Sunday, July 31, 2011

Medical School

I was supposed to go to medical school.  I was studying for the MCAT but my bipolar disorder was raging. My moods were up and down, and I couldn't concentrate well. I was struggling with the physics section and had a hard time sitting for an all day test. I was going to go to medical school because it was what other people thought I should do.  My heart wasn't in it. So I stopped the process and didn't apply to medical school.

That was about 6 years ago.  Now, I find myself wondering if I should have.  My moods are doing way better. I'm passionately interested in medicine. I love helping my mother-in-law with her diabetes and blood pressure. I love learning about medicine. I love self-medicating myself. I love going to the doctor with her.

I know it's never too late. However, I also know that I can't do the things that applying to medical school and going to medical school requires. When you apply to medical school, you have to apply to several, and then move to the city of the medical school you get into. And then for residency, you get matched to a specific teaching hospital, and you have to move again to that new city. And then there are the long hours of residency.

Unfortunately, having to move would make my bipolar disorder go crazy.  It's a big trigger for me. Also, just a day or two of a messed up sleep schedule can make me manic or put me in tears. I'm not mentally rugged enough for medical school or residency. And then there are the high student loan bills, and the uncertainty of the future of medicine in the United States, thanks to Obamacare and regulation.

So no medical school for me. I didn't even mention the cost of flying around for the medical school interviews.  Did I tell you that money problems also make me stress, which also makes my bipolar disorder worsen?

So if I am going to do something in medicine, it is going to be something else. That's OK.  There must be a reason for this bipolar craziness.  My weakness might turn into my strength. I'm meant to do something else. Maybe it's to be there for my Mother-in-law, for now.  And then something else.

By the way: I always find myself thinking about career changes when I'm on the manic side. I get all worked up.  I have to remember to wait before making any decisions and see what I think about it all in a month or two.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aniracetam vs. Piracetam - Comparison of Nootropics

Nootropics are "smart drugs" and of them, there are quite a few "racetams."

I've used two racetams, piracetam and aniracetam, and I thought I'd note their differences.  Although aniracetam is often described as stronger than piracetam, that's kind of like saying Ritalin is stronger than caffeine - they're not the same.

It's also important to note that I only take a low dose of these nootropics because I seem sensitive to them.  For piracetam, I was taking 1/8th of a teaspoon (415 mg), although now I can take 1/4 of a teaspoon (830 mg).  For aniracetam, I usually take 1/4 of a teaspoon (550 mg).  These are lower than normal doses.

Piracetam Effects
Better Word Retrieval
Better Memory Retrieval
Helps with reading
Helps with math
No direct effect on mood*
Starts working after 30-60 mins, lasts 3-5 hours roughly

*However, if you end up remembering old memories that you don't want to remember, and have trouble dealing with that, then that could cause a mood change. It took me awhile to get used to the memory recall, which is why I started at a low dose.

Piracetam - Summary
I think piracetam has great potential for helping with learning disabilities.  Word retrieval is one of my difficulties, and I purposefully take piracetam before watching Jeopardy, and it definitely makes a big difference. 

Energizing, Possibly Manic Inducing
Music sounds better
Increase in vision - colors look clearer
Increase in sense of smell
Starts working in 30 mins, seems to last all day, with residual effects into the next day.

Aniracetam - Summary
The first take I took aniracetam, it made me sleepy. After that, it's consistantly made me feel more energetic. I've used it for its anti-depressant effect with much success. However, since I have bipolar disorder, I have to be careful to not take in when I'm already hypomanic, because it definitely could induce mania. 

Although memories are more vivid with aniracetam, memory retrieval is not enhanced in the same clear way as with piracetam. I wouldn't recommend it for test taking or academic work.  It actually makes me a bit scattered. I do take choline/inositol with it because the 'racetams are supposed to used up the choline in your brain.

Since I find aniracetam to have such a positive effect on my mood, it is somewhat psychologically addictive, and I purposefully don't take it every day so that I don't become dependent on it. I find it a fun drug to take, which of course makes sense... Who wants to be depressed? :)