Schizophrenia.com

The importance of taking medication

Over the years, I’ve seen med-resistant people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. At the crux of the problem lies the fact that antipsychotics are some of the most powerful drugs on the planet. Starting, increasing the dose, adding more meds, etc wreaks hell on the body’s “sensors,” if you will. You should have a very good doctor on your case. I’ve met a few terrible doctors in my life, and their worst fault? - they don’t LISTEN. So if you have restless legs, get in to see your psychiatrist (pdoc), because you likely have akathisia and it’s easily treated. Too drowsy? See if your dose can be adjusted a bit so that you take the majority of the dose at night before nodding off for sleep.

These are just some examples from a plethora of possible complaints. But before you dismiss your concern as trivial, pretend your mother is taking your medicine and she’s having these side effects…what would you do? If you answered “Bring it to the attention of a pdoc,” you’re right.

You don’t have to tell me the dangers and pitfalls of meds. I’ve had an episode of full-blown tardive dyskinesia that lasted only 6 hours, my neck turned my head to the left for one year, and I had no power to look straight ahead…that lasted 12 months. I’ve been constipated for 10 days, and as soon as I got to the doctor’s office and checked in, I went to the bathroom (not pretty), I’ve had double vision to the point where I thought I needed to go to the ER, and I’ve had 8 or 9 different acute dystonic reactions to meds where I get a dystonia, akathisia, and parkinsonism all at the same time.

Work with your pdoc. Try to educate yourself - an informed patient is the best patient. Know the dangers ahead of time of what medication X will possibly do to you. Wikipedia is full of answers.

But above all, all this is for naught if you don’t take the meds at all, willy-nilly, or not as prescribed. If you are on meds, short of life-threatening reactions like a swollen tongue, throat, or airway (amongst others), you should try your hardest to get through the first couple weeks. Case in point: I was prescribed 800mg of Thorazine to be taken at night. I took my meds faithfully, but I could not have a bowel movement. I went and bought a harsh laxative, which did the job. Every other day for the first week I was using that awful-tasting laxative. But then, after about 7 days of treatment, the constipation went away and never returned. Sometimes you just have to put up with it for a while.

I hope this helps even one person realize how critical it is to take your meds. They are there to help you. Think of the brain as a car. Cars need oil changes and regular maintenance. Every time you go see your pdoc, you are bringing your car in for a tune-up. Don’t change the oil and let critical maintenance skip by, and you’re endangering the longevity of your car. So it is with meds. You gotta go in for a tune-up periodically.

So if you’re on the fence about taking medication, know that it is safe, and has been thoroughly tested. Please open your mind to something that may radically change your world…for the better!

Thanks for letting me post this. I know personally, sometimes I just had to hear something like this.

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When I first tried meds, the sedation and side effects were so bad that my wife actually pondered leaving me. I lost interest in sex, jokes, I just lounged around all the time. I guess to her it was like I was non existent. Which says something because she could deal with my symptoms…barely.

Also, look at the physical side effects like massive weight gain that could lead to diabetes. I bring that up because I just started on Risperidone (temporarily) and it’s something I could have to look forward to if I’m on it long enough. The sexual side effects… so no kids and a pissed off wife. Obviously there’s more, but I don’t need to explain them all.

The thing is, all the doctors I’ve had that pushed these meds on me didn’t give a F* about side effects. They could probably turn me into a vegetable and my doctor would probably say “At least you’d taste good in stir fry.” Whenever I bring up a problem, they dance around it Kenyans on speed. (I’m assuming Kenyans partake in tribal dance, I don’t know anything about their culture so yea.) Only problems, no solutions. OH! One of the common excuses: “Well, this is all experimental and everybody responds differently.” A true statement, but not a good answer.

Anyway, I consider myself lucky. I can deal without ‘meds’ pretty OK. I’m very introverted, so I don’t get into trouble (even when hypo-manic… That too, HYPOmanic, manic could lead to trouble…hypo? Not so much.) My wife helps makes sure I eat/sleep/shower on a somewhat regular basis. I stopped cutting since last year. I have a bag of tactics and tricks that I use to help balance any Unusual Beliefs that I have or develop. If I’m ever a danger to myself, nobody will know (it’s my right to be a danger to myself if I so please). A danger to others? Never have been, hopefully never will be.

Meds are for some, but just not for others.

I have a mild resentment against the med’s which I think many people share. They take away so much physical strength. The atypical med’s are so much easier for me to tolerate than the typical. During the years I was on Haldol decoate I laid in bed 18 hrs a day daydreaming of easy ways to commit suicide. Today I am on Geodon and Seroquel and much happier. I have to remind myself of all the bad things that have happened when I got off my med’s when I start to resent them. When I am not on med’s I can walk all day in 100 degree weather and not think twice about it. When I am on med’s, even the atypicals, walking just three miles in 95 degree weather nearly does me in. I am so glad they came out with the atypicals. Living on the old generation of drugs isn’t living.

Taking meds for Schizophrenia is supposed to prevent the associated increase in brain cell loss. I know that every time my brother stopped taking his meds and had a full blown episode, he never could get back to the previous level of functioning.

I completely agree @alien99, getting a doctor who will LISTEN is a hard thing to do at time. It frustrates so many people that they end up just throwing the meds and the recovery plan in the trash.

It’s taken a long time for me to finally learn this simple fact too… For a long time I took my meds, but then smoked pot and drank and couldn’t figure out why my meds didn’t seem to work as well as others say they should… (duh for me)

Being clean and sober LONG enough helped finally get the right med at the right dose. Because the meds had to be adjusted all the time according to how much pot I smoked, how potent it was, how much I drank for how long. Get all that chaos completely out of the way… and it was surprising how much faster meds seem to hit me. The the docs could see what was the illness and what was the side effects.

Not… what might be the illness, what might be a side effect, what might be a street drug, what might be street drug withdrawal, mixed with meds… get all that out of the way and then lowering the dose was possible.

Staying off drugs… my doc does finally listen to me more. I think I’ve gained his trust and he’s gained a bit more of mine. Plus he listens to my family.

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Well said @alien99! It is imperative to find a competent and empathetic pdoc who understands the subtleties of dosing and side effect management.

Like you said, simple changes in dose or administration can make a huge difference in the tolerability of a medication. It just takes a little creativity and time. Don’t give up on a med until you’ve exhausted all avenues to manage efficacy and side effects.

Great topic!

Blessings,

Anthony

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Hey alien - Yes its important to at least try a new med and the key is to try to stick it out, even if the side effects are annoying, they will most likely pass within a couple of days or so.
Like you said, unless it is life threatening then it is wise to stop immediately

Sounds like you’ve had to deal with some pretty gruesome side effects. I’ve been lucky and haven’t had ones too bad. The worst is getting used to the Seroquel again. The other night was hard taking 400mg I don’t know how I dealt with taking 1200mg before. Some of the side effects can actually be a blessing. I started Lexapro a couple of months back for the anxiety. My sex drive has taken a major hit. Usually it is so strong that it causes me to make poor choices. With it being low my boyfriend and I are really getting to know eachother. He has the same side effect from his meds so neither of us are anxious to jump in the sack. We will sleep together some day, but sex doesn’t cloud things. I feel like because I’m really getting to know him I love him more deeply then I have other guys I’ve been in love with. I’m actually a little afraid to sleep with him because what if I’m bad or what if he’s repulsed by my fat body. I know these are just my insecurities talking. In the past I’ve slept with guys without even knowing them. This has lead to feelings of shame. I think it all stems from being sexually abused when I was 9.

With the Geodon I get tired and have been sleeping during the day. It’s weird though it’s not sedating like the Seroquel. It just makes me feel like I only slept a couple of hours and need to take a nap. In the beginning it was also a blessing as I would fall asleep early (earlier then my usual 3am bedtime) and wake up in the morning around 8am where usually I would wake up around noon. Every once in a while I still get that effect.

So for me the side effects aren’t always that bad. I’m an optimistic person therefore always looking for the silver linings. I think you struggle as it depends on your perspective. These meds have been a godsend to a lot of people. Sometimes it just takes a while for your body to adjust. @SurprisedJ is right that things can interfere with the efficacy of the meds. The meds didn’t work well before ECT but now I’m not smoking pot so who knows that could have an effect. Great topic! :sunny:

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That’s a lot of Seroquel. I knew a guy once who was on that much. He functioned surprisingly well. I was on 800mg for an extended time and even went up to 1000 mg for a little while. I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience.

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I’m lucky in that i have had side effects but apart from a few bouts of akathisia, and of course weight gain, nothing terrible .
For me meds have their good and bad points ie it only slightly reduces paranoia but i am far less likely to react because of it/no intrusive/vivid thoughts/internal hallucinations/obsessive and weird thoughts all but gone v anxiety/apathy/ motivation seems to be worse.
If meds are as good as the hype says they are then why after 40 years almost exclusively on meds -23 antipsychotics off and on and over 20 years mood stabilisers - am i nowhere near recovered and fully functioning, in as much as having a job/circle of friends/and being able to cope with things that others take in their stride?
Of course some might argue meds might have had a limited effect but how much worse might you have been with no treatment? That is the $64,000 question.
Then again how much better might i have been if the meds had been augmented with things like supportive therapy and social skills training?

Once your body gets used to it, it’s really not too bad. What meds are you on now? Do you still get any symptoms? :sunny:

I’m Abilify, Trilifon, and Luvox. I’m doing well with my symptoms, they’re in check. I don’t have any side effects on this medication combo.

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That’s awesome! I couldn’t do Abilify. It made me too agitated. I hated the feeling. I’m doing good with the Geodon and Seroquel. I did really well with the Geodon in the past. And I think I was on Luvox before when I was a teenager. If I remember correctly I was on it for a while. :sunny: