Short and sweet update

I’m off all the “emergency meds.” It took 12 days—pretty damn awesome if you ask me! Strangely enough, or perhaps not, I slept totally shitty after the first couple of “knock-out” nights until I was completely off the Risperdal on Sunday night. Sunday night was the first restful deep sleep I had. Clearly Risperdal, while having some “knock out” properties also paradoxically fucks with my sleep. I was waking in panic and terror the whole time until it was completely out of my system. The Klonopin usage was completely unremarkable. It did it’s job and fell away quite nicely and easily.

I remain on 3 mg of Klonopin and 25 mg of Lamictal. The crisis might as well have never happened in some respects and I’m happily on much less Lamictal than before the crisis, I was on a whopping 60 mg when the rapid withdrawal process began. I didn’t completely reinstate that. Just the Klonopin and I’m doing fine thanks to some brilliant supplementation that allowed me to drop more Lamictal then ever before. Lamictal withdrawal has been one hell of a doozy in the past, leaving me bedridden for months at a time. So if nothing else this adventure did leave me in a better place towards complete withdrawal of the Lamictal.

Once again the starting point for my psychiatric drug withdrawal 4 years ago was 72 mg of Concerta, 200 mg Zoloft, 50 mg of Seroquel, 11 mg Risperdal, 400 mg of Lamictal and 3 mg of Klonopin.

I’ve been on a total of 37 psychiatric drugs at one point or another over a 23 year period. Most of the cocktail I was on when I started the withdrawal I had been on for years—save the Concerta which was my last attempt to fix the mess the drugs made of me with yet another drug. Concerta is a stimulant and I was trying to wake up! I was only on it for a couple of months and was misled by my doc to believe there was no such thing as withdrawal symptoms from it. That was my first experience that led me to take the researching of withdrawal into my own hands. I was madly suicidal for about 3 days when I cold-turkeyed off the Concerta. Something I’ve learned since then is extremely common for any stimulant.

So the result of that first withdrawal gone bad led me to discover that all psych meds have potentially nasty withdrawals and I’ve been unlucky enough to have had a rough time with most of the meds I’ve been on. I did manage to get off SSRI’s and SNRI’s more than once very easily. I don’t have as hard a time as some do with antidepressants. I also took it very slowly.

Also the Seroquel went real easy too considering I was on 11 mg of Risperdal I just didn’t really feel it much. The rest of the journey though has been pretty rocky but it’s clear that I’ve always been moving in the right direction with lots of indicators that my mind will be clearer and I won’t be so irritable once I’m off the drugs.

I temporarily got seduced into believing it would all be over much more quickly than it’s going to be, but I feel good again and I’m out and about doing stuff, albeit with lots of breaks and rests.

I can hold out for the long haul now. I can still taste success in my mouth. Granted I don’t always feel chirpy. No, not at all as my previous post indicates.

I’m taking a break from drug withdrawal now. I’ll just have to see how long. Could be several days or a few weeks. We’ll see.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

20 Responses

  1. Definitely awesome! Glad you’re making progress, and you can see it. Even if it does involve breaks and things, it’s definitely worth celebrating. Your strength is very cool, Gianna.

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  2. Yeah yeah yeehah! Congrats, from me too!

    Risperdal… A friend of mine is on Abilify, and each time I talk of these drugs being nothing but tranquilizers, he says that I’m probably right (well, as far as i know it’s a fact…) but that he thinks it’s strange then, that he can’t sleep for more than a few hours on end. Although he has to take naps all the time, feeling tired. I think, maybe it’s because these drugs somehow “freeze” the brain in a state in between sleep and really awake and aware. You can’t really wake up, and you can’t really make yourself go into deep sleep, neither.

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  3. “Clearly Risperdal, while having some “knock out” properties also paradoxically fucks with my sleep.” That’s how I feel about Seroquel though I didn’t have terrors on it.

    Marian, apparently many of these drugs -do- actually prevent deep REM sleep, that’s why we don’t feel rested even if we were knocked out for half the day.

    My sleep is so messed up now. I successfully quit Seroquel completely a few months ago, but an overambitious tapering-off from Lamictal in early August messed me up very badly. I’m back on 100mg (had attempted dropping to 75mg!) but the greater ongoing cost to my health and emotional well-being weighs on my mind and I’m frustrated that I don’t have the means or support system to go through withdrawal again. For now…

    I’ve been repeatedly amazed at the lack of information doctors have shared about side-effects and withdrawal dangers!

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  4. Congratulations! Easy does it, as they say. 🙂 I think it’s a wonderful idea to give your mind and body a “withdrawal vacation” in between reducing or eliminating dosages … it’s kind of like climbing Mt. Everest … if you don’t stop at a base camp to adjust to the altitude, you can’t climb further. Pausing is essential to progress.

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  5. Michele

    Hi Gianna,

    That’s interesting. I wonder why pineal — perhaps it influences circadian rhythm? The important thing of course, is that it’s working. But you’ve piqued my curiosity.

    Posterior pituitary is something different. When I first read about it, and found it at the local pill store, it resonated strongly for me. When I brought in for testing, my medical intuitive/naturopath said I could cut out almost all of my amino acid supplements. I also cut my homeopathics, omega-3 and -9 supplements and my vitamins in half. Plus she said I could go down from 30 mg lithium apartate to 5!

    I attribute all this to the little-known function of vasopressin and oxytocin. These two neuropeptides modulate the amydala in opposite ways. You can think of them as “fear” and “love” or “alert” and “relax.” Vasopressin also works synergistically with CRH to stimulate the adrenals to release cortisol. It also causes you to hold your pee, as in water retention, rather than the polyuria found in diabetes insipidus. Finally, vasopressin may influence the anterior pituitary, which regulates your thyroid and sex hormones. So the whole HPA, HPT and HPO axes are influenced. (Translation: hypothalamus, pituitary and either adrenal, thyroid or ovaries.) Check on PubMed to see for yourself.

    Lithium works synergistically with vasopressin in several ways. This could explain why I was able to cut down both my lithium and thyroid meds by 2/3 and 1/3 respectively.

    Vasopressin is made in the SCN (superchiasmatic nuclei) of the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary. You may know that the SCN regulations your biological clock. The genetic mutation that causes bipolar and schizophrenia, as wells as SAD and possibly OCD (I forget, but check NIMH) also affects the clock, causing it to malfunction. In a recent study, by genetically altering this gene, a researcher was able to create what appears to be bipolar mice!

    If the SCN neurons that produce vasopressin are impaired, then you get less vasopressin and more depression. But you don’t want to make too much — that’s where the oxytocin comes in — to limit the effect of the vasopressin.

    My theory is that the vasopressin-producing neurons in the SCN (called AVP-IR) are in fact impacted by the ESK3 gene defect. If that is the case, it stands to reason that posterior pituitary supplementation would be helpful. It also might go a ways towards explaining the shrunken pituitary glands found in MRIs of bipolars and schizophrenics — if you have less vasopressin, you have need less room to store it, and less need to store oxytocin to use as a counter-modulator.

    So theory is all well and good, but what about practice? Well, in fact, there is a whole protocol for using posterior pituitary that was developed by a dentist named Melvin Page. He was looking for a cure for periodontal disease, but when his patients also reported that they were able to stop taking meds for depression, bipolar and schizophrenia, he figured he was onto something. But since that was back in the 1970s, a lot less was known about brain function. So I’ve been working backwards from the results to a theory.

    New research is coming on this, as clock gene research is currently very hot, along with neuropeptide research. But I haven’t seen anyone make quite the whole connection I outlined above, perhaps because no one is looking for it.

    As I find out more, I’ll let you know if you are interested. In the meantime, you might want to ask your naturopath about posterior pituitary, or find someone to test it for you.

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  6. Michele

    Forgot to mention – TrueHope recommends phosphatidyl serine and/or choline for psychotrolic drug withdrawal. Not sure if this is true, but Jarrow’s PS 100 combination is great for memory and cognition, so it couldn’t hurt to try some.

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  7. Michele

    Sorry if I was talking Greek. I just wanted you to know what my rationale was so you could decide if you were interested. Regarding genes, what other causes are there? It seems to be that genes are always involved, but they vary in whether or not they get expressed. Everything else I think is further down the metabolic pathway, except for emotional and energetic triggers (like talking to my mom!).

    Regarding meds, I’ve never taken any for bipolar disorder, as I only just figured out I was bipolar this summer — duh! – after 30 years of difficulties and 15 years of chronic fatigue.
    But I did take Paxil for 2 years, which I quit 8 years ago. That was an extremely difficult experience, and it drove home the importance of tapering off of drugs SLOWLY.

    As to how I’m doing now…well, not bad, considering all the changes I’ve made to my supplement regimen in the past 7 weeks. Posterior pituitary has been a big boost, with the biggest challenge this week being working out too hard and getting low blood sugar, which triggered depression (now resolved). The good news is that I’m functional — and working out again — after 15 years of being in decline.

    Since I started my bipolar supplement program, I have lost, 6- 7 pounds of the 20 pounds I gained on Paxil and the 25 pounds I gained after a lengthy fibroid surgery last year that shut down my thyroid and estrogen production. I still have periods of disconnected grief and depression, but nothing I couldn’t supplement my way out of. I have not had single manic episode since I started my program, which I attribute to taking lithium aspartate, and later, taurine.

    Does that answer your questions enough? If not, please write back. I really enjoy our correspondence, and I have absolutely no one else to talk to about bipolar disorder, except my husband, who is pretty sick of hearing about it.

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  8. Michele

    Let me put it very simply. Posterior pituitary, which Dr. Page found is deficient in 88% of women, and a majority of men, cures mental illness. Yes, really. I’ve tried it, and the results are no less than amazing. People are still using his protocol, but you don’t need elaborate blood tests, because it’s not a drug. I saw results right away, and every week that goes by, I find I am more stable and strong.

    Yes, there are genetically caused problems — but this is the very antidote to the problems those genes cause. If your brain works correctly, all the other problems take a back seat, because psychological, immunological, nutritional and chemical imbalances are all mediated by the brain – and they all affect it.

    Sometimes the only downside — and this is no small thing — is giving up your belief that a problem is insoluable.

    Michele

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  9. Michele

    Cool. I’m glad to hear it. I get so sick of people not believing that we actually can (and must!) heal ourselves.

    I use Atrium Posterior Pituitary. And I had an interesting development today — nearly 2 weeks in. I’m hyperthyroid! Which means, since I was on Armour thyroid supplements, that my thyroid is functioning better. Since I was getting terribly hot, and waking up with anxious dreams at night, I just decided to stop the thyroid (I had been tapering down) and I feel a whole helluva lot better. I can’t wait to see what my next thyroid tests that I requested come out to. Even though posterior pituitary is not supposed to directly affect the thyroid (the anterior pituitary does that) the glandular supplement somehow seems to nourish it. Which is, as you probably know, also a problem with BD.

    If you want to have somebody else test you, now that your kinesiologist is no longer available, send me an email, and I will send you the number of my medical intuitive. She is incredibly accurate and does work over the phone. Over the last 18 months, I’ve found her to be quite reliable at perceiving cause and effect, and she is extremely good at nutritional supplements and doses, as well as energy work. In fact, she’s the one who warned me that I would need to cut down my thyroid dose. My forgetting to do so proved her right, but happily I remembered after 3-4 bad nights.

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