Big, Difficult, and Terrifying, But Still "Just Feelings"

It has been eight months since I began getting off of psychiatric drugs, and I have been drug-free for six months. (I'd been taking drugs for nearly six years.)

At the end of May I attended my first RC workshop after stopping the drugs. Since then I have been to three additional workshops, have led a support group on "mental health" liberation, and am currently assistant-teaching a fundamentals class. Being able to lead in RC was my initial inspiration for getting off the drugs and has been an increasingly important motivation for remaining free of them.

Every few weeks the old pattern of hopelessness and wanting to give up engulfs me. When I'm in the grip of the painful emotion, it appears just as big and powerful as ever. However, I am now sometimes able to reach out to a Co-Counselor while in the midst of it. This is new for me -- to experience feelings of hopelessness and desperation, express them, and make it through to the other side. It took a lot of discharging to get to this point of not believing that the pattern is reality and disbelieving it enough to reach through it to another human being. I had to trust that someone could hear what felt too awful to tell anyone.

Not talking about what is happening for me in the midst of recorded distress has been a part of the distress recording itself. Early in life, when I tried to express strong feelings, I ran up against people who couldn't listen. The resulting distress recording tells me that these feelings are too terrible to tell to anyone.

Many people are not able to stay lovingly attentive in the face of "hysterical" outbursts and talk of suicide. Societal conditioning against discharge makes people fearful of it and unable to understand that the outcome of discharge is good. My feeling that my distress was too dangerous to deal with was reinforced by my parents, friends, doctors, and therapists. The whole society colludes in keeping such patterns in place.

For me the cycle could only be broken by someone listening in a relaxed and caring way -- someone who could convey that it is finally safe. I found the safety to begin "digging out" when I could see that someone believed that I was really okay and that what was happening to me was just feelings -- big, difficult, and terrifying, but still "just feelings."

These feelings are what I tried to repress or avoid by taking psychiatric drugs. I am proud to say that I have stopped using the drugs. I have looked the pattern in the face and survived!

Anne Marie Piche
Berkeley, California, USA

Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07