Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's your happy pill???

When I left the hospital last week they gave me a nice little gift bag. This is what was inside:
Mmmmmn! This is about R1200 ( $177/ £109 ) worth of meds. I am very blessed in that in South Africa if you are unemployed, specifically in the Western Cape you get your meds free. I can't say the same for the US...I virtually went bankrupt trying to pay medical bills when I lived there.

Only two of these boxes contain my "happy pills"...antidepressants, the rest is for my BIH and one is to stabilize my shaky blood sugar. I take eleven and a half pills a day, most of them in the morning. When I am taking supplements ( these are VERY expensive in SA ) I can take up 10 pills in the morning alone- little B was always in awe of how I would be able swallow them all at once. Actually this would amaze everyone. I only take painkillers as a last say, when I'm blind. So those really don't factor into the equation.

The antidepressants I take are 50mg of Citalopram (brand name Celexa or Cipramil) and 25mg Amitriptyline - I take those for the headaches so I am not on a antidepressant dose. When I first started taking antidepressants in America I started on 20mg of Lexapro. The side effects of going on to antidepressants were really weird: a strong burning sensation on my face, neck, arms and chest, manic talking (just about ANYTHING would tumble out of my mouth), serious disassociation and really weird fevers!. Those are just the unusual side effects...I had all the usual side effects as well.

The long term side effects have been a little more unnerving. Both my long term and short term memory have taken a knock. In some cases with my long term memory it has been for the best, making some awful childhood memories seem more misty lessening their conscious impact on me. But for my short term memory it's another thing. I can't remember appointments, instructions or where I put things. I forget dates for assignments or what I even need to look at to remind me of assignment dates. Studying is a nightmare as I forget something as soon as I read it and I have trouble recalling something I have read a hundred times. This is not good as my exams start end of next month. The physical side effects, or those that are visible are weight gain ( I had to give away most of the fabulous clothes I bought in London), fatigue, thirst and sweating like a freakin' pig.

Then there is the emotional side of things. I still struggle with physical side of depression but I have no way of expressing any emotion because antidepressants have turned me into an emotionless, cold icicle. The only emotion I feel now days is anger and that's mostly when I am around my Dad. I can't cry, during the blue moon that I do cry it's only a couple of tears but I feel nothing. I don't feel happiness, sadness, contentedness, motivation just nothing, I just don't care. This has really perplexed and in many cases, hurt the people who knew me before my breakdown. They don't understand what has happened they can't accept that I have changed so a lot of those relationships have now grown apart and some have fallen by the wayside.

I am interested to know what meds some of you are on and what the positives and the negatives's different for everyone so should be really interesting to compare.

Tomorrow I have the dreaded task of going into animal welfare and volunteering. I am looking forward to caring for the animals, also nervous as it can be really heartbreaking. But I am not looking forward to interacting with the "delightful social club" that are the other volunteers. They are really a miserable bunch of people and I don't want to spend even two minutes in their company but since they did save Milo's life I'm going to grin and bear it.


  1. I've taken Cylexa and for some reason, that I don't remember...(all the med's. ; ) I didn't like it...What's helped me tremendously is meds. for Attention Deficit Disorder. I don't know if you have ADD but it really counteracts for me at least the horrible brain fog that most antidepressants seem to cause.

    I'm the same way with interacting with people vs. animals. I used to be a pet groomer and loved working with the animals, but the owners, oi vey
    ; ) Good for you Stephi that you're going to help out the animals. I think you will find people you can connect with and of course love the animals as well as them loving you back!

  2. I have been on some of the meds you've taken as well. I've been on so many meds, I would never remember them all if I tried, but this is over a period of 20 years on psychotropic medications. I take Klonopin, Ambien, Lamictal, Wellbutrin, Seroquel, Risperdal Consta injections, and that's it for mental health. I take some other things for my physical health so this amounts to a lot of pills every day; in the morning and at night. I totally understand about swallowing a lot of pills at once. I do this too. I had a big aversion to pills as a child and it was really hard to swallow them when I first took antidepressants 20 years ago, but it is old hat now and I'm very used to taking meds. For me they work, in the combination I'm currently taking, but the Lamictal is new and I've head headaches, a stiff neck, and back pain since I started taking it. I am hoping these side effects go away, otherwise I don't want to stay on it. My worst side effects have been weight gain from my antipsychotics (Seroquel and Risperdal). I have literally doubled in size since I started taking antipsychotics, and it is a terrible situation for my physical health and for my self-esteem. I'm in the process of having my dose decreased for Seroquel though, and won't be on it much longer. It's unfortunate that a lot of antipsychotics cause serious weight gain for the majority of people who take them, and I think it is really a crime that the drug companies haven't figured out a way to fix this problem.