My latest experiment as a detached observer is over. I am back on my antipsychotic Aripiprazole (Abilify) This is what happened:
After I stopped the medication to find out whether it was having any effect, I soon found myself engulfed in a wave of agitation. This is what agitation looks like for me:
- My body feels like it has become infested by a plague of internal insects: I itch all over and yet can scratch nothing. I literally want to crawl out of my own skin and I can scratch myself to bleeding point with no relief whatsoever.
- My need to eat food is relentless. If I don't eat I feel like my stomach is 'eating itself'.
- I can't sleep
- My body temperature is all over the place, freezing one minute, boiling the next.
- I feel a constant need to scream. I call this my internal scream.
I don't need to tell you that agitation is HELL. Pure and simple.
After 48 hours of this (day AND night), I decided to go back on a half-dose of Aripiprazole. It has taken me a few days to settle down again but I did feel an immediate improvement. I started to sleep again and the insects went to sleep too. Bliss.
As a result, it looks like I have had to choose the lesser of two evils: slight nausea and constant headache versus sheer hell.
In truth, it is difficult to tell whether what I experienced was a withdrawal episode or a true reflection of what the anti-psychotic is doing for me but I do know this:
- Agitation is what I was put on Aripiprazole for in the first place so this collection of hellish symptoms is not new to me.
- It's incredible how quickly I can forget how bad things were before any medication. A couple of months down the line and I simply lose sight of how bad things used to be. This is dangerous because it can cause us (I am convinced we all function in that way) to become non-compliant.
- When suffering from constant nausea and headaches, it is hard to remember that things can be worse. It's as if one set of 'painful symptoms' displaces - eradicates even - another set of symptoms. I need to bear that in mind for the future.
As I write, I am feeling slow but comfortable.
After the agitation episode, forget the slow bit: comfort is king!