Functional Medicine: My Path Out of Psychiatry

Elizabeth Dixon
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I first started an antidepressant regimen at 17 years old. Overwhelmed by high school relationships gone bad, family dynamics I couldn’t control, a poor body image, and an innate drive for perfection, I succumbed to distorted thinking patterns that paved the way for my first “diagnosis,” the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.

After seeing my primary care doctor and a psychotherapist, I pursued the typical treatment model: nutrition counseling, therapy, and medication. I started taking the SSRI Prozac at a dose of 20 mg, which my doctor eventually increased to 60 mg, while also seeing a registered dietitian who promoted the good ole’ food pyramid, packed with daily doses of grains and wheat. Fortunately, I responded to treatment pretty quickly and many of my symptoms subsided over time. My bodyweight returned to normal and I eventually started having regular periods again. I continued to struggle with anxiety, obsessive tendencies, cold hands, and mood swings, but these symptoms were manageable.

I remained on my SSRI during my senior year of high school and into my college years. I was told by my parents, doctors, and society that I needed this drug, that my brain was serotonin deficient. That I was bound to be on this medication, perhaps indefinitely, in order to stay well. I initially welcomed this perspective, as it lessened the burden of owning responsibility for my overall mood and mental health. After all, if my brain was deficient in some way, then I couldn’t help it, and I could blame my social anxiety, obsessive mannerisms, and mood swings on my “illness.”

My First Attempts to Wean

Enter my senior year of college. I was about to embark on a new journey in life, and after five faithful years of staying on my SSRI, I wanted to explore the idea of finally getting off. While the medication had helped with many symptoms, I felt blunted in my emotions and personality and wanted to uncover the “real” Elizabeth, who had been somewhat masked for those years. However, I attempted to wean off my then-dose of 10 mg of Lexapro very quickly, within about a week, which left me feeling very agitated, anxious, and deeply distressed.

My obsessions kicked into full gear and I ruminated constantly over major and minor things — like what to do with the leftover cafeteria lunch in my fridge, and whether or not I was in the “right” relationship with my boyfriend at the time (now my husband). I tried to stay off of the medication as long as I could, but these symptoms were really interfering with my life. I soon started back with my SSRI again, more convinced that I needed this medication and that all of this anxiety was solely related to relapse rather than to withdrawal.

Flash forward to 2017. I was recently married and had just finished graduate school. I was working in my first big-girl job as an outpatient therapist for children and families. At the time, I was taking 75 mg of yet another SSRI, Luvox, and a starting dose of Wellbutrin. My psychiatrist from the university recommended these specific psych meds to help with the sexual side effects that I was experiencing with my husband. I had little to no sex drive and it devastated me as a newlywed.

After working at my new job for about three months, I decided to come off my medications once again, believing that I was in a more stable place overall. I had also recently watched the documentary “What the Health” and decided to become a vegetarian/vegan, thinking that I could heal my body through dietary changes. I started eliminating all animal proteins and welcomed soybean burgers, tofu, and whole-wheat pasta and bread. Despite feeling worse overall, I was convinced that this diet could cure my anxiety, preserve the planet, and help me achieve an SSRI-free life. Then, over the course of about three weeks, I weaned myself completely off of all medications (except my birth control pills, of course). Soon after, however, my well-known friends of anxiety, panic, and extreme obsession returned. I started experiencing crying spells and emotional meltdowns both at home and at work.

After a few weeks of this chaos, and without acknowledging any other factors that could be at play (poor diet, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalances — which were actually lurking under the surface at this time), I soon returned to another well-known friend: the SSRI.

The Last Straw

My next weaning attempt came in October 2018, 10 years since I’d first started my antidepressant regimen. This one was far different from the others. I had recently started seeing a new psychiatrist, who’d recommended that I add a low dose of the antipsychotic Abilify to “help” the Luvox better manage my residual anxiety. This, however, was my tipping point. One of my internships in grad school had been in a psychiatric hospital, where many of the residents were pumped full of high doses of Abilify and other antipsychotics. My psychiatrist recommended this medication with such certainty and ease, but I saw red flags everywhere. I filled the prescription, but couldn’t bring myself to actually purchase the drug, and told my pharmacist I’d take only the Luvox.

Even more frightening, I discovered inconsistencies among mental health professionals regarding how these drugs worked. I could no longer keep taking my Luvox with a clear conscience. During my next session with my psychiatrist, I advocated ending my SSRI treatment. She didn’t agree but was willing to work with me. I was instructed to lower my Luvox dose to 50 mg immediately and then stop taking it completely after 10 days. I was skeptical. “Are you sure this isn’t too quickly?” I asked. After all, I had tried tapering on a similar time frame before. My psychiatrist assured me that 10 days was the “standard” protocol for a wean like this. I faced the initial wave of discontinuation symptoms, but they soon passed about a week after finishing my last dose.

Killer Insomnia

However, right at the six-week mark of being totally off Luvox, I hit a brick wall: insomnia. Prior to this, I had always slept relatively well; I maintained solid sleep hygiene routines, averaging about eight or nine hours per night. But this night paved the way for a new challenge I was not prepared for. In addition, each time I tried falling asleep, I experienced strange electric-shock sensations that originated in my brain and coursed through my entire body, causing my legs to jolt, heart to race, and sweat to pour over my skin in a matter of moments. I tried explaining these sensations to my friends and family, but no one could really understand what I was talking about.

I began averaging about two or three hours of sleep a night, with about one or two days of no real sleep at all each week. Around this time I also experimented with CBD oil, which provided relief from stress but didn’t appease the insomnia itself. It seemed like nothing could touch this beast of a thing (yes, I tried melatonin). I spent hours in the sauna and inhaled multiple essential oils. I took various supplements while drinking sleepy-time tea into the night.

Each morning I painfully rolled out of bed and forced myself on long morning runs, hoping to tire myself out enough to fall asleep the next night. My job became incredibly challenging as I struggled to keep up with documentation and assessments, and I started taking hours and hours of work home with me each week to stay afloat. I also started experiencing new symptoms, including heart palpitations, neck throbs, and weight loss.

My behavior was also getting out of control. Some nights at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., after realizing that I would miss sleep once again, I would angrily stomp around the house and throw random cups and objects, frightening the dogs and scaring my husband. At times I would hit myself out of annoyance, feeling like I needed to punish myself to appease the rage in me. After two months of intense sleep deprivation, I knew something had to change.

Functional Medicine: A Different Approach

Knowing that my psychiatrist and other “standard” medical professionals would insist I start back on my SSRI to end the sleeplessness, I continued to stay clear of the drugs. I did some research for myself and discovered the Functional Medicine movement, a form of integrative medicine that focuses on addressing the root causes of a person’s symptoms rather than merely treating the symptoms themselves. I made an appointment at a holistic clinic in Fort Mill, South Carolina run by functional medicine practitioner Dr. Kristien Boyle and his team. After my initial meeting with Dr. Boyle, he sent me on my way with a Whole 30 cookbook and instructed me to give up all forms of gluten, dairy, and my processed soy burgers, which he told me were causing inflammation and wreaking havoc on my gut. I also had extensive lab work done, and the results were mind-boggling.

My blood work indicated a host of issues that had been lurking under the surface of my “psychiatric diagnoses” for years. Some of the major culprits included thyroid dysfunction (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), Pyroluria (a genetic abnormality which can lead to deficiencies in zinc and B6, leading to symptoms of depression and anxiety), elevated histamine and copper (which can contribute to anxiety, OCD tendencies, depression, and sleep disorders), and low cholesterol (which can affect mood and mental ill-health). In addition, a saliva test ordered by Dr. Boyle showed that I had hormonal imbalances, including low levels of estrogen and progesterone, which had sent me into an early, mini menopause.

Later on, I came to think, “Where were these tests when I first entered treatment as a 17-year-old?” And why was I the one to initiate these tests by seeking out Dr. Boyle and his team? I’ve seen various mental health professionals (therapists and psychiatrists), and none have recommended these types of tests, or stopped to think about any underlying factors, aside from the well-known “serotonin myth.”

I was provided with a detailed supplement protocol and instructed to steer clear of all forms of gluten, as this was a major trigger for my Hashimoto’s. I also engaged with an amazing practitioner who introduced me to the Emotional Freedom Technique (sometimes called a psychological version of acupuncture) and the Alpha-Stim device (an electrotherapy device designed to relieve symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia). All of these changes did help with my mood and anxiety overall, but they didn’t relieve the ongoing churn of insomnia.

At this point, though, it may have been too late. Nothing would relieve my sleepless nights; it was as if my mind had forgotten how to sleep. I also switched jobs, which decreased stress but didn’t touch the insomnia. Sleep deprivation was taking its toll on my mental and physical health. After six months of averaging two to three hours of sleep per night, I was wiped out, hopeless, and suicidal. I entertained thoughts of driving off bridges, running away, and stabbing myself with knives. In my 27 years of life, these thoughts had never before occupied my mind.

A Return to SSRIs… Plus Benzos

Six months. The longest time I had been off SSRI’s since starting them, roughly 10 years ago. After an intense, bloody battle, I waved the white flag. During my next session with my psychiatrist, however, I needed some questions answered. “Do you think all of this insomnia could have been avoided if I had weaned off slower… like over the course of a month rather than two weeks?” I asked. She shook her head and confidently denied this as a possibility. I was stunned and highly annoyed. It was reinforced instead that I needed to be on this medication to balance certain chemicals in my brain that were contributing to my anxiety, depression, and insomnia. I also asked how my hormones might be playing a role in my symptoms, specifically with my going off of birth control pills a couple of months earlier. Again, she shook her head.

I felt frustrated and bitter, not just because I had to get back on the SSRI, but also because of the lack of consensus within the mental health community at large. “How could one practitioner say one thing, and another recommend something totally different?” I thought. Regardless, I was out of options, and so that night I swallowed my pride along with my medicine.

A Better Life

Fast forward about six months later. I’m still following the meal plan and detailed supplement protocol my functional medicine practitioner prescribed for me. My thyroid levels are back in range, among other improvements that were indicated in my final blood work. And I can tell because I feel so much better. I also started seeing a new psychiatrist, who proposed a better plan for trying to taper off SSRI’s a final time by going a bit slower than before. After two months of tapering, cutting the starting dose of the Luvox pill into small pieces, I recently stopped taking the drug completely. And guess what? I’m doing well overall.

On one of my more trying days, Dr. Boyle asked me in his English accent, “Do you believe there are always some sort of lessons that can be learned?” “Yes…” I choked out through my tears. “I think so.” Since then, I’ve embraced a new narrative, one that rises above the notion that I am inevitably flawed and broken. I am not ruled by my anxiety or any other psychiatric labels assigned to me. Sure, I go through phases where I’m scared straight, fearful of repeating the same pattern again. But this round, things feel a bit different, for the better. I’ve chosen to embrace boldness, vulnerability, and persistence, while not running from the uncertainty this process seems to hold. After all, I’d rather swallow that instead.

140 COMMENTS

  1. This demonstrates why you should get the functional testing done early, BEFORE you go see conventional shrinks. If you’ve got to see a shrink, look for an orthomolecular practitioner- they’ll do functional testing as well, before they prescribe anything. Actually, some of these tests can be quite cheap- a lot cheaper than continuous visits to a conventional practitioner with an eternally ready prescription pad.

  2. I can’t help but wonder if you’ve ever been subjected to an involuntary commitment Elizabeth.

    I had struggled to sleep for 2 days because I was packing my property and that was considered enough to justify drugging me with benzos without my knowledge and planting a knife on me to obtain a police referral. Jumped in my bed, not informed I had been ‘spiked’ , and subjected to 7 hours of interrogation in a cage and I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in 8 years.

    Oh and the title Your Path out of Psychiatry. In my country if you have ever spoken to a ‘mental health professional’ in your life, you are considered a “patient” for life. This allows arbitrary detentions for doctors. Make a phone call and have police bring them in for questioning. And along with that label comes the removal of your human rights, something that you don’t recognise until you say something one of your friends or colleagues doesn’t agree with. Then they are free to spike you and see that you receive the ‘treatment’ you don’t recognise that you need. Your anasognosia is getting in the way of my ability to impose my view of the world on others so to speak lol.
    There is no Path Out in my country. Even the UN stated that Australian Mental Health Laws ARE a violation of human rights and that the treatments MAY constitute Torture (difficult to prove intent if Doc keeps his/her mouth shut). And might I say even paying tens of thousands of dollars does not ensure treatment remains confidential. Don’t keep paying and they release the information to the public system and subject you to an ‘intervention’ the likes of which I have described.

    If they weren’t called Doctors they call this extortion. Won’t talk to me and pay the 600, then i’ll arrange for you to talk to someone else by spiking you and having police rough you up a bit first. We call that inducing an ‘acute stress reaction’ and with the spiking to assist us we are now free to torture and exploit the loophole of “having lawful sanction” because we tricked poilce into making referral :). How clever, and they get to call this ‘medicine’. These people are a disgrace to the rest of the folk who are doing their best to help people. A cancerous growth seeking to enrich themselves with no moral compass to guide them. And with the full support of our Chief Psychiatrist and Minister for Mental Health I might add.
    And should ypou complain about psychiatry reopening the path via these methods? Then the slandering of you begins and they release the medical records to the public and claim your illness is back to haunt you. Gaslighting leading to so many suicides, and they don’t even need to wash the blood from their hands, and can claim their is MORE need for their services.
    I’m thinking of the Operations Manager who after doing a formal investigation told me that if I didn’t stop complaining they would “fuking destroy” me. And she was right, she has been given the authority to do this to me and many others.
    So it might appear you have found a path out but its a circular path downwards i’m afraid. Didn’t notice the sign? Abandon hope all yeah who enter?

    • It was my understanding that once my referral expired (after one year) that I was a free agent and that if I chose not to continue with the service I had received than I did not renew that referral. I was originally referred for a report about a workplace incident. And I assume that those at the service knew this also as when I started going to the police with the documents showing the kidnapping and torture they tried to get me to have a referral from my GP back dated to cover their butts so to speak. (Ie “oh sh*t he isn’t a “patient” anymore, that makes this a kidnapping. Sokay unintended negative outcome to the rescue). This was a great way of testing the integrity of those involved, especially given the pressure of acting before the police smelled a rat. In fact I think they seem to have lost any sense of smell at all given how long it took them to catch up (just over 2 years lol)
      Luckily the police won’t lift a finger to assist anyone who has been called “patient” by a doctor (no checking, they just accept that if a doctor says patient it musty be true) without the doctor first providing the green light. Which when you think about it leaves people in the same situation as the guy who escaped from Jeffrey Dahmer, only to find himself handed back by police because of his ‘illness’. I think he later killed and ate this man but ….. all jokes aside.
      The documents that were sent to the Mental Health Law Centre told a completely different story to what actually occurred. The ‘real’ set showed a man had been ‘spiked’ with benzos, had a Community Nurse lie to police and request assistance with someone he knew was not a “patient” and then let the person who had spiked him know they were on their way and to plant the items police needed to detain and refer immediately to Community Nurse (ie a knife and some cannabis). He then had a Doctor sign a prescription for the benzos that were administered without knowledge to someone he hadn’t even met and wasn’t even a “patient”. This guy would be aof great value to night club rapists. The “edited” (i prefer the real term of fraudulent) set showed a man who had been a “patient” of said hospital for 10 years was not cooperating with his Nurse and therefore police were called to get him and take him to the hospital.

      With the ability to “edit” documents like this no one is safe. And claiming that because you spoke to a psychologist in school that 50 years later you can be subjected to spikings and having evidence planted on you to make referral appear lawful because your still someones “patient”? You would think that in a civilized society I would be able to access legal services and at least have some form of help offered. Not so, in fact these guys tried to have me murdered in an ED (contact me for details should anyone require information about the methods being used, and why police find it impossible to act against these criminals). These are ‘medical ‘ matters and get referred to a toothless watchdog. The wheels on the bus go round and round …….
      There is even a section in the Mental Health Act that makes it quite clear that the time limit for referral is 48 hours after having physically examined the target. And that referral after this time is unlawful. Guess thats why they are having to trick police into making referrals for them. And surely the Minister and Chief Psychiatrist are aware of this and simply turn a blind eye, they of course know how difficult the job is and have no respect for the protections afforded the public by the law. Probably the reason that our Chief Psychiatrist doesn’t do anything about the corrupt practice of ‘verballing’ either. He accepts the Community Nurses ability to travel through time and space to make observations and his ability to read minds unquestioned. My how psychology has advanced since I did my degree.
      So in your situation Elizabeth it might feel like you have found a path out of Psychiatry. But should you ever find yourself in conflict with say your husband, wave goodbye to your human and civil rights immediately. Your always going to be “patient” from this point on. The “identified patient” is the term I’ve found most fitting. I can’t even get a list of who can drug me without knowledge or with what drugs. Despite being able to prove that it is being authorised by the Minister. Imagine that.

      • I also note that our Prime Minister is backing away from agreements made with the UN. We need to be “independent” he tells us and do what it is Australians want and not what some busybody internationalist want.
        Things like get rid of the Convention against the use of Torture. As my situation (and that of many others) shows Australians are in agreement that we should be able to torture anyone we like. Can’t have people disagreeing in a democracy.
        And the Euthanasia Bill. We need to get that through quickly. Australians want that too. Just don’t bring it up during the election campaign and then drop it on the table after. The public isn’t sophisticated enough to understand what they are voting on. So lets not give them the opportunity and just tell them that “most people” want it. Most people want the death sentence too but …… oh wait I get it.
        Covenant on human rights down the toilet too. And these politicians are going to claim it’s what Australians want? With 20 percent of the population labelled mentally ill i guess that lot doesn’t count.
        Looks like were in for one Hell of a ride. We’re buying a heap of weapons, removing civil and human rights, and making back room deals with no accountability to a public that is forced to vote for politicians they don’t want?
        Count me out people, i’m looking for a new place to rest my Boans. Whats the process for seeking asylum from a government that allows such abuses? Doesn’t matter really I guess they will fiddle with the documents to make what they want to be true anyway.

      • Both good questions zendogbreath.
        The first one seems fairly obvious. I often lay awake at night and wonder why the Doctor who interrupted the attempt to have me murdered in the ED didn’t just let them go one step further before stopping Dr I’m the boss around here. I know the explaination I was given was that he didn’t have the stomach for it, though his history of unauthorised experimentation on his own patients would suggest otherwise. Still, that was all sorted out with a sheep dip in the psychiatric system so…….
        The second question I find a lot more interesting. I guess my first response would be to suggest that in order to ensure that you keep the rights you have, you exercise them when they are being abused. Collectively. The ‘faces of fear’ I have seen when people (like lawyers or doctors) figure out what i’m saying is true are a clue. It shouldn’t be like that unless your government has gone beyond the point of no return. Not that I would compare them to the National Socialists in Germany, those guys showed a lot more intelligence and had nice uniforms. These guys are more a rag tag bunch of terrorists like ISIS. Chasing their own tails and on a date with destiny. But in the meantime they will do a lot of damage.
        Deal with them now or suffer the consequences later I would suggest. Stand up to them when the evidence is there despite the threats and intimidation, lest they become emboldened and enabled by the failure to hold them to account.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Elizabeth. It is SO important this information gets out there and these stories get told! Your ordeal with insomnia resonated with what I endured when chemo/steroids triggered major insomnia and I began taking a hypnotic drug Imovane and later a psychiatrist threw in an assortment of additional psych drugs (and totally disbelieved the horrible effects of the drugs)

    As your story and others demonstrate all psychiatry has to offer is psych labels, damaging drugs and more damaging drugs. (and other barbaric treatments such as ECT) To never acknowledge any “other factors” is psychiatry’s calling card. It’s hard to believe and incredibly ignorant how psychiatry ignores and dismisses all root causes, context and circumstances of one’s life as if it bears no weight whatsoever in the situation.

    Your strength and persistence to do what feels right for you and not swallow anymore pysch drugs is paying off. I am very happy to hear you are doing better these days and send you best of wishes.

  4. “I experienced strange electric-shock sensations that originated in my brain and coursed through my entire body, causing my legs to jolt, heart to race, and sweat to pour over my skin in a matter of moments. I tried explaining these sensations to my friends and family, but no one could really understand what I was talking about.”

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, they’re called “brain zaps” or “brain shivers” on the internet. The “mental health” workers knew nothing about them until 2005, as documented in this article. I had the misfortune of initially experiencing “brain zaps” in 2001.

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychiatric-bulletin/article/brain-shivers-from-chat-room-to-clinic/642FBBAE131EAB792E474F02A4B2CCC0/core-reader

    Brain zaps are a common symptom of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antidepressant_discontinuation_syndrome

    Thanks for sharing your story about the hardships of antidepressant withdrawal, Elizabeth. Especially since our psychiatrists know nothing about the adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms of the drugs they prescribe. They only know what big Pharma tells them, which is a bunch of misinformation.

    Psychiatrists should be reminded, however, that people are only as credible as their sources of information. And big Pharma is no longer being seen as a source of credible information.

    https://www.amazon.com/Truth-About-Drug-Companies-Deceive/dp/0375760946

    So society’s trust in those, whose only sources of information are un-credible sources of information, like big Pharma, should not be trusted. Thus the psychiatrists should not be trusted.

    Please keep that in mind in your job as a social worker, but do be cautious. Since our “mental health system” is a nasty system, controlled by incompetent and misinformed psychiatric fraudsters, who literally would prefer to kill millions of people, than confess to their ignorance and fraud. And they’ve been killing millions for decades.

    https://www.naturalnews.com/049860_psych_drugs_medical_holocaust_Big_Pharma.html

    But I’m glad you, too, escaped the iatrogenic illness creation system, that is our psychiatric system.

  5. It’s always amazing to me how many psychiatrists have little to no idea at all about any of the drugs that they constantly foist onto other people. What is truly shocking is the fact that they think that people can taper off these devil’s tic tacs in ten days with no problems! I knew a long time ago that getting off the so-called “antidepressants” would take a long, long taper. The only chemical imbalance in a person’s brain is the one caused by the “antidepressants” themselves! It’s past time that these psychiatrists get informed about what they’re doing to people because it’s truly criminal.

    • furies – I can offer you what I was told years ago and continue to practice. Exercise, Nature, Nutrition and Using your imagination. . . A good sweat once or twice a week, or, just cleaning. Walking, short strides while swinging your arms, getting your heart rate up and keeping it up for 20 minutes several times a week. This doubles as a way to clear your mind from distractions (it does in my case). Nature . . . you need exposure to sunlight and the natural world. If a park is nearby, especially one with trails, walk through and stop and listen to the leaves. Nutrition – watch out for corn syrup products and high sodium. Corn syrup is in many items, but by reading the labels, you can avoid much. The same goes for sodium. If you read a label and it has a lot of sodium, but salt is not listed, chances are the sodium is coming from MSG (avoid it). Reduce Television time and read a book. Libraries are full of decent novels that can expand your imagination well beyond what a television show offers. Additionally, it promotes more positive stimulation and you can carry it with you. THEN there is SLEEP. Adequate quantity/quality of sleep is the key equalizer in the average persons’ brain chemistry. I am sure you have heard, “sleep on it, you’ll feel better in the morning?” This is largely true.

  6. Elizabeth – Question about how you originally got involved “psychiatrically.” The issues you were dealing with as a teen, were you first seen by your MD, then referred to a Psychiatrist? Did find your root causes of the way you felt then? . . leading to the psychiatric drug madness?

    I am well aware how “conventional” medicine has moved away from wellness. The only place I have for conventional medicine are issues involving the Emergency Room. . . for example, deep lacerations or a broken limb. Complementary Medicine is where you go to get healing. The unfortunate issue is that Complementary (aka Alternative) medicine is almost always out of pocket and can seem extremely expensive for those who always used insurance.

    What most don’t know, complementary practitioners are looking for different markers in their bloodwork . . . often times their tests are so expansive, they can tell you the last time you had asian food. The good practitioners look at the Mind-Body connection from a different viewpoint. As such, they have a better understanding of the many interactions in the human body that correlate to exposures to toxins and prolonged stress and their interrelation along with their physicial/medical pronouncement. Good complementary practitioners are hard to find, but they are everywhere.

  7. Beautifully told Elizabeth! As you stated “Where were these tests when I first entered treatment as a 17 year old?” There should be a law mandating a comprehensive physical (metabolic panel and CAT scan, etc.) before any regiment of psychotropic drugs can be administered (a 10 day emergency declaration the only exception, for example). This would at least provide the patina of science to psychotropic drug ‘treatment” which, as your psychiatrist demonstrated, is as about as epistemologically sound as a ten year-old with his/her first chemistry set. I keep wondering…when have enough stories like yours and so many others going to result in a class action lawsuit: not to win so much), but as a watershed to the diseased, false psychiatric narrative itself?

  8. Elizabeth, I am glad you have realized and then found appropriate help in your life journey.
    However, like LabenderSage, I left social work. In my time, any chemical intervention or neurotoxin regime was only used after ALL therapeutic efforts were literally exhausted. This has changed drastically and I consider it almost to child abuse levels and I bending backwards here.
    If you loo at the profession some good stuff but it came and was created by rich white privelged women- similar too but not exactly like the women suffragettes and early feminists. Not taking anything away from the good but they did kowtow to the male powers that be many more times that they should have. And look at the CEOs and CFO’s and Directors of most agencies – most male
    I am glad you have enlarged your vision and your story of struggling with Chemical intervention while working which is I think, par for the course these days.Just the paperwork alone is enough for any sane individual to seek substances to cope with the emotional morass.
    Please think on what you can do next.

  9. Elizabeth, thanks for your kind reply. Paperwork – many good social workers resigned or were fired because the paperwork just became to hard to handle. It is one of the many elephants in the living room.
    I worked in a residential center during grad school and none of the girls were on any type of chemical intervention. When I had worked in a camp for dev. disabled kids I knew of only one kid and he usually had two volunteers assigned during outside trips. It was never what is wrong with this kid, the philosophy as I learned it was more like Montessori – How can we make it easier?
    Jane Addams, and others led interesting lives. Jane developed Hull House a kind of settlement house. Tons of info on her and others if one looks. Should be taught in school.
    I would suggest you look into creating or following a psych survivor group or program. Soteria and others involved on this site. I had lots of issues with NAMI somehow the DD movement was more into independence than the MH system. Might have something to do with both financial funding and stigma.
    Trauma I would urge to look into that as well- that is the core and key to many but not all.
    One of the ways I cope with my psych survivor life is learning new things. It’s a great distraction and life doesn’t feel so lonely. TH White recommended it!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My experience (unfortunately) is eerily similar. The electrical jolts, paired with reading Anatomy of an Epidemic, was what prompted me to get off my meds. I titrated myself and spent a lot of time pushing for further testing and seeing specialists (OBGYN, Endocrinologist) searching for answers, which I didn’t get until seeing a functional Medicine doctor. I felt all the frustrations you expressed and was left wondering how to challenge the model we are all presented with: your brain has a deficiency, take these meds. I‘m surrounded by friends and family who all continue to be fed this model, even defending it, so I have to be very careful in how I share my experience. After stopping the meds, it was never any worse than I was on them all—in fact, it was actually better because I didn’t have the long list of side effects. This model of looking at mental health is so much more empowering, whereas previously I felt hopeless and resigned to my brain “deficiency”. Obviously I still have tough days, but instead of expecting a pill to fix that, I’m understanding and working through years of trauma and building the skill set to process the information my body is trying to tell me, instead of silencing it.

  11. Elizabeth, I read your story with interest and investigated your blog. I have 2 questions for you:

    ✔ PHILOSOPHY:

    I understand pushback against the psychiatric community and Big Pharma for labeling depression and anxiety as “illnesses” attributable to chemical imbalances, and profiting from treatments and medications.

    But when I look at Functional Medicine, I see similar ideas. According to FM, emotional symptoms can result from nutritional deficiencies, hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, thyroid issues etc.

    You were diagnosed with pyroluria, a genetically-aquired chemical imbalance in the brain that causes symptoms like ADHD, antisocial behavior, anxiety, depression, explosive temper, and fatigue.

    Diagnosis and treatment for FM is usually not covered by insurance. To cover tests and nutritional therapy, patients can join the Kalish Institute for $300-$5,000 each year (per their website). Supplements, etc., wouldn’t be included in this cost.

    Patients at Front Range Functional medicine generally invest between $3,000 and $15,000 on their care (per their website).

    The article “4 Ways to Make Your Functional Medicine Clinic More Profitable” on the Lifestyle Matrix website says:

    “The average plan costs the patient between $6,000 and $8,000 for the 10 to 12 months they work with us.”

    A survey by the Institute for Functional Medicine survey says the average annual income of an FM practitioner is $130,000, “the lowest income among all medical specialties.” (But do FM practitioners aren’t required to have a medical degree.)

    I’m NOT saying any treatment should be given away for free. We live in a Capitalistic society, and people have to earn an income.

    But FM and psychiatry seem to share a basic premise: trauma and life circumstances can play a role — but emotions are affected by chemical imbalances in the brain or body, and can be treated with substances (either dietary supplements, a $2B industry, or or Rx meds). Many people are in both types of therapy with blessings from the practitioners. So what is the PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE between the two approaches?

    ✔FAITH

    I was intrigued by your your gentle reference to your faith. What are your thoughts about how faith figures in to the emotional picture?

    I’m sure you’re aware that John Piper teaches that anxiety and depression can be caused by (literally) Satantic forces.

    Also, I’m wondering how you feel about Piper’s stance on divorce (never acceptable for any reason, including adutery, abandonment or abuse); homosexuality and gay marriage (sinful, incompatable with Christian faith; a “path to eternal distruction”); and salvation (only accessible to born-again Christians, with everyone else — about 85% of people on the planet — consigned after death to “eternal conscious torment in hell.”

    *This isn’t a troll question. It is VERY RELEVANT in discussion of trauma.*

    You may be unaware of it, but there’s a huge number of religion survivors who developed anxiety, depression, PTSD, self-harm, sexual dysfunction, and suicidally as a direct result of “Desiring God” and similar theologies. ExVangelical, No Longer Quivering and Kiss Shame Goodbye are just three of them.

    Religious Trauma Syndrome is a very big thing out there, and Piper’s teachings open a door to it. I’m curious about your thoughts.

    Thanks.

    • Any and all ideas that work can and will be co-opted and subverted when and where it’s worth it. Crime that pays is crime that stays. First need in process of reversing the crimes is avoiding being a victim. Elizabeth is lucky. So far. There but for the grace of God, all of us can go the route Boans is so far stuck with.

    • To Scary Black Kitten’s comment, I understand being leery of any biological explanations pointing to physical imbalances, given the myths perpetrated by psychiatry. But as someone who benefitted greatly from functional medicine myself when I was having a mental health crisis more than a decade ago, I think it’s a mistake to reject any and all medical explanations for our suffering.

      One important difference between the standard chemical-imbalance concept and the concepts of functional medicine is that the former has little evidence to back it up (including no blood tests) while the latter does. Our nutrition status and other health issues do affect how we feel emotionally and mentally, which is why too often medical problems are misdiagnosed as “mental illness.” Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, can lead to brain fog and even psychosis-like symptoms. Too little or too much estrogen can wreak havoc with one’s mood, as most menopausal women can tell you.

      Also, psych drugs do not actually fix anything in our brain or elsewhere, whereas diet and nutrition and hormones (etc.) actually can correct underlying health issues, so a person is better positioned to address life problems that may be causing emotional distress and disability.

      Physical “imbalances” of this nature are real, but they are not the whole story. So while functional medicine may sometimes be necessary, it’s not always sufficient to lighten our soul’s burden.

      As to the cost, I was able to buy all the supplements and such prescribed to me because I was lucky enough to be economically privileged, with good health insurance. (I also had a doctor who knew the right codes to use for me to get at least some reimbursement.) As Elizabeth said, the only way to overcome the very high cost of tests and ‘treatment’ is for insurers to start covering them, which could save a tremendous amount of money in the long run. Or maybe we will get Medicare for All or even single-payer healthcare (one can dream)…

      • I’m all for better diet and nutrition myself. You can test for deficiencies in iron and B12 and other stuff.

        Long term psychiatry messed up my gut so I need supplements. B12 shots every month and iron infusions every winter.

        Counterproductive to helping anemia or vitamin deficiencies.

      • Imbalances can be a touchy subject here, because some of the contributors have confused real medicine with psychiatric pseudo-medicine, which doesn’t seem to grasp the idea that your mind functioning well is dependent on how well the rest of your body functions, thus ignoring things like metabolic imbalances, allergies and heavy metal poisoning as sources of mental disturbances.

      • I agree with you. The idea that any one intervention will help in ALL cases of “depression” or “ADHD” or whatever label psychiatry wants to toss out is the central problem. There are real, physiological problems that can affect mood and behavior, and they ought to be identified and dealt with through testing and smart interventions. I only protest when someone suggests that ALL such issues can be handled by nutrition or any other specific intervention. Everyone is different, and how they feel is a very sketchy guide for intervention. Good research and exploration is the key to finding out what is actually needed, instead of assuming that someone feeling depressed or anxious is enough information to know what to do.

  12. Appreciate your exit from Plato’s cave. And your slow realization that there are people you have met over the years who profitted and can profit again from forcing you back inside. I also appreciate your courage to address boans’ comments. That is the scary suburban gulag archipelago we all face – some knowingly like boans and the rest of us not so much.

    Could you and any commenters here please address how to avoid and/or reduce risks of such attacks.

  13. Elizabeth it’s funny how many churches teach the members that psychiatry is the cure for emotional pain and host NAMI in the church basement. One mega church I attended had the nurse and counselor from the local mental illness center get up and preach the Gospel of Psychiatry. How Science has proven we have chemical imbalances in our brains to cause depression etc. and only “meds” can save us.

    Why has organized religion sold out to psychiatry? A little online research could show the “chemical imbalance” is a filthy lie, yet they promote this from the pulpits more than Jesus and urge members to see a psychiatrist if they’re sad because their puppy died. I saw this at a megachurch and wanted to puke.

    What is your opinion?

    • Personally Rachel777 I believe that psychiatry grew out of the separation of the State and the Christian church. The State required the control mechanism of the church. They needed to be able to use the slander of demon possession, and subject citizens to forced treatment for the slander. Someone Else has written some great comments about how these old professions have managed to survive and thrive in the modern Nation State.
      Aren’t we all still looking for devil worshipers and witches everywhere? These days we call them terrorists and paedophiles but ……. we still need to be able to make what we do lawful and what they do worthy of punishment of the worst kind, and psychiatry can be used to punish despite the claims these folk are doctors. They are still eavesdropping on the confessional and slipping one off the bottom of the deck during communion. Justice served? Only if it is done minus any corruption in the system.
      I mean when you thin k about it what was the difference between what Ariel Castro did and what was done to me? A licence from the State.
      Anyhow, I’m a great believer that laughter is the best medicine. Heres a video of some people at my local church taking someone to mental health services. 🙂

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU

      • “Terrorists and paedophiles.” You forgot mass shooters.

        Only shrinks claim to be able to discover these people BEFORE they actually commit crimes of rape or murder. Psychic psychiatry. Then they have the right to inflict cruel, unusual punishments on them. Due process?

        “Darn it Jim, I’m a doctor. Not a judge and jury!”

        I thought the belief that you can read minds or see into the future was a symptom of “severe mental illness” but every good tyrant is above his own laws.

        • I liked Dante s’ contrapasso for those who claimed they could look into the future (the Heretics). Their heads were turned around 180 degrees. Perhaps we could overlook the physical effect of doing this as an unintended negative outcome related to the treatment for heresy? A side effect if you will lol

        • It’s good isn’t it Rachel777?

          “I thought the belief that you can read minds or see into the future was a symptom of “severe mental illness” but every good tyrant is above his own laws.”

          I also thought this. When you get banged up over here the person who is exercising that power needs to complete a Form 1 to give the reasons they believe you meet the (non) standards for incarceration and forced drugging. This statutory declaration requires them to state their “observed facts” so that they are not locking people up based solely on communications from others. The Community Nurse who had me snatched from my bed by police made observation that would have required him to travel back in time 3 weeks. He also made the “observation” that I was “having thoughts of harming others” Note others not other after I had an argument with the person who had tried to blackmail my wife, three weeks earlier.
          Now, a person as highly trained as our Chief Psychiatrist you would think would recognise such an illness and yet ……. here he is standing by this ‘verballing’ corrupt public officer. He has no problem with this man travelling through time and space to make his “observations” nor that he is reading my thoughts of harming others. It does however make it easy to abuse the human and civil rights of citizens. Pesky laws getting in the way of arbitrary detentions and giving doctors carte blanche. How to overcome that? Put someone into a position where their negligence means that the rules are not enforced and turn a blind eye to criminals operating within the system.
          Someone like a Chief Psychiatrist who doesn’t know what a burden of proof is, and therefore wouldn’t know a criminal if he tripped over one 30 times a day.
          “Suspect on reasonable grounds” becomes “suspect on grounds he believes to be reasonable”. Thus your failure to report his suspected criminality to the Corruption and Crime Commission under section 28 was because you never suspect? No one ever meets the standard for reporting? Might I suggest that what was done was the apprehension or detention of a person not suffering from a mental illness (s.336 of the Criminal Code with a term of 2 years prison) This meets the standard of mandatory reporting and if not done is an act of Serious Misconduct. Now how could you report if you don’t see the crime? Everyone else can but ….. you can’t.
          Did you write that letter Doc? If so your a disgrace to our community. People paid with their blood for those rights for you to write them away with your negligence. See your duty under the Act. Or is that like our police who can’t find their copy of the criminal code and use negligence to provide support to the criminals operating under your watch? Lucky they’re all so afraid to tell the Emperor he has no clothes and seems to be suffering from some sort of genital rash lol. I’d see a doctor about that Doc.

  14. I haven’t been to a functional doc. But I’ve been reading about it this past year.

    I’ve had depression for decades. And I used to be on antidepressants and antipsychotics. That isn’t what led me to dietary changes, though. I was a sugar addict for my whole life. And weight I had gained wouldn’t go away in my 40s. I had been decreasing sugar for a while. I didn’t make a big difference. Then I tried low-carb paleo. That helped a fair amount.

    Though I felt better, it was only when I when went very low-carb (keto) that I realized my depression had entirely disappeared. No moody funks, brooding, apathy, irritability, etc. Just gone. For all the doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists I went to, not a single one ever recommended functional medicine or anything like it. I never had any tests on much of anything. Most simply told me to take drugs.

  15. Our politians make claims in todays newspaper regarding the claim by a young woman that she has been ‘spiked’ in a niteclub. They are up in arms and looking to have the licence of the owner removed. “Serious incident” “Completely unacceptable”, “Abhorrent and extremeely dangerous” and “Serious issue”.
    I wonder if these politicains making these statements are aware that they have Community Nurses authorising the spiking of citizens with date rape drugs and doctors signing fraudulent prescriptions to conceal these offences? Are they aware that should this young woman walk into a police station to make a complaint they will explain to her that they do not have a copy of the criminal code and if she does not go away she will be arrested?
    Oh that’s right, they thought I was a “patient” and its perfectly acceptable conduct in that instance. In fact, somebody make this young woman into a patient because she simply doesn’t have any proof that she was spiked and is suffering paranoid delusions. It’s quite a common delusion i’m told.
    So the response of the niteclub owner is consistent with the response of the people who concealed the evidence of the spiking in my case and yet they are somehow different?
    So I will be making a few phone calls to see if these politicians are aware of how our police are dealing with these criminal matters, by simply calling them medical issues and turning a blind eye to them.
    If it is “abhorrent and extremely dangerous” why have they told me I will be arrested for being able to prove that it was done? Is it not offensive that it is done to someone with the status of “patient”? Not that I was but it seems to be a preferred false narrative to conceal criminality.
    Is Doctor going to sign a prescripion for the spiker 12 hours after it was done, and allow his patient he hasn’t met yet to be treated without their knowledge?
    Was it not “abhorrent and extremely dangerous” to spike me with benzos because otherwise it was going to be difficult to get me to talk to a verballing public officer? And it would be so difficult to plant evidence for police if I were not unconscious from the spiking?

  16. So I will be making a few phone calls to see if these politicians are aware of how our police are dealing with these criminal matters, by simply calling them medical issues and turning a blind eye to them.

    Do you think they care? Again, psychiatry IS the police in a slightly different form.

    Don’t be a stranger btw Boans. 🙂

    • At times I wonder if they care oldhead, and then I think about the amount of skin cancers that go undetected here in a land where the sun burns you black. Sometimes it’s best you do care about the small spots that seem insignificant, because it can turn into some really bad news for the subject. And whilst our pollies may not seem to be too worried about the small blemish, they will care when their nose is being removed, and not just to spite their face.
      They will care when the methods used are affecting them and theirs. Like our Treasurer fleeing the State when he was about to be referred to a psychiatrist not all of them will escape. And if they have looked at my situation there will be concerns. I sat next to one of our Ministers in the clinic that released my confidential information. Are they aware that this is what is occuring? They had better be for their own sakes .
      Might be best you wash your stockings and suspenders Mr Downer, your closet is going to be opened for all to see what your wardrobe contains (not the person I sat next to) lol

      • They will care when the methods used are affecting them and theirs. Like our Treasurer fleeing the State when he was about to be referred to a psychiatrist not all of them will escape.

        Sort of. Unless they’re a problem for those in power politicians will largely be immune. But it’s like the climate situation: the same sun shines on all of us and we all breath the same air — polluters, politicians and polar bears alike.

  17. I would love me some justice. Can’t see it happening for me.

    “I had a legal victory after experiencing and calling out systemic abuse and discrimination, and what that did was that it gave me confidence.”

    I must live with the fact that my family tells a story about who I am and what I’m about without me being able to voice my own truth, and now with a diagnosis…I must live with the fact that after I’m gone, my side of the story is too.

    Must be nice to get that validation…and JUSTICE.

    • I do want to make clear that yes, while the validation was welcome and also I felt somewhat vindicated in that truth did win out over lies in this case, and it did allow me to shift gears for a change, I’d be hard pressed to call it justice, even though it was a step in the right direction. I’m grateful for this step, but it was really a small one, in the overall big picture. This only happened because of their absolute and extremely stubborn resistance to simply dialogue! It was over the top, the refusal to meet me in the eye and then all the flagrant avoidance. Easy to oppress me while I’m employed by them but in the end, they weren’t so tough, after all. By the time mediation came around, the CEO and Prez had fled, couldn’t even face their responsibilities. And they were running a social service agency? Ee gads!

      And this continued in every single “support and social services agency” thereafter, one after another after another. I wasn’t dependent on any of them by this time, I was a volunteer until I finally gave up altogether on the local level. That’s pure toxic crap, all the way.

      This agency whom I took to legal task was a voc rehab agency to help people on disability transition to gainful employment, and all they knew how to do is to punish people and power struggle with them. They called themselves “progressive” and they were, in reality, Dickensian. I found this permeated the system.

      These people do not know how to dialogue. They can only fight or flee, no middle ground, no reasonability. Power struggle, threats, punishment, and intimidation were their m.o. And completely ignorant of their clientele and their needs, on top of it all. Total sham.

      I got lucky with an astute attorney who could get it, but that was after many doors closing before getting to her. She heard me, that was good fate, but their were tons of legal limitations, which were telling of how the system is skewed, but I had a good opening through ADA, unambiguously.

      Still, it was hardly justice for what this system robbed me of, as it has done to so many others. Plus, after this, I was blackballed from my own field–which, in the end, turned out to be brilliant because I had no choice but to venture out on my own and find my best life. Takes work, but I’m on it. So far it’s fine.

      This agency eventually closed due to loss of funding, leaving people in a lurch and that did not make me feel good, even though I knew it was corrupt. But corruption is a rock and a hard spot, and will always lead to suffering, until one can get away from it and get perspective.

      Reasonable co-creative and problem-solving dialouge can happen when everyone concerned is open and flexible in their thinking. This was never, ever the case exactly where it should have been MODELED, and instead, they *chose* to go down rather to admit fault with anything at all, so that they could have fixed it! Just one cya lie after another, no integrity in the building, no truth, no fairness, all socially acceptable. Sad and frustrating, but it is what it is. “Karma’s a bitch” is my fallback sometimes.

      Vindication is possible, but justice? I think not. Only when this particularly inept and highly vampiristic corporate conglomerate goes away altogether will justice be served, imo, and then finally, we’ll be going in the right direction of sorely needed core change with one more big network of obstacles out of the way. And that is my absolute truth.

      Re family and the stigma and all those projected lies, furies–you know, my legal win did not convince my family of anything. Neither did coming off psych drugs, nor becoming an actor nor making a film nor changing my life. They attached sinister and untrue caveats to any success I had, literally “demeaning” any forward movement.

      They did not want to wake up to their responsibility in all this, that was so clear to me. When people don’t want to wake up to truth, despite plenty of hard and obvious evidence, they just won’t, and they’ll continue to propogate the lies instead in order to keep the illusion going, because it serves their need for denial.

      I just have to know the truth myself, and my partner and friends do, too. But not so much my family, at least for years this was the case. I’ve had many conversations around this with them, with some degree of success, but as of now, I’ve given up on trying to convince anyone of anything, just living my truth now based on my choices.

    • There will be no true justice until psychiatry has been exposed and rejected by the people. Meanwhile you need to reject others’ characterization of you without feeling compelled to defend your existence. This is harder when it’s family but there comes a point where you have to just walk out the door, literally or figuratively.

      • I just realize that ‘me’ is very small…dust in the wind, so to speak.

        “We” are not that important.

        And I have divorced my whole family. I refuse to be abused by people who learned messed up ways to cope with trauma and project it onto me, the family scapegoat.

        Thanks all.

      • I can identify with the ‘family scapegoating’ experienced there, but it hasn’t gotten so severe yet as to require a divorce from my family on my part.

        “The people”, especially families and their ilk, are why psychiatry is in the position it is in today. I’d say we need to work a little harder at informing and changing the hearts and the minds of “the people” than we have. They are, after all, not completely lost. Some of them might even be said to be ‘with us’.