Monthly Archives: July 2013

Good News

In everything that is going on, I was very glad to hear that my therapist will be staying on another six months at least.

I will also be completely off the Geodon by Friday, something I am looking forward to given the last two weeks.

Hooray!

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Face-Plant

At the direction of my doctor I’ve lowered my dosage of Geodon from 120 mg to 80 mg, due to the muscle spasms I was having.

Well, the spasms became more infrequent and had a little less gusto (my jaw was politely clenching shut instead of snapping shut) but the spasms were still happening.

Yesterday I talked to my doctor again and he has me lowering my Geodon dose to 40 mg. So far I’ve been surprised that I haven’t noticed any ill effects from lowing my dose so quickly, and though he doesn’t want me going off of the Geodon completely yet (I think there may be something about stopping antipsychotics potentially triggering psychosis) I have an appointment monday to work the whole thing out with him.

On another note, another reason I’d like to just opt to quit the Geodon at this point is that Wednesday morning I woke up early to feed Luna and still had the Geodon hangover (it is like waking up with an upset stomach and extreme dizziness) and by the time I got to the kitchen the dizziness overtook me and I passed out, only to land face first into the kitchen counter. I hit my eye on a glass cup and cut my face before slumping to the ground, where I drug myself to the couch and was immediately asleep again.

The cut on my face isn’t too deep, and the bruising hurts but I dare say the whole thing could have been a lot worse. As much as intense dizziness had me turned off of drugs like Seroquel, the dizziness with Geodon only seems to happen during a 12 hour window after I take it (during which time I am normally sleeping). It hasn’t been a huge deal except for when I need to wake up early, but this whole counter face-plant thing has me really turned off on this drug (though I don’t think I needed much help on that front after the muscle spasms started).

Honestly I am really bummed out that Geodon isn’t working out, it was the most promising drug I’ve tried in the last two years. I’ve tried about 13 other drugs, and I can’t help but feel slightly worried that I’m reaching a place where I’ve exhausted the drugs available to me.

I do realize, however, there are always new drugs coming out, and there is a whole realm of alternative medicine that I haven’t really explored yet so I’m trying not to let it get me down too much. There are also drug research trials for bipolar disorder in Seattle pretty frequently, so there are other things I can look into for potentially helping with my symptoms. Part of me just wishes it might have been easy, and it turns out it isn’t going to be.

The Joys of Journaling

I just got through doing some journaling, and I thought that might be something to talk about here since it can be a very useful tool.

People have often asked me if I ever intended for my journals to be read by anyone, and if not, why journal at all?

Personally, I don’t want people reading my journals because of the way I use them.

I don’t chronicle my general activities or much of my hopes or dreams. Instead I use journaling as an outlet for (basically) inappropriate thoughts and feelings.

One example is that fairly often I have obsessive thinking that I can’t easily shake off. I might be caught in a loop, thinking the same series of thoughts over and over again. I’ve found that if I sit down and write out the thoughts I can break the loop, and I’m no longer forced into thinking the same thing repeatedly.

Another situation I might use journaling in is if I’m very frustrated or angry. I can sit down and write whatever I want, weather it is general or hurtful or way out in left field, it doesn’t matter because nobody will be reading it. Once I finish I usually feel a lot more calm and levelheaded.

I would say the most often I use journaling for acknowledging my fears. If I have been worked up about a situation, I can write about what I’m afraid might happen going forward, which usually gives those fears a lot less umph in my own mind.

I also occasionally use journaling as a mood tracking tool. I only tend to journal in times when I am feeling something strongly, so I can look back through the journals to get a feel for when I was feeling intensely angry, or hopeless, or grandiose.

Overall, there is something about writing down specific thoughts I have that is extremely helpful for breaking the cycle of upset. I would highly recommend it, all you need is a piece of paper and a writing utensil, and then unleash whatever emotion you’re feeling onto the page. Write what you think and feel as you think and feel it, and you might be surprised at how much better you feel afterward!

(And if you’re worried about someone reading what you wrote, you can always destroy the evidence afterward!)

Now Introducing Involuntary Muscle Spasms!

The latest in my jaunt with psychiatric medications; involuntary muscle spasms.

The last two weeks I’ve increased the Geodon I’ve been taking to 120 mg. Side effects included eating less, a runny nose for no apparent reason (something I went to an allergist about but he said he couldn’t find anything wrong, then I discovered it is a possible side effect of Geodon when I looked at the pamphlet that came with the drug), and now this.

The spasms started happening around the time I normally take Geodon (in the evening). I was sitting on the couch watching tv and generally minding my own business when my jaw suddenly jumped to the left and clenched itself shut.

Needless to say, I was alarmed. I hoped it might be some kind of fluke, and then fifteen minutes later it happened again.

The next day it happened a little earlier. And the next day it started even earlier. Now it has already happened about six times this morning and I have to admit, my jaw is killing me. There is a lot of pain up around my temples, and the areas around my teeth hurt as well from them clashing together.

As surprising as all this was, I can’t say I was particularly shocked. I’ve known muscle spasms were a potential side effect of most antipsychotics, this is just the first time they’ve happened to me. 

I’ve already done some damage control emailing my psychiatrist who got back to me this morning telling me to scale my dosage back down to 80 mg and take some benadryl, which should help. I’m hoping that by scaling back on the Geodon I can get rid of the muscle spasms (they only started once I reached 120 mg) and most of all I really hope these spasms don’t become permanent.

My doctor said we may need to stop the Geodon altogether if things don’t get better in the next few days because there is a chance the spasms can become permanent. That is something I definitely don’t want to happen, and I’m definitely bummed out because so far Geodon has had the least amount of side effects for me out of any of the 12 drugs I’ve tried up to this point.

It might be time to go back to the drawing board, and I don’t have a lot of drugs left to try.

In any case, keep your fingers crossed for me and my leaping jaw. Hopefully we can take care of this thing!

Lower Life Expectancy with Mental Illness

At the NAMI peer-to-peer recovery course I’ve been taking there was a statistic the other day that wasn’t necessarily surprising, but it was shocking.

The statistic is that on average, the life expectancy of people with mental illness is 25 years shorter than the general population.

A couple of the reasons why include:

  • Individuals with mental illness smoke half of all cigarettes produced
  • Increased risk of weight gain and type-2 diabetes with some antipsychotic medications
  • People with mental illness may see a psychiatrist regularly but may not have access to a general practitioner

And these explanations don’t even take things like suicide into account.

I know I for one don’t want to cut my life short, but when it comes to things like medication it can sometimes feel like we don’t have a choice but to take them.

I guess what I took away from this was that we all need to be on top of taking care of ourselves, because we are the only ones that are going to do it. I know health can kind of fall on the back burner when things like our sanity is on the line, but it is important to consider the health of your entire body, not just the mind.

I didn’t want to end the week on something of a downer, but I really see this as an opportunity for inspiration to do the things I need to do to keep healthy. Don’t become a statistic, hopefully it can inspire you, too!

Minus One Therapist

The reason I’m able to keep seeing a therapist right now while I’m not working is that I’ve been seeing an intern at a clinic who charges on a sliding scale.

I’m all about seeing interns. My favorite therapist I’ve ever had was an intern, and the one I’ve been seeing lately isn’t half bad either. The problem with interns comes down to graduation.

When the interns graduate, the clinic finds a brand new batch of interns to replace them, and all of the original interns are let loose on the world. The rules, however, state that I can’t go see an intern once they are practicing at another clinic or private practice for two years after the date they graduate.

Even though seeing an intern feels like a good idea, reaching the part where they leave and you have to begin seeing someone new is a real pain in the behind.

I have my last appointment with my current therapist next week, and I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do after that. I could continue at the clinic and see the next therapist that they assign to me, or I could venture out to another clinic with cheaper therapy prices.

At this point I think I’m just going to wait and see what happens.

Having a therapist ripped away from me is like losing a close friend. The last time around was really difficult, I even cried. I’m hoping this time around I can keep it together a little better, but it is an emotional situation.

All in all, I’m nervous and not really looking forward to our final meeting, but I am glad to have had a chance to work with this current therapist and I can only hope the next one is at least half as good.

Latuda Approved by FDA For Some Bipolar Cases

Remember how Latuda was being considered for treating bipolar disorder?

Well it turns out the FDA has approved the use of Latuda for the use for some bipolar cases.

Latuda was originally released in 2010 for the use in patients with schizophrenia but the drug is now approved to be used in bipolar patients with major depressive episodes.

The FDA approves the use of Latuda as a single drug or in conjunction with Lithium or Valproate.

I, for one, am excited about this approval because even though I know a few people with bipolar disorder already taking Latuda, there are very few drugs approved for treating bipolar depression and this approval means it will be an option for many more of us out there.

So hooray! New drugs! I’m always a fan of having as many options out there as possible.

For more information or the whole article, click here.