Citation: M Kilory. "Bipolar Interactions with Drugs: An Experience with Various (daily Lithium & Citalopram) (exp38134)". Erowid.org. Dec 3, 2004. erowid.org/exp/38134
This is intended to show a relationship between my psyche and drug use - the motivations for drug use, and their effect on the development of a person with 'Bipolar Disorder.'
Apparently I was unusual even as a child. At kindergarten, I had instituted 'ARROW DAY', where I got all the kids to paste cardboard arrows over the whole place, and I was obsessed with the word 'OI!'
This suggests that there is a degree of innateness about mental illness. Indeed, they have found a gene which can be inherited, responsible for Bipolar. But it is hard to know how much of the illness is genetic and how much comes from experience. It is a combination of both.
My parents had always said I should avoid drugs since I was already extremely sensitive. They had a liberal view on drugs since they had experimented themselves in their youth. I think this was good in that I didn't come to associate drugs with rebellion, but it was also bad in that it established an atmosphere of normalcy about mind-altering. This is not to say they were pleased with my drug-use, but they recognised that whether they scolded me or not, I would do it anyway, and preferred to be open about it.
It is important to note that I first got into drugs when I was 15, when my family broke up. It was a messy breakup and damaged all. My siblings responses were loud and wild, but mine was one of intellectual escape. I began to try to abstract my feelings of pain and channel them into creative endeavours. It was about this time that I started to identify myself as an 'artist' and develop my neurotic creative drives.
Drugs helped to compound the sense of 'otherness' I was feeling as a result of the escape from pain. To escape from pain was to escape from all things human - emotion, socialisation, enthusiasm. I would go to parties at 15 and drink large doses of Alcohol, but not feel the sense of frivolity and abandon which seemed to animate my peers. Rather, the drink had a somewhat psychedelic effect on me. I would stand observing them, feeling distant and lonely. This is a typical scene from the life of a teenager who doesn't understand basic mating rituals. And so I had another drink. Hard spirits.
It should be noted that I grew up in a small town where the population is working class and of simple affectations and desires. I do not believe that my neurotic elitism is the only thing that negated all possibility of engagement with them.
And then came Weed.
My first buzz - spots of oil. Walked across the school field to the old cinema where I worked as a projectionist. Watched 'Koyaanisqatsi' by Godfrey Reggio with music by Philip Glass. It was one of the most heavenly experiences of my life. I remember thinking, 'I've been missing out!'
Suddenly the world became transparent. I could see all the little motivations and forces governing people. They became my little specimens. But often the specimens disgusted me with their lack of complexity and evolution, even my own friends and family. My elitism raged.
I left my final year of high school because I wasn't being stimulated and spent a lot of time in the local eucalyptus forest. Here I communed with my 'otherness,' for it was a place untainted by the base peasants running around in the township. The trees and river spoke to me of a time to come, or perhaps long past. I wrote crazed notes and poems and drawings in my diary, trying to record the divinations I was sensing. Becoming more and more the strange son.
One day I smoked too much weed and had my first ever bad buzz. I had to go to work and I had my Dad's car and I was leaving my body and I had brain bubbles and what if I had brain damage??????
From then on I was introduced to the deathly grasp of paranoia. I sensed only the dark, sharp things. Thoughts came too fast. These were my first experiences with mania. All the pain I had held back to try to abstract into art was blocking up and coming back at me a thousand fold. And depression was the natural defence - the mind must shut down to stop itself spinning completely out of control.
In my first two years at Architecture school I got more heavily into alcohol. I drank every night alone in my room. I tried acid and mushrooms, which affected me much like weed but stronger. Nitrous, Speed, MDMA, the usual. But my discovery of Codeine was the most major. A friend furnished us with 60mg tabs and I became addicted. They really did seem to take my emotional pain away. The pack did read 'STRONG PAIN RELIEF' after all.
I switched to art school and disciplined myself to stop the opiate, as it was now pure poison, the flower having wilted completely. As any addict knows, the structure of the mind is irrevocably changed after being soaked for long enough with a substance. Because of the nerve-numbing effects, I began to experience a perceptual dissocation in everyday, straight life, a horrible feeling where your bones feel like the lowest lead and your skin like it doesn't exist. This inability to feel is echoed in the emotions, and combined with my earlier psychological problems it caused great distress.
It was the first time I had sought help. The university consellor was a bit lightweight - a hippy. He didn't help much. ANd the psychiatrist was a brusque, cruel woman who didn't listen and prescribed Citalopram, building up to 60mg. This made me manic.
A year later I decided to stop the drug. Tried taking nothing for 6 months, but became close to suicidal. Now I am seeing a psychologist every week. He is defensive and proud. And the psychiatrist is doing what psychiatrists do: Trial and Error. I have tried the antipsychotic Seroquel (an evil poison - gives a feeling of dread and panic) and then Risperdone (robs me of any zest for life). I am now taking Lithium and Citalopram. Citalopram kills your sex drive but it is OK for me because I am young and my girlfriend is very hot. But if I miss a pill - it all comes rushing back!
It is all very hard, trying to get my head straight. People from all different angles are giving me conflicting advice. My Dad reckons I will just grow out of it and to stop all medication. My girlfriend reckons I should play along with the treatment.
One thing that helps is having a good partner and a few close friends. I have these now, since meeting them at Artschool, where there was a higher likelihood that I would meet people with minds like mine. I had to find other neurotics to enjoy social intercourse.
A bit more advice for people in similar situations: Stay active. Work. See people. Create stuff. Apathy is combatted by momentum. Consider what your motivations for doing a drug might be and if they are questionable, then refrain.
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