Never in a million years would I have thought that ANYTHING could possibly be worse than my disorder of major bipolar depression and anxiety. I'd have laughed in the face of anyone who told me otherwise. Nevertheless, I was wrong.
Here's how I came out alive from thee most brutal experience of my entire life.
Years back, I had settled on Lamictal and Gabapentin to keep my moods in check. However, being in my young 20s, I wasn't yet equipped with the discipline to battle my mental illness via diet, lifestyle changes, and giving up my lovely alcoholic beverages. I eventually came across Suboxone, an opiate, which did wonders for my depression for about the first year I was on it. It also ended my alcoholism on the very first day.
During this time, I found magnesium (via epsom salts), which helped quite a lot with my illness, so I decided to quit my Lamictal and Gabapentin, and stay on the Suboxone. Well, the depression seemed to return, but I was always trying to figure out natural ways to heal it. Fast forward another couple of years, and I decide it's time to quit the Suboxone, as it had lost most of its antidepressant effect. I use Kratom, a natural herb, to successfully withdraw from Suboxone. However, when I quit the Kratom, I went into a manic episode with full-blown delusions, etc.
My family urges me to go to the ER, to which I comply. While there, I'm given an injection of Geodon, which knocks me out for about 2 hours (I hadn't slept or eaten at all in over 2 days at that point.) I'm given a script for a full bottle of Geodon and am sent on my way.
Through Geodon and the use of strong Epsom salt baths, my mania was quickly brought to a halt. My sleep, though, was affected by the opiate withdrawal (a common symptom), so I stayed on a low dose of Geodon - about 20mg per night - to help me sleep through the night without waking. Fast forward a couple of months, and I try and quit the Geodon. Horrible depression came rolling back in, so I decided that I must obviously need Geodon to keep the depression at bay.
So, for the first time, I decide to try upping my dose to 40mg and see how I fare. Shortly after that dose, there was no doubt my brain was heading towards hypomanic land, but I managed to fall asleep. The next day I dose again, but start experiencing very intense anxiety/panic. I go out for a day with my wife, and drink some wine with lunch in order to calm myself down.
Hey, at least I wasn't horribly depressed.
I get home, and the anxiety continues, at a very high level. I end up drinking almost an entire bottle of wine to calm myself down, awaking with a decent hangover the next morning. I then try and dose Geodon again, and BAM - FULL BLOWN akathisia kicks in.
For those of you who have never felt it, there's no doubt that you'd much rather have both of your legs broken.
You'd rather be crucified.
I'd have chopped my balls off to make it stop.
As one man on a message board put it, "I was ready to sell my family into slavery to make it end."
He probably wasn't joking.
So I end up in the ER, pacing back and forth, where I'm given an Ativan injection. Interestingly, a young medical student in training had actually experienced this before from an injection of a different medication, so he understood my pain. I remember telling him, "If someone showed me a door to hell on my left, I'd walk through it on the off chance that perhaps hell is more tolerable than akathisia!" It took probably a full hour to feel any relief, and I decided to fall asleep at the hospital to speak with a psychiatrist the next day. After all, I obviously needed some sort of replacement medication. I wake up the next morning, and am actually feeling fine, with no akathisia.
Until they served breakfast.
Upon eating some pancakes with syrup, POW - full-blown akathisia returns. I am literally in tears, pacing back and forth frantically, desperate for help. With the nurse seeing that I'm in severe turmoil, she sympathizes greatly. I ask to try Cogentin for relief, to which she agrees. She also prescribes Zyprexa as a replacement medication. I fill the scripts and head home.
And I take the Zyprexa as prescribed, starting with 5mg.
HOLY SHIT, SWEET MOTHER OF GOD.
Akathisia returns with a vengeance, EVEN WORSE than before! I awake at about 4 a.m., my heart POUNDING, and I immediately start pacing. I end up outside, walking ALL day long, completely unable to sit still. My nerves are on fire. My legs are killing me from all of the walking. I hold out as long as I can, before cracking open another bottle of wine and guzzling glass after glass. It was the only saving grace I had. Suicide was CONSTANTLY on my mind, for every single second. I decided that, if I do it, I would slit my throat with a serrated blade. It seemed to be the quickest and easiest way out.
The next day, I have no choice to return to the ER. Still pacing the entire time, I'm praying constantly for any amount of mercy from above. A doctor finally arrives, and asks if I'm feeling manic. I tell him not at all, just horrid akathisia. He goes and talks to the on-staff psychiatrist.
What I heard pissed me the hell off.
I overheard him talking to the psychiatrist on staff, saying something along the lines of, "These people come in, with their disorder flaring up, and they say "Oooohh, it's not the disorder, it's a side effect of the medication!"" Basically, he believes I'm full of shit before even seeing me.
He takes his sweet-ass time, making me pace for probably an entire hour before coming in to see me. His advice? Go home and double your dose of Cogentin. The medication that did absolutely nothing.
I begged to try something else, such as Propranolol, with no luck. At this point, I knew I was fucked, and would have to do anything to survive this.
First step was finding out what foods I could tolerate. I began a diet of nothing but eggs, an easily digestable food. It seemed that anything heavy, especially carb-based foods, would bring on sweats and akathisia. So I had to figure out just how much of which foods I could handle without these sweats being triggered.
My akathisia started to dimish at this time with my super-strict eggs only diet, but I was now also battling with suicidal depression, (multiple crying spells daily), on top of everything else, now that I was unmedicated. Many times, I had completely commited and devoted myself to suicide, even writing a letter in one instance saying goodbye.
But, for whatever reason, at the VERY last minute before going off to do the deed, either God/guardian angels/or ancestral spirits - who knows what was doing this - would do something each and every time, to offer me relief before the next episode. There were times of literally complete remission for a few whole days, only to have the suicidal depression and akathisia return.
All of this time, I was sleeping, on average, only 2 hours per night. Sometimes 1, sometimes no sleep at all. It was hell.
I decided to fast, using my juicer, which lasted about 6 days, along with intense prayer each day for answers to my issues. During that time, I noticed something very interesting. One day I juiced a bunch of veggies, and added in 3 whole apples. I felt my blood sugar skyrocket, and then crash. I went into extreme sweats, anxiety, etc, along with ravenous hunger. I stuck it out, even though I was dying to eat. Even plain veggie juice along was causing crashes as well.
Breaking my fast, I eventually added in highly steamed vegetables, which I could tolerate in small amounts without triggering these sweats. However, any more that about 4-5 pieces of broccoli would send me over the edge.
Since I have also been battling adrenal fatigue, I decide to give vitamin C a try via Ester-C brand, as it was helping a lot in the past. I couldn't, however, handle any more than about 150 mg or so without extreme anxiety/overstimulation kicking in.
One night, after feeling like horrible shit all day with suicidal ideation, out of anger I say screw this, and decide to grab some pistachios, which I had an intense craving for for some reason. To my surprise, the pistachios send me into no sweats whatsoever. So I then buy some almonds - same result...zero sweats, zero akathisia. I begin eating them everyday.
For whatever reason, the mixed nuts boosted my adrenal health just enough to once again handle vitamin C. This is where things got interesting.
I decide to pound my body with megadosing, taking about 30,000 - 40,000 mg that first day. Your limit of vitamin C absorption is determined by a loosening of the stools, indicating you've had enough. I experienced no loosening of stools whatsoever, even with 40,000 mg per day. My sleep began to improve, as did my mood by some amount.
One night, I'm eating the typical steamed veggies that my wife prepared. But, she had also cooked plantains, a heavy carb source. A small amount of mashed plantain was accidentally mixed in with my veggies, and I started eating it. I let out an "uh-oh, here we go" after ingesting some, but interestingly, I experienced no sweats or akathisia. So I decide to eat some more, to no ill effect. To my surprise, the vitamin C had upped my threshold for handling carbs!
I also add in betaine HCL, a supplement used for increasing stomach acid, in order to aid digestion. Definitely seemed to help things along.
The next day, I eat an entire half of a plantain, and feel fine. I come home that night, and devour two whole bowls of rice and beans, and even have a baked potato before bed. The next day, I start to feel anxiety, but ignore it and keep up with the carbs. By the third day, full-blown akathisia had returned, to my devastation, brought on by too many carbs.
So, I returned to my simple diet of nothing but eggs, nuts, and heavily steamed veggies for a few days, which even those were sending me into sweats. I resumed vitamin C megadosing, and within a few days the sweats once again disappeared. I was able to handle carbs once again, gladly, but knew that I had to limit them to a responsible level.
I start researching hypoglycemia/insulin resistance issues, and the symptoms of these disorders were very interesting, as many of them were remarkably close - well, actually, pretty much IDENTICAL, to symptoms of akathisia. Extreme restlessness (unable to sit still), crying spells, extreme anxiety, hot/cold sweats, suicidal ideation, overwhelming feelings of doom/dread, intense fear, muscle twitches, feelings of "going crazy" etc. These symptoms are mostly due to having far too much insulin in the blood.
This had me thinking: is it possible that akathisia is actually a case of EXTREME insulin resistance, a not-uncommon side effect of antipsychotics? I can't be sure, but it seemed to make sense to me. Another possibility is that the unlucky souls who experience akathisia are those who had poor adrenal function prior to using the medication, as I had.
As long as I had the vitamin C on board, I was able to continue eating healthy carbs each day, as long as I didn't take it too far!
I was experiencing an increase in energy with the carb increase, but my suicidal depression remained. So, out of desperation, I contact my former psychiatrist, and luckily she agreed to start me back on Lamictal prior to my first appointment. I was terrified the Lamictal would aggravate my akathisia, so I began on only 12.5 mg. No ill effects, and I actually felt an ever-so-slight boost from it.
The next day, I'm up to 25, feeling more of a slight boost, with no aggravation of akathisia! By the time a week went by on 25mg, I was handling pretty much any amount of carbs I wanted with no akathisia whatsoever. I kept up with the vitamin C during this time as well, at about 10,000 mg per day, and I still do today.
I'm now up to 100 mg, at the 3 week mark, and can even handle tea without any akathisia symptoms! Too much caffeine can bring back sweats via adrenal crashes, but that can be counteracted with very strong epsom footbaths or magnesium supplementation. The Lamictal has seemingly cured all of my akathisia issues!
Looking at the bright side, the akathisia has brought about a complete revamp in my diet, which is now super healthy, and I stick to it religiously, eating veggies every day, good carbs, and no sugar.
A special thanks to God, and whoever else was looking out for me. I dearly hope that this can help anyone suffering from this BRUTAL, HORRID, ASS-KICKING side effect of AAPs.
Cheers to good health,