Why Don’t They Know? A Letter to My Doctor

Lisa D.
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Editor’s Note: This is a revised letter written by the author to her psychiatrist.  The author has chosen to use only her first name because she is currently in the midst of psychiatric drug withdrawal and wants to wait until she’s healed before she makes the decision about whether or not to emerge publicly with her complete name.

 

Doctor –,

I am writing this letter, after much consideration, in the depths of benzodiazepine withdrawal. I need to be a voice in the midst of silence; I need to be heard before you write one more prescription for a benzo or any other mind-altering drug for that matter. It is my hope in writing this that you begin to ask questions as you sit across from your patients: why are they depressed, anxious, insecure, fatigued, paranoid, agoraphobic? Are the drugs I so readily prescribe contributing to their declining physical, mental and emotional health? Are these drugs really the answer? What are they really doing to the brain?

You once told me, “You are my most difficult patient, and the highest functioning of them all.” Please hear me as a formerly sane, high-functioning, happy, secure, energetic person.  This is my truth.

The packaging instructions that come with these psychoactive chemicals are to be taken seriously.  They do—please hear me, they do—cause confusion, memory loss, mood changes, depression, rage, agitation, anxiety, paranoia.  I know this because it has happened to me. I slowly morphed into a fearful, agitated, depressed, insecure, angry, confused shell of a person.  These drugs, benzodiazepines especially in my case, were soul-sucking, and I believe this happens to most people in time, causing a descent into the world of psychiatric diagnosis and drugging that many never escape from.

After our relationship ended, I was hospitalized twice at Rogers, completed two extensive partial programs there, and was given more diagnoses and even more drugs. I was convinced I was mentally ill and there was a “magic pill” I hadn’t found. 2012 was an open door into a hell I never would have believed existed had I not been living it today. But it really started before that, way before that ,when I started tolerance withdrawal from Klonopin in 2009.

Klonopin, which you handed out to me consistently for six years, was the impetus for my increasingly sickened mind, body and emotions. By the summer of 2009, deep dark depression had set in and I stayed in bed every morning despairing of life, waiting for my trusted little yellow pill to kick in and take away the electric shocks. I dragged my weary body to work by noon and couldn’t wait to get home and lay down. I continued to decline and was writing in my journal regularly, “I feel like my body has been through a meat grinder, what is wrong with me? I can’t go on. How much more can I take?” On occasion, a little voice inside me wondered if it was the drugs, but it was distant and unconvincing, and because not one medical professional mentioned it, I dismissed it easily; after all, how could I possibly live without my “K”?

By 2011, I had increased fatigue, weak, shaky muscles, nausea, acid reflux, brain fog, worsening insomnia and, still, the deep, consuming depression. More hospitalizations, more diagnoses, more drugs…more desperate. In January of 2012 in the Waukesha psych ward I slept for one hour on four sedating drugs…  What was wrong with me?

I have suffered adrenal fatigue, bladder issues, thyroid problems, severe IBS (a three-day hospitalization for that). I spent 2012 as what felt like a full-time medical patient running to specialists, the E.R. and urgent care. By the fall of 2012 I was finding it very difficult to drive and work due to brain fog and dizziness. I also had a sudden retinal detachment and needed emergency eye surgery. I still wonder if the Seroquel I had been on for years was the culprit—did you know that the official Seroquel website cites possible eye problems from the drug and suggests an eye exam every 6 months while taking it? I was never told that by any prescribing doctor.

I landed in the E.R. again at the end of December 2012 for extreme dizziness and finally heard the words I should have heard multiple times before from my doctors: ”It may be the Klonopin.”

A slew of neurological tests and blood work were all negative and on January 1st, 2013, I started my three month taper off 1.5 milligrams of Klonopin. My current psychiatrist was supportive but very ill-informed as to how to taper properly and I was home-bound and bed-bound by early February 2013 with over thirty symptoms.

I was, and still am, so very sick.

I now know I tapered way too fast and should have taken a possible eighteen months to get off this insidious drug in order to allow my poor, tortured brain to adjust at its own pace and to keep me functional. I did not find this out until last summer, when I joined some Facebook forums run by the most unbelievable group of warriors I have ever met.  They are people who have braved this out and figured it out on their own as their doctors simply did not believe there was such a thing as benzo withdrawal.

I jumped off that last little 0.12 milligrams at 11:30 A.M. on April 3rd, 2013. It was a heroic moment! Little did I know that an even deeper descent into hell awaited me.

This is my life since I have “jumped” over eleven months ago:

I live in an altered reality of depersonalization and derealization; every waking moment, nothing looks, seems or feels real. My hands don’t look like mine as I am typing this; I am amazed as I watch my feet move. I put yogurt in the china cabinet and hamburger meat in the cleaning closet. My brain is a few seconds behind my body’s movements which keeps me in a perpetual state of confusion. My second-to-second reality is comprised of a constant torment with no relief, no respite. I cannot escape myself and feel imprisoned in a sick brain.  I feel claustrophobic, recessed deep within myself observing life from some distant place unable to access it at any normal level. I have spent many hours in a near catatonic state, staring. I cannot access my memories, and I feel like I have had no life previous, yet, at other times they come storming back, too many, too fast, and they seem more real than my “now”.

My thoughts are convoluted, thick and drowning in negativity; they are obsessive and ruminating, dark and fearful. I have horrific intrusive thoughts that flash through my mind, many violent and disgusting, making it impossible to try and rest my eyes during the day. My entire nervous system is in extreme over-excitation, making me hyper-vigilant.

There is no peace.

The chemical fear and terror are consuming and visit me every morning as I rock in bed holding my Bible. The depression has deepened and I find it near impossible to smile and laugh, my face rigid like my body, which feels like it is being squeezed in a vice. The severe anxiety started in July and is just now, after eight months, calming some. (Any anxiety I had before this was a blip on the radar compared to “chemical anxiety”).  I was gasping for air, close to hyperventilating much of the time, and my heart palpitations were severe. I still feel continual apprehension, agitation and nervousness. I am constantly moving, rocking, and I pull on my hair and pick my cuticles. As the well-respected benzo warrior Matt Samet says, “I felt like a half-busted refrigerator”.

My eyes are sore, dry and glassy, and they often feel the size of golf balls. I feel visually cut off from the world. For many months any daylight was very painful. My ears are screaming with tinnitus, gurgle and pop, and are full of extreme pressure.  My hearing is distorted, making me feel audibly cut off from the world. There is so much pressure in my head it feels like it will explode.  Sometimes, it just bobs on my neck because it is too hard to hold it still, causing neck spasms and the sense that my jaw might crack. I have facial distortions: my lips feel huge, or my nose feels like it is being pressed into my face. My hands and feet feel somewhat numb as does my skin. There is relentless electric buzzing on every inch of my skin (even in my teeth). The muscle twitching, chills, headaches, jelly legs, weakness and bone-weary fatigue from the earlier months has gotten better, but other things have taken their place.

In July an extreme “boaty” feeling took over my body, causing me to feel like I’m being pulled and pushed around. I stumble at times and have to hold onto the leg of my bedside table while lying down because it seems I will be catapulted off the bed. I have been forced down stairs and off toilet seats by this feeling. There are times I feel really tall and other times like I will sink into the ground, and I feel severe pressure pushing on my body from the inside—similar to that in my head—making me feel like I will explode through my chest, forcing me to cough and tear up. The room spins from dizziness and I often feel like I’ll just float away. I never sit still. I must rock incessantly to attempt to counteract the controlling movements. I have screamed, kicked and cried in hysterics. I have wailed on a tree outside in my pajamas to release the “benzo rage.” I have pulled my hair and beat my pillow trying to get free from this torture. I feel like I am going insane much of the time. I now know why some people hurt themselves…to escape the emotional pain.

This is how I have lived every day since last February. I cannot drive and did not even attempt to work until recently.  Paperwork is very difficult and I can only complete rudimentary tasks as my brain is just not able to process anything more complicated. My employees see before them a quivering, agitated, fragmented person. I manage to do simple chores but everything I do takes a herculean force.  I must muster all my emotional, physical and mental energy for everything I do. There is no fluid natural movement, no relaxed calm state of being, no peace…ever.

I have heard it can take six to eighteen months to heal, and for the damaged GABA receptors to up-regulate. I am in contact with survivors who are two years out and still suffering greatly. I have not had windows and waves others speak of, I have no idea when this will end. my brain is so very sick.

I need to ask: why?

Did you know this was possible? Did you know there was a possibility I would suffer like this if and when I tried to rid myself of this evil drug? And if so, why wasn’t I warned and if you didn’t know, why didn’t you?

Why was I prescribed this regularly for six years when the FDA recommends only four weeks? Why is a severely toxic mind-altering drug given out for burning tongue, restless leg, tinnitus and a host of other simple ailments?

Why, when this drug is only recommended for two to four weeks and there are no FDA follow-up studies on long-term side effects (at least that I am aware of), are patients being disregarded, questioned, and scoffed at when they report these symptoms as withdrawal? Shouldn’t the FDA, doctors, and drug companies be alarmed and searching for answers? People on the forums are regularly blown off by their doctors and ridiculed. My own neurologist, after hearing all my symptoms and reviewing my test results, shrugged his shoulders, gave me a quizzical look, and walked out.

Why, when I experienced insomnia and panic as the result of one stressful period in my life and had no prior history of mental health issues, was I put on three mind-altering drugs and left on them (and more) for seven years? How is this O.K.?

Why, when I asked if the electric current I was feeling was my body needing the drug, didn’t you say, “Maybe it is”? Instead you said, “No, that’s the anxiety.” I was convinced I had an incurable chronic case of severe anxiety.

Why, when I asked if I was becoming addicted to the drug did you say, “No, you don’t have an addictive personality”? Why didn’t you know about physiological dependence, or if you did, why weren’t you honest with me about the possibility?

Why, when the depression began in 2009 and I asked if the drug might be causing it, did you dismiss my question and keep playing Russian roulette with my brain, convincing me I had clinical depression and trying more and more drugs?

Why didn’t you realize that the side effects of benzos and other psych drugs can mimic what our society calls “mental illnesses” and keep patients in a zombie-like, drugged state until (hopefully) one day they say “Enough!” and fight their way out?

Why wasn’t I told about informed consent?

Why, after I (stupidly) cold-turkeyed three drugs in 2006 and told you it felt like bugs were crawling all over me, did you tell me I “sounded like a six-year old” when I now know it is a side effect called formication. Why didn’t you know that?

Why are there tens of thousands of others suffering alone, without medical support?  Why isn’t this acknowledged in the medical community?

Why are we told there is a “chemical imbalance in the brain” when there is no diagnostic test to prove this?

Why was it OK for you to keep assaulting my brain with multiple mind-altering drugs without any proper accountability and even, it seems, awareness of how disabling they are?

Why, in our modern day, educated, socially networked society is this happening?

Why haven’t you looked on the internet to find out what is really happening in the lives of innocent victims of psychiatric drugging? (And if you have, what are you doing about it?) People are losing jobs, marriages, homes and lives trying to break free from the hold of these drugs. Is ignorance bliss? I hope not.

Why does the human experience need to be labeled? Why can’t someone be sad, anxious, melancholy, agitated, pensive, shy, hyper, aggressive, rebellious, irritable or just “different” without it being a “disorder”? Without it being drugged? Is it about money? Power? Pride? Ignorance?

I know you are a good person, and I know you care about your patients.  I know you cared about me—I saw tears in your eyes at times when we talked. I know you never intentionally tried to harm me and that is why I am writing to you…I know you care.

If this speaks to you at all—if it resonates on any level—I hope you will do further research. I recommend you read the Ashton Manual online, written by Dr. Heather Ashton, who ran a benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic in England for years and is a wealth of information. I also recommend reading the ‘Benzo Buddies’ for personal stories and several books by survivors, including Matt Samet’s Death Grip and Bliss Johns’ Recovery and Renewal.  There are also many blogspots on withdrawal at the Mad in America website. I also highly recommend the distinguished Dr. Peter Breggin’s short YouTube video titled “Simple Truths About Psychiatry”, and his book, Your Drug May be Your Problem.

I don’t know what more to say Doctor– other than that this is a silent deadly epidemic that must be brought to light. Doctors and patients have been deceived by the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical drug companies and it scares me when I read that the FDA is run by many retired CEOs from those companies. You are accountable to know, much more fully that the information given to you by the drug companies, themselves, how these drugs are potentially affecting your patients.

I am happy to say that although I am still suffering greatly, my thyroid is back to normal, my IBS has cleared up, my adrenals are healing, and I have more energy. I can feel my intrinsic health returning. I am now sleeping eight hours on a mere six milligrams of Seroquel, my very last psych drug, which I will be dropping altogether very soon. Life will be good again, better than ever…all I need is time. Time for my very damaged brain to learn how to function on its own without a neurotoxin moderating it.

I have been asked if I am sorry I ever took that first benzo after barely sleeping for seven weeks. I am not. I don’t know what else what would have knocked me out. I am sorry, however, that I was left on the benzo and given multiple other drugs over the course of the next seven years…what a travesty.

 

I pray for change daily,
Lisa D.

 

52 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah! I’m at the beginning of what I’ve come to understand is acute withdrawal from Klonopin. 10 years on Klonopin, ‘it’s such a tiny dose…’ I am suffering like I never have. My family has already written me off…my friends, my profession. All because of an abusive divorce. Yes, I have a mental health diagnosis…and what I read on here scares the crap out of me…Robert Whitaker’s book made me aware of my true situation. I am not crazy, I have withstood a lot of trauma in my life. I will get better, I hope…thank you for this essay/letter. I, too, am angry. I recommend the BenzoBuddy site for others who are breaking the chains of psych meds.

    • Ten years on Xanax here…I tapered over the course of a several months. Another “tiny dose” only .75 mg a day but oh, the agony of withdrawals! I was also weaning off of Celexa. It gets better, it really really does. Hang in there and hang around here too, this site really helped me cope.

  2. EXCELLENT letter to your doctor Lisa! And so grateful for MIA to accept it on their site. As a fellow psych survivor, Thank you for being our voice.

    I esp love what you said (to your doctor),

    “You are accountable to know, much more fully that the information given to you by the drug companies, themselves, how these drugs are potentially affecting your patients.”

    I’m tired of people letting the doctors off the hook. Indeed, if WE can figure it out, so can they. They need to be held accountable.

  3. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for an excellent letter. I hope your doctor, and other prescribers that may read it will be open to your very accurate descriptions and learn from your wisdom. I am glad that you are experiencing recovery and please know that you will heal.

    Over the last 20 years I have worked with many people who I have helped come off of benzos (in the context of an inpatient dual diagnosis treatment program) and invariably, these drugs have caused the worst and most protracted withdrawal symptoms of any drug. The majority of such patients usually are admitted because of an addiction to some other drug or alcohol and they usually have not been “abusing” their benzo, but this is the drug that causes the most problems with withdrawal. It is incredulous to me that anyone would prescribe these meds given the fact they already have a problem with something else but somehow many prescribers feel these are “safe” drugs.

    I have had a mission to educate all of the medical students and family medicine residents who do their psychiatric rotation with me about the appropriate uses of benzos (safely detox alcohol withdrawal) and how other than this, not for use in someone with a substance abuse problem and for those who don’t have a substance abuse problem – use not longer than a month. I also stress the need to educate the patient about all the potential side effects. I plan to print your letter and use this in my teaching. Thank you so much!
    Libby Stuyt, MD

  4. Even though my PTSD included waking up from horrific night terrors huddled in a corner holding myself sobbing and shaking in a cold sweat; I did not suffer so much as three consecutive nights of sleeplessness until I started taking psyche drugs. To counter the effects of drugs I was taking, I took benzos TWICE to help me sleep.

    The first time, I took benzos to help me sleep, I also spent twenty minutes doing deep relaxation and deep breathing exercises (breathe in to the count of out, out to the count of sixteen) every night to get to sleep. Discontinuing the first one as prescribed, I had a grand mal seizure that was my first tonic clonic seizure, my first ride in an ambulance, my first IV, and my first cat scan, at the age of 39. Having been trained to be a good woman and a good patient, I told the emergency room doctor that it was my fault for stopping too quickly. When I got home, I looked at my bottle and realized that I was discontinuing as prescribed. I had bought gel caps and had intended to use smaller amounts than were available in the case of hard and/or disruptive withdrawal symptoms. I had an extremely demanding job that required me to be available 24/7 and on top of situations that most people couldn’t begin to deal with.

    Later, a prescribing nurse told me that they were starting to discontinue by taking the drugs every other day, then every three days, etc. because the prior plans with the available doses were inadequate and too many people were suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms.

    Later, when attending a university, I agreed to take a benzo again, was told that it was less likely to cause the symptoms the previous one did. After discontinuing it very slowly, on my terms, my ears started ringing all the time. I feel fortunate that it sounds like crickets in the distance in the country and is not a very high-pitched squeal. I’ve had this tinnitus for six years. Sometimes, it’s so quiet that it seems to be going away, but then I realize that I’ve just gotten very used to it and good at ignoring it. I’ve also gotten into the habit of having the television on as background, which I’ve never done before. I always liked being able to hear a pin drop in my house when I wasn’t intently watching of listening to something.

    On Prozac, in a V.A. psyche ward during a voluntary commitment, I was given Prozac. It made me feel gooey on the inside with a hard shell on the outside. Having my body feel like something not human was not acceptable to me so I stopped taking it.

    “Why are we told there is a “chemical imbalance in the brain” when there is no diagnostic test to prove this?”

    They don’t even have corroborated studies with supporting evidence for their biological reductionist perspective.

    I’m rooting for you, “Lisa D.”, and hope you find peace in your body, your mind, and your life. It’s a hard road that no one should have to go down, much less be told that there’s something wrong with them because they suffer the physiological effects of psychiatric drugs and withdrawal from them.

    It ain’t you, love. Keep fighting.

  5. Lisa, your letter to your doctor is an inspiration for me to do the same. I’m currently tapering off of Valium using the Ashton method. I discovered it and convinced my doctor to use the Ashton method. 15 + years of 6 mg of Clonazepam or 4 mg of Lorazepam or 2 mg of Xanax all switched around has put me here at 59 years old more dysfunctional than my 92 year old mother who still lives on her own. Each night and day is a struggle. I became very educated about benzos and I’m beginning to educate the system that has chemically tortured me and still will, due to the protacted withdrawals that I’m in, and may remain in for a long time, after I take the last pill in January 2015. Thank you for your voice and your courage.

  6. Hi Lisa D, I’ve just come off Klonopin (and other psych drugs fairly recently) and am amazed at how well you have given expression to your experiences in this post. It’s inspiring. I hope I can get it together enough someday to write something with half as much clarity and punch as this. Thank you.

  7. This was an amazing letter. Anyone harmed by Psychiatry (or any other specialty) should write one. They need to know what their “treatments” are doing to people. Plus, once you plant a seed in their mind, they can’t “unhear” the information. They can claim ignorance as a lie, but then they have to look in the mirror every day and live with themselves (even that isn’t a deterrent for some, I’m sure).

    Thank you for being a voice in this, Lisa. My experience with coming off of these meds has been very similar to yours. Abuse, trauma, misdiagnosis, lies and denial from the medical and psychiatric system.

    I will be writing a similar letter to the doctor who destroyed my life with these soul destroying poisons as well.

  8. I’ve had horrible experiences with psychiatry. I was given shock treatment at the age of six, then sent to a state hospital for the rest of my childhood. Later I became an activist. But because I was locked up such a long time ago, I was never put on drugs. Recently a friend of mine encouraged me to join her Facebook group for people withdrawing from psych drugs. I keep reading about the horrors people go through trying to get off and I have never been so moved before. I think anyone who goes through such agony to reclaim their lives from these poisons is brave beyond belief. And I hope what you are suffering becomes the fuel we will need to stop these horrible poisons.

    • Thank you Ted so very much for taking an active interest in learning about the horror of withdrawal from psychiatric drugs which Lisa D. has so accurately described. I am deeply moved that you did that.

      If anyone else has an interest in doing likewise, please send a request to join one of the several Facebook support groups on this topic such as Protracted Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines and Antidepressants . You will be pre-screened before admittance to the group to protect the members security. Alternatives would be reading on forums like Benzobuddies.org or Surviving Antidepressants.org.

      Ted, I am very grateful for your demonstrations of compassion and leadership in our movement. We are damn lucky to have you on our side.

    • Hi Ted, My name is Jane and I just joined this site. I became aware of my benzo problems last October and have researched it well, beginning with the Ashton Manual. I would like if you could give me the information of the group on Facebook to access. Thank you.

  9. Personally I consider psychiatry a criminal enterprise–one of many that receives governmental sanction. Because we have a two tiered legal system the upper level can participate in unlawful behavior without consequences. Just today an article came out regarding illegal experiments on people by the EPA–it is very unlikely anyone will be prosecuted unless there is someone the EPA would like to get rid of.
    Whether it is criminal fraud by bankers or psychiatrists handing out drugs they know are very dangerous and unlikely to be of any real benefit, a similar behavior pattern can be observed. Both bankers and psychiatrists make good money. This is hard to take. It seems so counter to one’s education and the evening news. But it has happened in many other nations; and the USA is not so special but that it can not happen here. And it is!
    It seems to me that persons should bring malpractice suits against these people. There are a number of MD’s now who can testify to the unwise use of the drugs. Of course to date the drug companies have make deals. I do not know off hand of a case involving a psychiatrist. Enough suits and the game would be over. No customers.

  10. Lisa D., wow you did a startling, amazing description of what these truly nasty, ugly drugs do to everyday folks. We do discover our extraordinary strength and capacity to endure relentless mental and physical torture in the process of becoming free. We discover that we aren’t everyday folks at all but incredibly powerful beings, Warriors as you said.

    I know you wrote this remarkable letter in the midst of deep suffering, that is quite the gift you have offered here to the MIA site and to all who read your words. Bless you and may you find one moment of peace and then another and then another . . . . .

  11. Lisa,

    That was a beautifully articulated blog. The more I read about benzo withdrawal, the more I realize I could have dealt with worse. I was forced to take benzos briefly, but personally primarily dealt with adverse effects and withdrawal from antidepressants and antipsychotics.

    But I can’t agree more with your concerns of betrayal of patients by psychiatrists, and the US medical community. Especially when researching what doctors should have known, about adverse effects of the psychotropic drugs, in time.

    And the mainstream medical community used to know the psychiatrists were a joke. Why do they now advocate and believe in psychiatric meds and diagnoses? Based upon my experience, and what a pastor and others have confessed to me, it’s because psychiatry has promised to defame patients to cover up malpractice for the mainstream medical community. And psychiatry defames and covers up pastoral sins. And psychiatry apparently seems to cover up and defame people for the theoretical “shadow” government, too.

    I pray for common decency and common sense to prevail once again. Thank you for poignantly adding proof to the need for a return of the importance of respecting all people. Shame on main stream medicine for advocating belief in psychiatry.

    • For anyone thinking that’s too much of a conspiracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustl_Mollath – recent case from Germany. A guy in discovered that his ex-wife and her colleagues were involved in financial malversations in the banking system. As a result he was diagnosed with severe “mental illness” and deemed danger to the public. He was locked up and spent some 8yrs in a locked ward and was just recently released as it turned out that his accusations were largely if not completely true. So yeah, psychiatry can be used even today in so called open and democratic western societies to lock up political opponents and people exposing the criminal activities of others.

  12. “Why didn’t you realize that the side effects of benzos and other psych drugs can mimic what our society calls “mental illnesses” and keep patients in a zombie-like, drugged state until (hopefully) one day they say “Enough!” and fight their way out? Why was it OK for you to keep assaulting my brain with multiple mind-altering drugs without any proper accountability and even, it seems, awareness of how disabling they are?”

    I had to ask myself why the psychiatrist who I saw every month did not realize the drugs he was prescribing had completely changed me? He was my gate keeper, he was suppose to look out for me and instead prescribed more drugs with my ever changing diagnoses. My answer is he had stopped looking at me as a person. I now realize he had no earthly idea of what he was doing.

    How can a psychiatrist expect a so called mental patient to understand informed consent? Sitting in front of you is one messed up drugged person and you truly expect them to understand?? Are you joking?? Really?

    I tapered off numerous drugs too quickly and stopped the benzo last. It was an arduous lonely journey I survived without any help. I’m now drug free and wide awake at 4 AM. I have no idea when I will fully heal but for now I’ll accept having clarity of mind and no more akathisia.

    Fantastic article and when I read it it was just what I’ve written many many times on a few blogs asking why why why? Thank you for writing this and I hope you mail it.

    .

    • “How can a psychiatrist expect a so called mental patient to understand informed consent? Sitting in front of you is one messed up drugged person and you truly expect them to understand?? Are you joking?? Really?”
      Even more amazing: you’re actually supposed to be fit to appear before judge to decide about the continuation of your involuntary “treatment” while on drugs. When that happened to me I was so drugged with benzos and other drugs I don’t even remember the meeting at all. Nor anything that happened for whole days straight for that matter. They gave me so much of it that I had almost complete anterograde amnesia. Funny thing: I actually looked it up and high doses of benzos are used in “normal” medicine before invasive medical procedures specifically to induce this kind of amnesia and prevent patient trauma. Funny because if you ask a psychiatrist about that he’ll say that amnesia is very unlikely or will deny it altogether. So much about the due process for people who are involuntarily committed.

      • One more thing: I requested the documentation from the hospital in order to try if I can sue them. They a) lied about my behaviour to justify my restraint and forced drugging (like that I refused any drugs on admission – bs, I actually ASKED them for a specific drug and took it because I didn’t want any confrontation but apparently it wasn’t enough – I refused to undergo a physical exam) b) didn’t write down any details about the medication they gave me – the dose, the frequency, only two names (they don’t even mention all the drugs). But somehow according to the patients’ advocate (who constantly told me I should not sue but instead to tell my doctor that my feelings were hurt – I’m not kidding, I felt like a rape victim being told she should go complain to the rapist and maybe he’ll feel bad) it is all OK – they looked at the documents and they can’t find anything wrong. Wonder why, maybe because the documents were written after I filed a compliant and conveniently lie or omit everything that could give me a chance to sue. F***ing ridiculous.

    • Bingo. I too saw my shrink monthly and he always told me I looked “fine” even when I told him about my agitation and increased drinking (spurred by SSRIs and benzos which affect the same receptors). It wasn’t until I tried to kill myself that he (feigned) surprise. I really think he saw me more as a wallet. 150 bucks a month for 10 years adds up.

  13. Seems that people who do have influence care more about whales on benzos than people on benzos. “SeaWorld has faced widespread criticism for the treatment of its whales, as well as for an incident in which a whale killed three trainers.” What kind of boycott would it take to publicize the human cost of benzos?

  14. Its true that your psychiatrist is either ignorant of the effects of those drugs or just doesn’t care.

    Benzo’s as they are called on the streets, were created to avoid, the problems related to prescribing barbiturates. Barbiturates, because the have different levels of tolerance, one to the respiratory effect of the drug which is much lower than the effective psychoactive dose tolerance of the drug, often led to accidental overdoses due to respiratory failure. When users up the dosage to over come tolerance that developed to the psychoactive effect of the drug.

    Beonz’s were created to eliminate much of the respiratory depressive effect of the Barbiturates… But they ave similar in many other ways.

    They are very strong sedative drugs. Usually one can measure just how strong they are by becoming aware of how quickly tolerance develops. In drugs like Xanax, it develops quickly.

    Xanax in particular is a favorite of IV Heroin users, it blocks withdrawal fro Heroin, and can get them over periods when they can’t get Heroin from a drug dealer.

    Xanax, is also a fast growing drug of abuse, with a very high potential for seizures. Probably because it lowers the seizure threshold. Its a difficult withdrawal, worse than Heroin. Many insurance companies will no longer pay for Heroin withdrawal, but they have no qualms about paying for Xanax withdrawal.. Its just that dangerous of drug.

    In my experience, most psychiatrist know very little about the actual effects of the drugs they prescribe on real people, except what they read in a text book, for from a pharmaceutical rep, but know very little of how the drug is actually used…

    In that respect they are a very dangerous source of information.

    • Well, if they don’t know maybe they should start with reading the f*** label. I’ve seen it enough already when the guy told me that this and that side effect can’t happen and I had to read the leaflet aloud for him.

  15. Dear Lisa,

    Thank you so much for having the purpose of mind and garnering the clarity necessary to write a letter of this fine caliber. “Why don’t they know?” Such a good question. I’ve spent many months if not years deeply absorbed in this question above all others. In relating this question to the relationship I had with my last psychiatrist of 5 years who had me on 4 mg K per day concurrently with Adderall, Prozac, and Abilify I would say that foremost she knew her actions were entirely legal. If something is legal it makes it seem plausibly right. As I declined further and further under her care to depths I would have previously believed to be impossible, her sympathy for my weakened state elicited remarks such as, “You are the most treatment resistant patient that I’ve ever seen.” I spoke to my psychiatrist again at years out of her care and 1 3/4 years off psych drugs. She was not interested in hearing about my recovery or my burgeoning awareness of how dangerous psych meds are, she wanted me to come back as a patient again. These days she doesn’t really need me though as her independent practice of two years is flourishing.

    Thanks for posting your letter,
    Emily

  16. As a person who weaned herself off attivan ( 6-8mg a day on a good day. Bad days were higher, every day for three consecutive years.) That was when I realized that they do know. In fact, the original study for xanex shows they absolutely know. It’s been quoted in pieces to advertise the drug, but if you read the actual results, you find that people only improved for the first several weeks. After that, the number of panic attacks rose as much as 7 times the number when the drug was started. Somewhere along the line, I think psychiatry in general began assessing the quality of patient’s lives from a very removed position. In fact, I think they stopped noticing that they reviewed our lives as good but only in the sense that they never had to live that way.

  17. I found this letter as I was doing a search for letters written to doctors. I live with an ativan user/abuser and am writing a letter to her doctor because I don’t know what else to do. Calls to narcotic help lines have only revealed the obvious: until she is willing to seek help, there is nothing that can be done. My hope in writing her doctor is that together she and the doctor can come up with some sort of plan to help wean her off.

    After a long day of watching her hallucinate we found her prescription bottle and counted what was left. In just over 24 hours, she’d taken 13 ativan. It wasn’t the first time (far from it) that her odd, high, behavior led us to seek help.

    Anyway, this is of course a long story that I’ll cut short here. I applaud you Lisa for this letter and for being self-aware enough to wean yourself off of the meds. These drugs are ugly and poisonous.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Annie

  18. I keep coming back to read your heart felt article. You ask over and over “why”. This is what I want to know. Why my psychiatrist kept prescribing and prescribing dangerous drugs that surely he had to know were changing me? How could a physician be so stupid to not know?? That it took another physician to tell me I was being poisoned by psychiatric drugs. Why did this happen? Why?

    Many of us on MIA are not a small group of dissatisfied “customers”. We suffered terribly on psychiatric drugs, under (sic) psychiatric care, drug withdrawals and want others to avoid what we endured.

  19. Hi Lisa,

    http://herbdocblog.com

    As I lay in bed posting this, I just took 1 mg of K just after reading all of the stories that were so heart wrenching. Anyone who has experienced withdrawals of any kind knows about the excruciating physical pain that pierces to the marrow. The Migraines, Muscle Pain, Spams, Tension, The Unimaginable Pain. The Depression, The Hopelessness. The Shame, And The 100’s of facets of withdraw that are too endless to bear.

    Since taking my K, I just lay back and observe how It affects me. First, I open my bottle and take it out, as I wonder if I will even feel the sedative effects this time.
    Next, A Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde morph of mood sets in. Soon, I forget myself. I have lost my pysical and mental sense of myself again. Pick Your Poison. The Pain in my body is not as strong for a while, but within 20 minutes, it’s back again to haunt me.

    One thing about when people are withdrawing I noticed is the Feeling To Blame One’s Self so much. Maybe because a incompletely inhuman Psychiatrist wanted us for a cash cow and nothing else except to gain a false sense of superiority for themselves. AMA PIMP AND DRUG PUSHER INDEED!

    Your letter Means Most To Us and You. I don’t believe that your doctor is concerned with you any more than a Pimp. He has no Shame Or Compassion. That’s how he got a licence to practice As a Sociopathic Drug Pusher. A Serial Killer With A “Get Out Of Jail Free Card.” Why Did They Hold The Salem Witch trials anyway? They Should Hold Them once again for All Psychiatrists. At least it would be deserved this time it happened. Look At The Crimes Against Humanity By The Crusaders. Vladimir The Impaler, converted and saved so many people’s souls as they slid down the stake so slowly from the gravity.

    You are a Beautiful Person. I can See that so clearly when I read Your story. I hope that one day or another we will all see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. See Your Potential As A Beautiful Person. Forget about what your psychiatrist said, because He’s A Seasoned Liar. Have You Ever Heard Of An honest Drug Pusher?

    I Posted the link at the beginning of this for anyone who is fortunate to have the desire or the time to realize why withdraw is so Extremely Difficult and Tedious.
    Your Body Has Been Storing the chemicals in all of the psychotropics you have ingested since the beginning. So, in short, the missing link is when your body no longer takes in a toxin, it is slowly realeased back into your bowels in hope that they will exit your body. But If you’re not eliminating because psychotropics are designed to block your body’s detox process by first Constipating You, that makes it impossible to ever do that. No wonder we’re sick. One Time I Went To the ER because I could barely walk. A Doctor yelled at me “If you weren’t so mentally ill, you’d know that you can’t walk because you’re constipated.” “Don’t Ever Come Back Here Again just because you are constipated. Why are so many people dying of colon cancer? ~AMA Toxins from psychotropics are stored throughout the whole body and even bone marrow because the liver and kidneys cannot contain them. ~Thanks, Sarah Blair May G-D be with you and give you the brilliance to fight off this attack on your life by a fortune teller and sooth sayer.

  20. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for writing about how it is for you to be going through withdrawals. I’ve been waiting to adjust to a decrease in Wellbutrin. I was on 450mg for 15 years. My first taper was done with my primary care physician, by 50mg. anyhow, I’m on 200mg of Wellbutrin now and I take 2mg of klonopin. I was very compelled by your story and how vividly you expressed how it feels to go through withdrawals. I’m hoping things are good for you, and that you don’t ever give up. You also described some very bizarre side effects, such as, “In July an extreme “boaty” feeling took over my body, causing me to feel like I’m being pulled and pushed around. I stumble at times and have to hold onto the leg of my bedside table while lying down because it seems I will be catapulted off the bed. I have been forced down stairs and off toilet seats by this feeling. There are times I feel really tall and other times like I will sink into the ground, and I feel severe pressure pushing on my body from the inside—similar to that in my head—making me feel like I will explode through my chest, forcing me to cough and tear up. The room spins from dizziness and I often feel like I’ll just float away.” Many times I had same side effects in my 30’s and I would admit myself because I thought I was delusional. But, until I read your description of that, I never would have thought it was the psychotropics. That is such an terrible feeling when you feel like you’re so dosed, yet we are told “Time After Time”, that it’s a symptom of our mental illness. I hope that you continue your tapering slowly, but surely. I hope that you’re family will help you trough this so that you can return to you. ~Thanks, Sarah

  21. Thank you!
    Your letter helped me through neuroleptic and benzo withdrawal. I never would have found out about Benzo Buddies without this letter. I then found many other resources. I learnt that other people had gone through the same things as I was and I could safely attribute this to the drugs. I would still be on drugs now without this comfort. I am very grateful to you for writing your letter.

    Drug withdrawal is such a slow process. Many doctors don’t even seem to understand. People want things fixed so quickly these days. I fell down that traphole. 8 years later I’m just about crawling out. Thanks for helping me through.

  22. I popped on this site expecting to just browse the headlines, but I found myself unable to stop reading your letter.

    Several years ago, I was put on 2mg klonipin. I asked my doctor if the drug had any side effects (he did not mention any himself when he prescribed them) and he said, “it’s addictive,” and shrugged. I have been through withdrawal of over psych meds, including Effexor. Those were pretty excruciating, and not knowing the difference between dependence and addiction I decided to take them. They couldn’t have “worked” for more than two weeks; after that time I just kept obediently taking them.

    I did that for two years. Then I stayed over at a friend’s house for several days. I had run out of klonipin, but I figured since it wasn’t having any effect on me that wouldn’t be a problem.
    The third day, I woke up with a horrendous migraine. Nevertheless, I went to breakfast with my friend. I forced myself to eat, thinking the problem may have been lack of food. Big mistake. I could not stop throwing up. My friend drove me back home; at times, I had to make her stop, because I thought I was going to vomit. Never, not once, have I been this nauseas.
    By the time I got home, something strange was starting to happen. A feeling of disreality swept over me. I knew I needed to tell my parents, but tell them what?! I felt more and more panicked. Just then, my mom knocked on my door, to let me know she had picked up more klonipin for me. I eagerly took one, thinking maybe it would help with the anxiety.
    About 10 minutes later, I was back to normal.
    That was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I could have died, but my pdoc didn’t bother to warn me about it. When I confronted him, he simply said, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” He probably didn’t want to apologize for fear of seeming to admit he had done something wrong. Nonetheless, I was terribly insulted. If he was worried about a lawsuit, he should think what kind of lawsuit he might have if I had died from medication withdrawal without him bothering to mention a thing to me about what would happen if I stopped taking the drug!
    It took me many months to get off the klonipin. I woke up every morning trembling. I cut the pills as small as I possibly could in order to wean as slowly as possible; nevertheless, they weren’t small enough.
    For me, I really did feel better once I was off the klonipin. I’m truly sorry you are still experiencing symptoms from the withdrawal. I guess some of us are luckier than others.
    A recent update: My mom went through a short period of suffering from anxiety. I was horrified when I saw klonipin in her medicine tray. When I talked to her about it, she said she asked the doctor if it was addictive, and the doctor told her at the 1mg dose, she would not become dependent on it!!! I’m terrified for my mother; I can’t imagine her tolerating the withdrawal. At the same time, the longer she stays on it, the harder it is going to be.
    Thank you for letting me share, Lisa. I’m glad you have found online support and at least know you’re not alone.

  23. Wow…I don’t know what to say to make you feel better and I really wish I had some advice to pull from my own benzo treatment and eventual self inflicted withdrawal. I took 3 mgs of klon, could not tell it did anything, so I was prescribed 4mgs of Xanax, which I certain COULD tell was working. I took that for 5 years, developed a tolerance and it stopped working. So, I just jumped offf abruptly. I can’t stay on an ineffective drug that’s all I was sure of and who wants to keep taking ever increasing amounts of Xanax? Just doesn’t seem safe, despite tolerance but I’m certainly no pharmacist. My muscles twitched (mainly my toes, to my annoyance), but it was not painful. That’s it…maybe a little rebound anxiety due to the fact that I’ve always had anxiety and was no longer taking any of the meds. Nothing like the horror you are describing…however I must say that I found seroquel to be a very shady drug. If you google the seroquel lawsuit (DEATHS), you will see what I mean. Even before I read about it I noticed EXTREME heart palpitations laying down trying to sleep. Soldiers in the army nicknamed it serokill due to all the heart attacks it’s caused, and also it’s a bipolar med used to *attempt* to balance mood/brain chemicals, which it’s obviously not doing in your case. Plus this could be a breakdown you are experiencing without any anti anxiety meds or something else entirely. I Am basically just saying that I don’t think you should stop searching for the root of this problem yet, because there is no proof that it is due to a withdrawal of 1mg an entire year ago. Please do be safe! Godspeed.

  24. Lisa,

    I want to thank you for taking almost everything I have felt this past year and memorializing it into such an eloquently written piece. I was given 4 mg of Klonopin for 4 months when my doctor decided to then “respond to a manic episode” by presribing me 10 mg. The problem was, he never took me off this dose for 7 months. I began to sink into an abyss of depression I can’t describe. My pharmacist pulled me to the side one day and asked if I was in late stage of Parkinson’s Disease because of the high dose I was prescribed. I told him no, it was for a manic episode and I hated being on it and felt so depressed. He was shocked and disgusted. My doctor then informed me the only cure for my deep depression was ECT. Every three days I was told to go “cold turkey” off the Klonopin then to return to it. Yes, 10 mg cold turkey. I would go into seizures and total hell. I was ignored when I complained. Finally, after 7 rounds of ECT and a depression that was obviously because of the high amount of Klonopin, I took 100 of my 2 mg pills, two strong drinks, antihistamines and all other things I could get my hands on, I went into total respiratory failure and nearly died. After 3 days in the ICU, I was taken to a detox of 3 days. Yes, 3 days. I hallucinated, convulsed and was in total hell even with the miscalculated phenobarbital help. They calculated it for 4 mg per day. This mistake was discovered days later. Now, I have a new doctor. One I really loved and trusted. I have had no help in the last 7 months of withdraw. He wrote on my disability paperwork “substance abuse” when I never abused it. I went to him this last week and admitted that for the first time in 7 months, I upped my dose for a few days because I could not take another day of the hell I was living. Confined to the couch, fatigued, shaking, agoraphobic and nothing like myself. My family needs me and I am not the person I ever was before. I told him I knew it was wrong but I was in torment. I asked to switch to the Valium like the Ashton Method suggested due to the half life being longer and it would help me not to get so bad that I would end up slipping. I desperately need help. He told me no, told me if I didn’t cut my dose back he would not be my doctor and would not prescribe me anything else. Dr. Cris Jagar gave me an ultimatum and I complied. Over this weekend, I vomited and was so sick and on Saturday, I got a letter. He fired me. I feel so utterly hopeless and lost. No one understands how we have no idea what is happening to us. How insurance forces you to comply or they won’t pay the disability that supports your family while you are dealing with an illness. Now, I get the added fun of finding out I have a pituitary macroadenoma and cortisol issues. This could have been the issue at the start. But after ECT and all this Klonopin, I have a hard time driving, remembering things and even getting up some days. I have developed such intense agoraphobia that it has turned a once social person (even my personalized license plate reads “social”) into a prisoner of my own home. These doctors do not seem to care, understand or have any motivation but to spin the dart board and throw aimlessly until they hit some target of “healing” while they take our premiums and use the convieient diagnosis of our insanity to justify not listening to us. Truly, there should be a class action lawsuit of benzodiazapine manafacturers and doctors who prescribe like mine did and then leave you high and dry with no support. Thanks so much for having the courage to speak to this. Thanks so much for facing the stigma head on to a silent epidemic that is so overlooked and obstusely understood. Thank you for validating everyday that I laid on the sofa in total pain and suffering contemplating death because this is not life. Thank you for laying out your heart for the world to see and for reflecting the struggle we face along with you. I love you, support you and am so grateful for you. Please keep speaking. Scream it out the world. I will scream it with you.

  25. Hi
    Thank you so much for this! I coudnt have summed it up any better. A month ago I was cut off of 5mg of benzos cold turkey. I finished my script a week and a half early for the first time and my doc said I would be fine. Actually his words were ” if you have a seizure you will feel better”. I also quit 200 mg of zoloft and 300mg of wellbutrin on top of 3mg of klonopin and 2mg of lorazapam. Yes 2 benzos. These past 30 days have been hell on earth. Nausea and dizziness 24/7. The first 3 weeks I thought death was at my door. Crawling from my bed to the bathroom to lay there sick. I would hold onto to bed sheets at night in fear of flying off I was so dizzy. I had a full on conversation with someone at 3 am in my living room and no one was there. Shaking so bad with muscle spasms Its been one month today and I still have severe nausea with dizziness. Never again will I ever put myself in a position like that again. Where a doctor can just cut me off and im left to go through the hell of getting off everything. I absolutely loved your letter and I feel as if more doctors need to see this and be educated more about psych drugs. I remember reading this 2 weeks ago ad thinking’ if I survive this I will have to keave a reply’ well here I am. Each day is getting better little by little.

  26. Thank you for writing this letter. I have forwarded it to friends and family who also ask the same question. They don’t know and don’t believe how bad the situation is.
    But how can we change this? As mental health patients our knowledge, education, research doesn’t hold any weight. What can we do?
    If I can hardly get a close friend to believe me versus trusting her clueless psychiatrist, what chance do I have of educating my doctors?

  27. You said you have thyroid problems. This isn’t surprising since mental health problems are linked to thyroid dysfunction. Luckily there are many ways to improve thyroid function. These strategies helped me: http://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/13-ways-to-support-your-thyroid-for-better-mental-health-brain-increase-improve-boost-hormone-t3-t4-hashimotos-autoimmune-depression-anxiety-hypothyroidism-hyperthyroidism-underactive-low-naturally-supplements-mood-disorders-schizophrenia-psychosis

  28. After being treated for depression for over 30 years and being on Prozac, Abilify, Seroquel, Lithium, Effexor and many other SSRIs, SSNIs, psychotropics, mood stabilizer and regulator. Not getting better sometimes worse. Could this have caused brain atrophy on both sides of my hempispheres? If so can I fix this. I have been off every thing for 2 years now. Some days are ok, others my moods work like an EKG machine, up, down, etc. I would appreciate any insights.

    Thank you

  29. Hi I am a psychiatrist, and honestly I am sick and tired of people complaining about BENZOS. These drugs have been used for years and are 100% safe. It is hard to overdose on these drugs. People who complain about withdrawal have bad anxiety to begin with and make up these symptoms in their head. This is beyond ridiculous. I am sick of this site and others on the internet giving psychiatry a bad name. There are people that need medication to function and live their lives and all these stories and comments do is create fear in people. Please keep your made up fallacy to your self and do not try to scare others about medications. I have people on Benzos for years and I never hear any stories like this. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Maybe you have never heard stories like this because your patients realize you won’t believe them and attribute everything to anxiety and making things up. Has that ever occurred to you?

      By the way, doc, there aren’t any drugs that are 100% safe, even ones with the best track records. So even if you think the dangers of Benzos are being over exaggerated on this site, to call a drug 100% safe is a very reckless statement, particularly when you might have a patient who experiences a dangerous side effect.