The BBC News website have picked me out as their favourite antipsychotic user. It is not a very happy story, alas, but sadly it is all true. After waking up with bad dreams, which just happened to be about the first time I was sectioned when I lost my marbles, I dropped by the BBC News website on my phone – I think this might be it for the night’s sleep…
There is good news, and I’m pleased they included that I find antipsychotics worth taking. Thanks to medication, some talking therapies and the support of family and friends I am a lot happier now. OK, I had a slip when I tried to kill myself on Christmas day 2010, but I’m no longer a regular guest in the loony bin. Recent medication I’ve been put on has really helped with my sleep and general anxiety levels, and I’m trying something that could help with my side effects. The medical care here in Winchester is incomparably better than the awful treatment I got in Woolwich. And the BBC included a picture of me looking dashing!
There are undoubtedly a lot of problems with antipsychotic medication. A lot have simply done nothing for me and, as I said in the piece, being un-medicated is intolerable. The drug that did me the most good, Clozapine (which, due to its rare side effects, is the last resort antipsychotic given when not much else helps), dealt with most of my symptoms but after about six weeks damaged my heart and gave me incredible chest pains. It was terrible – the drug had helped me so much and suddenly it was killing me and I had to stop. If I may crack an awful joke, I was heartbroken.
Abilify made me wildly energetic but also stopped me from sleeping entirely. After a couple of weeks I was incoherent with mania, tried to kill myself and ended up in the bin again. Amisulphride also made me incredibly anxious and I refused to leave the house until the men in the white van came calling.
Pretty much everything has made me drool, twitch and have muscle pains and stiffness. Some of this might be dealt with by the new drug I’m on but for some people these effects can continue even after they’ve stopped antipsychotics entirely. I haven’t been able to ‘raise the flagpole’ in years, which may be something to do with why this site is so completely obsessed with sex.
Despite all that, if you have a psychotic illness, as I do, the medication is definitely worth taking. Life is too horrible without it. Not everyone has to take it for long, and certainly not everyone is as sensitive as me when it comes to getting side effects. It may take a couple of attempts to find the drug that works for you, but antipsychotics can be a life-saver and help you deal with the unparalleled awfulness of mental illness.
Don’t let the horror stories put you off: take the medication – it’ll keep you alive and happier.