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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gratitude for Medication

For my bipolar disorder, I currently take Effexor (an antidepressant), Wellbutrin (an antidepressant), Lamictal (a mood stabilizer), Abilify (an anti-psychotic), and Clonazepam (an anti-anxiety). This combination of meds is working well for me, but they still need to be tweaked at times. Like bipolar disorder itself, meds are a constant balancing act. It took a long time to get to this combination that seems to work best. But this combination might not work well forever. It's just something I'll have to see. I'm grateful for having a doctor who is so knowledgeable about medication and who knows what should be most effective.

These meds do not come without their side effects. Many of them can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Abilify causes me to have slight tremors in both my hands and tongue. But overall, I'm pretty used to these meds and don't notice their side effects much. I'm clumsy, which I attribute in part to the meds, but I'm also just not the most graceful person and never have been.

I think sometimes about the days before these meds existed and it scares me. I can only imagine how I might be without medication--I'm glad I don't have to find out. Of course, meds aren't the only thing keeping me well. A person also needs good therapy and good support from family and friends. I'm grateful to have these, too. But I'm especially grateful for these chemicals that make my brain's chemicals operate in a sound and balanced way.

Not all meds work for everyone, or work in the same way for everyone. I have, over the years, taken Depakote and Seroquel. Both made me incredibly fatigued and zombie-like. Yet I have heard that these work well for other people. I have also taken the antidepressants Serzone, Celexa, and Zoloft. Zoloft didn't work at all for me, and the other two stopped working (antidepressant burnout). I started out taking lithium when I was first diagnosed, but the side effects of it, which are numerous, became too much for me. However, for ten years, lithium worked, and I'm sure it can work well for some people for many years.

Sometimes people will ask me what I take in the hope of finding something effective for themselves or a loved one. I do tell people, but it's always with the disclaimer that these meds work for me, and may not be as effective, or effective at all, for everyone. If you are on meds for a brain disorder, my advice is to stay on them. And if they're not working well, or cause too many negative side effects, speak up. Be your own best advocate to get what you need.

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