If I Had Remained Med Compliant…

Monica Cassani
18
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. . . I would still be on a cocktail similar to the one I began to withdraw from 10 years ago now. I’ve withdrawn from:

 

Pills

 

 

  • 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; I am speaking about my experience of having been gravely over-medicated. 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 that 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

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:

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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This and other blogs by Monica Cassani can also be seen on Beyond Meds.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Simply beautiful. This story was me…psych drug impaired, 100 pounds over weight, diabetic (not now), a mess, driving when barely alert, and not aware of how drugged I was or how others viewed me.

    I look at photos of me before psyche drugs, while on them and psyche drug free. My eyes are now clear and the happiness, awareness is evident. Occasionally someone will remark how different I am now–no longer messed up on drugs. They could tell it was the drugs (they didn’t know what kind) so how couldn’t the prescribing doctor not know?

    I have no doubt if I had stayed on the drugs I’d be dead by now. The drug side effects especially the horrible akathsia were killing me. It is scarey and yes, insane, my physician said he had no idea why I was having these problems as he handed me yet another prescription.

    Thank you again for sharing your journey. It means a lot to me to know we can be psychiatric drug free after years of wrong drugging and diagnosing to live again. I hope others who are now where I was may rethink being on these drugs and look at the possible options.

  2. Thank you so much for this post, Monica. It’s so important for people to see what kind of harm psychiatric drugs can do, and it is equally important for people to see what life can look like beyond their use. There is so much to learn from what you have shared.

    When I was “med compliant,” and taking multiple psychiatric drugs, I had metabolic syndrome and was completely out of touch with my self. Now I am almost free of the drugs and I do not have *any* of those symptoms. I am also learning every day how to be myself and be alive in this world. If I had remained “med compliant,” I would probably be dead right now.

  3. As with aria and uprising, if I had remained “med compliant” I’d probably be dead right now. When medicated on psychopolypharmacy I was surely among the living dead, often wishing I were dead.

    This is a great article, but unless a person lives it, it can be hard to believe everything that the psych drugs can systemically take from a person. Thank you Monica for showing the path of freedom and regeneration from the cumulative harm done by prescription pills.

  4. Thank you for sharing your compelling story Monica. My concern about the mental health field is that so many of us go under the radar and unnoticed when we don’t follow prescribed medication and treatment, but instead reject medication and find our healing in other ways, friends, therapy, meditation, exercise, spirituality etc. etc.. Because of the “Clinician’s Illusion” we are not included in research and not seen in psychiatric clinics…therefore our stories get lost. Even when we do tell them, they’re often not believed, minimized or ignored. Thank you again for your courage and for sharing…it means a lot to many of us.

    • I surely won’t be included in the “Clinician’s Illusion” because not only am I drug free but had been told I’d never been mentally ill in the first place. This was after 15 years of poly drugging so how did this happen?? This is what’s one of the main problems with psychiatry. No solid evidential facts to base a diagnoses on.

      Quote from “Emily”:
      “When medicated on psychopolypharmacy I was surely among the living dead, often wishing I were dead”.

      How is being like the above quote considered living???

  5. Nicely written post with interesting points.

    cindypetersondana, thanks for mentioning the “clinician’s illusion” in relation to this.

    I want to remark on the exercise issue. I too was an athlete prior to being on drugs. Since I was in a sport where people compete based on weight, my sport participation involved weight loss.

    However, after starting Zyprexa, I steadily gained weight no matter what I did even when I continued to compete. I couldn’t believe the number of doctors that refused to acknowledge the magnitude of my weight gain on Zyprexa (~60lbs total) and that continually told me to exercise and eat well to fix the problem. Doctors routinely compared my situation to overweight people not taking metabolically diabolic drugs. They refused to recognize that the same strategies that allowed me to loose weight before Zyprexa totally failed to work while on Zyprexa. My experience was that no amount of exercise or good eating was going to fix the metabolic problems that Zyprexa introduced.

    I wish Zyprex weight gain was the end of it. I took another antipsychotic that ended all exercising. The drug made me retch and puke whenever I was physically active. I told my doctor but was met with utter disbelief. The only solution was to remove the drug, because the problem did not seem to be dose dependent.

    With things like this going on, I find it absolutely mind boggling that people can be considered recovered while under the influence of drugs that prevent them from living a healthy life.

  6. I hear and agree with your points Tom. It’s so frustrating for me to see all these health initiatives (healthy eating, smoking cessation, wellness tools etc..) for people in recovery, but often a failure to recognize the horrible side effects that people live with as a result of psychiatric medications. If/when people have full, informed consent and choose to take medications, that is their right in my opinion. However, how many people have full, informed consent about meds and the risks of these meds as well as access to alternatives when they are going though difficult times?…So glad we have this community to support each other, raise awareness and work together for positive alternatives..Thanks Kermit and Rob W 🙂

  7. This comment thread started off with a long string of off-topic posting. We have a responsibility to allow a space for substantive and relevant conversation to happen on blog articles. The content of the first several comments in particular has a significant impact on new readers of the article, so our standards are especially high. Please take off-topic comments to the forums, as per the site posting guidelines. I saved the whole conversation from this thread and imported it to a forum topic.

    Please click here to continue discussing Monica’s other article: https://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/are-psych-drug-users-addicts/

  8. I would like to say it was reading that word “compliance” that made me start questioning. I saw that word when looking up lithium carbonate after being handed an Rx for it 2 days into Zyprexa withdrawal and going to a new doctor. I never took it and called the doctor to say thanks but no thanks, I don’t think you can help me. To be truthful I was after a Dexedrine Rx cause I thought Zyprexa zombie was my normal state cause I was only taking it for sleep at night. I thought without Amphetamine I would never feel motivated and didn’t know it was my ‘sleeping pill’ was sucking the life out of me.

    I was just starting to figure out how psychiatry makes and keeps you sick at this point but still thought life would be better under the influence of the right pills.

    If I Had Remained Med Compliant ?

    Compliance isn’t really my thing, the only thing that ever kept me compliant was the pain of withdrawals forcing me to take another pill and be some doctors little bitch coming in with my credit card and sucking up so they wrote ‘good’ things on that prescription pad.

    Oh and my family all read mental health propaganda and were pushing me to take the lithium but I knew my problem was withdrawal from the poison I was taking before it, not my “condition”.

    • I ended up in the hospital for Zyprexa withdrawal, puking and panic attacks, and they tried giving me Geodon ! I managed to come out with an Ativan Rx .

      I got Adderal and Clonopin some time later using the hospital Ativan Rx as a prerequisite.

      2 more years of psych med dependence and even on just the ‘good stuff’ it was still a nightmare.

      I’m sitting here remembering just how damb sick I was all those years. I was on 5 different pills before being declared and addict and ‘helped’ by taking away everything I was on but the Zyprexa in treatment, my first describes the time on just Zyprexa starting after substance ‘abuse’ treatment back then.

      After all this, Im ready to not be sick and goto rehab again and the first place said I have to be “medication compliant” to stay (anti psychotics in the AM) FFFFFFFFFFF UUUUUUUUUU !! I’m gone.

      It’s that bad out there.

      The next place I informed I don’t do psych meds except to sleep at first on MY terms, should I come in ? They were cool with it. I recovered.

      I don’t believe in conspiracies, but it really seems like they WANT TO KEEP YOU SICK with these pills.

  9. There was a time while on a 2mg a day dose of haloperidol and an occasional dose of lorazapan when I couldn’t sleep , that I cried for myself thinking I could never become enlightened while on this drug and that I could never come off of it.In a final 2 year effort after trying countless strategies,at the point of desperation, removing my mercury silver dental fillings, root canals, and removing a large molar that looked healthy after panoramic x-ray ,but turned out to have lots of pus under it ( The dentist was amazed )that could only be seen after the molar which was near my right ear, was removed.I had been hearing loud ringing gong sounds which I told no one about ,I feared I was dying and that the dentist would think I was crazy.All this was Hal Huggins protocol dentistry which finally regained me my life. When the dental work had healed up I was a new man with hope again.THe dentist then told me he thought I was dying when I first sat in his dental chair. Even the voices I had heard for decades stopped. Absolutely ,non compliance is the way to go.I know that with haloperidol abruptly stopping can kill you by suicide. I shaved the tabs with a razor blade went gradually up and down working my way down over a 2 year period.

  10. Monica, I am just now feeling renewed energy after almost coming off all of my meds slowly but surely. I am not there yet but my energy and clarity of mind are so much better. I cringe at the way I used to live. I finally threw all my stuff into storage and went house-sitting and then to stay with my mother for a while to get some of my medical problems figured out – which the bulk of were due to psych meds making me feel extremely exhausted, foggy, and unwell. If you had seen how I was living for the last few years, you would know that something was wrong with me. I could not keep my place clean or organized. I was simply too exhausted and part of me no longer cared. I could only survive and barely function at my part-time online sales business, which ended up generating a whole huge mess of stuff I still need to deal with (as it is now all in storage). Today I went to that storage unti and about fell over and how much stuff there was in such dis- array. Thankfully, having gotten of Adderall (which for me, was stupifying and nearly killed me with the worst depression headaches ever) and down to just 3 mg of cymbalta, I have a lot of anxiety but at least my energy is back. I went round and round thinking I had chronic fatigue. Then they found a hole in my heart and I thought that must be my low-energy and low-pressure problem. But all along it was the combo of meds I’ve been on. I still have to deal with the pain med, Tramadol at a low dose, but one thing at a time. But had I stayed on psych meds or never started practicing yoga, which has been leading me into fuller healing month after month, I don’t know where I would be. Yes, I do. I came this close to getting ECT treatments and the doctor I saw told me to first get off of my meds slowly and see where I am. Anxiety issues and original family of origin issues are coming up righ tnow and feeling very far behind the eight ball and so alone at age 47 on some level and directionless after all this, but I have my energy returning and my clarity and my thought of goals and ways I can improve things, Before, I could hardly care I was so sick. All I could think of was how to get more energy and how to stop the depression from getting that much worse. It is amazing how many things I care about now and how much cleaner I am as well.

  11. As well, I look so much healthier now and my eyes brighter. My friends have remarked that I seem so much clearer and more spirited – the person they always knew I was really. I really was not all with it before and everyone else seemed like they had some edge or magic secret to normal energy levels that I somehow lacked. I know I am going to have a long adjustment period as I reduce and withdraw further and more fully, but so far I am glad to have my energy back and my awareness. I too drove in a fog lots of times and did not realize it. It was truly scary.