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    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

I’m posting from the train from my blackberry so please forgive the even greater number of errors. I saw my psychopharmacologist today. I see him every four months for a tune up. He’s French. I’ve been going to him for a hundred years. He knows how I am just from looking at me.

I feel this way about some of my writers. It was easier when there was no email and we were forced to talk. I could usually tell by the way they said hello when they answered the phone if they were productive, stuck, depressed, manic, suspicious, blazed, or loaded for bear (whatever the fuck that means). It’s more difficult to tell how someone is on email, easier to hide. Silences are also tricky. I don’t like it when I haven’t heard from a client in too many months. I often make a mental note to call but then the day goes to the squeaky wheels.

I’m starving. I talked to students at City College tonight. So cool. I’m missing Glee re-run. It was worth it. Big day tomorrow. Five meetings starting with breakfast with the new editor in chief of Hyperion.

What meds are you on?

43 Responses

  1. Lycopene
    Red wine
    Nicotine (8 X a day)

  2. My son’s medication dosage was changed today and he became absolutely irrational. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have to have him hospitalized until we could get him stable.

    As for me, some days I feel like I’m on Damitol.

  3. It was wonderful hearing you speak. Your insight is very much appreciated. Glee was not a rerun and it was amazing as always (hope you dvr’d it). I’m on no meds – though, I am told that I should be.

  4. I get high on life.

  5. thyroid hormones
    not enough estrogen
    too much testosterone
    no alcohol of any kind because my fucking body rejects it and snaps into a fucking hot flash and, bloody hell, it’s no wonder women of a certain age are either sad or spitting mad.

    i’m so healthy it’s pathetic.

    i’m thinking of setting something on fire.

  6. armour thryoid
    zoloft, usually about 50-100, but 25 right now because i’m pregnant
    i take fish oils, b complex, iodine drops, prenatal and occasionally d or certain antioxidants

    my husband takes Lamictal, we are still trying to find the exact right thing or things for him, and he takes high dose fish oil and newly takes Resveratrol

  7. Bourbon and organic cigarettes. I know, I know.
    The first anti-depressant I ever took was trazodone. It turned me into a total nymphomaniac. (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.)
    Then I took Prozac, which made my skin crawl and turned me into a zombie. I ended up in a mental hospital after a half-assed suicide attempt. (Why does the french word roll of the tongue in such a lovely way – suicider.) The psychiatrist’s response was to triple my dosage. Seriously.
    Then when I lived in Ireland, I took something that might have been Celexa. I dunno. It had a different name there. All I know is that it did nothing and that coming off of it was three months of hell.

    It’s been ten years since I’ve taken anything. But recently I finally gave in to my therapist. After seeing her for five years. My two requirements: that it doesn’t make me gain weight, and that it won’t fuck with my sex drive. (I only have so many good years left.) Her two suggestions: Prozac (Hello? Was she listening?) And Wellbutrin.

    I’m going with Wellbutrin. Honestly, the chance that I might lose one or two dress sizes fairly quickly is more encouraging than the thought of getting rid of the black dogs.

    I actually got excited. Then I found out it will be six weeks before I can get in to see the doctor. Isn’t the health care system grand?

    In truth, I should have fought harder for a faster appointment. But who wants to take on that extra disappointment?

    • Go ahead and fight. You have to advocate for yourself, as they say.

    • I agree. Make phone calls, be a pain in the ass; they’re supposed to be there for you, not the other way around.

    • You know about the Bourbon but I’m nudging anyway. A depressed person shouldn’t drink, period. When you start feeling better have some red wine with a meal a few times a week, an occasional beer, a cocktail at celebrations. As the cliche goes, there are no short-cuts to feeling better–except maybe medication, sometimes, if you’re very ill and respond well and get the right medication in the right dosage (might take time, as you’ve found). You have to take the long way ’round and exercise, eat well (your body needs vegetables, fruit, hydration and vitamins and when you give it these things it will repay you buy helping to buoy your mood and energy).

      And yes, be a pain in the ass, be a respectful and relentless pain in the ass. And if that doesn’t work, be a pain in the ass, straight-up, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts; if you’re having these you should be telling people and getting help NOW.

      • Qualifying the drink stuff: You always need to know what you can drink OR NOT given your medical condition and any drugs you are taking. This is important. People die because they take the wrong things together or mess with doses.

  8. Bonjour mes amis!

    Prozac (60 mg per day)
    Advil PM two or three times a week

    Elixirs and Tonics:
    Heligoland, Massive Attack
    The Collected Stories, Dylan Thomas
    Orderly Chaos, Chogyam Trungpa
    The Art of Arts: Rediscovering Painting, Anita Albus
    30 Rock
    Doc Martin
    Lacan, the Musical!

    *Thanks for asking and have a good big day, Betsy.

    P.S. Might be funny if you refer to someone/something as French in every post (okay, well, maybe just funny to me).

  9. Time for us to sneak away from the party and examine the bathroom medicine cabinet, is it? What fun!

    Mine’s almost empty, and it’s not in the bathroom, actually. It’s in the kitchen. It holds a half-dozen nutritional supplements, but those don’t count as meds. Let’s see what else is in there… no, the tea and the coffee don’t really count, and those cigarettes are my wife’s, not mine… let’s see, what else…

    Loratadine, which I took daily until it caused my tinnitus (too much loud music for too many years) to flare up, so now it’s cut back to prn. Albuterol, which I inhale damn near every four hours night and day to cope with the combination of my allergy to the cats I insist on living with and the damage to my lungs from too much smoking for too many years (I haven’t told my doctor about the smoking, but I don’t expect to see him hereabouts). And the most important medication, vital for my long-term mental health, is marijuana, which I consume weekly so as not to come unglued. I don’t keep it in the bathroom medicine cabinet, so poke around in there all you want, you’re not going to find it. I don’t intend to distribute, anyway. Care for a cup of coffee? You can have one of these cigarettes if you like, the wife won’t mind, so long as you don’t take the last one. And are you getting enough vitamin D? You know, people really don’t get enough vitamin D these days, so if you want one of those, help yourself. Just don’t overdo it.

    • Yep, just the herbal cure-all for me. The only side effect is an inexplicable craving for apples with peanut butter and a tendency to lose my train of …

  10. Caffiene and cigarettes, with a daily dose of acne medication, because even though I’m 51 f’ing years old, I still have the face of a fifteen year old hormone – and not in a good way.

    I need to get back on Wellbutrin so I can stop smoking again. It seems I only have the cajones to fight that battle if I’m armed with a bottle of pills.

    Who’s buying breakfast? If it’s Mister Hyperion, order the lox. Or Eggs Benedict. If it’s you, drag out the Healhty Breakfast routine and order oatmeal.

  11. Yaz

    That really makes it sound like my love life is better than it is right now. Talk to me in two weeks when I start query-ing around (is that a verb? should be) for a new agent–sure the list will get longer.

  12. I’d love to have this discussion with all of you, but it really seems like a face-to-facer. What say you, B? I’m pretty fucking entertaining in person, if I do say so. Orrrr some of you will hate me. Definite possibility. But this is all getting a little…intime without a face to face (to face to face to face, et alia) type of a thing. Shall we all rendezvous at next year’s Tin House? And August, I’m looking at YOU, m’dear, in addition to our esteemed B.

    • I don’t know; I fear that all of us meeting in person might be like finally sleeping with that guy you’ve adored secretly forever. The excitement would evaporate along with the mystery, and we’d wind up vaguely disappointed and disinterested, like an old married couple.

  13. I’m not on any meds but I might consider it just to be able to say “I saw my psychopharmacologist today”. I have always wanted one. It’s sounds so much cooler than therapist (too whiny) or psychiatrist (too boring).

    Betsy, here’s to therapeutic levels and another day without lithium induced glomerulonephritis. Hope your day is what you need it to be…


  14. I take a healthy dose of denial as needed.

  15. I’m off my meds, but it took a long time. I got down to a nibble off a pill every couple, three days, and I threw the last three in the trash. I’m okay; the mood swings aren’t as bad as they were a long, long time ago.

    My mother could tell how her mother was from the handwriting in her letters. I can tell from my mother’s hello on the phone. Nobody can tell from me cuz I hide out when it’s bad. They don’t know whether it’s my normal liking to be alone or hiding, so it works. I’ll be dead a week before anybody checks. (Of natural causes!)

  16. Gee, Betsy, did you really mean that question literally? Looks like many people read it that way, but my first response was to take it more broadly. After all, you didn’t tell us what you’re on. (Maybe in the past, but not here.)

    I get high with a little help from my friends. (Sometimes literally, more often figuratively.) Coffee. Music, live or recorded, medieval to pop. Having good work to do, then having no work to do (I mean paying work), in alternation. Variety is an upper, routine is a downer.

  17. Your clients are lucky…when I emailed my agency to find out how my submissions were doing I got an email telling me not to email them but to wait for them to get in touch with me. Maybe I need meds! lol

  18. Levothyroxine. And increasingly loud music as I get older.

  19. Early menopause at 45. Lucky me! The hormones aren’t working, except to make me fucking fat. I wish I could smoke — nothing calms a girl like a good smoke — but my mother died of emphysema at 56. So that’s fucking out. Last night I drank 3 glass of wine in an hour, which felt great until I woke up, hungover, at midnight.

    But hey …. my 3-legged dog, who’d rather kill you than look at you, takes Prozac for Pups at 50 bucks a month. At least she’s got-damned happy! Time for that walk!

  20. I adore my dog, a mixed breed stray like me who winks at me when I brood and gets me out of the house to walk her with all four off the floor leaps of happiness. I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s gone.

  21. I’m a testament to Better Living Through Chemistry. And a nice red zin to end the day.

  22. Lamictal (+ lithium as needed, not needed for quite awhile=yay for precarious stability), wellbutrin, xanax, and some stimulants to pull my brain out of the fog.

    You talked in September about being thankful for the pharmaceutical companies. A-fucking-men. The miracle of modern medicine.

  23. Companionship, playing with and teaching kids, listening to kids, nature, art, live music, canned music, music, music, music, theater, dance, comedy, improv, throwing parties for unreasons, being around aminals.

    In other words (and there are always other words), take a sad song and fucking (in tribute to the f in “Jude”) rewrite the lyrics if you want to.

  24. I watched six hours of television last night. I love this British show, “Survivors” (not the crappy reality show) about a post-flu-virus, post-apocalyptic world. The writing is good, but the acting is incredible. It sounds weird, but nothing like good acting to give me hope. Good British actors are my new drug of choice.

  25. Lamictal, Trlieptal, Lexapro, coffee, wine (in more moderation than I’d prefer), and the Internet. A bit too addicted to that last one.

    Hope you feel meilleur soon.

  26. Beer

  27. The love of a good book and the good will of my fellow man is what keeps me sane, to varying degrees. And coffee and beer and cigarettes in varying quantities, depending on what day it is, or sometimes what time of day it is. But never beer in the morning or coffee at night, unless it’s the weekend.

    • Oh and yes, my measure for knowing when I’ve gone too far and might be leaving a real world, is nauseousness. As simple as that may seem, everyone on any kind of meds, or none, can relate, if they pay attention to themselves. Works for me.

  28. Silver halides and Berg’s Selenium. It makes you see things.

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