Learning to find your own way in this backward world is no easy task. Our indoctrination into this culture and society is different for everyone, of course, but a common principle instilled in us is that certain members of our community are to be revered as credible by virtue of their professional status, age, wealth, or association with certain institutions, government agencies, etc.
This rule is applied at colleges, in business, when dealing with legal matters, and in social circles. We are instilled with a connection between success and trust, and as we come of age we have a natural tendency to automatically trust people of stature without first evaluating or understanding their personal merits, or examining them for signs of genuine virtue.
What we are not often taught, however, is that all people are fallible, few people are virtuous, and that people in respectable positions of leadership or power are just as likely to be as careless or to have hidden agendas as anyone else. Medical professionals, especially those who diagnose and recommend treatments to patients, are in positions of immense power in our society and are endowed with tremendous trust by people seeking remedy for concerning illnesses and ailments.
I achieved the cornerstones of genuine health after nearly destroying myself in a reckless society where the dominant paradigm is to overdo things, then seek a quick fix, never prying too deeply into the root causes of what ails us.
It needs to be said that I recognize that doctors are mostly good people, who genuinely have their patient's best interest in mind, and that not everyone in the medical establishment is as careless as the few doctors that I am going to mention here. Conversely, it needs to be said that there is something terribly wrong with how modern medicine operates today, and that it is clear to many that profit and the prestige of success and wealth are corrupting factors that contribute to carelessness among some of today’s physicians.
The term ‘attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder’ or ADD/ADHD has become a household term, and we have become desensitized to what this actually means in terms of wellness and dependency on the pharmaceutical establishment. Likewise, the terms ‘anxiety,’ ‘depression,’ and ‘bi-polar disorder’ have also become ubiquitous in our lexicon, with little consideration of what effect this has on the quality of our society and the quality of the people in it. We have grown to fully accept that these so-called ‘disorders’ are a fact of modern life, and so many of us can describe their symptoms without even experiencing them, because, after all, the TV and a massive advertising industry constantly alert us to the details and suggested remedies of these and many other modern maladies.
When I was 19, after having completed a decade and a half of compulsory schooling in the public education system, I was talked into pursuing a college degree, with the aim of getting a good job afterward. This was the recommended life path for everyone else it seemed, so I signed up for college and got to work on prerequisites hoping that my career path would reveal itself to me along the way. What I didn’t realize at the time was how bored I was and how sick I had become of a life regimented by the school bell and after-school work.
In short order I had difficulty maintaining the stamina required to keep up with the homework, and paying attention in lecture after lecture became unbearable. When my grades began to slip, my family grew worried and my professors issued their standard warnings. Not wanting to sell myself short, or my future, and not wanting to disappoint my family and those who’d supported me, I began looking for answers. After some time I heard about ADD/ADHD; I read a book on the subject and decided that I fit the description therein: lack of concentration, poor attention span for studying, inability to complete coursework, frustration, and so on.
I was optimistic that I’d found the source of my problems with school, and I went to see a psychiatrist, who, after 3 visits, several consultations and tests, sat me in his office to confirm my suspicions that, yes, I had ADD/ADHD. Not a severe type, he said, but enough to warrant pharmaceutical intervention. I had, you see, a chemical imbalance, which was nothing to be ashamed of because a certain percentage of people are just born with it. The solution was easy, painless and quickly effective. Ritalin.
At that time I knew nothing of Ritalin so I asked him what it was. He told me it was like speed, the stuff that druggies take, but it was pharmaceutical-grade and pure, and that it wouldn’t affect me the same way that it affected addicts of the illegal version because my brain chemistry was different. It would only make it possible for me to concentrate and perform well … a good thing. I was to take a little at first and over time ramp up the dosage. I asked him how long I needed it. He said for as long as I was studying or working, inferring that it was there to crutch me for life.
At first it was a rush and I was indeed full of energy and focus. Studying was much easier, and my situation in school improved dramatically, yet over time the side-effects became apparent. I couldn’t ever sleep well, I felt dependent, and most notably it seemed to really change my personality. I became much more quiet and reserved, and felt empty, hollow, as though my spirit or soul had left my body. After 6-8 months I realized I didn’t like the new me, so I quit Ritalin, and set my mind on completing school without it.
After some years during school I again gave in to the stressful circumstances of working and going to school full time and entered a period of depression, anxiety and dramatic mood swings that I was not able to alleviate on my own. Being familiar with psychiatry I saw a different physician and confided in him the details of my troubles and lifestyle. The diagnosis after a single session was that I had bi-polar disorder. The remedy this time: Klonopin.
I took my pills and things seemed to improve, but after time, again, the side-effects became obvious and over-shadowed the original problem. I was dependent on the medication for happiness, and when I took a break from it the original symptoms immediately returned, with a vengeance. Additionally, my personality again changed, to my disliking, and I always felt tired and in a strange dream-like state, as though I was outside of myself and drugged. After sometime I realized this was unsustainable and willed myself to suffer the withdrawals and to move forward without this.
Fast forward a bit now. It took a little longer than some people, but I finished college with a degree from a respectable university, and after much effort landed my dream job. For some time in my new career I happily worked 60-80 hours a week spending life in the office as many people do, forgoing my health to advance in my profession. Yet, after some years I developed severe anxiety and depression, so again, in a moment of personal crisis I turned to my doctor for advice. He saw how distraught I was, and in a single visit sent me home with Xanax to take for my anxiety, Valium to help me sleep, and an anti-depressant/anti-schizophrenic medication, Geodon, to take for the long run. He also recommended I immediately see a psychiatrist and he referred me to one of the most respected psychiatrists in our community.
I asked my doctor at that time if he thought that getting exercise might help and he flatly said no. It might be nice if I took more walks, he said, but I needed the medications first and foremost if I wanted to improve.
The pills immediately helped to sedate me, but 48 hours later I phoned my doctor out of exasperation. The side-effects were already too much. I felt drugged and spaced out, I had chills and uncontrollable shakes, and my brain literally felt like it was turning to mush. To make matters more frightening, a clear liquid was oozing from some of my orifices, gross, and in my alarm I asked him what was happening to me. He told me that the side effects were absolutely normal and that I just needed to follow the regimen, doubling the dosage of the anti-depressant the following week, and making sure not to miss my appointment with the shrink. Over time I would get used to the side-effects, he assured me.
So I went to the shrink. He was an important guy in a busy office, and the signs of his prestige were visible on numerous plaques on the walls. I had an hour with him and upon introducing himself I immediately felt uncomfortable, sensing his arrogance and over-confidence. He asked me to describe my situation and I didn’t feel at all comfortable sharing the intimate details of my life with him in our first visit. So, the time passed in an awkward sort of ping-pong exchange, where I felt defensive, and insisted of telling him about me, I insisted on knowing more about him.
Looking at his office walls, which were covered with Vietnam-era photos, plaques and statuettes of military aircraft, I grew more suspicious of him and asked him how much money he made. Without hesitation, and with great pride, he told me that he made $450,000 a year, had his own Cessna airplane, a fine Mercedes Benz, and owned homes in three States and in Mexico.
Somewhat shocked, I pointed to the military regalia on his wall and asked him if fought in Vietnam. Yes, he said, again with great pride, and told me that he was a fighter bomber pilot. Immediately curious I looked him square in the eye and asked him directly, ‘how many people do you think you killed?’ Without flinching and without breaking our locked-on gaze, he replied, ‘thousands… thousands,’ with a long creepy pause in between the words. His reply reminded me of Marlo Brando’s madness in the classic film Apocalypse Now. I gulped and backed off.
To close out the appointment, and without me really giving him any great detail about my situation he confidently prescribed me seven different medications to take every single day until we figured out which worked best he said, then I would take those for life. Wellbutrin, Xanax, Valium, a couple of anti-depressants, Strattera and something to help mitigate the side-effects of all this. I can’t recall exactly what he gave me, but I did notice that he conveniently had samples of each on hand, so I didn’t even need to go directly to the pharmacy.
I paid my bill and left the office with a candy bag filled with pills that rattled with each step. How absurd, I thought, wondering who was crazier, he or I. When I got outside I let out a big sigh and composed myself. I felt violated, but, fantastically I also felt liberated somehow. I dropped the bag of pills in the nearest trashcan and never looked back. This visit officially ended my dependence on modern psychiatry. I was 26 years old.
A couple of years later I mysteriously contracted a terrible ear infection, the first I’d had since childhood. I went to my physician who prescribed to me, Zithromax, a potent 3-day dosage of antibiotics. I went home and took dose 1, and the next morning woke up with a serious brain fog. The entire day it was as though I was in a cloud, separated from my body, outside of myself, dizzy and confused, tired but restless. Thus began a two-year battle with what I now believe was Candida poisoning.
After 6 weeks or so of suffering from ceaseless brain fog, terrible insomnia, persistent dizziness, drowsiness and chronic fatigue I went to my doctor, telling him how it started immediately after taking a single dose of the antibiotic. He checked me out thoroughly, and after finding nothing noticeably wrong referred me to a number of specialists. Over the course of the next 6 months, without any relief, I saw blood doctors and neurologists, had CAT Scans and MRIs, and was even offered a spinal tap. No thanks. I was in great shape, I didn’t have diabetes, tumors or cancer, or meningitis, or any rare disease they could find, and so on a follow up with my general practitioner, he revealed his frustration and recommended I try anti-depressants.
No thanks, there simply had to be another way I told him, and this was the last time I’ve been to see an MD.
These are just my stories of the pivotal events that have pushed me toward the ultimate discovery of abundant health, wellness, and happiness in life. These stories don’t apply to anyone else, although I’ve shared these with many people and similar stories are not at all uncommon.
After my run-ins with psychiatry I was fortunate to discover Shaolin Kung Fu and I put my heart and soul into regular rigorous practice. Within a month or so all of my psychiatric symptoms were totally gone, and I was happier than I’d ever been. I’ve been practicing ever since.
Following my failed attempts to find relief from my enduring episode with brain fog and chronic fatigue, a friend recommended I see a holistic nutritionist who tested my blood for food allergies. The nutritionist recommended I completely avoid yeast, brewer’s yeast and walnuts for a period of no less less than three months, which I adhered to stringently. After 3-4 weeks, the symptoms that had troubled me since taking Zithromax all but disappeared, and after 3 months I resumed a normal diet. Thus began my personal journey to understand more about food and the effects it can have on health.
The symptoms did persist for another year so; however, in much milder forms as I drank only filtered water, ate in moderation, and cut out certain toxins like MSG, Aspartame and refined sugar. One day I met a teacher of Qi Gong who assured me that this ancient Chinese wellness art would help me to further improve. I saw his excellent acupuncturist and began a dedicated Qi Gong practice which lasted for over 2 years. Within a short time of committing myself to the practice my symptoms of Candida poisoning completely vanished.
To this day I am grateful for each of these experiences, for without them I would have never have come to be the person I am. I feel that it is too easy for people to take at face value the advice of doctors and physicians who seem to be as prone to carelessness and callousness as anyone else. Today’s medical industry encourages this in them, I feel. Learning this for myself was a most valuable lesson, and I no longer hold negative opinions of anyone involved here, as I realize that everyone is different and their system simply was not for me.
This story is in no way intended to be medical advice to anyone, and I am fully aware that what doesn’t work for some may very well heal others, as we are all unique. Nor is this an indictment of the modern medical establishment, which has its value. Please only consider this to be the story of one man’s journey from unhealthiness to healthiness in a time where many natural, simple, chemical-free cures are available, yet largely under-prescribed in by modern healthcare system. My intention here is not to persuade or convince anyone of the efficacy of natural alternatives, but, once again, only to share a single story for anyone who may be in search of true health, wellness, happiness and independence from pharmaceuticals.
To your health.
Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist esoteric arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten others with the power of inspiring information and action. His remarkable journey of self-transformation is a testament to the power of the will and the persistence of the human spirit. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.