Anxiety Attacks

In 2008 and after the CoQ10 experience and the ALA failure, an idea was gelling. That is, that the basis of Bipolar symptoms was related to a ph imbalance, which was in turn related to oxidation.

Just skim this part and you can come back to it again when you are feeling better or just launch your own searches and gather the information from more coherent and reliable people :)

The mitochondria are little factories and their job is to produce energy. That is the energy to climb a set of stairs...or maybe, the energy to build a molecule of serotonin. Each cell has a job to do that will require a reliable energy source.

If mitochondria are "factories" then enzymes are the "workers". Remember enzymes? They are largely embedded in the walls and membranes of the mitochondria and using their unique 3D shape do whatever step is required of them.

Since the membranes are their work stations it is important that we get the calories and fats needed to keep the membranes healthy. Remember 20% of the calories you take in today will be used just to repair damage from oxidation. Happy membranes makes for happy enzymes.

These enzymes are temperature and ph sensitive. The symptoms of hypothermia are just the result of enzymes slowing down.

A collection of buffers and antioxidants help to maintain our ph.

The majority of energy that is produced in the mitochondria takes place in the electron-transfer-chain or ETC. A certain amount of free radicals are produced normally. The one that we are interested in at this time is called superoxide.

Free radicals (also called Reactive Oxygen Species) need an electron and will take it from wherever they can find it. This is where superoxide dismutase comes in. It converts superoxide into hydrogen peroxide. Left like this, the ph is going to drop - or in other words the mitochondria will acidify.

Unchecked, enzymes will have a harder time working in the acidic environment and energy will drop. Therefore cell will not be functioning normally. This might mean that you can not climb the stairs as well or that you are not able to think as give 2 possible outcomes.

So, to the rescue....our bodies most important enzyme and one without which your life would be measured in seconds....glutathione peroxidase.

This is the kind of thing that I was trying to think about in 2009 and 2010. My mind was still pretty functional and my sense was that this was the key to understanding Bipolar. At least in me.

I learned that glutathione is made up of 3 amino acids. Glycine, glutamine and cysteine. Of these 3 cysteine is usually in the shortest supply and so in the spring of 2008, I started to take NAC. That is n-acetylcysteine. Now don't run off and buy this stuff yet. We will be talking a lot about my ups and downs with this one.

Weeks became months and there were no changes that I could associate with NAC but I kept taking it because it should work. And finally in August it did. Almost 5 months after I started it kicked in and it was amazing. This was epiphany #1.

I get epiphanies. I used to be locked into the notion that there was one thing wrong with me and that I would stumble upon the right diagnosis or the "magic pill" and all would be well. This was one of those times. Fix glutathione levels and walk away well :)

In September 2009, a study was published - a joint effort of Harvard and a university in Australia. They found that NAC was helpful and that it supported a "low glutathione theory for the development of Bipolar symptoms". And they also found that it took 16 or 20 weeks to take effect.

I was pretty proud of myself. Not bad for a guy without a science degree!

This is around the same time that the skin itchiness started in earnest. So itchy. I ended up with 6 back-scratchers at home and work and another collapsible one for the coat pocket. I just wanted to tear my skin off.

My GP said to use hand cream. So helpful.

October came and with my seasonal depression looming I started to chew nicotine gum again. Again, I either skipped the depression or it was really mild, I don't remember. What I do recall was that I was turning into a basket case by February.

I told my wife, "Truehope took away the psychosis and replaced it with neurosis". I started to have anxiety attacks upon arrival to work and they wouldn't leave until I was sure that night shift was safe.

Anxiety attacks are just about the strangest of all the psych symptoms I have experienced. I heard voices twice and that was nothing compared to this. What a strange thing it is not to have any control over what is happening to your body.

The heart would speed up and respiration quickened. I would get a sense of dread or doom. Nasty. And it made no difference when I reminded myself that night shift was safe every day for the past 4 months and would be again.

Towards summer, it also started when I was leaving home -even when the destination was desirable. This was nuts. I knew what agoraphobia was (inability to leave one's home due to anxiety/panic) and I was damned if I was going to sit around while that took over my life.

I had been assured over and over that my mercury exposure was not part of my problems but I had my childhood exposures and a mouthful of fillings. There was a discussion on the Truehope forum and someone was blaming their problems on mercury exposure.

I posted that no one had more exposure to mercury than me. I had one card left to play and that was to be tested. I found a naturopath.

That is enough for today. Let's pick it up from here next time.


Towards summer, it also started when I was leaving home -even when the destination was desirable. This was nuts. I knew what "agoraphobia was (inability to leave one's home due to anxiety/panic) and I was damned if I was going to sit around while that took over my life."

This is my new flavor too.
I'm looking into NAC as well.. thanks for your post :)
I have experienced nearly every psychiatric symptom at some point in my life. Anxiety attacks were the more perplexing and as you know, it feels like an alien has taken over your body and mind. I felt so powerless and my cognitive toolbox was empty when it came to these attacks..

I should maybe make an entry about NAC. Come to think of it, why not? Look for a post in the near future.

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