Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
Over the next few posts I’m going to explore the issue highlighted in an article that was sent to me entitled:
The basic premise when (probably over)simplified seems to be that a mutation of the gene MTHFR can cause some of us to fail to absorb and process essential B vitamins properly. The results of this can span from higher instance of PTSD, pre-menstrual anxiety and a plethora of mood disorders including Bipolarity. The article suggests that supplementing with the bio-available version of B9 Folic Acid – which is Folinic Acid – so that our bodies don’t have to process it themselves can lead to a decrease in overall symptoms and in some cases more-or-less cure the mood disorders caused by the absence of these essential chemicals.
The WAY in which this happens is still a bit of a mystery to me (and, for all I currently know, to doctors) – so I’m going to be reading as much as I can about the B Vitamins and supplements before I start trialing the supplement next month. Folinic acid supplements are currently on BACK-ORDER where I live owing to their incredible popularity, which I take as a good omen.
What’s interesting is that I’ve read COUNTLESS times, having had an interest in raw food, CRON and veganism that B12 deficiency can ‘mimic’ Bipolar Disorder symptoms as well as cause a plethora of neurological faults. Combined with Vitamin D it is the supplement I see most-recommended by thorough, science-abiding health nuts. They all warn of the dire consequences of B12 deficiency.
I understand Bipolar Disorder to be the label for a coalescence of various failures, malfunctions and problems in various chains of events, biological systems and arrangements of neurons. Rather than thinking of Bipolar Disorder as one disease, which scientists are finding THE cure for, like malaria or the plague – I think of it as an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms. The logical outcome of failures in a multitude of possible scenarios.
When we picture these various chain reactions that culminate in our mental health, or the lack there-of, it’s easy to understand why cures for these ‘illnesses’ are elusive, inconsistent and often transient. No one yet knows the cause or specific conditions that results in the GROUP of symptoms we call Bipolar Disorder.
Thinking about Vitamin B12 in isolation for a moment, any of the following could be the case:
The ‘cure’ for this suggested by one doctor may be to eat more eggs, fish and poultry. This would definitely work for some but not for others, and the doctor may not understand why. They may decide or not even think to supplement B12 after that. They may move onto something else, deciding that B12 wasn’t the problem.
This would definitely work for some but not for others, and the doctor may not understand why.
Sound familiar? Sound like EVERY modern-day Bipolar medication and treatment? Electroboy gets zapped when ECT has long since been unfashionable. It works for him and a minority of others. Doctors are more than prepared to do a cingulotomy on treatment-resistant patients. They essentially burn away material from the frontal lobe just to see IF it will help at all and, sometimes, it does!
Saying “I have Bipolar Disorder” in this context becomes a very vague and useless statement as far as getting well is concerned. It seems we can abdicate responsibility somewhat for getting well by just trying medications at random that appear to have worked for others – which is what I’ve done thus-far and what doctors seem to have to do.
An alternative may be present in the form of rigorous blood work, identifying certain genetic markers and trying to patch the hole(s) in whatever pipes in our brains are leaking. I’m going to try and see if I can be tested for the MTHFR mutation and I intend to document as faithfully as I can what using the supplement does for my energy and mood. Luckily, my partner has also geared up to help. She will also be keeping a diary of my observed energy levels and mood.
So, exciting times ahead.
If any of you supplement B12 or Folic/Folinic Acid – I’d love to hear from you about how it’s going. I’m keen to learn the specifics of how long you’ve been doing it and if your symptoms are TOTALLY in remission or how else it has influenced them.
All the best,