Remember that song by Huey Lewis and the News from back in the 80s? C’mon, sing along with me: “I want a new drug, one that won’t go away. One that won’t keep me up all night, one that won’t make me sleep all day.” There ya go! You did it!
After discovering that I have bipolar disorder…and trying the myriad of drugs out there to combat this crap…that song…and those lyrics, in particular…took on a whole new meaning. How many of you battling brain cooties found success with the first weapon your doctor prescribed? Don’t be shy. Raise your hands. HA! That’s what I thought. Not very many. So, those of you who did have success on the first go ‘round, how many have stayed on the same drug for an extended period of time with continued success? Yeah, I thought that would cause a few hands to go down.
Well, let me tell ya somethin’. My brain LOVES new drugs. Absolutely adores them. I feel the party goin’ on in my head, let me tell you. But it doesn’t usually last long. My brain, it appears, gets bored. Tosses aside the serotonin like an old shoe into the reuptake cycle. It wants something new, something shiny, something pretty.
Now, as much as I love my doc, I do have to say he looks at me a bit strangely when I tell him my brain is bored with a drug. All right. I’ll be honest. With my current doctor I’ve only said this one time and that was a week and a half ago. I’d been battling the blahs for months. I wasn’t horribly depressed (most of the time) but I also just didn’t feel good. No energy, motivation, drive. I looked forward to sleeping. I was even ready to toss out my hard-acquired crafting materials. Yeah, that bad.
So, I made an appointment with my doctor. Let me back up. I already had this appointment. Sorry. Wrong appointment. Saw my therapist first (she’s a doll and very good at what she does) then my doc. He always goes over the therapist’s notes so he can compare what I tell him with what I told my therapist for any additional clarification. After discussing my lack of oomph, my doc and I decided it was time for a change.
But it couldn’t be just any change. You see, I’ve taken soooo many meds for my brain cooties…used so many weapons against it…and most of them failed. Oh, they might have worked for a bit, but like I said at the opening, my brain just gets bored and wants a new drug, one that won’t keep it up all night or make it sleep all day, and sleeping all day seems to be my biggest issue with psych meds. I mean, come on, I have bipolar disorder. Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, etc. should send me into manic mode. Instead, I have what the good doctor calls “atypical reactions”, meaning they put me to sleep. And even if I don’t sleep, I feel drugged with no more energy than it takes to hold down one end of the couch. I see you nodding, you know that feeling, don’t you? That’s what many meds do to me. “…one that won’t keep me up all night, one that won’t make me sleep all day.” Yeppers, Huey Lewis knew.
My doctor was honest with me. I’ve only been on one medication…besides mood stabilizers…since seeing him and, lucky me! I was the first in his practice to be prescribed that medication. However, the reason it was prescribed is that I’ve gone through many, many other medications that just didn’t work, or did but for some reason stopped working. He explained that there just weren’t too many options left out there, but did mention one that’s only been on the market for about a year. No, not the one that’s advertised all over the place…the one that’s specifically for bipolar depression. I was actually kinda hoping he’d prescribe that one ‘cause the people in the ads look so happy! And skinny! And I wanted all that! But he mentioned another one I’d never heard of before and I agreed to give it a shot.
Took my samples home and started at the recommended dose. Now, what’s cool about the newer generation of drugs is that they don’t take 4-6 weeks to see results. In fact, doc chuckled when I asked about it and said no, it activates pretty quickly. Boy, was he right! I could feel it swooshing into my brain and my brain saying, “Ahhhhh!! Now THAT’s better!” (Does your brain talk to you, too, or is it just me?)
As directed, I titrated up one week later. Gotta back up a bit again. During the previous week I’d noticed a little itching, but nothing too bad or distracting. No rash. But after a couple of days I wondered if it was due to the medication. Nothing bad, mind you, and only mildly annoying. Okay, so, I titrated up. And scratched the ankle on one foot until it bled. Those of you in the Midwest, you know what chigger bites are like. Horrible things. Much, much worse than mosquito bites. Well, it felt like two or three chigger bites in one place.
Went from itching a bit to being driven crazy! Mostly my feet, but my eyes, my head, my stomach. It was awful. I called the doctor and spoke with his nurse. When she heard what was going on she managed to get an appointment for me the next day. Yeah, allergic reactions to medications will do that for a person. The velvet rope just drops on down.
I told him I felt great, except for the itching. I’d even lost 2 pounds since my previous appointment just a week earlier. That made me feel even better!
I really like the way my doc makes me part of my medical team, which is the way it should be. Since I was feeling good otherwise, he suggested we…or I, actually…stay at the lower dose. Then he prescribed another medication called hydroxyzine. Now, I don’t like mentioning meds by name because I don’t want to influence anyone, but this is an all purpose medication. It’s mainly used as an antihistamine. Apparently it was developed in the mid-1950s for that reason. But, hurray for me, in its list of other uses is one that jumped out at me. JUMP! Like that. It’s also used as an antianxiety medication. This is beautiful because the last med I was on was for depression as well as anxiety and I was getting anxious about what I was going to do about the anxiety. Ironically, one of the potential side effects is upset stomach, but it can be prescribed for nausea. I love little ironies like that, don’t you?
I was worried it would put me to sleep, but it doesn’t. At least not at the dose I’m at. I wonder if it should be increased, though, ‘cause I start itching again overnight and also if I wait too long during the day to take it. Just looked it up and I’m well under the potential dosage. In fact, for anxiety I’m at half the usual dose, which is fine. I don’t want more chemicals in my system than necessary. And I'll be a good girl and not mess with my med dosage on my own. I will say, this was a good call on the part of my doc. I don’t feel hypomanic and I definitely don’t feel depressed. I feel (dare I say it?) normal. I keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not sleeping, but I have to stop before someone blames my hubby for all the bruises I’m causing.
I don’t know how long it’ll last. Is this just a high before my system crashes again or is my improved health due to the medications? This is the hell of brain cooties, isn’t it? Especially bipolar disorder. Is it part of the usual cycle or is it the medication doing its job?
I’m not sure at this point. I’m just enjoying the ride for the moment.