Hello. We met almost four years ago after a debilitating reaction to Lithium, which I was in the hospital for almost two weeks while they tried to get all my levels steady. Apparently, it was tricky bc they kept having to change things. I only remember the first 2-3 days of my stay, when my best friend walked into the room. I don’t even remember what she said. I vaguely remembered my mom getting upset bc they weren’t answering my calls. Apparently, I had done something to the the set-up so that they weren’t even getting my calls. They fixed it. My mom brought new underwear, and I was so happy about that. That was the last night I remembered her, even though she came every single day after work. I don’t remember my dad and stepmom visiting. I don’t remember my cousin visiting. I don’t remember when they eventually had to put diapers on me since I couldn’t tell when I had to go. And I don’t remember going home…
After my stay, we were told that they took me off all of my psychotropic drugs, and they were the only things that held me together, so I went into a psychosis, followed by a deep depression, as I was not allowed to start on any medication until I saw you. I was in that deep depression the first time. You had the notes from my last Psychiatrist, my multiple hospital stays, every drug I’d ever taken after college. And you were very nice, and listened to me. Of course, we started out small… taking baby steps with medication. Every two weeks for at least a year. Finally I got to a point where you were comfortable to see me once a month instead… unless we added or stopped medications.
I definitely went through the horrible trial and error of drug combinations. Sometimes I felt worse than when I was off all medication. Finally, however, I actually felt good enough to work better with my therapist and with my family at home. I liked feeling better. I still applied for disability though, because there was no way I could work in my condition. Then… I realized I had gained almost 70 lbs from my one med. In three months. The med worked great to help me, but I came to you almost in tears because I had gained so much weight that I never wore jeans anymore. I started buying leggings in those months without thinking much of it until I used my scale one day. I ended up crying in my bed. I was the heaviest I had ever been, I even surpassed my high school weight of 250. And you listened.
I was immediately weened of the drug, and placed on another that I had taken before with success. One that doesn’t cause weight gain. After 2 months, I dropped 20 lbs. And stayed there. I still had to wear the leggings. I still came to your office in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and when it was hot, sweatpants and a t-shirt. I stayed that weight for a good two years. I wasn’t gaining, at least, is what I kept telling myself. Eventually, a friend told me that she didn’t care how anyone looks or how much they weigh (and I knew that to be true), but that she saw how bad my back and knees were giving me so much pain. She saw me struggle down the stairs. We tried walking one day, and within 5 minutes my back hurt so bad that I begged her to sit down. So she told me she was worried about my health. She told me the things she saw. She saw how my weight was affecting me mentally. And she told me that she would always be my best friend, but she really didn’t want me to be tied down to a wheelchair at the age of 40.
I remember telling you this. I remember going through a couple more drugs. But there really wasn’t anything that would cause me not to lose weight, and one of the antipsychotics I was on was the first in it’s kind to not have a “weight gain” side effect. So I’m not exactly sure how or why I started losing weight suddenly. We hadn’t changed anything. I still sat around at home doing nothing. No gym. No better eating. Nothing. BUT, once I started, I really tried. I still couldn’t go to the gym bc of the lingering pain, but I was going what I could. In total, as of today, I have lost 82 lbs.
I had been on one antipsychotic from the beginning that I was continuously wanted to stop taking, after I found out that I had such a high dose of prolactin from taking it, that it literally killed my sex drive. And you also told me that it enhanced my chances of early osteoperosis. So we tried going off, but after a week I felt like I was going crazy. I had been taking 5mg, and them I was taking 4mg. That 1mg made me fly off my rocker. I had to call your office and speak to the nurse to speak to you, and you immediately put me back on my old dose.
I know you were really surprised then, when a couple months later (and about 15 lbs ago) that I wanted to try weening it off again. You wouldn’t do it without cross tapering with another drug. You started listing off drug names and their side effects trying to figure out yourself what might be the best. When you listed Seroquel XR, I immediately told you that I had been on that before while I was out of health insurance, and that I liked it. You reminded me that it had a side effect of gaining weight. I told you it didn’t do that to me when I was taking it before, so you decided to try it. Now I’m off the one antipsychotic that I needed to be off, and I’ve actually LOST weight since I started taking seroquel.
So, after this amazingly long entry, there are a couple more things I wanted to say to you. Thank you for taking care of me as if I were your own child. Thank you for always listening to me instead of just doing whatever you felt was best. Thank you for letting me share in the dosing of each medication… what my fears were…. what you had experienced… and when I said I didn’t want to try it, we didn’t.
Above all, thank you for seeing me as a human, and not just another statistic.