Pills pills pills

I’ve been prescribed quite a few meds since I first encountered my monkey. Citalopram, sertraline and mirtazipine all fell by the wayside a way back. The first two gave me the shits and mirtazipine, although wonderful at getting me to sleep made me feel too groggy to accomplish anything much the next morning – not a whole lot of good when you need to get two kids up, dressed, fed and out the door. Oh, that and fact that it gave me the most voracious appetite for all the wrong foods late at night – carbs and sugar – which meant I put on a tonne of weight. My faithful informer across at CRAZYMEDS refer to Mirtazipine (Remeron) as the legal version of canabis when it comes to getting the munchies.


1..2..3,4,5…once I took my pills on time

I found a bit more success – or at least it seemed as such – when I went onto a combination of pregabalin (Lyrica) and the nasty venlafaxine (Effexor). I made progress and got discharged from the care of my CMHC. More recently though, after a further relapse, yet another drug has been added into the mix – lamotragine (Lamictal). First described to me as an anti-psychotic, which scared the crap outta me, I then learn it’s also used as a mood stabiliser – seemed well overdue to me to be honest. Anyway. Point is I now feel like a walking chemist (I also take omeprazol to deal with the heartburn caused by one of the other drugs) and honestly I started to wonder ‘what happens if I don’t take these anymore’? Would I feel the same anyway? Are my cyclical depressive episodes just that? In other words are they gonna come and go regardless of whatever concoction I’m on at the time? Or even if I’m on none at all? Seems my psyche is happy to go along with this theory too – either means I’ve been wasting everyone’s time or she’s proving a point or none of these meds are worth the plastic they’re bottled in. Jury’s out right now because we aren’t testing out the theory for a little while yet. Would love to hear from any other lonely souls out there who probably aren’t reading this what their thoughts are on this. Sharing is caring people.

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9 Responses to Pills pills pills

  1. Stuart Brown says:

    As a storming materialist and atheist, I think the thing is to try to see this as simply a purely chemical regulatory issue, and to attempt to avoid the emotive response we have to the labels of the drug types themselves. I need to take mega loads of ACE inhibitors along with pissy pills to stop my heart from pumping so hard that my retinas burst, and you need to take other types of chemical regulators. The problem comes from the judgmentalism of society over what it is that’s being regulated — mood-affecting chemicals in the brain instead of muscle-affecting chemicals in the cardiovascular system. But we SHOULD see these as the same deal. You know all this, of course, but I thought I’d bang on about it anyway because, well, I’m me. (By the way, if you haven’t heard it, download the Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre podcast with Stephen Fry. Quite extraordinary. He is championing the cause of normalization of mental health problems with a pretty awesome degree of personal frankness.)
    Back in the day I was on the clinical trials for venlafaxine, because various antidepressants can help to regulate narcolepsy and they thought they’d test it out on a willing guinea pig. Was a total failure for me, as I couldn’t keep it down long enough to see the effects — do you get nausea off it?
    Glad to see you posting again, mate. Chin up, stiff upper lip, awkward man hugs and all that kinda deal.

    • abair says:

      Cheers Stu. Thankfully I don’t get the nausea from venlafaxine but boy do I notice if I miss my dose by even half a day. Nasty withdrawal symptoms are quick to kick in – brain zaps!
      I guess my point in this post (which I perhaps didn’t explain adequately) was my doubts over the effectiveness of any of these meds at stabilising my depression. Therefore what would happen if I made a (phased) elimination of them. We’ll have to see how this goes.
      All the awkward hugs etc. back atcha

  2. Alex says:

    Do you know what we are all slave to the modern world in some way. Whether its pills, iPads or junk food. You can beat yourself up over stuff but ultimately you have to have faith in a regime that works for you. You are dealing with something really tough day in day out and if they help even a little bit to soften the edges and give you the opportunity to relish the time with those you love then I think that’s a pretty fair exchange. You are a good man. You bought me a wall.

  3. Ruth Flint says:

    It’s tough, not knowing what things would be like without the meds. From my personal experience, coming off paroxetine I had horrible withdrawal symptoms, so they were clearly having some effect. But now I’m taking thyroxine, I don’t think of it as being very different from the paroxetine – it’s just correcting a different chemical imbalance in my body. (Plural of anecdote is not data, obvs, but there it is, fwiw. Oversharing for the win!)

    Cyclical depression may come and go despite the meds, but if they take the edge off the downswings, that’s probably a good thing. Hang in there.

    • abair says:

      Did you have a controlled reduction of paroxitine? As I just replied to Stuart withdrawal symptoms can be pretty harsh on some of these but I wonder what happens once you break free of them.

  4. ronnirose says:

    I was beginning to write a response when my computer crashed on me. Probably a good thing since it was turning into a diatribe about my year long tale of woe about anti-depressant meds.

    To cut a long story short, SSRIs have been my saviours for the past ten years. I have been on and off them for the last ten years and they’ve lifted my mood and given me back my sleep when I’ve needed them too, fortunately without side effect (though I was on a fairly low dose each time). I never really gave it a second thought until just before Christmas last year when Citalopram no longer worked for me. I had a really torrid time over Christmas and into the New Year with no sleep at all and chest pains which landed me in A&E….My GP then put me on Trazodone which had only minor successes in terms of allowing me some sleep for a few nights and then I was back to little or no sleep at all. Eventually collapsed from exhaustion some time in March and went to stay with Mum and Dad in Gloucestershire and registered as a temporary patient at my old GP practice (who were brilliant and could not do enough for me). They immediately took me off trazodone and put me on Venlafaxine (Venlalic) which I’m still taking. I had to supplement that with Zopiclone to help me get some sleep for the first couple of weeks but luckily came off those as soon as the Venlafaxine started to take effect (which took about 5 weeks in total). Venlafaxine has been brilliant for getting me back on my feet but for me it has come with weight gain and tiredness (although equally that might be down to eating a shed load of biscuits and cupcakes). I’ll be on my current dose until at least March next year, which is fine with me and then I’ll discuss reducing it with my GP. I’m quite worried about coming off it as I’ve heard that the withdrawal symptoms can be horrendous).

    It does make wonder whether I’m on a ‘career’ of medication now. Am I on these for life now or will there be a time in the future when I can come off them for more than 6 months without crashing and having to go back on them. My Dad was on Venlafaxine (Effexor) years ago following an episode of depression but he had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder a few years ago and now has to take a combination of anti-depressants (Citalopram), mood stabilisers (Depakote) as well as a Clopixol injection when his illness has been really bad.

    I have mixed feelings about the efficacy of the meds. Certainly a year ago I would have been extolling the virtues of SSRIs. Now I’m not so sure after my recent experience whether it’s the anti-depressants that have saved me this time round or whether changes in my lifestyle and outlook on life (like not working such stupid amounts of hours and taking a lot of pressure off myself) have also made the difference.

    The most scary thing is that I’m fairly certain that without such medications I’m not sure whether my Dad would still be with us now – so from that perspective I’m eternally grateful that they are available in the acute phases of our illnesses. The alternative of him not taking his meds (or me not having meds available to me at my lowest point) doesn’t really bear thinking about……

    • ronnirose says:

      Apologies for the excess of brackets and spelling mistakes by the way. Didn’t edit my work before posting. Doh! You deserve better 😦

    • abair says:

      Hey Ron. Thanks for sharing that – really interesting to hear someone else’s meds experiences. Am glad someone else questions the efficacy of these things. Yes, the truly horrible potential scenarios like the one you outline re your dad aren’t worth thinking about and it sounds like with the bipolar he really needs the chemical rebalance that those drugs provide. But for you, me, and many many others are we being prescribed these pills too quickly? Are other treatments not being given enough credence? Is this a resource issue – ie it’s easier for the NHS to dish out pills than invest in good counselling.
      Btw it’s also good to hear you had a positive experience from your ‘old’ GP. Seems to be a lottery.

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