Posted on April 23, 2022
TW: Mentions of suicidal thoughts.
In hindsight, I’m not sure this was the best moment to try out a medication that’s supposed to help you stay awake, given that it was going up against jet lag, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and the general sleepiness caused by my antidepressants. But I was desperate to feel something other than drowsy and trying out the Modafinil was the only option to hand. So, for a week, I took it twice daily – per the instructions of my prescription – and I thought I’d describe the experience, just in case it might be useful to somebody.
For most of the week, I took the 8am pill and then went straight back to sleep, only waking up again to take the 12pm pill. I was just so tired; I couldn’t wake up, no matter how hard I tried. I did manage to get up earlier on a couple of the days but regardless I only felt actually awake for a couple of hours before I started feeling sleepy again. I was constantly exhausted and fell asleep, sometimes multiple times in a day, regardless of how hard I tried to stay awake. Red Bull didn’t seem to help much. The first night, I never went to sleep at all – despite how tired I was – but after that it was all I could do to stay awake for more than a couple of hours at a time.
I haven’t had much appetite since taking the ADHD medications but I was suddenly very nauseous again with absolutely no interest in food. I have to say, it’s an improvement on the medications that make my want to eat constantly but it’s still not pleasant.
My mental health took a hit too. I was very anxious but there were multiple external factors to consider so I tried to tough it out but it just kept getting worse. Within a few days, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed and fragile and then, on top of that, I started to feel more and more depressed. By the end of the week, I was having suicidal thoughts again. I stopped taking them at that point. It said that, if it causes depression (or perhaps made my existing depression worse, I don’t know), to stop and talk to a doctor and maybe I should’ve waited to stop until I could talk to my doctor but it was the long weekend and I just couldn’t face feeling like that any longer. So I stopped taking them and sent my doctor an email about it. I’m hoping for a proper appointment with him soon.
I was only taking them for a week but they didn’t seem to have any positive affect at all; I was still employing extra strategies etc to try and stay awake, something I would’ve hoped I wouldn’t have to do with the Modafinil. Having said that, I was only taking 100mg and I’ve read that most people need to take 200mg to feel the effects but I’m worried that taking a higher dose would make my depression even worse and that’s not something I can be okay with.
For several days after, I was sleeping long nights and most of the day; I was probably sleeping somewhere between sixteen and eighteen hours out of every twenty four. I’ve emerged from that at this point but I’m still incredibly sleepy. The quest for a non-drowsy life continues.
Category: anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, emotions, food, medication, mental health, sleep, suicide, treatment Tagged: anxiety, depressed, depression, drowsiness, insomnia, lack of appetite, loss of appetite, medication, medication review, medication side effects, modafinil, nausea, side effects, sleep, sleepiness, suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts
Posted on February 19, 2022
When I started taking medication for my ADHD, my sleep cycle went to hell and, after a couple of months, I was almost nocturnal, going to sleep between four and six am and struggling up in the afternoon. None of my usual strategies – listening to audiobooks or films, writing stories in my head, different bedding, and so on – were working; even the sleeping pills that I’ve taken on and off when my sleep has gotten bad in the past haven’t helped. After months of struggling, my GP prescribed Temazepam to hopefully help reorientate my sleep schedule.
As always with posts about medication, this is just my experience and I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training. Please don’t start, change, or stop taking any medications without the advice and support of a medical professional.
Temazepam is a benzodiazepine most commonly used to treat sleep problems like insomnia. It usually starts to work within half an hour and the effects are supposed to last for approximately eight hours. It can become addictive so it’s not recommended that a person take Temazepam for longer than a month. As with many medications, it does have side effects, the most common being drowsiness during the day, lightheadedness, and dry mouth. Often the side effects will dissipate as a person’s body adjusts to the medication. (x)
I was prescribed two weeks worth of Temazepam and although I was initially hopeful, I was quickly disappointed. Of the fourteen times I took the pills, I think I managed to get to sleep within two hours less than five times. Apart from those few occasions, I was still struggling to sleep, awake for most of the night, and sleeping into the afternoon, as hard as I tried to force myself up at a more reasonable time. Alarms didn’t work, daylight was painful, and I slept through next door’s drilling; my Mum couldn’t even shake me awake.
I kept taking it, just in case it needed time, but it didn’t get any better. So I went back to my GP to make a new plan – the Temazepam had an expiration date anyway – and she prescribed Melatonin, which my psychiatrist is very supportive of. As it turns out, it’s not unusual for autistic individuals to take Melatonin for sleep issues.
At this point, I’ve been taking Melatonin for two weeks now, first at 2mg and then at 1mg, and it’s a definite improvement over the Temazepam. I’m finally getting some real sleep again, which is great, but I don’t like that I’m feeling drowsy in the day again. So I’m not sure what the long term plan is going to be but I am really grateful to be sleeping again and not being awake all night long.
Posted on February 12, 2022
TW: Mentions of self harm and suicidal thoughts.
So, I’ve been gone for a while. After having a bad reaction to the first ADHD medication, I had another bad reaction to the second, Bupropion, as well. Everything fell apart and I was really unwell for months; I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone write. I’m still not feeling great but things are better than they were and I am starting to feel able to write again, hence this new post.
After the mess that was Xaggitin, I was hopeful (kind of – in the only way you can be when you’re feeling hopeless and suicidal) that Bupropion would be better, given that it was an antidepressant but one that’s supposed to help with ADHD. I honestly don’t know whether it was better, which is somewhat mindblowing considering how awful the Xaggitin was.
As always, this is just my experience. Please don’t start, change, or stop taking any medications without the advice and support of a medical professional.
BUPROPION – 150mg
The most pressing of the side effects was the nausea: it was overwhelming. And it went on all day, every day. It was horrendous. I was barely eating and while I can’t see it, I’ve had multiple people comment that I’ve visibly lost weight. (I also had a weird reaction to the Christmas tree in that it made the nausea even worse – it also irritated my eyes, nose, and throat, making my cough even worse, which wasn’t pleasant.)
I had consistent difficulty sleeping. I was always wide awake until very late at night (or early in the morning) and then I struggled to get up at anything approaching a reasonable time the next day – I also had a lot of very vivid, stressful dreams, which is something I’ve noticed pops up when I change medication. I was physically exhausted all the time (both therapy and hydrotherapy, for example, had me falling asleep on the sofa, which I haven’t done in months) and I was feeling very burned out and overwhelmed with nothing left emotionally as well as physically. I had a couple of almost meltdowns as a result (I think the only reason they didn’t turn into full on meltdowns was because I was so physically exhausted so I just shut down instead).
I was very depressed, feeling hopeless and having suicidal thoughts. I was also restless and had this ongoing sense of unease. It was awful but my psychiatrist strongly encouraged me to stick with it for a month to really get a feel for it, for whether it would help or not. The depression and suicidal thoughts could’ve been a hangover from the Xaggitin and the only way to know was to give it more time.
I was also having headaches, not quite at migraine level but not far off.
The nausea continued, unfortunately. It was still bad but it was a little better on some days, I think. All of the food around Christmas was pretty stressful though: I still didn’t really have any appetite but I did manage to eat a bit, although what I used to consider a normal potion made me feel very unwell.
My sleep schedule remained messed up too. I was getting to sleep at around three in the morning (regardless of any help, that being medication or the methods I’ve used in the past that have helped) and then struggling to get up the next day. There was one night where I never got to sleep and then, the night after, I slept for fourteen hours and felt well rested for the first time in longer than I can remember. I’d hoped that that would right my schedule – at least a bit – but it didn’t. I was back to struggling to sleep the night after that. And I was still having the terrifyingly vivid nightmares. I was also physically exhausted: Christmas Day and a small family thing the day after Boxing Day, in particular, absolutely wiped me out.
The anxiety and depression persisted, plus I felt very, very emotional; I was restless and uneasy and I felt very raw and lost. It was pretty overwhelming.
The headaches continued too, plus the weird response to the Christmas tree: it made me feel very nauseous and made my eyes burn horribly. I love having the Christmas tree up so that didn’t help my mood.
BUPROPION – 150mg (+ PROPRANOLOL (20mg))
I hadn’t wanted to start Bupropion and Propranolol at the same time since it would be impossible to tell if one of the two wasn’t working. So, two weeks in, I added the Propranolol. But while I’d remembered that, I’d lost track of time and forgotten that, after two weeks, I could up the Bupropion. So I was taking the half dose three days longer than I’d intended to (in which I also got my COVID booster).
The trouble sleeping continued. I was finally getting to sleep between two and five in the morning and then, of course, struggling to wake up in the morning. I was completely exhausted and finding it a real struggle to get out of bed at all, something that certainly wasn’t helped by my depression. Feeling depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, and anxious… getting up and facing the world felt like more than I was capable of.
The nausea was still very present too and there were moments when I had to stop and sit down on the floor and just focus on not throwing up. It was very unpleasant. I couldn’t really handle food, not that I really had any appetite anyway.
I also had a headache that grew into a vicious migraine (with intensely painful light sensitivity). The COVID booster was positively pleasant in comparison. My arm was sore and heavy for a few days but that was it, symptom wise, as far as I could tell.
BUPROPION – 300mg (+ PROPRANOLOL (20mg))
I only managed five days on the full dose of Bupropion. It was clear straight away that it wasn’t agreeing with me.
If I was sleeping, I was sleeping terribly: I was getting to sleep around three at the earliest and then desperately struggling to wake up in the mornings. But between the depression and the anxiety, I found getting out of bed felt overwhelming. The depression had gotten even worse – the worst it’s ever been – and everything just felt hopeless. The self harm urges and suicidal thoughts were relentless. I felt checked out of my life and I just couldn’t engage with anything, even things that I love and things that have previously helped when my depression’s been bad. The anxiety amped up too. I was just overwhelmed, terrified that something bad was going to happen; I felt like I was constantly trying to stop myself from panicking. The nausea and lack of appetite also persisted; I was barely eating anything. But I have to confess that I didn’t really care. Food is so stressful for me that not eating was a relief.
BUPROPION – 150mg (+ PROPRANOLOL (20mg) + LORAZEPAM (2-4mg))
With things getting so bad, my Mum was calling anyone who could help us and my GP told us to go back to the half dose, adding Lorazepam to help with the overwhelming anxiety (which apparently not uncommon when taking Bupropion).
At this point, I’d basically stopped getting out of bed, only getting up to have a shower and try to eat something before going back to bed. My anxiety (including racing thoughts, which I’ve only had a handful of times) was so bad and so overwhelming that I just couldn’t engage with anything: everything made my anxiety worse. It messed with my sleep even more and I barely ate at all; just the thought of food made me incredibly nauseous. I had meltdowns and I self harmed (which didn’t actually make me feel any better) and just being up in the daylight made everything so much heavier so I stayed hidden in my darkened room. I was beyond miserable.
Halfway through that week, the Crisis Team (or Assessment and Treatment Team as I believe they’re formally called although everyone we spoke to called them the Crisis Team) came out to see me. As nice as they were, I’m not really sure what the point of it was. The guy wanted to make sure I was eating at least a bit; he wanted to know about my anxiety and depression; he wanted to know whether I was having thoughts of self harming and suicide, although he didn’t ask if I was planning on acting on those thoughts. And then he rambled a bit about me being monitored over the medication change. I’m not sure what good that would do. I’ve changed medications so many times now; I’d just be doing what I do every single time but with someone coming to see me everyday. How was that supposed to help? What was that going to achieve? They offered to refer us to one of their psychiatrists, which my Mum asked them to so so that we could find out whether, at this point, there was any point in continuing with the Bupropion or whether I should start coming off it officially. As I said, they were nice but it was a pretty frustrating and upsetting experience and I just wanted to cry. I wrote in my diary afterwards: “Oh my fucking god, I can’t keep feeling like this every day, over and over again. It just makes me want to tear my hair out and rip my skin off and scream until my throat tears.”
Over the rest of the week, I continued to sleep badly and struggle to wake up. I lay in bed all day, my brain just spinning out of control: my thoughts felt very chaotic and it was all just big, overwhelming feelings that I couldn’t make sense of. I felt like I was losing control of my mind – like I was just a spectator – and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And I couldn’t stop crying. I was depressed, anxious (by the end of the week, I was up to 4mg of Lorazepam daily – prompted by calls to 111 and then my psychiatrist – although I was still paralysingly anxious), terrified, miserable, and exhausted: those seem to be the words I wrote down the most. Eating was an ongoing struggle, although the nausea had finally dissipated (for the most part).
After speaking to my Mum, my psychiatrist recommended I come off the Bupropion and, with my depression so bad, go back to an MAOI antidepressant since we’ve had the most success with them. I wasn’t thrilled by that plan (I’m still not wild about it) because the Phenelzine isn’t great, plus it massively limits the options for ADHD medication. But there don’t seem to be any other available options so I just went with it. With the two week wash out period, I didn’t have to make the decision straight away.
WEEK 1 (20mg Propranolol + 4mg Lorazepam)
My sleeping schedule got worse: it was taking longer and longer to get to sleep until I was eventually drifting off at around five in the morning. That, of course, meant I was waking up later. I didn’t really mind that: I didn’t really want to be awake anyway and being awake in the dark didn’t feel quite as difficult as it did in the daylight hours. I did get up each day – to shower, to try to eat – but it was a miserable experience that usually resulted in tears. I felt completely overwhelmed and just didn’t know what to do with myself but I was still restless and felt like I was constantly on the verge of a meltdown. Even though I wasn’t doing anything, I was completely exhausted, which just made the inability to get to sleep that much more frustrating.
I had periods of intense anxiety but for the most part, the depression was overwhelming and suffocating. I felt separate and disconnected from my life, and like I couldn’t get back to it. I felt completely hopeless and the suicidal thoughts continued. I was completely miserable.
WEEK 2 (20mg Propranolol + 4mg Lorazepam)
I was constantly exhausted, barely eating and my sleeping just kept getting worse, getting more screwed up and out of sync. I took sleeping pills, I tried every strategy that’s ever worked, every possible combination… but I just couldn’t get to sleep; it just got later and later until I was going to sleep at eight in the morning. It was miserable. I was miserable: I was in tears multiple times every day; I was incredibly anxious (I’m not convinced the Lorazepam was doing anything); I was deeply depressed and consistently having suicidal thoughts and thoughts about self harming (which I did act on although it didn’t make me feel any better). It was the worst I’d ever felt. Everything just felt impossible, overwhelming and hopeless and I just didn’t know how to act like that wasn’t how I felt. It was all too much and I just didn’t know what to do with myself: I couldn’t engage or connect with anything. Everything felt wrong and uncomfortable and sad.
It’s a really hard state of mind to describe so I thought I’d include some of the things I wrote in my diary during the week:
So it was a rough week after a rough few months. The wash out period is up but I still don’t know what to do. There are so many reasons why I don’t want to go back to MAOIs – messy, convoluted reasons that I don’t even know how to put into words – but there doesn’t seem to be another option. I still don’t want to take them though. I feel completely stuck.
This was several weeks ago now and as much as I didn’t want to go back to an MAOI, I had a bit of a breakdown and started taking a new antidepressant, Moclobemide. I was desperate. And, as I said, things aren’t great but they are better than they were. I still feel very conflicted about what to do around the medication and the clash between the medications for each condition but at least I am feeling clearer and not so completely overwhelmed.
Category: adhd, anxiety, depression, emotions, food, medication, meltdowns, mental health, self harm, sleep, suicide, treatment Tagged: adhd, adhd medication, anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, anxiety, anxiety disorder, asd, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, autism spectrum disorder, autistic, autistic adult, bupropion, depression, exhaustion, gad, generalised anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, lorazepam, loss of appetite, maoi, medication, medication change, medication review, meltdown, meltdowns, mental health, mental illness, migraine, migraines, moclobemide, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, nausea, neurodivergent, propranolol, self harm, side effects, suicidal, suicidal thoughts, trigger warning, tw, xaggitin, xaggitin xl
Hi! I’m Lauren Alex Hooper. Welcome to my little blog! I write about living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD (Inattentive Type), and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), as well as several mental health issues.
I’m a singer-songwriter (it’s my biggest special interest and I have both a BA and MA in songwriting) so I’ll probably write a bit about that too.
My first single, ‘Invisible,’ is on all platforms, with all proceeds going to Young Minds.
My debut EP, Honest, is available on all platforms, with a limited physical run at Resident Music in Brighton.
I’m currently working on an album about my experiences as an autistic woman.