Friday, May 1, 2015

There's no such thing as the magic pill...

It seems that many people have the misconception about mental health medication that once you find "the right one" then you're set and you just stay on that forever. In reality, it's more like a never ending cycle of finding "good enough for now" meds, living with them until they stop working well enough or the side-effects become more than it's worth, then trying something new. Trying something new may mean changing a dosage, adding another med to the mix, or stopping something all together. I got my first mental health medication prescription in late 2003/early 2004 and I've gone through this cycle many times.

Right now I'm in the process of slowing decreasing and going off my meds. For a while I was on 3 every day meds and had prescriptions for 3 other "as needed" ones. The side effects were annoying (being asked "why are you shaking?" all the time gets old fast), but what really put it over the edge is that, when I got sick with a bad cold and forgot some of them I then had to deal with medicine withdrawal on top of the headache, sore throat, and fever from the cold. Talk about kicking you when you're down.

At my next psychiatrist appointment I asked about trying to get off all the daily meds over time. My doctor agreed and as as first step we cut all my daily meds' doses in half. That was a... transition. It was hard, made harder by my traumatic hospital experience right in the middle of the change. But I got though it. So a month later we took one of the 3 away completely. Whoo boy! I didn't even know some of those could be symptoms. If you ever forget your brain is run by chemicals, try changing the ones you feed it.

Bus, Traz, and Al - they just want to stay friends.

In case you've never personally gone through long term medicine changes, let me give you the highlights of some of the fun symptoms, generally temporary, of starting or stopping meds. And I'm not picking these off a website or pill label. These are all symptoms which I have experienced recently and/or expect to experience soon.
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Forgetting to actually interact with the real world, like TV zone out, but IRL
  • Depressive episodes
  • Manic energy (aka the "I will now dump out and reorganize every drawer in the kitchen" effect)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • The sudden need to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling for an hour
  • Dry-mouth (yeah, I know it sounds dumb until you find yourself incapable of spitting)
  • Insomnia (or in my case, just increased insomnia)
  • Intense dreams
  • Stuttering
  • Feeling like somebody lodged a fuzzy sock in between your brain and your mouth
I have my next psychiatrist appointment next week. Maybe I'll get to add another couple "fun" ones to the list after the next round. Right now I'm going to focus on taking care of myself as best as I can. Getting lots of sunshine, hugs from my family, and strength from all of you out there in the interwebs who have gone through the same shit and lived to tell about it.

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