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Cocktails and Indian Food: When is Enough Too Much?   2 comments

Friday was a really rough day.  The company for which I work is in the process of merging with another and changing identity.  People are coming and going, new faces are telling me what to do and I’m not sure I’m doing everything right.   We had a department lunch to say goodbye to a very talented woman who decided to resign, and I was planning dinner and drinks with a good friend who was in town from LA.

It turned out to be a really late night.  We went from bar to bar indulging in the new cocktail craze which has consumed the city of San Francisco.  Frankly, I think cocktails are a pretentious trend and for non-drinkers who don’t really like the taste of alcohol.   Finally these people can brag at the office that they got hammered the night before…. on Lemon Drops and Mint Juleps.  BMOC.

And as I am prone to do, I over did it.  Having taken a cab that night, I didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.  So I took full advantage of it and filled myself to the bipolar brim with those ridiculous libations.  They didn’t taste strong and were served up in these tiny glasses.  Cocktails are sneaky little bastards.  With beer, wine and hard liquor you know what you’re getting.

Anyway, when I got my badly inebriated body home, I peeled off my clothes and flopped into bed, instantly falling asleep…. Without having the only cocktail I can’t live without… My cocktail of bipolar medications.  Usually I can not sleep without at least my 600mg of Seroquel.  Seroquel is also used off label as an antidepressant.  If I don’t take it I’ll start having nightmares and getting the shakes, wake up around 3am and realize I didn’t take my pills.  But the alcohol simply put me out.

I woke up around 12 noon.  I didn’t feel right and it wasn’t from drinking.  I panicked when I realized I didn’t take my medication the night before nor my morning dose.  I almost fell on my face jumping out of bed racing into the bathroom to take my morning dose.  “Now I should be fine,” I thought.  “Missing one evening can’t hurt me.”  Boy was I wrong.  All my bones ached and I felt like I constantly had to throw up.  My hands were shaking and I had hot flashes like I was going through menopause.  I wasn’t depressed, but I had no interest in doing anything except laying on the couch and being miserable.  My brain was bobbling around in my head like it was made of Jello.

I have withdrawn from medication before.  I knew the symptoms and these were those.  And the only way to get back “on the clock” was suffer until bedtime and then take my nighttime medications, of course including the usual 600mg of Seroquel, and hopefully feel right in the morning.  It actually took me until Monday afternoon to fully feel back to myself,  because I ate Indian take out food the night before and came down with a case of the “New Delhi Darts.”  I call them the “Darts” because about an hour after you eat the Indian food, you’re darting to the bathroom for the rest of the night.

I think it was a good thing this happened to me, except for the Indian food.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I ate that schmutz.  But sometimes we take it for granted that our medication is doing it’s job.  We even get complacent enough that we think we don’t even need our medications.  Then you have a situation like mine where you do not take you medication, even for 24 hours, and you start the withdraw process.  Like me, you get a rude reminder of just how dependent you are on those colorful little pills.

The other thing I got out of this is how foolish I was to consume that much alcohol while on these powerful psychotropics.  I knew I was getting drunk and kept going.  I was aware of the consequences of consuming large amounts of alcohol with the amount of medication I take.  But I was too comfortable in this area as well.  I’ve always been able to drink a few glasses of wine or beer with no problem whatsoever.  So I decided I was like everybody else and jumped in the deep end.

Even more frightening is if I had remembered to take my pills that night.  With the amount of alcohol I consumed, ingesting 600mg of Seroquel among other things could have killed me.  And there is no lesson to be learned when you accidentally overdose and die.  Who do you tell you learned your lesson to when they are lowering your coffin into the ground, as relatives are fighting over your 5.0 Mustang and CD collection?

It’s one thing when we feel bad and are looking for the right balance of bipolar medications.  We tend to become very vigilant and do everything right when we find the correct drug(s) and dosage amount(s).  But when we feel well and are getting complacent, we tend to take our positive mental status as a given and start letting our guard down.  And that is when we start getting in trouble.  “Sure I can drink a few more beers.  I only had nine-teen shots of tequila.”

I am not telling anyone whether or not or how much to drink, smoke or eat Indian food.  Just like with bipolar medications, everyone has a different tolerance when mixing.  Use my lack in judgement as a lesson learned;  It’s an excellent idea to always keep your head when dealing with alcohol so you can read the signs of excess and avoid losing your head.  The last thing I want on my epitaph is that I met my fate at the hands of a Roy Rogers.

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