Getting off Zoloft

Day 4

This has been a wild ride. I finally decided I had to take my own advice. We have a baby on the way, and I needed to be whole by the time she gets here. I was taking two different medicines (Zoloft and Lamictal) so we halved and eliminated the Lamictal first.

I honestly didn’t think the 12.5 mg of Zoloft was playing any role in my life. Man, I was wrong. It’s not completely out of my system yet, but I’m sleeping better, seeing better, and easily living in the moment. My senses are heightened. I feel more athletic. I know it was the right thing.

Always remember that there was a reason you started taking pills in the first place. Obviously, if you don’t address the fears that were plaguing you before you started your meds, you’re not going to be whole when you stop.

Weaning off is not fun or easy. I was legitimately having anxiety attacks the past couple days, but I’ve learned other ways to cope.

Zoloft effected how I felt emotion. I don’t know exactly how, but I felt a surge of emotions the past couple days. Fear, shame, guilt, and love. It masked all these for me and masked my moral compass.

I was my own god on Zoloft. There was never any ever true getting lost in the moment. I was filtering every word I said and everything I did through my own set of standards. It was exhausting, and caused a delay in my brain’s processing.

I haven’t felt as happy as I do now since I was a teenager. It’s just great. Like for the first time in years, I’m doing streaks of the right things. And for the right reasons

I’m sure there’s more to go through, but now I have the tools to cope.

Depending on the psychiatrist that saw me, I think you realistically could’ve diagnosed me with any of these conditions over different times in the past decade: bipolarism, depression, schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, OCD, and probably others. My psychiatrist didn’t even want me to get off everything, but I knew it was what I had to do. I had to be purely me-no brain altering drugs-and be happy when the baby gets here. I knew I didn’t need another variable thrown in the mix before I started the weaning process.

So if you’re starting to think about weaning off, here’s what you need to know:

  • You’ll know when and if you’re ready. My process involved eliminating caffeine from my diet and improving my vision.
  • It’s going to be unpleasant.
  • Have coping mechanisms prepared. Prayer, meditation, whatever, you’re going to need it.
  • Lean on your friends and family. You cannot do this alone.
  • Be honest about the way you feel but make no big decisions.
  • You’re going to feel an irrational surge of emotion. Be ready.

It’s all worth it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Asperger’s is Autism is curable

Yeah I know. Just bear with me a moment.

Symptoms:

  • Behavioral: inappropriate social interaction, poor eye contact, compulsive behavior, impulsivity, repetitive movements, self harm, or persistent repetition of words or actions
  • Developmental: learning disability or speech delay in a child
  • Cognitive: intense interest in a limited number of things or problem paying attention
  • Psychological: unaware of other’s emotions or depression
  • Also common: anxiety, change in voice, sensitivity to sound, or tic
  • Treatment: therapy and antipsychotics
  • Onset age: 3-60

Today, I want to take a look at Autism. It has a surprising amount of similarities to schizophrenia, including filling in the gap in our onset age timeline. Last time we proved that Alzheimer’s was curable by first proving it was schizophrenia, then showing that it was curable.

Well here’s your next simplification. Autism and Asperger’s are the same disease. In this article, the main differences are IQ, speech, and age of onset.

We say that people with Asperger’s have higher IQ’s than those with Autism. Wait…what? Isn’t that something we most people measure differently anyways? I’m not going to numb your mind with proof that IQ varies from person to person.

Speech is a real, distinguishable difference. People with Autism do not develop normal speaking patterns. People with Asperger’s typically do. The loops that effect these kids are different, but they need to all be approached the same way. Obviously If the nature of their loop involves self perception, you can imagine why they may have strange or delayed speech patterns.

The brain does not perceive time. We do. So now is the same for your brain as when you were fifteen. You and your brain are completely independent. What in the world does this mean for Autism? It means that it’s the same as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

  • They have the same symptoms.
  • They are treated the same.
  • The major difference is time. But we know that the mind does not process time.

This disease needs to be lumped in with the others. I know what you’re going to say: that’s an oversimplification. Maybe so. I’m not saying it’s not a very real disease with serious symptoms. What I’m saying is we need to take an entirely different approach to the human brain to start making progress.

There are major disparities in these diseases among different racesThis is no coincidence. In other research, we’ve seen disparities, in aging, eyesight, and athleticism.

The brain is a perfect, complex computer that we do not fully understand. Some people don’t know how to operate it properly, and some have logical errors in their syntax. The only way out of our loops is reprogramming. Otherwise we are just treating symptoms.

Autism is curable. Find your own case studies. People have made full recoveries. And if you believe my basic assumptionsAll cases are curable. We were all given the same opportunity.

So how do we cure it exactly? I wish I could give you an answer to that. I’m still working on it. So far, here’s what I’ve got. Identify the loop. Identify the fear causing the loop. Identify the logic causing the fear. Rework the logic so it aligns with the proper order of things. These don’t just apply to people with these disorders. They are simple but very powerful tools that can change your life.

 

 

Alzheimer’s is curable

Let’s start somewhere else. With a disease that we’ve made some progress on: schizophrenia.

Here are your symptoms:

Behavioral: social isolation, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, compulsive behavior, excitability, hostility, repetitive movements, self-harm, or lack of restraint

Cognitive: thought disorder, delusion, amnesia, belief that an ordinary event has special and personal meaning, belief that thoughts aren’t one’s own, disorientation, memory loss, mental confusion, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority

Mood: anger, anxiety, apathy, feeling detached from self, general discontent, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, elevated mood, or inappropriate emotional response

Psychological: hallucination, paranoia, hearing voices, depression, fear, persecutory delusion, or religious delusion

Speech: circumstantial speech, incoherent speech, rapid and frenzied speaking, or speech disorder

Also common: fatigue, impaired motor coordination, or lack of emotional response

Onset Age: 12-40 [source]

Treatment: Antipsychotics. They seem to help alleviate symptoms, both positive and negative.

Wow. I thought I was reading an article about Alzheimer’s. You are. Bear with me.

Alzheimer’s symptoms:

Behavioral: aggression, agitation, difficulty with self care, irritability, meaningless repetition of own words, personality changes, restlessness, lack of restraint, or wandering and getting lost

Cognitive: mental decline, difficulty thinking and understanding, confusion in the evening hours, delusion, disorientation, forgetfulness, making things up, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, inability to create new memories, inability to do simple math, or inability to recognize common things

Mood: anger, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, or mood swings
Psychological: depression, hallucination, or paranoia
Also common: inability to combine muscle movements, jumbled speech, or loss of
appetite

Onset Age: 41+

Treatment: Cholinesterase inhibitors and. Memantine. The inhibitors slow the process that breaks down a key neurotransmitter. Memantine regulates the neurotransmitter responsible for learning and memory.

The main difference in this article is memory loss. That’s the main symptom difference that we can’t explain between schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. You know what else changes in those onset ages? The subjects ages. And while I have my own theories for why, I think it’s save to say that people start losing their memory as they get older. These diseases effect the same areas of the brain.

Here are some results from an exhaustive study comparing symptoms of Elderly Schizophrenics [ED] to those with Alzheimer’s in the annesiac mild cognitive impairment stage [AD-aMCI]. Take a look at the data here, and read the entire study if you dare. The point is these numbers are practically indistinguishable.

Test/subtest ES group AD-aMCI group p value
WMS-R
GM index 80.0 ± 16.2 77.8 ± 10.5 0.58
AC index 91.0 ± 14.7 98.6 ± 11.7 0.046
DR index 76.3 ± 17.2 58.8 ± 8.6 <0.001
GM-DR 3.6 ± 10.7 19.9 ± 8.6 <0.001

WAIS-R
Information 10.1 ± 3.7 11.2 ± 2.8 0.37
Digit symbol substitution 8.0 ± 2.7 11.6 ± 2.3 <0.001
Similarity 9.9 ± 3.2 12.5 ± 2.2 0.024
Picture completion 8.5 ± 4.0 11.2 ± 1.8 0.037
Block design 8.4 ± 2.7 11.5 ± 1.9 0.0018

We don’t know much about the brain. And the nature of science is to broaden fields. To specify. This is about simplification. 

We’ve even used the same treatment and gotten similar results. 

Here’s the theory: these are the same disease. We call schizophrenia Alzheimer’s after you turn forty. Assume for a moment that I’m right. That these are the same disease.

We’ve made progress on schizophrenia. Some people with schizophrenia have made full recoveries. So if Alzheimer’s is schizophrenia, then Alzheimer’s is curable.

There is hope after all.

So how do we cure schizophrenia? We don’t treat symptoms. Some people say that theirs is in “remission” but they only say that because of how we convey the nature of the disease.

So, if for whatever reason, you’re still with me. Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia are the same disease. How can I say that they are curable? It’s the nature of the human mind. It has all the same hardware it had when you were born. It’s perfectly designed and capable of a full recovery. 

Here is the brain model that lead me to these solutions.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Trust Your Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: Changing psychiatric mediation comes with obvious risks and should not be done unless supervised and supported by a professional. If you have no intentions of changing your behaviors, your life, or your brain, there is no reason to believe that anything will be different this time around. The purpose of this is to establish the fact that there is a version of you that is OK without medicine.

No offense.

But we just are in the beginning stages of learning about the human brain. Psychiatry is like the bloodletting of the 21st century. Sure, we’re testing these drugs before we hand them out, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t let someone who know’s nothing about cars rebuild your engine. It just makes no sense.

Everybody’s wired differently. We just have to find the right mix of chemicals. This is all bullshit. All they know is that they can write you scrips that sometimes help people feel better for some amount of time. It’s all about trial and error.

They don’t know the actual nature of change. Not numbing you into some third party in your own life. Actual change.

Read about all your meds before you take them. Most of what they prescribe have some crazy side effects. There are multiple studies out there about whatever you’re thinking about taking.

Grill your shrink about your diagnosis. Ask as many questions as it takes until you are on board with everything.

Be honest with them. They can only diagnose what you tell them. It doesn’t help anyone to lie or to just not take your medicine. Tell them you’re not taking that pill. Tell them you’re not on board with an increase. The decision every day whether or not to take the pill is yours. 

Stand your ground. Your sanity is a stake here. You’re talking about medicine that will deeply impact your life.

Ask about alternative routes. Think critically about the other variables in your life right now. You’re about to double down. What if you’re completely happy on these meds? Is that the real you?

Your goal should be to eventually ween off. But DO NOT take my word for it. Do your own research. Form your own opinion. You only get one go at this.

Remember: you were designed to be happy. And you’ve been happy before without meds. 

 

 

Here’s Your Brain Model

So far here’s what we have. If you only read one thing I write, let this be it. Do not take my word for it. Think critically and with an open mind.

  • You were given a perfectly functional brain.
  • Your eyes are completely capable of seeing.
  • Aging starts in the mind.
  • Your brain can be reprogrammed.
  • There is only one brain disease.
  • You are completely capable of restful sleep.
  • We can prove Intelligent Design without any math or complicated science.
  • Genetics doesn’t explain everything.
  • There is a mental ground state where you see your best, perform your best, and sleep your best.
  • The brain follows an entropy model.

  • Your brain is capable of forming new memories, and recalling old ones.

  • The brain is a logic engine, with no time component.

 

Rethinking Sleep

Disclaimer: this gets complicated. Sit down and put your thinking cap on. 

We all sleep. Well all of us except that one guy from Vietnam. But we really don’t know a whole lot about it. There’s actually a bunch of data out there, but we can’t tie it all together. Here it goes.

Animals in the wild live longer, and sleep less. Well they definitely sleep less. The numbers aren’t super clear on the longevity. And rightfully so. There are predators in the wild. Draw your own conclusions. Here are mine: the captivity produces the same strain that harms and ages humans. The same strain that were trying to avoid to think our best, see our best, and be our best.

Black people don’t sleep as much. So in this article, and actually going back to slavery, we basically just assume that this is a bad thing. “Generally, people are thought to spend 20 percent of their night in slow-wave sleep, and the study’s white participants hit this mark. Black participants, however, spent only about 15 percent of the night in slow-wave sleep.” Just assume that it’s as bad thing, when we don’t even know what sleep is. Turns out, it’s not. In a previous post, I talk about black people seeing better and not drinking coffee, and how that could give them a leg up in athletic events. What I’m saying here though, is that less sleep is not necessarily a bad thing. Quantity doesn’t matter here, it’s quality.

We do know this: Other things that effect sleep: blood sugar, anxiety, depression, stress. Does that list look familiar?

That really is not the whole story though. There are brain waves during sleep, and there are different brain waves through each cycle of sleep. The slowest brain wave cycle is delta waves. It’s the recovery wave, and the wave of dreamless, meditative sleep. Some people [like Zen masters] have learned how to consciously get to this state. For the sake of this article, there are delta waves and non-delta waves, or meditative and non-meditative.

If you’re curious, here’s why this simplification is possible. Some people say there are four types of brain waves, some people have three, etc. What distinguishes one from the other is the frequency, or basically the speed of the wave. If you looked at your brain like a heart, you’d just see “brain beats.” We don’t call slow and fast heart beats anything different. I don’t know how this became the standard unit in brain measurement. It cycles through these waves at different amplitudes. So if we assume all the amplitudes are the same, all we care about is frequency. When we look at frequency, the delta wave is the absolute zero, or as close as we can get while we’re alive. 

Moving on.

Delta waves are all that really matter. When your brain is beating it’s slowest. Here’s the deal though, when you’re awake, you don’t actually get to the supposed delta state, but just like your heart rate [generally speaking] slower is better.

Lack of REM sleep can alleviate clinical depression. So wait, REM sleep is good for us, but a lack of it helps people with depression? Coming back to this question. The meditative sleep is the most important. REM sleep, I’m sure has it’s own purpose, but delta waves what we’re looking for.

The amount of time you spend in each stage also depends on your age. Wait, we know that our mind strain increases as we age. I think we’re finally getting somewhere. Elderly adults typically have relatively short periods of slow-wave sleep and fewer of them. In other words, sleep is lighter and more fragmented with brief arousals or longer awakenings throughout the night [article]. Given what we know, late childhood may well be the “golden age” of sleep during a lifetime. Beyond the age of 11 or 12, sleep disturbances begin to creep in. In fact, nearly 7 out of every 10 adults experience problems that affect sleep quality. [source] You know what else we say depends on age? Vision.

from Wikipedia:

Women have been shown to have more delta wave activity, and this is true across most mammal species. This discrepancy does not become apparent until early adulthood (in the 30’s or 40’s, in humans), with men showing greater age-related reductions in delta wave activity than women.

We have more delta wave activity as newborns than any other time in our lives.

Alcoholism has been shown to produce sleep with less slow wave sleep and less delta power, while increasing stage 1 and REM incidence in both men and women. In long-term alcohol abuse, the influences of alcohol on sleep architecture and reductions in delta activity have been shown to persist even after long periods of abstinence.

Other disorders frequently associated with disrupted delta-wave activity include: Narcolepsy, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and juvenile chronic arthritis. 

Delta waves are key to fully understanding the brain. Unless you decide to take the non-traditional approach: the eyes.

Good sleep is a symptom. Not of a disease or anything negative. Good sleep is an indicator that you’re doing something right. There’s an extensive list of reasons you may be sleeping poorly. I think there is only one. But let’s be clear and not put a number of recommended hours for sleep. If you wake up and you feel rested, you did it right.

You can’t control your sleep. Well, at least not directly. Control what you can. But make the right assumptions: you still have the ability to sleep just like you did when you were fifteen.

Here’s what’s important: you were designed to sleep perfectly. Just like you were designed to see perfectly. The further you are from your ground state, the more restorative sleep you’ll need every night to recover. If you can fix your vision and your mind, you will fix your sleep, and probably slow down the aging process.

 

Clutch is a mindset

Steph Curry is a good golfer…a really good golfer. He essentially competed on the professional level, and didn’t embarrass himself.

So how does that connect to being clutch? Bear with me.

Here’s why his golf ability shouldn’t surprise you: he’s the best shooter in the NBA. You could probably argue he’s the best shooter in NBA history. How does that translate to golf? Well in fundamentals, it doesn’t. But the mindset is the same. The state of mind it takes to replicate shots from beyond the arc is similar to that of a professional golfer.

What you’re going to say is that Steph’s dad was in the NBA, so he’s just got good genes. Believe that if you want. Tell your kids they can never shoot like that. They can.

The fundamentals are easy, the mindset is what takes practice. You can teach a kid how to shoot a basketball in an hour. But to have him be able to pull a three with confidence at the buzzer in the NBA finals, there are only a couple people on the planet even qualified to have that conversation.

Think about all the guys you knew growing up that were “naturally athletic.” Maybe you knew that guy that was good at everything. This is not a coincidence. The mind and body work best together at a certain state, and they have just found it. Malcom Gladwell wrote about it taking 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. That may be true, but some people get head starts, and this is how.

Steve Kerr [Steph’s coach] uses the Inner Game of Tennis for psychology in pressure situations. [article] This book is about the psychology of an athlete, and how to separate your thinking self from your playing self, and how to perform your best.

It’s all the same. When you find the infamous zone you’ve found your ground state. When you’ve removed yourself from the equation and let your body do what it already knows how to do.

Don’t let your mind get in the way of your performance. It has no place on the court, whether it be basketball, tennis, or golf. When you start thinking, you start losing.

 

 

 

Your scale is killing you

Hop on today. Look down. Then decide what to eat. Repeat the cycle until you like what number you see. That’s the only way to be happy, right?

Your scale doesn’t know if you’re hungry. It just doesn’t. So don’t let it decide if you eat breakfast or not.

Your scale doesn’t know your body fat percentage. Well, you may have a fancy scale that estimates this, like me. But otherwise you literally just see a number.

Muscle weighs more than fat. Proven fact. So if you’re the same size [volume] you were last month, and you put on two pounds, that’s a good thing.

We don’t know how much you’re supposed to weigh. We have “recommended guidelines” of height and weight, but I wouldn’t let them rule your life.

The lightest person doesn’t win. I mean, he may, depending on the contest. But if you weren’t meant to be 150 pounds, it’s going to be hell getting there. And after you get there you’re going to be hungry all the time.  [See How to age like white people]

Your scale doesn’t know if you’re happy. So what if you’re perfectly happy and fifteen pounds overweight. I think you forgot the part that you’re perfectly happy. Get off the scale and go back to whatever you were doing before.

 

 

You’re working out wrong

It’s not about how hard you can push yourself. It’s about how much you can relax while your body is pushing. Your body performs its best when it’s relaxed, so your goal in the gym should be more of a meditative state under different types of duress.

If you can’t do the same exercise every single day, you’re pushing too hard. I’m not saying you need to [quite the opposite], but this should help reshape your intensity. Think about whatever manual labor job you want, where you saw someone that was naturally ripped. That’s not a coincidence. You lift boxes all day, and you’ll have to learn to relax while you’re doing it, or you’ll need to find another job.

So how do I get stronger? Your body will still develop, but at it’s own pace. You deciding that you’re going to spend an extra hour in the gym just because you want it more than everybody else isn’t going to help you.

You’ve heard the term country strong. It’s that guy in college that never worked out but was built like an ox. His first day in the gym he lifted way more than you ever could. This is why.

Do not let your mind get involved with your workout. If you can’t relax with the weight you have on the bar, it’s too much. I’m not saying don’t push yourself, but if you start to feel muscles tear, that’s too much. Once it starts hurting, you’re done with that muscle group for the day.

Do not flex or clench at the top of any lifts. Stay relaxed the whole time. I assume you want to be chiseled when you’re just walking around, not just when you flex.  Bring that intensity with you everywhere.

Listen to your body. It knows better than you do. Better than I do. And most certainly better than that article you read in Fitness magazine.

Let’s assume I’m wrong. I’m not, but just assume it. It’s still worth testing. If what I’m saying is true, you’re literally wasting away in the gym. Take it back a couple notches for a couple weeks and see if you notice any improvement.

Aging starts in the brain

I’m not a neurologist. I’m not even a doctor.

So how did I draw this conclusion? Really a bunch of pseudo-science that you won’t believe anyways. Just bare with me. Your eyes are perfect, and thus your brain is perfect. You are separate from your mind. The functionality of your brain does not change. It remains the same fully capable, complex computer. You do. You’re ability to control your mind may slip, but it is still just fine.

So what is aging? It really doesn’t exist. Because time doesn’t exist. You today is the same as you yesterday, and is the same you in two weeks, and two years, and so on. So when did you get old? When you changed your mind. When you began to stop being you and fight the forces keeping you sane. This resistance and stress caused refractive error that changed the whole nature of your being [more here].

Is it reversible? Yes. I mean, I’m not promising that 70-year old could compete in the Olympics, but we can retake our minds at any point. I think of it like a computer virus. We get trapped in these infinite loops, cycles of misery, but there are ways out. The eyes were my way out. I truly think of the Matrix every time I go down this string of thoughts. Hey, other people with credentials think the same thingsmatrix_header

So how do you debug your mind? First, you have to identify your loop, the mindless cycle that is killing you. The list of possibilities here would take an entire article in itself. But there is something that you probably do every day that hinders your ability to control your mind. Don’t be a creature of habit, unless that’s what you want to be. You set the rules here, not your body. Not your programming. You decide which thoughts to act on, and which ones to let pass. You filter out what’s completely insane from what’s socially acceptable before you say or do anything.

Then you exit the loop. I say that like it’s simple. It’s not. But your habits are breakable. Your mind can be reset. This is your world. You make the rules. [For help exiting the loop, read this.]

Don’t let this world rule you. Take your mind back. Reboot.