Recap—how far have I come?

I started this blog on March 4th of 2007. This is after having the blogger domain bipolarblast for 3 years. For three years I kept it on private and wrote pure gibberish. Really. It was really bad. I had no direction and still bought into the psychiatric and pharma bullshit. I believed I was bipolar and though I was diminishing my drug intake I didn’t really believe I could rid myself of all of them as I do now. I deleted everything I had written to that date once I began questioning everything I had been taught and come to believe.

Anyway I started reading mental health blogs in about September of 2006. Most notably Furious Seasons, Depression Introspection, Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry and Off-Label, a blog that no longer exists for public viewing, unfortunately, but which probably most profoundly influenced me as it was personal and had a lot of memoir in it. I tentatively started to write my blog on March 4th and took the plunge and made it public. I got a comment within 5 minutes of making it public—the games had begun!

I had been withdrawing from drugs at that point for several years but had not yet had what amounted to a conversion of sorts. At some point while reading those blogs and other key sites on the net that were critical of the psychiatric paradigm I was moved to commit myself to getting off all my drugs. I came to see my “illness” differently and began to completely reinterpret my history which has been a evolving process over the time I started reading these challenging blogs, websites and books and then since I started writing my own blog.

When I started withdrawing from meds a good 4 or so years ago I was on 11 mg of Risperdal, 50 mg Seroquel, 200 mg Zoloft, 400 mg Lamictal and 3 mg of Klonopin but up to 6 mg of it PRN and I did that fairly often.

The first 8 mg of Risperdal, 50 mg of Seroquel and 200 mg of Zoloft came off easy. I also stopped taking Klonopin PRN. Neurofeedback helped me with all of that. For a while the drugs slipped away easily, but, alas, it was only because I was on so god damned much that I was protected from really awful withdrawals. And that’s not to say I didn’t suffer from withdrawals because I did, but I wasn’t always feeling like shit, just every now and then when I made my tapers. I was also for a time feeling better than I had in years and had resumed my pre-medication athletic endeavors which have unfortunately again fallen by the wayside in the last year in a half as things have gotten knarly and I’ve seemed to have developed severe chronic fatigue syndrome. I do have the Epstein Barr virus and I also had mono in high school—both indicators of chronic fatigue which can be triggered in times of stress.

My therapist points out that unresolved anger too can contribute to exhaustion and frankly I’m a good candidate for that theory as well and am working on that in therapy. The anger and overwhelming plethora of emotion that has begun to surface as a result of the withdrawals and the ending of the horrible numbing the drugs caused is making me face myself for the first time since I was 19 years old. I have a lot of garbage to deal with from childhood that never got a chance to be dealt with.

When I started the blog I was down to approximately 3 mg of Risperdal, 400 mg of Lamictal, and 3 mg of Klonopin. That means I’ve managed in this years time to come off 2.25 mg of Risperdal and 275 mg of Lamictal (yes I updosed 25 mg the other day–still hurting but a tiny bit less and I’m sleeping again—3 nights in a row—that is awesome!!) That’s all in a year. So you can see that as I come closer to home it becomes a slower process. Anyone who suggests I’ve been moving too fast has only looked at the last experiment with the orthomolecular doctor where I did try moving fast. I also experimented getting off the last milligram of Risperdal quickly a few months ago and had to reinstate part of what I tapered then too. But over all I’ve taken it damn slow and in general followed the 10% rule. Cutting 10% or less of current dose no more than once every 2 weeks. And often slower.

The significant thing about this is that when I was on 11 mg of Risperdal 10% was a taper of over 1 mg of Risperdal. Now ten percent is a tiny fraction of a milligram. And so it seems to move more and more slowly as the home stretch nears. And I feel those tiny fractions of a milligram more than I ever felt that first milligram I cut out years ago. Right now I’m on .75 mg of Risperdal, 125 mg of Lamictal and still on 3 mg of Klonopin. I very rarely take an extra Klonopin when I’ve been sleepless for days—just to knock me out and sort of reset the clock. This has proved invaluable.

To get to where I am I have changed my diet tremendously. Since I wrote that linked to piece I have made further changes cutting out caffeine entirely. I may have said caffeine was a no-no in that piece but I did not master quitting it for some time. Now if I drink caffeine I become unglued. I have become extremely sensitive. It’s not even an option to imbibe. And the same goes for alcohol. I still drank moderately for several months until alcohol too started making me sick within 15 minutes of ingestion. Really sick. Have to go home and lie down sick and it only takes half a beer. This was actually pretty depressing for me. I loved my occasional beer or glass of wine. Really loved them. But now I don’t have a choice. Frankly I hope the ability to have an occasional drink comes back once this process is over.

I’ve also discovered I’m truly hypoglycemic. I eat every two hours like clockwork. Protein and some veggies. I carry nuts and snap peas or snow peas around with me everywhere I go. I eat meat, veggies and some whole grain at my meal times. I find I need meat. I wish it wasn’t so. But purely vegetarian protein leaves me weak and tired and feeling unnourished. I figure all our bodies are different. I would prefer being a vegetarian but I’m not healthy that way. Even the Dalai Lama eats meat because he says he feels healthier and he also holds vegetarianism as a higher standard. I figure I’m in good company and try to rest easy. I just really hate the meat, egg and milk industry—the cruelty is unfathomable. I try to eat all organic free range. Hopefully the animals have a decent life while they are living.

In addition to my diet and nutritional supplements I do neurofeedback, psychotherapy, meditation and yoga. And of utmost importance, giving my life purpose, I create and share here. The peer support I get here is also a part of my healing. That is a summary of my healing protocol.

So it’s been a year. I’ve made well over 300 posts and received 1,925 comments at this writing. I was really hoping I’d reach 2000! The comment threads are what makes this blog a living entity. I am grateful and thrilled every time someone shares some of their life with us here.

I do hope that by the end of this next year I might be off the rest of the meds, but I’ve now learned that I must take things at the pace my body/mind and spirit demand and listen to no other.

28 thoughts on “Recap—how far have I come?

Add yours

  1. thank you for sharing so much of yourself atmananda—I share many of your ideas about the spirit…

    I’m familiar with the Grofs work as well.

    I’m so sorry you’ve had your civil rights denied too. Be careful and take good care of yourself.

  2. I want to say that reading your blog Gianna for the last six months or more has really been a lifesaver for me at times. I have been trying withdrawal from my psychiatric drugs for the last four years, but the stigma keeps blocking me. IE, when I returned to where I once lived, where everyone knew me on meds, they didnt like me off them and wanted me to go back, just to make themselves happy.

    So whenever I did anything out of character, in their minds, they called an ambulance on me. Once someone called an ambulance because they thought I was crying too much, another time I woke up in my apartment to find a police officer in my living room waiting to take me to the psychiatric hospital, probably because I had gone to the hospital the night before with a lot of pain. So the local authorities surmised I was off my meds and just decided to send the police to my apartment the next day to take me to the psychiatric hospital.

    Another time I went to the hospital – this time with proof of an illnes by a blood test, which I had in my hand. Instead they said there was nothing wrong with me and again sent me to the psychiatric hospital. It happened in another state, when I was on the train – I became sick and faint and the conductor made me get off the train. They sent for an ambulance and brought me to this hospital where they did a blood test.

    I waited seven hours for the results and when the doctor finally showed up he brought an undercover police officer and an administrator from the hospital. The doctor said he couldnt find anything wrong with me but that he had spoken to my friends and my brother and that this man, the undercover officer, was going to take me somewhere where they would help me. The guy was holding handcuffs and I just stared in disbelief.

    They hauled me two hours away in a squad car to a psychiatric hospital. On the way the officer threatened me with a comment that I should start taking my medications because my parents werent going to live much longer. And I questioned my friends and my brother – and well, the doctor lied.

    These are just some of the experiences I have had in trying to come off the medications. It is much much worse than any physical withdrawal I have had to go through, in dealing with the betrayal of not only the psychiatric system, but the medical system from the ambulance personnel to the md’s who decide that just because they cant figure out what is wrong with you that you must be making it up, so they send you away.

    And honestly, I feel betrayed by our government, who would condone such treatment. In prescribing these drugs, they are trying to turn us all into the same person, with the same affect, the same thoughts, the same ways of reacting to events, the same beliefs, cause these drugs dull and numb the mind, heart and soul and they literally kill the spirit.

    And I agree with Sean in Brazil, and have known this for years – that what people who have been diagnosed with mental illness are really going through is a profound spiritual awakening – a deep, gut wrenching, opening of the heart and the mind, and the body. And when we do know what it is as a people, we will all be saved.

    There was a book out some years ago called Spiritual Emergency by Chris and Stanislav Grof in which they write about the difference between a spiritual crisis and a mental disturbance. There is not much difference at all.

    Finally, and then I will end this rambling, an African man who was a healer (he had gone through training in his culture for what we think of as shamanism here) wrote a book a few years ago. He talked of coming to the United States to visit a friend of his who was in graduate school. The friend ended up in a psychiatric unit and the healer went to see him in the hospital.

    This visit caused the young African to leave the United States. Why? He noticed that the people who were in the hospital getting treatment for some sort of disorder were going through the same kinds of experiences that he and his friends had gone through while in training to be healers. And he was disturbed by this.

    What is this experience? It is having knowledge of the transcendent in the world (hearing voices, having visions, etc) that needs to be interpreted to make sense of it. It is this interpretation that is seen as mental illness, when all it actually is – is spiritual eyesight.

    It is seeing with the spirit, and the heart, and not only the mind alone. It is knowing what the native peoples know – that pneuma means spirit, means breath, and that my dears is only oxygen. And is how we live. We live by the breath.


  3. 6 months is not so slow. not for how nasty lamictal can get. I’m changing my strategy and probably slowing down to the point that it might take several more years. It just gets harder as you come to the home stretch especially if you’ve been on meds as long as I’ve been.

    I feel better now that I’ve made my mind up about that. I think the final 125 mg of Lamictal will easily take 6 months and maybe more.

  4. Gianna,

    That’s so awesome. I was trying to give myself 3 months each to taper off of Lamictal but I had problems with suicidal thoughts so I had to go back up. I was down from 200 mg to 100 mg in 6 months. Some people probably think that’s really slow but I think it’s healthy. I’m glad that neurofeedback is working for you. I hope to look into it soon.

    It seems like you’re doing well otherwise. Again, congratulations!

  5. Late to the party but belated congratulations nonetheless…
    (speaking of free-range organic poultry, I’m overdue to make a post, ha ha!)
    I too struggle w/good nutrition & as much as I would LIKE to be vegan, I need the concentrated AA’s that come, for instance, in a nice piece of [ahem] CHICKEN, eggs or cheese…
    The more research I do, however, the more grateful I am to folks like you who have proven to me that I’m on the right track, staying off AD’s…

  6. Some of us take various vitamines and such because we believe they will help us with mental illness. We must also keep in mind that many if not most of those vitamines will be good for our over-all health as well. One such substance is Omega-3 fatty acids. There is much scientific evidence that they help lower the bad cholesterol. They lowered mine a great deal, just as all the research said they would.
    Jim S

  7. I very much appreciate Gianna’s insight into the need for good nutrition, particularly for those in psychological distress.

    I started to pursue a similar regime myself and I certainly feel much better.

    So, in response to “Hymes”, I want to say the following:

    I don’t doubt there is a risk in most things, the consumption of vitamins and supplements included.

    But we do have to be put things into perspective. This is a case of assessing the risks, rationally.

    Severe adverse reactions to vitamins and supplements like cod liver oil are incredibly rare.

    On the other hand, about 30 million people worldwide now have incurable neurological diseases because of psychiatric “treatments” which was often administered to them involuntarily.

    If just a few million of those people’s lives could have been saved by taking simple and inexpensive nutritional supplements, then let’s focus on that.

    Those in the United Kingdom might be interested in the Food-For-The-Brain charitable education project, which seeks to pursue that goal.

  8. I have to applaud you for work that you put into the blog. When I came off my Lithium too quickly two years ago, and went quite manic = I was not on the web. I had no contact with people who was actually coming off meds. Your site has provided that. The information, your trials and successes and also the help given to you from your like minded friends is such a source of help and support. Also it has to be said, that your way of presenting your blog and your style of writing make your blog quite unique.

    Thank you

  9. Congratulations on your progress. It is great that you are using this gradual plan. I know of many who just quit cold turkey then have major problems. Keep up the good work. You are a good example for many others. I was on just about every drug invented for years, but I got off of them just like you–over a period of years. My drugs were different than the ones in use today, but it was still hard. Your blog has really done well, so it must be needed.

    I also had troubles with hypoglycemia. They caused some major shifts in my energy levels. I adjusted my diet, then after a few years the condition improved a great deal. keep up your work on the diet.

    As for my garbage from my past, I had to talk about it, then accept it. Things happened. It’s in the past. I can’t change the past. For a long time, I believed God chose me to kick around with all my problems. Today, I see that many people have problems: some are in wheel chairs, some are blind, some have babies with awful medical problems, some just die when they are half my age. In other words, I had to stop blaming my parents, teachers, and my community.

    keep up your good efforts,
    Jim S

  10. Congratulations Gianna! I have long admired your blog. What you are doing, both in getting off the meds and writing about it, takes tremendous courage and discipline. And I love the way you write!

    Warm regards,
    Sally Clay

  11. Very cool, Gianna! I don’t know how many times I have referred others to your blog. You are the top source of withdrawing from psych drugs. You really make a difference in the lives of people you don’t even know, let alone the ones you do. Thank you for all that you do!

  12. Gianna you are very brave for sharing all this with the world. I will add my congratulations to the pool. You are a remarkable individual to undertake this path of recovery. You have done something amazing to come down as you have, from so much polypharmacy for so very long.

    It is still hard for me to fathom being on so many meds at once for so long. You have had quite a journey of self discovery and recovery and you should be pleased with yourself. You have come far indeed in the past year. Here is hoping for your complete and total wd this year.

    I like how you willing you are to experiment with yourself and how open you are about it.

    If I had not mentioned it before, congratulations on kicking the bipolar label as well.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us all. Best wishes for this year’s blogging as well.

  13. Brains, Heart, and Courage – You have all three –
    It’s obvious – even to a guy who ain’t a wizard…..

    Thanks for sharing your gifts with us –
    The aforementioned, and the countless others!


  14. Congratulations and thanks again for your blog, your advice and links! It was really in talking to you and Jayme at Rayne´s world that got me thinking and got me started.

    I´m confident we will see the end of this ´bipolar´disorder nonsense in our lifetime. Kids are having spiritual breakthroughs, like you and I did, all over the world, and they are being medicated for it. The solutions will come sooner than we think.

    My wife says, “We are in the eye of the hurricane”, and the storm is just getting started.


  15. WOW. Congratulations on a successful medication removal and self-discovery! and the blog! I’ve stopped caffeine [coffee was my only source] after reading you write about it, and after going a week off of coffee and realizing I felt better, I attribute that experiment of mine to you–because I remember reading and thinking coffee doesn’t bother me, caffeine never has and wow what a difference. I actually have MORE energy in the morning, that when I thought I needed 2.5 mugs of coffee!

    You win the endurance gold metal of honor if I had one to give you!

  16. Congratulations, my friend. And especially, congrats on your journey–a difficult ride in which you have already seen much success. You are a pinnacle of the “green health” movement that is starting here in Santa Cruz (as a named concept). We chiropractic doctors are starting to sprearhead the concept as a group, in order to mitigate the gigantic influence big pharma is getting a hold on in our schools and children (as well as on the habitual pill popping of adults of adults).

  17. Congratulations on your blog anniversary! I think I must have discovered you in those very early days and it has been a fascinating journey. I know you mean a lot to a lot of people. Good luck with your continued progress! I love the variety of your posts and the wide ranging topics you tackle.

  18. Well you’ve done an excellent job. Your strength is commendable. I can’t imagine being on such high doses, and excessive meds, PLUS suffering from the ails that led you to your first visit to the “shrink”. I’m still working towards my goal to shed these poisons too. I found your blog in January, as I was falling into a suicidal depression. To be honest, my lowest point coincided with the death of Heath Ledger. He was a champion of mine. It’s hard for me not to tear up right now, and I am. I remember watching Entertainment Tonight’s coverage, and COMPLETELY falling to pieces. I cried harder and louder than I have ever cried before, in to my pillow. My parents were just feet away, upstairs.

    Anyway, thanks for what you have done here Gianna. You may have saved some lives here. You must know that.

    Before you complete your journey to becoming med-free, I have an excellent idea for you. Why don’t you write a book? You obviously have the drive to write and maintain this blog every day, right? Once you have completed your journey, you may want to slam the door on all the suffering that sustains the will to keep this blog; thus slamming the door on the here and now.

    Right now, you are in it. I can’t think of a better time to convey these words with conviction, even anger! Get the word out. Sell a million books!


  19. Congratulations Gianna. This blog is a great resource for others, and I’m so thankful that you do it. You help to reinforce the concept of slower is so much better. Sometimes I get impatient, or even embarrassed by how long my withdrawal process is taking, but you and others on the internet (thank GOD for the internet) validate me and who I am and what I’ve been through, even when no one I know understands. We are all so important to each other. Happy Birthday!


  20. Congratulations to you!
    You really deserve it. I know it sounds corny, but I have really always believed what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

    After all I have been thru in my life, I am glad to say that I have learned from it.

    Your story has and will continue helping others.

    Pat yourself on the back and continue with your learning, you are doing awesome.

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑