Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Story So Far

Of course, the thing about blogs is, that you read them backwards, unless you have been following all along.  So, to spare you going back to the beginning, a recap.

When I first heard about Truehope I had tried to go off my drugs many times, always unsuccessfully.  The slightest reduction in my medications would result in a return of the depression.  But the drugs were killing me, slowly but surely.  My blood sugar had just tested at the pre-diabetic level, a known side effect of the Risperdal I was taking.  My periods had stopped, also due to the Risperdal.  I was incredibly tired all the time.

My mood on my drugs wasn't really that bad, but things were trending down.  I would say I was mildly depressed most of the time.  I had no motivation.  I couldn't concentrate, hadn't read a book in years.  I had a growing social anxiety.  I couldn't handle the smallest stressors.  I spent most of my time on the sofa, not really thinking, just staring into space.  I hadn't worked for 9 years.

So I heard about Truehope and I read about the difficult time many people have with withdrawal from their medications, and I was very worried about facing months of serious depression, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my shortened life on the sofa, so I went for it.

The first four weeks, while I was taking Empowerplus and reducing my meds, were great.  I started this blog to show that it doesn't have to be all that hard to make the transition from drugs to Empowerplus.  Then I took my last dose of Wellbutrin and the withdrawal hit pretty hard.  The blog doesn't really reflect how hard it hit.  I was flattened.  I was asleep in bed all morning and on the sofa all afternoon, with a couple of good hours in the evening.  I was nauseous, hot and cold at the same time, and dizzy.  This lasted about a week and then slowly began to get better.

About a month after I stopped all my meds the protracted withdrawal set in.  Now, over three months into the program, I am still experiencing it.  For me it is mainly manifesting as very low energy and reduced stamina, reduced appetite, headaches which will grow into migraines if I don't take care of them, bizarreness in my sinuses and a constant post nasal drip.  And my sleep schedule is way off -- I fall asleep around 4 or 5 (or later) and sleep until 12 or 1.

But, I have to tell you that I don't mind all this at all.  I have not had one day when I felt depressed since I started Empowerplus.  Since I started the Holy Basil I have not had one day of anxiety.  I am incredibly lucky and grateful.  The physical symptoms I've had are a cakewalk compared to depression.

So, the Empowerplus is working, and I am looking forward to the future.  This blog is a sign of progress, and I am thinking of starting another one.  The dreadful hot and humid days of summer are over, and I always feel more optimistic as the fresh northern breezes start to blow away all the stale air.  It's time to turn my attention to new projects, but I will check in from time to time as new milestones are passed.  Best wishes on your journey of healing!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Blog is Boring

I've been concerned about this for a few weeks now. I feel I started off strong, but lately have just fallen into reporting symptoms, which is not really that interesting. I'm thinking I'm going to starting commenting on various mental health issues as I find them in life and on the internet. I will still report on my progress on Empowerplus, but lately that just seems to involve sitting around on the sofa, so there is plenty of time to talk about other things. I have some ideas already, so look out for a flurry of posts in the near future. Hopefully things will get a little more exciting around here!

Update Nov 25/09:  I googled "truehope blog" and my blog came up first in the listings (yay), and this post came up right after it!  Yikes!

In fact, this blog has continued to be about my symptoms and observations with withdrawal and Empowerplus.  First, I think that if you are thinking about Empowerplus or are actually starting it also, those symptoms are in fact interesting to you.  I recently read Steve Pavlina's blow by blow account of his raw food trial, which is WAY more detailed than this, and I found it fascinating.  So I do think there is value here.

Second, I found I didn't like the idea of focusing back on mental illness, when I am looking forward to wellness.

Looking back at this post, it seems funny that I was already bored with protracted withdrawal after just 2 weeks!  I see the same thing with new people on the Truehope message boards, and I laugh.

Read on, intrepid readers, read on!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I was going to post yesterday, I was feeling really good. So good, in fact, that I slacked off on my protracted withdrawal prevention routine. I'd been taking 4 Total Amino Solutions (TAS) every 3 hours to prevent my protracted withdrawal headache. I cut back to 2 TAS, and in 1 1/2 hours WHAM! -- migraine.

For me a migraine can develop out of a regular headache if I let it go too long. That's what happened last week. I had a headache all week which eventually culminated in a pretty bad migraine. I noticed, though, that when I took all my TAS in the evening to try and sleep the headache got significantly better, so I did eventually realize that it was protracted withdrawal that was causing the headache.

For those of you that are wondering, protracted withdrawal is caused by the release of the psychiatric medications that are stored in the body. It is most active in the 6 months after you stop taking your meds, but it can flare up for years afterwards if you overexert yourself or go on too restrictive a diet.

After the first migraine I went on a strict regimen of 4 TAS every 3 hours, with OTC pain killers added in as needed, and I started feeling pretty good. Protracted withdrawal is no big deal, thought I. The second migraine just shows that I have to remain vigilant.

And I stand by that thought -- with a little bit of care, protracted withdrawal does not seem to be that big a deal. I was really worried, some people have a terrible time with it. But, it seems to be going pretty smoothly for me. Last night I was even thinking about what kind of job I might like after I get better. So things are looking up.