I wonder if you could list a few medications that were/are winners for you and some that
were horrible? Or cocktails that seem to work for you?
Luckily, I haven’t had to be on that many medications in comparison to others, due to some unnatural luck that they got it right quickly; but I have been on enough that I went through some disastrous experiences with them. Symptoms would worsen and my functioning would dive as if it were an eagle after prey – my brain. Whenever we found the right medicine, I got this feeling of getting closer to that baseline, and becoming more level. I could think clearly, and actually use what I learned in therapy. These are a list of some of the pills I have swallowed, and how I reacted.
Strattera [Atomoxetine ]
Strattera is a non-stimulant (repinephrine reuptake inhibitor) used to treat ADHD, that also has anti-depressant qualities. I was prescribed it after years of struggling to pay attention, focus, sit still, and organize my thoughts. My initial reaction was amazing. I felt focused, calm, happier, and my anxiety went lower than it had been since I was a toddler. Even my grades went up on it; however, while nobody has ever confirmed the link, after some time my moods got worse while on the medication, mainly an increase in agitation. I would stay on this until my most severe breakdown yet: December 2009.
Lithium, as I am sure you all know, is a carbon-based mood stabilizer. This drug has been a true lifesaver for me, and has had the most impact, becoming the first medication I have been on that effects all of my mood ranges. While I still have highs and low, I am much more level on it than I have been any other medication, and am able to cope through these moods. This is truly my wonder drug, and I truly credit it with keeping me alive. My chief complaint of the Lithium, other than the blood draws, is that it increases sensitivity to the sun and results in dehydration. It makes it very hard to bike as the months get sunnier and warmer. Also, this strange eye-moving side effect known as nystagmus, which the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation describes as “short, rapid movement from side to side”. Luckily for me, it was minor and only every once and while. Still, it is worth it for me.
Zyprexa, for me, was one of the worst drugs. While it did lessen the hallucinations, it made my paranoia and anxiety severely worse. I couldn’t be alone for any length of time, even if it was just the few minutes for my mom to run out the garbage, I had to be with her or risk a complete breakdown. It got to the point that she had to send a family member or coworker to pick me up from the bus stop, and drop me off at the daycare she worked at. It took us awhile to realize that it was making things worse, and by that point I had missed out on so much, and put a burden on everyone around me. I have also struggled with weight and hand tremors for years; but Zyprexa made them so much worse. I ballooned weight wise, and still haven’t fought it all off, and my hand tremor went from mild-moderate to the point I couldn’t pick up a cup without the beverage flying everywhere. It was terrible, and I am glad to be off it.
Paxil is an SSRI anti-depressant, a medication that is usually warned against when treating Bipolar Illness. For me, it is the one thing that has allowed me to get through the school day without running to the Nurse or Guidance with severe, acute anxiety. Many days I just winded up going home. Only days after going on this drug, I could feel it: I was calmer, less shaky, and was able to hold conversation. The worst side effect I got from Paxil were the hot flashes. Yes, hot flashes – at fourteen. The comical downside is that you now have two people in the house waking up in the middle night to turn on all the fans, moan about how they need water, and irritatingly command the other get said water. Imagine it. Then hope you don’t have to live it. It is important to point out, however, that I would never be able to be on Paxil if I wasn’t on an effective mood stabilizer, because it can cause mania. Whenever we upped the dosage, I began to begin to act manically and we would have to up the Lithium, as well.
Serequel has been my second wonder drug, as it was the medicine that pulled me out of deep psychosis and paranoia. For the first time in a long time, I could actually stay home alone and not be having frequent panic attacks from paranoia that left me hiding under my desk and covers. It has also kept the psychosis away, which is important because it has brought on a lot of violence (not driven by anger; by command – I’m flat during the episode, which scares me) and brought me close to killing myself because of her. In addition, it didn’t worsen my head tremors, and didn’t have near as strong of a weight gain and sedative effect as Zyprexa did. I can stay awake, and in a somewhat healthy weight range on it (still struggling from the Zyprexa).
Serequel XR is Serequel in extended release form, and is (obviously) also an atypical antipsychotic. While disastrous happened while I was on the drug, it just simply didn’t work as well, and also was more sedative than regular Serequel. They tried it on me while in the hospital last time, and I just didn’t feel it was working as well. I was having frequent hallucinations, and I could feel the paranoia kicking in. I have heard worse stories about it from others, mainly about it severely sedating the person taking it. Luckily, while it did knock me out, it didn’t prevent me from waking up. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.