My Image, Shot by Vera Anderson of LA

On talent and long term spousal abuse….

You may have noticed that I changed my image from the James Dean wannabe in the wifebeater t-shirt, complete with scowl. Back then I was in mixed mood psychosis and got the photos taken by a German photographer who understood light and shadow. Sort of a Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo ‘personae’ thing. I didn’t want to part with it and I took a poll and numbers were split. I don’t want people to think I’m the type of rebel who is ‘anti-everything.’ I stand for as much or more than I stand against. I’m not angry at the world. I fight for my health. so I chose a picture I’m fond of at the request of two ladies who know me well. I’m smiling.

It was taken by a woman who photographed me here and there my entire acting career, a brilliant, talented gal named Vera Anderson.

 

She was married to a guy who had untreated, or self medicated bipolar disorder. For anyone over 40, do you remember the very early days of Cable, the ‘Z’ channel, similar to what “Sundance” is now?

Vera’s  husband, ahead of his time, pioneered it.

 

His role models were Jack Nicolson, Roman Polanski, Sam Peckinpah, Martin Scorcese.

He would have LOVED Quentin Tarantino.

Bipolar/substance abusing, refusing his meds, he beat her and she left him. He stalked her relentlessly and the day before his marriage to another woman, he begged her to come back. She said no and he shot himself in the head. “That’lll show you.” He was an ass.

After his death she went on to write a book called “A Woman Like You,” about all the women who endure long spousal term abuse, finally snap and kill their husbands only to serve life in prison;  no one factoring in the effects of PTSD or whatever you wanna call it.

It didn’t seem fair to her. She’d been down that road and bought the T-shirt.

The proceeds from the book went to charity. She had always wanted to direct film and she did one really good film that won an award at AFI (American film institute) but never got picked up by a distributor called “The Dogwalker.”It was a little film about the redeeming aspects of having to care for a little dog. You’d have loved it. Every time Vera took my picture I looked like myself, but better. She was the only photographer that ever ‘got me.’ If I write my book and it gets picked up, I’ll look for her yet again to see if she’ll snap me up.

I’m asking your opinion if you have time could you answer?

vera1999AllisonBlackandWhite

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Should I change my photo rom the current photo on the left, switching to the one up above on the left or up above on the right, leaning into my hand?

Which is better for my blog, “Bipolar Strength: Rebel With A Cause?”

I’m still a rebel but I stand FOR things, not against them. My friend has helped me see this, so I’m modifying my blog to reflect it.

My name is Allison Strong. I used to be an outspoken, highly rated female (obviously), alternative disc jockey, a continuation of a music scene that defied the status quo, sometimes to good effect.

It was an era when we could talk about depression. I even had a regular guest named “the cemetery guy” and people absolutely loved him!

My boss wasn’t sure about it but when he saw my ratings spike, it decimated every preconceived notion he had about what made ‘good radio.’ People were ok with the dark side. The ratings bore that out.

 

People won’t admit it but want a good image. That’s why I went with something professional, obviously contrived. But it was a mockup of the late movie star James Dean, and his titular film “Rebel Without A Cause.” That’s why I went with the wifebeater T shirt one.

I want to show rebellion and questioning the status quo, doing things like researching medicines and their side effects before taking them, instead of doing what I did, blindly loading up on high doses of certain meds that had permanent neurological side effects.

 

It is what it is. I’m not angry about it anymore but want to ‘clue in’ the next generation of people getting an automatic bipolar disorder diagnosis and given a set of meds to take without question. It might not be so easy to get off them as it was to go on.

You can actually go online and google a med and the one in its’ class with the most class action lawsuits for a particular side effect, well you can add 2+2 or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. If I’d only have known.

So what do you think? Stay with Wifebeater and the darkness or pick the LOLOL laugh my head off shot or another professional smiley commercial headshot?

What is best? I’m having a hard time giving up the James Dean image. It’s a tough call. But I am modifying my name.

Allison

aka bipolarbrainiac

 

Out of my mind with atypical antipsychotic related metabolic issues

Hi, it’s Allison.

 

I know your time is valuable which is why I’m hoping you’ll accept my check for reading and evaluating this letter about my metabolism.

I’m really strugging.

On a day to day basis, I journal my food and my hunger level. I’m rarely satiated-famished all day with a hunger level of 7. It’s hard to focus on anything, especially my writing and/or daily duties like hygiene and self-care when all I do is prepare healthy food to carry around with me so I can eat every hour.

The hunger is worse when I take my Metformin. Why do you think that might be?

Eating, even low carb meals makes it worse. I can’t figure this out and need your help.

I don’t have hunger pangs but a feeling of jittery irritability and the feeling that I’d do anything to get some food. Not sugar necessarily but I did faint recently in Kohl’s and had to eat half a candy bar.

So the only time I’m able to do anything with a clear is in the morning before I’ve eaten. It’s my ‘golden time.’

It’s hard to ‘do the right thing’ when the right thing makes life harder.

As you know, I’m on Clozaril, the drug causing this metabolic problem. But it helps me greatly with Tardive Dyskinesia, stabilizes my moods, helps me sleep predictably and regularly, even though I’m in pain most of the time.

I know you recommended I try Saphris or Latuda but those drugs likely as heck, according to my shrink, would aggravate my TD the same way Invega, Invega IM, Geodon, Risperdal and Zyprexa did. At the end of a three year period of no symptom control, even the sedating seroquel aggravated the tic, or rather; thrashing. Forget about sleep or signing my name. It was a horrible period of time.

I am one of the unlucky few who can’t take the highly effective first line treatment Benztropin (Cogentin).

I pay a high price for TD symptom relief beyond metabolic difficulties. Weight management is epic. Thank god I love exercise (weight train and 8 hours of cardio a week), and changed my diet to 95% raw foods.

I have monthly blood for absolute neutrophils and WBC, had to reduce my Enbrel for psoriasis and have to really take care of myself to have good labs. It’s a pain in the but safety protocol Teva and the other generic giants have in place to prevent agranular cytosis. (sp?)

As for your suggestion that I ‘get off Clozaril,’ I’ve tried. I put myself in intensive outpatient so I could try in a supervised setting. First we tried Invega, Seroquel, Risperdal, Abilify and Zyprexa, all of which aggravated my symptoms even more. You probably already know that atypical and traditional antipsychotics as well as Reglan cause Tardive Dyskinesia in the first place.

This is totally illogical but when one removes the causal drugs, even carefully titrating lower and lower there’s this “Withdrawal Emergent Syndrome” where the symptoms are wildly worse. I was admitted to the ER three times for this and as you might imagine, the ER docs just wrung their hands, shaking their heads. You’d have thought they were the ones in observation from the looks of their faces!

I’ve had bipolar I since my first full blown manic episode in ’89. For a long-termer like me, Lithium would have been worse. I’m glad it’s my only drug allergy or I might be on dialysis by now, much worse than what I deal with currently.

I need you to help me buy time on this metabolic thing, help me delay the progression. (Hopefully until after I die).

I’ve already had five foot surgeries (Fusions bilateral and more) from professional sports overuse injuries (pro beach volleyball in LA), and I really like what’s left of my feet!! LoL!

Is there any way that I could have my blood sugar levels monitored more frequently as I employ changes in my weight training, diet, herbs and other holistic approaches? I’m finding Cinnamon helps with the hunger but online the reports are mixed. You’re pretty advanced and I think you could really help me delay diabetes.

I might even try pancreatic supporting chiro and possibly acupuncture. But first I need to find out if my Metformin is too high or why I’m starving all the time.

I’d like to do this and ask you if you think I should see an endocrinologist.

Thanks so much for reading my missive. My shrink says I’m an ‘exotic.’ Thank God he puts up with me. I’ve stayed out of the inpatient psych ward for sixteen terrific years save a few long term bipolar depression relapses. Now that I’m writing for four different mags, life is pretty good, except when I’m hungry all the time!

 

Sincerely,

Allison Strong

 

Comments anyone? Anyone else out there struggling with these issues? I really hope to buy time until science catches up to this problem. Believe me, they’re scrambling. There’s just too much good money to be made!!!

David Bowie showed me how to Be an artist: Be Myself!

youngamericans

My favorite album was the above—1970’s R&B, Influenced, Soul Tinged

“Young Americans”

I can’t express my grief. I knew David Bowie had just released another innovative album and now he’s gone. Well, I guess we’ll have something to remember him by. His courage and constant reinvention of himself and his music always inspired me.  He dared to be different and gave me the A ‘Ok to do the same. He wasn’t afraid of being rejected for his assortment of characters like Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke. He didn’t care if the music critics panned his albums, as long as he knew he was doing something new that had never been done before. Bowie taught me how to be an artist: To be myself.

New Year, New Publication

 

Red

There are these ‘publications’ that just ‘show up’ in my reader. Then I read their article and see they have a spot to apply to be a ‘contributor.’ I filled one out for these people and a month later they got back to me. They had a ‘style manual’ that puts Strunk and White to Shame.

Here’s what came out of it with NewLifeOutlook Bipolar

http://bipolar.newlifeoutlook.com/managing-bipolar-without-medication/

Pieces of Paradise: Film Critic Pauline Kael, Mash and Last Tango in Paris

brando

Here and there I snatch pieces of paradise. The biography of late film critic Pauline Kael (New Yorker, New York Times and five books of her own best sellers) had written a piece about “Mash,” The Robert Altman Film, saying Altman made a much needed departure from the stiff, staged, slowly paced movies where audiences were spoon fed every piece of dialogue, as if we were children in Kindergarten. She found this kind of filmmaking insulting.

She realized, when she saw the film “Mash,” you can get a message across with less. The  overlapping dialogue of officers barking out ridiculous commands and simultaneously being agreed to without question…you could have put a suicide vest on someone and ordered him to detonate it and it would have exploded by the time the officer finished giving his orders!

Or the mish mash of one word utterances in the army base operating room with medical improv a substitute for sufficient equipment, transfusible fluids, nurses anesthesia and other supplies.

Just how quickly we grow accustomed to terrible food and blood everywhere;  even asking a Chaplain to hold a retractor in surgery on a live soldier rather than give last rights to someone already dead. We saw the stupidity of our military system and  how tenuous is our hold on life. It’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to pray, screw, make gruesome jokes,  drink it away  in order to hang on to what little remains.

Without understanding all that was said, Altman made his point, over and over again. Last night,  by the time the film ended, I grabbed the Pauline Kael book “A Life in the Dark,” read thirty more pages, including a chapter on her entire experience with the film “Last Tango In Paris.” She said that Brando’s performance in the Bertolucci film made his work in “The Godfather” look like “Child’s Play.”

My best friend just bought the dvd and we have plans to see it. Now, thanks to Pauline Kael’s book, I know what I’m in for. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach it. She says they pushed the envelope very far.

RIP Robert Spitzer MD, who updated DSMIII in a huge way.

The person most responsible for DSM’s leap into the mainstream passed away last week? His name was Robert Spitzer and I’ve run across three articles about his life and work.

When he tweaked DSMIII, he removed same sex orientation as a basis for a diagnosis. Gay rights speakers claim that if it hadn’t been for Dr. Spitzer, there would be no gay marriage today.

 

His work on DSMIII was a total departure from  overreliance on the unreliable: the wide spectrum of Freudian authority. With the updates of and additions to DSM3, the new framework for diagnostics was based on  a ‘checklist’ of symptoms. While not perfect, it is more accurate and leaves less territory wide open for speculation.

While my psychiatrist of fifteen years is a bit of a Freudian doc, many psychiatrists in the 70’s were frustrated with Freudian theory and the idea that someone had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to lie on a couch and speak to a silent psychoanalyst for years on end.

 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What about We Who R Sentenced 2 a Life of Mental Illness?

The tortured man behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, who in the 90’s said he would not take anything for his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And more.,….below. The suicides and accidental OD’s are only part of a much larger story!

trentreznorI was listening to Lithium yesterday (Sirius 90’s-my ‘stuck in the 70’s-type station’), and Matt Pinfield, a programmer I used to know, told a story about NIN’s Trent Reznor and how before he formed his band, he’d seen Ministry and fallen in love with Al Jourgenson’s vocal style and stage presence.

I wasn’t clear on the next part, but there was something about nails…an actual nine inch nail he pounded into a piece of wood and there ya go, Nine Inch Nails.

I wonder about Trent, how he’s doing now and how in the 90’s  he refused treatment for Bipolar Disorder. Even though I benefit (and get penalized healthwise) from psychiatric meds, I think that with the kind of agonized self expression he had with his band, he might have been able to transfer the majority of madness to the music so it didn’t eat him up inside.

But that only works for so long. When the creative well runs dry for a little or a long while, then what do you do with all that pain? Look at what happened to Hemingway, and many others?

We look at the suicides of movie stars, writers, artists, and rock musicians only when they happen and then we move on to a more pleasant topic.  We gave the most attention of late to the late Kurt Cobain yet his music lives on as if we never lost him.

People never talk about his bipolar diagnosis or his chronic pain. What drove him to the poppy to begin with.

What about the accidental OD’s of people like Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith,     Rivers Phoenix, Scott Weiland, and so many  like me, sentenced to a lifelong struggle to achieve and retain mental health?

Add that to someone famous; with commercial restraints imposed on them by their handlers? The late Scott Weiland mentioned his ‘handlers’ or ‘minders,’ as he called his sobriety coaches, with sarcasm and disdain. How could he not when if you read AA’s Big Book, it’s emphasized that neither the material nor the wisdom within it be used for commercial gain?

When I went to rehab more times than I care to admit, I too was skeptical of  for profit centers reliant on the 12 steps as a framework for their programs. It’s not ethical. Yet we Canonize places like the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs for making Liz Taylor Mop the Floor or Hazelden in Minnesota for having one of the “Cagney and Lacey” stars come back and give talks?

When one of the celebs accidentally experiences an early expiration date; falling off the shelf to their death,  we hardly notice and blame them for their symptoms-substance abuse. It’s a symptom, man, mental illness and inferior coping skills the cause.

Why should we cast aspersions on drug abusers looking for an instant fix to what ails them when we ourselves live in a ‘risk vs benefit,’ ‘drugs will fix it’ communal existence with the American Medical Association, Big Pharma and our own health care providers?

Why? Why? Why?

Bipolar Metabolism an untapped market

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The above pictures reflect a before and after. No Jenny Craig, no gimmicks. Diet and Exercise, certain herbs for blood sugar, increased water. Of course, when I’m in a months long bipolar depression, which happens every year or so, I have the food-mood connection and I fall back into the pit of binging and don’t exercise. I had to ‘re lose’ 20 lbs after my depression relapse in April thru July of this year. It takes time to lose!!!

 

At 54, I find myself with a health challenge beyond weight.

Because of antipsychotic psych meds I must take,  I’m prediabetic, even though I weight train and get 7 hours of cardio a month, no sugar, raw foods, am slender and muscular. Using myself as a research subject, with help from someone who has actually studied antipsychotic related metabolic changes. Journaling, blood tests, saliva tests for hormone levels that play a part. I hope my work will be published in both bphope.com, and International Bipolar Foundation. There will be no repetition of content. Believe me, I’ve been collecting data on research and nutrition, hormones, cortisol, etc, for six months. There’s enough helpful information to go around. I just wanted you to know I’m embarking on a journey to turn my metabolic problem around and will let you know how it goes.

 

 

High Rise in Costs of Generic Meds

 

 

 

 

aljeweling2An old generic long acting benzo for my Tardive Dyskinesia that’s similar to Klonopin? Well it’s called Tranxene and it jumped from 10.00 a month to 300.00 a month. The pharmacist had hoped my Medicare Part D would catch up and cover the price and he took the loss two months in a row, never informing us. He really has my back but that’s a whole nother story. But, see, now I know that I have to research the costs of all my medicines, including the ones that I would assume would be two bucks.

Say it aint so.

Allison