Heat Sensitivity and Green Tea

Wisconsin is getting hit hard by the heatwave. Yesterday in the shade it hit 97 degrees. Thankfully, it wasn’t that humid out. But I was dying a slow death. I had things to do and places to go so I was walking a fair amount. And it showed in my shirts. I sweated through 2 shirts and was literally dripping with sweat sometimes. Everyone was having a rough time with it, but I was having a worse time than I’ve ever had before.

For those who don’t know much about Wisconsin weather, it’s an extreme weather state. Breaking a hundred is not uncommon in August and going below zero fahrenheit is also not that uncommon. It’s strange to be so hot right now, but overall, this is what it’s like to live here. I used to be perfectly fine. I love the cold and when it gets so cold that it’s actually dangerous to be outside, I’m still relatively good with just a wool coat and a hat. And in the summer, I can continue wearing jeans and a light cotton shirt. But the latter is changing dramatically. I’m now very heat sensitive.

I had inklings of this when it started to hit the mid 80s, but it’s a definite problem now, I can’t tolerate heat anymore. It just feels even hotter than before and my body’s response is much more extreme. Not being able to stop sweating is the number one problem. In the past, this would have been an annoyance since I had to keep showering and wearing new clothes. But now, I’ve got lithium to contend with. I can’t exercise in this heat for fear of losing far too much water and collapsing. There’s a voice in the back of my head that tells me that yes, I can do it, but then I think of what Dr. M would say. She’d say I was an idiot and my weight loss can wait another week. There’s no reason to be a hero in this heat when collapsing from lithium toxicity in the middle of nowhere can lead to a coma after I bake in the sun without help. Plus, most people aren’t biking since it’s so hot anyways, so the trails are deserted, for good reason. In the end, risking a coma plus thousands of dollars of medical bills for wanting to go biking, it’s just a stupid idea.

The culprit that I’m pointing my finger at is probably zyprexa. Abilify also made me really heat sensitive and I’m thinking that zyprexa has the same side effect. It’s not a big one and certainly not a deal breaker. It just means that I stay inside air conditioning all day long. But that’s about it. I just need to keep my head about me and stay sharp. And also drink a lot of water. Lots of water.

But that’s enough about the weather. I’ve been spending my days at a local lutheran study center. And they have a lot of organic green tea. And I’ve discovered that green tea also effects me differently than before.

Long long ago, well, 4 years ago, I got on a green tea kick, drinking a few cups a day. The reason for this was that I was an avid biker and a chemical in green tea, EGCG, promotes stamina and the caffeine in it helps synergistically to both metabolize the glycogen in the muscles as well as replenishing it. It’s a win win and I found myself adding another 1mph to my speed and another 5 miles to a 50 mile bike ride. The stuff is amazing for exercising. Put a bottle of water out with three bags of tea in it overnight during the summer and the next day I have a refreshing drink that helps me exercise. Easy, effective, and tasty, you can’t ask for anything more.

But now it’s effecting me even more strongly. Before I had a little pep pickup from it and would do things, but now that’s even stronger. Two cups of green tea and I’m wired. For a comparison, in the morning I drink two medium sized cups of coffee and I feel pretty much normal. My caffeine tolerance is really high from over a decade of drinking coffee and it just doesn’t effect me any more. I drink coffee for the flavor instead of a morning pickup. But going on prednisone changed that and I switched to green tea which has less caffeine. But it gives me more pick up. A lot more. I feel like doing things and getting everything done on time.

It’s carried over after going off prednisone, so I’m reasonably certain that it’s the tea that is doing it. I feel energetic and motivated but not wired and shaky like I just downed a pot of coffee. I can concentrate and get things done without the usual caffeine side effects of higher anxiety. I had to figure out what was doing this. Specifically, it helped with the constant really low anxiety worry wort behavior that I have. It’s that part of me that makes it just a little difficult to actually get things started. I think I found the answer: L-Theanine. It’s sometimes found in energy drinks, but rarely here in the states. I did use wikipedia for this, but it is heavily sited for all the properties so I’ll take it as relatively accurate. But the key thing is that while it’s a stimulant that helps with concentration and energy, and it also reduces mental stress. It’s also been shown to be helpful in conjunction with antipsychotics at managing schizophrenia symptoms. So it’s an interesting chemical in managing some things in my life. Natasha Tracy has a nice bit about it here. It’s a nice level headed approach that sums up my view of the chemical.

I’m not about to extol green tea as a cure-all or even close to that. I don’t think that in the slightest. The effects are mild and do not warrant the usual bonanza of health nut claims about it being a super food. It’s not. It has some chemicals in it that help out with certain things and actually have mild effects on a lot of things. But it does seem to have a noticeable difference. It changes me from not being able to figure out what to do next to just doing it. It’s a little extra push in the right direction, and somedays I need that. I like to see it on my mood charts as pushing me from a 4 out of 10 on the energy scale to a 5 out of 10. Not much, but it’s the same reason most people drink coffee. And something about my new cocktail of meds seems to be making it stronger than what I noticed before. But that could also be due to increased awareness.

Posted on June 29, 2012, in Bipolar and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Did you know tea is supposed to contain something that makes you feel calm, as well as the caffeine, which would make you speedy. Can’t remember the name of the chemical and my googling has only brought up mixed results…

    I never used to sweat heavily until the dratted opiates took hold of me. Once I was on heroin I started hating hot weather. My body’s heat regulation system seemed all askew. Methadone has only made all these problems much worse. I never used to sweat like a swine until I was on methadone and now I HAVE to change my clothes every day. Rather than just changing them out of habit… Ukh.

    I’m so glad I’m not on lithium, it sounds a really inconvenient drug to be on. I heard it’s really nice split open and sprinkled on your chips (by which I mean French fries, not potato chips)… then again that’s probably deeply unhealthy, as it would send the XR function all over the place.

    Do you know why some people end up on lithium citrate by the way? When most are on lithium carbonate? Why the 2 preparations…? I don’t geddit.

    As for low anxiety worry wort behaviour, doncha think that’s personality rather than illness… or rather something you wouldn’t so much “treat” as “change”… I used to be like that, but a lot of the “illness” I seemed to get later on actually cuts against worrying type behaviour and makes me tune stresses out. When they do hit me I freak out. And react again by tuning out. Which is probably why in the past I’ve suffered from depersonalization very severely… I think depersonalization is meant to be a way of the mind dealing with anxiety without telling you… Either that or the Space Aliens really did get into my head!!

  2. I forgot to say, living in Wisconsin you have one thing in common with my online friend and cyber wife Anna Grace


    she’s bipolar too…

  3. She lives in Green Bay by the way.

  4. ps the first time Anna said she was cycling, I thought she was going on a bike ride!

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