Monday, February 18, 2013

Amitriptyline - A Day In The Life

I took some pills today, oh, boy
They'd been prescribed for me by my new doc
And though they were to help me sleep
Well I just stayed awake
Got raisin cookies baked

I really shouldn't drive my car
I barely notice when the exits change
And then the cops will hunt me down
But its not really hard
Then I go and tell them that I'm really just a bi-polar!

I saw the Judge today, oh boy
He asked me when's the last nap that I took
I told him late Two Thousand Five
He told me take some pills
That will cure your ills

I'd love to tell you off...

Woke up, had fuzzy head
Another day of partial dread
Found my way to the bath and got release
The pain had ceased, first task to make the bed
Kissed my pills and took my wife
The brain lesions now are rife
Found my way to the couch and had a doze
And the doc he knows that I really hate to dream

I saw my doc today, oh boy
It seems that I don't have MS at all
It might just be its some thing new
They don't know what to do
Haven't got a clue

I'd love to tell them off...

To the tune of  "A Day In The Life" (Lennon/McCartney 1967)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to solve depression in fifteen minutes

Simple.  Go walk up on a stage somewhere by yourself and turn toward the audience.  There are all those eager faces waiting to be entertained, and you promised, long before the depression kicked in, to do this.  So here you are.  Do something. Nobody knows or cares all that much about your problems.

So I looked down at the three sheets of paper that I'd brought with me.  It was a short story about a relationship I'd had in my college days which seems a very long time ago.  In fact, this year would be the 35th annual reunion of my graduating class. I'm not going, but I'll assume they'll still have the party.

Now of course one of the diseases would show up, and this time I had trouble swallowing as I was reading, plus dry mouth.  But I read my story.  And the diseases, while mentioned in the story, never got to mess with me after that, much to their chagrin.

This story is three pages long and has an arc of nearly 35 years as well, from my college days to the present time.  My parents, the women in my life, my wife, and the girlfriend of the 70's are all in it, and that a lot of ground to cover in about 1000 words, which is what the curator at the Troy Arts Center requested from the six of us reading.  Lots of editing.

And then reading in front of people I did not know, except Jackie of course.  But it went well.  They laughed where I hoped they would and were silent when I hoped, also.  Picked up nice compliments.

I think it helped the depression because for those minutes I was only concerned that the audience enjoyed the performance.  For those minutes the depression was locked away in his normal closet, and a little manic took the stage along with me.  Boy that was nice.  I'm having a pretty good day today, but it would better if I could read one of my stories for you, and hope you like it.

You see, we are concerned with others. Bipolar disorder is a very selfish disease, I've always thought.  If we're manic, we are excited about great we are and all the things we can accomplish (we = just me).  When depression hits, we are concerned about how miserable we feel (we = just me) and why the world can't be fixed so that I would not feel so bad, or I could be fixed so that I would not feel so bad. But even with this, the disease is not your fault, nor mine, and anyone who tells you different needs to be removed from your life. Pronto.

A little therapy and the proper drugs (if needed and taken properly) can help adjust the world so that we can start looking back out at it and tell our stories. You all have them.  Good and bad, everyone has a story and, believe it or not, there are plenty that want to hear it.  Get ready and start talking.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Please welcome my next drug - Amitriptyline!

First, a bit of a confession that I did not know I needed to give last week. After a discussion with my psychiatrist, the problems with memory that I've been having, as noted in my previous post, are more to be associated with an oncoming bought with depression than MS.  I don't know if its better to know that or not, but the idea of depression makes more sense for this "heavy brain" feeling I've had for the last few weeks.

I still would appreciate being reminded of things now and then.  I'll let you know.

But we did change a drug or two. In another post I talked about the dreams/nightmares that have disrupted my sleep cycle for the past few months.  Also my sleep cycles are routinely interrupted four to five times a night and I wake up either for a few moments and then just doze off after a slight body shift, or I'm awake for hours.  So instead of concentrating on cranking me up to keep on a level of manic so that I can keep writing and other activities, we're taking a step back.

"The depression is breaking through the levels we've established," my psychiatrist said. "We need to set that right."

And we'll begin that by getting some deeper levels of sleep. So please welcome my next drug. Amitriptyline!

So Ami, I'm glad you're here.  Tell me, what will you do for me?

Hi, Tom. Glad I've been prescribed.  I'm a trycilic antidepressant. I've been around for a long time, over 50 years.

You seem pretty small for an old drug.

I'm just a small dose.  I can grow as large as you need.  I help people with all kinds of challenges from depression to vulvodynia.  I just like saying vulvodynia.  Sounds like a Star Trek planet.

Thanks for the reference.  I knew I liked you. So we gotta get to it.  How about side effects?

The main two side effects that occur from taking me are drowsiness and a dry mouth. Other common side effects of using me are mostly due to my anticholinergic activity, including: weight gain, changes in appetite, muscle stiffness, nausea, constipation, nervousness, dizziness, blurred vision, urinary retention, and changes in sexual function.

Well, glad I've got MS, then, as it has stopped any interest in eating, in that I don't really have an appetite for food, muscles are always stiff and most of the other things I deal with most days. Guess I'm good to go.

I see.  I've got plenty of other side effects. Want to hear them?

Uh, not yet. Thanks. So we're going to start getting together tonight.  What can I expect?

I don't know. Everyone's different.  Let's see.  You woke up four times last night with major dreams involving your family at least twice. Correct?


Then that's our starting point. Let's get together and see what we can do to get you a better nights sleep, a chance to relax your muscles and give you an MS break.  Ready?

Make it so.

Ah, Trek reference. Got it.

Good night, everyone.

Open wide!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Year 4 Quickie - what I forgot today - Me

We were at a local county office where my wife had an appointment early today and I used the chance to visit with one of my former staff who now works in that building.  By luck my former staffer was coming out of her office as we were heading toward it, and following the ensuing hug-a-thon, we sat and got caught up.  Later, Jackie and I were getting ready to head out, a supervisor stepped from her a office and my former worker called her over and asked if she remembered me (from meetings, etc. when I would visit that office). The supervisor did not and asked what I did in Albany County.

I had no idea what I did.  There's another post on here about my forgetting the name of a co-worker who I had seen in a local store.  But then I knew what she did, at least, and eventually her name showed up in my brain cells, long after she was gone of course.  This time, even with a few prompts from my staffer, I still could not say what my job title was (Employment Coordinator) or what I did.

The odd part is that most nights I dream of being in that Albany County building and doing that job, but always with the dream thought that this has or will soon end, but I can't leave the building.  Literally, every attempt to get out of the building (noting the end of my career or a time that I'm "helping out") is thwarted by losing my car, being harassed by the local vocal yokels that every large organization has, or simply the doors keep moving.  Ever have dreams like that?

And yet that internal version of my old job, buried deep in my psyche may be the only thing that attaches me to it sometimes.  I pulled out one of my old business cards (collector's edition - only a few left!) and reread my name and job title:

Thomas Martin - Employment Coordinator-Albany County DSS

I know what I did.  I do now.  But its like another little part is being chipped away, a part of the past. It's back in my head, restored by the Elmer's glue of memory to where it is supposed to be.  I am well aware that this will happen again.  I've seen it already with my father.

That part of the workaday world has been gone for over two years, and I wouldn't mind dispatching most of those 30 years to oblivion.  But there's still a lot to hold on to, and it was there in our hug-a-thon this morning.  My memory of my staffer's family was completely gone, until she started to talk of her kids.  Boom. Everybody is back.

Look, I am not one to ask for help. I know I will have to, more and more.  Here's the first request.  Please remind me.  I'd be very grateful, even if I might remember some of it already. And sometimes I will be cranky about it. Tell me again. I will do my best to hold on to it. And you.

Hey! 2500 visits! Thank you all for coming.  More soon.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Late to the Game - Silver Linings Playbook

I know this movie has been out for a while but we just got around to seeing it this weekend, as part of Super Bowl Weekend! (Yeah, right.  That and I had a free movie coupon).  With the nominations and award wins the film had picked up, we really did want to check this one out.

And it had something to do with a bipolar guy.

Normally I check out movies before, getting some idea of people in it and plot but this time I just knew Bradley Cooper was bipolar. I just sat munched my popcorn (I can not watch a movie in a theater without popcorn - even the dullest documentary), sipped my root beer, and let the story roll.

Not my place to give away the plot, but I will say the performances are sensational, especially Cooper and Mr. DeNiro.  Jennifer Lawrence, as Cooper's love interest, is sensational.  I knew her only from The Hunger Games and there she was somewhat held back by the popularity of the books by Susan Collins.  Playing icons has its down sides.  Ask everyone who's played Batman. 

So a few scenes.  The one that struck my wife and had her whispering to me was the group therapy meeting when Pat (Bradley) was still institutionalized.  Chris Tucker (who some may know from his cop buddy films with Jackie Chan) steals the scene with his manic portrayal of how his hair has been cut. The reactions of the group are familiar to anyone whose even been at a meeting in their business.  There are 1.) the Showoffs, 2.) the This is a waste of timers [normally with folded arms and rolling eyes], 3.)  the Eager Beavers [ready to demonstrate their value], and 4.) the Sleepers.  Mr. Tucker returns as a running gag through the film, showing Pat how the institution in Baltimore has set him free.  But back to the therapy scene.  My wife whispered "Is this what your group is like?"  There normally being no more than 6 in my group, its a bit difficult to hide in the categories above.  You actually have to listen.  This is not a great trait of we bipolar, as far as I know.  If we're listening, we're only pretending to as we really want to talk about us, so please shut up soon because I need to talk about how Ernest Hemingway ruined a Farewell to Arms with the stupid ending.

This consumes Bradley early on in his crusade to get his wife back.  He would wake his parents at 3:00 a.m. to rant about Mr. Hemingway.  My wife asked me if I ever did that (rant). I did my ranting at work, doing the best I could to gear down on the way home, even if I needed to drive home slow. I yelled, leaped all over the office furniture, threw baseballs into walls for hours ( a rubber ball, but still...)

Another scene that struck home was Pat and Tiffany compare drugs they are on. As they rattled off the prescriptions, I wanted to put my hand up right in the movie theater. Yep, on that one. That one!
Really? Bloating? Oh, yeah! Klonopin!  My favorite!

I'll leave the story line there except to note that the Eagles win and everyone dances, or some people win and the Eagles do well enough. See for yourself.  The Oscars may grant this film more awards, but for this of us of a certain mental persuasion, its just nice to see crazy people treated on the big screen with the respect and compassion all of us deserve.  These guys should meet Carrie from Homeland.  On second thought, only if everyone is on their meds, and seeing their doctor (even if its only at the game - movie reference [Indian Eagles!]).  Silver Linings Playbook is rated R, mostly for language and some violence, and bad dance moves.
The movie is based on Matthew Quick's 2008 novel of the same name.
Just noticed we are about to pass 2500 visits.  Thank you all for stopping by.  You know you could subscribe, if you wanted. Just sayin'....


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