Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A letter to Barry Bitzer

An Open letter to Barry Bitzer. He's running for State Senate in Sandoval County, New Mexico and he fights for the mentally ill. He's also a Republican, oddly enough.

Dear Barry:

Something I wanted to tell you tonight but I thought it bad timing. I am...more interested in the rights of the mentally ill than most because I'm actually a recipient of a big government program that helps the mentally ill. Since around January of 2004, I have been on SSI. You might find that surprising...perhaps not. I'm on SSI because I'm a diagnosed bipolar. But I'm also a (fairly) lucid and well-educated soul, which puts me in a lot of interesting positions.

When I first got on SSI, I swore I would be an advocate for the mentally ill. I was steeped in advocacy as a (mostly) homeless person for years and years - once I started to get well, (it's amazing what regular meds can do for someone) I sorta put all that "behind" me, or at least to the side, as I focused on what my "real" interests were.

I truly applaud your efforts in fighting for the rights of the mentally ill. As someone who has been "fortunate" to be both very sick and very well and nowadays a more or less functioning member of society, I have seen both sides of the issue. Listening to you tonight made me want to figure out some way to help again, to be an advocate for those who are, in fact, my brethren. I feel like I could be a bridge, in some respects - challenging the assumptions of those who think they know what a "mentally ill" person looks like.

It may not be time for me to do that, yet. I am struggling to get a career off the ground after many years of being waylaid by an illness I couldn't control. Perhaps someday I'll be able to be that bridge. For now, I am pleased that there are smart-thinking folk like you are there to make the necessary changes that society needs to help those less fortunate struggle to get their lives under control. Republican or not - you're a hero to me, man.

with deep regards
Gregory Pleshaw

Saturday, January 12, 2008

In Memory of Michael McQuaid
by Stephen Rubin, President of the Santa Fe chapter of UVA Alumni (and proud BPD patient)

Editor's note: We originally posted that it was possible that Mike McQuaid committed suicide and we apologize for the error. Someone who was close to the deceased wrote to us to say that suicide was not the cause of death, and that Mr. McQuaid died "doing something stupid." We won't speculate on what that might be. It remains that Mr. McQuaid was a BPD patient and that his death was untimely and probably sooner than necessary.

In Memory of Michael McQuaid

With much sadness, I just read of last year's death of UVA classmate (CAS 96) Michael McQuaid. McQ, as we called him, was a fun loving, entertaining and wild in all the right ways kind of guy. Smart but not pretentious he was goofy and always willing to talk and have a good time. And he was a great lacrosse player. I was manager of the lax team and he and were often roommates when we traveled and otherwise spent a lot of time together. We were neighbors fourth year and often bussed, walked, carpooled or otherwise got around campus together.

I have since learned that McQ suffered from a similar mental problem that afflicts many of people, myself included, more then people might imagine: bi-polarity. On the surface we may look like happy go lucky exuberant people but underneath we often suffer from extreme lack of self confidence, fear and sadness in the world and general depression. From what I hear, McQ, in his post UVA years, spent much of his life traveling in service of people like us and others in general around the globe having reached every continent but Antarctica in his quest to explore and help others and he was currently seeking a degree in an appropriate field.

Hearing of his death makes me quite sad. I bonded closely with Michael at Virginia and never thought as I perused the pages of the obituaries in the Alumnimag that I would read of somebody I knew so well. My heart goes out to his family and friends and all of our lacrosse compatriots.

Also, I send my support out to those who suffer from bi-polarity but are not recognized or not taken seriously by society as needing help and support. Yes, in a sense all humans are bi- olar, its called moodiness, but there are chemicals in some of our brains which make this transition more violent and harmful than it is in others. Bi-polarity is recognized by the respected psychiatric community as a treatable ailment that people who suffer from it can, with proper medication and therapy, live somewhat happy and healthy lives.

May Michael McQuaid find peace wherever he is and best wishes to his surviving family and friends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another Lost Thing - Keep me from LOSING IT.

I'm teetering on the edge of my seat with anxiety such like I haven't felt in a long time. A bag I had which contained a notebook that has a big pile of notes for my latest project has gone missing and I'm going crazy (pardon the pun) with seething rage. I haven't really let it out yet - it's just making my whole body tingle and want to punch someone or break something but I'm sorta holding it together.

I had such a simple day yesterday. I got up and carried the bag with me and went to the Baking Co. Then I went to a friend's studio to discuss another project before heading home. I hung out at home for an hour, called the friend back, went to his house to pick up a check, went to the bank, cashed the check and then went home to wait around for someone. Then he arrived and I was ready to leave for Albuquerque and I couldn't find the bag. I figured I'd just leave because I thought I had those notes in another notebook, but no, they're in the notebook that's in the bag. I'm so pissed I could just SCREAM.

addendum: Okay - I found the bag. The bag was in the friend's studio. But the notebook I am looking for wasn;t in it. Grrrr...Fine, I give up. I drank some Yogi tea and felt much much better. I even just ate some food though I have dinner plans elsewhere. Life is okay...it's just so freakin' hard all the time...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I am the Very Model of a PsychoPharmacologist

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't get Mad - Get Even

Hee hee - Did I mention I started a new blog today?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Adderall, Modafanil & Bipolarity

So lately I've been thinking about trying to get my doctor to prescribe me with some kind of pharmaceutical stimulant. I've been really down lately, not "depressed" per se but feeling like I lack the kind of motivation it takes to be a person living with Bipolar 2 disorder, without a formal job, working at home, and having to get every day and MAKE IT UP, since that's what freelancers do.

I have found through street experimentation with modafinal and adderall that both give me the increased "edge" I feel like I need to get through the day and be productive. The problems with this is:

a) both of these probably have addictive side effects;

b) they are mostly prescribed for either ADHD (Adderall) or Narcolepsy (Modafinal) and I am not prescribed with either condition.

Part A is what worries me most - and probably would worry my doctor - is that I have a pre-existing predilection for street stimulants. "Speed" has always scared me for being too harsh, but I like cocaine for its ability to make me feel "normal" and "okay", and of course I like Ecstacy but it's impossible to be productive on, per se. I would prefer to be playing around with either of these under a doctor's care, rather than:

a) getting the pills off the street, which is difficult and dicey

b) using more cocaine than I should. (More than you should? Most cocaine is "more than you should" - what I mean is going to buy cocaine with the succinct idea that you need it to "feel okay" rather than to do a line at a party with some friends to get a little lift. These are different behaviours, obviously, fed by differing motivations and outcomes.)

I have tried both modafanil (aka "ProVigil") and Adderall. Modafanil is very ...light is a good way to describe it, but gives sufficient lift for really odious chores like laundry or cleaning the house, both of which have always fallen short in the motivation category for me. Adderall is sorta like being shot out of a cannon, but I've only taken a 20mg and a 30mg XLR and both kept me up all night - not so great if the desired outcome is "productivity."

By productivity, I mean, by the way - I get inspired a lot but often lack follow through, particularly on big projects. I would like this not to be the case - it's depressing enough to be poor and have no real job. If I have grand artistic projects to justify my impoverished existence, I end up feeling a lot better about myself.

I have a feeling my doctor is going to tell me - no way, jose and I'm going to have to fire him and find another doctor. Which is a sucky process, all in all. I really just want some help getting through this winter - already it's feeling like a lulu.

Med check: I am currently on 1200mg lithium (mood stabilizer) 5mg Abilify (mood stabilizer) and 10mg lexapro (anti-depressant.) Can someone help me with the math on an additional dosage of either Modafanil or Adderall for Bipolar 2s? Is this a completely insane proposition on my part, owing more to my addictive personality for stimulants rather than a real sincere attempt at greater wellness?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Bipolar Blog Ring

Remind me http://bipolarplanet.blogspot.com/