Still Looking For Answers


Where do I even begin…

I guess where it all started was when I had my very first panic attack at the age of 12, soon after losing my first close family member, my grandfather. I was home alone at the time with no one to help me and from there I have not been the same. I’ve always felt very different from everyone else, always very sensitive and empathic… I just felt things so deeply. Fast forward a few years into my teens and more and more signs kept popping up that I had anxiety (although I didn’t know these signs until into my early adult years). My parents didn’t know what was wrong with me, nor did I understand why I was feeling the things I felt. I am now 36 years old with two children and have been on and off several different medications since the age of 17.

Back in 2019, returning to work after having my second child I decided to make the most of my time away from home by attending the gym during my lunch hour. With the lack of sleep from being a mom and working eight hours a day Monday to Friday I felt I needed some help in the energy department, so I asked a coworker who I knew was very much into weight lifting for some help with finding a pre-workout supplement. She brought me one of hers from home and as I slowly sipped this drink things seemed fine. I had tried one other pre-workout drink and had no issues so I thought this wouldn’t be any different, but as I was heading back to my desk I started feeling all kinds of weird tingling in my arms and face and my heart was racing.

I left work to head to the gym, trying to ignore these sensations but as I got into my car, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to die. So I hurried back into my place of work and went up to a coworker who I knew was a paramedic in a previous career. I told her how I was feeling, and I was panicking my breath was fast, I was shaking and I was terrified. I sat down and had some food, hoping it would soak up some of the supplement or just help me shake this feeling, but it didn’t…

I ended up going to the emergency room, telling them “I think I’m dying.” They did their usual checks and sent me into a room where I lay in the dark with my husband by my side; they gave me two Ativan to help calm me. The doctor came back in to check on me and I said to him, “Am I dying?” He said, “Not today you aren’t” and sent me on my way.

From there I began to develop severe health anxiety and could not function at work. I started to feel very unfulfilled and went into a deep depression. Thankful for living in a small town and knowing people, they got me in on a crisis call with the local psychiatrist we spoke, and he suggested a medication change. Let me just say he is an amazing psychiatrist and never pushed pills, but considering I was already on some he thought that maybe changing them would help.

Unfortunately, after several medication changes and nothing working but only making it worse, with me feeling like I was going to drop dead every day, I had to leave work and go on long-term disability as I was in no condition to be in the work force. I also decided along with my husband and psychiatrist to come off all medication and give my body a chance to just figure itself out. Withdrawing was awful brain zaps, nausea, emotions running high, confusion, etc.

I ended up putting my focus onto more natural ways to help my anxiety and depression. I was working out almost every day and focusing on regulating my hormones. For about 10 months I was working with a holistic nutritionist, she was also a counselor so I had someone to talk to on a regular basis but with more of a spiritual based approach vs medical based. I was also working with another counselor for two years and it was so great to have someone to vent to and help me through some of my troubles.

This was the best I had been in years, if not ever. I was seeing hope for my future and had dreamed up so many things, until October 2021 when my grandmother got sick and ended up in the hospital where she passed away a couple months later. Her getting sick triggered me so deep I started obsessing about my own health and again went into a cycle of feeling like I was going to drop dead every day. Then in the following months I broke a bone, had surgery, a friend unexpectedly died, and we had to put our longtime fur baby to sleep. My nervous system was beyond shot, so I surrendered to doctors and agreed to go back on medication after two visits to the emergency room.

I do not want to be on medication, and I know it’s just a band-aid for me as I believe there is deeper work to be done for myself. Before starting meds again, I would get wonky lightheaded dizziness, brain shaking, heart vibrating, random pains, nausea, aches and pains and so many other random things going on in my body almost daily, and these are all still happening. I’ve been seeing a naturopath, my family doctor, an acupuncturist, massage therapists, I’ve seen Chinese herbalists and I’m still lost… What is happening in my body? And has being on medication caused long-term side effects or damage?

My naturopath believes it’s most likely my stress levels and even possibly hormone levels, some of my closest friends believe the same but how do you really know what’s happening in your brain when you don’t know what will give you those answers? I’ll forever be searching for them; I want to feel “normal” again and live a life of enjoyment vs fear and anxiety. I want my kids to enjoy me again and for me to enjoy them. If anyone out there thinks they could be of help please reply here or reach me at [email protected]. I will fight to the death to figure this out I won’t give up. I just hope this fight can end soon so I can enjoy the rest of my life. Thank you to anyone out there who is even thinking about reaching out to me. I know there must be answers or someone who can relate.


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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  1. “Withdrawing was awful — brain zaps, nausea, emotions running high, confusion, etc.” Been there, done that. It’s even still hard for me to read my diaries from that time, and I was withdrawn from the psych neurotoxins well over a decade ago.

    And I agree, the ‘not knowing,’ was the hardest part. Not one of my former doctors ever forewarned me about withdrawal effects, including the psychiatrist and mainstream doctor, who weaned me off the psych drugs.

    Most people here, I’m pretty certain, can relate with your concerns. However, I hate to tell you … but likely only time will heal the iatrogenic wounds, perpetrated by psychiatry – and it can take years to heal. Especially from the betrayal by doctors (and in my case, also pedophile aiding pastors and bishops), those we were all brainwashed to trust.

    I personally found journaling, art making, researching, gardening, keeping very busy rehabbing my home, volunteering, spending quality time with loved ones and friends, biking, dancing, cooking healthy foods – you know, just plain common sense healthy living, and time – to be the best medicine.

    I wish I could give you a better solution. But keep the faith, because healing does happen with time. I still have the brain zaps (20 years, and counting, later), but I can now largely control them, except when I sleep. But I can also use them to get rid of a headache, in a NY second.

    I guess, maintaining hope, belief in one’s self, (in my case, also belief in God), and an optimistic worldview – which I understand is difficult, as we are all now living in upside down and backwards world – (which is why, for me, belief that ‘God wins in the end’ is a helpful and hopeful worldview).

    Nonetheless, I think psychiatry and psychology are stupid to believe in “quick fixes,” for complex problems. I never did, and still don’t. But I do believe, “time heals all wounds.” God bless you on your healing journey, Chelsey.

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      • Chelsey,
        The more $$$ you pay to see more so-called “medical professionals”, and the more PhRMA DRUGS you ingest, the sicker, unhealthier, and unhappier you will become. It’s that simple, but that’s probably too simple for you to believe.
        So let me explain, as briefly as possible.
        Do you know what “Rockefeller medicine” is?….
        Do you KNOW for sure, the TRUTH, that PhRMA wants you to be sick, not healthy?
        That U.S. & New Zealand are the ONLY 2 countries that allow direct-to-consumers drug advertising?….
        Do you know that all the doctor visits, clinics, Etc., in the world, won’t change your character? That only the hard work of the heart can do that?….
        How many nervous systems, & fluid systems does the human body have?
        Do you know what is a woman? Or are you so woke that you’re a cultural zombie?
        You don’t REALLY believe the official government narrative about 9/11 do you? REALLY?….
        You didn’t get jabbed, did you? Too late! If you got vaxxxed, congratulations! You’re now a human guinea pig in the largest uncontrolled, multiple confounding variable HUMAN EXPERIMENT EVER!….You shoulda stayed in the control group! Oh, well! Too bad!….
        I hope you know the TRUTH, though, that psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a mechanism of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neurotoxins. Psychiatry has done, and continues to do, FAR MORE HARM than good…..

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  2. It seems like when I have ever talked about how I felt, I got what are distractions, either pills or suggestions. I am fairly old and what I have finally concluded is that I am missing an essential human need, which is to feel connection, to feel known. I have always felt I am in a very large emptiness. I have plenty of family and good surroundings, but deep down I feel like there is nothing there.

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  3. Suffering is an invitation to find ourselves. Anxiety is not poison, it is dirt in which to begin the hunt for peace.

    These are things I am thinking as I hear you:
    1. Ignorance is complicated and is the primary human condition. Recognizing the questions is a first step. Start an art journal and ask at least one question every morning. Find your inner mentors.
    2. Chemistry is complicated. Pain moves us toward relief. We have to move. Always move in the direction of light. Find your bliss. Find kinder, competent mentors who do not need cash so much as communal flow. Work with your nutritionist and give it time. Get the labs done before you take another substance.
    3. Sensitivity is exquisite and personal. You need no apology, but you do need to suffer terribly. Don’t worry the suffering, it is a natural response to metamorphosis. Sensitivity means that you feel. Find ways to nurture the expression of the feeling. You will discover it to be an uncomfortable, joyous gift.
    4. Discover your coping skills wisely over time. Stomped gardens don’t grow. They render no goodness. They leave fields of starvation and wilt.
    5. Empathic intuition is feminine and dangerous. It is frowned on by those fearful of surrendering their own power over your independence and ability to organize in community. Find your social village and practice caring.
    6. Caring is tough, hard. Bootcamp. Takes time and apprenticeship to masters. Stay with your temporary masters. If you can’t find a living one, read a dead one. We have these wisdoms that we lose in spinning silly. We trade in healthy wisdom for addicted education.
    7. Life is given. It is natural. Find it in your body and in your world. Move and love every part of your body and the plants and animals and people you work with. Be alone often and observe. Dance or play baseball. Climb trees and ski. Do it cheap, outside gyms, with friends. Study fire, water, wind, space, and consciousness, with your senses, including the sense of gratitude and the fully developed sense of intuition. Find beauty or understanding in everything you do.

    Don’t worry the agony. Give it time. Do what you want when you want to. Sleep a lot or work your head off. Play. And find your friends and the gifts you have innate to strengthen them. Then you can tackle the world as a tribe.

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  4. Dear Chelsey, What I get from reading your post is that your main trigger is the death of people you love or even your dog. Being very sensitive is an asset but you are experiencing it as a problem. Knowing where people go after death can help but you’ll still have the feelings. You have to return to neutral after the feelings.

    I went to a psychiatrist due to extreme fear 30 years ago. I have had nothing but side effects from medications for 30 years. I still have my fears.

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  5. Hello Chelsey, Wow, that is a long history of suffering. It is stories like yours that move me to offer to you a program that for many has provided relief when years of therapy and medication have not helped. This downloadable program is in use in 26 countries and my hope is it will serve as a template for future therapists to change mental health delivery. It is Se-REM (Self effective – Rapid Eye Movement). If you write to me and tell me you want it, I will send you the link for the free download. [email protected]. Take care, David B., LCSW (retired trauma therapist).

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  6. There is real value in taking a step back and looking at things through a holistic perspective.

    There is increasing evidence that many mental health problems are from imbalances but in the digestive and immune systems not from a chemical imbalance in the brain.

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  7. So somatic, attachment trauma therapy has helped me where years of medication and cognitive therapies failed (failed is putting it mildly, better to say made me exponentially sicker, I’m now on a liquid micro-taper from the last piece of poison in my system because even going down 1mg off the lowest dose is hell). I’ve also found out various underlying physical issues, some of which are downstream of attachment trauma and ACES. It helped to have a therapist in the know about these things. Turns out I have: hashimotos, hypoglycemia, a severe vestibular imbalance from being socked in the head too many times, and liver undermethylation. But with respect to physical stuff I’m posting to you because there’s one stone that remained unturned that helped me the most (unturned because of a myopic and misguided focus on finding the right neurotoxins for Imaginary ‘chemical imbalances’ at the expense of a real search for underlying causes including trauma), and they is a look at my sleep. Turns out I have severe sleep apnea, probably since I was a young child. You might want to get yourself sleep tested by a sleep md, usually insurance will cover it. You may have respiratory/airway issues that are turning up the dial on your stress making you less resilient to what is obviously some pretty heavy shit you’ve endured. I would go thru a sleep md or airway specialist because even if you don’t have clinical sleep apnea you might have sub-clinical issues that can also have a substantial effect. Once I got on a cpap I was finally able to start recovering from the other shit, beforehand that was a non-starter because I was dissociated and fried the whole day. How fitting that the drugs they gave me for my ‘brain disease’ were largely dissociative and sedating! Anyway hope this helps, bottom line what really has helped me is somatic attachment based trauma therapy focusing on my lived embodied experience; and getting a sleep test and learning I had obstructive sleep apnea which was a quick fix with massive results. That and staying the hell away from psychiatrists and any therapist practicing a modality with a ‘b’ in it that was going to ignore the trauma and say it was all in my head and instruct me to think my way out of rumination — such a double bind since it makes it so much worse. Hope this is helpful.

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