For the past nine months, I’ve been coming off drugs I took for 25 years to moderate a mild case of CFS/Fibromyalgia. I was prescribed relatively tiny doses of an old-fashioned anti-depressant to improve the quality of my sleep. “A homeopathic dose,” said my GP. If I was stressy, I took more, if not, I took less. It worked. I didn’t fall entirely out of the stream of life as do most people with CFS. So given an almost complete recovery and because the drugs were interfering with my clarity, time to stop. Tried to do it two years ago, fast, with exercise, like a lot of it. I was hill hiking for 8 hours a week, which put me into a kind of ecstatic state I highly recommend. I was so fully oxygenated; there were moments I actually felt I could fly.
But the combination of rapid detox and ten hours a week of exercise – I swam two hours along with the hiking – broke the homeostasis of my body and I very near killed myself. It was bio-hacking way into the danger zone. However, I brought myself out of it, gave myself a year in bed. Which I highly recommend, it is a magnificent reset, which, I am pretty sure, will add many healthy years to my life.
In any case, tapering slowly was, in the end, more interesting. I have learned to balance my body with supplements and herbs. “I am a highly educated health care consumer,” I joked to my naturopath last week, and he said, “Boy are you ever,” without a hint of sarcasm or caution, for which I was grateful. But still, coming off any kind of psychiatric drug is very very tricky, no matter how healthy you are or well-balanced. Whatever they did in those labs to create these drugs, has saved millions of lives, but the cost is high and the stories of people trying to get off them are more often than not, pitiable, even tragic.
I have had all kinds of symptoms. For instance, all the emotions the drug allowed me to stuff came up and had to be reckoned with. That was a lot of information to process. Also, since I am less tranquilized, my blood pressure and heart rate zoom up and down like crazy looking for balance. Forget chocolate, and certainly, forget drinking. No exogenous stimulants, not even diet Coke, not even too many parties and I like parties. My thyroid rockets up and down confusing the lab to no end. Nor can I push myself. Like, at all. This will all calm down over the next few months, so it is not worrying, just annoying.
There are few after-stories. It may be that once off the drug, people sail off and forget to report. It may be that life continues but is diminished. Or the depression returns, or the anxiety disorder, or the voices. In my case, no such thing has happened. I reckon I have access to an extra five or ten IQ points, I have returned to my disquieting and autonomic empathy and I am much more sensitive, the two latter of which are mixed blessings.
Was it necessary? I now know how to stop any physical or psychological disequilibrium with herbs or supplements which are GRAS, generally recognized as safe. Even schizophrenia can be virtually halted with large doses of flushing niacin, I’ve seen it in my own family. Moreover, the culture at large has been aware of this cheap rapid fix for more than forty years. There is almost no need to take sleeping pills or Ativan or in fact any psychiatric medication anymore. Biohacking is advancing so far ahead of conventional medicine you almost have to be in the slow stream to not be aware of the extraordinary feats you can achieve with your body, given an even average intelligence.
The future, therefore, is bright. Both for me, and for the ordinary Joe trying to manage the chaos of post-authoritarianism.
Depending entirely on Tara Brach these days. Tara is a fairly famous insight meditation teacher and psychologist who works out of the Insight Meditation Centre in Washington, D.C.. I just recently found her, and she shot to the top of my list.
Reason is I woke up the last three mornings with the sword of depression lodged deep into my chest. I could feel the edges and heft of its path, the ache it left behind. Depression, accompanied by deep fear, existential fear and as butter cream icing, itching, screaming, trapped in a box boredom. It’s genetic in part. The only terrible thing I inherited from my occasionally schizophrenic mother is an outsized emotional affect. Which has driven me ahead of the storm my whole life. And has now become accumulated pain. Pain to power of 10. Luckily, I don’t have reality breaks, though I have observed many of them. They never fail to freak me right out. I run. I run.