About the Inner Compass Initiative and The Withdrawal Project
Inner Compass Initiative (ICI) is a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides information and resources to help people make more informed choices regarding all things “mental health” and to support people who wish to leave, bypass, or build community beyond the mental health system. Its first major effort, The Withdrawal Project (TWP), is a comprehensive online hub for safer psychiatric drug withdrawal. The resources on the ICI and TWP websites include a detailed layperson’s “Companion Guide” to safer tapering from psychiatric medications; mini-booklets that provide detailed, critical information about psychiatric drugs, psychiatric diagnoses, and the mental health industry; and two networking platforms to help people who are thinking critically about the mental health system or seeking support for psychiatric drug withdrawal to find each other in their local communities.
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The evolution of this series of illustrations was a collaborative effort between myself, Laura Delano and Rob Wipond. The themes are based on the ideas of struggle and transformation taken loosely from the symbolism of selected tarot cards. Ink colors were chosen to convey a particular mood but how they interacted on the paper was spontaneous. Shreds of neuroanatomy textbook pages and the pages of a particular drug in each category from the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) were scanned in and overlaid in Photoshop. Most of the Tarot symbolism comes from the major Arcana of “The Lovers Tarot” by Jane Lyle except for the Page of Pentacles used for ADHD drugs.
Mood Stabilizers: Symbolically based on the Wheel of Fortune card, reversed this card indicates irregular, sporadic, overwhelming chaos. The composition is also somewhat based on one clock in Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”. Primary colors are used in an effort to portray more of an imperfect surreal wheel, even a distorted compass. The text is taken from the PDR for Valproate.
ADHD drugs: Symbolically based on the Page of Pentacles, with it’s focus on success and the inverse distraction by negative influences. The composition consists of a child is drawing the Pentacles symbol in chalk. The colors of red, yellow and green to allude to traffic control. A denser collage of neuroanatomy images and pages from the PDR for Ritalin.
Anti-psychotics: The hanged man is the symbol from the tarot used for this image. Indicating the “shamanic death” before “enlightenment”. Old life is dissolving while a new one forms. It may be hard to attend to practicalities and reversed it can be a time of confusion and frustration. Colors are chosen to emphasize this time of confusion, swirling chaos but also the golden aura of possibility surrounding the figure.
Anti-depressants: Taken very loosely from the Tarot card for death. A time of darkness, painful initiation, decent into the underworld where rebirth is possible. The sickle is tearing through the darkness to a new light. The colors are blues and black with a tinge of red along the cut lines. The text is taken from the PDR for Prozac and Cymbalta.
Z-drugs: The card selected is the moon which reversed reveals a temptation to experiment with sleeping pills and alcohol when rest and submitting to reality are the best antidotes. The text is taken from the PDR for Zaleplon.
Benzodiazepines: Based on the symbolism of the Tower card implying the insecurity and uncertainty of change. This tower is tipping over, falling down, like a wobbly stack of books. Warm colors of red, orange and yellow allude to fire. The PDR page selected is for Valium.