Author Archives: Laura

Announcing Inner Compass Initiative and The Withdrawal Project

What is Inner Compass Initiative (ICI) and ICI’s The Withdrawal Project?

I am writing with news that I’ve been eagerly anticipating sharing with you for quite some time. On behalf of my fellow co-founders and a growing number of volunteers, advisors, supporters, and contributors, I am incredibly excited to announce the launch of Inner Compass Initiative (ICI), a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and ICI’s first major effort, The Withdrawal Project (TWP).

Our mission is to provide information, resources, tools, and connecting platforms ​to facilitate more informed choices regarding all things “mental health” and to support individuals and groups who ​wish to leave, bypass, or build community beyond the mental health system. (You can learn more about this mission here.)

What Will You Find at Inner Compass Initiative and ICI’s The Withdrawal Project?

Among the many resources you’ll find on the ICI or TWP websites are:

Informational resources on psychiatric drugs, physical dependence and withdrawal

Many people are never given access to honest, frank information about psychiatric drugs when they make the decision to take or come off these medications. TWP’s Learn section provides an accessible introduction to how psychiatric drugs affect the central nervous system, what psychiatric drug dependence and withdrawal are and why they occur, and what “slow” tapering truly means. In addition, ICI’s Learn/Unlearn section provides accessible educational information about the safety and effectiveness of psychiatric drugs in ways that are much more detailed and forthright than typically appear at other major online sources.

TWP’s Companion Guide to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Despite the astronomical numbers of people taking psychiatric medications, there’s a severe dearth of studies or research into how to safely taper off them. But countless numbers of individuals who’ve come off medications themselves have taken what they’ve learned along the way and developed sophisticated taper protocols that they are finding lead to smoother and more successful outcomes. We’ve gathered this rich anecdotal wisdom and created a comprehensive layperson’s “Companion Guide” to safer psychiatric drug withdrawal that is freely available to all who seek it.

TWP Connect

When people embark on the psychiatric drug withdrawal journey, they often feel terribly isolated, alienated, invalidated, and afraid – and so we’ve created TWP Connect to help them feel less so. It’s a free online platform that allows registered members who are thinking about, are in the process of, or have past experiences with reducing or coming off psychiatric drugs to find and connect with one another based on their location, interests, and needs.

ICI Connect

We know that more and more people are losing confidence and trust in the mental health system and seeking out alternatives to it– but they often struggle to find one another in their local communities to discuss, organize, and build different ways forward. We’ve created ICI Connect to meet this need. It’s a free online platform that helps people thinking critically about all things “mental health” find and connect with one another based on their location and specific interests.

How You Can Get Involved and Help Spread the Word!

I’m so excited to be sharing news of our launch with you. Visit Inner Compass Initiative at www.theinnercompass.org and The Withdrawal Project at withdrawal.theinnercompass.org. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-speed on the latest news from us, and find us on Facebook and Twitter. Lastly, if one or both of our Connect platforms speak to you in some way, please sign up today! They will only become the robust networking and organizing platforms we built them to be if many of us join and give life to them.

Thank you in advance for any help you’re able to offer in spreading the word! Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested, and start or join conversations about ICI and TWP on social media. You can also copy and paste the below blurb on social media, in emails, on list serves, or in online groups:

****Announcing the Launch of Inner Compass Initiative and ICI’s The Withdrawal Project!****

Inner Compass Initiative (ICI) is a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides information and resources to help people make more informed choices regarding all things “mental health” and to support people who wish to leave, bypass, or build community beyond the mental health system. Its first major effort, The Withdrawal Project (TWP), is a comprehensive online hub for safer psychiatric drug withdrawal. The resources on the ICI and TWP websites include a detailed layperson’s “Companion Guide” to safer tapering from psychiatric medications; mini-booklets that provide detailed, critical information about psychiatric drugs, psychiatric diagnoses, and the mental health industry; and two networking platforms to help people who are thinking critically about the mental health system or seeking support for psychiatric drug withdrawal to find each other in their local communities.

Visit ICI at www.theinnercompass.org
Visit TWP at withdrawal.theinnercompass.org

To Feel It All

If you communicate in tears and grief and anger and despair and joy like I do, hold these expressions as sacred, because they are. Know that these emotions are your wisdom, not a flaw. Don’t believe Them when They say that how you feel is a sign that something’s wrong with you.

I cried twice today– the second time, just thirty minutes ago– and as the tears slipped down my cheeks a vision came to me.

In it, I was sitting before an ex-shrink of mine. Heavy tears streamed down my face like waterfalls after winter’s thaw. Now, this was a man whose labeling eyes once penetrated my skin in diagnostic desecration. But in this vision, all I felt for him was compassion. For in meeting his eyes with mine, I could feel so clearly how they emanated the very same fear I once felt, myself:

Fear
of all the waves
and storms and
freezes and melts and
fires and rains of my being.

Fear of who I really was– and of who I had the power to be.

In this vision, he was so afraid of himself.

As I kept looking into his eyes, I could see as clear as day how lost and disconnected he was from himself, his emotions, his authentic state of being. I could see how this had thrown him into a deep state of mourning he wasn’t yet aware of.

And I could see how all of this–
his loss, his disconnection, his mourning and his lack of awareness of it all–
had eventually led him to believe that
answers are best found through
the act of labeling another,
an other.

For it keeps you safe from having to acknowledge that you’re really just an other to yourself.

As his steel blue eyes and my crying ones began to commune with one other, I felt my compassion for him deepen. Because I now saw him for who he really was: a scared, wounded child. A child who, like me, had gotten swept up in the false promises of what our culture teaches us it means to be human, to be worthy, to belong… We were the same, this shrink and I, and we always had been. It’s just that he’d somehow ended up with the swipe card to the double-locked doors.

In this moment of realization I knew in a deep-down way that it was my human responsibility to keep crying– to keep my cheeks good and wet so that he might eventually see his own reflection in my skin. To show him what it looks like to cry from a place of fully human power… That it’s safe there… That there is nothing to be afraid of.

If you feel big feelings like I do, remember this: they are a sign of your aliveness. They are your sacred human power. And they are a gift you are meant to bring forth into the world. Use them as a light and a guide and a mirror and an open hand for those who may still be too afraid to feel it all.

Power is

Power is: Knowing that
when you’re having
“one of those days”—
(of staccato incoherence coming out of your mouth when you speak—your head a sizzling egg in a frying pan—your thoughts, man, they’re straight-up pinballs in a machine)—
it’s because you’re alive, my friend.
*Not*
because there’s anything wrong with you.

It’s because you’re breathing
all that you are into the world,
your fingertips on fire like you never
knew possible before.

Now, what this means, is this:
when you’re lit up and so full of heartbeat,
there may be times when you forget to breathe.
When you forget
to get out for fresh air,
or eat lunch, for suddenly night’s fallen
on shoulders that are locked to your earlobes.
Hell, you may sometimes forget for hours at a stretch
that you’re human.
Because all of this ignition,
it still feels so fuckin’ new.

I’m watching these sensitive strands of energy
billow out like golden hairs from you,
out into every nook and cranny
of the world. So sensitive they are,
you are,
sensitive enough that it means
you’ll get a little frayed sometimes.
But you’re alive.
You’re fuckin’ alive and awake and tuned in
to this channel called Life
that may sometimes feel wholly dark
and foreboding…
but that you’ve now learned,
too,
is full of color.
And possibility.
And beating hearts,
your own included.

Letting Go of the Mental Health System’s False, Imprisoning Stories and Remembering Who You Are

I remember watching this video in early psychiatric drug withdrawal and feeling baffled at their joie de vivre, wondering how the hell a person could access such a state and what the hell it felt like. I remember how utterly perplexed I was by the comfort they felt in their naked skin, their bodies gently around them like soft cloaks while I sat there trapped in this mound of psychiatrized flesh, screaming in desperation, literally pulling and scratching at the smothering skin-prison until it reddened and bled but still wouldn’t break open…

That was only four, five, six years ago.

Now, when I watch, I smile and nod in solidarity, because I know. I know what it feels like to be at home in one’s body. I know this joy they’re beaming out into the world, for it’s back alive in my heart, casting its beautiful shadow that I know today as my life-long traveling companion, darkness.

I know all of this not because I learned about it in a self-help book or because anyone taught it to me or because I got therapeuticized into it… but rather because I decided to let go of all of that searching and turning over of my own power. To let go of the false, imprisoning stories I’d been taught about myself by the “Mental Health” Industry and all its purported “experts”– that I was so-called “mentally ill”, that I needed so-called “professional help”, that pill bottles and “therapeutic interventions” were my answer. I even, eventually, let go of the story that I was a “victim of the mental health system”, after realizing it was a prison unto itself.

After all that letting go, there I stood, towering over these massive piles of crumpled layers of false stories and life-sentences. And stripped down into this existential nakedness, I was finally able to start remembering who I really was– (not in a thinking way, but rather feeling, feeeeeeeeling, right down into the marrow of my bones)– and how unbelievably exquisite it feels to be fully human, darkness, pain, despair, joie de vivre and all.

Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook from sigur rós on Vimeo.