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  1. Hi all, I have been lurking around this forum for some time now I am presently attempting my 5th withdrawal from psychiatric drugs in 3.5 years. In March of 2012 I was taken by my friend/housemate (who coincidentally is a doctor who was doing a placement in a psych ward at the time), to the emergency room as I was presenting with symptoms of mania. I had been up for days drinking, barely sleeping or eating. Not surprisingly, I was pacing and chain smoking. By 2012, I had been drinking alcoholically for 5 years getting progressively worse, to the point that in 2013 I would binge drink for a month on and one off, drinking up to 3 bottles of wine throughout the day. I had already attended AA meetings at the time and my family, close friends, and I, were well aware that I had a drinking problem. However, my friend, who meant well, must have been very concerned and wanted to help me in the best way she knew how, by taking me to see her colleagues where I was tentatively diagnosed as Bipolar II, mixed state, rapid cycling, and put onto 10mg of Zyprexa. After this first hospitalisation, my drinking got worse and worse and I was hospitalised 12 more times (about once a month) that year. In May 2012, I entered my first open ward psych hospital and stayed for two weeks (still working as an actor and a theatre critic during the two weeks as I was able to leave the facility). I became more involved with AA but was too unstable to really engage with the program. I was drunk more than I was sober and by then, I was on Lithium as well, with a solid diagnosis of bipolar and alcohol dependence. I was put on Naltrexone to help me stop drinking too. In December of that year I emerged from a drinking binge on Christmas day and had to go to hospital to detox on Valium. After 2 days, I snuck out, got drunk and was luckily found by my family across the street in blackout, taken back to emergency, where I fell into a coma and had to be resuscitated. I was put into a locked ward for 5 days to detox and to protect me from my drinking that was about to kill me. Heavily sedated on Valium. Within 2 weeks I was in rehab. I spent 3 months in rehab sober from alcohol. I was taken of Zyprexa which gave me an odd obsession and fear of my own death and my family’s death, as well as made me slow to recall words and 10 kilos heavier. When the doc told me I would put on weight, I scoffed. I have always been weedy and struggled to put weight on. I wasn't laughing 2 months later when I couldn't button up any of my trousers anymore. Before I was taken off Zyprexa I was put on 5mg of Lexapro to deal with the morbid thoughts caused by Zyprexa. Great idea, thanks for that random state psychiatrist who kept missing my appointments as she was so busy. So, I was on 450mg slow release Lithium and eventually moved up to 10mg Lexapro, this became my "regular” dose. I am lucky, this is a relatively low amount of meds for someone as "sick" as me to have been put on. Nonetheless, a killer to get off. In May of 2013, 1 month out of rehab, I relapsed on alcohol, and had my last hurrah. 5 days of hell. Suicide attempt, rented hotel room, drinking into oblivion, became a missing person, arrested for assaulting a police office (charges dropped as they felt sorry for me thankfully), strapped to a stretcher 2 nights in a row, lying to my father's face etc. All the good stuff. Obviously my meds routine was not on the ball at this point, or at all during these benders. I was on and off. After this binge, I had attended my 2nd outpatient psych ward for 2 weeks. I got a sponsor at AA, started doing 90 meetings in 90 days, doing the steps. I got 3 months of sobriety up, slipped on August 11, 2013 and had 5 glasses of wine. These were my last 5. I have been sober from alcohol since August 12, 2013. Now, I'm just going to stop right here and tell you a bit about myself. My description paints me as very erratic, which I was in those last few years, however, that was not always the case. I was a happy child, always top of my class. I had a problem with authority in high school but I managed it in my final year and I managed to graduate well and get into the university course of my choice. I had achieved a BA Hons degree in English literature and then an MA in Journalism by 2011, with a whole lotta binging and partying in between. I travelled the world, starting in Tokyo in 2002, Canada and London in the mid-2000s, all across south-east Asia and Europe. In 2006, I volunteered in Nepal, went back in 2007 and established an NGO. I held down jobs, relationships etc. But amidst it all there were ups and downs, “tragic” break-ups, an inability to relate well with family, friends and partners, regular alcohol and recreational drug use and abuse from age 14 to 30. It's just that is got harder to keep up the charade of being normal by 2011. I just gave into the drink and drank. Thing is, I had very rarely taken prescription drugs until 2012. My family are militantly into natural therapies, yoga, meditation, and I'd always felt similarly and been very suspicious of docs and prescription meds. By 2012 I was defeated by alcohol and I felt I didn't have much choice. 3 years since I was first put on them and I often feel I have very little choice in my decision to come off them. It is my 5th attempt, each ending badly regardless of tapering or not. The only thing that is different this time is that 2 weeks ago I was told by my new psychiatrist in London (I moved here from Australia in May of this year) that after months of us talking and getting to know each other, she thinks that my initial diagnosis was wrong, that I was exhibiting signs of bipolar because of excessive alcohol use, and that she will taper me off my psychiatric meds to be sure once and for all that I am not bipolar. I think I have known for some time. While I was able to accept that I am an alcoholic (this is a genetic thing), I could never fully accept the bipolar. Not because I am in denial or any of that tripe that people like to put on us - I have been through the 12 steps, and I have tried to be as damn well honest with myself as possible, and, I was still left with this lingering doubt, hence why I have continued to try and live without the meds. I am over 2 years sober from alcohol now. I am stable in so many ways that I wasn’t in the past. I have a loving and supportive partner (my highschool sweetheart), attend regular AA meetings, have a GP, and attend regular therapy, plus I have the help of a supportive psychiatrist. I am healthy. I eat a balanced diet, do moderate exercise each day. I am attentive to my sleep patterns. It is my time to get off this stuff. It has made me slow in the head and unable to continue my job as a journalist. I worked as a legal journalist here is London but had to resign because of a lack of concentration, sleepiness etc. All side effects I NEVER had before I was on psych meds. The most I have been able to do for work over the last few years is freelance journalism and part-time nannying and tutoring. Today I had to resign from my casual nannying role as at day 3 off the withdrawal, anxiety and agoraphobia has set in and I’m becoming too manic to responsibly care for children. There is no point dragging this poor family through my sh*tty withdrawal. It is irresponsible and the kids deserve better. I will not let this get me down. I still have my online work and my meetings and that is about all I imagine I will be taking on over the next month or so, but I am not disillusioned into thinking this will only take 1 month. I know now. And, I know that this is NOT a return of my bipolar "symptoms", particularly since I never had symptoms like this before I was medicated. This is discontinuation, this is withdrawal, and it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. It has already marred years of my life and I will not allow it to drag on any further. Lol, ok, just convincing myself there. Thanks for reading, if you even made it this far. Rant over.
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