A Multitude of Recoveries Through Alternative Mental Health Treatments
I am truly passionate about my experience and the work that Safe Harbor is doing. It is such a gift that so many people are gathering and are beginning to network and meet one another. One of the things that was very painful for me for almost half my life was feeling like I was alone and that there was something really different and wrong with me. Mental illness in this country has a stigma attached to it and when you are diagnosed as being a personality disorder or some type of mental illness there is a secrecy and a shame attached to that. When I began to discover the reality of the nature of mental illness and how the symptoms occur and the causes behind the symptoms I started to get really angry about it. I got really angry that I had spent so much of my life being ashamed of myself because shame is a very powerful thing and it is deep inside your spirit and it can drive you to some very bad places. I see this now in the adolescent population in our country -- that is one of my really passionate areas -- that we are doing this to our children now. There is this stigma attached to it now, even with our kids. My story is I was diagnosed as a schizophrenic when I was 14 years old. I was hearing voices and suffering delusions and I would come in and out of states of illusion and discover that I had done very strange things. The more the situation progressed the more I became ashamed and very intent on people not finding out. What happened was I discovered that drinking alcohol was like self medicating. Somehow when I drank enough alcohol I could get through. And I don’t believe in the concept of alcoholism as a disease and I want to really put that out there strongly because there is a belief in our society that alcoholism is a disease and I don’t believe it. I believe it is a chemical process. Addiction is a process. What happened to me was I eventually drank so heavily that I now realize I was self medicating. When I was 35 years old I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and I got sober. They did teach me how to not drink. But they also told me that there was something wrong with me that only prayer and certain rituals would cure. So I did those rituals and I threw myself into Alcoholics Anonymous. I continue to stay grateful that they were there to go to because I did not know how to stop drinking and they did teach me to do that. However, the time came in my sobriety where the mental illness returned with a vengeance. And I became totally non functional. Two weeks would go by and I couldn’t get out of bed. Then another two weeks I would spend just doing insanity things, like the energy things, just like crazy - schizophrenic, bipolar, whatever they want to term it. Once I took away the alcohol what happened was the condition had progressed to a degree. One of the things AA told me is that I wasn’t doing a good program and I started to feel that shame again. And I knew there was something else going on and I knew it intuitively. I went to a psychiatrist at the urging of my OB/GYN. And they put me on Zoloft. What happened was I took 25 mg of Zoloft and within 2 hours I felt like I was floating outside of my body. And within 4 hours I was standing on a balcony contemplating jumping because it made perfect sense to me. It made absolute sense to me. And this was what was happening to me when I was cycling on my PMDD when my progesterone levels were crashing. I would sit there and think about and make plans of how I was going to kill myself and it made sense. That is the frightening thing about mental illness -- it makes sense at the time. When you’re inside of it suicide is completely logical. And then you come out of it and you are horrified and you are terrified. So I went to the psychiatrist and I said “Why am I talking Zoloft?” She said, “Because we have to manage your symptoms.” I said, “Well how does it work? Why am I having these symptoms?” She said, “Well, let’s manage the symptoms and we’ll get to that later…” And I said, “How do these things work?” She said, “We don’t really understand how they work. After I almost committed suicide I said that is not a good enough answer! I started to research because another person suggested to me that possibly I had premenstrual syndrome to an exaggerated degree. A condition known as PMDD. I started to research alcohol and PMDD and I kept seeing the same brain chemicals and physical attributes mentioned in two different forms of research. I said there is a connection here. Then I started my own research and I started to see that the progesterone level was very relevant to mental symptoms -- the swinging and the schizophrenia and the bipolar and the suicide. I found a doctor who gave me natural progesterone. Not the cream, because that is like spitting on a forest fire. I needed heavy duty large doses of progesterone -- natural progesterone. So I started using it and I cannot tell you the difference it made in my life. I started to even out. And I started to think about other things like amino acids and hormone levels and amino acids in the brain. I began experimenting with nutrients and amino acids to improve my mental health further. To conclude, what I want to tell you is that this was not an easy path. But by doing my own research I found a way to balance myself it took two years of experimentation because I did not know there were people out there doing this work. And like I said I was very ashamed for a long time. But the fact is I somehow came up with a way to balance my own chemistry. Today I take amino acids and I use natural progesterone religiously. I take a vitamin B complex. I take omegas (oils like in fish oil), vitamin E and other things. From a person who couldn’t get out of bed and would go between not getting out of bed and committing suicide to becoming very violent, I am a high functioning person today and the thing I am very excited and passionate about is sharing the message with other people and especially adolescents. So thanks Safe Harbor for what you are doing.