My first experience in psychiatry was actually as a psychiatric technician at a state psychiatric hospital. I worked on a unit with extremely acute and many times agitated patients. As a psych tech, I spent a lot of time one on one with my patients and really got to know them well.
I would see the psychiatrist come by for maybe 30 seconds to a minute and ask a few questions and then make a decision to raise or change their medications based on this. To me, this seemed pretty crazy, especially because the medications didn’t seem to help much and many times made the patients worse. Most patients didn’t want to take their medications because of the horrible side effects so I spent a lot of time trying to convince them to do it.
But the entire time, I had this gnawing feeling that something was wrong. I wondered why the psychiatrists were prescribing meds for what appeared to be life problems. Every single patient I worked with had horrible histories of trauma and from my point of view, it seemed like healing this had to be more helpful than drugging them until they turned into zombies.
But I was just a measly psych tech, so I thought maybe the psychiatrists knew something that I didn’t.
So that’s why I decided to go to medical school. I wanted to know what I didn’t know.
Medical school and residency were very traumatic for me and I’ll go into that story another day. After my residency in psychiatry, I obtained two fellowships from Columbia University and started working as an attending and assistant director of the Columbia psychiatric emergency room in Manhattan.
At the age of 36 I was living the American dream working as a psychiatrist and managing an emergency room in the top psychiatric hospital in the United States. I had every material thing I could want but I didn’t have the most important thing, my health.
My health and mental health had really plummeted during my medical training and I was working crazy long shifts in the ER. This ultimately led to complete burnout and many health problems. At one point I was taking over 20 pills a day and having panic attacks almost every day.
I had wanted to have children but had been told by multiple doctors that I couldn’t due to my severe endometriosis and other chronic health issues. But my holistically minded doctor told me that I could if I quit my job and radically changed my life. Those few words ultimately changed my life completely.
So, I reduced the number of hours that I was working and changed every aspect of my life. I quit smoking, caffeine and alcohol. I completely overhauled my diet. And I got regular exercise and started mind body practices. Within a few weeks, I was able to taper off of every medication I had been taking. All of my health and mental health problems completely disappeared.
I then conceived 2 healthy embryos via IVF.
And then I finally cut the cord to my comfortable life. I broke my golden handcuffs and quit my job and left New York City.
I moved to Virginia to be closer to family and I launched my dream, Free Range Psychiatry. I created a practice focused on helping patients use a holistic approach like I had so that they could actually heal the root issues of their problems without having to rely on toxic medications.
When I first opened the practice, I still believed that some people may need medications in addition to holistic interventions. This belief had been drilled into me so thoroughly during my training that I hadn’t let it go completely.
But I noticed something very interesting in my practice. My patients who were not on ANY medications actually did WAY better than the ones who were. So I started actually digging into all of the data and research. I read hundreds of studies and books and what I ultimately found shook me to my very core.
I learned that mental illnesses are not incurable diseases. They really aren’t even diseases at all.
Not only that, but psychiatric medications don’t treat a single cause of mental illness, they cause tremendous side effects, disconnect people from their soul and worsen longterm outcomes. While they may lower suicide risk in some people short term, they raise it in many others and can increase it in the longterm.
They also cause such severe withdrawal and dependence that it can be pure hell to try and stop them and this is why many people end up taking them for life.
Perhaps the craziest thing that I learned is that when you look at all the data, including all of the drug trials, it’s clear that psychiatric medications are essentially no better than placebos, which means that our minds are just as if not more powerful than these drugs.