Abilify me

So I guess my blog is where I put all the details on the mental health journey that has been 2016. If these kinds of posts are not your bag, I don’t blame you, but I am finding it therapeutic to write about it.

tumblr_nqmcpqu4KH1uz9v33o1_500.jpgBack in July, I started seeing a psychiatrist because I needed to get a better handle on the depression and anxiety I was experiencing. Honestly, it was worse than it had been since probably 2002-2003 and I felt very much like the graphic to the left. As Wil Wheaton always says, I was tired of not being able to reconcile my awesome life with how shitty I was feeling all the time. And oh yeah, it was Heidi’s idea.

I increased my antidepressant/anxiolytic drug dose and added Klonopin. At first, I was supposed to take Klonopin twice a day but let me tell you how hard it is to do your job when you’ve taken a dose of Klonopin in the morning. The doctor had given me permission to fiddle with it as I needed and since, as I always say, it IS the drug that ruined Stevie Nicks, you know I was being pretty cautious with it. It helps me sleep like a rock at night, which is good, but it was simply causing too much daytime sedation for me to practically be able to take it during the day.

In the meantime, I was struggling more and more. Heidi kept encouraging me to try the Klonopin again during the day and every time I did, I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.  So when I had a follow up appointment last week, she told me that I needed to talk about changing things up again. The truth is, I was feeling worse than before I went – not exactly the direction I wanted to be moving. Ironically, I was feeling pretty good the day I went, but I told him that it was an anomaly.

The thing I love about my psychiatrist is that he’s so real. We talk shop as well as talking about me. He’s not a therapist, but I do look forward to seeing him because he’s a cool dude with killer shoes. He told me that we could increase again, which is fast but not likely to help. We could change drugs, which might help but takes a long time because tapering off of Effexor is hell on Earth. Or we could add something. I asked him what he would do and he said he’d add Abilify. I could feel my blood pressure rise when he mentioned that word. I have never really been fond of the Abilifys and Zyprexas and Seroquels of the drug world. They make you gain weight and were really developed for people with schizophrenia, not the textbook depression and anxiety that I have. But the good news is that at low doses, they can help augment antidepressant response in refractory depression. So I said I’d give it a try.

We started out low – 2.5mg per day – and within 2 days, I could tell a difference. I felt like the boat wasn’t in the middle of a hurricane any longer, that I had a more solid footing. I increased to 5mg per day today and while I’m sure it’ll be a few days before I see any further improvement, I’m perfectly happy with what I saw on 2.5mg.  Things that would have sent me spinning a month ago were barely blips on the radar with this drug. So yay for atypical antipsychotics. I’m definitely down with AAPs.

I feel a lot more myself than I have in months. Better living through chemicals, as my former doctor always says. It’s not that I don’t feel things, it’s that my reactions are better – I’m more aware of how much something should affect me. The drugs help me do the work that I need to do to basically get better.

It also doesn’t hurt that I’m doing Couch to 5K. Physical activity is supposed to help but I’ve felt so crummy that I haven’t been able to force myself to so much as walk to work. I have finished the first week and am about to start Week 2 tomorrow. My calves are yelling at me tonight so tomorrow should be interesting. We’ll see. But it feels good to feel good again, even though I doubt I’ll ever actually do a 5K.

Apropos of nothing, the title of this post reminds me of this song, and now I have it stuck in my head.

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2 Responses to Abilify me

  1. Jen Collins Skelly says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow, and the Cymbalta just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m really reluctant to try all the add-ons you mentioned. I’m a bit less reluctant now. I’ll see what she recommends. Hang in there!

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