In order to make it through grad school, I have resorted to chemical manipulation of my brain and it’s only been a month. In my defense, I’ve been having issues with motivation, concentration, and energy that have been getting in the way of getting things done. It’s hard to keep up on 300+ pages of reading when you’re too exhausted from medication side effects to focus and read.
So, I follow the Phil Collins and Energy Drink method on the weekends to get caught up/ahead on work as much as possible. The approach originates from the bad old days before I started taking medication. Actually, I was on medication, but the lamotrigine wasn’t up to therapeutic levels at the point.
Anyway, I came up with this method one day when I was writing an 18 page paper that was due the next day. Desperate to get it done, I started drinking Monster to make myself hypomanic. The Phil Collins was largely incidental, but it did seem to help me get more hypomanic. Strange considering he usually mellows people out.
I’m sure you’re thinking disaster resulted, as is usually the case when you fuck with your brain chemistry. Not the case. I finished the paper (including research) in 5 hours and got a 98%. While the entire process was incredibly self-abusive, I count it as a success. After all, how many people can pull that shit off? I would argue that not many can do that, especially at the caliber of school I was attending at the time.
So, I learned that day how to manipulate my brain and have, on occasion, resorted to it since that day. In my defense, it’s not something I do lightly. I know the potential for overshooting my goal and crashing the next day. For the most part, it just gives me a little boost without going into hypomania, so it’s safer than it seems. More importantly for me now, it gets me through my readings and papers. If it didn’t help me do that, I wouldn’t be doing it, but it does.
Aside from that little defense, how do I feel about it? Ambivalent is the natural answer. On the one hand, I enjoy the high and getting my work done. On the other, I know it’s a slippery slope that ends in having mood episodes. For that reason, I’m doing things other than chugging energy drinks to “Can’t Stop Loving You“.
Namely, I’m in the midst of a med adjustment of my lamotrigine down from 200 mg to 150 and have moved from 10 mg of Abilify to 7.5. It’s only been a couple of days on the full dropped dose, but it seems to be helping. I was on a reduced dose last week (175 mg), but the depression that hovers around my birthday was keeping it from working that well. I spent the entire week fighting to get anything done. This week, I’m set to have all of my reading done by tomorrow (I have class Monday-Wednesday), so I can focus on the upcoming group project, test, and paper. So, it’s getting better.
Hopefully, next weekend I won’t even need energy drinks and can get by with just Phil Collins. No, I don’t think I need to quit him. To my knowledge, there are no negative health consequences from listening to cheesy music.