FYI...After a few comments from readers, I decided I needed to add a caveat, part of which I explained in my response to PJ. From the moment I began taking medication, I was sick almost every day for six years with the worst imaginable side effects. (And once I stopped taking it, it took almost four more years for my brain to heal itself.)
I believe there are three ways to deal with adversity. First, I could rant and rage and spew forth my misery--which has never made me feel better and certainly wouldn't have been pleasant for my husband, son, and the people I care about. Second, I could write serious pieces about how I'm feeling--which I do in my journals when I need to. Third, I could poke fun at my situation, and use humor as a method of healing.
During periods of adversity, my sense of humor has always been my saving grace. However, it only works for me when it is coupled with a game plan for finding ways of resolving problems, and a willingness to engage in a wide variety of other wellness activities.
* * *
Ten Worst Side EffectsDuring the next 18 months, I alternated between depression and hypomania, and Silas (my psychiatrist) recommended the following medications in different combinations and dosages: Ativan, Effexor‚ Depakote, Lithium‚ Descipramine‚ Imipramine, Klonopin, Tegretol‚ Verapamil‚ Wellbutrin‚ and Zoloft. They call this cocktailing medication, surely a bad choice of words when 60 percent of manic-depressives abuse drugs and/or alcohol.
The only way I could bear this dreadful ordeal was through humor. To entertain myself‚ I compiled a David Letterman list of the ten worst side effects. I must admit that I didn’t include sexual dysfunction because it seems like such a personal disclosure, but suffice it to say that many psychiatric medications affect your sex drive. Having revealed that, here is my list in reverse order:
10. Vomiting. This symptom can be thought of as morning sickness for the mentally ill. Many antidepressants cause nausea and/or vomiting (in which case you should call your doctor). The drag is that it doesn’t go away after the first trimester.
9. Dry mouth. At the worst stages, I felt like I was walking around with a tampon in my mouth.
8. Flatulence. I never knew this word until I read it years ago in The World According to Garp by John Irving. But let me tell you that a farting woman is far worse than a farting dog.
7. Constipation. It used to be that every morning after I ate breakfast, read the sports section of the newspaper, and had a cup of coffee, I would have a bowel movement. I always thought that my regularity was caused by my disgust at the bad behavior of professional athletes who are getting paid so much money that it makes me “shit.” Once I started taking medication, I was lucky if I had a bowel movement every five days. (Yes, I know there is medication for irregularity but enough is enough!)
6. Sleeping Problems. The only people who worry more about sleep than manic-depressives are new parents and narcoleptics.
(to be continued)
The preceding piece is copyrighted material and may not be reproduced.