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.


Ups and downs

Daily life is full of ups and downs at the moment – more downs than ups, but I try to hold on to the good moments like they’re precious treasure.

The day starts with intense nausea. I can’t describe how miserable it is to wake up every morning to a churning stomach and acid in your throat. It dissipates slightly when I shower, so I get out of bed pretty quickly. In another life, feeling so ill would mean not going into work – my daily routine now has to include a pep talk that I can get through this, and that I am well enough to work.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get to work – even if I drive myself there, I start panicking the moment I leave the house, and by the time I reach the end of the road I’m having to really urge myself not to give up and go back home. I get to work, and then around 4pm nausea starts to build again at the prospect of the journey home. Driving home used to be okay – something about heading back to safety – but this is no longer holding.

My new therapist said I should contact Occupational Health at work, so I sent off the necessary forms…they rang today and offered me an appointment tomorrow at their building in the centre of town. Great. I had written very clearly on the form that I’m very restricted in terms of travel at the moment, but that seemed to fall on deaf ears so I had to explain again over the phone. They begrudgingly offered me a telephone consultation next week. I’m a bit surprised by the resistance – given the wide nature of problems that could lead someone to contact Oc Health, why aren’t they more accommodating? I can’t be the only person who would struggle to make it to their offices.

So mostly bad days, but some good ones too. Yesterday I had to take my car for it’s MOT, and I’ve been dreading this for weeks – the prospect of driving to the test centre, then hanging around, then driving back – nausea was off the scale. But I coped. The journey was manageable, and in the test centre I managed to stay reasonably calm. I was really, really proud of myself afterwards. And my car passed it’s MOT so that was a bonus!

The day before that I had a meeting at work, and I managed to sit there for the duration, 30 minutes, without having to leave. I haven’t been able to do that for weeks. Another proud moment. I’m trying to hold onto this, use this as confidence that I can bring on repeat performances.

It’s week two of Abilify – I can’t say that I’m noticing any difference, but maybe it’s too soon. To be honest I just want the six week trial to be up so we can move onto the real anti-anxiety meds – Pregabalin for a start – but I understand I have to give this a try.

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.


I feel like I’m drowning.

Anxiety is taking over my life to the point that I’m not sure how much of myself is left. I’m sick with nerves from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, and then I’m physically sick during the day, retching out this nervous energy that I can’t properly shake off.

I had therapy today, and we had to agree to stop doing ‘the deep stuff’ because I just can’t handle it right now. I threw up three times before the session; I was so amped up. Now it’s all about creating a mental safe space, and breathing right. It feels like I’m two years old, but at the same time I can’t deny that my body will not handle anything more.

I am so scared that I’m going to lose my job. I can’t attend meetings anymore, so I’m coming up with excuses to avoid them, but there’s only so long you can do that before people start to notice. I think this meeting thing is in danger of turning into a phobia. It’s so easy to be logical about it, tell myself in advance I’ll be fine, I can sit through it, but in the moment the fear is so strong it destroys my willpower and hijacks my body.

While listening to the radio today I heard a song that kind of sums up how I’m feeling – Avalanche by Bring Me The Horizon. The song was written about ADHD, but it clicks for my current anxiety, and back in the day it would have been true about the depression I had too.

It’s like an avalanche

I feel myself go under

Cos the weight of it’s like hands around my neck.


Pressing need

I had a bad day at work today. It was another meeting, and I felt desperate for the toilet the whole time. I folded after fifteen minutes and dashed to the loo – the senior person at the meeting looked distinctly unimpressed, but hey. I returned to my seat a couple of minutes later, and felt desperate again immediately. The meeting started to drag, and after another fifteen minutes it had descended to chatting, so I politely asked if anyone needed anything else from me. Cue another dirty look from the senior attendee – ‘Why, do you have somewhere to be..?’ I lied and said yes…I couldn’t really say ‘Yes, I have an urgent appointment with a bathroom’

Naturally I spent the rest of the day despising myself for being so pathetic.

I should have stuck it out, and in hindsight I’m cross with myself for not doing that. It’s hard when it feels so urgent, even when I know in the back of my head that I’m fine. Logic doesn’t do anything to dampen the physical feeling of immediate need. It’s horrible. I have to host a series of job interviews in a couple of weeks, and I’m already nervous about lasting through each one. I can’t possibly skip out. I need to be on top of this anxiety by then or I’m in big trouble.

Week complete

Another week comes to a close, and I’m not sad to see it go. I can’t seem to help wishing my life away.

This week has been relatively stable, anxiety-wise. The same work routine each day. I still can’t handle public transport, so I’ve driven to work every morning – let’s not talk about the expensive car park fees. I know I need to break this ‘habit’ before it gets too engrained, but every time I think about getting the bus a little voice in my head starts trying to wheedle out of it. I don’t lack excuses.

Still no psych-referral, of course. It’s very disappointing. On a positive note though, I had my second session with my new therapist, and I have to say I thought it went really well. She reckons I’m a lot more upset about losing Dr T than I would care to admit – if that’s true, fine, but if I’ve got a load of pent up grief I can’t seem to access it, so what am I supposed to do? Meditate on Dr T until tears come? Drill a hole in my thick skull and vent the pressure?

My reward for getting through the working week is to have a weekend of doing absolutely nothing. It’s been awesome – I haven’t left the house once. I’m lying, it’s not awesome. It’s nice not to be anxious, but also frustratingly boring. I’ve rewatched Alien: Covenant, and played hours of video games. I needed to go to the shops to buy some dinner and I chickened out, so now I’ve got to scrape something together, or fork out for takeaway, which I’m not hugely inclined to do given the car park fees this week.

Anxiety can be pretty inconvenient sometimes.

Long days of anxiety

I know I’ve been moaning a lot waiting for this psych referral, but I’m starting to wonder how far I have to fall down the rabbit hole before the psychiatrists will help me.

It’s been a week now – maybe that isn’t actually all that long. It feels like a long time though, when every day is a huge struggle against nausea just to complete a working day.

Today there were something like five separate occasions where I forgot how to breathe.

I don’t know how much worse this can get before I’m in danger of losing my job. Everyday that I manage to get to work and come home at 5 feels like a bit of a miracle. I have to set my alarm an hour earlier than normal to give myself time to deal with the early-morning nausea. I’m a zombie on anti-emetics, a zombie for waking up every two hours, anxious.

At work I noticed my eyes blurring in and out of focus, with seemingly nothing I can do to anchor myself.

I’m scared the day’s going to come when I just can’t breathe at all.