Today’s meeting with all three psychiatrists was to confirm Dr. Stern as the sole psychiatrist from here forward. We agreed that Dr. Stern could handle both the medication and the psychotherapy. Chris ended up with an extra psychiatrist after he left the hospital last May so that Dr. Stern could concentrate on the psychotherapy without having to always be checking on the med situation. The second psychiatrist has been bringing her boss to these meetings.
We discussed taking Chris off one of the two medications and all psychiatrists agreed that one medication was better than two. I was wondering if I heard this right. Up until now, the psychiatrists here have been saying that two are better than one, and suddenly, now they agree that one is just as good as two. This is what I have been saying for the past five years, and what psychiatrists in North America have been starting to say. This is encouraging, indeed.
Ian seems to be convinced that Chris will not relapse as long as he’s on the drugs, but Dr. Stern was of the opinion that Chris’s recent relapse may not have been related to going off the drugs. She felt that the relapse may have been more linked to the stress of our wanting him to go back to university away from home. I was delighted to hear her say this, that getting off meds doesn’t always imply relapse. More to the point, she can see a time when Chris may no longer be on any medication.
We agreed that should Chris ever relapse, we would intervene early, and involve a short term therapy program where medications wouldn’t necessarily be used.
Progress has been made.
Chris has the go-ahead by his psychiatrists to start lowering the Serdolect. (He is on 8 mg Serdolect and he remains on 10 mg Abilify for the foreseeable future.) I am not necessarily optimistic that this will be the beginning of the end of the medications, but I’m willing to entertain the thought. The problem the last time, despite the fact that the psychiatrist recommended a program of supplements and slow, methodical lowering over a one year period, was that Chris relapsed anyway eight months after finishing the reduction program. So, I tend to take it all with a grain of salt.
This time I consulted a website that instructs Chris to pre-taper for a week before the taper by adding certain supplements such as Omega 3 and Body Calm. Then he begins an exponential process of lowering his meds by 5% every fourteen days for a total of six weeks, waiting two weeks, then reducing every two weeks by 10% until the end. The number of vitamins he needs is minimal to the thirty-five supplements he was on the last time.
I hesitate to leave the process entirely to Dr. Stern, mainly because doctors have a reputation of lowering the medication too fast. Whether or not anything we are doing will define the outcome remains to be seen. Chris is also thinking about starting yoga classes, which in addition to his chakra spinning sound therapy and the books he reads hopefully will give him the resilience he needs to successfully pull this off.
Chris has been on medications for six years, and only off them for a brief period of about a year. I must confess to feeling a bit jaded about the outcomes. We can do everything right and he could still relapse. There is more to relapse than blaming it all on the meds. So, we will try to maintain a calm, non-judgemental environment. We will not put pressure on him do start any new directions.