When you’re on psychiatric medication, it’s a given that at least every few years your medication will “wear off” i.e. not work as well, and that your psychiatrist will need to find some changes for you. I will not try to outline every problem I’ve had with every medication change in just one post. That would take a l*o*t of writing and trying to remember lots of random stuff. But let’s just say that I’ve been on one particular medication for almost 10 years. It’s worked really well for me. 10 years is a long time for one medication to keep working, though. (Now remember, I’m not a doctor….notice the “liability” notice at the very bottom. I’m spouting what I remember best from what I’ve been told through several sources. This is NOT medical advice. I majored in history, people. Minors in music and French. I can’t help diagnose anything or give advice on prescriptions.)
So, about three years ago when I came to this mountain state to try to finish my degree, the nightmares that I’ve had on and off almost my whole life (at least since my teen years) got a lot worse again. So, I got put on a medication that’s supposed to help lessen the nightmares, called Prazosin. It did help, a lot. Then trying to do school full time messed up all my symptoms. I’d be sitting in class and my fear would increase even though I couldn’t think of anything I needed to be afraid of. The harmless people around me suddenly seemed scary, even though generally I’m not that easily intimidated by people. I was exhausted and I’d go to bed around 4-6pm and sleep until 2pm the next day, and my roommates would be worried whether or not I’d eaten, and I’d wake up with my blood sugar abysmally low and unable to speak or walk straight. I had several bouts of sleeping 32-36 hours straight. When I was married, my ex-husband would call this “comatose” because he could say my name and gently shake me and talk to me and pick me up a few inches then let me drop to my pillow and nothing would rouse me. I’d be in a deep, deep sleep because I’d get so tired. My therapist in Los Angeles had done her Ph.D. Research in anxiety, and she explained to me that high anxiety, whether from good or bad things, tires people out. So, those with high anxiety problems are often tired….all the time.
Hmm, back to the subject. I had wanted to finish my degree so that I could at least be a substitute teacher in CA and work on the days when I felt up to it, and rest on the days that I didn’t. I also figured that school would be a good “dry run” because I had to go full time in order to get a Pell Grant, and I could “rest” when I wasn’t in class. Instead I had some of the same problems I had when I’d come home from France for my Junior and Senior years at BYU years before: sometimes I was okay, but increasingly I couldn’t concentrate, at all, on my readings. I could “fake it” pretty well in class, for a while, but then I crashed. The fatigue increased to where I couldn’t make it to class much anymore and if I did, my insides felt like there was an earthquake, and even if I though I looked okay on the outside, complete strangers would ask me if I was okay and if they could get me something to eat or find somewhere for me to sit down. I had been bound and determined to finish school, but it wasn’t going to happen.
This was about medication, huh? 🙂 So, it’s cheaper for my parents, who are helping me out (huge blessing) for me to be here than in CA with my kids. Not going to go there right now. Worst thing of my life. My kids are in great hands, though. Still worst thing ever. But…I started my application for disability, for the second time. I’ll tell the “first time” story another day. And waiting on disability can take a very long time. It’s been almost two years now.
Last fall, when I thought I was recovering, sort of, from too much stress, things got worse instead. After about 4-5 months of not being able to wake up and the worst nightmares I’ve had since my divorce ten years ago (but there were more of them, and they seemed “real,” and I couldn’t tell if they were my reality or not) my doctor tries a few meds that gave me severe side effects. We finally settled on something for sleep, and within a few weeks I had the most normal sleep schedule I’d had since I was 22 years old. The best part? I could wake up if I needed to. No more hours of nightmares about trying to wake up, and getting taken to a different place in my nightmares instead. I could set my alarm and wake up.
We’re almost to the end of this chapter. I had several months of good sleep and getting more Priesthood Blessings (I apologize if you’re not LDS and you don’t know what this is, I can explain or provide a link later) and learning a new sort of meditation technique called “tapping” and using some essential oils, then a few weeks ago things got really bad again. This time it was racing thoughts. I do have these from time to time, but it hadn’t been this bad since I was in school, and it was worse. I felt like I was losing my mind, like I was afraid of everyone. I think part of what precipitated it was a lot of paperwork I had needed to do for various things (I get kind of paranoid about paperwork, I feel like I’m going to do everything wrong) and some stressful things in my family life. All I could do for the racing thoughts was to lie down in bed and try to clear my head, but I was having trouble getting enough to eat. I wondered if I should check myself into the hospital. I got advice from several different people over the weekend and ended up with an appointment to see my doctor. I found a ride to my trauma group before my doctor’s appointment. That group is always helpful to me, but this time especially so. Everyone in the group said that it sounded like I was in need of a medication change, and that I would be okay. So much better than however expensive the hospital or E.R. is (thankfully I’ve never had to stay in the hospital overnight) and the doctor was really helpful.
End of the story: the doctor upped one of my meds and put me on another one that I was on years ago. I’ve been sleepy for a couple weeks (only awake for maybe 6-8 hours/day) which of course also freaked me out, but it was much better than the paranoia and racing thoughts. The past couple days I’ve been feeling like I’m pulling out of the sleepiness. Also, I had a really nice visit from an uncle and aunt that I love a lot.
I do not want this to go one for the rest of my life. I’ve been told by a couple doctors that they believe I can come out of this eventually, as well as therapists. I want to believe that.
I didn’t expect to make this entry so long, but there it is. Kudos if you got through the whole thing. 🙂