The title of this post is the search that I did for years, trying to find other people who had done what I was aspiring to do, people who had been previously diagnosed as bipolar for whatever reason, but had managed to get off of psychiatric meds successfully. Most of the stories out there are horror stories, stories of “how I tried to get off meds but it was an awful idea because then I realized how sick I am and no one should ever ever ever get off their meds. It’s irresponsible.” I was sure there must be someone else, and eventually I did find writing and success stories collected by Gianna and Philip Dawdy’s incisive commentary and personal withdrawal experiences to sustain me. For the most part I felt like I was going it alone. I felt invisible, and these days, in some ways I feel even more invisible, though in a way this is just what I had hoped for, a life where I am no longer defined by a diagnosis and hemmed in by medications that took away my health, my ability to think, my spirit, and my laughter.
I’m sure there must be more people like me out there. I have managed to hear of a few others, people who managed to escape, who went on to successful family life and employment. But I’m guessing most of us just fade into the woodwork. I certainly have. The psychiatric establishment has no idea that people like me exist, and insist on giving young people, even children, a dire prognosis along with their questionable bipolar diagnosis. Some of my closest friends don’t even know my history, though I am working towards being more open with my views, and eventually perhaps my story in real life. For now, I hope that every now an then someone searching for hope might happen by this writing, and believe that freedom is possible.
My first day free of psychiatric medication was Nov 22nd 2006. My daughter was almost 5 months old. I had been taking some form of psychiatric medication for eight and a half years. During the three 1/2 years it took to complete withdrawal, I got married, became a mother and completed my Ph.D. Since that time, thanks to intensive acupuncture treatment, my body has healed to the point that I am now able to carry our second child.
Of all I have done in life, second only to becoming a mother, gaining freedom from psychiatric medications and my misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder is the accomplishment of which I am most proud. I hate to think where I would be today, had I not started down that road, prompted by that original frightening read of Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America. I am not at all sure that my marriage would have survived continued heavy medication. Agnes and I might not be parents together. I might not be working in my current field. I almost certainly would not be carrying our second child, something I have wanted to do for many years. I will always be grateful to Robert Whitaker for writing the truth, and most of all to my wife, who saw through the psychiatric bullshit, understood withdrawal symptoms for exactly what they were, wouldn’t accept poor treatment from me even when we both believed I was “sick,” and always encouraged me towards the most healthy version of myself.
This is my last post here. I have moved on to other chapters of my life. But for those who have happened here for the first time you can find out more about my experiences understanding the roots of my misdiagnosis with bipolar disorder at age 20, how I escaped from the trap of permanent psychiatric medication, and some of the work I did to repair ongoing damage from that original diagnosis by reading through the archives. I will leave comments open, and check back periodically. I will continue to read the e-mail address listed on the side bar, and absolutely welcome hearing from folks who happen by here.