Confessions of an Drugaholic

From October 6th through the 12th, it is Mental Health Awareness Week. This is a guest post from Pauli Loeffler.

For most of my life I have had insomnia. As a kid, I went to bed at 8 or 9 (supposedly) and then would sneak into the dining room and watch my parents’ TV from under the dining room table (says a great deal about their sex life since they left their bedroom open).

Here is the list of sleep meds I have known: Elavil (eh), Pamelor (double eh-it didn’t even put the cat to sleep when I gave it him – hey, I was in college), Quaaludes (too much fun, so I stayed awake), Ambien CR (I made sexy phone calls from my cell with no recollection and quit taking them when I woke up with half a beer and a chicken pot pie on my night stand one morning), Trazadone (slept for 24 hours when I took a full dose once) and Xanax (this is an awesome drug: I can generally for crash for 8+ hours with half of the lowest dose pill; I only take them when I REALLY cannot sleep).

At one point during my second marriage, I became extremely angry at my (now ex-) husband. I went to the shrink who prescribed Depakote. It didn’t seem to do much, but I was able to report that I wasn’t having seizures (it is routinely used for bipolar disorder but is for epileptic seizures).

The next med we tried was Prozac. The problem here was that I never really slept: I entered a twilight world of semi-dreams for 8 or so hours each night. After 3 weeks, I told my shrink I was no longer angry, just tired.

About 7 years later, I was really depressed (I had divorce and had been an abusive relationship for 2+ years but was devastated when it ended). I was barely making it through the work day, then going home and curling up in the fetal position until morning. My shrink had retired, and that was when I learned how hard it was to see a psychiatrist for prescriptions.

I saw my family practice doctor who put me on Zoloft and saw a really great psychologist. After 6-8 weeks on Zoloft, I really wasn’t depressed and I was definitely functional, at least for work and dealing with my children, but frankly I didn’t give a crap about anything.

That was the problem: I was neither happy nor sad, and achieving an orgasm was impossible. This is a really common side effect of SSRIs: you will be aroused, but climax is impossible! The guy who had dumped me was put on Lexapro (also known as Sexapro), and while achieving erection wasn’t an issue, he was anorgasmic for about 4 weeks while his system adjusted.

I discussed my sexual dysfunction with my family practitioner (embarrassing!), and he switched me to Celexa. I was able to achieve orgasm with some effort, but the drug was extremely expensive. By that time, my time with the psychologist had paid off, and I was over the break up, so I went off Celexa.

The bottom line is that the drugs to treat to schizophrenic, bi-polar disorder, OCD, or just episodes of depression cost one financially, physically and emotionally.

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