Archive for March, 2010

March 31, 2010

one week later: off meds

A little over a week has passed since I decided to quit medication. This is really a dumb decision that I’ve made, but while knowing that it was a bad decision, I still can’t get myself to go back on them. I certainly failed in this grand experiment, but if I do go back, I feel like I’ve failed even more. I can’t even write often or coherently anymore. Not to mention the fact that my body has simply melted onto my couch. I think I’ve been lying around more than my cat. I finally found energy to take a shower after three days without it. I have started to eat whenever and whatever I can, including doing things like eating spoonfuls of sugar. When I ran out of food in my house, I seriously wondered what cat food tasted like.

I did manage to go to my class on Tuesday night. I also wandered over to Whole Foods after class to pick up some food, about $50 worth. Instead of stowing them away in the fridge when I got home, I sat and ate the entire contents of that grocery bag, which included: Salmon/avocado sushi rolls, Falafels, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s creme brulee ice cream, a pint of coconut sorbet, a thing of banana pudding, and two packages of Wildwood baked tofu squares.

After class today, I had to go to Kroger to buy some eggs. Of course, I managed to buy myself some chips, a pint of sorbet and a six-pack of beer…probably all to be consumed tonight. I don’t know what I’m trying to do to myself, besides becoming twice the size of my current self. I know what I’m doing is incredibly stupid, and I’m headed toward an absolutely regrettable semester. But all I can seem to do is stare at my jar of pills.

Can someone give me a little nudge?

March 26, 2010

don’t quit your meds

I am all curled up on the couch. I haven’t written in almost a week, which may be the longest I’ve gone without writing in this journal. I also haven’t taken any medication in about a week (well, except for ambien). And I am really paying for this (in)action.

My schedule’s all screwed up. I’ve stopped doing any schoolwork, because I can’t get myself to do any. I didn’t even make it to my class on Thursday because I spent the entire day not being able to get out of bed except to shove food in my mouth. I don’t feel emotionally depressed yet, but my emotions feel dead. I have really screwed up. And even when I do get back on my meds, I don’t know if I’m going to get back to to the state where I had finally found myself.

I did get to my appointment today with Dr. L, my therapist, and Dr. L said this is just a hiccup. After all, it’s not even been a week since I quit my meds and that it shouldn’t take too long to get back to the norm. I really hope she’s right.

March 20, 2010

Wrestling with the wrong decision

I’ve not been very consistent about taking my medication.

This is not the time, I know, to quit the meds. There’s never a time to quit. Haven’t I learned from previous times not to stop taking meds? But I’m finding myself distancing from my medication.

There’s no one to blame but myself. But it just does not help when my mother starts to question me about when I’m going to stop taking so much medication. It only makes me think even more that my taking these drugs is really the problem.

I already know that by stopping these meds that I am placing myself in a potentially bad place.

March 19, 2010

zoloft ball en masse

Okay. There’s probably no value to this post. However, I came across a number of these Zoloft ads that I just had to do something with them. In case you’ve missed seeing that lifeless ball become bouncy again thanks to the drug Zoloft, here’s a little collage of the various scenes from those commercials.

Maybe for next time, I’ll work on a ‘depressed Cymbalta lady’ collage…

March 18, 2010

seroquel XR financial help

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals patient assistance program

March 16, 2010

Get your free Cymbalta sample!

Really. You can actually request a free sample of Cymbalta online.

Of course, you do need a doctor’s prescription in order to get this voucher, but it is still free.

Last time I went online to get a free sample was for some cereal. Have we reached a point where we’re now trying out antidepressants like a new brand of detergent? I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing since it does help to be able to try a drug before having to spend hundreds of dollars on something that may not work….but it is still a little funny.

March 15, 2010

March Madness

Sometimes, the thing that should keep your mood afloat and balanced can be the one thing that will drive you crazy.

We have all been informed that health care costs in the United States is rising at a rapid rate. And my health insurance company has kindly sent me a little letter letting me know about this situation.  Apparently, because of “rising health care costs,” the company is increasing the rates  of my health insurance to $432 per month. That’s right. I am still in my 20s (at least for another month), and it costs over $5,000 a year for health insurance. At such rate, what does this insurance cover?  Well, since I’ve already maxed my lifetime maximum for mental health care ($3,000), the insurance doesn’t even cover any of my psychiatrist appointments or ECT. You may be wondering why I am still getting insurance from this company. It still costs me less to have their prescription drug coverage seeing that some of these meds cost quite a bit without insurance. Of course, even this coverage is projected to run out in the months to come.

I know the situation could be worse; I could totally lose my insurance. But this is still ridiculous. All I want is to get better, but the cost of health care makes me think twice about getting treatment. Is it really worth this price?

March 13, 2010

Screen Yourself Online for a Mental Disorder

I wrote a post recently about how self-diagnosis of bipolar disorder is on the rise. Well, US News and World Report has provided some online self-screening tool sources.

They list: My Mood Monitor, developed by clinicians from Georgetown University, Columbia University, and the Bipolar Collaborative Network.

Also, Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. The test is intended to measure symptoms of what could be depression as well as to track changes in your feelings or behavior over time. This type of screening can help differentiate depression symptoms from those of bipolar disorder (for which Goldberg developed a bipolar screening tool).

March 12, 2010

Suicide Stats & Risk Factors

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.

Below are some Risk Factors associated with suicide:

  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of child maltreatment
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of mental disorders, particularly depression
  • History of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
  • Local epidemics of suicide
  • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
  • Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
  • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
  • Physical illness
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

Here’s a map of Suicide rates per 100,000 in the US, 2000-2006 (CDC). Based on death data from 2000 through 2006, this US map of the smoothed, county-level, age-adjusted suicide rates indicate that suicide rates are highest in the western and northwestern regions of the United States. There is also a notable pattern of high suicide rates among counties in the central areas of the midwest and southern regions and in central Florida.

Protective Factors

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
  • Family and community support (connectedness)
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

(U.S. Public Health Service 1999)

March 11, 2010

ECT #27 (my 12th maintenance treatment)

Another day has come for my ECT. Mother is in the country, so she had to take me to the hospital today.

As I was getting on the elevator to go to the ECT floor, I ran into a bunch of patients who were coming down for breakfast. I thought about how that has been me a few times. Because I’m writing that paper about ECT for a class, I tried to pay attention to little details, like what the waiting and treatment room looks like and how they prep me for the little spark, but when the main side effect is memory loss, it’s really hard to recall much of what I observed.  Nothing unusual to report, except they now make us wear a nose oxygen cannula (that nose air line thing) before we begin the procedure.I really felt like I was having a major medical procedure with that thing on. I do remember someone next to me going through ECT while I was waiting. It was interesting to watch since his attending psychiatrist just walks in to room, barely talks to the guy, and after he pushes a few buttons on the ECT machine, he leaves as soon as the seizure stops. I’m not even sure if that doctor was there for a total of five minutes–which he will be billing that patient for at least $200.

My doctor, Dr. F, had on a nice brown sweater today. Usually, he has on a suit, but he looked much younger with that sweater on (I’ve been told he’s in his 70s). He talked to me a little while and asks me how I’ve been doing, eating, sleeping, etc.  He sensed that I looked a little nervous today. Before we began, he kindly said to me, “Let’s just get it over with.”

After the ECT, Thomas, one of the staff members, told me to have a good rest of spring break. I had to ask him, “when is my spring break?” He looked at me and said, “Your spring break is right now.” It took me a while to even realize exactly what time of the year it is. I had a good laugh.

Another ECT down. Another one to go in a month.

March 10, 2010

recharging my batteries

Have you heard that phrase “recharge your batteries”? I’ve never thought much about it, but it actually has a lot of relevance to ECT patients. The amount of electricity that’s sent to the brain during electroconvulsive therapy is 800 milliamps, the same amount of current that comes out of a 12-volt battery. Yup, the energy it requires to power our cell phones can cause that seizure.

So, while many people go “recharge their batteries” by going on a little vacation or taking a relaxing walk, I get to literally go recharge my batteries by getting ECT tomorrow (It was originally supposed to be on Friday, but it got moved). For something I’ve done 26 other times, I can already feel the anxiety building up. “Sure, I can do it tomorrow,” I said, as if it’s a lunch date that needs to be moved. On the outside I act as if it’s just another thing on my ‘to do’ list, on the inside I can feel that it is still a big deal to me. But I guess it would be a bit odd if I didn’t feel some nerves before the little spark.

March 8, 2010

ECT Illustrated

Once upon a time, I was an editorial cartoonist, so I am attracted to cartoons/illustrations that address issues. I’ve contemplated drawing about ECT, but then I found an illustrated cartoon about electroconvulsive therapy on a cartoon blog by Darryl AKA tallguywrites. It’s an eleven-page story strip on ECT. It’s entertaining and informative. I don’t necessarily come to the same conclusion as the strip about ECT, but it’s still really good.

March 7, 2010

Video about ECT

This may be a bit old (from the 90s), but this short video makes the general steps rather clear, and without other commentary. For many, the headbands been replaced with two electrode patches, and other things have become even simpler (I am not rolled into the treatment room; I go and sit in the location myself, in a room with 7 other beds that are lined up). But the above clip gets the idea across about how quick the whole process takes.

March 6, 2010


“sometimes, not being in control is the most beautiful thing in the world.” -Tyra Banks

I came home from work and happen to catch an episode of “America’s Next Top Model” when I heard Tyra say those words (Yes, I do love those reruns). That statement immediately got me thinking about what I discussed during my therapy session with Dr. L, my EMDR therapist.

I’ve always felt like I can’t connect with people, like there’s some barrier between me and everyone else. I watch people form relationships–from friendships to courtships–but I feel just out of reach of all of them.

But maybe it’s not so much that people are out of reach, but that I keep myself out of reach from others. Whenever I get even remotely close to someone, I pull back, sometimes so far back that I sever any sort of relationship. I’ve done that with some very good friendships that I had developed. I tense up just thinking about having to open up.

What is it that I’m trying to control? What am I so afraid of?

March 5, 2010

Self-diagnosis of bipolar disorder rises

AFP: Rise in self-diagnosis of bipolar disorder: research.

According to the study published in The Psychiatrist, the rise of people self-diagnosing themselves as bipolar is as a result of celebrities becoming more public about their diagnoses of bipolar disorder.

I suppose that’s all fine, but do these people know exactly what it means to be diagnosed as bipolar?

Btw, here’s an online self-diagnostic tool.

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