Ep.26: Trauma, Benzo Withdrawal, “Mental Illness” with Ali Zeck


Ep.26: Trauma, Benzo Withdrawal, “Mental Illness” with Ali Zeck

00:00 / 01:00:34
I would say that I escaped from the mental health system.


Ali Zeck

Episode Notes:

Ali Zeck has been through the mental health system. Diagnosed (or as she would later come to understand, MISdiagnosed) with “mental illness”, she spent decades on psychiatric medications. She suffered the effects of these drugs, leading to suicide attempts and eventually to very difficult psychiatric medication withdrawal (including “benzo” withdrawal). She has regained her health, and she now looks at the mental health system and at society with a new level of clarity, providing sharp commentary about both online.

[1:00] Joe plugs his DiseaseReversals.com project.

[2:05] Joe introduces Ali.

[3:00] Ali gives her background in the mental health and healthcare systems. She was brought up in a family that held doctors in high regard. She felt anxiety during college. She was diagnosed with bullimia and over-exercise at that time. She was told she was mentally ill and put on Prozac.

[5:35] Ali discusses how she underwent trauma and how that impacted her subconscious and her behaviors. Combined with lots of psychiatric medications, this put her into a psychosis that lasted many years.

[6:40] She had started on a path dominated by the belief system that she just had to find the right drug to cure her “mental health” issues.

[7:25] Over 25 years, what psychiatric drugs did Ali take and what were some of the effects? (Some examples of drugs she was put on are Xanax (a benzodiazepine) and Valium. Also, SSRIs and anti-seizure medications.) The withdrawal effects of coming off these drugs were awful. And some of them gave skin-crawling feelings when she was on them.

[9:15] What was the timeline on Ali coming off benzodiazepines and what were the withdrawal symptoms like?

[10:15] One general practitioner abruptly switched her from Prozac to Lexapro in one day, which is very dangerous. This led to Ali’s first suicide attempt.

[10:50] Ali stopped taking benzodiazepines cold turkey (dangerous) in August 2015 and went into a horrible psychosis. She couldn’t sleep, she was having heart palpitations, muscle contortions, diarrhea, and she had hallucinations of a man chasing her around her bedroom. She was misdiagnosed at this point with bipolar disorder and put on her more meds which gave her a skin-crawling feeling.

[12:40] What led Ali to wanting to come off the benzos cold turkey? Trauma was a big part of this.

[13:40] Ali was told by one of her psychiatrists that he didn’t know what was wrong with her, that the drugs helped everyone else. She later found out that that same psychiatrist had at least three patients kill themselves in a single year.

[14:35] When Ali decided to go cold turkey off her meds, she had an appointment already scheduled with holistic doctor Dr. Kelly Brogan.

[17:20] Ali describes the gaslighting and abuse she faced from many of her doctors. She thought the drugs were making her unwell, but the psychiatrists told her it was actually her genetic “mental illness” causing the problems, not the drugs. She got indoctrinated into their belief system.

[20:30] How did Ali go from being trapped inside the mental health system to being outside of it, looking at it with clarity? Dr. Kelly Brogan did a lot for her, starting by changing her mindset and letting Ali know that Ali was not mentally ill.

[22:45] Dr. Brogan helped Ali change her lifestyle as well after helping change her mindset. This includes diet and meditation. Brogan helped Ali deal with her trauma.

[26:00] What specifics in lifestyle changes were big difference-makers for Ali’s health? She references a no-gluten, no-sugar, no-dairy, Whole30ish diet that Dr. Brogan said she needed to go on immediately (and Ali committed). Ali sees that most people don’t understand how much alcohol and food impact how they feel. She finds it empowering to try to find foods that fit the dietary strategy she follows (and has been so beneficial for her).

[31:00] Ali feels great now but she still suffers from stuttering at times today and struggles with bright lights from computers.

[32:30] “When you step back and you start to realize how amazing you can feel away from that type of eating or alcohol use or whatever, it’s really kind of mind-blowing”

[32:55] Did Ali get pushback from her friends and family when making these lifestyle changes?

[33:55] Ali’s children saw her getting better after implementing the diet and lifestyle changes and accepted it, but other people in her life (including a doctor) gave her pushback.

[37:00] Ali talks about healing happening in layers.

[38:30] Significant moment for Ali: Ali talked to a trauma counselor who asked her, “Did you realize that you’re being abused?” Understanding emotional abuse was a painful layer of her healing.

[39:25] Ali works with clients. “I can’t tell you how important it is to look at mental health as it relates to your relationships.” “Being involved in emotionally abusive relationships was absolutely as much as a problem for my mental health as the psychiatric drugs were.”

[40:55] Ali has detox periods after interactions with certain people the same way as there are detox periods after eating certain foods or drinking alcohol.

[41:40] “Your emotions can absolutely be affected by who you hang out with.”

[42:20] What is Ali’s meditation practice like? She used to do a more structured meditation, but now she follows a “living meditation”: experiencing her reality in a peaceful way. She loves her dogs and nature. She tries to just really observe the world and be present.

[44:35] “I couldn’t sit still and be quiet for twenty seconds. And I’m not even exaggerating. So for me to be able to really be at peace and be very present and engaged mentally in these moments, it’s priceless to me.”

[45:50] Are there any health issues Ali is still trying to work out?

[46:10] “I really do think I should be dead because I had multiple very severe suicide attempts.” … “To see people who have been on these drugs, I’ve lost many friends to these drugs and to suicide.”

[49:20] Does Ali consider herself cured of her conditions? She was misdiagnosed; she never actually had mental illness.

[50:30] “I do have faith in God. But I believe that God gives us the tools, and the body, and the innate wisdom to help ourselves… I would say that I escaped from the mental health system.”

[51:05] Now that she has improved her health, what’s one thing Ali enjoys doing that she couldn’t do before?

[53:00] Are there any resources Ali would recommend? She says to “ask for help”. She says she is constantly in communication with God. She says answers are not in black or white. She also recommends her doctor (prominent doctor author) Kelly Brogan. She encourages looking for medical care staff that looks for root cause. She also recommends, for anyone suffering from narcissistic abuse, The Little Shaman and Lisa Romano on YouTube.

[58:10] Where can Ali be found online? She is available (if not removed) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Telegram. And she is working on coming up with her own podcast.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × two =