Would you choose to be an unfeeling zombie or a bottomless pit of despair?

<p>It's a decision I make every night when I decide how much risperdal to take. My prescription says two mg at night; but because of the life-sapping side effects I often opt to take one. I could write a horror story inspired by this drug, but I think even 1 mg saps my creativity sufficiently to prevent me from writing with any poetry or prose with any poignancy or elegance. I had my prescribed dose lowered from 4mg to 3, then 2. I can't remember anything from the week I was on 4mg except for me lying on the bed, staring at the clock in stupor. </p>

<p>The risperdal controls my mood swings, my fight or flight response (accompanied by that strong suffocating feeling of "chest compression") and suicidal despair. When the fight or flight response is directed at physical objects in my room or shadows in the night (as opposed to abstractions about the future), that's when I don't skimp on the risperdal, because the dread and dysphoria is so intense (and harder to block out). </p>

<p>At 4 mg, I banished mood swings but I struggled to feel much of anything, and everything stopped becoming pleasurable, even eating, one of my favorite pleasures in life. At 1 mg risperdal co-administered with 450mg Wellbutrin, I'm don't think about suicide every day like I used to, but I feel flighty occasionally, and two times these past two weeks I got semi-intense malaise I couldn't banish, and last night I got a particularly bad mood swing set off by my best friend leaving Charlottesville for the last time to start a new working life (with TFA) in New York City, while I rot by myself in school since all of my friends that were originally my year graduated this May. I've known this for months, of course, it's just the thought of "this is it! now it'll never be the same" that set it all off, even though rationally I know everyone has to grow up and move on (without me). Because of this, I took 2 mg risperdal last night (my prescribed dose). </p>

<p>I usually judge my affinity for suicide by doing the "gun test" -- imagining a gun against my head and imagining how good it would be to pull the trigger. At 4 mg, the test was repulsive to me. Last night, I was pulling triggers like crazy. Tonight, I have to admit the thought still feels pretty good -- even better; kind of addicting, in fact. I know have the pills to medicate it all away -- my doctors recommend that at my discretion I take additional pills on top of my prescribed 2 mg dosage to combat any "episodes" -- but then I wouldn't be able to laugh and giggle at Lissie's "Cuckoo" music video like I just did, would I. :(</p>

<p>evitaperon - it sounds like you’ve begun the story you were concerned you wouldn’t be able to write. Keep going with the story, and maybe that will help lessen the other things you’re feeling. It’s actually a great opening to a story. </p>

<p>I hope you get some good sleep tonight. Me too. I could use it!</p>

<p>If your medication is not working for you, you should go back to your dr and get reevaluated- try something else &/or get a second opinion.
New medications are being developed all the time and one may work better for you.</p>

<p>Is this serious or creative? Because if you are feeling suicidal … PLEASE go to an ER or contact a professional. And yes, being a “zombie” is preferable to despair.</p>

<p>Evitaperon, I have not been aware of your depression issues, but this is serious stuff.</p>

<p>Absolutely, a zombie is better than a bottomless pit of despair.</p>

<p>A guy I work with is suffering from depression.
It’s tough, but you can get through it.</p>

<p>You should talk to your doctor immediately. Risperdal has worked very well for my two sons at controlling their symptoms. But it also causes muscle stiffness and weight gain. My younger son is putting up with the side effects because other drugs don’t work as well for him - he takes 5 mg per day. My older son has switched to Seroquel, which he likes a LOT. From your previous posts, I know that his diagnosis is the same as yours.</p>

<p>Your meds are NOT working as they should. Please talk to someone immediately!</p>

<p>My dr put me on Latuda, off label- very new med, for a while, it helped a lot but my side effects were restless leg syndrome which I couldn’t tolerate. ( I also have fibromyalgia et al, so physical things are pretty noticeable to me)
However I took it for about three months which was long enough for some other things to kick in.</p>

<p>You have written very clearly and eloquently about the effect this drug has on you. Show your post to your doctor(s). Let them read it. They have a lot of knowledge about what different drugs are supposed to do, and they want to help you, but they can’t get inside your head to know how the drugs make you feel. Your skills as a writer have now enabled them to do so.</p>

<p>Let us know what they say.</p>

<p>evitaperon - how are you feeling today? Did you finally get some sleep? The last I looked at my clock it was just after 1, but once I was asleep, I slept through the night (kind of rare for me these days with hormonal changes). </p>

<p>I hope you’ll check in and let us know how you’re doing.</p>

<p>I can’t go to the ER for every suicidal thought; I’ve been hospitalised twice already and it’s $300 a pop on insurance so generally I try to cope by myself or with friends. (I had coped by myself for 20 months before forced medical intervention by my lab prof.) The only thing now is that a lot of my friends have departed so I now have a much smaller network of support.</p>

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<p>If I can’t think or feel, what’s the point of being alive? As a zombie I’m so undead that I can’t even contemplate death. I guess that’s why they like the medication so much; it really zaps the impulse away from you. I think my limbic system is fundamentally diseased, there’s no medication that can fix it without taking (parts of) my core personality away.</p>

<p>I was on Abilify and Seroquel for a brief time in the hospital, and I guess they expected some immediate results from the Abilify because when I reported no dramatic change they took me off it for a few days; I don’t know what the hospital doctor’s rationale, though. I had like, ten minutes a weekday with my hospital doctor (plus her team), since she had to attend to close to half the patients in the ward. </p>

<p>The school psychiatrist (a resident) at CAPS switched me to risperdal because it was “more selective”, because the seroquel made me really groggy and ache all over (though I was never on it for more than one and a half weeks; but maybe it doesn’t interfere with creativity as much. I guess I’ve kind of downplayed my reservations and issues with my current doctor because I needed a positive eval from him in order to be readmitted to school. My next appointment is in September.</p>

<p>Evitaperon,</p>

<p>Alive is good. Dead is bad.</p>

<p>If you are dead, you are definitely never going to get better.</p>

<p>The guy sitting next to me is depressed and has suicidal thoughts.</p>

<p>I once suffered from depression myself. It sucks.</p>

<p>I would keep trying new drugs.</p>

<p>I would also try to find something that makes you feel better.</p>

<p>Could be music. Friends. Helping others. Meditation. Exercise. I always felt better when I
Walked.</p>

<p>Find something that gets your mind off depression. That distracts you from thinking about depression.</p>

<p>I know many people that were depressed that are no longer depressed. I know it is extremely difficult to go through depression.</p>

<p>justaMom – I did get some sleep, thank you. It took me a while and a few memory exercises. I’ve been inventing my own in an effort to hold on to portions of my core personality; it seems that I can feel parts of me melting away over the last few years (last summer I thought had some sort of neurodegenerative disease), and I think the medication has mixed effects in helping with this. I just have this fear of being 70, fundamentally changed and sedated, and not knowing where most of my life went. </p>

<p>The next day is always better :slight_smile: – I think my receptors get replenished or re-presented or something. It’s always the nights that are the worst. I’m going to go to lab to get some Drosophila isolated for tomorrow’s experiments and then I’m going to hit the Corner to do some street photography. (A college magazine I work for has this assignment due the 23rd.) Photography is always nice, it allows me to escape and be absorbed in something else.</p>

<p>Re: Post #10 - it looks like your current medication was semi-randomly picked. I think you need to re-assess your meds. Medicine is not an exact science, and sometimes it takes several tries to get the medication just right (happened with my D’s asthma treatment). Do you have a doctor who you can see regularly, preferably a psychiatrist who can prescribe these types of medication?</p>

<p>And yes, a live zombie is better than the alternative.</p>

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<p>If for no other reason, to be there for your loved ones. I say this as one left behind. You would leave your family and friends in unspeakable pain. This can and will get better.</p>

<p>Definitely a zombie but continue working towards a better solution. I don’t think you need to be either.
There are new meds and new combos of meds being introduced. Keep seeking them out. I hope you have some outside support that will help research it for you. You need to print out what you’ve written and start keeping a complete journal (if you don’t already) of how you react to your meds. Day to day. It would be extremely helpful to any health professional. And also you–patterns become very clear when written. If you change doctors or go to any health facility they’ll probably ask you for it anyway and you’ll save lots of time.</p>

<p>Look up TED Talks “Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness from the inside”. She’s a law professor today but schizophrenic and has dealt with it her whole life (and still is). Very frank short talk but illustrates clearly how important getting the right meds and support is. And sometimes you have to keep looking.
As to the creativity side–you aren’t alone thinking the meds kill what you deem creativity. Common complaint. Many people think that because their brains suddenly aren’t in a constant whirlwind of ideas after taking the meds. It’s scary for them. The brain seems to stop and is suddenly quiet. But those ideas were often muddled and never made it to paper in a coherent way for others to read. And the most positive result of creativity is to put something on paper that others can enjoy and appreciate. Your real creativity is part of you and won’t go away (have faith!) but hopefully you’ll be more focused.</p>

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<p>My doctor prescribed risperdal to “organise my thoughts” – I guess my thoughts might be slower but I still found it somewhat hard to elucidate vivid ideas but it’s possible my thoughts are more organised than 7-8 months ago. I can’t really judge well, because so much of it has become a blur, to my existential alarm, and so many of my memories seem surreal. Sometimes memories from 2011-2012 seem “more recent” than the memories of the past 8 months, which is when I started taking risperdal above 1 mg, and memories seem less vivid overall.</p>

<p>My principal investigator would be the best judge of my progress, since I frequently report to him … I suspect he already kind of knows what I have because of my mysterious medical leave, my tangential trains of thought and the weird times I come into lab to do experiments (which I design myself). It’s true that I made most of my experimental progress on risperdal, but that could be a coincidence since I committed to doubling down on research during my time away from classes. </p>

<p>My current lab partner (who I knew only after I started taking risperdal, since my old one departed) keeps saying I come up with lots of ideas and different approaches to different problems, but I should just focus on one or two. (I’ve been working on many different types of behavioural assays.) She also once remarked that me having 80 tabs open across 4 windows when doing literature research represents my brain very well (I laughed). I can only wonder what a future recommendation letter from my PI will read like! Hopefully my productivity, unique experimental designs, and results will compensate for my eccentricities. </p>

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<p>Yes, but he’s busy and he doesn’t have time to see me that frequently (he sees me monthly or bimonthly).</p>

<p>Please keep a detailed journal for yourself. What you took, how much, the side effects, how you slept. How you felt the morning after. And how you would like to be feeling. You’ll be able to look back and see your progress (or not) objectively.
Consider yourself a great scientific experiment–and knowing the outcome is the most important thing ever–and it is.
You are your own best champion. take the time to help yourself and that means writing down what you feel while taking meds.</p>

<p>For me, in dealing with depths of depression or unfeelingness (I’ve totally been there and will be there again), I’ve found there is always hope in tomorrow. Not each and every tomorrow, but some - I swear if you just keep going, you’ll find an unexpected smile on your lips, and you’ll be surprised, and pleased at times… not lottery winnings surprised or pleased… but enough to say it’s worth it to keep hoping for another tomorrow and to just keeping waking up til the next day. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, until tomorrow and hope/possibilities arise again.</p>

<p>Sigh, I think I’m regressing. I thought I was doing good at first, because I went back to 2mg/day risperdal and felt very calm. But I think my mind adapts. Now I have the weight gain (again, after the weight loss that I thought I worked to achieve) and long sleep times (I slept 15 hours today) – the side effects of increased risperdal – while the mood swings and suicidal ideation grow stronger. </p>

<p>Lately I’ve been fantasising about drinking lab chemicals in biochem lab. Unfortunately, unlike orgo lab, biochem lab doesn’t have a lot of chemicals that are acutely toxic, just a bunch of dyes, enzymes and buffers, maybe HCl and sodium hydroxide. I could drink chemicals from my research lab but that’d cast a bad light on my lab and my work there.</p>

<p>As a low-income student, I see a “free clinic” psychiatrist at UVA’s Northridge facility, but he can only see me on Tuesdays. But now my Tuesdays are packed and I don’t have time to make the appointments.</p>

<p>Evitaperon, please seek professional help TODAY. Not Tuesday. Call an ER if need be.</p>