Navelgazing time!

Mental health update. Under the cut.

So my regular doctor (general practitioner) has had me on several different combinations of meds for about the past year, trying to help me sleep better. One of the more recent combos was Lamictal and Seroquel (with my normal Celexa dose for anxiety), until I developed a suspicious rash and had to stop the Lamictal. (One of Lamictal’s potential risks is Stevens-Johnson syndrome.) My doctor increased the Seroquel dosage to compensate for taking out the Lamictal – and it just fucked with me and made me feel crazy. My anxiety was way worse, and my sleep was still disrupted. I really felt like I was losing my mind, and wanted to get off the Seroquel, so I went to see my doctor, who told me to go see a psychiatrist. Really, I just wanted to try dialing back the meds for a while to see if I even needed anything to help me sleep, but she felt like she was out of her depths and wasn’t comfortable handling my anxiety meds. And that’s fine.

So then last Tuesday, I went to see a psychiatrist, and so far, I think I really like her. She seems to take a more holistic approach, and I like that. I like that her first impulse isn’t to try a new cocktail of meds, but to go a bit more slowly and try more of a behavioral approach. (For my particular brand of anxiety, anyway, I think it’s a good fit.) She thought that Lamictal and Seroquel were not the right meds for me to be on, and took me off the Seroquel. And a week and a half later, I feel so much better. Just…so much more mentally *clear*. On the Seroquel, I just felt anxious and like there was a thick fog in my brain, making it difficult (if not impossible) to focus on things.

She had me do a screening quiz for hypoglycemia, which apparently can affect/worsen anxiety, and I scored rather high on the positive end. So I got to do a five-hour glucose test, which I did this past Monday. It was pretty brutal towards the end – you have to go in fasting, and get blood drawn six times (once before you drink the glucose, and then again on the hour afterwards for five hours). But I held up pretty well, so go, me.

She also suggested I try some supplements – zeolites and…some mushroom supplement I forgot the name of. (I think it was probably ganoderma, but I’m not certain.) Zeolites are supposed to be good for all sorts of stuff, and the testimonies I’ve read are kind of incredible. To be honest, they’re so effusive that I’m a bit skeptical. But they’re supposed to be good for acid reflux, allergies, and high blood pressure, among a host of other things, so I’m giving them a try. If they don’t work, not too big a deal; but if they do, it’ll be awesome, I’ll be healthier, and save money on meds. (The psychiatrist actually said she thought I was on way too many meds for only being 31. I’m all about being on less meds if it can be done.) We also talked about stuff like exercising more regularly, drinking less caffeine (not that I drink alot of it normally), etc.

And then I met with my therapist today, and we talked about it, and she’s definitely down with the regular exercise – it’s a great help for anxiety in general, and in my case in particular. We also talked a bit about Gala’s Radical Self-Love, and related things I’m looking into lately (like raw foods and green smoothies). She’s also down with getting me off unnecessary meds. I’m still having trouble sleeping, but I think my therapist is right that getting back into the habit of regular exercise and meditation will fix that. I was taking Ambien there for a while, just to guarantee some sleep for myself, and I think that’s skewed my sleep cycles a bit, so that now I’m trying not to take Ambien, I can’t get to sleep without it. But I am definitely wary of taking Ambien more regularly, so I’m trying to get back on track.

So, to recap/sum up, here’s my “prescription”:
-the psychiatrist *did* increase my Celexa dosage, to help my general level of anxiety (and it does seem to have cut down on the panic attacks, even if I’m still having sleep disturbances; I was getting panicky every night, and actually afraid to go to sleep, and I’m not now)
-currently taking zeolites, and going to ask my psychiatrist to remind me what medicinal mushroom she recommended so I can try that
-regular exercise (with an eye to making it stuff that I find fun and don’t think of as a chore, so that it’s not something I have to force myself to do, but will just do)
-practicing good sleep hygiene
-more socializing (uke jams, uke band practice, trying to work out a volunteering gig on Wednesday nights, bellydance)
-incorporate more whole foods and raw foods into my diet
-journaling
-regular meditation

MORE UPDATE: 2/15/11
I’m definitely hypoglycemic, and seem to have some insulin resistance (pre-diabetes, boo). So I get to go on a low-glycemic diet, which…alot of yummy stuff is going to have to go. To be honest, I’m more bummed about having to cut out sweet potatoes and avocados than cutting out candies and ice cream. But I’ve been into green smoothies lately, and finding I have more of a taste for fresh vegetables than I thought, so…it’s not all bad. It’ll be healthier, and that’s awesome. And once I get through withdrawal from sugar and bad carbs, I’ll have more energy, and that’s awesome. The withdrawal sounds like it’ll be heinous, but whatever, has to be done.

Also, I looked into Waiora, the company that makes the supplements my psychiatrist recommended. Apparently she’s also a Waiora member, which I think also means she’s a seller, kind of like with Amway. So…I’m not entirely comfortable with that. She seems really nice, and sincere, and I’m sure she believes in the products, but…Waiora seems like it could very well be an MLM type thing, and I’m extremely skeptical of shit like that. So, I don’t recommend zeolites, in case you were wondering. There’s not enough convincing scientific evidence for me to believe they’re useful, and enough convincing scientific evidence that suggests they might actually be linked to cancer. So….yeah. If you were waiting for the follow-up, there it is: I’m going to stop taking the zeolites, and not even bother with the agaricus blazei supplement. Which is fine. If new reports come out that change my mind, I can always change my mind. And for now, I’m working on plenty of positive changes that will help my anxiety as well as my physical health, blood sugar, blood pressure. And until those changes are second nature, I’ll probably have my hands full dealing with them. I don’t like to change too much up at once, anyway, because it’s harder to know what contributed to any improvement or worsening, you know? So…no taking supplements I’m skeptical about for now.

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