Friday, June 19, 2009

This Blog is Brought to You By Medication.

I know it’s been awhile. A LONNNNNG while. It seems that I wasn’t the only one to drop off the blogging planet but I be back with plans to update AT LEAST twice a week.

Just cause.

This entry is a bit harder to write as I’ll be talking about medication. I was diagnosed with ADHD shortly after being diagnosed with Bipolar II and Panic Disorder. This is what makes Bipolar Disorder so incredibly hard to diagnose correctly as there are SO many other afflictions associated with it. Here’s just a few: alcoholism, drug addiction (this is due to the need to self medicate) Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Phobia. Because of the variation of disorders I have, finding the right combo of meds was extremely difficult as I need a sedative for the panic disorder and speed for ADHD. Ahh extremes just pop up every where with me, don’t they? lol

I did a 20 minute presentation on Bipolar Disorder for my Psychology class this last semester (a contributing factor to le absence). The information I found on Bipolar Disorder was more than a bit alarming due to the inconsistencies in various sources. I used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which is used in the US and in varying degrees around the world, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers. Basically, it’s what is used to diagnosis a mental illness. BUT DO NOT USE THIS TO SELF DIAGNOSE! THERE IS A REASON PSYCHIATRISTS ARE DOCTORS AS THERE IS A CERTAIN CRITRIA THAT MUST BE MET IN ORDER TO BE DIAGNOSED THAT ARE NOT IN THE DSM. Self diagnosis and self medication are INCREDIBLY harmful and a bit insulting when you tell someone who has actually been diagnosed "Oh I think I'm Bipolar too because I'm so moody." Moodiness is not the main affliction of Bipolar disorder. Our moods are far more EXTREME than just being moody. There is a certain time frame that a mania, a hypomania, and depression lasts. This involves MONTHS, not hours. Moving on...

I also used the movie Mr Jones starring Richard Gere (and produced by him as well). It’s about a man with Bipolar disorder that falls in love with his psychiatrist. While the plot is a bit unbelievable, he does a pretty good job in depicting a person with Bipolar Disorder. At times it was incredibly hard for me to watch as I’ve felt that way and witnessed it firsthand. Here are a couple of scenes that stuck with me: While in the throes in a mania Mr Jones (Gere) is tied down to a gurney while the Dr’s explain to him that he is Manic Depressive (Bipolar). They refer to it as a disease that is treatable. He freaks out and starts screaming “I do not have a disease! This is me! This is who I am!” This ties in with the second scene that plucked more than a few of my heartstrings. He eventually commits himself and starts the medication process (keep in mind this was in 93 and meds have actually come a long way since then and that he was on lithium). He can’t deal and breaks down to his Dr saying “I’m a junkie, I need my highs. I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” Once again it was dead on. Giving up the ability to go non-stop on little to no sleep along with the creative surges I used to get is probably one of the most painful things I’ve done. But with the highs, are the lows. I definitely do NOT miss those. While I firmly believe that medication has saved my life, I still struggle with the idea of taking a pill to “correct” my brain.

Here is my current med line up:
  • 250mgs of Lamictal
  • 20mg of Adderall
  • .5 mg of Klonopin when needed.
What I have tried that was unsuccessful:
  • Lexapro: (SSRI) this is how we discovered that I was Bipolar. If you give an antidepressant to someone with bipolar disorder it sends them into a hypomania and holy fucktarts did it.
  • Abilify: (antipsychotic) Worst expierence of my life. It fucked me in the head. For really
  • Concerta: (ADHD med which is basically ritalin) I had absolutely no reaction to it. None. lol I am immune to certain kinds of speed (there are 2 classes of ADD meds).
The info on the current meds:
  • Lamictal: is an anticonvulsant drug used in the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. It is the first medication since lithium to be granted approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the maintenance treatment of bipolar type I (it was approved in 2003). Chemically unrelated to other anticonvulsants (due to Lamotrigine being a Phenyltriazine), lamotrigine has relatively few side-effects and does not require blood monitoring in monotherapy. The dosage must be slowly increased from 25mg to 200mg. IT IS NOT AN ANTI DEPRESSANT AKA SSRI.
  • Adderall: is a brand-name drug psychostimulant composed of mixed amphetamine salts, which is thought to work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Adderall is generally more potent than Ritalin and has a longer period of efficacy, especially at lower doses.
  • Klonopin: is a benzodiazepine derivative with highly potent anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and anxiolytic properties. It inhibits the synaptic transmission across the central nervous system ie is basically an emergency brake.
The good:
  • Lamitcal: has had little to no side affects. It has also mellowed out the extreme moods and brought clarity to my overworking mind.
  • Adderall: has saved my job. No lie. I finally understand what it is like for “normal” people. I can not describe how incredibly hard it was for me to function. I would try so hard to concentrate but racing thoughts made it almost impossible.
  • Klonopin: has stopped many full-blown anxiety attacks.
The bad:
  • Lamitcal: The side affects, while mild, are still things I would normally experience were I not on medication. The only prominent ones are a rash that happens from time to time and a restricted appetite.
  • Adderall: my appetite has nearly disappeared and I have to constantly be reminded to eat. It’s getting a bit better as I actually get hungry from time to time. I also can only stomach the things I truly crave. I can’t have substitutes or I have to literally force myself to eat. I also can not have coffee as it triggers anxiety attacks.
  • Klonopin: I honestly don’t really take this often enough to really feel any side affects. The reason for this is explained below.
The ugly:
  • Lamitcal: carries a Black Box Warning which means it has the possible side affect of death. How it does this is a bit strange. It can provoke a life threatening skin reaction, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. Both of these basically cause cell death that in turn causes the epidermis to separate from the dermis. It is estimated that 5 to 10 % of patients will develop a rash, but that only one in a thousand patients will develop a serious rash. It is thought that one in 50,000 exposed patients may die from a rash. Nearly all cases occur in the first 2 to 8 weeks so I’m partially out of the danger zone. But still, scary shit.
  • Adderall: It is Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act which means it is in the same class as: Cocaine, Oxycodone (OxyContin), Methadone, Opium, Methamphetamine (Meth), etc. I am taking a drug that is one of the most addictive out there. It’s EXTREMELY difficult for me to take because I am willingly taking a drug that is in the same category as OxyCotin; the drug that pretty much destroyed my family. I also discovered, the hard way, that I can NOT drink coffee while taking it as is aggravated my Panic Disorder and I started having anxiety attacks. To make sure I DO NOT start abusing it (addiction issues run in my family), I do not take it every day and I am using Cognitive Behavior Therapy to train my brain HOW to concentrate. It’s actually working as I only take it during the work week and I’ve been skipping a day or two to see how well I function without it.
  • Klonopin: It is the second most abused benzodiazepine in the USA. You can overdose on it, you develop a tolerance, and it has a common side affect of short term memory loss. For those of you that know me, you are already well aware of how horrible my memory is. I take this drug MAYBE twice a month. I will only result to it if I feel a hardcore anxiety or panic attack on the way.
So yeah. I know what these drugs do, I know what could it COULD do to me, BUT I know that these drugs are currently HELPING me. I can say that I have never been this happy or functional in my life. I do not plan on being on drugs forever but for now, I will stick to it as I know that they are saving my life. That may seem dramatic but you can not understand, relate or feel what it was like inside my head before. Just like I can not understand, relate or feel what it is like in YOUR head. All of our brains are wired differently and we all have our own understanding of the world.

So badabem badabom. This is my life and these are the tools that are helping me through it.

For now.

I am NOT saying that you need to take medication to "get better", I am just informing you of what works for me as this is my blog, my life, my story. Take from it what you will!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, long time no see! Glad to hear you are getting your medication situation sorted out. It can be a long, treacherous road, especially considering that many of our better medications have the unwelcome side effect of killing us, if not taken properly.

    I'm in a very similar situation to you right now, and have just started blogging again, mainly as a way to deal with an episode I had a few weeks back. Stop on by and give it a read if you're in the neighborhood. :)

    Take care, and glad to hear you're making progress!