After 22 years and many attempts I finally stopped taking antipsychotics. The side effects of obesity, tardive dyskinesia, impotence, lethargy, loss of drive and real emotions, as well as hormonal imbalances, slow movement, and disordered thought flow are gone. I also no longer have any of the typical symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
My relentless cravings for reward stimulants, internet, and anything that was upping my suppressed dopamine and serotonin values are mostly dealt with and now I am in control, for the most part — by the grace of God and many well-intentioned, helpful and caring folk. The cravings for dopamine stimulation when one is on antipsychotics are very real and depending on the dose one may be like a rabid dog seeking out any kind of reward to feel alive.
I carried through with my dose titration with the calendar adjustment method, and I fought the misinformed medical professionals and members of my family and community until they started to understand how the so-called “antipsychotic” drugs can actually cause psychosis upon withdrawal as the neurons are freed up and start firing again. There appears to be more dopamine uptake due to the antipsychotic-induced brain compensatory mechanism as a response to the suppressed blockade state in an effort to achieve energy equilibrium. We humans need our dopamine and also the other brain neurotransmitters that are affected by psychiatric drugs, and even us, the “neurodiverse,” cannot really feel fully alive otherwise.
I still feel weak and quite injured by the accumulated doses of numbing drugs, though I feel brighter, and love life more than ever.
After two decades I now conclude that in order for one to survive and grow with a mental health diagnosis, one must answer to the sacred inner portent of good character known in yoga as the Purusha (see The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda). This exercise calls for extreme attentiveness to one’s deep emotions and the associated interpreted responses within the inner mind and body in an effort to separate correct understanding from misinterpretations based on negative emotions and poor reasoning. Faulty responses and feelings cause bad behavior and these feelings need to be worked through with great commitment and effort whenever encountered, and also when one has the inner strength and ability to confront the darkness out in the world.
The problem is, how does one interpret the bad from the good and carry out the correct reasoning and with the correct mature emotional responses? It is so easy to just think that one is in the right when in actual fact a person is hurting themselves and often others. Sometimes there are negative delusions, such as when one buys into evil due to confusion or poor training in morals or ethics. For example, there is a yogic proverb about a person seeing a rope in half light and thinking it to be a venomous snake. Violence may be the unfortunate consequence (one may try to attack the rope) as one gives way to crazy thoughts, and this is when family call in and the police arrive and one is locked up in the mental hospital with most human rights removed, and then given tranquilizer drugs. One has to counter the thinking from false delusions with positive self-talk and correct ethical reasoning, and also actually talking to people and checking outside oneself if that reality is true or not. The drugs may also skew one’s emotions and acumen and this needs to be taken into account as well.
I was called on to take medication for almost two decades and was locked up quite a few times before realizing what was needed in order for me to release myself from the mental healthcare system’s difficult hold and gain back my composure and inner sense of self. How did I accomplish this, you may ask? I had to listen to my deeper emotions and reasoning in an effort to differentiate delusion from positive inner reality, and to search for a clear corresponding interpretation of the environment outside. This act involved separating truth from bias and false information and reacting in a most upright way, as much as was possible for me. When this thought and action happened I began to gain the necessary insight into the split mind condition that I was suffering from, and even the experts started to recognize my new ability and see my progress.
It still happened though that the medical community did not fully interpret my responses correctly and struggled with the occasional crisis in adapting that occurred from time to time as I was making my passage to a more open state of awareness and with deep conviction and faith in the higher power of good. The doctors did however reduce my medication quite a bit, and this was helpful for my biochemical equilibrium, and allowed my dopamine regulation to work better. I was much more able to feel a sense of reward to positive stimuli in my environment.
I then had to look up to the heavens and listen to higher guidance with faith in goodness and then act for deeper ethical reasons. I began to absorb and immerse myself fully with an almost mystical affection for astronomy and cosmic exploration, such as by looking at the Hubble and James Webb telescope internet sites in an earnest effort to know about the universe and the possibility of advanced life out there. Limited it appears we humans are in our knowledge of the great Cosmos and the possibility of life in the trillions of star solar systems. I tried out different telescopes on my back porch and wandered around in my yard at night (much to the annoyance of my neighbors) to better understand what people had gazed at for millennia without all of the air pollution and reflected light from the crowded cities, and had to go from the back to the front yard to observe the different stars north and south, including the great star Sol that warms our Earth.
I also purchased a stargazer book with sky maps and discussed my findings with a friend who was interested in higher quantum physics and the multiple dimensions of starlight between time-like moments. My understanding is that we are composed of star energy in the form of electromagnetic charges that take in information and create signals back to the outer world and other creatures. We are tied to our world by an interconnected web of charges at low-level frequencies that form matrices, including our dopamine reward systems, that process the signals that are within the electromagnetic spectrum. The positive flow of energy is all about loving kindness toward each other and our environment.
It is important also to understand that if the universe holds love, then our conscious love, as wrapped by a single life, should not be limited to one life as this would be a waste of all of our positive personal development. I believe that we simply transfer, as was sometimes understood prior to particle physics and known by faith leaders across the planet. Love carries on between us even after we leave this life and move on. It is good to keep records too, so we can remind ourselves of where we are at.
Reaching out with my new studies and combining the knowledge with essential yogic Vedas from Patanjali, Aurobindo and the Mother, and others, and also guidance from experts in church and government sponsored enterprises, I assembled a clearer notion of life that I could follow as I moved forward in my soul recovery and rebuild. I offered myself to experts as an example of a person seriously trying to overcome a personal schism condition so that others could learn more and advance our understanding beyond the common paradigm of mental healthcare. The doctors, I think, are still trying to comprehend and it would be great if they could always truly listen to the inner needs of their patients and trust the patient’s insight. Sometimes the stay at the hospital was very enlightening, though often there was a dark aspect that left me traumatized as well.
The medical people usually are required to ask the patient the same set of safety questions and then may sometimes check for tardive dyskinesia as is evidenced by trembling fingers or a shaking tongue. It is disconcerting when the trained experts are not permitted to delve deeper and go further than the limits of the promoted scientific literature, textbooks and basic psychology. I hope that in time psychiatry, psychology, faith studies and practice, philosophy and peer counseling will be rolled into one field of endeavor for health building rather than for coping with illness alone, and this subsequently might even be used for war veterans and also for convicted criminals. Yes, people get stressed out but they can also recover, and should be allowed to do so. I do believe that many of these “mental illness” schism conditions are for the most part acute rather than chronic as one develops out of them.
The priests of old related stories about inner good and there were many aware folk who underwent psychosis (often due to trauma) in an ultimate effort to open themselves to a deep understanding of higher truth, either in the face of negativity, or even just for experimental reasons — because they wanted to know more about reality and the Universe. This process of discovery, often enhanced by natural drugs and hallucinogens, allowed civilizations to advance and evolve step by step as these deeply affected people came forth and talked to those that were willing to listen and were actually able to relate and create change. Across the Earth, good books were written and many stories were also told and passed down from generation to generation, evolving and adapting, as big events transpired. If individuals are held back from going through an inner process of personal growth and perhaps passing beyond a split mind state, then we will not have the important messages available to point us along the right path, and that is why, I think, we are currently in such a difficult and troubled way. We have failed to pay attention to our deepest feelings, and to respond in a positive way; we as humans have had devastating wars and even dropped nuclear bombs on cities. We consumed much of the planet’s incredible riches, destroyed the ecosystem, and polluted the air and water almost beyond recovery, including damage to the ozone layer and change to the weather patterns.
Scientific efforts on the human brain are so far having fairly limited success in helping patients to develop positive character and to better understand their environment, and these interventions often harm us patients. I also know that the healthcare efforts are often well-intended and sometimes can do great good.
Are we able as people to go beyond harmful treatment? The vast hospital zone I was in also contained a Sacred Space room in the main building where I would sit down and pray and be humble in the face of the higher presence, and In the sacred silence I could understand more clearly my hidden emotions and let them guide me towards personal growth. I was able to be more in tune with the distant emotions embedded in my head and elsewhere beyond, and touch base with the higher presence with prayer and meditation.
The emotions also extended out to family, friends and the community in general and I had to address everyone outside as I could. For example, I was not always in line with my doctors and family and that was an educational process too. Growth and change need to happen on all sides for recovery to occur, and that involves the patient, the doctor, and the family working in tandem to gain good knowledge of recovery protocols and work for the best possible outcome. Doctors can have a hard time letting go of their need to control, though mine are much more reasonable now as compared to some time ago.
I am a semi-retired architect, yoga student, and interfaith practitioner with Christian roots, and I would like to keep holding out hope for the day when we can all process our inner turmoil, in an effort to regain control over our health, recover from emotional pain, and become much happier and better citizens overall, and inherently closer to the good in the outer world and beyond.
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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