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My Journey So Far

Hi, I’m Jeff Thrasher, and here’s my story about my journey of overcoming multiple forms of dependency, and transforming those experiences to help others shift into a dependency free life.


I wrote this detailed history of my dependencies to let you know that I have been where you are, and I deeply understand. I understand what you are going through. I understand how you feel, and how much everything inside of you is screaming for help, relief, support. And most of all, I understand what it feels like to be so lost that you would do anything to end the suffering, and reclaim your life, your self, and your sovereignty.


In the fall of 1998 when I was only 21, I experienced the first of 3 surgeries on my left shoulder. I started taking A LOT of medication to keep the pain at bay. I didn’t know it at the time, I was slowing growing a dependency on pharmaceutical pain medication.


Just before Christmas of 1998 I underwent my second and much more reconstructive surgery. Again, I was showered in pain killers for months. I had no idea I was physically hooked until the night I ran out of pills.


That night was horrific. I had never experienced chemical withdrawals before, and my entire body was wrapped in the feeling of not being able to sit still. At the time I was in a toxic relationship and felt unable to confide in her that I was going through these withdrawals, out of fear of ridicule and judgment.


I was deeply ashamed because I felt like an addict, a “junkie”. After a couple of weeks of completely sleepless nights my life started to return to the hydrocodone free days. My mind was clearer, and life were getting better. My shoulder was recovering but not at the speed I hoped it would. But things were looking up.


Less than a year later, my father took his own life, and I was the one that discovered him. My world was completely shattered. The family doctor heard about what I had gone through and asked my mom to have me come in. During my appointment, we talked about the feelings of anxiety that I would most likely encounter after going through such a traumatic event.


I truly feel like he had a positive intention when he prescribed me anxiety medication. He didn’t know about my recent history with pain medication, and I sincerely believe he thought anxiolytics would help me.


And was he ever right!!! It made me feel great! The problem was that my body developed a tolerance to it extremely fast. So, to feel that “good” anti-anxious feeling, I had to start upping my dose a lot. I found that when waking the next morning after a day of taking anxiety medication, that my level of anxiety would be through the roof.


Little did I know that what I was feeling on those days was the beginning stages of withdrawals of Xanax. My doctor became unwilling to fill my prescription anymore, and when my supply ran out it was unreal how bad the withdrawals were.


I laid in bed sleepless, fighting off the zombie arms and legs that come along with these types of withdrawals, the never-ending feeling to get up and pace. It felt like fighting a war against my own body, while refusing to tell anyone what I was going through. I was afraid of being judged by even my closest friends and loved ones.


During my withdrawals from anxiety medication, I was told that a 3rd shoulder surgery was being planned. When I was told this news I completely fell apart at the doctor’s office. I didn’t want to go through the hell of surgery again. At the same time, the inner addict part of me was sitting there rubbing his hands and feet together salivating at the idea of being handed multiple prescriptions for pain killers.


My third surgery wasn’t as invasive as my second one, but it still came with a couple of prescriptions. I remember going to see my surgeon for a follow up and I said, “is there any way I can get another prescription for the pain? My nephew flushed all of our meds down the toilet thinking it was funny.”


He looked at me and said, “I will fill this prescription for you, but this is it. Don’t ever ask me for more painkillers again, you won’t get them from me.” He knew I was abusing them. When I filled that last script, I knew I need to treat them as if they were precious.


This was my first time teaching myself how to taper off a drug. It was still no fun going through withdrawals as they cleared out of my system. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the times before when I stopped cold turkey.

Once life calmed down after my last shoulder surgery and I finished with physical therapy, I began slipping into a very dark place. I could feel myself falling into a deep depression. My mom convinced me to go see a doctor about what was going on with my emotional state.


I still remember going to the psychiatrist for the first time. I didn’t have health insurance back then, so I went to a state funded mental facility. The psychiatrist and I talked about what happened with my dad then we talked about my depression. She handed me an SSRI and an antipsychotic. I had never heard of these drugs and had no idea how they worked, but I was willing to take anything to make me feel better.


Now, remind yourself this was in the year 2000, before there was Google and YouTube to pull information from. I scheduled a follow-up appointment to see the psychiatrist again the following week. I had been on these new meds for an entire 5 days and I was feeling so much better. My mood had lifted, and life seemed to be moving up.


I met with the psychiatrist and explained to her how I was already feeling much better and that the pills must be helping. She replied “it’s not the drugs making you feel better. Zoloft can take a couple of weeks for you to feel a change in mood. So, we’re going to add another drug to your daily regimen. You clearly have a chemical imbalance.”


Notice how they said so without ever taking any blood or doing any brain scans to test for a chemical imbalance. This began a cycle of feeling like doctors saw me as another one of their dart boards, “let’s just throw stuff at it and see what sticks”. This is also an excellent time to add that NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO ANY OF THESE DRUGS.


Come to find out the reason I was feeling better was that one of the medications was allowing me to sleep, something I have struggled with since middle school. After my father’s suicide, my sleeping went from bad to non-existent. It’s amazing how much clearer your mind is when you don’t have the haze of insomnia blocking out the world.


I was on the first cocktail of pills for a couple of months. I was also moved from that clinic to another more long-term government paid mental health program. When I started at the new location, I was given a counselor and another psychiatrist. I told the psychiatrist that the medications they had me on were no longer having a positive impact. I explained how they seemed to help at first but quickly stopped having any beneficial effect on my mental state.


In my nonprofessional opinion, it’s because I grew tolerant to them. They were also causing me to gain weight alarmingly fast. After talking to my doctor about this he immediately, without tapering me off the meds I was currently on, switched me to two new antidepressants.


Now that I was on the new medication, things were better… at first. In hindsight, I attribute the improvement to being able to sleep again. At the time, I felt it was a combination of the drugs that was helping me manage my emotions better, not realizing that sleep was helping me the most.

My Effexor journey started at 37.5 mg and somehow continued to skyrocket up to 300mg. While on Effexor I never noticed a feeling of being better mentally. Things started sliding in the opposite direction. The higher the doses got, the more numb I felt to the world. I had no real emotions. I felt like I was just walking through my days completely lost.


The only emotions I felt like I could truly feel and express were anger and rage. Everything else was a fleeting memory of a life that once had feeling. In the summer of 2002 I had been on Effexor for over a year and my sister asked me if I would please go to Europe with her and my 8-year-old niece for the month of August.


She thought it would be good for me to get away from my everyday world that seemed to have me wrapped in chains. She was right, something about changing my surroundings helped me realize that I wanted to be “better” again.


I think one of the best things for me during my trip to Europe was that I walked EVERYWHERE! I lost over 20 pounds in a month. By the time I came home, I was feeling better and looking better too. During my trip I decided no matter what - I was getting off the meds they had put me on.


I had a few late nights that kept me from returning to my hotel and this is when I started to discover how much these pills can wreck your world if you don’t take them as you normally would. If I didn’t take my Effexor within a couple of hours of my normal dose, I started having major vertigo issues.


Being in a city like Berlin, Germany is not where you want to discover this issue. I also learned that if I didn’t take my Seroquel, I couldn’t sleep AT ALL! At the end of August, I returned to the states and my new mission was to get off the meds that had me feeling like a prisoner in my own body.


I tried a few times to simply “miss” a dose of antidepressants just to see how bad the withdrawals were going to be. I normally took an dose around 9:00am and the longest I could go without feeling like I was losing my mind was about 8:00pm the same day. I couldn’t make it 12 hours past my normal dose without going into full detox mode.


Brain zaps, vertigo, nausea, perpetual repetitive thoughts of self harm and self mortality, uncontrollable emotions, and more. It quickly became clear that for me, this was going to be much harder than any dependency I had overcome before, with anxiety and pain medication.


Towards the end of September 2002, I started dating someone new. Although she was fighting her own battles, she brought a loving, non-judgmental level of support for what I was going through. We started to navigate this world with each other, side by side. In May of 2024 we celebrated 14 years of marriage. 

As we made our way into December of 2002, my hatred for being on this medication—which made me feel like a prisoner in my own body and mind—was growing ever stronger. Each morning, I woke up and had to force myself to take my meds. I loathed taking them. But I didn’t have a choice, this was my life until I forced a change.


My mom said she would be traveling to see my sister in California for a month. This was the window I needed to start my process of detoxing from this pill. I didn’t want my mom to witness any part of what I was going to experience during my first few weeks of withdrawals.


At the beginning of December, I started reducing my dose weekly thinking I was doing things the right way. I used the same process I taught myself for tapering off from pain medication. Rapidly, I discovered that detoxifying and withdrawing from these antidepressants was exponentially more challenging and uncomfortable than any of my previous experiences.


This stuff felt like pure evil. I was stepping down much faster than my body was able to acclimate to the new lower dose. I didn’t realize this until many years later; but tapering down too fast can cause you to abandon the tapering process and go back on your meds. And I didn’t want to wait or drag the process out, I just knew I wanted freedom from them, right now!


The week my mom was leaving, I went to see my psychiatrist to tell him I was coming off Effexor and that I needed to continue taking Seroquel to help me sleep through the nightmare ahead. Let me mention that when I started seeing this doctor, I was feeling ready to end it all. Little did I know the drug that he put me on was going to almost guarantee that I would try and do just that.


As I told my doctor that I had tapered back down to the lowest dose and that I was going to stop taking the antidepressant, he said “Jeff, be very careful when you come off this stuff because it has a very high self mortality rate. I suggest finding some good cannabis, it might help with withdrawal symptoms”


I remember leaving there mad as hell and also excited, because I was drawing the line in the sand. I was hell bent on not being a slave to this stuff anymore.

The day after my mom left, I started my tapering journey. I woke up that morning and made my way through the day as I normally would. That afternoon the withdrawals started. I thought because I had been tapering down, the intensity of the withdrawals would be less than the times I had missed my previous high dose. I was dead wrong. The feelings were just as intense as before.


I look back on this experience and often wonder where the hell I came up with the emotional, mental, and spiritual strength to pull through the first month. It must have been my higher self, something beyond a purely physical force. I couldn’t be left alone for more than a few minutes without me trying to find a way to “accidentally” harm myself, and end the agony.


What was worse than all the massive side effects of withdrawals was feeling as if I was chained to a chair in the background of my mind, and someone else was at the controls. I felt like I spent my days SCREAMING for help deep inside my mind and no one could hear me. On the surface these emotions were coming out through uncontrollable fits of rage, sadness, hysterical laughing, and right back to pouring tears.


I was fighting a war inside myself that I was battling 30 seconds at a time. I often hear people say, “you’ll be fine, it’s just one day at a time.” One day at a time? Are you serious!? At this point I was having trouble making it to the end of sentence without thinking how much I wanted things to end in that very moment!


As the months rolled by, my mental state slowly improved. By that summer, I felt that it was time to start coming off the medication that was helping me sleep. I started breaking the pills into smaller and smaller pieces until eventually I was taking an over-the-counter sleep aid.


It took a few years for the “brain zaps” to go away for 95% of my days. Today, a full 20 plus years later, when I get really tired my brain zaps still come back. They’re not as intense as they were when I first came off the medications, but they still come back.


In the fall of 2021, my wife and I were required by our employers to be vaccinated. For the first round of the vaccine I was fine. The second round caused me to have unstoppable nose bleeds for close to 4 days. A couple of weeks after the second shot I had the onset of full-blown neuropathy from my knees to my feet.


It took close to a year to finally get myself into a neurologist in San Antonio, Texas. He confirmed my case of neuropathy and said it was permanent, no way to fix it, and he had a pill he wanted me to take to help manage my symptoms. I had explained to him that I loathed taking pills because of my past experiences with pharmaceutical drugs. He explained this was a “non-addictive and very mild drug”.


Once again, I was putting myself in the hands of doctor that was supposed to know what was best for me and was going to help me feel better. That night I filled my script for the new sleep aid. I had never heard of it and knew absolutely nothing about it. I came home, read some google searches, and all I got were ads saying how great of a drug it is.


The first night I took it was the first night I had slept since the onset of my neuropathy. It WORKED! It really worked! I was able to sleep! I was so excited.


After being on this sleep aid for close to a month, I started to notice my short-term memory was becoming nonexistent. I would be sitting at my desk working on something, and if my phone rang, if someone walked in, if a car drove by, I couldn’t tell you what I was doing before the distraction.


About 6 weeks after I started taking the sleep aid each night and having some amazing sleep, I got up for work, walked into the bathroom and I stepped in front of the toilet to relieve myself. I felt a little off. The next thing I remember was my wife April kneeling over me asking me if I was ok and if I had fallen.


I couldn’t tell her what had happened. I didn’t have a clue. All I knew was my world was upside down and I was struggling to just form a sentence. April got our son off to school then took me to the ER. They ran plenty of tests on me and felt like I had had a seizure. The doctors also told me to contact my neurologist about what had happened. When we got home, we called my neurologist and informed him that I had a seizure and asked what I should do. Again, I was not warned, but seizures are a known possible side effect of the sleep aid.


My doctor told me that he wanted me to come off the medication for a week and see how I felt. Me thinking to myself “well, there goes my amazing sleep”. That night I skipped my normal dose at 10:30pm and didn’t think much about it because as my doctor said, “this is non habit forming and quite mild.” That night at close to 1:30am I started having the zombie arms and legs kick in. SO MUCH FOR BEING NON-ADDICTIVE!


Once again, I was going into full blown withdrawals. These withdrawals weren’t as intense as the antidepressant ones, but they were miserable! They were bad enough that when I realized what was going on, I jumped up and ran to the kitchen where my pills are. I didn’t merely take the pill, I chewed it up so it would hit my blood faster.


Imagine that. I just had a seizure and thought I was going to die. But because of my nightmare experience detoxing from antidepressants, and not realizing that I was now experiencing PTSD from pharmaceutical drug withdrawals, I was willing to chew a pill that I believed might kill me.


I called my doctor back the next day and told them what had happened and that I need a lower dose to help taper off this drug. I loved being able to sleep but I was never going to be a slave to a pill again. I would figure something else out to help my neuropathy.


My doctor dropped me down to the children’s dose of 100mg. I tried dropping from 300mg to 100mg and that was too much of a decrease for me in one step. I had the same withdrawal symptoms as before, in the same time frame. Just a few hours after my normal dose time I was experiencing zombie arms.


Once they started, I didn’t wait to see if it would pass or how long it would last. I got up and took another 200mg to get some sleep and then try out another dose. The following night I took 200mg and didn’t have a single issue. Feet were happy and no withdrawal symptoms. I stayed on 200mg for a couple of weeks to let my body acclimate to the new dose.


Then I tapered down again. This time to 100mg. Again, no withdrawal symptoms this time. The smaller steps were helping. The downside to tapering was that my feet were starting to throb about 6 hours before my usual dose time. This was my first time experienced my feet throbbing within fewer than 24 hours of a scheduled dose.


At this point I started cutting my capsules open and weighing out my doses. I dropped from 100mg to 90mg and again there were no side effects. I stayed on 90mg for a week then dropped to 80mg. I followed this process down to 60mg. At 60mg I began to experience blurred vision, headaches, irritability, around noon now. And my feet were really starting to act up.


I realized “this is it, this is where it gets real again”. My body was saying, “feed me” well before the 24-hour mark and this is as low of a dose you can take and still function. In hindsight I should have stepped back up to 65mg and let my body get used to it before dropping but I was in a hurry to break my chains. I stayed at 60mg for over 2 weeks.


I picked Easter weekend of 2023 to fully cut ties with the sleep aid, the last medication I would ever be dependent upon. Being a long weekend, it seemed to be the best time. The first night I went without, I loaded up on some homeopathic nerve pills and a sleep aid. The first few nights were kind of rough, but not too bad.


My mood throughout the first few days was rocky. I made sure to pay very close attention to how I spoke to my wife April, and my son. They didn’t need to suffer on behalf of the withdrawals I was experiencing. As the gabapentin left my system, the nerve pain in my feet came back. I knew it would. But at this point, there was no other choice for me, and no turning back. I was doing this, no matter what.


Without going into all the details, I was able to find enough information on YouTube to help me find natural ways of combating my nerve pain. Still, for at least a month after coming off from the sleep aid, my nerves were shot. I would lash out at coworkers quick and for very little reason. I was able to catch myself doing this AFTER I had my explosion, and made sure to go back and apologize for how I acted. Even so, it was still deeply uncomfortable.


Remember, I had my seizure in October of 2022, stopped taking the sleep aid during Easter of 2023, and I *still* don’t feel as if my memory has fully come back to what it once was. April agrees with me on this as well. It took roughly 6 weeks for me to feel somewhat normal after my seizure.


Sadly, I had to reconcile with the fact that I will never get back the memories I lost during the seizure, and during my time of dependency on the sleep aid. However, it is a small price to pay compared to a lifetime of dependency, suffering, and feeling like a shell as I did when I was deep in the darkness and oppression of dependency on any kind of medication.


Gradually, I continued to build and create my support system and network, tools, and a new healthier relationship with myself, my emotions, and my experiences of the past. Through this journey, I became an international top three speed bag coach, developed a coaching practice and an innovative new speed bag product design, and built a growing business in that space.


I have also chosen to follow the call of my heart and bring all of my care, experience, and wisdom, to create a heart centered program focused on helping people who are ready to take the next step in becoming free from dependency. This is for anyone who is ready for expert guidance and support, to create a plan that is best aligned for you based on your unique needs and situation, to reclaim your sovereignty and create the life you were born to live.


Thank you for taking the time to read my personal story of pharmaceutical dependency. I must tell you; pharmaceutical drugs are not my only dependencies I had to break.

Some have been as mentally addictive as they are physically, and sometimes the mental addiction is much harder to break than the physical one because of amount of energy, thought, and time spent on these addictive behaviors.


I’ve struggled with and had to fight my way off anti anxiety and pain medication, toxic relationships, cigarettes, caffeine, antidepressants, sleep aids, alcohol, and cannabis. While it’s true that I am not a doctor, a therapist, or a clinical professional, I certainly understand. Probably better than most.


I understand what you’re facing, and what you’re navigating. I understand it can feel overwhelming, and like no one truly knows how to help you get your life back. I understand, because I have been there on every level, and I have come through the other side equipped, ready, and willing to help you navigate your challenges, the darkness, and your journey back to yourself.


From my experience, I understand how important it is to have that support, and build life long tools and strength to endure and overcome. Because it is a long game. It is a lifestyle and mindset change, on all levels. But I know that if I can do it, so can you!


That is why I created this program. To make my most difficult life experiences count for something. And to make sure you don’t have to go through the same hell all on your own. My intention is that you feel cared for, safe, guided and supported in every step as you shift from a life of seemingly endless dependency into one of authenticity, alignment, and living as your highest sovereign self.


If you are ready to finally gain freedom from the weight of dependency that has been holding you down for so long, let’s connect and have a conversation. Let me help you gain the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual strength to begin and truly succeed in your journey of freedom from dependency!

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