Advice for Parents

Advice for parents who have children with OCD

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OCD Gone

That’s right; it’s pretty much gone.  The illness that defined me and served as the source for much of my suffering is finally at bay.  I had tried everything (except SSRIs) and many things had helped, but not cured.  I actually did not believe OCD could go away.  Here’s what happened:

I went to a naturopath.  I had seen naturopaths before, but none like this.  In fact, I have seen quite a few medical professionals including your classic MDs, specialists, and alternative practitioners.  To me, I wasn’t on the east or west side of medicine, I just wanted someone, anyone, to help me.

I went to see this particular naturopath for my chronic systemic infections.  I was sick a lot and was told by my current doctors that all the tests had been done and there was nothing more to try, but I am not one to be content with that answer.  And when I say I was sick a lot, I’m talking not serious stuff, but enough to disrupt my life.  During my last quarter in college, I had gotten Whooping Cough twice, Strep Throat once, a Staph infection, a sinus infection, an ear infection, and countless UTIs and yeast infections.  This is why I dropped out of school; I physically was not healthy enough to tolerate the stress.

The naturopath informed me that I had a hormonal imbalance, high cortisol levels, food allergies, a fatty liver and imbalanced serotonin levels.  She told me to avoid certain foods, and to stop smoking pot.  She suggested progesterone cream and some supplements for my hormones.  She also prescribed a host of different supplements.  I followed every bit of advice she gave me to perfection.  That first week, I slept better than I had ever in my whole life.  I was able to get weed out of my routine in a few weeks.  After a month, I was a different person.  I felt calm, I was no longer compulsing and my brain was no longer obsessing.  I tried bringing some of the foods she told me to eliminate back into my diet, and I experienced very unpleasant results, which verified what she had said (not that I needed verification).

I still have my bad days, but the tools I learned in therapy are enough to help me cope with that.

What I have learned from this experience is that health most certainly does not come for free; it takes work.  I have also learned that to heal, one must heal the whole body.  We are a balanced system and if one thing is off, who knows where the symptom might pop up?

I believed that if my OCD would just go away, I would be unstoppable, or at least that my life would be infinitely better.  My life is much better, but I am facing a different set of challenges.  Though the OCD caused a lot of my pain, it was not the source of all my pain.  The OCD is a symptom of even more shit I need to work through.

So, I am in therapy again.

When my OCD was at it’s worst, I wanted nothing more than for it to leave me alone.  Now, I want more…. to be happy.

5 HTP and the Hormonal Therapy Results!

First, the results:

About 5 or 6 months ago I started natural hormonal therapy with natural progesterone cream.  I noticed a dramatic difference that first month.  Not only was my period just 4 days instead of 5, but my PMS was virtually gone.  I got a little scared, wondering if perhaps this was a fluke month, but each sequential month brought similar results, give or take a little PMS.  I mentioned this to my facialist who told me she used to use progesterone but switched to 5 HTP.  I did some research on it and decided to try it…

5 HTP

5 HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and a precursor to serotonin.  Yes, serotonin, our favorite word!  Cause that’s the thing, for serotonin to pass the blood brain barrier, it needs tryptophan; they’re like buddies.  It is marketed as a mood enhancer, appetite suppressant and a sleep aid.  The first and latter sounded pretty good to me so I gave it a try.  My period showed up ten days early and things felt totally off.  I realized that in taking progesterone and 5 HTP I was elevating the progesterone levels too much.  I stopped taking the progesterone and am now just taking 5 HTP and things are much better.  I do find it to help, unlike St. John’s Wort which does nothing for me.  And unlike certain herbal supplements that relax you like chamomile tea, I actually notice a huge difference.  It took about a week to notice a change and the days where I don’t take it, I can tell.  It makes me less anxious and helps me to fall asleep.

The moral of the story is that if you are taking birth control or other forms of HT, then maybe you shouldn’t take 5 HTP.   Other than that, it helps with my mood and sleep.

*NOTE*

I am off 5HTP and back on progesterone.  The daily benefits of 5HTP were nice, but my menstrual cycle went back to its usual PMS before when I wasn’t taking anything.  Since my period is a great source of my OCD I decided to ditch the 5HTP and do the progesterone again.

Hormonal Imbalance in detail

Hormonal Imbalance can affect both men and women in the following possible ways:

  • fatigue
  • PMS (women)
  • headaches, foggy thinking
  • UTIs (women)
  • acne
  • depression, anxiety
  • hair loss
  • low sex drive
  • allergy symptoms
  • sleep problems
  • mood swings
  • hunger cravings
  • weight gain

I know what you’re thinking- so what symptom isn’t on the list?  Good question, but there’s an even better answer.  Every multi-cell organism has hormones.  Hormones are essentially chemical messengers that transports a signal from one cell to another.  Hormones are responsible for maintaining homeostasis and regulate all kinds of functions like sleep, eating, fertility, puberty…  The thing is if your hormones are imbalanced, your whole body from your physiology to your mental state can be “wrong”.

I felt like things were not right.  I mean when something feels wrong with my body, I’m the first one to know about it.  It’s easy to forget about little nuisances because we get used to them, so taking a fresh look at your life can be helpful in evaluating your health.

In my recent posts I have explained how my OCD spikes during PMS.  So much anxiety and craziness, I feel like there’s a connection between OCD and hormonal imbalance.  Remember the magic word: Serotonin?  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is a hormone too, so is it so crazy to think that all this stuff is connected; that maybe a hormonal imbalance is causing or at least exaserbating my OCD?  Nope, it sure isn’t!

How do you get a hormonal imbalance?

  1. Eating commercial foods – this means foods that are not organic and have been treated with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
  2. Toxins – things like window cleaner, perfume, basically anything that is composed of synthetic chemicals.
  3. Hormone Therapy – this includes birth control (pills, patch…) , or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Birth Control Pills/Patch

Women are often prescribed birth control not for prevention of pregnancy but  for acne, mood swings or PMS.  Can you see where I am going with this?  Birth control is loaded with Estrogen, way more than your body needs by 10 times!  This estrogen is commercially made from things like the urine of mares, and is used by the body, but not in the same way as your natural estrogen.  The body gets the fake stuff in abundance and says “wow, this stuff works good, let’s stop making our own estrogen and just use this stuff.”  This can really change your body’s natural chemistry and create an estrogen dominance.  For many women, this can make their menstrual cycles much worse and cause many of the symptoms previously listed.  Many women claim success with the use of birth control because maybe they had low estrogen to begin with, but the myth that birth control will work wonders on everyone  is causing more harm than good.

I’m not saying to stop taking birth control!  If you are experiencing unwanted side effects, talk to your OBGYN about a lower estrogen brand, or switch to a non hormonal method of contraception.

I mentioned how taking hormones can cause a problem and they can, but not when done properly.  If you find out you have a hormonal imbalance, say low progesterone, you can supplement with natural progesterone cream made from phytoestrogens (plants).  Natural is just that, natural!  It is safe with no risk of blood clots or other nasty symptoms.

I recently sent away for a home saliva test ($60) and found out I have slightly low estrogen and very low progesterone.  You can buy these tests online and take them at home.  There are different tests for different hormones so it’s a good idea to take a symptom test online first and see which hormones are most likely the culprit.  There are different tests for men and women.

I don’t take birth control, and I eat organically, so I am assuming that the anxiety caused by my OCD is throwing off my cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the stress hormone, so when I am stressed (a lot of the time), I use up all this cortisol and my body runs out and converts my progesterone into more cortisol.  Yikes!  So my current treatment is to supplement with natural progesterone cream, and increase my intake of soy and other phytoestrogens.  I am hoping that this will help with the PMS and decrease the stress in my life therefore getting my cortisol back to normal.   If  I can help my PMS, that’s a lot less OCD manifesting in my life.

When working on your hormones, and especially if you don’t have a dr. (like me), go slowly, do your research and give it about 3 months to see a difference (from what I read).  Listen to your body.  Your body knows and it will tell you.

I’ll post results after 3 months of treatment.  Remember that your health is important, whether it be in dealing with your OCD or your physical health.  Many times one health problem can cause another, so treat your whole body, not just the symptoms.  Be safe!

“Magic” Mushrooms (psilocybin)

I’ve read many studies that have come out in the last few years expressing how psilocybin mushrooms can help OCD, not just for a day, like many drugs, but indefinitely! I was so scared to try this, but I was desperate. To date I have done mushrooms just twice, but this has helped reduce my OCD symptoms by ~75%.

painting

The first trip was very enjoyable, and not at all scary.  I took .25mg ativan beforehand since mushrooms can increase the heart rate and when mine climbs too high, I usually go into a panic attack.  At first I felt very “buzzy”, almost like my whole body was tingling.   I also felt a bit warmer.  I giggled like a kid and my emotions felt very simple.  Like when I felt joy, it was pure joy.  The colors and patterns were amazing!  I did not take a very high dose so my visual hallucinations were minor.  I began to come down four hours later and was a little bummed.

I was expecting an instant epiphany and I didn’t get one, so I assumed it didn’t work.  I went to sleep and could hardly move the following day with a horrendous stomach ache and diarrhea.  I do not recomend taking mushrooms on an empty stomach!

And speaking of epiphanies, I can’t say that I didn’t experience one, as I did experience a mind-shift; a change in my perspective.  I feared acquiring a new personality, like drugs would change me, but it’s really not like that.  Mushrooms are fairly gentle.

The following day, I realized I had not done many of my compulsions! I was surprised that a substantial change had been made.  I was ecstatic and hoping it would last.  The effect is related to hyperactivity in the frontal cortex. I am not cured, but I am the most normal I have ever been, and this feeling has lasted for months. My OCD is at a minimum.

Mt second trip was much more intense.  I took them the second time more for recreational purposes, rather than medicinal ones.  I decided not to take ativan before hand.  Bad idea.  I started to panic.  My fear of another stomach ache snowballed and I left happy and went right into panic and nausea.  I hid my face under a blanket because the lights were insanely bright (pupils dilate a lot).  After my fiancé calmed me down by turning on Friends I was completely fine.  The bad trip lasted maybe 20 minutes and then I was fine.  I doubt it would’ve happened had I been in a decently relaxed mind set before taking mushrooms (which I did on a full stomach of carbs and fruit).

After I calmed down, the experience was incredible.  My paintings had come to life and my concrete ceiling had become a river with electric blue snakes.  The characters on Friends were much more beautiful that usual.  The silly jokes brought me joy and I was delighted in general.  I went to bed and had no stomach problems.

Taking only two doses over the last 8 months has changed my life immensely.  I think my OCD symptoms have emerged a little, but absolutely in no way like how I was before.  I would also add that a bad trip is nothing to fear.  Do not take mushrooms alone for your first time and take them in an environment in which you feel safe, like your home.  Do not use on an empty stomach, and for those who have a sensitive stomach, consume mushrooms in tea form with a little ginger.  If you are prone to panic attacks or heart conditions, please do your research and be careful.

If you google search “ocd mushroom study” you will find many valid results.  Here is one article by the BBC.