Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Antidepressant Quest

The verdict is in on my quest for antidepressants. I saw my GP on Thursday, and she's started me on a new "antidepressant" called Gabapentin, more commonly known as Neurontin.

It's a medication for epilepsy, but it's usually prescribed for chronic pain, but recently it's been shown to help with anxiety too.
...I thought it was supposed to be, y'know, an antidepressant.

I just want a good old fashioned antidepressant. It's not like I've tried that many. This is the fifth or sixth, and all but two have been in the last 18 months. At least three have been relatively 'new' and not actual antidepressants (Zyban, the last one, was actually a smoking cessation aide). I feel like she's not taking me seriously. I feel like she only gave me Gabapentin to stop my complaining and begging.

I haven't told you guys this before, because it's kind of a long story and a long time ago, but I'll keep this brief and to-the-point (*potential TW for OD talk*). I had a bad overdose just before my 13th birthday, and ended up in the ICU for weeks in an induced coma. My first psychiatrist had put me on Fluoxetine about six months prior, and it made me even more depressed and suicidal than before. I never told anyone. No one knew, until mum found me on the lounge room floor having taken every single pill in the house, with my rambling that she wasn't real, that she was a hallucination, trying to somehow reassure myself. I barely made it through. After that, I refused to take any medication for years - especially antidepressants. I was put on them again at age 18 while sectioned, and by the time I could stop taking them I was too scared to.

But it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth that when I finally do ask for antidepressants, I get told multiple times that nothing will help me, or given something for anxiety.

The OD is also relevant because when I was in the ICU, I apparently suffered from fits. I didn't know this detail until a few weeks ago. Anyway, technically it counts as a 'history of epilepsy', which means I can get Gabapentin, the epilepsy medication, at a reduced price on my pension. But that wouldn't be an issue in the first place if I was given something that, you know, is actually meant for depression.

Then she said "Oh, it helps with depression too", just as an offhanded comment. But honestly, I think she just said it to stop me complaining.

Apparently I shouldn't even bother looking for information online, because these studies are so brand fucking new that the internet isn't aware Gabapentin helps with depression yet. The psychiatrist only just heard about it at some conference in South Africa. I don't even know.

Part of me wants to not take it, just to say that I want something that'll actually help with depression, but I can't refuse something that could help with my anxiety.

I give up. I'm too tired to fight for new meds anymore. This better do something.

She wants to leave me on it for two months before making a decision either way. It's three times a day, even at a low dose. She warned me it can be quite sedating, so I could either start with one a day and build up slowly, or just start all three at once. I managed two yesterday, at breakfast and dinner, I'm about to have my third for today.

Google did tell me that it helps with restless legs syndrome. I've suffered from restless legs on a nightly basis for years now. I've never actually bothered to mention it to anyone because it hasn't been a priority, but I'll definitely talk to my GP about it next time I see her.

Anyway, my oxygen levels were still holding around 97%, but I still feel like shit. (Since a few people asked on my last post; my GP said normal oxygen levels are 99-100%) She doesn't want to keep me on prednisolone too long but she gave me another script for antibiotics. She thinks it'll take a few weeks for the cough and phlegm to clear, so we'll see how it goes.

I started feeling worse again yesterday. I got a killer headache on Thursday night, and still had it when I woke up. I had my first Gabapentin with breakfast, and by lunchtime couldn't keep my eyes open. I napped for an hour or so (which I never do), woke up, had a smoke, and threw up. My fever went up to 38*c again, and I threw up twice more that night. Nausea and coughing do not go well together.

My weight stayed exactly the same again this week, because I am, evidently, a wizard. My reaction to the dietician was "Whatever happened to 'weight fluctuates'?!". I don't often mention weekly weight changes, but this is something else entirely. I eat routinely and my weigh-day outfits always weigh within 100g of each other, so that'd contribute. I'd call it the Plateau from Hell, but I'm not going to complain as long as it doesn't end with a gain.

Apart from apointments, I haven't done much at all his week. Everything's just too much. There are too many things to sew and too many games to play and too many things to do, and I just... can't. I don't know how I'm supposed to balance everything. So I've done absolutely nothing for a few days now. I don't know what to do. I don't want to do anything. I just want to hibernate. I'm just lost.

I'm sorry this post is so long. I just can't seem to get my head together to post more often than once a week. I am simply not functioning.



  1. Oh the joys of being on the medication merry-go-round
    Sometimes I wonder if GPs just close their eyes and point too a page in a medical book and just go with that one
    I've never heard of Gabapentin
    But I will look it up in my medical dictionary
    Yes, I am that interested in medication
    It's a running joke with my family that I am an expert in meds
    Because I have been on so many

    I guess give it a shot Bella
    It's worth a shot right?
    I had lost faith in medication
    But Prozac has really helped me
    After years of being ineffectual medication
    I guess just see how you get on
    You've nothing to lose
    And hopefully it will help

    By the way thank you for your thoughts on getting my writing published
    It was really helpful

    Take care sweet one x

  2. I had to look it up, since I've never heard of Gabapentin before. It seems to be prescribed in Sweden for anxiety and depression, in addition to epilepsy, so I'd give it a try.

  3. Zyban is commonly prescribed In other countries for depression. Also many antidepressants didn't start out as purely antidepressants but that was a just side effect. Then they just market them one way or another. Give the epilepsy one a go. Can't hurt, might help. Its not, unfortunately, an exact science. And oxygen sats don't have to be 98 to 100. In fact realistically it's never 100. If you really have some lung disease even 96 would be acceptable. I do oxygen sats in the course of my employment and we think even 90 is OK for an elderly person with advanced lung disease. Not that i think you should aspire so low of course! Hope that helps.

    I've had a good experience with zoloft but I know many don't. I can't recommend it because I hear so much bad, it's a hard topic to give friendly advice on.

    I'm sorry to hear about the past. you sound wonderfully zen and accepting though and hats of to you. I hate my past.

    Hope you see an improvement soon. X

  4. Oh I forgot to add, I would advise against klonopin if you are offered it, unless it's a last resort, and even then I'd hesitate. X

  5. I hope it helps more than what you've taken before. In the UK, it's used for epilepsy and pain. But that's not to say it won't help. Fingers crossed for you, you deserve medication that helps you.

    Don't feel bad about avoiding life; I've sat about on a sofa today for about 10 hours straight (with loo breaks, water breaks, etc) and I just want to sleep. I'd hibernate with you; taking weed breaks, sew and watch Bugs Bunny with you. :)

    Thank you for your offer about the DVDs; I'll need to find out if they'd be region compatible over here (region 2 PAL format) first. If our player is region free then I'm totally up for that! Thank you lovely.

    I hope you feel better soon in all aspects. <3 xxx

  6. I've been on gabapentin off and on. I was put on it for anxiety initially because I had really bad anxiety where I felt like someone was choking me (I tend to feel my emotions physically). I was put on a high dose 800mg 3 times a day, and that was sedating. It got better, and eventually I went down to 2 times a day.. admittedly without asking my psychiatrist, but that seemed better.

    I was prescribed it most recently for help with the tremors I have from alcohol, and up to a point it worked well. And I did have restless leg problems for a while, so it is likely to work for that. I'm technically prescribed a lower dose now for anxiety, but because I wasn't taking it as often as prescribed, I still have the higher dose. I am really bad about adjusting my own meds.

    For depression, I can't tell. I'm one and have been on so many things. Fluoxetine was actually the first I was on, and it didn't help at all. It actually made me manic in that I couldn't sit still but I was just as depressed. Supposedly, a lot of medications can have the opposite effect than intended on adolescents and young adults. I have actually been put on medications I was on as a teenager again as an adult, but it's hard to tell. Only a couple have made things worse as an adult compared to how terrible things were at 16-17.

    I'm sorry you're having so much trouble getting medication. There are several medications that recently were decided to help with depression. Seroquel is one I was on for sleep, but now in higher doses is viewed as an antidepressant. So it's possible gabapentin is the same way. I hope it helps, and if it doesn't I say keep pushing for something that will. I understand being tired of fighting for meds. I have had so many fights/power struggles with doctors about medication not working or having side effects or for being totally over medicated. I think a lot is that every person reacts differently to psychiatric medications that even the doctors can get a bit lost.

  7. re the car: I am buying a dangly thing for the rear view mirror, definitely. Buddhist, probably, something for good driving luck. My bf is an atheist *gasp* but he usually lets me buy little religious trinkets (from all religions) for the apartment.

    I would like one of those things with a wobbly head for the dashboard. Not a hula girl (Heaven forbid) but maybe Obama, or the Pope.

  8. Neurontin. okay. i don't think i've studied that one but i do know 'neuro' refers to nervous system so points there for me.
    tell her that then, sweetheart. i know you have said it before - but do continue insisting on it. i think there is a good antidepressant out there for you. anyone i know that is on antidepressants just has to find a supposed "good one".
    okay, my heart sped up at OD talk. mostly because i care too much about you. that is so painful to read. it's not triggering - just painful to read. i genuinely want so much good for you and it's sad to see you in such a tight spot. it always is.
    oh man. i know that off-handedness too well. damn.
    i'm actually at the moment just reading the post now. i just realised i've gone through a paragraph or two without making a comment. and it feels strange. i have no words, my dear.

    i will repeat this again: nobody expects anything from you. you expect things from yourself. work at your own pace, my dear. hibernate if you want to. do nothing if you want to. nobody expects anything from you. remember that.
    shhhhhhhhhh. don't worry about it, gorgeous girl. i hope the new meds help on any accord. <3 i love you.

    -Sam Lupin

  9. I take zoloft and initially I didn't like it because it seemed to kill my sex drive. I think part of it was just in my head because I read up on it and that's a side affect. Who knows. I'm not down all the time so it works for me. I was prescribed 50 mg but made my own clubs to take 25. That's the amount you can take without withdrawal and 50 made me feel high lol. As far as the being too much to do, I would say go with what you feel. I played video games, lifted, and cleaned today. Probably should have done homework but eff it. Just go with what sounds good. I hope you feel better soon.

  10. I think it's very frustrating when you feel like you're not being taken seriously, especially with your medication.
    Before I got pregnant, I feel like they just wanted to mask my feelings by putting me on a shit ton of meds. I was on 11 different pills just 7 months ago.
    I've also been prescribed meds that weren't necessarily meant for my conditions. I'm sorry you're going through this hun.
    Stay strong.

  11. It's so frustrating when doctors hand you over pills without even's just like oh, you have depression, take these pills i picked out at random!...Or thats how i feel about it anyway! Hope fully these will help you.Positive thoughts beautiful <3

  12. i will tell you one thing: don't ever feel bad for not replying back to me immediately. i do love hearing from you, but i want you to feel at comfort when replying back. just a note for today and every other day. <3
    "First, your huge bowls of fruit look amazing. We always have like 20 tins of pineapple slices at the moment because mum's going through a pineapple phase." i grinned at this oh my god did i grin at this
    "I love the Nescafé sachets. I have the skim latte, cappuccino and mocha sachets but I haven't had one in aaaages. This one time, when I was like 14, they set up a stand for free Nescafé coffees in town for a week where my friends and I used to hang out. One day I drank eight and I was so sick." yes, i do too! my father adores them. oh my god - eight of them? i can just imagine it. at the same time, i can't help but wonder if it made you go (oh, the wonders of the mind).
    i know that you don't know how to relax. in fact, i know that sometimes you just can't relax. i have no idea how the hell i managed to do it. i think it's more of a response from S./Oliver Wood/whatever alias being stressed out to the max that when she isn't doing the stuff she is supposed to be doing, she freaks out even more. i had that problem too and we used to give each other the same exact advice, "just calm down" and my favourite "freaking out isn't going to help you do your work or help solve anything. it will just exhaust you." the last one always gets me through things. and it's too true. i think i half-trained myself because by the time i did my final exam first year of med school, i was freaked but last year, i just wanted to get over the sitting exams bit.
    those cigarette packs will probably just make me sick. i used to have those days where you have really bad nightmares and you just wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks and about half of them are related to cigarette-use. i had one when i was 16, just that one, and i still wish i didn't. other than peeling shells off hard-boiled eggs, nothing makes me feel so close to being nauseous in so little time. it's just the warnings that make me feel sick. i can see someone smoking and i like the smell, but i can't look at the back.
    "3-6L includes all fluids, but usually at least 1-2L is plain water. I usually only drink it when I take my meds or exercise. The rest is black coffee, diet soda, stuff like that." i understand 3-6L of diet soda, and black coffee. i don't understand how people can drink water at all unless after exercise. i hope you're also not stressing yourself about exercise (!). just a quick note there.
    i love you too, honey. i used to get that comment a lot. often enough i feel like my comment was bigger than the post itself!
    YES, you get it, I love you.) again, i love you too. <3
    "I was thanking you for sharing things so personal to you that you haven't shared before. I feel honored :3" you're welcome, you magnificent creature.
    brain dead? sleepy time. <3

    -Sam Lupin
    PS. i love you and oh my god i am so glad i made that comment on your blog the day that i did because being around you --> brilliant. it's so weird. i think i saw your comments for a while before i went like 'maybe i should...' mostly fears of being triggered during recovery. it's amazing how much it takes for me to be triggered nowadays (before if you just talk about eating low amounts of food i'd be upchucking my food. not sure if you're aware of that but when i had an ED, i fit bulimia criteria and my recovery started off with me spending so much time eating one kind of food there was no way in hell i could purge it afterwards.)
    that's a long PS.

  13. i know right oh my god
    "Funnily enough, when I cook, I try to make everything as close in size as possible so I won't stress about eating them in the right order." i don't. i'm not worried about size usually. it's just the order in which i eat foods in. especially now - i eat a lot all at once, so it's more of...what's first and in what pattern? currently, my thing is to eat three pieces of pasta with a fork *w*

    the cookie butter is soft and delicious. it's so strange because it's so spread-like and then it's just - bam, nice, cookies with lots of spice and flavour and it's just so conflicting. but i like it. i like it a lot.
    the batter is the best part, but if my father saw me wasting too much food again, he might just throw me out of the house. yesterday, i couldn't sleep at night because there was a can of soup and i hadn't eaten it in 2 days after i've opened it. i went downstairs, chucked it in the bin along with a bit of fake milk (there was about enough for 1-2 more glasses depending on size) and i felt so accomplished.
    "It makes me sad that you feel you have to work so much. I understand the obsessive need but I wish you were able to rest without guilt." i always tell people i do rest without guilt. and i do it too often. it's just after such a long day at uni (we have lectures often from 10:30 to 4:30 and by the time i get home - it's around 5:30-6 it's just so tiring that you just don't have enough energy to feel guilty or to hate yourself for not working like a robot.)
    "Wouldn't silver ink fade really quickly? I can't bare the thought of writing fading (probably because I hoard every scrap of paper I've ever written on forever)." i actually just like throwing away paper. yesterday, i threw away 5 papers because i thought that the colour scheme was terrible. silver ink wouldn't fade quickly. the paper i use is black - thus, it's actually the only type of pen that would write on it. but since i couldn't find silver ink anymore, i have to make do with normal boring white papers.

    "i will tell you one thing: don't ever feel bad for not replying back to me immediately. i do love hearing from you, but i want you to feel at comfort when replying back. just a note for today and every other day. <3" You are too adorable for words. <--firstly, this is SO inception. this is me replying to a reply on something that i wrote. either way, i really do mean it. i care i care i care <3
    the throwing up and headache after coffee just sounds unpleasant. i remember that one time i chugged 3L of filter coffee pre-college about...a week or two before i started recovery (i was on the bulimic spectrum. this was my attempt at restricting so i just decided to make myself so SICK from all the black coffee that there was no bloody way in the word i'd eat too much - and i felt so ill throughout the ride. i get car sickness so combine car sickness + nausea from coffee. i had bits of stomach acid and black coffee forcing themselves to come back up. i was SO sensitive. anything i'd eat - i'd feel coming back up anyway. oh, and then the arrhythmia! every time i purged too much, i'd feel like i'm going into some form of cardiac failure. my father took time discussing my ECG with this guy but they all decided it was normal. a year ago, i took my ECG as part of a lab and my lecturer was so impressed! ECG of a horse! (does that go the other way? i know it's 'healthy as a horse' but meh...)

    blogger said i wrote too much.

  14. ""freaking out isn't going to help you do your work or help solve anything. it will just exhaust you."" I really love this. Freaking out just makes you freak out more. I wish I could remember that more often. <--remember this more often then. it really does help me. it's the only thing that's ever helped me. i dislike being illogical more than anything.
    "i hope you're also not stressing yourself about exercise (!)" Maybe a little. I just constantly feel like I should be doing more but I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about it. <--you know what i'm going to say to this. calm down a bit, my dear. don't stress yourself out for exercise. exercise is supposed to be there for the OPPOSITE reason (de-stressing that is). it's only recently that i realised what that meant.
    (I'd been trying forever to get past the anxiety to send you a comment. I'd half been trying to write a comment but I was so incredibly awkward, then I got your comment and was like "YAY!". I think we do a good job making up for lost time with our long comments though.)
    1. don't worry about not commenting to me for a long time if you feel anxious.
    2. i'm always awkward when i write comments. i just told you a small note on the history of bulimic Sam and practically gave you a short history on my heart functionality. and i'm not drunk.
    3. THAT MADE MY DAY OH MY GOD. your comment made my day + the "YAY" i ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS love making you feel a little better.

    i hope you're having an okay day. i'm having the laziest day in the world, so don't worry about being lazy or unproductive or not doing much.
    one of these days i might be a doctor. i hope i'm not involved anywhere near the lungs.

    -Sam Lupin

  15. It must be so frustrating feeling as though they aren't taking you seriously! Especially after being averse to antidepressants for so long. I can relate to this a lot so I guess I'll share, when I was 15 I was taking anti-depressants and they made me feel worse (suicidal, daily self-harming) so Istarted taking them more sporadically and overdosed on them. I have been against them ever since (and decided I wanted to pursue psychology).
    It's tough lovely, maybe try confronting your GP about not being taken seriously? I know sometimes they have a tendency to throw meds at people and rush them out!
    Take care sweetie, hopefully next week is better <3 x