Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pills against the ageless ills - Part II: The bad, the worse and the ugly

In my previous post I have written a bit about my current medications, the only medications so far that have had a positive effect on me in absence of any negative side-effects. This post is about the opposite, about all the crap I've been taking in the past that varied between useless and plain awful, and everything in between. They say each person responds to different medications differently, and it's true. So it's trial and error. And from my experience I can safely say that error is in the vast majority, it's just error after error, one error more erroneous that the other.

To start things off lightly, I can simply talk about all the meds I've taken that have had no effect whatsoever. No desired effect, not even any side-effects. Just plain placebos that cost my health insurance hundreds of Euros. A fine total waste of our collective resources.

What will forever top my placebo-list are the so-called SSRIs, or selective serotonine reuptake inhibitors. I've had three of those so far: Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Celexa), and what did they do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing whatsoever. At any dosage, over any period of time taken. They are pretty much the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, and they don't seem to be doing anything at all. In fact the first two, fluoxetine and sertraline, didn't even bother me in terms of SSRI discontinuation syndrome. No withdrawal or anything. Could quit them anytime and wouldn't notice a difference. Citalopram at least had a few of those "brain zaps" associated with discontinuing an SSRI, but those were hardly noticeable and occured rarely. All in all, my entire experience with SSRIs is that they are a waste of time and resources, and should not only not be taken by anyone, but not even produced.

Other meds with no effect whatsoever are from a variety of medication classes. There was pregabaline (Lyrica), which is used for neuropathic pain, which I don't have, but has an off-label use as an anxiolytic approved in Germany. Didn't do a thing for me. Then there is buspirone (BuSpar), which is something I don't remember the type of, which is also used as an anxiolytic, but is rarely effective, and didn't really do anything for me, either. Finally there was risperidone (Risperdal), an antipsychotic, which was given to me for an off-label use of supposedly enhancing the effectiveness of my antidepressants. It neither enhanced anything, nor did it do anything by itself, it was just a very expensive way to flush some chemicals down the proverbial toilet. Last but not least there was haloperidol (Haldol), one of the most feared antipsychotics out there. Did nothing for me, but I took it for too short a time to make a very educated judgement. Actually that was not the last, because I got biperiden (Akineton) along with the haloperidol, because it supposedly counteracts the side-effects of haloperidol. Well, I had no side-effects of haloperidol, and the biperiden did nothing, either. Just more placebos to waste.

Now the fun part starts when meds are not only utterly useless, but fuck up your life with side-effects as well. I've certainly had my share of those. One major annoyance was two meds that made me excessively drowsy all day long. Those two were mirtazapine (Remeron), an antidepressant, and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an antipsychotic. I practically couldn't function with those two in my system, because I'd be dead-tired all day long. I'd sleep forever already, but felt half-asleep during the entire time I was awake as well. Bupripion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant, did the exact opposite, I was so wired and restless I couldn't calm down for a second, and I quickly had to quit it because it fired me up so much it gave me constant panic attacks. Definitely one of the worst drugs I have ever taken.

Finally, there are the schlongicidal drugs. I call them that because they're dick-killers. If you ever wanted your wiener reduced to a raisin, those are the ones for you. Clomipramine (Anafranil) is the first of those I had. Took it, and could say goodbye to any hopes of ever having an erection, let alone an orgasm. Quickly talked my doctor into taking me off that, since that is unacceptable to any man. Had two more of those, duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor), both antidepressants of the SNRI class. Take them and say goodbye to your sexual desires and intentions.

Venlafaxine gets two special mentions, one positive, one negative. The positive one is that it actually had a beneficial effect on my symptoms, but I quit it regardless because of the side-effects. The negative one is that besides the limp dick not being reason enough to quit the med, it also has a rare side-effect that basically causes Candida Balanitis. That's a yeast infection on your little fireman. Disgusting, smelly, and very hard to get rid of. And since we're already at the special mentions for venlafaxine, there's a third: After you've obviously figured the side-effects are too much to keep using it, you'll be hit with the discontinuation syndrome from hell. The "brain zaps" I described earlier? Hellish. Really strong, lasting all day long, for weeks. Venlafaxine gets my vote as the worst medication I have personally ever tried, and possibly one of the worst on the psychoactive medication market as a whole.

Like I said in the first part of this series, it is possible to eventually find some stuff that works for you relatively well with relatively few side-effects, but most of us sure as hell have to go through some godawful stuff before arriving at something worthwhile.