The most tragic and life-altering day of my life happened in 1996 when I was in 6th grade. No other day has shaped who I am and why I’m even in your email more than that day.
I was decorating my Christmas tree with my younger brother Timmy on December 10th in Pennsylvania. I loved decorating the tree and looking at all of the ornaments (especially the ones that had goofy photos of my brother). Tree decorating lit my heart up.
The phone rang and I was excited because my Aunt Theresa was on the line. I loved her and her kids (my cousins) so much and it was always a treat to get to see them.
Theresa and mom were talking for a long time so I figured they were setting up a time to get together. I was excited.
My mom called my brother and I up to her room and sat us down on her bed.
“Trisha, your dad died.”
“Haha mom that’s a funny joke” I said.
I seriously thought she was kidding. Until she told me she wasn’t.
I burst into tears. The man I loved more than anyone else in the world in an instant, had vanished from my physical life and the cause of his death is still unknown.
From what I’ve heard, the City of Harrisburg, PA didn’t fully investigate the death because my father was mentally ill.
His body was found by a fisherman in the Susquehanna River in December. My Gammy watched the cops pull his body out of the river on the news that night. She found out her son died by watching the fucking news.
I’m sharing this most private and gut-wrenching experience of my life with you today for these reasons…
1. The pain we endure as humans can be our most powerful gifts to others, if we let it. We can choose to let the pain take us down or, we can choose to take that pain and turn into light to help other people or ourselves. I chose light.
My father’s death and his suffering from struggling with going on and off psychiatric drugs (and possibly other drugs) taught me to love those who are different than me… to be an ally for people who are different than me and that I’m capable of making the world a better place.
2. This is something I’ve never spoken about to you before, but the biggest reason I’m sharing my story with you today is to open the conversation about the scientific evidence around psychiatric drugs and mental illness.
Why am I, a Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach talking about psychiatric drugs?
First, because there’s non-food barriers related to weight loss and optimal health. Psychiatric drugs for many people, are a threat to better health. Yes, a threat (statistically speaking).
Many psychiatric drugs list weight gain as a common side effect. Here's a few examples...
- Clozaril (clozapine)
- Zyprexa (olanzapine)
- Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Seroquel (quetiapine)
- Depakote (divalproex)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
(I use epocrates.com to look up drugs where you're welcome to look at all of the side effects of these drugs there).
Even when we implement an optimal eating and exercise regimen, if an antidepressant drug you’re taking is causing you to gain 15 pounds in a month, it’s going to be extremely difficult to lose weight and you may end up being more depressed from the weight gain the drug is causing.
Beyond an increased risk of weight gain for some drugs, scientific studies have continued to show that the harm of taking many psychiatric drugs can outweigh the benefit. The evidence documents that in many cases, psychiatric drugs perpetuate and cause the diseases they’re attempting to treat (1).
Studies show that people who take psychiatric drugs long-term, have worse outcomes (2) than those who don’t take them long-term (including increased mortality).
The side effects of many psychiatric drugs increase the risk of suicide and depression. Here's a few examples from looking these drugs up on epocrates.com
When it comes to suicide and mass shootings in America, this is one conversation that is rarely discussed that needs to be… the drugs these people are on and how the drugs may have contributed to mass violence or their own death.
Conventional thinking is that there's a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes mental illness. Unfortunately, this is a theory, not a fact.
Studies don’t show that people with mental illness have a chemical imbalance in the brain (3). There’s no objective test that tells a patient they have a chemical imbalance in the brain before a drug is given either. To the contrary studies show that these drugs cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.
To be clear, I’m not 100% anti- psychiatric or all medication. It can be a tool used for certain situations for certain people but the public isn’t aware of the harms and damage associated with being on these drugs, especially for the long-term. I'm very cautious when it comes to certain meds because of the evidence.
The death of my father is not the only personal experience with mental illness I hold near to my heart. Multiple family members of mine have experienced increased harm in different ways from being on these drugs and a home-town friend of mine passed away 6 months ago with prescribed drugs in his system.
In high school I was put on antidepressants when struggling with family circumstances. I’m thankful I never actually took them. Where would I be right now if I’d been on one of these drugs for the last 14 years of my life?
There's a lot more evidence on this topic than I'm stating here (if you want more research on this, comment below and let me know. You can also check out Robert Whitaker's website. He does an excellent job linking directly to scientific publications and scanned many of them as well).
WARNING: if you’re on a psychiatric drug, DO NOT abruptly stop taking your drugs as that may induce psychosis or increased risk of suicide. If you’re interested in drug withdrawal, do that with a supportive doctor. DON'T do it alone.
Take Control Now Question
Would you like to hear more on this topic? If so, what do you want to learn more about? How has mental illness affected you or your family?
Answer by clicking 'comment' below.
Thank you for reading.
Love and Leafy Greens,