Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Non-Toxic Sassmaster

I've been off of that toxic antidepressant for exactly a week now.  I tapered off of it on my own, and started supplementing with amino acids to boost my serotonin levels.  I really feel the need to write a little bit about this experience because it's hardly been what I expected.

I have an almost-15 year background in pharmacy.  I believe in medication.  I don't discount natural remedies for things, in fact, quite the opposite - I am the last person you will see in the doctor's office, or popping a pill, for that which ails me.  Even for headaches (as my husband will attest to).  I will avoid Tylenol and Excedrin and prefer to sleep it off.  The only time I really ever go to the doctor is if I'm so sick that I'm completely incapacitated, or, like last summer, when I really feel in my gut like something is actually wrong with me.  No, I prefer to let my body fight off infection and other health complaints naturally.  Same with my daughter; at a certain point, I stopped calling her doctor at every little sniffle.  I believe that sickness is good for the body, and that we don't need to band-aid our complaints with pills and medicine at the drop of a hat.  With that said though, I DO believe that there is a place for medication.  And I do have a tendency to be skeptical of natural remedies.  So when my brother started talking about his amino acid supplement successes, I was skeptical.  I thought it was a placebo effect.  (Actually - to some degree - I think that everything has a placebo effect.)  But, then I started my new job.  And my new co-worker, my new very bright, very intelligent, very well-spoken co-worker that I instantly respected, started telling me about her amino acid supplement successes.  So I started to think that maybe there was something to it.  Suddenly having a conversation with her was exactly like I was having a conversation with my brother, and vice versa.  With mostly my brother's help, I figured out how to taper off my antidepressant and start supplementing my system with amino acids to fix my serotonin levels.

A week off my antidepressant, I feel better than I did when I was on it.  There were a couple days where a combination didn't quite work, and I had to stop taking one thing to take something else, but I've figured out a balance now, and in as many words: FUCK that antidepressant. 

My serotonin levels are now recalibrated.  I feel new, refreshed, alive, happy, light, and cheerful.  And I'm not talking just spiritually or mentally - I'm talking physically.  I know it's kind of hard to imagine how you could feel "happy" physically, but I do.  Do I sound crazy yet?  I don't know how to convey how well this has worked for me.  In the morning I take a B-Complex supplement and some Theanine, and I have energy, patience, a sense of calm, and motivation all at the same time.  In the afternoon before working out, I take Glutamine, and I take some post-workout too.  And in the evening, I take Tryptophan.  This is my serotonin-stabilizer.  It also helps me sleep.  But this is the daily regimen I worked towards.  There were a few other amino acids I had to take to help me get here.  And the wonderful thing about amino acids is that they work so quickly, and as long as you know what each of them can be used for, you can take them on-demand for a quick fix to whatever your mood may have shifted to.

I posted this picture on Instagram earlier this week**.

The caption read:  All of that up top, to undo all the damage caused by the one on the bottom.  And it's honestly true.  Within days, my insatiable hunger and sugar cravings were cured.  And I barely even noticed that they were gone actually.  My brother asked how my appetite had been, and once I started thinking about it, I realized, yeah, that HAS changed. 

Remember I blogged about my extreme sugar cravings in January?  This experience was surreal to me.  I have always had a sweet tooth, but never an unmanageable one.  I liked sweets - but I didn't need them.  I also mentioned that I believed this behavior was caused by my antidepressant in last week's blog entry.  Well, now, suddenly, I'm realizing I'm back to not needing sugar again.  I even tested myself.  I went to Wawa and stood in front of the candy shelves.  I waited and waited, and there was no physical reaction like mouth watering, urge to grab 2780367026 pieces and buy them, etc.  I picked up a package of my nemeses, Reese's PB cups.  I held them in my hand and I looked at them and I really tried, but I could not find the desire within me to devour them right then and there.  I took the test further.  I bought those PB cups, and brought them back to my desk at work.  I wanted to see how long it would take for me to tear into them during my afternoon lull.  A few hours later and I still could have cared less about them.  So then, I took the test even further.  Sometimes - no, like, 99% of the time - I wouldn't be able to eat just one piece of candy.  It was like eating one piece opened the floodgates and then I was all EAT ALL THE CANDY.  So, I ate one of the PB cups.  And I swear to God - I swear on my life to you - it tasted different.  It did not taste as sweet.  I finished it, but I just wasn't seduced by it.  I didn't even eat the second one.


My brother keeps telling me to do some research on serotonin and how many things it affects.  One day I will get around to it, but these days I'm relying on his and my co-worker's expertise, because I'm completely bombarded at the moment.  But I'm officially a believer now in this amino acid supplement stuff.  I mean who weans themselves off of an antidepressant and feels better than normal a week later?  The pharmacy background in me is screaming that it's not possible.  But I can't argue the physical evidence going on inside me.  I just can't.

There's one more thing I need to mention, and this was the final selling point for me on amino acids.  Last Tuesday, I re-injured my shoulder during rowing.  I originally injured it about a year and a half ago, and subsequent re-injuries haven't been as painful, but are enough that I know I have to stay away from rowing for a couple weeks or so.  I mentioned this to my brother who advised me to load up on Glutamine, because it helps to restore oxygen and nitrogen balance in your blood and muscles.  Apparently many injuries from exercise can be attributed to some absence of Glutamine in the system.  So I did just that.  I took Glutamine about 3x a day for a few days.  And I kid you not, by Friday of that week, I felt like nothing had ever happened to my shoulder.

I know my body.  I know these shoulder injuries, I've had so many of them.  I've never felt better in that short amount of time.  And aside from that, no remedies like Tylenol or Ibuprofen could ever touch the pain I had from these shoulder injuries.  And to be practically healed within a few days?  Unbelievable.

So that experience has really made me a believer.

I will continue to document my progress with amino acid therapy here and maybe, just maybe, there will be one glorious day where I will not have to pop any pills whatsoever (except birth control bills.  I don't think there's an amino acid that prevents pregnancy).

**Disclaimer:  Please don't look at this picture and think that if you start taking all of these supplements, that you will start feeling better too.  Please do your research and know what interacts with what before you start taking supplements.  Please know what they all do and what they all help with before you start taking them.

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