Archive for the ‘marijuana’ Tag

Take a Drink in My Blues   Leave a comment

The other night a friend commented to me that I drink and smoke pot every evening. She questioned, in a very nice way, if it may be in excess.  I think she was taking a mental inventory of how many wine bottles were in the trash and “roaches” in the ash tray at the end of the week.  She said so out of concern because I am Bipolar II and alcohol is not a recommended additive with anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers, of which I have both taken for years.

My friend is a mental health worker, so I gave her concern more weight than if the elderly Chinese lady who scours our trash for bottles and cans made the comment.  And as a writing-hack, I sat down to construct a blog justifying why it’s actually healthy for certain people with Bipolar Disorder to drink and smoke in moderation, visa vi there was no reason for my friend to be worried.

It took me days to write the blog.  I just could not get the wording right.  And then I finally realized it was because I was full of shit.  I was not being honest with myself and that’s why I was unable to summon the appropriate words.  So to coin a stupid phrase, “let’s get real.”

Alcohol is a depressant.  The reason people with Bipolar Disorder are told not to drink when taking anti-depressants is because it’s counterintuitive.  It will make the drug work harder or render it ineffective.

It’s the same thing with mood-stabilizers, prescribed to people on anti-depressants to make sure they don’t become overly happy.  They are meant to keep you somewhere in the middle where you are devoid of emotion, or at least that is my experience.  You won’t hit rock bottom, but you also can’t summon up a whole lot of excitement about anything either.  And of course adding alcohol into the mix can destabilize the entire situation.

Marijuana.  Who the hell knows what that does to people with Bipolar Disorder?  Some say it helps their mood, some say it makes them more depressed.  There really isn’t much information that I know of on how it interacts with anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers.   Plus with pot, even if you buy it from a legal California Dispensary, you really never know what strength and properties you are getting with every purchase.

With all this information, why would someone on anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers drink and smoke?  Well imagine a life built on a base-coat of depression with suicidal thoughts and side effects that range from constant nausea to sexual dysfunction.  Shaking hands to extreme dry mouth.  Short term memory loss to irritable bowel syndrome.  And this is all courtesy of the best medication cocktail I have ever been on.  Without it I am positive I would be dead.

In light of all this, I just can’t see anything wrong with coming home and having a couple of glasses of wine and smoking a joint over the course of the evening if it makes me feel good.  It’s nothing that many non-afflicted people do on a daily basis.

Am I addicted to drinking and smoking?  No, but I would be very unhappy if I had to stop.  And if it doesn’t affect my work or other aspects of my life, I don’t see the point.  Even if I were alcohol dependent (pot is non-addictive), at my level of consumption I would not really care.  I’m already addicted to anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers.  Take those away and it would be like withdrawing from heroine.  It’s much easier to stop drinking.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not recommending the consumption of alcohol and marijuana to people on psychotropic drugs.  Everybody has to make their own decisions.  I know some Bipolar people who drink, some who drink and smoke pot, some who just smoke pot and others who do nothing.  And if I were prescribed a drug that makes me feel wonderful, I would stop drinking and smoking in a heartbeat.  Why rock the boat?  Not many people with Bipolar Disorder get to sail those pristine waters.

I make no excuses for my alcohol and marijuana consumption.  Just like everyone else, blessed with Bipolar Disorder or not, I like the way it makes me feel.  I enjoy the taste of good wine and micro-brewed beer.  Pot takes away my nausea and has almost eliminated the sexual side-effects that have plagued me for years.  And for a little while I can relax and stop constantly worrying about whether I’m heading for a cycle of depression or not.

So I will say to my good friend, thank you so much for your concern.  I appreciate your vigilance.  And I hope you’ll keep looking out for me, as I will for you.

Bipolar Drugs and Sexual Side Effects: Giving Pot a Shot?   11 comments

There I was with a really great girl.  We had an incredible evening, which started with drinks at a favorite watering hole, a sushi dinner and dancing to live blues at this little club right off the main avenue.   Here was this smart, attractive and fun to be with lady who I had a lot in common with and out of all the poor slobs in town she actually wanted me.  We were having so much fun I invited her up to my apartment and she ended up staying the night.  But as soon as we got in bed I knew I was in trouble.    I prayed and prayed let it not be so, but my heart began to sink because in my penis I did not feel a thing.  A voluptuous naked woman lying next to me in bed couldn’t arouse me.  I was a disgrace to all the 13 year old boys who would have killed to be in my shoes.

I did everything I could to get aroused, but we were only going to be at half mast.  My partner took it personally and did everything she could to bring it back from the dead.  She thought it was her.  I told her no and let her keep working on me like an EMT trying to get someone’s heart to start beating again at an accident scene.  Eventually it started to hurt.  Finally I jumped out of bed, wrapped a sheet around myself and told her about the bipolar medication I take and its sexual side effects.  She wanted to know if this was a condition for life?  So did I.

If you are bipolar and are taking any kind of anti-depressant and or mood stabilizer cocktail, almost everyone experiences side effects.  They range from dry mouth, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, shaky hands, blurred vision, weight gain, short term memory loss and everyone’s favorite, sexual dysfunction.  For a man it might mean not being able to obtain an erection, experience a full erection, have dry ejaculations, ejaculations with no sensation or a greatly subdued sex drive.   For women diminished sex drive is a frequent sexual side effect as well as vaginal dryness and the inability to reach orgasm.  Put a bipolar man and women together both on psychotropics drugs and bedtime suddenly becomes TV time.

I spent the better part of 24 years trying to figure out a way to make sex enjoyable again.  All I wanted to do is reap some modicum of feeling out of my penis and have a normal ejaculation during sex.  There was no questions about it the anti-depressants and mood stabilizers I was taking were lessening my libido to the point of “why bother.”  My psychiatrist and I tried many different things, each time getting my hopes up only to crash and burn when I put myself to the test.  We switched my anti-depressants to newer ones that were supposed to have less sexual side effects.  We lowered the doses of certain medications.  We even tried this drug called Yohimbine, which is actually a natural aphrodisiac.  On my own I experimented with Viagra and Cialis.  I so badly wanted to sit contently in that porcelain claw-footed bathtub overlooking a cliff next to my lover like in the Cialis commercial.

Switching to Effexor as an anti-depressant and Lamictal as a mood-stabilizer seemed to do the least harm to my sex drive.  I was able to get relatively erect and 3 out of 5 times  I’d have some sensation when I ejaculated.  I told myself, if this is as good as it gets, I should be thankful.   And then one night years later I smoked a little bit of marijuana before I got into bed with my fiancee.

Not only was my level of sexual interest heightened, but I achieved a full erection, did it a lot faster and had an incredible orgasm.  I couldn’t believe it.  I thought it had to be a fluke.  But we tried it again the next night and the same thing… I could feel pleasure!  From then on a little bit of pot before sex seems to cure the sexual side effects from the psychotropic medications I am currently taking.

I am not purporting that marijuana is the cure all for sexual side effects from bipolar medication.  I’m not a doctor or scientist.  And, I discovered it purely by accident.  I have no idea of proper dosages.  Plus, you have to keep in mind all marijuana has different strengths and people metabolize it at many different rates, so it’s even more complicated to prescribe.  Moreover, if you don’t live in California, it’s also illegal, so if you decide to try it you risk trouble with the law.  As a matter of fact, in California it’s legal only under State Law, but not under Federal Law.  How confusing is that?

What I am trying to convey is that if you are bipolar and experience sexual side effects to the degree they are becoming extremely troubling to you and your partner, a little marijuana before sex could make you more functional and fulfilled.  I have heard the same thing from medicated bipolar women.  The increased stimulation alleviates the vaginal dryness and makes sex much more pleasurable.  However, some wonen still have trouble reaching orgasm even with mother nature’s help.

Many good psychiatrists have a lot more information about marijuana than in the past.  I really don’t know any who prescribe it, but they understand how it works and when used in moderation can counteract medication side effects and quell certain bipolar symptoms.  I told my doctor how I was using marijuana and he was OK with it, although warned me that heavy usage could trigger deeper bipolar depressive episodes.

My suggestion is to first have your doctor work with your medications and see if you can achieve any success through that avenue.  Also try exercising more, which especially for men, gets the blood pumping through all the vital organs.  And if it seems like you have run out of options, marijuana is always there.  And if you hate smoking, you can now “smoke” through something called a Vaporizer, which spares damage to your lungs by filtering out all the smoke allowing you to just breath in a clear mist of THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient.

In the future, I firmly believe pharmaceutical companies will come out with psychotropic drugs for bipolar illness completely without sexual side effects.  Or, they will be able to prescribe a companion drug to counteract it.  But in the mean time, if you’ve spent much too long getting no pleasure form sex, you might consider giving pot a shot.  But you didn’t hear it from me.