Grief Recovery without Drugs

“Is there really an alternative to anti-depressant drugs? YES, YES, YES!”

Hello Ann B Tracy,

Fourteen months ago I was struck down with any parent’s worst nightmare. My beloved 33-year-old son committed suicide. He had been taking anti-depressants for about 4 years, and I may never be sure if these influenced his actions.

My story is about my recovery from this horrendous event. One thing that every survivor of suicide is aware of is that one ‘recovers’ from suicide in the same manner that one ‘recovers’ from alcoholism. There may never be a time when a sudden reminder of the loved one does not bring anguished tears.

When I began to suffer nightmares and insomnia I consulted my local physician. She’s a wonderful lady, newly out of medical school, open-minded, frank and conscientious. AND she prescribed Prozac! Having had a brief negative experience with both Valium and Prozac, I took the prescription home–and threw it in the trash. Shortly thereafter my husband bought me two milk goats. (We live on a ranch where this is possible, but it is also possible in many suburban settings.) These animals need attention twice a day–they need to be milked and fed in the morning, and fed in the evening. One cannot stay in bed waiting for them to milk and feed themselves–so I had to get up! And I had to be up to take care of them in the evening, also. This may sound like a small thing, but prior to their arrival I stayed in bed half the day and consequently couldn’t sleep at night.

This spring they blessed us with three adorable kids, which also need, and give, love and attention! I was able to experience the joy of witnessing new birth, new life, new love coming into my life. Of course, these wonderful animals are not my only interest in life, but they did awaken in me a renewed sense of the continuation of life.

I was fascinated with a friend’s response recently when I shared this story with her. “Did they really help you? Is there really an alternative to anti-depressant drugs?” And my answer is an unequivocal, resounding “YES, YES, YES”!

Blessings on your wonderful work,

RaEl BaKan
raelbakan1@bacavalley.com

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Alcohol Cravings and Panic Attacks Just the Beginning

“It is a shame the way “trusted’ medical practioners can be so quick to cram drugs down one’s throat. I feel very betrayed.”

 

I was first prescribed Prozac seven years ago, for depression. I was 23, and suddenly on my own with three young children. The Prozac helped me in some ways, brought me out of my depressed seclusion, I was able to get myself dressed in the mornings and resume a somewhat normal life… but very quickly, the state of energetic happiness turned into an almost overnight tango with alcoholism, I found myself craving alcohol, drinking large amounts…becoming sexually promiscuous, making absurdly disastrous decisions and acting quite impulsively. I also experienced the most SEVERE panic attack in my LIFE!!! I quit Prozac after eight months, I don’t recall much withdrawal, except I was being prescribed Xanax for my now constant panic attacks, and I don’t remember much of that period of time.

So, off the Prozac, starting to get quite dependent on Xanax, my doctor thought perhaps Luvox might help. Well, it made me feel quite tightly strung. Wired. Second week into Luvox, I broke into an odd, hysterical laughter that I couldn’t stop. Nothing was funny, it was very strange. I was terrified, stopped Luvox right then and there…without doctor’s consent.

I went back to seeing a psychiatrist, trying to find a way to get off the Xanax…I was taking too many, and it seemed like the rebound effect of the Xanax was causing panic attacks themselves. Plus, I was still on my own, trying to be fully functional for my three children aged, at the time, two, almost four and eight.

“We” decided on Paxil, seemed safe enough, seemed a better alternative to the Xanax zombie state I was currently in. Started at twenty milligrams. Two years. It was great, although, I was gaining weight…developing some strange skin/vein issues and circulation problems in my hands and feet. Nothing that wasn’t somehow underplayed by my doctor. Then, I was unable to afford my prescription anymore. My maid job I had started disentitled me to any more prescription coverage through the Social Services program. Cold turkey. My goodness, it was so awful. I almost lost my job due to my poor performance during the months that followed. The vertigo was the worst for me…feeling like the floor was rushing to my face…the spinning sensation every time I tilted my head, face numbness, hands/feet numb, nausea, so many times I thought I was having a heart- attack.

The depression was horrible. I eventually became unemployed again, went back on Paxil. I couldn’t help it, I felt like perhaps I would never be normal again without an SSRI coursing through my bloodstream. So, back on Paxil.

After a while though, it was apparent that the 20 mg weren’t enough. Up to 30 mg now. Two years on 30mg. A few months ago, I decided that I have had enough, starting to show many signs of Cushing’s disease. Horrible circulation in my hands and feet, and although I am almost fifty pounds overweight, it is low-blood pressure I suffer from. I decided that if I can start making better decisions in life, and try to live healthier, perhaps I will be able to reduce the panic attacks, that thankfully, other than during p.m.s are quite scarce now. I have been cutting down ever so gradually over the past few months. I don’t know how to do it correctly, as I have not discussed this with my doctor. When I had mentioned to my doctor my many physical complaints…weight gain, bad circulation, etc…. and how after research I felt it may be attributed to the Paxil… she refused to consider it. She has sent me for numerous tests, incl. lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral vascular disease…and others, the cortisol testing is the newest one. Everything else has come up normal. I have insisted that these could be contributed to Paxil, so she said, “Fine, perhaps Wellbutrin” and I said, “No, really, I don’t want anymore SSRI type meds…no meds period’!” we had a big argument. I stormed out. That was a few months ago … I still plan on getting my cortisol level tested.

Unfortunately, where I live has a very low percentage of doctors taking patients,,, many strikes going on, etc. Many people don’t even have family physicians… they are forced to use the walk-in clinics. So I haven’t found a new physician.

No matter what, I am staying off this time. I have to. During the periods of time I have been on SSRIs, my drinking increases…promiscuity….impulsive behaviour… although I must say, with Paxil it is MUCH more subtle than Prozac… it really affects your whole being. I am feeling pretty okay right now. Day to day. The numbness/pain in my hands and feet has much improved over the past few months…although, the vertigo is still annoying… I have simply been taking one every other day, then every two days, now one every four.

It is a shame the way “trusted’ medical practioners can be so quick to cram drugs down one’s throat. I feel very betrayed. Pharmaceutical companies must love depression and mental unhealth. It is what causes their great wealth. Thank you.

Shilo Magee

 

8/6/2002

This is Survivor Story number 15.
Total number of stories in current database is 48

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