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healing psychiatry Recovery

I Fired My Psychiatrist, Experimented with Ancient Healing Methods, and Feel Healthier Than Ever

Sitting on a brown leather chair, wallet and car keys resting on a side table. It is winter and I’m wearing a black sweater, blue jeans, my right leg rests on my left knee. 

Tears streaming down the side of my cheeks, I wipe them with a tissue, and take deep breaths to calm myself down. 

Next to my possessions lay a white notepad with Pfizer emblazoned on the top, a pen with Zoloft printed on the side, and a box of tissues. The musty room smells like an old library. 

On the wall straight ahead are numerous awards from organizations such as The American Psychiatric Association and plaques with MD, PHD, and other degrees. To my right is a bookshelf of literature, many of the books are written about medicine, art, and Greek history.

Across from me sits a seventy-year-old Greek woman, with eyes wide open, a witness to my tears. She is my psychiatrist. I see her a few times per year.

“Ryan, you aren’t well. How often are you crying?”

“I don’t know. I am not keeping track. I guess once a month.”

“You aren’t well. I’m recommending an antidepressant for you. I recommend that you go on Lexapro.”

I exclaim: “I’m supposed to cry in here. This is why I come to see you. You are prescribing me a drug for crying. What the f*ck?”

She pulls out her pen and paper.

“No, I won’t take this drug. I am not going back on antidepressants,” I push back.

Noticeably uncomfortable, the psychiatrist gets up from her chair, and walks over to her desk. She grabs a notebook that contains the details of my work with her. She grabs the files and comes to sit back in her chair, acting as if the files will somehow validate her decision. 

The tension rises, I’m not supposed to reject the prescription from a doctor. 

Smiling with calmness, I retort back, “I’m not going to fill the prescription. Feel free to write it. I am not going back on an antidepressant because I cried in front of you.” 

She is frustrated and so am I. Our session ends.

At this point, I am done with this psychiatrist. Going back on antidepressants isn’t happening. 

What a joke. 

I march down the stairs from her second story office, to the parking garage.

Opening the door to my Toyota Prius, I see the psychiatrist’s Mercedes in the spot next to mine, I think, ”What the f*ck?” 

I drive home past a Whole Foods, Starbucks, and local overpriced West Los Angeles coffee shop – I’m stressed. Looking back, I’m in one one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, of course my drug pushing doctor drives a Mercedes.

I am embarrassed to admit that charges $600 per session. We meet for less than an hour of work.

When I fired my psychiatrist

I call my Dad a few days later and tell him: 

“My psychiatrist is a con artist. She writes her prescriptions with a pen that says Pfizer, on a sheet of paper that says Serzone, and has stress balls in her office from Eli Lilly. She is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. I’m done. It’s over.”

I had to fire my psychiatrist. 

I was done with the pharmaceutical industrial complex. 

I take control of my health, ending my relationship with a white collar drug dealer, who practices corporate psychiatry.

For decades I went down the conventional pharmaceutical route for treating anxiety and depression with Big Pharma drugs, psychiatry, counseling/therapy. The treatment had some benefits, but I hit a brick wall. Does this sound familiar?

If you have been on and off antidepressants, I can relate. 

If you have seen enough therapists that you can count the number on two hands, there are millions of us.

If you have experienced the sexual side effects you hear about on antidepressant TV commercials, then I’m right there with you. 

And if you’ve wondered WTF, why are prescription mental health drugs being advertised on TV to begin with, I’m feeling you.

Going the modern mental health route made me desperate. It took me decades to figure it out.

The drugs managed some of my pain by treating symptoms, while not healing the root cause.

After firing my psychiatrist, I forged a new path, which was unconventional. Using ancient methods, a recovery program, and native/indigenous techniques for healing, I got results. 

The ancient healing methods I tried

It took me six months to familiarize myself with the different modalities, and a year to truly feel like I had a handle on my health again.

Here is what I did to improve my mental health the natural way:

  • Meditation – Practicing meditation became a daily ritual. Whether it was alone listening to an app or practicing with a teacher at an in-person studio, I worked to ease my body, mind, and soul through the practice.
  • Journaling – I journaled after every meditation session. Sometimes I would write long outlines of ideas, other days I would write anything that brought me to tears, some days I wrote my ideas for future writing projects.
  • Psychedelics – I experimented with microdosing psychedelics. For each session, I set an intention of a phrase like “I am healthy” or “I am well,” and repeat the intention for several minutes. I integrated what I learned through talking to professionals and journaling. 
  • Yoga – I practiced yoga 2-3 times per week on the mat. The poses (asanas) helped me calm my body, increase my physical stamina, and decrease my physical pain. I also practiced the breathing part of yoga, yoga nidra (yogic sleep), which helps PTSD survivors.
  • Breathwork – Breathwork helps me calm my body down, giving myself permission to relax my mind. During the first months of sessions, my left side body would get triggered. I learned to calm myself down as I unpacked a lot of trauma that resurfaced.
  • Therapy – I went through three different therapists during this recovery process. I found that my therapists did not have a tool kit to talk about integrative healing and mental health, which is why I went through three different ones.
  • Recovery program – Spiritually I was unwell, and I needed a new peer group to aid in my recovery. With weekly meetings, the program acted like an ancient healing circle, which became a “chosen family,” that helped aid my rehabilitation. 
  • Advocacy – I got very interested in uncovering racism in American culture. I looked at racism as more of a disease, exploring the root causes of my own role in it. I marched in a Black Lives Matter protest and started talking to my white friends about racism. 

I was spiritually unwell, and corporate drugs weren’t helping anymore

Looking back, I realize how unhealthy my psychiatric experience was. I trusted a doctor who wanted to prescribe drugs for pain management, rather than helping me to heal.  

When I told her that I ended our relationship, she demanded that I come see her. She acted like I was doing something wrong or ill-conceived by stopping our work together.

She wanted to see me for another session, where she would charge me another $600. It was like she couldn’t quit me or let it go. And somehow I was in the wrong, like she had some strange attachment issue.

We went back and forth over email for months with her wanting to talk to me. I had nothing to say.

I sent her a check for $600 and I did not realize that I owed her for two sessions, which was $1,200. 

Wanting to end the relationship, she discounted my final two sessions to $300 each, for $600 total, and stamped my invoice as PAID.

Mental health in the corporate system did not work for me. Healing comes from within, not from a bottle of pills you pick up from Rite Aid. Paying $600 in retrospect was a total rip-off. 

Doctors are profiting off a system that is taking advantage of depressed, anxious, or unwell people. While we are like guinea pigs, testing our moods with chemically created pills, they are beholden to these corporations.

We are not cars that need to be serviced. Mental health isn’t like checking wheel alignment, rotating our tires, or servicing our engine.

Human beings are complex creatures. We have a heart, a brain, and a soul. 

My psychiatrist lacked a true sense of spirituality with her practice. 

Meanwhile the solutions for healing laid before me the entire time. While breathwork, psychedelics, and meditation may seem fringe or new wage to some, they have been around for centuries.

In retrospect, I was spiritually unwell. My sickness contributed to unstable moods, anxiety, depression, and suffering. The natural medicines helped increase my spirituality, which subsequently improved my health. 

Through the years I tried Serzone, Zyprexa, Lamtical, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, and other drugs. 

I was looking for a magic drug to save me. There is no silver bullet in healing. I had to experiment to find out what worked for me. It’s not like weightlifting where you can see your muscles grow, and an increase in weight. 

I learned to be gentle on myself. Accepting that no one was going to rescue me, no corporate drug pusher was going to be my savior, and I had to do the work myself. 

I implemented some of my own ancient healing practices, and they helped. I feel good, and my health is what matters. What is important is how I feel, not a clinical definition from a psychiatrist. 

What has been your experience with psychiatric drugs? Leave a comment or subscribe to my newsletter and shoot me an email, I’d love to swap stories.

Big thanks to my editors: Chris Holinger, Ali Q, Drew Stegmaier, Lyle McKeany, and Joel Christiansen.

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