Improvements

It’s been a few days since I saw my psych doctor.  We decided to add a third medication.  I think it’s starting to work.  I’m getting a little more active with each passing day, I’m starting to wake up earlier, I’m feeling less depressed, I’m feeling less paranoid, and I’m getting out of my apartment more often.  So I think the psych appointment was a good idea.  I see him again in a week.

I’m surprised at how fast I’m improving.  I haven’t felt this decent in a while.  I hope things keep improving.

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Socializing and Decreased Hallucinations

Now that I have my medication situation under control I’ve been easing back into more of a normal type of life.  At least it’s as normal as a life of mental illness is going to get.  One of the aspects of my life that is starting to resemble normal is my social life.  Just last week I spent two hours outdoors chatting with two of my neighbors. Three days ago I chatted with a third neighbor for over an hour. Today I chatted one on one with another neighbor for almost two hours.  Those are the three longest conversations I’ve had with someone who wasn’t family in months.  I still make a point of calling my parents at least twice a week.  It’s not just Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day I talk to my parents.  I still go to counseling twice a month with the same counselor I’ve had for the last year and a half.  We have a pretty good thing going.  I also have a good deal going with my psych doctor.  I do kind of worry because both of these men are getting close to retirement age.  So I’ll be in the market for new therapists and doctors within a few years.  I’m so glad the subject of DNA testing came up with my psych doctor.  The medication I changed to was one my DNA tests said would work really well for me.  So the DNA testing has already paid off.  We might make another change within a few weeks.  But things seem to be working well enough now we might not even need to make a second change.

I’m also noticing I can now go entire days without feeling irritable.  I don’t even really get irritable while driving.  Since I usually drive a little slower than speed limit, especially in town, I usually get passed and sometimes cut off.  But neither really bothers me that much anymore.  And I’m beginning to drive more again.  For several months I drove only when I had to run errands or to visit my family.  I rarely made spontaneous trips.  And being in an auto accident several months ago didn’t help any.  Even though I wasn’t at fault in that accident I lost some confidence in my driving ability.  It’s now coming back.  I haven’t set out on a long road trip yet but I probably will this summer.  I try to take at least one several hour road trip every summer.

I’m also having fewer auditory hallucinations.  For me, my hallucinations were almost always voices. Occasionally I hear foot steps and doors closing that no one else does, which can be quite creepy. Voices and foot steps are the two biggest hallucinations I have.  If one were to watch me closely when I’m alone, you could see my lips move and I would be speaking under my breath. That’s how the hallucinations make themselves manifest. It no doubt looks very odd but hopefully it’s not as painfully obvious as some schizophrenic hallucinations.  I can have entire conversations with the voices and not even speak loud enough to be heard.  But since most of the voices are quite nasty and critical it’s not like the conversations are enriching or enjoyable.  But I’m getting to where I now have much more conversation with real flesh and blood people than just isolating and arguing with my hallucinations.

Getting To Some Kind Of Normalcy

After six weeks of being on a different medication I am now adapting to the changes brought about.  I usually don’t need as much sleep so I now usually wake up earlier.  I have found myself slightly more sensitive to caffeine.  So I usually shut off the coffee and black tea after four p.m. unless I want to be up most of the night.  I have been spending more time outdoors and restarted the exercise routine a few days ago.  I am still kind of rusty but I hadn’t been doing much exercise for three weeks because of the weather and medication changes.

I am also regaining some of my lost emotions. I have felt a little loneliness over the last few weeks.  For months I have been content to spend the vast bulk of my days in isolation with as little interaction as possible.  I never did well at socializing, especially growing up in a small farming village where most people didn’t share my type of interests.  But I am now wanting to socialize again.  I find myself leaving my apartment at least a few times a day.  Previously I used to leave my apartment only once or twice a day if at all.  I have had days I didn’t leave my apartment, especially in the winter. I also feel a little more happiness.  Used to be the only real feelings I had for a couple years were anger and quiet contentment.  I didn’t relax and feel happiness because I didn’t know how.  But the ability to feel happiness is beginning to come back.   I am now able to feel a little anger and irritation without fear of going psychotic.  I haven’t had a psychotic break since I changed my medication.  I switched back to an old medication I had been on for several years.  The DNA tests I took shown that this medication worked really well for me.  So it confirmed something I already suspected.  I’ll see my psych doctor again at the end of the month and we’ll look into changing a second medication then.  I knew this would be a long process when we started.  But it’s certainly better than having psychotic breakdowns every six weeks.

I admit my physical health and exercise has taken a lower priority since I started this medication change.  I have gained a few pounds in the last few weeks. My endurance has really dropped off. It’ll probably take several more exercise sessions before it really starts coming back. But I’m getting back into exercise again, especially since the weather is warming up.

 

Changing Meds and Other Changes

I started the process of changing to new medications a few days ago.  And I’m noticing some changes already.  I have found I actually need a little less sleep now.  Used to be I got 8 hours a night like clock work, now I need only 6 to 7 hours.  I have even been making a point to get out of my complex more.  Went to the park for an hour and chatted with a bunch of neighbors on Saturday.  Found out three tenants are moving out within a month. One of those tenants was the grumpiest and angriest man I ever met in my entire life.  I mentioned him in a previous blog.  He’s one of these old guys who doesn’t believe in mental illness.  He believed that people like me were just making these problems up because we “are lazy and don’t want to do any real work.”  I hate people like that.  Guys like that are petty people and just have to make everyone else miserable.  Needless to say I won’t miss this ornery old man.  His impending departure was the happiest news I have heard in weeks.

Got out quite a bit today.  It was quite warm here today, more like late spring than early spring.  Currently have a baseball game on in the back ground.  I enjoy watching baseball.  It is more relaxing than football, that’s why I enjoy it more.  I’ve been out more the last few days than the previous two weeks.  In addition to wanting to get out and about more I’ve been wanting to socialize more.  I actually felt lonely today for the first time in months.  I previously haven’t minded the solitude and have actually wanted it.  But now I’m starting to actually want to socialize.

I’ve been listening to more music too.  Found out I like some of the newer dance, techno, and dubstep music.  Normally an older guy like myself would like only music they grew up with.  But I have never cared about when music was made.  Good music is good music, I don’t care if it’s Mozart, Louis Armstrong, old Delta Blues, John Lennon, hard rock, hip hop, or techno.  I never did like these old guys who always complained about the “lousy kids.”  So I vowed at age thirteen that when I became an old guy myself, I’d go easier on the kids than my elders did.  Been watching a little more tv too.  I’ve been watching ‘Marco Polo’ on Netflix.  If you are turned off by violent shows, I don’t recommend it.  But it is a cool show about how different cultures interact with each other.  Another series with similar themes I’ve been rematching is ‘Hell on Wheels’, which is about the building of the first transcontinental railroad in America immediately after the Civil War.  I still watch ‘Star Trek’ every so often.  But with wanting to socialize outside my apartment more, I may be finding myself with less down time.  And that would definitely be a change.

Changing Medications

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Saw my psych doctor a few days ago.  We agreed that a change in medications is in order.  Neither one of us think the meds I was on for the last two years are as effective as they once were.  He had me do a DNA cheek swab to be tested to see what medications would be effective given my DNA. The results will be in probably by the time I see him again in two weeks.  The tests may not be perfect but they should give us a better idea of what will and won’t work.  But these tests weren’t even around when I was diagnosed fifteen years ago.  For most of my illness we were merely throwing darts in the dark hoping to hit on something that would work.  We were just guessing, especially in the first year. For now I am starting the process of switching back to one of my previous medications.  I was on that med for several years but wanted to switch because it was known to promote weight gain.  But it sure was effective.  It’s too bad I let the side effects sabotage my previous attempts at weight loss.  Looking back, I think I used the side effect as an excuse not to be serious about my health.

In spite my recent mental health problems I managed to lose over twelve pounds in the first month of tracking my eating and exercising.  I’m seeing now that keeping track of what I eat is the difference between losing weight and gaining weight.  I was simply unaware of how much I really ate when I wasn’t tracking.  I am one of these people who would sometime eat just out of boredom.  But that has changed.  For my diet I cook almost all of my meals and I severely limit carbs.  I don’t even keep bread in the apartment anymore, haven’t for almost six months.  The weight loss has been the bright spot of this last month.  And I haven’t been crazy about my exercising.  I usually just walk twenty minutes a day probably five or six days a week.  I intend to keep this up even while changing medications.

Medications and Mental Illness

Saw my psych doctor last week.  We haven’t changed any medications or dosages this winter.  Winter has usually been a pretty stable time for me, at least after all the nonsense of Christmas blows over.  We added a third anti psych med in October after I have a vicious but short lived psychotic breakdown.  It seems to be doing alright.  It definitely makes me fall asleep and stay asleep.  I have to take it right before bed.  Any other time I will be asleep for at least five hours straight.  I take all my meds at once right before bed.  It’s easy to remember things that way.

With these current medications I’m taking, I have to real careful about not missing doses.  I have found I don’t sleep well and have vivid dreams when I accidentally skipped doses with these meds.  Some anti depressants I was on years ago, like Prozac, could be forgiving and not affect me too bad if I missed a dose.  I suppose Prozac is one of those drugs that can build up in your body over time.  When I decided I was going off my meds back in early 2007, I was on Prozac.  At first it felt good to be not taking medications every day.  Notice I said at first.  I was able to work 60 hours a week again and was getting interested in dating again.  But the good times didn’t last.  I was off the meds entirely for almost two months before reality came back to hit me.  I probably should have committed myself for that breakdown.  I went off the meds again in early 2013.  Felt alright for two months once more before the reality came back with a vengeance.  I was lucky and smart for realizing I needed to go back on the medications.  Both times I was on medications that probably stayed in the body longer than most.  That’s got to be the only reason I did alright for weeks before I had problems.

My current medications are not as forgiving if I miss a dose.  But they have fewer side effects.  When I was on most of my previous medications I did well mentally but not physically.  I gained weight on almost all my previous psychotic medications.  I gained a lot of weight.  I gained almost two hundred pounds from when I started on psychotic medications in late 2000 until I started my current medications in spring 2013.  I didn’t get it that I had to force myself to be active and that I was using the psych medication promoting weight gain as an excuse to overeat and not be active.  But since I got serious about exercise and eating healthy I have lost forty pounds in two years.  I still have a long way to go but I am on the right path.

If I had to give advice on whether one should go off medications because of fears of weight gain and resulting problems, talk with your psych doctor and general practice doctor both before you do anything.  Do not do anything like that on your own.  You will have a breakdown and probably have to be hospitalized.  I got off easy in that I didn’t have to go to the hospital because I recognized that my mental health was falling apart early on.  Also, it should be noted, that medical advances being what they are, newer treatments with fewer side effects are being developed regularly.  I didn’t think the genetic ‘black box’ for schizophrenia would be found as soon as it was.  It was found only twelve years after the Human Genome project was finished in 2003.  I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see an outright cure for mental illnesses, but I am remaining optimistic.  It is certainly exciting times we are living in.

Eating To Avoid Food Allergies and Mental Illness

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It’s been a week since I had my esophagus scoped and was started on two news medications for my EoE problems.  I’ve changed my diet too.  I have severely cut back on bread and most processed foods.  I’m beginning to notice that my mental health is improving in addition to having a more settled stomach.  I haven’t had real problems with delusions and auditory hallucinations since this change.

As EoE is made worse by food allergens, I’m thinking about switching to foods with less gluten or gluten free entirely.  Been doing some research on gluten free foods and found that there are gluten free alternatives for many foods.  Found that some places even have gluten free beer and I didn’t think that was even possible.

So my shopping routine has considerably changed.  For several years I had been buying groceries only twice a month with buying mostly things that had long self lives or could be frozen.  Since I’m buying more fresh vegetables and making smaller purchases, I’ve been to the grocery store at least three times just in the last week.  But I do feel better physically and mentally overall.

Been going to the chiropractor for three weeks.  My back is feeling better already.  I had a tailbone injury as a teenager that for years would flare up on occasion.  But even that has gone away.  I think the chiropractic routines are working.

It’s been an eventful last five to six weeks for my physical and mental health.  I’m still adapting to buying more fresh vegetables and foods with fewer preservatives.  I’m now having to read labels for everything I buy, not just for calorie content.  I don’t think many people realize just how many preservatives are in many supermarket foods, at least here in USA.  Regardless, healthier eating that doesn’t flare up food allergies can be done.  It takes more planning, but it can be done.  I’m still learning how to do this.  I’ll keep everyone posted.