Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

Crazy Pills

Once upon a time in the land of Jublia lived a kind and powerful queen named Lunesta. One day the dragon Cialis and the evil sorceress Humira attacked the castle, but Jublia was saved by Lunesta and her faithful dog Boniva.

And the peasants rejoiced.

Honestly! The names that pharmaceutical companies give their drugs these days! It’s bad enough that the drugs have a list of side effects longer than the symptoms they’re supposed to cure. Not to mention the drugs where the side effects are the same symptoms they are supposed to cure, or the ones where the side effects are considerably worse than the condition they’re being prescribed for.

My favorite has always been, may cause death (excuse me, “increases risk of death”). That has to be the ultimate side effect. You’ll be dead, but your toenails will look great for the funeral. Leave instructions that include sandals.

I made a list of all the drugs that I’ve been prescribed in my pursuit of something resembling sanity. It’s quite long. I’ve tried almost every class of drugs there is – tricyclics, atypical, SSRIs, anti-anxiety drugs, and hypnotics – in various combinations and assorted doses, and even for off-label uses. (TIL that Abilify can be classed as an “atypical atypical,” which makes me feel a certain kinship with it.)

The only ones I know I haven’t taken are lithium and the MAOI inhibitors. which is a good thing, because I do so like red wine and cheese.

Here’s the list, as nearly as I can remember:

I may have missed a few, what with the brand names and generics, the decades over which all this occurred, the memory deficits, and the ones I took for only a month or two before the side effects became too heinous.

The side effects I’ve encountered along the way include:
dry mouth
memory loss
weight gain

Not all at the same time, of course, thank heavens. Right now I seem to have dry mouth, residual memory loss, and weight gain. Given the alternatives, I can live with these. More or less. (That is to say, I have to.) The memories, I understand, are not coming back. I just hope I don’t lose any more, especially ones of the hot-n-juicy variety.

The side effects I haven’t suffered include:
death (obviously)
fatal skin rash (Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which I wrote bout a while back:…-die-from-that/)
tardive dyskinesia

I hope the drug regimen has settled down for a while. I must admit that I don’t follow the instructions to the letter. They’re simply too overwhelming: Take this one on a full stomach, this on an empty stomach, another with milk or never with grapefruit juice; something else at bedtime or half an hour before bedtime, or with the noon meal. And don’t forget the non-psychotropics (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.), or the vitamin, fiber, and calcium pills my GP prescribes or recommends. Well, and the OTC Benadryl, Tylenol, and Immodium, as needed.

(Yes, I did once look up all my meds in a drug interaction database. Every one interacts with every other one. Maybe that’s one reason mixing an effective cocktail has been such a crapshoot.)

I knew a woman who took so many different drugs for her variety of illnesses and conditions that she had a kitchen timer that she continually set and reset every time she had to take a dose of something. Her meds were more precise than mine, though. If she screwed it up, the consequences would be dire. Her side effects did include death.

The regimen I’ve settled on is this: one set of pills when I wake up (whenever that is) and one set at 11:00 p.m. I eat whenever I’m hungry, and I don’t like grapefruit juice anyway. Anything more complicated than that I can’t be sure of remembering. It’s still complex, what with the only-in-the-morning pills, the only-at-night pills, and the take-twice-a-day things.

I have little tricks to help me remember the routine – daytime-only pills in a plastic bag, nighttime-only on the lamp base, twice a day on the tea cart. Turn the vitamin bottle upside down after taking morning pills. I suppose I should get one of those daily pill caddy things, but they never seem to have enough, or big enough, compartments.

Is this routine crazy? You should see me without the pills.

Well, no, you shouldn’t.

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