Off Psychiatric Drugs After Fourteen Years

Naas Siddiqui, BA, CPS, MA
86
1421

This week I celebrate my six month anniversary off of psychiatric drugs. Over the course of fourteen years, I have been on Prozac, Lithium, Lamictal, Zyprexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Ativan, Seroquel, Depakote, Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Geodon, Abilify, and probably others.

I was first prescribed Prozac by my GP when I was 18. It was my freshman year at Yale during finals; I was paralyzed by anxiety and couldn’t study. Prozac freed me up from the anxiety and I finished with As and one B that semester. I was pretty crushed about that B, because as a first-generation Bangladeshi American girl with an immigrant father who was a professor at an elite liberal arts college, coming from a culture in which higher formal education is highly valued and also means freedom, pursuing higher education and doing well in school was what I cared about most in my life. My parents had left Bangladesh and settled in the US for a better life for their kids – when they were around the age of 18, their education had been interrupted by genocide.

Prozac clearly changed my personality, but I didn’t mind. I loved it. I had always been really shy, and with the newfound confidence and loss of inhibitions I learned to sparkle in ways I never could before, and also how to draw attention to myself and develop a big personality. But along with the sparkle there were unseen, unexpected effects. My memory of this time period is blurry, but during sophomore year I think I tried to come off because my dad didn’t think it was wise for me to be on the drug forever. I then experienced the deepest feelings of numbing, cloud-over-my-head-that-wouldn’t-lift depression I had ever felt in my life, including suicidal thoughts that overcame me with their persistent and intrusive nature.

I now strongly believe that this was a drug withdrawal response. Prozac withdrawal, compounded by my existential identity confusion as a 19-year-old plus a breakup with my first “boyfriend” (a summer fling with another Yalie).

As I wrote in a previous blog, I was then hospitalized multiple times and forced to withdraw from Yale (I had to reapply five times to get back in and get my degree). I was heavily drugged despite my desperate pleas that the drugs were making me worse. I felt dead inside, but Lithium was touted as the only thing that could ‘cure’ me, so I learned to resign myself.

And then I reached the point where I knew I could no longer live that way and not lose myself. So I tried to come off the drugs without clinical support, and things got worse. I started hearing voices. I went into altered states of consciousness and lived on a plane of sleeplessness and madness and divinity, with feelings of cosmic consciousness and nightmares that I had never experienced in my life before.

During periods of trying to come off psychiatric drugs, I have twice had to take medical leave from non-profit mental health jobs where I held leadership positions. I sought clinical support to come off, from psychiatrists in the community mental health system and from psychiatrists working at prestigious universities. All refused to give me clinical support. Instead, they gave me more pills, or tried to discourage me, or halfheartedly agreed but had no idea what they were doing and didn’t really seem to care.

I suffered through trying to come off psychiatric drugs by myself – working through waking-nightmare states, working through headaches and flu-like symptoms, working through being unable to sleep. In 2012, I found a therapist who believed in me. He helped me deprogram myself from psychiatry’s messages that I had a chronic illness and needed the drugs to survive. I also found an amazing mindfulness coach who helped me. I developed a strong network of friends and professional support. But I still could not find a psychiatrist to help me come off.

When I tried to come off in 2012, I again had the sleeplessness and the nightmare visions and the altered states of reality, but this time I had more tools, more information and support, and an important reframe – I was not sick. I experienced the world differently than ‘the norm,’ but other people experienced the world this way too. I started thinking more and more about chemical withdrawal psychosis, a concept that I first discovered in Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic.

In the fall of 2012 I came to study at a Masters in Counseling Psychology program at CIIS, and in 2013, I finally found an integrative psychiatrist in San Francisco who helped me come off psychiatric drugs in two years. She heard me. She was hesitant about the coming off process, but she always said to me, “Naas, I trust your intuition and I don’t worry about you.”

Even though there were times she actually did worry about me, she treated me with the utmost compassion and respect. She offered her clinical perspective, and we figured it out together – what would be medically safe, what would be the right pace. How to process the feelings, insights, personality changes, and forgotten memories of my life (I had lost much of my long term memory). With her Jungian training, she helped me understand the periods of altered consciousness with greater depth and an appreciation for their significance to my personal life and my broader life processes. I also found a therapist who helped me make sense of things, not only in my everyday life, but in the context of my waking-dream and nightmare periods and my fantasy and daydreaming life.

It was not an easy process. In 2014, while in graduate school, I managed a withdrawal process with my psychiatrist but I couldn’t come all the way off. It was too intense. I tried again in the winter of 2015. I was on 900 mg of Lithium and 3 mg of Abilify. By February of 2016, I was completely off of everything.

My parents didn’t believe I could come off the drugs, even though my dad wanted that so badly for me. I think my mom was too scared to see me come off, as she had witnessed more of my periods of altered states than my dad had. Even though I lost connection with them in many ways, my parents were ALWAYS spiritually and financially supportive. Many of my friends didn’t believe I could come off – they had seen me struggle through too much while trying to come off, and they’d also had to bear the brunt of my personality changes and intensity and chaos. But my partner of three years knew I could come off, and I am forever indebted to him for sticking with me though it.

I can’t say that life is easy now. But I am much happier, because I feel myself, I feel my feelings, I feel in touch with my deep spiritual creativity. I feel my body, and I am returning to myself while carving a new identity with all my experiences.

I am still being flooded by memories, which is glorious, heartwarming, bittersweet, intensely sad, and sometimes traumatic. I have a lot of dental work that needs to be completed now – I think some psychiatric drugs rot your teeth like meth does. I neglected my body health for a long time because I stopped caring. For me, it was too hard to take care of my body while on drugs that had taken it over. I gained 60 pounds on psychiatric drugs, developed acne when I’d had really clear skin before, and I lost a lot of hair. I tried to maintain a healthy diet and regimen but it was too big a fight. I know it’s not impossible, but for me it was just too hard. I had stopped looking at my face in the mirror for a long, long time.

A HUGE part of coming off psychiatric drugs was believing that I could do it. There were so many messages I had been fed – from clinicians and society and even peers – that said I couldn’t. I had to dismiss all of that.

I don’t think I ever had bipolar disorder. I think psychiatry gave it to me. I am in Recovery from forced psychiatric drugging, psychiatric chemical withdrawal and psychiatric abuse. Life is still hard sometimes. I recognize certain aspects of myself that make it hard – I am moody and have a generous heart, so I get really upset by harshness and violence in the world. And I observe a lot, so I witness a lot of harshness and violence in the world.

As a mental health advocate, an academic, and a therapist (I don’t have my license yet, but have completed my graduate level training and a year as a student therapist at my practicum site), I have a lot of hope for people to come off psychiatric drugs. Not everyone finds a supportive psychiatrist to help them come off. I did. I also had the financial resources to see a private psychiatrist. I have friends who have come off psychiatric drugs without help from a psychiatrist. It is definitely possible. But also difficult. I hope that clinical medical help will become more available and accessible to everyone who wants to taper or come fully off their psychiatric drugs.

I have hopes for the field of psychiatry. I hope the field will redeem itself, and redeem its practitioners, because they do have clinical skill and the opportunity to learn more and grow. Many of them, I believe, were just taught bad science, influenced and infiltrated by Big Pharma. My psychiatrist was traditionally trained at big research universities, but she sought out extra training so her practice became truly integrative. I am colleagues with other psychiatrists, PsyDs and psychiatric nurse practitioners who have brought in alternative medicine, nutrition, mindfulness, and other holistic modalities into their clinical work. Psychiatrists have received many years of training, but unfortunately, it is my belief as a psychiatric survivor that many concepts they learned in medical school need to be unlearned.

Previous article“What if Addiction Is Not a Disease?”
Next article“Driven to Suicide by an ‘Inhuman and Unnatural’ Pressure to Sell”
Naas Siddiqui, BA, CPS, MA
naas has 15 years of experience in the mental health and substance abuse field in various capacities, including in peer support, training, research, clinical work, advocacy and strategic planning. Currently she is an academic writer and researcher with the Temple University Collaborative for Community Inclusion of People with Psychiatric Disabilities and works as the part time Cultural Competence and Linguistics Coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services System of Care federal grant. Recently, as a volunteer, she co-founded and coordinated the group Spiritual Emergence and Other Extraordinary Experiences at CIIS from January 2014-June 2016 and produced Holding the Shadow, a community collaborative social commentary theatre project for survivors of the mental health and substance abuse systems. She is especially interested in exposing, resolving, and repairing disparity and discrimination issues- racism, homophobia, sexism, classisism- in mental health and substance abuse services- including power disparities between providers of services and the people receiving services. She holds a BA in Psychology, Neuroscience Track, from Yale University, and a Masters Degree in Integral Counseling Psychology from CIIS. She is a long time psychiatric survivor and is psychiatric drug free (and beyond happy and grateful about this) after 15 years of psychiatric drugging.

Support MIA

MIA relies on the support of its readers to exist. Please consider a donation to help us provide news, essays, podcasts and continuing education courses that explore alternatives to the current paradigm of psychiatric care. Your tax-deductible donation will help build a community devoted to creating such change.

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Billing Details

Donation Total: $20

86 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Naas, for your example of courage and determination in face of opposition to you coming off psychiatric medications by psychiatrists. I too believe that some psychiatrists are capable of being retrained and reprogrammed. Most are going to need to be pushed to change or lose their jobs if the culture of recovery and healing truly takes hold, which because of individuals like you and other advocates including myself who works within this terrible system keep pushing. Psychiatrists are so use to doing it one way despite mounting evidence that what they are prescribing is harmful and that the medications themselves can create the problem that it was supposed to treat. Denial, denial, denial… They have had the power so long and are stuck with really what amounts to medical malpractice. It is sad, because I do remember a time when I worked with psychiatrists who were excellent psychotherapists and did great healing work. You are an inspiration and sign of hope that people can and do come off medications and do wonderful things with their lives. Much health and personal and professional success to you in helping others to heal.

  2. Thank you so much Naas for describing your wonderful journey out of pharmagedeon. Never ever forget that a client like yourself is worth around $7 million to the industry. It would be very unprofessional to not get you hooked. But through galliant efforts you beat the industry! Thank you, Rick

  3. First, congratulations, that took a great deal of strength, perseverance and discipline.

    Second,

    I have hopes for the field of psychiatry. I hope the field will redeem itself, and redeem its practitioners, because they do have clinical skill and the opportunity to learn more and grow. Many of them, I believe, were just taught bad science

    And bad language skills.

    But let’s start with “bad science” — this constitutes the fundamental principles of psychiatry, not some aberration which can be corrected. Psychiatry is predicated on the belief in “mental illness,” not as a figure of speech but as a real disease to be treated by doctors.

    I could go on but if you stick around MIA I’m sure there are others who can do a better job. I hope you do though. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of room for you outside the “medical model.”

  4. Thank you Naas for your testimonial. I’ve very happy for you that you were able to come off the meds after so many years of struggle and finally find the support you needed. I hate how nonchalantly many clinicians start patients on long-term psych meds with nary a thought given to how, when or if they’ll stop. I’m sure it will be a relief to finally have the time you need for self-care: healthy eating, exercise, repairing your teeth, nurturing your social connections.

    I’m a primary care nurse practitioner at a mental health clinic here in San Francisco, and I haven’t found other clinicians at my site (psychiatrists, psych NPs or pharmacologists) who are knowledgeable about or experienced in tapering patients off anti-psychotics or benzos, or motivated to follow up if the patient expresses a strong desire or interest in this. Do you have any suggestions for someone I could consult with or some online or printed resource? I’ve been trying to figure out for years how to help patients in this situation, even though it’s not officially my domain (I’m supposed to defer to the “mental health providers”). But I have yet to meet a prescribing clinician who has insight or expertise or even interest in this area.

  5. I appreciate your sharing your powerful story with us. Your persistence is inspiring. We need more people like you to tell the full story of meds, the (sometimes) short term benefits and long term consequences. I am also someone who was hospitalized and diagnosed at a young age, but I got away from the medical model approach to my problems soon after. It’s so sad that we must protect ourselves not only from our inner struggles, but even more so from the system that claims to help us. Best Wishes Naas!

  6. Naas, I think you’ve accurately described the struggle and the dilemmas of psychiatric drug withdrawal. Even people who want you to do it, like your father, are nevertheless worried when you run into problems, and they begin to doubt you can do it. It’s inevitable that you then begin to doubt yourself. Real healing happens, I believe, like you describe it. There’s a lot of psychic and spiritual work to do along with the drug withdrawal. Best wishes on your continued recovery.

  7. Congratulations to you, Naas! I KNOW how much effort, time, risk, and “failure” it takes to quit psychiatric drugs. It’s not only a strenuous physical journey, it’s an uphill battle emotionally as well. I’ve got nine years “clean” this September. And, even at my most miserable, I do feel SIGNIFICANTLY better off the drugs than I did on them. The achievements in life that I’m most proud of are all the simple human growth activities which I, like most people, had taken always for granted. My comfortable, stable body is an even greater source of joy because I KNOW that I’m here and strong today in spite of EVERY POSSIBLE OBSTACLE. I too had no clinical support during my amateur cessation from psychiatric narcotics. But thanks to my family, who didn’t want me jacked up on poison either, I managed to quit it all and reverse much of the damage it directly and indirectly caused. Speaking as someone who’s a bit farther down the drug-free road, Nass, trust me, YOU WILL NEVER, EVER REGRET A LIFE WITHOUT CHEMICAL TOXICITY.

    • J:

      I respect your perspective and I enjoy your posts. I would love nothing better than for my beautiful adult daughter to follow in your footsteps and the author of this blog by weaning herself off her psychiatric drugs. I think you and the author are both courageous and inspirations but I wanted to point out one thing about the language that you use. Many times, in private conversations with my family members and close friends, I refer to neuroleptics as ‘toxic’ or ‘poisons’ and yesterday in a meeting with a manager of a large community mental health agency which may serve my daughter I stated truthfully that in my opinion neuroleptics are ‘aging’ pills because they put our children on an early pathway to their grave. The data supports this and if you have a loved one, like I do, whose brain is habituated to ‘anti-psychotics’ (which, as most of us know, suppress the ‘symptoms’ or the states of consciousness that we lump under the category of ‘psychosis’ but which do not address the origin) is is easy to lose hope. But for all those who are stuck on these pills or who are being involuntarily treated and for those who sincerely feel that their lives have been improved by their meds, I think we should avoid inciting panic by using words like poison. Yes, there are is a grave urgency for us to educate the public and reverse the trend of over dependence on these pills but I believe we must do so responsibly. When I have used such language in the past with my daughter whose very judgement is impaired by the meds, she has gone off her meds cold turkey with disastrous effects. Many of us have found that our families cannot support a loved one through the withdrawal stage without help from the ‘system’ but even then, we often have to take the ‘system’ by the hand and walk them through the process of doing their job well. We may become resentful and impatient with the process. This may not work for everyone but many of us need the ‘system’ to succeed during withdrawal and using language that incites panic doesn’t help. Sadly, using such language with mental health care workers will be documented and used as evidence against families who are supporting a loved one. Sometimes, it will result in a ‘no contact’ order by a judge.

      • I just love you, madmom. You are very wise, you measure your words carefully. I hate that you have to tiptoe through the system, but I’m glad you’ve educated yourself and are able to balance your emotions (for having your loved one be caught up in, and at the mercy of the system certainly engenders a whole rainbow of lovely emotions like fear, frustration, anger/rage, injustice, helplessness…) with your knowledge of how the system operates to prevent bad from getting worse. You are right; they would use it against you. They twist and pathologize; it’s what they do, and you are wise to acknowledge and remember that.

  8. Naas,

    Well done with coming off the drugs!

    I was on 12 different psychiatric drugs myself, including a majority of the same ones as you – no surprise since they are some of the most common. I came off all drugs about five years ago and have been drug free since then. Like some of your friends, I did it mostly without professional help (well actually, I was seeing a professional, but I tapered off secretly against their advice… unfortunately they weren’t the kind of supportive psychiatrist you were seeing).

    One big point of disagreement: I don’t share your hope about psychiatry – do not think the field is going to redeem itself. It is too heavily influenced by Big Pharma money, by the need to deny early childhood abuse and neglect via myths about brain diseases, via fear of ambivalence, uncertainty, and risk, and by the addictive quality of delusionally believing that one is “treating” problems by giving someone a pill, rather than understanding their story.

    What most psychiatrists do right now with diagnosing and drugging is a profitable and easy-to-perpetrate scam. Why take the hard road of helping people via long-term relationships? They can earn a lot and have a good life doing what they do with diagnosing and drugging. It’s the clients who suffer, and that’s not much motivation for most psychiatrists, who due to denial and ignorance are mostly not even aware of the harms they do.

    And a not sure what “clinical skills” you think psychiatrists have Naas, because most of them really don’t. They are just trained in identifying “symptoms” of pseudo-diagnoses and picking drugs which don’t even directly target the illusory diseases in the DSM. These are not “skills.” A real skill would be spending long periods of time really listening to what someone else is saying and developing a healing relationship with that individual. Or, learning how to engage a family and help it work out its self-destructive dynamics that are stopping one member from being able to function. These type of skills are not taught in psychiatrist training, so psychiatrists do not have them. You are right that they could have them, but most of them don’t…

  9. Naas, kudos on your sixth month anniversary. My story is quite similar to yours, the adverse effects of an antidepressant were misdiagnosed as ‘bipolar,’ resulting in a lot of drugs. All of which made me ungodly sick. I was eventually weaned from the drugs, I’ve been totally drug free for 7 years now.

    I would like to forewarn you, however, that I did, twice, suffer from a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. And in my case, at least, the first one did not occur until about six months after I’d been weaned from the drugs. It was misdiagnosed as a ‘return of bipolar,’ so I was redrugged. I was then again withdrawn from the drugs. And again, I suffered from another drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. The second one did not happen until about two and a half years after I was weaned off the drugs (I was too busy with work for it to happen sooner, and it happened just after my boss had to let me go, due to the destruction of the design industry by the banking industry’s housing bubble.)

    Thankfully, my second drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis was misdiagnosed as ‘adjustment disorder,’ and did not come with drugs forever. So I’ve had no further problems. But I do want to forewarn you that drug withdrawal induced manic psychoses can happen much later than the medical community confesses, and doctors absolutely will misdiagnose it as a return of the DSM disorder. I agree with you, the psychiatric practitioners have been taught a lot of misinformation, and they do a lot of misdiagnosing and massive tranquilizing to cover up their ignorance and malpractice. Stay safe, and best wishes.

  10. 14 years on psych drugs! It seems like it would have been a lot easier for the mental health profession not to have created a drug problem in the first place. Except, in so far as, by making a health problem, the mental health professional has job security, and a guaranteed future for their business (“mental illness” manufacture)..

    I have a great deal of trepidation about the idea of people going into psychology from mental health treatment. Generally, some kind of feel for personal and family problems is often what drives people into the field to begin with. This expansive situation complicates the resolution of such problems to the umpteenth degree, self-indulgence breeding additional self-indulgence.

    How necessary are psychologists? Well, mental patients keep them in business. Which leads to my next question. How necessary are mental patients?

  11. Well done, and thanks for telling your story so articulately! It sounds like you are yet another victim of SSRI-induced “bipolar disorder,” which led to year of “treatment” that left you far worse off than the original condition they were trying to treat! I also appreciate your description of the vague and hazy state of disinhibition that was the “positive” part of your psych drug experience. I believe this kind of “who cares what anybody things?” experience is what people find helpful about the drugs, especially people like you and me who have histories of shyness and anxiety. But that very effect, I believe, is why suicide becomes a more “reasonable” option for some users, and why extreme and bizarre forms of violence suddenly seem less foreign and repugnant to a significant minority of users.

    It also amazes me that after years of obvious failure, the psychiatric system at no time took a look at the results and said, “Jeez, she came in complaining of anxiety and now she’s totally psychotic! Where did we go wrong?” No, instead they blamed you or your “condition” for every failure they produced.

    It is a frightening prospect being sucked into such a system. I’m very glad for you that you escaped. Thanks again for sharing your story!

    —- Steve

    • Every now and then I come by Mad in America to post. I’m one of those former psychiatric patients who originally went to her psychiatrist because of anxiety and trouble sleeping due to a car accident. Through an attorney I was able to get my mediccal records from the psychiatrist and time after time he was perplexed that he couldn’t understand what was going on to me but yet he kept changing and increasing the dosage on various strong psychiatric drugs. If I hadn’t been so out of it on all the poly drugging I would have questioned what he was doing more but it that by that time I was beyond a coherent thought. My pay back after all these 17 years of drugging? Watching the prescribing psychiatrist break down sobbing in his office after he realized he had wrongly diagnosed and only drug me for numerous years. What this any kind of payback? No it wasn’t.

      Realizing my psychiatrist could not tell the difference between severe Akathisia and Mania is in itself ridiculous. He had on his medical diploma he was a certified neurologist and yet he couldn’t tell the difference? It took a Consulting neurologist to diagnose me with Akathisia and the man said it was the worst he has ever seen in his 40 years as a physician. It scares me to write this but it happened.

      I applaud this young lady for for becoming drug free after such a long time. This is truly wonderful accomplishment. I’m glad there are forums online to help guide someone who may not have any idea how to slowly taper off their drugs and how withdrawal can exacerbate any so-called psychiatric symptoms. I have very little belief that Psychiatry will learn that they’re doing more harm than good. It’s an outdated antiquated so-called profession and in no way related to being a medical doctor at all.

      • I have wanted to say the psychiatrist realized he had “wrongly diagnosed and wrongly drugged” me for numerous years. I wanted the last sentence to say I do not think psychiatry and the medical profession have anything in common at all.

  12. Why do people continue to use psychiatric medications, when they are not being held in custody and forced?

    It has always seemed to me that it was because they’ve been conned, because they believe it is better if one does not feel their feelings, and because these drugs have the same sort of addictive hook that alcohol and street drugs do.

    We should not see this as a major moral failing, as these drugs and the general idea of chemical escapism are promoted from all quarters.

    Congratulations on getting drug free.

    As I see it, getting people on drugs and making them into a societal scapegoat is deliberate. It stops the people who are at the bottom and otherwise marginalized from politically organized. How could people ever fight back, if they believe that they have an innate defect. It’s all an adaptation of the religious concept of Original Sin. Our society needs people it can subject to ritual humiliations, in order to keep everyone else in line.

    So until we can get people to refuse all psychiatric drugs, and alcohol and street drugs, and psychotherapy, recovery and evangelical region, we have very little chance of ever being able to do anything about the current state of affairs. As long as people are not willing to fight back, and instead seek pity, then most people will feel that those in the untouchable caste deserve no better than they have.

    The only way we can go, is to seek justice. This means suing doctors and parents, and all those who have sought to deny us a place in this world. And we need to bring about criminal prosecutions as well.

    The Institutionalization of Poverty,
    Creating an Underclass in America
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV49hGm8Cjg

    Nomadic

    • In my case, Nomadic, I voluntarily took the drugs because I was deceived. If I had known they were really no different than street drugs I never would have done so. I don’t even smoke or drink socially.

      Being told I had a “chemical imbalance” when I didn’t in order to make me “compliant” is disgusting. It’s almost like child molesting, because you exploit someone’s trust and vulnerable relationship to yourself in order to gain something through using him/her like chattel.

      The devil is the father of lies. According to Dr. Pies, any “well informed psychiatrist” is a son of Satan. I guess that would include him.

  13. Naas Siddiqui, I am glad that you hold rage. Actually I wouldn’t even call it that, as it makes it look like you are at fault. I am glad that you honor your rage.

    And I hope that you are one who wants to organize and take action, against Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and familial abuses.

    Nomadic

  14. Congratulations, Naas, I know how hard this is. The drugs started backfiring on me, too, when I was at CIIS (back in the late 90’s), and could only do a partial withdrawal while still in school and training. Sadly, my psychiatrist took me the wrong way after finishing grad school and I ended up on nine psych drugs at once before realizing that I’d hit a wall and needed to ditch them all. I recognize several from your list from my own.

    I’m not as optimistic as you are regarding psychiatry, I think, overall, there is too much misguided education and also too much corruption, deceit, and stigma, regardless of the few who perhaps ascend this. But it is the culture at this point, and it seems quite untrustworthy and dangerous, I believe.

    In any event, your accomplishment is profound and inspiring. Well done!

  15. Your experience is enormously significant. I am quite glad to hear you will be working in the field with such insight. I had a similar experience that went on 21 years. I could not find a practitioner at all to help me, so almost did not survive. It took five years and three attempts to get off Prozac. Still suffer symptoms and we are discovering that the effects can be long lasting. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/antidepressants-long-term-depression). Your statement about how to get professionals ( and the lay public in my opinion) to unlearn the myths is going to be the hardest part. Physicians no longer bother to read outside of their field of specialty and remain ignorant. Where do we start? I want to help. I was a psychiatric nurse and saw unbelievable things. Thank you for your essay your sharing your story.