side effect (noun)
1. any effect of a drug, chemical, or other medicine that is in addition to its intended effect, especially an effect that is harmful or unpleasant.
2. any accompanying or consequential and usually detrimental effect.
You know about my numerous diagnoses and I try make light of them, I often joke about the “pharmacy of drugs” that I have to take every morning and even then they’re only a helping hand. Put it this way, when you lose a limb you can learn to live without it or you can learn to live with a prosthetic, no matter which you choose you are never going to be like everyone else ever again and having a missing genetic code is pretty much the same – your medication being a prosthetic. It helps but that’s all it does. It helps.
Each little tablet I take though comes with a long LONG list of side effects and they’re a little odd of a combination when you think that you take one that helps you stay up and then you have to take another that helps you come down. Sounds a bit like pumping your body full of things unnecessarily and I’m sure that in many cases people are but being on and off for so long I just shut up and take what they give me because myself and everyone else knows it helps.
Now back to those side effects… Did you know a side effect of Prozac is suicide? Nope you probably didn’t and neither did I until my psychiatrist put me on them and told me to phone him personally if I feel an extremely heavy fog rolling in as we’ll have to switch off them immediately. Did you know that a side effect of respiridone is lactation? Nope you probably didn’t and neither did I until one morning I was all “WTF OH HELL NO” and running out to pee on a stick even though I know there was no possibility. Did you know that it’s 2 most common side effects are excessive weight gain and type 2 diabetes? Now you do. Lamotrigine is given to epileptics but also to those with bp and bpd which might get a little confused right? It did me as well. Then there’s Ritalin…
Then of course you have the “common” side effects, those that pretty much all of them have and you know you’re bound to get, there are A LOT of them so how’s about I just share those with you that I have or have had in the past?
- Nausea – I skipped out on morning sickness when I was pregnant (no meds at that stage) but I think I can put most pregnant women to shame with the kind I get. There are things I’ve found that help, ginger and lemon, cold water, hot water bottles, teas, and attempting to eat in the morning (I don’t do well with this but better than the terrible cramps when I take meds before eating)
- Cramps – Not often but they do suck
- Migraines – I’m already a sufferer and the meds tend to just make them worse
- Fuzzy logic – It clouds everything and yes it does make you feel somewhat like a zombie and that’s one of the biggest reasons that those who are new to meds decide they’d rather be off them. It’s one I hate most but also the one I tolerate easiest because I know that off of them my emotions are so hightened I can scream at you one minute and before the seconds hit 60 I’m crying. (Though I still get days like these they aren’t as intense, some days I’ll just be extremely agitated and short tempered where other days I can and do cry at the drop of a hat)
- Insomnia – this is probably the worst cause you need sleep, when you don’t get sleep things get wonky and it’s just a really bad cycle. Good thing is that they generally prescribe other meds to help combat this…
- Dry mouth – gah how I hate this one.
- Hives – oh yeah, been there and done that. Picture having an itch you need to scratch and not being allowed to scratch it. That feeling where you want to pee your pants it becomes so itchy? That’s what both my legs felt like.
- Sleep walking – I’ve sleep cut before. Have a large scar on my leg to prove it, I dreamt spiders where everywhere and burrowing in my skin… I woke up with a blade in my hand trying to cut them out. Not pleasant and not a proud moment.
- Vivid dreams – like the spider ones. They become so vivid you actually believe they’re real and sometimes it’s hard to decipher what’s a memory and what was just a dream. Past few nights have been bad for me with regards to this again.
- Aversions – I already can’t stand certain smells, tastes, textures, etc but some meds highten certain senses and it becomes worse. Like the cleaning lady who is currently over spraying each office desk with Mr Min while I sit here choking and gagging in my scarf *runs outside for a bit*
There are a lot more, those just stand out the most for me but I think that the one that everyone on anti-psychotics can agree with, the one MOST COMMON side effect is loneliness. Because when you say “I understand” we know for a fact that you’re either saying it so we’ll just shut up or you wish you did but unless you’re on your own cocktail you really really don’t. So don’t do that. Don’t be all condescending, don’t say “I understand” rather just give them a hug, sit in their corner or if they’re in a flying rage be patient enough to wait it out (unless of course you’re with someone who is violent by nature, then run bitch ruuun) because every rage ends in tears.
Just be there.