Chris came home from his first 45 minute Alexander Technique lesson a week later a different person. He was more decisive about where his body was going. He threw off the gloom that had been dogging him and became practically ebullient in his expressed enthusiasms. He was back on track, or so it seemed, for a few days. He rejoined the choir, signed himself up for another credit course at university and was beginning to establish a better sense of what he was doing in a room. This newfound enthusiasm lasted about a week and then, boom, he began to become unglued again.
When I walked through the door at night would I get the lady or the tiger? Sometimes I came home and Chris seemed more or less together and sometimes I came home and he would be staring off into space and showing the old hesitancy. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I noticed that his speaking voice dropped an octave or two. I shrugged off this weird new development as just another possible effect of the Alexander Technique and probably a good thing, but I wasn’t sure why I thought so. It may have something to do with my perception that lower toned voices signal confidence.
He appeared to be going through a somewhat manic phase, immediately signing up for a fresh course so quickly after dropping the other two, speaking more quickly and interrupting Ian and me with emphatic but off-base observations. One can only imagine what his classroom performance was like. I began to fear that he would have to drop the credit course he had only recently started. After discovering that he blew through his monthly allowance in one week, we began to dole it out to him in smaller amounts. The bipolar Chris was new to us.
Then his holistic psychiatrist phoned. “I have it!, she announced. “I think I can explain why Chris has been having problems recently.” She had stopped prescribing a certain amino acid supplement since August, believing that Chris no longer needed it. However, she had come to learn that it was important for her patients to continue this supplement for longer periods in order to bring the elevated dopamine levels within a normal range. What Chris had been going through was called protracted withdrawal.
Her muscle testing revealed that Chris’s dopamine levels were elevated in his glands and in the central nervous system. As the dopamine system is affected by the serotonin system she recommended an essential amino acid which synthesizes serotonin and niacin. We endured two more weeks of Chris’s quirky behavior before the needed product arrived in the mail. The change in Chris after only a few days on the added supplements was astonishing. He was able to sit with us at night and converse in a normal way, not from two rooms away. His sense of humor and playfulness came back.
This again reminded me again of the importance of getting the biochemistry right. I had been focusing of late on Chris’s problems as psycho/spiritual in origin, and had been discounting the importance of the biochemistry behind his actions. Once I began to appreciate that extra supplementation could indeed help him regain normal, I felt better and more optimistic about his immediate prospects than I had in a long time.
The second thing I learned is exactly the opposite of the first, meaning that if I thought that Chris’s problems were just a matter of getting the biochemistry right, then I would miss the importance of what I have earlier in this blog called the X-factor in schizophrenia. This is a most confounding, unpredictable condition. If you think you know it, you do not. It is also a chicken and egg thing. Does the biochemical imbalance come first, thereby causing mental trauma, or does the mental trauma come first, thereby causing biochemical imbalance? The wisest course of healing action is to keep an open mind and not place all your eggs in one basket.