A Mental Health Side Effect

The Best Laid Plans

I am calling everything that happens because of COVID-19 a side effect because, in truth, it is precisely that way. A side effect of a changing world.

In March, I had an appointment with my doctor in person two days after California, and the county in which I reside put a “shelter in place” order. This rendered my appointment in-person to one over the phone indefinitely. This caused a dilemma for me because I was working towards a specific goal in 2020. For my psychiatrist to lower the milligrams of antipsychotics and antianxiety medication. A lofty goal! Or so I thought.

My goal was to get off antipsychotics, which I am still, after about thirteen years, is still on a high level. The issue that I have is how these medications affect me overall. Does it take years off my life? What are the honest, long-term effects on my body?

At the moment, my psychiatrist is not changing any of the levels of my medication until we can meet in person regularly so she can regulate the process. Never do medication changes without your doctors knowing because it can be very dangerous! This news was disheartening because I am leaning towards getting off Seroquel and the clonazepam all together by early 2021. A friend I know got off benzodiazepines through a process with other medications over weeks, and he is much better off without benzos in his life. I see his progress, and that is where I want to go with my mental health. I am in a holding pattern, and I know I have to trust the process. For now, I will stick with my medication taking it as my doctor recommends. 

I will leave you with this Sara Bareilles song

Always Keep Fighting


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42 thoughts on “A Mental Health Side Effect

  1. Seroquel is just one of those meds that either works like gangbusters for some or it’s a coma inducing fog creating nightmare for others, like me. I’ve had zero luck with atypical antipsychotics til the current very low dose of Abilfy. I seem to get every bad side effect, and the rarest ones, no idea why.

    The notion that everyone who uses benzos is somehow dependent on them to funtion and it is at a negative deficit drives me bonkers. Last year, the regime change put me on 0.5 mg xanax twice a day and I got paranoid, felt like I had bugs crawling all over me, and I was nearing hospitalization. New doc comes in, returns me to my 1mg three times a day, and I am all better. I rarely even take all 3 mg every day because it clears the noise and lack of logical thought from my head and I can function from a calmer more lucid state. It does not make me sleepy or dull me in the least. My ex had quite the attitude about it because he had worked in a rehab center and just considered all benzo patients druggies.
    For many of us, it is a lifeline. And every time I’ve gotten it in my head to go off all my meds because some idiot convinced me mental illness is just an excuse for being too lazy to manage your own emotions…it has never ended well, always resulting in me ending up far worse off.
    Having said all of that, I do applaud your goals of wanting to get off the medications if you and your doctor feel it is time and you are ready. I wish I had that option but what’s the saying, insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome? I don’t like but I need meds. I envy those who do not as I’d prefer eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of a colorful handful of pills. Just do what we gotta do, right? No one size fits all miracle with mental health stuff.
    Good luck as you weather the current crisis and edge closer to seeing your doc in person to start the process.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get where you’re coming from and I would never say that people on Benzos are drug addicts or have an addiction. I just know over the years my doses have gotten higher and my anxiety only worse. I would like a world where my day did not revolve around if I took my clonazepam. Today was a great example. I forgot during my morning routine and I paid with increased anxiety. It sucked because for the next hour I was in a panic. There is a life without Benzos. I have seen it firsthand. Benzos were designed for short term use. Look it up. At the same time if it works for you that is good. I only talk about Benzos because I have seen how they have become less effective over time. On Ativan I was taking 8mg a day. Now I take three 1mg of clonazepam and it’s effects over the last year since taking it has decreased. I was taking it every 7-8 hours and some days now it’s 6-7 hours. It might seem insignificant but the truth is it’s effectively useless. My doctor would generally increase if it gets worse. I will leave you with this. I can only have a fifteen day supply at a time of clonazepam because it can be addictive and easily taken advantage of (taking more than described). My hope when people read my articles is to see all sides of this issue. I would have loved to never start Benzos. I had no choice in the matter 13 years ago because of how bad my mental health was but they never gave me all the facts. It’s dangerous to rely on something so heavily as I do. So I am seeking other options but I would never discourage anyone from doing what is right for their mental health.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Proud to say I’ve taken xanax on and off for 20 plus years and never once gone above 3 mg daily max dose. Guess that is where I am different, the dose never has to go above that,it is therapeutic and that is all I am seeking. And the days I don’t take the full prescribed dose, I know I am gaining power and control and coping skills so it just feels win win for me.
        But yeah, that is a very high dose and I understand where you are coming from. Psych meds are just so much trial, error, experiment, failure. Less science and more artform rarely reached.
        I do sincerely wish you luck my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep trying for your goals. Time is all relative it is how you feel and success is a journey of self-discovery that is short and long. It is an amazing journey and who you are can help others along the way with your storytelling of personal experience. Every journey has lows, highs, and breaks along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That is a great goal sir. I hope you accomplish it soon and well. I feel stuck with my meds too (for depression and anxiety, panic disorder). I don’t like how they make me feel but not taking them becomes an issue as well. But…I will get off them one day.
    All the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. James, i hear you man. same dilemma. on and off the pills for years, one thing for sure from experience hahaha never stop them all at once n all together.. it’s the worst.
    we get pill shamed and also live in constant dilemma on wether they’re doing us good or bad, what dosage, are there other ways and better ways.. those questions that never end, like what is this doing to my body…
    i was off all meds once n was telling some random doctor that i went to see that im done with all those side effects. he actually made sense when he said to me listen both ways you have those effect from the sickness itself, so you might as well be doing something to fix what could be fixed. be on the safer side.. not his exact words that was a long time ago but thats what stuck in my head. the social n familia pressure is also too much to get off the meds n get on the meds its complex but there is no one size fits all answer for all people and not for the same person throughout time. things change and we go with it.. thanks for writing this. you can do it all and get there but just remember that it’s not all bad to take meds. and yo one day at a time. courage! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I hope you can get off of the benzos and antipsychotics. I take an antipsychotic once every 3 months, its trevicta or invega in a shot. It works well to keep me stable. My doctor doesnt prescribe benzos though. thank god! Xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Keeping working toward your goal. It is just a hiccup in road. It is good that your dr wants to see you in person for lowering the doses, sooo much can be missed on video. Heck things can be missed in person as well. I hope that one day, you get to where you want to be medication wise with no adverse side effects or permanent ones. Good luck.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’m in a similar boat. I’ve been on antipsychotics for so long the side effects are horrendous. For one, I’ve gained soooo much weight which can lead to other chronic illnesses. I’m going to talk to my doctor for sure. Best of luck to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: A Mental Health Side Effect — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog – Health Matters

  9. I read your blog for the first time and I am really sorry for what you are going through. Being a pharmacy student I can thoroughly understand what your body is going through right now. You can get rid of the medications using some natural strategies like working out, meditation, being with your loved ones and most importantly loving yourself. You are true warrior and my best wishes are with you. More power to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So painful but it well , it’s a matter of time you will go over it,but what will help you now is making a decision and stick with them since you need a change. Things you don’t do before start doing it , taking a trip with friends, going for yoga exercise and other aerobics class, finally go for a good counseling session.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I need tell you this as an health specialist your mental health is very important reading through your write up I decided to stop by here again.
    Staying mentally healthy all you need do is value yourself, take good care of your body,treate yourself with kindness.

    Hope this help .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m also on antipsychotic right now and i have been for 5 years, can’t help but think if it’s ever gonna be possible for me to get off my medication one day.
    I’m so dependent on them that it became so scary.
    But tbh i think there are pros and cons to everything, and every choice we make comes at a cost.

    Liked by 1 person

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