Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting Better – Part 1 - Overview (Bipolar and Off Her Meds Part 2)

Over a year ago, I wrote of an unexpected event in our lives, “Bipolar and Off Her Meds (and doing well),” about my older daughter. I promised to eventually provide more information. Fortunately, my children are far from unique in their experience of recovery from the  epidemic of mental illness.

It is, perhaps, ironic, that my older daughter’s former psychiatrist wanted information from her—research he could hand out to patients—on how she got better. The research is not new. It has been available for over thirty years.

Thirteen years of psychiatric medications and multiple hospitalizations had never stabilized her. Yet she now has no symptoms – and isn’t even on psychiatric-type medications. I will add a caveat to the "no symptoms" statement. She does have the emotional fallout to deal with from the life experiences she had while unstable. And she, like her sister, can get various temporary symptoms (such as brain-fog, mood swings, etc) from foods eaten, as you will see as this series progresses.

The psychiatrist has had other cases over the years like hers—ones he could not stabilize. He works in a psychiatric hospital, and the same situation exists there today. My older daughter had ultradian cycling (ultra ultra-rapid cycling) bipolar disorder that is notoriously difficult to treat, and usually has a poor outcome.

I say it is ironic, because one thing that helped her so much was simply increasing her thyroid hormone levels, a tactic which has been in psychiatric textbooks, I am told, for many decades. The other irony is he himself had been the one to first give me research papers, many years ago in my younger daughter’s case, about the possible connection between autism and the gut, even though my daughter's diagnosis was NOT "autism" but rather, had meltdowns and symptoms of depression, mood swings and hallucinations. Readers of the book It's Not Mental, would be well aware of that part of our story.

My older daughter had teen-onset bipolar disorder. Today, she is bipolar disorder symptom-free on just:
  • Dessicated thyroid hormone (prescription) with her fT3 & fT4 levels optimized for her needs,
  • Diet change for Gluten, cow-dairy, and soy intolerance plus low refined carbs & sugar intake to control metabolic syndrome,
  • Help for sleep – Melatonin, tryptophan, and both a small dose of Ambien and sometimes Benadryl to counter painful effects of a permanent side-effect left from antipsychotic use (a tardive dyskinesia called tardive akathisia, and painful muscle tightness. The Ambien allows her to fall asleep in spite of this).
But getting to this point was not easy, and I am not even talking about the horrific, brutal withdrawal symptoms from coming off the psychotropic medications. She had to get to a place mentally and emotionally where she was willing to do whatever it took to get better even if that meant the scary prospect of changing her diet -- giving up foods she seemed addicted to. After that, there were still steps needed to help her heal.

After seeing her little sister get better, she switched to a more caring GP (the same one treating her sister who has recovered from a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar) and also attacked her illness on multiple fronts:
  • Micronutrients (EMPowerplus by Truehope)
  • Thyroid hormone (prescription dessicated thyroid hormone raising T3/T4 levels to UPPER range)
  • Understanding of overdose symptoms/side-effects, and true illness symptoms vs withdrawal symptoms
  • Help for withdrawal symptoms
  • Diet changes
  • Gut health (anti-candida, pro-biotics)
  • Sleep
That may sound complicated but it was actually much simpler and straight-forward than her sister’s case. After reading what it took for her little sister to get better, you will recognize we implemented those lessons learned, and this one was a piece-of-cake in comparison.

In other entries, I will delve more deeply into each, although readers of the book about her younger sister , probably already have a pretty good idea about each part.

Related Reading:
Good educational Videos about Gluten Sensitivity/Celiac, and cross-reactive foods from Health Now Medical's Channel  (See book "The Gluten Effect")

Having trouble figuring out where to start, let alone a specialist to start with? Click here for list of resources: Helpful resources -- websites, articles, books, organizations, products (I do not sell these products.)

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Last Updated:
09 December 2011

1 comment:

Megan said...

A friend referred me to your site. I, too, have a son who had a bad case of anxiety that has been cured with biomedical treatments. So happy to find you. This looks like a treasure trove of information!