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Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Oct 27, 2012 6:56 pm

I just joined the Icarus Project (after a six year hiatus) last week.

After an enormous amount of deliberation and research, I have decided to taper off lithium. I've taken lithium for 4 years and I currently take 450 mg/day. Below is the advice I got from Dr. Liz Miller a couple days ago. She is the brilliant author of "Mood Mapping", a renowned mental health advocate in the U.K., the subject of Stephen Fry's groundbreaking t.v. series "The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" (on youtube now) and she is highly controversial and incredibly inspiring to me.

Dr. Miller was diagnosed with bipolar and has been med-free and doing great for over 12 years. Her new blog is at www.drlizmiller.com.

If you would like to be part of my support team in tapering off lithium, please PM me. I'd be thrilled to hear from you. I am interested in holistic, alternative, low-cost approaches to treating "bipolar/manic depression" and I am a certified personal trainer, freelance writer and graduate of the University of California in literature. Many thanks!


Hi Dyane,
Apologies for the slow reply – have been in China, and couldn’t access the website (thanks Google
This is an article I wrote about coming off medication some time ago
http://bipolarassociation.blogspot.co.u ... ation.html

As far as reducing medication – it is important to get everything else right first. Medication should be the last thing to go, when you sorted out your environment, physical health, relationships, strategies and identity and hence learnt to manage your mood. At that point – who needs pills!!!

For my part, I take care of my diet, exercise lifestyle, relationships and am doing what I love! what more could I ask? I have been off meds for the last twelve years and never been happier or healthier!

Lithium gets in the clockwork! – it seems to work at the level of cell messenger RNA. J Baldessarini did some studies that showed if you stopped lithium suddenly – 85% had a further episode within 2-3 years, compared to 30% of a control group who reduced their dose more slowly over 6 weeks. It is interesting the long lasting effects of lithium. “Effects of the Rate of Discontinuing Lithium Mainte- nance Treatment in Bipolar Disorders” RJ Baldessarini, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 57:441-8, 1996

Many people have successfully come off lithium. My view is that reducing lithium needs to be done very slowly. Taking it down by as little as 100mg a month depending on how sensitive you are to its effects.

Ask your psychiatrist what he would do if your kidneys failed? You are asking to do whatever that might be, before your kidneys fail – so that you don’t have to go through dialysis etc. A cardinal sign of impending kidney failure is getting up in the night to pass urine, because your kidneys are losing their ability to concentrate urine. If this is the case for you, you certainly must come off lithium.

In the meantime, concentrate on a healthy life and take your time to make changes!
The Icarus project is a great website and you may find this article helpful

http://www.theicarusproject.net/downloa ... ePrint.pdf

Best wishes

Dr Liz
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Oct 28, 2012 8:25 pm

So glad to know I'm not the only one who wishes to be off medication1
Last edited by Avonleamarilla on Oct 29, 2012 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby _ » Oct 28, 2012 9:49 pm

sorry you didn't get any responses. Sometimes that happens on here. I hope you stay around here on the forums though because i think you could get some good support from others in a similar situation and what not.

That person sounds like she has some really good advice for coming off lithium. I would like to come off antipsychotics starting as soon as possible and slowly tapering off as well. I think once I've got a job and am exercising and eating healthy and all the rest of it like you say I hope then i might be able to convince the tyrannical psyciatrists to let me come off them.

but yeah I don't know about the harmful effects of lithium but there are certainly plenty for the antipsychotics.. anyways I'm sure you know all about that.. maybe you could share what the main concerns you have are with your medication and why you want to come off.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Oct 29, 2012 7:42 am

Thanks so much, Andrew, for your kind response.

Ever since I lowered the lithium I have been sleeping better and my anxiety has lessened. Those two things are extremely profound for me, as they have been two of my biggest problems for years now, ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2007. My main concerns with this med are of course the long-term damage lithium can have on my vital organs, i.e. kidneys and thyroid in articular, and the fact that my kidneys could really be destroyed. I'm still relatively young and I have two little girls to care for too. I am also worried that lithium has stunted my true joyful nature, my emotions and creativity...yuck! I feel torn, like I have a love/hate relationship with this drug, as it did help me and save my life. I don't want to demonize it anymore - I just want a chance at a drug-free life.

Sleep deprivation (sudden & extreme due to childbirth reasons) is what actually triggered bipolar for me. So if I sleep better, my bipolar is better. It's obviously not that simple, but the whole chain of events in my life have made me question why I need to be on it long-term.

Also, learning about Dr. Liz Miller and the fact that she has been med-free for well over a decade makes me want to do it too. If you read what she wrote above, it's very compelling in terms of going off medication. There are other holistic ways to treat this illness. I have had a lifelong interest in alternative medicine and holistic treatment, and pursuing that as a way to keep me stable/sane appeals to me now more than ever.

Good luck with tapering off the anti-psychotics! take care today!
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby _ » Oct 29, 2012 7:41 pm

I am also worried that lithium has stunted my true joyful nature, my emotions and creativity...yuck!


I worry about the same sort of things with the antipsychotics and I think I could have some anhedonia. But I wonder if some of the people who don't know that the medication can have this sort of effect just forget about how much happier they were after being on the medication for a while. Yeah Psychiatrists have a way of not telling us about all the side effects.

My main concerns with this med are of course the long-term damage lithium can have on my vital organs, i.e. kidneys and thyroid in articular, and the fact that my kidneys could really be destroyed


I didn't know that lithium had that effect. Good for you for taking control of your health. With the antipsychotics diabetes risk is increased.. so yeah another very important reason for wanting to get off of them.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby unknown » Oct 29, 2012 7:54 pm

Lithium screwed up my thyroid. When I was on it I had to take thyroid pills. Once I was off it my thyroid recovered on its own (thank goodness). Just thought I'd share that so you wouldn't be so scared. Not trying to convince you to stay on it, I think you're onto something regarding the childbirth and sleep deprivation. Hormones are very powerful and so is sleep loss. Keep us posted how it works out for you.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Khalsa44 » Nov 08, 2012 10:55 pm

Namaste

Holistic, low cost approaches to treating (bipolar) -an experience of extreme states and a spiritual evolution, that I have found grounding and balancing-
-kundalini yoga
-sitting on the earth
-raw food
-yogic community
-volunteer work
-compiling a circle of pieces of earth in home and sitting in there to express emotions eg cry, scream
-dance

Holistic, higher investment options-
Transpersonal counselling
Crystal healing

Blessings!
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby triciafishDE » Nov 09, 2012 1:54 pm

Lithium also messes up your kidneys and gives you tremors.

You won't find much support on withdrawal on here because many are not brave enough to take the leap.

It's not as bad as they make it out to be.
It's like childbirth, it's bad at the time, but you eventually forget the pain.
Time heals.
I would suggest not titrating forever. I think it prolongs the pain.

Good luck!
<p><font color="#808080"> </font><span class="UIStory_Message">&lrm;" We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society." Martin Luther King, Jr</span></p>
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Nov 09, 2012 3:53 pm

Thank you so much for this post, TriciafishDE!

I'm scared to take this leap, but I MUST! I'm so relieved to make a concrete choice, and Im also glad to feel clear about this decision at last. If I could taper off Xanax and Valium, which I did after *I* did all the research myself,
I can taper off lithium. Yes I can, yes I can!

It took me a looooooon time to gather up the courage to do this, however.
Reading Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" really, really validated my decision.
Dr. Peter Breggin's books did too, but Whitaker's book made me want to go for it way more so for various reasons.
If anyone is on the fence to go off long-term psych drugs, read the "Anatomy of an Epidemic" book.
I guarantee the person will want to go off the drug, unless she is a few pancakes shy of a short stack!

I consider the fact that I am able to taper off lithium now to be a true miracle of God.
I was able to feel good about my decision, I was able to locate a psychiatrist willing to help me do it,
and I figured out how to pay for the appointment so that I can taper safely with supervision. I know I could have done it myself, but that doesn't feel right or safe to me and it's not fair to my children either. The stakes are high that I do well.
Those are all very strong signs to me that the Universe is backing me up on this one. (I'm a little bit hippy dippy - can't help it!)

My new psychiatrist sounds like she would be in favor of a relatively fast titration - we shall see.
I haven't met her in person yet but a very good friend of mine sees her, so I know a little bit about this doctor's ways.

I don't see my new psychiatrist until Nov. 2, although I asked her to notify me if she had a cancellation...you think she would manage to see me soon since I'm paying her $300 bloody bucks for it! Oh well. It *is* a business...one I want to sever all my ties to once I am safely off the drugs.
I sent her my payment and intake information last week to show her I'm not a flake and I am serious, ready to get started!!!

Patience is a virtue, but dammit, if I can tapering sooner rather than later, I'm going to do it! My thyroid and kidneys etc. will thank me.

Today marks an exact month since I have been steady at 450 mg of lithium, and I'm doing well! Hurrah!!!
I also bought a book with great reviews called "Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder" and hope it helps me.

http://boragebooks.com/bipolar.html

I'm so grateful. Thanks for reading this thread and thanks for your encouragement. It is precious to me.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Nov 09, 2012 3:53 pm

Thank you so much for this post, TriciafishDE!

I'm scared to take this leap, but I MUST! I'm so relieved to make a concrete choice, and Im also glad to feel clear about this decision at last. If I could taper off Xanax and Valium, which I did after *I* did all the research myself,
I can taper off lithium. Yes I can, yes I can!

It took me a looooooon time to gather up the courage to do this, however.
Reading Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic" really, really validated my decision.
Dr. Peter Breggin's books did too, but Whitaker's book made me want to go for it way more so for various reasons.
If anyone is on the fence to go off long-term psych drugs, read the "Anatomy of an Epidemic" book.
I guarantee the person will want to go off the drug, unless she is a few pancakes shy of a short stack!

I consider the fact that I am able to taper off lithium now to be a true miracle of God.
I was able to feel good about my decision, I was able to locate a psychiatrist willing to help me do it,
and I figured out how to pay for the appointment so that I can taper safely with supervision. I know I could have done it myself, but that doesn't feel right or safe to me and it's not fair to my children either. The stakes are high that I do well.
Those are all very strong signs to me that the Universe is backing me up on this one. (I'm a little bit hippy dippy - can't help it!)

My new psychiatrist sounds like she would be in favor of a relatively fast titration - we shall see.
I haven't met her in person yet but a very good friend of mine sees her, so I know a little bit about this doctor's ways.

I don't see my new psychiatrist until Nov. 2, although I asked her to notify me if she had a cancellation...you think she would manage to see me soon since I'm paying her $300 bloody bucks for it! Oh well. It *is* a business...one I want to sever all my ties to once I am safely off the drugs.
I sent her my payment and intake information last week to show her I'm not a flake and I am serious, ready to get started!!!

Patience is a virtue, but dammit, if I can tapering sooner rather than later, I'm going to do it! My thyroid and kidneys etc. will thank me.

Today marks an exact month since I have been steady at 450 mg of lithium, and I'm doing well! Hurrah!!!
I also bought a book with great reviews called "Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder" and hope it helps me.

http://boragebooks.com/bipolar.html

I'm so grateful. Thanks for reading this thread and thanks for your encouragement. It is precious to me.
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby triciafishDE » Nov 10, 2012 3:42 pm

Wow, if you came off of Benzos, then Lithium should be easy peasy.
Benzos like valium, klonopin, xanax, ativan, are the worst withdrawals.

Just keep some moderate margaritas on hand if you need them to calm (just calm) your nerves. ;)

I hope God has no mercy on the people that came up with psych medications.

Do you have a good psychotherapist? That is key to have someone who you can dump your thoughts on. Just having someone who won't judge you and then go tell others your thoughts etc...(like friends sometimes do; it's natural human nature to gossip a bit) I think talk therapy is like confession.

Keep courage. Have faith. God didn't put a pharmaceutical company in the Garden nor any banks. lol

God Speed to you!
Pax humana, Tricia
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Re: Dr. Liz Miller / tapering off lithium

Postby Avonleamarilla » Nov 10, 2012 5:30 pm

Love your latest post Tricia!

I am blessed by God to have a wonderful counselor who I see weekly. She gives me her lowest rate and she even saw me for free at first - she is not doing it for the money! My husband thinks she is awesome as well. My therapist uses a combination of traditional and highly spiritual approaches and she is *totally* in favor of my tapering. I am soooo grateful to have her in my life.

Getting off the benzos - OMG - seriously, it was a HUGE feat and I am thankful every day that I don't obsess about not leaving the house without my pills on me, that kind of thing. So hopefully lithium will be much easier. The fact that I went from 900 mg to 450 mg and I still feel good is a great sign that it will continue to go well.

These days I'm a big believer in positive thought = positive outcome - in other words, if I get too negative and freaky I'm going to create that reality.

So I will be back to report how it goes with my new psychiatrist!!! I see her Nov. 21 or maybe sooner than that if she gets a cancellation!!!!!
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