Monday, June 25, 2007

The chemical wasteland

In response to the comments I've gotten about medications, I just wanted to share the vast chemical wasteland I've already trekked through because I don't know if I've ever done that. All of these are ones I have tried in just the last four years, and these are just the ones I actually remember. They were either tried alone or in combination with other meds at varying dosages. I believe four different meds was the most I've ever been on at any one time. As usual, they are in no particular order other than alphabetical.

1) Abilify - Made me hypermanic within a week of starting at the lowest dose given to adults. This is the one and only time I've ever experienced mania in my life. Had to quit taking it because even with taking 400 mgs of Seroquel, which typically knocks me out cold, I didn't sleep the entire time I was on Abilify.

2) Ativan - Did absolutely nothing for me.

3) Effexor - Started at the lowest dose possible, the one they typically begin children on, not the adult dose. I had such a severe reaction to the very first pill that I thought I was dying and ended up in the medical hospital for several days.

4) Eldepryl - The medication I'm currently on but taking sporadically. I did take it for nearly 6 months at the prescribed dosage. At first it was great, thought it was my miracle drug because when I first started taking it in October I felt great for the first time. Felt depression free and happy for the first time in a very long time. But the longer I took it, the more I felt chemically bleached of all personality and feeling by it. That is why I have recently stopped taking it as prescribed. If I could find a balance where I could still feel like there was life inside of me, still be able to experience emotions and at the same time still keep my depression under control, this would be the perfect medication.

5) Geodon - Felt no relief while on this. Eventually maxed out on the dosage.

6) Klonopin - Same response as I got with the Ativan...none whatsoever. It was like taking a sugar pill.

7) Lamictal - Felt no relief from this one either and I know I tried it a couple of times in different med combinations.

8) Lithium - All it did was make me sick as hell.

9) Neurontin - I don't know what this one was supposed to do, but it didn't do anything for me.

10) Nortriptyline - Made me feel doped up and confused. It also made my acid reflux even worse plus I had the lovely feeling that I was either going to have a heart attack or a seizure at any moment. Had to stop taking it after two weeks.

11) Paxil - I strongly believe this is the absolute worst drug in the world and it should not be on the market. I refused to stay on it for my own safety.

12) Prozac - Had no effect on me at all.

13) Remeron - I've been on this a few times. Typically my pdoc tried it as a substitute for Seroquel, but Remeron never once calmed my racing thoughts or ever made me sleepy.

14) Ritalin - My pdoc was grasping at straws when he tried me on this. Thought maybe that since it's an upper it would improve my mood. All it did was make me agitated to the point I wanted to crawl out of my skin 24 hours a day.

15) Seroquel - The only med that has ever helped me get any sleep. It actually calms my racing thoughts and makes me sleepy. 75% of the time I have taken this at the correct dose, in fact I did so for the first two years I was on it. Problem is that diabetes runs in my family and after finding out that Seroquel raises the risk of developing it, I now worry that being on too high of a dose is going to make me develop it prematurely. Plus, if I take too high of a dose (the highest I've gone was 600 mgs) I have horrible nightmares and I can't take more than 200 mgs at once or it effects my ability to breath. My sinuses close up and I feel like I'm suffocating. I used to get around that by taking 200 mgs an hour before bed. Once it kicked in and I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, I'd take the other 200 or 400 mgs I was on. I feel I'm now dependent on this med for sleep because if I don't take it I'm awake until I do. Often there's a battle raging in my head between taking it so I can sleep and not wanting to take it because I want to be able to experience natural sleep, not a chemically induced one. I also battle with the diabetes issue. I'm supposed to take 200 mgs right now, but I typically 100 mgs. If I stay up too late and need to be up early, I'll drop it down to 50 mgs. Other times I'm so bothered by the downsides of the med that I can't force myself to choke any of it down.

16) Trazodone - Made me vomit or want to vomit every time I took it, so I wasn't able to stay on it long enough to find out if it would work.

17) Trileptal - Was given this a few times in combination with other meds, but never got much relief.

18) Valium - The only medication that helps with my anxiety and panic attacks. I do take this every day or as needed, which is how it was prescribed.

19) Wellbutrin SR & XL - I don't think there's a formulary difference in the two, one is just an extended release kind of thing. This actually helped at first, but stopped working about 3 months later. Eventually maxed out on the dosage of both types of pills.

20) Xanax - Another drug for anxiety that had absolutely no effect on me at all.

21) Zoloft - This one I've tried several times. Each time it worked at first, but like the Wellbutrin eventually stopped after several months and I ended up maxing out on the dosage.

Given the variety of drug classes, the varying dosages and the limited response to most all of them, medications aren't really the answer for me. Multiple rounds of ECT, both unilateral & bilateral, and having this VNS implant were also complete busts, so I'm left to wonder if there even is a chemical imbalance.

This is why I tend to lean more towards the core problem being a brain defect of some kind. A developmental problem, that my brain didn't form correctly from birth or I suffered brain damage along the way. That different areas of my brain don't communicate properly with the others, or some areas just don't work at all.


Blogger Not Nurse Ratched said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:19 AM, June 26, 2007  
Anonymous Borderlinecrazy said...

It's scary how much I identify with you. I too arrived at the conclusion that if the drugs indicated for the condition do nothing to relieve it, then perhaps I don't HAVE the condition. And if that was the case then there was hope because how can anyone treat anything that does not exist? My med situation was like playing "whack a mole," too. I eventually got off all the psych drugs and stayed off them for 7 years (back on anxiety drugs now because it turns out I really DO have THAT condition). I decided no one, including me, could figure out what was wrong and how to treat it until I had some kind of a baseline. I was lucky to happen upon a good therapist during this time who was able to offer hope (I don't have bipolar or borderline disorder or anything else I was Dxed with..."only" PTSD, which causes behavior and feelings, oddly, that mimic that other stuff). Everyone is different, and I don't know your story. I'm not encouraging you to stop taking your medication. I'm just validating your ideas and telling you that in my case, exploring that line of thinking has led to a much better life. In AA I've learned that if you continue along a path that has never worked, it probably won't work in the future either. It's just hard sometimes to know what change to make, particular if the "qualified" professionals in your life are not helping you. Truly, my heart goes out to you. Please don't stop blogging: let the blogosphere know what you are trying and how it goes!

8:28 AM, June 26, 2007  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

have you had an mri or any type brain scans?

wish i could help, sid - i really do. you are not damaged beyond repair, i can see that in your writing. you keep your shit together under the most trying circumstances. but the longer i read the more i think, no one else is going to help you and you are going to have to help yourself. i keep hoping one of these days you will find a good therapist, who knows what they're doing, and cares as much about you as we (your blog buddies) do.

12:41 PM, June 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been on 600mg of Seroquel for a short while. Eventually I had the breathing problems as well. I thought maybe it was just in my imagination, that I was simply making myself believe that the meds were sedating my body to the point that it slowed my breathing as if I was asleep while my mind was still awake and requiring more oxygen.

I'll give ya one thing, it's scary as hell. And kind-of painful.

I could always jokingly suggest you move to California. I hear THC is the new Valium.

8:35 PM, June 26, 2007  
Blogger marie said...

Sid, I have tried several of these medications. Some have put me into an manic state. I am trying alternative treatments for my illness. Medication is not all it is cracked up to be.

8:10 PM, June 27, 2007  
Blogger Joel said...

Oh Sid, you're just begging me to do a few comparisons!

We overlap on:

Abilify Made me have muscle spasms. Painful muscle spasms.

Ativan Calmed me down to a state which felt like warmed over sandpaper.

Effexor Love/hate relationship here. I have to watch the levels. Without it, my OCD flares up. Too high and I go into a mixed state.

Geodon Felt like I was turned into a half-filled water balloon for three quarters of the day. When I went off of it, I spiralled into a nasty depression.

Lamictal Easilly one of the least obnoxious of the medications I have taken. Done well by this one.

Lithium Chewed up my kidneys.

Wellbutrin Another drug for anxiety/depression that made me more anxious.

Xanax Works well. Got to watch how much I take.

Not on your list:

Risperdal An atypical anti-psychotic that took away the sensation of being carved up with knives and similar hallucinations that sometimes afflict me.

Doxepin Relative of trazedone which ain't supposed to do anything to me except make me drowsy.

Depakoate This worked very well -- as long as I got 16 hours of sleep each day.

Cardizem A stealth mood-stabilizer given to me for blood pressure. One time I overdosed by accident and felt like I was being sanded down in all my extremities.

2:16 AM, June 29, 2007  
Blogger sansanity said...

OK I'm chiming in too (bold ones I am currently on):

prozac--was my WONDER drug at first! I didn't have to wait the typical 6-8 weeks. The downside of that is if i miss a dose I FELT IT. Eventually dose was so high it made me shaky. My current p-doc thinks that it is one of the factors in my constant extreme exhaustion.

paxil--one dose and I was on the phone with the ER. woke up with sharp pain in my chest and a VERY developed and well-formed circular bruise on my chest that was not there the night before.

wellbutrin XR--was given small dose for PMS-NOTHING! it did seem to accentuate the prozac a bit. Dose increased and it has only allowed me to cut back the prozac not rid myself of it completely. The XR allows me to take it 1x/day which is a big help with med compliance for me.

ritalin prescribed to get me going so I wouldn't sleep quite so much. took two and went to bed no problem.

adderall--much better for me than Ritalin and has an XR. unfortunately it undoes the mood stabilizer a bit and increases anxiety. I can focus but unfortunately I hyper focus which I am not sure is any better than scatter brain and when it wears off it is like the magic coach turned into a pumpkin and i really need to sleep.

lamictal--tastes like i am being poisoned about 1 hour after taking it but damn i love this drug. still bouncy moods but it has brought the poles a little closer together so that the swing back and forth is not so high.

trazadone gave prozac a little kick in battling depression. or maybe it was just that it made me get decent sleep (think brain dead comatosed state)--no waking up constantly. no wild vivid dreams that made me feel more tired in the AM. 2nd time i went back to it-- nothing.

xanax as my former boss noted "i could set you on fire right now and you wouldn't care." felt more mental addictive than physically addictive as the difference between it's calm and my normal panic was so extreme that I could not stand it. Quit when I "woke up" in my car driving to work , didn't know I how I had gotten there and was too afraid to look down because I was not sure I had any clothes on.

buspar--nice anxiety drug without the spacey feeling i got with xanax.

I check any drug prescribed to me at (after the typical sites) to read user opinions before taking it.

8:08 AM, June 29, 2007  

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