Category Archives: Clozapine
I am, for all intents and purposes, finished working. The VA retired me in 2016 at the tender age of 45.
Now a lot of you out there might think that sounds awesome and think it is the goal that everyone is working towards. But being retired is not something you should be if you can’t structure your time properly. It can be as cruel a hell as working at a job you can’t stand. Filling up a day with activity can be very hard, it turns out. You can avoid forward motion quite easily.
I’m in a rut right now. I got into a fender bender a few weeks ago and it shook me up a little. I’m doing more “hiding”, something I have done before. When I was deployed to Korea in 2005, the stress of that tour made me into a pathetic recluse and I would keep the lights off so no one would know I was in my room. I would turn up the heat so high you could probably feel it wafting from under the door. I don’t know what I was really doing, maybe recreating the feeling of the womb or something. Now the urge to hide is back again. I can’t get out of bed in the morning and when everyone has left to do their day at school or work, I beeline for the couch and hunker under a blanket and nap for three hours or more. I got off Clozapine so I could wake up so this behavior is unacceptable bullshit. There’s a difference now- I can get up easily, I just won’t. Back in the Clozapine days there was no won’t…just can’t. So basically I have no excuses for what I am doing.
I have plenty of things I can do but I can’t seem to motivate myself. I’m writing this, so it augurs something positive. You may have noticed the posts are few and far between, occasional reader. I damn near quit writing a few weeks ago. It may take some time to tell stories and share news again, but I’ll get back there and damn it all to hell if I don’t. I’m gonna pick up the freaking guitar and work on my scales until my fingers just know where to go without me thinking about it. I have a house to keep up too.
Dying takes on many forms and indeed, people die more than one death in a figurative sense. We are often changed forever by the things that happen to us or the things we do or don’t do. Sometimes you die a little from that, but the same mechanism allows us to be reborn anew. And that’s what I’m banking on.
Not the fun ones.
I’m talking crazymeds again.
Last night I began my withdrawal from Clozapine and began transitioning to a milder, somewhat analogous anti-psychotic, Zyprexa.
It was a hard night, marked by chest pressure and dreadful squirming anxiety. I have nine more nights of that to go. I am hoping it works itself out along the way. However, the good news is that I did wake up as myself this morning (I left open the possibility I would be delusional and hospitalized) and almost felt good about it. I put my Olly Stress Gummies, a Klonopin and my Koi CBD tincture on board, which if you are looking for an efficacious way to deal with stress the product works like a motherfucking charm. Lots of folks don’t seem to get anything from CBD, but I believe in the compound 100%. Caveat emptor though-you get what you pay for when looking for effective CBD. But anyway, today feels normal-not completely so as I will not be free of Clozapine for another sixteen days, but as I said, better than expected.
I’ve been on Zyprexa before, and if I recall I didn’t have the side effects that were common at all. That’s a stark contrast to my experience with Clozapine, where I suffered from several of the known side effects. Zyprexa has a lighter touch overall, which is weird because its side effect sheet is a mile long. It doesn’t carry a black box warning for me, and that’s a bit of a relief. It’s formulated to control bipolar with mania, and that’s exactly what turned my life upside down in that grim summer of 2008. Since then I’ve been on a lot of shit trying to figure what works best. If I recall right, Zyprexa didn’t do a whole lot to calm my ass so we’re going to have to work on that once I am truly free from Clozapine. That is the main thing I need to concentrate on. I am not going to tell my provider at this point that I regard Zyprexa as a bridge drug.
What I don’t like about this switch is that it’s going to do nothing to help some emergent liver issues I’m having. As antipsychotics go, Clozapine is the reigning king for necrotizing the liver, and Zyprexa follows close behind. So I’m gonna keep pestering my providers to find something that doesn’t put so much of a hurt on it. There’s things like Abilify that control bipolar with mania and is not metabolized at all by the liver.
One thing at a time, though. Eventually I will find a balance for mind and body, being mindful that in the end no drug regimen will be perfect.
That’s a long time to go without writing on a blog. I’ve seriously thought about quitting, but it’s not necessarily because I want to. There are a couple of factors limiting my output.
#1: I’m getting off Clozapine. I intimated in some recent blog posts that the heady atypical antipsychotic was actually helping me gain perspective on some “stuck” memories, events and situations I involuntarily flash to that torture me in ways large and small mostly when I try to sleep. They turned out to be OK stories, some of my longest work. So why am I getting off this drug? The side effects became too much to bear. I was fine over the summer at my highest dose of 250mg. When school time for the kids rolled around, finding it incompatible with that schedule was a mild understatement. Every fucking night I had a fit an hour into sleep that would sit me bolt upright, heart pounding, mouth dry, clutching for breath. I would often fall asleep sitting upright to stop it from happening. An then there was the mornings. It took my wife twenty minutes to a half hour to get me out of bed, yelling my name loudly at least 40 times. And when I did fall out of bed, I went straight to the couch downstairs and fell asleep again. I was no use to my learn from home children whatsoever. And when I tried to help them or let the dogs out when I woke up, I was unsteady on my feet. Orthostatic hypotension became my new horrible symptom. I nearly passed out standing up too quickly. I could not make the 8 foot trek to the bathroom at night without seriously screwing up some courage. I decided this was not going to work anymore. I am crazy, but I might switch a little crazy with some of these symptoms, I thought.
So I stepped down 50 mg without consulting the pharmacologist, who really, really wants me to stay on this shit, even going so far as to say I needed 100mg more and I’d be better. I can’t imagine what that would feel like. It feels like a trip to the psychiatric ward is what. The thing is, I am not schizophrenic, and I imagine this drug is handy for shutting some voices up. That is what Clozapine was developed for. However, I am just bipolar. I did have a wild journey into schizoaffective disorder about a decade ago that ended in a locked ward trip for three weeks, where I experienced all kinds of delusions and hallucinations that still boggle my mind. The important thing is that I came back somehow. But anyway, down 50 was the only way I was going to get out of bed without being yelled at. Instead of going straight to the couch, I stayed upright until the wife left for work and then I would doze until 11 on the couch. Again, not much use to my learners. So I couldn’t seem to win.
Along with the drop in clozapine came serious symptoms. Neurons hungry for the homeostatic neurotransmitters they needed were being cut off from the drug that helped them along their way. The physical symptoms from that brought huge amounts of panic, and I became unable to get across a room without wanting to go back where I came from because I was going to fall down otherwise. I couldn’t do the shower for more than two minutes. My only safe spot was downstairs at the computer chair. And even there anxiety threatened constantly. I couldn’t get up to get the mail because I didn’t think I was going to make it back and no one would be around to notice that I was knocked out in my driveway. I became very concerned for my wife because everything had come undone so quickly. She’s been a champ putting up with me.
I decided enough was enough. I was out, and told my shrink I was done. He listened and is going to put me back on Zyprexa, which I had some success with in the past. It didn’t always put a damper on my daily bipolar struggles, but I didn’t feel like shit when I took it. Again, I think I’d rather that than be in some quasi-vegetative state.
In order to get through the gauntlet of getting off Clozapine, I am employing several natural remedies. I started off using Charlotte’s Web CBD gummies and that’s been a game changer, real good for calming down. I am also using L-theanine, an amino acid with proven results to tamp down stress levels. Also, lemon balm seems to be somewhat helpful. But the hero so far has been my old Klonopin prescription, which I abandoned over the summer because it can be dangerous with Clozapine. But I kept the bottle. I was desperate and wanted to try anything and everything to not feel bad, so I popped one.
Wow. I’m almost alive again!
I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for that discarded prescription. I haven’t informed the doctor yet but I will soon. It’s good news because now I can step down further and have plenty of backstops to combat the withdrawal. I have enough Klonopin to get me through a month.
Bottom line, things have been looking up after being so nightmarish.
Oooh. I forgot I was doing a list! Let’s see, what else has got my shit fucked up?
#2: Donald Motherfucking Trump. I’m having trouble finding non-four letter words for some of his antics. I’m struck dumb. At this point I am just trying to keep my head screwed on straight until it is time for me to vote. I can’t keep up with the outrages, which may be by design.
#3: Twitter. Once upon a time, not long ago I moved to Twitter because I was hooked on Facebook. Hah! Turns out that’s like going from fentanyl to heroin. I’m now a full blown social media junkie again and I don’t know how to turn that around. I miss the blog days where I could get my news from them, but so many of my favorite bloggers now eschew the medium and have Twitter accounts instead. Is there any way out from using social media to get my news fix?
I’d love to hear about your struggles with any of the three phenomena above. We, so often atomized by the cult of individualism, need each other more than ever.