Coming Off Psychiatric Medication

Story about medications, homeopathy and support

'The first time I got put in hospital, I got taken in by the police. I had never really taken any drugs before, except for headaches. I thought I was in a game, I would run away, then they would pin me down and drug me, and I thought this wasn't getting me nowhere, so I had a look around and found out where I was. Eventually they put me on deplixil and lithium for a while. I couldn't drive on displixil, it was hard enough to keep awake. For two years I was pretty zombified, and then they lowered the dosage, and then took me off diplixil, so I was just on lithium for a while. Then the doctor changed, and he took me off diplixil and put me on to valpuric acid. This changed me a lot; I had a bit of a new life. I was able to drive and get some independence.

I started trying to come off by myself when I was on lithium, but it didn't work. I had a 'relapse' and they put me back in hospital, and upping my tablets again. When I was on olanzap_i_ne and valpuric acid, I came off gradually with the psychiatrists consent, but I didn't have any support from friends and family then. My family would worry when I got sharp and irritable, so they would get CPNs who would come and question me, and before I know it I am talking myself into hospital. They asked me to go in voluntarily, but then they would put me back on medication. I decided to take it orally because it's a lot more dignified than being pinned down.

When I came out of hospital, I had put on a lot of weight, which caused me problems with my back, and the medication made me low, I started to waste away. When I started to feel good, I would cut down and the doctor said I was having a relapse, but I think it was just the effects of coming off. So again I had to go back in. Now I have learned what I have in the coming off group about the two week half life of this drug, I wish I had known that then so I could have been aware of what was causing the problem.

Now I realise I need a safe place to come off, with support. If I have people who I feel safe around me ' like a few weeks ago, instead of phoning up my mum and dad or CPN, I rang my homeopath, and he came up and spent an hour talking with me. He gave me a remedy and to see how I feel, so I didn't have to go up on my conventional medication, which felt much safer - I could carry on driving and look after myself.

I am riding a bike with two stabilisers on now! I am on the homeopathy, which is conium 200, which at first was a very low dose- a tablet dissolved in water, which I would sip now and again. And I'm on the lowest dose possible of carbamazepine' 300 at night, 200 in the day. I would like to drop it further but have to wait. I came off the homeopathy for my mind because I wanted some for my back. When I came off it had s light wobble, which showed me it was doing stuff, so I went back on it. But this time when I had a wobble, I had support from friends that carried me through. Being round like-minded people and having them to talk to has helped me a lot, my family don't understand me in the same way. When they see me as 'well' it's just me complying ' taking the drugs, not sharp or irritable.

Once I got a label of mental health, I feel like it's a narrow path I have to walk on. When I get irritable and the CPNs come round it's like a tightrope I am walking, I can't get away with losing my temper. I've had to learn self-control, or keep it well hidden! Now I am off the homeopathy for a week during my period, when I get bad headaches. I feel a lot of tension in my lower back at these times especially. I have a dry mouth a lot, and I think these are from the medication.

My family are starting to respect my boundaries better now, as I am getting better support from my friends. I would like to come off all my medication. But I am still getting to know myself, and the psychiatrist wants me to take it slowly. I brought my homeopath to meet my psychiatrist, so that he could recognise what I am doing. I've changed my advance directive or living will recently. I put my homeopath and my friend on as first point of contact rather than the psychiatrist and my family. I feel more in control with that and liberated. I can take my homeopathy when I feel wobbly.

I am changing my lifestyle as well ' eating better, meditating. I've got more creative again now; when I was on my heavy doses of medication I couldn't do anything. Before I used to do drawing and photography, sketching, painting and make designs. I would like to get something of that back, now I feel freer. I can do these things with my friends, which helps me feel more motivated. Since I have come off my olanzopine I have got better concentration and able to explore healing and I am also doing a basic English course now.

I have been looking into 'In Control' benefit or direct payments for mental health, which is being piloted where I live. I've applied for money so I can explore different ways of healing to keep me well. and its come through! They are giving me '70 per week to spend on a personal trainer and chiropractor and homeopathy and money for the car to keep me in control. You can also get money from this to pay for someone to help you go to things that are going to help ' like classes and workshops. It might also be able to pay for counselling to support people on medication.

I am putting together a presentation to show how this money can be used for others- for people to see they have different choices in how to look after themselves and being supported in their own recovery ' to be more empowered and get more out of life. I've also been going to stress management workshops, and other classes exploring myself. I've been out of hospital nearly a year ' I usually go in once a year. When I have made it to two years I know I am getting better. Last time I went in for 4 months. It's a big chunk of your life. My diet is vegetarian, but in hospital the vegetarian diet is mostly cheese, so I went vegan and all I could have was jacket potato and cheese.

When you are first admitted, you can't go out without a nurse but because they are so short staffed I didn't go out for the first few weeks. I like my fresh air, and the social places were full of smoke. So I would join in and smoke my peace pipe! Because there's nothing there I like to eat, and the olanzopine helps you crave carbohydrates. The only machines they've got are for crisps and chocolate, and because I have got nothing else to do I go to the machines. When I came out, I had a junk food habit, my weight gained loads, which caused back problems. Also in hospital they wouldn't let me go to the chiropractor or homeopath, so it's like a negative cycle that you get in to.

I look after my body when I am out ' swimming and Tai' chi classes and my person trainer, and cutting down wheat, dairy and sugar because the medication gives me lots of skin rashes. So I eat a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables, and with friends to cook with and for I am eating much better. I feel like it is going a lot better now, but I still have to be careful and keep an eye on things all the time. I've been on a bit of a wobble since May, and have the Crisis Resolution Team visiting me every day trying to convince me to go back on to the Olanzapine. I have been having trouble sleeping, and am taking Valerian herbs to help me go off. I have made an agreement with the team that if I don't get to sleep by 3am, I will take the Olanzapine. So far so good'