Good News and Bad News

First of all I gotta say that I am really proud of Rhonda Elkins for her bravery in allowing me to post the letter that she wrote shortly after her 23 year old daughter’s suicide, on my Wednesday feature “Breaking the Silence of Stigma.”  That letter touched a lot of hearts and did a lot of good.  And I’m proud of my readers for rallying around Rhonda with their words of support, and some frank and open discussion of their own struggles with suicidal thoughts.

And I’m really proud of ME for writing a great review for David Henry Sterry’s new book, Mort Morte.  He’s honored me by using my review as the copy on his web page.  Kinda makes me think about going back to copy writing.  I wrote copy for an online store for a while, then ditched it because they started carrying shit  stuff I didn’t like, so there went my low-paying writing job. I can’t write copy for stuff I can’t get excited about.  Like “Wow, look at these tacky rhinestone-studded chartreuse earrings in the shape of a bunch of bananas.  Carmen Miranda would have put them on her head!  Only $1,200 on sale now!”  Ugh.  Now if someone would pay me to write fun stuff I’d be on it like white on rice.

That’s the good news.

And here’s the windup, now the pitch….oh come on, just get it out.  Er, I mean over with.  Well, I really don’t want to.  I want to stay sunk in denial forever.

I had to go see my shrink yesterday to get a form filled out so that I can take Noga, my service dog, on the plane when I go to Israel twelve days from now.  Eek.  Time is running short, and it’s running like hell.  Anyway.  So I go and see Tony my shrink, and he’s a good egg.  The man really loves crazy people.  He’s crazy himself, freely admits it, and also admits that the reason he’s a good shrink is that he’s crazy.

Anyway.  So he likes to talk for a long time, both because he likes the company of other crazy people, and because that’s how he sizes you up and figures out what brand of crazy you are and if you need your meds tweaked or anything else like that.  So we’re talking and he’s really paying attention to me and not just goofing around like he normally does.  So at some point I lose not just a single word, as has been happening a lot lately, but an entire phrase that I needed to have, in order to express what I was trying to, well, express.  I wanted to describe something but lacked a whole phrase and was trying to find alternative ways of saying it.

“How often is this happening to you?”

“Oh, several times a day.  Even when I’m writing, sometimes I can’t think of a word and just have to put a parenthesis and go back and fill it in later when I remember the word.”

He raises an eyebrow.  Not a good sign.  Tony is almost always upbeat and goofing around, because if he can’t make you laugh then he knows you’re really depressed.  Or if he annoys the shit out of you then he knows you’re irritable and wants to know what’s up with that.  But if he raises an eyebrow….that ain’t good.

“You know the meds that they’re using to preserve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s?  They’re using them now to treat cognitive dysfunction in Bipolar.”

My heart fell out and hit me on the toe.  I winced.

Last year I felt like my brain was misbehaving, so I had a battery of neuropsychiatric testing that showed a big hole in one part of my central information processing.  I freaked on out and called Tony, who talked me down from my freakout and told me it was a known phenomenon in Bipolar, the older you get.  Great.

So yesterday he gently suggested that since the cognitive issues (he did not say “dementia,” thank God) seem to be progressing, he recommended I try one of these cognitive function preserving drugs.  Far fucking out.

And he also suggested that I go back on the stimulants that I hate and had previously refused to take because they make me feel like shit.  He looked up what I had before and it was Adderal.  He said that sometimes people who hate Adderal like plain ol’ Dexadrine.  He said it might give my brain some clarity and help the cognition to cognate.  So I said all right, and now I have two fucking more pill bottles in my pharmacy.  Why me, Lord, why me?  Oh stop with that whiny shit, Laura, you know very well there are much worse things in the world than being crazy.  Don’t even go there.

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  1. Oh, Laura, I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this! It is a scary thing to know you are experiencing cognitive problems, I know. Due to my sleep apnea and the loss of oxygen to my brain I have the same kind of word and phrase loss that you do, not to mention just plain ol’ memory loss. Mine has improved somewhat with my CPAP but I have about 25% central apneas and there’s just not a darned thing to do about it. And, my mother has Alzheimer’s…with the genetic component it worries me.
    Back to you…you will be in my prayers as you face yet another challenge in your life. Peace to your heart, Sara

    • Thank you, Sara. Peace be to yours, too. I wish my magic wand were not in the repair shop (along with my crystal ball) so that I could make with the fairy dust and heal us all.

  2. I’m not liking your bad news. I’m liking your writing!! Just to clarify!

  3. I’m so sorry this is happening to you!! And more meds — just what we all want, right? NOT!! 🙂

    • Yeah……….meh. But like I said, there are worse things. I need to focus on what I have, more than what I don’t have, but sometimes ya just gotta bitch, bitch, bitch 😉

  4. I can relate and this worries me. For the past year or so I am having the same problems. I cant remember the names of everyday household items. People tell me things and 5 minutes later I forget what the said. I repeat myself often. Ive been afraid to call my dr but thanks to reading this I will 🙂

    • Good. Not good that you are having these symptoms. I’m very sorry about that….it’s not at all fun and very scary. But good that you will tell your doc, because there is something that can help. I’m amazed at how quickly this stuff works–I’m feeling more clear already and maybe it’s placebo, but I don’t care as long as I think I can think better.

  5. Wow! seriously—bipolar symptom is cognitive dysfunction, and is worse as you get older? i have this thing of losing words, phrases, entire topics happen to me all the time, both in conversation and in writing. no one has mentioned this is a symptom of bipolar, they just seem to think it is stress, or something like that, that will improve as my recovery progresses. i am going to tell my case manager and med provider (case manager helps me communicate with my other people, like med provider and outsiders too, like people at the Housing Authority, etc) and I am going to ask for some kind of med used in alzheimers for this problem. thanks so much for this–i am so excited that i might restore my mind from its current state of swiss cheese to a more solid state of cheddar instead! i can’t wait to get my words and phrases and entire conversations back from the void! good luck to you also, in no longer having swiss cheese mind!

    • There are scientific papers that prove this. When the psychologist who did my testing told me this, I was furious because I don’t want to literally “lose my mind.” So I went to my medical database and looked it up, and there it was. So then I called my shrink and without telling him I had looked it up, I told him what the psychologist said and Dr. Shrink said, “Oh, that’s a well-known phenomenon.” I gotta tell you that I took it last night and slept really well for the first time in years, and woke up an hour early feeling well rested; then I tried taking it this morning (to see which would be better, night or morning) and have felt nauseated all day. So night time it is. Now I’m going to pick up my dexadrine prescription, which he wants me to take with the other med to clear my mind. So we’ll see. More drugs and more drugs–I’m sick of drugs. But it could be worse.

  6. Howisbradley

     /  July 18, 2013

    I can’t add anything to any of the comments above me other than to say I relate to the memory problems. My pdoc keeps telling me it’s just part of getting old and I’m having a hard time convincing him it’s more than that. I’ve gone through several docs who I didn’t like, but I really like this one. He’s been good for me. I just can’t convince him that my memory problems aren’t typical.

    I’m anxious to read how they work for you.

    Excellent writing.

    • Thank you, Bradley. I think it’s going to be a while before the jury is in on this one. I’m sure a post will be in the offing when my brain says yea or nay. Take care!

  7. Always do what you think is right for you!!! 🙂

  8. See….I told ya! I wish mine would let me take Adderal. He absolutely refuses. Says too many BP people become extremely manic and throw themselves off of buildings. So how can you get it? Because my attention issues are horrible.

    • I get it because I see a neuropsychiatrist who knows how the brain works, and he knows that BP people can also have ADD. It took me many shrink-o-matics before I found him. In fact he found ME. I was in the hospital and my regular shrink was on vacation and he was filling in, and I instantly identified him as “one of us” and begged him to see me as my regular shrink. He is very special and I don’t look forward to his retirement (he is almost 69 and still practicing, thank God, although not taking new patients.)


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