The Drugs Don’t Work

Now the drugs don’t work
They just make you worse
But I know I’ll see your face again
The Verve, The Drugs Don’t Work

Dear Internet,

Ritalin, Concerta (32mg and 54mg), Adderall, and Focalin.

To give you a brief idea of the foray into my brain has been like, in the last five months, I’ve cycled through the above and received well documented and undocumented side effects for my efforts. Focalin, the latest drug, pushed me to the edges of paranoia, anti-socialism, and rapid/cyclic impulse thoughts.

I would not classify myself as being an introvert or extrovert, I seem to be fluid between the two, but on Focalin in social situations, I was always scamming to get a way out. I would wall myself up internally so that even the most banal small talk would be difficult. I would come off as standoffish, an asshole, or just plain weird.

People in my space made me nervous. People taking up time I had allocated for another task, irritated me. Music, I realized today, was not listened to because of depression, but because it moved the focus to something I didn’t deem as being important instead of allowing me to work on the task at hand.

I was sharp around the edges.

We could have the most innocent of conversations and I would take great umbrage at any perceived slight I felt thrown in my direction. Then I became hyper-sensitive to this behavior and had to monitor all written and verbal conversations to make sure I didn’t fuck shit up.

All of this defense and protection is exhausting.

Being crazy is exhausting.

Tonight I told my medicating therapist I took myself off of Focalin, and as of the Tuesday, I’ve been free of legal meth for 5 days. I’m still on lithium and will remain on lithium for as long as I live, but for now I need a break from the ADHD drugs. At least not take them on a regular basis.

He agreed.

The medicating doctor thinks this is all rapid signs of over stimulation. I am not going crazy, well not at least yet. The doses I was on for all of the drugs were of the lowest dose available. Ritalin works, but on occasion and for a few hours, and any attempt to prolong the drug doesn’t work. Good when I need to work at home or want to sit down and write, but I don’t think, at this time, I want to be on an ADHD drug permanently.

Since I’ve built my own coping skills on managing ADHD all these years, although haphazardly, I’m going to research for resources of tried techniques to help compensate so that the Ritalin will be last case use, not first in hand. I’ve also started my meditation in the morning to calm my mind.

In the last five days, the amplified symptoms have calmed and started to leave. Now I hope to find only peace.

x0x0,
Lisa

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes: April 6, 2013

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

Dear Internet,

I’m going to stop saying this week was, $insertdramaticadjective here, every week and just accept the farce of my life. But at some point, I think I would settle for just a week where everything is stable in some capacity or form.

This week, I am trying a new ADHD drug called Focalin, which isn’t too bad actually. It’s way more potent than Concerta, which is awesome, and it’s not filled with crazy producing side effects like Adderall, which is even better. My mood has been pretty stable so emotionally I’m feeling pretty good.

Outside of that scope, however, things have been slightly, “Jesus fucking christ!” producing. My Macbook Air, Bawdy Wench, died last weekend and after two trips to the Genius Bar, hours spent attempting to fix it by TheHusband and myself, a host of unicorn blood spilled – nothing worked. I specifically name what type of laptop not because I’m being a pretentious douche (well – you got me.) but for those who are tech centric will know that the diagnosis is either the hard drive (which is a SSD) or the logic board. But it is not clear if it is one or the other. If you buy a replacement logic board for $300 or so bucks — which are only available used or refurbed — and that doesn’t fix it, then you spend another $300 or so bucks getting a new drive and hope that fixes if it. If you’ve bought both and it’s not fixed, not only are you out of about $750, but you have a dead Mac still and by  that point, you might as well have sucked it up and bought a new Mac.

All of this happens a month after the warranty had expired and as such, I could not buy AppleCare to get it covered. So we had two choices: We can spend a flat rate $280 and send it to the Apple Depot where they would fix whatever was broken (so if it’s the logic board AND the drive, both would get fixed for $280) OR I can buy a new Mac. We went with the $280 fix.

TheHusband and I talked about selling the dead Air and the held together by string Macbook Pro that I use for my desktop to Gazelle and using the cash to fund a new, better machine but we opted against it. Medical bills from all my surgeries hit us harder than anticipated and I’m just thankful we had the $280 to fix my laptop.

Since the discussion of Macs brings out STRONG FEELINGS in people, you can at least acknowledge TimeMachine is a most glorious invention. My drive was backed up to the minute before it died and everything is safe.

The lack of laptop hit harder than anticipated – namely that in the early evenings, I usually start needing to elevate my foot and the only way to do that in some form comfortably is in bed, with my laptop on my lap. No laptop means that a lot of the work I was planning on doing this week didn’t get done. I have an iPad, with a Bluetooth keyboard, but that does not have the same power or options as my Air.  Less browsing and working on writing projects, more TV watching. I’ve been spending the nights mainlining Veronica Mars and attempting to keep a Zen attitude about everything (it mostly working).

You may notice I’ve started appending “This day in Lisa-Universe in:” at the end of posts with dates (sometimes) after it – as I start adding the back content, I’m now linking to that content in current posts. That has been entertaining to read.

Writing

The Lisa Chronicles

Watching

  • Doctor Who
    Second half of season 7 has started. Fantastic!
  • Game of Thrones
    Season 3 has begun.
  • Veronica Mars
    Recently I mentioned there was a Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter in progress that I think I may have hyperventilated when the goal was reached in a scant 11 hours after launch. Since that day, I’ve been humming the theme song in my head almost non-stop, which moved me to discover Netflix no longer had the show available on streaming, NOR was it available on Hulu or Amazon streaming services. So I did what anyone else in their right mind would do: I bought the DVDs. Now you may say to yourself, “But Lisa! You said you were not going to spend extra money this year!” I’ve been 86% keeping that promise – except for red lipsticks and Veronica Mars.

Weekly watching: Formula 1Vikings, The Vampire Diaries, House of LiesElementarySpartacusThe AmericansArcher, and Project Runway.

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Wolf who fills himself with all who die and will swallow the heavenly bodies

Dear Internet,

Sometimes there are no words to express what is going on in my head, so I’ve made the executive decision to use animated gifs instead.

David Tennant Crying in the Rain

The last few weeks have been a shit hole of catastrophe in my brain.

When I started back to work after my lay up, Dr. H. was of the mind that since Concerta only seemed to work some time, I needed to try something else to find something that worked all the time. The following Monday, I went up to two Adderall XR in the morning, with no effect. Spoke with Dr. H. that evening and he moved me back to Concerta 36mg. Tuesday was fine. Wednesday, I was an idiot and accidentally took double my Concerta dosage in the morning, so instead of 36mg, I was high as a kite on 72mg. I immediately dosed myself with Klonopin to keep me more even and brought the bottle with me to work.

By mid-day Wednesday, I was quietly having a meltdown in my office. I was reading something about something and got so intensely frustrated, I wanted to start punching holes in the brick walls. I kept myself together by duct tape and string. Thursday, my dosage was normal but I was so tired, I broke my no-caffeine rule and drank a Coke that evening to just get over the hump. Friday was much the same as Thursday. Saturday, I was heading to MSU as a panelist at the MSU Comics Forum.

Even after taking my regular dosage and my lithium early on Saturday morning, I could not function. I had to drink a Coke to keep awake to drive to Lansing and by the time our panel came up, I was manic in my head. Kristin and I were supposed to head to Gizzard City for dinner but I felt so whacked out, I didn’t know if I could make the 1/2 hour drive to the restaurant  eat, and then drive home. So I bailed and drove home on a wing and a prayer.

Sunday was glorious. I felt like my body had finally been reset. Monday, I spoke to Dr. H. and he was concerned about Concerta’s effects during the week so we’re going to try Adderall XR again except this time, we’re going to split the dose: half in early morning, second half later part of the morning. Makes sense. I’m on spring break, let’s give it a try.

Didn’t work.

Not only did the Adderall XR do nothing for me, but it turned me into this moody, depressed, state of an animal. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to hang out with friends, I didn’t want to do things with my husband. I just wanted to wallow in bed and watch terrible TV.  So the long ago set plans to do something on spring break week were all mostly broken. When I was feeling up to doing something, it was mostly writing and working on my cadre of websites. Except, there were massive problems on my host providers end and my website couldn’t stabilized all fucking week. 504 and 502 errors all over the place. Which wasn’t super helpful when this happened:

amandapalmerRT

TheHusband wanted me to stop taking the Adderall XR and I refused. I had to see if I could finally metabolize the drug AND I had a phone appointment with Dr. H. on Friday (yesterday). I’ll be fine.

Except, I wasn’t.

During my phone consult on Friday evening, I was nearly hysterical. Dr. H. had no idea why this was happening because chemically, Adderall XR isn’t supposed to effect serotonin levels. But obviously something was happening because it was fucking mess in my brain.

Here is how it is supposed to work:

I take Lithium (1200 mg, half in the morning, half at night) as a mood stabilizer.  With my mood stabilized (and I get blood drawn to check my Lithium levels every couple of weeks), the ADHD drugs work better. If I feel too amped up or I can’t sleep, I take Klonopin as needed. When the ADHD drugs don’t feel like they are working, then we ramp up the Lithium. Except now I’m at the therapeutic levels of Lithium (known via the blood tests) so I can’t amp that up, so we have to work on the ADHD drugs.

Or go on anti-depressants for more stabilization to make the ADHD drugs work better.

Which I’m rejecting.

A decade or so ago, I was seeing a medicating therapist when I lived in DC area, who decided to cycle me through almost all known (to her) permutations of various SSRIs/Anti-$whatevers in her drug book. So if X combination did not work, then, we’ll try something else! Then try something else! Then try something else!

The hitch in this giddy up is I metabolize drugs fairly quickly. For SSRIs, if it takes 14-21 days before the drug stabilizes  on me, it could take as little as 7. Rather than up/down the dosage, she just changed me to something else. I was cycled through so much, over the course of six months, my life fell apart. Granted, the relationship I was in then was already on the rocks, but everything else that may have been okay such as job, professional and personal relationships were all hit hard by this. It was fucking terrible and a fucking nightmare

The other hitch is I’m one of the rare cases of people who get suicidal thoughts on anti-depressants.  I’ve been on varying doses of:

  • Wellabutrin
  • Effexor
  • Celexa
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft

XR or not, doesn’t matter. On or off Lithium, doesn’t matter. I start taking an anti-depressant, I want to kill myself.

When I went off the drugs a decade ago, I swore I would do whatever was necessary to stay OFF the drugs. Change diet, living, jobs, whatever, I’d do it. But DBT and yoga  can only do so much; I recognized I needed to be more proactive in my mental health. But this last few weeks has shown me glimpses of what that life was like a decade ago, and it is NOT one I want to repeat. I have too much at stake to lose all of it due to my fucking terrible brain chemistry.

There was no fucking way I was going back on an anti-depressant.

So there I am, nearly hysterical on the phone with Dr. H, very emphatically without a goddamned moving an inch to my voice, that I will not get on anti-depressants. We agreed to keep me on the 1200mg of  Lithium and go back to the Concerta 36mg, since I can tolerate that and it works somewhat. The rest is up for discussion when I see him in a few weeks.

My hysteria got worse when I got off the phone and was talking to TheHusband about the whole phone call ordeal, then my mood shifted in to self-protective mode where I did not want to be touched, stroked, talked to, or anything. I remember wrapping my arms around myself while TheHusband tried to sooth me during this depressive spike. I cried. A lot.

After I made the decision in October to start seeing Dr. P. again, he collated in later sessions the depression I was experiencing was more than likely stemming from the untreated ADHD which was creating a vicious circle of frustration and all the life changes that had happened in the last few years and were not dealt with. So, more normal life stuff rather than chemical.

This is how I knew what happened this week was different, even despite the chemical incredulousness of it, the mood shift down this week was caused by Adderall XR. This WAS chemical, and it was crippling, and it was debilitating.  How fast I shifted during the day, before the phone, while on the phone, and then after the call was huge.

Today, I started the morning with half of my Lithium dose (the remaining dose will be later) and Concerta. I’m still feeling prickly, my eyes ache as if I had been crying for hours (though I haven’t), and I am still in my pajamas. But for the first time in a few weeks, that I feel okay.

And this is how I absolutely do know, it will be sunny one day.

x0x0,
lisa