rTMS Update

I am still having a hard time making regular updates. Things have been kind of nutty for me lately. I don’t recall if I blogged about it or not, but I reduced my dosage of Epival from 1500mg to 1000mg about a month ago. It was extremely hard going for the following week or so, but with some patience and a lot of mindfulness, I was able to struggle through it.

I was supposed to start my rTMS treatments last Wednesday. I was laying in the treatment chair with my shoes off, all ready to go, when the doctor asked me to recap what meds I was taking. I gave him my list and he seemed a little troubled. He excused himself from the room and then reemerged to tell me that there would be an issue if I continued taking the Epival during treatment.

I am not sure if this is always the case or if it is just because I am receiving treatment as part of a CAMH study, but he said the Epival would interfere with the efficacy of the treatment. In order for me to proceed, I am having to come off of my Epival completely.

If you’ve been reading the blog for some time, you may recall my mentioning my desire to be on less medication and so I am completely open to coming off the Epival. Where I am struggling is the doctor’s intent to have me at 0mg in 15 days. I don’t know how I will manage.

So far, he has me taking 250mg in the morning and 500mg in the evenings. I am to do that for two weeks and then 250mg in the morning and 250mg in the evening. Then 250mg in the evening until I am done.

I was a little late making it to the pharmacy because I was out of town at my parent’s house over the weekend so I am already 4 days behind schedule.

Aside from disrupted sleep, which had been one of the first symptoms the last time I reduced, I have been doing very well. There have been no mood symptoms and I haven’t been experiencing racing thoughts or anything else typical of bipolar. We are only at day 2 or 3 and so it is still very early days.

As I’ve discussed with my social worker, Melinda, I have to be prepared for some discomfort and be patient with myself and whatever symptoms may present themselves. Anything that comes up will only be on the short term and I know that I can calmly walk through it.

I will try to check in here more often to give you updates throughout my withdrawal process and as I start my rTMS treatments.

Have any of you gone through the process of coming off of psychiatric medications? What was the experience like for you? What were your biggest struggles?


To Be Normal

My posting schedule has become rather erratic over the last few weeks. It is mainly due to my reduced Epival dosage that I wrote about recently. It’s been about a month and a half since the reduction and I feel that.. hopefully.. I am finally starting to balance out.

I think that I may have said that I was returning to normal in my last post, but there were many hard times that occurred between that post on April 23rd until today. I even came to the edge of psychosis the other day and nearly had to admit myself to CAMH in the middle of the night. It’s been a difficult few weeks.

I normally would have immediately upped my medication when faced with these issues, as has been the advice of my GP and psychiatrist, but I have been waiting to see if I was accepted into the rTMS study. They don’t allow for a medication increase within 4 weeks of the beginning of the study so that they can ensure that any improvements are because of the rTMS vs medication.

I found out on Monday that I have been accepted into the study. I have gotten no word yet as to when I will be receiving my first treatment, but I can only assume that the process will move quickly from this point forward.

Evidence suggests that if I am going to get any benefit from treatment, it will take 2 solid weeks of sessions before I see any gains. I am confident that I will be able to maintain my sanity until the beginning of treatment and then make it 2 weeks in. If at that point I find that I am still struggling, I may have to pull out of the study and up my medication.

I would hate to have to take that step. It has been my goal for many years to lower, or perhaps even eliminate my medications and so I will do everything I can to at least stay at my current dosage.

Mindfulness has been extremely helpful. So have my weekly meetings with my social worker, Melinda. She is a mindfulness facilitator and we discuss whatever troubles I have been having during the week and then how I could address those problems with mindfulness before we practicing together for about 10 – 20 mins.

It seems amazing that I still have so many questions about my practice each week. There are so many layers to understanding mindfulness and how the practice can address different types of problems. In the end, it is all fairly simplistic, but it helps to have her around to guide my practice.

Now that I have made the commitment to go on a lower dose of medication for at least the next month or so and begin rTMS treatments, I have made the decision to dedicate myself more completely to mindfulness. It has proven to be an essential tool that bridges the gaps left by my reduced dosage.

I have a number of books that I am preparing to read and that I will review on the blog once I’ve completed them. Some are specific to bipolar and mindfulness and so I expect them to be very helpful to me.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with rTMS with you. I am preparing for the worst, but expecting the best. This could completely change my life or it could have zero effect whatsoever.

I know many of you can relate to how I am feeling right now.

To be at the beginning of a new treatment that has the potential to completely change your way of life. There is no magic pill or super cure. This I know in spades. But it could be the start of a new way of life. One that I have been praying for for the past decade.

Wish me luck!


Some of what keeps me sane…

I don’t recall to what extent I’ve discussed my journaling on the blog, but I would love to discuss it now. It is one of the main things that I do for myself everyday that keeps me sane. It is also something that can be a red flag if I start doing it too much. I am pretty private about it, so I have to mostly monitor it on my own, but I have been known to journal for 12+ hours at a time when I am manic. Read more

Be Yourself Only For Yourself

Most of us feel the pressures of other people’s expectations of us. Even when we say that we don’t care, I can say that with quite a lot of certainty, that there was probably at least some point in your life where these expectations weighed heavily on your heart.

We know that we shouldn’t care what other people think of us, but it is very often difficult not to care, especially when you are talking about friends and family members. Read more

Brain Stimulation Therapies

There are times when medication alone is not effective in the treatment of mental illness. That is why throughout this blog you will hear me talking a great deal about the benefits of mindfulness, CBT, DBT & etc.

There are still times for many individuals when these conventional therapies, matched with medications does not completely ease the symptoms of mental illness. Read more

Bad Habits

Living functionally with a mental illness is largely about behaviour modification as part of your wellness routine. By definition, if you are mentally ill, many aspects of your behaviour can, at times, be out of your control.

This can be helped through helpful therapies like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) or a mindfulness practice. I plan to write extensively on these topics in the coming weeks and months, as these practices have been extremely helpful in my life. Read more