Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zyprexa and Dependency

There is a schizophrenic woman, who I admire very much, who has blogged that she won't take Zyprexa. She has just come out of a six week stay in the hospital. Now they have her on what is probably the newest antipsychotic, Saphris, a drug that I've never heard of before. It is interfering with her ability to be creative. So she is not happy. She wants to go back to either Abilify or Geodone, which have worked for her in the past, but which are naturally not as strong as Zyprexa. Her clinicians seem to be saying that because of her hospitalization, there is proof that Abilify and Geodone really don't really work for her. She had a period of time when they were good and she was stable, but now for whatever reason, she has become unstable.

I saw a picture of her while she was taking Zyprexa. She was dressed in a tent like mu-mu and had double chins. When she switched to Geodone she lost all the weight she wanted. It simply dropped off of her. She ended up looking like a completely different person. It was her experience that led me to ask my medication nurse to change me from Seroquil, which was working perfectly well at the time, to Geodone. Geodone does not work nearly as well as Seroquil, so I have to be at maximum dose, where as on Seroquil, I got by with very little. Also my ability to be creative visually took a hit while on Geodone, the quality of my paintings slipped a little bit. This is the opinion of my husband and I agree with him. But Geodone keeps me out of the hospital, and while the weight did not "drop" off like it did with the other woman, at least I was able to diet and stick with a diet for about a year. I have, to date, gone from a size 20 to a size 12 and have hopes to eventually make it to my target of being a size 10. Less than that would be a dream. But I'm afraid, because of the fact that I take a medically appropriate dose of an anti-psychotic, I have to live a sedentary life. My metabolism is slower because of the drug and I have less energy. Plus, being a writer, I don't move around a lot.

What did I do with all my larger sized clothes? I have a chance to sell some of the nice stuff, there is a second hand clothing store right down the street that will buy quality clothing. In the past I have donated clothing I don't wear to the Salvation Army. But this time I was wary. I packed all my clothing in huge plastic tubs, added ceder chips to keep away the moths, and put it in the barn. I fear the day that Geodone stops working and I might have to go back to Seroquil. I fear gaining back the weight that I lost. So I keep my old clothing, thinking, that I am at the mercy of biological agents that work in a mysterious, and unpredictable, way. Already Prozac has stopped working for me after 18 years on it. And then there is this; I could suffer a second breakdown or a worsening of my illness and need to go on weight producing medication to stay out of the hospital. I know Lamictal works for me, it evens and elevates my mood, even as it causes me to gain weight and takes away my creative drive. Yes, Lamictal makes me into a happy person, and so does Zyprexa. Zyprexa or its cousin Seroquil also makes me into a very creative person. I think, for the woman above, her creativity is also strong on Zyprexa. But I know in my case, I was willing to be a little less creative, and a normal size.

There are people who have no choice but to be on weight gaining drugs. I know a bipolar mom of two who is on a weight gaining mood stabilizer, and she will do whatever she has to, to stay out of the hospital. She has the responsibility of two little lives. Her children are 2 and 4 and absolutely dependent upon having a mother. Before the onset of her illness, (rather recently) she was a tiny size 2. There were several hospitalizations and general increasing again and again of her medication to keep the mania at bay. She gained, over the course of these hospitalizations, about 80 pounds. Now I do not know what size she is, but she is plump. I like her and think her pretty. She is pleasingly plump. But I know her husband does not view her this way. He would much prefer the tiny size 2. He is not at all supportive or nurturing.

My husband did not read my last blog entry, but I described all of it to him. Including the parts where I say he has trouble 1) facing reality and 2) forecasting negative consequences. He told me last night that he thought about my hypothesis all day while at work, and he has concluded, that I am correct. He says that he knows he is smart, and that he has relied greatly on his wits, because it always seems, he makes the wrong choices. He has had disastrous marriages for making the wrong choices. He has lost jobs for making the wrong choices. Being fundamentally a happy person, has perversely, led him to to much pain, and even, the condition of being homeless. Now he said to me last night, he knows, he needs me to guide him and look out for him. When he was a young man, he used to be frustrated because other people were able to go from A to B to C but he could never figure out how to get ahead. All the stability that he possesses now he feels is due to my foresight. He pressed my hand while he was explaining this to me. "I need you" he said.

I would take medication, in order to stay out of the hospital, that would lead to obesity. I don't want to be obese, but I have another person, like the plump mother of two, who is dependent upon me being sane and in control. All is not lost if I am obese. I love clothing and I have learned that if you really look for it, you can find pretty clothing in larger sizes. And I have a husband who likes me at any size. When I am large, all he can notice is that I have large breasts. That keeps him happy. In fact, he is rather fearful that I should loose too much weight, and look too pretty. He is afraid that if I were too attractive I might leave him for another man. This is a ridiculous fear, for I have already left one man for another man, and now, have no stomach for such intrigue. And besides, I have a dawning awareness that a life is dependent upon me. His life is dependent upon me.

It flips my stomach upside-down knowing that someone is dependent upon me. Having someone love me is an old sensation. I've been lucky to have had several wonderful boyfriends and two good husbands. You can easily be in love and not be dependent. Not on a deep level. Love is the silliest thing; it is the most joyful and the most ephemeral, ethereal force I have ever encountered. I can love and hate at the same time, I can love in different directions different people at the same time, and I can forget about my love even as I am experiencing it. I am no romantic; I know love cannot save me from wishing to take my own life. There are forces stronger than love on this planet, no matter what inspired poets say. And one of those strong forces, that is so very binding and grounding is having someone who is dependent upon you. Once, my sister told me, that a thought that kept her from taking her own life when she was depressed was what her death would do to other members of the family. She felt inter-dependency. It fostered in her a healthy regard for her own life. Any excuse not to suicide is a good excuse.

I know that there are many people who despise having a person be dependent upon them. Dependency for some people interferes with their ability to love. There are tired, sleep deprived parents who can't wait for their children to grow up so they will not be so dependent upon them. There are old people who hate the sickness and infirmities that come with old age and make their spouses physically dependent upon them. They want to be lovers, not nursemaids. There are passionless marriages that exist not because of love, but because of financial interdependency. They can't sell their house so they can't go their separate ways. Or else, if they went separate ways they could not live as well, lacking a combined income.

In America freedom is celebrated at all levels, not only the legal and the religious but the personal as well. In America freedom is seen as a quality that you need in order to be happy, and we are a country that is founded on belief in the pursuit of happiness. Most taxpayers hate the dependency of the poor on systems of financial relief. "If I had more money I would be more free" most people think. And too, "If I didn't have this person dependent on me I would be more happy." Culturally, to us, freedom and happiness co-exist. Too much dependency is viewed as a form of sickness and oppression.

Well, I despise spending even one night away from my husband. It makes me feel depressed. Do I have not enough sense of self? Am I not independent enough? I feel independent from my husband when I am with him. I certainly feel the mental freedom to quarrel with him any day, at any time. But when I am put to the test, and my mother takes me away to her cottage in Maine, despite the beautiful scenery, I pine. In a very old fashioned sense I pine for the company of my husband. Is there something I need him to do for me? No, I can do everything myself or with the help of my mother. Is there something I need to hear him say? No, I can talk to him on the phone and we say whatever is on our minds. He usually is so happy to hear me on the phone that he is outrageously silly. I've got control, I've got voice contact, and yet, I need him physically present or else I feel very dark and depressed. While in Maine I feel steady panic - I've got to get back to home and my husband. This presses upon my mind constantly.

I read that when Linda McCartney died of breast cancer, during her entire marriage to Paul McCartney they had only spent three nights apart. To me, this story is inspiring.

It was nice, last night to hear my husband confess he needs me. Because I need him too, very much.

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