Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pharmaceutical Wonders


Medication. It’s real. It works miracles. Let me tell you about mine.

First, some history:

I started on Celexa. An anti-depressant. It didn’t do anything. So Dr. Bunger put me on Lamictal, also known as lamotrigine. An anticonvulsant. It was designed for seizure disorders, but it works for bipolar, sometimes. This time was a sometime. It worked. Not miracles, yet. For some reason, Effexor was added, which I would come to affectionately call “efuckser,” for its side effects. I hated it. 

The doc in Michigan, Dr. Fox, added Seroquel, which I abused for its sedative effects: don’t want to deal with the world? Take a Seroquel! You’ll sleep through the thick of depression! Problem solved! Right. Eventually I threw it out, realizing what a monster I was creating. 

The real monster came in 2014, when I had stopped seeing my psychiatrist and became suicidal. I wound up at Telecare, Santa Cruz’s version of inpatient (a joke), where they sent me on my cheerful way with instructions to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. I did. And the brilliant Dr. Gilbert put me on Lithium. Lithium turned things around. Not completely, but this mood stabilizer made a marked difference. I became depressed again that fall, so he added Prozac, the old-fashioned anti-depressant, and it worked. 

I had the magic combo: Lithium, Lamictal, and Prozac. Until July 2016. I was on those three and Adderall (I had taken to falling asleep in the middle of the day—probably a side effect of Lithium), but I was not well. I was in the hospital. I came out of the hospital on seven or eight medications. Which, I do not recall. It doesn’t really matter; they didn’t work. I went back ten days later for more. So they cut down on the list and jacked up the dosage. I was up to 500 mg Seroquel, an anti-psychotic (I slept, a lot), Klonopin three or four times a day, lots of Lithium, and God knows what else. I swear the Seroquel damaged my memory. That brings us to hoy dia. Today.

But, why, before we go there, am I even sharing? What works for me probably won’t work for you or your loved one. Because it’s real. That’s why. I go to the pharmacy, three to four times a month, where I know the techs’ names, and take the stupid pills, in hopes to see one more stable day, and I want to make it clear that stable days are possible, the drugs are real, and both are necessary.

Lamotrigine: Still, I take 400mg of this sucker. It saved me the first time through, and the psychiatrists I have seen have all seen value in keeping it in my pill pile.

Lithium: The dose and specific version have varied, but currently, 900mg. I take it all at night because it makes me sleepy. Lithium is a tried and true combatant in the struggle with bipolar.

Prozac: Just for fun. 10mg. I really don’t know why I’m on such an inconsequential dose of it, but I am, and I trust my psychiatrist.

Latuda: I know, what a name. Everyone laughs. Go ahead. 100mg. It’s a new-fangled mood-stablizer that costs an ungodly amount ($1500+), thank heaven for MediCal. The website advertises it for bipolar depression, which is the part of bipolar that makes my existence miserable. Latuda is the most recent miracle in my life. It knocks me out, so I take it with dinner, and an hour later, am in bed. Shut up, I can go to bed at 7:30 if I want to. (Clearly, I’m still working out the side-effects and kinks of this one.)

There you have it. I take three mood-stabilizers and (barely) an anti-depressant. And I’m six months mostly stable. Meds. Try ‘em. They can help.