A Deadly Drug Cocktail Shines a Light on an AstraZeneca Blockbuster – Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-06/a-deadly-drug-cocktail-shines-a-light-on-an-astrazeneca-blockbuster

HEADS UP–Seroquel (quetiapine)+methadone= DEATH

Please read and share this widely in your networks.  You may save a life!

Tales From The Roadtrek #2: The River Rats

I am fighting off a nagging desire to open with an apology for any indiscretions I may be, have been, or ever be guilty of, in my whole life.  That is because my Seroquel turned on me and gave me bad, bad extrapyramidal symptoms (twitches and a feeling like whole-body restless legs that makes me writhe incessantly, plus intolerable heat intolerance) that might not go away even though I have stopped taking it, and now I have nothing with which to quash the hypomania that dogs my heels like a nine-month-old Labrador Retriever, always pushing, pushing.

Nevertheless, I am having the best time I can have on two hours of sleep a night.

Now, disclaimers over with, I can begin today’s edition of Tales From The Roadtrek!

I fetched up last week at East Peoria, Illinois, along a sort of bayou that was once a marina, until the Illinois River left its banks and plowed it quite flat.

Once a marina, now a bayou off the Illinois River

Once a marina, now a bayou off the Illinois River

Everywhere you looked, there was some kind of interesting (or alarming) relic of this epic flood…..

Interesting

Interesting……………..

ALARMING...see the boat washed up on the levee, about 1,000 yards from the river????

ALARMING…see the boat washed up on the levee, about 1,000 yards from the river????

The campground was highly rated in both Good Sam, the premiere RVer’s resource organization, and Escapees (SKPs), the network for mavericks like myself who want to live life like they mean it and have a damn good time doing it.  Both outfits gave the place high marks for ambience, good facilities and clean showers/restrooms.

I called for a reservation and was told I didn’t need one, and to just give a call when I arrived.  I did so, and was met at the entrance of a ramshackle trailer park by an enormously jiggly friendly fellow on a four-wheeler, who ferried me to a shady rise along a stinking sump that looked like this:

2015-06-03 10.35.57

“How many nights?” He smiled, looking up from his receipt booklet.

“Um, two, I guess.”  I kind of wanted to bail out, but hey, it WAS only $13 a night, and there were two other fairly spiffy looking rigs right next to where he put me.  For $13, if it got too weird I wouldn’t feel bad flying the coop.  So I gave him $26 in cash, which made him grin wider, and he took off, leaving me choking on his dust.

“Howdy, neighbor,” drawled my next-door neighbor.  He looked like he’d seen a bit of the world, and then some.  “Welcome to the neighborhood.”  He lit his next cigarette off the last one, being careful to toss the butt into a Coke can, which I appreciated.  I liked him already.

“Well, what do you think of our little piece of Paradise?”

“Er, well,” I stalled, trying to think of something, “well, to tell you the truth, it looks a little seedy.”

“SEEDY?”  Uh-oh.  “What makes you say that?”  Open mouth, insert ass, disappear.

“Um, things like, you know, THIS.”

2015-06-03 19.29.40

“Yeah, so?  Here, come on over here and set down.  My name’s Tuck.”

Thank the Lord.  Breathe.

Tuck fetched a well-loved lawn chair out of a cubby hole in his rig, blew the dust off it, and offered it to me as if I had never insulted his neighborhood.

I settled in, and for the next two hours did not get a word in edgewise while Tuck regaled me with his adventures in the Army, Navy, prison, long-haul truck driving, Military prison, County lockups, fights, liquor, AA, and two honorable discharges despite all the prison time.  He showed them to me, just so I wouldn’t think he was lying.  I would have, actually, because the usual thing when one gets in prison while in the service is a court martial leading to a dishonorable discharge, but whatever.

Next thing on the agenda was our other neighbor, Nancy, who was a well-worn lady of 45 who looked 60 and acted 30.  Three raucous boys surrounded her. One of them was her five-year-old grandson, whose name I never did get the hang of.  She didn’t know what it meant, and neither did he, so he made up endless nicknames for himself instead of trying to remember his given name.  He fondly reminded me of Israeli kids, who have no concept of mortality.  He was forever and constantly finding new and more exciting ways of leaping off of high objects onto things like gigantic concrete slabs, etc, that gave me nearly uncontrollable urges to get my first-aid kit out where I could see it.

Finally he did get whacked in the eye when the rotted rope of a tire swing gave out and he crashed into some other flying object.  After he got done crying he was pretty proud of his shiner, once we had explained to him what the word “shiner” meant.

The “we” in “we” was his grandmother, her boyfriend who looked about 20 and had twin freaky looking heads tattoo’d on his pectoral muscles, which gave me the creeps every time he moved, and Nancy’s daughter–the boy’s mother–who kind of slouched around looking perpetually uncomfortable, and the two other boys who turned out to be Nancy’s great-nephews, and Nancy’s mother who stayed inside Nancy’s travel trailer because she couldn’t be out in the heat.  And Tuck, of course, still chain-smoking, and me.

We hung out around Nancy’s totally amazing fire ring, created out of fragments of stone that the flood had busted up and thrown around.  As the sun settled down over the river, it started to look like this:

2015-06-02 19.49.35

And I started feeling pretty mellow as the many kinds of night-critters began tuning up their orchestra: peeper frogs, tree frogs, leopard frogs, the Purple Martins twittering, coming home to their house upon its pole that leaned crazily over the bayou.

It was time for me to leave all my bourgeois preconceptions of “quality of life” behind.  All these folks were here because here life was almost free and certainly unfettered, and a simple need for an affordable place to dwell had brought us all together.

And I?  I was the guest, as it turned out, who stayed for another two nights, drawn by the unquestioning offer of friendship and camaraderie, undeserving, from a warm and open-hearted group of fellow travelers, flotsam and jetsam all of us, who happened to wash up on the same shore.

And the clean washrooms and showers?  Burned down last year.

And Now For Something COMPLETELY Different (really)

I guess most of you don’t know that I’m an Old-Time Clawhammer Banjo player.  Well, I am, have been since I was 19 (a long long time ago), and always will be, until my hands just quit on me.  That banjo has pulled me out of some dreadfully dark places.  I have clung to it like a life raft, and it has never let me down.

Last night was horrible.  I woke up with a just-shy-of full-blown manic attack at two AM.  After a total of 5 mg of Ativan failed to stop the racing squirrels rushing round in their cage (read: my head), and by now it was 5 AM, I took some more Seroquel and at last managed to at least lie down and close my eyes for a couple of hours.  Now I just feel gross and exhausted and can’t do anything.  I’m supposed to make Friday Night dinner for my family, but now I just don’t know how I could possibly manage that.  So I’m going to have to call my mother and disappoint her, but there’s only so much I can squeeze out of myself.  I guess that’s the “disability” part of it, eh?

But back to the banjo part.  There’s this outfit called Number One Music, an internet radio station, that I apparently signed  up my one existing album for, without paying any attention to it, some years back.  I guess.  I really don’t remember. Forgot.

It’s an international, well, worldwide, you know, because of the Web, thing.  Radio station.  They send me weekly emails, which I ignore.  But this morning with my vision pretty hazy, I opened today’s email from them instead of throwing it in the trash.

It seems that on this week’s charts I am numbers One, Five and Six in the Top Ten in the Acoustic genre.  EH?  How did that happen????  That’s kinda...BITCHEN, really.

Durn, I better start working on that second album, if people seem to like the first one so much!

If you want to listen to all the tracks for free you can go to their site.

If you wanna buy my music (nice stocking stuffer!  Shameless plug) you can go to CDBaby, where ALL my music is half-price thru Dec. 31, including digital downloads and single tracks, but if I were you I’d go for the physical disk because it has awesome photos like the one you see here, and a jewel case liner with very sparse but present liner notes.  I was so sick when I made that recording that I listen to it and go, how in the hell did we manage to squeeze that one out???

Now to return to the interesting task of trying to walk straight after all those drugs.  I might use my cane to keep from falling down.  Again.

me n my ol' banjo

me n my ol’ banjo

I Am A Drug Addict

Let’s face it: I am a drug addict.  Every night, I take five kinds of drugs to put me to sleep and to keep me from having manic attacks the next day.  In the morning I take another pile of drugs in order to make it through the day without dying of suicide or the high blood pressure that results from rage or from the pure insanity that results from hormonal imbalances.

I crave these drugs, like any addict does.  I crave my night-time meds because, well, they put me to sleep, blotto, giving me respite from the continuous crashing pain.  And the daytime drugs: I take them to keep the ogre of depression away, and to deal with my “co-morbid conditions”: arthritis, high blood pressure, menopause, low Vitamin D, low Folic Acid.

I fear what would happen to me if I did not have these drugs.  This leads me to hoard stashes of the “important” ones: the ones that would certainly result in seizures if I didn’t take them: Lamectil, lorazepam, clonazepam, maybe Lithium.  And the others…Oh, the others could “merely” result in mood changes that could put me into the suicidal ultradian cycling that has wreaked such havoc in my life before.

Yes, I crave these drugs.  Especially at night, when I look forward to the forced oblivion of quasi-sleep the drugs provide.  And in the morning, even though I need twelve hours of sleep to sleep off the night drugs, I sometimes forget to take my morning drugs.  After a day or two, though, I start getting withdrawal symptoms: a kind of hollow feeling, a feeling of unreality, and of course depression, that mostly clears when I take my doses.

Freud craved cocaine.  I do too.  I’m told that an addict never really gets over the craving: you just learn to deal with it.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with this pile of drugs I’m addicted to now.  Each one has its role and responsibility for keeping some symptom in check.  Oh, if I could just have a continuous IV drip of cocaine, or even an unending pile of coca leaves and lime, how happy my brain would be, eh?

Back on the Ketogenic Diet, Modified Atkins Variety

I’m disgusted with a lot of things: my meds, my perpetual brain fog (meds?), my recent 15 pound weight gain, which, on my 5 foot tall person, is a lot and is quite demoralizing, adding to the general feeling of gloom in my environment; my lack of energy, my lithium-induced tremors and muscle weakness, and I’m sure there’s more, if I could only think of it.  Oh yes, that’s it: word-finding difficulty.

At one point in my bipolar journey, nothing was working, med-wise, and my shrink planted an idea in my brain that had consequences I don’t think he intended.  There is a great deal of similarity between bipolar illness and seizure disorder: both share the phenomenon of kindling, where a little spark gets going and if it’s not stopped, it spreads until it causes generalized dysfunction.  In Bipolar-land we usually call that a trigger, but there is functional MRI evidence that demonstrates similar changes in brain metabolism during the moments leading up to a seizure, and the moments leading up to a bipolar decompensation.  So it should be no surprise that anti-epileptic drugs also treat bipolar symptoms.

When my son was a teen going through a bipolar meltdown, his psychiatrist told me, and showed me clinical papers to back his words up (which unfortunately I do not have and am not in the mood to dig up), that if, in the young brain, bipolar disorder could be suppressed for a two-year period without a breakthrough, it could be considered cured, just in the same way as epilepsy.  The theory is that in the growing brain, suppressing the kindling effect for that long gives the brain a chance to literally “grow out of it.”  My son, now 28, recently went through a battery of neuropsychiatric testing which showed that although he does have Major Depressive Disorder, he has no remaining features of Bipolar Disorder.  Bingo.

Back in the olden days before they had anti-seizure drugs like Depakene and Tegratol and Lamictal, there was very little in the anti-epilepsy arsenal.  The ancient Greek physycians noted that if you fasted a person with epilepsy, the seizures stopped.  Eventually, over a couple of thousand years, this observation led to development of the Ketogenic Diet.  If you look at the Wikipedia article under this link, it will tell you as much as or more than you ever wanted to know about the Ketogenic Diet.

The basic idea is that the brain can function on only two kinds of fuel: glucose, which is a product of sugar and carbohydrate (and in some cases protein) breakdown, and ketone bodies, which are small molecules that result from the breakdown of fat.  Ketone bodies also have the ability to regulate blood sugar, so if the balance of glucose and ketones is correct, the body literally shifts from a glucose based metabolism to a ketone based metabolism.  This has a wide range of effects.  The Atkins Diet  works on this principle: if you stop feeding the body carbohydrates, then it has to break down fat to get ketones to feed the brain and the rest of the body.

For reasons still unknown, ketone metabolism, or ketosis, suppresses kindling in the brain and controls seizures.  It can be a miraculous thing.  If you read through the Wikipedia article you’ll be astounded at the numbers.  I was, anyway.  The only problem is, it’s a very difficult diet to do.  You have to really be committed to it, and one little slip-up can set you back weeks.

So, at the time when meds were not working to suppress my bipolar fire, I was a little overweight anyway so I decided what the heck, I’ll try the Atkins diet, and do the most extreme version just for kicks and chuckles.  It was a bitch to do.  It’s a fat and protein based diet, so you have to pretty much live on eggs and cheese and (at that time I was not religiously observant) bacon, which was my staple food, cheeseburgers (God, I miss those), mayonnaise all over everything, heavy cream (for a treat, I would whip up a carton of heavy cream and eat it), cream cheese, and lots of leafy greens.  Oh man, it’s hard.  But: my BP symptoms stabilized, and I lost 30 pounds in the bargain.  I stayed on the diet for three years, then got religious and couldn’t eat bacon or cheeseburgers anymore, and started eating challah and kugels instead.  The thirty pounds came back, and my brain went wacko again.  Hmmm.

Now my brain isn’t wacko, really, thanks to Seroquel, but the problem is, with the Seroquel I just don’t feel anything.  I’d like to feel happy, or sad, or excited.  I was just walking by the river here which is just a couple of feet from flood stage, and in fact did flood last night, and I kept thinking, jeez, I should be feeling fear, this thing is so awesomely powerful and out of control.  But all I felt was, I should feel fear but I don’t.

So I decided to go back into the land of Ketosis, just to see what will happen.  At the very least maybe I’ll drop those two pants sizes I picked up over the winter, and if I’m lucky, my brain might start working better and I might be able to drop part or all of the Seroquel so I can feel things again.  Stay tuned!

Sleep PTSD

Michael Jackson died of sleep.  More correctly, he died of trying to get a good night’s sleep.  Notice the expression:  Good Night’s Sleep.  Not a Bad Night’s Sleep, or even a Night’s Sleep.  A Good Night’s Sleep.  That is important, and I’ll tell you why later.  First I have to say that thankfully, the only thing I have in common with Michael Jackson is off-the-charts insomnia.  Michael Jackson was a sad, sorry, probably bad, person.  He was a great singer, a brilliant choreographer and dancer, an insomniac, and a pedophile.  He was horribly abused as a child, but that does not excuse his pedophilia.  Now I am ranting about Michael Jackson.  I will stop now.

I don’t know.  Maybe I do have something else in common with MJ.  I think something happened to both of us when we were little children, before the age of talking.  I have noticed in my life as a pediatrician and specialist in child abuse, focusing on child sexual abuse, that things that happen to preverbal children often cannot be healed, because there is no way to access them.  Sometimes you can get to it through modalities like hypnotherapy and NLP; I’ve done them both.  In fact, I’m a certified NLP practitioner, and during my year’s training I had many hypnotherapy and NLP sessions focused on my inability to sleep, and all of them made sense, and none of them worked.

You see, I am a professional non-sleeper.  When I was a child I often took a book and a flashlight with me under the covers and read till dawn, then went out to enjoy the morning birds’ chorus until it was time to go in the house and pretend I’d been asleep.  Not sleeping was a sin, in my house.  “You go to sleep right now!”  As if that were something voluntary.  I don’t know, maybe it is, for some people.

Sometimes I would get so scared at night that I would cry, and my dad would sometimes come in and make me “an Army Bedroll.”  (He is a World War II veteran.)  He would make me a tight cocoon with my covers, a comforting blanket embrace.  Then he would like down on the floor next to my bed and fall asleep.  He can sleep anytime, anywhere.  How I envy that.  I would listen to him snore, and find myself awake in the dawn, having slept soundly, and he had gone back to bed with my mom.  (For the record, I will say here that my father never, ever did anything that could be remotely considered to be inappropriate with me.  Ever.)

From the Army Bedroll I learned to make a mummy case out of my bedding.  I would get all the covers tucked under me as tight as I could, including over my head.  I do not know how I breathed, but since I am still alive that is proof that I did (hmmm, maybe my brain dysfunction is due to chronic nocturnal hypoxia).  This seemed to work for a while, but soon it wore off and I found myself just lying there mummified until early morning, when I would drift off to sleep until the alarm clock of my mother’s screech “Get up, it’s time for school!” would wake me and I would struggle out of my tangled prison.

(Aside: When I was ten I got hit by a car and spent a week in the hospital in a minor coma.  When they moved me into a regular room my parents came to visit.  I was trying to get some sleep, so I had mummified myself.  I was rudely awakened by my mother’s shrieks when she saw me lying there with the white sheets over my head.  I still get a satisfied snort out of that.)

The hormonal armageddon of puberty seemed to bring about a welcome shift in the sleep department.  Instead of being permanently wired, I became permanently sleepy.  That was nice.  I had a few years’ respite from the night-time nasties.

Then I ran away from home, and endured a series of nocturnal intruders in my bed.  No more sleeping at night for me.  Night was not a safe time to sleep.  It was a time to be vigilant.  And so my nocturnal PTSD reawakened.

As those of you who read my blog with any regularity know, when I am not writing about electric toilets or outhouses, I generally write about my own boring alphabet soup of psychiatric diagnoses: BP, PTSD, OCD (what, I haven’t written about that one yet?  Oversight.  Note to self.), ASD, MDD, blah blah blah, boring.  I’m just so sick of it.  I just want to go back to work and have fun being a doctor like I used to, not sit around being ashamed of my life, the way it’s turned out.

Yes, I am ashamed that I have to take four different kinds of medicine in order to fall asleep (read: pass out from drugs).  Seroquel, which also helps me not feel anything the rest of the time; clonazepam, which helps with the night terrors; lorazepam, which helps calm me down so I don’t leap out of bed and run out the door if I hear a noise; and zolpidem, which has recently had some very bad press in the medical literature, but since I don’t seem to be able to sleep without it, and since bipolar disorder is known to be worsened by lack of sleep, I am stuck.

I just read a great article on how to retrain yourself out of insomnia, using a combination of NLP and DBT techniques.  It looks like it would work for anybody who has “normal” insomnia.  The problem is with me, sleep is associated with being raped, so I don’t think it’s going to work.  I’m going to give it a try, though.  Nothing to lose but a few drugs, and a great deal to gain.

Writing For My Life

OK, I admit it.  I’m depressed.  Have been for a few weeks.  It started when I was in Israel, during the High Holidays, when the level of intensity of life in general ramps up to peak levels.  It’s like recording music, if you’ve ever done that.  There’s a meter that measures the intensity of the sound input.  Nowadays it’s a digital bar meter, kind of like what’s on your cell phone.  At the left the bars are yellow: not enough sound for a good quality recording.  In the middle the bars are green:  good.  After that the bars turn red:  too much input, leads to static and lousy sound.  In the old days when those meters were analogue, there was a needle that looked like the second hand on a watch, and it moved through an arc corresponding to the sound input levels.  On each end of the arc was a pin, to keep the hand from falling off the curve.  If the sound intensity was so high that the needle went all the way over to the right-hand pin, all the way to the end of the red, we said that the meter was “pinned.”  All this explanation to say that during the Holidays my intensity meter was pinned.  Big time.

Normally the days and days and weeks  of ecstatic celebratory prayers with my congregation, with our crazy intense rabbi, are enough to kick me into hypomania, where I remain in my giddy hyperstimulated state until crash and burn time, often punctuated with the immensely unpleasant and distasteful “mixed state,” which many of you know all too well.

This time I think the Seroquel made a big difference.  It blunts my experience of emotion.  It keeps me from derailment, but it shuts me down and I can’t get off, emotionally speaking.  I was there, I felt the waves of other people’s ecstatic prayer experiences washing over me like waves at the beach;  I just didn’t get off.  And it was disappointing.  It made me sad.  And the Holidays started feeling like nothing but a lot of work.  Which in itself was not bad;  it just wasn’t what it has been in other years.

And I started slipping, and I have been feeling the yawning maw of the black hole very near.  I have upped my Lamectil, which is the only thing that seems to stand between me and it.

Maybe I’m being hard on myself.  Maybe I’m being unrealistic.  I was, of course, coming off of the dreadful train wreck of a relationship for which I had held high hopes.  I know I’m still mourning for the relationship I thought it was, the one I wanted it to be, the one that it wasn’t.  That’s enough to get anyone down, temporarily anyway.

But now I’m back in beautiful Western North Carolina, with the music of the river lulling me to sleep every night, background music for the heavy sedatives and antipsychotics as they narc me off to sleep.  Without them there is no sleep, just the hours ticking away until the grey dawn brings on nearly full mania, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and all.

So I’m stuck, really, with the drugs.  I have morbid fantasies of some catastrophic circumstance that might prevent me from having my drugs.  I stockpile them just in case.  Because, dear readers, without them I really would die.  I have come very close in the past.  I really don’t want that to happen.  It would cause too much collateral damage.  And besides, I wouldn’t get to see the end of the movie.

But I have another weapon in my antidepressant arsenal:  I write.  I write like crazy, words just pouring out of my fingers on the keyboard until my hands ache and my butt is numb from sitting writing.

And what am I writing this time?  I am writing my life.  Just writing it down.  Not editing a bit, just writing it as it happened.  I don’t care about an audience.  I have tried to do this time and time again, and each time I get hung up on writing for an audience, which is how I had to write when I had a profession, when I was writing educational materials, presentations, professional stuff.  Not now.  I am writing for my life.  My life depends on it.  I have to get it out of me, into the “paper” of my hard drive, where it can be separate from me and cease to torment me.

My friend R. maintains that anyone who had my life history would be depressed.  I’m not so sure:  I’ve met some people who had much, much more traumatic lives, who were more resilient than I, who have managed to surf above the waves rather than getting sucked down into them.  I don’t know, I don’t like to go with theories of causation of mental illness.  It simply is, and we all have to find our ways of coping, of staying alive and making something of our lives, hopefully, even if that something is “merely” (and I am using Sardonic Voice here) the act of Staying Alive, which is not so simple when all is said and done.

So I am writing for my life.  I want to write myself up out of this hole I’m staring into.  Lord help me to get it right, this time.

 

Sleep, don’t fail me now

Uh-oh.  This is not good.  Not good at all.

Last night I didn’t sleep because of the nightmares, one after the other.  I’d wake up from one, sigh, go back to sleep and boom, another nasty one right on top of it.  I was so tired, though.  I wanted to just say the hell with it and get up and drink tea, but I couldn’t wrench free of that thick sea of monster soup.  When I finally dragged myself out of bed, exhausted, I was shocked to look in the mirror and see only bags under my eyes and not shiners and lacerations like on Friday night fights.

Now it’s tonight.  I was really looking forward to tonight.  It was going to be my come-back match, the one where I went sweetly to sleep (courtesy of Seroquel, Ambien, and Ativan, as always), thumbing my nose at the monster contenders in the other corner.  Let ’em stay there and sweat it out, the bastards.

But.  It’s now 12:49 a.m. and I am no more sleepy than I was an hour before I took my chemical knockout drops.

Maybe it’s because I have to move out of my apartment but have no place to move into because my new place won’t be ready in time.  Could that be it?

Or that in a little over a month I’ll be returning to my home country, my beloved Israel, but knowing that it’s only for a couple of months?  I’ve been here in the States for a year and a half, and only very recently stopped having daily violent crying jags from missing my country so.  I’m so excited to be going Home, and seeing my friends, walking on The Land, and yes, living with my Beloved….it’s enough to keep anyone awake.

But.  I live with the Bipolar monster.  So that means I have to S-L-E-E-P in order to stay healthy and not go mental.  (You see that I have not even mentioned the possibility of this sleeplessness being the harbinger of a hypomania episode.  But.  My Psychiatric  Service Dog, Noga, has come over and started disrupting my writing behavior by bumping me with her nose-that’s what she does when she sees I’m doing something abnormal, according to her, that is.)

image

Noga the Lhasa Apso

So I will have to take another Seroquel and force myself to sleep.  TKO.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Out in the Ozone

Dearest readers, you may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last post.  I feel like I’ve really dropped the ball.
The cause of my sudden silence cannot be revealed at this time.  “All in good time, my pretties, all in good time,” as my evil cousin the Wicked Witch of the West would say.
What I can tell you is that I normally labor to keep my environment under tight control, the better to manage my disease.  Lately this has become impossible, and while the perturbing principle is actually a very pleasant one, it remains nevertheless a perturbation of the steady state equilibrium I work so hard to maintain.
I find myself constantly teetering on the brink ofhypomania, or worse, the dreaded “mixed state.”  I have had to take additional doses of the hated Seroquel.  It does abort the incipient madness, but at such a price….
Apart from its intrinsic goodness, I think the current state of events is beneficial in that it is forcing me to step outside my very well trodden comfort zone, which has served me well for years, but had become something of a prison of late.
It remains to be seen how this new tightrope walk will evolve.  One thing I do know:  this time, I’m not working without a net–and my 360 is well covered.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

Rainy, with a chance of tornadoes

I always get a bit twitchy when the weather is like this. A little while ago the wind was pounding so hard against the windows that I thought they were going to blow right in.  So, thinks I, if this is an incipient tornado, we ought to go in the basement.  We being my dog Noga and I.  But to get to the basement you have to go outside.  And I’m not going outside in THIS.  I would simply blow away, tornado or no tornado.  Once, in Chicago, I was picked up by an errant cross wind and blown into a building.  I was glad for the building: the next thing over was Lake Michigan.  Same thing happened to me in Boston, right opposite the John Hancock Building.  I will never forget it.

At any rate, I picked up Noga, who was furiously barking at the birdhouse which was banging against the kitchen window (note to self: take down birdhouse in a.m.) and carried her into the bathroom, which is the most interior room that we have.  Actually, it is the ONLY room we have that has four walls and a door that closes.  So we sat there for a while comforting each other until the horrible noises outside stopped.  Since then there have been a few squalls, but nothing like the fury of the first torment.

Tornadoes are a theme in my life.  I’ve been in one-a big one-when I was nine or so.  It jumped over our house and totally destroyed the rest of the town.  Another time I was walking in the woods with my ex-husband and infant son, and watched a funnel cloud develop right over our heads.  We jumped in a ditch, and it roared by and tore up a handy farm house.  Did you ever notice that tornadoes have a propensity to destroy farm houses, trailers, and schools, followed closely by strip shopping malls?

Small wonder that tornadoes should figure large in my dreams.  They are an icon that represents chaotic feelings, unsettledness, out-of-controll-ness.  I have been expecting a tornado dream any time now, as I surf on this seemingly endless wave of uncertainty.  I have not felt so completely dispossessed since I was a homeless teenager.

In the good news department, my depression is lifting, thank G-d, but we all know what THAT means.  Any time now.  The other direction.  At least my life is not dull!

My shrink, bless him, knows my neurology thoroughly.  He knows what sort of works, and what disastrously fails, which are the two categories meds fall into, for me.  After all, he has been shrinking my head since 1999. 
So when I texted him re: my depression lasting more than two weeks (he likes texts), he texted me back, “more Lamectil.”  OK, I know this drill.  Increase Lamectil in 25 to 50mg increments until depression lifts.  Then deal with the horrible mixed state that almost always follows,  by dousing it with Seroquel.  Then enjoy the relatively peaceful few days, or if lucky, weeks, until the next tornado shows up.  This sure as hell ain’t Kansas, Toto.