Update: vitamin B1 and benfotiamine to help write

The basics: I am still using vitamin B1 and benfotiamine to help me write.

Previous information on B1, energy, and writing

For those following along (use ‘B1’ in the search box), this is an update on what I’m using NOW.

My regular routine is to take my FIRST DOSE of B1: 1500 mg. of Solgar Super Potency vitamin B1 and 450 mg. of Source Naturals Benfotiamine (benfotiamine is the fat-soluble version of B1) first thing in the morning with breakfast (usually a protein shake).

Then I wait for my brain to turn on. My brain on waking is in better shape if I get a good night’s sleep (duh!), but no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it to work very well first thing in the morning.

IF I can manage to make a decision, I block the internet (I use Freedom for the Mac) for four hours, knowing the first hour might be usable for minor writing things – of which I have many and never spend enough time on.

If I can’t – because the brain isn’t on, and making a decision is HARD for me then – I surf the web with my morning shake and First Diet Coke until that first hour or more is up. THEN I find enough energy to make the decision, and I turn Freedom on.

Those four hours are now my official ‘writing time’ for fiction, and I will spend it all on Pride’s Children in some way or another.

Regular routine for writing

Since I’ve been getting up pretty regularly at 7 am, this means that I should be done with the day’s fiction writing by about noon. IF all goes well.

About 11 am, after two or three of my  ’50 min. writing/10 min. break’ regular timing, I get hungry. I take a moment to get lunch (counts as a break), and take the SECOND DOSE of B1: 500 mg. of Solgar Super Potency vitamin B1 and 150 mg. of Source Naturals Benfotiamine. I also drink Second Diet Coke.

If all goes well, I get a bit of a second wind, and manage to do some writing during the final 50 min. writing period.

The above is 1) if all goes well, and 2) if I’ve had a decent night’s sleep before starting.

Breaks from routine and other problems

If NOT, then any and all of the following may occur:

1) I never manage to turn Freedom on at all. And surf without realizing the passage of time for the next four hours.

2) I forget my second dose – and don’t even realize it until night time. The brain whirrs to an idle.

3) I have to take a nap because the brain stubbornly refuses to focus, even when I’m sitting there, butt-in-chair with my fingers on the keyboard. It’s just too tired or too brain-fogged. This happens at least once every three days, so it’s pretty much part of the process.

4) I can’t write FICTION – only journal-type entries and possibly notes for a blog post.

5) My muscles are in such bad shape that I either do some yoga or take a shower or both. Ditto taking extra painkillers and waiting for them to do SOMETHING.

6) Life interrupts and I need to use whatever brain power I’ve managed to acquire to do something important (to the world, not me), such as taxes.

7) Lately, we need to shovel snow (which may take days to recover from, but has to be done).

8) Someone is visiting and needs to be attended to (at which point I give up trying).

9) I have missed a day or more and it takes me the whole time to figure out where I was.

10) I don’t get started as soon as I humanly can getting that B1 into the system because of X.

11) I took either a muscle relaxant or a tiny bit of Melatonin to get to sleep: they almost ensure I miss the next writing day dur to brain fog, so I use them only when I absolutely have to get to sleep.

Success rate at using my time for writing fiction

It’s currently running about 1 in 2, but it isn’t that I get a good day every other day – the functionality runs in stretches broken by stretches when I simply can’t think.

Without the B1 it takes me a LOT longer to get the brain going, and I can spend hours surfing the web before finally taking a nap, and getting in an hour or two of writing.


I had some problems getting this routine established (see the ‘red lobster’ posts), but, after rigorously avoiding tree nuts, have decided that it’s NOT the B1, and that I have to go see an allergist to confirm that I’m allergic to tree nuts. I haven’t had a ‘red’ attack since I cut them out.

I’m unhappy about that – a low carb diet (also required to be functional) is made bearable by being able to throw a few almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts in there occasionally –  they are a good source of fiber, AND this allergy is happening in my 60s (sheesh!), but you don’t get to argue with reality unless you LIKE ending up in the emergency room with an IV antihistamine drip.

Which I didn’t like.

Routine means every single day

So, unless something else happens, this is my routine, this is what I aim for 7 days a week.

I can’t take days off lightly – my brain copes with breaks off in routine by going dormant.

But I’m still taking B1, every day, and it helps. That extra 20% energy, and the extra bit of brainpower, seem to lift me over the writing ‘minimum’ for fiction, and I get work done.

The rest of the day is still a work in progress, too. I have to take a nap AFTER I finish writing, or the rest of the day slips away in lalaland.

There are so many things I need to have at least half-good time to do, that I’m permanently behind, and only the crises seem to get attention – and of course those are unpredictable. Just making a list takes too much energy most days.

Why write?

Why I spend my carefully created and nurtured time writing: because I believe in this story.

Because one of the main characters in Pride’s Children has CFS (ME/CFS), and I can’t abandon her, now can I?

Because it is the one creative thing I can do.

Because if not, I’m so depressed by my life draining out through my fingers that I don’t get anything else done either.

Because this is my life, and that’s how I choose to spend it.

Because I can. Sort of.

I’d love to hear other people’s B1 and writing method stories.

2 thoughts on “Update: vitamin B1 and benfotiamine to help write

  1. Sue B.

    Hi Alice,

    You wrote on Cort Johnso’s blog:

    “And ‘Post Exertional Collapse’ is a much better description. ‘Malaise’ MEANS ‘feels unwell.’ Another trivializing description.
    It’s amazing how patronizing all these people are toward those of us who have these symptoms.”
    I agree completely. I think people with ME or CFS who use the prevailing term “PEM” are being played. Petition, anyone?

    Sue B.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It’s hopeless. We’re all whiners who are ‘always tired’ and ‘don’t feel well after exercise.’ /sarcasm

      If we could JUST make them live a month in our bodies, this whole thing wouldn’t exist any more!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sue. Be well. Take care of yourself.



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