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Posts Tagged ‘medication’

My psychiatrist has left my HMO. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me but it makes me feel uncertain. I’m on a strange med mix for bipolar II: Adderall and Seroquel. You’d think that giving an upper and a downer to someone with rapid cycling bipolar would be a bad idea, but is works for me somehow. I’m afraid that my new shrink will want to fuck with my meds, despite the fact that this combination has been working for me for about 3 years.

At my last appointment with my old shrink she commented that I could lower my Seroquel dosage. I really don’t want to do that. Everything has been fine for me with the way my dosage has been; why would I want to change that? I’m petrified of changing my meds or doses. I’ve worked hard to get to the balanced place that I’m at now. The last thing I need is to fuck that up because of a suggestion from someone who isn’t living my life.

Have any of you had a psychiatrist try to alter your meds? How did you handle it? If you agreed to do it, did it turn out well for you?

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve.
-Ashes

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Hey all! This post is a bit off topic. I’m writing it with the hope that it will be selected for the Rheum Blog Carnival, but
I think my regular readers will find it applicable to their lives as well.

I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been told by friends and family “You don’t need to be on those medication! They’re bad for you. You just need to exercise and eat better.” Living in a town with very liberal roots, I also get “Why haven’t you tried this herb that they collect in a secret mountain stream? You don’t need to take poisons! Have you tried a gluten-free diet? It’ll fix everything.”

—–
To everyone who tells us to stop taking medications,

Listen guys, I know you mean well. You’re trying to help me in a way that worked for you. And I’m so glad that lifestyle changes and naturalistic medicine helped you or a loved one. But listen:I am me. You haven’t lived a day in my shoes, nor would I want you to. But please understand a few things.

1. My illness isn’t my fault. Even if I ran miles everyday and only ate home-prepared organic food, I will still be sick. I know that you’re not explicitly saying that my actions and lifestyle is to blame for my illness, but that’s how it comes out. That’s what it feels like and it hurts. It makes me lose confidence in your opinion of me. It makes me not want to be open about my needs or limitations when I feel like you’ll view my illness as something I could easily change, if only I wanted to. I do want to change my illness, I wish that it would Disapparate out of my life as if it was magic. But these meds are the only thing keeping me functioning and I can’t jeopardize that.

2. Telling me to get off of my medications is akin to damning me to a life that’s almost not worth living. The negligible benefits that may come from the natural supplements or exercise and diet could take months or even years to manifest. Being off of my “evil chemicals” for that long would harm me in a way that your advice couldn’t fix. As I said before, these medications are the only things that keep me able to live my life and I can’t jeopardize that.

3. You don’t know enough about my disease and it’s effects on me to pass judgment on how I’m treating it. You don’t know what my medications actually do, and you don’t know the health risks and side-effects of these meds that you continually put down as “over-medicating” or “dangerous chemical compounds”. Every disease is different for every person unfortunate enough to have it. Your friend with the “miracle” cure? She might have a completely different subset of the disease! One size does not fit all when it comes to treatments for chronic diseases.

4. Those of us with chronic illnesses are completely aware of the effects of our medications. We know that they can cause liver failure or vision changes or high cholesterol levels. You don’t have to tell us that these medications can be dangerous because we know it already. But we have decided that those risks are worth taking to improve our lives. It’s all about quality of life for us, and sometimes it’s a trade-off. We trade possible future complications for the ability to actually live today. But we have already decided. Please respect that decision.

5. Respect. Please try to respect us. Respect our choices, respect our limitations, and respect our knowledge. We try not to talk your ear off about our illnesses, but please try to listen to what each day is like for us. We appreciate your interest in our lives and we love that you want us to feel as amazing as we can. Your friendship and concern are intensely needed and loved. Please just try to be empathetic to our illnesses.

Sincerely,
All the people living with chronic illnesses
——-

Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder five years ago I’ve been bombarded by people who, with kind hearts, would lament that I chose medication. Now that it’s likely that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis or another autoimmune connective tissue illness, I’m sure that I’ll be bombarded with the same advice even more. It’s hard for a healthy person to understand what RA or bipolar is like. I don’t expect them to. I just wish that they would understand that we focus every day on how to manage our illnesses and live our lives. That’s what we think of from sunup to sundown: how to feel a little bit better the next day or how we’re going to change our lives to fit into the cages that the disease traps us in.

-Ashes

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I ran out of my hypothyroid medication about a week and a half ago and just forgot to pick up the refill sitting at the pharmacy. Flash-forward to a few days ago when I started feeling run-down, unmotivated, tired and joint pain.

I thought nothing of the fact that I had forgotten to take my thyroid med. I figured that my bipolar has started kicking in after the stress of being back in school again and worrying about money (My GI Bill housing stipend hasn’t shown up yet). Then all of the sudden the light flipped on when I was writing in my hand-written journal about being unmotivated and worn out, thinking that I just needed to pull back a bit. Of course it was my thyroid acting wonky! Why did I just blame it on my bipolar?

Really, I should know better than to forget to take my meds, but it brought home two important messages to me. Number one, I need to stop figuring that my bipolar causes everything that sucks in my life. I lived for so long with that assumption proving to be true, but I need to realize that there are other things that affect my life rather than bipolar. Number two, I really do need my levothyroid.

I obviously believed my doctor when he told my that my thyroid is crapping out, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to accept that there would be one more medical disorder that would have to be in the forefront of my mind, that I’d be taking one more medication for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to believe it, but after seeing how much the lack of levothyroid affected me so rapidly and completely I have to learn to accept it.

I had forgotten how shitty things can get when I neglect to take care of myself and follow my doctor’s advice and simple common sense. My bipolar has mostly been coasting along for a long time on a good mix of meds, so I think that let me distance myself from the amount of work it takes to keep on a good path for my health.

To be fair, I’ve always had to learn things the hard way. I keep thinking that I know something but I’m always proved wrong later on.

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I’m noticing that all of my post titles end in “and Bipolar” or “and Mental Illness”. I apologize for the boring titles.

Just about everyone on medications to treat their bipolar shouldn’t drink; even those people with bipolar disorder who don’t take medication should avoid alcohol because it exacerbates bipolar mood swings. But I still drink a few times a month, as I’m sure others do, despite the warnings from instruction booklets and shrinks. I always wait several hours after my last drink to make sure my liver has time to process the alcohol before I take my Seroquel but that doesn’t change the fact that I shouldn’t down screwdrivers or wine in the first place.

I think I drink to allow myself the freedom to follow all of my feelings and desires. Back before I was on medications this wasn’t a problem. I just felt however I did at the moment and did whatever I wanted to without real pause. Now that I’m medicated my illogical feelings or basest desires feel wrong, as though they’re breaking some code of conduct that I never used to subscribe to. I don’t follow the impulses that used to be second nature anymore, like I’m not allowed to without vigorous explanation to those around me.

No one questions my motives for crying to songs or deciding that I want to have sex all night long when I’m drunk. So long as I’m not puking on anyone or taking shots before class no one wonders why I’m doing anything. “She’s just drunk, that’s all” is all the explanation that’s needed. People say medication is freedom; I say that medication is a necessary cage to live a productive life.

I know I shouldn’t drink but that doesn’t stop me. Not even my family’s history of alcoholism prevents me from mixing a drink. It’s irresponsible and possibly dangerous, but it’s still a form of freedom.

I miss the freedom of being crazy. I miss the compulsion to follow every whim. It was much less limiting than this supposedly “normal” existence.

-Ashes

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Last night was the worst night of sleep I’ve had in years. It could be the alcohol I had earlier but I made sure I had sobered up before taking my night meds. It could be stress, but I sleep like a damn log now that I’m on Seroquel.

That’s the root of my fear. I’m worried that I’ll have to go up on my Seroquel dosage. It’s been the same for over two years and I should have developed a tolerance to it by now, but I don’t want to increase the milligrams. It means more worries about my cholesterol levels and the shitty first few weeks on a higher dose. Everything has been so stable that I’m terrified of altering anything that actually helps me. I’ve heard that changing a dose for some people can cause the medication to become ineffective. I really don’t want to lose the med that helps me the most.

-Ashes

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I was going to write a long post on another topic when I realized that the side effects of one of my meds would make that impossible. I’m on 300 mg of Seroquel nightly and because of its sedative-like qualities I won’t be able to write logically for a few hours. So I decided to post about medication side effects, lack of logic be damned!

When I was 15 years old I was on Celexa and it made me extremely aggressive. I was so enraged by my family’s crappy waffle iron that I took it to the front driveway and destroyed it. I was swinging it around by the electrical cords and slamming it into the cement because it dared to burn one side of my waffle. I can only imagine what the neighbors thought! That incident led to me and my mom asking my Shrink to take me off of the Celexa.

Depakote convinced me that I could “hear” the electrical appliances that were plugged into the wall outlet. I would hear this buzzing/vibrating noise that felt like it was crawling its way through my brain tissue. It became a nightly occurrence to sweep through the house, unplugging all of the electrical equipment so that I could fall asleep.

200 mg of Wellbutrin would make me zone out completely. According to my fiance I looked like someone in a zombie movie. I remember everything “going away” in my head and not having to respond to outside stimuli, but I guess it freaked out my parents and my fiance. There was something liberating about freeing myself from the obligations of interpersonal interaction, but it was definitely not the healthiest way of dealing with bipolar. And it made me impervious to tickling for some reason. I have no idea why! It was the oddest sensation, being zoned out but knowing somewhere that I should be reacting to the hands trying to tickle me, but not being able to.

What about you guys? Do you have any amusing, odd, or frightening side effects from psych medications? Have you experienced some of the same symptoms, or something completely different with the same med?

-Ashes

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(For this last question, we’ll assume that you have children or will have children.)

-Ash

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