Each one of us is called to become that great song that comes out of the silence, and the more we let ourselves down into that great silence the more we become capable of singing that great song. ~ David Steindl-Rast
It’s been five years today since I completed a six year withdrawal process from a large cocktail of psychiatric drugs.
Today is also my 50th birthday which, frankly, seems much more remarkable to me at this point. Inside I am only aware of eternal youth. Upon having done an informal and small survey, it seems most people feel that way though it’s not talked about much among the adults of our species. That which watches and experiences our lives in these bodies does not age. It’s actually a wonderful thing. So I’m here wondering what comes next in this amazing trajectory which is the life being lived in this body that my parents called Monica.
I get restless with some frequency still at that which I perceive as limitations. My intention for this year is to more deeply surrender and be with what is. I have moments and sometimes hours or days in which this flow comes effortlessly together and at that point what seems to be a constraint largely melts away. Life is wondrous by its very nature, fully fit or not. Healing for me has become focused on becoming one with this flow that I might serve others and the planet and all of life too. This, it has become clear, can happen whether or not my body is functioning the way most people expect their bodies to work. The interesting paradox, of course, is that the more I surrender to this reality the healthier I get in every way.
A thought from Henry Miller I want to include here follows…it is this scenario that leads us to harm ourselves and others in a myriad of unconscious ways:
Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there. – Henry Miller
The heavy drugging psychiatry imposes is a method of slaughtering and repressing our finer impulses after a life of doing that just to survive the traumas of our conditioned childhoods. This is how it becomes layered and compounded. Psychiatric drugs are also agents of trauma. Becoming quiet after such insults to our bodies is quite a task. Psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes leave the autonomic nervous system screaming in ways that are inconceivable to the uninitiated.
I think I will simply mark this day by calling attention to some posts that include some history and bits and pieces of all that I’ve learned during the journey that made this blog happen.
Last year I said goodbye to psychiatry by going to see the doctor who prescribed for me while I was withdrawing. I hadn’t seen him in several years. Because I had become homebound and bedridden he was good enough to prescribe over the phone while I was still withdrawing. I was grateful for that. Many people have no one to support them when they get as ill as I was. Many doctors refuse to cooperate at all in the coming off process. So while this doctor didn’t understand what I was going through and was unhelpful in that regard, he did trust the narrative I chose to give to my experience and he allowed me my autonomy. In my mind that is all it takes to be a decent doctor. There are not many around. Anyway, I’d not seen him for a long time. So when I went to say thank you and goodbye, it was with a sort of ritualistic intent. No more psychiatry for me. It simply took a few years after getting off the drugs to be able to make an appointment with him.
The below two pieces can serve as a mini history of my personal journey in and away from the psychiatric system.
The aftermath of polypsychopharmacology: my story on Dr. David Healy’s site –this is the most complete short synopsis of having been grossly over-drugged and my path to drug freedom.
And a mini memoir from a couple of years ago at Mad in America: Everything Matters: a Memoir From Before, During and After Psychiatric Drugs
The healing trip changes day by day and moment by moment — always evolving. My only consistent practice is to respond to the moment now. What I need today may not be what I need tomorrow. My body responds to the weather and the seasons and the cycle of the moon and perhaps one hundred other systems that I’m unaware of. All these cycles interact with each other again and again, day after day, year after year, so that experience is like a kaleidoscope…patterns never repeating the same twice. Change! Change is the only thing we can count on. I don’t always like it but I am learning to celebrate it.
And these are some posts that underscore how my healing is conceived and practiced. I share it only as my experience. If no day is the same for me in that which I need to support myself, then it’s also clear that no two of us will be exactly alike in our needs.
- Choice and emotion: a short essay with some musing
- Nature vs nurture, biological vs. psychological: how about both/and rather than either/or
- Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life
- To see a professional or not
- Healing is many things synergistically coming together
- If we were abandoned…
- We are by nature a sensitive species.
These are some of my practices:
- Ecstatic dance (scroll down for list of posts)
- Yoga (scroll down for list of posts)
- Healing the body/mind with the willingness to feel
- My growing herb list: healing with plants
Also this year I did a series of two interviews for Nonduality Talk radio. I hope to do more sharing in this way and hopefully in the real (meat) world (human beings I can actually physically touch) as this life continues to unfold.
And a video I did with Erica Fletcher, graduate student extraordinaire:
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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Congratulations on 5 years and happy birthday! Your writing always gives me a lot of hope for my own recovery from protracted psych drug withdrawal, and I’m so grateful for that.
Happy Birthday Monica,
I wanted to wish you a very happy 50th birthday and let you know that I am one of the countless people you have helped.
For me the greatest help has been from the personal narratives you have collected which has helped me in my endless search for information that might resonate with our situation.
I believe it is through the countless different stories that patterns will emerge that will deepen our understanding and thus lead to greater potential for healing for a greater number of people in the future.
I wish you continued healing and happiness – you certainly deserve it.
Happy birthday and thank you for sharing your experiences. I have never taken psychotropic medications, but, after losing my son to the effects of multiple medications more than 11 years ago, I became involved in efforts to ensure people are allowed to make informed decisions about taking these medications and for increased transparency and accountability in the development and marketing of these medications. Your blog and posts on social media sites are always well-informed, sensitively written, nonjudgmental, and truthful. I share your writings often. I wish there were some way to count the many lives you have positively impacted. Congratulations. You give people hope. Terry Bearden
Happy birthday Monica. Thank you so much for your work and inspiration. You are what inspired me to become medication free. I will be a year in 2 weeks. I’ve been lucky though and had no problems with withdrawl after a slow taper. Thank you
Congratulations and all the best for the drug-free future.
Happy Birthday, Monica and congratulation. What you do online is more helpful than you can know for those of us who have been caught up in the ‘system’.
That was a phenomenal interview (twitter as therapeutic agent). For me, it was like being there at the dawn of creation. Your ability to articulate the human experience while talking about harnessing technology to further your own healing process blows me away every time I watch it.
Happy Birthday, Monica.
Happy Birthday! Love your cats, and I love you and all you share here, thank you for sharing your talent and vision.
Happy Birthday Monica! Without you and your blog, I’m really not sure if I would have been able to get started on my path. You were the first person to confirm, without a doubt that bipolar disorder and spiritual emergency were, basically, the same thing, for a lot of people, including yourself. We’ve both made a lot of progress in 7 years. I hope we get to meet one day.
Great video about Twitter as well. I hold the same sort of deep reverence for YouTube. At least 50% of what I´ve learned about mental disorders has come, directly or indirectly, through videos, or the people I´ve met and/or learned about via videos.
Thank you, YouTube God!
Happy Birthday, Monica (and many happy returns of the day)! And thank you very much for this wonderful gift of yours:
“That which watches and experiences our lives in these bodies does not age. […] Life is wondrous by its very nature, fully fit or not. Healing for me has become focused on becoming one with this flow that I might serve others and the planet and all of life too. This, it has become clear, can happen whether or not my body is functioning the way most people expect their bodies to work. The interesting paradox, of course, is that the more I surrender to this reality the healthier I get in every way.”
More power & all the best to ya,
You look really good and youthful for your age!
Happy year 50 and love this post. The quote from Henry Miller I had never read and the way you incorporate it into your post beautiful – never knew the guy was so kind and encouraging to others lol.
I want to now read more links, you sound so healthy mentally and at peace with yourself what a wonderful accomplishment but also very inspiring.