Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I am an addict

When I first needed antidepressants I fought tooth and nail against it because I'd heard so much incorrect information and so many stereotypes at my conservative Christian college.  I didn't want addictive meds, didn't want to be dependent on medication to be happy when I felt I could learn happiness if I could just move beyond my past. After I became so sick and so deperate that I knew I had to make a difficult decision I went to the health center with the psychologist's recommendations (unfortunately verbal).  I remember which of the 3 exam rooms I was in that day, the yellow and blue cinderblocks, and that the physician's assistant refused to listen to me and insisted if I wasn't sleeping I needed xanax not antidepressants.  I kept saying "that's not what Dr. Mind the First says! He says I am depressed, have been depressed a long time, and need antidepressants!".  Finally they LIED to me and said they'd ask Dr. Mind the first and call me if he disagreed.  (Pre-Hippaa). So I took the stupid Xanax, barely could get up the next day, and then fell asleep IN CLASS.  I then proceeded to sleep nearly constantly for 3 days. I stopped the drug and spent the next few days furious with Dr. Mind the 1st. How dare he do THAT to me when I was so scared of meds to begin with?  Turned out when I angrily entered his office that nobody ever talked to him and that he was quite opposed to Xanax. I was sent to the doctor again that day with a very specific letter.  That time they didn't bother to shut the door to give me privacy in the same tiny exam room, but they did give me Paxil.

After the Xanax experience I was even more opposed to anything that could be addictive or have such strong effects.  I did use Ambien in college successfully after I took myself off my antidepressant against my dr's advice because I felt that even though I had been through severe depression and PTSD and might not make it without meds I deserved a chance. (Ambien isn't addictive although you do develop a tolerance to it eventually).  I went through a number of meds in the next few years but none were addictive at all.  When it became clear very soon after I started my first job that my antidepressant wasn't working well anymore and that my anxiety was intense I started playing antidepressant roulette.  I went through 2 or 3 family doctors before settling on one who I liked and trusted, but even he kept doing the worst thing on earth for potentially bipolar patients:  letting me rapidly max out on an antidepressant then changing to another.  He tried for about a year before I found myself "in trouble".  Basically Christmas happened and I flipped out.  I had been struggling even more than I was before since 9/11, (now I realize that it triggered my own PTSD in crazy ways), and generally declining. There was a specific incident/nightmare so terrifying that I couldn't recover from it and ultimately a friend helped me find and get into a psychiatrist.  She immediately changed my antidepressant to yet another one.  And about 6 weeks later when my friend came to tell me I was possessed and not a Christian per a vote of people who don't know me on the same day that the Columbia, something I had been avidly following in the news, exploded just moments before I woke up so that I woke up to the "something awful has happened and we don't know what" and fixated on things like what was found in what radius (which included body parts) and my mind went out of control between the 2 things.  I could not quit crying and had to take days off work, pretty much my first sick days ever.  I finally called the psychiatrist and was given ativan.  I started at a very low dose and then graduated to a fairly normal dose (.5 mg twice daily). I was so tired of being in a constant state of panic that I didn't even fight it.

Over the next few years my ativan usage waxed and waned.  I went through one period without any.  Other times I was allowed to take up to 3 mg/day (or something like that).  I know at one point I was taking 2.5 mg just to sleep at night, along with other sleeping pills.  But I always adjusted well when it was time to back off and like I said I could go off it cold turkey from time t time, sometimes for a month or more.  In 2007 (I think) Dr. Brain and Dr. Mind discussed my situation with anxiety.  Both believed it was heightening everything.  I wound up on a combination of ativan morning and night and a mild tranquilizer/anti-histamine taken 4 times during the day.  This allowed me to work harder on some of the underlying issues with Dr. Mind and overall reduced my anxiety.

It wasn't until I was in the hospital in 2009 that out of the blue I realized I'd developed tolerance to ativan.  Presumably this had happened during the month before admission when I was taking a great deal of it.  Once I finally realized this and asked for a new anxiety med I was switched to klonopin and I remember the sheer relief of that stuff working right away along with my doubled dose of Seroquel.

I left the hospital on a moderately high dose of Klonopin.  Over the next month I had so much anxiety that all kinds of things were tried including adding ativan, the antihistamine, and eventually low dose valium which finally calmed things down.

We don't wean my meds in the winter usualy.  And after the hospital I was so traumatized that although I came of valium easily, reducing anything else wasn't a consideration.  Dr. brain told me that for someone as sick as I'd been that I had to hold stability for a year or more before backing off much of anything unless there was a cause.

Eventually things happened that made my PTSD spiral out of control.  I could not calm down.  And so I was increased gradually to QUITE high dose of Klonopin.  For a while I was alternating half doses of konopin with antihistamine every 2 hours just to make it through work.

In the recent months I'm pretty much totally dropped one dose, leaving me me a morning dose and 2 at bedtime.  In the last week I've give up the daytime dose not because I don't need it but because it lets me stay awake.  Today with Dr. Brain we decided I could try cutting one at night to help me be able to take the Seroquel dose I needed.  And it turns out that my body won't relax without the full dose.

So, addiction it is.  (At least at this point it is an expected and controlled one.........)


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I'm not sure if you call it addiction if you are adding something your body is short of and needs. Are diabetics addicted to insulin?

I was on clonazepam for a few months for my headache disorder, and unfortunately the side effect of making the headache worse outweighed the benefit of helping me sleep. Glad it helps you sleep and helps with anxiety. You do have withdrawal from it if you don't decrease gradually but for me it was minimal.

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

PS "my friend came to tell me I was possessed" what planet do these people come from? Or maybe what century....Good Heavens! God gave us brains because He thought we might need to use them, not turn them off and pay attention to superstitious nonsense!

Jean Grey said...

Your not an addict! I have to split my Effexor dose so that I take it twice a day because I go into withdrawal if I take it only once a day. These are powerful drugs, we are not meant to just start and stop them. Cut the pills into half and quarters, and try cutting your dose more slowly.