Mental Wealth Mastery Summit - opening a very important conversation around the future of psychiatry
Last week I attended the virtual Mental Wealth Mastery Summit which ran from November 19, 22-24th and proved to be an incredibly enlightening experience.
The online event was hosted by psychiatrists Dr Suraj Gogoi and Dr Rani Bora and included a range of fascinating interviews with various professionals from the field of psychology and psychiatry.
It was the first time since starting to share my psychiatric nightmare story that I felt as though I was finally with the right people; those who truly understand where I’m coming from in terms of iatrogenic (or doctor-driven) harm from traditional psychiatric medications and the problems we’re facing with the current approach to treating mental health and illness.
The Summit was exactly what we need right now to open up the conversation and it covered a diverse range of interesting and important topics – the whole thing was truly incredible.
This wonderful group of critical thinkers aren’t afraid to challenge the current approaches and they do this by working with their patients some of whom are also passionate about instigating a wave of change in our understanding and approach to mental healthcare as we go forward.
And I for one am with them all the way.
NICE guidelines change for GP’s and prescribing
An uncanny coincidence occurred during the conference when it was announced in the press last Tuesday that the NICE guidelines for prescribing antidepressants have been changed. See Guardian article:
For those that don’t know ‘NICE’ stands for The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence which is an independent organisation set up in this country to decide which drugs and treatments should be available on the NHS.
The guidelines for GP’s are now NOT to prescribe antidepressants in the first instance when treating mild cases of depression which is absolutely right because these medications can so often worsen a patient’s condition and even cause mental illness.
For anyone who doubts this I’ve added a succinct video which I’ve included before on this blog by Dr Kelly Brogan. This is what she has to say:
I realise this will be a lot for any newcomers to get their heads around but there’s more, because the other thing to point out is that ‘mild’ depression isn’t really a thing at all!!
What everyone needs to understand is that:
There is depression - a catastrophic mental illness which cripples the sufferer completely and causes complete disruption to their daily functioning and then there is sadness - which is PART OF THE NORMAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
The two things are incomparable.
And this is the point – can we please wake up and stop treating people displaying ‘symptoms’ of natural human emotions and feelings with dangerous and harmful drugs?
When are we going to wake up and stop medicating normal?!
Did the pandemic really cause an increase in mental health problems?
There’s something else I need to point out now…
Mental ‘health’ and mental illness are two completely different things. One is what’s called ‘part of being human’ and the other one is killing people – we have got to stop mixing them up!
This is important because all we have heard throughout the pandemic is that people are isolated and lonely and miserable etc, etc. But (although in some cases this can lead to problems) this is NOT necessarily mental illness.
I can say this because ALL of my mental illness troop who suffer from severe bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, anorexia, personality disorder, etc, etc, ALL said that the pandemic was GREAT for them as it reduced the pressure involved in having to push themselves to socialise and interact.
I absolutely agree with this because the pandemic was a wonderful opportunity for me to go back to the basics, to simplify everything and spend months working on self-development, confidence and recovery.
There’s a big difference between ‘being sad and lonely’ and having a debilitating and life-threatening mental illness – so can we please stop mixing these up?!
Education is needed in bucketfuls!
The summit started with a screening of the film ‘Medicating Normal’ which follows the stories of three patients as they share their experiences of ‘treatment’ with psychiatric drugs.
Although heartbreakingly sad, to be honest, these patient accounts did not surprise me in the least since I have also been subjected to the same catastrophic side effects & withdrawal problems, seen my career obliterated, lost every relationship I’ve ever had, and suffered brutally at the hands of these psychotropic medications.
The losses and trauma that some of us are being subjected to is truly horrifying which is why it is a comfort to know that there are psychiatrists out there who really understand the problems and who are prepared to open a discussion about how to best help people as psychiatry moves forward.
The reality of psychiatric research
The part of the film that I found most enlightening was the explanation of how the research papers are conducted which are supposed to assess the efficacy and safety of these drugs.
The example they used was the benzodiazepine drug Xanax (alprazolam) which, when it was trialled, did show a positive effect on the reduction of anxiety for the first four weeks, but after which the effect reversed significantly with those on Xanax experiencing massively increased rates of anxiety.
These terrifying findings were never reported. The focus was purely on the initial positive result.
I have to say, the whole thing is very disconcerting, especially for me, since in my own case the ‘research’ paper that was written after the DISASTEROUS ketamine infusions that nearly killed me seems to have gone missing too..
The further you go down the rabbit hole the more frightening it gets…. Is it any wonder that people like myself have zero confidence in the medical profession anymore?!
At the very least we need to be informing our patients of the pros and cons of taking psychotropic medications so that they can make a balanced and educated decision before deciding to take them. But as I know, this just isn’t happening, something which Prof David Cohen explains in the following video.
Professor David Cohen
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not a fan of psychiatric medications.
There have been so many nightmare reactions, side effects, disasters, cockups, and even hospitalisations because of them, that I would never take a traditional psychiatric medication ever again.
There is a bit of a caveat here which needs mentioning because although I am vehemently opposed to the use of mainstream meds, I do still believe that there is a biological basis to depression and bipolar disorder. See here for details!
This is important because so many of these people were on the original medication for a reason – i.e. to combat their existing mental illness – so they really need an alternative approach if they are going to be withdrawing from these medications.
The other thing to mention before I go any further is that whatever anyone reads in this article – please, please NEVER go cold-turkey on any psychiatric medication. You may well be right in your decision to withdraw as so many of these drugs have adverse effects, but it is often in the withdrawal stages that the horrifying problems occur. Believe me – I know all about this – I’ve had some horrendous experiences when withdrawing so please take this warning very seriously and cut down VERY gradually.
This is slightly where the conference was lacking, because, although amazing, there were two bits of important information missing which I think are worth mentioning before I go on.
Although there was a little bit mentioned in the showing of the film ‘Medicating Normal’ which was aired right at the beginning of the conference, there really wasn’t anything said about how to withdraw safely from these medications.
I know exactly why this is and it’s because there is no research into how to do it safely. This is because no one has a vested interest in paying to conduct the research!
The drug companies certainly aren’t going to be interested, and the majority of doctors still believe that their patients are better off on these things long-term (although opinion is massively changing here thank God).
Anyway, the point is that with so little information, the advice is going to have to come from those who have direct experience of psych drug withdrawal like yours truly, in combination with as much collaborative research as possible.
I will be writing a detailed post in the future about my NIGHTMARE battle to withdraw from the antipsychotic quetiapine (which I found by far the hardest of all of them to get off) but so that people have some information already I’m just going to share what I know about withdrawal.
A psychiatrist actually reached out to me after one of my posts on here and asked me what my withdrawal protocol was. When I told her she said it was spot on with what she would recommend which is:
“A ten percent cut of each new dose every two to four weeks.”
This sounds fine BUT (another important caveat) – EVERYONE is still going to be different.
Also, there is no specific advice for individual drugs even though (as I know myself) some are much harder to withdraw from than others.
They are all a nightmare to get off, but the class of drug that is most difficult to withdraw from is the antipsychotics.
For these I would say to start with the ten percent cut of each new dose and judge the withdrawal rate based on symptoms as you come down.
My finding was that every cut was difficult, but it was the last few milligrams that were the hardest.
I was desperate to rid myself of quetiapine, so I continued to cut – but I suffered badly, and the risk of relapse from compromised sleep and headaches was huge.
With hindsight, I would recommend cutting as little as 1mg a month, certainly for the last 10mg and perhaps even at previous doses for some people too.
It is horrifying to think that it may take several months or years to safely withdraw from these things but honestly it is the only way.
Please take caution and please be responsible. If you are supporting someone who is withdrawing, firstly accept that they know that it is the right thing to do and secondly, make serious allowances for them as they withdraw as the process is not easy at all.
For those who want accurate dose cuts and haven’t got the patience to spend hours shaving milligrams off their current pills, there was a service mentioned in the Summit which provides tapering strips to help you to safely withdraw.
This can be found at www.taperingstrip.org which I would highly recommend checking out.
There were far too many points raised by the numerous speakers who shared their knowledge with us on the summit to start dissecting more today.
But, what I have done is to painstakingly spend HOURS and HOURS documenting everything in a combined self-help/memoir of survival and RECOVERY from severe bipolar disorder.
This needs to reach people immediately!
It is literally THE HOLY GRAIL of MENTAL ILLNESS, but I can’t find a publisher!
There must be a decent publisher out there who isn’t going to expect me to start paying to publish when I’ve already survived the impossible and spent all my savings on private medical fees to get off the failed drugs and get better???!! Surely!!
If anyone knows one please put them in touch. You can contact me through the home page of this site.
My aim is to set up a charity which will enable people to immediately access private treatment. In the first instance a percentage of each book sale will go into the charity and then I want to do my fundraising challenge, publish this blog, write the next book and get on with saving some lives!
Please get in touch if you can help in either a PR, literary agent, or publisher capacity!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,
If you would like to know more about how to get involved with Drs Rani and Suraj you can access their website here www.drsranisuraj.com