The 4 Less Mentioned Obstacles in How to Come Off Psychiatric Drugs, and Overcoming Them
The most obvious obstacle to how to come off psychiatric drugs is unbearable withdrawal symptoms (or what some mistakenly call “return of symptoms”)-panic attacks, extreme anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and many other effects.
These result from stopping use of a powerful mind altering chemical that was never healthy or safe to be taken on a daily basis in the first place.
Withdrawal effects are often the first things we think of when someone wants very badly to figure out how to come off psychiatric drugs but simply can’t.
There are several other obstacles though in how to come off psychiatric drugs, that can be just as problematic, if not more so.
- Not believing it is possible to live without them.
This lack of belief in the option of going off can stem from an idea that you are fundamentally mentally ill, that the diagnosis has validity (which even Thomas Insel, head of the NIMH says it doesn’t) and fear of who you are without them if you’ve been on them for a long time.
This obstacle is huge, especially given how much harder it can be to have conviction in ones essence when the mind is being compromised by psych drugs.
The key to overcoming this obstacle to how to come off psychiatric drugs is to find your essence once again.
It is always there, intact, somewhere within you (the heart is a good place to look) and cannot truly be harmed, ultimately.
The key is, once you tap into your essence, to develop a rock bottom trust and belief in that larger Self to guide you.
This is the only thing that will ever be your Rock- a drug (or any one impermanent thing outside of yourself) is never the ultimate answer.
The belief that living without a psych drug is unsafe for you can make withdrawal symptoms far worse.
The second obstacle is fear from those around you-your family, friends, employers, and doctors. These people don’t know how to come off psychiatric drugs and assume it’s dangerous.
You may know very well that you would be better off without meds, but if most of those who love you think you need them, it is an obstacle, and it can heighten anxiety and withdrawal effects manifold.
The best way to overcome this obstacle is to gather a network of supporters, including many psychiatric survivors who know some things about how to come off psychiatric drugs and continue to reach out to them regularly.
(You can also try educating your skeptical loved ones, especially once you have more support).
Use internet forums and social networking sites and groups (as well as local groups if there are any near you) to expand your network of supporters and make sure to have some people on your list who have that rock solid knowing that their essence is gold, and so is yours.
Work with me as a consultatnt if you need another believer that You Can Do It.
The third obstacle in coming off psych drugs is fear of living so vulnerably.
Fear of feeling everything in a world that doesn’t always honor feelings so well.
Fear of being powerful, of being unpopular, of losing control and a whole host of other legitimate fears.
This one requires a long term commitment to mastery.
Learning how to come off psychiatric drugs isn’t for the faint of heart.
It’s for those who are utterly and unwaveringly committed to facing big fears and moving through them on life’s terms.
It becomes necessary to be more committed to the “god” of your higher Self, your larger purpose, your true unwavering essence than to the god of opinion, of “What will they think?” or even “How?” or “Why?”
This obstacle is overcome when your soul is so strong nothing can stop it.
The process of strengthening and growing your soul isn’t something you can rush or force.
It’s more powerful than your thinking mind questioning how to come off psychiatric drugs.
It’s something you commit to and then surrender to and allow.
Fearlessness comes through the back door when you least expect it to.
There are practices you can do, however, to increase your chances of hitting the goldmine of soul growth, such as prayer (in your own authentic preferred way), meditation, connecting with nature, exercise, creative expression and time spent with others who are in close touch with their essences and committed to truth and honesty.
These things all lead you toward a deeper understanding of how to come off psychiatric drugs.
Being true to yourself as often as possible and sharing your honesty with chosen others, your journal, yourself, your Higher Power (your connection to something larger) can certainly expedite the process of soul growth, but there is no rushing it or getting around the alchemical and mystical process.
Health issues are the fourth obstacle figuring out how to come off off psychiatric drugs.
Any health issues make the withdrawal process that much harder.
When our bodies are compromised, it’s harder to stand strong and integrated in our minds and emotions.
Really they are all so connected.
Focusing on health can help overcome this obstacle.
This means making yourself your priority and learning what works best for you nutritionally, exercise-wise and in all facets of life.
It’s about no longer saying, “What’s wrong with me?” or even “What illness do I have?” but rather, “What do I need to be my healthiest self?”
This can be frustrating at times in the withdrawal process if you don’t have the resources or access to what you need to be healthy, but continue to list what you need.
In our modern society, few of us have what we need for optimal health but we can do our best with what resources we have and seek out the healthiest food, cleanest air and purest water, and most suitable lifestyle for our constitution.
I recommend spending a little time each day reading up on holistic approaches to whatever health issues you have.
Learn which foods, herbs, exercises and other lifestyle approaches have helped others with similar problems.
Learning how to come off psychiatric drugs and caring for your body holistically go hand in hand.
Seek out a community of inspiring friends who take good care of their health and try out their practices which appeal to you.
Having health conscious people around you can go a long way in improving your health since good habits are contagious.
People who have already figured out how to come off psychiatric drugs (or had the opportunity to) can be a great resource.
Psych drugs often perpetuate other addictions such as cigarettes, TV, sugar, caffeine and others.
So long term psych drug use often brings ones overall health down exponentially.
Don’t despair though-return to your essence that has never been damaged.
“Health” also goes hand in hand with self-love, self-trust and soul growth.
Don’t allow others or external manifestations to entirely define your health.
As you practice honesty with yourself and selected trusted others, your health will naturally improve and learning how to come off psychiatric drugs is part of that.
Those are the 4 main obstacles to figuring out how to come off psychiatric drugs (as well as withdrawal effects, of course).
The fruition to overcoming these is being free and living your dreams.
Every single one of us, whether on a lot of psych drugs or very little or just the amount in our drinking water, experiences these obstacles in our lives in one way or another.
There are other dependencies and addictions that come down to similar obstacles.
Keep plugging away at these 4 essentials-we need you-we need your untamed essence, your true self, the you you are underneath any beliefs of there being anything wrong with you at all.
Nutrition and health guidance, yoga and meditation for mental health, personalized herbal remedies, reiki and distance reiki for energy balancing, Emotional Freedom Technique and massage for healing trauma, creativity coaching, spiritual exploration, redefining terms, and help accessing community to bring your unique gifts into the world.
Here is a list I made of 111 things to try. This is by far my most popular blog.
From the very first time I heard the term depression, and learned what Prozac was, I felt a sense of darkness and a mission to bring light to it.
I have been studying nutrition, wellness, meditation and yoga for mental health for over 15 years.
I have taught yoga, meditation, nutrition, wellness, intuition, creative writing, improv and art to psychiatric survivors individually and in groups since 2003.
For the past decade, I have refined my knowledge of herbal healing, wild and medicinal plants and balancing the brain through nutrition and supplements.
I have spoken at many conferences, sharing my own story of how to come off psychiatric drugs, complete recovery from many labels of mental illnesses and being on almost all classes of psychiatric drugs.
I know firsthand about the process of coming off psychiatric drugs and staying off.
I worked at Alternative to Meds Center, Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, Windhorse Associates and Freedom Center, bringing my passion for healing, and sharing love to many experiencing extreme states of consciousness. These communities all offer help to people who want to learn how to come off psychiatric drugs as safely as possible.
In 2002 I was on a number of psychiatric drugs that destroyed my physical and mental health.
Getting off of them was not easy for me and it took time.
But once I made the decision to do so, my conviction grew.
Each time I lowered my dose of a drug, new energy, vitality, strength, wisdom and intelligence returned to me. It was quite a magical (and tedious) time.
I know there are many who feel they can never come off psychiatric drugs, or have tried but the challenges have been too intense.
I totally get this, for I felt that way too.
My challenges included extreme panic attacks, feeling like I was on speed, feeling completely insane (like I was “slipping off the edge of reality”), insomnia, other people pressuring me or not understanding, and so many more.
If you do decide to learn how to come off psychiatric drugs, remember that the effects you feel initially are withdrawal effects.
You are/were on a powerful substance and it takes time to detox.
It is similar to withdrawing from cigarettes, alcohol, speed, or any other intense substance that your system gets used to.
This is common sense, but in some cases the mental health system and the drugs rob us of our common sense.
They certainly did for me!
Here’s what helped me:
Supplements. I took lots of vitamins, minerals , superfoods and herbs while I withdrew.
These can be expensive, especially high quality ones, but well worth it if you have the means.
Some can be incorporated into your diet and can be more affordable that way.
Omegas (flax, chia, hemp, walnuts, fish) are important and regulate mood, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium help with relaxation, Vitamin C helps with immunity and recovery. Some people have difficulty tolerating magnesium when in withdrawal.
There is a lot to learn about how to come off psychiatric drugs safely. Do your research! Most doctors don’t know how to come off psychiatric drugs, or how to help people with withdrawal. Most doctors don’t even know how to identify withdrawal when their patients are figuring out how to come off psychiatric drugs by trial and error.
When I was on psych drugs, I let my nutrition go a lot because I didn’t care and didn’t have the energy to cook.
Plus I was so toxic and like attracts like, so I sought out toxic low-nutrition foods.
Fish helped me a lot when I was withdrawing.
You know the basics about fruit, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, etc, so be willing to spend a little extra money for higher quality items if you have it.
Food stamps, Food Not Bombs and some Food Banks are great resources if you need more high quality food.
Eating enough good fat is also very important.
Olive oil and coconut oil are the best and will help keep you calm and prevent you from overeating sugar and carbs which can cause anxiety and mood swings.
Walking outdoors was one of my main pastimes when I was withdrawing.
It helped me get exercise, and breathe fresh air.
Time in nature and near water is balancing and healing.
Dance, yoga, weight lifting, whatever exercise you like.
Creative expression and releasing energy is important since as you withdraw you will have more.
More vigorous exercise may be necessary, just make sure you get enough rest too.
You are detoxing a lot of chemicals and exercise is necessary to do so.
Yoga can help relax your muscles, balance your brain, regulate blood pressure and improve your mood.
Sleep and rest.
Sleep as much as you need to/can during this time.
Your body, brain and consciousness need time outs.
Sometimes I stayed in bed all day.
Having trouble sleeping was one of the hardest withdrawal symptoms I experienced, and this is true for many people.
Melatonin, Oatstraw, Chamomile, Tulsi and other nervine herbs can help with sleep.
Acupuncture also works wonders for sleep.
Journaling helped me feel more grounded, keep track of my withdrawal reactions and note what was helping.
It also helped me tune into my intuition and think of ideas (and still does)!
You may be more drawn to drawing or other expressive arts.
After having my consciousness suppressed from drugs, I needed to express A LOT, and often in my own private space before I was ready to share with others.
Being harmed and violated by the mental health system can lower your trust in the world and other people, so taking time alone to rebuild your relationship with yourself first is very important.
Taking quiet time to tune in, listen to my intuitions and relax helped.
Massage/hands on healing/touch.
Touch is important for regulating hormones and improving mood.
Asking trusted friends to hold my hand, hug me, etc. were safe ways to get touch in addition to massages, and reiki.
This touch can come through animals and nature too.
Having friends to talk to, especially by phone, was necessary for me.
Having friends in other times zones or who I could call in the middle of the night was good.
People who would listen and not give too much advice or judgment tended to help me the most.
A lot of the time when I called someone in crisis, I needed them to just listen and be there with me.
An invaluable class of friends are those who have gone through or are going through something similar.
A large part of my journey of living free of psychiatric drugs has been about learning to trust and develop my intuition.
This intuition extends to my body, brain, moods, relationships, and basically every aspect of life, including money.
All of us are born with some intuition that can be built upon and developed.
Would embracing a slower lifestyle eliminate the need for psychiatric drugs?
When I was on 7 or so psychiatric drugs, I had a near death-like experience where I went through a dark tunnel, saw a white light, and received a message of my purpose in life.
The message I received was threefold.
My purpose is :
1. To write without getting attached to it,
2. To Love, and
3. To slow people down.
I didn’t quite understand the part about slowing people down until ten years later!
While I have questions about #1, it makes perfect sense. Writing feeds me like nothing else.
“To Love,” seems obvious, like #1, 2 or 3 on everyone’s life purpose list.
But the last one, to slow people down, sounds unique and like it’s for me personally.
I live a slow paced life.
I meditate every morning, and it takes me generous amounts of time to do things.
This isn’t because I am “stupid” or slow to get things.
Sometimes I wonder how others get so much done each day-yet the quality and vibration of what I do is unique.
It needs time.
It’s fermented, then slow cooked; it comes about from a slower paced life.
My writing and teaching require me to live in the slow lane, as does my body, my mind, everything about me and the structure of my life.
I basically can’t be rushed.
So I go slow, but it only recently occurred to me, of course, by going slowly, those around me are sometimes slowed down too.
I don’t respond to messages/emails/phone calls right away most of the time.
My phone is frequently on airplane mode.
Emergencies need to go through my slow pace filter and often aren’t responded to the way many others would.
Meditation, writing and other forms of quiet reflection are my primary urgencies.
By not being able to relate with me on Type A timetables, people who are in my world are sometimes inadvertently slowed down.
I also often gravitate towards slow friends who listen slowly and who I can listen to slowly, making sure nothing is missed or misunderstood.
Of course we talk quickly sometimes (I am from New York and actually talk and think very fast) and I certainly write longhand faster than anyone else I’ve ever witnessed- but there’s a deep, thorough processing going on in the conversations and writing that doesn’t often happen in the average chat or article I am aware of.
How does this relate with psychiatric drugs?
Psych drugs are rooted in impatience, urgency, emergency.
Sure, there are real emergencies that have their time and place, but the psychiatric system rushes situations to a place of emergency and encourages emergency mentality, when oftentimes slowing down and seeing more clearly are the best medicines.
The chronic crisis consciousness in the mental health system is the “short long way” because it usually takes longer to recover from the trauma of being rushed/forced/coerced, not being given informed consent or options, and from the damage of the drugs than it would to slowly and patiently work with whatever is going on to begin with.
The psych drug withdrawal process can take a very long time too.
Going slowly from the beginning might mean taking a few months or longer to sit with our challenging, even torturous, feelings, and to reach out to people willing to slow down and listen without diagnosing.
This requires patiently processing our feelings, thoughts, memories, symbols, fears and longings.
All of this requires time, air, breathing, going slowly and having others who can appreciate the slow pace, the right now; who can accept the stuckness, are okay with boredom, monotony, feelings and intensity.
Slow pace is required for the “long short way,” where things actually, ironically, happen faster because we aren’t trying to force them to, we aren’t resisting life or pushing the river.
Going slowly is my new/old medicinal offering to myself and others.
I offer it as my very being so you know there is someone out there going slowly, waiting to respond.
Whatever the pace our souls move at is what it is; it cannot be altered by drugs.
In the words of Robyn Posin: You can leap forward and slide back as many times as you need to. Or you can just take smaller steps.
What an “aha” for me to realize that going so slowly, the thing I’ve been criticizing myself for, is a big part of my life purpose, not only for myself, but to slow others down as well.
When we have a health problem of any sort, Western medicine and our current culture (which many of us are stepping away from) tell us, “There’s no time for this. How can we eradicate it as quickly and easily as possible?”
Perhaps the real question is, “Do we have time for that view?”
Do we have time to ignore our body/mind messages?
Do we have time to deal with the long term ramifications of rushing, crashing and being inundated with a whole new set of problems?
Even more pertinent, what does slowing down look like?
How do we listen to our symptoms?
My ways are through writing, meditation, time in nature, and other practices that fine tune my intuition.
These include connecting with others in the slow lane, others who are exploring life as a mystery, a process, an opportunity for communication.
As I slow down and practice being honest with myself first, I begin to see the fears I have that keep me stuck in symptoms.
Does this make it easy to overcome them?
Sometimes, but not necessarily.
It does make it easier to connect with others and attract people I can connect with deeply and genuinely.
By slowing down enough (externally) to find self communication that is honest, it becomes easier to express myself to others and to intuit who will get it.
As for fear based symptom eradication, which I still find myself knee jerking towards, good luck.
Take as long as you need to, try as many quick fixes as you can find.
When you’re done and ready to return to the slow path of soul, I’ll meet you on the dirt road, unpaved, picking berries in the sunshine, or being poured on in the rain.
Sure there’s a time and place for efficiencies- for raincoats, cars, airplanes, the internet- no doubt.
But mostly, we’re headed for the unpaved road in the country, the slow path of our souls, the unavoidable, undeniable underbelly of life.
It’s unpredictable, unmapped and undocumented until we take the time to document and map our own course. When we live there, rushing through to eradicate our “problems” becomes less and less of an option, and life is actually worth living and learning from-slowly, kindly, with heart.