One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother give you, don’t do anything at all‘ – White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

The picture above is of the meds I take in one day. Most days, I don’t need the shot, but when I do I usually take two. The meds are split into two sets – one for morning, one for night. There are four psych meds, five cardiac meds, three vitamins (prescribed – one for my crappy bones, two for something I can’t remember), iron for anemia, and stool softeners because all the meds reek havoc on the oul shit factory. As you can see most of them are white. Quite frequently the pharmacy get its supply from a different manufacturer, so the pills look different. Just as I am becoming familiar with the look of one pill, it changes. Within the last few weeks, four of my pills turned to white. It was much easier before to eyeball my pills, and know right away they were correct. Now when I tip my pills into my hand, I have to carefully examine each one, and often google what’s what, or get my pill bottles to check.

My husband minds my pills. I have had a wee tendency in the past, to take too many. They are in a safe, and he puts the next day’s pills above the sink for me, with my shot if necessary. Once a week, we both sit down, and put all the correct pills in the correct places, by time and day. We have a seven-day pill organizer. An important tool for pill heads.

I have been on medications since I was eight years old. From about fifteen to twenty seven I decided not to take my then-only prescription drugs on and off. It was to strengthen my bones, which are bowed because of a genetic problem, that means I do not have enough phosphate in my body. Phosphate hardens the bones. Anyway… Here I am, at the ripe old age of forty. I suppose a lot of forty year olds are on medication. I hope for their sake not as many as me. I am on fourteen medications daily, three of which are taken twice per day.

My medications

I will be on my cardiac meds for life:

  • Aspirin – to help with blood thinning
  • Atovastatin – to help declog my arteries
  • Metoprolol – lower high rate and blood pressure, in my case to lower the load on a crappy heart, rather than to correct high H.R and B.P.
  • Coumadin\Warfarin – a powerful blood thinner that hopefully stops me from having a stroke. A regular person has an INR (International Normalization Ratio) of 1.0. It’s a measure of how thin someone’s blood is. My desired range is 3.0 – 3.5. If it goes dangerously low, I am in danger of stroking out, and need to go into the hospital to go on a heparin drip. If it goes dangerously high (above 6) I could bleed to death, and need to go into the hospital for a Vitamin K shot, which reverses the effects of the Warfarin.
  • Enoxaparin – This is a shot I take if my INR drops below 2.8 (which it does all the time), but not below 1.5, which is the threshold for a Heparin hospitalization.

I will be on most of my psych meds for a least two years, another probably for life. After two years of stability, my psychiatrist will very slowly wean me off three of them. If there is any sign of a problem, I’ll be kept on them. They are:

  • Effexor – a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) or antidepressant
  • Lamictal – a mood stabilizer. Usually for people with bi-polar, which I don’t have. I take mine because my depression cycles frequently- comes up and down. This is supposed to stabilize that process.
  • Lithium – is often used in patients with treatment resistant depression. In other words me, who did not get better with anti-depressants alone.
  • Seroquel – Often used as an anti-depressant, but used for sleep in me. I was on Klonopin (a benzodiazepine) for sleep which worked alarmingly. It is counter indicated for addicts, especially alcoholics, so was discontinued. It took a few weeks to find something that worked. In the meantime, I had started having hallucinations from lack of sleep.

Each time a psych medication was added, I had strong reservations and doubts. I see one outpatient psychiatrist, who I’ve been seeing for over two years. Over the last fifteen months or so, I have had many other psychs while inpatient in the hospital, and in outside treatment programs. They all say that my current medication regime is exactly what they would have me on. I took a long time, and many hospitalizations, to get to where I am now. I am infinitely better than I was. I hate being on so many drugs, but being dead and shit, sucks more!

Side Effects

Below is the list of side effects that I have experienced from the meds I take (or took within the last six months). It is not the exhaustive list of possible side effects. That might not fit on the web! Some side effects could come from a few of the meds, so I cannot pinpoint a specific culprit for a lot of them. Also some of the side effects of psych meds, are psych issues – awesome, right?

  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Hunger
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred Vision
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Strange dreams
  • Increased sweating
  • Asthenia (weakness)
  • Decrease libido
  • Increased libido (see what they did there – WTF) – and yes I have experienced both at different times.
  • Difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Shaking\tremors
  • Hand tremors
  • Feeling uneasy
  • Troubled breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Persistent cough (mine lasted six months, and kept me awake)
  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Breast swelling
  • Heavier periods
  • Easy bruising

So yeah. Twenty Seven side effects that I have or have had. Most are current (twenty five). The cure is often worse then disease. Now I don’t quite believe that, but you can see why, while my depression has improved a lot, my mood is often still crap. When I let myself dwell on my health, it goes to being pissed about mental illness, heart disease, a stiff sore body, my former broken wrist that is painful when I use it, and of course all my medications. I am delighted that I have access to these, but at what cost?

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