30 August 2009

Vitamin B12

A while ago my sister C sent me an email saying that there is a link between Bipolar Disorder and vitamin b12 deficiency. I was curious enough to look it up and wonder if it's actually possible that a mental illness can be managed or cured by taking a vitamin. Wouldn't that be just amazing?

I thought back to over a year ago when I took Truehope's EMPowerPlus vitamins. They were originally developed to calm pigs down and even out their moods. With some fine tuning, the vitamins were developed for people under the same principal that there is an imbalance in the brain that causes mood disorders. I stopped taking the EMPowerPlus because it made me extremely nauseous and, well, I just don't do anything that will contribute to vomiting. It was interesting though, because I have had similar reactions to multivitamins which is why I don't take them. I've had side effects that included the hot sweats, shaking, bursts of hot fluid inside the nape of my neck, nausea, vibrating abdominal organs, and fluorescent urine. I figured I was getting an overdose of something in the multivitamin and it was just too much trouble to find out what, so I just didn't take vitamins.

Fast forward some time and now I need iron to function. I take 300mg twice a day (which is a lot). My doctor never did try to find out why, except to rule out the more serious conditions like leukemia. I thought it was because I'm constantly pushing my body beyond it's physical limits at my job and I'm not replacing the iron in my diet fast enough. I've prided myself in the past for living without any kind of pills or supplements (except birth control) and here I am swallowing iron and planning my eating around it. I started to adjust my thinking that pills could be good, then I get the email from my sister about vitamin b12.

One neat thing about b12 is that it's excreted through the urine like vitamin c, so you can never overdose. I like that, it means no weird side effects. So I started taking it. One pill of 1200mg made no difference so I doubled it. That started to help, so I thought more would be even better. Now I take 4800mg a day (with food, not with iron) and I actually feel evened out.

Now, I don't mean I'm cured or fantastically mood-swing-free, just...more even. And I've evened out on the Up side which is marvelous. I mean really, one of my fears about Bipolar mood stabilizers is that it would stabilize me below normal in the Down range. Lithium did that. And lithium gave me all kinds of stray thoughts like "I'm so fat" or "nobody loves me". These thoughts didn't feel like mine but wouldn't go away. And I was getting more and more sad, or had an Eeyore view of the world. The next step would have been an antidepressant, which I thought was foolish. I mean, if my mood can be stabilized, why not stabilize it on the Up side of normal instead of the Down? When I asked a doctor about that he said Bipolar people don't know what normal feels like so it's not really depressed, it's normal. Hm. I have experienced every range of emotion possible and he's telling me I don't know where normal is? I am acutely aware of my behaviour/thoughts/opinions at different moods, I know very well where my thinking/actions are considered 'normal' by society's standards, thank you very much.

The one thing b12 has not done anything for is the bit of OCD I think I have. Last week I got news that because of my tax audit I was overpaid on my Child Tax Benefit by about 80% so I would receive nothing for Aug and Sept to make up for it. I started to get angry about it, beginning the venting of "stupid common-law makes my benefits less", but before I could really get going, my brain thought "hm, I was going to clean today...maybe I should vacuum first, I'll do J's room first, then T's room and the hallway...and my kitchen is just filthy...I'll need to scrub there too..." and I got to work. I was no longer angry. I bounced easily out of it. I also cleaned like a maniac.

The OCD showed up in my dealings with the woman I don't get along with at work as well. I obsessed about what I should do or how I should act, but I wasn't angry at her at all. I just couldn't let it go. My sister C left a comment about that and the one thing that resonated was that I could be exacerbating the situation by sending mean vibes in her direction. So I went to work the following Monday with the attitude that I'll treat her as I would treat anyone at work and not allow anything she does/says to get a rise out of me. And it worked :) I don't ignore her anymore, but I don't go out of my way to talk to her. When she does something passive-aggressive like block my path with pails, I calmly remove the pails and think nothing else of it. It was easier to do because my moods weren't fluctuating so wildly. I haven't gone into a deep Down so her behaviour isn't magnified in my eyes.

I could really get used to feeling a little happy all the time. Imagine: happiness without the soaring out-of-control elation, bad things happen without sending me spiraling into a Down, irritation occurs without wild anger. Just...wow.

1 comment:

Chantelle said...

Yay for B12!!! That's so awesome that it's making a difference with no side effects!!! I'm thrilled that it's not leaving you depressed - no one should have to accept being depressed as "normal". Why can't someone bipolar end up feeling a little more on the Up side instead?

Some say OCD is bad but it has its place. As long as you aren't doing the crazy 100 times a day handwashing or constantly checking things - as in, the OCD isn't making you incapable of living a life and it doesn't bother you, then it's probably ok. I

The reason I'd mentioned the vibe thing is that it's what I do... I build up an image of someone in my head and then I "send out" that image which colours my interactions with people. I'm glad the suggestions helped.

I love you so much and I miss you tons.
Chantelle