The WARM Network: Withdrawal and Recovery Meetings

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June 27, 2018 | 18 Comments


  1. In what is so often the harsh and lonely world of dealing with mental health issues this is a heart warming initiative with by the way a lovely name and logo. Congratulations to those who have got it going and expanding already and with all best wishes to Mary H and Shane who have flagged up the need for such groups on the blog and actually set one up in N Wales.

  2. Many, many congratulations on a super new website WARM Network and not only has Laurie written the book, Crazy And It Was, sitting in my collection, she is doing such a fantastic job ..

    In particular, I was interested in this list of Doctors, from Altostrata, Surviving Antidepressants. It seems a pretty poor show of numbers but a pretty good show, otherwise ..

    From our point of view, as this was produced in 2011, how about we increase this list with more recommended doctors who are knowledgable, up to date, and willing to be named then all the hard work from Laurie and friends will have a bit more sure footedness with those to recommend … or to direct to their blogs for further information from reliable sources ..

    Terry Lynch, MD, Limerick, Ireland
    Ivor Browne, MD, Dublin, Ireland
    Pat Bracken, MD, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland

    Robert Lefever, MA, MD, B Chir., South Kensington, London (addiction focus)
    Bob Johnson, MD, London (not accepting patients)
    Sami Timimi, MD, Lincolnshire
    Peter Haddad, MD, Greater Manchester
    Duncan Double, MD, Suffolk and Norwich
    David Healy, MD, North Wales

    Rob Purssey, MD, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (will Skype in Brisbane)
    Yolande Lucire, MD, New South Wales, Australia

    Tony Coates, MD, Auckland

    Jeremy Wallace, MD, Vantaa, Finland
    Hasse Karlsson, MD,Turku, Finland

    Lisbeth Kortegaard, MD, Hoejbjerg, Denmark

    See the 22 psychiatrists listed at the end of
    WARM header – Doctors

    Alto has also compiled lists for those in the US

    There is no one better to talk to than one who has been through it and how I wish these groups had been around when Seroxat entered my life, instead of spending years talking to a lot of ‘professionals’ who had not a clue and who steered in total the wrong directions making everything so so much much – worse ..

  3. Thank you Annie. Having a list of knowledgeable doctors is really key when you consider how complicated withdrawal can get for some people. It’s usually one of the first questions asked by anyone attending a meeting: “Do you know of a doctor who can help me?” So yes, any help with expanding this list is more than welcome!

  4. Well done Laurie – you’ve explained it as it truly is – i.e. that we are ‘at the ready’ whenever the general public wishes to wake up to the reality of the difficulties of withdrawal.
    I would just like to add that we make a strong point of NOT being experts at anything medical – we are simply willing to share the things that have worked for us in the hope that they will spur others to continue on their withdrawal journey. We do also welcome anyone who may wish to share their thoughts before starting on troublesome medications. We also insist that everybody must seek medical support before changing anything at all to do with medication dosage.
    We ( north wales group) will take a summer break from mid July (habit of a lifetime in education I guess!) and will restart in September.

  5. Rob Purssey here – just FYI, “clinic/rooms” in Brisbane, but Skype patients throughout Australia (only, I’m afraid, medicolegal considerations mean not outside Australia). And the 2 other psychiatrists here at Brisbane ACT Centre also help folks wean / minimise adverse effects. Dr Nga Tran, adolescents and adults, and Dr David Ward, child, adolescent and adults. Thanks David H, the WARM network, Alto and all in this community for the hard work. Btw hope that The Inner Compass initiative gets a post soon, they’ve created a great resource IMHO. 🙂

  6. I’m not able to start a group I’m too sick but would love to attend one in my area any groups in Northern California near vallejo California??

  7. Hi Sandi, there is someone in the San Francisco Bay area who recently contacted WARM about starting a meeting there. If you would like, use the contact form at htpps:// and we can follow up with both of you.

  8. In other news..

    The runner-up for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Award is Olly’s Friendship Room, at St Michael and All Angels Church, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire. The creation of a warm, comfortable meeting room for the whole community to use provides space for groups including a film club, astronomy club, table tennis and a baby and toddler group, with an emphasis on caring for mental health in the community by helping those suffering from anxiety and depression. St Michael’s church was awarded a £500 prize.

    The judges commented: “We were impressed by how the community has come together to save this small rural church. The church team is really serving their community and bringing people together, with an important message of inclusion and well-being.”

    • Thanks Laurie for putting this link here. We, as Olly’s mum and dad, were amazed to win this prize for the renovation and innovative use of our tiny rural church, ( chosen out of 500 projects, and mainly because, like WARM, we are trying to help anyone struggling with the alone-ness that mental unwellness can inflict), but it afforded us the most fantastic opportunity to speak in front of a very receptive audience in St Paul’s Cathedral last Tuesday, who mostly had no idea about what some prescribed medications could do to those made ill by them, nor had they heard of RxISK and Dr David Healy, but by the end of the speech and networking throughout event afterwards, they were enthusiastically involved and very receptive. These were people involved with communities, albeit church-linked, but open minded, caring, and people with a different kind of power to that of Big Pharma. These were thinking, highly intelligent, moral people. We’ll put the speech I’d written on the Facebook page of Olly’s Friendship Foundation for anyone interested to know more.
      I’d wanted to be wearing my AKATHISIA tee shirt for this event but I didn’t manage to make one in time. However, I had my cardboard signs and a special display of info and leaflets (which we carried across London from Paddington in a taxi that very hot morning!) and we set it all up in St Paul’s Cathedral for everyone to see. I’m still working on the tee shirt, ready for the next Press interviews….

      Reading about WARM has given us so many wonderful ideas and pointers. We think what Laurie O and Jennifer B have done is simply brilliant! We were especially interested in the work too of Fred Rogers, which we knew nothing about in UK. As a children’s author and illustrator and having spent most of my life working with children, I can see ways we could emulate the work of Mr Rogers and his Neighbourhood, and make a positive difference in the area of spreading happiness for children and thus avoiding mental sadness where possible. Thank you SO much for this post Laurie and DH.

  9. Heard from Will Hall to say he has put up the Rxisk blog/prize up on his twitter and facebook accounts which together have approx 4000 followers. Thanks Will! He is a PhD student in Maastricht who is carrying out world wide study on- line ,on withdrawals from antipsychotics. If anybody could help with study it is on Maastricht Antipsychotic Withdrawal Study. (It was also flagged recently up on David Healy blog) He is getting a good response so far. the more data he can gather the better the evidence. If anybody wants to contact Will his e mail is

  10. Guess who has developed your Hangman idea, Laurie ..

    Akathisia: Iatrogenic Hell

    I’ve been wanting to do a cartoon about akathisia for a while, but was stuck for ideas of how to portray the concept in picture form. Then I read a conversation in the comments section of David Healy’s June 7th blog post discussing this very topic. One particular suggestion by Laurie O. stuck in my mind and wouldn’t leave me be: an illustration of the hangman game with the word AKATHISIA spelled out in the spaces underneath.

    Why the image of a hanging figure? At its worst, akathisia can cause such intense torment that the sufferer’s only escape is suicide, often by violent means such as hanging. Loved ones are left with many painful questions as the death was usually unforeseen and completely out of character.

    While researching the subject of akathisia, I sought out medical definitions of the word, and watched as much youtube footage of people suffering as I could bear. I was struck by the contrast in language. The main phrase I encountered on medical sites was “inner restlessness.” That nearly made its way into my wordsearch, but when I listened to the words of people in the throes of akathisia, I realised this was an insipid, appeasing kind of phrase. So I gritted my teeth and made a note of the recurring themes from the youtube footage. Torment. Torture. Terror. Living nightmare. Destroyed. Horror movie. Constant fear. Incessant movement. No relief. Bugs under the skin. Lonely. Isolating. Humiliating. Dismissed. Disbelieved.

    And as I collected these words, I remembered my own brush with akathisia. It was many years ago, quarter of a century, in fact. On admission to a psych-ward, I was drugged up with enough haloperidol to floor an elephant. Despite being billed as a powerful “antipsychotic”, it made not a dint in my raging insanity. A few weeks later I crash landed, and found myself trapped in an unfamiliar body with a will of its own. By then I was compos mentis enough to recognise these weird, involuntary movements as the drug-induced extrapyramidal symptoms I had studied at University. My main fear was Tardive Dyskinesia, and I voiced my concern to the psychiatrist. He listened, then gestured to my jiggling, kicking right leg and said: “Well, tardive dyskinesia comes later. For now, you have akathisia.”

    When I listen to the youtube accounts of akathisia, or hear of yet another youngster on psych-drugs found hanging, I feel that I escaped lightly.

     To Laurie O: If you are reading this – thank you for the inspiration.  

    • Annie, that is brilliant! Who doesn’t like a good puzzle? Auntie’s explanation of Akathisia would make a nice pamphlet to go with the shirt.

  11. What a beautiful way of giving back to the community, Laurie, Jennifer, Mary, Heather and other special humans, who are passionate about educating and inspiring others about the difficulties of withdrawal.
    It take a tremendous amount of dedication, commitment, understanding, patience, perseverance and a willingness to want to help others, without asking for anything in return.
    I guess, anything is possible, when you have the community supporting your visions and goals.
    Sincerest gratitude to all of you for all your invaluable input.
    What can I say Heather?
    You deserve the prize for renovating a rural church and setting it up to help anyone struggling with the alone-ness that mental unwellness can inflict.
    Communities come together when there is a sense of cause and a willingness to achieve common goals, to benefit all.
    Through your experiences, you are impacting and creating awareness throughout the wider community by sharing and caring ~ this is very powerful.
    The knowledge that you are giving to the wider community is second to none.
    Messages of hope or any important piece of information requires the dedication of humans to create an enriching community which leads to power and change.
    When all members of the community pull together for a united cause, the power becomes unlimited.
    A blessing, indeed!

    • Carla, thank you so much for putting our hopes into words as beautifully as you have. Coincidentally, we didn’t even know we were up for this Award, but it gave us such a fantastic opportunity to spread the information about RxISK and medication side effects and difficulties for so many about withdrawal. To hold up the word AKATHISIA on a piece of card before so many people in such an august setting as St Paul’s Cathedral, and explain what hell AKATHISIA pitches anyone into who is unlucky enough to experience it. The audience we were speaking to were, we assume, not driven by financial aims and political allegiances, but were members of many different organisations that care genuinely for the well-being of others without judging them. Everyone listened, took on board what we said, and many came to chat afterwards, expressing enormous interest. If just ONE of those folk can spread the knowledge we gave them in places of power where decisions are taken, then some good will have come from it.
      Two years ago on November 2nd we all did the Candle Vigil here to spread the word and make a difference despite the odds we struggle against. Skeptics can scoff, but it does seem to me that some very strange coincidences and ‘out of the blue’ happenings keep appearing, to uplift us and aid us in our lonely battle – getting less lonely by the minute….

  12. I have just read Laurie Oakley’s marvellously inspiring book ‘CRAZY AND IT WAS’ and I congratulate her most sincerely on an absolutely amazing piece of work, especially so as she has written it whilst battling prescribed medication side effects herself, with all the life stressing elements too that they can cause. She writes engagingly and exrtremely well. She may well have been a first time author when she wrote it, but I hope she’s gone on to write more, as her talent is obvious. My copy only arrived 2 days ago from USA but I have read it cover to cover, unable to put it down, for hours on end. It is well researched, insightful, and above all, hits hard at all the issues we grapple with, but keeps balance and brings hope. Very well done Laurie, and thank you!

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