The Truth

Advocating for Yourself

Here is what I've learned...

It’s been awhile since I have talked about our need to advocate for ourselves. To get better and to heal we seek professional help from doctors and counselors. We trust them to guide and direct us down the right path for healing. However, I have experienced positive and negative professionals during my recovery.

When I first recalled my memories of abuse I was directed to the psychiatric hospital. It was not the right move for me to make. Don’t get me wrong if you need to go there is no shame (and I have before to keep myself safe), however it was in going there first I was led down the wrong path to treat trauma.

I was told I needed to be medicated for my complex PTSD, depression and anxiety. Doctors and nurses – both regular and psychiatric told me the medication would help me and I needed it to survive. They were wrong. I endured side-effects that were life threatening and made life more complicated instead of helping. Medications treat symptoms, they don’t heal trauma.

Not all medication is necessarily bad, but some of it can make us foggy and unable to process trauma. Benzodiazepines such as Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, and Valium hinder our ability to recall trauma and therefore we can’t process through it. They also cloud your mind and make it more difficult to think.

I was also put on other various meds they told me would help with my anxiety, depression and nightmares. The way they helped is by making me so sleepy I could hardly function. I have huge chunks of time over the past 10 years I can’t recall at all. I have no memories for much of the time. A few things stand out, but I lost years of my life because of medications.

As you may know if you’ve been on this journey with me long I have worked off many medications the past couple of years so that I can process my trauma and function better. I am only on a low-dose depression medication and a mood stabilizer which I am continuing to lower the dose on.

I would not wish on anyone the withdrawal my body and mind have gone through as I worked off these medications. It is basically the same as if I was working off cocaine. My body would shake, my thoughts became more irrational, suicidal thoughts came back, and my anxiety and depression sky rocketed. It was added hell that took time away from the work I need to be doing in therapy to recover.

When I get angry about being overmedicated by my former psychiatrist I have to start writing to keep it from boiling. I can’t discuss details or who I saw, but I am not the only one he overmedicated or didn’t treat well. He is being investigated by the medical board and DEA. I’ve shared with them my story. I still kick myself for trusting him, but 20/20 hindsight.

So, the take away from my experiences and what I’ve learned I will pass on to you in hopes that as you seek healing you have a clear mind to be able to process all that happened to you. I have learned to advocate for myself. Speak up when a doctor wants to put me on a medication and research it on my own as well. Medication can cause side effects that may not appear for years but have lasting affects; such as bone loss and teeth decay or yellowing.

I now ask why I need it. What the side effects are, what are my other options? I’m even considering seeking out a holistic doctor to see what natural things I can continue to do that would be healthier for my body and bring me some relief from physical pain resulting from trauma.

I encourage you to seek professionals for your help, but to remember they are also human and it is your body and life on the line. Ask questions. Speak up and if they won’t discuss it with you find a doctor who will. I am thankful the therapist I found is willing to do what’s best for me, yet doesn’t push his opinions about what I should do overshadow. He allows me to make my own decision with guidance from him and God. As does my new psychiatrist.

I pray you are able to find the doctors and counselors that are out there offering the best help for us as we recover. My best wishes and prayers to you as you continue on your own journey.



© 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.


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