Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I didn't know where my solution was

or even where to look

I hung onto this

As long as I don't give up...


If you'll read in my "About Susan" and other pages, you'll notice that I don't adhere much to the traditional model of psychiatry, therapy or "illness" - anymore.

But I used to.


And in that commitment what I realized is that every time the "diagnosis" changed over those nearly 2 decades - I "became" whatever it was that they - the doctors, therapists...the "providers" and "professionals" told me I was.

And in hindsight - each time the doctor would change the diagnosis, she would (faithfully) ask me if I agreed with it. And faithfully I would nod my head and say "yes".

With the hope that perhaps...just maybe....this time she would find that "magic pill" - or rather combination of the many pills I took - that would make me happy, confident...courageous enough to somehow just "get over" the demons that rumbled through my brain and taunted me in my thoughts 24/7.

And while she never did find that "right combination" for me - no magic pill to take away the depression that immobilized me or the sadness that seemed to envelop me and follow me like a faithful puppy or end the anxiety that had earned me the label "agoraphobic"...or the "personality disorders" that said I was defective from the "core" of my being...

I found my way - in spite of it all.

And it began with a knowing, a trusting, a belief that if I kept putting one foot in front of the other, seeking my own answers instead of waiting to be "fixed" or "taken care of"...

That I would win.

And while that sounds "easy" the same time I had to figure out how to use the resources - the same doctors and therapists - who continued to try to fit me into their box of "ill".

And I kept going, in spite of theirs and others repeated efforts to get me to continue to try to find that "magic pill". As they and others kept telling me that I needed "meds" and therapy for the rest of my life...that my emotions were broken, my thoughts were muddled and "wrong" somehow...

And I realized through it all that while the intentions were good...the advice they were giving me kept me dependent on them and the "meds" to cope and manage my thoughts and emotions and ultimately my behavior as the "meds" kept my mind dull and my emotions flat.

And today - I have become my own best resource and advocate. Today I live free of dependence on others to direct, orchestrate or coordinate or medicate my life to the standards that others have set for me.

Today I run my own race and today I can honestly say that I have won - not because I found that "magic pill"...

But because I realized that I could learn to recognize the deeply ingrained and silent beliefs that fueled the tormenting thoughts that fed the roller coaster ride of emotions that in turn motivated the behaviors of "acting out" and "acting in" that can result in the label "mentally ill".

And I learned how to grieve the past that tormented me and found freedom...

And peace.

I hope you'll join me here each week as I blog about and share my journey from "illness" to "wellness"...and on Blog Talk Radio the first Thursday of each month as I do my best to share the information that offered me the awareness that empowered me to travel this journey of self discovery, hope and healing.



Melissa Mashburn said...

I think the attitude and thought process of I Will Win is a good one. It is encouraging and empowering.

The only thing that gives me pause is your discussion of a non medication approach to your recovery. I have no doubt that it was successful for you, especially since it seems there was not a proper med mix that worked for you. Do you advocate everyone take a non medicated approach, or do you advocate people doing what works best for them?

One other thing you said kind of got my back up...When you discuss about your lack of dependence on medications and mental health workers it almost seems to me that you are saying that you feel that being dependent on those things and people is a bad thing. I could also be reading too much into what you have written.

I freely admit I am dependent upon those people and meds. I believe I would still be in a psychiatric hospital if I was not. I also realize that at some point that I am going to have to become less dependent on the people who are helping me. The meds are something different. When I think about how I was before my med mix was figure out and how I am now, I am more than willing to take those meds to keep from getting back to that other place.

I hope my questions and comments did not come out hostile in anyway. Your post was thought provoking and those are the thoughts I had.

Susan said...

Thanks Melissa! I appreciate your support and kind words!

And I think that the best way for me to answer is to say that there is no black and white answer - other than when we focus on the differences ie your chosen path/my chosen path - we don't get to see the good stuff in between.

So - I truly appreciate your comment and respect your choices and this post and my blog is not about advocating for or against using psychotropic drugs; it's about doing my best to share the light that I found that brought me from "there" to "here"....the journey I have been on, the experiences I've had, the awareness I found....the life that I have chosen for myself and how I did it.

Out of that my wish, hope and desire is that my writing might cause others to ask their own questions and their own solutions to create the life they choose to create for themselves each day.

This is what I have on my "About this blog" page:

"This blog and these resources are meant to be fuel that might encourage you to think, ask questions, find your own answers and hopefully support you as you walk your path and create your own best life which is in the simplest terms - the life you choose for yourself each day!"

And I'd like to invite you to read my "disclaimer" page if you are inclined to do so.

I do understand that those who may drop by here may have different life experiences as well as different opinions. My position is to always respect that and not to attempt to influence or change that...while remaining true to my own beliefs and choices while trying to convey a message of hope and empowerment.

So gracias for boldly asking your questions and sharing your opinion, Melissa; I hope I've been able to answer/reply to your comment in a way that makes sense and honors your comment(s)

I'm truly thrilled to know that you found this post to be empowering and that it is possible for us to walk beside one another, support one another and focus on the things that can take us where we want to go while respecting one another's choices and honoring our differences.

Melissa Mashburn said...

I am so thankful that you saw my questions and comments in the way I meant them.

Woundedgenius said...

What a wonderful post! (as always)

The most important thing someone has said to me this year (when I was doubting my diagnosis) was "it doesnt matter what the diagnosis is.. it matters that you are getting treatment that helps you .. no matter what that treatment is"

For me its therapy and no drugs, for others its other combinations. I guess everyone has to find their own balance of whatever works for them.

I think for me staying off meds is a control issue. They are not something I want to be dependent on though I'll happily admit to being dependent on therapy. But somehow I see that as more "real" because it is a human relationship rather than a chemical fix. But equally, one that one day I will no longer need.. I hope..

My point is ... its a f*cking long journey no matter where you are on it. As I discovered recently, the most important thing is surrounding yourself with people who can keep you positive and moving forward.

Much love


ps. I shall now post something short and full of profanity on Twitter to offset this rather lengthy comment.

James Clayton said...

Powerful and inspiring. Thanks for stirring me up. I Will Win! :)

Sheri said...

Wonderful, very inspiring.

Susan said...

WG - great comment....and of course I am still ROFL at the last sentence! I look forward to your tweets in my feed today:) *off I go a chucking and laughing* all the way:)

You light up my life - in a not so sappy way:)

Susan said...

James - thanks for dropping by today! Great to see you! And so glad to see that I've done my job - and I agree! You. Will. Win!

Sherry - nice to "meet" you! Do stop by again!

Susan said...

PS - Melissa - I wanted to say thank you again for bringing your questions up....very valid points you make and questions others may have as well. Thank you for being a part of the conversation and I always enjoy seeing you!

Kristin said...

Having been in the trenches trying to find relief for my daughter, I have observed every kind of therapy/drug combo available. I have seen few long-lasting results from drug therapy but some very powerful changes from the hard work of psychotherapy. Drug therapy requires a life-long commitment to the drugs. This, in turn, produces chronic symptoms. There will have to be constant adjustments made to the drugs as they lose their efficacy and either dosage or the meds themselves will have to be changed to keep performance up. And, because the drugs have messed with the chemical receptors in the brain, there will always be side effects.
Granted, most people would prefer to go the psych drug route because it is the medical model that is recommended by the APA and NAMI and nearly every psychiatrist in the country. But, it is important to note that drug therapy is NOT the first course of treatment in other countries.
What Susan is doing is not mainstream and is not written in textbooks as a advised alternative approach. But, there are many people who have decided to follow Susan's path. And, they have won their lives back. Slowly, painstakingly but it does happen.
I am a recent convert. Before we began our search throughout the country for treatment for our daughter, I believed in the mental healthcare paradigm that most people follow in the US. My daughter spent years in hospitals and treatment centers in the US and I began to perceive the mental healthcare system as being broken but I didn't know why. Then, I read Robert Whitaker's book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, and it opened my eyes.
I have a friend whose life spun out of control and after a series of horrible panic attacks and sleepless nights, she was put on a course of benzos and antidepressants. Whew. She got her life back. Fast. Now, I wonder if she had buckled down and done psychotherapy, if she wouldn't have to be looking at a slow taper off the drugs and a possible backlash of symptoms down the road.
What I am saying it that it is very scary to be in a crisis and have only talk to rely on. We all want a quick fix to take away the worst of the symptoms but maybe in the long run, it isn't really all that efficient and the life-long addiction to the meds is, in fact, an impairment to living a full and meaningful life.

Kristin said...
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Kristin said...
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Kristin said...

All those deletes were me. Google thought I'd made too long a comment and told me that it was rejected but apparently it wasn't. I kept persevering and it kept posting.

Susan said...

Thanks Kristin:) Blogger has been having some issues lately!

And thank you for your impassioned and heartfelt comment. It would be great if the option was at least offered..."do you want to do the hard emotional work" but I think thats were alternative therapies come it right now as it really isn't even given as an option.

Good to see you and thank you for sharing - your support and encouragement are so validating to me and what I do. :)

Patricia Singleton said...

I love what you said here. You explain my feelings about thoughts of suicide and why I never gave into that mind set. If I ever committed suicide that would mean that my abusers won and I could never let that happen. By doing as you have done and becoming my own best resource, I win, not my abusers.

I believe that today's medical profession relies too much on medicines. They are so often too quick to prescribe a pill rather than listen to what their patients are telling them and using that information to find a cure. That is just my opinion. I have never had a mental diagnosis or label but my sister does. She obediently takes their pills and continues to struggle. She sleeps so much of her life away because of those pills. No one wants to listen.

Kristin said...

What if all of those doctors prescribing pills had been taught how to listen to their patients? Instead, these doctors spend ten-fifteen minutes asking what effect the drugs are having on their patients. Then, recognizing dwindling appointment time, they quickly tweak the prescriptions.
In this too brief appointment, nothing really has changed except false hope has been invested in pharmaceuticals. But, this is the medical model that is most accepted in the States right now.
Back to my original thought, if doctors listened to their patients, they would eventually get to the core of the problem - abuse, a negative mind-set, black and white thinking - and might be able to make some significant changes in their patients' lives.
xx kris

Susan said...

You are so right, Patricia; I hung onto the idea for a long time that "the best revenge was success"...I was determined to not give the perpetrators in my life the satisfaction of watching me give up.

I agree on your comment about "MI"...and my hope is that someway someday we can see that folks receive full and complete disclosure that the other option of choosing to do the hard emotional work is required to be offered....unfortunately, under the current biophysical paradigm I don't see that happening.

Patricia Singleton said...

Kristin, I look forward to the day when doctors return to listening to their patients instead of just medicating them to keep them quiet. I had one doctor tell me that I read too much and asked too many questions. After he charged me more for each question that I asked, I quit going to him. It is my mind and my body, of course, I am going to ask questions.

Susan said...

Patricia - good for you!