Tuesday, 31 January 2012

California Rocket Fuel- Lift Off!

Ok, so let's get personal. Talk about Love and Other Drugs. Ok, mainly drugs.

I have recently started seeing a new psychiatrist to treat my resistant unipolar depression. Doc was unimpressed that I have not been responding (well my waistline has been responding, but we'll get to that later) to venlafaxine aka Effexor, despite the high dose I'm on. He told me there is an anti psychotic, Zyprexa, which, taken in low doses for two weeks, can give the Effexor a "zap", kind of like jump starting a car. Cool? Cool. Wait, not so cool. I was a drooling, spaced out zombie mess for four days, before I kicked it to the kerb.

Missy fails yet another "I'll fix you, take this pill" test.

So, now Doc's bring out the big guns. Or Rockets. Enter "CALIFORNIA ROCKET FUEL". This is the colloquial name for a combination of two drugs, Effexor and a drug called Mirtazapine, aka Avantin. Recommended by Californian therapists the world over. Let's see what medscape.com has to say about it...

"Use of the tetracyclic antidepressant mirtazapine in combination with fluoxetine, venlafaxine, or bupropion is more effective and as well-tolerated in treating major depressive disorder (MDD) as fluoxetine alone, according to results from a new double-blind comparison study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
In fact, patients treated with these combinations had mean differences of 4.5 to 4.8 points on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) by day 42 compared with those treated with monotherapy."

"For years, [California psychopharmacologist] Dr. Steven Stahl has said that the combination of mirtazapine and venlafaxine is 'California rocket fuel,' but I wasn't aware of any controlled trial looking at that. The results here for that combination are quite impressive, as are the combinations with the other drugs in this study. Going forward, this is a good approach in everyday clinical practice to treat depression."

Wow. Sounds like I'm well on the road to recovery. Well not yet. "Why not?" you say "chuck these new pills down your throat and get better and stop whinging already!!!" Well, I can't start until the weekend, as apparently the Avanza knocks you out even MORE than Zyprexa. Cue weekend in bed for me (this side effect apparently wears off after 2-4 days of taking it). Ok. Awesome. Except there's one more side effect that DOESN'T wear off. Appetite stimulation, leading to rapid weight gain. Shit.

To be, or not to be. Specifically, to be fat and happy or skinny and suicidal. Not that either is totally acheivable. I've never been a small girl. But if I get bigger, I'm going to have worse self esteem, and so not happy, whereas if I don't take it, I'll stay still bigger than normal, and unhappy. How fucked up is that?

There's no real point to this post. Just musing over the fucked up-ness of our medical model of treating mental health issues. I think I need to move to a nudist colony and start growing organic chickpeas or something. Feel free to share your drug dilemmas...

UPDATE 23/3/2012: The combinations of medication is going great, and I haven't gained a lot of weight (prob 1-2kgs). Recommend this treatment for anyone with resistant depression (in conjunction with pycho-social treatment of course.... The social worker in me can't condone a drugs only

UPDATE 22/9/2013: I know I should have updated this again earlier ... But I'm lazy, ok!?!?  I took Effexor + Avanza for about 9 months, and it was ok. I did end up putting on about 4 kgs,,, No great but tolerable. I then had a turn for the worse (life circumstances, more than medication, I believe) but, doctors decided to wean me off Effexor and try Dothep (dothiepin). It was a good call, Dothep has worked better than the other drugs I've tried. Just a word of warning: DO NOT GO OFF EFFEXOR UNLESS YOU ARE BEING CLOSELY SUPERVISED BY A PSYCH. The withdrawals are insanely horrible. You feel so fucking sick. And the brain zaps OH JEEZ THE BRAIN ZAPS! Can't explain to people who haven't been there, but essentially what I mean is that people need to be connected with a good doctor when medication is involved; I don't get those people who just get their script and screw around with their dosage and just think everything is fine. Rant complete.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Ask Sam? Interesting? Impossible!

A (somewhat) interesting article written by Sam Brett? How can this be so? Yet when I read her most recent article (see http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/blogs/ask-sam/would-you-rather-your-man-pay-for-it-than-have-an-affair-20120129-1qo4z.html) I was surprised that she has hit on a topic that interests me and is not her usual drivel. She talks (vaguely) about the number of men in committed relationships who pay for sex from sex workers. She writes

“…when staggering stats were released in Britain indicating that one in 10 men had paid for sex, the coupled-up femmes of the world were in a flutter.
"Surely this isn't so?" they said. "Are men really that into sex that they need to get some on the side?"
Sadly, the answer is a resounding yes.
The survey revealed that, of the 10 per cent of men who said they paid for sex on a regular basis, many were married or in stable relationships.”

I like how she says “sadly”. Why is this sad? What’s sad is that our society places monogamy on such a pedestal that men who do choose to visit sex workers have to keep it a secret from their wives.

There are plenty of men out there who want to be in committed, monogamous relationships. There are also plenty of men out there who want to be in committed relationships, but keep things from turning sour by, once in a while, experimenting with sex with another person. If they were honest to their partners about this, and they talk about the reasons why, then I believe that it doesn’t constitute as “cheating”. I’m totally open to the idea of swinging as long as boundaries are firmly set in place. If I found out a partner of mine had paid for sex, I would be more upset about the non disclosure, rather than the sex act itself (provided that they didn’t contract an STD).

An affair, however, where a person in a relationship is seeing someone else behind the others back and developing emotional intimacy with the mistress, is a totally different ball game. I’ve never had a partner cheat on me (that I’m aware of) in this manner, but if they did, I would still consider forgiving them. I guess it would depend on the circumstances.

Wow, you’ve reached the end of another pointless rumination. Go you!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Politicus USA

I came across the following article posted on Politicus USA, a liberal, independent news site focusing on American politics:


In a nutshell, a 15 year old Wisconsin high school student wrote an article for his student paper, and parts of it were then published in the local paper. The article focused on what the bible says about homosexuals (they should be put to death) and what the student thinks about gay adoption (it's completely wrong, as the child will grow up in sin).

Oddly enough, a gay couple found the article somewhat offensive, and the school apologised. At which point a conservative action group decried "bullying" of the school student, and discrimination for having religious views.

Get it? Got it? Good. Now, my question is, as much as I believe the boy to be an absolute moron, and as the school said "cultivating a negative environment of disrespect", he also has the right to say it. Or does he? I always find this Free Speech and Censorship issue a hard one to get my head around. How much does Hate Speech actually influence society? The answer to that would effect my answer to whether controvesial topics should be censored.  Other issues I have grappled with in relation to Censorship include

- Pro anorexia websites, which include tips on how to hide your habits
- Pseudo child porn websites, where the participants are of legal age (18) but drerssed and edited to look much younger
- Websites selling Neo Nazi paraphenalia
- Facebook groups that trivialise rape ( see http://rapeneverfunny.wordpress.com/).

I'm interested to hear what people think, about this particular incident with the Wisconsin student, and Hate Speech in general. I know most of my friends are intelligent enough to not be effected by such articles, but what about more impressionable people, the young, the uneducated? How much responsibility can we place on individuals to consume media wisely, and how much power do we give the law to shut down people who are spreading words of inequality?

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