Today is my one year anniversary on Empowerplus. The general wisdom at Truehope is that from this point on I will be out of the woods of protracted withdrawal, and looking forward to increasing health and recovery. I have to say, it feels like that is pretty accurate. Things are looking good.
Here is a summary of how various issues that arose during the first year progressed and where they stand now.
My mood has been pretty solid right from the start. It stayed pretty even until the fall when I added iodine to my supplements. The iodine did seem to throw me into a hypomania, but when I stopped it in December my mood went back to being even without dropping into depression. My previous pattern had been to have a seasonal depression in the late fall, and that did not happen at all this year. There was a week or two in March where I felt grumpier than normal, but it didn't degenerate into what I would call clearly depressed thoughts. Since then things have been trending to the plus side of even, but in no way hypomanic.
As I mentioned early on, motivation was one of my biggest issues before Empowerplus. It has been slow to come back. This is probably where I still have a fair bit of healing to go. I have had various spurts of activity and a lot of ideas for projects, but nothing has really taken off yet. It is hard to put consistent effort into something.
As I've been saying for the past month or so, the protracted withdrawal symptoms that I've had are pretty much gone. And they've changed, so that now, instead of neck and shoulder pain, headaches, sinus troubles, nausea and dizziness, a day of exertion just makes me really tired. Even the colourful dreams are gone, so really, being tired after a busy day may well be entirely normal! LOL.
The changes in my sleep cycle have been dramatic over the past year. Insomnia was a issue for me my entire life, so one of the perceived advantages of Risperdal was that it knocked me out cold for about 12 hours a night. Before Empowerplus I generally went to bed around 1 am and woke just after noon. Once I was off my meds last summer I was generally awake until about 4 am and still sleeping until noon, so I was sleeping less. When I started to get hypomanic in the fall I was generally awake until 6 am, and a few times after 8 am, and still generally up again by noon. But when you are hypomanic you are not tired. During the winter I was still usually falling asleep around 6 am, but sleeping longer, until about 1 pm. I don't mind being up late, in fact I tend to like it, but I don't like sleeping so long past noon, because too much of the daylight is wasted, especially in the winter. In April I started waking earlier and falling asleep earlier. Now that I am more active I am falling asleep by 1 am and up before 10 am. I feel like I could be falling asleep even earlier in the future, so we'll see how that goes.
My fitness level was poor before I started Empowerplus. I would say it is even worse now, after a year of forced inactivity. As I discovered last August when protracted withdrawal started, any exercise at all made the protracted withdrawal symptoms unbearable. But fortunately, that seems to be in the past. After a very active day yesterday I had a bit of a runny nose and I fell asleep early. Not a problem at all! Of course, I remembered to take a lot of Total Amino Solution in the evening to mop up any loose medications in my blood.
I gained a lot of weight when I was on medications, I was hungry all the time. When I finished tapering off my meds and primary withdrawal hit I was very nauseous and I had a hard time eating anything at all. I could only eat small amounts of plain bread or pasta. After a couple of weeks my appetite improved slightly, but the nausea persisted for the first several months of protracted withdrawal as well. It cleared up around Christmas. I lost about 20 pounds during that period, and my weight has been steady now since the new year. My appetite is still much smaller than it used to be, and I can only eat a small amount at each sitting.
I ramped up my dose a little slower than Truehope recommended, starting with 3 capsules per day, then 6, 9, 12 and 15. I am very sensitive so it seemed wise not to shock my body too quickly. I have stayed at 15 per day pretty much the whole time, and I have no intention of changing the dose. When the withdrawal was really bad Truehope suggested that I cut back to 12, but after a few days of that I noticed I was getting hyper and anxious, so I went back to 15. During my allergy scare in December I stopped Empowerplus completely for 3 days, until I developed a pretty big feeling of anxiety and went right back to it. Empowerplus does not give me any trouble now, I can even take it at night, so I intend to stick with it.
So in summary, things are going pretty well. Motivation and fitness are my biggest challenges now, and I am sure they will continue to improve. Long time Empowerplus users report continued gains over the first couple of years, so I am looking forward to that.