When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, the first medication I took was called Abilify, it was a new drug, one that was supposed to protect against metabolic issues like gaining weight.
It would’ve been fine but it had a nasty side effect no one told me about, the constant restless feeling of needing to move. I couldn’t sit still and I was so uncomfortable that I’d take miles long walks everyday just to ease the feeling.
I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.
That was a side-effect called Akithesia.
Needless to say, it was so unpleasant that I demanded to be put on something else.
After that came the years long parade of trying different meds and experiencing the side-effects of each of those, for Risperdal and Latuda, it was some pretty extreme weight gain, for Geodon, it was more paranoia and for Seroquel it was drowsiness.
The point is, I know finding the right medication takes time, and it takes trial and error.
It takes some serious discomfort too.
In all that time though, I never gave up on meds simply for the fact that I didn’t want to feel crazy anymore.
It takes some perspective to see it like that, that you can handle whatever side-effects come with a certain medication just as long as it does the job in terms of causing your symptoms to subside.
That’s the key to dealing with the long process of finding the right medication.
You need to have a willingness to accept the side-effects just as long as it means you’ll feel less crazy.
It takes openness, experimentation, and a good deal of patience to find the med that fits, but once you do, life will be a lot more pleasant.
I’ve learned a lot in my years of living with schizophrenia. I’ve learned how to feel normal, I’ve learned how to quiet my intrusive thoughts, and most importantly I’ve learned how to roll with the punches.
Take it from me, dealing with a mental illness can be tough, you have to deal with chaos, in your head and in your life, you have to deal with the stigma of being labeled crazy and you have to deal with the tough life of learning how to cope.
The one thing that has the most profound effect though is medication. It’s the catalyst for well being and though it may be tough to figure out what works, it’s well worth it once you find something that gives you a better grasp on normal life.
I’ve heard from other people complaints like their meds don’t work or that the doctors overprescribe and those are things that you definitely have to be cognizant of but it is in your best interest to experiment until you find something that fits.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my meds, writing to audiences here and in the New York Times.
I’m thankful for my stability.
It takes time, it takes a willingness to try, and it takes patience but you will figure out what’s best for you if you try and if you truly want to get better.
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