cruel pillows [part one]

7427ea210acc16b3b0130f (1)OLD NOTEBOOKS: DELHI: I just remembered this expression: “a bull with a headache.” It comes from Scotland, where large Men drink whisky all night, then one staggers through to the breakfast room in the morning and is demonstrably angry with everything, then one goes off to work in the wild, wet, wooly Northern landscapes of my distant memory.

Now I live in Asia which is really nice, gentle and warm and I’m a Buddhist and all is well in my world, except I’ve got a headache – all the time. A Buddhist with a headache? What to do, I have wondered many times. For me it’s an opportunity to be conscious and aware of what I’m doing all the time, because the headache is likely to get bad at any time. And I’ve thought too about what we’re doing here in the blogging world… our consciousness/awareness of our ‘world’, in a sense, is what we’re writing about, really, one way or another. Even if a lot of space may be taken up with trying to express how we get to that point. Even so, it’s an all-inclusive thing, isn’t it? And sometimes what we write is not as important as the spaces left where there’s nothing written. No point in asking why the ‘world’ should be (or shouldn’t be) like this. Or even try to identify it and analyze it – as you’ll see if you keep reading this – I’m just trying to make friends with my headache, in a round-about way, not too direct… see how that goes. I’m not expecting it ‘to be’ anything, at times I try to anticipate what it’s likely to do next, wondering how it’s getting on.

The headache arrived last September as a result of shingles on the right side of the head, here’s the link: PHN, but it might give you a headache reading about that, so why don’t I just introduce you to the headache itself? Think of a motorbike helmet that holds your head tightly, a snug fit … that’s it. Now there’s this cloud of intense feeling that, as yet, doesn’t have a name, it’s just energy. As long as it remains anonymous, things are okay – reasonably okay, the only thing is that what you have is this hair-trigger-sawn-off-shotgun-crash-helmet of a headache, minding its own business and nobody’d even know it was there.

So, the lesson is, be careful about what you think! Now, in some foolish un-mindful moment, I might say to myself: Do I have a headache? I can’t feel it now… and BOOM it demolishes my head. So naturally I get to know not to do that, not to ‘name’ it, identify it, or try to make it into something. And, important, I have to learn about this mechanism that can be held in the default STOP position. It’s the: please-don’t-go-there thought; that split-second, small, even tiny, space before the thinking process is engaged and what was really, absolutely, going to happen, by some miracle, doesn’t.

It cannot be stopped sometimes, of course, and you find that the forewarned intuitive snap feeling it’s about to happen means it just happens anyway and there’s devastation all around as you reach for the meds that are opiates anyway so you’re kinda hovering on the edge of a Edgar Allan Poe nightmare most of the time when you overdose on them.

This is how it is, predictably unpredictable so you have to be ready for it to happen any time. If it takes place at night, probably the best way of explaining the feeling of it, when dosed up to the eyeballs with sleeping pills, but still the headache remains and you’re awake for hours, it’s this: pillows appear cruel – have you ever thought of pillows being cruel? Probably not, well I know everything there is to know about pillows, in my research since this headache came to stay with me last September. Really, what I don’t know about pillows is just not worth knowing.

But that’s a whole different story…. [See: part two]


Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 17.12.04About this picture: This is the missing head, a screenshot taken from a YouTube video, which shows the head briefly at the end of the clip:

The whole story is, it’s an ancient Buddhist sculpture, which at the time of the top photo, was at the Beijing World Art Museum and being made ready to be sent to Kaohsiung in Taiwan where it will be reunited with its head.

Its head was stolen in 1996 from the Youju Temple in Hebei Province. The sculpture, made of white marble, is around 1,400 years old. The body is 1.59 meters tall. The head was obtained and offered by a private collector in 2014. Repairs will be made before it is put on public display in 2016. Twenty years after it was removed. The museum has selected another 77 relics for the exhibition in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council approved the body be sent to Kaohsiung for a three-month Buddhist Cultural Relic Exhibition jointly held by the administration and the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Hall, before the complete statue is sent back to Hebei. It symbolizes the possible reunification of Taiwan with China.

36 thoughts on “cruel pillows [part one]

  1. I have tinnitus… not painful, but it robs me of audible silence… the space between spaces. I don’t go there either. It is always there, but …usually… unless I give it attention, we co-exist. Sometimes it demands attention…till I can distract it. I hope this eases soon for you. It’s been long enough.

    • Well Sue, I’m glad to have your comment because it gives me an opportunity for a bit of a moan. Research has shown (it’s such a good passive-voice way of putting it) that PHN suffurers are likely to have the pain for many years, let’s be hopeful and say 5-7 years because after that you’re in another kind of reality anyway…
      Good I got that off my chest. Tinnitus I’ve heard can be quite severe, I think I have some of that too, it’s there when you notice it but not there when you don’t. So we don’t go there, we co-exist, I like that way of seeing it, helpful thanks…

      • Hmmm staring at the boring pattern and it doesn’t do anything. Nope it’s years we’re talking about here, I’ll be 69 in July, chances are I’ll end up as some kind of disabled old freak if I’m not careful. So there’s plenty motivation to keep things going as straight as possible…

  2. Great title. Would work well for a maudlin C&W song too.

    Are you really on opiates for your PHN? Last I heard it you were taking gabapentin and pregabalin. Prescription opiates are now the single biggest cause of overdose deaths in Australia, accounting for around half of all fatal ODs. They lose their efficacy very quickly due to the development of tolerance so patients tend to increase their dose until it kills them. Cruel pillows or cruel pills?

    Have you discussed lidocaine plasters with a quack? They’re supposedly pretty efficacious for PHN and can be expected to have less deleterious side-effects than most of the pill treatments. The only thing is they mostly work on focal neuropathic pain and your motorbike helmet metaphor makes it sound more generalised. I wonder how much of that is referred or secondary tension headache. How extensive did the blistering get when you had shingles?

    In some other medical news I’ve confirmed that Indian generic manufacturers are now producing just about all the new generation hepatitis C meds for around 1% of the price charged by the big multinational drug companies. That’s between US$800 and US$1000 for the course. Australian HCV sufferers quickly organised into buyers clubs to import the Indian pills and that forced the government to quickly list the non-generic ones on the PBS for a nominal cost. Either that or be seen to be enforcing draconian ‘free trade’ treaty provisions against seriously ill Australians. Sadly that means another big blowout in the PBS budget and another win for Big Pharma price gouging, but at least everyone in Aus diagnosed with hep-c now has access to effective treatment.

    It symbolizes the possible reunification of Taiwan with China.

    Standby for the spat over which of them is the head.

    • For reasons I won’t discuss here, There are professors and Doctor-doctors who have written to a therapist I know saying that gabapentin and pregabalin are opiates, my own feeling is they’re pretty hard to get away from when you’re told absolutely that you are overdosing. So now the comfortable little craziness is wrenched out of my grasp and I have only mild relief. The focal point of the pain is on the right side, I had the blistering all the way through my hair on the right side and down the neck (I have a photo but it’s too yuk to post). I’ve heard of lidocaine plasters and I might shave my head and stick them on with maximun adherence. The motorbike helmet example refers also to the curious secondary pain on the left side or whatever it is.
      I’ve heard about the activities of Indian Pharma companies, I approve absolutely, the cost of these things would enormous in the West. I bought a stock in Switzerland and was bowled over by the price. I read something in the paper yesterday about US government making it mandatory that the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are be made locally. This cuts all the exports from India to the US and inflates the price of medicines on both sides. It’s all a money business as we know. One of the good things about India, which is a geographical chunk of the world about the same size as the US, is that it makes all medicines available for its people at an affordable price. It’s not about profits…

      • Oh to live in India (for my analgesics), but having said that….I put up with my chronic pain for as long as poss (before taking my prescription analgesics which are codeine-based and addictive). I found out the addiction after 4 weeks of 4 times a day after my first back surgery in 2008. Having Fibromyalgia – a pain condition doesn’t help. t worked for a specialist Dr once who told me how bad and stressful it is for the body to be in constant pain and one should take the analgesics at first sign of a severe pain episode or after surgery.

        I wonder now, 25 years since that job, how one can keep taking some of these drugs non-stop (when after 3-4 weeks they lose their efficacy in many cases) when one has chronic severe pain.

        I mean to say, do these doctors know what it’s like to be in pain for 35 years (and mostly severe pain for something like 16 years of that time). I never really believed in drugs when I was studying Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy in 1992/3, but then there came a time when I gave in (to synthetic drugs).

        It’s exhausting. It’s the constancy of it all day in, day out, week after week, month after month. It’s like Groundhog Day sometimes.

        The odd times I’m pain-free, it’s sheer bliss and I come to realise how bad I really was (before the brief intermission).

        I remember a chiropractor using osteocranal (? can’t remember the exact name) treatment once which really seemed to help.

        All I can offer is my sympathy to your plight.

      • Yes North India is a nice place, Delhi has a cloud of pollution hanging over it all the time. Anyway the long term pain situation is new to me. This is the first time I’ve had to accept it’ll take years and in this case scenario there’s not much lifetime left. So I came off the gabapentin and pregabalin to see what that was like – pretty scary really. Suddenly got a cold and fluid coming out of my eyes, as well as nose and mouth, unrelenting head pain all day anywhere you lay your head, sleeping at night achieved by a cocktail of sleeping mixtures that induces coma-like sleep. I don’t drink alcohol so that helps. No vomitting because I’m scared of the pain of it wretching up things and the pressure on the head. So it was Groundhod Day over and over and I went back on the same drugs again. The pain went away but still got the funny throat and cold, sneezing and everything. Also I’m confused about the spellings of words now and have to be careful when I type so I use a spell checker. I don’t know if that’s motor control or a kind of dyslexia. I never had it before this.
        So it’s obvious to me your experience is greater than mine. I read that advice somewhere that you should take the analgesics as soon as the pain appears. That’s what got me sucked into it at first. It’s necessary to come off them for a while to evaluate the situation. It worries me that ‘after 3-4 weeks they lose their efficacy in many cases.’ I’m really just starting this and need to get info from everywhere. I spend an hour or two every day exploing internet for anyone else who has experience of PHN in the head. Haven’t found anyone or anything really. So if you find someone or some source please let me know. Thanks for your valuable input Vicki…

      • Understand that at least some of those symptoms (including part of the pain) weren’t from PHN at all. They were from withdrawal from the drugs. Even if your PHN goes away tomorrow you’re still going to have to go through a lot of that if you don’t want to be drug fucked for the rest of your life.

        The problem is the same for withdrawal from all psychoactive drugs but because the word ‘addiction’ is so rarely used in relation to stuff doctors prescribe there’s little understanding of what’s going on out there even among doctors, who receive a lot of their ‘continuing medical education’ from the people who flog this stuff. A lot of people on psychiatric drugs think the withdrawal symptoms are their illness coming back and that just reinforces drug company propaganda that such pills are ‘like insulin for diabetics’ and you need to be on them for life.

        I’m not sure who advised you to cold turkey on them but it sounds pretty irresponsible to me. You need to be involved in planning how you reduce or eliminate taking them and especially how quickly it happens. And you need to make space in your life for it to happen. Cold turkey is faster but few people can deal with the intensity of the experience. Either way, depending on your dose you’re looking at weeks or months of withdrawal symptoms before you learn what your baseline affliction really is.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting your PHN is gone or even subsiding. But after months on the pills you’ve now got another load of problems on top of it. Even if you can make occasional spaces in your life to stop or reduce the dose it will temporarily make the drugs more effective when you go back to using them.

        If you’re taking psychoactive drugs for a chronic condition (or any other reason for that matter) you need to rearrange your life around the drugs as well as the condition. It’s never as simple as popping them down your throat.

      • Ok thanks for your advice, the idea of trying to deal with the PHN, as it is, ‘straight’ has to take account of withdrawal from the drugs, I see… a fine mess I got myself into now hmmmm…. Yes I can just see these nice young men in their clean white coats just skipping over the word ‘addiction’ in their description of side effects. And it’s a real nightmare to consider where the drug companies stand (truthfully) on… ethical grounds? Doctors are either living in cuckoo land or they’re just not wanting to even think about it, can’t go there, no. And the drug companies have their walls around them like military castles in the past – but really impenetrable I think.

        It wasn’t exactly cold turkey; a drop from more than 6000 mg daily to 3000mg daily. And I held it like that but the cold caught my better judgement and now I’m back up on these high levels 5000 – 6000 mg daily and seeing a pretty complicated life style coming up…

      • This guide on pain and it’s management is pretty easy to read and covers the strengths and drawbacks of most of the allopathic options as well as giving some insights into self-directed measures to alleviate or mitigate pain. The author is a mainstream medico so, if nothing else, it’s probably a good resource if you want to be more assertive towards your own doctor(s) about how to deal with it.

      • Thanks for this. I downloaded it in pdf form. Started reading, seems pretty helpful. Right now I’m setting up appointments with three different neurologists in Delhi so that I can try to see what is the realistic diagnosis. I might go back to Europe if there’s nothing satisfactory here. In the meantime I can be building up a knowledge base.

      • Having been on almost every psychoactive drug there is, including Neurontin, I can tell you they are not addictive in the way opiates and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) are. They do alter the brain chemistry but if you want to get off them a responsible doctor will guide you off of them and eventually your brain chemistry will go back to the original state. I took a year getting off Zyprexa. It was hard, yes, but doable. Harder than quitting smoking or withdrawal from benzodiazepines, both of which I have done. Which means that you can go back to your original state, symptoms and all. I had a choice. Go to a mental hospital or take the neuroleptics, yes, for the rest of my life. I chose the pills. It is hard enough with them with the Bipolar and anxiety. There is a loss of mysticism and creativity, both huge losses for me BUT I am able to function in life and love. I chose the ability to love above the creativity and mysticism. And it turned out I could channel and organize creativity and spirituality in a manageable way. No question… I have a love/hate relationship with the meds but being a long committed Buddhist, you have more capacity for acceptance of being on a medication to help your headache than most. As my doc told me, I was lucky the meds worked for me because for some lost souls it doesn’t. That put me into gratitude and shut me up, although sometimes I still really miss being drug free, especially for spirituality. For what it’s worth.

      • They do alter the brain chemistry but if you want to get off them a responsible doctor will guide you off of them and eventually your brain chemistry will go back to the original state.

        The clinical evidence is overwhelmingly against you on this stockdalewolfe. It’s not just brain chemistry but brain physiology that’s altered by long term use of psychoactive drugs.

        As I hope your doctors would have told you, extended use of neuroleptics such as olanzapine cause permanent changes to the basal ganglia, resulting in largely irreversible extrapyramidal symptoms such as tardive dyskinesia. Even with atypical antipsychotics that risk increases steadily with duration of use and will occur in over 75% of patients within 20 years of beginning their use.

        What’s more, there is now a large body of evidence that neuroleptic use results in shrinkage of the frontal cortex – probably due to their disabling effect on the dopamine D2 pathways that link it to the limbic system and the resulting neuroplastic atrophy of the frontal lobes (i.e. use it or lose it). This isn’t a side-effect of neuroleptics, they’re supposed to act as a form of titrated lobotomy, cutting the ’emotional’ centres of the mid-brain off from the ‘executive functioning’ centres in the forebrain. That’s also why they reduce creativity and prevent the sort of whole-brain integration that probably occurs during mystical experiences (according to some interpretations of fMRI scans of those undergoing them).

        Probably the most ironic medium to long-term effect of the so-called ‘antipsychotics’ is that the brain responds to their damping down of dopamine production by growing more dopamine receptors – thus creating dopamine sensitivity. The result? People who have been on neuroleptics for more than two years are at increased risk of psychotic episodes compared to control groups who were carefully weaned off them ASAP.

        The best practice use of neuroleptics is that pioneered by Loren Mosher in his Soteria facilities which has become the gold standard in some parts of Europe (especially Finland, which is seeing excellent results) but has been largely stamped out in the US. The pills (or injections) are only used during acute psychosis and then tapered away (withdrawal needs to be carefully managed and individualised to each patient). Reintegration of the patient with her community is done via psychosocial not pharmaceutical measures.

        Psychotic illness is not usually a lifelong disease state. But the pharmaceutical interventions that predominate in Anglosphere psychiatry are.

      • Sorry for being uniformed as to the permanent damage of neuroleptics. I believe that tardive dyskinesia CAN happen but it is not necessarily permanent. I have had it at times but do not have it now. There is a side effect medication that can control it. I don’t know your credentials but, at least with Bipolar disorder, it is a lifetime disease in which psychoses can occur at any time during a manic and sometimes also, a depressed cycle. See www​ In 10-20% of the population it can be fatal due to suicide. So maybe I am losing grey matter taking neuroleptics (because I can tolerate mood stabilizers) but I am not psychotic and I have not committed suicide. My husband is a psychiatric social worker and he has found that medication is vitally important in order for talk therapy to work. Medication has allowed me, not only to be alive, but to love and lead a productive life.

      • Well, one of my qualifications is a diagnosis of bipolar one disorder, officially since 1998 and unofficially since I took my BSc (physics and psychology) in 1979-81. So I’m somewhat aware of the claims made by drug company educated medicos and drug company funded NGOs (e.g. NAMI and SANE Australia) about the condition. My grandmother has had the same diagnosis since the early 70s but is much improved since they stopped her medications due to her deteriorating heart condition. No sign of her ‘bipolar’ since they took her off the pills in 2012 after half a lifetime of hell on the drugs.

        But as such mainstream opinion leaders in the field of mental health as Thomas Insel (up until recently the director of the NIMH) and Allan Frances (the head of the APA team that produced DSM-III) keep telling us, DSM (and ICD) based diagnoses such as ‘bipolar disorder’ lack validity. They are nothing more than arbitrary circles drawn around symptom clusters that probably have hugely variant etiologies and require completely different treatments. The classifications aren’t definable by any known biological markers and are instead decided upon by a committee within the APA that regularly changes them (e.g. up until DSM-5 I also ‘had’ Asperger Syndrome, but it has now been abolished as a mental illness by the DSM committee so I guess I’m cured). It’s as if doctors had come up with a disease model they labelled ‘Flu Like Symptom Disorder’ and theorised that everyone suffering such symptoms had the same disease and required the same treatments.

        Such misclassification of ‘mental illness’ goes back at least as far as Kraepelin in the 19th century and – according to Insel and many others – is the main reason that treatments haven’t progressed and outcomes for Americans diagnosed with psychotic illness are no better now than they were in the 1920s (after getting considerably worse between the 20s and 60s when punitive eugenics based approaches to mental illness held sway). Multiple WHO investigations have found that outcomes for psychosis patients in developing countries which can’t afford neuroleptic medications are significantly better than for those in countries that use them. And of course the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the US has gone through the roof since they started rolling out large scale community based use of antidepressants and antipsychotics in the 1980s.

        Yes, neuroleptic drugs can suppress positive symptoms of psychosis in many patients, as can opiates, benzodiazapines, nicotine and many other psychoactive drugs. So can ECT, insulin coma, metrazol convulsions, lobotomies/leucotomies, hypothermia and fevers induced by several infectious agents, including malaria, typhoid and cholera. All have been used to treat psychosis in the past and most were later abandoned as barbaric and ill-informed, despite the fact they ‘worked’ for some people, albeit at a cost.

        Up until the 1990s psychiatry was in denial about the negative effects of first generation neuroleptics such as thorazine and haloperidol. Then when Jansenn and Eli Lilly introduced risperidone and olanzapine respectively – along with rigged trial results claiming they caused lower levels of EPS – psychiatry suddenly ‘discovered’ that their original ‘antipsychotics’ were also dangerous, but that’s OK because now they had enlightened pills that wouldn’t wreck patient’s brains. Unfortunately their story hasn’t panned out.

        Independent testing has since shown that atypicals produce just as severe EPS and grey matter loss as the original antipsychotics when taken in equivalent doses, but because they are less specific (i.e. they hit more neurotransmitter systems than just dopamine) they also have additional side effects. Most notably they’re associated with weight-gain, loss of muscle tone and disruption of the sugar metabolism. Those in turn lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type II diabetes – all of which can and do lead to further mortality risk, brain damage and loss of quality of life.

        If you find your life unmanageable without olanzapine (or alcohol or anything else) then by all means keep taking it. Whatever you do don’t cease taking it abruptly as that’s an almost guaranteed path to severe psychotic symptoms due to withdrawal – not to mention the response you’re likely to get from family and authorities as ‘a psychotic who has gone off her meds’. But don’t kid yourself that you’re not doing yourself serious and accumulating harm by taking them. Or that medical science has pills to counteract the damage done by its pills.

        If and when you’re ready (and your family is ready) to stop taking them you need to find a practitioner who has experience in managing withdrawals from psychiatric medication and be ready for some serious disruption to your life that will last for months. It will probably be a couple of years before you fully overcome the dopamine sensitivity induced by the pills and your risk of psychosis decreases to it’s ‘natural’ level. But until that happens you won’t even know if your medication is still ‘vital’ for anything other than preventing withdrawal symptoms from your medication.

      • Well, you have a lot of knowledge I don’t have but I know how I was before medication and how impossible my life was. And I had damage done from a total breakdown. So you have reduced me to silence because I am just not as knowledgable or articulate as you are. But I will not go back to the nightmare of my life before medication. And, I,too have a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, which, as I understand it, is now included as part of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

      • They say that only 30-40% of previous Asperger diagnoses will qualify for ASD under the new diagnostic criteria. I haven’t checked my own symptoms against DSM-5 yet but as I only qualified for mild Asperger’s before I’m assuming I’m excluded now. Of course the reason they did it wasn’t due to any medical research. As with the abolition of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973 it was a political decision. Specifically it was to reduce the embarrassing diagnostic creep whereby a ballooning number of very high functioning people were being diagnosed as mentally ill.

        But the point I am trying to make is that all of these diagnoses are essentially arbitrary. There is no evidence that one person who ticks sufficient boxes to qualify for bipolar has the same etiology or prognosis as another, so those who claim that bipolar is ‘for life’ are just making it up. Or more exactly, they’re making a whole range of assumptions based on a belief system that bipolar is a specific disease with a specific brain pathology and/or genetic component despite the fact that not a scrap of evidence has been adduced for that belief in over half a century of well funded research looking for it. However the notion that bipolar is for keeps (and requires permanent medication) is a very lucrative one for drug companies, so it receives a lot of high profile promotion. Perhaps even more importantly, the realisation that psychiatry simply doesn’t have any good treatments for bipolar – which is strongly supported by epidemiological evidence – is one that’s very hard to accept for patients and practitioners alike. There’s a lot of people with a major emotional investment in the belief the drugs are helping rather than harming.

        You can never go back to the past, for better or for worst. I can’t guarantee that if you wean yourself from medication you won’t suffer the return of some symptoms – especially if you face serious life stressors. But I can guarantee that you won’t go back to your ‘life before medication’. You have changed and the people around you have changed. I can also say with a fair degree of certainty that life on antipsychotics is a losing game. Like any other psychoactive drug they eventually lose their effectiveness and you have to keep taking them just to avoid being dumped into a worse place than you would be if you’d never used them. And while you’re on them you can’t develop the skills and resilience to deal with whatever remains of the factors that caused your nightmare in the first place.

        The evidence for correlations between psychosis and brain abnormalities, genetics, abnormal neurotransmitter levels, etc is all tenuous to non-existent. The evidence for correlation between psychosis and past trauma and neglect – especially in childhood – is very strong. What that suggests is that in many cases psychosis is not a problem with the brain but with experiences and memories. And for those memories to be emotionally recontextualised and integrated it’s very important that the links between the limbic system, the hippocampus and the forebrain be maintained. This is done via the very dopamine pathways that antipsychotics block. It’s entirely possible that psychosis is not a disease but is part of a healing process – just like the pain and inflammation you suffer when a wound is healing. That would explain why people on antipsychotics are significantly less likely to get better.

        Mental illnesses aren’t brain diseases. They’re afflictions of the mind. And contrary to psychiatric and neurological dogma the mind is not a function of the brain. It’s a function of everything that’s ever happened to you and everything you’ve ever done. It’s your whole universe. As someone who has had mystical experiences I’m sure you know that at some level already. You can’t fix a mind by messing around with brain chemistry. Or with talking to a counselor. Or by doing a bunch of CBT exercises. Or by meditating. Because it was never broken in the first place. It is coping with the inherent suffering of existence in the best way it can. If you want to change how it does that you need to work with it, not try to beat it into submission. But of course if your life circumstances dictate that your own moods and behaviour must be beaten into submission that becomes a very tall order.

        This post more or less summarises the role bipolar has played in my life. According to the criteria of many people (including most of my family members) it’s trashed it. But when I look around me I honestly can’t see any lives I’d have preferred to my own so to me it’s not a disease. It’s just part of what I am. And I’m very happy with what I am. I’m sure glad I never took a pill to cure me of being me.

  3. Headaches have many sources. One has to sort it out. It isn’t always physical. It is often of a spiritual nature. My wife and I used to have headaches. Both of ours were dispensed with in a spiritual fashion. If you would like some help sorting this one out, shoot me a reply. I’d be happy to help.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to explain what you are feeling T. It sounds like such a distressing burden to add to life. May you find ease and well being.
    I like the photo and insight into this Buddhist sculpture. May it not come to losing your head and reuniting with it later. Although, I’m sure someone out there might come up with this as a solution! 😉

    • Aha! a head transplant maybe? Or, I like the idea of reuniting with the same head later; that’s the general idea here. I’m open to all possibilities: allopathic, homeopathic and related. The possibility of surgery was not one of these, I mean an actual head transplant; go to brush your teeth in the morning and there’s this different face in the mirror…

    • Thanks Tom for your good wishes. At the moment it’s present all the time, no gap. It’s comforting to think of the words ‘subsides’ and ‘wellness’. Thank you.

  5. Sorry that you are suffering with headaches still. I glanced through the replies. Gabapentine I refused to take because it made me feel dopey, now I know why. My suggestion is to breath steam. Fill a basin with boiling water and cover your head under a towel. It will clear the sinus passage and may add some relief.

      • As a trained Aromatherapist, I might add….. do not use too much. Sedating and analgesic essential oils can have a reverse effect when used in excess. e.g. 3-4 drops of Marjoram oil in a bath is calming and soothing…..8-9 drops gave me horrific nightmares.

      • Ok I might seek your advice on this later. I’m still trying to locate a place in Delhi that sells aromatherapy products, It’s difficult because they have their own folk remedies and I’m not able to find the time to study that. Let’s see. The same thing applies in Thailand, possibly Bangkok. But I’ve not got any immediate plans to go there. I’d like to know about what’s needed in order for each treatment to be effective. I definitely need something for sleep…
        Let’s speak later. Thanks…

  6. Dear friend,

    You sound so much worse. My heart goes out to you. I am no stranger to head pain. Sounds like the Neurontin is no longer working. This was why my doc didn’t prescribe it for me. You have to take more and more of it. But it is NOT an opiod. Opiod use leads to addiction, not just to the pain killers, but people going on to heroin from painkillers. After a surgery I took an opiod and it stopped working very quickly, meaning I was becoming addicted. I stopped it. Actually Neurontin is used to aid in opiod withdrawal. See:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Have you tried ice or heat? Someone told me hot and cold alternation in the shower helps migraines and it does but yours is a different animal so I don’t know what the outcome would be.


    • It’s because I’ve cut back on the Neurontin to half the dose – doctor’s advice. Necessary to see how much pain I can tolerate, maybe it’s not bad all the time and no need to take neurontin but it’s habitual in that sense. So I discovered something new about my friend the headache when I’m lying down with a good pillow it’s not there at all! So, anyway I go back to see the doc tday – he’s the military old school type “toleration threshold” he nearly shouted at me. I thought I’d leave there and then but decided to stay cool with this funny man, otherwise he’d call me an addict and I’d not have a leg to stand on … such a good expression, isn’t it: ‘he didn’t have a leg to stand on’. Yes so it’s hard as you say to just tough it out. I had a look at your link and put an html link on it for my own reference later. You say these meds are not opoids, or opiates. Someone else said that but the doctors I know in UK say they are. If you managed to leave that mind state ok then they must be okay… I think I have to tell lies to my sergeant-major doctor and meanwhile look around for a second opinion then quietly slip out from the military barracks style waiting room – say I have to go to Thailand, sorry, bye…

      • Stockdalewolfe’s right. They’re definitely not opiates because they’re not derived from the poppy. They’re not opioids because they don’t bind to the opioid receptors in your nervous system (unless some obscure and unlikely recent research has thrown up a new finding about them). However, like opioids (and many other drugs of addiction – including all psychiatric drugs) they impact neurotransmitter production, depletion and/or reception and so are likely to result in rapid dependence and systemic side-effects. That’s because most neurotransmitters are very ancient evolution-wise, several going right back to our earliest multi-celled ancestors. They have multiple functions in the body (hence the side-effects – you can’t target a single system or symptom precisely by tweaking neurotransmitters with a pill) and the body has developed many homeostatic mechanisms to try to keep their functions steady (hence the rapid buildup of tolerance and often unpleasant withdrawal effects, which you are probably experiencing since your doctor wisely – if perhaps too abruptly – cut your dose).

        BTW, there’s an article in the Guardian today about managing illness – particularly pain – with the mind. It mentions gabapentin.

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