Saw my psych doctor last week. We haven’t changed any medications or dosages this winter. Winter has usually been a pretty stable time for me, at least after all the nonsense of Christmas blows over. We added a third anti psych med in October after I have a vicious but short lived psychotic breakdown. It seems to be doing alright. It definitely makes me fall asleep and stay asleep. I have to take it right before bed. Any other time I will be asleep for at least five hours straight. I take all my meds at once right before bed. It’s easy to remember things that way.
With these current medications I’m taking, I have to real careful about not missing doses. I have found I don’t sleep well and have vivid dreams when I accidentally skipped doses with these meds. Some anti depressants I was on years ago, like Prozac, could be forgiving and not affect me too bad if I missed a dose. I suppose Prozac is one of those drugs that can build up in your body over time. When I decided I was going off my meds back in early 2007, I was on Prozac. At first it felt good to be not taking medications every day. Notice I said at first. I was able to work 60 hours a week again and was getting interested in dating again. But the good times didn’t last. I was off the meds entirely for almost two months before reality came back to hit me. I probably should have committed myself for that breakdown. I went off the meds again in early 2013. Felt alright for two months once more before the reality came back with a vengeance. I was lucky and smart for realizing I needed to go back on the medications. Both times I was on medications that probably stayed in the body longer than most. That’s got to be the only reason I did alright for weeks before I had problems.
My current medications are not as forgiving if I miss a dose. But they have fewer side effects. When I was on most of my previous medications I did well mentally but not physically. I gained weight on almost all my previous psychotic medications. I gained a lot of weight. I gained almost two hundred pounds from when I started on psychotic medications in late 2000 until I started my current medications in spring 2013. I didn’t get it that I had to force myself to be active and that I was using the psych medication promoting weight gain as an excuse to overeat and not be active. But since I got serious about exercise and eating healthy I have lost forty pounds in two years. I still have a long way to go but I am on the right path.
If I had to give advice on whether one should go off medications because of fears of weight gain and resulting problems, talk with your psych doctor and general practice doctor both before you do anything. Do not do anything like that on your own. You will have a breakdown and probably have to be hospitalized. I got off easy in that I didn’t have to go to the hospital because I recognized that my mental health was falling apart early on. Also, it should be noted, that medical advances being what they are, newer treatments with fewer side effects are being developed regularly. I didn’t think the genetic ‘black box’ for schizophrenia would be found as soon as it was. It was found only twelve years after the Human Genome project was finished in 2003. I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see an outright cure for mental illnesses, but I am remaining optimistic. It is certainly exciting times we are living in.