I am a person with a bipolar diagnosis. I have had at least a few hundred episodes each of mania and depression since 1963, the year of my bipolar onset. (I am currently 58 years old; my bipolar onset occurred when I was age 11.)
I was heavily symptomatic of bipolar disorder from 1963 until the fall of 1997 (at which point “I got much better” as a result of self-applied alternative medicine). My bipolar symptoms had become more frequent and more severe as I got older (until I got better, of course).
As early as my teenage years I knew that “there was something wrong with me”, but I had no clue what it was. Nor did I seek professional help for any of my problems.
After over twenty five years knowing “something was wrong with me”, things finally got so bad I knew I needed help.
In 1992 I began to see a psychologist to try to sort out my life problems. After about a year of seeing this psychologist every month or two, she referred me to a psychiatrist so that I could receive medication for depression. (I was misdiagnosed as a unipolar depressive at this time.)
I was first correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder in June 1994. This occurred as a result of voluntarily admitting myself to rehab center in Syracuse, NY while I was in a state of mania.
After an eight month trial on lithium, I gave up on it, and threw it in the garbage. Lithium greatly dulled my mental acuity, and my hands still shook “such that I could not sign my name on a check”, despite taking only 900 mg. of lithium. Lithium did nothing to help my depressive episodes at all. (Depakote did not work for me as a mood stabilizer either. My manic states “blew through it like it was water”.)
My bipolar condition got to the point where I could hardly sleep for almost two years unless I took some sort of medication.
In the fall of 1995, I was prescribed first Ambien. I was very disappointed with Ambien. It only gave me about three to three and a half hours of sleep. Sominex, an over-the-counter sleep medication that I had been taking for months prior actually gave me a bit more sleep than Ambien did.
When I saw my psychiatrist again, I asked him for a sleep medication that was much stronger than Ambien.
The first medication that I took for sleep that worked for me such that I got six to eight hours sleep was Xanex. This medication was first prescribed to me in February 1996.
Within a matter of weeks of my first taking Xanex, after steadily moving up in dosage of it due to the fact I was becoming tolerant to it, I had “blurred vision” in one eye when I woke up. And this blurred vision did not go away for quite a few hours. I immediately called my psychiatrist. He told me that I was having an adverse reaction to Xanex. And he told me to immediately stop taking it. This adverse reaction occurred despite the fact I was only taking .875 mg. of Xanex (less than one milligram) at this time. (I am sensitive to benzodiazepine medications.)
For a few weeks after having an adverse reaction to Xanex, I took nothing for sleep. For these few weeks I was seriously manic for the entire time.
In April 1996, I got my first prescription for Klonopin. This was a medication that I requested from my psychiatrist. He was a bit hesitant about giving Klonopin to me, due to the fact I had had an adverse reaction to Xanex, which was another benzodiazepine medication. I was a bit insistent for a prescription for Klonopin, and my psychiatrist wisely relented and gave me one.
After having an adverse reaction to Xanex, I had decided to learn as much as I could about medications myself. I learned about Klonopin by reading some books about medication in March 1996.
I had become tired of my psychiatrist making all of my medication choices for me. He had prescribed a number of different medications to me in the past two years. Only one of these did I feel had really done me any good (Zoloft). The rest of the medications I had been prescribed in these two years either did not help me, or their side effects were intolerable. So I decided to see if I could make some better medication choices myself.
Klonopin worked well for me in the beginning, just as Xanex did. I could finally get some sleep. In the beginning, I got about five hours of sleep (or sometimes even six hours of sleep) with Klonopin. (I was admittedly also smoking pot at night when I was taking Klonopin. For over a decade pot had helped me somewhat in regard to sleep.)
Then the same thing happened, just as the books that I had read had told me it would. I built up a tolerance to Klonopin, just as I had built up a tolerance to Xanex. I needed more and more Klonopin to go to sleep, just as I did the Xanex. And smoking pot at night before I took Klonopin was just not enough for me to get enough sleep.
After I got up to 2 mg. of Klonopin within a few months of taking it (I had started on .5 mg), and began to feel that I needed even more, I thought to myself “enough is enough”. I decided “I am not going to just keep taking more of this stuff”, like I did with Xanex.
As I did not know quite what do to at this point, I sought professional advice. I did not go to my psychiatrist for this professional advice. I went to see a person that I considered an expert on drugs. This person was an ex-heroin addict that repeatedly claimed to have taken “every drug under the sun”, both legal and illegal. And he was a person that I highly respected.
I asked Billy (not his real name) “What should I do?” “I need more and more Klonopin to go to sleep.” “Would it be better for me to keep taking more Klonopin, or would it be better for me to drink some alcohol with the Klonopin so I can go to sleep?” Billy would not give me a direct answer. He said to me over and over “What do you think?” But you could tell what he thought by reading his face… he thought “You dummy, of course drink some alcohol with the Klonopin if it helps you to sleep rather than keep taking more of that s…t.”
So that is what I did. I began to drink a few bottles of beer, along with taking my Klonopin and smoking pot.
I was on Klonopin and pot, and then Klonopin, alcohol, and pot for almost eighteen months straight. Sometimes I got four hours of sleep. Sometimes I got five hours of sleep. It was infrequent that I got any more. Eighteen months of this.
I knew I was in deep trouble at this point (throughout most of 1996 and 1997). I knew that my Klonopin, alcohol, and pot routine for sleep could not last forever. I knew I had better find a better answer to my problems with sleep. And I knew “I was fighting for my life”.
In August of 1997 I began to add the amino acid taurine to my sleep regime. By the first week of September, less than a month after adding taurine (and other amino acids) to my sleep regime, I was off both Klonopin and alcohol completely. And I no longer needed pot to go to sleep.
By the end of October 1997, about two months after taking four amino acids (taurine, tryptophan, GABA, and glycine) every night to go to sleep (with some vitamins and minerals as well) I was getting the best sleep I could remember… going all the way back to the late 1960’s.
In September and October of 1997, I also did a number of other things besides take amino acids, etc. for sleep in order to overcome my bipolar diagnosis. I took a wide range of nutritional supplements daily. I cleaned up my diet. I got a series of colonics. (These helped me enormously.) I identified and eliminated a number of hidden food allergens. And I corrected my gut flora with probiotics and anti-candida measures.
Two supplements that I added to all of the others that I was taking in October of 1997 had an immediate and absolutely profound effect on me. They slowed down my brain just like lithium did… but without any negative side effects whatsoever. These two supplements made me drive slower, made me think slower, and made me talk slower. They also substantially lowered the volume of my voice. These two supplements were L-carnitine and phosphatidyl choline. I soon found that the more phosphatidyl choline I took, the slower my brain fired. This was a huge breakthrough for me. I had finally found the answer to my lifelong problems of often having “racing thoughts”, “fast speech”, and “speech much louder than normal”.
I knew deep in my heart in the fall of 1997 that “I had found most of the cure for bipolar disorder”. Not just for myself, but for the rest of the world.
In looking back at this time from where I stand today in 2010, I feel that I only made a few mistakes in what I had learned thirteen years ago. (None of these mistakes were critical in regard to my beating manic depression.)
In deciding to use the four amino acids of taurine, tryptophan, GABA, and glycine for sleep in 1997, I now know I could have done better in regard to the four amino acids that I had selected. Today I only use three amino acids for sleep. These are taurine, tryptophan, and histidine. If I was to use a fourth amino acid for sleep, it would be GABA. Glycine has always been a very weak sleep aid for me.
My standard night baggie for sleep for years contained the following:
1. Three 500 mg. or 600 mg. capsules of taurine.
2. Three or four 500 mg. capsules of tryptophan.
3. Three 500 mg. capsules of GABA.
4. Five 500 mg. capsules of glycine.
5. One 50 mg. capsule of vitamin B complex.
6. Three 1,000 mg. capsules of vitamin C.
7. Three capsules of calcium/magnesium/vitamin D.
I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 to 1,500 of the above night baggies between September 1997 and August 2002, when my access to substantial fiscal funds ran out.
Since August 2002 I have only been able to supplement myself on an off-and-on basis. My best guess is that since 2002 I have taken perhaps another 500 to 750 night baggies as per the ingredients listed above.
Sometimes I did add three 500 mg. capsules of inositol to the above baggies, as I felt it this supplement belonged in them.
A few years ago, I discovered that an author that I had repeatedly read (Robert Erdmann) was right about histidine. This amino acid is one that is quite sleep helpful for me. I now place more importance on histidine for sleep for me than either GABA or glycine.
My current night baggie, and one that is very effective for me for sleep, contains the following:
1. Three or four 500 mg. or 600 mg. capsules of taurine.
2. Three or four 500 mg. capsules of tryptophan.
3. Three or four 500 mg. capsules of histidine.
4. One 100 mg. capsule of vitamin B complex.
5. Three 1,000 mg. capsules of vitamin C.
6. Three tablets of magnesium.
Sometimes I also add one tablet of a quality vitamin mineral preparation to my current night baggie as well. I do this because I never want to miss an opportunity to get more essential nutrition into my body.
The specifics of my using L-Carnitine and phosphatidyl choline are as follows:
I took a 500 mg. capsule of L-carnitine in the morning. (Sometimes, but not often, I used acetyl L-carnitine instead of L-carnitine. I did not notice a difference here.) I also took three, and sometimes even four, capsules of phosphatidyl choline in the morning. Each capsule contained between 420 and 460 mg. of actual phosphatidyl choline. I took this L-carnitine and phosphatidyl choline with my other supplements in the morning. These “other supplements” covered the entire vitamin and mineral range. They also contained some capsules of essential fatty acids.
If my experiences in regard to slowing my brain down or getting a good night’s sleep are any indication of the truth, it would be foolish for any person with similar problems to ignore what I have learned.
Using drugs to treat “functional nutrient deficiencies” is nuts! This is not being done because it is “the best science available”… it is being done for the money it makes those persons that are making and prescribing the drugs.