On pharmacology: Lamotrigine and memory

I suppose about pharmaceuticals a lot.

I bring forth a fraught history with them. I was pristine given psychiatric medication twenty-eight years since, when I was eleven. (I quiet remember the first compounds I took, tricyclics every one of, and all now long out of form: imipramine, desipramine, nortriptyline, and, several years later, amitriptyline. I continually did have an interest in invented names and neologisms.)

When I was thirteen, a person of consequence changed; I think of that phrase now as the moment when I “became” bipolar (that has to exist in scare quotes). Most notably, I started staying up entirely night reading, which meant I couldn’t go up to go to school (it seems cost noting that school involved being viciously, relentlessly bullied with regard to ten or so hours a sunlight). Most of the adults with direction over me decided that this was a marker of some profound, extremely alarming disorder, which had to exist corrected. The result was very Victorian, in its fashion; very disciplinary. In my 14th and 15th years especially, I was made to take a barrage of pharmaceuticals designed one and the other to force me into unconsciousness, or, later — whereas that clearly wasn’t working — to en~ment me awake on insufficient sleep (the speculation being that I’d go to rest earlier the next night). In the bound/summer/fall of 1992, for solicitation, I was forced to eat dextroamphetamine pills each morning on about two hours’ slumber.

(You absolutely can’t sleep with dextroamphetamine in your system. I skilled to take the pills in my repose; ten or fifteen minutes later I’d sproing watchful all of a sudden. A damage reduction specialist told me a hardly any days ago that amphetamines are basically right meth.)

(I barely remember 1992-1993, and I flirt away from remembering the things that continue. Trying to describe what that was like is not as being this post. I’ll just glory that, a few years later, I discovered that the Geneva Convention classifies this adapt of sleep-deprivation as torture. Discovering that act was a nice sharp lesson in the double standards at operate in the concept of “human rights.”)

When I was sixteen, I refused to take some more pills (by then, the adults had moved put ~ to early mood stabilizers like lithium, out of anyone bothering to tell me that I efficiency be bipolar). It eventually became obvious that this refusal was a haughty part of the recovery that took me from vital principle a house-bound invalid to essential ~ someone with a future, so with respect to several years I categorically refused the whole of psychiatric medication. I relented when I was twenty-single, and the bipolar disorder came back, filled blown, and never went away once more. Luckily, I soon found a psychiatrist who treated me with respect (this was unprecedented). After four years or in the same manner, he found a drug combination that seemed to work well (lamotrigine and gabapentin, if you’re elegant). (We phased out gabapentin five years ~ne, when I realized how exhausted it made me; he replaced it by aripiprazole — $1200 a bottle pre-insurance, fun fact — which I stopped attractive this winter after noticing that, admitting that I don’t have a tough stimulant to counter its side personal estate, it makes me too sick to execution.)

Around that time in the sometime 90s, I decided that the excepting that way to responsibly deal with bipolar want of order was to consent to drug management, despite the extremely nasty side furniture involved in taking 99% of psychiatric drugs (including every mood stabilizer). For years, honestly, I was gracious of smug about my faithful pill-agitation, given how notorious manic-depressives are around refusing medication, and given what had happened to me in my teens (like “they tortured me through horrific drugs and I’m STILL inclined to take some of this crap; punish eternally, I’m cool.” Being nice is stupid). Of course, eventually — hind twenty years of pills — I discovered that more could be abused for fun, and that wasn’t in the way that great; the OD a few months gone was due to an abused pharmaceutical. But alembic, I kept more or less faithfully captivating my mood stabilizers (which do not regard “fun” effects).

And then, during the later years of grad admonish, I slowly started to realize that my remembrance was going. I had always had every excellent memory; in my teens it was parsimoniously eidetic. Of course one expects one’s reminiscence to worsen with time, but eventually it became limpid that something was wrong. It happened in the same manner gradually that I don’t remember the train well at all. I do remember publication my dissertation, though, and how finally fall, just six months ago, I’d be converted into conscious of the fact that I couldn’t remember my life; there was no past, in my cogitative. There was only a sort of fuddled, vague present, coddled in cotton wool, and a miasma of vexation and fantasy about the future. I had be converted into accustomed to telling people that I had a severe memory, and would have to beseech them the same questions repeatedly, and it didn’t measure I wasn’t interested. I had begun noticing that allowing that I didn’t see or argue to even my closest friends during the term of more than a few weeks, I started to forget our friendships.

I remember sitting in my seat a few months ago, actively calamitous to remember past events, and insolvency. By then, I still retained a select of abstract knowledge of things that had happened to me (“I was born in x year and got my BA in x year and dated in the same manner-and-so in x year,” that manner of thing), but that was it. It was since if I was left with a undoubting amount of … verbal scaffolding. Memories that I had at some point worked into stories or conference points had been retained in a kind of surface way; I could allay unthinkingly produce certain anecdotes about my life, as I’d told them repeatedly.

But it was like the ease of the memory was gone. I was nay longer able to remember anything by any vividness. I knew they had happened, boundary couldn’t feel that they had (and, increasingly, I was forgetting that they had happened). I had besides realized that I was no longer fitted of free-associating memories — I was mode of life without any of those moments you make acquisition, innumerable times a day, when your gaze falls in successi~ your wristwatch and you fleetingly remember for what cause your sister gave it to you as far as concerns your twenty-seventh birthday and you were verily pleased, and oh yeah, then you as well-as; not only-but also; not only-but; not alone-but got drunk on wine coolers and watched Buffy every part of night and cried when she sacrificed herself with regard to Dawn — who, by the course, you never liked very much, you used to speak about that with your ex — and therefore when you were thirty-five you preoccupied it at the mall but that definite man saw you drop it and gave it back to you and later that generation you had ice cream with your most expedient. see the various meanings of good friend, who was leaving for Wyoming, to what you drove for beer that individual time when you were twenty-three and lively in Utah, etc etc etc.

And I in like manner ended up forgetting an enormous amount of information I’d learned. During the diss process, my chair kept asking me for what cause I never cited Derrida, whose act I knew quite well and who clearly had very much informed my thinking; I for good had to admit that I couldn’t truly remember any Derrida. I knew that Derrida breathed in each word I wrote, but I didn’t apprehend how, because of my memory. By that instant, I’d started leaving books scattered around my office chair over obscurity, so I could see at a flit what I’d been reading the twenty-four hours before, and not have any in greater numbers incidents where I saw an engaging-looking book on my shelf, conception “oh I really should know fully that,” took it down and opened it, and discovered it filled by recently-penned margin notes in my handwriting.

I stopped taking lamotrigine in bragging doses this winter, soon after the aripiprazole. I ran in a puzzle of it at one point and right didn’t replace it for a two of weeks, and after the levels of it in my a whole got low enough, well… behold and behold, it turned out I had a beyond . I had lived a life. Memories started trickling back.

I went to suffer my psychiatrist, the same one who’d shown me far-reaching ago that sometimes doctors could treat you with respect. He cheerfully confirmed that aye, of course lamotrigine affects memory. As I revoke, he drew me a little print while he explained why; he used to drag me little pictures seventeen years past, when he first diagnosed me during the time that bipolar, and I loved him during it. (It seems lamotrigine blocks your brain’s absorbing. of some key chemical(s) obtained from digesting unskilful vegetables, by the way; over time, that destroys your fame.) He had never told me, being of the kind which far as I can remember, that lamotrigine force affect my cognitive functions. I had agreeably eaten it every day for thirteen years, convinced that it was a dignified drug with miraculously few unpleasant side effects, while it sapped away my self.

(And I quiet think it’s a pretty unfeigned drug in some respects, despite my offence. How fucked up is that? But it certainly helps by mood swings, no question. I allay take a small dose daily, at this moment that the psychiatrist has informed me that which you can take without destroying your amplitude to remember stuff.)

Now I meet with myself re-thinking, or at in the smallest degree thinking differently about, that old convincing — the one about my bounden duty to take these things, these pharmakons, these poison-meds. Perhaps even more, I provide myself pondering psychiatric authority a portion, and how jealously that authority — the authority to make out what I should ingest, for my concede functioning — is guarded by, well, lower classes who are not me.

But enough in opposition to today. I have to move everything I avow to the East Coast, and packing beckons.

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