In early December of 1999 I was a bright, articulate, well-accomplished senior at a prestigious Liberal Arts University with high hopes, dreams, and a promising career in Public Relations and International Journalism. I had gotten to college on a track scholarship, had earned another scholarship to study abroad in Japan for my junior year, and was now the news editor of the campus paper, and on track to graduate on time, despite an entire year abroad. Two weeks later I found myself waking up in a mental hospital, had already been there a week, and did not know how I had been involuntarily committed. My first out patient psychiatrist told me that my particularly acute Bipolar I diagnosis would mean that I would:
- Have to be on medications the rest of my life
- Be at high risk for multiple hospitalizations in the future
- Probably qualify for Permanent Disability to help pay for medications, psychotherapy, and likely hospitalizations
- Have trouble keeping a job
- Not be able to have children on the medications, so I should consider sterilization
Knowing nothing about bipolar, and trusting his expertise, I bought his diagnosis, and for three years tried to follow his treatment plan. I even applied for disability after it became apparent that working was particularly difficult with my illness. I had hoped to change the world through investigative journalism, but instead found myself in public housing, on food stamps, and unable to keep a job. I was losing my marriage, and maybe even my son.
But then I found a better way, a natural way.
Thankfully I am now living a very different life than the future that psychiatrist painted out for me. He was just doing his job, trying to prepare me for a likely future and treatment plan: one of life-long meds, blood tests, Depakote or lithium level-checks, potential hospitalizations, strategies to help me pay for meds, hospitals, tests, psychotherapists, and more. Even his recommendation of sterility made sense: I should not have children due to the thirty-three percent heredity factor of the illness, I could not come off my meds without risking myself harm, and I could not stay on the meds without risking harm to a developing fetus from the drugs. Fast-forward eleven years. Now, instead of that doctor’s orders, I have been:
- Given a Sound Mind & mostly (one relapse in 2007 explained later) medication-free for eleven years!
- A Business Woman of the Year, speaker, entrepreneur, artist, and pre-published author
- Released from needing Public Housing and Food Stamps
- Freed from the debilitating Stigma of Mental Illness and Bipolar label
- Finally able to come out of ‘normal living’ to share my story of healing
- Free of mood disorders, hallucinations, episodes and paranoia
- Free of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and all symptom management techniques such as “cognitive behavior therapy” and “mindfulness”
- Cured from almost every symptom related to bipolar disorder
- Able to meet many people who have also recovered naturally
- Happily married twelve years and have three children who are my reason for everything!
I am not a doctor, but they could not heal me. I had to find my own way.
Not sure whether the Med Free Method™ (or Book Med Free Bipolar) is the right choice for your situation?
Quizzes: Is the Med Free Method™ right for you?
The Med Free Method™ is not for everyone. I believe it is the best answer for approximately 80-90% of those diagnosed or suspecting of a bipolar condition, but it is not a magic pill or method, so please take the time to determine whether it might be right for you, a loved one, or a patient before investing in the process. Approximately 60%-70% may be able to become 100% medication free, while others may need to continue a smaller dose of medication in conjunction with the Med Free Method™. Sometimes it does need to be all or nothing, as some of the protocols can interact with psychotropic medication, but a few find they do better with a combination of the two. There is no absolute right or wrong, only what is best for you.
Nothing worthwhile is always easy. Although some parts of our method are as simple as adding in some daily foundational supplementation, other parts require both a physical, mental, and spiritual workout. Take the following two quizzes to help determine if the Med Free Method™ is right for you, your loved one, or your patient:
- Are you currently having suicidal thoughts or attempts?
- Have you been hospitalized in the past 30 days?
- Have you been hospitalized four or more times in the last 12 months?
- Are you doing extremely well managing your condition now using medication?
- Have you found another natural remedy and are symptom-free?
- Are you well tolerant of the side effects of your current medication?
- Do you like being able to numb away the effects of your condition with medications?
- Have you been to jail due to your condition one or more times in the past 2 years?
- Do you have trouble remembering to take anything regularly, including medications or supplements?
STOP: If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then the Med Free Method™ may not be right for you. Sometimes rocking the boat can make matters worse, not better. Get stable or enjoy being stable where you are, and then consider re-evaluating if things change.
QUIZ #2: For the Bipolar:
- Have you been diagnosed with bipolar and are looking at all viable treatment options?
- Are you currently un-medicated?
- Does a medicine free option for Bipolar appeal to you?
- Would you just like to learn some new coping skills?
- Do you think about going off of your medications often?
- Do you experience every side effect listed on the medications you take?
- Do the medications make you feel worse or only slightly better?
- Have you gained weight on the medications?
- Have the medications interfered with your sex life?
- Are you still getting symptoms break through that you would like to end?
- Are your symptoms as few as you would like?
- Would you like a natural approach to managing your bipolar?
- Are you tired of feeling horrible?
- Are you hopeless about past options?
- Are you tired of endless medication adjustments?
- Do you feel like a medical guinea pig?
- Do you feel your doctor never listens or knows what you are going through?
- Do you have a good support person?
- Would your doctor help you transition into a natural treatment option?
- Are you on disability or food stamps due to your condition and feel ashamed?
- Do you ever wonder if there could be a better way?
- Do you dream of a better life, one without a diagnosis?
- Do you debate between which is worse: the medications or the illness?
- Would you like to be able to possibly eliminate or reduce the amount and dosages of the medications you take?
- Does the idea of a normal, medication free life interest you?
If you answered “Yes” to three or more, then the Med Free Method™ might be right for you.
“Contemplate the similarities between the
phrases ‘being patient’ and ‘being a patient’”
–Kay Redfield Jamison
QUIZ #3: For the Practitioner/Doctor
- As a practitioner, do you want to be informed of what is out there? ie: Informed Consent
- As a practitioner, do you want to know about what your patients might be trying at home?
- As a practitioner, do you want to be able to present all viable treatment choices to your patients?
- As a practitioner, do you have a treatment-resistant patient?
- As a practitioner, do you specialize already in alternative or natural treatments?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more, then I would recommend the Med Free Method™ for you, your staff and possibly for your patients.
QUIZ #4: For a Support Person
- Do you know someone with bipolar? Are they struggling?
- Do you know someone who you think might have bipolar?
- Do you, a friend or a loved one have a child with behavior issues?
- Does your loved one refuse treatment or medication?
- Does your loved one refuse to admit they might have a problem?
- Are you afraid to leave your loved one alone?
- Are you tired of how out of control their life is?
- Do you fear your loved one will end up in a hospital or institution?
- Do you fear the police or jail may be in the future?
- Are you willing to help them find a better way?
- Are you willing or capable of helping them fund supplements or alternative treatments for a time?
If you answered “Yes” to two or more, then the Med Free Method™ may be a viable option for you to introduce them to or help them implement. Remember that this is a process, a journey, and it is not a race. It may only take a few weeks for some, but for others, including me, it took months to get stable and then years to get completely well. I am still learning, and will never know it all.
The Med Free Method™ is based on the premise that for every prescription out there, a natural alternative exists. It was not developed by a doctor, but simply a fully-recovered psych patient intent on getting better, and then a mom motivated to help her children. Aspen Has been medication-free for ten years and lives out most of the principles in the Med Free Method™ every day.