Upping Lyrica is a real downer

Dosing up on Lyrica is HARD. Today was really difficult. As instructed by my GP, I took 150mg instead of 75mg, and oddly, five hours later I felt incredibly dizzy. I was at work and stood up from my desk to get lunch – suddenly the room was spinning and I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I thought it would wear off, like low blood pressure from standing up too fast, but no such luck.

Fortunately I have a friend at work who snuck me into an empty meeting room – I sat on the floor with my head against the wall and waited in vain for the physical drunkenness to pass. I wasn’t really well enough to be at work, but I also wasn’t in any fit state to drive home. I felt sick, but made myself eat a sandwich to try and settle my stomach – I think it helped a bit. Eventually I felt okay to return to my desk, and I did manage to do a little work. I made it home okay.

The big question is whether or not this is all worth it – I don’t have an answer yet, but early indications are promising. When my anxiety was at it’s worst, I was painfully aware of every minute that passed – it’s not like that now. I can get my head into my work, and concentrate on it solely for a while. If I think about my anxiety it does come back – I still can’t manage public transport, or drive very far, but I have hope that with this bigger dose of Lyrica these things could become possible again.



Goodbye Abilify, hello Lyrica

I didn’t get on well with the Abilify (aripiprazole) – I tried it for four weeks, and I struggled with insomnia the entire time despite already being on 45mg of Remeron (mirtazapine) to help with sleep. You’d think that being exhausted all day would at least mean the anxiety would die down, but no such luck.

I called my GP and we agreed to move on to the next drug – Lyrica (pregablin). I’ve been keen to get started with this one – it’s commonly used to treat anxiety, whereas the Abilify was an antipsychotic. Today is Day 2, and I have to admit the side effects are…interesting. I take it twice a day, and when I got to work yesterday I felt drunk. Mentally I was sharp, but physically I was lurching all over the place; I doubt I could have walked in a straight line. I’m working from home today so I can manage the symptoms from my sofa.

Work/anxiety-wise, yesterday was fantastic. I didn’t vomit. I didn’t panic. And, most impressively for me, I sat through an hour long meeting without having to run out once. It was amazing – I haven’t been able to do that for weeks now. Work are being really supportive – Occupational Health are very keen to do whatever they can to help, and I spoke to my boss who’s letting me work from home once a week and adjust my working hours. Maybe Lyrica is the reason yesterday was so good, but on a general note being in the office is less stressful than it used to be.

I’m keeping everything crossed that this lasts.

Abilify on the scene

Yesterday, I came home from a hard day at work to FINALLY find my psychiatrist referral letter waiting for me on the doormat. ‘An appointment has been made for you to see Dr ABC next Thursday’. Fan-bloomin-tastic!

This afternoon I had a surprise phone call at work – my GP calling. She said she’d had an angry phone call from Dr ABC complaining that I shouldn’t have been referred at all yet – apparently there’s more to try before we need his help – so my appointment was cancelled. Ugh. 

The upshot is I’m about to start taking Abilify (aripiprazole). I’m not thrilled at the prospect – I’ve had really bad reactions to antipsychotics in the past, and Abilify isn’t really renowned for helping with anxiety – but I have to give it a go before I can really discard it. Watch this space.

Feeling green

Today has been a day of feeling very, very sick. I woke up early, and I was at work by 7:30am, not really deliberately. More of a ‘I feel so yuck that if I don’t go to work right now I’m scared I won’t go at all’.

I do have anti-emetics – Stemetil (Prochlorperazine) – but they’re not brilliant, and they make me really drowsy. My GP prescribed me Metoclopramide but warned me ‘not to take it alone’ because at my age there’s a chance I could have a nasty adverse reaction…funnily enough, I haven’t taken it. If I start actually throwing up I’ll reconsider.

At work one of my colleagues is leaving – my boss gave me a collection fund, and casually asked me to go and buy them a present after work. My heart sank. I had to drive to a supermarket, and I was full of anxiety there and back, mentally shouting at the cashier to hurry up so I could get home. I hate how tiny little things that I used to take for granted are so difficult now.

I was kind of hoping the psychiatric hospital would ring me today for the referral, but no joy.

Battling mental illness has become a game of Whack-A-Mole

I’ll skip over the bit where I lament how crap I’ve been at posting here, and get straight to business – I beat depression (WAHOO!!!), and found anxiety.

That’s a gross over-simplification; I’ve always had anxiety, even when I was a little kid. I was the worried sibling, the one who needed to know the daily schedule ahead of time, that kind of thing. My brother used to tease me for feeling uncomfortable if there wasn’t an itinerary on holidays. If I did something wrong at school (only ever by mistake), I’d worry so much about getting in trouble that I’d end up being ill. And my phobias were strong enough that I had a reputation with friends and family, cue more teasing.

The earliest anxiety I can remember was when I was four or five years old. It feels silly to write it, but I was anxious about needing the toilet – specifically that I’d get ‘caught short’ in public, and not make it to a toilet in time. For a few days, this anxiety was crippling. Mum took me to see our family GP, and as we walked there we had to stop at every shop and cafe so I could use the toilet. I didn’t think I could last thirty seconds!

I remember the GP feeling my tummy, testing my urine, and then he asked ‘So, what are you worried about?’. I said ‘Wetting myself’. And he nodded and said, ‘Yes, but what are you worried about?’ Like I was wrong, and there was something else. But there wasn’t anything else. That was genuinely all I was worried about. The GP didn’t have a solution, and Mum and I went home, again stopping at each shop that had a toilet.

That phase passed, and it’s come and gone in similar phases throughout my life. Most of the time I’m fine, but then one day it’ll suddenly occur to me that I could be caught short and the anxiety floods back. Every daily activity has to have a toilet break planned into it etc, and then…after a week or two…I get over it. This happens once or twice a year.

In November of 2017 I entered another of these phases, but in no time at all I realised this was turning out to be the worst phase I’ve ever had. If I’m not at home, or at my desk, I need the toilet constantly. I stress about any journey I have to make, even if it’s tiny. Just the prospect of getting the bus to work, a 25min journey tops, is enough to make me need to throw up. I worry about sitting through meetings. I worry about getting to meetings – today my boss asked me to accompany him to a meeting over the road, and I immediately panicked I’d have an accident on the way. I can’t even go round a supermarket without desperately needing the loo.

I know it’s all in my head, and that there’s no real biological need. I never need to get up to use the toilet at night, so my bladder is strong, and there’s no pain or anything like that so I don’t think I have an infection. The real giveaway is that I might be DYING for the toilet on that bus journey to work, but then when I actually arrive at my desk (i.e. I’m safe), I don’t actually need to go anymore. I’ve invested in all sorts of weak-bladder pads etc, but somehow they don’t make me feel any more confident – and I’ve done the ‘pouring water on pads’ etc to prove they would work.

I went to see my GP about this before Christmas, and she pointed out that the timing coincides with me coming off my various psych meds; apparently fluoxetine (Prozac) at the dose I was previously taking it – 60mg – helps with obsessive thoughts. I had no idea. So after three or so months Prozac-free, I’m back on it in the hopes it can help me stabilise. We’ve been in touch with the psych hospital and they’ve suggested things like buspirone if this doesn’t work. Has anyone tried buspirone, or any other anxiety meds?

I’ve also found a new therapist to see from next week in case that helps – Dr T is no longer in the picture. I was hoping to be therapy-free this year; I didn’t think I’d need it post-depression, but trying to get free of mental illness is turning out to be one big game of whack-a-mole.

I just hope I win before I lose my job.

Missing some Zs

A while back I took myself off of lithium and Prozac to reclaim some mental sharpness. That’s left me with mirtazapine (Remeron) and propranolol (Inderal), except I’m slowly having to admit that neither are really doing much for me.

I was put on mirtazapine to boost the Prozac, and I liked it because it helped me sleep – it did such a good job that I stopped abusing over-the-counter sleep meds. But, and that’s a really sad ‘but’, for the last couple of months it’s been getting harder and harder to fall asleep. It’s not that I’m thinking about anything in particular, or that something’s overly worrying me – more that I’m just restless somehow. When I do get to sleep I get locked into these strong dreams that mean I wake up feeling exhausted. Dr T would say that’s good in a way, because it means my brain is processing something. It’s hard to hold onto the positivity when you’re really tired.

It doesn’t help that I’m not very physically well either – I’ve had an infection for a little while now that I can’t seem to throw off, and over time I’ve felt increasingly nauseated, dizzy, and sometimes a bit feverish. MQ, go see your doctor. No. I don’t want to show the infection to anyone, let alone a doc. (And no, not because it’s self harm or anything like that). I know that’s stupid, and childish, but it’s not enough to get me over the line to ask for that help.

I felt so unwell yesterday that I couldn’t go to work. Truth be told, I didn’t really feel a whole lot better today, but it struck me that I could be off work indefinitely if I didn’t toughen up. That won’t work; as ever the world demands money.

I might try and cut down on caffeine, see if that helps with getting to sleep. And I’ve got a bath bomb kicking around somewhere; I could have a long, late bath.


I don’t remember anyone mentioning this when prescribing Prozac…

Having made such great progress taking myself off lithium, I keenly decided Prozac (fluoxetine) was the next to go (after six years, most of it at 60mg a day) – and why not right now?

= mistake. Oh boy.

I went from 60mg daily to 40mg, stayed there for two days, then cut down to 20mg. That was early last week.

On Sunday the nausea kicked in – I thought I’d caught a stomach bug. Except it was more than that. It was like having a cold too with sniffles etc, and maybe flu because my joints ached and it hurt to move. Yesterday the nausea subsided, to be replaced by all-mighty brain-zaps. It feels like there is WAY too much electricity in my brain. Every movement seems exaggerated, like I might fall. I can feel my pulse in my head. I’m sure that I’m physically twitching, although my housemate is assuring me she hasn’t noticed.

Venlafaxine withdrawals were hard for this reason, but they were intense and over in a couple of days. This seems really drawn out, and I can’t keep taking time off work. At the same time, I’m not safe to drive. I’m not really that safe to walk!!

I’ll post again in a few days when hopefully my brain has settled down, but in the mean time I just had to wave a flag to say Prozac withdrawals can be a real *****. I found ‘SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome’ on the interweb, read the symptoms and yelled ‘THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH.’

Given the really long half life of fluoxetine, I was under the impression it would be really easy to come off, especially if I didn’t go cold turkey. If I had known it could hurt like this, I’m not sure I would have stayed on it for six years.