Toss Me A Lettuce Leaf
Sometimes I think of
myself as a primate guinea pig. New and improved medications. Fewer side
effects. No weight gain. Perhaps even an iota of, dare I say it? Stirring
of the ol’ libido. Hmmm. New side effects never heard of before. Must just
be my chemical makeup. The Pdoc says “nobody else has ever had that
reaction.” Uh huh. May cause liver damage. Kidney damage. Heart problems.
Great! I’ll take a double dose.
Of course I could
just opt for the Stone Age method of “just sedate me till I can’t feel my
feet”, theory. Imagine, sedated to the point you can’t lift your eyelids
and then “someone” gets worried about your increasing depressive behavior.
Forgive me for being passé, but DUH. “She doesn’t seem to have much
energy.” “She’s so lethargic.” The fact I need a hydraulic lift to raise
my eyelids couldn’t possibly have anything to do with my sudden lack of
Take this one in the
morning because it may cause some mania. Take this one at night because it
will cause drowsiness. What? You say you can’t sleep at night? Well here,
get this filled. These will make you sleep. What? You say you’re hung-over
in the morning? Well get this filled and you will have your energy back.
Let’s see now. Blue for morning wake-me-up. Pink for nighttime
knock-me-out. Purple to keep me “up.” Green to make sure I’m not “too” up.
Plaid to make me feel like a human. Striped to make me not give a damn
that I’m human. Oh and let us not forget the tie-dyed pill to make me
“nice” to all those people staring at me because I keep walking into trees
and telephone poles.
I may as well stop
shaving my legs and underarms grow my hair down to the floor, start
nibbling on lettuce leaves and move into a human sized cage with an
exercise wheel and wood chips on the bottom of the cage. Call me Gussie
the guinea piglet.
Oh I’m sorry but we
have to wean you off that drug you’ve been on since 1849 because studies
have shown it really doesn’t do any good in treating your Bipolar Disorder
symptoms. It doesn’t?” Hmmmm.
important . . . your mental health or your vanity? Well, listen up Doc.
The 1,234,874 pounds I’ve gained on this med have done a hell of a lot in
increasing my depression. So much for my mental health. You’ve just
increased my depression to the nth degree. But that’s okay because I still
have my “mental health.” Hmmmm.
This drug makes me
see things that aren’t there and I hear voices with no bodies. Just stop
taking it, you say? Won’t I have withdrawal? No? Good.
Well Doc, I told the
people at the emergency room that I stopped taking a psychotropic
medication cold turkey and they informed me that was very dangerous. But
not to worry. I didn’t have any withdrawals.
It’s going to take
me how long to wean off this drug? SIX MONTHS? Thanks a lot Doc. It only
took six months for it to “kick in.” Now it’s going to take six months
for it to “kick out.” There’s a year of my life I’ll never get back.
What do you mean the
doctor is sorry but he can’t make it to my appointment? Oh, he’ll be happy
to reschedule? Great. I’ll take my nervous breakdown and go home and note
that in my daily planner. “Hold off on falling apart until the Pdoc can
manage to get to the office as per scheduled.” There. That makes it all
I don’t want to
“try” this new drug. Because I don’t want to. Because I’m sick and tired
of paying out the whazoo for a drug that won’t kick in for at least 5 to 6
weeks and when it does I have to function as a semi-normal person while
all sorts of nightmarish side effects ooze out of my pores not to mention
my mouth. Then of course, six months down the road we’ll “have to wean me
off this drug” too. God, I drugs.
You take the drug
and you tell me about those possible side effects. I don’t give a hoot
what the books say or what all of your other patients say or those 80% you
claim are “just like me.” They aren’t. The books don’t take the pills. And
the hundreds of people who were the initial guinea pigs aren’t me either.
Unless you can look me in the eye and tell me you have Bipolar Disorder
and that you personally have been on this drug for 5 to 6 weeks and have
survived the possible side effects without losing every friend and loved
one in your life, not to mention your job, I do NOT want to hear the sales
I wrote all of the
above because I desperately want all of you to know . . . it’s not just
you. I’ve reached a point of high stabilization. And still, I go through
the same ol same ol with my Pdoc now and then. It’s just part of the
illness. They can’t fix it. They can’t cure it. We have to go through this
because we never know when that perfect fit will appear.
Having said that, I
cannot stress enough the importance of keeping control of “you.” We aren’t
the illness. We have the illness. We can’t sit around and stress out and
obsess over the fact “we have it.” The illness just feeds on that sort of
thing and before you know it, you’re sucked down into this black pit from
hell and the illness wins.
It’s not easy. It
doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve got enormous inner strength. The key is
reaching down deep and pulling it out. I can’t tell you how to do that.
Just as we are all alike in many ways, we are each unique. What works for
me wouldn’t work for you and vice versa. The illness is a part of us just
as diabetes is to the diabetic. Recognize that. Accept it. Fighting it is
pointless and hampers your ability in reaching stability. Sure there will
always be setbacks. Life deals the good and the bad and as we know, we
certainly don’t deal with bad very well. Learn your triggers. Avoid as
many as you can and if some aren’t avoidable then create your own coping
tools to get through them.
easiest thing for me is to simply walk away. I know when my monster is
peeking out. I know when to just shut the hell up and go get some fresh
air. Or I know when I need to take a day or a few hours and leave the
world outside and just hang by myself.
Many people with BP
make the mistake of thinking they shouldn’t ever feel or show any emotion.
They get frightened if they are sad or angry. Realize that we are human
beings. ALL human beings come equipped with emotions. The issue with us is
that we, along with the proper meds and therapy, don’t allow our emotions
Even a bit of
depression is normal. But we have the deeper version along with deeper
mania. Don’t fight the medication. Let it work and do its job. It can’t do
it if we are constantly obsessing and wallowing in our self-pity.
Cliché as it sounds;
we could most assuredly have a more hellish illness. You may not think so
but next time you’re in a busy environment teeming with people, look
around. I’m certain you’ll see some handicapped persons. Or visit a
children’s cancer ward at the local hospital. The terminally ill ward. If
you can still feel self-pity and live in a woe-is-me world, then you’ve
got a bigger problem than Bipolar Disorder.
As always, take care
of “you” and remember . . . share the lettuce.
typos, grammatical errors should at the very least be overlooked mainly
because I have no editor, spellchecker isn’t foolproof and as usual, my
mind works much faster than my fingers. **