Posts Tagged ‘melatonin’

my counselor and i began discussing polarity therapy…energy work. i wanted to read more about what exactly it was. i’m very familiar with a variety of yoga, meditation and have had reiki, massage and acupuncture work done…but i wanted to know more about polarity therapy because this is just another area that  can use improvement when one is trying to work towards a healthy lifestyle. so here’s a good, straight forward article, from the american polarity therapy association, on what polarity work is: http://www.polaritytherapy.org/page.asp?PageID=24

an interesting book that my counselor gave me by caroline myss, phd, called “why people don’t heal and how they can” (also wrote “anatomy of the spirit”) deals with incorporating energy work into a holistic mind, body, spirit approach to healing. now i know the title might put you off, but i’ve been following other works that deal with “road blocks” in healing and this is a positive and good read if you’re experiencing “being stuck”.


i’ve been at this “wellness” gig for over 20 years. i began searching out many spiritual and nutrition based approaches as a teenager. initially i was concerned with the usual teenage issues like acne and weight but what i discovered, worked, so i stuck with it. as i was digging around that community, which was very small back then, i met a lot of people and was turned on to a variety of readings and experiences. i was learning about ways to heal some deep inner pains that i was already wrestling with, and having some horrible consequences from very bad, maladaptive behaviour and personality issues. i became a devout buddhhist in my early twenties and the search continued. but i am convinced from the many positive experiences that i’ve had, that this whole arena of mind, body, spirit healing is key for living well.

i still struggle with a lot. i’m not whining, but life just can never be normal for me. i keep stumbling across huge hurdles and crashing into brick walls. by now my problems must largely be due to brain damage from all of my collisions with life! but MRIs and other say that, anatomically, i seem “normal”. my gastro. dr came into the room a few days back, sat down and looked at me squarely and said “your tests are normal but…you are not!” and we laughed.

so, after over 11 years on a battery of psych meds for bipolar and spotty treatments for fibromyalgia, i felt i was not longer benefiting from the pharmaceuticals and was going broke in the pursuit of maintaining that. i guess i’m finding out that no matter which direction you go in…if you live out here…it’s not going to cheap and access to help is going to be limited. moving is not an option for me. so i have to work with what i   can  learn to do.

just what can i do from learning? i can maintain a healthy diet and exercise (walking, yoga, physical therapy). i can work on my spirituality (reading, AA, community). i have limited access to a counselor but she’s great and that’s what counts. books and videos are helpful. i have a good thing with my AA community and they do what they can (moral support and other help). there’s the phone, which can be my lifeline on days that i’m not doing well. the internet provides many opportunities to learn of up to date information on nutrition, techniques and therapies. while attending classes and having practitioners would be optimal…you do what you can. at best, things can get frustrating…very.  but when the rewards appear and even if they’re small, it’s great. you learn to appreciate the small things because healing from life long spiritual wounds and chronic issues is a slow process. i may rush with some things but i can’t afford to be down for long or maintain costly therapies that i have no funds for. but much of my process is about patience…the patient practices can be a long and lonely journeys some days and it’s easy to get despondent when you are just plain hurting and down. i’m not a monk…i’m just human…a sick human trying to heal.

while i’m off all of my “psych” meds i am still taking lyrica. i don’t think i’m fond of the lyrica? i take melatonin and it does help me  sleep very well and i wake up feeling good. i ran out of guaifenesin a couple days ago and found out just how much that was helping my fibromyalgia. i ran into the 4 corner town a few miles down the road to see if they just had something containing guaifenesin…i didn’t think they’d have what i take, but i found it…after half an hour i was feeling much more on track. gaufinesen an oddball therapy for fibro but it was in the book my dr. gave me and i thought i could try it…it seems to really help. (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual (2nd Edition) by Devin J. Starlanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland)  also a good article on guaifenesin therapy: http://www.fibromyalgiatreatment.com/Articles_HYSTERIA.htm for now, i’ll take any help, because simply being able to do anything but lay on the sofa is an improvement and i need to be able to be up, moving around and communicating. i’ve got a lot of writing to do and i’m just trying to avoid it right now!

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april 25, 2008…hopefully that will be the day i can say was the first day i went with out taking a benzodiazapine, klonopin. it would be tempting to say that today ends an 11+ year addiction and a several month struggle to safely  off the drug. no, today is really the beginning of this new chapter in my life. years of therapy, involvement in AA and a relatively brief withdrawal period have offered me many opportunities to develop life skills and tools for dealing with life.

the biggest problem i’m perceiving right now is sleep. the last couple of weeks have been filled with poor sleep patterns. poor sleep is also a part of the territory that comes with fibromyalgia (d/x, 2001)…so it’s a bit of a double whammy here. healthy sleep is not really negotiable (not even in a healthy person). getting a good night’s sleep can be a larger determining factor in how the next day will go, over about any other factors there may be! if something isn’t going well, it’s usually attributed to not sleeping. like this morning…my thinking is still cloudy, i’m just wiped out and the pain is “annoying”. yes, i’m taking 300mg of lyrica and the first two symptoms i mentioned can be side effects of that drug…but i’ve been taking lyrica for several weeks now, and those other issues always become more intense when i’m going through bouts of poor sleep.

as we all know well, by now, healthy sleep is kind of the human version of “rebooting”.  sleep supports our immune system, rebuilds and repairs our body, it helps with fatigue, pain, depression to name a few. even irritable bowel can improve when sleep is regulated (but flairs when sleep is poor).

an aside/rant: many of us prefer not to take drugs/meds to manage symptoms. i’m joined with that school of thought. i want to discover the root cause of my problems and find a way to improve my overall health. yes, modern medicine is obsessed (and rakes in the cash) with chasing symptoms. honestly, every med that i’ve been prescribed was given to simply manage a symptom but never was there any meaningful help in addressing the cause of my problems. ok, by my own admission, i’m a little nutty…i have had mental health issues…but my life is not simply composed of symptoms…my disorders are real. i have real disorders with real diagnosis. i hate being manged differently than non-mental health patients. but that’s a discrimination that is older than time, and honestly…i have problems with the same discrimination issues raising in my own mind when dealing with another mentally ill person. so, i understand where docs and others are coming from. but fact remains that efforts to get off addicting medicines and deal with disorders like fibromyalgia can require good medical support if a patient hopes to be successful in navigating.for the most part, many of us have waded through these waters with our own research and the support of our peers who are doing the same. in this information age, that’s not so bad. taking action to manage our own health care can help empower us and put us in the driver seat. that boost in self-esteem is a tremendous aid in dealing with any disorder.

now, achieving good sleep hygiene…there are sleep specialists everywhere, so many good articles and so much research done in this area, that it’s almost amazing that we, americans, have such tremendous struggles with this 1/3 of our daily cycle. but then you look at our whacked out lifestyles and it’s no surprise. we are a society geared toward promoting and supporting frantic, ADHD-like living! how can we possibly prioritize doing “nothing” for 8 hours!

you gotta look at your other 16 hours and evaluate them. how are you feeling, are you effective…the entire list. if those 16 hours, that you’ve now turned into 20, are not the greatest, then…you can probably optimize your original 16 into being more functional and productive than the 20 if, you give those silly 8 hours of, doing nothing but sleeping, a high priority. those 8 hours of sleep will do more to determine how the next 16 will go, than any efforts expended during those 16 hours, or almost any drug, relationship, meal…you name it. no, life can’t be all about sleeping…but it really is.  i believe we can only go apx. 5 days with out any sleep (more or less). we will become psychotic, our systems will shut down. i’ve read rats only live 2-3 weeks with out sleep…whatever the exact measures…fact is we can’t live without sleep.

personally i try to break my life down in to three 8 hour portions. my 8 hours of sleep must be done in the same slot…together. but my 8 hours that should be work and 8 hours of general living: transportation, chores, eating, socializing, personal care…they can often be shuffled a bit. but i find breaking things down this way, budgeting and scheduling, actually gives me more time. i find time i didn’t know i had.

so in using tactics like that, i find that i can safely set aside 8 hours to manage my sleep. it is do-able and essential. i have to think…i would not just not show upfor work or class, or decide to work only 3 hours out of an 8 hour day…i make meetings a “must do” priority…why can’t i do that with sleep? well…now…at 45, after being clobbered with illness, i would never try to cheat on the time i give to sleeping. i try very hard to avoid naps and try to keep to a regular schedule.  here is a  page on webmd that has a variety of articles about sleep: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/default.htm i needn’t go into extensive lists here.

i’m sure most of you have been down this research road many times, as sleep disorders effect all of us. when you have to deal with meds and chronic disorders…this issue becomes a fact of life…and dealing with it is nearly a life or death issue. i probably needn’t remind many of you, but i need to remind myself. i’m falling back into a horrible sleep tangle again and meds are not an option…i gotta do it through lifestyle.

so, tonight, i’m going to bed without any klonopin, and upping my melatonin. enjoy your precious 8 hours.

peace out

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i went to my GP doc yesterday because the 75mg of Lyrica wasn’t helping.  she loaned me an interesting book i’ll mention in a bit. she put me on 150mg 2x daily. i’m also taking 50-100mg of trazadone at bedtime plus 3mg of melatonin and i’m down to 1mg of Klonopin (which i’m tapering off). the trazadone and melatonin have seemed to help with my sleeping while i’m trying to get off the Klonopin. i’m not dreaming but i sleep a full eight hours and i wake up feeling fairly good…i still have the pain inspite upping the dose of Lyrica but i don’t feel as depressed…in fact i feel a little loopy. the edema is a little bothersome but we’ll give it a week or two and see if it persists. i read about taking Guaifenesin for pain. the doses they talk about are 300mg 2x up to 1200mg sx going in up every two weeks until the pain stops. i’m going to talk to about this. the other point i read was getting a T3 uptake test for thyroid function….not the other two thyroid thyroid tests. this is in a book called “Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain a survival manual“,  second edition. it’s written by Devin Startanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland. the ISBM is 1-57224-238-8, New Hrbinger Publications, Inc.  here’s a link to Amazon where you can read the reviews and if you want….purchase a used copy for not too much http://www.amazon.com/Fibromyalgia-Chronic-Myofascial-Pain-Survival/dp/1572242388/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206104298&sr=1-1

i like my GP…she really tries to get out there and do her homework on such things. considering the work load of patients…the quota she must meet each day…i’m impressed that she extends herself and studies “outside the box”. considering we live in a small town in the middle of nowhere and in the foothills of appalachia, some of our docs are exceptional. we are very limitted in our access.

the nearest large city any direction is 1 1/2-2 hours. that can be a very long distance when you’re not well. i’ve traveled it often. was doing it every day for six weeks when my one friend had her first surgery for terminal cancer. i also started going with a friend who ended up in a wheelchair after a car accident…on the top nine rehab centers was in that city so….i called and got us hooked up. i love doing advocacy work for my friends…i learn so much. i’ve have met some remarkable people in the process of helping my friends get appropriate and adequate care. now if i can do it for myself, i’d be in a better place. it is so much easier to do it for others…i’m not usually experiencing any flairs or crisis….

but sometimes i am. it’s hard to do that kind of work when you’re not doing so well yourself but…it takes me out of myself and it really makes my life better when i do help others. i rarely go a day without at least a phone call if not more. i would go back and finish my degree in counseling…i’ve learned so much, but i don’t want to get stuck in one of our small mental health facilities where i hate all the docs. they are the worst psychiatrists i’ve known! i love done advocacy work as an avocation…it’s very hard because often the people i work with can get very difficult during certain phases and it can be hard not to take it personally. i did have to separate from helping one person because i couldn’t handle how  she treated the professionals (who were competant) and how she treated me…it just went way above and beyond. i was her last resort…everyone had shut the door on her. i hate giving up on anyone but sometimes people have to find their own way in some situations…i can just be there to jumpstart someone. doing too much to help anyone can take away experiences they need to have. they need to have ownership in their treatment and on the way, learn to be their own advocate. i’m just a catalyst and i can offer support but eventually i need to see someone start to fly on their own…ya know?

well i hope today is a good day. i think i feel pretty good albeit a little loopy, but…what ever gets ya through the day….i will kick the meds. i will kick the bipolar, depression, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, fibromyalgia, eating disorders etc. i’m convinced they all come from the same place…me. if i can get “me” well, all else will kind of fall in line (maybe not a straight line but…)

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 i just started my journey off meds after over a decade of total compliance and “faith”. i would go to any lengths to have my life, but now i want MY life not the life various professionals, family members and society think i should have. i was a successful and thriving artist and designer from an early age. at some point, around ’97, i agreed that my drinking was problematic and became willing to go to any lengths to get sober and get well. i had been given diagnosis of mental illness’s dating back to my childhood and teen years (bi-polar and borderline with the obligatory ADHD, and PTSD which i have my issues about, another topic). from time to time i dabbled in meds but didn’t believe in them (funny). but this time i agreed that i had been self-medicating,  i had gone overboard and what i had been doing was somehow no longer working. sounds like AA talk…well it kind of is.
     i committed to embark on a staple of psychopharmacology, psychology and AA. i was also very careful about my diet and a very active person (which i had been since my mid-teens).
     ten years later…i’m so flattened…i had over five serious suicide attempts which only began after i started psychopharmaceuticals. i had an attempt when i was 23, i was on meds, but it didn’t happen again until i was on this mad “decade-long, go-round”. as a child i was chronically depressed and made many suicidal gestures but as i matured i discovered other means of finding self-esteem and dealing with my issues. not all of my “means” were well adapted, but they were not suicidal.
       i told my pdoc, a few weeks ago now, that i wanted a drug holiday. reason: i had been a drunk for twenty years and started meds a year before i quit drinking. i didn’t know my “baseline”. for thirty years i’d had some substances mingling in my body and i had no idea what was me and what was the medication. i had nothing to really compare to. i’d done all of the footwork. i’d been a very compliant patient (not typical of me). but, something still wasn’t right…something deep inside me began a primal scream!
        i just wanted to know…i have the right to know these things. i had a mother go into an institution in about ’70, she was “in therapy” from there on in. at six years old i had been thrown in the middle of the evolution of mental health care! i became very insightful and inquisitive as a child. i was a “loner” for the social stigma of having a  mentally ill mother and, by the way, a gay father as well (yet two other stories). over the years, much to my chagrin, i had taken so many different drugs as they became available and suffered unannounced withdrawals and severe side effects which my docs never warned me about or explained to me. i had been through hell for just too long. i just needed to know, finally, what feelings are mine, what is missing and what is the medication.
        well, the doctor said if i wanted off of my medication he had to close my file. he would not help me titrate my dosages and come off them in a medically correct way. (i think that is medically irresponsible.) his only option he’d offer me (which was typical if i asked for a change and he knows why it’s not really an option for a basically healthy me.) was to go into the hospital which has never offered me any change or relief. they just warehouse you for 3-7 days and turn you out again. i wasn’t suicidal. proper titration with good communication shouldn’t have made it necessary for me to go into the hospital. it would have just left me with a $6,000.00 bill that i can’t afford. i can’t afford over $1,000/mo drug expenses when i hit my doughnut hole! i can’t afford to be a zombie.
      i can’t afford this life! what am i, the paris hilton of BP/BPD?!
      but, he closed my case and that was it. so i’m out here alone, trying to do the best that i know to do. i did get through most of my masters in counseling which included psychopharmacology and i do extensive reading. i’ve put in intern hours in a maximum security facility for the criminally insane in san bernardino CA and i worked with juveniles charged with felonies in a residential facility (from ’02-’05) i have a good deal of experience working with the mentally ill and people with addictions and dual diagnosis…what ever labels people want to put out there. for god’s sake i was thrown in the middle of the evolution of psychopharmacology in the early ’70s before they even offered lithium as a therapy. i remember my mother was hosed down, thrown in ice baths, given ECT….and i heard all about it, met with her pysch. and entered into many discussions and debates from my young age of 6! thank god i have a decent background. but i’m still floundering. i do not live near a decent sized city anymore, and resources are limited here.
this week i am driving 2 hours  to see someone who is a psychiatrist who does help people get off their meds. we’ll see what happens. i’m almost off everything by now. (was on 200mg lamictal, 2mg klonipin, 900mg neurontin, 300mg wellbutrinXL.)  i threw in trazadone for sleep as the klonopin is really all that i’m on now and that’s a monster to get off of. i did start melatonin and saint john’s wort with other supplements very similar to regimens i’ve read on others’ blogs. i worked in a vitamin store (earl mendel’s) for over a year when i was 19-20, so i’ve always been very into nutrition and lifestyle issues.
      well, it’s just been good to read what people are writing. that people are getting better, getting off their meds. i hope i am as fortunate.

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