Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chemical Regime

Back to BiPolar.

The pills above are my daily intake. From left:

  • 40 mg Prozac (actually a generic thereof)
  • 250 mg Lamictal
  • 0.25 mg Fluanxol
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (not sure of mg. - if you need to know leave a comment and I'll look it up)
  • Omega 6 Fatty acids (ditto)
  • High Strength Multi Mineral and Vitamen
This regiment is about to change though, with the complete dissapearance of the anti-psychotic. I'm already down to 1 every 3 days and this week they end. I've been tapering off for 3 months now.

In June my psychiatrist finally gave my anti-psychotic cessation her blessing. This was after a heated argument with her where I pointed out that in the past 15 years I have only spent approx 3 weeks psychotic and the majority of the rest in deep depression (see here). I'd done a little chemistry research on my medications and gathered that all the anti-depressant type stuff seems to promote dopamine, and the anti-psychotics to put a lid on it. So they were working against each other.

I've been on Fluanxol now for 15 years, longer than any other medication. I also read that it has bad long-term side effects. So far the change in my regime has had several noticeable effects:
  • I'm not sleeping well. Toss and turn and often wake up throughout the night.
  • I have a new craving for sunlight. The last 5 years I've had a distinct aversion to direct sunlight. I read somewhere that Fluanxol has photo-sensitivity side effects, so this might explain it.
  • I'm definitley feeling a little more edgy and anxious in social situations. This, I suppose, is compounded by the fact that I haven't socialised a lot since stopping drinking, and whilst I was certainly never an alcoholic, I drank quite heavily in social situations. (I stopped drinking, by the way, because my depressed state could no longer handle the hangovers)
  • As an extension of the above point - I'm really missing a cold beer right now. For the past year i haven't missed alcohol once)
  • One of Fluanxol's documented side effects is that it can cause "Pakinsonian type symptoms". This is what prompted my to ditch it in the first place. I thought my chronic hand tremor would stop after taking Fluanxol out of the equation. Well, it hasn't. Which leaves Lamictal (as I've long thought) the prime suspect.
  • Generally I'm feeling a whole lot more positive and happy. For the past 6 weeks I've been running 4 times a week, weight training and putting in more hours work than before. I'm also getting loads of African sunshine and am now a zealous believer in the healing properties of sunlight.
  • Yep, I feel like I've turned a big corner. A long-term corner, not one of those little daily "In-the-Pink" thingys.
I've got to admit that deep down I'm a little fearful of going out into the big wide world sans anti-psychotics. Feels kind of like having sex with a stranger without a condom. And there is a good reason for this feeling. The last time I took myself off Flaunxol it was only a matter of 4 months before I was screaming down really steep hills on my bicylce, weaving in and out of heavy traffic, with my hands out either side like a flying bird. Put my army helmet on (with a big white "Y" painted on the front), when I went to vote at the national referendum. Stood outside afterwards and screamed at the top of my voice "Good morning South Africa". Phoned into a live tv talk show on religion to say that God had spoken to me personally. (fortunately the tv manager didn't put me through). Drove my car through a patch of fog on the highway and pulled to the side thinking it was smoke from an explosion. Became convinced that the large blister I got on each hand from windsurfing that day on Easter Sunday were the stigmatic wounds on Christ's hands. By the time I phoned Mother Mary (my therapist's name was Mary) at 3am in the morning, it was only a matter of hours before emergency hospitalisation.*

So you can see why a little concern is probably a healthy thing. And I've also realised that there is a HUGE logical hole in my argument that I've only been psychotic 3 weeks in the last 15 years. MAYBE IT'S LIKE THAT PRECISELY BECAUSE I WAS ON THE MEDICATION.

*right now, I'm thinking that I must post more about this experience someday


  1. I understand why you might want to get off your meds, I have done it myself before. But be very careful and pay attention to everything you do. I would really hate to see you have another manic attack and end up in the hospital. Take care of yourself

  2. I wish you good luck with that. Maybe since you have Mrs. M there she can monitor you and you can feel a bit safer with this experiment?

  3. I think we're supposed to remember the crazy stuff we've done so that there isn't any need to do it again. When you let that self-control filter go and start living in the here-and-now again, that's when it gets dangerous. Good luck with the meds modification. For me it's always just been cold turkey, but I wouldn't recommend it. I've got a well-stocked liquor cabinet and, yes, beer in the fridge to keep my wilder impulses at bay. Believe it or not, I don't get crazy when I'm drunk anymore. I don't even get drunk: two drinks and I'm falling asleep. Maybe you should try herbal teas at bedtime. Chamomile and spearmint are good in combination with some rosehip, orange flowers etc. My favourite is Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime Tea.

  4. Been off my anti-psychotic about a month - abilify. Feels great so far. My doc agreed it was time to let it go. The Lamictal is doing its job so far. I've got some abilify around just in case things get wierd.

  5. Pretty little med-picture you have (lovelier than mine anyway): for now, my cocktail is 50mg Zoloft and 5mg Abilify. I've never felt better, so no complaints!!!

  6. Thanks for the intricate sharing. I too am weaning myself off of an antipsychotic, namely, Zyprexa. I'm going at it pretty slowly to be safe. I've take some form of antipsychotic ever since my first manic episode six years ago. I think getting off of it will restore some of my emotions that have been bulldozed so far. Keep us posted on your progress!

  7. Don't you just love the joy of meds. I never have undersood why if it's working dr. want to take us off of them. I mean if it aint broke, don't fix it.


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