Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Going off Lithium - I went off and learned, to my shock, my bipolar went away

Lithium carbonate. Read about lithium here. 

Also read my post "We loved lithium until it turned on us," which features the fascinating history of lithium.

New Directions had a phone call today from a woman from Maryland.

"Amy" found us on the Internet. Her husband is on lithium and is in Stage 3 of Chronic Kidney Disease.

"Chaz" is 69 yrs old. His doctor is going to wean him off the lithium and put him on Depakote while he's being weaned off.

Amy wanted to know if Depakote was a good drug. Read more about it here.

Yes, I said. Some of our members are on Depakote. What I didn't say is that childbearing women should not take it. Read more here.

Just wanna mention, I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist.

But.... I pay attention.

In answer to Amy's question, I called some of our members to ask what drugs they took after going off lithium.

BTW, Amy thanked me for our help.

We'll start with GINNY, since she's the most complicated case.

Please note that 'antipsychotic' drugs are often used as mood stabilizers.

Click on each drug below to learn more about them. 

Antipsychotics:   Seroquel, Risperdal, Geodon, Abilify, Latuda.

Mood stabilizers:   Lithium, Depakote, Tegretol, Trileptal

Ginny, 66, takes Wellbutrin (an antidepressant), Risperdal (antipsychotic) and Provigil (a wakefulness-promoting drug or stimulant).

She is probably in Stage 3 or 4 of Chronic Kidney Disease. Her kidney doctor has her on a special diet to preserve kidney function. She maintains a diet low in protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sodium.

Here's my post on my kidney-healthy diet I was on before I had my kidney transplant in April, 2011, courtesy of my daughter Sarah.  
 Sarah and Ruth

JUDY sees Dr Don Levin in Doylestown, PA, who no longer prescribes lithium.

Read about Dr Levin in the Times here.

I just happen to have Judy's photo
She's on Lamictal and Zoloft.

HELEN, one of our group leaders, writes:

For my mood stabilizer, I use Lamictal (generic - Lamotrigine) 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg at night.  I could not stand the side effects of Lithium.  It made me feel spacey and lethargic.  I was thirsty 24-7, which means that I needed a bathroom close by.  It was tough to swim or ski, as I had to leave the activity, often, to go to the women's room.  I tried Depakote after going off the Lithium.  That too made me tired and unmotivated.  Lamictal is the mood stabilizer that makes me feel most like I'm not on something.  I am grateful that it exists.
Helen Kirschner

My dear friend DENIS is on DIALYSIS, from losing kidney function due to lithium. He had a transplant which lasted six years, but then certain conditions made his body reject the kidney.

Denis is on Lamictal.   

MRS F, who's 75, and stable after going off the lithium, takes Zoloft, Lamictal, Klonopin, and Remeron.

I should mention that my doctor did not wean me off lithium and I was suicidal for the better part of 8 months. If you've never been suicidal, you have no idea what it's like. It's as if a FORCE as great as the winds of a tornado is pulling at you urging you to kill yourself.

If you wish, you can read my Keys to Recovery with Stop-Suicide Plan, which I learned about that dreadful year. Ironically, it was the year we won our first grant from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation. But, when suicide is calling her siren song, nothing can help you unless you figure out how to outwit it. 

Checking into the hospital is often advised.

How do you like this birdhouse I painted today?

Scott will hang it up tomorrow in the front yard since hummingbirds have found our feeder.

Life is good. Life is great. I've been on NO MEDS for a dozen years. Was it all a dream that I had manic-depression for 20 years?

Will I be a boon to the hummingbirds?

Stay, hummingbird, stay.

Since a pair of em were fluttering around the feeder, I decided to build them a home.

If you build it, they will come.

Bought this bird house with a tiny door at A C Moore. Then spent about 90 minutes painting it.

The feeling of laying on the paint was sensational. 
Here's the hummingbird feeder.
I painted on my screened-in back porch, while listening to WXPN.
Fini !
Hello Hornets on the corner of my back porch!
Quick, shut the door!
This little birdie lives in the house above. He likes perching here and makes a hissing sound when he sees me.
Back porch where I take all of my meals. I like to concentrate on the joy of eating and taste each tasty morsel.
Knock! Knock! May I come in?
Dinner bell!
Beefsteak tomatoes from our garden with cheddar cheese.
Then I went outside and put basil on top - and dipped em in mayo!!!
Ran over to the Giant to buy humus, which I eat in the morning. I felt like a treat so I wandered over to the deli aisle.

Was gonna get some turkey or ham and then I thought, Oh no! They've gotta kill those animals in order for me to eat them!

So I got some lo-sodium swiss cheese and wrapped em in cold Claussen pickles.

How do you spell  S-P-L-E-N-D-I-D-L-Y   D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T !!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coffeeshop Writers' Group - We're intruders into their forest / Two Poems: Sugar Water and My Upstairs Office

When I got home from the writing group, Nancy Myers, my across-the-street neighbor, came over with her camera.

While I was gone, two baby deer had come in from the tiny woods in our backyards, and were sipping on water from the birdbath! Nancy's daughter Linda will email me the photos.
Pretty in pink, Martha Hunter, read two wonderful stories about cats she's had. One story ended with something like, Thus ended the cat dynasty on Vincent Road.

An amazing thing happened to one of her cats, Mr Whisker, who had a habit of ambushing the Hunters and biting their ankles. Definitely not a nice cat, she wrote, but aloof and didn't like to be cuddled.

One day Mr Whisker passed away. As Marf's dad was pulling up the drive, a funeral was taking place. Mr Whisker's funeral. And who were the mourners? The neighborhood cats.

Truth. Stranger than fiction.
A beaming Linda Barrett shared another chapter of her sci-fi novel. In this imaginative tale on location in a future Philadelphia, individuals, who are 'hatched,' rathan born, surrender themselves to The Reapers when they are of age.

Of an age to die, so that others might live. In the story we visit Morgue, where piles of body parts, including livers, hearts, skin, ovaries, prostates, are waiting to be implanted in someone's body to keep them alive.

Since many of us were drinking coffee at the Giant, 'make mine iced decaf, Adryn,' lemme share this link about Coffee is healthy for you.

Found it on FB, as posted by psychiatrist Basem Schlewiet.
When I get my Giant decaf, I add cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa to spice up the flavor. Never, my lord, do I drink their lattes or their chai's. Or, for godsakes, add cream to the darn thing.

Who needs a bigger belly than they already have? 

All the better to stick your needle into.
Beatriz Moisset, orig from Argentina (just try to read her FB comments in Spanish), was contacted by an associate editor at Scientific American.

Ferris Jabr had a mission. He recently moved from NYC to Brooklyn and wanted to know what pollinators he should plant.

One of these photos is Ferris Jabr, but you've gotta figure it out yourself.

He went on Google and the first thing that popped up was Beatriz's blog!

He contacts her and says he wants to i'view her for the next issue of Scientific American.

She calls a couple friends who advise her: Get the questions in advance and have a 'prepared statement' to leave the readers with.

She does very well during the 20-minute interview and we're excited to read it!

Here are excerpts from today's essay: LAWN FOR POLLINATORS, GRASS COMPANIONS
If we want to make our lawns more nature-friendly, we need to start by readjusting our notions of aesthetics.

A perfectly manicured lawn that looks like an indoor green carpet needs not be the only ideal of lawn beauty. On the other hand, a lawn rich in biodiversity is more ecologically sound than the sterile monotonous ones that passes for lawn nowadays.

We can learn to appreciate the natural beauty of a field rich in a variety of low-growing plants including broad-leaved "weeds." In fact, let us remove the negative connotations of this word by calling them "grass companions" instead. (BRILLIANT!)

Numerous little flowering plants grow in lawns completely uninvited. Too bad that we are so determined to get rid of them! We could start welcoming some of them. This is Nature's way to restore balance to the ecosystem.... Ideally, a pollinator-friendly lawn would have only non-invasive lawn flowers, preferably native ones.

I see no harm in tolerating some non-invasive flowering plants in the mix.

Some of my favorite grass companions, such as violets,

bluets and spring beauties 
do well only where foot traffic is minimal, or where mowings are less frequent.

 Marf had gifted all of us with meaningful items. Beatriz said she would put a backing on mine, which she did. It is now hanging on the wall of mine own Barnes Museum.
 The reason you can't see it is b/c it just fell behind the couch. I'll fish it out later but wanna finish blogging by 8 pm when The Thomas Crown Affair is on Channel 12.

OMG! I actually got panicked b/c I saw there was blank white paper below here.
Here's newcomer Emma, who really fixed up her last piece, which she's titled "Different Shades of Mental."

Since she's returning to college in less than a month, we urged her to complete it before she leaves. It's quite good.


I was indoors all day
by the whirring fan
working on a grant,
a cup of tea
my only companion

Nothing existed but
words on the computer screen
“Justify the need”
“How is your nonprofit different
than all others”
“What will you use the money for?”

Deadline so close I couldn’t
make silent jokes or cuss the
million-dollar-foundations for
making it so damn hard

I looked out the window
in my tiny upstairs office
the green leaves on my silver maple
were soaking up the July light
filled with joy

I cannot be with you now
I whispered turning back to
the screen
The phone rang downstairs.
My accountant.

Hello, Larry, I said when I saw
his name.
I was in a daze
needing to change the
gauge in my brain
to “speech”
rather than

I understood not a word he said
as I walked barefoot across the
soft living room carpet
to the front window
“Oh my God, Larry,” I said.
“They’re here.
They’ve finally come.
The hummingbirds.”

I watched as not one
but two of them
took sustenance
from the sugar water
we placed for them
months ago

We don’t get the colorful
ones like on television
we get the brown ones
tiny brown creatures
bumblebees, if you
didn’t know any better,
suspended by wings
you can’t even see
but just believe in

Stay, little birds, stay
I whispered,
but they were
already gone,
flying away
the moment
they arrived.   


Someone painted it yellow
my boys’s former blue bedroom
I painted the file cabinet pink
A Mickey Mouse cup from my
in-laws holds the pens that are
scattered across the desk,
which really isn’t,
merely a slab of formica
stretched across
two plastic file cases
not in use

Three bulletin boards
hold pretty pictures
a Karl Rickels book mark
a thank-you from Iris Innes
a calendar picture by
coy man in red shirt
I’ll recognize when he comes by.

An expensive chair from my
late Aunt Ethel holds papers
and beside that
a Bible, dictionary, photo album
and Gaudi’s La Pedrera
no use to anyone
on a small white table
I picked from the trash

When I enter the room
I see nothing.
Watch the floor
so I don’t step on
peanuts or stink bugs
then settle at my desk
scratch my forehead
and press go.


 Beatriz mentioned the deer eat the hasta.

I wish they would. They're crowding the front door.

These are pollinated by bumble bees, among others.
This jungle in my front yard used to be an attractive garden until these tall invasive weeds crawled like the Panzers and destroyed everything.

Okay, 20 minutes left before Thomas Crown. Read about Steve McQueen's death at age 50 from an incurable cancer.

Oy! I always like to finish the post on a happy note.

Well, I had a good visit with Mom today and got a baggie full of free broccoli. I brought her and Ellen assorted olives I bought at the Giant.