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Shep posted a topic in Success stories: Recovery from psychiatric drug withdrawalLink to Benzo Forum Thread - Shep's Journey Link to French translation (courtesy of Erell): Se libérer de la psychiatrie - Shep : « Quitter la caverne de Platon » Leaving Plato’s Cave In Plato’s famous “Allegory of the Cave,” a group of human beings are chained since birth in a dark cave where a fire casts shadows of the world upon the walls. The shadows are all the prisoners know to be true. But one day, a prisoner breaks free and wanders out into the world. Her eyes are blinded by the sudden blast of sunlight and she is unsure of her reality and at times, longs to be back inside the familiar darkness. But as her eyes adjust, she is in awe of this new reality — people, nature, her own reflection! When she returns to the cave, the other prisoners laugh at her story in disbelief. . . . And so I left psychiatry — a dark cave of drug dependency, incarceration, deception, violence, mystification, and social control. The empty shadows on the walls that message this non-reality based belief system of mythical “mind diseases” fade out and a beautiful new reality unfolds before me. After 30 years, success from such an experience is a process, not a singular event. There may still be some unexpected waves, but that will allow the experience of re-emerging from periods of darkness with even more skill and resilience. For me, this part of the journey is very similar to the final phase of the grieving process. As Francis Weller reminds us in the book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, grief is sacred work. It’s an important teacher and should be honored, not feared. When symptoms are viewed as teachers and guides and you walk with them with curiosity and not fear, leaving Plato’s Cave turns into a journey of adventure and skill building. My signature symptom was - and is - DP/DR (depersonalization / derealization) and the lessons taught are in mindfulness and becoming The Observer. (I wrote about The Observer in several places in my benzo thread). I still have some lingering DP/DR, but this is a symptom I carry out of the cave with me, as I'm still learning from it and no longer view it as a problem but as a valued guide. Never give up — your new world awaits you. For many of us, it’s a brutal trip. So travel lightly and listen carefully to what your teachers and guides are telling you. As painful and confusing as it is, these symptoms are here for a reason. At five years off all drugs (from 30 years use), I can now: Run 30 - 60 minutes, four days a week, along with doing yoga and strength training. Runner’s high is beautiful! Bike 30 miles a week - urban cycling is now my main transportation to and from work because of subway and bus delays due to COVID-19 Work 40 - 45 hours a week (was unemployed for around 9 months due to severe akathisia and DP/DR) See the world with 20/20 vision (with glasses) - since last August (before that, my focus was in and out and I wasn’t able to get an accurate eyeglass prescription) Read books with a high level of concentration during windows. I get lost in activities now and experience a sense of “flow” when reading, working, exercising, and playing music for hours at a time Feel music deeply to the point of being moved to tears at times Experience powerful levels of spirituality and connection with the universe Sleep a restful 6 - 7.5 hours a night most nights (Netflix is a treat when insomnia hits now because I know the insomnia wave will pass and I like the excuse to watch movies in my favorites list) About me: 52-year-old female, currently working full time, no family, studio apartment, still navigating my way back into more social situations, complicated by the city’s partial shut-down due to COVID-19. Entry into psychiatric drugs: forced “treatment” in private and state psychiatric prisons off and on from the age of 17 until 21 for so-called “psychosis.” Gaslighted into long-term drug compliance with the lie that neuroleptics are a neuro-protective agent against brain damage caused by so-called “psychosis.” Never told about dopamine supersensitivity or tardive dysphoria. Drug and label history: 30 years of neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, z-drugs, so-called “anti”-depressants, and amphetamines. Labeled with “manic depression” and “PTSD” from years of physical and sexual abuse as a child. The “chemical imbalance” myth dominated the narrative because psychiatry replicates the patriarchal and paternalistic abuses of the nuclear family (and the larger political structure) within a medicalized context. This is not an accident. This is how the system is designed. Date of last drug taken: May 22, 2015 Reason for exiting the cave: After having spent more than 25 years working low-level jobs and bouncing from here to there, I descended into cognitive decline with voices and visuals, disassociation, akathisia, and suicidal thoughts. A psychiatrist suggested another change in drugs but — too fast, too soon, leading to a nervous system crash. After being threatened with forced “treatment” in the state psychiatric prison again in early 2014, I found Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic in a random Google search on my phone. The realization I had been poisoned was enough for me to control my behavior and save myself from further “treatment.” The psychiatric system disables and kills people. That’s not an abstract concept when you’re at the receiving end of forced “treatment.” Method of coming off psychiatric drugs: cold turkey and rapid taper off a cocktail of Seroquel, Viibryd, Klonopin, Sonata, Dexedrine, and Halcion (NOTE: I do NOT recommend this method of withdrawal - I didn’t find the withdrawal forums until I was almost completely off all drugs. Stay safe and taper if at all possible). Favorite non-drug coping skills: Shep’s Toolkit. For me, the non-drug coping skills were not optional. I still refer to this list and have tons more bookmarked in folders on my laptop. Mooji and Alan Watts are still my go-to sources for calming. The un-patienting process: During recovery, I began reading a lot of anti-psychiatry literature. Dr. Phil Hickey’s article sums it up well - In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry gave me the language to understand and name the world around me. Dr. Thomas Szasz is a major influence in my understanding of this world. He understood the power structure of psychiatry better than anyone I've read so far. Dr. Bruce Cohen's Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness helped me understand psychiatry's political structure. Psychiatry is about power and politics, not medicine. Psychiatry is not broken. The system was designed this way. Psychiatry is not a legitimate field of medicine and cannot be reformed. It needs to be abolished. To not message this would be to condone a form of structural violence that not only has disabled and killed millions of people, it also maintains and even furthers the systemic social and economic injustices these individuals represent. I hope one day, those still trapped in Plato’s Cave will be released and the cave will be sealed shut.