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Unread 02-27-2013, 01:56 PM   #71
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Undiagnosing myself – (first published Jan 2008)
BY MONICA CASSANI

I was diagnosed twenty-three years ago as Bipolar 1 after becoming psychotically manic after ingesting hallucinogens while premenstrual. I’ve said this many times, but I want to say it now because I’m about to disown my past. Finally and completely. And grab my future.

I became psychotic a number of times and that is because I took hallucinogens a number of times. Each time I took them (only if I was premenstrual) I landed in the psych ward. I got my period the next day in each case. This is drug induced mania. This is PMS on steroids. That’s all. I am not bipolar.

What I was then heavily medicated for were side effects to drugs and personality quirks or more clinically, (god-forbid) mild characterological problems. And if you go by the DSM IV these personality tendencies I had were very mild—I had no full-blown case of a diagnosable disorder, but I was uncomfortable at times and my doctor wanted to help with lots and lots of medication. These are really issues of being human that are pathologized rather than recognized for just how ordinary they are.

Therapy and a good look at my traumatic childhood was not deemed important. I had a serious bio-chemical mood disorder according to them that would never go away and that I would have to take toxic drugs for the rest of my life. Drugs that would possibly shorten my life by 25 years while making me gain 100 lbs and lose many IQ points and make me fatigued and sexless. I lived life without passion for many years. My dysfunctional behavior never addressed. My life with trauma never recognized. I was never once asked if I had ever been abused. I’ve read a number of times that the correlation of childhood abuse and mental illness is extremely high and I can say from personal experience as a social worker with the “severe and persistently mentally ill,” that a good 80% if not more were abused in some fashion. Abuse comes in many shapes and forms and parents need not be blamed in all instances, though there is no doubt that they certainly can be in many cases but this is anathema in advocacy groups since families just don’t want to look at themselves — take NAMI for one example. Sometimes abuse seems benign. That is the hardest to call. Ordinary dysfunction counts and most people just don’t realize that. All families deal with dysfunction. We all inherit by being human. I don’t blame my parents anymore. It doesn’t have to be about hating human frailty. It can involve forgiveness and love and healing.

I also, while manic, experienced Spiritual Emergency. I had always been prone to deeply profound spiritual experiences without drugs. Again, on hallucinogens, those experiences cranked up. But I don’t believe I was crazy. Out of control yes. Out of touch with consensual reality yes. But crazy no. I was in touch with some beauty too. I was in touch with love. From my first post on this blog the story of an experience of love and spirituality:

More: http://beyondmeds.com/undiagnosing-myself/
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Unread 02-28-2013, 11:34 AM   #72
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“Symptoms” and acceptance
MAY 26, 2008 BY MONICA CASSANI

The symptoms I am having as a result of withdrawal are first and foremost physical. I’ve been rendered physically disabled. This is a result of my particular body and history on meds. Not everyone who deals with withdrawal will get physically sick like me.
The psychological symptoms or psychiatric symptoms I deal with are no worse than what I’ve dealt with at various times ON a complete med cocktail and in fact some of my symptoms have improved greatly, like anxiety. And as I refuse to medicate the symptoms away they become easier and easier to deal with because I am forced to accept them. Once I stopped searching for the quick fix in a pill, which ironically led to more pain, I started simply accepting my reality. This makes living with pain much easier and is the first step to healing in my mind. I believe the symptoms I have now are primarily caused by the withdrawal itself.

I suffer at different times with anxiety, irritability, and depression and despair—mania is not in the picture and actually has not been for more than a decade—some bipolar I am. The symptoms I do have are much worse when I’m premenstrual and the despair kicks in from time to time if I’m unable to get out of bed for any length of time. I feel like I’m missing out on life.

I am up now after midnight because I laid down to bed and was struck with anxiety. In the past I would have panicked and popped a Klonopin and been to sleep within an hour. Now I don’t panic! The anxiety is manageable and it still passes within the hour. Panicking as a result of feeling anxious is worse than the anxiety itself. I can’t tell you how I’ve come to this point where I generally don’t panic anymore, except I’ve read a lot about mindfulness and acceptance. And I meditate when I can as well. Really feeling without judgment works wonders and we are usually told instead to ignore our feelings and force ourselves to do things in spite of feeling miserable. I do the opposite. I embrace the feelings, sit with them and truly experience them and they pass much faster. Resisting our strong feelings causes them to worsen. Taking drugs was a way for me to resist my feelings. And then to add insult to injury the meds make me feel worse in a myriad of ways.

More: “Symptoms” and acceptance – Beyond Meds
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Unread 02-28-2013, 12:03 PM   #73
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when things fall apart…
SEPTEMBER 3, 2008 BY MONICA CASSANI

In recent days Gianna’s story took a turn too intense and painful for her to tell. It falls upon me, her husband, to explain what happened.

As regular readers here will already know, for some time now Gianna has been working with an orthomolecular doctor who through a combination of modalities was able to accelerate the process of withdrawal from Risperdal, Lamicatal, and Klonopin.

About three weeks ago Gianna came off Risperdal. That brought to an end 20 years of taking neuroleptics. The horizon of becoming completely psych-med free then seemed to be a matter of months away. But if the process had over the proceeding weeks been accelerated, it soon took on an unprecedented speed.

Under her doctor’s direction, Gianna’s discipline of careful tapering, withdrawing from one drug at a time, suddenly switched to one of giant leaps as in a matter of days — on the understanding that the indications were that her meds had become “toxic” — she cut back and then came off them completely. In the space of two weeks she cut down from 60mg of Lamictal and 3mg of Klonopin, to 20mg Lamictal and 0.5mg Klonopin and then in one step… nothing.

Gianna’s reaction was a mixture of elation and trepidation. How could this happen so fast and upturn virtually everything she thought she had learned over her intense research and the evidence from the reports of others?

It seemed too good to be true but we both watched and waited. In the last days before coming off meds altogether, the doctor’s analysis that a watershed had been crossed and that withdrawal symptoms had been replaced by symptoms of toxicity, seemed to have been borne out by the evidence. Distraught nights and mornings would give way to relief in the afternoon and evening as each round of medication wore off. The most difficult symptoms Gianna was experiencing did indeed correspond with the times when the highest concentrations of meds were in her bloodstream. It logically followed that there would be consistent improvement and healing, the longer she went drug-free.

But then came the sleeplessness. One and then two nights’ sleep lost seemed manageable if two or three hours one night could be followed by four or five the next. But by the forth night, time ran out. Gianna’s need for sleep was urgent. Without sleep, the prospect of mania and even psychosis were looming realities that couldn’t be wished away. The doctor — a loving, kind and extraordinarily responsive woman — didn’t seem to appreciate the risk. She told us the Gianna’s body would learn how to sleep naturally as the healing process progressed. Yet that process was on the point of being violently disrupted! It was like being told that you can expect a full recovery from your disease — just so long as you don’t die from it.

More: when things fall apart… – Beyond Meds
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Unread 02-28-2013, 02:13 PM   #74
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Spiritual aspects of psychosis and recovery
Dr Susan Mitchell

The spiritual dimension cannot be ignored, for it is what makes us human
Victor Frankl (1973)

How do we make sense of spirituality and the psychotic experience? Psychiatrists often struggle to make sense of, and to make progress with, people suffering from psychosis and to support their personal journeys towards recovery. Yet while psychosis is at the heart of psychiatry, psychiatrists have often dismissed or regarded with distrust the spirituality that is valued by many of their patients. In this paper I will explore these issues from three perspectives; the psychiatrist’s understanding of psychosis and spirituality; the role of spirituality in individual’s recovery and the implications for clinical practice - practical spirituality.

What is spirituality?
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
Lao-Tzu (c.604-531 BC)

These opening lines from the Tao Te Ching - the book of the Way - capture the difficulty of defining the ineffable quality of spirituality; yet we do need a definition. Cook (2004), having reviewed a number of ways of defining spirituality, has drawn up the following definition, which expresses its essence.
Spirituality is a distinctive, potentially creative and universal dimension of human experience arising both within the inner subjective awareness of individuals and within communities, social groups and traditions. It may be experienced as relationship with that which is intimately ‘inner’, immanent and personal, within the self and others, and/or as relationship with that which is wholly ‘other’, transcendent and beyond the self. It is experienced as being of fundamental or ultimate importance and is thus concerned with matters of meaning and purpose in life, truth and values.
William James described something similar here in Edinburgh when he gave the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion 1901-02 which were later published as ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience’.

More: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Susan%...y%20edited.pdf
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Unread 03-01-2013, 02:07 PM   #75
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The Brain: The Switches That Can Turn Mental Illness On and Off

The difference between one personality and another is not determined by genes alone. Love’s got something to do with it too.

By Carl Zimmer|Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This month’s column is a tale of two rats. One rat got lots of attention from its mother when it was young; she licked its fur many times a day. The other rat had a different experience. Its mother hardly licked its fur at all. The two rats grew up and turned out to be very different. The neglected rat was easily startled by noises. It was reluctant to explore new places. When it experienced stress, it churned out lots of hormones. Meanwhile, the rat that had gotten more attention from its mother was not so easily startled, was more curious, and did not suffer surges of stress hormones.

The same basic tale has repeated itself hundreds of times in a number of labs. The experiences rats had when they were young altered their behavior as adults. We all intuit that this holds true for people, too, if you replace fur-licking with school, television, family troubles, and all the other experiences that children have. But there’s a major puzzle lurking underneath this seemingly obvious fact of life. Our brains develop according to a recipe encoded in our genes. Each of our brain cells contains the same set of genes we were born with and uses those genes to build proteins and other molecules throughout its life. The sequence of DNA in those genes is pretty much fixed. For experiences to produce long-term changes in how we behave, they must be somehow able to reach into our brains and alter how those genes work.

Neuroscientists are now mapping that mechanism. Our experiences don’t actually rewrite the genes in our brains, it seems, but they can do something almost as powerful. Glued to our DNA are thousands of molecules that shut some genes off and allow other genes to be active. Our experiences can physically rearrange the pattern of those switches and, in the process, change the way our brain cells work. This research has a truly exciting implication: It may be possible to rearrange that pattern ourselves and thereby relieve people of psychiatric disorders like severe anxiety and depression. In fact, scientists are already easing those symptoms in mice.

More: The Brain: The Switches That Can Turn Mental Illness On and Off | DiscoverMagazine.com
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Unread 03-01-2013, 02:39 PM   #76
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DNA Is Not Destiny

The new science of epigenetics rewrites the rules of disease, heredity, and identity.

By Ethan Watters|Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Back in 2000, Randy Jirtle, a professor of radiation oncology at Duke University, and his postdoctoral student Robert Waterland designed a groundbreaking genetic experiment that was simplicity itself. They started with pairs of fat yellow mice known to scientists as agouti mice, so called because they carry a particular gene—the agouti gene—that in addition to making the rodents ravenous and yellow renders them prone to cancer and diabetes. Jirtle and Waterland set about to see if they could change the unfortunate genetic legacy of these little creatures.

Typically, when agouti mice breed, most of the offspring are identical to the parents: just as yellow, fat as pincushions, and susceptible to life-shortening disease. The parent mice in Jirtle and Waterland's experiment, however, produced a majority of offspring that looked altogether different. These young mice were slender and mousy brown. Moreover, they did not display their parents' susceptibility to cancer and diabetes and lived to a spry old age. The effects of the agouti gene had been virtually erased.

Remarkably, the researchers effected this transformation without altering a single letter of the mouse's DNA. Their approach instead was radically straightforward—they changed the moms' diet. Starting just before conception, Jirtle and Waterland fed a test group of mother mice a diet rich in methyl donors, small chemical clusters that can attach to a gene and turn it off. These molecules are common in the environment and are found in many foods, including onions, garlic, beets, and in the food supplements often given to pregnant women. After being consumed by the mothers, the methyl donors worked their way into the developing embryos' chromosomes and onto the critical agouti gene. The mothers passed along the agouti gene to their children intact, but thanks to their methyl-rich pregnancy diet, they had added to the gene a chemical switch that dimmed the gene's deleterious effects.

"It was a little eerie and a little scary to see how something as subtle as a nutritional change in the pregnant mother rat could have such a dramatic impact on the gene expression of the baby," Jirtle says. "The results showed how important epigenetic changes could be."

Our DNA—specifically the 25,000 genes identified by the Human Genome Project—is now widely regarded as the instruction book for the human body. But genes themselves need instructions for what to do, and where and when to do it. A human liver cell contains the same DNA as a brain cell, yet somehow it knows to code only those proteins needed for the functioning of the liver. Those instructions are found not in the letters of the DNA itself but on it, in an array of chemical markers and switches, known collectively as the epigenome, that lie along the length of the double helix. These epigenetic switches and markers in turn help switch on or off the expression of particular genes. Think of the epigenome as a complex software code, capable of inducing the DNA hardware to manufacture an impressive variety of proteins, cell types, and individuals.

More: DNA Is Not Destiny | DiscoverMagazine.com
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Unread 03-01-2013, 09:37 PM   #77
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Good stuff, thanks.
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Unread 03-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #78
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Full Recovery from Schizophrenia?
By Paris Williams, PhD | 65 Comments

This is the first of a series of blog postings related to my own series of research studies (my doctoral research at Saybrook University) of people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. This is very exciting research because it is one of the few areas within psychological research that remains almost completely wide open. One reason it is so wide open is that most Westerners don’t believe that genuine recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is possible, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary. Since there are some very hopeful findings that have emerged within this research, I want to begin this series of postings by summing up one particularly hopeful aspect of my own research, which is a group of five factors that emerged which are considered to have been the most important factors in my participants’ recovery process. But before looking closer at these factors, we should back up for a minute…
Upon reading the statement in the preceding paragraph, “…people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries from schizophrenia…,” it’s likely that many readers did a double-take. Yes, you read this correctly. Contrary to this widespread myth about schizophrenia, the research is quite robust in showing us that not only is full medication-free recovery from schizophrenia possible, it’s surprisingly common, and is actually the most common outcome in many situations—such as in many of the poorest countries of the world, such as India, Columbia, and Nigeria, and as the result of certain psychosocial interventions, such as the Open Dialogue Approach used in Lapland, Finland.

More: Full Recovery from Schizophrenia? | Brain Blogger
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Unread 03-02-2013, 01:32 PM   #79
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Dissociation and trauma arise
DECEMBER 9, 2008 BY MONICA CASSANI

The post I wrote the other day about the pain, physical and mental that I have in “spells.” But only have vague memories of afterward? It’s struck me that I’m dealing with dissociation—a pretty classic sort of it too.

I’m also realizing that I’m confronting ancient pain from childhood and while at first that freaked me out, I’m now quite excited because it is distinctly neither depression nor mania, but instead old screaming pain from trauma that simply needs listening to. The drugs I’ve taken for years did not allow that screaming child within me to be heard and now she is demanding that I listen.

More: Dissociation and trauma arise – Beyond Meds
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Unread 03-04-2013, 01:59 PM   #80
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Taking Your Mind Back

January 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm

By Jeremy

In this repost from last year, I outline my path back to wellness from Bipolar using simple alternatives that don’t involve conventional prescription drug means. I started listening to my inner wisdom that was shouting “change”.

I continue to experience the wonders of life free of medication. I have made adjustments along the way to remain balanced. Some of these include changes in my nutrition, meditation, and exercise.

It is my belief that all dis-eases and dis-orders signal a change is needed. This is hard for many to swallow because it involves a drastic paradigm shift away from what they have been taught over the years. We all have this inner power and we need to stop giving it away to others.

You can read part 1 of my story here:

The Power Behind my Bipolar: Becoming Friends with Both Sides

I want to tell my story, but not for a high five or a kudos. It is not to get an “atta-boy” or a pat on the back. I want to tell it because it is time to look at the view atop the mountain that I have been climbing for over ten years. I want to tell it because I hope that maybe someone is looking for a glimmer of hope no matter what DIS-ease your body is telling you. My story is meant to be told for my own well-being and it is my last step to fully embrace it.

Our society has a carved out the mental disorders as something that needs to be suppressed and fixed. However, our solutions are not perfect. It started for me in college during a time when most push themselves to the brink by partaking in activities that may be foreign to many. I was no stranger to this. I stayed up late during the week studying and then partied hard on the weekends. My diet consisted of an incomplete breakfast, a lunch of more carbs, and pizza or some other unhealthy choice. There was no salad or pure, raw foods mixed in anywhere.

More: Taking Your Mind Back | Lotus Work
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