemical withdrawal from street drugs. I was removed as a lead organizer from the campaign, which made sense. But as I eventually got put on heavy antipsychotics by Yale mental health services and psychiatrists in my treatment path, I lost access to much of my long term memory, and honestly, eventually forget much of my involvement in the campaign, -and eventually with long term usage, forget much of my life. The myth at the time of American psychiatry then and unfortunately still present now- was that my bipolar illness was coming back, off the drug. But I had never had these symptoms before. I had gone, what’s known as, psychotic. I was thrown out of school in 2004- but because of tenacity- I was re admitted after a few tries, and was able to complete at Yale. The UnFarallon investment transparency campaign I feel, fizzled, partially, I feel, from the loss of one of its main organizers. After I was recently finally able to get free of psychiatric drugs, after 15 years, just last February, with an integrative psychiatrist, who like no other psychiatrist, put effort into helping me come off, I had so much frozen momentum. I was able to use that momentum towards a good cause though- The ICC CHANGE campaign- Diversity and Recognition in CIIS Integral Counseling Psychology. I’m so glad to be off psychiatric drugs and have memories return. I hope with time that the damage the drugs did to my brain in terms of long term memory access, will completely repair. And glad that my organizing momentum that had been shut down got put into good use, once again. It got put to good use too in 2008 as well on another activist initiative- during another time I was trying to come off psychiatric drugs, but didn’t have proper clinical support, because my psychiatrist refused to help me. I have to say now I feel I have used up the momentum. Sketch of me speaking in 2003 by my friend Ralph Ferrucci. Not sure what event this was- prolly an anti-war rally. No blood for oil. George W’s War in Iraq. One of Farallon’s investments was a water privatization venture in Colorado at Baca Ranch- which involved taking and destroying the resources of indigenous community. So many big money repeats of plundering behavior. And we see it happen again at Standing Rock.  For any of you interested in the the Unfarallon campaign’s work- here is the campaign’s web archive, Unfarallon Campaign Web Archive, i feel transparency and divestment of big university money can still be a very effective way in the fight to save our planet.  Also if you’re interested in reading about how the Unfarallon campaign had big impact years after it was over- this is an interesting article- Tom Steyer lives in San Francisco- he’s know as the green billionaire. Before the unfarallon campaign it was oil and dirty energy…Tom Steyer- An Inconvenient Billionaire14947417_10154682779424458_2735766557347099829_n

Psychiatric Drug Free after 15 years- Off Lithium, Abilify, Klonopin, etc, etc, etc…

I am off psychiatric drugs after fifteen years. I have been on Prozac, Lithium, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Ativan, Seroquel, Depakote, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Klonopin, Geodon, Abilify, probably others.

When I was 18, I was prescribed Prozac by my GP. It was my freshman year at Yale during finals. I was parallelized with anxiety and couldn’t study. Prozac definitely freed me up from my anxiety and depressed feelings. I think I finished with As in all my classes that semester, except in my Freshman Organic Chemistry Class- I got a B. I was pretty crushed, because as a first generation US born Bangladeshi American intellectual girl with an immigrant father who is a professor at an elite liberal arts college, and a culture in which higher formal education is so highly valued and also means freedom, pursuing higher education and doing well in school was what I cared most about in my life at the time.   My parents really did leave Bangladesh and settle in the US for a better life for their kids. When they were around the age of 18- their education was interrupted by genocide.

Prozac clearly changed my personality. But I didn’t mind. I loved it. I was always really shy, and with the new found confidence and loss of inhibitions from the drug, I learned to sparkle in ways I never could before, and also how to draw attention to myself and how to develop a big personality. But along with my newfound sparkle- there were unseen, unexpected effects. My memory is blurry around this time period, but during a period of withdrawal from Prozac in summer or fall of my sophomore year, I think I tried to come off, because my dad didn’t think it was wise for me be on this drug forever, I experienced the deepest feelings of numbing- cloud-over-my-head-that-wouldn’t-lift depression I had ever felt in my life, and feelings and thoughts of suicidality that overcame me with their persistent and intrusive nature. I now believe it was strongly a drug withdrawal response. Prozac withdrawal. It was compounded with my existential identity confusion that was going on as a 19 year old and a break up with my first “boyfriend”- a summer fling with another Yalie. When I sought help at student mental health services, after meeting with a therapist once, I was involuntarily hospitalized and forced to medically withdraw from school.

I have been involuntarily psychiatrically hospitalized four more times since- one more time at Yale. I went to the psychiatric hospital once at Yale voluntarily also. I was forced to medically withdraw from Yale University twice because of my psychiatric issues. I had to reapply five times to get back in and get my degree. At student mental health services I got severely drugged by my psychiatrist, despite desperate pleas of ‘these drugs are making me worse’. I felt dead inside, and the world became grey on Lithium. But Lithium was touted as the only thing that could ‘cure’ me, and I just learned to resign myself to that belief. And when I tried to come off without clinical support because I knew I could no longer live this way and not lose myself, things got worse. I started hearing voices, and I went into states of altered consciousness and lived on a plane of sleeplessness and madness and divinity and feelings of cosmic consciousness and nightmares that I had never experienced in my life before. After more meds and some tweaks here or there and the time off (in which I was required to take classes at an accredited university and earn Bs or better and also work to apply for readmission)- I started seeing private psychiatrists- I finally was able to graduate from Yale University in 2007 after 7 years.

I have taken Family Medical Leave twice from non-profit mental health jobs where I held leadership positions- at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, because of psychiatric issues, during periods of trying to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. I sought clinical support to come off- from psychiatrists in the community mental health system and from psychiatrists working at prestigious universities. They refused to give me clinical support. Instead they gave me more pills or discouraged me or half-heartedly agreed but had no idea what they were doing and it felt like they didn’t really care. I suffered through trying to come psychiatric drugs by myself- through working through waking nightmare states, through working with being unable to sleep, through working through headaches and flu-like symptoms. In 2012 I found a therapist over skype who believed me. He helped me deprogram from the message of psychiatry that I had a chronic illness and that I needed the drugs to survive. I also found an amazing mindfulness coach who also helped me. But I still could not find a psychiatrist to help me come off. I did develop a strong network of friends and professional support. When I tried to come off in 2012- again I had the sleeplessness and the nightmare visions and the altered states of reality, but I had more tools, information, and support and an important reframe- I was not sick. I experienced the world differently than ‘the norm’, but other people experienced the world this way too. I started thinking more and more about chemical withdrawal psychosis- the concept that I first discovered in Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic.

In fall of 2012 I came to study at a Masters in Counseling Psychology program at CIIS. In 2013, I found an integrative psychiatrist in San Francisco who helped me come off in two years. She heard me. She was hesitant too with the coming off process, but she always said to me ‘naas, I trust your intuition and I don’t worry about you’. Even though there were times she did worry about me, she treated me with the utmost compassion and respect. She offered her clinical perspective- and we figured it out together- what would be medically safe, what would be the right pace, how to process the feelings, insights, personality changes, and forgotten memories of my life- I had lost much of my long term memory She helped me understand those periods of altered consciousness with even greater depth and their significance to my deeper understanding of my personal life and my large life process with her Jungian training. I also found a therapist who helped me make sense of things- not only in my everyday life, but also in the context of my waking dream and nightmare periods and my fantasy and daydreaming life. It was not an easy process. In 2014, I managed graduate school and a coming off process with my psychiatrist, but I couldn’t come all the way off. It was too intense. I tried again in winter of 2015. I was on 900 mg of Lithium and 3 mg of Abilify. I got off everything completely in February of 2016. My parents didn’t believe I could come off, even though my dad wanted that so badly for me. My mom I think was too scared to see my come off, she had witnessed more of my periods of altered states than my dad. My parents, even though I lost connection with them in many ways, were ALWAYS spiritually and financially supportive. Many of my friends didn’t believe I could come off- they saw me struggle through too much trying to come off, and also had to bear the brunt of my personality changes and intensity and chaos. My partner of 3 years knew I could come off- And I am forever indebted to him for sticking with me though it.

Life is not easy now. But I am much happier, because I feel myself, I feel my feelings, I feel in touch with my deep spiritual creativity, I feel my body, and I am returning to myself while carving a new identity with all my experiences. I am still being flooded by memories, which is glorious, bittersweet, heart-warming, intensely sad, and sometimes traumatic. I have a lot of dental work that needs to be completed now- I think some psychiatric drugs rot your teeth like meth- I neglected by body health for a long time because I stopped caring. For me, it was too hard to take care of my body on drugs that took it over- I gained 60 pounds on psychiatric drugs, developed acne when I had really clear skin before, and lost a lot of hair. I tried to maintain a really healthy diet and regimen, but it was too big a fight for me. I know it’s not impossible, but it was too hard for me. I had stopped looking in the mirror at my face for a long, long time.

A HUGE part of coming off psychiatric drugs was believing that I could do it. There were so many messages that I was fed from clinicians and society and even peers that said I couldn’t. I had to dismiss all of that.

I don’t think I ever had bipolar disorder. I think psychiatry gave it to me. I am in Recovery from forced psychiatric drugging and psychiatric chemical withdrawal and psychiatric abuse. Life is still sometimes hard- I recognize certain aspects of myself- I am moody and have a generous heart so I get really upset by harshness and violence in the world. I observe a lot, so I witness a lot of harshness and violence in the world. As a therapist (I don’t have my License yet, but have completed my graduate level training and a year as a student therapist at my practicum site), mental health advocate, academic, I have a lot of hope for people to come off psychiatric drugs. Not everyone needs a supportive psychiatrist to come off. I did. I have hopes for the field of psychiatry- I hope the field will redeem itself and redeem its practitioners- because they do have clinical skill and opportunity to learn more and grow more. Many of them, I believe, were just taught bad science, influenced and infiltrated by Big Pharma.

chemical withdrawal from psychiatric drugs- a brief note

it’s funny that even caffeine withdrawal is in the DSM-V, I think.  But not psychiatric drug withdrawal.

i’m so glad i’m sober from psychiatric drugs after 14 years.

psychiatric drug withdrawal is awful- sweats, headaches, flu-like symptoms, insomnia for days and days- and resulting psychosis…i wonder if it’s comparable to opiate withdrawal symptoms!  and the hallucinations, delusions, delerium is terrible…

to top it off- people think you’re crazy.  they say- oh it’s her ‘bipolar’ coming back. well guys, i never had ‘bipolar’.  my first psychotic episode happened when i tried to come off lithium cold turkey.

and why cold turkey?  Because no one would support me in coming off at that time, especially not my psychiatrist.

 

 

on swimming

many of us who know Joseph Campbell’s work, know his quote- “The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” and we have read about or have experience with the inward journey.
 
i had to learn to sink or swim. psychiatric drug withdrawal for me was akin to being hurled into undesired vision quests for weeks, sometimes months, at a time from 2004-2015, and not in the desert or the woods, or with a shaman, or on a meditation cushion, or in a breathwork group, but solo in the city streets of New Haven, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, surrounded by people i knew and didn’t know. and i can tell you, i met a lot of the numinous archetypes and Gods and Godesses and nightmare and dreamscapes, and some of them are not very pretty indeed.
 
i’ve left the thick seas of the depths of the personal and collective unconscious now, but i can take a dip in the water when i want to.
 
my question is, why are we, as a society, clinicians, and healers, letting so many people drown?
photo art by my dad titled: “Balcony of Terror”.
f0ab3559-1bc7-4b5f-9aac-6dd15fc4f0ce.jpg l