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I was 19 when I first came to AA in Manassas, Virginia. It was a total accident. With no direction in my life, I told my one friend that I wanted to die. I had no idea that really I just needed to stop drinking.

He said, “I use to go to something called ‘AA meetings’ and they sit around the tables and talk about their problems.” I practically leaped across the table demanding he find a meeting that night, of which he did. The people were kind and welcoming and as I sat listening to them, a feeling of belonging swept over me.

“After a few years of sobriety, I began having traumatic memories of growing up. “Seek outside help”…. they say in meetings.”

They spoke about what I was feeling and thinking. How could they know me that well? Clearly they I understood their language. I went back the next day, and the next. I did what was suggested: get a sponsor, work the steps, and go to meetings. I had a white light spiritual experience and met God.

After a few years of sobriety, I began having traumatic memories of growing up. “Seek outside help”…. they say in meetings. So I went to a counselor who referred me to a psychiatrist, who put me on Prozac. I had discovered ACOA meetings at that time and desperately wanted to heal from my past. But instead I was given the message that “there’s something so wrong with me that I needed medicine to fix it.”

I was a good patient. I took meds as prescribed, thinking they would enhance my recovery and help me to better function, as the professionals told me they would. I loved the 12 step programs and was committed for life. I continued meetings and kept making sincere efforts to do the next right thing.

But while on meds, I was actually numb and disconnected from myself and other people, unlike ever before. I couldn’t have worded it that way at the time, since I seemed to be functioning very well. The white light within me went out. Never suspecting it was the meds, I kept taking them while trying to work the program, except I was different now. The world around me was different. The spark of fellowship, joy and hope was gone. No matter how many meetings I’d go to, I could never seem to get it back, despite living a productive life. Being around people became uncomfortable and I began isolating more.

In my late twenties, as a single mother, I moved out west with my baby girl to South West Colorado to start a new life. I had come off meds while pregnant and nursing, sensing they would harm her. I began working and later went to college full time. The anxiety from all this stress began interfering with my sleep. I went to a doctor for help and asked him not to give me anything addictive. He gave me Ativan, a benzodiazepine (of which I’d not heard of before).

“After a total of about twenty years on various meds, I lost my health, my career, and my daughter.”

A few months later, I went back to him to say it seemed addictive and asked if he could prescribe something else. He then switched to Xanax and Ambien. After taking benzos for a total of about four years (always as prescribed), I developed Alzheimer-like symptoms (major cognitive decline). I finally realized the drug was the problem and tapered off in about three months. (Disclaimer: Coming off a benzo cold turkey or too fast is not advised and could be extremely dangerous).

I had no idea of the damaging effects of benzos and other psychiatric medications. After a total of about twenty years on various meds, I lost my health, my career, and my daughter. It wasn’t until I was completely off all meds in 2011, did I finally begin to recover.

As I look back now, I see the drug-hazed spell I was under. On meds, I lost myself and relationships and became someone I didn’t know. Now, about six years off, I am finding my true self again. I have come full circle from the initial attempt to recover from childhood trauma to feeling emotionally alive again. I got derailed while seeking “outside help” into the dark, empty abyss of psychiatry and barely escaped with my life.

Now that I am completely drug-free and filled with the Spirit again, I am healing not only from old traumas, but also the trauma of psychiatry that hijacked two decades of my life. Now I am just me and my mind is my own.


For further information follow these links:

Dr. Peter Breggin:

Laura Delano:

Robert Whitaker:

Monica Cassini:




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