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alexjuice

Life on Drugs - Side Effects in Retrospect

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alexjuice

Something that I struggle with is shame and guilt about the humiliating things I did ON the drugs. I've said before that as bad as my w/d has been, being ON the drugs was worse. Drugs never helped me, so I needed more, of course. That's the way it worked in the last decade. Eventually, I went mad -- I was pharmapsychiatry's version of the self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no greater nightmare than madness (not to diminish any other nightmares), and my descent into insanity and ascension out of it underlies my current struggle to get healthy enough to achieve self-sufficiency, the 'impossible' as such would have been called circa 2006.

 

Despite my continuing w/d problems, the worst torture for me is remembering the behaviors, thoughts, compulsions and impulses that controlled my life for the period of my madness. On Drugs I became extremely impusive, w/o history of impulsiveness. To fight these psychotic-type symptoms, higher doses or more meds were ordered. The more meds, the more changes, the worse the symptoms got.

 

This experience is essentially indescribable; it's the experience of progressively going mad -- once I started with street stimulants like cocaine my madness climaxed. In my late-20s I lost control and a fireworks display of spending, drugs, sex, recklessness and, in the end, a suicide attempt followed. Having nothing to say for myself, no explanations to offer, I chose to end the giant indignity of my life. After my suicide attemtp failed, I reached the point of nothinglefttolose,

 

I made a new attempt at reclaiming sanity. I stopped taking atypicals and ADs -- and stayed stopped. I did this against medical advice. I believed that my 'disease' was likely to get much worse in which case... I'd be out of options. However, I also thought that, perhaps, I might get better, that maybe the drugs were making things worse -- I'd had suspicions for years.

 

I gave myself a tiny chance of getting better off my meds. I handicapped it at 95% I would not survive, that like a diabetic it'd be curtains once deprived of insulin (Drugs). But i had nothinglefttolose.

 

The first few months after discontinuation were agony. But a different agony. The terrors of insomnia and sensitivity and anxiety replaced the insanity. Gone were unpredictability and intrusive thoughts and impulsive, addictive behaviors. Something was different. I tried to drink alcoholically to cope with the symptoms but the alcohol had no punch. I found myself pouring half-full drinks in the toilet, lacking the interest to finish them. What?! I'd been to addiction rehab four times! I'm a proven alcoholic. What?!

 

I still didn't knew of w.d and restarted on a benzo. Things improved... What???

 

My doctor was baffled at first. He waited, waited with baited breadth for the relapse that never came. It was a miracle. After a few months my doc decided that, somehow????, my psychotic condition had gone into 'remission'.

 

Eventually, within a year, I found myself feeling a lot like my old self -- before Drugs... only with a horrible w/d syndrome. This is more or less wher I am today.

 

W/d is a test, a great challenge for me to survive and overcome. But it is also a relief. My nightmare, so inexplicable and debilitating, is over. But my past isn't the sort of past that goes away silently. I live with madness everyday in my memories.

 

CBT, my version of CBT, is very helpful and I do a terrific job coping with this most of the time. But I do have a fear that never leaves me. Certain of the things I have done under the influence of Drugs, alcohol, and drugs were just very weird -- humiliating. Someday they will haunt me again. My missteps were often before witnesses.

 

I am not an alcoholic but I got to know what it is to be one. I am not a drug addict, but I got to know that as well. I got to know what's it like to have intrusive thoughts and be OCD and be sexually compulsive. Though I am/have none of those things currently. No one of my current doctors, despite denying w/d, suggest I have any of these problems presently. It's just a big Christmas Miracle, my 'remission'.

 

But madness weighs on a man, the memories. I can only slowly repair my reputation but then never fully. I'm okay with that because there is no other choice. This is a price I pay. This is the price, to turn a phrase, I bought. I am a rare case in this way as probably few have the combination of access to big sums of money (parents), a controlling drug-addled psychiatrist and total absence of oversight. My folks abandoned me as a teenager and it just didn't work out. I'm sure they feel lousy today.

 

I think I will recover from the current section of my ordeal -- the withdrawal syndrome that impacts so much of my health. But I've already recovered my sanity. To have peace of mind, to understand the how and why of my madness: priceless. I can not lose at this point. No matter the outcome, I can not lose. Die tomorrow? Doesn't matter. I have already won. It's by necessity a private victory, but this diminishes not a shimmer of its shine. It is the greatest feeling to believe that the worst of your life has past. Nothing can best the suffering of my madness, it can only be equaled and I find its equaling unlikely. For me, and anyone like me, the worst is over. The shame may linger and rear itself into consciousness, sure. People will not understand a 'Drugs made me do it' defense. But, when the lights are off and it's me and nobody's watching, I enjoy the warm but lonely comfort of reality.

 

The truth is the greatest gift, it has set me free. Alex.

Edited by JanCarol
Paragraph breaks - ease of reading

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Altostrata

What a beautiful post, alex. You are already a shining star here.

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summer

I thought the same thing... a beautiful post! I have no doubt that life will continue to get better and better for you. :D

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Claudius

That's indeed a beautiful post Alex! And I can relate to it. As I told before, I did very dangerous things during my WD attempts and totally lost control after my last c/t withdrawal. Right now this is even worse than the remaining, still debilitating symptoms and losing my job.

But as you state, the truth is our best friend now and we are still better off than many other who are still ignorant and still being cheated by the so called medical professionals.

I am in about the same place as you now. Still recovering from the drugs and still coping with what they did to us. We will overcome this and be able to build a life again. I hope the worst is indeed behind us and despite whether or not people believe us (most people I know do actually believe me) we will pave our own new way, free of drugs and with more and more opportunities when the crippling WD misery will further losing its grip on us. WE will be victorous, correction we are already!

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Altostrata

I have no doubt at all, alex and Claudius, that you will make new lives for yourselves. You might look back at past mistakes with sadness, but you can stop thinking of yourselves as that helpless person -- both of you have changed, a great deal. You have a lot to be proud of.

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Rhiannon

Alex, I totally, totally relate to this. Don't have time right now to write the kind of response your post deserves, and there are definitely things I did that I'm still not ready to tell anyone about. I did some really crazy, delusional, dysfunctional stuff, besides just the everyday dysfunction. I mean--borderline criminal, some of it, and, well, just, not good.

 

Something that is helping me forgive myself for the crazy stuff is the book Medication Madness by Peter Breggin. I'd recommend you take a look at it. Apparently we are not the only ones. He also has a PDF at http://www.breggin.com/spellbinding_psychiatric_drugs.pdf that is sort of an intro to the subject, but it didn't really get through to me like the book did.

 

The worst thing was and is not knowing if I can trust my thinking and choices NOW. Am I still crazy? I know I am a little, I know I'm kind of obsessive, and I can tell that my thinking gets a little "crunchy" when I'm in more active withdrawal compared to when I have windows; but how much? Can I trust ANYthing I think, or decide, or do?

 

Because when I did and thought those things, they made perfect sense to me at the time and seemed totally reasonable.

 

And at my age, the financial losses are devastating, I have no idea how I will survive in my old age. (Especially given that Social Security--such as it is, I never managed to pay much into it--may not be around any more when I need it.)

 

I try not to think about it now, just get through this taper and hope that I will be able to come up with something.

 

I have to run, today, but will post more, or maybe PM you on this.

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Claudius

I have no doubt at all, alex and Claudius, that you will make new lives for yourselves. You might look back at past mistakes with sadness, but you can stop thinking of yourselves as that helpless person -- both of you have changed, a great deal. You have a lot to be proud of.

 

Thanx Alto, I am sure that all of us have changed due to this horrific experience. I am still in doubt about starting a new life because it is really necessary that the symptoms subside at least to a level which makes normal functioning/working possible. And now after almost 4 years in WD I am still not at that point, although I am so eager to find a new job and start with new energy. Today I had a family day, in good weather and good atmosphere but I had almost to give up due to the electric jolts which are still horrible. I told y mother that I am in such great despair about the financial support, I wonder how people handle this.

Alto you are still recovering after 7 yearws, are you able to work or do you have financial support? I am still scared, also because most people seems to recover within 4 years.

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alexjuice

Thanks for the kind words, Alto and Claud. I'm glad (but sad) that others can relate.

 

Rhi, I know what you mean about living with doubts. After what I've been through, how can I know I can trust myself? I'm still not even through w/d and still take a controlled substance. Frankly, I'm barely hanging on, i'm torn, tattered... how can I know anything? And while I think I can trust myself, I've thought that before. And I still feel myself sometimes drifting in my thinking, especially in reaction to stuff I take for symptoms that messes with my brain. For instance, I got a homeopathic treatment a couple of weeks ago and have felt a real return of impulsiveness and emotional lability...

 

But even when there's no clear cause, I have moments... It's a challenge, and the never knowing makes it hard. But I can't escape doubts and gray areas. For me, there were one or two things that I did here-and-there before I was on meds that I am not okay with. I then took those one or two things and went crazy with them when I was on meds, going waaay over the line -- into weirdo, psycho land.

 

But how can I put all the blame on medication when the 1st insances of the behavior predated the meds... Well, it's hard. Hard to deal with and know what to think sometimes. But it's time for forgiveness and putting the past where it belongs. Hey, maybe I'm just human and I did some stuff I wish I could take back when I was younger. Maybe I was never headed for the Presidency before Drugs interfered. But that doesn't mean I was headed for madness. I'll never know. It was the madness that I got. And I did do those things...

 

It's part of the torture, really, not knowing where you start and the Drugs stop. Not knowing what I would have done... If I had had involved parents, if I just never took the drugs or Drugs. There is no knowing and the things that didn't happen... didn't happen. I only get to live with the things that DID happen and no whatif can replace those things because the whatifs never came to pass. This accepting/forgiving part is really tough. I'll look at the Breggin book because this is a part of it that is particularly lonely to deal with. Thanks for the rec.

 

Last thing on this... I've decided to try to positive, forward-looking and self-supporting. My job now is to move on and keep living and not exist as a shame-shell of a human. I've learned there are a lot of things I do have some control over and have come to hold the belief that the more I express confidence in my recovery, irrationally if necessary, the better my chances. So much of my life was spent in the dark.

 

Today I choose, as much as I can, what I am going to believe about myself because this is the first time I've realized I have this choice. And I am proactively choosing my best self as my true self. Come hell, heaven, high water or whatever else... I choose, for once, to just believe in myself, Gawd dammit. The chips will fall where they fall... I'm grateful for the chance -- even if it's a slim one -- to become somewhat healthy and free from psychiatric torture and dependence. Alls I'm asking for is a chance.

 

I'm very glad to have you around, Rhi. We have a lot of overlap, you & I. PM me any time. Alex

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alexjuice

One other thing I wanted to tell you, Rhi.

 

I'm sorry about the financial strap you may face. I don't have any answers, though I'll say to you what a shrink once said of me: "If there's one thing you've proven, it's that you're a survivor."

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alexjuice

I have no doubt at all, alex and Claudius, that you will make new lives for yourselves. You might look back at past mistakes with sadness, but you can stop thinking of yourselves as that helpless person -- both of you have changed, a great deal. You have a lot to be proud of.

 

You are right, and it's great to hear it from another person. I am proud of myself because I have come so far. It's a distance that few probably travel, from my worst to my right now. That's to say few in 'real life'. Even though our stories vary by the particulars, everybody I know on this site has endured, continues to endure, this peculiar reality and still maintains their dignity and humanity. We've about all come a long way, I think. There is a lot of pride to go around here.

 

I know what it's like, guys. You guys know what's like for me as well. I don't really find this, not yet anyway, in real space. Because of that I sometimes feel pretty alone out there. I'm glad to have you guys to help me.

 

On Drugs I isolated, created walls, inhabited my own bizarre island. I'm getting out a bit, feeling well a bit and realizing that I had been shorting myself for those many, lonely years. Life was bad so I hid such that maybe no one could see me. Of course, I fooled myself with this hiding.

 

I'm glad to be a part of this community. It's good to be among people I think of as friends and whose efforts and caring mean a great deal to me.

 

Thanks.

 

Alex.i

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Altostrata

alex, is it possible for you to come out as a psychiatric survivor? Or would that be too difficult, with your family?

 

I am thinking you might be able to lead a chapter of the Icarus Project on campus http://theicarusproject.net/campus. This would give you an outlet for your creativity and intelligence, plus an identity that matches with your reality, for which you would be appreciated by others around you.

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alexjuice

I think it's a good idea though I'm not sure if I'm ready to take it on.

 

My mental and physical stamina is failing, and I decided to drop a course today.

 

I'm currently implementing dietary changes which add to uncertainty. Am I having trouble with focus and energy because I am eating so differently? Or are the changes simply co-occurring but non-causal?

 

I'm so dang tired & brain dead.

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Crocus

Your post really touched me. I found it quite powerful, sad and yet very hopeful.

 

Thank you for making me think about this. I have been trying to put my "history" on paper so that I can send something intelligent to the research people on this site. I have a hard time thinking about a variety of experiences....having a Dr. put me on 175 mg of imipramine for anxiety attacks(@ 5 ft tall and 110 lbs) and I took up smoking, had an affair and divorced my first husband. Who was that person? My personality completely changed...

 

You also made me think about today. Now, I have times when I go to sleep like I did as a kid - just close my eyes when my head hits the pillow and wake up refreshed. NOT often, but enough to feel like I am coming back, the real me.

 

I have felt joy from inside my soul and I sometimes think clearly like I used to...

 

All of this tells me that I will get my life back and that whatever my future holds Iwill be able to show up to deal with it, enjoy it and live it.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Crocus

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JanCarol

Bump.  Very brave, Alex, thank you for "coming out," as it were.

 

Yes, and yes.  Chicken or egg.  Was I so attracted to "altered states" and "partying" because of childhood negligence or oppression?

 

Was it the altered states that catapulted me into dysfunctional relationships?

 

Was it the dysfunctional relationships that landed me in the welcoming arms of psychiatry?

 

And always, the belief that I was exceptional, the rules didn't apply to me.  I would "get away with it."

 

The shame and horror of some of the things I've done, still come back.  I've been able to do the AA thing and "make amends," and found that some of the things I felt were horrifying, cruel - the "victim" of my crimes has totally forgotten.  "We were kids," she might say, or "That was just what it was like back then," he might say.  But yes, I relate to the mistrust of my decisions, even now.  And the shame of the degradation I've been through.

 

I have an advantage in that my reputation (except for my family) didn't follow me to Australia.  I've moved so many times - because of my reputation?  Or was that another part of that awful feedback loop above?  "to seek out a new life..."  But the memories are still there, and I ask them:  what is the instruction here?  How can I benefit from this rumination?

 

And always, always, always, the answer is:  be kind.  To myself.  To others.  (it's harder than it sounds)

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