the depression is so bad you feel like you have failed everyone and everything and as much as you want to go to sleep and not wake up you have to keep on breathing.
Such was me a few weeks ago, me before coming off the Zoloft.
The Zoloft that made life worst. The Zoloft that made me feel crazy. The Zoloft that made me want to harm myself. The Zoloft that made me put the breaks on while driving because I thought someone was crossing the road and when I blinked no one was there (among other stories), The Zoloft that made me dream dreams that I thought were real, absolute. The Zoloft that did not mix well with alcohol. The Zoloft that did not let me sleep but yet made me feel like I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. The Zoloft that made me paranoid. The Zoloft that changed me.
Now I am off the Zoloft, and in just a couple of weeks I already feel a ton better, not ‘normal me’ better, but not Zoloft crazy.
Back one one of my old faithful medications, Tegertol.
In the past 144 hours (6 days) I have slept 24.5 hours in total, and all very very broken sleep. The most I have slept in a row is about 1.5-2 hours. Some of those days I only slept 2.5 hours and one of them I managed to sleep 6 hours, but it was absolutely brutal trying to get all of those 6 hours. They were extremely broken. The time I slept 6 hours I never took any meds. Tonight I haven’t taken any again to see if I can sleep, but it is already after 4 AM and I am here writing.
I don’t feel manic or anything, I just don’t seem to need sleep or can’t sleep. The only symptoms I am having other than issues with sleeping is maybe little tingles in my arms and body from the lack of sleep and a little bit of fuzzy-ness that seems to come and go.
I am however having trouble distinguishing between what I have dreamed and reality. It only happened the one time. Today I tried to sleep, I dreamed that my daughter came home and I had a conversation with her at 12:30 ish (that was the time in the dream). When I woke up I thought that the conversation was truth, absolute. But she was not even home, she was in school for the day. I actually woke up and asked my husband if she had come home from school, I thought it really happened. And although I know it did not happen I still almost feel like it did.
I am trying really hard right now to make my self sleep at least some, so I know that I am for the most part of sound mind. We have some appointments coming up this week that I need to be able to function in, so I am really concerned about this lack of sleep and what it could mean, if anything.
Anyway, just wanted to update a little, as I am really trying to begin writing and blogging more.
As you all know I have been suffering in the depression part of my illness for almost 3 weeks now. On Friday my psychiatrist increased my Wellbutrin. I was taking 150mgs since February of 2013 and he increased it to 300mgs.
I remember going into his office in February of 2013 and asking for an antidepressant to be added back to my medications. I was taken off of it during a hospital stay in September of 2012 because of mania/mixed episode. At that time I had been battling depression for a few months and I was beginning to feel the familiar pull under as the depression was getting stronger and my ability to fight it was becoming weaker and weaker. He reluctantly added it back to my medications at that time.
During manias since we have increased the mood stabilizer or added an anti psychotic or a sleeping aid or changed something, but my Wellbutrin has remained constant. Largely because I do not want to become depressed badly again, I just cannot handle the depression aspect anymore, and I would take the possibility of hypomania over deep depression any day.
So on Friday, May 15th I found myself again sitting in his office, I heard the words come out of my mouth “You need to increase my Wellbutrin, I cannot deal with this any longer, the thoughts of self injury, and the deep dark place that I am being pulled into is getting bad.” He said yes he could increase it and see how it goes and we talked a bit more about what was going on.
I had been in deeper depressions before, but I was feeling the pull getting so strong that I did not want to get to that place again and I knew I needed some help to try to lift this before it got any worst. I tried on my own, it was not working, in fact it was getting darker and drearier where I was headed and all I could see was depression in a sort of tunneled vision.
Although my anxiety has been bad, which is probably largely due to what we are dealing with when it comes to our daughter, I am happy to report that I can feel the depression beginning to loosen its grip on me today.
It is a start, I feel a cross between a depressed state and feeling fantastic all occupying the same place, and it is good to at least not feel completely depressed.
My Current antidepressant stopped working. Now, I can stop worrying about when it’s going to!!! (laugh track) What? A joke at a time like this? Seriously? Seriously.
I’m bleeding tears right now. If I don’t find some humor in this repetitious routine of manic, depressed, manic, etc, I’ll opt out. Of it all. ‘But no,’ I think. What will happen to the new friends I am making? How will my choice to accept defeat lying down affect their recovery?
Sometimes when someone dies, it makes the rest of us stronger, but I remember two recent ‘accidental overdose’ (suicides) that left me scared to death. It filled me with terror because the proximity of them taking ‘the final option’ crept closer to my consciousness. I won’t do that to others, I remembered thinking at the time of their deaths. Considering my circumstances, since I’ve begun to feel better, taking myself out would be very selfish of me.
On this last episode, I was on a new antidepressant Brintellix. It works on eight neurotransmitters. It was like driving an 18 wheeler tractor trailer through a barn. I had been feeling so strong. I got seven good months out of it and suddenly, one day, the bottom fell out and I was angry. I felt cheated. I drank for a week. (Oops!) My good friends thought I needed a hospital, but if I did that, my family would push me even further away than they already have. Do you think in my family of five sisters that I ever get invited to get togethers?
Never. I’m the black sheep, even though I tow a rough road. They don’t want it anywhere near them. The do not want to understand this disease or accept the fact that a bipolar person never actually gets ‘well,’ only better or worse.
But still, I feel defrauded. When I was inpatient for 60 days back in 1989 and also the 60 day inpatient in 2000, and in various IOP programs of length, I was told to take these drugs ‘the rest of my life’ and to take them ‘as directed.’ I did so. I quit drinking. I feel I’ve done my part. But I’m drowning. And tired. Exhausted of the drill. I’ve had 10 bipolar relapses due to something the doctors forget to tell you about when you walk out the door with the prescription: ‘medication fatigue’ or ‘Prozac Poopouts,’ as they are clinically giggled about. Sometimes I feel that we are less than human to them. Giggling ? When someone is in their office behind closed doors, crying out for help? Seriously. I’ve given hospitals a wide berth after this. I trust my psychiatrist of 15 years and that’s about it.
I think I should widen my circle a bit. That’s what I am trying to do now.
I go through my life as a ghost, worrying about when these antidepressants will ‘stop’ working and I’ll be right back here, binge watching television again, not wanting to cook for myself. I haven’t been to the gym in 7 weeks. I used to work out for an hour and a half, chasing the endorphins and it never comes. I just quit going. I don’t like lifting weights and riding the life cycle just to do so. I can just as well read the newspaper on my couch at home. Takes less time.
These days, even though there are support groups aplenty, I Google a lot to find out about certain medications, how they work and to see if there are new ones on the horizon for us. The answer? There are tons of drugs in the pipeline. They are even working with “Vitamin K” you know, animal tranquilizer, to be given as a last resort in a safe, prescribe-able form, to people with Major Depressive Disorder, who respond to nothing else. And then, there is always ECT. Ooops. That’s a thought that makes me think I’m getting better already! No, seriously, from what I have read, ECT has come a long way and it’s done on an outpatient basis. They only do one side of the brain and if I was up against long term depression, which I was once, for an entire year, I would do it. I’d do anything to save my life, even when it feels like it’s not worth a nickel.
Bipolar Brainiac (AKA known as Allison Strong..her radio name) was a Stanford scholarship Volleyball player. She lived in Los Angeles for a year, appearing in Television Commercials, TV and the occasional very small part in a movie. She had her first manic episode in 1989 and had her mother send out tapes and resumes to Salt Lake City radio stations. She got hired right out of the psych ward! Full Time, Benefits. It wasn’t her favorite station, so she then segued into Alternative Radio during the 90’s, where she was able to play songs about being depressed and songs about aggression and anger and all sorts of things not previously heard on the radio. It was an exciting decade. She moved to Florida, studied Medical Transcription and did that for a while until she was felled by a nasty depression that lasted two years. She applied for disability and got it immediately. She is a mental health advocate as a speaker and a writer. She lives with her husband and two cats, in Hollywood Florida.
Is the number of different medications I have been on in 3 years.
10 of those were in 2012 alone. That was the year I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
To say I was mildly frustrated would be a lie. Mild would not cut it. It was a hard battle trying to find a medication cocktail that worked well for me.
They have been in different combinations, different dosages. New medications added, old medications stopped, dosages changed.
My doctor believes in the lowest possible dosages to treat the problem so we always start slow and work our way up to a dosage that works for me.
So in February of 2012 after battling for a long long time I finally had to get more help.
My very first medication on this journey was Risperidone. I took it for less than a week.
I was then hospitalized so my medications ended up being regulated by my admitting doctor instead of my regular psychiatrist.
He stopped Respiradone and started Zoloft. Few days later they added Wellbutrin and Clonozapam. Few days after that they added a sleeping med called Zopiclone and he also added Seroquel. I cannot remember the exact changes and additions and what was dropped during this period of time, but when I got out of hospital I was taking Seroquel, Zopiclone, Ativan and Wellbutrin.
During a manic episode my doctor kept upping the dosage of my Seroquel but it did not seem to make any difference, in fact I was getting worst and worst.
He stopped the Seroquel and started Lithium. I wrote about the scare I had with Lithium in a post found here.
I only took one dosage of Lithium because of a terrible reaction and then started Valproic Acid. Which worked wonders to take me out of the mania because it sedated me so badly trying to wake up was like swimming just under the surface of water, hearing voices but not able to actually wake.
I took it for almost a month and my body did not adjust enough for my liking so I asked my doctor to change it. I have small children and cannot be sedated all the time.
The next mood stabilizer we tried was Tegretol, after a couple of adjustments it seemed to work pretty well. I ended up with a rash that we thought might have been related so we changed to Trileptal which is a sister drug to Tegretol.
Then during a mania in December of 2013 my doctor added Temazepam and Methoprazine to my cocktail, so at this point along with those two medications I was taking Wellbutrin and Trileptal. I had Slept 11 hours in 14 days and he desperately wanted me to sleep. I ended up sleeping 19 hours that first night taking the two new medications, waking only once in the middle for about 5 minutes.
I kinda stopped the Methoprazine and Temazepamon my own when I felt good. *I admit this was not a good idea in retrospect*
My Trileptal got changed back to Tegretol once we realized the rash was not caused by the medication.
And my final medication change was during my recent mania where he added Chlorpromazine.
My current cocktail is Chlorpromazine, Tegretol, and Wellbutrin.
My whole entire point to this post is that there are so many medications and so many different combinations of medications that eventually you and your doctor working together should be able to find something that works well for you.
It takes a lot of work. It really does. I have to admit that frustrations can run high. Things change all the time, from mania to balanced to depression and full circle again.
It is vital that you have a good relationship with your treating doctor. He or She needs to know when things change and when your medications need to be adjusted.
So to those of you who are still trying to get dosages straightened out, keep your chin up, hopefully soon you will find the medication combo that is good for you.
Back on May 25th of 2012 after trying various medications to try to control my Bipolar disorder and after being in a manic stage for quite some time. My doctor decided he was going to try me on Lithium. We were to start off very slow. 150 mgs for a week and then increase to 300 mgs and then go from there once I saw him again in 2 weeks from the initial start date. We always tend to start medications slow. My doctor believes in treating the symptoms with the lowest amount of medications needed instead of treating numbers.
Around 9:30 -10:00 pm that night I took my 150 mg dosage. A few minutes later a friend of mine called to see if I wanted to drop over her house. She had a few girls in for a few drinks. I could not drink but I went anyway for the social aspect of it. Plus this friend had been there for me through so much and was the one who gently nudged me to get help which in turn gave me my Bipolar diagnosis and got me the help and treatment that I needed. (If she is reading this, I am forever grateful)
We were all sitting around the table chatting. Tossing around ideas for a project and having a great time.
This is where the story gets ‘fuzzy’ for me. Some of this story will be my actual memories while some of it will be what has been filled in for me by my friend and my husband, and even my daughter.
So I had been at my friends maybe an hour. So that was about an hour after taking the lithium pill. I apparently got very quiet. I was just sitting there and stopped interacting with what was going on. I know that I started to feel really sick. I was unsure of what exactly the problem was. So I stood up and decided that I was going to go home. At this point I did not know just how ‘sick’ I was. I had planned to get into my vehicle and drive home. Lucky for me, my friend noticed that something was wrong.
Apparently when I got up from the table to leave I was slurring my words and was staggering across my friends kitchen towards to door to leave. She noticed and lead me to her couch and laid me back on it. I remember a distinct sensation of not being able to swallow.
This is where the story begins to get fuzzy….
I was told that I lost all my color, I went completely white and clammy and was sort of changing colors. This was filled in by my friend and the other girls as well as the paramedic.
The sensation of not being able to swallow was very strange and I actually felt fear. It felt like my body “forgot” how to swallow. After a while I was able to swallow but only if I had water in my mouth. My daughter was there and I remember her shoving a bottle of water into my hand and saying “DRINK”, she was 10 years old and during what I am sure is one of the scariest things she has ever been involved in she was able to think clearly and talk to me.
Everything from my neck down felt tingly and felt numb like dead weight. I felt like I had no control over my body, and that my limbs were like rubber. I felt like I could not breathe.
My neck, back and knee started to hurt, and everything felt like it was so heavy. I was slurring my speech which then got so bad that I was only able to give one word answers. I had trouble understanding what people were saying and my sight was really blurry.
I must have been going in and out of it because I can vaguely remember the paramedics saying “Stay with us, are you still with us?”
Our daughter was crying to break her heart, but at the same time she was being so strong. I was actually scared to death that I was going to die in front of her. I did not want the scene in front of her to be the last memory she had of me.
The paramedics tested my sugar and it was 16.4. My sugar has NEVER been above 5.4 ever in my life so that was really high for me. My blood pressure was 179/97.
I remember being really cold and my teeth were chattering. In the ambulance they covered me in 4 blankets and gave me oxygen.
I remember my daughter climbing into the back of the ambulance crying to give me a kiss before we left for the drive to the hospital. Its an hour drive to the nearest hospital, we got their a lot sooner then that.
I was not able to see the doctor who prescribed them and ended up seeing an ER doctor who basically said it was side effects and to keep taking them, my body would get used to them.
My husband basically said “Hell No, they are going back to the pharmacy to be disposed of, you are not ever taking them again.”
I saw my doctor a few days later and it was decided to stop the lithium (which I already had) and we made some changes and started another medication.
To this day we do not know for sure whether it was an allergic reaction or just a random reaction that my body had to lithium. But whenever I have to see a doctor or go to a hospital and they ask if I have any allergies I always reply “Lithium”. I want it on my chart just in case something happens and I end up admitted for something and they start treating me with it and I am not able to tell them.
I am curious to know what your experiences with Lithium are. Good or bad experiences. Comment and let me know.