No More Tears: In Memory of Kathleen Fliller

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As Gandhi said: “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”

My friend Kathleen Fliller ended her life last month, on November 23rd, 2021. I am here to share her story.

akathisia suicide
Kathleen Fliller, 1963-2021

I met Kathleen in an online akathisia support group. We decided to exchange phone numbers because we were both seeking more personal support. We talked on the phone for hours and hours a day and our relationship grew rapidly. She shared with me that she had more going on than just akathisia from long-term psych medications and withdrawals. She also shared with me that coming off the medications had painfully helped her recognize the patterns in her life that kept repeating. How she was always looking to love and be loved unconditionally.

She recognized now how she had consistently, unintentionally recreated the same scenario over and over again of being hurt by expectations of love. The drug withdrawal and akathisia had increased this awareness and it hurt her deeply. As her symptoms increased, so did that need to be loved and people fell short because she truly was difficult to love. Like a child, she would cry and shout and yell and tell people what they didn’t want to hear. She would hold people accountable for their actions and their words.

It was a challenge and an honor to be friends with such a beautiful soul. Not many people want to touch the “dark sides” of themselves and the people around them. She would demand that I not “sugar coat” her suffering or my own. She forced me to see my own ugly side and even though it hurt like hell, the integrity and high principles she held our friendship to were rare and treasured.

We skipped the facades, fakery, and masks. It was difficult, and even though we had each other, it was lonely at the same time.

Some people wanted to blame Kathleen’s behavior on psychiatric diagnoses, and that only hurt more. No one is their diagnosis. These psychiatric diagnoses are simply used for coding and billing for insurance purposes. They should never be used as an excuse to love someone less or treat them with disrespect.

We are all broken and we all want to be loved. In my opinion, it’s those people that are the most difficult to love that are here to teach and change the world!

Kathleen had written a 49-page chronicle of her struggles, which she asked me to share with the people she was trying to love: her family, her friends, past co-workers and some of her medical and legal providers. She also asked me to share her story with Mad In America to be published in hopes that it might help others not feel so alone. The following is excerpted from that document.

I loved Kathleen. All of her unlovable parts that were messy and ugly and difficult to love made her more real to me. She will be thoroughly missed. I am so sorry that our society has set up so many broken systems that hurt my friend and anyone that loved her.

“A society is only as healthy as its ideas are humane.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut 

***

This is goodbye. I am dead.

I died due to a horrific, debilitating and devastating neurological injury from prescription drugs. It was drug-induced (iatrogenic) chemical brain damage. This was due to an extremely severe case of cold-turkey withdrawal from SSRI antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

After the cold turkey, the doctors kept on prescribing antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, additional benzos. These additional drugs never worked and they destroyed my already compromised brain and central nervous system. I was continually cold turkey’d off of these meds. The symptoms got severe after I was last kindled off of Xanax in April 2021.

Eight days of hell in an abusive detox facility, scared out of my mind. On phenobarbital, Seroquel, Elavil. I never slept. My body felt horrendous. I took the drugs because I thought they would help me. I had no idea my system was being more and more destroyed. I came out of there in even worse shape, if that was possible. I was traumatized even more. My body was falling apart and I had no idea why.

Akathisia was the worst symptom of all. This is not just about pacing (I walked many, many thousands of miles), there is also the internal part of akathisia. The terror and fear where the nervous system has completely gone haywire. It kept me awake at night.

All the nights when I could manage to lie down for a few minutes, I couldn’t lie flat, left or right. These positions made the uncomfortableness, which I cannot even describe, more severe. It made the vibrations in my body, in my legs, more severe. I’m trying the best I can to explain it and I’ve said it many times to my family but they just thought I was crazy. I felt like I wanted to tear my skin off. I got on the floor begging for help, hugging the walls, clawing at furniture, crying out to people to get the monster out of me. It’s like being utterly possessed.

I was on these drugs for 27 years. I went on these drugs because I could not sleep for many years and the psychiatrist prescribed them to me. I was desperate for relief. It felt so good to sleep when I first took the drugs. And they just kept refilling it for all those years. Upping the dose each time a traumatic event happened in my life. I never questioned the doctors. I have lived my life extremely naively. Why did they not suggest short-term usage? Why not find out the root of the issue instead of giving me the quick fix? I hated myself for trusting.

***

About two years ago I was crying a lot and I was coming unglued. At the recommendation of my psychologist I went to her recommended psychiatrist. I wanted to work on my severe lifelong trauma, C-PTSD, and thought that coming off the medications would be a good opportunity to do that. The psychiatrist said I could get off of these drugs easily. She said I could cut the pills in half and have no problem getting off. She slapped her hands together like lickety-split. I trusted her. I was off the drugs in a few months. Then the torture began.

The severity started in August 2020, when I suddenly stopped sleeping and started to have uncontrollable anxiety and panic. I was in withdrawal. But nobody told me about that as it was happening. I just kept going from doctor to doctor and getting more and more meds, but nobody told me what was actually happening. I had to do my own research. I was tired of being put in psych hospitals, having 5150s called, talking to arrogant doctors who just wanted to keep feeding me more and more meds that were actually destroying my body more and more.

And the meds were not even working! Everything was going paradoxical, the opposite of what it should’ve been doing. I had no idea why. I was getting worse by the day and I had to figure out what the heck was going on. I did figure out what the heck was going on, finally.

However, my family, my so-called friends, the many doctors, still didnt believe me.

But there is tons of information out there about what I was going through. So many personal accounts of the suffering and the invalidation and dismissal! I shared articles with my father, my sisters and my therapist, psychiatrists, and numerous friends. They didn’t take it seriously. I literally begged them to read it. They wanted to come up with their own diagnosis to suit their own inhumane narrative.

I was met with disgust, intolerance, humiliation, dismissal, abandonment, cruel words. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I know you will either believe me or you’ll just go into that hole of dismissal because you don’t have time for this. That’s what so sick about the human race. Unless you’re famous or you have a family that truly loves you, you are disposable. I was disposed of! I was a lab rat.

***

I had started to break down several years ago due to a trauma I couldn’t get over, being fired from a company I had created. Over my life, I started several companies. And I lost them all! I was so insecure, I always had to take on partners after I built my companies. I was naive and never protected myself. Really it was all about my childhood trauma. I had to keep creating chaos, because that’s all I knew based on the family dynamic I grew up in. I was still re-creating my family. But I didn’t know that at the time. I only know that now.

These companies were all in the entertainment realm. First it was in the music industry and then I got into the motion picture advertising industry. Music was my passion and my true love. But I couldn’t stay stable in the music industry. I changed jobs every 9 to 12 months. I wanted them to respect me, and I never felt like I was respected. I couldn’t handle abusive people and I was constantly surrounded by abusive people. I was in an abusive industry and I didn’t have the backbone to fight it.

I was just a scared child, just like I am now. I wanted them to love me.

All they could see is: this girl is making us a lot of money and she’s incredibly passionate and we’re going to take advantage of her and we’re going to use her and abuse her and get what we want! And sometimes people disposed of me which was very painful. And it kept happening. I worked my butt off in the music industry, working many, many hours and making the people that employed me a lot of money. I was the perfect employee because I just wanted people to love me and respect me. I ended up with nothing. I gave and gave and gave and gave until I was exhausted and I got nothing in return.

Just reliving this is such a big blow to me. I have been in denial of all that pain. My whole life was always about getting love. And yet I couldn’t love myself, so I kept going after the same kind of horrific so-called love based on that hellish household I grew up in.

My family, even though they gave me nothing and never validated me, told me that I was always unhappy in the music business so I should just get out. So I listened to them because I wanted them to love me, and I got out. And you know what? I sat on my couch for over nine months at 34 years old and for the life of me I could not get another job. I was humiliated and belittled by my father and my sisters and I was all alone.

I never felt like I could do life on my own. I hid behind work. My father instilled that in me when I was about 6-7 years old. That’s all he could ever talk about, getting a job and paying for yourself. My insecurity started at such a young age. My father had me working from age 11. And I could never work hard enough or long enough hours to make this man happy. I was always a failure in his eyes.

I have paid for everything, including my college education. My dad would say work harder work harder and I was trying to get his love all my life and I would work 18 hours a day or sometimes days in a row straight and it still wasn’t good enough to win his love. This man never gave me a dime and yet I worked so hard to prove myself to him just to get his love and acceptance.

My whole life I felt so unworthy.

Having a personal life and a romantic life was so uncomfortable for me. I felt like I would be found out! Everyone would see how unworthy I was. So I just kept running, living in denial. I just kept running into brick walls. Little did I know this was my childhood trauma reenacting itself over and over and over again. I set myself up for abandonment. It’s all my brain knew. It was a pattern that would keep repeating itself until my death.

It’s such a tragedy that I couldn’t figure this out until the very end of my life, and I couldn’t repair it because of this drug-induced chemical damage.

***

As I endured this torture that was not seen or validated, I felt like a prisoner, being laughed at by friends, family, medical professionals. The cruelty in itself was torturous. So many months in so much pain. The unbearable loneliness and isolation. Being invalidated and dismissed at every turn. Being awake 24/7, crying uncontrollably every day and night, calling out to God, peeing every 10 minutes, not being able to read, watch TV, listen to music. Too much stimulation and complete overwhelm.

I turned into a child.

I felt myself disintegrating from an adult into a child. I kept telling my family this. They looked at me in disgust. They told me I was indeed sleeping. Every step of the way my family thought they knew me better than I knew myself. I have never, ever told anybody what they’re thinking or feeling in my entire life.

If you saw my text messages throughout the night and saw me walking around in horror, you would know I DID NOT SLEEP. My brain was in a constant state of fight or flight. My brain was stuck in fifth gear! It just couldn’t relax. My legs were constantly vibrating and a constant state of terror consumed me.

My brain wanted me to keep running. And trust me I ran many times. But I was running from the illness, but the illness was with me, and I could not escape it. This horror of just being with myself, in my own pain 24/7. Nothing to do. So incredibly sleep deprived. No distractions. This was torture!

Having severe withdrawals and akathisia as excruciating as mine is absolutely no way to live.

I have begged for death every day for months on end. I tried many times. But I couldn’t do it myself.

I have been in excruciating pain and there’s no way to prove it to anyone, as there is no way of measuring it. It is invisible. It is the unseen cancer.

In his book Medication Madness, Dr. Peter Breggin discusses akathisia under the title A Painful Dance of Death.” He describes akathisia as a drug-induced neurological disorder that is known to drive people to suicide and violence, and to madness.” He notes that Patients suffering from akathisia often use electrical metaphors or descriptions such as electricity going through my veins’ or shocks in my head.’ Words like excruciating, torture, and indescribable are commonly used. Patients often say they would rather die than live with akathisia . . . these individuals seem to be describing physical phenomena, as if they are being tortured from the inside out.”

It is neurological and yet it is unmeasurable neurological damage.

They can’t see the brain or the nervous system and what the drugs have done. They can only bear witness to it, and it is very subjective to each person going through it. Of course depression and anxiety are a part of that and there are so many other devastating symptoms. Sometimes people are damaged for six months, sometimes a year, sometimes for many years, sometimes decades.

There’s no way of knowing. Some people are damaged permanently.

Every time I had a phone call with my family they said we dont wanna hear it anymore. My father would go on an hour-long tirade telling me I just needed a psychologist, I was mentally ill, that I had a personality disorder and I was depressed.

In the beginning, my father seemed like he believed me about drug withdrawal and akathisia, but then it was too complicated, taking too long, and infringed on his livelihood. That is when my nightmare got much, much worse. He turned every person against me. He said I just wanted pity, and so did my sisters.

The last thing I wanted was pity! I wanted to live! I kept saying, I do want to get better. But I couldn’t handle their unreasonable expectations of how they thought I could heal. I was so incapacitated. I was barely surviving. My body and mind were in a constant state of fight or flight. My body did not know how to relax and shut down. My brain and my heart never got tired even though my legs would be killing me from pacing so much. I kept saying I’ve never been like this before in my life.

I did not want their pity, I was in pain. I could not keep it in. I needed somebody to tell me that I could survive this, and they would love me no matter what. I couldn’t do this on my own.

I kept telling people that I had a stroke 7 yrs ago and meningitis encephalitis at 15 years old. My brain was compromised. My father said, “The doctors said that those two other brain injuries had nothing to do with what you are going through.” How the heck were they supposed to know that?

Family, therapists, many doctors, thought it was all mental. People are going to believe you or they’re not. And most people do not believe you because it would take too much time to figure out how to repair you and that’s not worth it to them. That would take away from their lives and their fun. I could not meet their expectations. I could not get up and go hiking, go participate in dinner, mingle with the crowd.

Your expectations were too much for my body to endure.

In the end, as far as I know there is no quick cure.

The cure is time. The cure is patience. The cure is understanding and compassion. That’s what makes this disease so difficult. It takes lots of time for the brain and nervous system to repair itself. Sometimes it does not repair.

I needed a compassionate soul to reach their arms out and hug me and say I love you, I’m here for you.

I needed someone to tell me they were there. Tell me I was going to make it without telling me that I was a welfare case, a hag, that I will end up with nothing if I don’t get better.

***

Up all night. Intense terror usually hit at 3am when the cortisol/adrenaline rush hits due to withdrawal symptoms. My brain and nervous system were going haywire and my family would just walk past me in disgust. Excruciating pain. No sleep for days. Screaming and crying at night. Pacing. Talking loudly, begging for relief. Begging for mercy.

My father, the man that goes to church several times a week, has all these religious books, tells me to read them and I will get better from this drug-induced nightmare. He left those books around his house like an Easter egg hunt for me to find them. When I did not find them as I was crying out in pain, he humiliated and belittled me. Trust me, I saw those books and do you really think I was going to pick them up?

I lost all faith in God.

What God will torture somebody like this? My father said to do the rosary and I will heal. He would constantly tell me I have no idea who God is and invalidate me because he has always been the only person who was ever right.

My sister threatened, repeatedly, to put me in a group home. Adding to my terror. Because I was not getting better. Because her letting me stay in her home did not fix my brain instantly. You think a brain can heal in a few weeks? A few months? I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of her home and I was punished for that. This sickness makes you very depersonalized, derealized, it instills anhedonia, makes you agoraphobic. You don’t feel like you’re part of earth. You can’t appreciate anything no matter how beautiful it is. You can’t see it. I describe this as a fragmentation of the mind. Nothing connects.

My family used to call me a drug addict when I was taking Paxil. And when I got so sick, all they wanted me to do was get on more drugs. And when those drugs didn’t work, they thought I was lying.

They had no idea what those additional drugs did to me and the torture that I endured. I became super sensitive to all medications. My body was overly sensitized. My nervous system couldn’t handle it. Every drug went paradoxical including all supplements. My body was even more on fire and more agitated which did not seem possible. I was screaming, crying, on the floor, calling people in the middle of the night, begging for death. It was like taking 1000 cups of coffee and every upper at the same time.

I dont know how I survived those days and nights. On one of my last emergency room visits, I actually asked for morphine. They wouldnt give me anything for the sleep deprivation. I hadnt slept in 18 days I think at that point. So I asked for morphine. I ended up having a severe reaction! My body was shaking so severely, it looked like I was possessed. It was indescribable.

I think I was in shock as I sat on my dad’s patio. His wife did not want me there at all. I was exiled to the patio and they just went about their business, sitting there looking at the TV screen as though I did not exist. I waited it out alone. Seizing and violently shaking. I was left alone having seizures in my head for hours with no comfort or concern. Just disgust.

Another thing that happened during this withdrawal is my language skills got messed up. It’s called language aphasia and it happens when I don’t sleep for weeks. I was talking one day to my dad and to a friend and I honestly couldn’t get any words out and it sounded like I was having a stroke. The words just kept repeating themselves and I couldn’t get the next word out. Another bizarre symptom. This happened several more times during my severe sleep deprivation.

I went to the emergency room and they diagnosed me with akathisia. A neurologist and a doctor both said this is what I had. They diagnosed me after many tests. My dad thinks that I told the doctors that I had akathisia. He thinks I had the symptoms because I read up on them and then I took them on. But I had these symptoms even before I read about them. If anybody ever finds my journals, which I’m sure have been burned or disposed of by now, you will see I was writing about the symptoms for many months before I even knew what I was suffering from. I was trying to figure it out.

***

My youngest sister called a few months ago saying dad says you’re doing great and it’s so good to hear you’re doing better. I was floored. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’m literally falling apart, I have not slept in weeks, my physical being has deteriorated greatly. I’m completely isolated and alone, in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals and he tells her I am doing great? I am tearing at my skin, talking to myself, acting like a child, afraid of all people, overstimulated and overwhelmed, unable to watch TV, read a book, work on a computer, listen to music, watch YouTube videos, do a crossword puzzle. I’m afraid each second of every day. And my father says I’m doing great.

I went to the wrong people for help.

I was estranged from my family most of my adult life but when I got so sick, I was so desperate, I reached out to them. Mind you, I had had a stroke and never asked for help. I had meningitis encephalitis at age 15 and I received no help. I was put on a couch in my dad’s girlfriend’s house while I was paralyzed. Just keep your mouth shut and let them live. But this time, this drug withdrawal, it was something I could never have even imagined. Ive never, ever been this sick in my life. This sickness caused me to take my own life.

If you know this disease, you are the only ones who can understand. I was told I needed to be an adult. Not to cry. If you have this disease you know thats impossible. If you read the literature it says it over and over and over. Men cry, women cry. Youre in such pain, you cry, you scream out, you beg God to save you. I kept asking for a miracle. I was eventually thrown out of my father’s house because I could not be silent and I could not act like an adult.

I have no idea why the neurological damage does this and neither does the so-called medical community. I have read articles that said they don’t have data because there’s no money in it. Most likely they do know but they make more money and live a good life leaving the collateral damage behind. It is a sick world. There have been many of us that have gone before me, and there will be many that will come after me. We did die in vain, unfortunately. And it will never change. I was one of the unfortunate ones.

***

My last therapist said I was too complex and complicated and she also thought I was making up the adverse drug withdrawal symptoms and the sleep deprivation. Why could I not be believed? I will never know. My therapist said the brain is a powerful thing and I created it. I had no idea I was extremely sensitive to the drugs, that’s why I kept taking them. I didn’t know.

I was so sick. I was so sick. How do you watch somebody who is figuratively on fire and drowning in front of your eyes? I was deteriorating and they saw it but I was just too uncomfortable for them. There was no hospital that could fix me. Trust me, I went to many of them. They could not help. There is no help for this illness. It just takes time.

People suffering like this need kindness, compassion, sacrifice. They need understanding and support, tolerance and patience.

It’s a lot. The hospitals can’t help you so you need your family or friends to help you. That didn’t happen for me. Providing a roof over my head does not heal neurological damage. I needed help finding doctors, I needed help paying the bills, I needed help just getting on with life because I was so incapacitated. They forced me to do things that I could not do.

The psych hospitals were so traumatizing. The 5150s, having the cops show up at my door, handcuffs, treating me like a criminal, putting me on a stretcher while all the neighbors watched, it was soul crushing. This happened twice.

Once I went to the emergency room on my own because I was so anxious and sleep deprived due to the withdrawal and lack of sleep. I thought I was doing a good thing. They put me into a psych hospital for three days and forced medication. They lied about me and said I was suicidal. I had never mentioned suicide. I was just trying to sleep and get rid of the agitation.

I hate the psych hospitals and emergency rooms because they come up with their own narrative to make themselves look good. Not taking into account what’s happening with the person who went there for help. I went there for help, not to be abused and humiliated and lied to. But it is your word against theirs. It is on your record and there’s no going back. You are now a psych patient forever and ever. I do advise anybody to stay out of any psych wards or emergency rooms if possible, if you have any kind of psychological problems. You will be traumatized and abused and it will affect you for the rest of your life. It’s something you will never get over.

***

I tried to get people to read the articles I found about psych drug withdrawal and akathisia. Some said they read it and others said they didn’t want to read it. Some read it and it was completely dismissed. My therapist said she read it and she ended up calling me a liar. I know this because I got her paperwork to find out what her diagnosis was of me. I thought she was on my side. She was never on my side.

This was my life. I needed your help, I needed your understanding, I needed your compassion.

Every day my symptoms kept getting worse and worse. I became overstimulated and overwhelmed by every little thing. Panic was everywhere. I started to talk to myself out loud in grocery stores as I could not handle being around people and keeping everything straight when I was so messed up.

I didn’t want to live this way for much longer. I couldn’t meet the expectations of my family. I needed help. I needed comfort. I needed kind words. I know that it was devastating to watch me but I was the one who was suffering. Not you. I’m sorry I made you all so uncomfortable but imagine how uncomfortable I was.

I’m not saying all drugs are bad. I would never say that. I just happened to be one of the unfortunate ones and I needed some help along the way to make it through. I didn’t know how long it would take my brain to heal or if it ever would. There was no way of knowing. There’s no test for that. But I didn’t have time on my side.

I’m not saying this is going to happen to everybody but it happened to me. I lost my life because of it. I could not take it any longer. I want dignity and I am tired of suffering. At 58 years old, I could never recover from this.

~ Kathleen Fliller

***

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

56 COMMENTS

  1. human in pain caused by psychiatry could find no relief or mercy in life, and psychiatry will of course take no responsiblity

    the horror!

    one wants there to be an afterlife for this person

    “I hate the psych hospitals and emergency rooms because they come up with their own narrative to make themselves look good.”

    This article is so upsetting but thank you, author, for writing it. And thank you, Mad in America, for publishing it.

    What awful shape the world is in. I don’t understand except for the usual suspects (greed, corruption, etc) why the mainstream media continues to ignore the full story of psychiatry.

    Psychiatry is a death sentence used for torture and profit, and to feed egos. It’s worse than religion.

    nothing nothing nothing is worth the hell of america

  2. NO ONE SHOULD GET BAD TREATMENT!!!

    There are two videos online by a person going through intense antipsychotic withdrawal. I was futher into my withdrawal so after seeing video one I lavished the person with my support. I spoke of how withdrawal is a mental maelstom as well as physical and how a large part of getting through the storm is understanding that you are your own worst enemy if you think you can believe your mind whilst it is in its hellish bad trip. Withdrawal is a nightmare. Like any nightmare it is a mental hall of mirrors that distorts the very thinking that you need to bolster you.
    Withdrawal requires a ton of almost pathological optimism of the sort fire walkers who stroll confidently over hot coals employ. If you stop for one moment and look down you will succumb to the tricks of the maelstom that flood your brain with heightened states of neuro anxiety. In short, the anxiety is sort of NOT yours, it is of no meaning, it comes from revolting seizures of hormones and other neurochemical surges. I have a friend with a congenital heart problem that causes her life endangering tachycardia. She needs an ambulance and an injection to reboot her heart back to normal each time, but as she lies in the emergency room they give an injection of something that acts on her heart in a shocking way. It causes an immediate panic stricken profound sense of doom. The doctors warn her of it before the needle. Happens every time.
    Withdrawal also causes a profound sense of doom, again and again and again, daily, hourly, monthly. It feels utterly catastrophic and believable. Just like my friends tachycardia treatment.
    Now if my friend had not been told what to expect from that life saving treatment, and if she had been at home baking a cake or reading a book or phoning someone and Baaaam!!!! that awful sensation of impending disaster struck, she would believe it was her emotions causing the doom rather than her body chaos. She could think it was people being mean to her, or that her childhood was appalling, or her therapy had not worked and left her a hopeless case. She might get angry at all these in a way that whilst having that heart needle doom or indeed withdrawing from antipsychotics might not be such a good time for intense family negotiations.
    To sail through withdrawal requires leaning into the madness of it by tricking your already tricked brain that no no no you are actually doing ok. You walk over the crunching hot embers of unbearable startle states with cool, calm, leadership.
    Another analogy is birth. Labour pains frequently cause mom’s to want to put the baby back where it came from. Labour can cause utter terror, utter panic, utter outrage, utter despair. All of that cannot be allowed to spiral out of control to the extent the mom is trashing herself off walls. Calm is the ghastly narrow pass through which progress comes.
    Seeing a baby bump is very physical, a reminder that something physical is going on. If the bump were not there and no baby neither, and utter terror and utter panic and utter outrage and utter despair were overwhelming it would be easy to believe that those awful hormonal withdrawal explosions, that were derailing the very brain needed to understand them, were explosions coming from one’s psyche. And even if there is a modicum of awareness that withdrawals are vaguely upsetting there is a tendency to still think that the lion’s share of abysmal frenzy is coming from your feelings.
    What can then make things worse is that you can whip up your own bodily surges and seizires by encouraging yourself to catastrophize about your feelings at that moment. This makes the fraught brain generate yet more flight or fight hormones which you cannot escape by thinking about what happened to you age nine or so, not at that moment. Not when like my heart failure friend a dose of doom is skooshing through your circulation.
    So rather than get deep into past hurt whilst withdrawing it is best to go a bit mad and convince yourself your childhood was hunkey dorey A-okay. You have to try to trick your mind by a process of hypnosis just like mom’s in labour do.

    Which is why the vogue for seeing everything that goes wrong in life through a trauma lens wont help necessary things needed to endure withdrawal, things like resilience, calm, confidence. Things someone in labour needs. Withdawal is a long long long long long long long long long long long labour.
    If you were to instil calm and confidence in a withdrawer by regarding their bodily anguish as like a perpetual six month labour, how would you give them that necessary calm?

    I have to say the father’s offers of articles of faith to grip on to may not have been so reprehensible or scurrilous seen in this light. When a mom is in labour nobody sends round a therapist. They bring tokens of affection like cards and gifts in recognition there is nothing they can do to stop the effects of labour agony nor stop catastrophe generating withdrawal symptoms.

    Withdrawal may cause a wish for peace in ending life. But another demon can plague withdrawal.

    Rage.

    The disruption to hormones like adrenalin and cortisol give spikes of rage. Like its doomy counterpart the seizure of rage takes remarkable self-awareness to see that rage as a hormonal lie. It is not actually your rage. It is a bad trip kind of rage. But the irony is that when you gain self-awareness of the turmoil not being you, you then have to perform the feat of feigning disinterest in yourself, as if you are stupid. Withdrawal requires pinpoint intuition about the mind tricks going on, tricks caused by a whelter of hormones lighting up the entire nervous system and rendering the brain unreliable in its ability to pin point anything real. Yet withdrawal requires you NOT catastrophizing about how withdrawl is causing you uncontrollable surges of rage, or doom. And to NOT catastrophize when your whole body says there is a huge labour of a catastrophe, needs you to go a bovine as phlegmatic and nonchalant as a french fries eating mom in a labour suite.

    There is way too much trauma trauma trauma as being the go to place. There needs to be its balance, in adopting a blitz cheerful resilience.

    Most suicides are accidents. The person does not want to die. They want to start to live. They feel they lack the ability to live. Many suicides are impulses gone disastrously wrong. Many suicides are from feeling stuck. Many suicides are anger gone implosive rather than explosive. Being helped to become effective at anger is healing. This does not mean destroying a shopping mall in a breaking news extravaganza. Effective anger is self-protective in a quiet Clint Eastwood way. Using lots ands lots of words words words to express anger is rarely effective.

    Akathesia in my withdrawal was just restless leg syndrome. Knowing it was JUST that calmed me down and helped me endure it.

    I think the panic in withdrawal can make a person zone in on one dysfunction to the exclusion of every other symptom. If you jot down every other symptom this gives more clues that your whole body is fucked. Understanding that can hush the wee scared voice inside that when hit with profound doom shrieks. It is important to hush such disaster mentality as if you are climbing a cliff with only your optimism for a harness.

    The ramping up of media fear in regards to akathesia is not helpful to people needing to stay calm and get off the garbage they have been prescribed.

    If you thought the art of quitting cigarettes was going to have BIG SCARY ANGUISH throughout it for months you would not be able to bluff your way serene.

    This is why I tell people that before you quit meds you may have akathesia as a meds side effect, but after quitting you get a different sort of physical agitation that is not akathesia at all but is restless leg syndrome due to a frenzied nervous system. And thr restless leg syndrom is then ADDED to by seething unbearable episodes of cortisol nightmare. These combine to give people a mistaken belief it is akathesia. The good thing about it NOT being akathesia is that quitting meds ceases akathesia, and the restless leg syndrome which admittedly can be severe and cause severe insomnia for a few months, DOES settle. This knowledge is optimistic and helpful and incentivizing. That things CAN get better through time. Employing the placebo effect by doing self hypnosis about the restless leg syndrome to stay calm helps enormously.

    Trauma may have put this woman on bad treatment. I cannot comment on her as I do not know her. Trying to come off meds IS traumatic. But to get through it involves more than a trauma focussed way of understanding the withdrawal nightmare.

    The second video showed the person six months later. They had completed their withdrswal.

    My schizophrenia is real and coming off meds has not altered it. Whether on meds or off meds the underlying illness is there. I had schizophrenia before I had meds. It is my medical condition sadly. But I am pleased when anyone frees themselves from any impostion or definition that is umwarranted.

    Today my schizophrenia said this…
    (He is taking advantage of you)

    I heard that phrase clearly this morning, for the third morning. I want to say to whomever would do such a thing this….unless you are willing to love everyone equally, even those you do not agree with, then what you are doing is not of love, it is of scheming, it is of the shame based need to be….

    “right”.

    Aye.

    • I appreciated your response and perspective. One of your points stuck out for me.. you cant get out of terror by being terrified of it – but it brought up a dissonance: how can you not be terrified when you feel like you’ve been set on fire, living in permanent fight or flight mode? i imagine this perspective could be challenging to person who is living that reality.

      It would be lacking compassion to expect everyone to be able to achieve god-like meditative abilities through extreme panic and pain; to be able to set aside trauma for later as twisted images of your worst memories flash before your eyes, confirming all your worst fears and insecurities. The severity of the symptoms seem to vary widely, and not everyone has had exposure to methods like this. It would be the worst time to learn mindfulness or self hypnosis, sitting with your eyes closed in the middle of a burning room, waiting for the ceiling to cave in on your head.

      However.. I really appreciated your analogies about the heart medication and birth. So much of life seems to boil down to pain coping, and some if its greatest gifts come out of the ability to touch on the indestructible essence of your being through that pain.

      Your concept is a beautiful one that I would wish for anyone who is suffering, and it poses the potential for a therapeutic model that could actually help someone get through a terrifying level of pain and torture and discover their quiet strength that endures despite. I agree that it would not be a good time to start unpacking traumas and trying to change family structures, and that coping with the present would have to be the priority and primary lens.

      It is not until the gravity of this situation is acknowledged and someone important has consequences severe enough to warrant concern, that these structures can be changed. There are no effective treatments as long as there is no acknowledgement of the severity of the issue. I cannot imagine living through this, experiencing constant disbelief and disregard for my extreme suffering.. The healing starts with validation and acknowledgment- these voices on a megaphone, rage channeled at the broken system instead of self. I don’t think it would cause mass hysteria for these serious withdrawal risks and side-effects to be known and openly talked about. The cycle ends with INFORMED consent and safer practices if these drugs are going to be used.

      • I am glad it was of use to you. Thank you. We all have ingredients to sprinkle in the communal pot.

        I feel withdrawal is like those programs where an ex green beret dangles off a sheer drop with a terrified clinging screaming stuck tourist losing their fingernail grip. When that emergency occurred to me I needed a total bastard to shout at me and tell me to keep holding on.

        Boot camp detox. Heroin addicts know all about how every excuse to avoid the pain is an excuse the Grim Reaper uses to offer you a comfy cushion of oblivion.

        I had to be hard on myself. I had to be my own tyrant to smack me off the pill bottle.

        My.observation is that those who succeed find a way of bending their self-destructive tendencies into a new shape, like the way an airline passenger caught in turbulance can bend a coat hanger into a handy engine sling to stop it falling off, or a wing flap hook. I bent the self-hatred or self-harm voice into harming the wimpish voice within that says… “I can’t quit the drugs”.
        I used my self-loathing as my life saver.
        The difficulty I see with the vogue in trauma-focused care is it is too gentle to do boot camp stuff when it could save your life to do so. There are millions and millions of people stuck on drugs that I believe are over prescribed. Those people need alertness. Trauma care is essential at times. But I suppose its like anything in life, it can be engulfing.
        It is not easy to know when someone is getting morbidly theripped (as in having too much therapy) or not enough (since the anguish in both these looks the same).

  3. Thank you Lisa, and my condolences for Kathleen as well.

    I’ve had chronic Akathisia and Acute Akathisia and have attempted suicide a number of times as a result.

    The torture in First World Psychiatric Facilities is as bad as anything anywhere in the world.

  4. As a husband and supporter and healing companion of my wife, this breaks my heart: what could have been if her family had responded to her pleas for help, compassion, mercy and understanding. Every time my wife talks about trying sleep medicine or some of the other stuff her friends are on I gently fight that inclination telling her how lucky she is to be so ignorant of all the horrors that stuff can cause.
    R.I.P., Kathleen. I’m sorry you and so many others haven’t gotten the family you need and deserve.
    Sam

  5. Lisa

    Thanks for sharing this incredibly powerful story of psychiatric abuse.

    You were such a compassionate ally of Kathleen, and you have so deeply honored her life by sharing her account of the horrors that the so-called Medical Model of “treatment” can cause for it victims.

    Kathleen Fliller’s story should be REQUIRED READING for anyone coming anywhere near another human being in the so-called “mental health” system.

    Richard

  6. Hi Lisa.
    First off, I am sorry you lost a friend and I know it hurts to know they were alone.
    And here you are, getting her words out to the world. That is a real. heartfelt tribute to your friend and to others who went before her.
    It’s why I love MIA, they get the stories out from heroes like Kathleen and like you Lisa.

    Now we know for certain that Psychiatry will NOT admit any fault. After all, they are a normal bunch. No disordered people within psychiatry.

    Kathleen like many was told a bunch of bullshit, bullshit that is nasty, people hating bullshit.
    If they loved people, they would NOT be name calling. It is not “diagnosis”, it is slandering. And WOW, people feel really good to be called disordered, ill, and have all these insanities written about them, simply because these people hurt.

    Just because they do not know the answer to people’s journeys, experiences and views, does not make it right to start going at them with more hurt and trauma.

    Their trauma on top of trauma KILLS.

    I hope soon the governments step in and do something about this cult of psychiatry. I hope our governments show some guts, but I think when that happens it will most likely be accidental, or by force, and not planned out.

    I have no doubt that Kathleen had “stuff” bothering her, but I want to bet that she would not have died if not for psychiatry and it’s ilk.

    Yes people die, they leave on their own terms out of desperation, EVEN without psychiatry, but no where near the numbers that do because of psychiatry and general medicine.

    They are not heroes, nor should they pretend to be. And no, they are not at all “scientific”.
    Even the best neurologist knows squat about the brain. Yet here they are, these men of science, calling people, women, names. Grown men and women spewing their garbage at people who are sad or lonely. Giving them toxins and denying all harm they do NOT only to the person, but their families and lineages, to come.

    I hope Lisa that you go on to be a friend, and hope that you receive friendships back.

    We are lucky that you wrote this, as I know it was and is painful.

    Thanks again Lisa.

  7. Lisa, thank you for sharing Kathleen’s tragic story and being such a good friend to her. This world can be cruel but it was so painful to read how maligned Kathleen was by her family and the psychiatric system, and how much she suffered because of it. The cruelty and harm often inflicted on those who get ‘help’ must be exposed because the system is so rigged to silence the voices of those it harms. Psychiatry has no compassion. It seems to be a self-serving sham to exploit the suffering of those dealt adverse and difficult life circumstances.

    I am so very sorry you lost your friend. RIP Kathleen.

  8. Thank you for this story. Mine is similar to Kathleen’s. They both begin with a narcissistic family system or individual. Add trauma and then the mental health system and their drugs. I have witnessed so much about so many things along the way. At this time I am off all the drugs and have lived through the akathisia but am still trapped and totally alone and overwhelmed with a lot of information and ideas on many issues. I did it all by myself against all odds. I would love to make a difference but not sure on what, when, where, or how. I have found out a little about your current situation and think your story may be somewhat different and time is short. I grieve for both of your beautiful souls and all the others that are suffering with so much. I would appreciate any advice you have to offer!

  9. As someone who barely made it through (MAD article “Akathisia – Very Nearly the Death of Me”), I’m so sorry I didn’t have the chance to connect with Kathleen to support her in any way I could. Her beautifully written, powerful piece should be required reading for anyone in the health care field. This is yet another tragedy from a condition so horrific and unbelievable that people – as well-meaning and caring as they may be – simply are not able to comprehend its devastating effects. Honestly, if I hadn’t experienced Akathisia myself, I’d probably be someone who, after a while, would be dismissive and frustrated and impatient with someone suffering from it. That’s why sharing stories like this one, that Kathleen so bravely put together in all her turmoil, is so important, so people can get a clearer picture of the pure agony and terror of this hellish brain-jacking experience, and understand the desperate need of the sufferer to be listened to and believed and compassionately held in the midst of their overwhelming fear and depersonalization, over a period of months or years. Something I believe was important for me, and definitely goes “against the grain,” was refraining from telling most people I was suicidal. Unfortunately, our culture can’t handle suicidal ideation and basically demands psych drugs for suicidality, and something inside me told me that taking more drugs would not lead to my recovery. Instead, I somehow needed to look for holistic therapeutic methods and therapists to have a safe healing space and allow my subconscious to process and heal the injured state. I needed also to keep taking baby steps to connect with the world, clinging to even the smallest of kindnesses along the way. But each person needs to pursue what feels right for them. I later learned that tapering off psychotropic drugs very slowly is critically important, and there are helpful resources out there for doing that. Support groups are really useful for discovering these resources and connecting with others. Kathleen’s story is a precious gift; her story will save lives. RIP Kathleen. You fought long and hard and gave it your very best. Thank you so much for that. And thank you, Lisa, for sharing Kathleen’s story. For those suffering with Akathisia, please know that things can and do get better.

  10. This is such a very tragic story. I am sorry for the loss to all those who did know and respet her. I would like to agree that any psychiatrist or any health care provider who wishes to prescribe any type of psychiatric drug for any reason to anyone read this article. Unfortunately, I doubt if would do any good—maybe for some as I haven’t completely lost hope despite it all. NO MATTER HOW TERRIBLE AND TRAGIC THIS IS, TO CONSIDER THAT HUMANS ARE SICK SCUM UPON THE EARTH IS SO COMPLETELY WRONG AND AGAINST GOD!!!! NO MATTER WHAT GOD DID NOT GO WRONG IN CREATING HUMANS. However, satan and evil are afoot and is sadly rampant in the psych industry, which is what it is—an industry. This is what we fight against — this type of evil.
    To the author of this article—Thank you for your courage in bringing this forth. We need to know the good and the bad so we can bring more good into the world, and defeat evil. Maybe, in this way, we can truly honor the memory of Kathleen Fliller and anyone else killed by psychiatry’s evil satanic actions. Thank you.

  11. Dear Lisa, thank you for honoring your friend and sharing her story. It’s truly heartbreaking. I’m very sorry for your loss. Like Kathleen, I have also lost my faith in God, but will still pray and hope that she has found rest, peace. She is right that there have been people before her and will be people after her. Each and every loss is completely tragic. You have done a huge service by sharing her story, and Kathleen did a huge service by writing what she did. I wish I could have known her.
    Again, my condolences on your loss.

  12. Thank you Lisa for publishing Kathleen’s story. I am in awe than Kathleen was able to capture her story with such clarity and depth while in the throes of akathisia. Though I can relate to so much of her story, including the compounded despair (ergo her therapist, etc.), I can’t imagine taking on akathisia after a life time of heartbreak. I’m right behind you Kathleen…

  13. I like so many people had a traumatic childhood and was a victim of my father’s struggle to earn a living and also the moralistic values of the society we then lived in.

    It appears to me that the most important time of our lives of everyone’s lives is their childhoods and for some children they experience trauma to such an extent their wounds are never healed.

    Until children and childhood are recognized as the most important human beings on earth and the most sacred time in life and the laws to protect them are adhered to then change won’t come about and people growing up with emotional wounding will seek help later in life and then fall prey to a system of abuse and cruelty like psychiatry which has never been known for centuries.

    Laws to protect children and compulsory teaching to parents of parenting skills are what has been lacking in societies for generations.

    Parents must be given the tools they need to be good parents and especially mothers and this must take on the form a new religion and be the soul worship of every society. Children above all must be listened to and understood. They must not be churned out in schools by teachers who are state controlled and every parent must be given the rights to decide what is best for their child. At the same time there must be laws to protect both parents and children but most importantly children.

    Children are our most vulnerable and important people yet our most abused citizens. Parents are not trained to be parents and they make mistakes as they go along and the so called experts tend not to be the right ones to give the advice parents need. It should be every parents perogative to teach and be taught by grandparents and those with lifelong experience in childhood care. All abuse should be recognized early and no abuse should ever be unrecognized. All children should be protected and those that commit crimes against them should be highly punished. I was a victim of abuse but it wasn’t my parents fault. Those that are found out to have committed crimes against children must be the ones who suffer severely in society with punishment by laws set up to protect children at all costs.

    Until this is recognized until there is protection for the most valuable people in this world and childhood is considered sacred and turned into a religion then nothing will ever change.

    These atrocities to humankind will continue and go on repeating and repeating themselves and millions will suffer and die. Until people wake up and realize just what is at the root of all of this. That childhood and childhood trauma must be recognized and society must assist parents to become good at what they do, which is the most important work they will ever have to do in their lives. Being a parent and grandparent.

    Until it is recognized that parents are trained to be good at the job of parenting and that a child is not owned by society and parents are given the tools to become the best they can be for the sake of future generations then nothing will change.

    Lets fight towards a law that makes every child on the planet receive the love and attention that is needed for the most valuable people alive who are our future and our destination and the cruel practices in our lifetimes are wiped out and society engages laws for our children that simply needed more than ever and that most important of all emotions and which is society is constantly lacking in the Love for our children.

    Thank you so much Lisa. Thank you Kathleen. Nothing and nobody can touch you now.

  14. Lisa

    “I know you feel so broken today so no platitudes. I won’t tell you to have a nice day…
    Instead I simply want to say
    just hold on…
    My friend”

    My heart breaks into tiny little pieces as I read Kathleen’s story and your honest, kind, caring, compassionate and understanding thoughts and responses to so many comments!
    You are an empath helping others heal by educating and validating and I recognize the negative effect this investment of your limited energy must be costing your own health. Ya but this is all part of the human experience and I want to thank you for being an important part of humankindness.

    I entered the mental health field hoping to help people 13 years ago as a clinical social worker. I consider my office to be “chemically mindful”. I want to help people in their personal chemical reduction journey.

    And the truth is I am embarrassed and ashamed of being part of this broken medical system, which in my opinion revictimizes and abuses people in the name of money and greed.

    During the past thirteen years, I’ve been listening to people share their life stories of revictimization by the very people who should be helping.

    Many stories of overworked and underpaid employees in facilities who are understaffed, and frustrated simply trying to find a way to navigate the broken system. Unfortunately often at the expense of fellow humans who are in a vulnerable place.

    Including psychiatrists and doctors who medicate individuals who are experiencing grief and loss. Often further traumatizing by the stigma of being “diagnosed” as depressed, bipolar, anxious etc etc. We realize there is no pill that heals grief. Period.

    We naturally grieve losses of the people and things we love. This can be a job, divorce, health,
    pets, and loved ones…

    I have heard horrific stories from people who survived disrespect,abuse, and even rape in mental institutions that they or their families believed would keep them safe and help them heal. Only to return back into the community more traumatized, stigmatized and over medicated.

    I feel sickened and sad by the continued abuse that is hidden in plain sight. Our society suffers from this sickness. The sickness that accepts this continued abuse as “normalized”. Is it cognitive dissonance, ignorance, or simply not caring enough to really see, and listen to, people? Whatever reason it is wrong and needs to change!

    I graduated and intentionally decided I did not want to be part of our cultural and societal broken systems. I thought this could be achieved by working independently, as opposed to agencies and organizations funded by the federal, state, county or city governments. Wow! I was awoken from that dream world into the nightmare of reality!

    What a nightmare it is to learn that some of the biggest criminals are insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations pushing their diagnoses and drugs on all of us. While we get sicker and they get richer. Greed, power, and control are their true natures. They do not care about our health. We are simply a commodity.

    Please remember…
    It’s ok to hurt.
    It’s ok to feel angry.
    It’s ok to feel sad
    and scared.
    Life is tough
    life is difficult
    life is random
    And chaotic
    ya but it is also precious because it’s all we know.

    The difficult part of our life journey is trusting that there is someone who will care enough not to give up.

    My hat is off to all of you in “Mad in America” a courageous group of forward thinking and awareness sharing people who have the courage to speak out and act against all this medication fuckery.

    The symptoms of withdrawal, kindling, and Akanasia are life altering.
    I believe Everyone who describes their symptoms and please accept my apology on behalf of the entire broken medical system, that I am part of, who has caused you needless, continuous, and abusive suffering.

    For these and other reasons I am in the process of closing my office and entering the next adventure of my life… retirement.

    “How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?”
    ~Leonard Cohen

    Cynthia Wheeler MSW

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