Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Psychology: Finding the right medication

For the past almost-year, my psychiatrist and I have been playing medication roulette.  Since I have been diagnosed with bipolar II, she has had me on several mood stabilizers and antidepressants, and just now we have finally hit on the right ones it seems.  But I want to share my experience particularly with Depakote, because it was so interesting to me... interesting in a not-so-good way.

Depakote was effective at keeping me from "flipping out" - that is, it kept my rages in check - but it also turned me into a walking zombie.  I had no motivation to do ANYTHING, and I was sleeping inordinate amounts.  Going into a terrible depression this past summer, while on the Depakote, only increased my desire to get off the darn stuff.  Not to mention the side effect of my hair turning brittle and falling out.  Not all of my hair - it just thinned dramatically and the texture is still pretty awful.  (Since going off the Depakote, my hair is no longer falling out as it was, but I will need to grow out the brittle stuff that grew while I was on it.)  I also had terrible gastrointestinal effects, in that I was "going" about 6 to 8 times a day, and it was to the point where I had to quite literally run to the toilet.  (sorry, gross.)  Since the stopping, though, my digestive tract is back to normal.  Signs from the Universe that the drug was bad for me?  Yup.

Please understand that I'm not trashing Depakote.  I know people for whom it has worked miracles.  It just happened not to be the miracle drug for me.  And my psychiatrist actually told me that I am the first patient she has ever had for whom Depakote is not effective.  Go figure - my family always said I'm a weirdo, ha ha.

I am now on Geodon and half the original dose of Cymbalta that I was on while on Depakote, and I feel fantastic.  Now that the drugs have reached therapeutic levels in my system, I feel like I can think clearly for the first time in many years.  And not just more clearly than I was thinking before: like my old self again, where I could pick thoughts out of the air and enjoy being highly creative.  I was scared that I was in the midst of a hypomanic episode, but I discussed how I was feeling at length with Psychiatrist, and she has deemed it to be NOT hypomanic, because I am not irritable and I am very rational.  All right!  I am thrilled!

That being said, I am ready to conquer this Holiday season.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, even the stress, because it is all about being together with family and sharing love with each other.  This year for Thanksgiving I was told that I may not bring anything to dinner because they have it "all under control," so I am responsible for the wine.  I'm bringing two bottles of French Chardonnay that was highly recommended by my local liquor store for a turkey and ham dinner.

What are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?