Made “Mad” in America

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Twenty-five years ago, I was unwittingly indoctrinated into a mental health system that I later discovered was artificial, grim, and broken. “They” said everything would be okay—promises of peace by way of lies and deceit. Life exposed a shadow; blackened, bruised, embattled. What used to be fun turned into boredom and glum. Unaware of the bottomless pit I had fallen into, I awoke one day questioning who or what am I? Then, like an epiphany, it hit me: ’twas a nightmare I endured at the onset of my fifteenth year of existence. Now, soon to be 40, the world is opening up, revealing a destiny I never dreamt possible.

Prior to being at the mercy of pharmaceuticals, I was an intelligent, happy, confident, and regular kinda guy. I didn’t possess a single psychological intricacy—until my introduction to what developed into an ongoing affair with a staggering amount of debilitating treatments.

After one typically misconstrued bad day, which occurred in my late adolescence, Mom and Dad committed me to the first of many psych wards—to which I became accustomed, spending more time there than at home. Unfortunately, that event ushered in an ever-expanding list of poisonous cocktails—which gave rise to seasons of mind-bending delirium, followed by a psychedelic trip that lasted nearly three decades. This led to my insulation and isolation in multiple loony bins; the preeminent catalyst that locked my brain inside a prison-like hell.

After undergoing upwards of 100 bilateral ECT treatments, none of it ever nurtured me back to some form of sanity; it made matters entirely worse. For that reason, I was compelled to travel to clinics across the country, spending tens of thousands of dollars in search of miracle cures.

weight gain psychiatric drugsIn the intervening time, my weight skyrocketed to over 300 pounds from the antipsychotics. I was perilously close to developing diabetes and sustaining a heart attack. Fortunately, there was a more positive fate in store for me.

During my inaugural trip into bedlam, they labeled me with major depression. Once transfixed by antidepressants, I manifested an intricate mix of intrusive, blatant imagery. These so-called authorities of medicine later conjured a diagnosis of bipolar disorder—whether that be bipolar 1 or 2, mixed or rapid cycling, or attributes of schizoaffective disorder. One doctor even claimed I displayed traits of ADD. He treated me with stimulants, which bestowed in me a Superman-like persona, and within 24 hours transformed me into a real-life Jekyll & Hyde. The scariest occurrence was when they insisted I had borderline personality disorder and maintained there was no purpose to my way of life. Clearly, they could never confirm what had truly gone awry.

It turns out I’m susceptible to everything administered into my system. Chemicals like caffeine, Omega-3, and the slightest amounts of sugar would alter my disposition dramatically. “Mood stabilizers” such as Depakote, Trileptal, Tegretol and Lamictal brought forth indescribable chaos. Swallowing large quantities of first, second, and third-generation antipsychotics yielded intense full-blown hysteria, combined with auditory and visual hallucinations. For unknown reasons, every synthetic substance I consumed back then produced exactly the inverse effect of what we presume is required to help.

Until now, I’ve adhered to every recipe for disaster there is. I suppose everybody claims that, although I have definitively swallowed, chewed, and disintegrated a plethora of meds. I was spaced out and thoroughly befuddled on rare old-fashioned neuroleptics such as Haldol and Thorazine. Throw in drugs du jour like Clozaril, Risperdal, Geodon, Latuda, Invega, Abilify, Zyprexa, and Saphris, and you have the perfect ingredients for a life lived lost.

Manipulative white-coat frauds played me like a guinea pig by prescribing the most potent doses of those pills. Hence, while I received Geodon, they’d ‘fix me’ on over 320 mg, rendering an aftereffect that caused my eyes to roll back into my head—requiring Cogentin to force it to stop. Adding insult to injury, they mixed Lithium into my pill regimen. On account of that, besides being prone to urinating in bed and fighting with a humiliating dry mouth, my hands would tremble uncontrollably whilst attempting to hold a fork or pencil. Their goodie bag included a tablet for every side effect I exhibited. 

“But WAIT! If you ORDER NOW, as a BONUS, these drugs will also have you devouring massive portions of pizza, soda pop, and candy—causing you to gain an apocalyptic amount of weight.

“But… THAT’S NOT ALL! If you order RIGHT NOW, the offer will also include (but not be limited to) these incredible side effects:

  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs!”

WE NOW RETURN TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING:

Increasing amounts of mayhem contributed to my never receiving a proper education. I had been super-productive, advancing beyond most of my peers when I was a kid. Nonetheless, while attending middle school, everything changed with my first list of Rx scripts. From there, my intelligence and mood barreled rapidly downhill. If I wasn’t falling asleep in class or drooling on my desk, I remained at home, battling self-destructive thoughts. Day after day, I would scream and cry, throwing objects at my parents while kicking holes in their walls. My dad often called the cops, who’d haul me away with my wrists zip-tied behind my back. Not only that, I lost every friend I’d ever had and was incapable of building a stable relationship offering love or affection.

On top of an already altered state, I smoked weed excessively, which triggered wildly distorted visions of reality. Getting too high would induce seizures, blackouts, and panic attacks that had me behaving like a childish buffoon. As a result, men and women appeared afraid of me. Some even suspected I was created from sin; spawned, then borne out of one individual purpose—to strike fear in those who see me wrong.

I did not purposely abuse any pharmaceuticals back then, even though I admittedly consumed many sedatives and sleeping aids. Naturally, they were implemented within my daily lifestyle—because the physicians advised me to accept them. I never craved more or less, although, when intoxicated on marijuana, there were unforeseen moments where I took more benzos to tranquilize the psychosis and hallucinations.

Reality has become my new obsession, whereas hanging out with my former companion, Mary Jane, pulled me down into a rabbit hole twenty feet deep. Never will I succumb to that gray, dysphoric wonderland again.

As part of my online quest for a wonder pill, in early 2019, I conducted the following web search: “What are some of the new and improved antipsychotics on the market?” After hours of investigation, nothing personally transformational was forthcoming. Exhausted chasing after a remedy, that magic bullet to release me from my decades-long psychosis, in a moment of despair and by a stroke of good luck I stumbled upon something remarkably more real.

The initial link near the top of the page I was on contained a narrative referring to Laura Delano. I began reading it, and my attention was instantly piqued. I couldn’t draw my rare sense of concentration away from the column long enough to go back to my research. Upon completion of the article, I found myself repeating these words out loud: “There’s not a single thing wrong with me!” Belatedly, it all made sense.

What could have distracted me from not recognizing my true identity throughout all the madness and delusion that lingered in my bleak and shattered self?

IT WAS THE PILLS!

Speaking of pills: I was on 2000 mg of Depakote ER, 2 mg of Risperdal, 6 mg of Klonopin, and 160 mg of Inderal LA. Not to mention the 100 mg of Benadryl I was also scarfing down every night, plus ample doses of melatonin. I didn’t want to be looked down upon as a freak or abnormality anymore. Something needed to be done.

My immediate approach was to check myself into detox to eliminate the benzodiazepine Klonopin. However, I soon learned that idea was impulsive and based on me being uneducated regarding withdrawal and tapering meds. The accompanying physicians at that facility took me off all 6 mg of Klonopin cold turkey. Phenobarbital was accordingly selected and decreased over the course of five days. Within those five days, I was besieged by bewildering cries of misery. Seizures came and went while I lay shaking like a leaf, tumbling out of bed. Time appeared as if it stood still; I watched the pendulum swing as I drifted in and out of a hibernated state. I soon felt smothered, clawing at the walls, longing to escape.

Following my discharge from what seemed like hell on earth, I plunged into a panic-stricken frenzy all over again. Sleep was non-existent, resulting in four or five days of being wide awake—which provoked me to hear and see things that couldn’t conceivably appear. Paranoia kicked in as I stood on my couch, sticking tape on the announcement speakers in my apartment, assuming they were microphones listening to me as I often talked to myself. I developed arachnophobia at night, believing spiders were crawling all over my sheets. My heartbeat started thumping at the underside of my ribs in a quick-driving rhythm. I rocked back and forth in a pool of sweat, naked for two months straight, peeing all over myself without being able to muster the strength to walk to the toilet. I spent endless hours taking ice-cold showers while lying on the floor in a rising puddle, longing for some kind of peace. Whenever I tried leaving this watery hole, I proceeded to go right back in, desperate to cool the scorching sweats.

Nobody would accept my calls or emails; even my former best buddy didn’t want to be near me. I wished more than anything for the agony to end and made plans to surrender to a slow and painful death. However, a redeeming voice inside my head assured me that I was meant for so much more. Despite recurring suicide attempts when I was younger, I couldn’t go through with them—because deep within my soul burns a desire to express and create. Hopefully, I’ve only just begun.

During that post-disengagement, I began reducing my Risperdal, but I tapered it exceedingly fast, delivering me into excessive withdrawal. Still uneducated about the process, I met with a new psychiatrist. He instantly put me on 600 mg of Seroquel XR, 400 mg of immediate-release Seroquel, 1800 mg of Neurontin, and 1998 mg of Campral while I was still under the seduction of Depakote and Inderal. Glancing down at a prescription in hand, I began losing faith in what I once believed was the only way out.

It was then that I caught sight of a website called The Inner Compass and developed my Plan of Action. I designed charts and Word documents to assess how to systematically dispose of every medication, and began reducing the Depakote ER by 250 mg once a month until it was done away with. Shortly after that, I quit the Campral with no problematic effects. Cutting back the Seroquel a little quicker than I should have was ill-advised on my part. When I got below 400 mg I had an acute psychotic break, returning to the psych ward once again, where I was drugged up with 6 mg of Vraylar. With a divided uncertainty and lack of incentive, I let them have their way with me one final, fleeting time.

Boy, was that a BIG mistake!

They forced me inside a padded room, sedated, then laced, white jacket in place—only to lie against a diminutive bed of springs above a filthy, frigid floor. To no avail, I repeatedly tried to free my hands as they bled from the tight, noose-like band around my wrists. Finally, I looked up and observed a small windowpane, through which I felt the sun’s warmth and witnessed a tree branch tapping on the ceiling—a glimmer of hope I hold onto as I look past sorrow and dream of tomorrow.

Before I flew out of that cuckoo’s nest, the attending psychiatrist sat me down and said, “Ryan, this does not imply you are a damaged human being. It means you were born in a manner that you will never be like anybody else.” That remains the only plausible thing a doctor has ever disclosed to me. I am not like everyone else. I notice the light in the dismal, darkened shadows, and the delicacy in what others perceive as grave and displeasing.

After returning home, I became even more dedicated to my Plan of Action. I started moving gradually, monitoring my mind and body. First I lowered my Seroquel by 25 mg, cutting and shaving it until it was merely dust. That process took an unrelenting 12 months, or in plainer terms—an entire fucking year of my life I’ll never get back. Pardon my use of profanity; I shouldn’t have said unrelenting.

weight lossSoon after, I tapered off the Inderal LA, converting it into immediate form—scaling it down via tiny amounts until it was gone. As I got off the Seroquel, the next stage was devoting myself to an exercise routine, which included walking up to ten miles a day. A Weight Watchers membership ensued, through which I lost over 130 pounds in less than a year. I don’t eat or drink caffeine, consume minimal sugar and carbs, and maintain consistent sleep and wake cycles.

After removing all traces of Inderal and Seroquel, I retired the 100 mg of Benadryl and melatonin I’d been ingesting for more than half my history. It was no big deal to withdraw from, but the outcome of leaving them behind was, in fact, a pivotal step in my recovery. Next nixed: Neurontin, by 100 mg a week, never to return, until my pill container was empty for the first time in a quarter-century. The litmus test was coming off the Vraylar, a second-generation antipsychotic. Because they were capsules containing powder, I had to work out a technique to rid myself of it entirely. First, I would open, prepare, and reduce them by 0.125 mg weekly. Then, straight out of a scene from Scarface, I meticulously arranged the powder with a razor on a mirror and licked it up once every morning. Officially being down to 0.50 mg from 6 mg, I am 91.6% free from my drug-riddled burden.

I never give up when times get rough, not even when I think I’ve suffered enough.

It will take me over three years to remove all this medication from my body—yet that represents barely a fraction of the time they’ve been invading my system. Still, it will take countless months to recover from the harmful effects these drugs had on my mind. Be that as it may, I’m presently comfortable thinking that those within my close circle find me to be an entirely different person. I now see eye-to-eye with my family, and I’m making new friends and developing some meaningful relationships along the way.

In the wake of dealing with this epic insanity, I recognized an innate yearning to express myself through writing. Despite my lack of formal education and in the process of trying to cope with an onslaught of medicinal matters, I managed to publish my first collection of poetry, Euphoric Wonderland.

It fills me with pride and joy to be on my way to achieving a positively productive future that was inconceivable not too long ago. I’m traveling to author events, and by sharing my story, I am making a concerted effort to inspire individuals who are seeking to improve their lives—one struggle at a time. People no longer perceive me as a monster, and neither do I. Life is good, and I feel the destiny I once dreamt of is well within my grasp.

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

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39 COMMENTS

    • Hey Joshua,

      I wish I could immerse myself into the world the way you can. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to watch the news since starting this journey. I have always loved keeping up with what’s going on in the world, but this taper has left me severely paranoid. My progress in healing my mind and body has forced me to shut myself off from anything that could be unsettling. I deleted all my social media accounts when starting and even recently removed YouTube and any known apps that can trigger uncomfortable reactions. Sometimes when I lay awake at night, I can hear the police sirens through my window. There have been times when I think they were coming for me, only to take me away and throw me into those dark and scary wards one more time. Fortunately, I’m stronger than that and will never let them take hold of me again.

      Ryan

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      • Ryan, I’m so glad to hear your successful recovery story. It is truly remarkable. You and Laura are proof that it is possible. I’m sorry so many years of your life were taken away, but by golly, you sure look like you are ready to live a good life now. I truly hope for your best. Stories like yours need to be elevated and I will try to do my part.
        Carol

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  1. Ryan you star!

    I love your story.

    Astronomers often thrill children by telling them in gory detail what they surmise happens to the human body when it enters a cosmos gobbling black hole. Your before and after photos could make a surreal poster for what happens to the human body when standing too near to the event horizon of Big Pharma’s lab coat white hole. You describe what it is like to survive in there in astonishing prose.

    I came off antipschotics a few years ago and it made a positive difference.

    When antidepressants grew in acceptability people were relieved that they no longer had to “work on” themselves and change. The pill would do that for them. Prior to then society felt people had a “weak character” if they did not “work on” and improve by themselves. We have come full circle it seems because more people now prefer to see drugs as a problem and our character as malleable as putty and easy to maintain. Or simple to care for like a veg patch. I believe this swing back to that is balancing.

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    • Daiphanous, I think you are brilliant. I spent the last hour reading some of your other comments on here. After interpreting much of your writing, I was instantly mesmerized by the beauty you express. You have such a poetic way of describing life. Unlike you, my creativity is not all there. Unfortunately, my mind needs to heal before I can create what I realize has been with me all along. This story that I wrote was produced in a terrible state of withdrawal. It has been one of the few pieces I have composed since publishing my book Euphoric Wonderland.

      While on the subject of writing, I wondered if I could make a request. I’m curious if you would be open to a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review? The poems/stories were created while I was still medicated before starting this journey of tapering off meds. If you look closely at the poems, you will notice my frustration with how the mental health system had treated me. You are welcome to message me through my website if interested. I wouldn’t usually ask this, but I am in awe of the power in your words. If this is something you would rather pass on, that is okay too. Either way, thank you for your beautifully written thoughts.

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    • Thank you, Fiachra!

      I feel it’s good to make light of even the darkest situations. It’s been hard to feel anything lately. I used to be able to cry and laugh so easily. But since starting this taper, it almost feels as if my emotions are locked in a cell. I can’t way for the day when I can connect with everyone and everything in the way I always knew I could.

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  2. Dear Ryan, Bravo for you and your courageous journey. Your determination and fortitude got you out of the hell of turning to shrinks for help……and I do think anyone who would give someone over 100 ECT treatments is negligent. I’m glad that you’re writing and think you did a wonderful job chronicling your story. Here’s to finding your way out of the psychiatric hamster-wheel…….

    I have a story of overmedication and recovery that will be out in the fall. What I discovered in going through my mother’s records is that the drugs the docs gave her most likely kept her locked in depression and anxiety for over 40 years. This madness has gone on for far too long.

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    • Dear Ann,

      Thank you for your kind words and your generous support. It’s so lovely to hear from caring individuals like yourself. It has been tough finding people to open up to about my progress. Most individuals I reach out to during my taper say this solution is just a ruse to get attention. However, I did my best to tell this story in the most honest way possible.

      You are correct regarding the amount of ECT I Received. It was more than anyone should undergo. Unfortunately, I asked for those treatments, but at the time, I was so confused about what I deemed acceptable. I became convinced that there was something terribly wrong with me. If I had only known sooner that it was the drugs causing my severe psychosis, I never would have taken such extreme measures. Nobody wants to be a part of such terrifying circumstances. It may sound foolish, but I am glad I made those mistakes. Seeing things dark and twisted gave light to a future life where I could finally feel at peace.

      Still, there is so much more that I must accomplish. The one thing I’m struggling with the most is knowing that I am starting over at forty or even later, as this journey is far from over. Sometimes, when I’m in the midst of my withdrawal, I find myself repeating things out loud. I often catch myself saying I want my life back but then have to correct that thought because I realize I never had it to begin with. Fifteen years old is too young to have fully developed who I am as a person. Deep down, I knew who I was, but the medication held me back from meeting my true potential.

      I am confident that you will help others by sharing your mother’s story of recovery. My twenty-five years of suffering seem trivial to what she must have experienced. I can’t imagine the nightmare she endured spanning over four decades of her life.

      Let us hope for a day when no one has to go through such agony.

      Best wishes,

      Ryan

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    • Thank you so much. I still have a long way to go.

      Please excuse my lack of response. I recently started reducing the last of this half milligram. The last itty bit is always the hardest. Still, I never give up and will make it through, no matter how hard the struggle is.

      This has been the most isolating experience of my life. I’ve lost every friend I’ve ever had. It’s nice to know there are people out there that believe in this story. I only hope that it helps others in similar situations.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my writing. It has given me so much relief to express everything that has gone on all these years. I’m looking forward to the day when I can communicate with the world outside of my writing in a much more comfortable manner.

      Have a wonderful week, my friend.

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      • Hello Ryan. So I see you say you are having some difficulty with your taper. I will tell you what I am doing, as the information might be helpful to you. Basically what I learned is that you have to taper more slowly at lower dosages, especially when you are on the last drug. In the first several months, I slowly stopped taking the antidepressant. Then in the next year, I reduced my dosage of aripiprazole to about 3.3mg per day, from the original 15mg. At that point, I found I had to taper much more slowly to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. I reduced the speed of tapering so that I would reduce the daily dosage by 0.1mg, every two to four months. But I also learned that the taper must be extremely precise! So I developed a method, where by I crushed the pills and ground them up with a mortar and pestle. Then using a milligram scale and making sure my calculations were accurate, I mixed in an appropriate amount of powdered sugar, to dilute the active drug by 50 or 100 times. Then, I have to painstakingly weigh the powder into empty gelatin capsules. One time, I forgot to take one of my 2.4mg capsules. The next day, I got electric buzzing throughout my whole body. Fortunately it went away when I took an extra capsule to make up for the one I had forgotten. Thank you for your inspiring story, and I hope this info helps.

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        • Hey Brad,

          I appreciate the concern, and yes, I am going very slow towards the end. I’m reducing at a much lower percentage than I was previously. I go by how my mind and body feel, not necessarily at a specific rate. I also use the Jack and Jill method on The Inner compass to reduce it correctly. Jill has always been a much better friend than Jack 🙂

          My Apple Watch has been my best friend during this taper. First, it helped me to monitor how much exercise I was getting. Second, I monitor my heart rate. As long as it stays low during the week, I know that my withdrawal is not to extremes. I take my blood pressure as well every day. If my withdrawal feels overwhelming, my blood pressure is usually high. The most helpful thing is monitoring my sleep with an app on my watch called AutoSleep. I make sure that I get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If it is any less than that, I know my withdrawal has been too hard on me. It also keeps track of my deep sleep. If I’m getting too little, I know I’m not having a restful night. Staying away from any know sugars is one of the best things I have done to make sure things go well. The slightest amount of sugar can make things awful.

          Don’t worry, buddy, I’m in it to win it. Life’s a struggle; it’s not meant to be easy. If it were easy, then writing about it wouldn’t be any fun.

          Take care, dude!

          Ryan

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  3. I do hope Robert reads your story and discusses it with you Ryan. You deserve his praise. I have written to Robert Whitaker around eight times over the years. He must be exceedingly busy because he never once acknowledged my correspondence.

    I think it is understandable to want to doctor the poorly doctored. Heal them back to health. But what if someone does not feel they have been poorly doctored? All doctoring is a service. A service can be declined without repercussions or rejection. If rejection occurs one must wonder whose needs the doctor or anti-doctor is serving.

    I say this because I myself have been in a sulk with humans ever since I got to this planet. I put a moon map on my wall. I tore the square map from off around the roundness of Mother Moon and gave her pride of place on my wall. She is the size of a drum. But this morning I noticed that the moon picture is covered in place names. Few spots are devoid of writing. Every section is bedecked with the names of marvellous men. Thinkers all.

    As if they created her.

    I pondered a cave painting poster I also have on my wall, a riot of bison. What is it about the human’s impulse to scent mark everything with human hand prints and human art and human letters and human titles and human territorial signage and human walls and human cities? A giant way of saying….

    So and so woz here!!!!

    All over the moon grow the human signages, black letters like a haze of lice obscuring the lips of craters.

    Is not the moon allowed to be her own?

    The human cannot leave the environment unmolested by human “logical” thought.

    A crater shuffles into a doctor’s office and gets hollowed out with the secondary meteor impact of human letters. A diagnosis of schizophrenia. That diagnosis gets driven into the bedrock like a human signage that says…

    Doctor so and so woz here!!!

    But in good time another doctor arrives and says the signage needs dug out and a new one cemented into situ. A sign that reads….

    Doctor so and so woz here and pronounces a diagnosis of trauma.

    If the crater says she wants to choose her own simple signage none of the doctors speak to her. They conclude her mad. Ungovernable.

    Mad like a crater. Mad like a wasteland. Mad like a river. Mad like a mountain. Mad like a naked cave. Mad like a forest.

    None of the animals do signages. None.

    There are no signages can be given into the crater hands of the truly animalistically mad.

    Moons with no mens name pronouncing what they are.

    There are no letters on my moon. There are no letters on my doormat. There are no letters in my email inbox.

    Men think they are deities using nature as their saddle and plinth.

    But my moon is still Godless and barren and hopelessly beautiful.

    Yesterday I bought four boxes of little tylenol moons from the corner shop to swill myself to oblivion, to the lovely undisturbing accepting arms of the moon.

    Their spill litters my hall floor like shadow interrupted dropping stages of the lunar body.

    Humans are killing me.

    I am schizophrenic. It is my sign. I say this to all you humans. I now choose it. Who are you to kill me by repeatedly trying to rip it out to put your own pronouncement into me instead? Who do you think you are?

    Who?

    Leave me alone to like my schizophrenia sign now it is with me. Leave me alone to observe its moving sundial shade play across my crater. Stop smashing your flag of certainty into me.

    Get off my body.

    Leave me alone.

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  4. So inspiring Ryan. It is very moving to read how you have overcome the awful discontinuation effects of multiple medication, alone! I hear how you missed out on education and of course many other aspects of life. Yet none of what you endured is holding you back; that is a message of hope to so many who desperately need to know that escape from toxic psychiatry is possible. Thankyou for sharing your story of survival.

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    • Dear Cathy,

      I have not forgotten about you! However, your comment felt extra special, so I preferred to take some time to respond appropriately. I noticed you recently published an article on MIA concerning Self-Harm; I plan to read it tonight. Although I do not have experience with the topic of your story, I feel it is an important subject that needs to be addressed. I lost a friend in the psych ward due to Self-Injury and an eating disorder; not a day goes by without thinking of her. I miss her dearly and wish she was still here chatting about her love for one of our favorite bands, Queen.

      Thank you again for your kind words. Everyone at MIA, both staff and readers, are helping my recovery as I fight to beat this struggle once and for all. With that being said, I’m not sure I would still be here without the admiration and support of individuals like yourself.

      Wishing you the best,

      Ryan

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  5. Thank you Ryan for sharing your journey. It gives one hope and joy at your recovery. I agree about turning off social media and I gave up the internet. Your story is an important if it helps even one person to start theirs.

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    • Thank you, Evegreen!

      First, I’d like to again apologize for my late responses. It has been hard for me to communicate my thoughts, especially the creative ones during this taper.

      I want to reply to you while discussing what everyone else has mentioned here. It is now 2 am, but my computer is calling my name. I should be asleep, but I need to get some thoughts out of my head.

      I awoke just now because of a dream I was having. I dreamed of having a random conversation with someone I’d never known. This person understood me, and we talked for hours. We laughed and talked about what we aim to achieve in life. By the end of our conversation, we were kissing and making love. I now see that one day I will be a part of life again and enjoy it to its fullest. I am late for the party, but I will get there soon enough.

      If it’s okay, I’d like to discuss other random thoughts. Of course, while concerning what others have said here in the comments section.

      Recently, my sister and I were talking on the phone. She was telling me she has been having some personal struggles herself. I told her that I loved her and would always be here for her. I even told her I was her big brother. The truth is, she is older than me, but I like to make a habit of telling her I am the big brother to show her I will always take care of her no matter what 🙂 However, I told her I needed to take care of myself. She said she hated that those doctors shoved pills down my throat for so many years. She says what they did to me was terrifying and made things terrible for our family and us growing up. I feel bad because so much attention was put on me growing up and not my sister. Because of that, she may have suffered some trauma herself and now looks to seek some attention she did not get. I want her to be happy, but I have to focus on my life, or I won’t have a future.

      Also, I have been hanging out with my parents a lot as they understand my recovery better than anyone. I didn’t get along with my dad for the longest time. When I was young, I wanted him to be the person I turned to when things were awry in my life. Back then, all I needed was a drop of therapy or my father to talk to. However, I found out that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I have found a way to accept my dad’s faults for what they are and have learned to love him for who he is. I no longer need that therapy that I once thought I needed. It was him that had me turn to pills. Unfortunately, they were not the correct answer then and only made things a million times worse. Now my dad and I enjoy talking about Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and our love for music. He has enjoyed reading all of your lovely comments despite him not being able to understand more complex emotions. He told me he hates that I went through this for so many years and that I am an inspiration to many. Although I don’t need that appreciation from him anymore, it is nice to know he finally understands.

      I also wanted to mention that I got into a brief fight with him today.

      During this fight, I accidentally had a slight amount of sugar, which caused my withdrawal to be uncomfortable. I cannot explain things to my dad like I am to all of you. Because of this, there were some upsetting words back and forth. Somehow, I ended the argument with his understanding, which is odd. This is because he likes to have the last word. Growing up, he always needed to be the most comfortable person in the room. He also loves Shakespeare and has been watching a new version of King Lear. My dad constantly quotes Shakespeare when he should say how he feels from his heart. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know what to say unless it’s quoted from someone else.

      I ended the dispute by telling him a quote from my book Euphoric Wonderland. I said dad, you love King Lear, right? Let us have an adult conversation about this play you love so much. I asked him if he remembered the line from my book: “You’ll never see with eyes wide open, a broken Lear with no emotion.” I said dad; you are King Lear. Can’t you see I am that kid who has loved you more than life itself all these years, yet you were too blind to see it? I am Cordelia, Dad. I should have mentioned that there was never a Goneril or even a Regan in our family. My sister and I both love my dad more than anything. Not sure he ever saw it, though. I then told him that maybe if I ended up taking my life back then, he would have known what I needed to hear every day. I then said I have already lost everything, dad, and because of that, I now wake up knowing where to go in my life without ever even having to open my eyes to see what’s right in front of me.

      When I am with my family, they have also watched the news when I am over. It’s been a little scary for me, and I have to ask them if they can either turn it off or watch it another time. I am very aware of the shooting in Texas, and it is terrible. Somehow I hope that the parents of those kids find peace in all of this tragedy. When watching today, I noticed a slight tear in my eye. As I mentioned in a previous comment, it has been hard for me to watch the news during my taper. But, that small tear made me realize how big my heart is and that I love people so much. I know now that I will have an amazing life and connect with people soon in a way I never knew I could.

      I love you all!

      With gratitude,

      Ryan

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      • Ryan, many thanks for sharing your incredibly uplifting and heart-warming story. I am so impressed by your inner strength, courage and kindness, as well as by your loving and generous attitude towards your family members. So many people resent their parents, but you write so beautifully about your dad: “I have found a way to accept my dad’s faults for what they are and have learned to love him for who he is. I no longer need that therapy that I once thought I needed.”

        I fortunately experienced psychiatric drugs only as an adult, because of a psychotic episode in 2012, and coming off my neuroleptic was quite easy because I had been taking it for less than 3 months. While reading your story I realized how lucky I am… I wish all the best to you, your dad and the rest of your family.

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        • Dear Joanna,

          Thank you for this heartfelt message. Posting this story on MIA has been so helpful. The support that both their team of staff, including comments like these, have given me so much peace. Connecting with people has been challenging due to the overwhelming stigma of going off medications.

          I recently got involved in a friendly discussion with the moderator of MIA, Steve McCrea. He mentioned an all too familiar statement that we often hear from individuals concerning their ignorance of corrupt psychiatry. It goes a little something like this, “Well, if they’re this bad ON medications, think how much worse they’ll be OFF Medications!” This remark brought back so many memories of what friends thought was beneficial for the safety of my own sanity. Yet, over the last three years, my health has significantly improved.

          Yes, there are moments when everything seems like it’s falling apart, but overall, I am happy with the continued results. Of course, it will take a long time to heal when the taper is complete, but it is worth the wait.

          There is no doubt in my mind that I would have died at the hands of those doctors. Every pill they put me on was pushed to its maximum dose and, at points, beyond that. Whether it be 2000 mg of Seroquel, 2400 mg of Trileptal, 320 mg of Geodon, 6 mg of Klonopin, or toxic amounts Lithium, it was never-ending insanity. I couldn’t function on one medication, let alone close to ten. Consequently, it appeared as if I was in a coma on those drugs.

          This lunacy ruined my education. I have not read an entire book since before the age of fifteen. Instead, all my knowledge comes from movies and hearing my dad speaking about his love for literature.

          This crooked system newly mistreated my mother’s best friend’s daughter, only to develop permanent Tardive Dyskinesia. I remember the word luck that you have used, and it’s at times like this, that I realize how lucky I am, too.

          I wish to congratulate you on withdrawing from that neuroleptic. When I was coming off my Neurontin, the mental and physical pain was excruciating. Even though I am a big fan of what The Inner Compass enforces, I tend to make myself suffer by not going as slow as other people when removing each drug. I still decrease the percentage when I can, but I care to go by how I feel at the conclusion of the week before deciding what taper rate I will adhere to. I need to be done with all of this madness. For that reason, I have been okay with struggling a little more than usual.

          What touched me the most in your comment were your words in relation to my dad. Growing up, he may have overwhelmed me, but I forced him and my family through hell. It may not have been my fault, but I still feel awful. However, despite that havoc, we have learned to survive and barely ever argue anymore. Because of that, we are now enjoying life together like I always dreamed we could.

          Today my old man did the coolest thing for me. He understands how much I value writing, and in the light of that, he purchased me the new Typewriter Lego for us to build with each other. Of course, I explained he does not need to do these favors for me, but I can tell it makes him feel good bonding with me in a way we never did. My mom and dad are superheroes for what they have tolerated. I could not be more grateful for having them by my side. In the end, they have supported my recovery more than anyone. They see me every day and know that the best is yet to come.

          Warm regards,

          Ryan

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          • Dear Ryan, thank you so much for all your kind words and for sharing more about your experiences!

            Those who claim that people would be much worse off psychiatric medications are clearly brainwashed and misinterpreting the effects of these drugs as symptoms of a mental illness.

            It is so depressing, though unsurprising to hear that your psychiatrists did not care about the impact of all these psychiatric drugs on your health (both physical and mental). I can’t understand why they put you on so many drugs, unless profit was their main motive… So sad to hear what happened to your mother’s best friend’s daughter – the risk of tardive dyskinesia was one of the main reasons why I decided to come off my neuroleptic.

            The neuroleptic was Abilify in my case and fortunately I found it very easy to stop using it. I guess that it would have been much more difficult to come off it if I had been using it for many months or even years.

            I fully understand what you mean by saying that the impact of psychiatric “treatment” ruined your education. You may try reading the book “Call Me Crazy: Stories from the Mad Movement” by Irit Shimrat – I have only recently found out about this book and I am sure that you would find it interesting: http://eservices.apps01.yorku.ca/hist_madness/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Shimrat_Irit_Call_Me_Crazy_1997.pdf

            Great to hear that your parents have been so supportive and I fully understand why you find your dad’s gift so deeply moving.. Please don’t feel bad because of what your family has experienced. When I had my psychotic episode, it was also very stressful for my family, but the crucial thing is that I have recovered from the experience and my relationship with my closest family members has even improved since that time (e.g. I have become much more open with my mum).

            Just like you, I can say that my family has supported my recovery more than anyone else – in fact, only my family supported me when I was having my psychotic episode and after my release from the mental hospital. I did not have any friends at that time (my only friendship broke down when I became severely psychotic – of course this was incredibly painful).

            The only people who visited me in the hospital were my parents, my brother and my aunt. My mum visited me every day. I was very lucky because most other patients on my ward rarely, if ever, got any visits.

            At the same time, I am very happy that I was able to live alone when I decided to come off my neuroleptic. In fact, at that time my mum thought that it would be dangerous for me to stop using it, though she could see all the side effects of the drug. Thanks to my situation I was able to come off Abilify without having to inform anyone about my decision. Let me add that no one in my family has ever criticized this decision and I deeply appreciate it.

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          • Ryan, let me just add that when people say “think how much worse they’ll be OFF medications!”, I feel that one of the reasons is that many people assume that having any hallucinations or delusions or any eccentric behaviour is completely unacceptable. Such people seem to think that as long as psychiatric drugs stop or at least reduce “symptoms”, the person should keep using them, no matter how horrible the effects of the drugs are.

            Another misconception is that people who have hallucinations and/or delusions are always a threat to others or to themselves. This is a myth which causes incredible harm to many people all over the world.

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          • That meme also assumes that psych drugs always or consistently make people’s “symptoms” better. There are plenty whose “symptoms” get worse, or who get new “symptoms” of new “disorders” that they never had before because of reactions to the psych drugs they were prescribed. Many of the foster kids I worked with got significantly BETTER when taken off their psych drugs that clinicians claimed were so essential to their survival, and there were many more who were no better or worse on or off the drugs, which of course means the drugs contributed nothing to their “mental health!” I’ve seen a girl diagnosed with an eating disorder put on stimulants, after which folks were very alarmed that she stopped eating! Who would have guessed? I’ve seen a girl diagnosed with diabetes, and we advocated for her to be taken of Seroquel, and a few weeks later, the diabetes was GONE.

            Why the assumption that these drugs are always positive, or that the pros always outweigh the cons? It is a very disturbing assumption that harms a LOT of people!

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          • Steve, I fully agree with what you are saying. I would say that the assumption comes from brainwashing by the mainstream media, books and “experts”, as well as from the belief that pharmacotherapy is the best way to deal with all kinds of (real or imaginary) diseases.

            Even in the case of very real physical diseases we can often observe a very naive attitude towards pharmacotherapy. E.g. many people with metastatic cancers agree to chemotherapy, including chemotherapy with the use of “experimental” drugs, in the hope that it will save their lives and despite the frequently horrible side effects. There are cases of doctors who prescribe unnecessary chemotherapy to dying patients, e.g. the British cancer specialist Justin Stebbing who was even suspended for 9 months from the UK medical register.

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  6. I absolutely loved reading your story Ryan! It was very well written and very helpful. I suffered alot of what you described. I was also way overprescribed many of the meds you were. Ryan you may inspire me to ✍ write and submit my story as well. So happy to see you doing so well both mentally and physically now. Sadly I have an old friend who is bipolar but looks like your before photos. Sadly his own mother wants him overmedicated. He is on nine medications. Including Haldol, Seroquel, Depakote, Klonopin etc. Its great to see that you were able to persevere and come to the point you are at today. It was very hard for me to watch my friend never recover due to being severely overmedicated. Keep up the great work you are doing Ryan, because today you have motivated and inspired me to help others more!! Thanks! Michael

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    • I would not call that “overmedicated.” Of course, there is no way to determine the “proper” level of “medication” when the “disorders” they claim to see have no actual, objective definition. But being on 9 drugs is not “overmedication,” it is MALPRACTICE! And I’m willing to bet that despte (or because of) her massive “medication” load, he’s still doing poorly and has a crappy quality of life. That is not healthcare. It’s malpractice.

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  7. Back when I was in grade school, I developed a minor nervous tick disorder. Because of that, I was taken to a neurologist. The neurologist declared that I must have Tourette’s syndrome, and in his warped reasoning, he said, “if you have Tourette’s syndrome, then you also have ADHD and need to take medicine.” But instead of putting me on the usual stimulants, he put me on an antidepressant, because he said that all the drugs basically do the same things. Well, he got that part sort of right, because its true that all the drugs do the same thing, a big nothing helpful! And as I learned from experience many years later, the drugs actually cause severe mental illness. The antidepressant made me socially withdrawn, and turned me into a basket case! It was only after they put me on antipsychotics that I then began to hear voices. Well now, I am almost 42, and my life has been thoroughly ruined by the professionals! On the bright side, I am also in the final stretch of tapering the last psychiatric drug, and I am doing better than ever before. I find your story inspiring and I realized I haven’t been exercising enough, so I have now begun to walk two hours every other day.

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  8. My hypothesis: Are psychiatrists trained to put psychiatric symptoms on people or are they trained to see people in psychiatric symptoms? e.g., drapetomania.

    Because centered psychiatrist first then second have been putting these things on me, not seeing these things in me. Is that the way they work, make believe, because its easier to lie than do the actual work, right.

    They lied.

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  9. This was like reading a memoir on my life, I went through years of extremely abnormal behavior after my initial diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, fueled by handfuls of medication which ‘I had to take to be normal’ long story short I quit nearly every medication I was on and now take 100mg seraquil and 2mg rivotril and things seem much better now, I’m an author and poet I have energy and drive again – lost 30 kilograms. I still have episodes but no longer violent episodes.
    One day I’d like to be ‘clean” and just happily read and review books and write with nothing but whiskey as an indulgence.
    Feels like I’ve lost 20 years of my life though – but that is done and now I hope to make up for time lost the best way I know how.

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  10. I hope you are doing well Ryan. I am still tapering as I have been doing for a few years. When the whether gets cold, I start to feel the withdrawal effects, but when it gets warm I don’t feel them anymore. There needs to be a message board for people who are doing tapering, because it can be very complex and filled with difficulties.

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    • You got this, Brad!

      I am officially medication free as of five days ago (July 27th 2023). Unfortunately, I wrote Made Mad In America a little under a year too early. Turns out, my taper lasted another year or so to comfortably withdrawal from all the medications I was on. The fourth and final year of my taper was the worst. Despite the difficulties endured; it was all worth it. You may want to try the Inner Compass Exchange app, as there’s many people in their social media community experiencing psych med withdrawal. There ought to be someone on there that can assist you through some of your distressful moments. Life is good, and I’m certain you’ll notice it more and more as time goes on.

      Wishing you all the best,

      Ryan B.

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