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Managing Bipolar Type 1 - without meds
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Bipolar Disorder is also known as "Manic Depressive Disorder". This forum is for questions and support for people with, or for loved ones of people with Bipolar Disorder. The forum covers topics ranging from Aggressive Behavior, Affect on friends and Family, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Appetite Changes, Chronic Pain, Denial, Depression, Difficulty Concentrating, Euphoria, Guilt, Manic Depression, Medications, Mood Swings, Poor Judgment, and Sleep Disorders

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Managing Bipolar Type 1 - without meds

I'm bipolar I, and have been on meds for 10 years non-stop (currently Depakote and Lemictal). However, my life on meds has been MUCH worse than before: depression, suicidal thoughts, dulled thinking, loss of passion for life, fogginess, etc. Not to mention career and financial collapse. Prior to one manic episode, I was a happy guy with an amazing life. No depression, none of the above. It's all gone to pot since then.

To me there is only one clear option at present - trying to manage my mood without drugs, to see if I can get my mind, passion, and happiness back. I've spent the past few months educating myself about this topic, and there are many many alternative methods for mood management, albeit it will take a lot of work and lifestyle changes.

Has anyone here tried managing moods without pharmaceuticals? Any success stories?

Please do NOT respond to this if you work for or on behalf of a pharmaceutical company.
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-    5-HTP supplements three times daily, or just two at bed time. Omega 3 fish oil once in the morning.

-    No alcohol or sweet drinks, water and decaffeinated green tea rich in antioxidants only.

-    No caffeine, dairy, wheat, gluten or meat products. (veganism preferable, though eggs without the yolk seems to suffice.) Broccoli, spinach, fresh ginger, tomatoes, tangerines, fish and pears all fantastic. Steamed carrots and parsnips if you crave a chip or bread texture. (oddly enough!)

-    Exercise i.e. a walk, morning and evening each day and keep busy!

-    Ensure you wake and retire to bed strictly at the same time each day.

This may seem taxing if you are not doing so already, though pumping ourselves full of pills may not get us anywhere unless we're leading a healthy lifestyle, you will feel amazing for a fresh diet and exercise. It is a great shame that more people in the UK don't help themselves with the 'obvious' self-improvement methods, though our society doesn't exactly perpetuate the knowledge and encouragement we need to keep ourselves at optimum functioning. Three months in Thessaloniki kept me alive!  I did all the above and still ended up in a manic cycle again, so I suppose some of us are stuffed and may have to try medication, but I hope this helps in some way, however typical the advice.
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Avatar_f_tn
ps attention to diet and exercise regime stabilised me for about 6 months after a bout of fairly psychotic depression. Though as i mentioned, meds may be inevitable to balance brain chem of course.
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Best of luck managing your bipolar without meds. Please keep us posted on your progress.
It is possible that being on the same meds for so many years, it's no longer giving you the desired result. I am able to mange mine with 2mg. of Abilify and I don't have any of the symptoms you describe. If it gets to hard to do without meds, ask your doc about a shakeup of the meds, maybe a new one at a very low dose, just enough to keep the cycling at bay. All the above suggestions where what I was going to say so I'll leave it here. Good Luck!! It can be done for some people!
Erin
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Avatar_n_tn
Jenkins848, we think alike - I'm already doing most or all of the things you mention: careful diet, 5-HTP + Omega 3s + other supplements, daily outdoor exercise, strict sleep schedule, stress avoidance, etc. I'm going to try some other things too.

5-HTP is awesome: lifts my mood AND helps me sleep better. Anyone wanting to try 5-HTP check with your psych first.
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Avatar_f_tn
Well hello voice of sanity. You know i am wondering why i hadn't just come online and researched my issues a long time ago. Busy surviving i should imagine!
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Ok morning reply, man i ran for hours last night. Yes 5-HTP entirely beneficial, granted, i didn't consult my GP, but  am not on other medications. So how are you feeling? have you come off the meds yet. Take care of yourself.
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Avatar_m_tn
hi im josh i was diagnosed with bipoliar dissorder when i was 19 im now 41 and completly off all meds have been for 11years when i came off meds i was realy worried that i would end up back to the ward  i cope realy well with my mood swings as most of the time i am high  about 3weeks a month and then im quite fun to be with have loads of energy and drive everyone  mad lol but the kids love it , and then comes the week on a down where it take me all my time to get out off bed ,as for advise i carnt give you any just you need to know when you are getting down if so seek pro help soon as but i suppose every one diff i stopped taking mine as they kept me stable and ifelt like i was being held back or slowed down i know it was wrong but thats just the way i am i like my highs and i like my life
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Avatar_f_tn
I had been on meds at least an antidepressant /antianxietty for 15 years, the last 5 years twice in the hospital and heavy pasychotropes. Feb.08 mostly my husband decided that I was wasted too much of the time so he hid all of my meds and I went cold turkey from 200 mg seroquel,1200 trileptal,200 topomax (topamax), 3 mg klonapin, and 3 anti chloresterol meds. I didn't sleep for three weeks and went into violent vomiting. had to do the composine suppositories, pased the house like a caged lion, becahe so hiper vigalent, I couln't do anything, I decompensated to the point i counl'dt dress myself, take a shower, didn't remember how to run the dryer, coffee maker or drive. I was afraid of everything. Finally I went back to klonapin  1 mg to sleep. I am there with 20 mg of prozac and on Lyrica 300 mg for periferal neuropathy. best of luck. I walk 30 minutes 5 days a week for sanity and eat raw vegs and lean meat. Green tea and honey. PRAYER
and my children saved me.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am not off meds but have been on a low does 5mg olanzapine for a few years.  I manage it with self monitoring.  I went ojn a course with the MDF Fellowship where you basically learn to id your own patterns 7 how to monitor so that you can give early intervention.

I have a large A4 sheet with all  my early symptons for high (e.g can't sit down...) and low (e.g. spend the day in bed & not for the joy of watching TV)and a list of what to do to reverse it.  Everyday I ask myself how high and low I am that day.  If high then I follow the intervention for high and if low then the opposite things are done.

For lifestyle I avoid caffene, junk food, stress. take-Omega3, multi vitamins, regular exercise, commit to doing less things, cancel anything if I don't feel able to take part  & surround myself with supportive people.

One doctor said that you need to learn your foot steps to your relapse.  Think back to each high or low & write down events, situations, attitudes, people, food etc that caused you to have your relaspe.
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Avatar_f_tn
very good way of coming at self-management techniques. I use a mood swing graph with low to severe on the three stages, depression, normalancy and mania, with "Severe and unable to work, moderate but able to work, low, able to work ec." Found it on a bipolar website, its colour coded which helps me to writes inside the squares! Oh dear it does get tiring at times. It also has weight and sleep recognition and a scale of irratibility/anxiety for each day. All together thoroughly helpful and i just have to think why not now, if i am still alive stop holding on to the thought that its too late and start self-monoriting. Enjoyed reading your post thanks.
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Avatar_m_tn
Modern society and lifestyles are very demanding for a human being.  Back in the day it was farm, or hunt, or die.  Today, with many less pressing issues, we are much more stressed out about them.  And we expect to 'feel normal' all the darned time.  Not to mention the fact that any type of 'misbehavior' will earn you a permanent record and a stigma as severe as unwed pregnancy or homosexuality was 100 years ago.  

If you've got a plan, write it down and stick to it.  I'd like to try the same thing.  So much of our modern society revolves around some type of chemical solution to our problems, illicit or legally sanctioned, that I wonder myself what the solution is.

With thread after thread of people talking about multiple drug protocols and continuing unhappiness, who WOULDN'T wonder about 'going it without'.  You'd be crazy NOT to.

That's all my opinion.  My life is no model for success dealing with mental problems, LOL!

Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
You said "Feb.08 mostly my husband decided that I was wasted too much of the time so he hid all of my meds and I went cold turkey from 200 mg seroquel,1200 trileptal,200 topomax (topamax), 3 mg klonapin, and 3 anti chloresterol meds. I didn't sleep for three weeks and went into violent vomiting. had to do the composine suppositories, pased the house like a caged lion, becahe so hiper vigalent, I couln't do anything, I decompensated to the point i counl'dt dress myself, take a shower, didn't remember how to run the dryer, coffee maker or drive. I was afraid of everything."

It wasn't coming off meds that was your problem, it's HOW you came off meds. Going off so many meds is EXTREMELY dangerous and could have killed you. It's well known that it's harder coming off meds than going on, and often as more side effects. The key to coming off meds is slowly...decrease your dose 10% at a time, And the longer you've been on a drug, the longer you need to take. As a rule of thumb, if you been on a med 10 years, you should take 10% or 1 year to come off. Finally, you can only come off one med at a time, first meds first. It's very complicated and needs to be done with a doctor. Check out the book "Your Drug May Be Your Problem" on Amazon.
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This has been a great thread. Thank you to all. I'm slooowwwlllyyy coming off Depakote, staying on lamictal for now, and will let ya'll know what else I learn.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi. I was wondering how you did coming off the depakote? I am only on depakote. After getting my recent labs back...My doctor told me today she is happy that I am stabalized well below "therapeutic levels", but my CBC showed a concerning low in my white blood cells. She lowered the Depakote once again. She mentioned she didn't want me to go completely off because I might relapse. I was wondering if you went through any symptoms and how it went for you coming off the depakote.
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Hi, been reading up on your circumstances, as I have similar diagnosis/meds. BP 1 and on Depakote 500 2x a day/buspar 15 mg 2x a day. Know of the 5HTP, have took it and I got good results, only took at night though. Took advice from a friend who was on it for a long time and found it helped her. Also, how about Stress Relief  L-Theanine With calming Blend, by Sundown Naturals, I do 2 in the day. I do the depakote, how long have you done the depakote and I just hate taking any thing in my body that has to "stabilize" my moods period!
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How I Cured My Bipolar Disorder
I read that omega-3 was being used for psychiatric disorders and gave it a try for myself. It didn’t work, but I noticed that after 13 years my urine had no calcium sediments in it anymore. Before omega-3 supplements any extra calcium I ate showed up as extra urine sediment. I then read that calcium was important for proper neuron function and added calcium supplements to my diet thinking that I might not be getting enough. I increased the amount until I started seeing calcium sediments in my urine again. My mental symptoms stopped then. I believe the mechanism for the success of omega-3 is through its ability to allow the body to maintain a higher blood level of calcium. Higher calcium levels are known to reduce the level of excitability of neurons. Perhaps omega-3 allows the kidneys to reabsorb calcium to a level that satisfies all the body’s requirements.
  
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Avatar_f_tn
  I have been bipolar since I was a child, and not diagnosed until 10 years ago.  I have been on a numerous amount of medications to stabilize my moods, and make me function "normal".  I was also hospitalized once for a month, it was my choice to leave, but they wanted me to stay longer.  What happened after time however, is that I couldn't stand the side effects anymore!  From the extreme weight gain, to the grogginess that never ended.  I used to do Mensa level problems and puzzles, but when I took medication I could barely read the words on the page.

  What I decided to do, at great risk, with a lot of monitoring was go off the medication.  My first hurdle to overcome was the lack of sleep issues.  I had insomnia for as long as I can remember, and I was on sleep medication, but the dr. I had stopped all of them cold turkey!  That was a challenge, but finally I sleep through the nights most times.

  This is what really helped me manage my bipolar:

  1) get proper sleep!  Without sleep you will start to spiral out of control.
  2) at all cost avoid stressful situations!
  3) stick to a regular routine.
  4) eat healthy foods.  Nothing processed. No sugar.
  4) avoid caffeine.  It affects the number 1 sleep problems.
  5) make sure you have someone who can help you watch your moods.
  6) find something you enjoy, and try to fit some time in daily to do it.  An example is reading, painting, colouring, cooking, sports or whatever.
  7) I use vital greens to make sure I have proper nutrients
  8) I take vitamin b in strong doses daily.
  9) use a daily multi vitamin.
  10) push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone. Try new things.

  I have been off of my medication for a year now, and I am doing great!  The thing that I will always struggle with is frustration.  I know to walk away and try again later if something isn't working out, I have also taken a cognitive behavioural therapy, and that was of great assistance to me.  Good luck on your journey.
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