LDN, the too good to be true story of how I came to not feel suicidal for the past month.

Photo credit, Stephanie Stewart-Howard “” (see link at the bottom of this page).  

It is precisely the “Snake Oil Effect” that makes peoples eyes gloss over when I mention LDN.  It just sounds too good to be true.  

It is inexpensive and has little to no side effects, even at the higher FDA approved dosage of 50-300mg/day, which has been used to help wean addicts off opiates and alcohol since it’s 1994 FDA approval (see LDN factsheet link below).

LDN is literally “Low Dose Naltrexone,” using dosages of 1.5-5mg/day for healing vs. the approved FDA label “high” dose for helping relieve alcohol and opiate addiction.

“It’s even effective on cancer!” I have been heard saying enthusiastically, as the person I am speaking to turns and quickly exits the conversation.

Why does it seem too good to be true?  Because it doesn’t fight the disease itself, it heals your immune system so that your body can fight the disease. Is it a miracle drug, no.  Will it heal or cure everyone and anything?  No.  If you keep drinking diet coke and eating preservative laden food, smoking, drinking, and sitting on your bum, will you likely feel well even if you take LDN?  I seriously don’t have any idea, as I work to avoid those things.  

cannot think of a profession more frustrating than working as a doctor or health care professional in the modern western world:  

Dr., “How can I help you today?”

Patient, “I am hurting, sick and/or depressed.”

Dr., “We know that a healthy diet, exercise and hydration are key to wellness.”

Patent, “Sure, I do all that... but I am still very ill.”  The patient just went through the McDonald’s drive through and enjoyed a quarter pounder with cheese and a diet coke on the way to her appointment.  When she gets home she will have 2 double bloody-marys to relax.  She also drank 6 cups off coffee, including several vanilla latte’s today.  She never drinks water. To be fair, she did run 4 miles at the gym.

Dr., “Well, if you are doing everything we know will keep you well, I suppose I can prescribe a few of the miraculous medications our Pharmaceutical Reps have shared with us, out of the goodness of their heart and the desire for the healthiest population in the history of mankind.”

Patient, “Thank you for listening and caring.” And she leaves with a prescription for Ambien, to sleep better, Klonopin to feel less anxiety, and Lithium for her original diagnosis of bipolar.  She knows she can get any drug available, with less than a request for it, based on her diagnosis.  She also knows she will misuse or abuse any medication she is given.  She actually seeks out drugs that will be effective in an overdose.

Dr., “Next.”

I didn’t want to be that patient anymore.  No drinking, no diet coke, exercise as tolerated, eat organic and clean as much as possible, pray, meditate, sleep well... and guess what?  Since I am bipolar, and after 3 years of being medication free, I ended up back in the Dr.’s office.  I was sure there wasn’t an answer for me. That was on April 24th.

 On April 23rd, the day before my doctors appointment, I had emailed the Seattle Neuropsychiatric Treatment Center. The first question, and it’s a fair one, was who am I insured with.  I found out that Electric Convulsive Therapy, ECT, would run about $30,000.00 for 12 treatments and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, orTMS, about $9,000.00 for a 6 week course. During which I would need to be living in Seattle. 

 I spoke to my husband, who had stayed in from fishing more than twice this April to take care of me. That doesn’t happen.  He has missed children being born, holidays, birthdays, life.  Life goes on when you are married to a fisherman, unless he is so worried that life will not go on, and in those rare crisis he has stayed by my side.  In the past that meant he came in after I was hospitalized.  Recently it has been because he understood I did everything in my power to be safe and healthy, and still wasn’t.  So he stayed.

 When he was in town again, although the tides and fishery allowed him to be on the fishing grounds, I said, “I am going to have to go get help.”  And he said, “please go to the doctor here and ask him about your idea, but I support you no matter what.”

And that is how I found out about LDN.

 When I left the Dr.’s office that Friday the clinic was closed.  He had listened sincerely, he had given me feedback on ECT and that he didn’t know anything about TMS.  He gave me the option of Depakote or LDN, but I didn’t write down the name of the second one, and I knew I would refuse the first option.  He listened to me for so long that the clinic was closed when my appointment ended.  I walked out into the clinic corridor to a building only lit by daylight.

My best friend, who works there, led me to the door to unlock it for me.  I hugged her. I cried in defeat.  My anger and disbelief overtook me.  After all I had done, after all the changes, I would have to be medicated.  There seemed no other option. 

 I couldn’t find any information about LDN that weekend, having not written the name down.  

 “Can I have your doctors appointment Missy?” I asked my daughter. 

 “If you really need it,” she said.  I really did.

 When I went back on Monday morning I said, “tell me again, what is the name of the other medicine, not Depakote?  I couldn’t find it anywhere.”  

 After finding it wasn’t a bigPharma drug, my heart and mind opened a little more.  I didn’t believe there was anything that could help me either.  And for less than $75 per month with little to no side effects? Puuuuullllleeezeee.  And Mrs. Stewart-Howard may say, “who do you think you are filling people’s minds with unscientific garbage!”

 Except, it is science.  Why does it work on so many illnesses?  Because it isn’t attacking the illness, it is repairing the immune system.  It is helping your own body heal itself.  It’s that simple.  If you want to learn more, or know more, please “Google LDN,” as the author Joseph Wouk suggests in his like titled book.  He also drank diet coke, he suffered from MS and his symptoms were relieved with LDN.  

 I tentatively noticed the first morning, after my first night dose, that some veil, some cloud, something was gone.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, yet I recognized it as something I had rarely felt in my life, an absence of wanting to die.  

On May 29th I will have been taking LDN for a month.  Did it take weeks to work, no.  Will it be the same story for everyone?  Of course not.  However, what has anyone got to lose?  Suppose you try it for your illness and it works. Hooray for you.  Suppose you try it and it isn’t the problem, your immune system doesn’t need support, your endorphin levels are normal, well, you can always work on your diet, hydration, exercise and meditation.

It reminds me of when my mom would say, “Lisa, why don’t you try saying a prayer.” 

Of course I would say, “that won’t automatically make things better.”

And she would say, “it can’t possibly make things worse.”

And that’s LDN.  It can’t possibly make things worse.

 Disclaimer:  the realization that there is a medicine that has relieved symptoms and increased my hope for health in no way reduces my prior blogs.  Many ailments can be remedied with diet, exercise, hydration and meditation.  My experience with LDN is in addition to the many changes I have made, and maintaining those choices give me the best chance at a healthy life.  Bipolar I is a devastating illness which I worked very hard to maintain without drugs.  In this case I feel BLESSED to have found a drug, a medicine, that has helped with symptoms I had to work extremely hard to manage, or couldn't manage.  Even if it felt, initially, like I was betraying my own self. In order for growth to be possible, flexibility must be present.  It took some major flexing for me to accept medication.

Lisa Nilsen
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Water is Life.

 “The cure for anything is salt-water.  Sweat, tears, or the ocean.”   ~Isak Dinesen
Lisa's Perspective:  just drink it.

My coping toolbox would give any H2Pro mechanic’s stacking, rolling and gliding tool cabinet a run for it’s money.  When I say, “I am out of tools,” it means there are days a tool may not stop the leak, or you know, the crying.

Today began ideally.  I woke up before my alarm well rested, did the a.m. Booty Quake workout, said my prayers and had a shower; drank a glass of (warm) water, took my fish oil and was on my feet as the kids left for school.  The morning was moving along so well I decided to switch out laundry and sweep the floor and I could still get to work earlier than normal.  Then I made a crucial error.  I decided to curl my hair.

Getting ready for the day and leaving the house is a trigger for me.  I become a 13 year old.  A few years ago I smashed a curling iron against the sink over and over until it broke; immediately my husband came into the bathroom yelling, “Stop it!  Who does that?!”  Today I could feel the pressure gauge rising.  “Do not freak out,” I said to myself in the mirror.  “Do NOT freak OUT!” I pleaded a little louder but now I was kneeling on the floor in the bathroom.   And the tears started.  And it was over. 

It was over because there wasn’t anything terribly horrible about my hair and I knew it.  The reaction was familiar and demoralizing, it sent my brain immediately to it’s default:  “I don’t want to be here, I can’t do this (life), I am a fraud.” Hysterical, I called my husband at work, “Who does this?!” I screamed back his question from years before.  He gently reminded me, “be kind to yourself.”   The faucet still ran and depleted my reservoir (insert complete breakdown here). As it dried up I felt exhausted and spent. 

“What would have been a solution today,” I asked myself.   What tool didn’t I use?  I knew,  I began using it several months ago. It’s very simple:  I don’t put make-up on or fix my hair at home, instead I get ready enough and drive to town.  Once I am at work I take a few minutes to finish getting ready. 

Fighting the urge to beat myself up for missing work I turned my attention from what I couldn’t do to what I could.  First, ordering replacements for broken shelves in the fridge.  Second, more laundry.  Third, looking for articles to support a blog about how important drinking water is.  Fourth, taking my own advice and adding a water consumption tracker to my phone.  Fifth, sitting and writing about what began as a very good day, became the worst day, and even though I spilled a glass of water on my bed… is still looking up.

Why should H20 be the first “medicine” you reach for?

“The most natural remedy known to man” Slain Bell writes, is drinking water, but “in order to reap the health benefits of water, you must drink it frequently throughout the day.”

“There is no more important nutrient for our bodies than water.  No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and make up of the body.  A man's body is about 60 percent water, a woman’s approximately 50 percent.”

Illustrating by numbers how important water is to every vital organ in our bodies:  “blood that flows through your body and delivers nutrients is 82% water; muscles that hold your bones and move your body are 75% water; lungs that pump oxygen crucial to your survival are 90% water; bones that protect your organs are 25% water; your brain is a whopping 76% water.”  ~Slain

The author’s at Cruising Chemistry ( continue to illustrate the complexity of the machine that is our body and the role water plays in keeping it running efficiently and healthy:

 Solvent:  “Water is the fundamental solvent for all biochemical processes in our bodies.  Because water is highly polar (has an unequal distribution of charge), it is an excellent solvent for other charged and polar molecules.”

 Transporter:  “Blood… transports oxygen, CO2, nutrients, waste products, and more from cell to cell; If we don't get enough water and can't produce enough urine, toxic levels of wastes build up in the body and we can become very sick or even die.”

 Protection:  “It keeps your mouth moist and washes away dirt and grim on your eyes.  Water even lubricates our joints, keeping them from getting stiff and making sure motion is smooth.”

 Chemical Reactant:  “Water is involved in many processes and pathways of the body.  We use it to digest food in the gastrointestinal tract, to access stored energy for muscles and organs, and for countless other reactions.”

 pH Regulation:  “Our bodies must maintain a very specific pH level of 7.4.  pH values less than 6.9 and greater than 7.6 are life threatening.”

 Electrolyte Balance:  “Electrolytes transmit all sorts of information to our brains in the form of nerve impulses and are important in muscular activity as well.  To maintain electrolytes at the proper level in our cells, water flows in and out of the cell to make sure that these ions remain in balance.”


“75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated.”

For the next 30 days.  A challenge!

Drink one warm or hot glass of water as soon as you wake up. 

Switch to a glass water bottle 

(Takeya, Surf Recycled, BKR). 

Use a water tracking app, such as “waterlogged”.


Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or a therapist.  My initial experience, since using the waterlogged app, is my body reacted with cotton mouth and excessive thirst.  As if my body was saying, "FINALLY, we don't have to conserve every drop of water in this body, bring it!"  It's starting to feel like a HEALTHY HABIT instead of a chore. Every human will benefit from keeping their machine hydrated.  It's science!




Lisa Nilsen
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