Friday, November 15, 2019

Comments by pulpamor

Showing 27 of 27 comments.

  • I hear you FeelinDiscouraged. I’ve had to turn into a patient advocate and it’s really tough. I have many friends who still drink the koolaid and strongly think that their psych drugs are really helping them out and I must admit that I can totally relate to that mindset. This website, the conversations here, and the archives have truly been a lifesaver. All of this is a treasure trove of resources and knowledge–all I can do for those around me is to educate them and prove to them that I can make it without psych drugs. I guess I’ve set this challenge for myself (and it is very frustrating and disheartening when others don’t understand what I’ve been through–or worse they couldn’t be bothered to listen). We are very lucky to have this online support network in place because it’s very hard if not impossible to find in many areas of the globe. I keep hoping and pushing for change whenever I can and for what I gather you do too!

  • This quotation to my mind applies to all of psychiatry:

    One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
    -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)

    Those of us who have gotten our power back are extremely fortunate.

  • I’ve had my CYPs analyzed in two countries: Mexico and the US. I was first introduced to this genetic testing while I was studying in Mexico City. My medicator insisted that he get the results before prescribing anything to me and he was surprised to learn that it was not common practice in the US since we pay an arm and a leg for healthcare. I went to one of the research hospitals in Mexico City and got the genetic testing for around $550. Mexico is where I was introduced to this study.

    When I returned to the US, I need to find a new prescriber. After 9 years of being on psychiatric drugs in the US, this time the prescriber insisted that he know my CYPs. I told him that I already had the results, but he was skeptical and didn’t believe that the results from one of Mexico City’s leading research hospitals could be correct. He was in fact incredulous. He insisted that I redo the genetic testing, so I did. And, I admit that at the time my medicator was skeptical enough that I started to doubt the validity of my results. Well, the results came out to be identical! The cost to have it done in the US was picked up by insurance, so I don’t know what the real cost was.

    Perhaps if I’d have did this information when I started psychiatric drugs, it would have spared me from some of the absolutely horrendous experiences these drugs can and do create!

    Overall, however, I find this CYPs a waste of money and resources unless you’re willing to mess around with the never-ending trial and error game. For me, the results came when I was exiting psychiatry’s revolving door.

    in the US didn’t believe the results that I had

  • The Wounded Platoon shows how soldiers are exposed to psychiatric drugs in already dangerous warzone conditions, but fails to investigate the connection in much detail when it comes to soldier’s behavior and the drugs. Perhaps showing culpability to psychiatric drugs is not one of the main concerns of this Frontline documentary, but it does show revealing footage and testimony. To use Dr Breggin’s word, they clearly exhibit profound “disengagement,” but it doesn’t look like improvement. I find it shocking that soldiers have taken the fall and continue to take the blame while military officials fail to put a stop to prescribing psychotropic drugs (it’s as if each generation it’s a new line of drugs!) not to mention take accountability for the lives ruined by the drugs and lives lost to the drugs. The parts of the documentary that review some of this psychiatric drug and losing control connection are in these segments: 40-48m and 59m-1h18.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/woundedplatoon

  • This survey of studies show that the knowledge base on benzodiazepines is severely tainted.

    As humanbeing noted, the conclusions in many of these studies are outright dangerous.

    Benzodiazepines work on GABA-A, which is in nearly every organ in the body (if not every one). Now, imagine the profound effect that has on the body. Doctors do not give informed consent about the grave dangers inherent in this class of drugs!

  • Even gender identity is a “mental illness.” Washington Blade ran this article this morning: “Denmark no longer considers transgender people mentally ill”

    Well, the proof is in the pudding. Wasn’t sexuality like being gay, lesbian, or bisexual considered a mental disease to be controlled or cured until recent history too (if it still isn’t)? I live in a place where cultural norms are much more accepting of LGBT, of “sexual diversity,” of gender, and a bit more tolerant in regard to identity politics, so I guess I haven’t thought about it’s impact and connection to psychiatric diagnostic labels much, but I can certainly see there is a deep stigma.

    https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/01/04/denmark-no-longer-considers-transgender-people-mentally-ill/

    “Our ability to make our own decisions regarding our own treatment is being questioned by healthcare authorities,” she added. “We think it’s an important step because placing transgender people in the wrong category in ICD-10 leads to wrong treatment.”

    I’d add that this is the case with most if not all psychiatric diagnoses and the subsequent “care.”

  • Just to add to the chorus here as a survivor of the psychiatric system in the United States for over ten years, one of the most helpful components in helping me weather the storm and come to a strong realization that psychiatric drugs were not helping, but making my situation worse than it already was–was and is my therapist. However, not all therapists are created equal. That said, a COMPETENT therapist who keeps a safe and sound distance from the medicator is essential. That has been essential to my process of tapering down and getting far away from psychiatric drugs so that I can begin the process of reclaiming the pieces of my life. I’ve spent way too much time over the years with therapists who had an office in the same building as the prescriber; the job of the therapist was, it seemed me and is obvious in hindsight, to convince of or make me come to realize my “disorder” and my need to be medicated to high heaven (that is, into a living nightmare to be managed). In other words, way too many therapists are way too quick to fall in line and defer to the authority of the medicator instead of challenging thought content and issues surrounding the diagnosis; this is a huge mistake and clear detriment to the persons in the system. Clear lines need to be drawn for the sake of the person seeking help. In my opinion, therapy should be a place where concerns central to antipsychiatry (if one is has issues with psychotropics) should be safely presented, articulated, and processed.

    I imagine that professionally this must be like walking a tightrope high in the air with slippers on for therapists (and for the client), but it can be done.

    The first stanza of Thomas’ poem is anything but on topic with psychiatric drugs, but it’s how I can relate my mind to feeling on many crazy doctor drugs in that there’s a fight for consciousness, a weary battle like Thomas captures at the end of his father’s life to keep the spark of life alive (it’s a battle for one’s soul after all!). Keep the rage alive and fight for those who cannot because these drugs are mind deafening.

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    –Dylan Thomas

  • I’ve been beside myself regarding all of the blatantly false information whirling around, so thank for shedding a bit of light and justice to the cause here!

    In my own journey, I find the allure for a biological narrative, which offers powerful validation, to have been seductive. Falling for this narrative has prevented healing and kept me sick (and many times sicker) longer with psychotropic drugs.

    Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what kind of attention Psychiatry Today was giving to Carrie Fisher. Well, it’s not pleasant to say the least. Frankly, it’s outright disgusting, which comes in spades with psychiatry and their drugs, and I just nearly vomited when I read the following passage (reader has fair warning–this is what psychiatrists and psychiatrists-in-training are reading): “She [Carrie Fisher] was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24, but like so many with the condition, she avoided treatment– apparently enjoying the milder manic states. Like many others, perhaps she tried to self-medicate with street drugs and professional treatment. Eventually, the professional treatment seemed to win out. The unjustly stigmatized ECT played an essential role. As she told us, though medication helped some, too, ECT probably saved her life and could save many more if it was more generally available” (H. Steven Moffic, MD 12/29/16).
    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/heroic-psychological-journeys-carrie-fisher-and-debbie-reynolds

    I would have commented on their website, but the comments are only open for “qualified healthcare professionals” only. Moffic is advocating the expansion of ECT. Since druggers and electrocutors are so damn trigger happy, it’s best to just stay away from their deranged lunatic frenzied asses! They need to go play in traffic.
    I can say from my own experience psychotropics have only temporary relieved symptoms and have always, always made symptoms worse and always always created new symptoms for druggers to treat. They’re not interested in talking or trained in contextualizing cause-and-effect (e.g. reaction to drugs, psychosocial experiences, & diagnoses). They should be grasping for the last threads of legitimacy to justify themselves as a profession, yet here they are exploiting people’s vulnerabilities and fears while distorting the death of Fisher and Reynolds to advance psychiatric drugs and ECT. Talk about adding insult to injury. We need more MIA news mainstream! I’ve learned to stay away from those alien witch hunters! Going to the movies.

  • The ignorance about the effects of benzodiazepines and other psychiatric drugs on the body and psyche is utterly appalling and outright dangerous.

    Having been on Klonopin for ten years, I understand the harrowing hell and complex journey you must have been through (and are going through) and how we’re only getting glimpses of it here.

    While I’ve not had ECT, there were times when I felt desperate enough and thought nothing else would work, so I requested it. I’ve requested ECT several times, but always while I was maxed out on Klonopin at 8mg a day and 7 other psychiatric drugs. Fortunately, my medicators haven’t practiced it and have told me that they’d need to refer me out for that “service.” Well, thanks for that! was my thought. So, I understand when you write, “I pleaded with my anesthesiologist to kill me.” In a way, I was pleading with my medicator to killl me.

    Over the past ten years I was iatrogenically dependent on benzos, mainly Klonopin, taking as prescribed, and having a myriad of issues that I thought had nothing to do with benzo use, but now I realize have everything to do with bezno use. I have the reports and tests to prove it. I have reports from cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, optometrists and so on. I have had all kinds of MRIs, X-Rays, blood work, genetic testing. All of them are within normal limits except the psychiatrists! Of course, when I would get back negative results, I thought: well, okay, good, but, am I going mad? Madder?? Now, it’s empowering information! Unfortunately, the other medical health providers failed to pick up on the psychiatric drugs as being a leading factor for my symptoms–if they did, they didn’t express detectable concern.

    Congratulations on getting this far on reclaiming your narrative and your life from psychiatry and from mental health–not an easy task!!

  • Aria
    Thanks for the reality check. My medicator too comes highly recommended, holds many prestigious positions in the community, (considered a hero by one business publication–for what I don’t know), maintains positions at higher ed institutions, and sits on the state’s medical board. It’s a very frustrating position to be in since I know that he is in a powerful position to create change, but then again I am only another patient to him in his luxurious office.

    I think that I will take your advice about bringing a friend. I have been on the fence about it since I wanted to do it directly, but you’re right. It wasn’t until recently that I have taken others with me–and, wow! the dynamics and the whole line of questioning really do change!!

    Perhaps with a friend there I can focus my message (without the usual sabotage/assault that usually happens in the one-on-one at least to my mind). I already have the expectation that he’s not going to want to hear it–and nearly don’t even want to go, but feel compel, obligated despite the rage, the stigma, having perceptions altered and distorted, being a drug experiment. Not out of the wood yet. Well, this will be my my farewell visit with the crazy medicator. Hooray!!

  • Oldhead–Thank you for the validation and words of support. No doubt, the psychiatric narrative is so powerful and is not to be underestimated by any means. The narrative wasn’t planted overnight.

    For example, 3 years ago my crazy doctor at the time suggested that I start seeing a therapist in the office and I did. It turns out that her office was right next door to the crazy doctor’s. When it was quiet enough, one could overhear what was being said next door. That’s how creepy it was. Well, long story short, the therapist was essentially the wing pilot to the medicator in assisting with doling out the narrative and reinforcing the diagnosis. I fought against this unwelcomed assistance, but one gets tired banging the head against the wall. , no doubt, in obstructing the process. Since I have been fortunate enough to develop a good education and develop critically, I had a lot of questions (still do) and they were always thwarted.

    Like with many people here, a lot of insights come from our own research (outside of assistance from mental health providers ironically) and online community building. Now, too, I’m in a position where I’m working with a well-trained therapist who seems to have a critical eye to psychiatry and maintains a respectful, attentive therapeutic relationship with me.

    To be sure, I’ve been fed up with psychiatry and their drugs for a long, long time, but felt I had nowhere else to go–for understanding or to get off of them. I strongly suspect I’m not alone in this; in other words, yes, psychiatry’s narrative is so damn awfully powerful that it has saturated the corridors of just about every corridor in our society (if not all) including those in the mental health community who are supposed to be independent thinkers from psychiatry.

    Anyway, that’s a bleak thought. I’m new to this community and am happy to have found it and the great voices I’m hearing!!

  • Nice video! Your thoughts didn’t get lost with me–I see them as serious but also tongue-in-cheek. I’m misunderstood all the time on a daily basis. This is another reason I think (a very recent thought) current and post “psychiatric patients” need strong allies. I’m a writer and I have a lot of writer friends, so I get the humor and sarcasm here. You remind me of one my friends actually. 😉

  • Humanbeing you are right too. I’ve never thought about it before in this context in that nobody has ever called me an addict, but people have accused me of being high many times and I guess in a way I was. For example, I went into court years ago for a minor civil infraction–the judge took one look at me (I was taking Klonopin at the time 2mg 3x a day) and the judge asked if I was under the influence. Not knowing any better, I said no. With good reason, the judge didn’t believe me. She had the bailiff detain me for two hours and run a drug screen. The court searched for, I don’t know, 14 different drugs or so. The only drug that appeared in their screening: Klonopin!! AND, get this: the judge dismissed it, knowing fully that something was off with my demeanor, but I guess since it wasn’t an “illicit” substance it’s considered okay in eyes of the law. It’s absurd. For me, it was insult to injury, shattering, and humiliating–so much so that I asked the bailiff to dose me while I was detained until we could proceed with the hearing.

    So, the plot thickens!! Not only are the crazy doctors (and others in the medical community) off the charts, our legal system is blindsided too.

  • I agree–the language about and around benzos is so reckless, irresponsible and it is highlighted in these reports. Those of us who have experienced this harrowing hell (to say the least) have something to say, but medicators don’t want to hear it. They’d rather prescribe a benzo!

    Terms

    The correct terms for dependency are Iatrogenic Sufferer, Iatrogenically Dependent, GABA Receptor Down-Regulation or Neuroadaptation, Benzo Victim or Benzo Survivor. For the epic shit storm surrounding that feeling, mood, body sensations when benzos start to wear off are phrases like Interdose Withdraw or Physiological Need for the Drug. For when arriving at the point to stop benzos permanently, dexox words like Tapering, Titration, or Removal of the Drug. For the state of acute withdraw (when not tapering anymore) Benzo Neurotoxicity/Injury, Benzo Drug Damage, Nervous System Healing, Brain & CSN Injury. The Benzo Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS is encapsulated by Benzo Neurotoxicity, Drug Neurotoxicity, or Ashton Syndrome.

    I’m coming to contextualize benzos as psychiatry’s gateway drug to their medicine cabinet (until it comes up with a new one–if it hasn’t already!)!! I was prescribed benzos for 10 years consistently while medicators jacked around with a whole host of other drugs while never looking at or touching the benzo as a possible root cause or exacerbater or distorter of symptoms.

  • Yeah, I suppose it is self-destructive on some level. On the other hand, I’ve been in the gripes of psychiatry for a long time (10yrs+). It’s tough getting out of it. I’ve come a long way and hope to be completely off of head meds within the next few months if possible. It’s not easy when were basically in a psychological war. To really be a post-psychiatric survivor takes some time, a lot of adjusting, and reconciliation. The destruction comes from accepting the disabling narratives the mental health providers dole out and the disabling drugs that can and often do can in the process.

  • OMG aria–Rage is the right word! I’m struggling with how I’ll confront my medicator next week. And, I am going to confront him about this issue. He had me on 2 benzos–Klonopin & Xanax. And Vistaril to help with the transition–and I thought I was having an allergic reaction to it, but it was benzo drug damage that I was experiencing. Fortunately, at this point in the game, I know enough to not take both at once, but I didn’t know 2 months ago that it was a good idea to transition from Klonopin to Xanax. It was/is a jolting nightmare. I’m off all benzos now for 8 days. I’ve got a bottle in the closet and have absolutely no desire to touch the poison after what I’ve been learning. Since I won’t have much time with the medicator (and I do feel obligated to inform and educate him–silly me for thinking it’s my responsibility or within my power to change an institution), I am thinking to tell him: “Look, I thought benzos might be safe in a low dose, but there is NO safe dose.”

    Sounds like your crazy doctor was a complete asshole and that you made the right decision.

  • Thank you humanbeing. Yes, I’ve found benzobuddies. It’s taken me a long time to get here and there, but it’s worth it. It’s true that we need to do our own research on these issues a lot of the time because our providers aren’t, unfortunately, up-to-speed. I posted a few other resources that may be helpful in response to Peter Simons report on benzos as-needed.

    To focus Dr Netchitailova though, her insights and comments are very important.

    I think above all I really enjoy her article and reflections in that it conveys the importance of being available: we already have the stigma. Check. Now, we need to fight as if our lives depend on it. Because, well, our lives really do depend on it!

    I totally want to use that line when I go to see the crazy doctor next time: “Did you forget to take your meds today?” Big smile. We can’t go in there powerless.

    One time, near Father’s Day, I walked into my psychiatrist’s office with a stack of poems (about a dozen or so) reflecting on the nature of the father figure. I was totally amused at his utterly baffled look at what I thought was just a random act of kindness in the season, but clearly it had deeper meaning too (the paternalistic nature of psychiatry stemming from Emil Kraepelin conceptions).

    Part of the brilliance I see in her insightful and playful reflections here is how the constructive conversation we have with ourselves RADICALLY rebuilds confidence and that shifts the dynamics of the psychiatrist-patient relationship, especially for those of us who need to continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them. There is beauty in weirdness; it is a different kind of beauty. Very helpful and very timely!

  • As I’ve detailed extensively in a post in response to Dr Netchitailova’s Dialogue with a Psychiatrist, benzos are an absolute “unintended” nightmare! By casually prescribing benzos like this as you describe, doctors are doing more harm than good. The Cat is right and I can relate: the insomnia and panic from benzos is the worst I’ve every experienced. We are not given appropriate informed consent about the dangers of dependence or whole host of other insidious medical complications that arise from these drugs.

    True, they are indicated for short-term use only, so I’m left wondering how I was prescribed Klonopin for 10 years. I’ve been iatrogenically dependent on them for a decade! Along with a host of medical complications that had real symptoms, but no physiological cause can be pinned to benzo prescription/use as prescribed. Other than psychiatrists, I had all kinds of evaluations from medical professionals like cardiologists, neurologists, psychologists, and gastroenterologists. The surprising thing about these drugs is that you can be on a steady dose and still experience interdose withdraw!

    Benzos exacerbate and distort moods and feelings of being high or low, which is not unlike many other drugs. Benzos, though, have a paradoxical effect: yes, they curb anxiety and panic, but the interdose withdraw/rebound is absolutely vicious to say the least. They exacerbate panic, tax the nervous system like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Amazingly, this process went undetected not only by me (I thought they were helping and they do up to a limited extent) but also by the trained and steady eye of the concerned doctor!! The response by my medical support team was to shake up the drug cocktail, increase the benzo (mainly Klonopin, but there were times when I was on Atavan, Xanax, and hypnotic z-drugs likes Lunesta, Ambien). That is, the response was never to remove the drug, which is extremely difficult as The Ashton Manual outlines, but is doable and would’ve been better.

    Benzo withdrawal or benzo neurotoxicity is like getting your body and mind set on fire. Nothing can put out the flames and it hurts like hell!! To use another analogy: Imagine your pills are giant bands with lots of ointment covering all of the GABA-A receptors all over your body and when you stop taking your pills or when you have a physiological need for the drug (an interdose withdraw), you have ripped off the bandages and now you have a huge, gaping wound: it’s raw nerves all other the body.

    Our medical community, detox centers, and rehabs are not equipped for this, which leaves many benzo sufferers on their own.

    Nervous system healing from the brain and CNS injury that benzos cause takes time and a new framework of understanding. In the meantime, medicators are creating new benzo victims everyday in this country and around the world! After all, this is the stuff they give to people trying to come off of alcohol, heroin, and the like. But, what do you give one trying to come off of benzos?

    I acknowledge the focus of your article and hope that you will continue to expand on this issue of benzo prescription and misprescription. The implications are huge and perhaps we as a society (I would hope) are starting to address the benzomania of doctors.

    The Ashton Manual
    http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

    As Prescribed (upcoming documentary film)
    http://www.asprescribedfilm.com/

    The Benzodiazepine Medical Disaster
    https://vimeo.com/188181193

  • Thank you for your reply and I’ll try and address some concerns you bring up.

    When it comes to benzos, the only way out is through. Dr Heather Ashton has done a tremendous amount of work on benzos and has made it available online. The manual has been translated into some dozen languages; yet, many in the mental health community are unaware of its existence. Apparently, there is no substitute for benzo taper except through a substitution with Valium equivalent and at the patient’s own pace, which can take years.

    My my experience, it took me 2 years where I unwittingly came down from 2mg of Klonopin 3 times a day (with 4 other psych meds onboard) to .5mg 3 times a day. The business where my former psychiatrist was practicing downsized in July 2015. So, I started seeing a new medicator in August; by this point I’d made significant progress in pulling back from many psych drugs, not necessarily with the blessing of the prescriber, but, hell!, it is my body after all. This new medicator continued the Klonopin. I expressed my desire to come off of it. He expressed his desire to get me on a new antipsychotic. I told him that many of them should be illegal. He replied, well, that’s fine, and rolled his eyes. He persisted. We finally settled on what he dubbed “a weak mood stabilizer” (an anticonvulsant)–Topamax. I didn’t take it for a couple of weeks, then I started to. He continued Klonopin and added Vistaril. On the next visit and the next, he persisted in wanting to get me on an antipsychotic. Luckily, I’m not the most compliant patient! Had he known about how to taper benzos correctly, he probably could have provided insight to what I was experiencing. I sure didn’t know at the time. I finally got Klonopin down; I thought I was having a bad reaction to Vistaril, but now know I was experiencing nervous system healing from decreasing Klonopin. Later on, again, I expressed my desire to get off of Klonopin, so he suggested Xanax .5 twice a day. Totally wrong move! Another upheavel–another round of pushing antipsychotics–this time novel ones like Rexulti and Vaylar! and he asked me to research them and come back in 2 weeks with a decision. I told him that I don’t give a damn how novel they are; I don’t want any more neuroleptics (well, I actually told that to my therapist)! After 2 weeks, I walked back into his sacred groove, and having momentarily forgotten my long-term goal to get off of benzos, I told him that the Xanax is too short and not working, so he agreed to up the dose to 3 times a day. Wow, I could go on. I’ve come to believe that my physiological need for the drug was being expressed as interdose withdraw. This interdose withdraw was misinterpreted by my doctor and by myself.

    My current goal is to just get the hell of of these nightmarish drugs. I’ve come to recognize the feelings, which is a epic shit storm–the crazies, the feeling that I’m going to die, absolutely insane insomnia, horrendous body pain everywhere, no comfort anywhere, a total assault on all the senses. What I once conceptualized with the eager assistance of my mental health team as mania, panic, or mixed state, I now recognize too painfully as interdose withdraw. These are part of benzo injury/withdrawal. Everything causes panic. In the past, the rapid response was to increase the benzo dosage and/or mixed up the other meds.

    I’ve got a lot of history with psychiatry meds. Risperdal and Seroquel are among them. I found them helpful temporally–a few months a most. It’s true that once I get more out of this benzo injury, this brain & CNS injury I will need to re-evaluate and see to what extent if at all I need other psychiatric medication. No doubt it’ll be hard. This is the stuff they give to calm down recovering alcoholics, heroin and cocaine addicts in rehabs. If I’d only known. Here, terminology is important since I am not an addict–and I know addicts. If I were, I would claim it. I am a iatrogenic victim.

    The way I’ve come to understand it is that, yes, I do have a natural penchant to get keyed up (anxiety), and, yes, I can get high (hyper, hypo, manic) and I can get low (dysphoric, etc.). I can also have a much wider ranger of mood and emotion than those suggested in the DSM. Mary Cappello’s Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack makes the DSM look pitiful and the profession of psychiatry even more desperate as it clings for validity (at least to my mind). I imagine that it does have a very real purpose somewhere (not sure where), but I do think it is reckless. In other words, moods are much more dynamic than we are lead to believe by our culture and by our psychiatric professionals. This fact goes unacknowledged in the “sacred groove” of a psychiatrist’s office.

    Doctors have benzomania and it needs to stop. One must wonder, though, that if it stops what will step in and take its place. I’m lucky in that I’ve had a lot of preparation that has lead me up to this point. I’ve come this far and am able to contextual my situation more. It hasn’t been an easy ride for sure and there have been close calls. Having said that, I do strongly believe in social justice reform in psychiatry. I will be fine and I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t be. In a very true sense of the word, I am a benzo survivor.

    I believe that abuse does happen in psychiatry however “benign” it might appear. Abuse needs 3 factors to exist: opportunity, power, and secrecy. One practical solution that can be implement is to have a trusted adviser accompany the patient on all visit the the psychiatrist’s office. I get the desire for privacy, but there are ways to work with this such as having the adviser step out for 5 minutes. In my experience, the line of questioning that comes from the psychiatrist changes drastically. It’s surprising how that happens.

    Keep up the good fight!

  • Thank you for writing your insights and sharing them! I agree with Netchitailova on many levels and largely agree that context is so important. Unfortunately, the framework of a typical psychiatrist’s appointment in the US doesn’t allow this context to emerge for a variety of reasons. In my head, too, I’ve had so many conversations with psychiatrists. In my appointments, they never ever reflect how I imagine the brief encounter would go, which is largely dismissive or trivial–and always ends in prescription.

    We have a medical disaster and it is going to take a lot of ongoing dialogue. Imaginary dialogue is valid and just as important as face-to-face dialogue. Imaginary dialogue, especially when exercised verbally, is healthy and helps to validate our experiences. I find that this exercise is essential in that it helps me to prepare to meet many of life’s challenges.

    I’d like to share a bit of my background and raise a bit more awareness around benzodiazepine dependence.

    My nervous system is currently healing from a benzo drug damage. I have been off of Xanax for 8 days and my psychiatrist didn’t know how to titrate appropriately. Unfortunately, I came across The Ashton Manual and the benzo community I was iatrogenically dependent for benzos, mainly Klonopin for nearly 10 years, which were introduced to me during my first year in graduate school. Recently, I came across The Ashton Manual; I feel this manual describes what I’ve been experiencing all these years. Also, to help I’ve recently come to contextualize through the Bardo Thodol. Netchitailova is right to suggest this is a shamanic experience is appropriately contextualized. In my experience, benzo withdraw is absolutely horrifying; it is safe to say that I’ve never experience anything remotely close to it; it’s what I imagine surviving a protracted near death experience to be. It’s extraordinarily isolating and misunderstood and should not be drugged away.

    For a couple years, I had the symptoms of what I thought were MS and since I have relatives with the condition, I decided to have the appropriate neurological tests–luckily, for me, they came back negative. I had gastro issue–got the appropriate tests, and to my surprise they came back negative. At this point, I had a battery of psychological testing, which brought in the DSM narrative of Somatoform Disorder and BP I Mixed Episodes with Psychotics Features, but I was never complete comfortable with these narrative and was deeply skeptical. In retrospect, this fact has probably saved my life. I admit that I took some solace, but not much, in the “the diagnosis doesn’t define you” idea that was pushed on me. True, but I continued to deeply feel that the diagnoses were inaccurate and nobody wanted to hear me out. I was banging my head against a brick wall. I was frustrated and tired.

    I knew, having suffered trauma and having the unfortunate experience of having to concoct elaborate schemes to confront abusers so that I have sufficient prove to not be invalidated, that something was not right. This is another point where practicing with imaginary conversations can be a huge help. Now, having read The Ashton Manuel, I have appropriate context: benzos were creating these symptoms. I can’t tell you why I didn’t see it earlier; I don’t know why myself except that I felt (and knew) that the benzos (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax, Librium or hypnotics like Lunesta or Ambien) were helping, but the consequence was not exposed–not by neurologists, internists, psychiatrists and so on. As a patient, I was sharing information among providers. What a failure!

    This is a medical disaster, a pandemic.

    Dialogue with psychiatrists is very important. Yes! Many of us are still on psych meds and they cannot be discontinued abruptly. I’m experiencing what can best be described and most accurately described as benzo neurotoxicity or benzo drug damage (withdrawal), which comes with a whole host of symptoms (Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome). The Ashton Manual shows a way to remove these drugs, but clearly, after several appeals and over several appointments, I’ve come to the conclusion that past and current psychiatrist don’t know the existence of this manual and appears to have little to no knowledge of the real effects of what they’re prescribing.

    I now know that my psychiatrist doesn’t know. Now, I find myself in a position where I have to go to my next appointment with him early in the new year. Yes, I’m mad as hell at him and the institution! Yes, I feel deeply hurt and betrayed!! Yes, I want to back out! Yes, I think he is a coward and has sold his soul to the profession, is utterly reckless!! Yes, I want to share with him what I’ve learned, but fear it’ll fall on deaf ears and be thwarted by a narrow-mind, a narrow agenda as has happened so many times in the past. To say the least, it’s a difficult position to be.

    For these reasons and many more, I’m grateful for brave articles like these and websites that give a platform for their voices to emerge.