the Side Effects

 and give this day our daily...

if you're living in a bipolar way, there's a fundamental question you've got to answer:

       To med,
            or not to med?

that is the question. whether 'tis nobler in the mind
to suffer the etc...

it's personal. political. economic. philosophical.
it's the Big Kahuna.
i've lived with them, and I've lived without them,
and as far as i can tell,
my life works better with... 

so very far from what i can imagine that it gives me vertigo, and  i am to Enlightenment as Haley is to his comet. there are still days when there isn't even a good reason to wake up, let alone get up...

...but better.

And if you're living uno vida medicado, one day you'll probably find yourself at least scanning on the possible "side effects*" of what you are ingesting each day.

i'm taking two kinds of prescription meds - as well as vitamins, caffeine, nicotine, smoothies and a few other household remedies - and as side effects go, these are my possibilities...

meds merch


    * Nausea -- in up to 21 percent of people
    * Dry mouth -- up to 20 percent
    * Drowsiness -- up to 18 percent
    * Insomnia -- up to 15 percent
    * Increased sweating -- up to 11 percent
    * Shakiness (tremor) -- up to 8 percent
    * Diarrhea -- up to 8 percent
    * Ejaculation problems -- up to 6 percent

Other common side effects occurring
in 2 - 5 percent of people include:

    * Upper respiratory tract infections    
    * Runny / irritated nose or sinus infections
    * Fatigue / somnolence
    * Indigestion or heartburn
    * Vomiting
    * Anxiety or agitation
    * Loss of appetite
    * Erectile dysfunction (ER or impotence)
    * Painful menstrual cramps
    * Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    * Fever
    * Muscle pain or joint pain
    * Decreased sex drive
    * Yawning.
    * Suicidal thoughts or behavior
    * Increased perspiration 
    * Anxiety, agitation, or panic attacks
    * Hostility or aggressiveness
    * Engaging in unusual or dangerous activities
    * Restlessness or inability to sit still
    * Extreme elation or feeling of happiness
       that may switch back and forth with a depressed
       or sad mood
    * Other unusual changes in behavior
    * Chest palpitations
    * Difficulty sleeping
    * Signs of serotonin syndrome, such as:
          o Confusion or other mental changes
          o A rapid heart rate
          o Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
          o Hallucinations
          o Blood pressure changes
          o An irregular heart rhythm
          o Overactive reflexes
          o Fever, sweating, or shivering
          o Shakiness
          o Agitation
          o Seizures
          o Coma

If taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either
could be increased, decreased, or altered.

parents say the darndest things


* Loss of appetite (anorexia) -- up to 36 percent of people
* Dry mouth -- in up to 35 percent
* Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) -- in up to 27 percent
* Headaches -- in up to 26 percent
* Abdominal pain (or stomach pain) -- in up to 14 percent
* Temporary increase in blood pressure -- in up to 11 percent
* Weight loss -- in up to 11 percent
* Emotional changes -- in up to 9 percent
* Nausea, upset stomach, or vomiting -- in up to 8 percent
* Dizziness -- in up to 7 percent
* Diarrhea -- in up to 6 percent/ constipation
* Feeling of weakness (asthenia) -- in up to 6 percent
* Increased heart rate (tachycardia) -- in up to 6 percent
* Infection, including urinary tract -- in up to 5 percent
* Fever -- in up to 5 percent
* Heartburn -- in up to 2 percent.

but wait- there's more!

* Suicidal thoughts
* Confusion
* Chest tightness
* Chest pain or heart palpitations
* Shortness of breath
* Depression
* More outgoing or aggressive behavior than normal
* Strange behavior
* Hallucinations
* Agitation or restlessness
* Fainting
* Seizures
* Unexplained rash
* Hives
* Uncontrolled movements known as tics
* Fatigue or tiredness
* Constipation
* Shakiness
* Sweating
* Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction)
* Decreased sex drive
* Blurred vision
* Dizziness
* Elevated heartbeat
* Headache
* High blood pressure
* Lack of appetite
* Rapid breathing
* Restlessness
* Difficulty falling or staying asleep
* Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
* Changes in sex drive or ability
Dry mouth
* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Constipation / diarrhea
* Loss of appetite
* Weight loss

Some side effects can be serious.
If you experience any of the following symptoms,
call your doctor immediately:

fast or pounding heartbeat
* shortness of breath
* chest pain
* excessive tiredness
* slow or difficult speech
* dizziness or faintness
* weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
* seizures
* motor or verbal tics
* believing things that are not true
* feeling unusually suspicious of others
* aggressive or hostile behavior
* changes in vision or blurred vision
* swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat
This medication also may cause sudden death**, heart attack, or stroke in adults, especially adults with heart defects or serious heart problems.

it's not something i like to dwell on, but they can't be unread. just add them to the list of cross-references integral to the negotiating reality with others day by day, and listen to your body. listen to your body.

the better you listen, the quicker you'll know what effects - good and not-so-good - your meds are adding to your mix. ergo, the sooner you can compensate for them, or try a different med. 

being medicated, i sometimes wonder how many of 'my' side-effects might simply be honest, organic responses to urban living, poverty and the weather?

it's a useless question, because it can't be answered... but it may be a baby step towards understanding that quirky creative thing that the dis-ordered so often do...

...just a thought.


* side effects - a term i've never felt very good about. talk about your re-situated discourse and contested terrains. it may be "on the side" if you're marketing it, but these are things that may or may not be happening inside my organs, including my brain. this is personal.
see also: user-friendly, customer service, your call is important, etc

**  good to know...




War is Hell

some people are born with mental challenges.
others have them thrust upon them.

It's one of those statements so brief and true that the real horror of the meaning can almost slip away. In it's original context, the point is much clearer, and inescapable:

    "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine.
    It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard
    the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud
    for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."

It was said by a man who had good reason to know - William Tecumseh Sherman. He was a general who led Union troops during the American Civil War, one of the bloodiest conflicts of modern times... but Sherman knew before the war started what lay ahead. Less often quoted is an observation he shared with an enthusiastic Southern friend before a shot was fired:

"You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing!"

Soon after the war began, Sherman himself had what we would now call a nervous breakdown, but he was recalled to service and with Ulysesses S. Grant can be credited with winning the war for North.

Many soldiers on both sides would be diagnosed with what was called "the soldier's disease". In the first world war, it would be called "shell shock".

Symptoms ranged from uncontrollable diarrhoea to unrelenting anxiety. During World War One, four-fifths of men who had entered hospital suffering shell shock were never able to return to military duty. By the end of World War One the British Army had dealt with 80,000 cases of shell shock

In the second, it would be called "combat fatigue". One in four WW2 casualties was caused by "combat fatigue." For those in lengthy, intense fighting, the ratio was one in two.

"I remember the experience as I do a nightmare. A demon seemed to have entered my body."

Audie Murphy

Combat fatigue researcher Frederick Hanson discovered that evacuating a patient home, besides losing him forever as a fighting soldier, often exacerbated his condition. Hanson and others realized that battle fatigued soldiers were often, more than anything else, just fatigued.

The First Armored Division reported that by giving "mentals" complete rest in a safe area near the front, plus hot meals and a bath, 50-70% returned to combat within three days.

1,393,000 soldiers were treated for battle fatigue during WW2. Of all ground combat troops, 37% were discharged for psychiatric reasons. During World War II, 23 percent of US evacuations were for psychiatric reasons. But in Korea, psychiatric evacuations dropped to only six percent.

Now, it's called "post-traumatic stress disorder".
A bigger name for a bigger problem.

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost
more troops to suicide than it has to combat
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There's reason to believe that the numbers
are actually much higher.

Fifteen to fifty percent of battle fatigue casualties do not recover within 72 hours. Five to fifteen percent of battle fatigue casualties fail to improve sufficiently to return to duty in the combat zone.


BRains... must have brains

The brain is the center of the nervous system
in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals.

The adult human brain weighs on average
about 3 lb (1.5 kg).

The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains roughly 15–33 billion neurons, perhaps more, depending on gender and age, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each.

Each cubic millimeter of cerebral cortex contains
roughly one billion synapses. The brains of vertebrates
are made of very soft tissue, with a texture that has
been compared to Jell-O or firm tofu.

Living brain tissue is pinkish on the outside
and mostly white on the inside, with subtle
variations in color.

A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are widely thought to be associated with brain dysfunctions, although the nature of such brain anomalies is not well understood.

Mental disorders, such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder may involve particular patterns of neuropsychological functioning related to various aspects of mental and somatic function.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as "mad cow disease") is deadly in cattle and humans and is linked
to prions. Kuru is a similar prion-borne degenerative brain disease affecting humans.

Both are linked to the ingestion of neural tissue, and may explain the tendency in human and some non-human species to avoid cannibalism.



If you're considering anti-depressants...

here's some useful information from Consumer Reports...

Taking effectiveness, safety, side effects, and cost into account, we have chosen five Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs as initial options to consider for depression:

  • Generic bupropion
  • Generic citalopram
  • Generic fluoxetine
  • Generic paroxetine
  • Generic sertraline
These medicines are substantially less expensive than brand-name antidepressants and are as equally effective. If you have drug coverage, talk with your doctor about finding the antidepressant that has the lowest out-of-pocket cost under your insurance plan.

This report was updated in October 2010.

for more information



Suicide Donuts...

"Some say that brain disorders are not real diseases,
but a crutch. Some say it’s solely an environmental, food or stress-related reaction. Sometimes these things can trigger a relapse, as with any chronic illness; but the source is brain chemistry, and it requires medical treatment. Others say it does not exist. The “all in your head” approach. Why would I make it up? So that I could enjoy criticism, lack of employment and loss?

Right, I’m making up something so that I can endure years
of pain and suffering and later be slammed for being honest? I’m making it up so that I can deal with extensive periods of medication trials and errors, numerous side effects and go in debt because of medical bills?

Right, it would make sense that I would make this up. Ridiculous."

... a simple, clear, powerful description
of bipolar living - one of the best i've read.

read the rest at


Mental Illness in America infographic

an interesting look...


Depression - the standard response

ever get this response from someone
when you try to talk about
being depressed?

i have...

i hate it when people
respond this way...
i really hate it.

...but i know it's just a question
of time til it happens again.


depression & antidepressants

prozac, lithium, coffee, Poe, creativity, raven, anti-depressants


Lithium 101

a cheery little movie about Lithium-
i learned a few things,
and you might too!


Being Bipolar - a Dark Night

Some nights sleep is elusive... some nights it doesn't come at all...and last night was one of those nights.

I found myself wondering if 'depression' is nothing more than the inability to pretend anymore... to pretend that any of this really matters much at all.

So many waking hours get spent behind the masks we make for ourselves to 'pass' as 'normal', or that we are given with the expectation we will wear them and say the right things, at the right times to let the game go on.

Maybe being depressed is actually a kind of spiritual exhaustion, a day, a night, a week, a month where we just can't summon up the wherewithal to make all this mean something anymore... or even pretend we do...

Humans seem to be meaning-making organisms. We make things up - gods, nations, money, even ourselves - and we depend on each other to ratify our individual faith that these things actually do exist, and that they have value, they are important.

But all these notions are as fragile as we are, and knowing this, we naturally prefer to spend our time with those who hold these 'truths' to be really real too.

But maybe alone, on a dark night, we know better. Maybe, we know worse.

Maybe we don't know a damn thing.


Check Your Meds!

... so much of life as we know it
comes down to chemistry...

a little more of this,
a little less of that
and "wow"....

but don't take too much...

unless you're ready
to go for a ride too...

- 30 -

Brand Names vs. Generics

brand name drugs vs. generics.
it's a topic that comes up a lot when living
with psychopharmaceuticals, and any other
health issues where medication is part
of the treatment.

it even comes up
when you have a headache.


Save Me from True Believers

one of the ten million things i don't understand
about the universe is why religious fundamentalism
isn't called a mental illness.

people get diagnosed for
manifesting a lot less.

there are people walking among us
who really think the creative force
behind the universe has them
on speed dial.

they believe he/she/it talks to them
and weirder yet, listens to them.

i'm all in favour of a positive self-image - i wish i had one - but doesn't this level of self esteem concern you a little? 
it gives me the bigtime willies.

funadentalists are dangerous. verily i say unto you
that if these people hear the wrong thing
in their head one night, they will kill
you and every one you know
in your sleep.

yea and they will do it with a song
in their heart, thrilled to be serving 'god'.

they'll believe they are "doing the right thing"
more than you ever believed anything
in your life.

they're not only doing the right thing,
they are earning mad heavenly air miles.

while you bleed out, 'god' is packing them
a special goody bag for the hereafter,
and bumping them up to
the business class eternal.

how do they know?

'god' told them.

if this isn't delusional,
what is?

i'd sleep better knowing these people
had been professionally diagnosed
and were adequately medicated...

and were forbidden to own
high-powered weapons.


Know What I Mean?

...sometimes for a minute or two.
sometimes, longer.

hey Moe.

hey Larry!


Bipolar Celebrities


i know it's a good thing when bipolar celebrities go public with their diagnosis.

for a minute or two, there's more information going out about what bipolar is, and what it is not, it puts a face on it, it chips away at the stigma, etc etc etc...

but it's not all good- ie - it's not all good for me. it seems to activate something back in my lizard brain, something small, and kind of nasty. i'm not proud of it, but i'm not going to pretend i don't feel it either.

i get really envious when i see those to whom attention is already given get more, because i'm starving for it. i'm envious because once you are a bipolar celebrity, you don't have to talk about with anyone anymore.

 you don't have to worry about who you can trust with that information.  you don't have to wonder if you should tell the next person you meet, or a potential employer.

ms. zeta-jones' phone will ring next week as much as it did this week, or last week. carrie fisher's too. they got work, and they'll get more. they were amazing people before, and now they are even more amazing.

there's more information going out, there's a face on it, but if there's less stigma, it's because one less person living beyond it's influence, not because it's going away anytime soon.

but when the headline moment moves on, i am so frickin' depressed i can hardly talk. every awful thing i ever thought about myself is true. in fact, i am even more useless than i thought. it's at least possible that every awful thing anybody else ever said about me is true too.

look at these people! they are bipolar and amazing. i'm a fucking loser who's also bipolar. what a sack of shit i am. what a waste of a skin.

bipolar celebrities don't have to worry about money for meds this month, or waiting on a maybe to see someone who might really help. people don't 'whatever' them when they talk about it, they listen. they buy tickets to hear them talk about it. they buy their books about it.

the only people who who listen when i talk about bipolar living are a few friends who are bipolar too. there were about 3 people who really gave a damn when i wrote a book, and i was one of them.

i said it wasn't pretty.

i don't dislike anyone who is positive, creative and trying to make things better while trying to make sense of whatever it is we are... and when celebrities go public with their agnosis, they are doing all this and more.

my problem is that i don't like me very much.

- tbc -