I have now recovered from three illnesses that I was long taught were lifelong illnesses (i.e. I thought I’d have to be on medication for my whole life to maintain these illnesses). These three illnesses are: seizures, schizophrenia, and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I am now totally off all my medications without any signs of symptoms showing up, such as funny feelings, getting distracted by personal thoughts that I felt were too paradoxical for anyone else to believe, or falling into anxiety and lots of negative thoughts during the cold season. I have none of these problems nowadays. I can still get slightly eerie thoughts for a bit when a change in a period of time is coming up, but I know how to drive my mind around that by changing my way of thinking whenever that occurs.
The way I recovered from all this took a four year period of time of monitoring my behaviors, gaining self-awareness, and building a better connection with spirituality. I also did a lot of research on happiness during that time, where I was on the verge of trying to change my life into being a happy life, instead of a life full of stress and misery.
The challenge had all started out after my second brain surgery during my first year of college for getting rid of my seizures. It was tough then since I initially could not speak and could not get the point of what people were telling me although I could understand the words they were saying. However, my mom had a strong goal that she did not want me to be a statistic, a person who is a failure in life after a childhood head injury. She and my grandmother helped me through 8 years of college up to the extent that I got a degree in mathematics.
Early on in those eight years, when I initially stopped having seizures, I built up an anxiety over time where every choice I had to make brought up a dreadful thought. I couldn’t choose what clothes to wear, since every choice had a thought against it. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my spare time, every choice had a thought against it. That built up to the extent that I eventually couldn’t even decide when to take a bite of food or take a drink while sitting at the dinner table and started only taking a bite or a drink when I saw someone else at the table do it. Eventually my mom started bossing me around to keep me busy since I couldn’t decide for myself.
Eventually there was a time when I had gotten so upset with my life that I sneaked out of the house to go down to my old middle school, thinking that some spirits up above could take me out of this world of my original life and put me in another world. There was also another time when I was so terrified when taking my first test at a university after having only gone to a community college before, that I quit the test in the middle and ran out of the building begging for people to show me where the crazies were kept since I felt I belonged with the crazies. After those two times, that’s when my mom felt it was the last straw and sent me to a psychiatrist who put me on medication.
For a while I had made a vow that I would stay on my medication for the rest of my life. Especially with my mother and grandmother repetitively telling me some dreadful stories of what some other people living with psychosis had done, which they had gotten from CNN news. I was afraid that I was a danger to the world around me, and didn’t have any local direct friends my own age until I was 24, after having lived in a new state further north for 10 years since middle school. After connecting with my first boyfriend while getting my degree and still living with my mother and grandmother, that’s when I first changed my perception of life and stopped thinking that life was nothing but misery and that that was the way it was supposed to be. With the new boyfriend I was finally starting to be able to speak better, and was beginning to have some happy times in life when we went hiking together.
Finally after getting a degree and being encouraged to go study something I enjoyed instead of just holding a degree in something I hated just to show that I was trainable for a job, that’s when the time started coming along where I was beginning to recover.
I moved away from my mother and grandmother when I was 29 to go to another university to study engineering, which had been my initial dream job. After moving into an apartment of my own, having a car to drive, and starting at the new university, it took me a whole year to get over the excitement that I was able to live on my own, after long having had the impression that I would have to be taken care of for the rest of my life.
During my years of engineering school, there came a time when people were starting to tell me that I was my own worst enemy. Other professional engineers told me that they had been their own worst enemy during their college years too, but for me it got up to the extent that I bought a self-help book called “Be Your Own Best Friend” by Louis Proto. While reading that book during one summer vacation, that’s when life started getting better for me. That book taught me how to stop perceiving myself as a victim for life, how to naturally heal myself, how to use visualizations and affirmations, and how to make things really happen (especially with the two magic words “I AM”). While reading that book, I went through the first time I had ever passed a class on my own without any extra help in studying or textbook reading. That was a total miracle to me! It really changed my self-esteem over time too when I was finally convinced that I could learn on my own.
During my time at that school I also found a long term tutor who had a PhD in neuropsychology. I used him as a friend to reach out to at times when I was stressed. By that time walk-in counselors had said I’d been coming in too much and appointments with psychologists didn’t do me any good as a replacement, since I needed instant gratification of stress relief from another person whenever I was stressed. This tutor of mine was able to help me sometimes, especially when teaching me about optimism, but he was also reminding me sometimes that he was not a licensed psychologist. At other times I called up my former private math tutor when I was stressed or didn’t know what to do about something. He said I could call him anytime and he sometimes called me, other than being someone who was very good at comforting me by phone whenever I was anxious or stressed. There was a third party too that I was referred to over time, for times when I felt I needed immediate comfort from somebody, but it not being a crisis I was dealing with when I needed that help. That third party was known as the “Warm Line”. Over time they expanded from state wide to nationally, so they don’t work like instant gratification anymore, but they are still are accessible.
While going to engineering school I also started taking Yoga classes to calm down my stress and maintain my focus. I started taking meditation classes too which also helped. Getting encouragement from my former math tutor friend to step outside and play (like take a walk or go biking) also made a big difference. I had had the habit before of having a big to-do list in my apartment building up over time where I stayed inside until the tasks were finished, but never finished them, which kept me holding myself hostage in the apartment all day and getting sleepy instead. Encouragement to get out and play also helped me with my problem of not getting dressed in the morning on a day off, resulting in me staying stuck in my apartment all day, where I was unwilling to change later in the day. I came to realize later on that staying inside so much was one of my main causes of SAD.
While in engineering school there was also a time when I heard on the radio the new research with vitamin D, which they said made people happier and more social. That really caught my attention and I started taking the new 5000 I.U. raised recommended dose that I heard announced on there. Boy was I more bouncy and social then! And wanting to see how vitamin D affected my behavior and mood swing is what initially made me start monitoring my own behavior more. I was very energetic getting outside to walk and bike a lot more. I was much more chipper where lots of people liked my attention. After a few years I even ran some errands by bicycle in the rainy winter which made some people in town amazed that I could bike so far during such a cold season. However during my first two years of using vitamin D, I came to realize that vitamin D pills didn’t always keep me happy and energetic like they initially did. Years later I came to realize that taking a high dose of vitamin D everyday caused my mind to run too fast to be able to be entertained by what was going on around me on a daily basis. The highest tempo of my old favorite rock music was not high tempo enough for me. I needed the extremely high tempo electric dance music to be able to entertain me (though it was hard to think while listening). Eventually at age 35 I came to the conclusion that I was overly energetic when taking that vitamin D and that vitamin D was not a full cure for SAD. With vitamin D weakening my focus level too, I finally stopped taking it.
During my last year of college and after college, I started studying spirituality and taking online courses about spirituality. It was during that time while I was studying the Law of Attraction and doing a lot of journaling that I came to a sense of self-awareness. I was finally beginning to understand why I behaved the way I did. When babysitting one little dog that would bite like crazy if you weren’t careful, I came to realize what kinds of things triggered my psychotic thoughts. Especially after figuring out what kinds of actions triggered that little dog to bite like crazy, since I could understand that at other times that same dog was totally lovable and wanted to be loved.
Two years after college when I understood myself better and better, I was able to explain to my psychiatrist my basic overall behaviors and what was causing me to behave the way I did. I had learned that my schizophrenic thoughts were triggered by stress. The stress was mainly coming from the SAD anxiety I got during the cold seasons, plus all the stress, threats, and anger I was exposed to while being around my mother and grandmother, since they were addicted to stress other than being CNN news freaks who had CNN news on every day, all day long, as a background noise in the house if they weren’t watching it. I had picked up a statement from a book that said “big news is bad news”, other than having learned that most of the news in the main news media is presented from a negative perspective.
My psychiatrist recommended that I have a 10,000 lux sun simulating visor that I shine in my eyes during the cold seasons. I ended up getting one off Amazon.com that you can adjust to between 12,000 and 8000 lux. I wore that one for 30 minutes every day during the cold season, with bright lights on in my living room while I was wearing it. I sure did feel a bunch happier during that cold season, up to the extent that my mom said I was getting into manic happiness for a bit, meaning that I was overly happy. That cold season flew by fast, though there were days when I was very sensitive and easily got upset if I didn’t have access to my sun simulating visor that day, and the cloudy natural daylight seemed dark to my eyes, other than the regular lighting at church seeming dark. I did well staying skinny during the winter that year with the sun simulating visor, but I hardly had any appetite during the summer which made me a little too skinny during the warm season that year. I used it a little during the fall while a friend was staying with me on weekends as she did a long traveling trip each week from her home to a spiritual commune she belonged to that was located near my town. She was a snowbird who liked living in a very warm part of my state during the sunny seasons, and liked living in Mexico and Guatemala during the cold seasons. Therefore she got loads of sunny daylight throughout the year and needed some shade, while I needed to expose myself to more daylight. As the fall was coming along that year, I started shining the sun in my eyes every day, I also sometimes looked straight at the sun for a little bit if the sun was coming closer to setting. I even made sure to eat breakfast out on my back patio every morning no matter how cold it was, just to make sure I got exposure to daylight. With that plus two of my friends telling me that I didn’t look very good during the winter before where I was just relying on the sun simulating visor, I started going on a walk every day, no matter what the weather was like. This winter so far, with me still getting out and taking a walk just about every day, other than biking a long distance to church, I am feeling very happy this cold season without the visor.
One of the last two things I have done this year that has really made a big difference, is I have changed from eating the regular American meals, to going vegetarian and vegan. My friend, who had visited each weekend for a place to stay while traveling, told me that if I went vegetarian, I would eventually be able to get off my medications. Going vegetarian like she was, I’d have a better connection between the mind and the body, I’d be more energetic, get more nutrition, and I’d be able to get off my medications over time too. I had gotten to the extent that just looking at how many pills I had to take on a daily basis made me feel ill, as if I were a sick person although physically I was pretty healthy. I came across a statement one time during that time period that said that the real secret to healing is when a person is sick of sickness. Yes I had gotten sick and tired of being sick and having to take so many pills every day. Therefore I was willing to do anything necessary that could get me off my medication. Changing to being mostly vegan was challenging for a bit. As I first switched to vegetarian, there was a time period where I got pretty skinny while having to stay away from meat. However, slowly I was able to switch from the regular American meals to mostly vegan. I also learned to enjoy cooking more when I became vegan, after mostly hating to cook for a long time. Nowadays after having gone vegan, some of my friends wonder how I am able to stay in shape so well during the cold season this year. I also have so much energy nowadays being vegan that I like doing 9 mile walks through town a lot these days, I like biking 16 miles to church every Sunday this winter with a stop at the grocery store and running some other chores while biking a longer route back. A lot of people in town plus some of my friends and family have been very impressed at what I can do during a cold season with all this energy. One athletic man from my church even considers me an inspiration with how far I bike every Sunday instead of using a car.
The very last thing I did to end the year with is I slowly weaned myself off my medications. With my antipsychotic medication I was on before, I had started to see that it was not always taking effect the way it was supposed to. There had been times when I had been a good girl and was taking my medication every day when my mom thought I had forgotten to take it. There were other times when I had accidently missed it once or twice where my mom had thought that I was doing very well at taking my medications. Therefore I thought that this medication did not have much effect on me anymore the way it was supposed to. With all the psychological things I had studied in spirituality during these last two years, I was doing so well that whenever I went to my psychiatrist’s appointment, he was learning things from me instead of just inspecting me, up to the extent that he even wanted to go buy some of the books I brought with me to read while waiting, and for the last 4 appointments I was let out 15 minutes early. During my last appointment I’ve had with him so far, he seemed to be in acceptance when I said I was slowly getting off my medication.
As I slowly got off my medication, I started in September and slowly started taking less and less until I took my last dosage December 31st. I already knew how to wean myself off of medication from both my parents being doctors and my mom guiding me a bit as I weaned myself off one other medication before. The way I kept track of it was by marking down all my medication dosages in a handbook calendar that I mainly had up on the refrigerator, and took with me in my bag of medications if I had to go anywhere for more than a day. I had been using the handbook calendar method for two years now to keep track of dosage alterations of three different medications per day. I marked them down by putting the first letter of each medication and the number of pills of each medicine next to it. For example: 1T,1D,1.5R 0T,2D,2R 1T,1D,1.5R 0T,2D,2R. I crossed off each dosage when taking it for a while, and then after having marked more days of the week to skip it each month, I slowly switched to marking down each dosage when I took it instead of crossing it off. For my seizures, with the help of a friend I looked up what vitamins and minerals can replace prescription medications. I then started experimenting with the one I was missing to see what dosage would work best. I journaled my behavior as I did it and remembered my mom trying the same process on me before when recognizing some of the nutty physical behaviors I had for a little while, such as having to sometimes shake extra energy out of my hands. Once I figured out how much of each vitamin and mineral was right for me, I used a friend who was an energy healer to help me naturally heal myself the rest of the way via meditation. I had gone to a doctor I had been referred to before the natural healing, who was giving lectures on eating vegetarian and helping people get off their medications. But he said he could not help me and I should stay on my seizure medications, so I immediately insisted that I was going to heal myself naturally instead with the help of a natural healer, since I had already healed myself naturally in other ways before.
So now I am off all my medications and feeling much better, though I still take a few certain vitamins and minerals in the morning, partially as pills and partially as part of my food. Doing this process was not easy, since it took a lot of guts and determination, other than having a strong spiritual connection of getting things to happen the way I was visualizing them to happen. Lots of people were trying to talk me out of doing this, including another person other than just my mom and grandma who told me another dreadful story about someone who had failed at healing when they had gotten off their medication. But I was persistent with this when I had my one friend to rely on, who had helped someone else heal too, who got to dismiss going to the hospital for surgery that was originally planned. When she offered me the help it also reminded me of when I had chatted with someone of the same kind of spiritual commune when I was a little kid, who had said that sometime in the future I would come across somebody else of the same kind of spiritual community who would help me off my medications during a time when I was ready to get off them from being tired of being on them. And so now it has happened, and I am well.