invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

acupuncture, sex and chocolate, oh my. March 7, 2009

Filed under: acupuncture,fun — clementine @ 3:47 pm
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thanks to stephany at soulful sepulcher for this little treat found here:

Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system.

Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Endorphins have been suggested as modulators of the so-called “runner’s high” that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise. While the role of endorphins and other compounds as potential triggers of this euphoric response has been debated extensively by doctors and scientists, it is at least known that the body does produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise.

Endorphin release varies among individuals. This means that two people who exercise at the same level or suffer the same degree of pain will not necessarily produce similar levels of endorphins. Certain foods, such as chocolate or chili peppers, can also lead to enhanced secretion of endorphins. In the case of chili peppers, the spicier the pepper, the more endorphins are secreted. The release of endorphins upon ingestion of chocolate likely explains the comforting feelings that many people associate with this food and the craving for chocolate in times of stress.

Even if you don’t participate in strenuous athletics, you can also try various activities to increase your body’s endorphin levels. Studies of acupuncture and massage therapy have shown that both of these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion. Sex is also a potent trigger for endorphin release. Finally, the practice of meditation can increase the amount of endorphins released in your body.

Okay, now I just need the energy and money for two of them! In all seriousness, I do believe this. Acupuncture has always worked for me and there is nothing better than a great orgasm. I usually keep chocolate around as well. My preferences-M&Ms or Dove dark chocolate. Or when I can afford it, a really nice truffle or two or three.


Celexa insomnia continues December 20, 2008

wow. The Celexa is really messing with my sleep schedule. Prior to the medication this was my average schedule when not working: to bed between midnight-3am and i would wake between 9am-noon.

and now, for example, this will give you an idea of my sleep schedule.
Thursday night, well Friday morning, rather…I went to bed at 7am and woke up at 9:30am to help a friend shop for her son’s Christmas toys. at least it got me out of the house. ran a few errands. came home, cleaned and then napped from 5ish-8pm. Went to bed at 3:30am and woke up this morning or actually bolted out of bed at 6:30am. I can’t go back to sleep although, physically my body is craving it, my eyelids are very heavy right now, can hardly keep them open to see the page. Mentally, I can’t. and so I made a pot of coffee, called my grandmother and parents. now, I’m wondering if this medication is worth the trouble. I did not call my doctor because I see her in 9 days and figured I’d talk about it then but the lack of sleep is really getting to me.

This reminds me of something a psychiatrist once told me: it is crucial to get outside at least 5 days a week and walk for 30 minutes. Make sure you get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, preferably on the same schedule and take a strong multi-vitamin everyday. (more…)


good bye lamictal January 17, 2008

Shortly after Christmas the time had come to refill my Lamictal prescription. I stared at the bottle with one pill remaining, picked it up and put it in my kitchen drawer. That one pill in the bottle is still in the kitchen drawer several weeks later.

I had been slowly tapering off the medication for a few months for a variety of reasons. One being, it’s too damn expensive. But most importantly, I had hit a plateau. Typical of every single medication I’ve taken for my mental illness over the last 15-20 years. And I’ve taken a lot of them. I must admit, of all the medications I’ve been prescribed, Lamictal was by far the best. The side effects were minimal. No weight gain. No fear of diabetes. I wasn’t sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I wasn’t a zombie. It seemed to be working and I believe it did for about 18 months. And then, bam, that damn plateau. I was truly disappointed this time. I thought I had found a medication would continue to work. I was ok taking that pill the rest of my life. Instead, slowly, I began to experience symptoms more frequently…anxiety, depression, fear, mania and more depression. And then the frustration set in. Anger directed towards the pharmaceutical companies. Knowing all too well, most of these companies don’t want to see us well, they want us sick. Their medications (most of which they know little about) work temporarily, if at all, in most cases. And that is not good enough.

The day after I put that bottle in the kitchen drawer, I began taking a Whole Foods multi-vitamin and 1000mg of Flax Oil every morning. When time permits, I will do the research and look into other alternative options as well. And when money permits, I will return to acupuncture.

Coming off the Lamictal has not been easy. Nasty withdrawal symptoms, mostly, I have been severely agitated. Every single little thing bothers me. Tons of anxiety, etc.

Since coming off the Lamictal, I lost my health insurance. I’ve been insured my entire life. My premiums have nearly doubled since 2004 and I find it unacceptable. I didn’t have the $744.00 to pay the bill. And *poof* just like that, I became one of the 47 million uninsured Americans. I’m trying to switch to a catastrophic plan with the same company but it’s not easy dealing with the lovely insurance folks. On the bright side, I no longer have to worry about ridiculously high psychiatrist bills and medications. Something that has nearly sent me into bankruptcy several times over the years, even with insurance.

Surprisingly when I uttered the words “I went off my meds” to my parents, they didn’t freak out. I was certain they would because any mention of it in the past has caused serious concern. And I must admit, I’ve always been that person that believed whole-heartedly I would be medicated my entire life. I believed (and still do) a mental illness is like any other illness and should be treated as such. However, I have decided after almost two decades of numerous failed medications to go another route. I will travel the “alternative” path and see where it leads me. Maybe my parents have more faith in me than I thought. Maybe they believe I’m strong enough to fight this battle. Maybe they see what I see and that is: After a certain length of time, on any medication, I no longer feel the effects of said medication. It has happened time and time again. The doctor’s solution has always been the same, try something new or up the dosage. I can’t imagine what my father would do if his high blood pressure medication suddenly stopped working. Which leads me to….

I watched “The Medicated Child” on Frontline last week and hope to soon discuss the show. The segment that troubled me more than anything involved Dr. Patrick Bacon. A doctor who suggested to the parents of his 4 year old bipolar patient, DJ Koontz, adding Xanax to his large cocktail of medications for the anxiety he feels before he goes to school. This suggestion surprisingly came after DJ’s parents learned of Rebecca Riley’s death and asked Dr. Bacon if there was “anything not medication related that we need to be doing for DJ”? Throughout the segment Dr. Bacon used words like “experiment” and “gamble”.

Frankly, I am tired. Tired of playing the guinea pig role for the last twenty years while others profit off me


a dose of reality December 23, 2007

Filed under: acupuncture,depression,family — clementine @ 1:15 pm
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i have been empty. avoiding blogging (i hate that word) at all costs.
i have been sad. avoiding finding a normal (i hate that word, too) routine.
i have been scared. and fighting my fears.

i hit a plateau. the lamictal is not working. one could say it’s because i cut my dose from 200 to 100 to 50. but i disagree. it stopped working at 100mg. i am now taking 50mg along with a multi vitamin from whole foods and 1000mg of flax oil. i quit the cokes and coffee and replaced with a variety of hot teas. i’m hoping for the best. i have been quietly debating quitting the lamictal altogether. that road terrifies me. and yet i feel i might need to travel it. and do things differently. like, find some sort of routine. walk more often. reduce the amount of news i watch and read. schedule acupuncture when i can afford it. go outside more often. smile more. laugh more. love more.

and thanks to one special man, i am no longer alone on this road.

we just finished shopping for the angel tree families. it’s something i’ve been doing for a few years now and truly enjoy. we shopped for approximately 30 people over the last couple of weeks. this year the organizer, a friend of mine, asked us to go to the christmas party and deliver the gifts. i couldn’t bring myself to do it (luckily, i had to work…) i’d rather it be a mystery. i’d rather not see their faces as i already have a picture of them in my mind. and to be honest, without the help of our families this year…we would be in their shoes and it’s not a reality i’m having an easy time facing.

there is an ongoing strike in my business and work is very slow. so slow that for the first time in my life i had to produce a “9 to 5″resume. not an easy task when my experience has been basically, um, taking care of actors for the last ten years. i don’t know how to put into words my qualifications outside of “i’m a multi-tasker, type 65wpm, pc/mac proficient and know a variety of programs including word, excel, etc…” needless to say, i’ve had no responses. and since i love to clean and organize, a few friends hired me to clean their homes. i placed an ad at craigslist (cleaning to meet your needs…) with one hit to date. recently i told a friend…”it was not easy cleaning someone else’s toilet…”and she said, “well, you used gloves, yes?” i said..”of course, but it was more like…wow, i’m cleaning a stranger’s toilet.” the irony is, on my last film an actor that has made enough money to last several lifetimes called me and told me how wonderful i am at my job. how i made the film lighter and more enjoyable for him. he called simply to thank me and tell me “you rock!” it’s not the first time i’ve heard this and i know it’s why i’m hired to do the job i do, and yet…we cannot afford another move to los angeles…i cannot afford to join my union…we are stuck in an area where there is little work. if the actor only knew i was cleaning toilets to pay the bills one month later…

since there are few gifts to give this year, i’ve been baking christmas cookies for family and friends. snowmen, snowflakes, chocolate chip with green and red swirls, an andes mint variety and double chocolate brownies. my parents were in town over the weekend. my mom brought all the tools necessary to decorate cookies, one of her favorite christmas memories with my sister and i. as we decorated with sprinkles and sugars, she hugged me and told me these were the important things in life…spending time with family. i agreed and even while feeling nostalgic, warm, happy and peaceful…

i still felt a bit empty, sad and scared.


two weeks later April 12, 2007

Filed under: acupuncture,antipsychotics,depression,life — clementine @ 1:46 pm
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it’s funny, i had no idea losing kinsey would be this difficult. it’s been two weeks and i have cried every single day since. last weekend i had an acupuncture session and it helped, yes, it did. it cleared up some of the depression that seems to always linger but it didn’t take away the pain of losing my cat.

i found an online grief support group and soon found out those that have lost a pet are not welcome there. we must go to the pet grief support group. there were angry comments about, it’s not the same. it’s not the same. well, i’m here to say, it is. all pain is the same. i’ve lost 3 grandparents and a cousin in the iraq war. i know what it’s like to lose someone you love. (more…)