It began to feel as if the positives from this medication were starting to creep through. I can’t say I was any more happy that I have been. I’m never really happy. However, I did feel a little less down, especially on days 18-21. It looks like the medication is starting to make an impact on my overall mood which is a good thing. Still, I am seeing side effects from it so I have to address those here.
Overall better mood. My mood is usually pretty low so while this is an improvement, I cannot say I am “all better.” After all, you’re never really “all better.” I find I am thinking less about suicide. It’s still a daily thing, but my mind wasn’t going nearly as far down that road as it sometimes does. I am finding it easier to laugh at things that should be funny. I guess you could say it has started working as far as mood. As far as other issues, well….
I am still not feeling hungry. I list this as a neutral because some people want this while others don’t. I don’t mind one way or the other. I was getting tired of always gaining weight with other medications. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you gain 30 pounds. In a way, some medications are self defeating in that way. Sure, it might trick your brain into thinking you are happy, but looking in the mirror brings it all down again. I’ve dropped about 8 pounds since starting the medication so my weight loss isn’t terribly dramatic. I had to stop my usual workouts because of an injury so who knows how much I might have lost if I’d been able to continue my exercise. I am looking to get back into my workouts next week so we’ll see if I drop anymore weight.
My sleep is still very erratic. I am having to depend on other medications to get at least some sleep. Even then, I am constantly waking up throughout the night; at least 15-25 times a night. I’m not exaggerating. My anxiety isn’t seeing much of a decline from the medication. Just yesterday (day 22) I had a meltdown and had to turn to Klonopin to knock me down. I could feel the anxiety attack coming on, but there was nothing I could do to stop it besides my benzo. After that, I lied down and tried to relax. My body was numb, but my mind was still racing. Still, I managed to fall asleep about 2 hours later, but as I mentioned, I kept waking up.
Overall, I think the medication has more positives than negatives. I know Prozac isn’t a catch all. I’ve been down this road before and I know I will probably always have to be on multiple meds to manage my illness. I am glad I stuck with the Prozac though as it is showing some positive results and few negatives. I still find myself creating my own worlds when I leave the house so I can manage to do normal things like visit the grocery store. I still don’t talk to people and I still don’t make eye contact unless she does it for me. I go in, get what I need, and leave. The only place I let go a little is the book store. It’s always so quiet in there and the smell of fresh paper is soothing. I will probably end up going there again very soon.
For those of you who’ve followed my posts on mental illness, you all may know I’ve been on a few antidepressants. I’ve been on Pristiq which did not agree with me at all. I got some major side effects which caused me to have a massive meltdown so I was taken off. I was then moved onto Celexa and that seemed to work pretty well for a while. I didn’t feel amazing or anything, but I was better able to manage my mood swings and depressive episodes.
Last summer I went off my meds without telling my doctors. I wanted to try to live without the need of medications. I was also getting some unwanted effects from another drug I was on called Latuda. If you are not familiar with that drug, it is an antipsychotic drug that is used in the treatment of Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and a few other forms of mental illness.
I did alright for a period of time while off the drugs as I was able to cope with my depression and anxiety. That didn’t last though. I had contemplated going back on meds, but I didn’t want to as I hated some of the unwanted effects. The biggest complaint came from the Latuda. It has a major numbing effect on your emotions. It does have some benefits though. It quieted most of the voices in my head and lessened my visual hallucinations to the point where I had maybe 1-2 a day. Off medication, my hallucinations are quite frequent; visuals come and go although they are not intrusive all the time and the voices aren’t terribly bothersome for the most part. The exception is when I find myself under great stress. In those times, the voices and visual hallucinations can get out of control and that was why I was given the Latuda.
The cons, as I mentioned, was the numbing effect. In a way, I felt almost zombie like. Next to nothing generated any sort of emotional response. I couldn’t really feel much sadness, but I also couldn’t feel joy. I didn’t feel anger. I did sometimes feel frustration, but that was mostly because of the fact that I couldn’t feel anything at all. If all I wanted out of life was to sit in my room and watch game shows, I suppose that would be fine. However, I want something more.
Fast forward several months and my depression is getting quite bad. My hallucinations have returned, but they are manageable for the most part. I revisit my psychiatrist after several months away. He tries to put me back on Celexa, but unfortunately it isn’t working for me after two months. In comes Prozac.
I’d been on the drug previously in 2009, but only for a very short period when I was so lost in my mind I don’t even remember how long I took it. In the years since, I’d educated myself more on mental illness and medications. So much so that I now frequent the Yahoo! answer forums and take on some of the harder questions so I can try to do something positive. Through my research, I read up more on Prozac. I remembered being on it, but as I said I don’t even know if it helped or not. I asked my doctor about it and he said we could definitely try Prozac again to see how it works for me. Here is the deal so far.
I know it’s too early to know if it’s working on my depression. It can take about 3 weeks before I start seeing any positive effects of that nature. What I have noticed though are some side effects after the 7 days I’ve been on it. One…I’m actually feeling worse as far as my mood goes. My anxiety has gotten bad so I’ve had to resort to the Klonopin a couple of times. I’ve been able to manage though. I expected something like this so I was prepared. Another interesting effect that I’d read about and interestingly am getting is a lack of appetite. I actually don’t mind this effect at all. I’ve been exercising a lot the past month to try and improve my moods and also to drop a little weight. I noticed that I wasn’t feeling hungry at all on the 2nd day which wasn’t expected. I thought I wouldn’t get this particular effect till I was seeing the true benefits of the drug. As I said, I don’t mind having a lighter appetite, but I’ve figured out that I have to watch myself though.
Without even realizing it, I went an entire day without eating. I had water which is normal for me, but I never once felt the urge to eat. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t eaten till the next day when I thought about it. I ended up at the grocery store to get some food, but didn’t buy much as I still wasn’t hungry. I started feeling a little light headed though so I went ahead and had a good meal; some grilled chicken, green beans and corn. It wasn’t a very large meal, but boy did it fill me up. I did not eat the rest of the day. The follow day I still wasn’t feeling hungry so I had a big Honeycrisp apple about midday. I also kept with my water and still, I didn’t feel hungry.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that this side effect was pretty significant for me. I’d read about people not getting it and some who say they did. It looks like I’m turning out to be one that’s getting it, but I know I need to be careful.
I often schedule things for me in advance and have a list of things I need to make sure to do every day like take meds, exercise, clean certain parts of the house…you know, everyday chores. I keep the list because I sometimes deal with overwhelming compulsions to do things over and over because I feel I didn’t do them before so I use my check off list as a reminder that I did in fact do them. I am adding eating to this list. I figure as long as I have two decent meals a day along with a snack like an apple (love apples) or an orange, I should be just fine. The only issue is that now I am finding it annoying to eat when I’m not hungry. I’ve started to make my meals smaller, but not too small. I don’t want to push my body into any sort of shock from a sudden diet change.
Beyond that, I’m happy to say that I’m not getting any other significant side effects. Hopefully, I will start to see the true benefits of the drug in a couple of weeks.
If you suffer from depression, it’s important that you talk to your doctor about it. I cannot say that Prozac will work the same for you. Only your doctor should advise you on the types of drugs you should be taking. I guess I should add this in as well: No, I am not being paid to say these things about Prozac. This is just my personal experience with the drug. If you come across some online pharmacy trying to sell you drugs like Prozac or Klonopin, they are scams! Avoid them. Only get a prescription from your family doctor or psychiatrist and fill your medications at a licensed pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. Prozac is available in generic form and is very inexpensive, especially from Walmart as a 30 day supply is only $4.
This is a personal recollection of my withdrawal from Pristiq. I cannot say that this will happen to anyone else. This is just how it worked out for me.
I was ordered off the drug because I was getting significant side effects. I was told by my doctor to stop cold turkey. I was instructed to call my doctor, his nurse, and even suicide hotline if needed because they knew withdrawal was going to be rough.
At first, I felt alright. I just kept myself busy and distracted, but over time I began to see shadows climbing my walls. This wasn’t too bad though as this was something I’d dealt with in the past. The following day, I began hallucinating badly. I could see music. I could hear my hair growing. I feel the Earth moving below me. I could literally feel emotion. It was very scary but at the same time almost beautiful.
Then that bad times came.
I start hallucinating people coming into my room. I knew they weren’t real as I’d had these type of hallucinations all my life. However, they were starting to invade all of my senses at the same time. Not only could I see the people coming into my room, I could hear their moans. I could smell their sweat. I could feel their fingers touching my face. I could taste their tears.
It was as if all my senses went into overdrive. The next day i had a full on meltdown. I began pacing through my house, walking in circles and I couldn’t stop some of my OCD behavior. I would keep looking at clocks and I my mind would start doing mathematical problems with the numbers I saw. At one point, I found myself sitting at a table and forming algebraic expressions. I kept searching for answers to my math problems in the strangest places. I found myself counting my pens, thinking they were hiding something from me. Once I’d counted them all, I add that number to my algebra problem and kept writing numbers all over various sheets of paper. I ended up standing again and pacing around my living room. I start sweating badly and I began to pull hair out of my head. In a moment of clarity, I thought that I was having a full on anxiety attack so I went to my room and ripped open a bottle of Klonopin and took one. I found myself in the living room again, pacing, whispering to myself, almost chanting. Finally, I screamed like I’d never screamed before. I couldn’t stop myself. Then the Klonopin kicked it and took my legs out.
I don’t even know how long I was on the floor. I could hear a voice in my head telling me that I needed to be clean. I found myself crawling to the bathroom. I turned on the water and crawled inside the tub. I let the water rain down on me for over an hour. I didn’t care that it was cold. I got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, and fell asleep on my bedroom floor.
The next day I woke at about 6am…and I felt alright. I was really tired, but I felt like myself again. I felt like I could breathe. I felt clear. I looked outside and the colors of the world were rich and vibrant and the air was clean and fulfilling.
Some people say they don’t remember coming off certain drugs, but I remember. I remember everything.
I cannot say that this will happen with you. I admit there were other things that probably made my withdrawal much worse that it probably should have been. I never told my family or my friends about this. I didn’t want to worry them. I did tell my doctors and my therapist. They were glad I was alright.
Invega (Pros) – Virtually no voices at 6mg a day dosage. Virtually no hallucinations (again, 6mg dosage) Felt very calm at times.
(Cons) – Always hungry, significant weight gain, inability to feel any emotion, lack of reasoning, lack of creativity, somewhat significant tremors and spasms (curtailed by Diphenhydramine), inability to concentrate.
Latuda (Pros) – Virtually no voices at 40mg a day dosage, minimal hallucinations (same 40mg dose), small weight loss (didn’t feel nearly as hungry as on Invega), Felt somewhat calm.
(Cons) – lack of motivation and creativity, inability to feel emotion, lack of reasoning, some tremors and spasms, inability to concentrate.
Essentially, if i were to just sit at home and watch game shows all day, I’d be fine, but who the hell wants that kind of life? I’m a writer so to no be able to write might as well have been a death sentence for me. I wasn’t able to write anything at all while on either of these drugs. Because of my condition and the way the voice I hear in my head had developed within me, I had to relearn how to read. I also had to relearn a few other small things like tying my shoes and washing myself properly. You never realize how dependent you can become to those voices. When I didn’t have them there to guide me, I often felt lost and unsure of what to do. I’d become confused easily and I wasn’t able to do normal everyday things that most people wouldn’t think twice about. (Example: putting up dishes, sorting laundry, turning on the computer)
I’ve since stopped both drugs. Obviously, my doctors would not be happy about this, but life was becoming unbearable while on either of them. I stopped cold turkey and the 5-7 days after discontinuing them was an adventure. I was alright though. I just stayed in my room and kept myself occupied with various things. Yes, the voices and hallucinations did come back, but I am, in a way, making peace with them. The voice has never told me to do anything really insane like kill or harm people. In fact, she often times reminds me to have a bit more concerned for others and their feelings. She’s back to doing what she used to before the drugs. She helps me write and often times calms me down when I start to have panic attacks. I wish I could say she calms me every time, but that’s pretty hard to do. I do still have and use Klonopin when I really need it. It doesn’t take the melancholy away, but it puts me down so that I don’t completely lose it.
I am not saying that if your doctor gives you these drugs that you shouldn’t take them. In fact, I would encourage people in a similar situation to my own to at the very least give them a try. I was on them for several months which is why I feel I can offer some insight to how they work and what they can do for you. Obviously, if a person is prone to violent outbreaks because of their schizophrenia, then I would insist that they continue on either of these drugs if prescribed to them. Thinking back, I should have let my psychiatrist know that I wanted to go off the drugs. I’m sure he would have told me no, but if I don’t want to take them he can’t force them down my throat.
If you are on these drugs and looking to go off, I would still tell your doctor, psychiatrist about it first. I got lucky that I didn’t smash my face through a window. Others may not be so lucky. Just remember that you control your care and not your doctor. They may disagree with some of your decisions, but hopefully you two can reach something together that still addresses your needs as a patient. Me, I couldn’t live while on those drugs. If all i wanted out of life was to get older while watching tv and eating junk food…then sure! It would have worked out beautifully. Life is not worth living unless I am creating something and if that means I have to figure out a way to control my moods while on minimal drugs, then so be it.
I’ve been off all my meds for about 6 days now. The first few days were bad and tough. I could feel my body aching for them, but I refused to take anything, even pain medication. Last night I finally began to feel something coming back to me.
Since I was on Invega and then later Latuda, I’d been suffering terribly from lack of motivation and inspiration. I couldn’t make sense of a lot of things and I felt myself having to relearn how to do stuff like reading. I hadn’t written anything of substance in all that time. I was able to focus enough to edit, but writing was not happening. Sure the Invega helped to silence the noise in my head, but it took everything with it. It took my creativity. It took my little voice away. I thought I could find a way to live without it, but it was too hard. I’ve lived with it all my life and now she is coming back. I can feel her presence. I know that sounds insane, but I’ve already accepted that about myself. So I’m crazy.
I’m not a terrible person. When not on meds, I never did anything to hurt others. I never put people in jeopardy. I was a good person who heard voices in his head. I listen to one in particular and I let her do what she feels is right for me. As I write this, I know how it looks. I’m ok with that. I’ve learned to live with what some people would call a disability. I figure as long as voices aren’t telling me to kill or hurt others, I will be alright. I’m not that kind of crazy. Sometimes you just have to accept who you are and live your life how you see fit. I will always have that little voice in my head. If others can’t deal with that, it’s not my problem. She will always have an impact on my life and I will always let her drive me. I can see her again and I like it that way. I know with hearing her, I hear the voices in the other room, but nothing is ever or will ever be perfect. I am taking the good with the bad. I will do my best to deal with them.
I am not knocking the medication. I’m sure in the future I will have to take something to help with certain issues that creep up like my panic attacks. I don’t mind taking the Klonopin for that. I am just tired of letting the drugs have their way with me. I want to be in control of my own life. If I choose to live this way, it’s my choice. My little voice has done nothing to hurt others. Looking back now, I feel bad for letting those meds take her from me. As the days go by and more of her returns, I want her to help my write again as she always did. Where I go from there is my own choice. I still have my problems, my issues. I can still go to my counselor for help if I need it. I don’t mind seeing the black butterfly again. At least when I do, I’ll know she’s here with me.
I woke up on my own around 6am and it’s been non stop since. I can’t sleep because I keep feeling myself moving. I’m also having issues regulating my body temperature.
On the flip side, I’ve not felt nearly as hungry as when I was on the Invega. All these damn drugs have their trade offs.
- Victim of the Drug Reps? (richardallenrh.com)