Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Well, I've had it with Abilify (vilify).  It makes me fat and bloated, and gives me such terrible night sweats that I rarely get more than four hours of sleep before the bedclothes and mattress are soaked.  So, what's a bipolar girl to do?  I'm taking myself off of it. Mostly, so I can get a decent night's sleep.

Now, I'm a little nervous about this.  I first began taking Abilify (vilify) about three years ago on an "as needed" basis.  And that worked just fine.  My doc (at the time) prescribed that when I felt a depressive swing coming on I was to pop an Abilify (vilify) each day for a couple of days so as to keep the trough from becoming too low.

And it worked, for a while.  Then, a big depression hit me, and a simple few days of Abilify (vilify) didn't do the trick.  I took a dose each day for a few days, but then the depression persisted.  I tried this over and over and finally gave in and began taking it every day.  This was three months ago and I've been taking it daily ever since.  And I hate it.

So, this should be an easy issue to resolve, right?  I should simply go to my psychiatrist and explain the problem and start working with her on a med adjustment.  The only problem is that I don't currently have a psychiatrist.  I'm unemployed.  I get my meds from a non-profit clinic and don't have the funds to see a psychiatrist (talk about walking a treacherous line).  So, I'm on my own, and this scares me.

I've been searching the internet for various information regarding self-weaning and each and every article starts with something like, "The first step is to consult your doctor before discontuing Abilify" (vilify).  Great, well, I already knew that.  So, first step avoided, on to the next step.

eHow tells me that in Step 2, "The tapering should be done over the course of weeks--not days--and you should proceed as slowly and cautiously as you possibly can. Quitting the medicine cold turkey will cause psychosis and will alter your emotional state drastically. You may shake, be fearful, faint, suffer worsening psychosis or suffer a nervous breakdown by trying to wean yourself off of Abilify all at once or too quickly."

Wonderful.  Well, I already knew that, too.

Step 3 tells me, "Slowly begin to decrease the amount of Abilify you take. It may be better if you taper off your dosage every week. It is possible to taper down your dosages over the course of a few days, but generally this is not a safe process and withdrawal symptoms may be severe."

Check, I already knew that as well.

In Step 4 I'm advised that, "Once you have weaned yourself, you may begin taking new medicine to alleviate symptoms of your disorder. It is crucial that you do not start taking Abilify again.

Uh, does that mean I shouldn't go back to the regular routine of taking it as needed?  Crap, wish I could afford a psychiatrist.  OK, hmmmm, I guess I'll move forward . . .

Step 5:  "Do not be surprised if withdrawal symptoms continue even after you are no longer taking Abilify. General withdrawal symptoms include difficulty in thinking, concentrating and conversing; suicidal thoughts; emotional instability; shaking; mild to severe anxiety; panic attacks and changes in abstract thinking processes."

Gee, sounds like I run the risk of being bipolar.  Whatever.

So, my friends, I'm going to start by taking a half dose daily for a week (if I can manage to get those nasty little pills cut into halves), and then move on to taking a half dose every other day for two weeks, and then stop.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Over the last few months I've been experience nights sweats.  And these sweats are major.  They're full-blown soak the sheets, blanket and pillow case sweats.  When they wake me up I can feel droplets of sweat dripping down my back.  It feels like bugs crawling on my skin.  I've had to change the sheets many nights because there was simply not a square inch of the bed that was dry.

This goes beyond annoying, it disrupts my sleep--what precious bit of it I can get, thank you ever so much agitation and hypomania.

So, I've decided to hunt around and see if people with bipolar disorder have a higher incidence of night sweats.  I did a lot of searching on the internet and really didn't find any reports of the disorder causing night sweats.  But, I did find a lot of reports of common medications used to treat bipolar disorder as causing night sweats.

One report I found was particularly informative.  eHealthMe.com conducted a study of night sweats experienced by people with bipolar disorder.  The results were based on data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The data showed that 62.54% of the subjects studied were women (and thus, 35.48% men).  And, the highest incidence occurred in people between 40 and 49 years of age (43.86%.  22.81% for the 30-39 group; 17.54% for the 50-59 group; 10.53% for the 60+ group).

What was interesting to me was the link between night sweats and medications.  Here's a list of the medications and the percentage of night-sweaters using them.

Lamictal -- 37.93%
Seroquel -- 32.76%
Depakote -- 25.86%
Aspirin -- 13.79%
Geodon -- 13.79%
Abilify -- 13.79%
Zyprexa -- 12.07%
Klonopin -- 12.07%
Zoloft -- 10.34%
Risperdal -- 10.34%

Well, that suggests something about my particular situation.  I've taken Cymbalta and Lamictal for years, and would take Abilify when I was able to sense depression coming on.  For the past few months, though, I've had to adjust my meds and have been taking the Abilify daily.  Hmmmmm, interesting.  I think I've found the culprit.  Apparently, for me, the Lamictal doesn't cause the sweats, but the combination of Abilify and Lamictal does.

Well, I can't exactly go off of the Abilify, so I guess I'll just have to sweat it out.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Up Half the Night Redux

Again, I find myself sleepless.  Am I entering a hypomania?  I always ask myself that question when this happens.  Preparing for the ride.  But now that I'm on meds, the ride's not that fun anymore.  It's just annoying.

Used to be a hypomania was wonderful.  I got things done! My house was always spotless and scrubbed! I could work on multiple projects at one time -- and finish them!  I exercised!  I cooked!  I was the smartest person on the face of the earth and I had sooo many ideas!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I'm stabilized.  Stabilization means that I don't have to drop into the "Big Bad."  The endless weeks of pain, despair and inertia.  I'm glad for the stabilization from that perspective.

Now, however, when I'm sleepless I have motivation for nothing other than sitting on my butt, chain smoking, and watching TV.  And let me tell you about mid-night television.  It sucks.

This is what my choices are tonight:  Sexy Adult Toy Shopping; Inspiration Today Camp Meeting; Dr. Phil reruns; Color Splash Watches: May Day Hot for Summer Event; Smooth Legs for Summer; Total Gym for $14.99; Miracle-Ear; Want More Sex?; Big Buying Secrets; Steam Clean for a Healthy Home; World's Best Blender; Fashion Star Beauty by Maybelline NY; Travel Tips and Hotspots; Shepherd's Chapel; Health Inspectors; Sexy Abs; World's Wildest Police Videos; Look Younger Instantly . . . you get the idea.

I finally do find something to watch -- stand up comedy, which I like.  But even that is painful.  The commercials come every five minutes.  In the last half hour I've been urged to purchase: We Are 18 Phone Sex; T-Mobile; Bookings.com; Progressive Insurance; RockAuto.com; DishTV; Durex condoms; Sonic Chicken Club sandwiches; Rhapsody.com; Factory Direct Diamonds; a Buick Concord; Old Spice; Allegra; BigSpot.com; Act Dry Mouth mouthwash; more T-Mobile; 5-Hour Energy; CreditKarma.com; Trivago.com hotel booking;emeralds from The Jewelry Exchange; more Durex condoms; Geico insurance; Xenadrine Weight Loss; Stamps.com; Hulu Plus; Enzyte 24/7 Male Peak Performance; and Adam and Eve adult "entertainment products."

Looks like I need to start subscribing to premium channel cable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Up Half the Night

I've been sleeping pretty well lately, but this morning I was up and wide awake at 3:15.  So, I spent my time chain smoking and listening to YouTube.  I found myself really interested in Les Paul and the various musicians who play the Gibson Les Paul guitar. 

For those of you who don't know (and please forgive me, I'm pretty much cutting and pasting this from Wikipedia), Les Paul was an American jazz, country and blues guitarist, songwriter, and inventor. He was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, which made the sound of rock and roll possible. He is credited with many recording innovations. Although he was not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with overdubbing (also known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording were among the first to attract widespread attention.

His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day. He recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records.

Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an "architect" and a "key inductee" along with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed.

The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar that was first sold in 1952. The Les Paul was designed by Ted McCarty in collaboration with popular guitarist Les Paul, whom Gibson enlisted to endorse the new model. It is one of the most well-known electric guitar types in the world.
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most recognizable guitars of all-time and the artists who brandish it seem to transcend age, era, gender and genre. From heavy metal enthusiasts to indie rock icons to reggae superstars, it seems like nearly every musical legend has strapped on a Les Paul at some point to take advantage of its signature sound.
Here are YouTube links to some of the music I found by musicians playing the Les Paul.

Les Paul playing Sleep Walk 

Duane Allman used a 1957 Les Paul Goldtop with PAF pickups, a 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul, a 1958 tobacco sunburst Les Paul and a 1968 cherry SG which he used for slide guitar. 

All of the guitarists of the Rolling Stones (Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood, and Brian Jones) played (and still play) Gibson guitars, including Les Paul models. 
The American blues musician who is considered the "father of modern Chicago blues," Muddy Waters was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s and is ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Muddy Waters used a Les Paul Goldtop in his early career. 

B.B. King has used many different Gibson models, including an ES-5 and an ES-175 early in his career; later he began using thinline semi-acoustic models such as an ES-330, ES-335 and ES-345. King's Signature ES-355, nicknamed Lucille, has been his main guitar for many years. 

Mick Ralphs used a Les Paul Junior, a Firebird and a Les Paul during his Mott the Hoople tenure; and a Les Paul Standard and a Flying V during his years with Bad Company. Although being a British band, Bad Company had more success in the United States than in the United Kingdom. Four of their albums were certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry, while another four other albums were certified Multi-Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. 

 Eddie Van Halen has used a Les Paul, an ES-335 and a 1958 Flying V. 

 Joe Walsh uses a Les Paul Standard and an EDS-1275. Walsh was known for "hot-wiring" the pickups on these guitars to create his trademark "attack" sound 

Another Gibson guitar player, George Thorogood's Move It On Over is the second album by George Thorogood & The Destroyers released by Rounder Records in 1978. The album contains no original material. Its title track received major FM radio airplay when released, as did the Bo Diddley cover, "Who Do You Love?" 

Mark Knopfler is known for playing a 1979 Gibson Les Paul Standard Reissue '59 on the Dire Straits song 'Money for nothing'. He also owns a 1985 Gibson Les Paul Standard Reissue '59, Sunburst. This customshop model has got his birthdate (12849) as the serialnumber. He also plays other Gibson models like a 'super 400', an 'es 175' and a 'Chet Atkins. 

Albert King was a left-handed "upside-down/backwards" guitarist: he usually played a Flying V flipped over upside-down so the low E string was on the bottom. 
The Les Paul guitar is produced by Gibson. Another signature guitar produced by Gibson is the Duane Eddy Signature Model. 

 Jeff Beck purchased his first Les Paul, a 1959 model, for £150 while still a member of The Yardbirds. Beck's fascination with the guitar sprang as much from his interest in Les Paul, the man, as from his love of the guitar itself. Beck told an interviewer: "It had a deep powerful sound and you could use it to imitate just about anything - violin, sax, cello, even a sitar." Beck also used an "oxblood" colored 1954 Les Paul Standard, with PAF pickups, from 1972 to 1976 and is pictured with the guitar on the cover artwork of his Blow by Blow album. 

Les Paul and his Wife, Mary Ford 

Hope you enjoyed this varied collection and found something you like.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Keeping Good Company

It's sad but true, Bipolar Disorder is still stigmatized in 21st century society.  I suspect that there's only a small percentage of us with the disorder that are willing to "come out."  And, I can't imagine anyone admitting to having bipolar as a disability on a job application.

However, there is an amazing number of famous and influential people with bipolar order, many of whom have openly discussed their illness.  I'm going to make this post short today and simply provide a list.  You may already be aware of some of these people as having bipolar disorder, yet you may be surprised by some of the others.  I'm definitely keeping in good company!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- One of the most prolific and influential composers of the Classical era.
A child prodigy, Mozart is know for his brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. He composed over 600 works, many of them regarded as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic and choral music.  His influence on subsequent Western music is profound.

Winston Churchill -- British politician who lead the United Kingdom through World War II.  He is regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century.  He served as British Prime Minister twice, 1940-45 and 1951-55.  

Napoleon Bonaparte -- French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French  from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic Code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars.  He established hegemony over most of continental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchy, which restored aspects of the deposed Ancient Regime.  Due to his success in these wars, often against numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, and his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide.

Isaac Newton -- English physicist and mathematician.  Regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time.  His book PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of the infinitesimal calculus. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the cosmos. Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of color based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colous of the visible spectrum.

Ludwig von Beethoven -- German composer and pianist.  Considered one of the most influential of all composers.   Beethoven was a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic periods in Western music.  His best known compositions include nine symphonies, five concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas and 16 string quartets.  He also composed other chamber music, choral works (including the celebrated Missa Solemnis.

Jean-Claude van Damme -- Belgian martial artist, actor and director best known for his martial arts action films.  After studying martial arts intensively from the age of ten, Van Damme achieved national success in Belgium as a martial artist and bodybuilder, earning the "Mr. Belgium" bodybuilding title.

Abraham Lincoln-- The 16th President of the United States. Lincoln led the U.S. through its greatest constitutional, military, and moral crisis, the American Civil War.  He is responsible for preserving the Union,  abolishing slavery, strengthening the national government and modernizing the economy.

Edgar Allan Poe -- American author, poet, editor and literary critic.  He is best known for writing in the mystery and macabre genres.  Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the  emergence of the science fiction genre.

Ralph Waldo Emerson -- American essayist, lecturer, and poet.  He led the Transcendentatalist  movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society.  He disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Buzz Aldrin -- American astronaut and the second person to walk on the Moon.  He was the lunar module pilot on NASA's Apollo II, the first manned lunar landing in history.

Mark Twain (Samual Longhorne Clemens) -- American author and humorist.  He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has often been referred to as the Great American Novel. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

Patrick Joseph Kennedy -- Former U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district.  He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Jane Pauley -- American television anchor and journalist, who began news reporting in 1975. She is best known for her 13-year tenure on NBC's Today program, followed by 12 years as co-host of Dateline NBC.  Jane Pauley has also been publicly open about her life living with bipolar disorder.

Agatha Christie -- British auther of crime novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote six romance novels  under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott.  She is best known for the 66 detective novels and more than 15 short story collections she wrote under her own name.  She also wrote the world's longest-running play The Mousetrap.  

Ted Turner -- American media mogul.  As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network, CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable TV.  As a philanthropist, he is known for his $1 billion gift to support the United Nations.
Charles Dickens -- English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.  During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.

Abbie Hoffman -- American political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Party (Yippies).  A member of the Chicago Eight, Hoffman was arrested and tried for consipiracy and inciting to riot as a result of his role in protests that led to violent confrontations with police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Hoffman came to prominence in the 1960s, and continued practicing his activism in the 1970s, and has remained a symbol of the youth rebellion of that era.  

Florence Nightengale -- English social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing.  She came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night. Early 21st century Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas' Hospital in London.  It was the first secular nursing school in the world.  The Nightengale Pledge,  taken by new nurses, was named in her honor.  Her social reforms include improving healthcare for all sections of British society; improving healthcare and advocating for better hunger relief in India; helping to abolish laws regulating prostitution that were overly harsh to women; and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

Nina Simone -- American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist.  Over the length of her career Simone recorded more than 40 albums, debuting in 1958 with Little Girl Blue. Simone's music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the United States.

Gene Tierney -- American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as one of the great beauties of her day, she is best remembered for her performance in the title role of Laura (1944) and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Actress in Leave Her Heaven (1945).

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Hello Hello Hello!
I've been "off the air" for a while.  I had a big downcycle and anyone that's familiar with bipolar knows what happens then.  Nothing.  Not. A. Thing.  But the meds are readjusted and I'm glad to be back.

I've been reconnecting with some old friends on Facebook lately, and sharing with some of them my experiences as bipolar.  It's still scary to talk about it.  I'm always afraid of the reaction I might get.  One of my friends, who has a physical debilitation,  shared this with me:

When I first read it I thought, "yeah, those are some pretty crappy things to say to someone who's sick."  Then, I realized that I've heard ALL of those statements in response to my "coming out" as bipolar.  The most disappointing came from a friend I've known since elementary school who has become an MD.  He said to me, "well, we're all a little bipolar in one way or another."  I was really surprised that someone who practices medicine would be so dismissive. 

But, I've found that nearly everyone else has been accepting.  I've had a few people ask a lot of questions, and with genuine interest.  I've had some friends say, "Oh!  Is that why you're so weird sometimes?  Whatever!  What are we going to do this weekend?"  And, I have some friends that suffer from similar disorders and we've swapped stories. 

The hardest time I've had lately is with school.  I was in a bad depression for a month and could barely get out of bed, nevermind take a shower, get dressed and drive to class.  Two of my classes are online/attendance not mandatory.  But, for the third class I really need to be present twice a week for lecture.  I had to tell my professor what was happening with me.  I was so self-conscious and embarrassed.  But he took it in stride, gave me the assignments via email and, most importantly, graded me fairly -- no special favors.

My parents have been the best.  They watch me go up and down and give me the right amount of a nudge when I need it and leave me alone when I need to be alone.  And I love it when they laugh at me when I'm in an upcycle.  Here's Mom, "hmmm, feeling a little extra wound up this week, aren't you!  You were really funny on the phone yesterday!"

My parents have taken an active interest in learning more about bipolar disorder by reading books, talking with some of their health care providers, searching on the web, and even reading my blog!  (Hi Mom!  Hi Dad!).  There are not enough words to express how lucky I am to have such wonderful people as my parents.

I do still become anxious when I tell people I'm bipolar.  I'm still  very selective about who I'm going to share my information with.  But when I do talk about it with those friends, I realize that doing so is liberating.  I no longer have a "secret." 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Just Do It

Throughout December I was knocking myself out making decorations for the house in time for Christmas dinner, which I was hosting.  I went overboard and ended up going through no-sleep binges for days at a time and neglecting housework and self-care.  I would sit and craft and smoke.  Make a fold in a paper, take a hit off of the cigarette.  Glue two ends together, take a hit off of the cigarette.

Eventually, I ended up just sitting in a chair, chain smoking, and watching television.  It was bad.  But then I had "the snap."

The snap happens at any time and with no warning.  The snap not only prompts positive thinking and behavior, but it can also prompt deep depression.  It's unpredictable and undefinable.

Fortunately, this particular snap prompted me to get out of the chair, start cleaning the house, and taking better care of myself.

And, this snap occurred shortly after New Year's Day.  January 4 to be precise.  Now, I don't want the snap to backlash, so I'm taking it easy.  I'm particularly aware of how the snap could lead me to create a giant list of New Year's resolutions, many of which would be unrealistic and unattainable, and thereby spark a downward spiral.

So, I'm not making a list of resolutions, and I'm not setting giant goals.  I'm simply "doing it."  Deep down I know how to treat myself, I know what keeps me balanced, and I know what keeps me out of the troughs.  So I'm doing those things.  I'm cleaning the house -- a little at a time, not in one 48 hour binge; I'm eating well -- a little at a time, not in a supersonic clean-out the fridge and speed to the grocery to buy out all of the produce; I'm exercising -- not plunging into a full 90 minute sessions five-days a week aerobic binges that will end in injury, but rather a little at a time.  And, I'm still making craft and art -- but not with any deadline or grandiose goals in mind, just enough to keep me satisfied and confident.

It all boils down to self-monitoring, which I go through periods of being loathe to do -- I feel so sorry for myself!  Why do I have to watch my moods?  Why do I have to be extra careful about overdoing anything?  Why do I have to have this disorder?  Waaaaaahhhh. 

Stop it.  The answer is because, just because.  My father rallied against any complaint of "it's not fair," with "fair has nothing to do with it."  I hated that to the point that I learned to substitute any number of words into my complaints:  "It's not reasonable," "it's not just," "It's not necessary," "It's not correct."  And on and on and on.

Now, however, I try to accept the "fair has nothing to do with it" philosophy.  It's a fact, it's the truth, it's the way of the world, it's certainly the way of having bipolar disorder.  Fair really doesn't have anything to do with it.  And so, "just do it."  I'm going to "just do it," because if I don't, nothing else will.

And that, is the fairest thing of all.