I’ve been taking Abilify as an add-on to my other psychotropics for about six months now, and I have some pieces of good news to share.
Good news #1: The generic (aripiprazole) is now available! There was a slight delay between the time the FDA gave approval for the generic (April) and the time it went on sale. But now it has arrived in drugstores. (I understand that the same company makes both the brand name and the generic, which strikes me as goofy, but then what do I know about drug marketing?)
Good news #2: Between my insurance and my pharmacy, I now have to pay only $15/month for the generic. The brand-name Abilify was $800 without insurance and $125 with. My insurance is not cheap, though it is still less than the cost of brand-name Abilify. When you add in all my other prescriptions and doctor visits and tests and such – plus all my husband’s drugs and other medical expenses, the insurance suddenly doesn’t seem so pricey. (I got this insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and I hope the Supreme Court doesn’t screw it up for me.)
Good news #3: Despite my tiny dosage (2 mg.) I have noticed significant effects. After six months on the drug, I have more energy, better focus and concentration, and fewer down/useless days (unless I overdo and run out of spoons). (See http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ if you don’t know what I mean by that.)
I’ve been doing major housecleaning/sorting, going out – actually outside the house – to run errands other than my shrink appointments, and I even went to a party – a reunion of people I used to work with. I wore my new skirt, navigated the social milieu successfully, and stayed an hour and a half. (The next day was one of my no-spoons days, though.)
This is only the third time in my life that I’ve noticed a significant effect from taking a new prescription. The first was Prozac (fluoxetine), which felt like looking at a color television after years of black-and-white. With static. Showing only commercials. The second was Lamictal (lamotrigine), which felt like a switch flipping and turning on my ability to think rationally. And now there’s Abilify.
Whatever side effects I may have, I’m willing to live with. (Unless I get the tardive dyskinesia. That would be a deal-breaker.) This feels like real living and I’m happy about it. I don’t think this is hypomania, either. I think I’m supposed to feel this way. I’m going to run with it.
Of course this isn’t the end of bipolar disorder for me, or the end of this blog. I still have plenty to say about my experiences with bipolar depression, mental health in general, and particularly mental health in the media and society.
Sorry if I sound sappy, but it’s good to be alive and functioning!