My Life on Speed—An Update


Almost four months ago, I started treatment for Binge Eating Disorder.  Basically, that consisted of taking an amphetamine, journaling about the changes in my compulsive thoughts and eating, visiting my med provider (Sarah) more often, and fighting with insurance.

I’ll start with the ugly and work toward the beautiful.

Gorey1. Dealing with insurance is a nightmare of Edward Gorey proportions—decoding the telephone directory-sized formulary, shuffling piles of contradictory paperwork, making my pharmacy do what the insurance company tells me to tell them to do, stopping Sarah from following the pharmacy’s incorrect instructions, filing forms for an exception to the formulary, filing an exception to the prescribed dosage, discussing the exceptions with non-English-speaking Call Center schlubs who have no authority, resubmitting forms, getting Sarah to resubmit forms…

It took all four months to get it straightened out with me double-checking everyone else’s work.  This process would make a sane person stark raving (and has.  I’ve discussed this with lots of neuro-normal people who ended up screaming on the phone or curled up in a puddle at their pharmacies), so I had to tackle it one little piece at a time.

I’m well aware that insurance companies try to get customers to give up.  They don’t want to pay for anything.  But, I survived filing for disability.  I know this game.  And while it was stressful, and I used a lot of colorful language, I got the exact drug I needed and gained even more respect for Sarah.  She and my (new) pharmacy—these worthies—stood with me on the battle field.  Their loyalty and integrity will earn them a place in Valhalla.

Yield2. There’s a reason amphetamines are contra-indicated for people with bipolar disorder.  Luckily, Sarah and I both did our homework about how they might cause mania and insomnia.

When the zip I got from my pills crossed over into agitation, I stopped taking them.  Since I’ve never been very clear about that line (it feels so good to feel good), the symptoms got scary sometimes before I recognized them—like forgetting appointments, or tearing my apartment apart to find a photo I wanted to use, or getting completely overwhelmed by a movie, or driving too fast while texting.

Whenever I woke up to being scattered or dangerous, I stopped.  I made myself safe or quiet.  I notified Sarah.  And I waited.  The mania always receded.  This is one of the benefits of rapid cycling.  I can always count on my mood changing.  I just had to take my brain-skillet off the fire of the amphetamines to let it happen.

Double AhThose are the ugly parts of My Life on Speed.  The rest is pretty darn lovely.

3. I’ve experienced very little depression since May.  Historically, I suffer less depression and more hypomania in the summer, but not to this extent.  I checked my old journals to make sure.  I expected the Vyvanse to flick me into mania at times, but did not expect the overall shift up in mood.  Sarah and I are cautiously hopeful that this trend might continue into winter.

Oh!  I don’t want to pin any real hope on this, but what if the Vyvanse could keep my mood from sinking into that suicidal basement come February?  Since I’ll also have a caregiver for the first time in my life (from Lutheran Services of Iowa) to help motivate me to keep my apartment clean, this winter could be very different.

4. When I take the Vyvanse, all the compulsive thinking about food goes away.  Small amounts of food give me a sense of satiety.  I don’t need more.  I don’t want more.  There have even been times this summer when I forgot to eat.  I can’t express how weird that is.  I know there are people in the world who lose their appetites when stressed—I thought they came from Pluto.  I have wanted to eat while I was puking from the flu.

Brain That Wouldn't DieI’m seeing now how much space food occupied in my head.  The absence was unnerving at first—like walking into an abandoned house with just a few sticks of furniture left behind by the previous owners.  But, I’ve come to love all this room.  And I’m taking my time redecorating.

Whenever I stop the Vyvanse to let manic symptoms settle, the compulsive thoughts return.  I feel them crowd in—pushy, rude, overbearing.  But I can remember what their absence feels like, and somehow that helps keep me from bingeing as much as I used to.  And even then, I don’t punish myself anymore—for being weak, or gluttonous, or just wrong.  I have evidence now.  Binge Eating Disorder is real, not a character flaw.

5. The final sweet treat is that I’ve lost 30 pounds.

I’ll just leave it at that, because… you know…

I’m on an Adventure.

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rachelgriffin22
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 11:46:15

    You are a fantastic writer! Congrats on your success!! Insurance companies 😝 I know your frustration! Xo


  2. radiatingblossom
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:04:45

    30 pounds! That’s a lot!!


  3. Leslie
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:21:03

    That’s fantastic that you are feeling so much better AND losing weight. People rarely get both! When you said some of the things you had been through were ugly, I knew immediately that you meant insurance.

    At the risk of sounding petulant, it really is unfair. And they really are idiots. My grandson is 4 1/2. We are still working on getting medical bills paid for him FROM HIS BIRTH because the insurance company insists that he is a girl and shouldn’t have had certain tests. They have his birth certificate. Good times

    I hope that things continue to go well for you. Keep us posted! Won’t it be nice if you have the winter you are hoping to?


    • Sandy Sue
      Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:51:18

      Thanks for all your support and kind words, Leslie.
      Every story I hear about insurance gets more ridiculous. That thing with your grandson absolutely takes the prize (though I know it is NO prize for your family). Insurance is a scam. As Hannibal Lector says, “Save yourself. Kill them all.”


      • Leslie
        Aug 29, 2015 @ 14:02:33

        Yeah, this thing with Mikey would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. They couldn’t understand why a girl would need a test done on her penis. SMH

  4. jinjerstanton
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:34:15

    So bloody cool!


    • Sandy Sue
      Aug 29, 2015 @ 13:48:47

      I never, never, never thought ANY drug could help ANYTHING about me. In fact, I got rather prideful about that. Now I have to completely re-imagine my Universe.


  5. Littlesundog
    Aug 29, 2015 @ 21:12:48

    Wooo hooo!! Sometimes you just have to open that can of whoop-ass on those insurance people! Thirty pounds is a LOT girlfriend! Mostly I’m happy that you are feeling better. 🙂


  6. Karen Roessler
    Aug 30, 2015 @ 05:49:21

    Sending love and admiration your way. Especially enjoyed your art on this post.


  7. pegoleg
    Aug 31, 2015 @ 10:38:46

    I’m so pleased to hear you’ve made such great strides this summer. 30 pounds – you’re my hero! I apologize on behalf of the entire insurance industry for them sucking so bad.


  8. kirizar
    Aug 31, 2015 @ 13:10:13

    This was lovely, and a little bit scary at the same time. Perfect.


  9. Lyn
    Sep 15, 2015 @ 00:18:23

    I totally understand the eating thing. I have been doing some research into BED, but am scared of medications in any form, except the occasional Ibuprofen or antacid. I’ve seen too many folks get a little wonky from meds interactions or addictions. I don’t even take prescription pain killers for more than a day or two. When a fridge fell on me (long story) and I suffered deep tissue damage, I was scared to death of the Vicadin (sp?) the doctor gave me. I think I took 3, then locked them away. Too many episodes of “House” haunting me. I don’t want to float away and not come back. Though there are days I would gladly escape if I dared! (I have teenagers at home, if that helps anyone relate.) Sometimes reality bites, but I have to be able to function. Are there any solutions to BED that don’t involve heavy mind-bending drugs?


    • Sandy Sue
      Sep 15, 2015 @ 13:11:18

      I tried mindfulness training, cognitive behavioral therapy, every diet. Nothing stopped me once the compulsion hit. But, everyone is different. I was leery of taking an amphetamine, too, and have to be careful for bipolar reasons. But I’m sold.


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