Sunday, June 25, 2006

Reflections of a Nutjob

It has come to my attention that I am a nutjob. Not a hard-core nutjob (meaning, I take only one medication, and the lowest effective dosage of that one), nor an unmedicated nutjob, but a nutjob nonetheless.

Please. I am not "depressed" or "differently serotonined". Euphemisms are for the differently brained. I am nutso. A whackjob, if you prefer that terminology. A crazy. Whoo-whoo-whoo, a la Moe of the Three Stooges. I have a shopping list of things that gets me through the day, most of them mind-altering substances of varying availability (Caffeine, Effexor, Caffeine, Simple Carbohydrates, Norepinephrine, Effexor, Scotch, and venlafexine for dessert). I have been known to have anxiety attacks for no particular reason, and in fact had one today.

So. In the spirit of past Things To Do lists, here's:

What To Do If You Know A Whackjob, Version One-point-Zero

1. Do not, under any circumstances, indulge their desire to talk about nuclear holocaust or other forms of apolcalypse. See, whackjobs get anxiety in weird ways, and this is one of them. Steer them away from the David Brin and onto the Spider Robinson, where everything turns out okay.

2. Do indulge their desires for simple carbohydrates and alcohol, within reason. Carbs raise serotonin levels while alcohol in moderation can keep the garden-variety nutcase from jumping off a bridge. Make sure it tastes good, and you'll have accomplished another goal: showing the loonie in question that tomorrow is indeed another day.

4. Crazymeds dot org (thanks, Anon, for the correction!) is an excellent resource website for both the interestingly-brained and their friends and relations. True, there are some postings on the site what will make you say "Wooo. Buh?", but overall, it's a nutjob presenting what it's like to be a candidate for the whackshack with grace and humor.

5. If your crazy pal needs a warm body around, be that warm body. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes from the loonie perspective to have somebody around who can quote Bloom County and make coffee. It's invaluable.

6. If you work with even one other person, do not make denigrating comments about crazy folk at work. That one other person might be me, and I might be on a short leash due to my antidepressants not working all that well, and then there might be a lot of mess to clean up. Crazy people *are* different from you, yes: we're often smarter and more creative. We're certainly posessed of a well of nastiness that you can't even conceive of. So be nice.

7. Answer the phone at 3 am.

8. Don't pressure the nutcase in question to go out in public with you. Often, nutcases such as myself can't muster the energy to go to the bar or a restaurant. It's simply too overwhelming. Bring by a clamshell of Chinese instead if you really want to see me.

9. Make sure the nutcase keeps their doctor's appointments. This is not such a problem with the minorly-medicated, but can be a real issue with those of the brotherhood who take multiple meds or meds in major doses.

10. If in doubt, call 911. I am not saying here that this has ever been an issue for me. I have been blessed up to this point with having not had any serious thoughts of self harm....but I can certainly see how some people might.

If you work with, live with, or love a moderately- to severely-depressed person, or a person who deals with bipolar disorder, keep in mind that calling the fuzz in might someday be necessary. This does not mean that you or the other person has failed; it's a modern response to an age-old problem that used to drag the median lifespan down. Think of it as your way of boosting our national life expectancy.

Tomorrow I see my Muppet-like doctor. We'll talk about how to regulate this pinkish lump of neural tissue behind my eyes. I'll certainly, since everything is fair game here, keep things updated.


Anonymous said...

Jo, thanks for the post. As someone who has recently come to the realization that things may not be 100% in tune upstairs, I appreciate your willingness to put it out there and discuss it.

Thank you also for the crazymeds link. However, your readers will want to go to crazymeds dot org. Dot com was vacant domain registration site.

I also have an appointment tomorrow for my pinkish lump. Hopefully we'll both get ours humming along smoothly soon.

Best of luck.

overactive-imagination said...

I loved this post, it cracked me up. Sorry if wasn't supposed to.

Jill said...

Great post, Jo! One thing Todd could never "get" was what to do with me when I had my own version of the crazies; he just sorta left me alone. :-(

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo. If you take a look around these days and you're OK with it all and don't consider yourself to be a Nutjob then you should be worried. I'd guess nursing requires a certain level of Nutjobbedness just to keep sane, if that makes any sense.

I'm not aggressive enough to be a convincing Moe and not extraverted enough for Curly. Larry is my Stooge-e-type.

If you consider yourself a Shemp then seek medical attention immediately.

annelynn said...

This is an outstanding list. I think I need to print it and hand it out to my in-laws, husband, and coworkers.

Thank you!

Best to you,
a fellow nutjob

Angry Aine said...

Jo -

Many virtual hugs from a fellow nutjob and lifetime resident of the Nut Farm. I've been on meds since the age of 12 (!) and thank all the Frogs that be for SSRIs, as MAOIs bite the big moose wang. Mine is not especially cylcical and it damn well is genetic (at least in part) as I come from a long line of certified fruitcakes.

The speech I give newly diagnosed friends goes something like, This is Not Your Fault, it's not like you went and had unprotected Head Sex with a contagious Head Case or something. Depression, bipolar, ADD, ADHD, and many many other "mental illnesses" (can we change that word to "mind illness" or "brain illness" please?) are physical/chemical/biological (I know you know all this) and no different than any other chronic illness. In fact, they are much less a pain in the totchkes than a LOT of chronic illnesses, speaking as a survivor/manager of three, all immune-modulated (SLE, asthma, Hashimoto's thyroiditis), as my partner, Vidoq, the recently-diagnosed Type I diabetic, frequently reminds me. Also Scotch tastes much better than oral glucose control agents and WAY better than predisone.

I am sending your list to everyone I know, most especially Husband 1.0, who could not understand my problems and suffers from un-admitted (though not undiagnosed) illnesses himself (depression & Asperger's Syndrome). Luckily for me, Husband 2.0 is a fellow longtime resident of the Cracker Factory, so we prop each other up (we probably look like two halves of a cheap pup tent). He takes Effexor; I use Cymbalta (depending on your dose of Effexor, you might want to consider switching; Effexor has a tendency to cause hypertension as the does titrates upward, which it has to the longer you stay on it. Cymbalta doesn't and the, um, sexual side effects are less as well. There are no side effects associated with switching, as there were when I tried to go back to Prozac from Effexor.)

To everyone else out there, speaking as a member of law enforcement, please DON'T be afraid to call 911 if you need help dealing with a loved one, sometimes this is the only way to get them the help they need. We at the other end of the phone would much rather you called us NOW, when the loved on is merely talking about suicide, than have the call come from a neighbor who just found you, the nutjob, and everyone else in the house dead (I recently responded to just such a case, the young man clearly had problems so severe he was receiving Radio Venus on his bridgework, but the "mental health community" seemed unable or unwilling to do anything. Until he killed two cops and wounded several more in the process of committing Suicide by Cop, that is.)

And Dave's got it right (see above). I recently bought a t-shirt that says, "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention." These days, that could just as easily read "crazy," "depressed" or "batshit." There's way too much history, in this country and elsewhere, of labeling those who act, think, feel, and/or speak "differently" as "insane."

Because of the other, non-SSRI meds I have to take, I've had to switch from Scotch to chocolate. I find it works just as well.

Extra hugs,

Jo said...

Aine, your Blogger profile doesn't link to anything. Could you email me through the Yahoo link above with a valid email address? Thanx a million.

Judy said...

I have a 3 sisters and one very good friend who will forever be on antidepressants. The quality of your shrink certainly makes a big difference. 3 of the 4 are fully functional most of the time (who doesn't have a bad day?).

I hear dark chocolate potentiates psychoactive medications. No, really. I keep trying to convince myself it will work with my diabetic meds too, but my doc isn't buying it.

Angry Aine said...

Judy -

I found a sugar-free (well, glucose-free) chocolate for my partner, Vidoq, at our local grocery chain (Wegman's). He says it tastes OK though he can tell the difference. So far it seems to be working OK with his diabetic meds, though the "GI disturbance" side effects (the sweetener is sorbitol) in him translate to flatulence. LOUD flatulence. Today I threatened to report him to the UN as the missing WMD.


Anonymous said...

Honey, I've been on antidepressants for years. It's chemical - one day I'll write a story about "Paxil Rage" - what happens when you wean off it.

And as far as the Three Stooges go, I AM extraverted enough to be Curly.

I felt better when I came to the realization that one does not have to have a "reason" to be depressed and got over the guilt of "Oh gee, my life is so blessed, I am wrong for feeling depressed".

Now my motto is: better living through Chemistry.

For me, Zoloft at 100mg is the key. I am not ashamed of my depression and I just thank goodness there are better meds out there to deal with it.

I wonder if the Nutjob gene goes with the I-want-to-be-a-nurse gene.

And I intend to check out that dark chocolate potentiation!

Anonymous said...

I am a lpn and an aspie. Too long. Abuse takes it's tole. Is there help for someone like me?