Anxiety Meds: Pros and Cons

So as I’ve stated in a previous post, my treatment team and I recently decided to change my course of anxiety medications. I’d like to discuss the pros and cons of the side effects, and see if any of you experience the same.

Ativan: I’ve taken Ativan since I was 16 years old. It was always what worked the best. Lately though, experiencing so much mania, it wasn’t enough to calm me down. And by the time I took enough to calm me down it was like– ZONK, it put me in the backseat of my own mind. I was calm, but I felt like I wasn’t really there. Also, Ativan seems to cause a lot of memory loss for me. So we are trying Valium.

Valium: This definitely seems to calm me down much better. And what I love about this medicine is that while it’s calming me down, it keeps me in the driver’s seat of my own mind. My troubles aren’t as worrisome, my racing thoughts are gone, I’m completely relaxed, and I’m still able to see the world through my own eyes. But lately I’ve been noticing these tension headaches after I take it. It feels like a pair of old fashioned head phones, a band around the back of my head that just squeezes. It leaves me holding my head in my hands until some tylenol and caffeine kick in. I really feel like Valium helps my anxiety better than anything, but could it be causing these headaches?

So, has anyone else experienced tension headaches as a side effects of Valium? What are your thoughts?

Gabe.

So Why Am I Here?

I guess my original idea for starting a blog was to promote my art and my writing, but I’m feeling more and more like I’d rather really¬†connect with people who struggle with the same issues I do. I’ve been having a hard time putting my thoughts into words lately, they’ve been racing so much, but I guess I could try simply by describing today. (As Virginia Woolf said, “A woman’s whole life in a single day… And in that day her whole life.) A theory I believe– if you follow the details of a person’s single day, you will see their whole life.

Today I could not get out of bed. Lately (in the past few months) my disorder has made me more and more manic, more and more panicked, and more and more anxious. I’ve been bouncing off walls and not able to sleep. I was given Ambien, which helps me sleep, but still I have been totally unable to calm down during the day. My doctor and I tried starting Ativan again– a medication I’ve taken off and on my entire life– but even it seemed to have totally lost it’s effects. So… actually, a side note:

I can not stand the stigma of mental illness and psychiatric medications. With even my closest friends and family. The Ativan was not working– period. So we decided to try Valium. And when I told my best friend and roommate, “My doctor and I decided to try a two week course of Valium, to see if it works any better,” I was greeted with a sigh and an eye roll. This kind of behavior angers me to no end. Would you roll your eyes at a cancer patient who said, “I’m starting chemo”? But I digress…

So taking Seroquel, Ambien, and Valium make for a pretty heavy sleep. (Granted, I don’t take the Ambien much, and I only take the Valium mid day, but I needed an Ambien last night.) So I could not wake up this morning. My poor boyfriend tried several times to rouse me. Finally, at around 3:30pm, I tried to get up. My body hurt, my head hurt, and my mood was depressed. I thought, “I’m going to get up, and get myself some coffee.” And I continued to think that for 45 minutes. My body simply wouldn’t cooperate.

So I started off depressed and tired: Mood number one. I made myself a french press of coffee, and before it was even ready, I found myself pacing: Mood number two. Suddenly I had all this energy, and nowhere to direct it. I wanted to do something so badly, but cleaning seemed to much effort. I tried to write, I tried to play piano, I couldn’t focus on anything. I tried to sketch, but my hands shook and I had no patience to form the right lines: Mood number three. I knew reading or even watching TV was out of the question.

The point is, I don’t know why I’m having such rapid cycling anymore. It leaves me terrified, because in the past I would only deal with long periods of depression, slight hypomania, and then “normal behavior”. Now I go through all three (four, five, six, seven) in one day. So finally I found where to direct my energy.

I got on wordpress, and spent hours reading all of the beginner’s information, trying to learn how to form a valid blog. And I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with. So my creative energy has flowed through the keyboard, but I still haven’t found it in me to shower or change my clothes.

It’s as if my brain is fighting off depression by trying to force me into mania. But while I’m doing manic behavior, my mind is saying “calm down, you lunatic”. I see a new psychiatrist soon, so hopefully something will give. But I find writing here, to whomever might read this, even if nobody does, a soothing therapy. If anyone stumbles upon this and can relate, please reach out to me. The Valium has definitely eased my racing thoughts, but I hate to be totally dependent on medication.

Anyone else have manic/depressive symptoms at once? How do you handle them?

Gabe