My next medication, Risperidone, an anti-psychotic.
How had it got to this point, trying medication like pick & mix? The visual hallucinations I was experiencing were spiders crawling all over the wall and my body (tactile hallucinations) and my dream catcher moving around on the wall. I had also previously experienced seeing blue electricity firing itself across the room, chemical bonds moving in the air, different coloured shapes floating and fluorescent green spiders dangling in front of my eyes. I pled in desperation to my psychiatrist to find a medication that would help me with these scary visual hallucinations. The hallucinations at night made it very difficult to sleep.
I was using my private healthcare that I had through my corporate job. Despite this I had to pay for the initial prescription, not knowing whether the medication would work. When I think of prescriptions, I think of them as costing around £7-£15. The cost of the different medications being prescribed to me were costing between £50 – £150 for the first time. What would typically happen is I could take just a few days of the medication, it would give me bad side effects and I would never take it again. This was such a waste of money and a burn on my bank balance. After the first time being prescribed by a private doctor it would then move onto the NHS. However, to get to this point was not very often as I was constantly trying new medications.
The Risperidone side effects were immensely scary, I convinced myself that I had a brain tumour. I led in bed crying, thinking that my life was about to end. I was desperate for it to be Monday again so that I could book myself in for an MRI. “They’ve seen the wrong MRI” I said to myself. When I say ‘I thought I had a brain tumour’, it wasn’t a slight worry, I genuinely believed it. After taking Risperidone, my mind was consumed by the thought, “I am going to die” and “I have a brain tumour”. When my next dose of Risperidone was due, I didn’t take it. I booked an appointment with my psychiatrist.
The feeling of having a brain tumour, had gone. It was completely and utterly caused by taking the Risperidone. Happy and bubbly Alex told the psychiatrist what had happened, dusting it off like it was nothing. I didn’t ask for another MRI because I knew it was the medication that had messed with my head. It was quite shocking that one dose of a medication can alter your thoughts so drastically.
One thing I rate my psychiatrist highly for is that he knew how good I was at pretending that I was okay. He never once humoured my bubbly personality, many other doctors took my uplifting and optimistic attitude literally and we would end up laughing together about the situation. He recognised that this was a coping mechanism of mine. My psychiatrist believed I was in the wrong department to treat my symptoms. The mental health issues I was experiencing were a result of the frustration of not finding a cure for the physical symptoms I had been experiencing, the impact it was having on my working life, the duration of time this had been going on for and the trauma of the side effects from many of the different medications. The search for a cure was actually spiralling out of control.