Why I Can’t Take Chantix to Quit Smoking

Several of my doctors are really pushing me to quit smoking. I know – intellectually – that I do need to quit. The problem is, in 1999 I quit for three years and never got to the point where I was comfortable. I wanted to smoke every single day of those three years. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and started up again.

This dramatic failure – and the fact that I really enjoy smoking – are two huge factors playing against my even making another attempt.

Still, I was willing to try bupropion (generic version of the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the anti-smoking aid Zyban). This was a major disaster.

I do have e-cigarettes, but they aren’t satisfying (maybe I bought the wrong brand?). Then they died, I couldn’t find the charger, and it took weeks for the company to send me a new one (promised in 3 days). That kind of killed my interest in using them.

My ashtray at the end of the day

My ashtray at the end of the day

But I smoke a lot: at least 2 packs a day. I have developed wheezing when I lie down. I really don’t want COPD, and I was told that smoking could have contributed to the attack of ischemic colitis I had a few years back (which could have been fatal, though I didn’t know it at the time).

There’s one more drug that has a very good record in helping people quit smoking: Chantix. But my doctors refuse to prescribe it because of my bipolar II disorder, and I agree with them. My current meds’ control over my BP and anxiety is precarious enough without adding a drug known to cause problems to people with mental illnesses. Continue reading

How I Sort of Took Charge of My Time

I’ve just put up a new SharePost on HealthCentral, where I write in the Bipolar Disorder topic. Living Well With Bipolar II Disorder: Taking Charge of Your Time talks about a change in my life I’m really proud of.

It started in early November when I was talking with my son Joey via instant messenger. I can’t remember the details of the conversation, but it was probably me moaning about how overloaded and overwhelmed I was feeling. Something in our conversation inspired me that day (Joey’s good at inspiring), and I sat down with Microsoft Excel and created the schedule I wrote about in the SharePost.

I’d lived too long, too often, in a slosh of struggle, anxiety and desperation. Always feeling overwhelmed, always feeling inadequate, always beating myself up. There were some periods where using daily lists really helped. I could go on that way for quite some time, as long as my mood wasn’t too bad and nothing went wrong.

There were, and are, hypomanic periods where I had lots of energy, but I usually expend that energy on physical tasks like housework and gardening, not on work I get paid for. Face it – I don’t often get excited about working on my jobs. But they’re essential. They have to be tended.

Anyway – when I started making a schedule for the month at the beginning of the month, complete with topics for my required writing, the effects were instantaneous and lasting. Wow! Pressure eased. Confidence increased. Work done, on time, without turning into a frantic ghoul clawing at my own spirit. Continue reading