Medications – At An Impasse


After a long experiment with different medications, I have to close this chapter and go with what I am left with.

For those who visit The Road To Mental Wellness regularly, you may have come across a post or two that talked about the my unique challenges surrounding medications. For those of you that haven’t I’ll give you a quick run down.

Since November of last year, I have been seeing a wonderful psychiatrist who has been working diligently to find a pharmaceutical treatment that will quiet my symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. I am grateful that there is someone advocating for me with such a desire to want to help.

What makes my challenge a unique one is a preexisting medical condition. I have a seizure disorder called epilepsy. To be more specific about the difficulties it brings, it’s not the disorder in itself, its the medication to prevent the seizures.

I will mentally make a list of all the grateful things that have come out of this experience.

This story is a good news, bad news type of story. The good news is actually great news for me. Since I have been treated with this med, a drug called Carbamazepine, it has helped me remain seizure free since 1994. a fact that I am still very grateful for. It has meant the difference between living a normal, meaningful life and caving out a world dictated by disease.

By now you must be wondering what epilepsy medication and mental illness treatments have to do with one another? Well, Carbamazepine washes most of the SSRI’s, serotonin reuptake inhibitors out of liver, drugs that are used to treat mental health conditions like Depression and PTSD. Antidepressants and the like are systematically washed out of the liver by this particular anti-convulsant. Sucks, right?

Depression and PTSD.

With that being said, not all hope was lost. I was happy to hear that despite the unique position I was in, there were a few options we could try. This news was a huge relief for me because I desperately needed something to dull the fear, sleepless nights and nightmares.

I accepted all the medications that were offered hoping against hope that with every new prescription came a potential that I could get my life back. But, to no avail, they either did nothing for me or made me so tired I couldn’t function.

Loosing really isn’t an option for me

Here we are, at an impasse. We have reached the end of the line pharmaceutically speaking. There’s no doubt that, although I’m not surprising, I was nonetheless was saddened by the news.

Never one to give up easily, I brushed aside the feelings of disappointment. I am determined to carry on. I know that there are many more options out there. I can improve my diet and exercise more for starters.

So, what does this mean for me? Well, first off, I will mentally make a list of all the grateful things that have come out of this experience. To give you an idea of what gratitude looks like for me, below is a list.

Medications, not the only option
  1. I had been put on a medication they may not hampered drug treatment options but has allowed me to live my life and do many wonderful things.
  2. I have an excellent psychiatrist that has truly exhausted all options and has been a seller advocate for me.
  3. Despite the feelings of lonely and isolation, I have a wonderful support system the ranges from close friends and family to the all the mental health and other agencies that have supported me.
  4. I know for a fact that there are other options.

Loosing really isn’t an option for me. when I review my own reasons to be grateful, it helps me carry on. So, if you’re feeling the weight of despair and feel like you’re getting no where, write down all the great things that are in you life. You may be surprised to see just how far you’ve come, how strong you are and who cares when the chips are down.

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Everyone’s Wellness Road Is Different

I like to think that everyone’s mental wellness journey is different; like a mental fingerprint, they all vary in the way they present themselves from person to person. And the road that I walk upon is no exception, its pain customizes by my own life experience.

Just as my mental health conditions have grown and manifested according to my life’s path, maybe genetically, certainly experientially, neurologically and, most definitely pharmaceutically. As if my mental illnesses weren’t enough, I was also diagnosed with epilepsy when I was thirteen.  Fortunately for me, the medication I was put on has completely controlled my seizures. I am grateful for this because the degree to which I have responded to the medication has not been lost on me in terms of the significant and positive impact it has had on my entire life.

Carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant medication designed to reduce or prevent seizures, has been a miracle drug for me. It has proven its value by eliminating my seizures to zero. I have been seizure-free since 1994.

However, this miracle drug is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has allowed me to live a full and complete life in terms of work,  driving,  being a firefighter etcetera. But… On the other hand, it has left one hell of a mess in the mental health department. 
Fun fact about carbamazepine is that it’s metabolized through the liver. As a result, it loves to produce enzymes that systematically wash out all the drugs I have tried to treat my PTSD, depression and anxiety. I know, fun, right? If that weren’t enough, it also limits the types I can take. This washout renders the antidepressants and the like ineffective. This makes the road to mental wellness a very difficult one to travel down.
 Epilepsy entered into my life at 13, I was frightened by what lied ahead. I hadn’t a clue as to what epilepsy was, how detrimental it could be to my health and if that meant I would be impacted by seizures for the rest of my life. So many things went through my head, overwhelming me with an ocean of uncertainty. 
Now, 30 years later, that same fear of uncertainty has impacted me every day since my diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and depression. In fact, the further away I get from the last day I worked, the more the fear of the unknown exacerbates my generalized anxiety disorder. What lies ahead for me???

To hear more of my story go here: My podcast with A New Dawn. (website listed below)

Ironically, the same medication that quelled my young mind’s fear of what epilepsy meant for the rest of my life, is the reason I live in limbo today. Several medications for the treatment of mental illness later, here I sit, experiencing little to no effect from them. Sadly, this has only proved to prolong my suffering. Not only from the mental health perspective but also from the side effects each med has produced. Hindering what quality of life I already have; there have been times when I couldn’t drive, interact with my family and had to turn down friends for visits. Every time I go on a new drug and then come off it, I have little choice but to hit the pause button on life.

As murky as the waters of my future maybe, I am determined and my will to live is still strong. I am not out of options nor am I out of ideas. I wasn’t put on this earth to rot in the sea of mental illness so, despite my personal challenges, I carry on.

Now, here’s my challenge, laid out before you. Also, my resolve to have my life back is here for you to see; in fact, it’s on every page this blog.

Your battle, even though it may not feel like it, it is far from over. We got this! Even if you and I have to do it together… I believe you can do this; through your deep down will to live and all the love and passion you possess. Just because we feel like it’s the end doesn’t make it so, that voice in your head feeding your pain doesn’t have to prove victorious. Explore every option.

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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