The Breaking Point

Michele Waterman
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My story isn’t unique. I’m one of many millions of Americans that bought into an unproven theory that depression and anxiety are caused by unbalanced brain chemistry. After taking psych meds for sixteen years, I can honestly say I’ve given traditional psychiatry and allopathic medicine a fair opportunity to bring balance to my brain.

It all started in the fall of 2002. I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of our daughter and sought assistance from a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and postpartum depression. He prescribed Effexor, an antidepressant that was intended to treat both the anxiety and depression.

As I think back to my life at that time, I had many reasons to be excessively worried and overwhelmed.

I was caring for a newborn with a heart defect that might have required surgery, my husband was on permanent disability due to a traumatic brain injury he sustained from a motor cycle accident several months prior, and our two-year-old son was exhibiting signs of full spectrum autism (with which he would soon be diagnosed). My hormones were raging as is to be expected postpartum, plus I was 14 months sober. It’s an understatement to say that my nervous system was on fire. As I reflect back on that time in my life, who wouldn’t be stressed under those same conditions?

My psychiatrist presented me with an antiquated tale that I had a brain chemistry imbalance to explain my anxiety disorder, which, he said, is why I drank alcohol to self-medicate prior to getting sober. At the time, it seemed to make sense. I bought it.

The antidepressant worked for a few years and then I started experiencing “breakthrough depression” — which is when a person is taking an antidepressant, but they have a major depressive episode despite taking medicine. So up the dose we went, switching meds when I maxed out on the doses of one antidepressant or he would add an additional brand of antidepressant. At one point he switched me from Effexor to Zoloft because the Effexor created mania-like symptoms.

By 2013, I was on 200mg of Zoloft and 300mg of Wellbutrin. There was never a discussion about the risks involved with using antidepressants as a long-term treatment strategy to deal with anxiety and depression. When I asked my doctor about tapering off meds, he said, “The dose that got you well, will keep you well.” I don’t know why I believed him. However, the longer I took these drugs, the more episodes of depression I experienced and they lasted longer.

After being on two powerful antidepressants for several years, I experienced a hypomanic episode. Thoughts raced through my mind, and I talked so fast I wouldn’t let anyone get a word in. My creativity was explosive with amazing ideas that fueled intense, goal-directed behavior, and my need for sleep was cut in half (about four hours per night to feel refreshed and rested), to the point that I didn’t sleep a few days one week. At that point, my doctor diagnosed me as bipolar II and had me stop taking the Wellbutrin cold turkey.

I questioned the bipolar II diagnosis. I told my doctor that I thought the Wellbutrin caused the hypomania — why else would he want me to stop taking that medicine if it wasn’t part of the problem? I was told that only people with bipolar respond to the use of antidepressants with either hypomania or mania.

The bipolar II diagnosis didn’t make sense to me. There is NO HISTORY of bipolar in my family. Depression? Yes. Anxiety? Yes. Alcoholism? Hell, yes! Bipolar? NO!

But then my psychiatrist gave me some hope. He said, “Michele, once we start you on a mood stabilizer, you won’t get depressed and the hypomania will even out.” He assured me that I would get better and that I could live a happy, meaningful, productive, fulfilling life.

At that point, I had been suffering three major depressive episodes a year that would last one to two months at a time with very few days of relief in between. Not only was the depression disturbing and debilitating for me, but I was drowning in a sea of shame.

How did I become someone who could barely function? I used to be a “make it happen” kind of girl. I worked full time during the day and got my bachelors degree taking classes at night. I climbed the corporate ladder while earning my degree in communications from San Jose State University. By the time I graduated from college, I was a high-performing sales executive ranked in the top 2% of an international business communications company, and over the next two decades, I founded two nonprofit corporations.

But now, after using powerful psych meds for depression and anxiety for more than a decade, I couldn’t do basic things like go to the grocery store, plan a meal, make dinner, or get together with friends. During the episodes of depression, I would stop attending my recovery meetings, and work was out of the question. I wanted to but I simply couldn’t care about anything including my appearance. I didn’t bathe for days on end, or brush my teeth, and exercise wasn’t an option. I had no energy and my zest for life was nonexistent. I lacked the capacity to find any joy in my life even though I had so much to be grateful for, which intensified my guilt and self-loathing.

I spent more and more time in bed as the depression progressed. I would sleep all day and wake up only in time to pick up the kids from school. I did my best to pretend I wasn’t depressed. I didn’t want depression to scar my kids like growing up in an alcoholic home scarred me. Sleeping was the only relief I found from the relentless guilt, self-loathing and overall dread of living a life void of happiness, connection, fulfillment, and passion. And then I would wake up to the horror that the depression didn’t disappear while I slept. Despair and hopelessness consumed me.

Lost in a world of isolation and loneliness, depression is pure hell. That’s why I was willing to try anything to make it go away. At this point, I still believed the story that depression, anxiety, and bipolar were “brain chemistry” issues that could be remedied by psych meds.

So with bipolar II as the diagnosis du jour, my psychiatrist prescribed a mood stabilizer (actually an anti-seizure medicine) called Lamictal. He said that this drug was the least likely to cause serious side effects in terms of cognitive impairment, weight gain or other medical issues. Unfortunately, it gave me a rash — a rash that could be fatal if I continued taking it. Then I was prescribed another anti-seizure medication used as a mood stabilizer called Trileptal. This time my liver enzymes tanked in three months. My family doctor insisted that I stop taking Trileptal immediately or I would risk damaging my liver.

After serious reactions to the first two mood stabilizers, I started to wonder if I should listen to the wisdom of body. I refused to try Risperdal because I heard bad things about its side effects. I also didn’t want to try lithium because of the possible risk of weight gain and cognitive impairment. Plus lithium can damage your kidneys and cause problems with your thyroid, and at high doses, a person can slip into a coma and die. Regular blood tests are also required to ensure that lithium is in a safe yet therapeutic range.

Finally, in the summer of 2013, my husband and I decided that I was going to taper off the 200mg of Zoloft and let my body take a break from psych meds. Against medical advice, my doctor agreed to help me taper off Zoloft, which I had been taking for the last nine years. He recommended lowering the dose 50mg per week. So in five weeks, I came off of Zoloft completely.

The withdrawal from Zoloft was horrible. I was beyond sick for five months. Dizzy, nauseous, with tingly feelings like pins and needles throughout my body, crippling anxiety, crying, emotional overwhelm, unable to think straight or focus; I was miserable.

Several months later, my mood started to even out. I felt the best I had in years. An even mood, happy, balanced, clear-headed and grateful to be alive. I enjoyed the simple pleasures of life again. I loved every precious moment with my kids and husband and started putting my life back together. And then we moved to the country about twenty-five minutes away from the place my husband and I called home for sixteen years. The move took place about six months after I was stable off of SSRIs (Zoloft) and the nightmare didn’t just resume, it escalated.

I experienced debilitating anxiety. Up until that point, I had never experienced sleep problems of any kind. But now I wanted to sleep, I was tired. I would lie in bed with my eyes shut and the motor of my mind wouldn’t turn off to relax into slumber. It wasn’t mania. I had no good ideas. I didn’t feel invincible. I didn’t want to stay up and work on a project. I wanted to sleep, but it felt like I was plugged into a light socket, with electricity surging through my body. I was humming on the inside. This awful sleep disturbance went on for about a month. Every day that passed without sleep made me more and more anxious. I started to unravel emotionally, wondering what was going to happen to me mentally if I didn’t get quality, restorative sleep.

I didn’t know it then, but the anxiety and insomnia I experienced after we moved was protracted withdrawal syndrome from antidepressants (which can occur months and even years after tapering off SSRIs). Finally, after a month with no sleep, I was a mess. The anxiety was escalating and I was terrified. Without an alternative, I called my psychiatrist and he recommended I start taking an antidepressant to treat the anxiety.

He started me with 50mg of Zoloft and soon I was back up to 200mg — the max dose. Then he added 2mg of Abilify, an antipsychotic that was prescribed to protect me from mania. For me, the problem with taking psych meds was that the depression and anxiety just keep getting worse and more severe over time.

In October 2015, I checked myself into a residential program for anxiety. I was 14 years sober and yet I could not function despite taking psychotropic medication for generalized anxiety disorder.

The hospital did genetic testing and said that I would metabolize Pristiq — an antidepressant used to treat both anxiety and depression — better than Zoloft, the medicine I had been taking for roughly nine years. Within three days, I was switched from 200mg of Zoloft to 50mg of Pristiq. The result was a disaster.

By December 2015, I was in a suicidal depression. Why was I depressed? I was happily married. We have wonderful, healthy, amazing kids. We have a beautiful home. We have money. I’m sober. I have lots of friends and yet I wanted to die.

I prayed every night that entire month for God to give me cancer so that I could die with dignity and grace and not scar my children and husband with the legacy of suicide.

The next month, January 2016, I finally agreed to try lithium for what my doctor said was “treatment resistant, bipolar depression.” My doctor told me that if he presented my case to the best psychopharmacologists in the country, they would all ask the same question: “Why haven’t you tried lithium with this patient?”

I knew lithium would make me fat. I knew lithium would affect my cognition and memory. But I wanted to live and I was desperate to make the depression STOP. I had so much to live for and I was determined to be happy, joyous, and free.

Lithium helped for about five months. Unfortunately, I gained 25 pounds in six months. I had a breakthrough depressive episode on 900mg of lithium and 100mg of Pristiq.

If this medication was supposed to be balancing out my brain chemicals, how come I was not staying stable? Then, my doctor prescribed Wellbutrin to pull me out of another suicidal depression.

Soon I was on 900mg of lithium, 100mg of pristiq, and 300mg of Wellbutrin. Wait. Didn’t he take me off Wellbutrin three years ago because of hypomania? At that point, I was too sick to give a shit. In fact, I think I was secretly hoping for a little hypomania — anything to make the depression go away.

Then the Wellbutrin started causing awful anxiety. So my psychiatrist switched the Wellbutrin to instant release at 100mg. Modified cocktail: 900mg lithium, 100mg Wellbutrin, 100mg Pristiq.

That cocktail worked for four or five months until another suicidal depression in June 2017. I was in Maui staying at an incredible resort with my husband and children. Maui is one of my favorite places in the world and I was researching bipolar treatment facilities instead of hanging out with my family on the beach.

So what’s next? He prescribed 50mg MORE of Pristiq, even though I was already at the maximum dose. Final cocktail: 900mg lithium, 150mg Pristiq, 100mg Wellbutrin.

Since starting lithium in January 2016, not only did it not cure my supposed “bipolar depression,” but I got the added bonus of gaining 30 pounds, experiencing cognitive impairment and failing memory, ridiculously dry skin, and then recently my hair started breaking off.

That was it! Call it what you will — vanity run amuck some might say — but the breaking point for me was literally my hair breaking off.

I googled lithium and hair breakage and what came up was Dr. Kelly Brogan’s bookA Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.

Dr. Brogan’s research and clinical expertise enabled me to stop and consider if the psych meds I had been taking for the last sixteen years to treat anxiety and depression was actually working. My conclusion: NO.

Her book outlines an approach that goes beyond masking the symptoms of depression. From gut health to thyroid and blood sugar problems to systemic inflammation and hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brogan presents a holistic approach to deal with the underlying issues that may cause the symptoms of depression. She also provides detailed instructions about using lifestyle medicine to heal your body and reclaim your life.

After reading Dr. Brogan’s book, I had hope for the first time in five years, yet I didn’t know how I would muster the courage to taper off psych meds again. My first attempt was brutal, emotionally and physically. But after reading Anatomy of an Epidemic and A Mind of Your Own, I couldn’t un-know the truth. Their summary of the peer-reviewed medical research explained why I was getting worse over time the longer I stayed on psych meds. I simply couldn’t ignore the science and research that long-term use of psych meds is linked to disastrous and debilitating outcomes, like mine.

The last several years have been a long hard road and yet there is no turning back for me. I am tapering off psych meds for the last and final time. I do not believe these pills are fixing my unbalanced brain chemistry; I believe they are causing it.

In no way do I think I’m an authority on mental wellness; this is only my journey. But I’ll tell you this: we have an epidemic of people taking psych meds for years at a time (sometimes decades) for a host of mental disorders and some of these people are not getting better. I was one of those people for sixteen years.

But it’s not just about me and my story. This is about our collective story, about people and families stuck in a failing system of psychiatry that emphasizes the maintenance of mental illness instead of a focus and commitment to manifesting mental wellness. Therefore, Americans suffering from anxiety, depression, and bipolar aren’t getting treatment options that equate to good, functional outcomes. As a society, we simply cannot lower our standards, accepting disability as a long-term outcome for people with mental health issues.

We must take responsibility for our minds and bodies, and advocate for ourselves as well as one another. When it comes to putting medicine in our bodies, we need to ask tough questions, expect real answers, and then weigh the consequences. And whenever possible, we need to embrace the concept of lifestyle medicine, which may take more energy, effort, time, and work in the beginning, but produce better results with no undesirable side affects.

We need to collaborate with our doctors instead of blindly giving our power away. We must demand holistic approaches for body/mind wellness instead of being seduced by the quick fix of popping pills to mask and numb symptoms. We need to raise our standards of care and expect doctors and holistic practitioners to do extensive blood work and run tests that get down to the root causes and conditions of the symptoms, with the intention to remedy the issues so we can thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally.

For almost two decades, I believed my mind was broken and that only psychopharmaceuticals could balance my brain chemistry. But today, I have hope. Thanks to Robert Whitaker and Dr. Kelly Brogan, I’m beyond the breaking point, and I’m armed with the truth and choices.

And as I taper off a cocktail of psych meds that have held me hostage for sixteen years, I walk confidently, courageously, and with conviction on the path toward mental wellness knowing that I will recover my mind and reclaim my life.

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Michele Waterman
Michele Waterman is a writer, mental health advocate, certified professional coach, and Master Practitioner of NLP, MER®, and hypnosis. Her passion is coaching women in recovery and connecting them to empowering content and tools regarding mindset mastery, the benefits of lifestyle medicine, and holistic approaches that bring harmony to the body/mind connection. Michele’s mantra: Recover Your Mind, Reclaim Your Life.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Great story. I’m amazed that polypharmacy is still alive and well despite all the evidence to the contrary that has been around for years. I’m wondering what other treatments/practices you are following to help ensure a safe landing. Best wishes for a return to complete health!

  2. You were toxic on glutamate brought on by the alcohol and then you were duffed up good and proper by the rest of the drugs. You will find that Mg will control the anxiety due to its role of blocking – controling the transmission of – the NMDA receptor. You will also find that the active form of B6 pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) is used by the body as a co-factor to GAD65 an isoform of the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase which the body uses to synthesize glutamate to gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA).

    Psychiatry is evil and must be abolished.

  3. I was psychiatrically poisoned much more egregiously, and for nefarious reasons I eventually learned from reading medical records, although not for as long. Nonetheless, I have a similar story, and I did heal, so I’m sure you will be able to as well. God bless you on your healing journey and thanks for sharing your story.

  4. “. . . and I was researching bipolar treatment facilities instead of hanging out with my family on the beach.”

    That sounds like me on a family vacation in 2001. I was in bed, semi-unconscious from my Zoloft, and not at the theatre watching the Blue Man Group. These quacks WANT us dominated by their lies and poison at all times. There is ZERO foundation to their “science”, which is why the quacks confine your life to “treatment” and “illness”. They can’t afford to let your life expand beyond that vise. For, if it does, you will probably learn how to TRULY feel well again. The real world tends to work that way, as it has VERY little tolerance for parasitic, shyster quacks. More life = less #FAKESCIENCE.

  5. So many ways I can relate to this story and what the writer has felt during her medication days and attempts to quit. My problem is I was started relatively young and have been on some form of psychotropic medication for the last 30 or so years. Now I am afraid to try to get off because I fear the resulting sicknesses and possible infirmity will cost me my job and I can’t have that. It. Just. Sucks.

  6. Thanks for this article Michele. Your story provides more evidence that psychiatry does not spare even the highly successful, intelligent, and attractive members of society. Of course psychiatry preys upon the vulnerable of society most of all, but no one is immune.

    It sounds like you have begun to discover the truth about psychiatry by reading Whitaker and Brogan. This is a good start. If you would like to learn more, the truth goes even deeper than that: https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/the-truth-about-psychiatry/

    • Greetings to you, slayer of dragons, I dutifully followed your recommendations and read some things by and about Szas to finally get that ‘myth of mental illness’ thing. I now get some of this semantics stuff and what is defined as illness and so on… Now, I told you I am not so much into debating semantics, I rather like to get a grasp of where you are heading with your ideas. I totally get the degree of horrible wrongness that is generated by the field of psychiatry and even worse by its way of reasoning. But what is your approach to… uhm… please be so lenient and let me use ‘mental illness symptoms’ for the sake of simplicity of wording? I was very psychotic more than once and it stemmed from some deep psychological wounds or call it trauma. So I could live by calling it ‘I got ill in my heart and my mind reacted to that’. And I had to recognize this ‘illness’ to understand I need some rest, some hot tea and chicken soup – you get what I’m trying to convey? I needed help in some way. So how would you assess this situation?

  7. Thank you for sharing your Story. It is so important that people hear stories like this. You have been amazing surviving the drugs put into your system, as well as your initial traumas. The latter alone were enough to put most people down and out. Not you!

    I worked as a neuroscientist for 25 years, believing in biochemical theories. I left the field in 2000, knowing this is not what I should be doing to help people. I enjoyed trying to understand the brain, but I sure wasn’t helping people recover from mental health and addiction problems. I have completely shifted over the past 18 years, being a recovery advocate, educating people about trauma and its healing, and aiming to facilitate Indigenous healing. I know I am contributing more now.

    I wish you the very best for your future. Make sure you look after YOU, and your family, first and foremost. Just telling your Healing Story will help others.

    My best wishes, David (Perth, Australia)

  8. Very similar to what was done to me. A couple of things:
    That Trileptal stood out to be. There has never been an iota of evidence that it helps in bipolar. Anyone who prescribed it would have had to pull the idea out of thin air or have been influenced or bribed by Novartis, which was penalized to the tune of $435,000,000 in 2010 for off-label promotion of Trilpetal for mania and for bribing some doctors to prescribe it. The justice department hasn’t been kind enough to tell us which doctors, however.

    Also, Pristiq is just Effexor in a hot pink miniskirt:

    “9. Pristiq | FiercePharma
    https://www.fiercepharma.com/special-report/8-pristiq
    Feb 21, 2017 – Pfizer’s antidepressant Pristiq hit the market in 2008, just as its predecessor, Effexor, was nearing the end of its branded life. As a “new-and-improved” version of Effexor’s active ingredient, venlafaxine, Pristiq was the hoped-for successor to that blockbuster brand, but it never cracked $1 billion in the U.S..”

    “Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets): Side Effects …
    https://www.rxlist.com/pristiq-drug.htm
    PRISTIQ is an extended-release tablet for oral administration that contains desvenlafaxine succinate, a structurally novel SNRI for the treatment of MDD. Desvenlafaxine (O-desmethylvenlafaxine) is the major active metabolite of the antidepressant venlafaxine, a medication used to treat major depressive disorder.”

  9. More evidence that “psychiatrists” are useless, clueless, and dangerous, complacently polypoisoning vulnerable victims while spewing total garbage about imbalances and “diseases”.
    Your greatest luck came in not being electrocuted with ECT for your “treatment resistance” and suicidality. One can recover from years of drug poisoning. The same is not true of brain damaging ECT.

  10. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/01/report-finds-serious-issues-with-use-of-mental-health-act

    “People with the most severe forms of mental illness have the greatest needs and continue to be the most neglected and discriminated against”, said Prof Sir Simon Wessely, who chaired the review.

    https://youtu.be/X-E1iO3rsVk?t=1371

    ‘I hate the word passionate I hate people who say passionate.. I’m passionately against passionate, it’s an awful thing. But I’m strongly in favour of psychiatry OK’

    • Re the Guardian article –

      “Many people interviewed by Wessely’s team believe that being detained was the best thing for them; some said it saved their life and prevented suicide.”

      I can’t tell you how much this makes me shudder. It’s the kind of thing I said myself in the weeks and months after my own hospital experience. The best argument I’ve heard against compulsory treatment is this from Ryan in Australia…
      https://youtu.be/JkdaUWeausg?t=394

  11. A lot of similarities in our stories, although my psychiatric nightmare began in 1982, and I finally came off of all psych drugs in 2001. Started with a few pills, changed a lot over the years, and all the while I was actually working full time in corporate retail, never disabled. It was painful at times, but somehow, I managed and thought I’d be on the pills for the rest of my life, as I was also programmed to believe all the crap about chemical imbalance. As long as I could do all that I wanted to do, I was ok with taking the pills, I thought that was my option in life, if I wanted to live a full life. I figured I’d do my best to live with the side effects. This was life, as I saw it back then.

    It all went south when I started graduate school in counseling psychology. At the same time that I was discovering and moving through the underbelly of society (aka the so-called “mental health” industry), all those pills began to backfire on me, after having taken them dutifully for 15 years. Turns out they had been gradually chipping away at my well-being, toxifying my brain and other vital organs. I’d been doing regular Dr. visits as per protocol, my vital signs would vacillate a great deal, I’d have panic attacks, then the psych drugs regimen would change. This went on for a decade and a half until one shrink ended me up on 9 psych drugs and others to combat side effects. Almost killed me, and naturally, greatly diminished my functioning.

    With the help of a medical intuit and highly trained and seasoned herbalist, both of whom I was most fortunate to find, I finally began to taper in order to save my life. No one around me had ever done this and no one knew what to expect, so upon graduating, I took the plunge and over a period of several months was finally off of absolutely everything, after almost 20 years of living with these drugs disintegrating me.

    What followed was a journey through the public mental health system which was such a brutal awakening, took me years to recover from the trauma of social abuse. It was truly my dark night journey–horrific and awesome at the same time.

    Like you, I began to work with natural healing and I ended up attending a 3 year energy healing program which began my recovery and healing in full force. I subsequently trained with a variety of healers in different healing communities, synthesizing what I was learning and applying it to myself. Just that self-engagement and self-empowerment alone was profoundly healing. In fact, it was transformational.

    Eventually, I, too, left the city and moved to the country with my partner. Internal shifts leading to environmental changes. Seemed like the natural next step for us, and it has been extremely rewarding. We’ve been able to create a great deal, living in nature.

    I love your message and of course I am fully in synch with it. I’ve since left psychology behind altogether, to instead work with our spiritual natures in how that relates to our emotional and physical bodies. That was the door which opened up the universe to me. As a long-time activist, I have found that working with the energy of light is extremely helpful and supportive. Keeps me grounded and in present time, on the pulse of the energy at hand.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and for shining your light as you are.

  12. Thank-you, Michele, for adding your voice to a growing chorus! And WELCOME to >Mad in America<..Yes, I get what you mean when you say that, "we have an epidemic of people taking psych meds for years at a time (sometimes decades) for a host of mental disorders and some of these people are not getting better." But sadly, I think you'll find it's much worse than you imagine. It's NOT ONLY "some of these people" who aren't "getting better". I'd say it's MOST of "these people" who "aren't getting better". They can't. Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drugs racket, and a means of social control. It's 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. The DSM-5 is really best seen as a catalog of billing codes. All of the so-called "diagnoses" in it are bogus, and they were all INVENTED as excuses to $ELL DRUG$. Real people have real problems, but imaginary diseases shouldn't be part of that. And so-called "mental illnesses" are exactly as real as presents from Santa Claus. Psychiatry has done, and continues to do, far more harm than good. I'm familiar with Dr. Kelly Brogan, and I'd say you're in good hands with her. She's one of the shining light exceptions to the rule of psychiatry being a pseudoscience and drug racket. What saved my life was reading Dr. Peter Breggin's "Toxic Psychiatry" in the early 1990's. From what I read here, you've gotten on the best path to recovery and healing. In 2023, today will be 5 years history, and will look VERY different! If I knew then, what I know now, I would NEVER have started with psychiatry and psych drugs in the first place! I'm glad you survived.

  13. This is my story, and reading it… it’s given me so much hope. “Lifestyle medicine”–brilliant.

    The trick? For each person, that medicine “looks” different. It takes an extraordinary amount of time, self-awareness, body-awareness, and personal responsibility–along with a radical commitment to one’s own well-being–to heal yourself from iatrogenesis, and thank you for sharing how you’ve done it, personally.

    For me, playing the piano, every day, singing, running or other forms of working out (when my body allows), and regular behavioral therapy, creating, writing, painting, rest, mindfulness, and more.

    Then there is the cognitive, logical, evidence-based (subjective though it may be) side. Being open to any and all questions about what is, and is not, working, and then open to any and all, possibilities and answers.

    I am currently still in withdrawals from one medication, but took my last dose of the AAP, Latuda, in August of 2016. After 7 months, I developed a cluster of neurological movement disorders. You are familiar with akathisia, I assume. I had that the entire 12-years I was on medications. The “agitated, tx-resistant depression,” oh yes. The weight gain that I cannot, for the LIFE of me, get off, despite my healthy habits.

    But akathisia…

    That has been, to date, the most debilitating of them all for me, and after 14 years, and being told over and over again that NO ONE has ever had such a peculiarly “strong” reaction to these medications… that I am the “Patient A” the “Lucy” of tardive EPS’s…I want to grab every doctor who has said it to me by the collar and say “Does an afternoon on Google frighten you THAT much?”

    The penchant for deferring to authority was bred into me from the moment I knew how to perceive the world as a female, born and raised in the Mormon church. At times, I still struggle with deferring when I should, and rebelling when I most certainly should NOT. If I’m alone with two men in a room, no matter how strong I am, I find myself allowing them to speak over me and agreeing to agree, even when I don’t. It’s a trait I abhor, and yet the game must be played, at times, to get the help I need. It’s a pathological system.

    “Managing expectations” is a common phrase my doctors use with me. I’ve been told to prepare for loss of mobility–with generalized dyskinesia and dystonia. Prepare for walking assistance, they say, and eventually a chair.

    My answer? “Yes, doctors have told me lots of things in the past. So, if I’m going into a chair, I’ll be RUNNING to it, not rolling over because essentially, you keep telling me to give up.”

    I’m placing my bets on my will to survive, thrive, and overcome over their need to be right–and their scramble to have job security. And I believe the survival instinct in my case is more fierce, more powerful, than the “need” for a 6-figure income and their quickly waning relevance in the healthcare system, because mine is literally about survival, not comfort.

    The most insidious thing they did with their willful ignorance was give me medications that caused in me a fatal loss of hope. I can’t tell you how hard that was, and is, at times, to come by. But you know, don’t you? And now, as the world is waking up thanks to you, Bob, me (I hope) and others…

    …hope springs sempiternal, once again, and I thank you for giving your thoughts, time, and energy to helping those of us who are told “it’s YOU, not us.” We know that. But it helps so much to hear it, again, and again, from people like you, who have the courage to lift us all with your truth.

    Again, thank you for this.

    All my best–

    JulieAnn