BP Drugs Take 3: LAMICTAL

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You haven’t heard from me in a while. Mostly because I’ve been non-compliant and back in denial for a week. Went off the Seroquel on my birthday, which to be fair was actually a semi-thought out plan; I’d been tapering for about a week before that. I just couldn’t deal with the sedation and it wasn’t helping a lot.

So I saw my psychiatrist today and I told him that I wanted to try something different. He suggested either Abilify or Lamictal. I picked to try Lamictal because why not try something very different from Seroquel? Also, the Seroquel was changing my thought process…I almost felt like I was high or seeing the world through metaphoric glasses. So here goes anti-convulsants instead of atypical anti-psychotics. 🙂

I was also really attracted to Lamictal’s anti-depressant properties since that’s still my main problem.

I’m taking my first dose as soon as I get off work and get to the pharmacy. Wish me luck! I would love to know of your experiences with Lamictal (good or bad….and don’t worry I will be on the lookout for the infamous deadly rash)!

It’s My Birthday and I Can Quit My Meds If I Want To!

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Yes, it really is my Birthday!!!! I am officially 23 years old! And I did quit the Seroquel. I have been very “noncompliant” the last week by taking only 50 or 25mg of the recommended 75. Truthfully, the only reason I still took it last week was because I was afraid of withdrawal. Now I am off the meds officially! We shall see how long this lasts since when I see my counselor on Friday she will probably encourage me to call my psychiatrist asap. I have been such a good patient up until now. I just don’t think that the drowsiness goes with ME. I am already a terribly slow morning person. I know that Seroquel is supposed to be the “good guy” too, but I think I need to try something else. Maybe something with more potential side effects but that will effect my life less as I get used to it. We will see!

Seroquel Makes Me BORING!!!!

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I want to give up the Seroquel. I am tired of it sedating me. I’m just not getting enough out of it to continue with the sedation. I miss 9pm-11pm!!!! That time is now me being restricted to the house when all day I am restricted to my office. I have been skipping it some nights and others I’ve been only taking a smaller dose etc. so that if I have to take it late, I won’t miss work the next day. The sedation of the 75mg is still affecting my ability to get up in the mornings. I’m done but I can’t actually stop taking it; I’m too afraid of the withdrawal. Although at this point, I would rather have to deal with some physical withdrawal than not be able to make it into work until 1pm anymore. My tolerance for this has gone way down.

I fucking miss shenanigans. Most adventurous nights in college involved drinking a lot and seeing what transpired. While this is entertaining, what I really lived for were the random nights of spontaneity like nights my friends and I would drive an hour to the beach at midnight to have a bonfire until 3 in the morning and nights we decided to stay up all night for no reason. Now my only outlets are snowboarding, thinking up pranks to pull on my housemates, and chain smoking (infrequently but still). While that sounds awesome, it’s all within a very small box of social acceptability. I hate that.

I MADE IT!

I made it through this week and I was able to hold my own against my unpredictable Bipolar tendencies! I had a couple of late mornings, but I was able to make up the hours staying late a couple of nights, which was completely worth it! I am supposed to work 35 hours per week and I just made it to 34! Pretty good for dealing with being an unreasonable zombie! This is also the reason that I haven’t been posting anything lately! I’ve been working extremely hard on a project now, and it has been a while since I have been so enthralled and dedicated to something at work.

In other news, I am now taking 75mg of Seroquel daily (up from 50mg). My psychiatrist says it’s great that I have even been responding at all to such small doses, but that my life is not back to normal quite yet.

I will be thinking about interesting posts to write over the weekend to balance out this super dry, informative one. If you have any ideas/things you want to know about me, holler!

I just HAVE to ask……

What is your experience with Mary Jane and Bipolar disorder? My housemates and I watched The Union: The Business Behind Getting High a few nights ago. It’s a documentary about the history of Marijuana in the United States and the political and cultural atmosphere surrounding the issue of legalization.

I have been trying to live my recent life in the most natural and healthy way. I am a vegetarian, being active is a consistent part of my life, and I’m always thinking about how to simplify my actions and habits.

The documentary brought up an interesting point: Marijuana has been used as medicine for centuries, and has proven (in unpublicized studies….guess the govt didn’t like what they were saying) that the effects on health are minimal (especially compared to alcohol).

(DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a stoner. My usage and experience is limited.)

I started thinking about Seroquel and other medication used to treat bipolar disorder, and all of the effects they have on your body. It scares me. Another thing I know is that marijuana calms people down (possible help to hypomania/mania),  and it gives you a sense of calm or numbness. Waking up in the morning after smoking I feel refreshed, happy, and ready to go.

Would using marijuana, strictly for medical purposes at night and during hypomania, help treat bipolar disorder with minimal to no side effects? I really would like to know what your experiences have been and how it affects you.

If you’re interested you can watch the full documentary HERE.

Oversleeping: Simple Accident or Depression?!?

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I HATE oversleeping. But in the moment I’m lost in a dreamland that is tucked away too far from reality to care. I’d say I’m about 70% productive right now. I’m going to work, but a lot of the time it’s late and sometimes I don’t come in until 1 or 2 if I oversleep. It’s hard because I’ll have a day where I’m 90% of my normal productivity and then the next day WHAM!, the train of exhaustion and oversleeping comes out of nowhere.

What has been happening to me sporadically has been an “accident” of sorts. I wake up in the morning (feeling like P. Diddy) to my alarm and I’m still zonked out from the Seroquel. So I’m sorta like a zombie and don’t have any normal brain function yet and get back in my bed. I am a very heavy sleeper and I have really deep dreams. So soon enough I’m sucked back into a really intense, far-away dream. This cycle continues until my zombie hand turns off the alarm on accident instead of snoozing. Then I come out of a really deep sleep to my clock that says 1:00pm. Fuck.

Then the guilt hits. I’m so irresponsible. How could I let this happen again??? I try to defend myself by claiming depression, but I’m not sad. There’s just a complete lack of motivation. Last night I even got myself psyched up for work (I’ve been busy and loving it), but the motivation does not carry through in the morning. It’s like there’s a plastic bubble around my head, keeping me from thinking rationally and it takes several times of the alarm clock going off/housemates waking me up to burst. Then I can think clearly enough to be motivated. Otherwise, I’m lost.

Is it just an accident or laziness??? I can’t tell! I want to accept it as depression because I can be really hard on myself otherwise and because I really can’t just try harder. I’m like a zombie that can’t be reasoned with. I don’t know what to do.

Let me know what you think!

Dear Brain: Shut the F*ck Up

Oh how I wish I could have a few couple of grey goose screwdrivers right about now!!! This photo is interesting and probably explains why a lot of bipolar people end up abusing alcohol. It makes your brain shut up and gives you peace from the constant bombardment or pointless/obsessive thoughts.

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I am in a very interesting but torturous place. It is definitely a mixed state that will not go away. I am sitting at work right now completely ignoring my Outlook To do list and the reminders window that keeps popping up every 10 min. I am completely obsessed with thoughts of thrifting and fashion. I desperately need a black trench coat. Like right this fucking minute and I can’t stop thinking about it. ARGH.

On top of it, I’m sedated from the Seroquel. It’s not doing anything but sedating me! This makes hypomania even worse because the thoughts are the same, but I have no energy to do anything productive, so it ends up just being thoughts without action good or bad.

Also….I have started doing a very very bad thing…I have started to bid on ebay items. I cut up my credit card last week, but my pay pal still has it stored……..goddamnit I thought my spending was put on hold.

WHY CAN’T I STOP?!? I know what I should do in about 40 minutes when work ends…I SHOULD go to the gym and deal with this energy in a healthy way. But what I really WANT to do is drive to my favorite thrift store. I keep telling myself that I’ll go straight to the coats and if they don’t have it then leave and go to the gym, but I KNOW this will not happen. I’ll keep looking until I spend another $75….did I mention I’ve done this twice in the last two months? These have not been my only trips, butseriously how do you spend $75?

FUCK. And I also try to convince myself once I give in, I will be satisfied and wont want anymore. That’s a lie, a very big lie.

Hospitalization has been suggested……Sorta kinda freaking out about how real this is

My psychiatrist just called  me back after I left him a confused voice mail on Friday morning. In my appointment last week I completely minimalized my mood swings and made it seem like the 50mg of Seroquel was really helping. It’s not.

Anyways, he just suggested that I go into inpatient care to jump up my dose of Seroquel to 300mg for a few days and get over the drowsiness because the low dose is not helping, just making me sleepy, which is enabling  my melancholic depression in the mornings. He did give me another option….stay at home under the supervision of my housemates and watch movies (surely a more wallet friendly approach).

BUT he still said “hospitalization.” This shit is getting real. I have to make the decision of whether I want to take this medication thing seriously. I mean I have been taking it fucking seriously, but it’s going to another level if I take a few days off of life to seriously DO this thing. Yikes.

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POW! Fighting Back Against Morning Drowsiness

I’m tired of being tired. My most tangible “symptom” from the outside has been oversleeping and missing work in the mornings (I have mentioned this before, but my supervisor is very supportive about this as long as I keep her updated). On top of this long-standing problem, I have been on Seroquel for about a week now. One of the symptoms is drowsiness….great just what I needed! I’m not okay with not participating in the world like I should be anymore (not that I was okay with it before, but now I’ve had it).

SO HERE COME THE BIG GUNS!

1. A New Alarm Clock: One of those super obnoxious ones that starts pretty quiet then gets REALLY loud, and is plugged in across the room from my bed.  If I time it right with my cell phone alarm, they alternate which means I have to get out of bed twice if I snooze. Also…it has radio. So if I turn that on instead of snoozing then I’m awake.

2. A SAD Lamp: I don’t think I get enough sunlight in the mornings to wake me up and then I sit in an office all day.  I ordered it last week so it should arrive pretty soon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

3. Getting Rid of the Eye Mask: Yes….I am one of those people who sleep with an eye mask (and earplugs). This usually helps me get a good nights sleep without waking up when a car alarm goes off in our neighbor’s driveway. BUT since my problem is not insomnia/inability to sleep I need to lose it.

This morning my master plan worked. But we also have people in town visiting, so that makes it more exciting/worthwhile to get up in the first place.

We shall see.

Goodbye Crutches! Hello new stable self!

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Dealing with undiagnosed Bipolar II for several years has left me with a “toolbox” full of things or behaviors that keep me keeping on, but take a toll on my mental health. I have shaped my actions and habits around my jagged-edged life and used many unhealthy things as crutches to hide or “help” myself. The following is a list of my “crutches.” Since I started taking an atypical anti-psychotic last night, these are also things I am giving up long term.

1. Alcohol: I love greyhounds, I love tequila shots, and there is nothing like a Stella in one of those fancy glasses straight from the tap. But to be truthful with myself, I have to admit that I love these things for much more than the taste.

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Drinking has helped me many times to act “normal” when I feel anything but normal. When I was can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed as a freshman in college, my only other activity was partying. It was definitely a contributing factor for my depressed state, but in the moment, it always made me feel like a normal college freshman. It created a sense of solidarity between my dorm-mates and myself when, in reality, I was have an atypical year filled with failure and depression. It also made me happy, or at least numb.

I still use alcohol in this way. Whenever I’m a little too hyped up after work (hypomania) and can’t stop doing things (if I do I’ll be boring or lame), I am in the habit oftrying to calm myself down with a beer or screwdriver. This typically stops me from becoming hyperactive in activity, but just makes me obnoxious, loud, and overly talkative.

Using alcohol during Mania is another thing entirely. But when I get the urge to drink heavily (it’s almost like a need), it is almost always a sign of mania. The other night when I was feeling particularly rebellious and hell-bent of getting fucked up I ended up walking around downtown by myself, dodging my roommates phone calls (we had gone out together and I had flat out disappeared), and went to the sketchiest bar in town by myself. This might not seem too serious of an issue to you, BUT I live in a very bad part of town.

2. Coffee: I F*CKING LOVE SOY AMERICANOS! Giving up this one is going to be tough. But then again….I really have to admit to myself that it’s not just the taste. It’s the “happy” and warmness that comes 4 sips in.

My friend Frank actually made this photo when I was at my worst in caffeine addiction.

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It got to the point in college that I could drink a Venti Starbucks coffee and fall asleep. Oh, and then I moved on to the anhydrous caffeine pills. I am very thankful that I did not have any heart problems during this period.

3. Late-Night Adventures: The Seroquel is definitely going to make this and easy one to follow due to the extreme drowsiness.

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In college my friends and I would frequent the 24 hour doughnut shop and make spur-of-the-moment 3am trips to the beach to bonfire. I would also use staying up late to trigger adrenaline to do last-minute papers and projects. Now that I’m in the “real-world” my sleep schedule is 90% more stable than it was in college. Still, now and again I’ll stay up until 3am reading a novel when I have to go to work the next morning.