So bored without school, and a psych med colouring book (in the works)

School has now changed my life a lot… I’m so bored on winter break. I had an excellent Christmas and was excited to give and get gifts. My parents and friends got my wonderful gifts and I’m so thankful and grateful to have them. They’re so thoughtful, and are worth their weight in gold. (I wonder how many rings I could make if the yarn I got was turned to gold!) I’m also glad my gifts were well liked.

I spent Christmas at my parents. We had a good time. So much food. My mom went nuts at Lindt this year and gave my roommate and I at least 5lbs worth. That’s a lotta chocolate, but I’m not complaining! I’m not doing anything tonight, its NYE.

Current meds: Haldol, 15mg. Clozepam 1.5mg + PRN. Artane, 5 mg (for haldol side effects, so far so good), lexapro, 20megs. Elavil, 50 mgs. Adderall, 60mgs. I also bought and am trying Hydrafanil which is a nootropic, a very strong one.

Here’s something I’ve been doing on winter break. I wrote out a list of psych meds, A-Z and here’s what I’ve made. I’m not anti-med, but I like to make fun of things, and threw in some jokes and stereotypes. Feel free to print and colour, but these are copyright to me. I can’t release a book because I could get sued by the brand-name companies. So I’ll have to think of different names (Depa-bloat? I suck at this…)

Making Fun Of Meds – Art Therapy

I like to draw generalizations of medications, not necessarily things that have happened to me, but more of the fear mongering people tend to do online. These are in jest, and are work’s in progress, by me, done with Sharpie and watercolour markers (from Michael’s). I’m not the best artist, but hey, I have fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first is about Ritalin mis-use and abuse. I’m sure everyones heard of people snorting Ritalin by now. Adderall, too. Not the smartest things to do with your psych meds! It’s basically speed, but used properly, these are less of an upper, and more of an evener-outer, if that makes sense. I take 40mg of Ritalin daily, and I don’t abuse it, I don’t have crazy side effects, and I sure as hell a not a zombie or some addict. But this is more inspired by those that are, the desperate, the ones getting off on a legal Rx. These people shouldn’t be prescribed psychostim’s, and it is a haunting truth. If you type in “Ritalin” in a Google images search, it brings up separate pages for “Snorting” and “Abuse”, which is fucked up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext is a play on the “chemical straightjacket” so many people think we’re in. I’m not a zombie, I don’t drool, and I don’t sleep a lot, for starters. A lot of antipsychotics, especially the old ones, like Thorazine, are noted for being chemical straightjackets, so I decided to poke fun at it with this drawing, which I haven’t completed. Antipsychotics used properly should stop psychosis, stabilize moods (some of them are also mood stabilizers, such as seroquel, latuda, zyprexa, and so on) and make life better. I currently take Latuda, 120mg, and it gives me akathasia from hell… I see pdoc on Tuesday, but it helps. If I take the Latuda before bed, with my night meds (elavil and clonazepam) I fall asleep before the horrible akathasia kicks in… but a dose of Artane or something should stop that. I lovelovelove Latuda, otherwise. I have energy, my cognitive functioning is so much better, my moods are great.

flowerI’m currently enrolled in a welding course, almost 3 months into it, and am working on getting my Canadian Welding Bureau certification(s), a total of 4 tickets, by the time the course is done. The pic is a metal ‘flower’ I made out of bent metal pieces that were welded together, I need to take a pic of the final project, because its just “tacked” together in the pic. I made my welds nicer, and ground down some of the crap, and burns. I’m giving it to my mom. Welding is wicked fun, I’m doing CNC stuff, too, and will hopefully land an apprenticeship by Feb. I’ve also got a tattoo planned! More info later.

Quick update. I’m doing well, very busy. On Latuda, Ritalin, Klonopin, Elavil, and Lexapro. I’ll share my pharmacy horror story later.


Art Therapy – Positive Affirmations

I haven’t been doing much. Finished some knitting. Going to yoga. Went out to the barn.

I got an idea to make a notebook full of positive affirmations. I used markers (watercolour and Sharpie), and chalk pastels. Here it is so far.

IMG_0174 IMG_0175 IMG_0176 IMG_0177 IMG_0178 IMG_0179 IMG_0180

No more Invega Sustenna

I had three shots of Invega Sustenna. 150mg loading dose, a week later 100mg loading dose, 4 weeks later, 150mg regular dose.

The side effects SUCK. But it helped so much.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The first side effect I noticed was in my mouth, I would stutter, it felt like I didn’t have control of my mouth and I was sort of spitting out the words. My roommate, when I brought this up, said that I had been talking differently lately.

The cognitive effects. I would completely lose words while trying to write/say something. I would be typing a word, forget what the word was halfway through, and then be unable to type the rest of it. I couldn’t look at letters and copy them to paper or my keyboard, either.  Just massive fuzziness.

Then the physical side effects.

Invega Sustenna is good at lowering your blood pressure when you stand up, and I already have low blood pressure. After nearly blacking out for 3 weeks in yoga, I’m taking a short break until the dizzy, fainting feeling goes away. I’d stand up, and then tunnel vision, sparkles, hearing getting muffled. That means I was about to pass out. I got myself back on the ground or waited it out and didn’t pass out in public, or at home.

Then the twitching. Ugh. My body would twitch in different areas. Just like an electrical zap, *twitch*, it was weird. I was shaking a lot too, especially at yoga, and the more I thought about the shaking, the more I shook. It concerned a couple yoga instructors, but I explained that my meds do this to me.

Yesterday, I had enough. I called my pnurse, and she told me to call my pdoc, so I called him, and got in today. I explained my problems, and that I didn’t want to be on depot injections anymore (as I am medication compliant 100%) and he raised my Seroquel to Seroquel XR 300mg in the morning, 300mg at night, and said if it made me drowsy, to take it all at night.

I got Elavil for sleep, too. It knocks me out, I can sleep now, although I’m waking up earlier. I’m sleeping less (7-8 hours rather than 9-11) but feeling better. I take 100mg of that, but can go up to 150mg.

I have shoulder surgery soon. Maybe this month. Hopefully not. I’m so not wanting to do it. But I have to. I’ve been on the waiting list for a year. Ironically, my shoulder hasn’t been bothering me at all lately. Figures. The rehab.. 9 months.. 3 months before most function comes back.. 1 month in a sling, unable to do anything. Fuck.

Oh well. Gotta do what’s necessary.

Choosing a life

I’m sick and tired of being on disability, having nothing to do all day, being bored all the time, the stigma, blah blah blah. I don’t mind that the government pays me for being disabled, and pays for all my medications (thank god for that) but I want something more out of life.

I’ve been to college three times. Two of them were successful. The second, the failure, I failed twice. First year was fine. Second year – psychotic episode for four months that I don’t remember. I remember coming to in the hospital. Then I went back. Did third semester, was manic. Crashed into a deep depression, couldn’t function, withdrew and went into the hospital for ECT and assessment.

My pdoc says I’m schizoaffective. Or rather, I have schizoaffecive disorder. I’m on new meds (I’ll list at the end) and schizoaffective seems so much heavier than bipolar disorder. I’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder by four psychiatrists (the four most recent) and I’ll let that sink in. It’s just weird to hear him say it. It’s weird to explain to people. “It’s like schizophrenia and bipolar at the same time”. Now that sounds scary. In reality, the prognosis for schizoaffective disorder is better than the prognosis for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder on their own, apparently.

So I’ve been stable for about a year now. That’s good. I’ve decided to start paying my student loans so I can get credit. Good. 4 years of loans. I’m looking for a job, but I suck at interviews and either am overqualified or undequalified. I have a degree in social science, and another in computer engineering.

So why not go back to school?

I have some money coming, and I’ve decided to learn a trade. Welding. It’s in demand, it pays well, and I can make art with it, too. I think it would be good. But I have a torn rotator cuff to get fixed before I can go into this trade. I also have to have an employer take me on as an apprentice. The people at the employment agency for those on ODSP can help me with that. I’m a female, making me a minority, which means it’s easier, for some reason, to find a placement in this field.

I talked to my mom about it. She liked the idea. My roommate thinks its a great idea. So I’ll go for 2016, after shoulder surgery and recovery (9 months of physio!) that I still don’t have a date for yet. Note to self: call orthodoc.

I think welding would be great. I love to work with my hands, and with tools. If I get in, it’d be awesome. The companies pay apprentices, which means college will mostly pay for itself, and there are often government grants to trades students, that will cover equipment and some tuition.

Also, once my student loans are paid off and my credit goes from 0 to “no credit” I want to mortgage a house. ODSP allows this. It’d actually cost the same as renting, but it would be MINE. I’ve seen some tiny houses for sale that are super cute. I’d have my own yard, my own place, something to call my own. So I have to build credit, ODSP will help get a mortgage, and I’ll have a house.

The apprenticeship and training for welding is 3-3.5 years. My student loans will be paid off in 4 years if I pay the minimum. I plan on getting a job (I suck at interviews though) to start paying it off faster.

These are things I’ve thought about a lot. I want to live a more normal life. Like my old pdoc, Dr Asshole says, you may not be 100% ever, but you’ll have to accept being 70 or 80%. My prognosis is “fair”, which is better than poor, and, well, my pdoc, Dr Nice, sees me at my worst.

Now for meds. I’ve had a bitch of a time sleeping. I paid for zopiclone for sleep and it worked for one night. It wasn’t covered by my drug plan. The second night, I took 3 during the night and got zero sleep. So I saw my GP, Dr Awesome, and he put me on Elavil, which is covered and I’ve been sleeping well since.

Current meds

Wellbutrin XL: 450mg in the morning

Clonazepam: 0.5mg in the morning, 0.5mg in the afternoon as needed (I do need the morning dose)

Ritalin: 20mg in the morning, 20mg in the afternoon

Seroquel XR: 400mg at night

Mogadon: 20mg at night (a sleeping med in the benzo family)

Elavil; 50-150mg at night

Invega Sustenna: 150mg every 4 weeks

It seems like a LOT, but I’m stable. I came off Piportil because of side effects and I didn’t want to be tethered to go get a shot every other week. Invega Sustenna is more convenient, less side effects (I have barely any, except a sore arm for a few days) and I’ve stopped dropping weight.

I got down to 92lbs, which is less than I’ve ever weighed, even when I had an eating disorder. I just hit 100lbs. Still undeweight at 5 foot 3, but it’s progress. I go to yoga 3-4 times a week.

I had a job interview when I hit 100lbs and the guy asked if I did drugs because I was “too thin”. He offered me the job. I said no. If he was going to be a dick at the interview, then fuck him – what would it be like to work with him if he’s that much of a jerk at the interview? Plus it’s a half hour drive if the lift bridge isn’t up and it’d suck in the winter.

I just want my life to be more normal. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. I’m stable, maybe between stable and hypomanic (but sleeping well with the Elavil and not doing stupid shit). I woke up today at 8am and saw the sun shining in my room and knew it was going to be a good day, and it was.

I’ve put a lot of thought into the choices, the house, the job, the welding apprenticeship. I didn’t make these decisions lightly. They’re goals. The next couple of years are going to be rough, but I think I can make it.  I’m compliant 100% with my meds and see my pdoc monthly, as well as my psych nurse for the injections. (Actually, I see her every Saturday, she’s in my morning yoga class. She asked me if it was alright to talk to me at yoga. I said no problem. She’s super nice)

For now, I’m looking for any job to make a few exta bucks. Knitting a lot.

But I think I can pull this off. I’ll be in my mid-thirties (I’m 30 right now) when all of this will come together.

Please let it work out!

Yoga and Invega Sustenna And Life

I haven’t updated in a while. My old laptop’s keyboard stopped working,  I had to use an external, and the technician came two days late with the wrong part. Then I was told I had to send it in and have them replace it, since it can’t be done on the field by a tech. I could have done it myself, honestly.

I flipped out, and eventually my call got escalated so high they decided to just replace my laptop. So I reinstalled Windows 8 after backing up all my data, complete wipe and reinstall. I was supposed to get the laptop the next day.

No laptop.

A week later, I get an email “Its out of stock”. They order another one. Out of stock. Finally, they order the one I have now (which has delightfully nice specs, i7 core processor, GEFORCE Nvidia driver and 16GB of RAM, to start. The old one was i7, and had 8GB’s of RAM. I got it a week after it was ordered.

I flipped out bad on the phone with my mom one day. She listened to me, let me rant and cry, and then told me that a woman she works with has similar “issues” and finds yoga to help. She said “Don’t go throwing away your pills, but yoga might help”. I live on top of a yoga studio, interesting coincidence. So all I do is walk downstairs for class.

I go to my first class, Gentle Yoga. Everyone but me is elderly, but they’re very welcoming and nice. The first class is free. I went through the hour and fifteen minute class and time went so fast. The studio focuses on mindfulness and staying in the moment, as well as different types of breathing. I was hooked. My mom and I split on an Unlimited pass, so I could go every day if I wanted. I go four days a week.

My doc approves. I still need meds, obviously, but it’s therapeutic for me. The relaxing, the breathing. I like doing the poses and stretching. It’s helped my bad shoulder. I go to Level 1 and Gentle Yoga, as well as Bliss yoga at the end of every month.

I’d recommend yoga for those that have a temper, or bad anxiety. I have a temper AND bad anxiety. It’s so relaxing. And what my mom said: Don’t go throwing out your meds. It’s a good aid. And it’s cheaper than therapy. With the unlimited pass,  pay $15 a week when you work it out.

My old therapist charged $40/hour on the sliding scale (and she was one of the cheaper ones) and she SUCKED. I fired her and started yoga. I don’t recommend firing your therapist and doing yoga in replacement, but this tdoc really, really sucked.

Piportil was giving me warning signs of TD, and I was stuttering on it, involuntary twitches, bad akathasia if I didn’t take Artane in the am and pm (10mg total a day).  So my pdoc switched me to Invega Sustenna, which is given every 4 weeks, instead of every 2, like the Piportil.

So far, so good. I have to go to the hospitals medication clinic for the shots, my GP and his nurse can’t do it, which kinda sucks. The worst is paying for parking. The nurse that gives me the shot is super-nice. I’ve had the two loading doses (150mg for the first, 100mg for the second a week later) and start on 150mg next Friday (May 15th).

The doses are different from the US to Canada, I noticed looking around the internet.  234mg for the first loading dose, 156mg for the second. Weird.

The shot goes into the deltoid (upper arm/shoulder) and isn’t too terribly painful if at all, but there’s a lot of pressure. The nurse is really great. Her daughter horseback rides, so we chat about that. My arm does get sore for about 3 days after. Not super-bad, I can still use it, I can sleep on it, I don’t need painkillers (for the second loading dose, my nurse asked if I had taken anything for the soreness, how bad it was, etc).

Apparently injecting into the deltoid is 30% more effective than in the bum. Interesting! So far the only side effect I’ve had is extra salivation.

The Piportil is’t causing problems anymore, enough is out of my system that the side effects go away. Piportil was great, but even with Artane I had akathasia and EPS. Plus its getting harder and harder to get. It’s understocked and hard to order in.

I’ve been doing web design, PHP, MySQL, riding, lately. Trying to keep myself busy. Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I need to find something special for my mom. I’m getting her a fancy bouquet of flowers from the flower shop down the street. Last year I got her one with a big smiley face cup the flowers were in. She loves yellow smiley faced items. I’ll find something nice there, though.

So that’s life lately.

Invega Sustenna & Yoga

Well, a lot has gone on since I updated last. The snow has stopped and the temperature is rising!

My mood has been good, no episodes, out of the horrible mixed episode I was in before (probably why I wasn’t updating) and no psychosis. However, the Piportil depot injection was giving me EPS (extrapyramidal symptoms), some involuntary twitching and movements, stuttering and bad akathasia (inner and outer restlessness) so my pdoc switched me to Invega Sustenna.

I like the Invega Sustenna because it’s every 4 weeks, rather than every 2, and goes in the arm, not the glutes. I had my first shot Friday and had some mild sedation after, nothing bad. I have to go to the injection clinic at the hospital, not my GP anymore, which kinda sucks, but the nurse there is great. She’s very nice and very thorough.

I had to do a lot of paperwork before the first shot (a loading dose of 150mg, next week I go for a second loading dose of 100mg, then it’s 100mg every 4 weeks) to make sure I understood. My pdoc confirmed that I have schizoaffective bipolar disorder, with a “fair” prognosis, which is good. Could be worse.

The shot was pretty easy, left my arm sore (it’s still a bit tender today, Sunday, but nothing major) and no side effects so far. The main one is to watch prolactin levels, but they didn’t go up on Risperdal Consta, which is worse for that.

I had a complete meltdown on the phone with my mom, and she suggested I try yoga. I live above a yoga studio, we share the same building, so I went in for a free trial class in Gentle Yoga (I have to be careful because I have a torn rotator cuff). Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The oldest man there is 92 years old! He’s a singer. He welcomed me right away and chatted my ear off. He’s awesome!

I found after the first session I was very relaxed after and so I signed up to take 2-3 classes a week. I’m going to Meditation & Bliss yoga next Friday and Gentle Yoga on Monday. I sleep better on yoga days, and its teaching me some methods on how to stay calm and relax. I got a lime green yoga mat and some gray pants, and purple leopard print pants. I enjoy it a lot.

I’d upload more pics, but my laptop is broken, I just backed everything up and formatted and reinstalled Windows 8, so I’m running on the bare bones until my replacement gets here. It’s been two weeks and no replacement. Not happy. It took me 16 hours on the phone and 6 escalations to get them to send me a new laptop.

Plus, a technician came to fix it, they had given him the wrong part, and the keyboard (which is toast) can’t be fixed on site. The tech told me if I sent my laptop in, they’d probably just replace it. He didn’t show up on the scheduled day, didn’t call, and then showed up on the Sunday (6 days after I made the first call) and didn’t fix anything. He tried to get me to work for him, but hasn’t emailed me the specifics (it’d be web design) and told me he’d never buy a [brand name removed] device. WOW, this guy is a real winner…

Also, I’m having a contest on my other blog. Check it out here at Craftasaurus Rex.

I started riding again, the weather has gotten better. I missed it all winter!