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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Trouble with Abilify

One of the medications I take for my bipolar disorder is Abilify, an atypical antipsychotic. Abilfy has worked to keep my mood stable, to keep away paranoia, and to reduce obsessive thinking, especially about negative and scary things.

I'm having some trouble with Abilify, however--I think. There's a condition called tardive dyskinesia (t.d.) that the atypical antipsychotics can cause (the old school antipsychotics are even more likely to cause it).  According to MedlinePlus, a website of the NIMH U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Tardive dyskinesia is a disorder that involves involuntary movements. Most commonly, the movements affect the lower face. Tardive means delayed and dyskinesia means abnormal movement." The trouble I'm having is with my lower lip. At least several times a day, I feel it quiver on the inside (in other words, no one would notice this when looking at me). My doctor also noticed a very slight tremor on one side of my tongue.

I say that I think I'm having trouble with Abilify because my doctor isn't entirely certain that that's what this is. With t.d., a person is not aware of abnormal movements, and yet I'm very aware of the trembling of my lip. Therefore, this could be a side effect of something else, or perhaps just a harmless quirk of mine (this is one of my own theories).

In any event, my doctor has lowered my Abilify from what was once 30 mg a day to 25 mg a day to my current 20 mg a day. I'm also taking 1,200 iu of vitamin E a day, which may help the problem. And if this is indeed t.d., then I may have to go off the Abilify and avoid any other atypical antipsychotics. It's just a matter of waiting and seeing. I find it interesting, however, that people with t.d. aren't aware of it and yet I am. I hope that this might indicate that I can stay on the Abilify. It helps me so much that I'd hate to have to go off it.

I'm writing about this in order to help anyone else who's having any kind of odd side effect, including a potential sign of t.d. I'm neither a doctor nor an expert, so my advice would be to talk to your doctor, but at least knowing that there's someone else out here going through some stuff may help give you the confidence needed to talk about this. I also want to educate any reader, whether he or she has a mental illness or not, about one of the things we go through. In my opinion, having an open dialogue about issues surrounding mental illness helps to erase the stigma. I like to give glimpses into the life of a person with a mental illness to show that it's nothing that should be kept secret, nothing scary, and nothing that can't be understood with compassion and thoughtfulness.

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