In response to recent posts, especially A Time for PSSD, Laurie Oakley got in touch with the following thoughts. Laurie has had a series of six posts on Pharmaceutical Rape on davidhealy.org starting in February 2015 but mostly from early January 2016. These outline her own difficulties recovering from medication induced injury and the equal injury of finding the system unwilling to concede there was an issue it was responsible for and should do something about.
Recent posts show how pharmaceutical injuries that are ignored by health authorities – a major form of victimization in the modern world, often with enduring syndromes – can result in overwhelming emotional outcomes involving deep confusion, doubt, anxiety, grief, rage, profound disillusionment, and hopelessness.
Having had a life-altering benzodiazepine injury for more than a decade that has stubbornly refused to respond well to any treatment, I have sought both physical healing and non-physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. From this vantage point I would like to offer some thoughts.
Questions I have grappled with:
- Is it possible to live with the damage?
- Can one hold out hope that health does return but accept that it may not happen?
- And build a life that is worthwhile even if one doesn’t have full physical recovery?
- Can one accept trauma/injury/suffering as having spiritual value?
- To live with the grief, and grow through it?
- Can one come to terms with the injury, trauma, and betrayal?
- Can one gain a changed perspective to find hope and comfort?
- Is it possible to cultivate an attitude of acceptance?
- To find satisfaction in the things one can still enjoy and do?
- Are there positives that can be found in what has happened?
- Have losses left room for other things?
- Can one make the best of it, embracing what they have? What’s left?
- To have a different kind of life that is good in different ways than previously planned?
- Can what has been learned be used in a positive way?
Last year I asked several pharma injured individuals if and how they used spirituality to deal with pain, anger, and resentment from having been betrayed by the medical system, and also asked if they found it eased physical symptoms. Here is a condensed list of their responses:
- It is normal to feel anger and betrayal
- It helped to keep talking about what happened – to speak my truth
- I had to let go of outcomes
- Take the rest you need
- I prayed about my situation and for others
- Visualization was helpful
- God, Bible, 12 steps helped (and were mentioned repeatedly)
- Taking responsibility for oneself – no longer giving it over to doctors
- I recognized the medical profession is dysfunctional – in need of healing too
- Mindset – not thinking about what I’ve lost but what I have and what I have learned
- Not trusting in the system
- Meditation – found peace – all about the inner journey and Love
- Give it to the Universe – release it
- Let go of resentment
- Pain and loss are not my primary focus anymore
- Reaching out to help others helps me
- I have been reassigned to a different purpose – calling.
- Channeled sadness and anger to working constructively and helping others.
- EMDR, DBT, ayahuasca, psilocybin
- Therapy and self-led therapy
- Openly advocating for oneself – taking one’s power back
- Not everyone is meant to understand you and not everyone cares. Cheris those who do.
- Nature walks, photography, animals, therapy animals, helping others
- Accepting I cannot change the past
- Firing practitioners who don’t listen
- Took responsibility for illness, left off blame and victim mentality, asked God for help
- Take better care of oneself
- Hiking, stretching, foam rolling
- Nature, growing food, birds, wildlife pond, walking, singing Changed mindset
- I notice a huge difference in how I feel after a recovery meeting vs ‘activism.’ The activism often makes me feel worse”
One that really made me think: Unless there is a reason for suffering, suffering is meaningless – so instead of asking ‘why me,’ I said, ‘why not me?’
A Time for What?
At the same time L’s post A Time for PSSD appeared. L was very aware that some people found messages like hers grim. People get violently upset at the idea PSSD might be permanent and want to shoot the messenger.
She thought long and hard before posting a piece about someone with PSSD who had taken his own life – When Antidepressants Kill, They Blame Depression.
One of the big problems with all this is that others blame depression but people blame themselves for being weak and taking an acne drug or a drug for hair loss or a drug to make them less anxious. These are terribly seductive drugs. There are very very few of us can resist these temptations. To blame ourselves afterwards – to think we are somehow weaker than others – is part of the tragedy.
Most of those affected with PSSD and other conditions or protracted withdrawal are astonishingly resilient and pretty quickly end up knowing more about medicine and the conditions they have than the doctors treating them – which of course can add to the problem.
Trying to find an image of Recovery for this post was difficult. None of the therapy or healing images that show up on google seemed remotely right – for reasons outlined below. The best was Green Shoots – plants sprouting up in Barren Soil.
But then Killing Eve came into the picture – with the questions can having homicidal thoughts about people who have injured you be a sign of health – and perhaps if this is a sign of health in some way some of us might not want to recover absolutely fully. Whatever about these ideas, this gave rise to this image with its dressed to do what image.
After L’s post, and Sex Please but We are on Antidepressants, someone with PSSD got in touch asking for help with its treatment. There are several requests like this per week. I have no option but to respond with an answer that leaves me feeling the other person will be angry with me.
I don’t know what is wrong in PSSD and I don’t think anyone does and I know of nothing that acts reliably. Some people though do recover spontaneously
I usually feel the person asking the question figures there must be an answer and I must know it and am deliberately holding back.
This time the response was – where can I find a therapist that will help me do this.
This response brought Laurie’s comments about recovery back.
Recover here means getting to a point where a drug induced problem may continue but it no longer defines us. How do people get to this point? Laurie’s conclusion is rather like mine – some people get there, others don’t. The kinds of groups Laurie helps run don’t have a clear therapy program aimed at getting people there. It’s more people with a similar problem getting together and enduring/supporting each other and not telling anyone else how to do it – we are all different.
My initial sense was that perhaps people with PSSD should not get involved in a PSSD group. Too much of a focus on the problem could be counterproductive. But some of those who have recovered from PSSD (still have the problem but get on with life) like L and others linked to RxISK have done some extraordinary things to help raise the profile of PSSD and generate an interest in solving it. Others in PSSD groups don’t get active in this way. They seem to lose hope and can almost feel to be slipping away.
What gets people from focusing on their problem to recovering?
Keeping away from therapy I think is a good idea. There are no therapists or therapies that can bring about a change like this. Therapists view us as people to keep in treatment rather than people who know more about the condition than they do. They keep us from recognizing that we can be agents of change and instead sustain the impression that we are someone to be fixed. This s not a recipe for recovery.
There is something about non-professional others that can be more helpful than therapists. Solidarity is important. Yes individuals do arrive at a point where they have recovered (perhaps with occasional delicious homicidal thoughts that they can put away) but it seems less likely they are going to achieve this sitting in a room meditating.
This is something of a non-conclusion. It would still be good to have something like this to send to people who want the ‘cure’ for PSSD. With this in mind, we welcome all comments.
But bear in mind these are very tricky issues for the people who will read the post, who want salvation but often feel they are slipping into Hell.