Monday, August 5, 2013

Beyond Meds Monica Cassani discusses the Big Picture

To my friends and readers who still take psych drugs (and to the whole spectrum of folks on and off meds too)

I often stop and wonder about the spectrum of readers this blog draws.  I have readers who are interested in mental health and wellbeing who’ve never taken a drug, nor have they ever been subjected to any sort of coercive psychiatric care. I have readers who take meds willingly, understanding that for them at this point of their individual, personal, idiosyncratic journeys it makes sense for them to do this. I have readers who take meds but really do not want to. They have not found meaningful supports that allow them to find a way to be free of them. Then there are readers who have been on meds but have freed themselves from them. Among those readers is a huge spectrum as well. Some were coerced and traumatized in the system. Others, didn’t have terribly traumatic experiences,  but they understand that for them medications were not a long-term solution. I also have readers who were coerced and traumatized and harmed who cannot free themselves from the drugs and who have admirably and painfully come to terms with this reality. I am actually in a bit of awe of such people. They do not know what the future holds but they know that for now this is what is best for them. And they move forward like we all do in the unknown. Watching life unfold.
Oh, and I do also, have some readers who are grateful for what drugs did for them. Yes. Some of these folks are still on drugs and others have come off when they no longer felt the need for that support. They understand that a dialogue with all of the players must be had and appreciate the perspective I have to offer as one of the many folks who’ve been gravely harmed by psych drugs.
The fact is I hold a space for every single one of these folks. Our journeys are long and complex and individual. I was on drugs for over 20 years. I hold a space for who I was a .......READ THE REST HERE


  1. Monica and Rossa, thank you for posting (and reposting) this beautiful blog! One of the most compassionate I have seen regarding all of us stuck somewhere on the web of "to medicate or not to medicate" as we move toward healing.

    I could repost this entire blog in my "favorite passages," but I'll pick out just two that struck me so deeply:

    With regard to those on and off psychiatric medications (for myriad reasons)...

    "I hold a space for every single one of these folks. Our journeys are long and complex and individual. I was on drugs for over 20 years. I hold a space for who I was all those 20 years. "


    "Ultimately the only thing that marks a mature human being is not whether they are on drugs or they are not on drugs, but are they consciously moving through life with integrity, congruency and alignment with all that lives... We cannot know what others need to learn or how they are going to learn it. The most we can do is allow. Allow for the great diversity of humanity."

    Thank you Monica. You hold a beautiful space for healing...

  2. Rossa,

    I wonder how many of the people who are on drugs were ever provided *fully-informed* consent, to include: long-term risks; what we know/don't know about these drugs; information on how to safely withdrawal (before being placed on them); other options (safer and more effective long-term).

    IMO, if people were provided this information up-front, there would be a lot fewer people on these drugs.

    The problem is that we are becoming a drug-addicted society, with one in five folks on some kind of psychiatric drug.... with very few people having been provided *fully-informed* consent:

    The *facts* about what these drugs are doing needs to be addressed, head-on. If a *fully-informed* adult decides to take them, fine. But this is *not* what's taking place.

    Sorry to rain on the 'feel good' parade.


  3. Duane,
    In answer to your observations, I doubt that anyone on psych meds has ever been provided with full information as to side effects, risks, etc. Once on them, only certain people (those not deemed "seriously mentally ill") might be encouraged to get off them. If provided with this information up front, depending on the particular situation, fewer people would undoubtedly choose to take them. But, for many people, what is the immediate alternative? Full infornmation should also prescribe credible alternatives, and these alternatives are not readily available and certainly not in time to stop the person from spiralling out of control. We all see things from the particular viewpoint of our own expererience. Psych drugs, yucky as they are, are still needed short term when options are not readily available in the community. For me, the critical period of time is after one or two months, when the acute crisis is over, where we need to direct our resources. I don't think Monica's piece is a feel-good thing. It is realistically discussing how we should feel about ourselves. I couldn't feel as encouraged as I do about my own son if I was wracked with guilt about the medications he is on and has been on. That would help no one. Much as I don't like the drugs, I do see a short term need for them in many cases. I'm not speaking about young children, obviously. The big problem is that doctors don't talk short term, but that is changing the more people like us pound away at it. A lot of people have the erroneous idea that the problem is always the medications, and I don't agree. Sure, if too many medications are administered too long, in too high doses, to the wrong candidates. Then, yes, the problem is the medications. But there are many people who keep going psychotic even with skillful reduction of the meds. It would be completely irresponsible to say that there is no place for the meds. I know your experience concerns medication of children under 18, but there is a larger group of people with complex stories to consider. I think I'm losing the plot here. Better sign off. Thanks for being one of my more faithful contributors!

    1. Rossa,

      I agree with what you have to say here. You make some good points.

      My 'feel good' comment is in regard to call to the middle, another call to sanity being made by someone who describes the 'pro-med' side and the 'anti-med' side as being equally harmful to civil discourse and healing...

      It's done all the time.
      Most recently, Virgil Stucker on Pete Earley's blog:

      And I find it not only disingenuous, but quite nauseating. It's the classic straw man argument.

      These two groups are not on the same playing field...

      Let me explain:

      The 'pro-med' side has all the power and money.
      The 'pro-med' side uses force of law.
      The 'pro-med' side targets vulnerable groups, including children on Medicaid and in foster care.

      I'm obviously not talking about a person who chooses to take psychiatric drugs, but rather the politics of a group that pushes their use.

      The 'anti-med' side.
      A group that tends to present *facts* about the dangers of these drugs. With no political power, no effort to try to *force* anyone to do/not do anything!

      The idea that these two groups share common harm is absurd!

      Pick a group - survivor, ex-patient, peer support, etc....

      Name one group that requires a person to *not* be on drugs to be member... Just one.
      To the best of my knowledge these groups have people on drugs, off drugs, and all stages in-between... They always have!

      And yet, the more conventional pro-med groups strongly encourage, persuade and even suggest force at times to keep people *on* drugs.

      There's nothing new about this post.
      It's a straw man argument....
      A weak one at that.


  4. Wonderfully put! It’s so true that every person has their own journey, experience, and reasons for being adamantly for or against psychiatric medication, or somewhere in between.

    I run into every range on that spectrum in my practice. Being a naturopathic doctor and mental health professional, people generally assume that I am in the staunch “anti-meds” group, but this is not so. Meds have there place in the system, and when used correctly can be life-saving in the short term. It is just sad that they have been misused, overused, and caused so much harm. It is also sad that society as a whole has been so ingrained with the notion that drugs are the only way, they cannot see that there are other ways of healing and if we heal first, then slowly remove the drugs in a responsible way, the body has the chance to recover and heal, so that withdrawals and decompensation are minimized. As you said…

    “ It’s utterly and critically important that people know what they are doing when they come off psych drugs and that they have appropriate supports. There are many good reasons to NOT come off drugs now, in very many instances. There are simply not appropriate supports available all too often at this juncture in time. We need to change that, of course. These folks don’t understand that if the system actually incorporated sane withdrawal protocols complete with trained physicians (both are non-existent now) it could create safe space for people to discuss the subject openly that disasters of sudden withdrawal and decompensation would largely be eliminated.” – I couldn’t agree more!

    Fear truly is a powerful weapon, no matter what side it comes from.

    I never try to coerce anyone into my belief system, I simply offer (when asked for it) my professional opinion, advice, and experience so they can accept it or not accept it. It is their choice and their path. Who am I, or anyone for that matter to think I/they have all the answers?

    Thank you for sharing!


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