Layperson vs. ‘Expert’ Help

Very often in the psychiatric drug withdrawal world, I hear sentiments like “We need doctors and other ‘experts’ who understand and can help us.” This is a sentiment I completely understand, and it’s one that I aligned with myself for a long time. 

But like many things, there is more nuance here than there it might initially seem. Let’s take a closer look.

You Yourself Are More Than Capable

One of the most important things I learned on my own journey was that I could teach myself everything I needed to know to taper myself as safely as possible. I could also teach myself everything I needed to know to cope with and move through unpleasant, debilitating, and frightening withdrawal symptoms when they arose.

I have been fortunate enough in my work to witness countless others learn these same things for themselves.

I also learned that nobody outside myself has any magic answers for navigating the journey off of psychiatric drugs and everything that comes with it. There is no magic taper that works exactly the same way for everyone and ameliorates all symptoms. There are no magic herbs, supplements, or other drugs that will solve tapering and withdrawal woes without potential repercussions. The way out is through, and we–in our own bodies and our own lives–are as well equipped as anyone else to learn and discern what will and will not be most helpful for us.

Ultimately what I learned was how to really turn inward to find the way forward. I learned I was far more capable than I ever knew.

Photo: Miguel Bruna via Unsplash
More ‘Experts,’ More Confusion

We have been collectively conditioned to believe that we need specially trained ‘experts’ to both explain things and to help us solve our problems, especially when it comes to our health and wellbeing. We have been conditioned to believe that we are doing the right and responsible thing when we hand over our problems or the management of our wellbeing to the ‘experts.’ This is the current standard narrative, the paradigm most of us are living within.

But it was in outsourcing ourselves to the ‘experts’ in the first place, that most of us ended up in the difficult position of struggling to get off of prescribed psychiatric medications to begin with.

There can absolutely be a time and a place for the help of specially-trained and experienced ‘expert’ practitioners, and I am not advocating that anyone stop working with trusted providers who they feel are helping them! But it’s important to take some time to reflect on this idea of outsourcing vs. turning inward in relation to health and wellbeing, especially if it’s a new concept for you.

More often than not when I talk to people who are working very closely with their doctors and other trained professionals to taper, I see one of two things: 1) they are being tapered way too rapidly (and sometimes with the potentially risky addition of new substances), even if their doctor is a so-called ‘withdrawal expert,’ or 2) their doctor is basically just helping them interpret their own body’s messages, trying to adjust the taper accordingly, and maybe making other suggestions about lifestyle and supplementation–all things that we on our own are perfectly capable of doing for ourselves if we want to. What freedom.

I have also witnessed time and time again that the more ‘experts’ a person is working with to try and help themselves, the more confused they actually are and the more disconnected they are from their own inner wisdom about the best way forward. Perhaps the constant seeking of expert after expert reflects an internal state of chaos and confusion that’s already present within. But regardless it often leads to information overload that leaves people feeling paralyzed, or making decisions that are not in their own best interest. Sometimes all the ‘expert’ help actually hinders, especially if the real work we need to be doing involves learning how to root down more deeply into ourselves for the answers we seek.

Changed Perspective

We are living in a very unique time when it comes to the issues surrounding psychiatric drugs and withdrawal. More and more research is being done looking at the dangers and downsides of these drugs, as well as looking at withdrawal and safer tapering strategies. In some places, guidelines for prescribing and de-prescribing are beginning to change as a result. The doctors, scientists, and other researchers–the ‘experts’–who are helping to make these things happen are doing a service to us all.

And… at this point I have no doubt that most relevant, accurate, and helpful information is always going to come from laypeople. It’s going to come from the people who have themselves walked the path. We have known for years what the research findings and extra-savvy ‘experts’ are only just recently beginning to support. After all, the research being done on hyperbolic tapering and withdrawal is being done largely because of what’s coming out of the layperson world, not the other way around. We’ve also known for years that the withdrawal and healing journey is about a whole lot more than anything research will ever be able to measure and quantify. We’ll always be ahead of the curve.

Never did I think that I would stop listening to ‘expert’ medical professionals and start listening to strangers on the internet as my main source of information and support. I couldn’t make that up if I tried, but it’s exactly what happened. And it’s ultimately what allowed me to save myself.

Experiences like that profoundly change perspectives on ‘experts’ and on help. Maybe some of you reading this have had similar experiences.

While continuing to work for better understanding from healthcare providers is important, some of the best help there will ever be is already available to us. Yes, it’s a paradigm shift. It’s also a reclamation of power, and it’s an invitation to freedom.

You are the medicine, and you already have everything you need to heal.

Please note: this post is for informational purposes only and shall not be construed as medical advice.