Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Quiet Mind

Yesterday, actually, I had an interesting development in my mental health recovery that has motivated me to start writing this blog. It's hard to describe. It's like there's been a constant noise in my head all this time that suddenly stopped. Like a source of pressure has been released. It's subtle, yet I think the ramifications are huge. I think part of the reason things in my life stress me out so much is because I've always had this pressure in my head, taking away my flexibility to deal with other things. With that pressure gone, my whole relationship to life could change!!

Ok, well that was yesterday, and it seems like it may be back a little today, but now I see what's possible.

I am 3 1/2 weeks into the Truehope Empowerplus micronutrient program for mental health. My diagnosis is Bipolar II, with my main problem being depression. I take 15 Empowerplus capsules a day. I am in the process of tapering down my psychiatric medications. I'm down to 2.25 mg of Risperdal, or 1/2 my original dose. I also take 75 mg of Wellbutrin, down from my original dose of 300 mg.

So far I have not had any withdrawal symptoms. This is not my first time tapering off Risperdal. I went off it several years ago when I developed a really annoying tremor in my jaw and tongue, which was brought on by a period of extreme stress. Last time I tapered off Risperdal the withdrawal was extreme, a terrible black suicidal depression. So I began my taper this time with a great deal of trepidation, but things are going swimmingly. This Truehope Empowerplus is great stuff!!

Not only am I not experiencing withdrawal, I am in fact seeing improvement in my symptoms of depression and anxiety. The Truehope website has a Symptoms Evaluation Form that users fill in daily, and you can view your charts to see your progress. I thought I was doing pretty well when I filled in my baseline charts before I started Empowerplus, but even there I have improved.

I think my doctor would have said that I was pretty well controlled on the Risperdal and Wellbutrin. I didn't have any big depressions or hypomanias. But I was still getting little depressions, as well as a seasonal malaise that is probably Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I was dreadfully fatigued, developing more and more of a social phobia, and unable to work. I was staring down the barrel of spending the rest of my life on disability, sitting on my couch all day. I had no quality of life. So that is why I decided to risk a difficult withdrawal period and start the Truehope program.

Once I started researching Truehope I learned other reasons to get off my psychiatric medications. My last blood test showed that my blood sugar is at pre-diabetic levels, and I was shocked to learn that the Risperdal could have caused this. My hormones are also all screwed up, with elevated prolactin, also caused by the Risperdal. I don't have the mental fortitude to be taking blood samples several times a day, so diabetes is to be avoided at all cost. I have suspected all along that my psychiatric medications were shortening my life, now I am sure of it.

You may ask why I stuck with Risperdal all this time. The fact is that it took me 5 years to get as stabilized as I was, after trying every medication on the market. I had immediate side effects from almost everything, from dopeyness to migraines. Even Topamax, which was initially marketed for migraines, gave me terrible migraines. Risperdal was the only thing that even partially worked. But as I said, there's lots of room for improvement, and I'm not risking diabetes.

So this was a long post as I gave you all my background. I'm looking forward to lots of good news posts from here on in. The Truehope documentation says that recovery on the Truehope program is a long haul. In addition to the potential for withdrawal and what they call protracted withdrawal, when your body releases over the period of several months the psychiatric medications that have been stored in your tissues, there is also a period of adaptation to a new and healthy mental landscape. That is part of what I glimpsed yesterday with that momentary release of pressure in my head. It's more than just "feeling better," I'm hoping it will be a real shift in how I think.