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I cannot thank my family doctor enough for never ending concern about the size of my breast

MY TRANSITION FROM CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT OF
MENTAL HEALTH TO AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
This story is about my transition from conventional treatment for severe depression after my divorce. I was prescribed various Antidepressants, Benzodiazepams and SSRI’s to provide me with relief, but the side effects after long term use were serious enough for me to explore an alternative approach. This undertaking was a long and rigorous journey that involved taking variety of vitamins to treat and prevent my depression. I also changed my diet, and exercised daily as a tool to improve my mental health. I practiced yoga and used acupuncture to reduce my stress and ease my anxiety. I cannot thank my family doctor enough for his never ending concern about the size of my breast. It was during my annual checkup in March 2002 he told me that the size of my breast was very abnormal for a man. He told his secretary to book a mammography test at the Toronto East General Hospital because he said that some old Tricyclic Antidepressants like Doxepin, also known as Sinequan, can cause significant breast enlargement. After a period of high anxiety while waiting for the result, l received a phone call from my family physician that everything was ok. He stressed the need that l be monitored by an oncologist. This painful experience triggered in me these fundamental questions? Were all these medications I have been taking for many years the source of a much bigger problem? Confused and very concerned, l spoke to two Houselink staff workers. One of and gave me the name of a book called “YOUR DRUG MAY BE YOUR PROBLEM: How and why to stop taking psychiatric Medications” by Peter R. Breggin, MD and David Cohen, PhD. Needless to say this book became one of the most important l have ever read. I started to catalogue and research every single Benzodiazepam, TCA, SSRI and Neuroleptic that l had been prescribed in the past decade. What l found made me sick, angry and baffled. The second part of my research was focused on finding a natural product known to be effective as alternative treatment to depression and other forms of mental illness. My daily diet in the context of the orthomolecular aspect was also very important. The term "orthomolecular" was used for the first time in 1968 by Linus Pauling in his Science report called "Orthomolecular Psychiatry" It’s basically a nutritional approach in balancing body Chemistry through Diet, Nutrition and Exercise. I stopped drinking caffeine, soft drinks, such as Coke and stopped eating junk food. Yoga exercise and Acupuncture played a very important part in maintaining my mental health. In October 2002 l began taking 13 different types of vitamins for eight weeks before l actually started to reduce my 300mg daily dosage of Doxepin. By the end of October my determination to free myself from the maze of psychiatric medications was irreversible. I spoke to my family physician and my psychiatrist. Both were skeptical. Their main concern was for my health because the odds of discontinuing Doxepin after long-term use were almost impossible and dangerous. I told my psychiatrist that l was fully aware of these risks. l was convinced that failure to try a different approach could also be detrimental to my health. He gave me my monthly prescription of Doxepin in 50mg capsules instead of the usual 100mg capsules. The week l actually began to decrease my daily dosage to 250mg of Doxepin will go down as one of the most hellish weeks I will remember for the rest of my life. I remained with that dosage for three weeks followed by another decrease of 50mg for three weeks to 200mg with less severe side effects but experienced nightmares. I decreased my dosage again by 50mg to 150mg for two more weeks and then 100mg for three weeks. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms was at this point very low. Remember that Doxepin contains almost 40% sedative, so my sleeping pattern was reduced from 12hrs a day to six hrs. To me this was a trade off l was willing to take at any cost. The last 60 days were relatively very easy to continue in terms of side effects. After decreasing to 100mg for three weeks, l decreased to 50mg for 1 month and 25 mg for two weeks and then took a dosage every other day for five weeks. This story is not an advocacy to people who are on conventional psychiatric medications for whatever illness to stop taking them. l do not believe making that case will be right ethically or morally. I am simply trying to explain the best way l can what happened to me and how I over came it. If by talking about my story will help even one single survivor in their own quest for understanding some untold implications of the medications they are taking, it will be worth a World to me. I recently participated this summer in a meeting held at Toronto City Hall, organized by The Ontario Recovery Campaign (ORC). I emphasized during my ten minute presentation how important education and knowledge concerning medications are paramount in the quest for recovery. I am also talking about this ordeal to stress the importance of greater communication and openness between the survivor, their Psychiatrist and the full support of whatever network they depend upon, unless privacy matters stipulate otherwise. Another reason I am talking about this is because l did not even know before l began doing my research, that many Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) are truly effective only for a few weeks, enough time to pass whatever crisis someone is going through. This opinion does not apply to all cases. I would like to express my deepest and immeasurable gratitude to Houselink
supportive worker’s Ruth Bockner and Sandra Russell for their critical help.
Without them l would have never been able to achieve this endeavor alone.
Mental illness is not a life sentence. People can and do fully recover from
even the most severe forms.

Youssef Camara

Source: http://www.familymentalhealthrecovery.org/conference/handouts/Workshop%208/15YOUS~A.pdf

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