Medication Sensitivity: It’s In Your Genes

DeeDee newIn October I had genetic testing to evaluate medication sensitivities. This sort of testing only looks at a few specific parts of your DNA, the bits known to affect the way you metabolize a lot of medications, including most psychoactive drugs. It’s usually covered by insurance when prescribed – even for MediCare, as a matter of fact. There are a number of different testing providers and test structures; I had a full panel test against several classes of drugs.

I had hoped to get this testing since I heard about it. I’m fed up with constantly experimenting with drugs at the cost of my stability and productivity. Continue reading

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The Cost of Mental Health

MondayMaintaining your mental health is expensive. Medicine is expensive. Many of the antidepressants are generic now, but still cost about $1/pill without insurance. Lithium is much cheaper at 30 cents a pill. Prices on anxiety meds vary depending on if they are generic or not. But the antipsychotics… woah! I take Geodon, which recently went generic, and without insurance the cost is $379/month! Fortunately I only have to pay $76 because I have insurance. Even Lamictal runs $170/month generic. These are only some prescription prices. What do you pay in supplements that aren’t covered by insurance? Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Happy Ending

RubyToday was wonderful for me.  Just really amazing.  Nothing particularly special happened to make it that way.  It actually started out fairly distressing.  But I put that aside, got up, and made myself all pretty because I was going to the hairdresser.  I love to do that, put on some lovely clothes and jewelry and makeup when I’m going to get my hair done, because my stylist always makes my hair so fancy that I want to feel beautiful all over.

And despite the unpleasant start, I had an amazing, wonderful, fantastic, lovely, thoroughly enjoyable day.  I noted on facebook that it was one of those days where I loved the world and the world loved me. Continue reading

The Birds And The Bees And The Risks That We Take

RubyAlmost six months ago, I made a choice to go off of my hormonal birth control (HBC).  I wasn’t delighted about ditching this drug; I had been on one form or another of HBC pretty much all of my adult life.  But I was in a spot.  I was five nights sleepless, floridly manic, and the only medication I could take for sleep could not be taken while I was on HBC.  I discovered an interaction between my sleep med (tizanidine) and any form of hormonal birth control that, once my doctor did some research, we found out really should have killed me while I had been taking it.  No exaggeration.  The blackouts I experienced while on the combo were the scariest evidence to back this claim up. Continue reading

Riding the Crazy Meds Train

DeeDee newI started mood stabilizers in November 2011, and after about 2 months of adjustments, I felt better than I had in years – clear-headed, stable, and just more myself. Added to my existing cocktail of stimulants for ADHD and bupropion (Wellbutrin) for depression, it seemed like a minor concession to bipolar disorder, medication-wise.

Recently, however, I experienced a bout of depression that was fiercer and longer than I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Continue reading

At What Point Do We Stop Medicating

JamesThere is an awful lot of talk about medication in mental health. After all, when you have a mental illness, one wants to get back to a mentally healthy state. I’ll skip over the philosophical questions about what really is healthy and what is ill. Rather, I’m interested in the question of at what point do we stop medicating our illness?

The question was raised to me by my girlfriend. She pointed out that I tend to rely on my medication to control my moods. Feeling anxious, take a klonopin. Nearing panic, take xanax. Depressed? Cigarettes and coffee. Manic? Extra antipsychotics. Continue reading

Be Your Own Advocate

AlwaysThe title of this post doesn’t refer to joining groups whose purpose is to reduce the stigma of a mental health diagnosis, although that’s certainly a wonderful thing to do.  I’m also not referring to shouting about your mental health diagnoses from the rooftops, although God knows I all but will (I think if I literally did it, they would lock me up and I would further ingrain the stereotypes associated with manic-depression).  I’m talking about educating yourself, really learning about all things related to whatever your particular malady happens to be, psychiatric or even physical. Continue reading

The Land of Anti-Psychotics

MondayI’ve been reasonably stable (or at least no one has complained loudly) over the past several years by taking Lamictal alone for bipolar.  However, my moods have gradually gotten out of control over the past year. I realized (and admitted) that I needed a meds adjustment, so I found a psychiatrist who believes in the teamwork approach to meds management.  Thus, she sent me on a quest for new medications; I’ve always been opposed to lithium, but she asked me to consider it and also to look into the anti-psychotics.  In fact, she loaned me a book that describes the mechanisms behind how (it is believed that) they work. Continue reading