See part one of this story here here: Goodbye Psychiatry
I hadn’t seen this psychiatrist or any other now in several years. I chose to make this visit to the man who prescribed the drugs for my 6-year-long psychiatric drug withdrawal for several reasons. Upon reflection, I think the primary one was ritualistic. Something to mark the end of that phase of my life. A goodbye to psychiatry, concretized.
Secondarily I wanted to thank this man. I really am profoundly grateful that he provided the service without challenge even when I couldn’t leave my home to see him. I, in fact, stopped being able to talk and my husband was contacting him for me when I was really ill. This man didn’t question my interpretation of affairs and that was critically important and frankly unusual. Many psychiatrists would not only have refused to continue their involvement, they might have also tried to hospitalize or otherwise institutionalize me.
I’ve seen those kind of scenarios play out numerous times on withdrawal boards among those of us who have serious complications while withdrawing. It’s horribly dangerous and I’ve seen people gravely harmed. People can die in such circumstances. I would have died had I been institutionalized. I have no doubt about that and so I also remain profoundly thankful, not only to this doctor, but also to my husband who also had the clarity to let me move through this process and give me the 24 hour care I needed without considering dumping me into the system. Wow. It does seem that the universe was looking over me when I think back now. At the very least I was damn lucky.
Lastly I also hoped that this doctor would now show some interest in what had happened to me once we were again face to face. He didn’t disappoint.
He wanted to know everything, he said. I laughed at that, told him I had no idea where to start. We had half an hour. I packed a lot into that time. I’m not sure I can meaningfully recreate all that I said in this post.
So instead I’ll paint a picture of what it was like to be there. First of all I felt like an expert, and I believe it showed. Get me talking about this stuff and I’m on fire. Confidence is a good thing in these situations. What’s more, I do know how to talk to mental health professionals since I worked in the field for so long and had many psychiatrists as colleagues over the years. The fact is it’s a sort of comfortable niche for me. I’m actually comfortable talking shop with these guys, so to speak. Not in all circumstances, no, not at all. I’ve been disrespected far too many times by those who have no interest in listening to the likes of me (an ex-mental patient who questions the primacy of psychopharmacology and psychiatry as practiced, oh no!), but when any given professional is listening to me with even a modicum of respect, hell, yeah, I can certainly hold my own with the best of them.
So basically I talked about a whole lot of what I write about on this blog all the time. Some of the info was completely unfamiliar to him and he was okay with acknowledging that. He asked me to send him links to information and I did.
At the end of the half hour we hugged goodbye. He refused payment for his time. I thanked him for his kindness.
I sent him the below links to info on withdrawal with an invitation to discuss it all further whenever he liked.
- Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
- Protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome, chronic illness, CFS, Fibromyalgia. Yeah, they all have things in common.
- Limbic Kindling — hardwiring the brain
I at one point in our conversation I referred to the psych drug withdrawal syndrome as a brain injury. At that point he almost jumped and said incredulously, “brain injury?” I said, yes, brain injury.
So I also sent a link to this post:
The neuropsych guy I’m referring to in that article is actually someone this psychiatrist went to school with so they know each other. I know this guy respects this other guy, so it’s a good article to share. He was the first person who helped me understand this phenomena as a brain injury…later I also started networking with folks with traumatic brain injuries (like vets, etc) and found we had a lot in common.
Lastly I thought I’d share a response I made to a comment on the Mad in America thread. Jon Keyes brought up the fact that talking to old shrinks might be triggering and difficult. I wanted to repeat what I’ve said elsewhere before:
It certainly can be both challenging and intimidating as well as potentially traumatic to go back to see old shrinks…I don’t by any means suggest everyone do it and there are doctors I certainly would never want to see again.
I had a good relationship with this guy and, in general, being I worked in the system as a social worker I had very professional relationships with the doctors I worked with later in my career as psych patient.
I know how to “talk psychiatry” like a professional because of the work I did in the field. This afforded me relationships with doctors that differ from that of a lot of folks.
in a post where I shared about talking to the psychiatrist who got me on the massive cocktail I say,
This sort of communicating with our old doctors is by no means appropriate for everyone. This is something I do, not something I recommend to others unless they too feel comfortable and confident that it’s something right for them. It’s simply not always possible nor is it always appropriate or safe. I support protecting ourselves and NOT retraumatizing ourselves or risking our safety in any way. That is why it depends on the person and the situation. Again, it’s not always the right thing to do. So no one need imagine I’m advocating others do this.
The reason I wrote that in another post was because I used to get comments from readers who talked about how horribly triggering and dangerous it would be for them to do something like that. So by all means everyone should follow their own guts about this and not do anything that risks wellbeing and safety.
I’ve had plenty of relationships with medical professionals I would never revisit ever because of how badly I was treated. I know what that is like too. And I have no interest in subjecting myself to those people ever again if I can help it.
So that’s the story of my final visit to the psychiatrist. It’s been about 6 years since I’d seen him. It felt like closure. It was good. I’m good.
Please do not attempt to discontinue psych drugs without first very carefully educating yourself on the risks involved so that you might minimize the chances of developing grave iatrogenic illness if you decide to withdraw. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.