I am extremely picky when it comes to medications for my Bipolar. Alongside everything else I have some extreme health worries, and I take med side effects seriously. I’ve been offered to try Lamotrigine (Lamictal) plenty of times, but the tiny (tiny tiny) chance of a deadly rash puts me off big time. If a med has a side-effect I deem ‘scary’, I can’t take it.
Here’s a list of medications I have tried in chronological order and my experience with them. Please note, everybody reacts to meds differently, and although some side-effects are more common than others, that doesn’t mean to say you will experience them.
Citlopram – Anti-depressant. 20 and 40mg.
Seemed to work very well as an anti-depressant to begin with, but pretty soon the depression began seeping through and within a year it was back in full force. I never had any side effects on this med though, which is lovely!
Mirtazapine – Anti-depressant. 15mg.
Made me feel hella woozy when I first took it. I couldn’t walk straight and my speech was slurred. Once I got used to it there weren’t too many bad side effects…no weight gain (which is apparently common with this med) but it did make me sleep a lot (14 – 16 hours a day), and it didn’t stop the depression.
Quetiapine XR – Anti-psychotic / Mood Stabiliser. 150mg.
Made me feel extremely drunk the first time I took it, to the point where I was stumbling and couldn’t see straight. I felt tired immediately after taking it, and my body began to rely on Seroquel to make me tired, which caused sleep issues. I also gained an incredible amount of weight (over 2.5 stone in less than 4 months), despite exercising a lot and eating a healthy diet. This was unfortunate as for a while this med kept me pretty damn stable.
Aripiprazole – Anti-psychotic. 15mg.
Within a week I had developed akathisia, which was like extreme restless leg syndrome. Over a period of two and a half years this got worse, but even with such severe side effects I wasn’t taken off the medication quickly.
By the time the professionals finally switched me to a different med (2.5 years after I started) both my legs were ‘jittering’ every minute I was awake, my left arm also ‘jittered’, I constantly had to uncross and re-cross my legs, and I was rocking side to side constantly. The severe tremor in my left arm meant I couldn’t read or eat with a knife and fork.Not good.
This medication also cost my my favourite hobby; I couldn’t write at all on this med, and to this day my ability for writing fiction hasn’t returned. Although it stopped my manic episodes very well, it did nothing for my depressive episodes.
Procyclidine – Anti-parkinsons. 5 and 10mg.
I took this at night and had no side effects, but it didn’t stop my tremors / jitters at all. Then my psychiatrist recommended I take it in the morning, which I diligently did for weeks. It still didn’t help my akathisia, all it did was make me horribly sick for about four hours after I’d taken it…
Trazodone – Anti-depressant. 150mg, above 200mg and I went wonderfully manic.
This med made me feel drunk every time I took it, and not the good kind of drunk. I took it at night because of this. I didn’t have any other side effects, but it didn’t help my depression at all…until it made me manic at about 200mg, that is.
Quetiapine – Anti-psychotic / Mood Stabiliser. 150 – 300mg.
Made my body rely on it for sleep, which I hated. You don’t realise how pleasant it is to actually feel tired and want to go to bed until it’s missing. I also slept a lot on this, around 16 hours a night. The third unpleasant side effect I had is what I called morning paralysis, where for the first half hour after I woke up, although my mind was alert and I could hear what was happening in my surroundings, I couldn’t move my body or open my eyes. Yeuch. Mood-wise it didn’t do much for me, although was fairly good at calming manic episodes.
Ebesque XL – Anti-psychotic / Mood Stabiliser. 300mg.
To be honest I am confused as to why this is different to Quetiapine. I think it’s just a different brand name? I dunno. Either way I have less side effects. It doesn’t make me feel as tired at night (which is both a blessing and a curse as it seems to vary each night) and I don’t need quite as much sleep. It’s okay at slowing down my manias, but has done nothing for my depressive episodes.
Valium – Benzodiazepine. 30mg.
This was prescribed by a GP so that Gog could give me as much as it took to knock me out. Neither of us appreciated this, and surprisingly enough Valium shouldn’t be prescribed to psychotic patients instead of appropriate treatments.