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About Heath Ledger’s Performance as the Joker

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Maybe I’m just being captain obvious here, but I just realized something worth pointing out.

When I was watching “The Dark Knight” years ago I was struck by Heath Ledger’s physical performance as the Joker–specifically all of his facial tics and especially what he was doing with his tongue. It never dawned on me, however, that he was imitating actual symptoms except for what was in his own imagination. Ironically I have been on anti-psychotics for about ten years now, and during that time I have always been worried about developing tardive dyskinesia. I haven’t developed TD yet, but recently I realized that it’s pretty much what Heath Ledger was imitating in his performance. I googled it and more than a few people seem to agree with me. In fact many people think Ledger delivered a textbook depiction.

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Status Report #13 (Lamotrigine and Lactose Ad Nauseam)

May 20, 2012 3 comments

Here’s the latest update: it’s a week since I’ve stopped the standard Lamotrigine and I still can’t drink lactose-free milk. Last time I stopped taking a lactose-bearing drug (Perphenazine) I was almost immediately able to go back to lactose-free milk. Oh well, I’ll be patient.

I saw my psychiatrist (pdoc) and he put me on chewable Lamictal, but it’s a children’s medication and it only comes in 2mg tablets. The therapeutic dose for an adult is apparently 200mg, so it means I’m going to be chewing a lot of tablets (I guess). It’s either that or don’t take the medication.

My pdoc also put me back on Risperdal, but this time on the oral solution–which is also lactose-free. This means I can get off the Modecate and the Amantadine. Again, I am taking the Modecate instead of the Risperdal because it is lactose-free. I am taking the Amantadine to counter the trembling caused by the Modecate. So instead of two meds I’m now going to take one: Risperdal.

Heaven help me if I ever lose my drug plan because all these oral and chewable alternatives only exist for the name brand versions. You can’t seem to get an oral solution or a chewable form of the generic Lamotrigine or Risperidone.

I wonder what lactose-intolerant people are supposed to do with all these meds that make us sick, and the answer is we’re not a big enough share of the market to matter. They just don’t care about us one way or the other. I guess since we’re not dying it’s not a pressing issue.

Well let me get serious for a moment. When I was taking the lactose-bearing meds my bowel was so inflamed that my rectum was prolapsed (part of my butt was outside my body). Let me assure you how painful that is. I had to take a spare pair of pants with me wherever I went in case some dairy slipped by my notice (sometimes the day before) and I didn’t make it to the washroom on time. Sometimes I just had to walk around with an obvious stain and put something under me where I sat. There was no alternative. Do you go home from work just because you’ve had a little “accident”?

I can’t consume anything that doesn’t have ingredients listed on it and I have memorized a long list of ingredients that are dairy but don’t say they are dairy. I have memorized what I can eat at fast food restaurants (nothing at A&W, Taco Bell, or KFC; almost nothing at McDonald’s or Harvey’s). I have learned to eat pizza without cheese, for example.

It’s no different than if I was allergic to dairy, except I won’t die if I mess up. So in that way I’m very lucky. It’s just that to know it’s the side-effect of a medication and that it’s caused by a totally non-essential non-active ingredient, that makes it infuriating.

Status Report #9

March 29, 2012 1 comment

It’s been four days since my Modecate injection and I don’t seem to be having a “down” (except that I need more sleep). In fact,  I’m going the opposite way, which seems to indicate that the down and the last injection were a coincidence. That’s good.

My downs are getting to be pretty mild. They’re nothing to joke about, but they’re mild all the same. I did have a bad down from mid October to the end of November but that was when I was losing my dream job, living on no money, and going through a lot of stress at home. Since then I’ve had dips, but they’ve been both minor and short.

My mood swings used to last for months and used to be severe in both directions. I can remember months of sitting in a stupor, almost as if encased in clear plastic, unable to move or think on my own or to feel anything. I could react, but I had no motivation of my own. That was when I would hurt myself, I guess so I could feel something. To tell you the truth I don’t know why I did it.

Anyway, I bring up the past only for contrast to the present. I don’t eat well, or sleep well, or exercise, or meditate, or do yoga, or basically do anything to deserve feeling this good. I take lithium and Divalproex. That’s it. The Modecate keeps the weird thoughts at bay.

I am thankful every day at how fortunate I am.

Challenge to self: Unless something dramatic happens, I will not mention my mood for the next 10 posts.

On Bullsh*t and the Truth

March 25, 2012 3 comments

I’m going out on a limb and writing a post not directly related to being bipolar, except at the end.

I have been reading a short (20 pages) but excellent essay called “On Bullshit” by Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University. You can read it online here. If you’ve made it this far and you’re offended by the uncensored word “bullshit”, then go no farther. If you can look past surface appearances, it is an extremely serious essay.

Frankfurt’s main premise is that liars have a specific agenda of concealing the truth. Bullshitters are different because they are not specifically concerned with the truth. They have their rhetorical agenda, which may be compatible with the truth to a degree, or not. It doesn’t matter. If bullshitters coincidentally tell the truth, or if they coincidentally lie, all that matters is winning the argument.

According to Frankfurt both the liar and the bullshitter deceive us in representing themselves as telling the truth. The difference is that lies are specifically untrue, while bullshit is merely constructed without any particular regard for the truth. It may be false, it may be true, it may even be “truthy”–to borrow from Stephen Colbert. The bullshitter doesn’t care as long as it serves its purpose.

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Status Report #7

March 12, 2012 3 comments

Well it’s been a week since my last Modecate injection and the side-effects have been nearly non-existent. I have joint pain in my right wrist where there was none before, and I have to watch my bladder capacity or else it will leak, and that’s about it. I had one weird blip which is more of a bipolar symptom than a side effect. I was working in my kitchen and suddenly everything I did was extremely important. It wasn’t cosmic godlike important, but it was still very important. Did I open the fridge or not? Did I hold a fork a certain way? Did I look left or right? Did I go into the dining room? Every choice was a grave one and every decision was a triumph. This is the kind of stuff the Modecate is supposed to stop.

At first I thought that the nurse must have messed up the injection, but I decided to wait and see what happened. There have been no more episodes; and no hallucinations; and no voices; so so far so good. I was having some minor hallucinations before the injection, too. One of them is very interesting. A phoneme is a component sound of a word. For example, “Hello” is composed of the phonemes H-eh-l-oh. Imagine hearing a stream of thousands of random phonemes, like a malfunctioning computer voice. That’s what I hear; or rather what I did hear last week. Just for a few minutes. That hallucination is actually kind of fun. There is a related hallucination when I will hear a room full of voices for hours. The voices are just a little too indistinct to understand. I’m quite hard of hearing, so to me it’s just like being at a real party.

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The Evils of Big Pharma?

March 5, 2012 3 comments

Today is Modecate[1] day and I’m going to be interested in what changes it causes in my brain. I brought this up in another forum and someone there went on a riff about the evils of Big Pharma and mind-altering drugs. I thought I’d address the issue here.

I’m going to be honest up front that I am an ethusiastic consumer of mental health medication. I don’t trust alternative medication at all. As long as I see positive results from my meds I will put up with quite a lot in terms of side-effects.

There are meds I’ve refused to take: Propranolol made me feel too weird; Lamictal had a potentially fatal side-effect (plus I lost my insurance and couldn’t afford it); Olanzapine was so sedating I had to hide out at work and sleep during the day. The point is I’m not a zombie pill muncher who pops whatever the doctors presecribe. Still, I guess I’ll try anything and give it up if it doesn’t work out. Kind of contradictory, eh?

I do know that big pharma is in business to make money above all else. Any CEO of any company who acts or says otherwise is going to be out of a job. I know how big pharma cooks the books with their trials, and I know all about the scam of contually coming out with new drugs when the patents expire on the old ones. In Canada, at least, you can get generic versions of the old drugs (I don’t know how it works elsewhere).
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A Quiet Time May Be Coming (And Other Side Effects)

February 29, 2012 1 comment

Well, my brain is back to normal (???) from my Modecate (anti-psychotic) injection two weeks ago. I’m posting several posts a day again, but without any sense of special importance.

Now I get my next injection next Monday, and I’ll probably be quiet again. We’ll see. Just based on comments that nurses have let slip, I think I’m taking the heavy duty meds they give to scary people who they can’t trust to take their meds. The thing is, I’m taking Modecate mainly because it is lactose free. Although having said that, I am taking the standard dosage instead of a lighter one because I kept having psychotic episodes on my other anti-psychotics.

The good thing about side-effects is that, for the most part, they go away. I have every reason to believe that this quiet/uncommunicative side effect will go away in time, too. It will be interesting to observe (I try to keep a positive attitude).

One side effect that is not going away is the tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the lips and tongue). It is getting worse to the point where it will be noticeable to anyone soon. From what I read about it, it can be irreversible. Considering that my other career is basically public speaking, this could be disastrous. I have had many temporary physical disabilities, however, and I have always persevered. If this is permanent, I will deal with this too. So far it’s okay.

Luckily I now have a drug plan through my employer (in Ontario we have free doctors but not free drugs) so I can afford the more modern meds again. Next month my doctor and I will have to see what modern lactose-free anti-psychotics I can take. I can get off of these older drugs before the tardive dyskinesia becomes worse, or permanent. As I said above, I will accept the tardive dyskinesia, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to.