To See a Professional or Not

Monica Cassani
17
66

In the west the almighty “professional” is the guru. The educated “expert,” in general, takes on many different guises but we are systematically taught not to trust ourselves and to, instead, submit to the expert opinions of people who do not know us and who, all too often, believe they know far more than they actually do. The party line in mental health care is that we should find a professional for just about everything. What happens if an appropriate professional is not available? The reality on the ground is that is often the case as much as we’d like to think otherwise.

I once wrote this for another post: “my journey to healing from the iatrogenic injury psychiatry imposed upon me has been extremely isolated, by necessity and because there has been NO available professionals with the appropriate skill sets, I’ve had to find my own healing path. This is, I imagine much more common than is ever let on. There are NO appropriate professionals available in a large number of individual cases.  And if people are traumatized in particular ways they risk retraumatization when they approach systems supposedly set up for such care.”

I find comfort in Krishnamurti’s words:

You must know for yourself, directly, the truth of yourself and you cannot realize it through another, however great. There is no authority that can reveal it. –Krishnamurti

You yourself have to be the master and the pupil. The moment you acknowledge another as a master and yourself as a pupil, you are denying truth. There is no master, no pupil, in the search for truth. – Krishnamurti

You must understand it, go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind, with everything that you have, to find out a way of living differently. That depends on you, and not on someone else, because in this there is no teacher, no pupil; there is no leader; there is no guru; there is no Master, no Saviour. You yourself are the teacher and the pupil; you are the Master; you are the guru; you are the leader; you are everything. – Krishnamurti

If you are very clear, if you are inwardly a light unto yourself, you will never follow anyone. – Krishnamurti

I wrote this post because I wanted to share a response I made to a comment from my last article on Mad in America. It is copied and pasted below, with a few edits. Someone was speaking to how most of the time when they encountered professionals they do not recognize what is going on with psychiatric drug withdrawal. This is sadly true. Protracted psychiatric drug withdrawal issues are widely not recognized in the medical communities which sets up those suffering from them for further harm. It’s a rough world out there. We do need to learn to doctor ourselves and each other as much as possible. We also need to develop our discernment and intuition so that we learn to find what we need without getting harmed. There are certainly times when professional help is appropriate, but those of us who’ve been gravely harmed come to see working with professionals in a very different way. No professional is better than the wrong professional. Coercion and a sense of superiority has no place in real healing. We need to stay away from such people when they can have power over us. We need to learn to make boundaries to keep ourselves safe.

So with that as an intro, here is the response I made:

Yeah, it’s toxic to spend time with professionals that don’t take the gravity of these psych drug withdrawal syndromes seriously. I’ve been able to find lots of folks who can hear it now. I also don’t have relationships with professionals that are not both friendly and collegial at this point. I simply cannot deal with anything else…also I don’t consider professionals more knowledgable than the peers who I get info from…sometimes they have different info but it’s not superior in any way. I simply don’t have any expectation that professionals are going to offer any sort of meaningful help. I think it’s good for folks to develop that capacity…to not expect anything from professionals. It helps me a lot. I find help wherever it comes from and most of the time it’s not attached to a professional. On occasion it is.

Professionals are people…like everyone…sometimes they’re helpful and sometimes they’re not…I simply don’t expect that their qualifications actually guarantees anything…that simply sets me up for disappointment because quite often they are not helpful and worse, they have also been very harmful.

Most of the time at this point in my life I find I don’t actually need professionals (to be clear, when I do there is no hesitance to utilize them, I simply select them very carefully)…I just need to pay attention to what is going on in my body/mind…and then the universe brings me what I need in all manner of different ways…

We can be far more self-sufficient than we are conditioned to believe!

We do need people. Building community is the most important thing to me these days. Community comes in many different guises and does not require giving up your autonomy and self-determination. Psychiatry and the mental illness establishment often steals both.

My own process has led me to learn how to find numerous lovely and healing human beings who I’ve been able to come to love and trust. It can happen. I had to learn to let it happen.

With perfect synchronicity I just woke up to this quote that arrived in my email this morning. So I will end with it.

We accept responsibility for ourselves when we acknowledge that ultimately there are no answers outside of ourselves, and no gurus, no teachers, and no philosophies that can solve the problems of our lives. They can only suggest, guide, and inspire. It is our dedication to living with open hearts and our commitment to the day-to-day details of our lives that will transform us. – Judith Hanson Lasater

A collection on topic:

* * * * *

This article first appeared on Monica Cassani’s website,
Beyond Meds

17 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Monica,

    I’ve just been watching a discussion panel for our Mental Health Week. Lots of tiptoeing around the elephants in the room, but what is coming from the one sided debate is that we need much more ‘early intervention’ to push people into a system that by their own admission is broken.

    This increasing early intervention by concerned citizens is surely going to lead to a situation where the choice of seeking a professional or not is taken out of ones hands.

    I’ve always been a great believer in ‘seeking wise council’, but this trend would seem to be putting a gun in the hands of hypervigilant concerned citizens. I wonder how you see ways of building safe boundaries to protect oneself from loved ones who believe that Mental Health Services are the answer to any emotional distress that a person might suffer? Things were fine for me until my wife put the gun to my head, and a mental health professional pulled the trigger. 6 years of bliss turned to mush with a phone call.

    As long as the public are being deceived into the belief that Mental Health Services actually ‘help’ people, I’m gong to have difficulty trusting anyone.

  2. Monica,

    Thank you for bringing up this topic. I, too, had to play physician heal they self. Personally, I blame it largely on the white wall of silence – no doctor would help me medically explain how I’d been made sick with drugs. I had to research medicine myself.

    After, I’d dealt with appalling iatrogenesis, the doctor I went to next, once he had garnered insight into the poisonings and I’d explained my prior doctors’ motives, he refused to treat me. And he even recommended we switch insurance groups (which meant a completely different set of hospitals, not just a different doctor).

    When I suffered from drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis, after being weaned off the drugs. I ended up having that misdiagnosed initially as a fictitious “chronic airway obstruction,” then, because doctors broke the HIPPA laws, that magically turned to “bipolar.” Resulting in a “snowing.”

    Once I’d eventually been weaned off the drugs again, and again suffered from drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis, or perhaps shock. Again, this common drug withdrawal issue was misdiagnosed initially as a fictitious “UTI,” then “adjustment disorder,” oddly, by the exact same idiot doctor that declared the “chronic airway obstruction” had magically turned into the “life long, incurable, genetic” “bipolar.” Mainstream medicine is a joke.

    I do also know the medical community has been misinformed egregiously by the drug companies and the medical journal publication bias. Not to mention the “blame the patient” game. But, really, all this means the “professionals” can not be trusted.

  3. Seeing psychiatrists a bad idea. Lived drug free to age 42. GP put me on Effexor after a situational depression. Was fine in 2 weeks. Dr. Kept me on med for 12 years. Missing dose by 5-6 hours meant crying, headache. Did not know this was withdrawal. Thought I “needed” the drug like insulin.
    Three years ago missed drug by 26 hrs.,woke to crazy: fear, violent pulling, throbbing head pain, dread, panic, dissociation, crying, loss of “regular” thoughts… Reinstating immediately and upping drug over 3 months from 3 pills to 8 did nothing, but cause more agitation, illness.
    Tried a 7 week detox and no improvement. All through little 3-8 hour windows of “more bearable”, but never stayed. Drs.no clue what “it” is. Labels unipolar, bipolar, derealization, mixed episode.
    Over 7 months thrown on cocktails of Prozac, Remeron, Zopiclone, Ativan, Depakote, Lithium Cipralex., lamictal, zoloft. Only 3-5 days between Drugs. Become more agitated, unhinged, suicidal. Head pain excruciating. Called treatment resistant, unbelievably agree to ECT, two rounds. Destroys memory, worsens condition, creates trauma. Detox off meds, stay mentally unhinged. Try pristiq, klonopin, an MAOI, reinstating effexor. Nothing helps. Not micro doses, not slow taper or reinstating. Feel terror, panic, head pain, weirdness…cannot function at all. Not one physical problem: no nausea, weakness, muscle pain, fatigue… Zip! I would prefer physical pain, vertigo, fibro, anything vs this mental torment and agitation. Every DR. Fired me. They have no idea what to do. They neurotoxic poisoned me and electric head injury damaged me; major iatrogenic decline.
    I lead 50 completely normal years. Now I do not know how to regain my life, one that was vibrant and amazing. I tried reiki, acupuncture, multi vitamins, talk therapy… Nothing changes. The original windows of 3-7 hours of “bearable but not normal” disappeared after ECT.
    No one knows what is wrong with me or what to do “now”. I do not know either. My brain rewired on stress and Effexor withdrawal and I do not know what to do.
    The “professionals” now have no labels left and nothing to offer.
    I do not know how to live with emotional weirdness and terror.
    I should have stayed away from”help” which injured me more with no warnings about side effects or negative outcomes. But, were do I turn now??

  4. Thank-you for your response. Unfortunately, I was completely unfamiliar with psychiatry and the dangers of psych drugs because I thought of the antidepressant my GP prescribed as a harmless antibiotic. I was willing to ignore loss of libido, sweating, high blood pressure, weight gain, and fatigue as trade offs in staying “mentally well”. I was able to work like mad
    under huge stress and stay upbeat and normal. One little prescription, no other drugs, no alcohol.

    Not until I had already fallen into the worst the mental “death” profession had to offer after I woke up sick one morning, did I stumble across the writings of Robert Whitaker, Breggin, Moncrieff, Healy, Matt Samet, Laura Delano, and yourself. I have been astounded by the courage and resilience shown by yourself, Matt, and Laura. If I had been aware, I could have avoided the neurotoxins and electrical injury the “doctors” offered as “treatments” for my mysterious sudden illness. It enrages me to think of the lives the lunatics peddling these brain disabling “treatments” have destroyed. I was told nothing about side effects, paradoxical reactions, and never given the real information I needed to make sound decisions. But then, who, desperate, and drugged, and vulnerable can decide anything. I had no informed advocates, just my loved ones, who trusted in the “medical model”.

    I have read accounts from beyondmeds and surviving antidepressants which are inspiring. I read the story of Effexor madness and other accounts, but fear my damage is so bizarre and extensive now (bc most of the other survivors have not been damaged by ECT) that I have no way back to regular living. I am starting to wonder if my symptoms just coincidentally appeared the day after I missed Effexor. My symptoms just seem too bizarre and prolonged to be “withdrawal”. As I said, other than monster head throbbing and pulling, I have not one physical symptom. Does that mean it isn’t withdrawal?
    I have been horrified reading Dr. Shipko’s descriptions of SSRI damaged individuals never recovering, ever, living lives of unmitigated suffering that end in suicide. This terrifies me.
    I lived an amazing life, mundane in its ordinary nature, but full of love, laughter, shoes, shopping, and lots of cats! Now I am emotionally sick and do not see any chance for a return to baseline bc of the injuries I incurred listening to “professionals”. Did I ever think my life would unfold like this? No.

    I admire the work you have done and the support you offer to those who are suffering. You are an inspiration, and, beautiful as you were pre-drugs in the photo you posted, you are truly gorgeous now, in spirit and in person. The story of your struggles, your tenacity in educating yourself, and your rebirth from being bedridden to engaged in your world is awe-inspiring.

    • @ truth,

      Reading (and rereading) both of your comments on this page, I can’t help but want to say: hey, what you’re saying makes a lot of sense.

      Thankfully I never received any ECT, but from what little I know about it, I believe it most certainly can have highly confounding effects; it seems to me, the combined effects of long-term use of psych ‘meds’ and even ‘just’ a relatively limited course of ECT could produce unanticipated, negative synergistic effects.

      However, the human brain does have a lot of inherent capacity to reform damaged neural pathways.

      Much of the healing that I experienced, in the months following my final withdrawal from psych ‘meds’ (more than 25 years ago) came from having and maintaining faith, that I could and would heal, soon enough.

      I was coming off a lot of ‘meds’ then; however, fortunately, I had not been on all of them for long… (and, all told, I’d been ‘medicated’ for only three and a half years).

      Yet, the healing did take patience.

      I wonder, have you read Linda Andre? Imo, you have a much to offer psychiatric survivors by telling your story, as did she (in book form) and as you are telling it, at least in part, here.

      I have gotten a lot out of telling bits and pieces of my own (‘psychiatric-survivor’) story through MIA comments. Along those lines, I hope you can realize that you are a gifted writer, as is Monica. (I mention her writing to you, because I see, from what you’re saying, you admire what she’s done with her writing.)

      If you don’t have your own personal blog, I wonder, have you ever considered starting one, as she did? (Note: I tried to start a blog and did not go far with it, so I know it would be daunting for anyone to imagine aiming at emulating blogging success, of the kind that Monica has achieved, and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone one try to do that. In fact, I don’t like my own writing, and the mere act of comparing my writing to anyone else’s is almost certainly not useful for me; so, it’s not my intent to compare your writing to anyone’s either; but, your writing is clear (hopefully, you realize that); and, imo, this site could well use more contributors who are striving to transcend not only enduring effects of psych ‘med’ withdrawal but also confounding ECT effects. So, please, even as Monica has suggested there are other websites that help more specifically with issues of withdrawal from ‘meds’, do keep posting here, in these comment threads.

      Please, do continue to share whatever you wish to share, whenever you feel the inclination. And, whatever you do, don’t let that gift of yours for communicating with words ever wither or go to waste.

      Take Good Care…

      Respectfully,

      Jonah

  5. I agree what Monica does and has done is amazing and awesome and she is a pillar of strength and truth and courage and inspiration to us all . I’ve learned and studied alternative healing for 39 years but if I went onto Monica’s website BeyondMeds.com I could learn over a hundred more things I don’t know.
    One of the people I learned from when I met him had already practiced Traditional Naturopathy for 50 years . I was 28 years old he taught me his healing art ,out of just love for humanity for 8 years starting when I escaped from a mental hospital so I could arrive at my appointment with him (Joesph Liss ND (he was also a licensed chiropractor) for a consultation. He was one of those rare people ( I don’t if everyone meets one ) in whom there was no discrepancy between words and actions .
    He respected Albert Einstein and his teachings and was able himself to teach the relativity of diet to health and the proof of the correctness of his teaching was all around him in the people that came to him with various problems and soon were free of “cancers” aches and pains from head to foot. He said he did not at that time know how to solve multiple sclerosis and that it was easier to heal cancer which he said was not local but constitutional and was in the blood .
    He said the quality of the blood is directly related to the quality of the soil.The soil feeds the plant the plant feeds the human being . Elimination and Purification . Not becoming constipated was of fundamental importance . He said most people on conventional diets are constipated but don’t realize it . How much more so for people on drugs which suppress the thirst reflex and can easily constipate a person without them noticing. When a lion eats a kill first it eats the contents of the stomach to get the greens then the meat. A lions intestines are 10 feet long which enables the lion to efficiently expel the waste from its meal relatively efficiently. Doc used to say most people eat a heterogeneous diet of incompatibles .The human intestines are 32 ft long .The contents of the intestinal track if what ever is there food , pesticides , genetically engineered , foods , chemicals in the environment, drugs made of rocket fuel, stay in there too long without being expelled all kinds of compounds are formed and even though the liver does filter the blood, the intestines , liver and other parts of the body can be overburdened with waste , and over time manifestations caused by retention of waste can appear in any part of the body. AMA doctors give these manifestations names without knowing where they came from . Now at some point caused by retention of waste if it is in there way to long some of it passes through the intestinal wall and gets into the blood stream where it can end up anywhere according to the strength or weakness of a persons various body parts which vary person to person. So retention of waste can manifest differently in each person . waste can even pass through the blood brain barrier , which is a colloidal suspension that can collapse because of a too acid blood ph, too much stress,certain frequency electrical fields like high power lines. Then whatever is in the blood can pass through the brain. The blood brain barrier can be established or unestablished according to the ph of the blood . Which is balanced best by a diet rich in organic dark green leafy vegetables . See the book Sick and Tired by Robert Young.
    Exercise is more important than diet, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump . All the fluid in the body that is not blood is circulated by body movement. I guess you can begin to see how the teachings of Traditional Naturopathy can be helpful in a quest for well being mental or otherwise . Of course there is more . You can be sure most all AMA doctors will not know nothing of any of this. It would not be as profitable for them to teach it and more profitable to deride it as quackery which for the most part they are purveyors of , both AMA and APA as well as conventional dentists . Psychiatrists worst of all . Tradition Naturopathy is one important tool for a happy healthy life.Got questions on this I got answers . Some Naturopathy Universitys have been bought out by the AMA ,curriculum subverted. Stick with Traditional Naturopathy. Yuen Method is a more precise energy healing system then Reiki , ask people that have learned both. Homeopathy can also be a great help. I haven’t seen anybody else write about constipation in regard to mental health beyond taking probiotics and digestive enzymes there is more to it. See Richard Schultz ND at http://www.herbdoc.com Linda Page ND also has a website and a great book “Healthy Healing” and others . Take care all . You’d be surprised after a colon cleanse how different and better the head feels . Everything is connected.

  6. “To See a Professional or Not”

    Monica,

    Over the years, since I put psychiatry out my life, there have been many times that I’ve found myself happily sitting and reading J Krishnamurti’s writings and his transcribed talks… (and, recently, as well, watching and listening to his recorded talks, some of which can be easily accessed online, via Youtube). His conversations are always, I find, good reminders that the ‘ultimate guru’ resides within ones own life.

    But, his message can seem somewhat self-contradictory, because, really he was himself a kind of guru (albeit one who would not ever choose to describe himself as such and who would, in many ways, refuse to put himself on a pedestal), and he was forever offering advice — but a very, very basic kind of advice… to look within.

    I guess I’d call him an ‘anti-guru’ guru — and do consider him to have been a very ‘safe guru’ …because, after all, he was a gentle man, who, it seems to me (from what I can tell, through studying his writings and talks), really had no desire whatsoever to control others and no interest in recommending any particular creed nor any practices other than the most basic sort of meditation.

    I think his message was quite basic and sincere, and it could easily become the basis for anyone’s beginning to develop a healthy, daily meditation practice, free from dogma of any kind.

    That said, I do think his message can tend to obscure this fact, that people tend to learn by mimicry, and nearly every form of discipline has had its masters, and some of those masters have been great teachers who inspired their students to excel in their field.

    Every society, if it is to thrive in the best sense, can and will produce at least some few prominent leaders, in every field of professional endeavor, to model excellence; and, excellent character can be modeled; indeed, kids need some amount of more or less direct exposure to wise/self-responsible adult role models, in order to become themselves, soon enough, wise and self-responsible adults.

    So, I do not take J Krishnamurti’s message to the extreme. I have looked for wise counsel at various points in my life, and I think, with respect to the question that’s implied in the title of your blog post (“To See a Professional or Not”), it depends on what kind of professional we’re talking about.

    For anyone who’s on the fence, wondering whether or not to begin seeing a licensed ‘mental health’ professional, I say: caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware”).

    In the majority of instances, their training is not great (I do not hesitate to conclude, often it is quite bad); and, not only that…

    Also, the licensing of ‘mental health’ pros tends to make them literally a hazard to many (if not most) of their clients, especially those clients whose expressions (of thoughts, emotions and/or behaviors) seem in any way particularly worrisome or troubling.

    Licensed ‘mental health’ pros are all required to report — to law-enforcement authorities and/or to psychiatry — clients who seem to be ‘a danger to themselves’ or ‘a danger to others.’

    Of course, those criteria are vague, they reflect highly subjective judgement calls, and (I know all-too-well, from repeated personal experiences, now thankfully decades past), of course, it’s not unusual for licensed ‘mental health’ professionals to judge a client as “a danger to himself/herself” mainly because s/he’s ‘confessed’ to being (or, perhaps, has been ‘outed’ as) someone who’s lately refusing to be ‘medicated’ with prescribed psychiatric drugs.

    This was long before the advent of the Internet. I had no knowledge of anyone successfully eschewing psychiatry after having been forced into accepting it (as I had been forced into accepting it); and, everyone I knew had been programmed to believe that the psychiatric labeling I’d received meant that I literally could not survive without psych ‘meds,’ so ridding my life of those ‘meds’ required my choosing to end therapy and put a considerable distance between myself and all the ‘mental health’ professionals amongst my family and friends (there were more than a few).

    As a result, I would become an ‘outsider’ of sorts; but, that was not necessarily a bad thing; and, after a few years, I did find myself consulting with various non-licensed professionals (‘healers’ such as massage therapists… and also yoga teachers… and ‘life coaches’ and hypnotherapists), some of whom were quite helpful for a time.

    Wow, look at the time! (I need to go catch at least a couple hours of sleep…)

    Thanks for a positively thought-provoking blog post, Monica (I see it’s been generating some moving comments, I may respond briefly to one or two of them, just a bit later today).

    Respectfully,

    Jonah

  7. Monica, I’m really glad that you took the time to go over what you went through at the time in your spontaneous, thorough fashion. I want to offer that as far as naming certain difficult adjustments iatrogenic ones, after you decide that you have to come to your own rescue or no one will, is in itself a whole huge step. Just acknowledging that not only were you in trouble in the natural course of your life, but that you got hurt seeking help is as painful as it is a relief, because it takes tearing free from the story you were most encouraged to believe and that you hoped was true. But if your label didn’t help–and I can’t see them as help myself, no matter the accuracy, since you are you and there is not some disease entity–and you have to recover from something for which you’ve gotten no help, you have to start thinking of iatrogenic causes and effects. In part, you have to get past those who won’t talk about them with you and remind yourself that you can, as you indicate. Anyway, I kept my plans in my head most of the time, in trying to find out what would work since the label assigned never could have, and I am only now beginning to emote efficiently again.

    The suppression of emotion is so fully undertaken in hospital settings it is hard to believe or get anyone who hasn’t noticed it to believe you about. Of course, not for the staff who go into alarming and disenchanting freewheeling modes of flying off the handle in order to build up their camraderie in contrast to the patient milieu’s obedience training. I am positive that I’ve seen people who could not in a million years come to have confidence in their supposed diagnosis, not because of their foolishness, but because of their insight into having some problem that it didn’t pin down right and that it distorted. But I couldn’t get going to talk to them at the time, so involved I was with my own misdirected understanding, drugged state, and uncertainty. I recall the things I heard said to these people to invalidate their concern and content them with career mental patienthood.