At least it’s not a rash…

I’m at an interesting point in my mental health journey. One of my biggest problems with medications is always side effects. Lamictal and topomax gave me a drug rash. Lithium made me constantly tired and I gained 40+ pounds and didn’t notice much beyond more depression. Prozac gave me crazy anxiety. Abilify, haldol, seroquel turned me into a robot or almost drooling mess of drugged human.

Effexor is the only anti depressant I’ve “liked” and Latuda is the only mood stabilizer that hasn’t ruined my life. However, side effects are so bizarre. My jaw locks, my muscles have started randomly clenching and spasming, and I’m getting restless legs. I also have a weird neck/head jerky twitch. By now, I would have cold turkeyed off the drugs and argued I’m fine.

But I’m not fine. Without something, I can’t find a baseline. My moods swing so quickly, and not in an orderly fashion. I’m never manic or depressed, it’s both, anxious, and cleaning obsessively or freaking about cleaning because I can’t clean because I cant stay awake. I’m not doing anything or I’m doing everything or I’m having a panic attack about both.

With Latuda, I’m calmer. I respond more than I react. A lot of this is helped by meditation and yoga, but without medicine, I struggle to perform these things on my own which makes it all worse. But the side effects suck.

What doesn’t suck is my doctor, who is listening to me, confirming these are side effects and actually changing stuff around rather than telling me I’m wrong or just want to be manic all the time. The funny part is I guess all of this work to stabilize my moods is just to get me on adhd medicine. This past month wasn’t good. Lots of depression – more than usual. But I got through okay. I have a lot of stress right now – I am a mom of 3 lol. My life is crazy as a baseline.

But I’m not quitting the medicine. I promised myself after the psychosis I was going to figure this all out. My doctor is adding another drug to stop the side effects and either lowering the Latuda and increasing the Effexor or just increasing Effexor. There are a lot

Of benefits to taking these medicines and unfortunately I’m sensitive to medicine (ask me about my NyQuil experiences lol) so this is really hard.

I’m sharing all this because I think it might be helpful if anyone is struggling with doctors/therapy/medicine. A lot of doctors treat statistics, not people. Some of these side effects are rare, and because of that, many doctors are dismissive. Or, they say the benefits outweighs the drawbacks. But everyone needs to be really educated about their diseases and medicines. Reading side effects, tracking side effects, speaking intelligently about symptoms and frequency. Journaling is an amazing way to understand yourself and what’s going on with your body.

I usually read my journal for the past month and read a journal from an earlier time period (say 6 months to a year) before aby appointment. I can then tell if I’m improving or not, I can see where I was at before and where I’m At now, and how frequently these things are occurring. I track my period in my journal and I note every day I have it in my journal so I can see how the anxiety and depression was. I make notes on my moods and anxiety levels all the time. I note if I forgot a medicine and what happened. I’m my own psychologist kind of.

Because I know the drugs and my body, I’m able to be an active part of my treatment plan instead of just sucking it up and dealing with it. The muscle stuff I’m describing is a big deal. I could end up with long term problems like tardive Dyskinesia. It was because I started noticing these muscle spasms and took notes that I could talk about it with my doctor.

It’s never enough to just take the medicine. A journey of mental health is a journey of self awareness too. I’ve stopped medicine a lot because the side effects were too much and no one was listening. It took a lot of doctors to find one who did. The only difference now is I fight for me, I speak up for me, and I’m an open book with everyone especially my doctor. When i went to the mental hospital

The first time, all I said was I get sad and anxious sometimes. No mention of eating disorders, obsessive cleaning and other compulsions, I said my brain was telling me to hurt myself because I didn’t even know what intrusive thoughts were. Frankly, at that time, I didn’t know what was Wrong with me.

Now I know nothing is wrong with me, I just need support. I care about myself now, so I take care of myself.

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