In this blog post I outline my experiences of mental health and taking anti psychotics which is medication used to treat certain presentations of mental illness.
When I was fifteen I began to develop psychotic symptoms. This included a number of things such as experiencing auditory hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. I also believed I was possessed by the devil.
This psychosis was not drug induced, I was just very unwell. I stopped going out the house, stopped washing, and started to harm myself. I didn’t know who to turn to for help but fortunately I was given an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist who tried to help me deal with some of the things I was going through at the time.
Unfortunately I was too far into the psychosis and ended up with me leaving my house at 2:00am and ending up in a police car. This resulted in me being admitted to a Child & Adolescent Mental Health Unit in the city.
Whilst I was there I was put on Risperdal: initially it was 6mg but then it was increased to a 50mg inter muscle injection topped up with 2mg tablets that were to be taken daily. Risperdal is an anti-psychotic and it had a crippling effect on me.
I started to put on weight (at my heaviest I was 20 stone), I hyper-salivated (dribbled constantly) and developed a twitch in my right leg. The psychological impact of the Risperdal was just as challenging. It sapped my energy, my motivation and was ultimately like a pair of handcuffs for the mind. I couldn’t think as clearly and I slept nearly all the time.
The question I ask myself now is: why? Why did I have to go through that crippling experience on medication? The thing is however, if I had a life threatening physical illness and I had to take medication to fix it, would I be asking the same question?
Risperdal gave my mind a chance to recover. It put the brakes on the psychotic episode which ultimately gave me an opportunity to take back control of my life. Without it I would not be here today.
The key with any medication is it has to be reviewed regularly and you (the person who is receiving medication) need to be educated as to the purpose of the medication and the alternatives so you can make an informed choice.
I write this because once I was discharged from hospital I had a brilliant psychiatrist who worked with me to find a medication that suited my particular needs at the time. I transitioned from Risperdal to Abilify, Fluvoxamine and Melatonin.
The psychiatrist took the time to explain each medication, the effects on me and the other alternatives. He adjusted it depending on what I was experiencing at the time and helped me work through the side effects. I started to be able to make my recovery and I never missed a dose.
Unfortunately this changed when I was transitioned to adult mental health services. I was just given my prescription and that was it; I didn’t have a proper medication review for about a year and in the end I made the decision to stop taking them.
This was a very dangerous decision as when I stopped taking them I did not tell anyone. I nearly ended up committing suicide as a result because it took my mind and body a long time to adjust to being medication free.
I have been medication free for three years now and I am getting my life back together. My closing thoughts are that medication can save your life, but it needs to be reviewed regularly and you as a person need to be educated as to what it is your taking and given support to deal with the side effects.