Healing the second pharmaceutical brain injury… some details

I made a response to a thread over at survivingantidepressants.org. Since I’ve barely said anything about what’s been involved in healing this heinous secondary brain injury here at Everything Matters, I figured I’d share it along with some additional comments and edits. As far as I’m concerned¬†Survivingantidepressants.org¬†remains the number one board for coming off psych drugs of all kinds.¬† I enjoy and continue to be grateful for its presence and visit from time to time both participating and reading the shared wisdom collected there. Finding balance between time spent online and time away from the computer is also important so I don’t frequent any online haunts like I used to.¬†

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The below are some of the things that helped me this time around and during a short period of time. Everything is always changing for me. Healing is a dynamic thing…it is by nature constant change. What I share is a tiny bit during a very tiny window of a much longer journey. Everyone is different. I share not so that what I’ve done might be copied but so that the energy of how I find what is appropriate for me might be gleaned. We are all different. Healing looks different for everyone.¬†

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In response to a post on the use of lithium orotate (an over the counter supplement) I wrote some of the below¬† and have added a whole lot more. Lithium orotate played a relatively small role (at mostly very low doses) in getting my footing back after the ICU stay. It’s how this post got started as I shared my experience in a thread particular to it…it’s not been the most important thing by a long shot. Everyone has very different experiences with this supplement and so we share them there.¬†¬†

I’ve gone back and forth and back again with lithium orotate. After the second brain injury that landed me in ICU for a week in December I used pretty large doses for a while as my body was in chaos I hardly remembered was possible from the first time around. My body shot into hyperthyroidism from the stress too and among many other natural means it finally came down. Lithium orotate sometimes helps with hyperthyroid and it’s also got a track record with traumatic brain injury.¬† Whatever your feeling about the pharmaceutical Lithium Carbonate (I LOATHE IT…I’ve watched clients die from its use and I didn’t tolerate it at all), low doses of lithium orotate is not the same thing at all. Lithium occurs naturally in some water supplies. Natural occurring lithium goes up to about 5 mg a day of elemental lithium. There is reason to believe based on population studies where lithium is in the water naturally that it is a beneficial and perhaps even an essential mineral in trace amounts. This is not a ridiculous concept. Many minerals that we take in daily would be toxic if we took what pharmaceutical doses of lithium¬† look like. This is about appropriate low and trace amounts of a naturally occurring mineral. Some of us seem to do well with supplementation of naturally occurring amounts. In crisis or brain injury (literal) some folks also seem to do well with a bit more for short periods. I am by no means trying to sell anyone lithium. If it feels like the wrong thing to do for you I heartily encourage you to listen to that inner voice and wisdom.

Anyway…with those caveats lithium orotate was, indeed,¬† part of what helped me come out of the worst crisis of my life…BRAIN INJURY as a result of a pharmaceutical. It was actually one of only two processed/synthetic¬†supplements of all I did to get me out of that heinous relapse of sorts. The other was l-carnitine which, among other things, removes excess thyroid and replaces depleted l-carnitine which happens in hyper thyroid.

I took the lithium both for hyper thyroid management but more importantly to help the brain damage and injury (which there are some studies supporting its use). For a very brief period I took 80 mg….REALLY BRIEF…then I weaned down to 20 mg for about a month or two and then down to 5 mg, where I’ve remained.

NOTE: you cannot take that upper limit of¬† lithium (80 mg) ¬†without doing blood work if it’s done for more than a brief while…it’s potentially dangerous and essentially a pharmaceutical dose. (albeit with a safer substance)

5 mg of lithium a day (based on some average amount people drink) is the upper limit of naturally occurring lithium in some water supplies.  I intend to bring that down to 1 mg, a trace amount at some point in the future. For now I still have a lot of healing to do and I need to support my nervous system in every way my body tolerates.

Okay, that is what I shared in the lithium thread on survivingantidepressants.org.

Here is another post that includes some info on lithium orotate:  Remineralization Remineralization…a good thing to do in preparation for drug withdrawal (as well as for general well-being)

I have more to say since lithium really was just a tiny and mostly temporary piece in what I’ve managed to do since December. Remember, EVERYTHING MATTERS…¬†¬†ūüėä

The fact is I don’t actually place lithium as very primary in what helped me through this time. It was one piece of a much more complex variety of things. Foods and herbs were far more important. The lithium at an increased dose was only an add on during crisis, really and was only for a few weeks. What has healed me more profoundly has been a lot of herbs and foods and meditation and lots and lots of contemplation and movement as well as the love of friends and my partner.

The most important herbs that I added were bugleweed, motherwort, lemon balm, oat straw, milky oat seed and a bunch of other western herbs used in rotation to help calm the nervous system and bring down the thyroid. (the first three herbs listed — bugleweed, being the most important — are what really helped the hyperthyroidism).

I also took a variety of Chinese herbal formulas which really blew my mind. I finally found a practitioner that works with me like a friend, peer and colleague (that’s the only kind of professional I’ll work with now). He’s great…and also, for the first time, for whatever reason, I could tolerate the herbal formulas with regularity.¬† (most of us with pharmaceutical brain injuries develop hypersensitivities to just about every therapeutic substance natural or synthetic. It takes years to heal this stuff and I guess even though I got re-injured in December, all the work I did prior was not lost). Anyway I did change Chinese formulas as needed, so there was a natural rotation that occurred as I responded to both his treatment and my own intuitive additions of therapeutic herbs and foods. Diagnosis by pulse is a beautiful thing (Chinese practitioners take your pulse and feel numerous different aspects that tell them about what is going on…it’s very impressive, really).

The fact that the Chinese practitioner truly trusted what I brought to him too, was critically important. The western herbs I chose to add to what he offered were necessary. I would not have responded as quickly without both his and my knowledge simultaneously applied. A true partnership.

The¬†hyperthyroidism has come down (I’m still needing to get TSH back online but I no longer have high T3 or T4).¬† There are other things happening too I’ve not even begun to address here.¬† In fact when the hyperthyroid cleared up another very serious issue emerged. It’s like it morphed into the next critical issue to attend to.¬† Our whole bodies are impacted by these sort of profound brain injuries.

In any case, in spite of still having a lot of chaos going on in my body…right now I have the calmest nervous system of the entire 8 years since coming off drugs. That’s pretty amazing.

When I came out of the hospital in January I was in full insane relapse. I still have a lot of very serious issues from this secondary injury in December, but simultaneously my nervous system, as I said is more down-regulated than it’s ever been. THAT IS NOT to say it’s healed…it’s not. It’s just better than it’s ever been since the initial drug injury.

I’m still largely homebound at the moment so I’ve still got a long way to go from the last re-injury. It’s hard to explain to the uninitiated, how it’s both possible to be so much better and simultaneously still very disabled. These injuries are hard to conceive of by anyone other than those of us who’ve been through them.

As awful as this period has been I’ve also managed to move through heinous relapse of pretty much every one of the far worst symptoms I had when coming off drugs and get to somewhere that seems to be an improved state (in many, but not all ways) … I’ve done that in 7 months as opposed to 10 years. I don’t feel great and often feel hopeless because of how sick I still am, but nonetheless, I rocketed through stuff that took me years the first time around.

It took years last time because, lo and behold, I really did learn a whole lot and I simply knew what to do this time around.

 

****I have left comments open. Sharing your experience is welcome. Advice, on the other hand, is not. If you have some burning advice to give please share it somewhere else. In the circles I engage and flow in we exchange our experience because we never know what is right for someone else. In this way we learn from one another and can, without pressure, take or leave whatever we hear while listening and loving and respecting the complexity and differences of others and ourselves.¬† I will shut them down when I get tired which may or may not have anything to do with their content. I have a lot of things to tend to in my life and I’m practicing balance.***

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For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

1 Response

  1. Without question, necessary information to add our our integrative medicine cabinet, so to speak. The only place I’d go if in need of knowing more about healing from pharmaceutical use.

    Liked by 1 person

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