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JanCarol - undiagnosed! Off all "bipolar" drugs!

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In Australia, Lithium was the treatment of choice.  My doctor-friend back home was shocked.  "But lithium has such a narrow treatment window!"  By this she meant that the difference between effective and toxic was very small, and that it was a risky drug to take.


The new psychiatrist gave me 45 minutes, not 12.  She was warm and very Zen - I thought I'd found a good one.  She continued my treatment with Effexor and Mirtazapine, but at some point she felt I was getting wound up.


Well heck, I had just moved 14,000 miles, brought my cat of 17 years (who died at the age of 19, after enjoying Paradise for 2 years), left my community, my friends, my family - and my husband was working full time.  I sat on the back porch and smoked.


So when she felt I was not "responding" like she thought I should - and true confessions, I was making a major mistake too - she switched me to lithium and Effexor.  Eventually the Effexor went away, and a tricyclic replaced it, and Seroquel for sleep.  At some point, I quit the tricyclic, and became suicidal (and confessed that to her), so she put me on an SNRI.

My mistake?  I told her all of my feelings, everything that was happening to me.  I relished the drama of the big move, and my aloneness, and she was one of the few people I could talk to - so I did.  And I got drugged for it.  And since I had already bought into the "broken brain" thing, I took the drugs.


You see, when I converted  to "broken brain," (in 1998)  I made rules:

1.  Take "meds" as prescribed.

2.  Sleep every day as needed.

3.  Eat every day as needed.


Failure to do any of these, I was certain, would result in a breakdown.  (I still believe in Rules #2 & 3, but I was oh-so-wrong about Rule #1.  And it was Rule #1!)


But I was still depressed, unrelentingly depressed.


I sat on the back porch and smoked and read and smoked.  I have a list of the books I got out of the library during that time.  There were about 300 of them.  I only remember a few.


Hubby told the therapist - "I wish she would do something."  

I spent my time at the "Club" - playing Pokies (one armed bandits) and entering raffles.  Or at chemists - buying skin care stuff to go with my drugs.  And smoking on the back porch.


I joined a karate club, but there were a lot of dramas with that, too.  I kept trying, and I credit karate and my sensei for accepting me as I was, and letting me train, even when I was in bad shape.  I gained 50 pounds.  There was no music in the house, I couldn't figure out how to fly my genius musician husband's equipment, and I'd sold all my equipment to leave the States (different electric here, anyway).


Karate went through many iterations - a national club, an independent club, acquired by an international affiliate which blew up in huge drama, then I followed sensei to a "rugby karate" club where I got hurt and couldn't keep up with the young people.  With all of these changes, I never advanced - the goalposts kept moving.  I've now been training in karate since 2004 - 14 years, and I'm still just 1st Kyu (almost a black belt, but not).  Out of respect for my dedication and time, Sensei has called me "Shodan-ho" which is "provisional black belt," but I still haven't tested for it, haven't earned it.


So Karate was the light of my life - and a frustration, too.  When the rugby karate hurt me, I felt I had nothing.


One of the services in Australia is "Pharmacist Review," and my GP recommended it.  The pharmacist came to my home to review my supplements and drugs.  I thought she was going to balk at all of my fish oil, Vitamin C, glucosamine and CoQ10.  But no - she took me off a PPI, Proton Pump Inhibitor.  Okay then.  That was easy enough - and it started me thinking about - if that drug was harmful, what of my other drugs were harmful?  

I looked to the statin, as I was having severe muscle weakness.  I tapered it.  (I did it backwards, I didn't know better - I should've tapered the PPI, and just quit the statin).


As I started feeling better, I found Robert Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic," and I haven't looked back.

10 Years of lithium damaged my kidneys (they still act up - diabetes insipidus), gave me metabolic disorder, probably contributed to the gut biome problem I'm working on now.  But worse than all of that - the lithium didn't help at all.  It numbed me to everything, leaving me with deep anhedonia, I cared about nothing.  I went through the motions.

I decided - I was unhappy.  If I was so unhappy on the drugs - well, I had a lifetime of experience with being unhappy.  I could be unhappy without the drugs.  So I found SA and started tapering.

I was lucky that I found SA before I started my taper.  I had been planning to do the 10% but there was so much more to learn than just the 10% tapering plan!  

I still want to write a letter to that psychiatrist.  I have another friend who still goes to her.  She was gentle, and she did support my taper, though she thought I was going too slowly, and she expressed her doubt that I could get off the drugs.  She said she had seen lots of people who want to come off, but very few who successfully do.

I'd like to tell her about the kidney damage.  I'd like to tell her that I had a visible goitre, and she had no business prescribing lithium to me.  But then - I'm also glad that I don't need to see a psychiatrist at all.  (though I still find myself getting defensive when the word "bipolar" or "anxiety" comes up in a doctor's office.)

I've been wanting to finish this story for months, so - now it's a complete record in SA's recovery stories.

Back to your regularly scheduled thread....  😺

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Amazing how we come to know ourselves, JanCarol. It's been wonderful seeing you resume your blooming.


Thanks, as ever, for being part of our community.

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Excellent JC.


........and I can so relate to some parts of your journey.

Especially reading Robert Whitaker's book, when I did.......and then the timeline around that. 

I'll get to doing one of these someday........success story.


This is one of my regularly scheduled threads!


Love, peace, healing, and grrrrowth,


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Hey Jan Carol, we have chatted before, not sure.

Just been reading your thread, very inspirational, at least at the beginning


I don't have the concentration to read the whole thing! so let me ask a couple of questions....


my symptom is primarily anhedonia, and everything that comes with that.

No emotions, no energy, no engagement, no appetite, no libido, no sense of anticipation, disconnected from everything around me

which means an inability to get into a book, a movie, to enjoy socialising, exercise etc....I still do alot of these things, to pass the time, but feel no benefit, apart from time passed and maybe some new knowledge acquired , but no emotional benefit to anything I do


Can you comment on what this was like for you, and is like now??

Anhedonia and its effects and how it cleared...


I'd be very grateful,



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