Archive for the ‘topamax’ Tag

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?

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Short Term Memory Loss: There is a Pill for That   6 comments

I slid on my headphones, adjusted the microphone and as the song ended I hit the “on air” button.   As instructed by the program director, I gave the call letters, frequency and then back-sold the five songs I just played.  The only problem was I got through two of them and could not remember the third to save my life.  Dead air.

I fumbled for the CD cover knocking over the whole stack sitting on the console next to me.  It must have sounded like a train wreck over the air.  So I made a joke about being up too early in the morning and the weak station coffee and finally found the CD.  I finished reviewing the previous songs I played, pre-sold what was coming up next and went right into a commercial.

As soon as I hit the “off air” button I whipped off my headphones, spiked them on the floor and cursed my bipolar medications for eating my brain alive.  My show was sounding like a talking dog was behind the mike because I couldn’t remember the songs I programmed myself the evening bef0re.   I was never going to be one of the great disc jockeys when short term memory loss unexpectedly rears it’s ugly head when I’m on the air.

Although I take a cocktail of anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers to treat my bipolar II, I was pretty sure I knew the culprit…  Topamax.  Major side effects; short term memory loss and decreased appetite.  The drug is actually an anti-seizure medication and years ago was also used as a diet pill.  However, it’s off label usage is as a mood-stabilizer.  My doctor would not have even thought to prescribe it if it hadn’t worked so well for my bipolar mother, who seems to respond positively to the same medications as I.

Topamax is better know to those who take it as Dope-amax, because of its innate ability to deep fry your short term memory.  On it you can literally forget you spouse’s name for a  moment.  Or, you can easily forget the name of a well known actor in one of your favorite movies, rack you brain for days trying to remember, and then surrender your pride and finally look it up on the internet.

I often wonder if this is what the early stages of Alzheimer Disease is like?  And for all the pundits who say medications for bipolar disorder are pleasure drugs and we should not be treated with them as they are the “easy way out,”  I ask you who would intentionally take a drug that causes short term memory loss as “an easy way out?”  Ridiculous.

So if you are taking a drug like Topamax or another medication for bipolar disorder causing short term memory loss that is really helping, and you do not want to try a new drug trading off for different unknown side effects, here are some ways of coping;

The simplest thing to do is make lists. At the end of each day I quickly scribble down what I need to do the next day.  It only takes a second and you’d be amazed the next day when you realize what you probably would have forgotten.

Also, write down all appointments.  Whenever my psychologist changes appointment times with me, I always think I’ll remember.  Then I get a call at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon from my doctor asking me where I am and don’t I remember I switched times?  Of course I do, it just slipped my mind.  Write it down even if you think you won’t forget.

What I’m basically driving at is to just be a little bit more prepared when going about your daily routine.  I knew damn well when I was on the radio that I was going to have to announced the last five songs I had just played in order many times during my air shift..   What I later learned to do was line up the CD cases in front of me so I could simply rattle them off on the air.  It only took a month for my brilliant mind to figure that one out.

So, if you are taking a drug to combat bipolar disorder and short term memory loss is a side effect, there are simple ways to deal with it that only involve being a little more organized and jotting down some notes.  And if you’re in a situation where you are speaking with others and you have a brain fart from which you can not recover, there is absolutely nothing wrong with graciously saying, “I can’t remember.”  It happens to everyone, even the people who think we take medication for bipolar disorder for the incredible high.