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Archive for the ‘Medication’ Category

How many times have you heard people say “if only I could go back”? Sure thing I’d reply, but only if I knew then what I know now!

I’ve started bumping into people who I haven’t seen for around four years now. They never fail to comment on how well I am looking.

I smile to myself because they knew me back when I was stuffed with prescription drugs and hiding away from the world. There was rarely a smile and I spent most of my time wishing I wasn’t where I was,  in my head or listening to podcasts on bipolar disorder and depression to keep me company.

Bipolar Nation was my lifesaver. Without Captain Joe’s podcasts I don’t know where I’d be.  It seemed as if he was the only one who understood my suffering. His humour and voice were a great comfort to me for two years while I was being treated for bipolar disorder.

(To listen to Captain Joe’s podcasts click HERE).

I used my Ipod to disconnect from the world around me, to cope with my emotional pain and suffering.

Most of my suffering was the result of the side effects of the drugs I was being prescribed.  You see I wasn’t bipolar at all but I made myself fit that label (that’s another story!).

The side effects of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and benzodiazepines all rolled into one took a toll on my body and I believe they took a toll on my mind too.

I was even prescribed Artane, a drug used to stop the tremors in Parkinson’s Disease sufferers.  Fancy that, a drug to stop the side effects of another drug!

Never do I forget where I’ve been. I am grateful for where I am today but I feel somewhat sad that I don’t have the desire like others to want to go back to my early years.

It is sad that the fond childhood memories I do have do not outshine the negative ones.  The fond memories are not enough to make me wish I could go back in time.

I am so grateful to be where I am today. My past will never leave me but my present and future can only get better.

I give thanks to 12 Step Programs for my new way of living.  They have taught me new problem solving skills which I have been able to share with fellow sufferers of mental illness.

It is my belief that mental illness stems from dysfunction.  What I mean by that is as children we mimic the coping mechanisms of our caregivers.  When our caregivers have unhealthy/dysfunctional coping strategies, we as children learn to manage our difficulties in the same or similar way.  Our parents are our Gods, we trust them and trust that they know best and will tell us the truth and we model our lives on those of our caregivers.

We bring our learned unhealthy coping mechanisms into adulthood. By now they are comfortable and they are all we’ve ever known.

Learning to reverse our old belief systems, our old coping mechanisms and to do things differently and functionally is a long hard journey.

There is only one way to travel a long hard journey and that is forward because like I always say, I’d never go back!

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The information and opinions I have previously posted on the antipsychotic Zeldox (Ziprasidone) (also called Geodon) have been the most popular posts on my blog by far therefore I’ve decided to publish a link to all three posts so searchers can view the maximum amount of information and comments from other users of this drug to aid their research.  It is vital that the side effects and experiences of the users of Zeldox are made available for public viewing to educate users about the good and bad experiences of Zeldox use. 

I was recently reminded of some of the side effects I experienced while taking Zeldox when the usual lump in my throat started to form.  I can almost feel it protruding from the back of my neck.  I am certain that this lump was never present before my Zeldox use and it’s been around 24 months since I’ve been Zeldox free yet the lump in my throat regularly continues to be an ever-present pain in the neck!

I realise that a lump in the throat also referred to a choking or gagging sensation can be attributed to anxiety but my point is that I NEVER suffered such acute anxiety until I starting using Zeldox.

One thing I distinctly remember is when it drew close to the time  my next dose  of Zeldox was scheduled the lump would appear and it became increasingly prevalent UNTIL I swallowed that daily pill.

It would be easy for me to say that around 1.5 hours PRIOR TO  my scheduled Zeldox dose I would start to go into withdrawal.

The lump in my throat and just a general feeling of sickness would become noticeable to me whereupon waiting out the timeframe until my scheduled dose was due would become a constant struggle to ignore what was happening to my body. 

It would be easy to say that the side effects of Zeldox would have been one of the most difficult of medications for me to cope with.  I have heard it said many a time that the strength in mental illness sufferers lies in coping with the side effects of  their medications and for me and Zeldox, this rings true.

The tremors in my hands and legs together with slight head bobbing had me eventually diagnosed with probable tardive diskinesia – a condition arising from long-term anti-psychotic use (I was prescribed various antipsychotics over a two-year period before Zeldox was my final).  My tremors on Zeldox were so bad that I was shaking the whole bed when asleep.  I remember waking up one night thinking there was an earth quake before I realised it was only me! 

Some people have queried how long it took for the drug to leave my system.  Once I stopped the Zeldox the tremors DRAMATICALLY reduced however I still had mild  tremor issues for a good EIGHT MONTHS after ceasing this drug.

The problem with proving that medications cause permanent/long-term side effects in users is very difficult simply because there are not a lot of psychiatrists out there that will stand against the mental health system or each other.  Trying to prove that Zeldox caused my anxiety would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack not to mention the money tree I’d need to grow in the backyard to afford the legal fees.

Regardless, the best thing we can all do as consumers is make the world aware of how medications affect us.  Just because the side effect is not listed on the box, doesn’t mean it’s not a result of the drug you’re taking so please if you’re interested in reading more about Zeldox/Ziprasidone/Geodon then be sure to read my earlier posts on my experiences with the drug and the comments by readers are an ABSOLUTE MUST.

Here are the links to my other posts on my experiences with Zeldox/Geodon (Ziprasidone) for your ready reference:

  1. Zeldox & Anger
  2. Zeldox & After Effects
  3. Zeldox A Worker’s Antipsychotic – TOP POST 46 COMMENTS & CLIMBING
  4. WOW – I hate this drug

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As I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and various OCD symptoms such as the need to have things orderly, clean and perfect, I was wondering whether love and sex addiction is classed a form of OCD.

Some experts believe that sexual addiction is literally an addiction, directly analogous to alcohol and drug addictions. Other experts believe that sexual addiction is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and refer to it as sexual compulsivity.

The American Psychiatric Association has proposed that out-of-control sexual appetites be included as a diagnosis in the next edition of the psychiatrists’ bible, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” to be published in 2013.

I located a very helpful article outlining the difference between sexual thoughts and compulsions being an addiction or an obsessive compulsive disorder. It is of course only one person’s view on the subject.

Here’s an extract of the article which summarises the outcome:

It cannot be overemphasized that the sexual obsessions in OCD are the opposite of the usual sexual daydream or fantasy. Normal sexual fantasies are enjoyable and generally harmless. They may consist of wishes or memories of past sexual experiences. However, the sexual ideation in OCD is unpleasant and distressing. The individual with OCD does not want the thought to become real. The idea of acting out the obsession fills the OCD victim with dread. Sexual obsessions in OCD rarely produce sexual arousal because anxiety and arousal cannot occupy the same space. As a result, OCD usually decreases sex drive. OCD sexual obsessions result in guilt, shame, and interfere with ocial functioning or work. Source:

Love Addiction

While I am unable to speak for the sex addict, to my knowledge and experience, love addicts (who can also act out sexually) do not have decreased sexual desire when in the midst of their fantasy or addiction nor do their experiences feel unpleasant or distressing.

I am lead to believe that love addiction stems from unmet childhood needs.  For example, codependent mum is too busy with alcoholic dad to worry about children therefore children use fantasy as a way to meet their unmet needs and as escapism from a difficult family environment.

There are various types of love addicts, here’s a link to help you figure out which one you might be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_addiction

Healing from Sex/Love Addiction

Start by getting a good counsellor who is familiar with sex and love addiction and get involved in a 12 Step Program such as SLAA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous), SAnon (for love addicts and partners of sex addicts) or SA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) – for the sex addict). You will find the links to these Programs on my home page.  All three Programs have online support forums if you are unable to attend a face to face meeting.

Try reading as much material as you can about your addiction/s. Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody is a book that is highly regarded in the industry as are books on sex and love addiction by Patrick Carnes. Literature by both authors can be purchased from Amazon.com.

I tried for years to figure out what my problem was and I even sought help from the psychiatric industry for my thoughts, only to be medicated with antipsychotics for them and diagnosed with bipolar disorder (I believe my experience is very common).

It took me until I was 38 to realise that my fantasies were not a normal part of life. They used to (and still can) cause me the deepest depression and despair to the point where I wanted to self harm.

Early this year I accompanied my partner to a face to face SLAA meeting where I heard members speak about their experiences with sex and love addiction. Their stories hit me hard but also gave me great relief. They were talking about my life, I was one of them!  Finally I had found an answer to my problem. I was not alone.  My recovery journey began.

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Kleptomania is classified as “an irresistable urge to steal”  but people with this disorder are compelled to steal but not limited to, items of insignificant value. Insignificant value meaning pens, paperclips, note pads, paper etc.

Kleptomania is distinguished from shoplifting or ordinary theft,  as shoplifters and thieves generally steal for monetary value, or associated gains and usually display intent or premeditation, while kleptomaniacs are not necessarily contemplating the value of the items they steal or even the theft until they are compelled without motive.

This disorder usually manifests during puberty and, in some cases, may last throughout the person’s life.

I have been thinking about my compulsion or “need” to pinch things and where it eventuated from.

The first time I remember pinching something was when I was about three years old and I put a packet of tic tacs from the green grocer into my tights. My parents found out because they heard the clacking noise and made me take the tic tacs back and say I was sorry. The push to apologise sure didn’t teach me much of a lesson I don’t think!

As my dad used to drink his earnings away and bring back what was left over to mum, I used to see my mum make do with what money she had left to run a household.  Quite often we would visit the Salvation Army for food parcels or clothing and I used to think it was great fun because they would give me a big packet of pizza flavoured chips in the shape of wheels and when I was older I used to love selecting free clothes and shoes. When I write about it now, I feel sad thinking back to those times and what we had to do to make ends meet.

In my mid teens I got involved with a crowd that taught me how to pinch things from department stores and we even entered the back of a night club one day and lifted a bottle of liquor (I was simply a bystander while my friend’s brother went straight for the till so they obviously knew what they were looking for).

I too then started to lift things of no great monetary value from retail stores. I even taught others how to do it as well. It was small time thieving, mainly toys. I got caught a few times but was always let off.

When I started work my store thieving ceased and I was content with whatever small time things I could get my hands on at work which was usually stationery. I am a bit of a stationery nut to this day and I have boxes of pens and erasers and Post it Notes tucked away in my wardrobe.

When I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder in 2007, and put on Zeldox towards the end of my treatment, I felt an absolute compulsion to thieve from the supermarket one day. I was drawn towards an electronic item and remember reaching for it with the intent to steal it on my mind but after much thinking decided against it. I will never forget that feeling of sheer compulsion. It was not pre-meditated for I had not stolen for some years (I even stopped pinching the stationery when I found a workplace I loved). 

My supermarket antics on Zeldox were bizarre because I remember the “need” to load my groceries onto the conveyor belt in categories. All the dairy had to be together, all the meat together, all the drinks together etc etc and when I loaded my bags into the trolley, the bags were absolutely NOT allowed to fall over or I would get severely bothered and anxious to the point of an anxiety attack.  Looking back now, my anxiety/OCD must have been rife at that time. This is the time when I began to lift small items from supermarkets again.

My analysis on my long time behaviour would be that given the difficult environment I lived in as a child, I needed acquisitions around me to feel comforted.   Perhaps seeing my mum struggle with making ends meet, I grew to believe that having things was important.  When I was a teenager I would go through all the catalogues and select what I would buy when I grew up and had money.

I have begun lifting from supermarkets again as I am under financial stress and I cannot bear the thought of not being able to “have” what I need or want. Why? because I associate not having what I need or want with my childhood and I don’t want to go back there.

Today I need to keep reminding myself of the lesson that my Higher Power has put before me, namely, that  money does not buy happiness and happiness comes from within. I need to learn to love and respect myself and act in a responsible way when it comes to finances.

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After my recent encounter with my benzodiazepines (see my last post), I decided to take the opportunity to reduce my dose while I was still drugged up on them the day after my excessive intake.

By around lunch time the day after my previous intake, my brain started to fog under the pressure and stress of work. A foggy brain to me means “time for a benzo” but this time I decided simply to take half a tablet instead of my usual whole 30mg one.

Half seemed to get me through the rest of the afternoon but I then began to experience more brain  fog around 6pm when I was due for my second daily benzo.  I managed to ride through the fog and the lump in my throat and sleep relatively OK that evening.  I forced myself to spend time alone trying to relax and calm my mind. Thankfully I was feeling a little sick from the day before and I’ve noticed when my body is not 100% I tend to not “need” my benzos.

The next day I had to work again but I had my back to normal 9.00am benzo body crave so I decided to take my new half a dose which once again got me through the rest of the day. Luckily at work I am not very busy otherwise I think my tapering off would be a lot harder and most likely not successful.

Come Saturday morning I had to go to the shopping centre as we were out of food! Not the best time to shop usually as every man and his dog are there but I took it upon myself to test my anxiety and new benzo dose in public. I managed to bring my Ipod with me this time so I could drone out the shopping centre chatter and screetching children if  all the noise became too much.

Thankfully as the weather was absolutely ghastly, not many people decided to brave the shopping centre when I was carrying out my re-intergration into society on my new dose so my Ipod was not needed.

I first went to Aldi which was quiet and relaxing and I managed to hang back while the family with the whining children went ahead of me – phew!

Next came a woman, her toddler and the woman’s father constantly chattering to eachother about the products the toddler would or would not like. I mean c’mon….just pick up the products, stick them in your trolley and move on. I don’t need to hear what your baby bunting enjoys and doesn’t enjoy and why, you are stressing the hell out of me! I ended up leaving them behind to analyse the conents of each and every product and its suitability while I got on with my shopping.

It might have been my imagination but every where I turned the same man with his damn trolley was trying to move around me or vice versa. My brain and body language was screaming “get out of my way will ya” and I was beginning to wonder whether he was following me as I kept trying to escape meeting up with him for the whole Aldi journey!

Then came the checkout – all was fine until a man rocks up behind me with a small box of products in his hands glaring at me and my full trolley.  I had already loaded half my groceries on the conveyer and I didn’t feel like allowing him to hop infront of me (the polite Aldi way apparently) so I continued to load the conveyer with my shopping however in doing so, I put myself under pressure to load faster as I felt his presence and glare bearing down on me which forced me to rush and get a little flustered in the process.

Made it to the cashier but as some of you would know, Aldi is a self packing supermarket and the cashiers are fast to scan your items and leave them on the side of their bench for you to pick up and pack. This whole experience is stressful in itself because if you don’t go at the pace of the cashier your items build up on the bench and the person behind you and the cashier have to wait for you to load your trolley!

I should have realised all these things before I shopped at Aldi but it was a lesson in itself to anticipate my obstacles and plan ahead next time in order to to reduce panic/anxiety in public.

As you have probably guessed, I tend to reduce my anxiety by practising the “avoidance” method  in lieu of the “exposure” method.

Probably something I need to work on as avoiding situations that may cause anxiety will not cure me, only stop me from living my life to the fullest.

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What’s the point of writing a Blog if I can’t talk about the “hard stuff”? Should I gloss my posts over so they don’t trigger people? Yes, maybe a little but there’s no point in hiding the truth from the world because the world won’t understand where it went wrong if people like me fudge the facts. That’s my theory anyway.

So, I’ve felt like garbage the last couple of days.

My PMS has been up the wall for the last three or so months. I’ve had an internal scan but as usual it showed nothing so I’m going to try some natural progesterone cream.

I’ve read a book called “Natural Progesterone, the World’s Best Kept Secret” by Jenny Birdsey and was absolutely gobsmacked at the list of symptoms a woman can go through that relate to a lack of progesterone.

I would never have thought that my mouth ulcers, itchy eyes, constipation, suicidal ideations, night sweats, confusion, memory loss, cold hands and feet and aching bones can be related to a lack of progesterone!

I’ve had bad memory since December 2008 when I was taken off antipsychotics due to a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. When my period decides to pay me a visit (which is every fortnight now) my memory gets even worse not to mention the other side effects that come with the lead up to it. I really only get a few normal days before the symptoms start all over again.

It’s been a ghastly experience to say the least but back to the blog topic “suicidal ideations”.

While I was taking various antipsychotics (not all at one time) between 2006 and 2008, I continued to have suicidal ideations but when I look back now, they were worse than ever. It is my belief that the ideations were worsened by the antipsychotic use but proving that is like finding a needle in a hay stack!

During my treatment was overdosing on high doses of valium, Panadol or antidepressants every fortnight and my moods were definitely not stable.

Once I came off the antipsychotics and mood stabilizers and was re-diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I never overdosed again. For the first six months after the re-diagnosis I never felt suicidal and only twice in 2009 did I have ideations.

This year I’ve had them maybe three times. Once earlier on in the year and one last week and one this weekend. The first two were not acted on, the third was.

Unbeknown to anyone, I took 70mg of benzos yesterday. 70mg is not much but before I took them I wanted to take whatever I could stuff down my throat to end the pain. Nothing could make me see sense, I was so depressed I wanted “out”. Everyone was better off without me.

As usual, when the time comes to swallow, a small voice inside me says “you don’t really want to do that, just take a few to knock you out and see how you feel in the morning” so that’s what I did. I woofed down my pills but it didn’t really have much of an effect because most likely my body is so used to previous valium overdoses that 70mg of benzos was not much competition for it.

I paid for it this morning though. I could not focus on my work, I could not retain a lot of information and I looked like sh*t!

The sooner I get this progesterone cream the better and I hope to God it bloody well works because I’m tired of depression being present in my life and I certainly don’t want suicidal ideations anymore.

I’m off to hunt down some chocolate 🙂

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One major problem I’ve found when dealing with many people who try their best to hold down employment is their in ability to concentrate/focus on what is required.

I know with me, I used to read line after line after line until I got the information to actually sink into my brain. This kind of ability is very hard to deal with expecially if you are on a deadline to get work done and under  pressure to perform.

It’s very sad we have to resort to these kinds of methods out of desperation to keep our jobs.  I was told to try a high strength iron tablet for tiredness which does work, I take a high strength Fish Oil tablet, Spirulina and Berocca (vitamin B).  I must admit though, in times of desperation and pressure, workers need to rid their brain of fog to perform up to standards and in my opinion, employers do not make enough allowances for employees who are hampered by prescribed medications to keep their mental health functioning.

Unfortunately, very little options are available to boost performance/brain power  for those who are desperate to hold down their employnent or they lose their income, their house, their self esteem and their livelihood.

Over the years I’ve acquired various ideas to alleviate brain fog from medication use. Some of these might not be ethical but I’m going to write about them anyway because I know with me my job was so important to hold down and it was virtually impossible working on 450mg of Efexor XR, various anti-psychotics and being able to process information all of the time not to mention coping with the lack of motivation I felt.

First we have the unethical ways I have colleced over the years that people use to eliminate brain fog:

1. No Doz Plus  This product is a caffeine tablet that is meant to keep you awake and stimulate your cognitive functioning.  The downside of No Doz is it can become addictive. From what I’ve seen of it’s contents, it contains more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee. The caffeine is the substance that gets the brain moving and provides clarity and a buzzing energy aiding performance in the workplace.

2. Go for a very strong coffee (say 50ml or more). If you are like me, I am sensitive to caffeine so am unfortunately unable to drink coffee nor decaffinated for it brings me down to a deep depression.

3. Coke-a-Cola will give you a high/buzz and get you going and thinking logically and help you focus on the tasks at hand. Have you buzzing around the workplace in no time. Try guzzling a can of Coke early morning after a good breakfast but watch for the rotting teeth from consistent use though. Perhaps Diet Coke (no sugar) would be better for the teeth.

4. Red Bull – gives you wings! I’ve tried the small can of Red Bull early mornings and it yes it does give you a brain boost and helps you run run run however if you are susceptible to high amounts of caffeine I would recommend staying away from it. The larger the person the more Red Bull is required to have an affect. I generally go for the larger bottles of Red Bull as they get me through the day a lot longer. One needs to be careful when taking things such as No Doz and Red Bull together incase these drugs  react to any prescription medications you are already taking.

5. Now this is a little bit risky but I’ll share it anyway. I worked with a collegue who used to take 2 No Doz and drink a can of Red Bull every morning before work. She was a high flyer/heavy partier on weekends and needed to be on the ball at all times during work so this combination helped her boost her brain power.  I’ve never tried this so I don’t recommend it unless you are a large person and not susceptible to caffeine.

6. Nurofen or Nurofen Plus – contains codeine. Codeine can be very addictive but it will give you a slight brain buzz and help you focus on your work. There is also Panadeine Forte (only available via prescription) and Asprin Forte (available over the counter) which I have tried  but wow what a brain power boost! Be careful if you are allergic to asprin as it can make you vomit. Nurofen and Nurofen Plus will give you constipation and long term use can cause stomach ulcers/rotting lining and can become addictive so it is to be used in moderation.

7. For a more natural approach try very cold water to wake the brain up. Drink lots of it for energy as water makes ap a major percentage of the brain so keeping your body hydrated is most important for good brain function.

8. Freshly squeezed juices – fruit and/or vegetables are so important for energy. I drank these religiously every morning and night. If you don’t have the motivation to clean your juicer (an arduous job!) then purchase freshly vitamised juices from health food stores. Mix and match your fruit and vegetables to make a healthy juice that will make you feel SO GOOD throughout the day.  Try this website: www.juiceville.com.au for a world of information on juicing goodness, recipes and health and nutrition benefits.

Vitamin C tablets – 1000 mg x 3 or 4 per day – chewable. Not very expensive but I take them just before lunch and I feel a great boost of energy afterwards. Highly recommend them but remember they must be “chewable”.

Any other tips from people to eliminate brain fog please do share them with us.

A change of diet is also most important to keep your cognitive brain function working at its optimum level. See my older posts on foods to boos your mood which are most helpful in helping with brain power and concentration levels.

If you have any other ways you’d like to share about how to keep your brain at optimum performance levels while taking medications for mental illnesses plese do share then here for others to read.

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