"SURVIVORS OF PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS: THE FACES OF IATROGENIC HARM"--ANTOINETTE
I believe that "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" (Banksy). For this reason I have embarked in a year-long project to document the lives of "Survivors of Psychiatric Drugs : The Faces of Iatrogenic Harm." I will be painting portraits of some of the survivors of this unrecognized crime against humanity. I thank each and every one of these brave warriors for lending their image to this project and letting me tell their story. Please share if you believe in informed consent in medicine, because the truth is that most are not getting it with disastrous consequences for the individual and the whole of society.
Disclaimer: NEVER cold turkey a medication. Consult your doctor and do your own independent research when starting or discontinuing a medication.
Today I start with this smart, courageous and beautiful mother of 3, Antoinette. This is a watercolor and body color on paper (11"x15")
"In 2002 when I was 19 I was prescribed Celexa for grief and anxiety. I can laugh now that I called this anxiety because it was a normal response to situations that were traumatizing to me at such a young age. I was in the prime of my life, I was young, healthy, active (worked out 5 days a week as had such a calm easy going demeanor). I was so happy going. My career just started as life for me was really good. Because I am so sensitive and empathetic I couldn't shake the emotions of a death that was really close to me. I went to the Dr and was told I had a chemical imbalance that could be fixed by an antidepressant.
Over the course of 10 years I turned into a non functioning 286 lb person who was no longer full of emotions and passion for life. I was depressed and void on these drugs and had no goals or motivation. I hated myself on the meds and made horrible decisions. Was tired and a robot. I thought no matter how I felt that I had to stay on the meds for life because of a chemical imbalance. I had 2 children during this time while on meds and my first born was really sick for the first 6 mos of his life from withdrawal. He had broken bones and we were being accused of abuse and he was taken away for 3 mos. In order to get him back we had to do numerous steps, including passing a lie detector test, if not we could have been sent to prison for child abuse.
In 2012 my insurance would no longer cover Lexapro that I was on at the time. I had been taken off and switched meds numerous times due to tolerance or reactions to other meds. I cold turkeyed and got extremely sick and reinstated 6 weeks later. I ended up suffering an adverse reaction that landed me in the psych ward with akathesia, suicidal urges and thoughts, insomnia, rage, derealization, depression so bad that I felt someone had ripped my soul off my body. It was so chemical in nature and all my symptoms were mental and severe. I did not have one second free from them. I could not sit still and developed severe OCD and lost 62 lbs. I was on the drugs for 6 weeks but getting worse by the minute so had to cold turkey again. The desperation and anguish of all these symptoms has been a nightmare I can't put into words. It was something out of a horror movie, and I was extremely sick. Mentally I had almost every symptom of withdrawal there is.
I am 4 and a half years off Lexapro and although I am much better than the acute days I still have most the symptoms, but to a less degree some days. I have hope this will all go whereas before I didn't have a hope in the world I would recover. It really is hard for me to put into words how much these meds have impacted my life. I just about lost everything I have including my life. I lost my career, life savings, dignity, mind, health and most importantly I have been too sick to take care and enjoy my kids the way a normal mom should. That is something I will never get back and I grieve. I hope the next couple of years will bring full healing.
Love and peace,