Fear is Life Force … (in Clinical Circles it’s Often Called Anxiety) – An IT GETS BETTER Post


I tweeted and shared the below on Facebook earlier today. Below the tweets are additional commentary on the subject and then links to other posts on topic for further consideration and contemplation:

Of course, it’s not just in spiritual circles but also in psychiatric and mental health circles that fear and anxiety are too often medicated away instead of worked with. It’s not easy to work with it and a lot of professionals don’t know how to hold such space for such courageous facing of the dark parts of psyche and so many people don’t learn that it’s actually possible. For those of us who’ve come off psych drugs and faced severe psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome it becomes a necessary and often heinously difficult initiation since one of the worst parts of that sort of iatrogenic injury is a terror so grave and total and complete it keeps some of us sleeping no more than one or two hours a night for up to a couple of years. It’s also accompanied by a multiplicity of other horrendous symptoms. Yes. Let me tell you that is one hell of an initiation. And while that sort of “fear” is often correctly referred to as a “neuro-emotion” in withdrawal circles because of it’s exaggerated intensity caused by the injury to the autonomic nervous system, I found that working with it as a universal receptacle of the nature of fear and terror in the human being helped me be with it and heal it in time. This exploration continues for me, but wow, has it taught me volumes. Learning to embrace my experience and surrender to it was the way through for me.

This information may not resonate or be appropriate for everyone, but it’s information that should be shared with people in mental health settings so that they might choose to delve into (or not) these body/mind mysteries if they feel so inclined. That would also entail creating safe (residential) places where people could delve deeply into these realms and perhaps not appear functional to the world for some time. That is what deep healing sometimes demands. Our culture doesn’t create such deep healing places right now. Without such deep healing places people will continue to be harmed by psych meds when perhaps, if they knew there were other ways of delving into and healing the body/mind complex they might choose those ways. The choice needs to be created. For now far too many have no choice.

See: To my friends and readers who still take psych drugs (and to everyone on and off meds too) and Informed consent and pro-choice when it comes to drugs and medications

I am, now, grateful that I was forced onto that heinous path that psych drug withdrawal created because in the end, it was the only way for me to truly and deeply heal. The drugs weren’t just a dead end for me, they were slowly driving me downhill to my spiritual death. Getting off that ugly merry-go-round involved facing far worse in the short term but on the other side now, I see a freedom that simply wouldn’t have been possible if I’d stayed on those drugs. My experience is shared by many others. Again, if it’s not resonant for someone, that too is okay. I do not write assuming that all I say will have meaning for everyone. We are all on different paths.

The thing is if we provide such choice and also spaces to heal for people before they get injured, it wouldn’t have to be as heinous as it is for those of us who’ve dealt with severe and disabling protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes. And in fact many folks don’t even have these issues with fear and terror at all before taking these meds. The drugs are often simply agents of trauma. Let us change the way we conceive of healing issues with the body/mind/psyche. Please.

See: Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure

Below I’m cutting and pasting a collection of posts on fear and anxiety with additional commentary:

Fear and Anxiety: Coping, Reframing, Transforming…

In case it’s not clear to anyone, I often write and share about that which I am learning or struggling with myself. This is how this blog is as helpful and vital to me as it is to anyone else. Today I needed to visit this page while I confront some fear that seems lodged deep in my body. Trauma becomes embodied. The way that psych drug withdrawal manifests for many of us in the long run is that the autonomic nervous system is seriously out of whack.That is often experienced (in part) as physiological terror. It’s iatrogenic in nature,but I’ve learned that it also can be dealt with as though it were very real FEAR. Because basically there is no separation. This is how our psyche understands it so it’s helpful for us to handle it that way as well. Physical and emotional become blurry once we embrace things from a holistic space allowing for body/mind/spirit involvement. And so I’m going to share this page here on the blog again as well. That we might all learn to approach our fear with compassionate mindful attention. This was first shared a year ago.

Anxiety is basically a clinical term for fear which everyone at one time or another experiences with or without a diagnosis of some sort of anxiety “disorder.” Psychiatry pathologizes much of the normal human experience and in opposing fashion fear and/or anxiety is often referred to in Buddhism and other alternative philosophies as normal. Which is why many techniques to cope with anxiety have been inspired by Buddhism.  There are many methods to learn how to be with these normal feelings, whether they’re very intense or not. As individuals some of us may be more prone to more intensity than others. We can all work with whatever it is we experience.

In general this blog supports embracing and potentially transforming all our emotions. That is how we come to know who we are. The whole spectrum of our emotional lives are of value. It’s a shame that we learn to call many of our emotions negative and in keeping with that we try to numb them out in various ways, including with the use of both legal and illegal drugs. It is in resisting our shadow or difficult parts that those emotions we fear grow bigger! That is the sad paradox.

I’ve put together a page with some of the posts on fear and anxiety that have been posted on Beyond Meds in the last few years. I will add to it as is appropriate or when I remember other old pieces from the archives. This page will be part of the drop-down menus at the top of the page so that the archives might be accessed.

The Collection

● Fear and death: how it’s all part of life

 Love and fear are the same energy

● You can’t heal what you don’t feel – by Nicole Urdang — There are many ways people try to avoid unpleasant feelings, and addictions top the list. Engaging in obsessive-compulsive or addictive behavior pushes unpleasant thoughts and feelings out of conscious awareness. Sometimes, that can seem like paradise; unfortunately, the long-term negative effects outweigh the short-term gains of numbness and forgetting, as once the drug or activity is over, all those painful feelings come back. Let’s face it, if addictions really worked, we would all be addicts. Who doesn’t want a bit of relief from life’s stresses? The problem is they are a short-term fix. It takes great courage to move through dark emotions but ignoring them, or sweeping them under the cognitive rug, just makes them less accessible for healing.

● Befriend your fear/anxiety

● If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will have to admit that we live out our lives in an ocean of fear

● Become aware of your anxiety/panic/fear and heal yourself – Why is it assumed that people need remain unaware of their physiological experience? This is exactly what meditation can attend to. It’s called “mindfulness” for a reason. It’s entirely possible to become aware of our bodies, minds and psyches.

●  On Fear (or some call it anxiety) and Fearlessness

●  Terror wants to be integrated

●  Don’t give fear a thought – By Robert Augustus Masters — “When fearfulness infects you, neither avoid it nor let it recruit your mind. Don’t give it a thought.

Approach the infected areas with care. No antibiotic heroics, no psychosurgical wizardry, just ordinary everyday caring.

Touch the infection with undivided attention, while letting the raw reality of it touch you, penetrate you, shake you more awake. Make contact, intimate contact, allowing it to breathe, allowing to it vibrate, sound off, even grieve. Stop treating it like an adversary or disease.

When approached with sufficient care, fearfulness helps fuel our entry into a quality of openness wherein we cannot be threatened.”

●  Yoga for your health and wellbeing, helps with your heart and anxiety and depression — with direction for some easy yoga postures

●  Musings on anxiety…

●  The uses of anxiety and panic – By Al Galves

●  Yoga: changing the brains stressful habits – “Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.

It may sound like magic that posing like a proud warrior or a crow could have such extensive effects, but it’s not magic.  It’s neurobiology.  This next statement may sound to you either profound or extremely obvious, but it comes down to this: the things you do and the thoughts you have change the firing patterns and chemical composition of your brain.  Even actions as simple as changing your posture, relaxing the muscles on your face, or slowing your breathing rate, can affect the activity in your brain (beyond, of course, the required activity to make the action).  These changes are often transient, but can be long-lasting, particularly if they entail changing a habit.”

And this is a collection of links and commentary that looks at embracing whatever comes.Whatever we are experiencing including fear and anxiety:  the PRACTICE of embracing everything: The foundation of healing mental distress and of becoming a mature human adult.

Also of potential interest: ●●  Trauma and PTSD Info   ●●  Benzodiazepine Info

* * * * *

This post originally appeared on Monica Cassani’s website,
Beyond Meds. It is reprinted here with her permission.


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.


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  1. Hi Monica
    Thank you for this post. I can really identify:
    ” It’s iatrogenic in nature, but I’ve learned that it also can be dealt with as though it were very real FEAR. Because basically there is no separation.”
    (Psychiatric treatment turns young people into psychiatric patients through withdrawal syndrome).
    But – its possible to come to terms with this terror (and to come to terms with the normal anxiety as well). Thanks for pointing this out.

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  2. Thank you for taking the plunge and thank you for writing about the darkness and finding the other side as opposed to forgetting about those of us who are still in darkness.

    I hope that our family can find the light soon It seems inconceivable to me at times, that we could build places of healing in our community that are sustainable and deep and wise. It know its been done but when you talk to the folks at Soteria in Anchorage, they will tell you that the model was designed to help those who were not yet deeply harmed by psychiatry. Many of those who are deeply harmed may get to a plateau and say, “This is as good as it gets” as in the movie. We have to stop throwing bodies into the river upriver but we need communities that are ‘Beyond Soteria” as called for by Ms. Fisher so we can allow even deeply harmed individuals to fulfill their dreams of never settling for mediocrity.

    My fear for my beautiful adult daughter is overwhelming at times. It keeps me up at night. She has been deeply harmed by psychiatry. The challenges of helping someone find their way after five years of institutionalization and forced drugging are great. I fear that the damage is so deep she may never reach her fullest potential in this life. I fear that she will experience early death. I honor those mothers whose children didn’t make it. I honor other mothers whose daughters and sons have been incarcerated, institutionalized, rendered unable to do anything but live on the streets.

    My fear doesn’t mean that the things I fear will come to pass. I try an nourish hope everyday but my hope, like a flower, cannot be watered by conventional health practitioners or NAMI advocates They spout lies and nonsense, for the most part. Not all, but most. Some of my tears are for the parents in NAMI who have settled for much less than their children deserved in this life.

    I can’t ignore my fear and pretend it doesn’t exist. I will myself not to project it on to innocents who are unaware of the dark side of psychiatry. I will myself to find a way to make my peace with fear. I will myself to seek justice despite fear. We are trying to find ways of helping my daughter become liberated from the system. There is nothing I wouldn’t give up to help her be happy once again but the barriers feel enormous both legal, financial, emotional. My fear is that we will fail our daughter. My fear is also that there will never be any justice for people like my daughter.

    The current paradigm of mental health care is so morally flawed on so many levels and involves so many institutions and agencies and individuals all working from a place of ‘good intentions’ that very few, if any individuals will ever be held accountable for the abuse my daughter has suffered, surrounded by paid workers, yet in utter isolation. Her cries haunt me at night.

    In this movement for justice in the mental health system, I may never see the fullness of the justice that I desire for my daughter in my lifetime, but I have found what Martin Luther King called the ‘beloved community.’ This community is amazing and I honor you and every other contributor to this community for keeping hope alive that real healing exists.

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      • Human Being, I wish for you a beautiful and safe home, a vacation, companionship, love, and prosperity. I’m sorry you lost your children in an abusive divorce; I’m sorry about your bogus diagnosis. Its a terrible fellowship that we share and a terrible reality that ties us together; We are among the people who temporarily lost their dignity first hand through phony diagnoses and iatrogenic harm or our loved ones have experienced this loss first hand. Some, in our community are professionals in the mental health field who are bound and gagged by the limits of their profession and cannot offer meaningful support to individuals and families in distress without scapegoating, diagnosing and prescribing irrelevant or harmful treatment to those who are suffering. If they do, they will risk their professional status and the respect of theirs peers.

        I understand deeply the pain and grief you feel and my sincerest hope is that each day, we will find the strength to rise in the morning and do one small act of kindness to someone who has suffered, like us, and one small act of resistance to claim back our dignity and our empowerment.

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          • “Viva la vida,” or “[long] live the [crazy] life” was a popular song in 2008. We must “live,” and attest to, the “crazy” lives we’ve been subjected to by the insanely and appallingly unethical, and ungodly disrespectful psycho / pharmacutical industries, due to medical greed and fraudulent science.

            Madmom, you have a strong voice and beautiful heart, write your family’s story. And I pray for your family’s success in helping your daughter. But we must work together to shed light upon, and hopefully help end, the greed inspired iatrogenic insanity.

            Humanbeing, I too, am sorry for the injustices perpetrated against you, by the medical community. But can tell you are a wonderful human, and are also working towards the point you can explain the harm being perpetrated against women and children by the paternalistic mainstream medical community. You have a valid story to tell, believe in yourself.

            We all need to tell our stories, and there is strength in numbers. But it takes time to mentally digest the massive societal fraud and unjust iatrogenic insanity (especially since the mainstream medical community had supposedly promised the “first and foremost, promised to do no harm,” prior to adapting wholeheart belief in) the psychiatric industry’s newest, eugenics propagandistic stigmatizations.

            Once again, Monica, thank you for speaking the truth.

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    • I hope that you’ll be able to pull your daughter from the system soon and she will find a way to heal. Reading posts at MIA from people who were in the system for years and decades and came on the other end stronger and wiser makes me believe that can happen.
      I can only imagine the pain you’re going through and I hope for the best for you and your child.

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  3. I love your butterfly.
    I love your quote on fear, this one helped me more than anything that comes in a bottle!

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
    Frank Herbert, Dune

    Thank you so much for your post!

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