I have no idea WTF is going on

On the 20th I reported on my extreme Lamictal withdrawal reaction. I mentioned that I’d seen my neuro-psych doctor and he helped me see the obvious. My extreme distress was due to the withdrawal. We spent half an hour doing neurofeedback after that. I recovered so quickly from such an extreme state I thought that it was possible the neurofeedback had helped. That day my doctor said my brain waves were doing stuff he’d never seen them do before. My brain looked like a different brain. It was in no way similar to my history. He ended up training it in a very different way and said I might have quick relief. Whatever the cause of the relief was (as I told you I also dosed myself with an emergency Klonopin that night) the next day I was fine. And the day after that and then the day after that. Fine. I actually felt better than usual. I felt normal—whatever the fuck that means. I was busy. I ran errands. I got excited about spending a simple Christmas with just my husband. I felt good. Then Saturday afternoon.

A string of things happened that may have triggered the worst hell I’ve lived through that I can remember. First I had a cup of green tea. I felt tired after running around all over the place. I do, after all, have chronic fatigue and I was feeling so good I did quite a bit more than I usually do. (No, I was not manic—not at all—this was normal activity and normal thinking patterns etc etc.) So I had my tea. I started feeling a bit out of sorts within an hour. I’m learning slowly but surely that I CANNOT under any circumstances have alcohol and coffee, but it’s sinking in rather slowly. Then the next day I woke up out of sorts. I had a fight with my husband—in large part because of my irritability. My reaction to conflict is like toxic sludge being thrown at me lately. Even mild conflict. It’s really poison. This fight was not a big deal though. Then as I started feeling worse and worse, my husband was refurbishing a piece of furniture and used some extremely noxious substance to do some filling. After that I became a somewhat catatonic, though hysterical (I know they don’t really go together, but I basically couldn’t move, but was distressed beyond belief.)

I laid in bed while my husband held me and I experienced a constant flow of impulses to hurt myself in a myriad of ways. The fantasies were outrageous. I’ve actually never experienced such pain, anguish, despair and suicidal, self-harm hell. Really. Never. In the morning, not improved I wanted to talk to someone. My therapist was out of town so I tried to get a hold of my neuro-psych. He is cool and wouldn’t have me hospitalized. I told my husband who made the call that I would talk to no one but him, knowing that most mental health professionals would be only too happy to throw me in the bin.

My doctor ended up being out of town and a “nice” woman called whom my husband, knowing no better, thought I should talk to. She immediately went into the string of screening questions that would land me smack dab in the middle of a psych ward. I lied on every question and told her I wanted to get off the phone three times before she would pay attention to me. She pissed me off. She had told my husband that if I didn’t want to talk she would respect my wishes and let me get off the phone which is the only reason I even agreed to talk to her. She went on and on for a good ten minutes while I repeatedly told her I didn’t want to talk to her. She is a (unbeknownst to him fucked-up) colleague of my neuro-psych so I didn’t want to hang up on her as even though my doctor is great I think he would find it hard to believe that his colleague really deserved to be hung up on.

Anyway that was Monday morning. The rest of Monday continued hellish. My husband wanted me to take a shower in case I had toxins that had to come off my skin. I sat in the tub, motionless while he soaped me up and poured water over me. It was bizarre. It was like I was hardly there at all except for the pain and misery. I couldn’t move and I walked to the bathroom like a rag doll or zombie, stumbling more than once.

By late evening I felt vaguely better. And then the next day, Christmas morning, I woke up fine. I cooked 7 dishes and had a great day. So I guess it was a total of about 50 hours. Hell and back. Going from perfectly fine to the worst hell I can remember, to perfectly find again.

Is it withdrawal? Is it withdrawal and hypersensitivity to chemicals? Is it insanity? Why so brief? Why normal to normal. The only extreme being in the middle?

If I had done what 99.9% of mental health professionals would have had me do, I’d still be in the hospital much worse off for having gone. This thought distresses me. Had I not had my husband, what would have happened? Why is there no safe place for us to go in crisis? What of all the single people?

50 hours. All better now. WTF?

24 thoughts on “I have no idea WTF is going on

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  1. hi gianna,
    even though you published this many months ago i can so relate to what you’ve written here and referring back to the letter i just sent you…well in the last six months i’m afraid they would have hospitalized me too with the usual worsening results vs helping me through the crisis times. yes…you are fortunate to have a husband who can step up and care for you and stand with you while you work through things rather than seek to “put you away”. it’s amazing that we can work through things and find a healthier outcome with out being thrown in the “looney bin” for crisis that, with some support, we can pass through!

    thanks for being there…still…

  2. Giannakali

    The testing I got done was with a kinesiologist.

    There is a good article on the web, It is Mindfreedom Ireland’s testiment about psychiatric drugs to the Irish Government. In particular read what Dr. Michael Corry has to say about drugs. Its on the Mindfreedom.org site or the Mindfreedom Ireland site.

    I have to say to Jayne, that I will be thinking of him and all the best to him.

    Talking about doing everything to prevent ourselves going into psychaitric hospital. Last year my family looked after me when I went high, I came quite close to being admitted.
    What I am relying on in the future is strong medication without the 24 hour care. But before that happens, I must opt out of stress big time, and go with preventative measures. Sleep, meditation, journaling, counselling, exercise, foods, and having my own space.

    But if I havn’t got 24 hour care, and if i am a danger to myself or others, then surely hospital is the answer. Last year I can remember being so manic that I thought I was going to be killed, and I rang an ambulance.
    The way I see it, whatever tabs they put me on, I am going to come off them. I see my doctor in January, these are issues that i need to address.

  3. Gianna, I am honored to be your friend, and you can call me your friend anytime, anywhere.

    If I have anything to say about the respite center, it will be for out of state people. We don’t have any poilicies in place about who can come there, and as far and I am concerned, it’s there for whoever can benefit from it. Personally, I would love to see people coming in from out of state, and that may very well be how we get going.

    I, too, would die before going to a psych ward. It would be the most horrible trauma imaginable simply because a setting like that would trigger horrific memories of all the other settings like that. A psych ward is a psych ward. Some have prettier pictures on the walls and nicer furniture, but underneath they are all the same place. I’m so glad you have your husband. It’s experiences like yours that drive me to make this center a safe haven for anyone in crisis.

    No, it’s not a responsibility to open a respite center for peers in crisis. It’s a calling.

    I am sitting here in my apartment, all boxes packed around me. I am moving into the respite center in the morning. Think of me if you will. I need all the support I can get.

  4. Gianna,

    You mentioned that you are fortunate to have your husband in your life – I feel the same way about my wife.

    I have a feeling he is fortunate to have you also –


  5. Gianna,

    I made a very strong comment on SH the other day – glad to see that ‘parity’ was defeated (we don’t need any more conventional psychiatry – no more miracle drugs or pscyh hospitals) – they don’t work – they never have, and they never will…..

    On the subject of your blog – the need for support, etc.
    First of all, you are not alone – I would rather die than go to a psych hospital – literally – liberty or death……

    On the subject of having an alternative hospital. well-publicized places that use naturopathic, holistic methods, etc – AMEN!!!

    The current medical system/government – both, push the drugs, often force them – then, when a person gets on ssi/ssdi, etc – they are left to keep going back for more of the same brutality, or white-knuckle their way back to health – in some cases, on their own.

    I would like to see the truth on what works make some headlines – some people are not as educated/intelligent as you are – some don’t have family support – they need help – not that they are poor souls who can’t help themselves – but, they need to know about alternative methods, and be given options about what other methods are available……

    For the life of me I can’t wrap head around this sometimes – why so many people are suffering, and such little information is available….

    Now, I’m just rambling (again) – glad you made it through your episode – hope you have a good next-few days –

    The grammar is not what it should be – excuse me


  6. Duane,
    I just found your comment in the spam folder—so that is why it didn’t show up right away. I think it was because there was a list in it.

    In any case thanks for your thoughts!! they are in keeping with most everything else I learned today.

    thanks again everyone….it really helped to get this off my chest and get all the various input. Lots of good advice of varying natures.

  7. thanks everyone for all your input. I have decided after getting all of your input as well as input from various groups I’m part of and also my neuro-psych that most likely due to the short intense life of the “episode,” that it was a chemical sensitivity. Having had several people tell me stories of their own and then my neuro-psych saying that something that short lived would most certainly be chemical or metabolic (and the delicate state I was in would make me more susceptible to chemical sensitivities—I’ve always been sensitive—just never had this particular reaction.)

    Okay that is not a sentence or a decent paragraph…but I don’t feel like correcting it.

    In any case I feel better because I can be careful to never have such intense exposure to chemicals again. That is to some degree within my control.

    It’s a hassle having to be so damn careful.

    But at least I feel fairly confident it won’t happen again as long as I stay away from prolonged exposure to toxic gases.

    You ask about my husband. Yes, I protect his and my identity by not saying a lot about him and this is my withdrawal story. While he plays a major role in my life there is usually no need to mention him in regards to what I go through. I can say, though, that this is not only difficult for me. It’s very difficult for him too. It’s a hard time for both of us.

    And, Helen,
    It cleared up for Christmas. I had a wonderful Christmas day and made a wonderful meal.

    Cricket and Mark,
    I feel like you both really got it. Decaf can do that to me too Cricket and I can’t take cold medicine either. And Mark it really sounds like the gas thing was really similar.

    How did you get tested for those sensitivities? How did they do it?

    thanks again everyone!

  8. Hi

    I am sorry to hear that you had such a hard time. But briallant that you weren’t admitted to hospital.

    It would be good to find out what ingredients were in the chemicals that your husband was using.

    I was told when I went to be tested for allergies that I was intolerant to certain smells. These would include: formaldehyde, petrol, perfumes, bleach, paints. My reactions would be getting light, and nauseous.


  9. Gianna,

    Personally, I think the fumes might have played a key role in the entire experience – as you know from my posts on Safe Harbor, I consider all ot this stuff to be related to –

    1) drug withdrawal
    2) nutritional deficiencies – caused by lack of body’s (brain’s) ability to properly metabolize/integrate vitamins/minerals
    3) stress (ie, sleep disturbances) – ‘biological clock’
    4) environmental allergies (cerebral)

    the last one – number four – environmental allergies – I truly believe that many people are extremely sensitive to various fumes – ie, petrochemicals, etc

    it could be argues (perhaps) that taking care of the first three will eliminate the other – the need to avoid strong chemical fumes – ie, degreasers, solvents, resins, dyes, etc – but, i think it’s best to err on the side of caution – especially, with the work you are doing with the first three items

    your description of what happened is probably the best ‘diagnosis’ you will get on exactly what happened – the tea, the argument, the fumes, etc

    although i don’t believe in the ‘biological brain’ argument of conventional psychiatry, i think it’s foolish not to recognize that there are changes in the brain chemistry that lead to these episode –

    in your case, probably due to all four of the above, and in my opinion, it could have been largely due to the fumes from the chemical –

    these heavy fumes tear me up
    i think that they have an impact on many people, who are unaware of the sudden change in personality/behavior that come from a strong exposure to them

    dr. william rea was one of the pioneers in environment health here in dallas – randolph, md – his teacher; another is mary block, do – she specializes in how allergies affect human behavior – add/adhd, certainly, but mood swings, etc (our brains can have syptoms, just as others have symtpoms in a more ‘physical’ way – ie, hives, etc) – the brain is (obviously) a key player in our mental health – but, it is (at the end of the day) another organ in the body, which can be affected by chemical exposure

    those are my thoughts,
    glad to hear you’re doing better
    these things always ‘pass’ – i wish i could remember this more often, when i go through them……


    I think that your description of what happened is (in many ways) as much a ‘dignosis’ as any you would find.

  10. I used industrial bonding (chemical) agents on my kitchen floor a few years ago. They outgassed something. I had an emotional upheaval, a top ten worst one of my life. There is a warning on the label on the glue, central nervous system depressant (or something to that effect). Total depression, crying due to grief, grieved things I (thought/think) would never have.
    I’ld say it was the outgassing chemicals, that made me feel wonky. But it was also cognative, so it was bizzare that a chemical could do so much to create and influence my thinking.

  11. I remember once when a single cup of decaf coffee put me in a whirl. It’s no fun being sensitive and less fun not being listened to. I also react strongly to some ingredient in cough suppressants. They make me psychotic and hear/project voices. OTC or prescription, you never can tell.

  12. Hi Gianna,

    You don’t say too much about your husband. Is that to protect his identity?

    He must have been very worried about you to ask you to talk to that lady on the phone.

    Sorry you didn’t have a nice Christmas. Wish you could get off this stuff faster and be done with it.

  13. Jane,
    thanks so much for your very thoughtful response.

    I will take heed of your advice—most importantly stopping and paying attention at the first hint of something going amiss. I really like that. I think I will make it the beginning of what I plan to be a long term meditation process.

    And doing the dissolving….I have yet to read the book by Franztis, but will. I’m quite curious and even excited to learn how this taoist meditation is different from the Zen and Vipassana I’ve studied.

    My husband was a monk at one time and it is he who sat with me.

    As for everything else you say I have to think about it. I don’t know that I agree with the idea that it is no one’s responsibility to help those in psychic distress. Perhaps in some giant cosmic sense, yes that is true. But from my perspective I would love to see a place that sat with people like your buddhist monk would sit with you. A kind, gentle universe would allow for such a place even if we are not “owed” it.

    thank you so much for your beautiful and thoughtful response.

    And Stephany!
    thanks for your ongoing support.

  14. Hello Gianna,

    I am sorry to hear about your bad trip there and just as glad to hear it’s over.

    I like how you micro analyze your behaviors and environment.

    “So I had my tea. I started feeling a bit out of sorts within an hour.”

    You could sense it. Right then I would have ejected from the rest of the day if possible to resolve that hour. When that happens to me and what I have done in the past is this.

    As soon as I get that feeling of something being not quite right I begin to pay extreme attention to my body sensations, my breathing and posture, my environment, and I put the brakes on everything. Unless it is an emergency, I clear my schedule and make every single minute Jane-Time as I try to experience the fullness of the *out of sorts* bit.

    I let go of everything and just sit calmly in a chair that is comfortable or I got outside and get distance from other people, smells, activities etc so I have only me to deal with.

    Then I listen and feel. I constantly ping my intuition. “what’s wrong? why do you hurt? where does it hurt? how does it hurt? when did it start? what made it start? what’s wrong?”
    I mother myself and listen for the first clear answer that pops up. Then I try to undo whatever it was or dissolve the feelings behind it.

    Like yourself I can not stand industrial chemicals usually. To smell them in my lair drives me frantic.

    As far as your brain waves go. That may be your brain healing and regrowing from the meds.

    I don’t have any where near the prolonged exposure to psyche meds you have so I can not comment one way or the other about Lamictal withdrawal. As with any other drug, psyche meds, regardless of type, add neurological background noise into your mind and body and as you know, none of that noise is you even when it feels most intensely like it is.

    Knowing that and dealing with it when you experience that awful hell is something else though.

    You are very lucky to have a supporting husband that held you during that time.

    When I have had such experiences in the past, I went through them alone. What I did was to hide really. Hide inside my bedroom under the comforters in a big ball, start deep breathing, hold my mind still for dear life and ride out it now matter how long it lasted.

    As you know you are still you when it’s over. As painful and awful as the feelings are, they don’t kill you. It is in a sense, an illusion of feelings, like a horrible hologram acid trip inside yourself made of feelings and sensations.

    What made those experiences easier to deal with was learning how to dissolve. It gave me power over those feelings as they were happening.

    Like yourself, I would rather die then ever step foot in a psychiatric hospital again.

    “Why is there no safe place for us to go in crisis?”

    Here is the only thing where I have a minor issue with.

    The first thing that comes to mind is.

    Why should there be such a place?

    It is no one’s job to make such a place.

    Historically people either, turned to family or friends,
    turned to a convent or monastery,
    turned to village healer or wise woman.
    turned to drinking and smoking of stuff
    later asylums became available, we all know how fun those must have been
    or they went
    stark raving mad

    we have

    the know it all smart ass punks at the end of the phone of the suicide prevention that I ran into when I needed to reach out

    people who take inventories like the woman you spoke to.

    and we have insane asylums, err, sorry, psychiatric hospitalizations

    ( the decor and ambiance of these places is much improved over the old days, but the service still sucks. )

    Then you have define crises and safe place. Ever past personal experience, inpatient services neither dealt with my crisis or was very safe for my mind body health.

    Really, most of us are on our own. We always have been. It is the human/social condition.

    If I was in a crisis and I had no family or support, I know who I would want near me.

    A zen, taoist or buddhist nun, or monk. I would ask them to sit quietly with me.

    You are very strong to endure this Gianna and you are very giving to share your experiences with us.


  15. Yes…Jayme (the director) is an awesome woman who I think would be fine in my calling her a friend on this here public blog!

    I actually thought of it—but I suspect it’s for Georgians only because it’s run by their state consumer network. And they do referrals through local agencies.

  16. Cindy—is that you? My friend Cindy? Thanks for the info. I’m really curious about chemical sensitivities. I find it interesting you’ve heard of other cases that had mental health responses…I’m getting that right? I just don’t know enough about environmental sensitivities.

    I guess I should do some research.

  17. mmm…good advice ama….I am prone to do the opposite, I admit. It’s so rare I have the energy to get stuff done. If I’ve got it I try to run with it….

    and yes….some of us have good people but a tragically huge number of people don’t have support. if this were not the case we would not have psych wards filled with people. That is what I feel distressed about. All those people who feel they have no choice but to admit themselves to psychiatric (mis)treatment.

    I, frankly, would rather die than go to a hospital. Truly. So I am grateful I had someone these past few days.

    While the above story was traumatic, I can only imagine how much more deeply traumatizing a hospitalization would have been. And the tragedy, I think, is that some people don’t even recognize that they’ve been traumatized while there. Dehumanization is never a good thing and I’ve never had a hospitalization that was free of that.

    Perhaps somewhere there are hospitals that avoid that but I kinda doubt it.

    Oh…there is a Soteria house opening in Alaska! I might consider going there if it was an option.


  18. Hi Gianna,

    First of all, I’m so glad you’re alright now. That must have been very scary.

    It’s my guess that because you are going through WD, and pushing yourself through additional demands of the holidays, tasks, your immune system is even more compromised than ususal. So, your reaction to the chemicals in the product your husband used caused this to happen.

    I can think of three different occasions when people I know made appt’s to see my naturopath with similar, straaaange, complaints. In each case they had been exposed to Lead, Petroleum or other toxic chemicals prior to the onset of their symptoms. They were otherwise healthy, unmedicated people. They were treated with homeopathic remedies, and quickly recovered. Check the list of ingredients on the label.

    Recently, I aquired an old metal headboard which I intended to paint. I was told it needed a coat of primer first so I purchased a product at Home Depot. It’s a good thing I read the label thoroughly before attempting to use it! It’s so toxic that the manufacturer advises wearing a specially designed mask to prevent inhaling lead. The sales person never mentioned a word to me about the danger of breathing the product. I returned it and the headboard remains unpainted in my hallway…a perfect place to hang scarves and hats!

    Thank God you weren’t alone and that you didn’t head to the ER. You’re right, it IS scary how they handle crisis. I hope I never have to see an ER again. In 1997 I had a major panic attack that sent me to the local hospital in an ambulance,.”They” almost succeeded at keeping me in the mental wing of the hospital where they would no doubt have pushed more meds down my throat!

    Take care Gianna, and DON”T let your hubby use any more chemicals anywhere near you! If it’s at all possible, find a good naturopath.
    Love ya!

  19. wow wow wow. so sorry. this sounds like a veritable trip to hell. glad it’s over.

    i, of course, have not a hint of an explanation, though i, too, avoid caffeine like the pest because it plays havoc with me. could the mild caffeine have caused you such intense suicidality? i doubt it. this might just have to remain one of those mysteries that make our lives so exciting 🙂

    Had I not had my husband, what would have happened? Why is there no safe place for us to go in crisis? What of all the single people?

    there are friends and family and lovely people who help. and there are, of course, shitty husbands. thank goodness for those who help with the going gets tough. i am glad your husband was so good to you. i am happy you didn’t go anywhere near a psych hospital. i am happy you are back to normal.

    next time you feel better from the withdrawal, dear gianna, wait a bit before you launch yourself into the “normal” life (errands at christmas time? they exhaust even the strongest among us!). be kind to your body and to your out-of-wack brain!


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