My Personal Battle Wounds

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In high school, I was really good looking and I could have almost any girl I wanted. However, I trusted God with everything back then. Then, my first psychotic episode happened along with a Bipolar I/schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I started taking meds. I assure you, the trauma, the stress, and the meds all together caused me to gain a lot of weight. As a result, I’m fat now.

I don’t call them battle scars, but wounds that can heal. It’s been top 5 in my worst struggles in life I’ve ever had, that is, being fat. I remember how good it felt to feel good about my body and have all the energy and health and ability to do the things I want to do. Now that I’ve managed the trauma, the stress, and the meds, I sense a reckoning at hand soon!!! 🙂

-theothersid3

photo credit: Hafnarfjall in heavy rain via photopin (license)

Psychiatrist Visit 2-29-2016

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I saw my doctor today and I’m quite excited about the visit! We decided it’s best for me to cut my antidepressant Wellbutrin 150mg from my medications to take, which leaves me with only two that I now take for bipolar. Only a few years ago, I was taking five different medications for bipolar every day!

I’m now only on Lithobid 1500mg (Lithium carbonate extended release) and Abilify 20mg per day. It feels good to reduce the medications I need as I progress in my recovery and treatment process. It isn’t that I didn’t need all the medications before, but that I no longer need them at this point. I’m not afraid to add medications as long as I need them in the future, but I admit it’s wonderful that I don’t need as many atm.

I imagine if I start becoming depressed in the future, I’ll add the Wellbutrin back on temporarily.

I used to take a steady dose of Zyprexa as well, which I find to be a debilitating but effective medication for mania. If I start becoming manic, I add a small dose of Zyprexa temporarily.

The lithium acts as a mood stabilizer and is the foundation of my medicinal treatment.

The abilify prevents depression as well as mania and psychotic symptoms associated with both. Overall, I find it to be another miracle drug with no perceivable side effects at this point.

Well, that’s a snap shot of my medications as of now. Anyone else dealing with medication changes these days?

photo credit: Handful of Drugs via photopin (license)

1 Week Followup – Zyprexa Change

So I’m going on my first week of reducing my dose of Zyprexa from 2.5mg to 1.25mg. I haven’t noticed much of a difference other than I have more energy and I’m able to concentrate better. Also, meditation is coming easier. Maybe I can go off it in a few months 🙂 I guess I’ve evaded all the pitfalls of the last dose reduction I had.

“Satan’s Industry of Death”

An extremist Christian group called “The Watchman’s Report” put out this video entitled “Satan’s Industry of Death” about psychiatry a year ago. However, their title is a self-fulfilling prophecy about what they are unknowingly encouraging, the idea that we should throw psychiatry out the window. Personally, I see them as Satan’s hand in this whole scenario.

The “documentary” is correct in that the roots of psychiatry are dark, indeed. However, so it was in all fields of medicine. Just as medicine improved with scientific discovery, anesthesia, and antibiotics, so did psychiatry improve with time. The Watchman’s Report claims psychiatry is evil, destructive, and Satan’s hand in diagnosing and drugging the masses in order to make money. The video claims that psychiatrists have no right to play God with peoples’ minds, while I say other doctors do the same thing in other fields with peoples’ bodies. Furthermore, God works through people to bring about healing.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a documentary so skewed and taken out of context in a long time. Unfortunately, they are preaching to the choir of many who share the same beliefs. Without psychiatry, I would be a dead man. Do not be a poison to society and spread skewed lies that psychiatry does not work. You could end up convincing some of this and kill them or a loved one of theirs or make them suffer needlessly, b/c they refused psychiatric treatment after reading through rubbish such as your “documentary.” I also thought you had a nice touch with putting ()’s in to indicate what the imagery of the Bible should be interpreted as.

Bravo! And stop making a bad name for Christians!

My Doctor’s Visit

I saw my psychiatrist today, and the visit went well. I was hoping to decrease my Zyprexa immediately, but he said that I need to be on this dose for about a month longer, considering it caused significant problems going down to 2.5mg about 6 weeks ago. He’s hopeful that we can reduce more of my meds, slowly. I also told him my writing seems to have improved a bit since being on a lower dose of Zyprexa. He seemed interested in this, and I made it clear it was a significant issue. In any case, it’s nice to be talking about subtracting rather than adding meds these days!

Marijuana and Bipolar

I used cannabis in the past for about a year (though I quit over 5 years ago) to help manage my bipolar mood shifts. I found that responsible use of marijuana is key if it is to be therapeutic. The therapeutic part for me was not the part about getting high, which was a good release and fun, but that it balanced out my moods for the next few days after using. This was immensely helpful because my Rx medications were not in order at that point.

Also, using the right strains was essential, as some tended to cause paranoia and psychosis-like effects, which was harmful. Pure sativa and sativa-heavy hybrid strains could cause a stimulating, euphoric “head high,” which I found caused me to have symptoms of psychosis while using and lingered afterwards. Indica and indica-heavy hybrid strains didn’t produce such side effects and provided the therapeutic balance for days afterwards.

Long story short, the strain of cannabis one uses to help manage bipolar plays a big role in whether it succeeds, and AVOID SATIVA. (It also makes me wonder if most of the research done with bipolar and marijuana used sativa strains, as many claim to say cannabis causes psychosis in bipolar.)

Another key part of responsible use was to use it sparingly. Using too much would cause many of the negative side effects to become more pronounced, such as lethargy, weight gain, and being “constantly stoned.” Using about two times a week was ideal for me.

Also, part of being responsible is telling your doctors that you are using. It is dangerous if they are not aware.

Finally, cannabis is not for everyone, and little is objectively known about it and its effects on bipolar. Getting mixed up on the wrong side of the law can be devastating as well.

I no longer use because of employment, the fact that it’s an illegal substance, and I feel I’m better off without it. I do hope some day that it becomes legal, as it can be a wonderful therapeutic tool to help manage bipolar instead of expensive, questionable medications.

Be careful! When in doubt, don’t do it, and don’t break the law!

To the Doctor on Monday!

I’ll be going to my psychiatrist on Monday. Hopefully, I can stop the Zyprexa completely now, but I suspect I’ll need to taper it in half one more time to 1.25 mg before cutting it out completely. I feel like I’ve been able to be more creative and alive since reducing the dose down to 2.5mg. It’s pretty incredible how potent these medications are, and how tiny changes can make such a big difference.

The original reason why I decided to stop Zyprexa was because of the hunger for food it causes. I gained a lot of weight as a result, and desire to drop the pounds and the med now. Supposedly, the hunger issue doesn’t stop until I get off the med completely. In the process of tapering it down, I have discovered I don’t need the medication. I wonder what else I can reduce or eliminate… 🙂

Lithium 2100mg/day

Zyprexa 2.5mg/day (tapering off)

Wellbutrin 300mg XL/day

Abilify 20mg/day

Ativan prn (sleep, manic symptoms)

**** ME I CAN’T SLEEP: Music, Beats, and Tones

The one thing that can throw my bipolar management off most efficiently is a disturbed sleep pattern, caused by chemical imbalance, life situations, or irresponsibility. Most of the time, it’s my own irresponsibility. A disturbed sleep pattern often means difficulty falling asleep and an inception of hypomania and/or mixed states, causing more troubles falling asleep and staying asleep, and the spiral begins unless I get the sleep under control.

Sleep medication hasn’t helped me much in the past. In fact, ambien made me sleep walk and hallucinate, and other classes of drugs didn’t seem to have an effect on me. However, what have helped are music, binaural beats, and isochronic tones.

Ambient music is my number one choice for music to fall asleep to. Sometimes, it’s drone metal or other genres, such as trance and classical. It depends on what I want. One good source for a legitimately free, diverse selection of downloadable ambient music is Jamendo.

I then add binaural beats and/or isochronic tones to my headphones. I choose ones designed to induce sleep or progressive relaxation ending on sleep wave frequencies. When my sleep is disturbed, the induced hypomania or mixed state causes me to be very sensitive to all stimuli, making it hard to clear my head and fall asleep. Yet it also amplifies effects of the beats and tones because I’m so sensitive. When I’m functioning normally, they don’t have as a pronounced effect.

Binaural Beats:

Photo Credit: http://headwize.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/e_beats.jpg
Photo Credit: http://headwize.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/e_beats.jpg

A binaural beat is basically two very similarly pitched frequencies being played simultaneously, one in one ear and one in the other ear. It has a very hypnotic effect on the listener. While listening in both ears, beats appear and have a fluctuating pattern, fast or slow depending on how close the two pitches are to each other. Listen in only one ear and it’s simply a sound pitch. Put both on, and it’s like listening in 3D. Higher frequencies are associated with stimulating effects, concentration, and meditation, while lower frequencies induce sleep and relaxation. There are an incredible variety of beats out there: search “binaural beats” on YouTube for some examples.

Isochronic Tones:

Photo credit: http://fractalenlightenment.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/isochronic-tones-e1374232163845.png
Photo credit: http://fractalenlightenment.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/isochronic-tones-e1374232163845.png

Isochronic tones are simply one pitch of sound being played repeatedly quite rapidly. The pitch is played for a certain length, followed by an equal length of silence, over and over again. The sound is the same in both ears, and it also has a hypnotic effect on the brain. They can produce states of reduced anxiety, better focus, stress relief, meditation, concentration, and others. One does not need headphones while listening to isochronic tones.

I’ve seen some places where binaural beats and isochronic tones are combined as well, sometimes even to music all at once, to produce certain effects.

There are phone apps out there which allow one to pick ambient noises, music, tones, and beats, mix them together, and play them all at once. I use AmbiScience from Tesla Software on my iPod touch, specifically the AmbiScience 300 program, which is $2.99 on the AppStore. I understand some versions of AmbiScience are also available on Android. The 300 has many sleep and relaxation effects, both isochronic and binaural, along with an exclusive interval feature. This allows the user to program additional effects on, say, a 15 or 45 second timer. For example, I can add extra thunder during a rainstorm track, or bird sounds, electronic effects, and more.

Otherwise, one can peruse the YouTube videos, find some you like, and use an internet YouTube video to mp3 converter to download the audio if desired. In any case, tones and beats have been powerful sleep aid tools for me, medication free! Let me know what you think!

Medications and my Writer’s Voice

by Skakerman @ Flickr.com
Photo by Skakerman @ Flickr.com

I’ve realized something in the past few days about how medications have an effect on my writer’s voice. Before I was diagnosed bipolar and went on medications, I had a much wetter, lively voice in my writing. Now, it seems drier and duller. Before it had a soul and now it feels rather disconnected.

However, lifting some of my Zyprexa by cutting the dose in half over the past month has made my writer’s voice seem a bit more alive. I’m not nearly there yet, but it’s encouraging me to speak to my doctor about reducing the medications as much as I can. I can function like a normal person now, but my creative writing really suffers. I don’t expect anyone to notice as I haven’t posted anything before I was on medications. Maybe I’ll notice a bigger difference as I keep finding my writer’s voice in this blog and reducing my medications.

Does anyone else feel this way about medications and writer’s creativity?

Photo credit:

URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sterlic/3154003517/

by: Skakerman via http://photopin.com

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”