Sunday, August 08, 2010

Rage Reaction, Part II

Yesterday, I described the three parts of my rage reactions and suggested three causes. In the late 80s I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed at the Lakeside VA Medical Center in Chicago. They put me on Prozac (with the rest of the Western World), and I was somewhat okay for about a decade. I still seemed to have pretty severe pre-menstrual mood problems. I realize now that I am bi-polar and that I also suffered from pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. Most of my episodes took place close to or the day before onset when I was younger. In my mid-forties, I moved to Washington, DC, and was unable to keep up with my psychiatric appointments. The result was that I stopped taking my Prozac and started bouncing off the walls. I was having racing thoughts accompanied by racing speech. I misunderstood what people said and answered what I thought they said (which made for some bizarre conversations). I fixated romantically on a man who was not interested in me and I became increasingly irritable, or I slept. My housemate recognized the signs of bi-polar disorder and got me admitted to the VA. They kept me for two weeks—one to observe my behavior and confirm the diagnosis, and one to start me on medication and be sure it was working before they turned me loose.

That worked until menopause when the hormonal changes overcame my meds. I started going off on people more often and more severely. I had moved back to Chicago and had a different doctor who changed my meds when I realized I was gaining weight on the Prozac. I’d gone from 200 to 266 pounds in less than a year. One of the meds she put me on took me up to 296 before we found a combination that stopped the weight gain. Meanwhile, no combination of psychotropic meds seemed to help. I suppose hormone therapy would have helped, but I threw a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and almost died from taking The Pill, so I did not want to go near estrogen again. I was afraid to even take any over-the-counter remedies for menopause. So, I was like Oklahoma and Kansas during a hot summer. You never knew when or where the next storm would strike. Even I was afraid to take me out.

Before I got through menopause I moved yet again downstate to Rantoul, Illinois, but I had a car and was able to drive to the Danville VA for treatment. I have always been grateful for the care I have received from the VA, but I was frustrated with my psychiatrist in Danville. As my episodes became more frequent and more severe and I begged him to change my medications, he simply added meds to the ones I was already taking, because one of the meds I was on helps relieve the pain of periferal neuropathy for diabetics. I kept telling him that I'd been controlling my diabetes and that I did not have periferal neuropathy, but he wouldn't listen to me, so he just kept adding more meds. And I was sure that particular medication was also responsible for causing dementia. By the time I moved up here I was becoming so forgetful that I asked to be tested for Alzheimer’s. I am so grateful that I don’t have that. But all of my doctors up here have expressed shock at the number of medications I’m on for my bi-polar disorder and as they’ve listened to my descriptions of my rage disorder, they’ve all asked what that has to do with being bi-polar. I always thought that was the main component of the manic side of the disease for me.

I still haven’t answered the original question, have I? Well, I’m almost sixty and it started when I was thirty so it’s a long story. Geez—did I just admit my real age?

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