Today I was discharged by my psychiatrist.

Today something very special happened that I’d like to share with you.

In July 2011 I suffered a completely unexpected and rapid onset of psychiatric problems while sat at my desk at work. I was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder type 1 with paranoid psychosis. Over the next 5 and a half years I spent 6 months in psychiatric hospitals, took almost every single brand of atypical antipsychotic, mood stabilisers, anxiolytics and tranquillisers with little effect, and was told I needed electro-convulsive therapy, which fortunately I refused. I didn’t hold down a stable job in all that time. I was told I’d never be able to get well and that I’d never be the same again. Even the voices in my head told me I was screwed (really)! I gained 5 stone and developed several metabolic and autoimmune diseases and reached a point where I couldn’t function any more.

Well today I was discharged by the psychiatric team that has been treating me with a clean bill of health and I’m completely symptom free. In fact, I’m in the best health of my life. They tell me they’ve never seen anything like it. Perhaps the most incredible thing is that I cured myself.

Last night there was a programme on BBC1 called Trust Me I’m A Doctor. It is available to watch on iPlayer. At around 30 minutes in, a professor of psychiatry talks about a radical new treatment for mental illness. This is the same professor I exchanged emails with a few months ago for advice, as I believed my mental illness may have been caused by a problem related to my diet and immune system, and she confirmed that in my case anti-neuronal antibodies appear to be the root of my symptoms. This information put me on the path of looking at my lifestyle and, more specifically my gut, as this is where the immune system is. After much research I concluded that certain foods were likely what was making me sick.

In January this year I went on a strict diet, eliminating gluten, grains, dairy and sugar and a few other foods, and made a dramatic and instant recovery, putting every single psychiatric symptom into remission in just 10 days. Over the next few months I dropped 6 stone in weight, reversed my physical illnesses and today I feel incredible. I continued to just get better and better, reversing other symptoms that had been present my whole life and making a quite astonishing transformation to my health. A psychologist has told me she has seen my IQ rise by 30 points this year which is unheard of.

The culmination of all this was me being discharged today (which I’m not ashamed to say made me cry, both with joy and for the great sense of loss I feel at what this illness has cost me).

I am both completely medication and symptom free and so long as I don’t eat grains I will remain well for good. This is unbelievable news as I basically beat my illness, something I was told was impossible. I never ever thought I’d get well. This is what makes today a truly incredible day for me.

I wanted to post this, not only because it’s important for me to talk about what happened, but also because this is a genetic condition, so if you share your DNA with me and have any kind of psychiatric, autoimmune or unexplained physical illness then you might have the same sensitivity to the glutens (prolamins) in all types of grain as I do. I’m not sure which part of my ancestry this has passed down from but I suspect in my case it may be the combination of genes from both parental lines (thanks Mum & Dad 😉). This is a very rare illness, with no diagnostic criteria, so no doctor can diagnose nor treat it. I had to figure this out myself.

They say the greatest view comes after the hardest climb, and in my case the view I now have of my life is incredible. I’ve been through an unbelievable and at times devastating illness and come out the other side with a new-found appreciation for life. However, I’d never have got here without the support I received from my family and friends, in particular my parents, Andrew, Kate, and Richard, and many others of you too who never stopped supporting me. But most of all Giuliana, who got me through the most difficult days at great personal expense. What she did is as remarkable as my recovery and I’m here, stronger and better than ever thanks to her.

Pity I stopped drinking as I feel like opening the champagne. I guess a kale smoothie will have to do!
Perhaps I should write a book about my experience.