I’ll Take Goat Shit Pills If I Have To!

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Yes, here’s the uncensored Dyane in all her glory.  Most likely I’ll have some readers unfollow my blog, and maybe even an unfriending or two on Facebook as a result of this slightly profane post, but I’m starting to understand that I need to write my truth as long as I’m not being vindictive.  This post is most definitely my truth, and today I’m writing what I am most passionate about besides my family.

This morning I let my potty mouth loose after watching an extended eight-minute-long preview of a documentary film called “Crazywise”.

This documentary’s two filmmakers explain that they are comparing cultures and how each culture regards mental illness, which is fascinating to me.  I was very interested in their portrayal of several tribes which contain people who would be perceived as mentally ill in the United States.  But when the filmmakers showed glimpses of their interviews with American anti-psychiatric medication “gurus”; public figures I had closely studied when I decided to taper off my bipolar meds, my stomach turned.

Two of the subjects they featured in this preview unexpectedly triggered me big-time.  The first person was the author/lecturer Robert Whitaker, whose bestselling book Anatomy of An Epidemic (specifically his chapter on bipolar disorder) affected me profoundly. Whitaker’s book was one of several factors that influenced me to start tapering off my bipolar medications, which first caused acute mania and then I became acutely suicidal and required three weeks of hospitalization just a year ago.

Now, before I go any further, I know it’s not fair to blame an author or a book or a premise for almost killing me.  I want to be very clear that I’m not doing that.

However, if one is on the fence about taking bipolar psychiatric medications and reads Robert Whitaker’s work, specifically the bipolar chapter, his book is extremely convincing at making it seem like taking medications is not the way to go!  I was so hopeless and weary when I read that book.  I was ripe and vulnerable.  I honestly don’t know what exactly were his intentions with his book – it’s confusing to me given his smooth sound bites in the preview. I like to think that I’m not stupid or easily swayed by Whitaker and other so-called experts.  I’m just being honest with you because that’s what you, as my valued reader, deserve at the end of the day.

Another subject featured in this film is Will Hall, a famous personage in the anti-psych-med movement.  I was in touch with Hall at one point through his website, and he offers a free PDF “Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal”.   While I know he has a good heart, seeing his face in the preview basically made me want to barf.

I had tried so many fucking psychiatric medications year after year to no avail.  Two rounds of unilateral and bilateral ECT.  Seven, yes, seven hospitalizations, which still sickens me whenever I think of it.  It astounds me that no psychiatrist I saw since 2007 thought to mention the one, old-school MAOI medication called Parnate/tranylcypromine (known as the “last resort medication” for bipolar depression) that would ultimately restore me to a good quality of life and lift my bipolar depression when taken in tandem with lithium.  (Combining the two – an MAOI and lithium – is key according to two very impressive studies I located on the internet.  They were done in the 1970’s, but their findings are still valid as far as I’m concerned, since it worked so miraculously for me 100%!)

When I started considering tapering off bipolar medication, if I had found a book that spoke to my trepidations, who knows – maybe it might have made a difference.  If I had encountered a story that documented a mother’s journey with bipolar disorder who was considering going the “alternative, natural” route but experienced total disaster despite consulting experts from around the world, who knows – maybe I would have paused. I would have, at the very least, interviewed such a mother.  And, most importantly, I would have found out what did work for her.

If I can help ONE person not experience the hellhole that I did when I slowly, meticulously tapered off bipolar medication by writing my book about what happened to me, it will be worth it.

I know there are so many people living with bipolar disorder who are suffering…I know what it’s like.  I know that 99% of of them would try any medication that could truly help them. I now know that I’ll take any Big Pharma or Little Pharma, patented or generic medication for my mental illness (and it IS a mental illness at least for me – my bipolar disorder ain’t no sublime, bewitching psychic revelation!) as long as it helps me.

I’m willing to deal with the side effects.  I’ll take goat shit pills if I have to.  I’m not going to demonize meds ever again.  I’ll watch the entire “Crazywise” film when its released and if (as I suspect) they glamorize the anti-medication movement, you’ll be seeing me speak out actively against this film, as much as an indie film lover I am, because that’s just not cool.   There are too many vulnerable, desperate people with bipolar out there willing to believe in the Kool Aide promises.  After the war I’ve been through with bipolar disorder, (and yes, I consider it a war and I have PTSD from it – my counselor agrees with this) I’m no longer a milquetoast.

To watch the “Crazywise” preview

I wrote the following comment in response to the Crazywise YouTube clip – I just went off and as you’ll see, I didn’t edit it- I was too angry at the time….

I just watched this preview and feel compelled to write this comment. After reading “Anatomy of an Epidemic” (the author is interviewed in this doc: Robert Whitaker) I went the no-meds route, I corresponded with Will Hall, Peter Lehmann, read Dr. Peter Breggin (anti-meds shrink), you name it , I read it etc. etc. Meds got my life back after I almost died. Tapering slowly off meds almost killed me. I won’t be living in a Shamanic culture anytime soon. These are all nice, smooth sound bites and I want to see this film, but I can tell you that it is not all black or white. My two little girls don’t care if Mommy takes pills as long as she’s alive to be with them. I love my lithium and no one is making a whole lotta money off me, I guarantee it.

 

The Power of One Pill

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Pills.  Ah, pills.  “Pill” is such an innocuous-sounding word, but anyone with bipolar disorder who takes medication knows that pills are anything but harmless.  However, unless you depend on medications to keep you stable, and unless you’ve experienced a med horror story, it’s hard to understand why someone highly sensitive to meds would TOTALLY freak out at missing just one dose.

(***Trigger Alert: suicidal ideation***)

Over the past year I’ve become used to taking my MAOI med Parnate (tranylcypromine) three times a day.  That hasn’t been a big deal – I’m incredibly grateful for it since this drug brought me out of bipolar depression when twenty other meds did not.

But as ridiculous as this may sound, refilling my Parnate has been problematic. Here’s a little backstory…please forgive me for it being tedious!  It’s difficult for me to spice up the topic of medication!

When I first started taking Parnate, my psychiatrist wasn’t willing to arrange refills.  His rationale, which he explained to me rather apologetically, was that he wanted to keep close tabs on me.  While I was frustrated with his philosophy (and I told him so!) I understood where he was coming from.  Eventually I asked him to arrange refills and he complied with my request, which was great.

Last week I noticed my bottle of Parnate was getting on the low side and I called Costco to refill it. (Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask if their pharmacy offers an “auto-refill notification” system so I could be contacted when my medication was ready.  CVS has an auto-refill system that I use with my lithium, and it’s awesome.) In any case, I thought I would be able to get my Parnate without missing a dose.

I forgot that a holiday was coming up, Memorial Day, and that the Costco pharmacy would be closed exactly when I needed to pick up my medication.  That meant that I was going to miss at least one dose, which sent me into a panic.  I was furious with myself because it was my fault for what happened!  Furthermore, I was also mad because I hadn’t thought to ask my doctor if he could prescribe me a few extra “emergency pills” in case this kind of situation happened.  (BIG DUH!)

My husband Craig was in the same room when I flipped out about my error.  We’ve been together for sixteen years and this poor man stood by my side after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  He has been to hell and back in helping me with all my emergencies, care taking, my seven hospitalizations, you name it.

As I threw my tizzy fit, he casually said, “Don’t worry about it.”

What?” I screeched, just shy of a yell since the kids were outside.

Then I angrily muttered,”You’d probably feel differently about it if you were hospitalized seven times in the nuthouse!”

I could sense the hairs on his arms raise in aggravation.  He said nothing and walked away.

At that point I knew I needed to calm down, so I tried thinking rational, soothing thoughts such as:

“You won’t go off the deep end just for missing a dose!” and:

“It’ll all work out!” and even:

“Let go and let God!”

Lo and behold, my mood actually started to level out.  I released my anxious fears because there was absolutely nothing I could do short of robbing Costco.

I felt contrite for blowing up at Craig, and I tracked him down.  I told him I was sorry; luckily he accepted my apology and gave me a hug.  I know he’s burned out from having heard about my medication woes for so many years.  Anyone, even Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama, would be tired from my numerous complaints, emergencies, and years of seemingly never-ending depression.

While I blame myself for not creating a good medication refill system, I do give myself a break regarding my feelings about missing doses.  I give myself another break for how powerful a pill can affect my system.  The following tale is why I’m letting myself off the hook for my tantrum one last time.

One, itsy, bitsy psychiatric pill made me suicidal.

My former psychiatrist prescribed me an antidepressant medication called Elavil (amitriptyline) and after I filled the script, I took my first pill. Literally two hours later I wanted to hang myself with my bathrobe belt and Craig, thank God, was home.

I told him I felt suicidal and he rushed me to the hospital. There is no way that anything else but that pill that made me feel that way.  I know the subject is so morbid to think about, but up to that very afternoon I knew that if I would ever actually take my own life, I would *never* use that horrific method.  I think that my brain played tricks on me, triggered by the medication, because someone I had cared about had hung himself just a month before that awful day.  I suspect my brain synapses wanted to do a copycat action in reaction to the medication. Who knows? Again, thank God Craig was home.

Because of what happened with Elavil, I’ll never underestimate the potential consequences of missing a single pill or taking a single pill.  I’m paranoid, yes, but now don’t you understand why I feel that way?

So there you have it.  “What’s the point of this post?” you may be thinking.  (I know that’s what I would think!) Well, if you have bipolar disorder and take medication, I implore you, don’t wind up like me.  See if you can arrange an auto-refill system with your pharmacist.  I know CVS does it and I’m going to call Costco to see if they offer the same program.  I’m also going to check in with Dr. D. about having an emergency supply of Parnate – at least a few days worth.  I’ve been wisely advised in this comment section by Rob to buy a weekly pill dispenser to give me more notice when I’m getting low on meds. (Thanks Rob!)

I do make a point of carrying an extra dose of Parnate in my purse in case I find myself away from the house unexpectedly for a chunk of time. These are all little things that can make such a big difference in my peace of mind, and yours.  Take care and may all your script refills go as smooth as silk! 😉

 

imgrescat pills(Hope this cat photo doesn’t offend you – I thought the expression was hilarious!!) 😉