September 2011 to Now

It has been an interesting ride for the last 5 months. This is a quick note mostly to let you know that I’m back to writing…

First off, the use of coffee seems to do something. I’d like to say it works, but that’s not entirely true – I been in and out of depression for Dec 2011 and Jan 2012.

I’m not sure if the depression was caused because I stopped taking the coffee regularly or at a proper dose, or because I became resistant to the coffee, or because the coffee never worked and I had a rare spell of no depression. I was hoping for a relatively clear cut test with a clear cut answer, but that didn’t quite materialise. So I’m starting back testing again, effective today 1 Feb 2012. The experiment will need to go on for a minimum of three months or until I next get depressed, whichever comes first. Will keep you up to date this time around.

Although the testing I did wasn’t as rigorous as I would have liked, and I have to do it over again, it appears the coffee does something. Enough so that I think that adding coffee to whatever drug regime that you are on may offer some benefit against depression (notice the word ‘may’). The amount of coffee that I am drinking is equal to the caffeine in one double espresso Starbucks every 3-4 hours. This is a lot of caffeine, by the way – you should probably start with drinking less coffee (or less strong coffee) to see what happens.

The side effects are typical caffeine side effects – hyperactivity, tense muscles, twitchiness, peeing a lot, nausea if you happen to overdo the coffee. And beginning to hate the taste of coffee. For me, none are particularly bad, though having to pee frequently can become awkward. I will add details about my experiences last year in my next post.

I am NOT a doctor. The only reason I am suggesting this is that coffee is drunk by millions of people daily with no real side effects, so I figure it would be difficult to harm yourself. I do not recommend using caffeine tablets as I am not sure what such a concentrated rush of caffeine will do.

However, if caffeine makes you very hyperactive or manic, or if your mania is not well controlled, or if you are currently manic or hypomanic, do NOT try this. Coffee does make one hyperactive, so it is likely to intensify any manic symptoms you are exhibiting or make them harder to control.

I also recommend that you talk with your psych about the coffee suggestion the next time you talk with them.

What Depression Is
I’ve been refining what depression seems to be. Here are my second or third draft ideas so far.

Depression is  a failure of the connection between the ability to think and the ability to act. I can think of what to do, but it doesn’t translate into actually doing anything. The mind continues to work, and I can be articulate and knowledgeable if someone asks me about something, but nothing I say will cause me to actually take action. An example: I can know why I need to take my medication, and I can tell you precisely why I should, but that won’t translate into me going into the kitchen and taking it. Or even taking them if the tablets and the water are on the table in front of me.

Depression is the loss of personal connection or meaning in situations. For example: I can know that I have a good relationship and I can know intellectually that the my relationship is important and that if I don’t talk to my partner then I am screwing up the relationship. But knowing about the situation intellectually doesn’t translate it having any meaning to me, almost as if what I am talking about is happening to someone on the other side of the world and not me. It’s simply not relevant to my life. The same thing happens in other situations – it’s not happening to me, it’s not important to me, it’s not relevant to me, it has no impact on me. Even when it does.

Depression is the fear of other people.  I don’t want to talk with people or discuss anything, or have them visit me. I am afraid that they may shout at me or criticise me. Having someone talk to me can feel as if they are hitting me with a stick. I can’t cope with talking about anything serious or meaningful with people – it’s too hard or painful.

12 thoughts on “September 2011 to Now

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  1. Have you tried Lamitcal? it seems to be working pretty well but I’ve only been on it for 3 weeks. But so far, so good. Doing Wellbutrin as well. Definitely out of “depression”: the deep, I can’t feel anything and I don’t want to because everything will be this horrible forever and ever and ever kind of depression.

    As for coffee, I wonder. I cut it wayyyyy down for a week and now I’m back to my usual 5 big big mugs a day. I can’t tell if the surge of creativity, writing and reaching out to world and people is coffee or the beginnings of hypomania.

    Stay tuned!!


    1. Daniela is right – I’m apparently one of those rare cases that is allergic to Lamictal. It did seem to do something about the depression, but since I had to stop taking it after a week, I cannot offer any ideas on whether it does work well or not.

      Coffee hyperactivity and hypomania? I can’t tell the difference between the two, and to be fair, I use the coffee to push me into mild hypomania because being normal is too knife edged – I can too easily slip back into depression.

      If your productivity is high, enjoy it, but be careful not to push yourself into the worse aspects of hypomania / mania. NO ARGUING with anyone and no spending money wildly and don’t take on too many tasks.


    2. By the way Christina, I’ve been on Lamictal for five months and from my experience I can tell it’s a great medicine 🙂 but it takes some time to notice the effects. Now I’ve been quite stable for four months (that’s a lot for me!!!) and it’s boring sometimes (compared to hypomania) but that’s way better than being depressive for me. I lost many important things because of depression.


  2. A note for anyone who is supplementing medication with coffee/ caffeine:

    It is a diuretic – it makes you pee more (your kidneys reabsorb less water), but its effects are usually countered by the amount of water/milk/liquids you take in at the same time.

    However: anyone on Lithium (or other diuretic medications) should be cautious, and monitor any side effects, such as increased thirst.

    (You are likely already aware that you need to drink regularly to prevent Li toxicity and keep water levels in check).

    Caffeine also reportedly helps eliminate Li from the body, and may dampen its effectiveness. // Sudden withdrawal of caffeine may significantly and suddenly increase your Li levels.

    This shouldn’t scare you away from coffee which is relatively harmless, and might help, but you should be aware of the interactions, and be cautious.

    NB. I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. I reserve the right to be completely wrong and for everything I say to be made up.


  3. Hi There,
    I have finally accepted my diagnosis of being bipolar and finding that your site was useful last time have come back and liked that blog entry. I gave up drinking coffee and after recently taking it back up again found that it really had an impact on my being able to recognise being manic, something I thought I was able to do so I guess it is not for me although I too enjoy drinking it. I think your description of depression is very accurate for us bipolar sufferers at least, I can relate to your words so innately it is almost scary. The fear that I have felt when talking to my wife and friends of how she and they might react, thinking it would be negative and yell at me stopped me from being able to socialise and participate in conversations and I only recently understood this after my diagnosis.
    Your website is brilliant, simply brilliant for helping people like me to understand my own head and accept that I am not alone in this craziness. Thank you.


  4. Just want you to know that your writings are so very helpful to me, my son, my daughter both have Bipolar and my husband has mood disorder (probably BP just never diagnosed. Your insite has helped me to understand them much better. I also think your coffee thought is super, as my 10 year drinks it every morning and most evenings as well. It has a calming effect on him, like it takes all of his negative thoughts away at least for an hour or two. I have even referred your website to his teacher and school. so many people don’t have a clue about BP and they react in negative ways.
    Thanks so much for educating the world.


  5. Hi and it’s great to see that you are writing again, thank you;-) I was diagnosed in 1999 as being Bi-Polar II. Coffee has the tendency to make me too jittery and at times I cannot distinguish between the coffee jitters and hypo mania…so I’ve switched to decaff. I appreciate your website and your blog it helps to “connect” with another (others when I read their comments) that are “unique” by being bipolar. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m taking Paxil and Lithium, but I still have hypo mania attacks periodically. Thanks for sharing♥


  6. Hi, I would like to comment on my coffee situations. Sometimes I can drink it and become productive and active. . .but that is just coffee for you. Now when the coffee starts loosing effect I become very depressed almost a catatonic state, like a zombie for about an hour to three hours. I do not take and meds for bi-polar, however if I take a small dose of xanax with my coffee in the morning I tend to feel very normal throughout the day and in the evening I usually take the other hafe of the xanax I beleive they are like 1mg? The little blue ones. I have not been properly diagnosed with bi-polar though I am in the process of seeing a “welfare type therapist” so it is a very slow process and I am 100% sure I have a very serious type of bi-polar disorder. I even have a very hot body temp. like discribed under the “manic-symptoms” section. I become very out of control and these xanax are the only thing that helps, when I become offended or feel myself getting out of control a small, I repeat small, dose has a fast acting effect on calming my mental thought process. I’m not sure if this will help anyone.


  7. I wanted to first thank you for your site. I stumbled upon it and have found great information.

    I’m not yet diagnosed, but have been seeing a psych, and after tracking my moods for 3 weeks I’ve pretty sure his curiosity of my possibly being bipolar is spot on reading about it. I went to him for severe depression. But it’s obvious to me now I’m being manic the last few days (the words are so blurry on this blog).

    Anyway, I am addicted to coffee and drink tons of it… every day. So I find this very interesting. Right now I want to go out and get some, but I know I’m already being way too hyper.

    I had a point but anyway, thank you for your blog / website!


  8. Just stumbled upon this blog because I am trying to get a far better perspective in understanding someone special to me. I care so much and Im trying my best to find ways to help me cope up with the situation although it is not yet clear to me that it is BP. No confirmation yet but situation is definitely the same.


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