Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Med check

Where to start in what I am about to tell you? I guess I'll just start.
Friends. Countrymen.
Dealing with drugs that treat your emotional struggles is a wrestling match.
Well, it can be. I'd say I had a good run for about a year and a half with the right dosage; two drugs, 20 mg of the one, 2 mg of the other. I felt content, happy but not too happy. I recognized when things were uncomfortable or sad but didn't dip down to the depths when life wasn't cookie cutter perfect. 
A couple of things left me when I got on that medicinal regimen: I cried a lot less; barely at all, in fact. And I lost my love of dancing. I still wanted to dance, I thought I loved it, but I didn't have as much energy or interest in painting strokes in the air with my hips, in tapping the floor with my shoes. That was a bit of a bummer (I've crafted a whole post about dancing, which I will probably post soon, P.S.).
But life as a whole was amazing, particularly when I got started on a mood stabilizer. I still felt creative and motivated to write (this is a thing that makes a lot of people wary of psychotropic drugs -- they fear they won't want to make art anymore, or won't be able to; I found the opposite to be true. I was able to harness my creativity and focus and actually execute clear, but still interesting (I hope) writing. I didn't start writing my book until I got on a mood stabilizer). And I didn't feel crazed or miserably sad -- I could DO life so much more easily. I didn't feel like I was continually dusting off my knees from the last emotional bender.
Goodness gracious, I already hate the way this post is going. It's honest, that part I'm down with, and I'm not at all ashamed of what I'm telling you. But I am babbling and unfocused.
That's how I've felt all morning. All over the place. Tasks that I could focus on yesterday are like 100 times more difficult to do today.
Yesterday, after a great weekend, I was buzzing. I felt a little hyper, but I could still get stuff done.
Today I feel, well, not good.
I don't feel sad, that's a positive.
Why did I come here to talk to you again? I'm not sure, honestly. Oh yeah, I think it was just to give you an honest snapshot of what it can be like to be on a change in your drugs.
So let's see. Around...November?, I went to a new psychiatrist. The one I was seeing had the bedside manner of a robot, maybe. He wasn't unkind, but I knew I wasn't being candid with him, because I felt like I was talking to a wall. A wall who wouldn't get it if I tried to explain that I was mostly feeling normal, but was feeling a little more blue than usual and wanted to figure out why.
I didn't get the sense that this guy understood what it felt like to be a little blue. I didn't figure him for much of a feeler himself, and I guess I need to talk to a feeler in order to make some headway and actually be honest.
So I moved on.
I found someone new who took my insurance, and I feel worlds more at ease talking to her, but I'm not thrilled with the way she's treating me. I like the way she treats me as a human -- very kind, personable -- but I'm not real thrilled with how she's treating me medically.
Let's back up. I apologize for the rambly nature of this post. But I still think the message is important so I am BLAZING AHEAD!!
When I walked into her office the first time, I was on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer -- the same dosage I'd been on for two years, the dosage that had worked wonders for me, the one that turned my life around.
I was feeling a little down, though, as of late, and I couldn't pinpoint it.
She immediately doubled my dose on the antidepressant. I wasn't sure about this, but I trusted her enough to try it.
I came back some weeks later, told her I was having some side effects -- wasn't super interested in everyday stuff.
She threw another antidepressant at me. 5 more milligrams twice a day.
For those following along at home I was now up to three drugs in my cerebral cocktail. I wasn't thrilled about being on so many drugs, not knowing about the long term effects and feeling like my doc was handing out M&Ms instead of prescription drugs.
She told me that my mood stabilizer is in fact an antipsychotic drug, and I was like, What??? I don't exhibit psychotic symptoms, at least not the intense ones (hallucinations, delusions), and no one had ever told me that the drug was an antipsychotic.
(I have read up on this a bit, and apparently the mood stabilizer I was on, while yes, an antipsychotic, is sometimes used for people who do not experience traditional psychosis. So it's not crazy that I was originally prescribed to take it).
The other thing she told me is that if on the antipsychotic mood stabilizer long term, I could develop tardive dyskinesia, a condition in which one makes involuntary movements of the mouth and hands.
I'm super grateful she told me that, because that does not sound like something I want. No thank you.
So, here's where I was left with, per her instruction:
Take double the original dose of drug #1, to keep me from feeling too sad.
Take this new drug, drug #2, twice a day, to get me more interested in things that were suddenly not interesting.
And cut the dose of drug #3 (the mood stabilizer) in half, to eventually be off it completely*, in order to avoid eventual tardive dyskinesia, and to get me off an antipsychotic drug since I don't exactly experience psychosis.
*I officially went off it last week.
[I'd just like to pause and say this doc is great, I'm just having some wariness regarding my treatment, because I'M not comfortable with it. I don't think she's doing anything wrong, and in fact I'd recommend her to a friend. I don't think she's being unethical and I'm not going to charge her with malpractice. It's just hard to find a psychiatrist you can communicate with really well, in the same way it can be hard to find a therapist who perfectly meets your needs.]
So I've walked you through the boring details of my drugs.
Here's another thing you should know: no therapist or medical professional has ever said to me: You have bipolar disorder.
Yet I'm on a mood stabilizing drug (or, was, until a week ago) that is often used by people who have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or whatnot.
And, before I was on that mood stabilizing drug, I would get sometimes very happy and sometimes very sad. And I always told my docs and therapists this.
So I'm a little confused. Do I have bipolar??? There was a time that I was petrified of that being the case, but now I'm like, Dude. If I have bipolar, JUST TELL ME. And then treat me, with maybe a drug that's not going to make me eventually smack my lips and roll my fingertips together. Because I just want to live life without bouncing off the walls and/or crying way too much.
Breathe, Bailey. Breathe.
Today, I'm super not focused. And I need to be. I have regular work and a freelance piece due tomorrow and parents coming in town tomorrow. I'm so excited Mom and Dad are coming to see me, but I want to be able to have a normal conversation with them, I don't want to feel super hyper while they're here.
I'm uncomfortable, and I'm worried. I'm trying not to panic. But I'm also being mindful of the feeling I have today and the fact that I haven't felt this way in a very long time. Sure, I get unfocused, and hyper, a lot. If I could get my picture in the dictionary next to the word "excitable," I would.
But I know that a week ago, a day ago, I could get things done if I needed to. I could snap myself out of the hyperness and do real tasks.
Today I'm worried I can't.
So where do I start?
I'm going to go to my psychiatry appointment next week. I'm going to tell her all this jazz I just told you. Then, I might look into a new psychiatrist. We'll see.
And if I get extra worried today, I'm going to call my doctor today. I'm going to tell her that, No, I don't feel sad today, but I do feel like a squirrel who just got into the peanut butter supply.
Some people might frown on the idea of posting so much personal information online, and I'll admit I'm a little afraid that some people who are really close to me might even be upset with me for divulging so much. (In the picture above I've expunged my address, but that's it. I don't want any crazies stealing my cat, all right?)
But I think it's important. Important for you to know where I'm at, and important for people out there to know the truth about psychotropic drugs:
1. They can help, a LOT. There was a time that I thought my life might eventually end in suicide, and I got on a drug that gave me confidence that would never happen. I got Bailey back, and that is huge. To have YOURSELF inside yourself is a gift that is so priceless I may never be able to explain it.
2. Prescription drugs can be annoying, aggravating, disheartening, to navigate. But because of point #1, they're totally worth trying if you think you need them -- either in the first place, or need to make a change up in what you're currently taking.
So here we go. Today I'm on two drugs. I feel off. I have things to do, and I'm going to do my best to do them. But you can bet your bottom hard knock life dollar that I will be keeping a hard eye on the pumping of my sensitive heart and the active firing of my synapses. This girl doesn't go down without a fight.
And nor should you.
Be well. Reach out. Love and be loved.


  1. Getting the right mix of medication seems to be very tricky. Also, did you dr. tell you that sometimes it takes your body awhile to adjust to getting on or getting off a medication and I wonder if that is what is going on. Hang in there. Bet your parents can give you some advice. Go to the NAMI website maybe and check out their medication page. I don't have much advice since I don't take anything myself.

  2. One other thing to keep in mind was maybe your lack of sleep or regular routine this past weekend being with the kids.