This is an interview with health coach and mental health advocate Chaya Grossberg. She can be reached at www.medfree.solutions.
Q: When were you first diagnosed with “mental illness” and how did the medical profession treat it?
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was about 16 and I was given Prozac. Later on when I was 20 I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression again and forced onto many different pharmaceuticals as well as force hospitalized.
Q: What prompted you to break free of pharmaceuticals and move to a natural approach?
I never really believed in pharmaceuticals as an approach for emotional suffering. So the first time I was on psychiatric drugs when I was on Prozac as a teenager I think I just had an intuitive feeling that I didn’t want to be on it anymore, and I just stopped taking it. Later on I when I was older I knew more about the pharmaceutical industry and a little bit about the mental health system, still not very much, but enough to know that I didn’t want to be hospitalized or put on any drugs.
So when I was put on drugs I went off cold turkey as soon as I could. As soon as I was out of the hospital and didn’t have anyone forcing me to take them I just stopped taking them. But this time they were more heavy duty drugs like neuroleptics and benzodiazepines so I had severe withdrawal effects without knowing.
Then I was put on a whole bunch more drugs and after a while I didn’t know what was going on and I started to believe that I actually had these mental illnesses and that I would need to be on these drugs for the rest of my life as I was told. So what inspired me to get off of them and try a natural approach was that I heard others share about their experiences.
I happened to be walking down the street in Northampton, Massachusetts when there was a speak out going on and individuals were talking about how they had stopped taking psychiatric drugs and how they had recovered from the damage that they had caused. This inspired me to realize that I too could come off of these drugs. I had always been interested in natural health alternatives, and it was only when I was on these pharmaceuticals that I lost my will, motivation and drive to take good care of my body.
Q: What resources did you use in your healing journey?
I used many resources to recover my health from psychiatric drugs including writing, meditation, support groups with other psychiatric survivors, yoga, nutrition, exercise, telling my story publicly, and finding a renewed purpose in helping others who were going through something like what I had gone through. I continue to use these tools as well as helping others through my business, consulting with people who are coming off psychiatric drugs and looking for alternatives.
Over the years I’ve done lots of blogging, public speaking and videos to spread the message to others, to give them hope, and to spread awareness about the misinformation that’s out there concerning psychiatric drugs and mental health diagnoses.
Four years ago I started my own business teaching and consulting with individuals and families were going through psychiatric drug withdrawal. I also offer intuitive readings, which is one of the gifts that was hidden in my experiences that got labeled psychosis.
Before I started my own business I had many other jobs including teaching yoga, leading support groups, working as a community organizer, working at a warm line, and offering many other holistic health supports.
Q: What advice would you give to others who want to taper off medications?
My advice for those wanting to taper off of psychiatric medications would be to go slowly, get support, take good care of your body, find others who have gone through a similar experience, do as much research as you can, and learn about herbs that are in a class called nervines.
Most importantly for those coming off psychiatric drugs is education of family members and friends so they will support your decision. I encourage you to continue asking for help, to continue reaching out, to use social media and the Internet, as well as in person resources such as finding a local naturopath and herbalist who can support you.
It’s also important to avoid and limit contact with those were overly invested in your diagnosis and your “treatment.” Having to deal with other people’s misinformation, projections and anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles people encounter in coming off psychiatric drugs.
One last thing that I would recommend for anyone coming off psychiatric drugs and choosing to see their situation in an alternative way is to find the strength and gift in whatever it was they got them labeled with a mental illness in the first place.