10 Months Off Meds And Loving It?

I was in the middle of writing another post on a similar subject when I realized it’s almost been a year off of psychiatric medication and then I had to double check because that seemed like a lot of months to me considering I’ve spent the last 8 years going on and off medication at least three times a year. The most months I’ve stayed on medication was about nine. And that was 7 years ago. Let’s just say I’ve been as consistent with medications as I have been with this blog.

Throwing shade at myself.

I stopped my medication in the first place because I was sick of being tired, I was angry, hurt, and frustrated over a break-up and I just wanted something to alter my state of mind. Now that I look back on it, I can see that was my intention: distract myself from reality by overloading myself with a different type of reality.

I was on Abilify and Trintellix this time, with a psychiatrist ready to switch me from Abilify onto Vraylar. I think I ripped up his prescription though.

The Abilify I’d been on many times before. It’s the only antipsychotic that my body would tolerate. I have a theory about why, but I won’t go into that. Trintellix however, was very new. Not just new to me, but new to the market, and I agreed to try it because I’ve tried the majority of other SSRI’s and SNRI’s and hated each one. Psychiatrists liked to tell me SSRI’s were supposed to help with anxiety but that shit ain’t ever do shit. Straight up.

I figured the only way to get a real anxiety medication, like a Benzo, would be to prove I wasn’t an addict and the way to prove that was to be compliant with their plans first.

I’ve stopped every SSRI, SNRI, mood stabilizer, and antipsychotic I’ve ever been on abruptly. And by abruptly, I mean cutting my dose in half every week for about a month. There are studies coming out now that show you should reduce medication by about .25mg or less every few months in order to safely come down. I was cutting miligrams by the fives and tens (if applicable). Quickly. And I’ve never had an adverse reaction from it, even if I was on them for 6+ months.

*I do not recommend anyone do what I’ve done, or come off of medication without the watchful eye of a medical doctor who can pinpoint physical consequences easier*

But with a new, and very under-tested SSRI, I should have been a little more logical. I didn’t spiral immediately, it took about another month to feel the effects. I woke up depressed, more depressed than I’d ever been (and that’s saying something) and I remember a lot of dissociating and voices. Mind you, I stopped both medications simultaneously. I laid on the couch eating chocolate cake and chocolate chip pancakes during the days and spent the evenings drinking whiskey and heading into downtown. Oh, I also went to work. How? WHO KNOWS.

But eventually something had to give and I ended up in a bathtub with my clothes on arguing with my voices about killing myself. Good times. I didn’t pull myself out of that situation, in case you’re wondering.

But, I also didn’t end up in the hospital. And I’m glad I didn’t.

For the next few fuzzy months I went into an outpatient program, stayed at the mental health program I currently work at (little bit of conflict of interest there, but it worked out) and for a couple weeks was back on the medication. Then, I stopped it again and discarded of them.

What resulted from that was strange. A lot of depression, even the depression I experienced before I stopped my medication, lifted. I felt great. Not manic great, not even hypo-manic great. Just . . . content. That continued steadily and increased once I completely changed my diet and exercised (I’ve lost 35 pounds over the last four months).

It was only a couple weeks ago did I notice my mood become a little wobbly. I started noticing things, strange things again. People kept knocking on my room door and my walls, breathing through them, talking through them, and I could never catch them. I started distracting myself more often, which I didn’t notice until a few days ago. If I wasn’t listening to music, I was watching YouTube or television or playing video games–loudly. Sometimes I’d do all of it simultaneously. Sleeping has become more difficult and I went from getting 8 solid hours to 5, and more recently, 2. I started feeling touches on my arm and legs at night and when I spoke to people I misheard them. I mean, really misheard them. It’s not like when someone says something and they stumble over their words so you think they said cat when they said car. This was people saying full sentences and me hearing “you don’t know what you’re doing at all” when they really said “how have you been today?”

The mumbles have come back too, the hearing a crowd of people talking but not really catching what they’re saying, and so have some familiar voices, particularly one of the softer deep ones who has generally been kind. While I was struggling to get to sleep the other night listening to all the other shit, he told me “I’m proud of you” and for whatever reason, that helped. Me and him, we’re on the same page.

Now that it’s been ten months off medications, I understand why this is happening again. I think the real test begins now. Most of the medications are the lowest they’ve ever been in my system in 8 years and this will basically be me bare-assing my mind around.

My brain has a big ass and the meds were pants three sizes too small.

I’ll have to find new ways to deal with all this, and not get caught up in paranoid thoughts. Constant music and videos has helped keep my mind less focused on all the chatter, but I can’t live life like that all the time. It’s why I haven’t been able to read or write or stay motivated in general.

I recently got a new therapist. She hasn’t known me for longer than a month and a half. In our first session I told her I hadn’t heard voices consistently for a few months, so we’ll see what her reaction is tomorrow when I tell her

Conclusion: meds aren’t always the answer. Not taking meds isn’t always the answer. What works is what works. Will this work? Who knows. But I’d rather try and find out than never try and wish I had.

Let’s Get Technical For A Minute

America loves drugs.

It’s true!

People talk down to the heroin addicts living on the street but don’t understand there’s a high probability their addictions started with a much more familiar, socially acceptable Opiate substance you could get through any old lazy doctor willing to push out a prescription. It’s no secret, I hope, that doctors are indeed paid for pushing and promoting certain drugs. I doubt these doctors are bad people, but they are gullible, a tad greedy, and shockingly ignorant. Some of them are probably evil. Maybe a particularly insensitive antisocial personality manipulated their way through 12 years of college just so they could legally kill people. I don’t know. If I was antisocial and bloodthirsty, it’s what i’d do. Not to make anyone paranoid or anything.

Honesty is the best policy.

Regardless, these multi-billion dollar companies have a lot of competition within each other. It’s not about you at this point, it’s about them.  Because playing by the rules is way too hard for people with a brain the size of a needle head, bribery is the name of the game. Researchers get paid to put out false information. For example, if they’re researching a “new” drug and don’t conclude results of a best seller, they just, well. . . make it up. It’s very simple. Under fraudulent acts and publication bias, it happens every day. The FDA can only catch so many people. I hope it’s also not a surprise that half of the drugs you need a prescription for have generic, over the counter equivalents for half the price.

I can’t speak for biotechnology or biochemists, but in terms of psychiatry this becomes just as much of a life-threatening issue as it is for people with physical illnesses. We’ve somehow went from mental illness as a psychological issue to mental illness as a biological issue.

There are slews of new atypical antipsychoics with claims of being better than neuroleptics. You know, Latuda, Abilify, Fanapt, whatever. Even more so are being administered as monthly injections and used for people with depression rather than psychosis. Now, I’m not here to drug bash. Some people are helped tremendously, but others don’t ever notice much of a difference besides well . . .energy levels, anxiety levels maybe. They’re good sedatives that’s for sure, especially if your psychiatrist is rather generous with your dosage. And the sad thing is the only real difference between atypicals and neuroleptics is: we don’t know about the harmful side effects of atypicals. They haven’t been used long enough. We know Haldol and Thorazine are fucking ridiculous; We know about Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, we know that they put you in a pretty drugged up stupor, and we definitely know they and other neuroleptics cause EPS symptoms like Tardive Dyskinesia (irregular, involuntary jerking movements). They say these symptoms will go away with time but the truth of the matter is many people suffer with it for the rest of their life whether they continue the medication treatment or not. Cases are tried every day of people suing these companies for killing their autistic child with some heavy neuroleptic or permanently damaging their brain.

So what do we know about Fanapt? Well, it came out in 2009. You . . . you might experience some weird heat sensations, almost as if you were popping X, so if you knew anything about psychology you could guess it effects your hypothalamus. Tachycardia snuck in there as a possible side effect. Hm . . . you might get dizzy, have dry mouth . . . you know, the regular list of shit that probably won’t kill you or permanently damage you.

Then again, we don’t know what damage it causes because it’s only been out for six years.

And yet they keep coming out with more.

Saying “this is new, this is better, prescribe this one with this other one, and oh yeah this one!”

And the next thing you know you’re on three or four different drugs sitting on your couch wondering what happened with your life and why you’re still depressed.

Well let me tell you something quite obvious: the drugs have the same ingredients. There’s no doubt about it. They’re all binding with the same receptors. Because we don’t know shit about the brain.

There, I said it.

We. Don’t. Know. Shit.

So you are not a patient or a client of your psychiatrist or general practitioner (why do people go to a G.P for psych meds anyway???), you are a subjects in an experiment run by multi-billion dollar corporations.

That sounds really horrible. It’s not, if you really give it some nonjudgmental thought. You may pay for it with your life, but someone would have anyway. There’s no other way to find these kinds of things out other than test them.

Okay, take a breather.

Let’s take this to another level. If you’re publishing false articles in a psychiatric journal (for your own gain) about this new miracle drug, and clinical psychologists are reading it thinking “oh this sounds new and fun, I think it might work for my client” and prescribes it with a true belief it’s different from what they have been prescribing, than that makes everyone a liar and the client gets the raw end of a deal so raw it’s dripping three cups of blood per second.

Not to mention Insurance companies are steady fucking the shit out of the psycho-pharmaceutical companies ass until they both get off all over the walls. Then they sneak into your bedroom at night and stick the tip in without you ever noticing. But that’s a story for another day I suppose.

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I wrote this post because I’ve been noticing a lot of people write about SSRI’s and other such psychotropic drugs. As an aspiring psychiatrist I’m not anti-drug entirely, I’m anti-stupidity. And what goes on behind closed doors of these companies someone suffering psychosis or mania or depression will most likely never know. They take what their doctor says because, hell, it keeps most of them from running down the street screaming neologisms at the top of their lungs.

And here marks the death of the psychology of mental illness. May it rest in peace.

One last time, let me reiterate: we don’t know shit about the brain. And to prove it, I’d like to run through a quick personal story.

When my diagnosis was simply social anxiety I took an SSRI called Lexapro for nine months. I got off of it because of severe weight gain, cystic acne, night mares, and lack of success. I was also in therapy at the time. I left my therapist and got off the medication. Four months later I started having Panic attacks. Three years later and I sit here still will panic attacks, but with better control over them. I’d attributed these attacks to the progression of untreated anxiety.

Until.

I saw the article that changed my life.

A college in Finland found evidence of high levels of serotonin in the brains of people specifically with social anxiety disorder. You can check out information about it here.

The original belief was that anxiety in general is caused by not enough serotonin. So what do SSRI’s do? Inhibit re-uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin so that it puddles in the synapse. Well, if Finland’s findings are accurate to the majority of people, that doesn’t help someone like me. I’ve got enough serotonin floating around up there. No wonder that medication didn’t do jack shit but make me look like I slammed heroin.

So, if you look at this as a biological issue, it seems we’ve reached an impasse. Not all anxiety has to do with low levels of serotonin anymore. We put a hole in that ignorant bucket. I have a feeling we’ll be putting a lot more holes in a lot more buckets.

With more than 100 neurotransmitters identified, people can’t seriously believe this bullshit about having a drug treat one or three neurotransmitters and have it be a profound change in the brain without simultaneously screwing something up, can they? Brains are too complex for that petty shit.

That doesn’t mean put people on six different prescriptions, either, wise asses.

If you’ve ever at any point in your life taken several antidepressants and wondered why you were still depressed, why none of your medication for any mental issue has ever worked for you, or why your anxiety medication doesn’t stop your anxiety, I hope this provided at least a little insight.