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Healing

Shame, guilt, regret, and self-criticism

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Healing

We are designed to learn from our experience. We're not born knowing everything. There is an infinite amount to learn. We can only ever act based on incomplete knowledge. We have strong feelings and strong needs. And so we do things that we later regret. This cannot be avoided. It is a part of being human.

 

There is a global pandemic of shame, guilt, and self-criticism. We are all vulnerable to it. We all need to feel good about ourselves and feel that others approve of us. That's universal.

 

Some of us were raised in families where, unfortunately, shaming, guilt-tripping, and criticism were used a lot, so we have to deal with this even more. Big Pharma, and the advertising industry take advantage of this human need, and make a profit from it. Everyone is somewhere on a path of recovery of dealing with this.

 

Illness of any kind tends to make these feelings worse, because when you're ill, you're not functioning in line with norms and expectations. "I should be getting better faster." "I shouldn't have gotten sick in the first place." "I must deserve punishment and that's why this happened." "I'm not handling this as well as other people."

 

And then, you add the fact that *our* particular illness involves temporary neurological damage that makes these feelings even worse. It may be that the prefrontal cortex, which makes us temperate in our assessments, is under-performing. And the amygdala, which is reactive and negatively biased, is over-performing. Whatever you felt bad about before you took meds is now amplified.

 

Plus things you never dreamt of feeling bad about have been added to the list. So, now we have neuro-shame, neuro-guilt, and neuro-self-criticism. This neurological damage will eventually end all by itself. You don't even have to do anything. The part of this that is psychological can be addressed, too. You can decide whether you feel well enough to do that now, or should wait until later, do it on your own, or with a therapist.

 

In the meantime, you can do a simple, yet revolutionary act that will make your life a tiny bit easier, and maybe even spur the healing a bit. The way to do this is to practice where you put your attention. Culture, family, personal history, illness, and toxic meds -- all these factors conspire to make you focus on your flaws (real and imagined).

 

So, every time you choose to shift your attention from this for even five seconds, it is a revolutionary act. You can focus on anything else -- the image of a tree, spaciousness, a beloved pet, your ideal future, God, a compliment someone gave you recently, your breath.

 

This may seem like nothing, but every time you *choose* where to put your attention, it is a revolutionary act that has profound ramifications. It's revolutionary just to notice that you're feeling shame, guilt, self-criticism.

 

It's revolutionary to permit yourself to try, to dare to try, to dare to hope. These are the really big achievements. Everything else -- like five seconds of focusing on something relieving or cheering -- is icing on the cake.

 

See also "Neuro-emotion" http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/137-neuro-emotion/

 

And "Self-directed Neuroplasticity" http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/192-self-directed-neuroplasticity/for more on these ideas.

Edited by Altostrata
added paragraph breaks

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Altostrata

When my brain got clobbered by withdrawal, I had to learn to forgive myself for my failings and new inadequacies. I was already suffering so much, I had to give myself that relief in order to survive.

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Phil

Thankyou so so so much for this post, Healing! I can relate to those 4 statemnets so much, I have believed them all at various points during my withdrawal experience. I also come from a family that taught me to stuff my emotions away, which I am now realizing how much of an impact that has had on my life and how I cope with withdrawal.

I'm so glad for forums like this that actually validate these experiences, especially as no one else (family and doctors) acknowledge it.

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Healing

This is great, guys! Withdrawal really amplifies and manufactures terrible feelings about ourselves. Let's keep this front and center as much as possible, and keep taking small steps towards being compassionate to ourselves!

 

Sur -- That's a perfect example of a revolutionary act!

 

:)

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alexjuice

Thank you for the post, Healing. I like your view on this issue...

 

One of the things that sometimes frustrates more than any other is knowing that my condition is not broadly accepted. Because I have been on psych medications I feel a measure of shame that I can simply declare: "I am ravaged by withdrawal from neuro-toxic medications!" because I think, at this point, most people are unsympathetic out of ignorance. W/d isn't cancer and 90+% of people (docs even) don't understand or even know of it. I've not been shown a lot of compassion for the suffering I've endured by the people I've shared some of struggles with.

 

It is tough for me to not be able to work. But that part above is the toughest. That I can't say in shorthand WHY it is that I can't work right now and get support from the broader community. It makes it lonely for sure. And strains my relationships with friends and family.

 

The idea of "choosing" not to let this affect me, choosing to focus my attention elsewhere (in more positive directions) is a powerful one. The brain is such an amazing creation!

 

Alex.I

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Neuroplastic

How many of you, guys, are experiencing the unrelenting and painful thoughts? This is one of the most common WD symptoms.

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Claudius

As you know Neuro, I experienced them until the point I was close to suicide and brought me to very dangerous and life-threatning actions to my former (emotional) abuser in 2008. And even last year those nasty thoughts popped up again and brought me again to the point of contacting him in a defective way.

Now it is better again but the thoughts are still there, and even added to them my terrible actions in reaction to them. It is indeed WD related, I would call it a state of near-psychosis because on the background I realized that it was crazy but I did not have the emotional strength to handle those thoughts in a safe way.

I guess it will get better in time but the things I did cannot be undone and I barely escaped juridical prosecution. It was terrible beyond all description...

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Phil

This is something that bothers me a lot in w/d and is so exhausting. I can be doing anything but spend most of my time stuck inside my head. I have to actually be careful sometimes to remove sources of rumination in my home. For example I tend to write lists of things to do, but if I see them lying about the house, they tend to trigger me to think too much.

I also have the inability to make simple decisions at times because of it.

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Altostrata

For a period, I'd have spells of vividly reliving shameful or emotionally painful events, and a lot of self-blaming. Like other symptoms, they became less frequent and finally (thankfully) disappeared.

 

It surely was a difficult period.

 

Do what you can to distract yourself, look at flowers, think of puppies and kittens (that's what I did) -- anything to get yourself through it.

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Barbarannamated

Yep, that's me. Thank you for this post. I have so much more to read and learn here.

 

Alex...each time I read one of your posts, I feel such a powerful future for you.

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Coleen

Shame, guilt, feelings of inadequacy- these have been my constant companions my whole life. To have them come back in withdrawal is daunting, and so hard to explain to my friends and family. It is a relief to know these are part of the W/D symptoms, although there are things in my psyche that I know I have to resolve. Effexor dulled me enough to allow me to procrastinate.

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Rhiannon

Healing, thank you so much for this post and these thoughts. It helps so much to be reminded that, first, I'm not alone in my struggles, and second that there's a neuro-poisoning component that will eventually go away. (It already goes away during those rare breaks I get once or twice a year when I have to hold my taper for some reason and I get those beautiful windows.)

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Rhiannon

Yep, that's me. Thank you for this post. I have so much more to read and learn here.

 

Alex...each time I read one of your posts, I feel such a powerful future for you.

 

Absolutely ditto.

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meistersinger

Shame, guilt, feelings of inadequacy- these have been my constant companions my whole life. To have them come back in withdrawal is daunting, and so hard to explain to my friends and family. It is a relief to know these are part of the W/D symptoms, although there are things in my psyche that I know I have to resolve. Effexor dulled me enough to allow me to procrastinate.

 

Colleen,

 

Boy, can I relate. I was always told to shut up, keep your head down, and do your work, no matter how sick you were. This is what happens when the bean counters run everything.

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psychfree88

Awesome post...

 

I probably think about those 4 quotes million times in a day...:-)

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s1335

This is great, guys! Withdrawal really amplifies and manufactures terrible feelings about ourselves. Let's keep this front and center as much as possible, and keep taking small steps towards being compassionate to ourselves!

 

Sur -- That's a perfect example of a revolutionary act!

 

:)

 

Can this also be the case during the adjustment period going onto AD's?? Neuro emotion problems?

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Barbarannamated

The guilt is much worse for me since I had my first significant window and am now back in a wave. I was out and about most days for several weeks and now barely able to get out of bed again. I've read about the windows and waves but didn't realize the uptick in guilt after experiencing a window. There's a huge "SHOULD" over my head now ~ I should be able to do this or that because I was able to a month ago...

 

Guilt mixed with self-pity = Ugly combination.

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Sparrow

I'm on the umpteenth iteration of this very thing. Wave after window resulting in guilt.

 

Sparrow

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erikjms

Can this also be the case during the adjustment period going onto AD's?? Neuro emotion problems?

 

In my experience, yes. Absolutely. It took me and my medical professionals a good three years to find medications that seemed to work and that did not also cause intolerable emotional/neurological "side effects".

 

These are powerful drugs and they can have profound effects. Going through meds trials was for me almost as arduous an experience as the near-psychotic break that made them seem so necessary at the time. I never knew how the next drug would affect me and I never knew how it would interact with things I was already taking. I would bring it home, take one, and wait..

 

I remember days and nights when all I could do was tell myself to breathe and that tomorrow would be different and that what I was feeling was not only temporary but that I also knew precisely where it came from: the bottle holding the AD of the month.

 

The one thing I learned above all is that nothing lasts forever. It can feel like forever, but something eventually changes every single time.

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pdtrtr

Since I started questioning my motivations after stopping drugs, I realised I have a very childish and weak personality. I spent my life complaining about small things, as a perfectionist and never had a healthy period.  The fact that drugs and unfriendly environment in my childhood have contributed to these effects gives me no relief.  Trying to compensate for my faults and mistakes also give me no relief.   I have a neuro-feeling that I was born as condemned and brain damaged and never be able to adapt to society.  What I need now is gain my confidence back (which should help me heal and improve body chemistry) and most important of all understanding and mercy in a harsh environment.    

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ruby

Agreed. I am so full of shame and guilt for being on meds for such a long time and going through withdrawal. I told a good friend and she drifted away from me. Just recently told my brother about quitting the meds and free of them for 20 months, but he doesn't get it and offers no support whatsoever. I'm considered to be the "ill" one in the family, the one who absorbed all the emotional turmoil, who couldn't just shrug it off and go on with business. 

 

Who can I trust to tell my story? I was waiting to be out of withdrawal before seeing a therapist again because the neuro-emotions are off the charts and difficult to understand what is real. At this point I really need to speak with a therapist who understands what I'm going through because the emotional pressure is building up inside me. Walking around with shame all the time is killing my spirit and difficult to connect with others. I hope some of my emotional turmoil is neuro-emotion and will lessen in time.

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pdtrtr

If your symptoms do not improve any further, a therapist using non-drug techniques may be useful. You can bring them information and links on withdrawal.  I have started seeing someone on regular basis. 

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Gem

Hi Ruby

 

I found that if I felt shame or guilt about withdrawal or how it had affected my life, it was useful to remind myself that the shame belonged to the drugs companies and my doctor.

 

I also found the words of John breeding very helpful in dealing with shame and guilt. He describes shame as a feeling that we can carry as a result of having being treated badly and states that it is not part of who we are.

 

" Shame is not a part of your essence; it is a toxic add-on." (http://www.wildestcolts.com)

 

Personally, I wasn't always ready to tackle certain issues too deeply in the earlier and mid stages of withdrawal and it did help some just to simply to label any feelings of guilt/shame and recognise they were not who I really was.

 

I did manage to find a therapist who accepted I had long-term withdrawal. He helped me a lot, although his knowledge and understanding of withdrawal was limited.

 

It is so hard not to get the support we deserve from those close to us. I hope you are able to find someone xx

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ruby

Hi Gem,

 

Thanks for the supportive words. I've seen some of John Breeding's videos on youtube which are good. Shame feels so heavy and toxic and weighs on my psyche. Dancing really helps to shed the sh*t.

 

I contacted a therapist recently and will have a session together next week. It's been a year since doing any formal "therapy" work and I think it's time to work on some issues. Hopefully, I'll be able to open up and flow more easily in the world with other beings.

 

It's easy to feel like an outcast with diagnosis mental labels, long-term withdrawal, dealing with traumas... trying to cover it up, hide. 

 

Well, I don't want to hide anymore. I want to engage with the world and experience love, creativity and connection if possible. Is that too much to ask for in my lifetime?

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pdtrtr

Hello,

Maybe this not the correct thread but I have been very concerned about the causes of symptoms and suffering most of us go through which I struggled to understand for so long.  How much does being stigmitized, pessimism of future and other environmental factors contribute?  It seems to me that some core areas in brain that form motivation, self concept, emotions and defense against stressful situations have been challenged. But sometimes I despise of my decisions in past or for not having taken some actions earlier then think otherwise that all could have been better.  Or is it personality, I think most of us are more idealists than average and prone to dissappointment. 

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Gem

 

Hi Ruby

 

 

Glad the dancing is helping you. I am hoping to get to a 5Rhythms class sometime. It sounds really cool.

 

Withdrawal can be such an isolating experience. Those who have been through this so very much deserve love and connection. It is in no way too much to ask.

 

Although I am still recovering and sometimes struggle with dealing with the effects of withdrawal on my life - as I heal, I am feeling more & more connection with others and my creativity is definitely increasing. It does come. I 've even had some validation and praise for coming through withdrawal from unexpected people.

 

Things build up and start developing and flourishing.

 

I have also found the work of Tara Brach to be valuable in the process of healing and in cultivating self-compassion. She has online podcasts, articles and meditations.( I only started the meditations quite late in w/d, I don't think I would have been ready in earlier stages).

 

I hope it goes well with the therapist.

 

Gem

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ruby

Hi Gem,

 

Thanks for your supportive words. Dancing is an amazing vehicle for change and healing. I hope you get to try a class and have a fun experience.

 

My health has been declining since the winter and hope it swings back the other way to feeling strong and healthy. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of support and feeling as though I had to hide in many ways. I've begun therapy again and just talking about what has been circling my psyche for most of my adult life - is a relief in many ways. In a sense, to be a human, not a label or someone who is "sick" or hopeless. I know I need to make a lot of changes in my life to become "me". I am unsure who I am anymore without meds. 

 

Creativity is coming back to me as well. Taking art classes is motivating me to stick with it and meet new people who want to express themselves through art. I am happy you're experiencing more creativity and connection with others. That's a sign of recovery.

 

I attended an all day meditation workshop last weekend on mindfulness. I've been meditating on and off for quite a few years which has really helped me not get entangled with my destructive thought patterns sometimes. I love meditating with a group of people because the air in the room becomes calm and centred in a powerful way. I've always been drawn to quiet escapes in the heart of city life. 

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Gem

 

Thank you Ruby.

 

I am also trying to deal with destructive trains of thought. I am becoming more aware of how my mind can work and learning to recognise what's happening before I get caught up in it.

 

I 've been doing Yoga too and I think it is helping me release trauma from withdrawal, and emotion that has been blocked up. Letting myself feel seems like it is a vital part of my recovery, I am still working on it though!

 

Great to hear that you have started art classes and that you are finding relief in the therapy sessions. The mindfulness workshop sounds good.

 

Creativity has been such a strong part of me for much of my life, it was so very hard to temporarily lose connection with it during withdrawal. So to have it return and now develop is precious. I 've been learning new techniques recently and working with new materials.

 

Hears to reconnection and blossoming creativity!

 

All the best, Gem xxx

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CCS

guys. It has been a while. Still trying to survive tge drug! Been of Cymgen for about 2 months now. Can withdrawal cause ocd and rumination? Please help me. I am experiencing extreme guilt feelings regarding my action while I was on this drug and drinking along with it. Please tell me this will pass? Ps - i have no history of ocd. Was taking Cymbalta for pain. Could this be neuro - emotions???Thank you!

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Gem

Sorry that you are suffering with this CCS. Withdrawal can definitely cause OCD-like symptoms and rumination and it can amplify and exaggerate normal emotions.

 

I have also had strong feelings of guilt which were out of proportion to the actual events.

 

It will pass and things will come into perspective again.

 

I found simple distraction ( films, books, TV) to be valuable in trying to get my mind off the rumination/thoughts.

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shamaan

I also have these spells or attacks of extreme agitation,rumination. I'm not able to get myself to be calm again. I start to cling to other people , asking for help , but it seems to only get worse when I do that. I start to panick , as nobody can help me , which only strengthen these spells. In these moments , i can't distract myself with watching something, or reading,.. I'm really scared of these spells , as everything turns into such dark hopelessness.

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Petunia

 In these moments , i can't distract myself with watching something, or reading,.. I'm really scared of these spells , as everything turns into such dark hopelessness.

 

I've also found it can be difficult to distract from these intense states.  At different times I've found a few things which have helped a little.  Sometimes, getting up and doing something physical can break those moments of being stuck in the mind.  There have been times when I've felt like I was on the verge of going completely insane and I would grab my keys and almost run out the door, not having a clue where I was going, just needing to get away from my own mind.  I would usually find myself walking towards the park and doing a few laps of it.  It would help a little bit by bringing the energy down out of my head into my body.  Sometimes doing a few physical chores around the house can help.

 

Breathing and mantra type meditations can distract from ruminating and racing thoughts.  Focus on the in breath with one word, like peace and then on the the out breath with another word like calm, or any words really.  When the thoughts wander back to the ruminations, just gently bring them back to the breath and chosen words.  I was reading another one of your posts where you were concerned about 'the dangers of meditation', but withdrawal thoughts and emotions can be different from 'normal' states and not representative of reality at all, see:

Neuro-emotion

 

I've also found taurine helpful for racing thoughts, especially when waking up in the early hours of the morning with them.  This doesn't seem to work for everyone though.

 

Shamaan, please would you start an introduction topic for yourself where you can share your story, situation and drug history.

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Wildflower0214

I am having them off and on right now, going through past events and feeling guilty, and like I need to go back and fix them all. Like very irrational thoughts, like for instance i drove drunk in high school and college numerous times and I feel like I need to go confess this to the police department even though it was years ago. I began to feel guilty about filling my water bottle up at McDonalds without paying... Even though it's free.

 

It has fueled a whole new breed of insomnia.

 

And I feel this urgency to fix all these things, like catching up on unpaid bills, and it has brought me to moments of feeling like I dont want to live anymore. And there is a rational part of me saying, ok, it's just bills, they are just bills, not worth dying over, all the while my chest is burning and tight and heart pounding.

 

This has been going on for about a week and a half, I have had some intermittent relief, but they are still here.

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