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Old 06-16-11, 06:21 PM
notfed notfed is offline
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Why did I ever take medication?

Hi,

First off this is my first post to this forum, so I'm gonna use it to introduce myself. I wasn't sure which sub-forum to post this in, since I see at least 3 that describe me.

Anyway, my story is as following:

I'm a 24 year old male. I have Tourette's Syndrome, and that's probably the only real thing I'm sure about regarding my health. Oh, well I also have epilepsy, and that used to be a huge issue during my middle/high school years, but I grew out of it and have been seizure free for 5+ years.

When I was very young, all the time before I hit 4th grade, I was (according to my family) a very energetic, inquisitive, and highly intelligent individual. Up to 3rd grade, I was considered an outgoing and hard-working student. I read plenty of books (Goosebumps, Animorphs--read through the entire series of what existed at that time), got perfect grades, and was friends with everyone.

In 4th grade, I started going through changes. Our teacher would read chapter books to the class, a little at a time, maybe 30 minutes each day. Usually, each time, about 5 minutes in, I would "zone out", with my imagination branching off into several different places just thinking about what she was reading. This happened every day until she finished the book. And it wasn't until she finished it that I realized, I had absolutely not a clue in the world what happened in that book (i.e., I wasn't paying attention most of the time). Because I had been such a superior student up to this point, the teachers and my parents thought there must be something wrong, so they took me to a doctor and, of course, I was diagnosed with ADD. So they put me on adderall. I remember being frustrated at the fact that I couldn't pay attention, so I happily agreed to it. I remember it didn't do anything; I still couldn't pay attention. (I think the doctor diagnosis whether it's working as follows: a few weeks into taking the adderall, which gave my 4th grade brain a daily dopamine rush, when the doctor asked if it was working, I said "Yeah! I feel great!") I stayed on the adderall, however, because my inability to pay attention--according to the doctor--was a sign that my ADD was worse than thought, and they started fiddling with dosages. I actually was scared at the idea of it, and had read about its bad effects online, and I decided to stop taking it. My performance in school was good but there were obvious signs that something was stunting my performance (it was chronic fatigue)--I'd get F's and A+'s, never anything in between. Sometimes I couldn't pay attention at all, and other times I'd be in an all-too-obsessive focus. This lasted a few years.

Then in 7th grade, I started having seizures. I'd have petit mal seizures all over the place, and during certain months I'd be having them multiple times per day, causing unbearable migraines and overhwhelming tiredness (after I'd have a seizure, I felt like I just ran 10 miles in 5 minutes). It went on for so long, that the days where I didn't have seizures, I still felt an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, and started having issues waking up in the morning. At this point I had no choice but to try to seek treatment. They cycled me through several different anti-epileptic medications (the doctor didn't think the tiredness was a big problem, he said all kids my age went through that). Sometimes we thought the meds were working because I'd go for a while without seizures--then I'd have one and have huge blasting headaches for days. I still think none of those meds ever did anything for me, the seizure pattern was just too unpredictable to correlate it with the meds. Plus many of the medications' side effects were horrible: Depakote in particular gave me spinal cord tremors for weeks after having stopping it (the tremors had started as soon as I started taking it, and I wanted to stop taking it specifically because of the tremors). Some meds made my tics really bad, which would wear me out both mentally and physically because I'd be squeezing my pencil (really hard) every few seconds while trying to fill out answers to quizzes and tests (often breaking the lead on my pencils).

Eventually, in late 8th grade, my seizures stopped being a major issue (they still occured, but maybe on a weekly or monthly basis), and I was more worried about my chronic fatigue, which was making it nearly impossible for me to pay attention in class, as I'd be falling asleep. The doctor prescribed me with 80mg of concerta, which really seemed to work. I would be very alert in the morning, and although I still felt pretty tired, at least I could focus on my work. (I also started taking Paxil around this time too--because I had INTENSE social anxiety--which deserves its own "Why did I ever take this medication?" story for the nightmares I went through with that chemical. But I'll save that for another time. )

Anyway, Concerta seemed to do the trick (or so we thought.) But as the years went on--and I was still taking concerta regularly--I realized I was feeling tired again, I just hadn't really thought about it. The doctor suggested bumping up the Concerta on several occasions, but I'd become so disgusted by the idea of increasing dosages that I decided not to. I learned to live with the tiredness, and got used to it; used it define my personality. I had several times when I'd forget to take the Concerta, and these were always horrible, horrible days for me--I'd be so tired that I couldn't hide it in class, and the incredible mental discomfort this would cause was even more of a motivator to want to sleep. Because of this, I asked the doctor if I could bump DOWN the dosage, which I think was a great choice--it had the same effects on me, and I didn't feel any more tired. So I moved from 80mg per day to 36mg per day.

So, about ~10 years after starting Concerta--this past month--I was talking to my doctor about how I have been observing this daily trend in my personality. About 8 hours after I take Concerta in the morning, around the time when it probably has almost completely worn off, I would turn into a different person. I had trouble remembering how to act "normal" in social circumstances. Like, sometimes people would introduce themselves to me "Hi, my name's Bob" and I would say "Hi, I'm Jay", and simply would not know what to say next. So naturally this gives me a social anxiety factor, and I feel awkward no matter what I say (To put it one way: I would feel as though I'm being facetious just trying to keep a normal conversation, as it would not come naturally to me to...well, act naturally.) I realize now that this happened to me when I was younger all the time, but people would forgive me because I was young a naive--plus, I had been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, so we placed the blame on that.

SO....my doctor gave me a bunch of 10mg methylphenidate (Ritalin--the same active ingredient in Concerta) last month, and told me to take them when I started to feel the Concerta wearing off. I didn't really use them during the next few weeks, but had them laying around. A few weeks later, I had run out of my Concerta prescription, and was out of Concerta. The doctor said I could not get a refill for the next two days. Panic ensued. What happened was I went a full day without it, which sucked. The next day, I realized I had those 10mg Methylphenidate pills. My thinking was "I normally take 36mg of Concerta, so I'll take three of these 10mg pills which will be 30mg, so that should work". About 5 seconds after I took the pills I realized I did my math wrong: Methylphenidate can be seen as FAST-ACTING Concerta. I was getting my 8 hour dose of Concerta in a 3 hour span. The effect was NOT fun, it was much worse than forgetting to take it. So you see, I had one day "withdrawal", then the next day "overdose" of this chemical. I was ****ed off about this whole thing--****ed at myself, ****ed at my doctor, ****ed at this medicine. I got my Concerta the next day however and kept taking it.

Something happened during those two mess-up days for me. During the "overdose", I had this horrible feeling, like there was a very dull feeling of electric current flowing through my nerves. And what I think I realized, after a week or so, is that this feeling has been there as long as I've taken Concerta, I'd just forgotten about it, and it took an incident like this to make me realize it. From that point on, I couldn't help but notice the "electric current" and it became uncomfortable. So I started thinking to myself "I want to quit Concerta". I kept having things go on in my life that required me to be alert, though, and couldn't find the right day to stop.

Then on June 3rd, 2011, I decided not to take my Concerta. This day didn't seem like a good choice at all in retrospect: I had just gone to the gym the day before and had been running around the block in the morning (both which were firsts for me), and had REALLY worked out my arms at gym (they would be sore for 3 days). Plus, I didn't know it at the time, but I just caught a cold that was beginning to brew. Somehow, the pain in my arms and itch in my throat acted as a sort of acupuncture, and I didn't notice how horribly tired I felt that day from lack of Concerta. I suffered a lot, but a few days later I felt almost completely normal again. And I was happy I'd gone a few days without Concerta (another first for me) and didn't feel all that bad (well, I was a little more tired than usual, but not as tired as I thought I'd be). Plus, I wasn't going into that asocial fog in the evening, which made me feel better about myself. (Then the cold set in and I felt like absolute s*** for a few days, but I think that was just bad timing )

Now, it's been two weeks since I last took Concerta. I've been going to sleep earlier, waking up earlier, running in the morning, going to the gym every other day or so, and in general am taking control of my life a little better. My ability to concentrate, and my level of fatigue--the two things I started on Concerta for in the first place--feel absolutely no different than before. If anything, they're much better, because I am constant throughout the day instead of having this big curve of highs and lows from the medication. I don't have to tell my friends "sorry I'm so boring man, Concerta's wearing off" anymore.

But I am really asking this question now--Why did I go so long thinking this medicine was having positive effects on me? I think it stopped doing its magic the first year after I started taking it, and the effects I felt on those days which I'd forgotten to take it were just withdrawal symptoms. I am angry, frankly, with my doctor, for never mentioning it to me that maybe I really don't need to take it anymore.

I wonder, do some people go their whole lives taking medicine (and clearly I'm talking about stimulants, anti-depressents, and the sort, not things like anti-psychotics or insulin or things that do more than just dopamine/serotonin adjustment), thinking it's "fixing" some problem, but really they would have exactly the same quality of life without it? How does one ever really know if they don't try to stop taking it for a while? I mean let's think what it would entail to try to experiment with this one: you'd have to find people who take medicine and are perfectly happy with their lives and the medicine they take, then convince them to stop taking it and see how they feel after a few weeks. I'd like to see a scientific study done on this one.

I'm angry, yeah, but on the other hand, I'm so glad to finally be prescription-free. I can finally do things like going camping/exploring for weeks on end, if I want to, and not worry about suffering in the case that I lost my backpack with my pills in it. I can move out of the country if I want now, and not worry about finding an affordable health care plan that covers medication. I don't have to travel halfway to work anymore and have my heart sink and go "f***, I forgot my pills again!" and have to go back to get them. I don't have to explain to people that, "I am against a lot of what the pharmaceutical industry does with price gauging, but yeah I'm a subscriber to a hugely-gauged medication called Concerta". I don't have to wonder, "is this really how I act? Or does the Concerta make me act this way?".

I don't have to wonder things like "I wonder if maybe I'd have less tics, less anxiety, less fatigue if I didn't feed by brain with drugs every morning. I wonder what's really a real health problem and what's just a side effect from this chemical.". In fact, I have just as many tics and am just as tired without it than I was with it. But, because my confidence level has gone up, and because I've been running and going to the gym, I've seen myself able to break through my social anxiety barrier easier--I don't feel as awkward just letting myself talk naturally anymore.

Is there anyone else out there with a similar story? I've found tons of people's stories online who've taken Concerta, but can't find anyone who took it for chronic fatigue (as opposed to hyperactivity, which most people take it for) and who also took it for the incredibly long amount of time I did (10 years). I'd really like to meet people who shared my experience.

Thanks for hearing me out,
Jay

Last edited by APSJ; 06-17-11 at 08:17 PM.. Reason: Please do not post last names on the forum.
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Old 06-19-11, 08:03 AM
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Re: Why did I ever take medication?

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Old 07-16-11, 10:03 AM
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Re: Why did I ever take medication?

Hi 'notfed',

I tried to write earlier, but I lost my whole reply-I'm not sure how. Just to say I wholeheartedly support you on giving up the meds. I think if you're an imaginative kid it's natural especially as a child to 'zone' out in class when you're bored or when you find someone boring. This is a kind of process of 'natural selection' in that it is how we find out in life what and who interests us and who or what doesn't. If we constantly have pills pumping dopamine into the forefront of our minds we might find ourselves equally alert to everything but unsure as to what or who we actually like; that little spurt of electricity (dopamine)or 'goose bumps' when someone or something makes us feel more alive replaced by that permanent 'electric' feeling you talked about. The result might be that people become oddly blunted and socially strange- driven not by the situations themselves but by the 'stem and flow' of the drugs.

I found when I was on concerta that I felt wierdly asocial just like you suggested in that everybody seemed the same: which stands to reason as the drugs were providing the chemical changes not the people. Do you remember the expression 'we've got good chemistry': it has a whole different meaning in the context of people who are medicated. It's a bit like I'm an 'adderall 30mg' and she's a concerta 54 mg: we should be perfect for each other. Anyway I found the concerta was making me miserable and I stopped taking it after just 2 weeks on 36 mg. I suffered for a day or two but then suddenly I felt fully alive again: on the 'concerta' I felt like my brain had become like that junk pit in Star Wars where the heroes hide and the walls close in on them - almost like my brain couldn't breath. It was like a nightmare after a while: I also became paranoid about where my girlfriend had been when she'd been staying with friends which had never happened before. Anyway I stopped; I saw a nutritionist who gave me natural dopamine enhancers (vitamins; amino acid complex; magnesium; vitamn B6; adrenal plus) as well as daily aerobic exercise (running/rowing/swimmming) and I feel far better. The only thing the stims. were really good for was my libido: I felt like I was 19 again (I'm in my thirties)-for everything else I felt a kind of horrible levelling out - nothing was good or bad..just the same: perfect for getting a six year old to be just as interested in chemistry as he is in playtime. The question is why should he be as interested: I think parents have a lot to answer for. By giving little kids drugs that make them super focused nut unspontaneous and socially reserved: they might be accused of robbing them of their childhoods.

Psychiatrists in this country can make £2000 per patient a year here in the UK seeing people monthly and doling out amphetamine scripts.; the regular GP doctors won't put their names to them as they are frightened about the effects of pumping someone's heart up by 10% or more. For me the effect was one of being mentally far less agile I could no longer free associate - I could only think in a straight line. Is it any surprise that the best comedians are often considered to be ADHD: watch a stand up and listen to their lateral as opposed to linear thoughts. If they had been medicated at least on 'concerta' I'm sure they would never have made it.

Anyway 'notfed' keep up with exercise/healthy diet/ good sleeping patterns/good relationships and I think you might well be able to avoid these drugs for life. Before anyone complains I know there are some people who literally can't read a book or follow a TV program or a conversation without these drugs and for them it's understandable that they should need to take 'meds'. However I would say that they are probably only about half the people who are actually medicated. The rest are looking for a 'quickfix' just like I was (read my thread 'postgrad on concerta'). Like I said psychiatrists make their living by medicating people; then medicating them for the side effects (anxiety etc.) caused by the medication they precribed in the first place.What's more the US doctor who championed 'ritalin' and stims. to the world was found to have accepted 1.2 million from the drug companies.

People rely on medication as a solution to their lives instead of looking at their lives. Perhaps they need to change their jobs, their partners, the place they live or most significantly their lifestyles - rather that is than constantly changing the chemicals racing througfh their brains.
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Old 07-16-11, 07:01 PM
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Re: Why did I ever take medication?

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