Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

Posts tagged ‘Abilify’

Maybe Another Manic Monday

The great Abilify experiment continues. I’m still roller-coastering, which is “normal” for me, but I really can’t tell whether the drug is affecting the ups and downs.

The highs and lows do seem to be higher and lower (respectively). I am dubious about this being a Good Thing. For several days I was so thoroughly depressed that I was ready to call Dr. R. and tell him I need to stop taking the drug. Then I leveled out to my usual place on the continuum – functioning, but not spectacularly well or consistently.

Now I think I’m starting to get manicky. One way I can tell is that I actually had fun, laughing and playing with my husband the other night and exulting in getting an old friend to walk straight into an awful joke. (Me: Have you heard the new Ebola joke going around. Him: No, what is it? Me: Eh, you probably won’t get it. Him: No, c’mon, try me. Me: That WAS the joke. Him (in evident pain): Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!)

But the real clue that the upswing may be swinging more than it should. I’m thinking about starting more blogs.

I already have two – this one and a general purpose blog called Et Cetera, etc. (janetcobur.wordpress.com, if you’re interested). For over six months I met my goal of posting something in both of them once a week.

Then the big low hit me. But I’m back on track now, after several weeks’ absence.

The thing is, I have ideas for two other blogs. I just don’t know if I could handle them.

One would be Cats, Etc. – stories and anecdotes about life with cats, cat care and health, and so forth. We have three cats right now (Louise, Garcia, and Dushenka), plus many former fur-family members, so there would be no shortage of material.

The other idea is Books, Etc. I’m an avid reader, and though the bipolar has sapped my concentration so much that it varies between 20 minutes to two hours at a time, I’m starting to see some progress. And I find myself wanting to write about what I’m reading – maybe book reviews, maybe lists or quotations, maybe even some lit crit (my original background).

But could I maintain them? And not have them drain off the limited energy that I should use to do the freelance work that pays the bills.

I think it is a sign that I’m still fairly well anchored that I haven’t rushed off and started them already. But the yearning to do more reading and writing keeps getting stronger. Maybe I could keep my current two at once a week, and do the others on alternate weeks. But that would still mean three blog posts per week, plus the freelance. Frankly, I don’t know if I could handle it. I keep asking myself, should I try? Or should I wait to see if my moods level out on the Abilify and it becomes clear whether they are Good or Bad Ideas, or even possible.

Words – both reading and writing them – have sustained me for most of my life. It was a sign of my most profound depression when I found myself unable to maintain enough focus to read. Now that I can again read and write to some extent, do I dare to push myself, push the boundaries? Can I? Should I?

Good thing I see my psychotherapist today.

Abilify: News or Not

I’ve been taking Abilify for several days now. Is it working? It’s hard to say.

I’m pleased to report that I haven’t had any side effects I can’t handle. In fact, I don’t know whether I’ve had any side effects at all. I’ve had a tiny bit of dizziness and some drowsiness. But I have those anyway, either from my other meds or from other physical conditions.

On the positive side, I’ve had a bit of an increase in energy and concentration – as you could probably tell from the fact that I’m blogging again. But is this attributable to the new drug, or is it just the usual up cycle of my own personal roller coaster?

It’s probably too soon to expect anything definitive. Like most psychotropics, it probably needs to build up in my system a bit. Or I may just be one of those people Abilify doesn’t affect, for good or ill.

I recently read an article in Discover magazine called “The Power of Single-Person Medical Expepriments.” The article discussed the fact that the usual clinical studies of new drugs and treatments – randomized, double-blinded, hundreds or thousands of participants (the “gold standard” of tests and trials) – give results that are only averages. The techniques will work for some people and not for others. Some experimental subjects will experience side effects to varying degrees. Or not.

The only way to see whether a given treatment works for an individual is for that person to try it. The odds may say it has a better-than-50% chance of working, but until the patient tries it, whether it will work for that one individual is basically a crap-shoot.

I think this may be particularly true of psychotropics. Every time I’ve asked how this or that med works, the answer has been, “We don’t really know.” Factor in the number of different meds I’m on, psychotropic and otherwise, and their potential for interactions with each other, and any new treatment’s effectiveness is likely a matter of trial and error.

I’ve certainly gone through a long, tedious, disappointing (or unpleasant) series of weaning off and ramping up different meds in hopes of mixing just the right cocktail for my particular brain.

I think that’s why they call it “practicing” medicine.

Dear Folks: Sorry I Haven’t Written Lately

This has been the longest trough I’ve had in a while, and I’ve been spending all my spoons on work, because the cats do insist on eating.

Tomorrow begins a new adventure: My psychiatrist has prescribed Abilify. The $800/month price tag seemed a tad bit high to me. We have insurance, but the benefits don’t really kick in until we meet the absurdly high deductible. A few months of Abilify would probably do it. (We couldn’t afford the gold plan. I think ours is aluminum, or maybe tin.)

The manufacturer does offer a free month’s trial and a discount card, so at least I can see if it works for me. If it does, I’ll figure out how to pay for more. (BTW, if your meds are way expensive, check out needymeds.org. They have a database of manufacturers, discounts, requirements, and contacts. My psychotherapist turned me to that.)

When Dr. R. prescribed Abilify, he told me that it could make me restless. “How will I know whether it’s the drug or my usual twitchiness?” I asked. “You’ll know,” he said. After reading the literature, I can see what he means.

So here I am with three work assignments (not particularly tight deadlines, though) and am about to start a drug that could feel either heaven-sent or hellish. Or just “meh,” I suppose, which would leave me exactly where I am now.

Wish me luck.

And tell me if you’ve had any experiences with Abilify. I know anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean squat to scientists, but I’m interested in hearing from people who have tried it, or seen how it worked (or didn’t) for a friend or relative.

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