My Journey: On and Off Psychotropic Drugs by Jane Kotze

Before this slippery slope, I wasn’t the quietest,
I was just eighteen, when I saw a psychiatrist.
Much had happened, for my soul to aggravate,
For pseudoscience, I was the perfect candidate.

Eight friends and family, had passed away
The abuse etcetera, my life was a cliché.
Little did I know, that it was perfectly usual
My reactions to trauma, were not delusional.

But instead of processing, through therapy,
He chose Prozac, to prescribe to me.
My crying disappeared, as did my laughter
I wish I knew, I was heading for disaster.

I trusted that psych, with his medical degree
I was in good hands, he would guarantee.
Not once did he inform me, about the risks
I didn’t even know, side-effects exists.

Not long after that, I struggled to sleep
In polypharmacy, I would be knee-deep.
Seroquel was prescribed, without any warning
Made it so difficult, to get up in the morning.

The anorexia, and other consequences began
All because, I had trusted this man.
He told me I suffered, from something called Bipolar
And the drugs, were simply, a mood controller.

After many years, in his consultations
My family urged me, to make new considerations.
Something was amiss, with my disposition
But to leave this psych, caused indecision.

Not realizing, I was under his ‘hypnosis’
My symptoms explained away, by a diagnosis
“You are bipolar, it is not the drugs!”
To my concerns, he gave many shoulder shrugs.

Those couple of pills, became many more,
Many days, I couldn’t peel myself off the floor.
Finally I found, a new psychiatrist to see
Another I trusted, because of his degree.

More pills were added, to my growing list
But again, my theories were simply dismissed.
Suddenly I experienced, my first mental break
“You see, your diagnosis is not a mistake!”

I was then admitted, to the terrible psych ward
Hallucinations prevented, me from being bored.
New drugs were added, and higher doses
Convinced me all part, of psychiatric quotas.

After medical aid was depleted, I was released
My reputation at work, had suddenly decreased.
Everyone knew, I was considered to be mad
On handfuls of drugs, I couldn’t be more sad.

More than twenty psychiatrists, I would see
Unfortunately, they would all agree.
They all confirmed, my brain had a disorder
I looked like a pharmacy, with all the drugs I would hoarder.

Spiralling in destruction, I became addicted to booze
My life and my sanity, I would almost lose.
Until I jumped, in front of a bus
Rehab was something, I didn’t discuss.

I finally agreed, after the rape
I’d been self-medicating, to find an escape.
Benzos were preferred, to help quit the drinks
And finally I got, to chat to some shrinks.

Without explanation, the Benzos prescribed
None of the effects, were even described.
I was like a zombie, on handfuls of pills,
Always accused, of making mountains out of molehills

My second mental break, was in 2008
Again, my sanity was up for debate.
I had constant thoughts, to end my life,
On so many drugs, yet overwhelmed with strife.

Everything looked like a weapon, to commit suicide
The war in my head—with myself I collide.
I could never remember, what my therapist had said,
All I knew for sure, I wanted to be dead.

Always freezing cold, I stood out like a sore thumb,
Brain fog and disconnection, made me look dumb.
An upset stomach, and pains through the roof,
The doctors said, this was the Bipolar proof.

For eighteen years, I believed their lies
What happened next, would be the biggest surprise.
My final mental break, came in late 2016
Admitted to the worst rehab, I had even been.

They quadrupled the doses, of all my pills
While trying to teach me, new life skills.
The tremors became, convulsion-like shakes
Drugged up to my eyeballs, I struggled to wake.

Waiting in pill queues, like cattle going to slaughter
I was a zombie; my mom didn’t recognize her daughter.
Paranoia, delusions, disorientation set in
Another slippery slope, would then begin.

Coerced into believing, that my head was sick
Something made me realize, I was part of a trick.
Through the haze of drugs, my soul was disturbed
The biggest revelation, suddenly occurred.

So, if my head is sick, why not examine my brain?
Besides the chemical imbalance lie, you’ve yet to explain.
Why are you sure of a disease, for which there’s no tests
You’re simply following, what the DSM-5 suggests.

Surely a scan of my brain, would need to be done?
Test the organ you’re treating? But there was none.
The prognosis was just, based on your opinion
And you are really big pharma’s, greedy minion.

If the drugs really helped, why am I not better?
My body is now dependant, to my psychiatrist a debtor.
So, you’ve given me pills, for an organ you did not test,
And I must just a agree, with everything you suggest?

You claim my symptoms, are that of the disorder?
The possibilities for this sickness, couldn’t be broader.
You protect the drugs, as though they’re your baby
That the drugs are the problem, is not a maybe.

You simply deny, that drugs can cause harm
Even the manufacture, raises the alarm.
Why are you all ignorant, is it stupidity or greed?
That makes you prescribe pills that people don’t need?

If you had half a brain cell, you’d realize,
The chemical imbalance, is part of the lies.
You chose deception, to make a quick buck
Disease equals drugs, then the patient is stuck.

I was simply an experiment, for their observation
They knew nothing about, sudden drug cessation!
They chopped and changed, my drugs at will,
As they exhausted, my medical insurance bill.

Unable to speak, or make sense of reality
Jane checked out, my brain an absentee.
My mom finally threw, her toys out the cot,
To get my released, she gave her best shot.

The drugs were many, and the dosages increased
Mom saved my life, as she got me released.
Two months to integrate, back into society
I’ve never ever had, such bad anxiety.

Once I was home, and my brain returned
I began sharing, what I had learned.
About psychiatry, I knew it was very dark
A new journey, I was about to embark.

Three more quacks, I was forced to see,
All I wished for, was to live carefree.
From what I learned, I could see the end,
But a fight for my life, I needed to defend.

Four years later, I was finally ready,
After decades of being, emotionally unsteady.
All my research, documented pen on paper,
I took the plunge, and began my taper.

Prescribed cold turkey, off 6 pills overnight
Did she really not know or was it just spite?
Seizures, convulsions, and torture ensued
Brain zaps feel like, your brain is being stewed.

She claimed I was one in a million, withdrawal is rare,
Dystonia, vomiting, chills and losing my hair.
I lost 9 kilograms, in under eight weeks,
She knew nothing about, tapering techniques.

Many times, I screamed for Jesus to take the wheel,
About 8 months later, I began to heal.
She thought I was kidding, that I almost died
I decided my journey, would be other’s guide.

To come off antidepressants, I was finally prepared
Just alternate your doses, she declared.
60, 30, 60, 30, would do the trick
Besides the first ‘taper’, I’ve never been so sick.

Like a volcano eruption, began the rage
Without cognitive clarity, I could not engage
I wanted to murder, everything that moved
My outbursts for no reason, were disapproved.

Besides images of murder, was the brain pressure
Nothing eased it, or made it lessor.
I wanted to drill, a hole in my head
Many others experienced this, from what I read.

I was at the end, of what I could possibly bare
And decided to end, my taper right there.
Off sixty milligrams, I chose Cold Turkey
The akathisia began, as my movements were jerky.

Everything I had learned, until that moment in time
What she put me through, should be a crime.
I found genuine help, through support online
So many underwent, the same experience as mine.

I am not a “rare case”, as she would have me believe
I was forced to seek alternatives, to find reprieve.
Six more months, it took my brain to mend
My respect for my psych, had come to an end.

She gaslit me to believe, I was one in a million
Just a “rare case”, of an unusual civilian.
Into research about withdrawal, I took a deep dive,
Only to find out how, lucky I was to be alive.

Prescribing alternating doses, is so reckless
Her reputation as a psychiatrist, no longer speckless.
I then prepared to taper, from an antipsychotic
Little did I know, my life would become chaotic.

Out of the blue, I got hectic pains in my right wrist,
Normal activities and doing anything—seriously missed.
Real tests were done, to diagnose tendonitis,
And in December, I was told I also have Costochondritis.

Then came the itches, jerks and back-ache
More drugs were prescribed, which I refused to take.
In a bowl of yogurt, I take Black Seed Oil,
No risks, no symptoms, and nothing to spoil.

I noticed the benefits, almost straight away,
The rewards make it possible, to have every day.
I got impatient with the taper, and reduced too quick
Again, I became extremely sick.

This time I was forced, to seek hospital admission,
Even the nurses never heard, of this tapering condition.
They tried to tell me, that I needed more meds,
Seriously! Are all doctors, sick in their heads?!

IT’S THE DRUGS making me sick, I tried to explain,
But like my psych, they treated me with disdain!
The withdrawal from meds, doctors refuse to acknowledge
They obviously didn’t learn, about tapering at college!

Forced to reinstate, my previous dose
Again, I saw death, it was seriously close!
To taper, we’re supposed to reduce, after 30 days,
But from the withdrawals, my minds in a haze.

I’m too scared to reduce again, the Seroquel,
Tapering is literally like, living in Hell!
I have endured thirty long months, of tapering
Fortunately, my determination, is unwavering!

From 13 pills, I got down to just three,
But my new withdrawals, make it an impossibility.
I went back onto 7, different poisonous prescriptions
This time intensely, studying all the descriptions.

The symptoms are from the meds, but the doctors denied
Despite the warnings, in the manufacturer’s guide.
After all this time of tapering, I can safely proclaim,
The withdrawal symptoms, and side-effects are the same.

The side-effects of the drugs, when you initially commence,
Are the identical symptoms of tapering, just far more intense.
After many failed strategies, of trying to withdraw
I’m always the one, pulling the short straw.

I continued my tapering probe, and investigation
Like many others I couldn’t trust my psych’s narration.
The 5 to 10% reduction, of the previous dose
A near perfect strategy, this is very close.

Hold for 4 weeks, before your next reduction,
The best solution, to prevent brain destruction.
The key to note, is as the dosages become lower,
This tapering strategy, must then become slower.

Between Hyperbolic and Linear, this is the change,
The latter remains the same reduction, throughout the range.
Reduce by the set percentage, until the very end,
Whereas hyperbolic, gives your receptors more time to mend.

Six more weeks, for my body to try regulate
Before my next reduction, is up for debate.
The anguish I’ve experienced, should be classed as criminal
There are better ways to taper, where the harm is minimal.

It took me years of research, to find this explanation,
This should have been, my psychiatrist’s obligation.
They took an Oath, to first do no harm,
Yet our senses and stability, with drugs they disarm.

At least another 2 years of tapering, I need to withstand,
I share because, I’ve experienced all of this first hand.
I personally understand, the risks and ramifications,
How these neurotoxins, inflict brain chemical fluctuations.

Psychiatrists especially, need to be skilled to slow taper,
This needs to be included, in their final qualification paper.
No matter what it takes, I will highlight this mission
That withdrawal exists and is not the ‘condition’.

You see, quick reductions, produce more side-effects,
So, more drugs can be prescribed, for all the defects.
You will notice the psychiatric industry, is not damaged,
But rather a scam of how over-medication, is managed.

All psychiatrists and doctors, need to finally admit
To prescribe toxic allopathic, should require a permit.
The age to prescribe, has become younger and younger
For backhanded prescription dividends, the doctors hunger.

It’s not about our health, but rather their greed
They’re willing to disregard, their promise and creed
The worst are those, who side with big pharma
The life you deserve, will be served up by Karma!

No matter what it takes, I’ll be the people’s voice
For those who died, not knowing they had another choice.
This industry of harm, needs to be brought to its knees
Fortunately, there are many with me, who agrees.

Dr Breggin, Dr McFillin, Dr Ashton, Dr Healy
Have all made it possible, for me to speak freely.
Of the dreadful consequence, of the harmful substance,
For which there is, an endless abundance.

My taper, like my story, has not yet come to an end,
I’ve endured this road, for others, I will defend.
It’s time to finally draw, the line in the sand,
These drugs are poisonous, and need to get banned!

If nothing else, I hope that from, my slippery slope,
That you will research, alternative ways to cope.
Poisonous pills maim and disable, they’re not the solution
Especially long term, you’ll sit with body pollution.

By Jane Kotze


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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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