Archive for the ‘psychotropics’ Tag

Sex and Psychotropic Side Effects   Leave a comment

I’ll never forget my Dad and I taking a long walk when I was twelve years old.  It was longest walk of my life.  Not because of the distance, it was the subject matter discussed that made it seem like it would never end.  It was his big “sex talk,” where my father proceeded to tell me most of the things I already knew only in more clinical terminology.  And every time I tried to make a joke to lighten things up, he’d smack me in the head.  And when he told me things about my Mom I didn’t want to know, I wanted him to smack me in the head again to knock the disgusting image out of my mind.

Well now it’s time to have my sex talk with you.  However, it’s going to have a little twist; I’ll be talking about the side effects antidepressants and mood stabilizers have on many people’s sexual performance and enjoyment, or lack thereof.   It’s the one side effect from psychotropic medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder that everybody wants to talk about but nobody wants to talk about simultaneously.  So I’ll spare everyone the embarrassment and put myself out there, because whenever I mention it in a blog, I get the most responses and inquiries.  Obviously it’s a major concern.

Many antidepressants and mood stabilizers diminish sexual sensation, gratification, performance and sometimes the ability to even participate at all.   It’s a consequence for men and women, obviously manifesting itself differently between the sexes because men have penises and women have vaginas.  I’ll speak from my experiences and try to offer some solutions that don’t involve leaches or blood letting.

The sexual side effects of psychotropics on men can be devastating.  A lot of them depend on the drug(s) you are taking.  I have taken many.  Personally I have been through not being able to get an erection, no matter how much my partner or I feverishly worked, occasionally producing a soft orgasm at the very end,  just to mock me.  Through it all the lack of sensation in the penis is greatly muted.  Your mind is sexually charged but your penis doesn’t want to party.  It feels like it’s wrapped in a thick wool blanket killing all sensitivity.

If a man can achieve an erection, the sensation can be so muffled that it takes forever to have an ejaculation.  Finally when you do, you barely feel a modicum of pleasure.  Enough to wonder “why bother?”  It is literally as pleasurable as going pee.   Again, your mind wants to have sex, but you have the libido of a dead Mexican rumba dancer. Plus, you have to force penile stimulation, which is counterintuitive.  If you achieve an erection, it is like trying to walk into a hurricane.

Unbelievably, some drugs will let you fight the good fight until you can get and maintain an erection.  Then you “anti-climax” with a dry ejaculation.  Absolutely no semen emerges, nor does it feel very good.  This is the ultimate emasculating effect of Bipolar medication.   It’s only good for people with hand-washing obsessive compulsive behavior because there is nothing to clean up.

The best overall description of how psychotropics can effect sex drive, and maybe only guys can get this, is that physical charge you get starting in the pit of your stomach when you are really excited.  When you are super attracted to your partner and know you are going to have a big orgasm almost just by looking at them.  With antidepressants and mood stabilizers it’s very difficult to get that electrical current to radiate throughout your body.

When discussing what psychotropics do to women, I have to go with what Bipolar sexual partners and friends have told me.  Virtually all experience a diminished sex drive with desensitized genitalia.   But what I hear most is that it’s almost impossible for them to achieve an orgasm.  I have tried over and over to patiently orally stimulate a Bipolar girlfriend and she just couldn’t get “over the mountain.”  It’s even more difficult through traditional intercourse.  Women experiencing psychotropic sexual side effects need intense clitoral stimulation for a long period of time if they are interested in sex at all.  And, many can only reach orgasm with the help of sexual aids that vibrate alone or in conjunction with their partner.  Many times the man feels very inadequate when the woman is forced to introduce  appliances in boudoir.

So what’s a penis and vagina to do?  Can you imagine if a “normal” man or woman started facing these sexual dysfunction issues?  They’d be beside themselves calling their urologist or gynecologist on the golf course in an utter state of panic.  “Doctor, I think my penis is dying.  Is this what happens before it shrivels up and falls off?”  Or, “Doctor, my vagina has a severe loss of sensitivity.  Is this a sign I’m turning into a bitter old spinster with no interest in men?”

If you are experiencing these sexual side effects, “what can you do about them?” is your next question.  Right now there is not a lot medically you can accomplish.  But before you scream in anguish, there are things that do work, you just may not hear about them from your doctor.  As far as pills go, you can ask your doctor to switch your medication(s) to something that may have less or no sexual side effects.  And this does work for some people.  It helped me to a noticeable degree.  However I was also once prescribed Yohimbine, which is some kind of plant extract.  The only thing that gave me was false hope.

Another medical option is just for men; Viagra, Cialis or other erectile aids.  I have not heard from any Bipolar men that they are the solution to getting and maintaining an erection.  I was prescribed Viagra and it did very little.  I also tried taking three times the recommended dose with wanton abandon for having an erection lasting more than four hours and having to go to the hospital, as they warn in the commercial.  I actually would have loved having that problem.  I’d be proud to be wheeled in on a stretcher with the sheets at my midriff noticeably aloft. But nothing. However everyone is different.

Women, I have heard that taking anti-histamines can help produce heightened sensation and lead to orgasm.  This is an off-label use of these over the counter drugs and in no way am I recommending it.  But I’ve heard it works for some.  Since I don’t have female organs, I have no idea why.  I haven’t seen any Bipolar women trying to catch colds or delighted to have allergies either.

A non-medication related solution requires you to change your sexual habits.  For a man or woman with this problem, you need to set the mood.  Just don’t jump into bed.  Have a romantic dinner.  Wear provocative lingerie if you’re a woman.  If you’re a guy, take a goddamn bath.  Have a candle-light dinner.  Talk dirty.  Watch some porn.  Tease one another.  Engage in each others fetishes.  Just do things to raise the level of excitement before you move forward with actual sex.  There is something to be said for mind over matter.

Also, do not drink alcohol before sex.  Medical evidence shows that it decreases the man’s ability to get and maintain an erection and for a woman to fully lubricate and reach orgasm.  Most people know this by having learned the hard way.  If you haven’t, any college student can validate my advice.  Just coupling alcohol with psychotropics could produce negative results unrelated to sex.

The big controversial possible solution is smoking marijuana before sex.  For me it heightens my arousal, increases my sensitivity and enjoyment of  an orgasm.  Some women report increased sensitivity and stimulation as well.  However, pot isn’t like buying a prescription, even when getting it legally from a California Dispensary.  Every “grow” has a different potency no matter how accurate the growers try to be with their various strains.  Plus, different people have different tolerances.  So you have to do a lot of experimentation.  And you don’t want to get so stoned you forget you’re having sex and drift off to slumber.

Exercise is one thing I am positive helps on the sex front.  A vigorous workout gets the blood pumping through all your organs.  When I am done running I almost always have an increased libido.  Better yet, I have less trouble achieving an erection, which is actually a function of getting blood flow to my penis,  a direct result of aerobic exercise.  Furthermore, it makes my orgasm much more forceful and enjoyable.  I have heard of similar sexual benefits regarding exercise from women.  But it has to be activity that really increases and sustains your heart rate for at least a half hour.

Finally, be conscious of when you take your medication.  I found if I take mine too close to having sexual activity, I can not perform well.  But if I wait several hours I can do better.  I realize it can ruin spontaneity, but so can a soft penis or dry ejaculation.

The reason I wrote this blog is so people with bipolar Disorder experiencing these embarrassing sexual side effects from antidepressants and mood-stabilizers know they are not alone.  There are a lot of us out there who have spent years making excuses to sex partners why we can not be adequately stimulated, fully enjoy sex or even perform in the first place.  Do not give up on a solution.  This can be overcome.  It requires patience and willingness to experiment.  And the great thing about our bodies is that we can even experiment on ourselves!

If anyone ever tells you there is more to life than sex, they are right.  However sex is one of the few benefits about having a  human body.  Our bodies are constantly causing us sickness, inconveniences, ailments, embarrassing situations and in this case mental illness.  Everybody, especially people with Bipolar Disorder, deserves sexual pleasure.  It’s free, it feels great and it’s good for you.  Don’t deny yourself.  Apply yourself.

Elephant Mind Syndrome   Leave a comment

I’m recently single again after a broken engagement.  It would have been my second marriage, but it didn’t feel right.   This time I knew enough to dial it back before the Rabbi told me to break another glass.   I hadn’t really thought about what it meant to be single again, until I had my first weekend alone.  Unlike before, I was not ramping up with the dating sites and connecting them to my cell phone so I didn’t miss a possible connection.  I had practically hooked my phone to my belt last time, which is something I swore I would never do, along with wearing Dockers.

This time I am not motivated to go online.  I know if I do I’ll be crazed with generating activity and I just don’t feel like one more thing with which to be obsessed.  I decided to just meet girls the old-fashioned way; Screaming at them out of my car window waiving a six-pack of Bud and inviting them up to my place to get loaded.  I shouldn’t joke, maybe that does work.   It did in high school.

Actually, the old-fashioned way is just meeting girls through normal everyday interactions and where I socialize.  And I do see lots of women through the course of my work and in the neighborhood bars and coffee shops I frequent.  Usually I would balk at this method.  Just walking up to a woman and introducing myself was out of the question.  I had the self-confidence of a paraplegic dwarf with a twin growing out of the right side of my face, and all you can see are teeth and lips.

A good part of this was due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Having a mental disorder is always in the back of my mind.  It’s not so much that I think women can tell, it’s just that eventually if I met one sooner or later I’d have to drop the B-bomb.   Once I had a date who laid down the ground rules before I could even open the hatch under the plane.  She said she was fine with anything except guys who didn’t have jobs or had mental illnesses.   This is the kind of thing your therapist says will never happen in the real world.  Nobody would be so brazen to say such a thing.

I also recall all the things that embarrassed me throughout my Bipolar life and somehow thought every girl I spoke with automatically knows everything in my screwed up head.  I call this Elephant Mind Syndrome.  Like how as a kid I was made fun of constantly because I was horrible at sports.  Or, for years how my mom made me swim with a bathing cap so my ear plugs would not fall out.  I spent summers being relentlessly teased about being a topless girl.  Then there were my suicide attempts and stays in the psyche ward.

If I did meet someone and got past all that and was still trying to hang in there with a rap, I’d start ruminating on my medication’s side effects.  If my mouth was dry I wondered if I lisped like a deaf person.  I also worried if I had some crusted food or beverage in the corners of my mouth from the dryness.  Or, I wondered if she noticed my eyes shift slightly back and forth because of my nystagmus.  Coupled with the speech impediment and I thought the girl was ready to tell me “how wonderful it is that I am on my own and whether I lived in special needs housing or with my parents.?” Worst of all, I was afraid if I bought her a drink my shaky hands would dump it all over the bar.  I couldn’t tell if I was killing the relationship in my mind or these things were actually happening.   Eventually the pressure was too much and I’d go home to watch Lock-Up.  Cell extractions are so uplifting.

And what if by some miracle I found a girl who actually liked me?  Moreover, there was a possibility we might be getting intimate that evening?  First I’d  have to figure out what’s wrong with her.  I once brought a homeless woman to my apartment because she was wearing a business suit.  I had no idea that was all she owned.   So if I vetted her as normal,  I then had to worry about whether I’d be able to perform because of the meds I take.  Also, there’s the whole dilemma of how long can I put off taking my night-time medication which usually makes me very tired and useless as a bedfellow.

My point? When you are Bipolar, nothing is simple.  There is no such thing as going with the flow.  No matter what turn your life takes, there are a series of related anxieties.  And I recently realized if I let those Bipolar driven fears consume me, the only women I am going to meet are the nurses in the emergency room pumping my stomach.

I know a lot of Bipolar guys and girls reading this blog have had similar feelings attached to meeting the opposite sex.  Tired of losing the demolition derby before I even strap myself onto a bar stool, I will share my new approach to meeting the opposite sex;  If you see a man or woman you’d like to meet, force yourself to go up and introduce yourself.  The worst thing they can do is say “I’m not interested.”  “I’m not interested” can mean a million different things that have nothing to do with you.  Maybe they are waiting for someone, they are attached, not staying long or you could not be their type.  But I doubt they can see your lifetime of embarrassment playing like a video loop in your eyeballs or think you are mentally retarded because you have dry-mouth.  And if you really aren’t their type, so what?  There are a lot of pretty people out there that are not your type for one reason or another.

The important thing is that if you really want to meet someone, keep trying.  Practice makes perfect.  Keep challenging your fear.  I actually just started practicing with some “trainers.”  “Trainers” are women or men you are not particularly interested in but you try to strike up conversations just for practice.  That way if you embarrass yourself or say the wrong thing, it doesn’t really matter.   Consider it a pre-season game.  It doesn’t count.

Have you ever walked down the street and saw a really ugly guy with a very attractive woman and wondered how that mismatch got made ?  It’s because of self-confidence.  The guy was probably persistent and refused to accept his shortcomings as a reason not to be a desirable human being.  People with Bipolar Disorder are lucky in a way because our shortcomings are on the inside.   And, they really aren’t shortcoming at all.  For many of us our disease has made us stronger.  So if you are Bipolar and looking for your soul mate, the only way someone can see all your issues is if you tell them.  And if and when you tell them is for you to decide.

What’s Your Bag?   Leave a comment

First I take the Baggie, the same one I’ve used for at least six years, out of its hiding place in my sock drawer, and put it on my dresser.  Filled to the brim with plastic prescription bottles, they’ve punched wholes through the material greatly limiting its days of functionality.

Like Pigpen’s blanket, the thought of getting rid of it upsets me. That Zip Lock and I have come such a long way together.  The end of a marriage.  A divorce.  A year being single.  An engagement.  Now a broken engagement and I’m alone again.  Maybe the Baggie is actually bad luck?  No.  It couldn’t be.  Not my Baggie.

Next I count out all the pills I need from the various bottles.  I used to use one of those daily dose containers like the elderly, but I was too lazy to keep refilling them at the end of the week.  Then I count the pills to make sure I have the right amount.  Nine in the morning, seven at night.  I also make sure they are in the right denominations.  Two 250mg Effexor, One 100mg Lamictal and so on.

Finally I put them in my cupped hand, go to the bathroom sink, get a mouth full of water and gulp them down.  Then I inspect my hand and the surrounding area to make sure none of them went astray, slipped from my fingers or shot out a nostril.  Now I’m finally free to spend the rest of the day or evening ruminating over whether I took my pills or not and if so were they in the right quantities?

This has been the ritual for the past twenty-four years of my life.  And if I miss a “feeding” I definitely feel it.  Light headedness, trouble focusing, nausea, anxiety…

If you’re Bipolar medication can be a touchy subject.  For me it’s the only thing that stands between a life of relative normalcy and being curled up in a ball on the floor begging to be put to sleep like an animal.  I just can’t stand the depression.   The fragility of my life at times can be very unnerving.  I can’t go anywhere or do anything without my beat up Baggie of psychotropic libations designed to manipulate my dopamine and norfenefrine for the best possible reception.

Some people with Bipolar Disorder have chosen not to go the medication route for a number of reasons.  People don’t want to give up the manic highs.  Others don’t want to gain ten or twenty pounds.  There are even some who feel taking medication is an official confirmation of mental illness and they’d prefer not to wear the blue ribbon.  And in this day and age of only eating raw foods and free range massaged jicama, others do not want to introduce anything man-made into their bodies.  This includes medication that may make them less annoying individuals around mealtime.

I think all reasons for or not taking medication for Bipolar Disorder are justified.  Even if someone is very unstable, as long as they are not hurting themselves or anyone else, they should decide what to put in their bodies.  Especially when it alters their moods.

What does bother me are those with Bipolar Disorder forever searching for their capsule in a pill bottle of bright and shining armor.  They want the ultimate drug that never lets them feel sad and always exist in a perpetual state of “I can’t wipe this grin off my face.”   Maybe they had taken a drug at some point in their lives that briefly made the feel that way.  Or, they once mistook a manic cycle for a drug’s efficacy.  Whatever they felt that one time, they want it back and believe the right drug or combination thereof is out there.  They refuse to stop experimenting until they reclaim the crown of perpetual happiness which is rightfully theirs and inexplicably escaped them.    And, they snuff-out psychiatrists like spent cigarette butts until they find one willing to indulge their personal quest to find the matzoh.

We all know you can never go back home.  And people still looking for the old hood are never going to find the same satisfaction.  But as a fellow Bipolar in complete disorder, I can definitely understand the chase and why some of us can’t stop.   It’s like settling for a Casio when you once wore a Rolex.  They both tell time, but the Rolex made you feel like you weren’t really a prep cook at McDonald’s.

One time a friend came to visit me in San Francisco.  She is Bipolar as well.  I was in her hotel room as she unpacked and pulled out a similar beat up Zip Lock Baggie as I had tucked away in my sock drawer, only filled with her pills.  It made me feel really good and warm inside.  Not because we were both stuck in the same Bipolar boat.  But, because I thought about how many of us must be out there with our beaten up Zip Lock Baggies taking our psychotropic medications day in and day out each with our own little rituals.

We all may not know each other.  If we did we would probably never think to talk about it.  However it’s like coming from the same ancestral heritage.  You know as individuals with Bipolar Disorder we have certain traditions.  Jews wear Yamakas.  Hindus wear Turbans.  And Bipolars have a special bag for their pills.

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.

The Art of Being Bipolar   Leave a comment

I can’t stand opera.  I also don’t like classical music, art exhibits, ballet, musicals and anything else that requires me to sit down for long periods of time in silence and pretend to enjoy something that doesn’t personally resonate with me.   Right away I can hear every psychiatrist in unison saying “Attention Deficit Disorder,” the popular diagnosis of the decade.  But not every unpopular thought is automatically because of a mental disorder.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the talent that goes into these various forms of performance and stationary art, they just don’t move me.  And isn’t that what art is supposed to do?  I’m bored walking around museums looking at paintings and statues.  I’d rather participate in real life.  Opera grates on my nerves and upsets dogs.  The only inspiration I find from classical music is to take a nap.  I’d rather watch a dradle spin than a ballerina.  And, I find musicals very hard with which to identify.  In real life street gangs don’t break into song and dance before they spray one another with automatic gunfire.  Plus, they are usually fighting over drugs, not ‘a girl they just kissed named Maria.’

However, if you dare say this in public you are automatically labeled uneducated and a social miscreant.  But if one of the Three Bloated Tenors were to have criticized Lou Reed’s “Waiting for the Man,”  every martini sipping pseudo socialite would be clamoring to be the first one to burn you at the stake.   “Off with his head!” Or, “this poor sole must have a terrible mental disorder.  Who doesn’t love The Nutcracker?”  Maybe it’s because I’m nuts.

This type of backlash makes me wonder how many people feel the same way but are afraid of being labeled uneducated, uncouth or mentally ill because they do not fit the societal norm of loving the arts.  Of course there are plenty of people who are true partrons, but I’d put money on Picasso that a large number are just going with the flow.  Afraid of what people will say if they admit they prefer the Monkees to Mozart.

As a Bipolar person, it’s especially intimidating to speak up because anything you say going against the norm is instantly attributed to your illness.  People seem to think Bipolar Illness can suddenly make you enjoy drinking gasoline or listening to recordings of train wrecks.  It’s actually a mood disorder which affects your state of elation or depression, not your likes and dislikes.  Frankly, I think it makes us more apt to share what’s on our minds, as we feel emotions on a more intense level.  Many of the worlds greatest composers, performers and artists were or are in fact Bipolar.  It’s what gave or gives them their unique inspiration.  Bipolar is truly the disease that keeps on giving. How do those on the Bach Bandwagon reconcile that one?

And please understand, I am not criticizing or questioning the cultural value of the great works of art and music, even though I’ve seen and heard some things that make me beg to be rendered unconscious.   I appreciate their high technical value and groundbreaking use of their medium, voice or instruments.  I just don’t want to be forced to see or hear it.  Nor will I pretend to enjoy it.  Thus if asked, I will speak my mind.   I hardly think Monet would hold back on his opinion of Andy Warhol’s Banana.

Moreover, I don’t blame more people for not speaking up.  Especially Bipolar individuals who will immediately have their disdain for the classics attributed to their disease.  I guarantee not criticizing, just expressing your preferences, will create some sort of backlash by people who feel they need to stand up and voraciously prove their devotion to the arts.   I certainly don’t fault anyone for walking into that kind of firestorm.  After all, who among us wants to wear the scarlet letter?

Actually, I look pretty good in Deep Purple.  So I’ll take the hit for all of us afflicted with Bipolar Disease.  After all, it’s just Smoke on the Water.

Anti-Depressants Get You Stoned? Tweet This   Leave a comment

Thanks to my medication, I am better able to control my hypomania.  I have been diagnosed Bipolar II with rapid cycling.  This means I can go from loving life to wanting to discontinue my membership all within a half hour.   My mental state can flip back and forth all day long like a freshly caught trout lying on the deck of a fishing boat struggling in vain to get back in the water.  Eventually the depression would always win out and I’d be back to planning my demise..

But thanks to the advances in psychiatric diagnosis and medications, my lifelong struggle with Bipolar II hypomania has been reduced to a level I can control and I have not recently been scraping the red hot floor of the pit of depression.  In fact, I have amazed myself on how stable I have become in the face of some very serious adversity.  I thank modern science for saving my life.  And I can tell you at least fifty stories similar to mine.

I was looking at Twitter yesterday to make sure my book Buzzkill was not tweeted about again (why break the silence), and I see there is a tweeter professing that anti-depressants and other psychiatric drugs in that genre actually make you high, as in inebriated.  He goes on to purport a person on psychotropics can not make decisions because of their altered mental state.  I am paraphrasing.

Natasha Tracy did a great job calling out this shlomo and addressing his comments in her blog yesterday.  However, this uneducated moronic rhetoric from a self-appointed protector of society makes me crazier than I already am. It’s my bipolar duty to fully skewer this “Mr. Twitter” as Tracy has dubbed him.  And, this is for anybody else who is on the “bipolar doesn’t exist and anti-depressants are evil train” which is now probably winding through birther country looking to blow the cover off something else they know nothing about.

First of all,  psychotropic drugs can not possibly be “fun drugs.”  They don’t contain any kind of narcotic or agents to alter your senses.   If they did people would be chopping up Effexor and snorting it like Oxycontin.   Furthermore, each person requires a specific dose of anti-depressant medication based on their body chemistry, and the same drugs do not work on everyone.  Ineffectiveness means not only don’t they work, but they probably make you feel more depressed.  Worst of all, if a drug or combination thereof does work, you will probably have delightful side effects which may include sexual dysfunction, weight gain, dry mouth, shaky hands and short term memory loss, to name a few.  This is why anti-depressants have no street value either.

So please Mr. Twitter, explain to me what is fun about anti-depressants and alike?  I don’t see kids at Rave’s dropping Lamictals.  I don’t see kids stealing their dad’s Cymbaltas to catch a buzz.  Have you ever heard of a doctor over-prescribing Risperdal at 200-300 a month like some doctors do with Soma, Valium and Oxycontin?  And who would take a drug that may make you feel worse or feel better but ruin your sex life?  Believe me, you have to be extremely depressed to go down the medication route and it’s anything but fun.

Secondly, these drugs are based in science.  They work to regulate the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain.  When not in balance they create depression and or mania.   Some guy running a garage meth lab in Newark New Jersey didn’t accidentally figure this out trying to make a pound of smack.  Nor did some brainiac at Harvard School of Medicine accidentally mix two chemicals together and have a hunch they may be good for depression.  And when they were formulating Geodon, a little cocaine didn’t fall off the shelf and accidentally get mixed in with it so now everyone is under the misconception it helps with depression.

Third, anti-depressants do work.  Personally, they enabled me to have a reasonably normal life.  I wrote about my experiences in Buzzkill, “My Disorderly Struggle with Bipolar Disorder.”  And there are at least a hundred other books out there with bipolar people telling their amazing stories.  Moreover, one in five people in the general population are dealing with some sort of mental illness.  This makes for an overwhelming cadre of individuals who have been helped by these drugs.  Since Mr. Twitter has never experienced Bipolar Disease, who is he to comment on how the medications make you feel and their efficacy?

If Mr. Twitt tries to hide behind “everybody has a right to an opinion,” I’ll be the first to say “no they don’t.”  Stupid people do not have a right to an opinion.  Only people who have real knowledge on a subject have a right to an opinion.  Otherwise they are just babbling fools.  And I’m pretty sure this guy is the latter.

Finally, how can this social moron possibly make a statement like “people on anti-depressants should not be able to make decisions?”  Is it better that we make them in the throes of suicide?  Do the pills make us so deliriously happy that we might start dry-humping our neighbors?  I’ve yet to see a bipolar person on medication so impaired they make the life-threatening decision of accidentally ordering a regular Coke when they meant to order a Diet Coke with their lunch.    These medications are designed to restore your mental state to one of normalcy.  Does this mean when a person takes an aspirin they should not be able to make decisions?  Because, an aspirin will make you about as loaded as an anti-depressant.  Nothing this person says makes any sense.

I ask you, why does Mr. Twitt, and others like him, have such a vendetta against people with Bipolar Disease?  Why is it an area of such major concern to him? Did a person with Bipolar Disease, wasted out of his mind on Elavil, rob their local Seven-Eleven armed with a pill cutter and steal all of the Gatorade because he had such intense dry mouth?  And now Mr. Twitt is out to keep the world safe by ridding society of these psychotropic drugs?  Is the suicide rate not high enough for him?  Have not enough people suffered from Bipolar Disease alone and depressed?  Am I missing some sort of satisfaction that comes from making people that already have severe depression feel worse?

The problem with social forums is that naysayers can jump on and make unsubstantiated comments remaining anonymous and unaccountable.   And although I understand the nature of the technology and should be well past letting things like this stick in my crawl,  every once in a while a dingleberry like Mr. Twitter breaks through and ignites me.

But please ignore me.  I’m stoned out of my mind on Effexor, Lamictal and Topamax.  What do I know?

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.