Tag Archives: lyrica

00:10 – ECT… has it really come to that?

31 Oct

Today I had my third appointment with new psychiatrist. I have to be honest and say I was utterly dreading it because the last two appointments with him have been extremely frustrating and of no help whatsoever. But lovely support worker came with me and when she first picked me up I was very very anxious, did not want to go, but after sitting talking to me and calming me down for about 20 minutes I finally got out of the car and went into the main hospital building.

I had gone over with her what I wanted to say to new psychiatrist today and just hoped that I’d both remember it all and get the opportunity to say it all. I can’t remember if I have already mentioned this here, but basically I had decided that if this appointment went as shite as the last two with him then I was going to ask my GP to refer me to see a different psychiatrist. I may live in the middle of nowhere with very little in the way of mental health support but I do believe there is one other psychiatrist that does cover this area.

So, bang on 2.30pm his door opens and he calls me through. I hesitantly walk through with lovely support worker behind me. We sit down and he asks how I have been since I last saw him. I took a breath and told him that my mood has remained flat the vast majority of the time, that there have been a couple and I do literally mean a couple of OK/good moments but really for… well… so long now I’ve lost count my mood is flat, I rarely find enjoyment in anything, my self harming continues, I have fleeting suicidal thoughts, my sleep is crap, even the very basics like having a shower and getting dressed and taking the dogs a walk sometimes just proves to be too much for me.

Yes, I know I went out for the first time in at least six months on Saturday night and ended up having quite a good time but I think that was mostly due to the amount of alcohol I’d consumed. I did not mention anything about the recent brief substance misuse because I don’t want that splashed onto my case notes again… and anyways… it’s over and done with now with no plans of any repeat episodes. I told him about the two visits to A&E for self harm wounds and stitches, I told him I am trying my hardest to plod on with my part time home based uni course but that I’m failing to concentrate and struggling with it massively. I told him that sometimes I hear a little niggling voice encouraging me to hurt myself but that I can tolerate it as it’s nowhere near as bad as when I was hearing several voices and hearing them constantly. In that respect I think the 750mg a day of Quetiapine (Seroquel) is still working.

He asked how I’d found the increased dose of 45mg a day Mirtazapine and again I told him that it was fine for the first couple of weeks but then I started having such severe physical symptoms of anxiety (when I truly thought my heart was about to pack in and ended up getting the ecg done) and how lovely GP had wondered if it was actually the Mirtazapine causing it as anti-depressants do take a while to build up in your system. So I told him my GP told me to go back down to 30mg a day and see if the anxiety improved and yes, the heart palpitations did stop and have continued to be minimal. But the ‘psychological’ anxiety, the constant worrying and fears are still very much present. Some days I’m so scared to even walk out my front door to cross the road and walk the dogs for ten minutes then other days I dope myself up on whatever anxiety med I can and force myself to face a potentially scary situation.

He then asked how I had found the Pregabalin (Lyrica) that he had prescribed last time I saw him as the plan was for me to use it on a long term basis for my anxiety and finally start to taper off the Diazepam seeing as I’ve been taking it daily for three years now. But I had to tell him that had been a disaster as well… that I didn’t realise it had the same/similar ingredient as Gabapentin which it appears I’m allergic to. So the two medication changes he made at our last appointment a few months ago were both unsuccessful.

This of course brought us onto the discussion of reducing my Diazepam and I firmly told new psychiatrist that yes I am willing to reduce but I am most definitely not doing it at the moment. I feel horrendous enough as it is without trying to taper off from that. To my surprise he did actually say that he agreed now was not the right time, especially not as we are fast approaching my two worst times of year – Christmas and then my little boy’s anniversary in February.

He asked what support I was getting from the mental health team and I quite honestly told him how utterly useless I find cpn#2. He asked why and I explained about her super structured way of working, her setting of agenda’s, her constant ‘positive goals’ and her reluctance to talk about anything that is making my moods low. However I did tell him that I am now top of the waiting list for psychology and have been given a provisional date of mid to late November for my first appointment. It’s the same psychologist I used to work with so in a way I am looking forward to going back to see her even if I don’t feel particularly convinced that this Compassion Focused Therapy bollocks is going to work for me.

So all in all it was actually quite a good session. I managed to get across to him that the two medication changes he proposed last time I saw him had failed, that I was not ready to taper off from the Diazepam yet, that my moods are low and flat, that I’m self harming again and having occasional suicidal thoughts, that I am generally struggling with life a lot, that I’m struggling trying to continue with my studies, that the only person who lets me vent is lovely support worker, that I find my sessions with cpn#2 useless, and some days I seriously do wish I just hadn’t woken up that morning.

His first response to all of this was to ask me if I thought I would benefit from going in as an inpatient in the bin for a while? I said no, that place makes me feel worse, trapped, none of the staff give a damn, the other patients are too stressful to be around, there are too many rules… just no.

His second response was the one that surprised and to be honest shocked me (no pun intended). He said that as he looked back over all my medication history for the past four years we have pretty much exhausted every med now. There really isn’t anything different we can try. We could maybe try new combinations of something but I have pretty much tried every anti-depressant, mood stabiliser and anti-psychotic and benzodiazapine there is. He asked if it’s my depression or my anxiety that is worse and I said both of them. The anxiety can be managed to a degree with medication, the depression is just constant, constantly ongoing flat crappy moods that for months and months and months if not closer to a year have just stayed shit. Every day is an effort, every week is an effort, some mornings I open my eyes and my first thought is “I think I might kill myself today” or “I wish I was dead”. But I don’t act on them because I don’t want to put my parents through all that heartache and frustration again. I carry on painting on these fake smiles and trying so hard to make everyone think I am coping. Although I did let slip to my Mum the other day that I had recently self harmed and had to go to A&E. The thing is I’m still self harming – first through cutting… then misusing substances… then drinking… now back to cutting again. I try to put on this persona of being someone in recovery but I’m so far from recovery it’s scary. All these people telling me how well I’m doing because they don’t fucking let me talk about how bad I feel, they insist on only talking about positives and therefore have a completely skewed picture of how my life really is.

So new psychiatrist says here is the plan of action: he will not make any medication changes at the moment (mainly because there isn’t really anything else we can try), he would give me a couple of months to start seeing the psychologist again and see if psychological input helped my mood in any way, he encouraged me to be honest with cpn#2 about what *I* need from our sessions (told him I’d already done that and got nowhere)… he asked lovely support worker if she would carry on seeing me and she said yes she would see me weekly for as long as I needed it, he encouraged me to try and open up to my family so they know I’m actually not coping that great right now and all these fake smiles are simply that: fake.

And then he hits me with it… “there is one other thing we can try but I’d like to wait at least six months before trying it as I only like to use it as a last resort… have you heard of ECT before?”

I sat there kinda shocked but nodded my head. A very lovely fellow blogger tried ECT some time ago and I read all her experiences with it with interest even though it didn’t seem to work for her. It is something that scares me a bit… I mean nobody really likes the idea of being knocked out, put into a seizure and having your brain zapped do they? It’s pretty hardcore stuff. Then add in the quite possible and quite likely short term memory loss. It’s not the most appealing of treatment options. But whilst he did reiterate that it would be a last resort I suppose it sort of shocked me that it was even suggested. He said it doesn’t work for everyone but a point has to come where we try and break this depressive and unproductive cycle once and for all… and maybe, just maybe ECT would be the thing that finally works for me. But like I say, he wants me to try a few months of psychology first and then review things again. He wanted to see me back in a couple of months but he is away for most of January so my next appointment is February 6th… five days before my little man’s anniversary so I’m bound to be in a super depressed state of mind next time I see him. Again, lovely support worker said she would come with me.

I can see that my life is not good at the moment, far from it if I’m brutally honest. Yes on the one hand I haven’t given up on the studying (yet) and yes I managed to travel to a new faraway place recently (doped up on diazepam) and yes I even managed to go for a night out on Saturday (full of alcohol). But then we look at the flip side: I’m self harming a lot although managing to keep it reasonably superficial at the moment purely to avoid having to go to A&E, I’m having lots of thoughts about ending my life, my anxiety levels are ridiculously high and out of control most of the time, other than that one night out on Saturday I have next to no social life whatsoever, no friends that I see on any kind of regular basis, a constant niggling voice giggling away in my head at how pathetic I am and fuck just a couple of weeks ago things became so desperate I put that shite back into my body for some sort of an escape. I feel unsupported apart from by lovely support worker, I feel alone, I feel miserable, I question the point of everything, I don’t cook meals or eat properly I just binge on junk food, I’m lucky if I shower a couple of times a week. Things are not good. And I can’t go on pretending that I’m OK any longer because I’m not. I didn’t want to admit it but there you go, I’ve said it. I just don’t want to worry my family so I keep it bottled up… but it’s getting really bad again.

I cancelled my appointment with cpn#2 for tomorrow because I just cannot face her “positive goal setting” bullshit… I left a message for her saying I had too much studying to do and couldn’t go and asked her to give me a call back to rearrange another appointment but to be completely honest I will probably cancel that one as well. What’s the point when I get no benefit from them? And now I know it will only be a matter of weeks until I start seeing the psychologist again maybe it’s time to just stop seeing cpn#2 because I feel like I’m getting nowhere with her and I just cannot work to her super structured approach.

Has it really come to a point where I need to give serious consideration to trying ECT? Could that be the one thing that just blasts my brain back to a state of normality so I can get on with my life in a happy and meaningful way where I actually want to be alive and enjoy my life? Could it break away from all these desperate little attempts of escapism? I don’t know… And I’m not going to give it much thought for the moment because it wouldn’t be happening for at least six months anyway. And who knows where I’ll be in six months time… Who knows if I’ll even still be here? The way I feel at the moment that is somewhat doubtful.

But if I’m totally honest with people, if I lay my cards on the table and admit to how bad I feel then I enter back into the conversations like those of today: talks of admission into the bin… talks of ECT… Do I want those conversations, or worse, for them to actually happen? No.

I just want to feel normal whatever that is. I just want to feel happy. I want to wake up and look forward to the day ahead. I want things to be easy and free and effortless.

And yet I also want to go to wherever my little boy is… wherever it is we go when our body has died and our soul has moved on… and well…. I guess I can’t really believe that I’ve ended up back in this place again. I’m scared… the feelings of things about to fall apart and hit crisis level feel imminent and I’m genuinely truly terrified of that happening to me again.

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18:00 – The sexual assault: one year on

16 Aug

*Talk of sexual assault/abuse that might be triggering*

Today marks one year exactly since the sexual assault happened. It was probably around this same time of day that I’m writing this as well. A full year has gone by and still I’m left with all these gaps in memory as to what exactly happened that day/night. I thought over time memories would come back but they haven’t, I don’t really remember anything more now than what I did the day after it all happened, when I took myself off to A&E to have them test my urine for presence of drugs. So I learned one fact that day and that was that I had indeed been spiked and with PCP. The day after it happened I had a select few flashbacks of being with a stranger and flashes of seeing his body on top of mine, that feeling of power over me, the familiarity of that feeling of power, taking me back to the days of being sexually abused as a child.

But really I have learned nothing more than that. I think what happened was that there was a guy I liked and had met a couple of times in the weeks before the assault happened. I ended up liking him more than he liked me and whilst a little part of me hoped some kind of relationship might have blossomed instead he told me he didn’t think we should take things any further. So yes, I felt rejected by him and I guess I wanted to feel that feeling of someone wanting me again after it had been so short lived. So I think I was stupid and I think I arranged to meet a guy I’d got talking to online. I’ll never know for sure as my browser is set to delete all browsing history when I close the page so there was nothing there to go on. There also weren’t any strange numbers on my phone that I’d text or called that day so I have to assume our full conversation took place online. I also can’t make sense of the fact that I don’t remember meeting him at all – presumably I spent some amount of time with him before he got me to consume the PCP?? So why can’t I remember that bit? Why in fact can’t I clearly remember anything about that day… it only really becomes clear late at night when I was coming back to reality and very sick and unwell. PCP if you don’t already know makes you strongly dissociate and is basically just a horrible horrible drug.

So all I can go by are the facts and the only actual facts I have are the medical ones: PCP was found in my urine and there was a fair bit of blood in my urine with a lot of irritation inside my lady parts. Those facts back up the few flashbacks I experience. Sometimes I wish that I had taken the police up on their offer to try and investigate by looking into my computer and seeing if there were deleted conversations that they could locate, but the evidence was so little that they were honest enough to say that it was likely I’d put myself through months and months of stress and still get no solid outcome. And just like when I was 13/14 years old sitting in the police station after reporting my cousin for all the years he abused me I was given the choice to take things further or just try to draw a line under them and try to forget about it. The same way that as a teenager I couldn’t face putting my family through what could be months and months of building a case against my cousin, I couldn’t face putting myself through it all as an adult either.

So for almost a year I have attended rape crisis support appointments. I still can’t fill in the blanks of the 16th of August 2012 and mostly I’m relieved by that as it’s easier not to know. But it still left me waking up this morning feeling disgusting, wondering who ‘he’ was, wondering why I was sitting crying into my pillows when he probably hasn’t ever given me a second thought. Feeling so disgusting so I went into the shower and repeatedly washed myself… and cried… and cried some more. Sometimes I wonder if there are any other girls crying over what he has done to them… then all I feel is guilt… huge amounts of guilt that if any other girls have been hurt by him I could have done something more to have prevented it… I could have gone back to the police and given a detailed statement… but then I also know that I did tell them everything and that was very little… and it was them who told me that with so little to go on it would most likely not result in a prosecution… and I really didn’t believe that I would have the strength to go through something as stressful as a court case… and I still don’t think I could go through it now.

One thing I didn’t expect to happen was to find that any time I think of the assault I am catapulted back in time to a flashback of my cousin abusing me and I really thought I had dealt with all of that stuff some 17/18 years ago when I was 14 and seeing a CAMHS therapist about it all. But I guess it was just too hard to talk about when I was 14 plus I was scared that the therapist would tell my parents everything I told her so I spent about a year going to see her but told her very little. It wasn’t until the assault happened that I realised I had a tonne of memories that I still hadn’t dealt with as a 31 year old woman, memories I’ve kept suppressed for years that all suddenly sprung out like a jack in a box. There are so many memories and experiences that confuse me and stir up all sorts of emotions in my head. So if anything good has come out of this whole situation it’s that I’m finally getting the help I need to deal with some of those memories at last… even if I do still believe 99.9% of the time that I am the one to blame for everything bad that’s ever happened in my life.

Besides talking about this shitty anniversary I also wanted to write a little bit about my experience with taking the Pregabalin (Lyrica) tablets that new psychiatrist had decided to start me on for anxiety for long term use as he tries to get me to start reducing my diazepam dose. As you know from the posts I wrote about it I wasn’t very keen on the idea of trying it. This was mainly because I had tried a similar drug to it (Gabapentin) a few years ago and had a horrible time with it. Also I read about a lot of people having a really hard time getting back off of it, some people finding it even worse than a benzodiazapine withdrawal. I also didn’t fancy risking the weight gain side effect when it is already one of the most common side effects for the Mirtazapine and Quetiapine both of which I’m now on the max dose of. So I got the prescription from lovely GP last Wednesday then sat and stared at them each time I took my other meds for a few days. It wasn’t until Sunday that I finally found the courage to try them.

A few hours after taking my first little capsule I got that same feeling the Gabapentin gave me – I can only describe it like your body being on some sort of amphetamine stimulant whilst your head can only think about wanting to either cut or kill yourself. Completely flat mood with very depressing suicidal type thoughts slowly seeping through your brain. Yet at the same time there is this rush going through your body which makes you feel all jumpy and then the heart palpitations started which of course make me start to think I’m about to have a panic attack. Which I did indeed end up having… a huge massive one which was just awful. But I persevered and took the three a day I’d been prescribed all of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday mornings before deciding I could not handle them any more. And that was me only at 75mg a day when the starting dose is normally 75mg twice a day. There seems to be something in these types of drugs that I’m overly sensitive too because for those 5 days of taking them I was a complete mess, so uncomfortable in my own skin that I’ve scratched so much I’ve made my skin bleed… not been able to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time… constantly feeling on edge and ‘stimulated’ but in a very unpleasant way… like my body and my mind were feeling two completely different things at once… blah… I haven’t taken any for around 30 hours now and it’s only now that I’m starting to feel the last of it leaving my system.

I had another appointment this afternoon with lovely GP and felt like I was having a panic attack in the waiting room. I was still really anxious when she called me through and I rambled all of the above to her, how the Pregabalin made me feel, how I tried them for 5 days but just couldn’t cope with the side effects any longer… I rambled about not knowing which was worse the horrible rushy anxiety provoking body feelings or the sudden onset of suicidal/self harm type thoughts. She agreed that I’d made the right decision stopping them and asked how the thoughts of hurting myself were now. I told her I am still having some urges to self harm but when I saw her face starting to look a bit worried I added in that I would do my best not to act on them which made her look a little less worried. She gave me another appointment for two weeks time as she wants to review things again then and check that all of the side effects I had from the Pregabalin have completely gone by then. She said just as some people would have difficulty in tolerating even small doses of Quetiapine and Mirtazapine that I take at maximum dose, it seems I just can’t tolerate the side effects that come from the Pregabalin/Gabapentin family of drugs even at small doses.

So I’m now hoping that I can try and keep myself distracted from the thoughts of the assault that keep flashing into my head and have a peaceful Friday night and hopefully catch up on some sleep this weekend as well. But I feel pretty meh and the self harmy thoughts are still swirling round my brain. I haven’t cut since April? I think and I don’t want to do it to mark this shitty anniversary yet at the same time I feel more disgusting than ever and like I probably deserve a few more ugly scars.

Anyway on that cheery note I shall wish you all a good weekend… and as I have two sets of puppy-dog eyes staring at me I think that’s my hint that the doggies would like to go for a walk now. Hopefully that walk will be distraction enough to get through the next hour or two without self harming and I think it’s going to be one of those nights where all I can do is take things hour by hour and just wait and see how they turn out, whilst doing my best to try and gently steer things in the right direction.

22:02 – Friday already…

9 Aug

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Friday already. This week has gone by seriously quickly. Maybe that’s because I’ve actually gone out of the house and done things, time definitely goes slower when I’m in self isolation mode.

Yesterday I had my appointment with lovely support worker from rape crisis. It was a good session, some of it was spent with me moaning about new psychiatrist and about these Lyrica (Pregabalin) tablets. The other part of it was me trying in some round about way to explain that every time I think of sexually abusive acts that have happened in my life I always find myself somehow excusing them or looking for reasons to justify them. It’s easier, so so much easier to blame myself and hold myself responsible for them all than it is to admit to myself that several males have actually wanted and enjoyed hurting me, who got pleasure out of hurting me…. one when I was just a child. The fact it happened again in adulthood means yet again I somehow asked for it to happen and deserved it to happen. Lovely support worker tried to reason with me and told me it wasn’t my fault but… I just don’t believe her 😦

Today I went to my appointment with CPN#2 so that was our first appointment in 8, 10, 12 weeks… I don’t know, I do know it’s been quite a long time (again, my fault). So she had asked me to take my Compassionate Mind chapters in and she has said that she wants to get me to a place where I’m starting to grasp the basics and then hopefully the psychologist will be able to start offering me appointments again to do the Compassionate Mind stuff when it starts getting more in-depth. I arrived at the appointment and she said it was nice to see me and said “ok we have an hour, what would you like to use that hour to talk about?” I said I had a question: will I still continue to have CPN support when I start working with the psychologist again? Instead of answering me she wrote my question on a piece of paper. She then asked me what else I wanted to talk about and I said “I have a lot of concerns about the new psychiatrist, I don’t think the appointments have been helpful at all and I’m frustrated that after sending a long letter to him it appears to have achieved nothing”.

Again she wrote that down on a piece of paper. She asked if there was anything else I’d like to spend the appointment discussing and I said obviously I wanted to use most of the appointment to make a start on some of this Compassionate Mind stuff. Yes, she wrote that down as well.

She then turned the stopwatch on her phone on and propped it up against the window ledge so she could “make sure the appointment doesn’t overrun”. I hated it, every time I glanced at it I was getting distracted trying to work out how long we had left and the more I tried to think of the quick but concise ways to discuss my points the more I started going off at a tangent and forgetting what my point was. She said more than once “could you please stick to the point MCBL… this isn’t the question I have written down” Grrr. She annoyed me a bit today if I’m honest. She seemed to want to run the appointment as though she was following an agenda for a meeting. Once I’d finished blabbering on about my concerns of being discharged from CPN support once the psychologist returns and she repeatedly told me she didn’t know what would happen but did make sure she threw in the obligatory “we are pretty short staffed at the moment” line. She did say I wouldn’t be left completely on my own unless I made the decision to stop engaging with them. She then crossed ‘point number 1’ off the list and asked me what my concerns were regarding the new psychiatrist. I began to tell her about him wanting me to start on a drug that I really didn’t want to take and how I just can’t understand why the new psychiatrist wants to shake everything up when this is the longest I’ve gone for a while where I haven’t self harmed or been admitted to hospital. Although there’s been shitty days there have also been stable ones and I just don’t get why this new doctor is coming along and trying to change all that.

Her response was simply that I could ask for a second opinion if I wanted but that I’d probably find that all doctors are trying to get their patients off of daily benzodiazapines. I said to her I was now on a relatively low dose, I’ve been taking it every day for almost three years, I have no bad side effects, it helps me… why do they need to fix something that isn’t broken?!! So CPN#2 asked me what dose of Diazepam it is that I’m taking and I told her I was down to 16mg a day. She then tells me that this is not at all a “low dose” and even though I told her that GP had agreed it was a low-ish dose she started going on and on about 2mg or 4mg a day being a low dose and to be honest I don’t really know what else she had to say on the matter because I became distracted watching the numbers changing on the stopwatch phone app. I heard her saying something about how I could try writing him another letter but I couldn’t be doing with listening to her so I just said “lets move onto the compassionate mind stuff… I’ll leave the medication stuff to my GP when I see her next Friday” and she seemed quite happy to cross point two off her agenda.

So we move onto the Compassionate Mind printed out workbook. She has a copy and I have a copy. She asks me where I’d like to start and how much of it I’ve read. I hadn’t read any. I did plan to last night but I forgot. However she picked out an exercise – the body scan one – and asked if I’d like to do that. I actually remembered doing that one with the psychologist back in 2010/2011 when she was trying to get me to do the compassionate mind – sorry ‘Compassion Focused Therapy’ – back then. So CPN picks another bit and basically she read a couple of pages aloud and I read them in my head as she spoke. She then started talking about what ‘homework’ she could give me as she can’t see me again for almost a fortnight, so I agreed I would try and read through some of the first section of it and write down the bits I found easy to understand and what bits I struggled with. Then she got out her diary and we made an appointment for the 22nd August and I glanced at the stopwatch – it was up to 37 minutes – but apparently that is an hour in her eyes as she started getting to her feet and showing me towards the door. In honesty I found the appointment pretty useless in the end. I’m really starting to feel a bit fed up with the CMHT and it makes me not want to attend when I just feel no benefit from it.

I had a pretty quiet afternoon once I got home and have carried on having a pretty quiet evening. Tonight will be my third night on the new higher Mirtazapine dose of 45mg but I only really noticed that I had a bit of brain fog yesterday but it was less foggy today so I think my body is going to adjust to the new dose pretty quickly. Which is good, of course.

I don’t have anything planned for the weekend as yet, hoping it will stay dry so I can get out a good walk with the dogs up the hills for a while. I could do with some real proper exercise where I come home aching all over and feeling like I’ve had a good work out. Hopefully I’ll be in a mood to go be outdoors tomorrow and the fact that I’ve stayed in since 2pm today isn’t a sign I’m slipping back into self isolating mode.

We shall see……

19:28 – Lots of anxiety about these Pregabalin (Lyrica) tablets!

7 Aug

Yesterday turned out to be a good day. I finally took Mum for her belated birthday lunch and managed to travel around 25 miles and then get out once we were there and managed to go into a restaurant and eat lunch. We were in the restaurant for almost an hour before I started feeling a bit anxious and irritable so I paid the bill and we went for a little wander around the village shops. The rain had came on by then and neither of us had jackets so it was a good excuse to head back to the car and come home. As soon as we were back within a couple of miles of home the anxiety quickly began to calm down so I even managed to spend another half an hour in a coffee shop having a slice of carrot cake which was yummy. It was nice to spend a few hours with Mum and just have a proper chat about both the crappy stuff and some lighter stuff and we both agreed we should do it again soon. So I came home and had a reasonably relaxed evening in front of the TV but then a very restless night’s sleep where I just seemed to wake up constantly, it seemed as though every time I dozed off I woke straight back up. Really annoying and left me super grumpy and overtired today.

Thankfully I didn’t have much to do today. I had an appointment with lovely GP this afternoon and she wanted to have a chat with me about the Pregabalin. She’d received a letter from new psychiatrist regarding my appointment with him last week and he said he wanted to start me on 75mg twice a day and also increase my Mirtazapine dose from 30mg a day to 45mg a day. I told lovely GP about the appointment with new psychiatrist being a complete joke due to the whole 15 minutes it lasted, the fact that when I told him I’d been voice hearing again he simply shrugged and offered no opinion on why they’d came back, that he was still going on about me coming off the Diazepam and that he said I could be prescribed Pregabalin to help with anxiety long term. Lovely GP asked how I felt about it and I told her that the only information I knew about it was what I had read on the internet and that new psychiatrist didn’t even tell me what kind of drug it was, instead simply telling me to “try it, if you don’t like it then you can stop, if it helps you can stay on it”.

So lovely GP took the time to explain what type of drug it was and told me all of the common side effects but there was something different about the way she was talking to me, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on but she seemed kind of hesitant or a little concerned maybe about me taking Pregabalin. She said it was similar in make up to Gabapentin which I once tried taking as a mood stabiliser back in 2009. I only managed to take it for a couple of weeks, maybe even just days before feeling so suicidal and so on edge and a complete mental mess and was told to come off of it immediately. When she told me it was similar to Gabapentin I instantly felt my anxiety start to rise and I told her I’d taken Gabapentin and what a horrible time I’d had. She looked back on her computer to 2009 and found the notes that went along with it and said to me again that it was my choice if I wanted to try it or not but she really did seem like she wanted me to say “no I don’t think I do want to try it” and that was exactly what I felt like saying to her, but there was something niggling at the back of my head saying “what if this drug could really help you… what if it’s the one thing missing and with the combination of it and starting the talking therapy stuff, this could be the right cocktail for me at last…”

I tried to explain that to my GP and she said it was completely up to me, she would go with whatever I wanted. So I asked again what dosage new psychiatrist wanted me to start on and she said 75mg twice a day. I asked what the lowest dosage available was and she said the lowest capsule is 25mg so I said if I was going to try it I wanted to try it from the smallest dose possible and work my way up if I find it beneficial. So we agreed I would start off on 25mg three times a day and then I have an appointment to see her again next Friday and if I find I am tolerating it ok then we can increase the dose. The thing is that once I got home I sat and read the patient information leaflet and there are a LOT of potential side effects. Now I know this is the same with ANY drug even simple paracetamol has a long list of possible side effects and you would think that being on the maximum dose of a drug like Quetiapine that I wouldn’t give a second thought to potential side effects, especially when I know I have the lowest dosed capsules they make. But for some reason (more than likely because I keep having flashbacks of the Gabapentin experience) I am utterly terrified of trying the Pregabalin now. I haven’t given a single thought to increasing my Mirtazapine tonight, I know what side effects I might feel from that and none of them scare me, I know I’ll just feel foggy headed and a bit zombie like for a few days and then my body will adjust to the new dose. But I have sat here with the box of Pregabalin in front of me for a couple of hours now telling myself just to take one but something is really stopping me. Anxiety stopping me. How stupid is that – a drug that has the potential to really help my anxiety is actually causing me a hell of a lot of it?!

So I thought I had made up my mind that I would start with the increased dose of Mirtazapine tonight and let my body get used to that for a few days and then re-assess the Pregabalin situation, maybe by then I’d have built up the courage to try at least one capsule. But then I thought maybe it would be best just to start it tonight and deal with all of the side effects all at once from both meds.

Argh, I don’t know what to do I really don’t. Something is screaming inside of me to remember how horrendous those days taking Gabapentin felt and how stupid I felt when I was whizzing my way through internet article after internet article and reading how it was generally so well tolerated… how could I be in such an anxious and suicidal feeling mess when all these people were saying their side effects had been minimal?? Of course, I have since learned that all medications effect everyone differently. There have been drugs that I haven’t been able to tolerate for more than a few days/weeks/months which other people have said they experienced no side effects from and then there are other people who say to me now that they don’t understand how I can be taking 750mg of Quetiapine mixed with Mirtazapine and Diazepam and not feel like a complete zombie.

I said to lovely GP that I know the reason the psychiatrist wants me off the Diazepam is because it’s an addictive medication but I also said that sometimes the attitude of “if it’s not broke then why fix it” would make life so much easier. At the moment I am slowly but surely starting to get better with the agoraphobia. I still can’t leave my safety zone or travel on a motorway or go near any big cities or shopping centres, but my distance is slowly increasing so long as I know I will be on quiet roads to get to my destination and so long as I’m in a situation where if the panic becomes unbearable I can turn around and head for home right there and then. In other words any form of public transport is still way too much for me to even consider because I’m not in any kind of control over turning the bus/boat/train/plane around… whereas when I’m in a car a car can be turned around immediately. Anyway what I was about to say before I went off on that tangent was, I was telling lovely GP that in my opinion (and obviously I’m no professional) but in my own opinion I think the dose of Diazepam that I am currently on (16mg a day) is a relatively low dosage. And I cannot see what long term damage would come from me staying on that dose and carry on with my life how it is at the moment, some areas still very much a struggle and some areas beginning to slight improvements. Lovely GP nodded her head as if in agreement with me and just gave me one of her sympathetic smiles. I have also found out from my reading about Pregabalin online that it is a pretty expensive drug to be prescribed whereas Diazepam at the dose I’m on is pennies in comparison. It seems so stupid to me that when some bits of my life are kind of ok someone who barely knows me can come along and decide they are going to remove my safety blanket but offer to put me on an expensive drug with the potential for tonnes of unwanted side effects, that may or may not help with my anxiety all the while I’ve already been taking something for almost three years which I know helps. I admit I do have to self medicate with it sometimes and take more than my prescribed dose on particularly bad days, but then there are some better days where I don’t need my full dose so it all balances out. But as I said to lovely GP I know I’m not going to win the argument with new psychiatrist so if this Pregabalin stuff is my only option for long term anxiety management and the only thing he is willing to offer me then would I be foolish not to even try it even if the potential for a repeat of the Gabapentin experience is pretty likely to happen?

I really don’t know what to do and I suppose I’m not going to find out by sitting staring at the box, but I think for the next few days anyway I’ll just do the Mirtazapine increase and get adjusted to that. Hopefully in the mean time I’ll find the courage to at least try the Pregabalin… Then again I don’t even know if I want to find the courage because I’ve read so much about it and so many mixed reviews about how helpful it actually is for anxiety and there seems to be one common theme and that is that most people start on around 150mg a day but almost everyone seemed to need to increase, most people who it worked for said they didn’t get real benefit from it until they were in the 300mg+ range and another whole lot of people said it has a tendency to feel like it’s working and then just poop out on them after a month or two meaning more and more increases in dosage. Also it appears to be a bit of a bastard to come off of. Even my box of the lowest dose capsules says on the pharmacy label “do not stop this medication without speaking to your doctor”. The withdrawal process from it has been horrendous for some people, people who haven’t found any benefit at any dose and so are withdrawing from it completely and ended up with a whole new battle on their hands. I know coming off the Diazepam isn’t going to be an easy one but at least I can say it was worth taking all of this time.

OK I think I’ve rambled on quite enough now I see the word counter has gone over the 2000 mark! Argh I’m just really confused and feeling really anxious and just do not know what to do for the best. Maybe things will somehow become clearer through the next few foggy mirtazapine brain days… who knows.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with lovely support worker and then on Friday I’m starting this compassionate mind/compassion focused therapy bollocks with CPN#2. Must remember to do some reading from the workbook tomorrow night. On that note my stomach is rumbling and I think it’s time to think about dinner and try to stop thinking about all the if’s, but’s and maybe’s about these stupid tablets every two seconds!

Arghhhh!

*lets out silent scream*

Deep breath…

Focus…

Count to ten…

And…

Breatheeee

 

 

 

17:10 – Pregabalin (Lyrica) for anxiety… anyone?

1 Aug

Sorry I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, to be honest my head has been all over the place and I’ve been spending almost all my time self isolating recently. I still haven’t seen CPN#2 but I finally found some courage and phoned to request another appointment. I was only on the phone to her for about three minutes and all she talked about was how it would be beneficial if I could at least read the first chapter of the Compassionate Mind/Compassion Focused Therapy workbook thingy before I see her again. She said this is to prepare me for doing structured work with the psychologist but I have to admit I just sat here rolling my eyes thinking “what a load of bull” as she spoke. Anyway I said I would try and read some of it and the first appointment she could offer me won’t be until the 9th of August, so next Friday.

She didn’t ask why I haven’t been in touch with her for the best part of ten weeks; I did try to apologise but she just said “that’s your decision whether or not you want help” which kinda left me feeling like she thinks I’m not arsed about getting help from them. Of course there are some days when I’m not arsed, equally there are other days where I know that whether I like it or not I have to try this therapy stuff and just see what happens with it. The one thing that did confuse me though was the way she said I was working with her to prepare me for working with the psychologist – does this mean that when the psychologist finally starts working with me again that I’ll no longer have a CPN? I don’t know. It kinda sounded that way though. To be honest I obviously don’t feel much benefit from seeing her or I wouldn’t have let the past couple of months pass without getting in contact with her. So maybe that question answers itself.

Moving along to today and it was my second appointment with the new psychiatrist. I haven’t been sleeping great lately and looked like shit (felt like shit too with the combination of extreme tiredness and a bucket load of anxiety). My support worker came along to it with me which was a massive help because I felt more confident in talking about the points I raised with him in the letter I sent after meeting him for the first time. I told him about my concerns over stopping taking the daily Diazepam and how I understood that I cannot stay on it long term but at the moment it is doing something to help me and if he takes that away then there is nothing in it’s place to help me cope with the agoraphobic related anxiety and to a degree, social anxiety. I told him I’d also spoken to my GP about this whole coming off of the Diazepam stuff and how she agreed with me that it made much more sense for me to start the Compassionate Mind stuff and at least start learning the basics before withdrawing what is essentially my safety blanket. He didn’t say anything, in fact he barely looked at me. He scribbled some notes down and made the same comment as last time “you are only scared to withdraw from it because you are addicted” – well if I am addicted it’s the fucking fault of my old psychiatrist for leaving me on them for almost three years!!!

He asked about my social life (what social life??) and I told him I had been self isolating a lot lately and I told him I missed a few days of medication (twice) in the past couple of weeks and how disappointed it made me to realise that the voices were still there underneath the elastoplast band aid also known as Quetiapine.

I didn’t like my old psychiatrist much, I admit that, but at least he gave appointments that lasted around an hour not fifteen minutes. He would ask me about the voices, what they were saying, how they made me feel, how they affected me, what I thought they wanted, etc. But this new guy? He didn’t ask a single question.  He skimmed over my medications again then said he would agree to leave my Diazepam dose at the current level of 16mg a day for three more months before I have to start withdrawing and leave my Quetiapine at 750mg a day but he then said that he thought I was experiencing low moods and wanted to increase something to help me (Quetiapine is already maxed out) so he asked me if I’d like to move up from 30mg Mirtazapine a day to 45mg a day. I said I’d give it a go.

Then he said something which surprised me a little – he asked if I wanted something for the anxiety that I could take on a longer basis than any benzodiazapine? I asked him what he had in mind and the medication he recommended was Pregabalin. I told him I’d never heard of it before and he simply said just to try it and if I didn’t like it then I didn’t need to take it. This was another thing that annoyed me – the old psychiatrist would have taken five or ten minutes to explain what type of drug it was, what possible side effects there could be and answer any questions I had about it. This new psychiatrist, however, offered no information at all and simply told me to go to my GP next week and get a prescription for it, as well as for the extra dose of mirtazapine.

Of course as soon as I got home the first thing I did was consult Dr. Google about what the fuck Pregabalin actually is. It seems that it’s primarily a medicine for epilepsy, an anti-convulsant, which is also used for neuropathic pain (conditions like Fibromyalgia) but the more I read the more articles I came across for it also being an effective treatment for anxiety. I’m not sure what dose he is starting me on, I’m pretty sure he said 75mg but from all the reading I’ve done this afternoon it seems like most people need at least one if not two or three increases as a lot of people say it seems to lose effect after a while.

I’m apprehensive about trying it but if they are determined to wean me off the Diazepam starting October/November time then at least it gives a good period of time for the Pregabalin to build up in my system. I think the withdrawal off the Diazepam is going to take several months and I can’t lie, of course I would much rather stay on it, but I know I can’t, so if the Pregabalin works then that would be super.

I’m still experiencing bursts of laughter, uncontrollable giggles, and silly childish remarks off and on from little Berry but the voice of Sasha has well and truly gone. However I am still struggling a lot with urges to self harm. I’m on top of it at the moment but things do feel a lot like they are sliding backwards a lot of the time. Oh, that reminds me, I actually asked the new psychiatrist if he thought the voice hearing had come back almost like a rebound psychosis because I suddenly stopped taking my medications for a few days and he didn’t even answer me! I actually found him to be a little bit rude because I was talking about something personal and instead of listening to me he started writing me out another appointment card. At the moment I rate his communication skills as poor, his ability to display empathy or understanding as non-existent, and his 15 minute appointment sessions are just a joke. I know GP’s are limited to about 10 minute appointments but the ones with the psychiatrist are supposed to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Grrr.

I thought that by writing him a letter and explaining everything it would be beneficial to both him and me but now it sort of feels like a waste of time. Even though he wrote a short letter back thanking me and saying he understands my mental health better now. I don’t even think he remembered the letter until I mentioned it and even then I saw him flicking through my notes and speedily reading through it. Unfortunately I live in such a rural area that he is the ONLY psychiatrist I can see. I am very thankful that we have the NHS in the UK and receive free healthcare treatment but sometimes it’s extremely frustrating when you have to work with people who you feel no benefit from seeing but you carry on going to the appointments anyway because you know that if you don’t then you just won’t have a CPN/Psychiatrist/CMHT.

I think I have rambled on enough now but it would be great to hear from anyone who has tried Pregabalin for anxiety purposes (I believe it’s called Lyrica for my friends across the pond) and what you’re experiences of it have been – good or bad!

For now, I suppose I had better try and face the outside world and go buy some dinner for me and the doggies. Hope you’re all well xx