Monday, November 6, 2017

Removing a psych med from my Medicine pouch....

Travelling the roads of this life has seen me carry in my medicine pouch, amongst the herbs, stones, fur, bones and feathers... psychiatric medications. If you judge this, feel free, at times I do the same! The medical model has only been the dominant paradigm in Western culture for some hundred years or more. It has at times assumed it alone is the most well aligned, yet healing wise folks have been working with peoples distress through time and place, using many strategies around the way one lives on planet Earth. In my current journey to taper off one med, a benzodiazepine family drug, originally prescribed for panic attacks I'm calling out deep to all kinds of resources, including herbal allies.

I'm naming the feelings I'm getting in my body as I taper down, 'restlessness'. A restlessness which is at its worst for the first days, being neither comfortable nor easy. I'm walking. When the adrenaline begins to rise, so do my feet. We're lucky enough to dwell near bush and beach, where I can put one foot in front of the other amidst nature for a goodly span of time with relative ease. Often when I begin there's a lot going on with my thoughts as well as in my body (surprise, surprise!). If I can keep moving, generally they reach a still or quiet point. As a counter to their content I may offer prayers, blessings and slightly out of tune song, honouring the landscape that supports me in its beauty, and my own  reemerging voice.

At times I may have a moment and need to do a couple of round the blocks, or blockies to shift through it. Also we're swimming in the ocean, and I'm practicing tai chi. I'm lucky enough to be with a wonderfully supportive partner, something I have great appreciation for, and which I hadn't forseen happening a few years back. Doing this work is hard enough, gather your Kin in spirit and flesh and let them in on this.

"Many people report having to "re-learn" how to cope with difficult emotions when they come off psychiatric drugs."

                     from Harm Reduction Guide (see Resources)
Thing is about these processes, we may have previously been forced, or even from a place of empathy been advised, without full understanding, to suppress symptoms to ease our intense distress, but when we have then been on and reduce pharmaceuticals, it rises up and comes back to haunt us. This can suck, and also be dangerous.  I am working with a psychiatrist, and my Gp, on doseage issues and timing so far.
Working with the herbs as a deeply embedded part of our lifestyle, wildcrafting or growing, and making medicine from them, is a reclamation of our mental, indeed whole health, as we learn to take back our power and how to nourish different states with their help. These plants are beings of compassionate and giving natures when treated with respect. Their assistance can ease distress states and form a bridge to the natural world, a world feeling as much suffering and new growth as we are.

Motherwort (Leonuris cardiaca) who I met, grew, and tinctured, several years ago, has become an indispensable ally to turn to in this process. Having a cup or two of Motherwort allows me to feel 'held' in her soothing embrace, but like her flowers as they mature there is also maternal protectiveness. I am drinking 3 or 4 small teapots a day, using 2 teaspoons of dried herb brewed for 10-15 minutes.
Her fresh plant tincture is great for a quick response to anxiety or panic, however I find I'm calling more on the dried herb tea. It feels like she is building up my reserves of resilience whilst also answering the call of that restlessness in my body with a responsive calming effect. I now find her somewhat bitter taste goes down just fine, as I know the ease she will bring.

                                                             young Motherwort plant.....
I am also currently connecting with Rose, in particular at this time, Rosa centifolia. The tincture of which I made (gleefully) from a stash of dried pink petals, when I read words from herbalist Kiva Rose saying that this is how to bring out her best qualities in this form of medicine. I find her gentle but potent touch, good heart chakra healing for depression or grief, and having a flower essence like energy. I feel she works to help heal past wounding and scar tissue that may be triggered in the now, whilst encouraging one to 'take heart' or find courage. I have been taking 5 drops twice a day.
Then there are nourishing herbal infusions a la Susun Weed. Nettle (Urtica dioica)and Oat straw (Avena sativa) mostly, as they both nourish the nervous system. Nettle brings me right home to the present earthy moment, whilst giving minerals to nourish the nervous system. Oatstraw, and oats, strengthen the nerves, soothing frazzled edges. I'd had a pause in these but have picked up the thread again, and a couple of 2 litre canning jars to prepare the brews.

Just as the exercise and herbs combine in a beautiful way to build up resilience, empowerment and allow nourishing through some of the states I am experiencing, spiritual practices I am engaging with are deepening.

As we reduce medications, we need to simultaneously build up the contents of our medicine pouch. I hope this process will give me ways to continue tapering the pharmaceuticals, yes, but in the process and perhaps more importantly, recover more aliveness....

'Ease your Mind: Herbs for Mental Health' by Janet Kent
 available for $US5 post paid from Medicine County Herbs, 2014.
The Ashton Manual

The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs
Published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Centre,

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