My Life with Abilify, Antipsychotic Drug

Abilify, or aripriprazole, an atypical antipsychotic drug produced by Bristol Myers Squibb, has taken over my life and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. Being an active mental patient with unfortunately a cumulative of about five different mental illness diagnoses, I have gone through the rounds with all types of medications. And while doing so, while experimenting with all the different brand names of all the different categories, I went back and forth between loving and hating medication in general. Mostly this was due to the side effects, particularly sleepiness, that each medication I tried seemed to cause. So I would neglect my mental health and go against my psychiatrist’s advice and I’d discontinue medications on my own, or I’d lessen the doses. And for many different intervals, I stopped seeing my doctor altogether, believing that no medication was going to work for me and it was just a waste of my time, money and precious brain cells.

Then, Abilify, antipsychotic drug. To me, Abilify has been a miracle drug. And even though it has me on a string, for if I stop taking it I lose all control of myself and become a complete and total psychotic mess, it has been consistent and reliable over the past two years that I’ve been taking it.

Abilify, antipsychotic drug, just like all of the other anti-psychotic medications, was initially designed to treat Schizophrenia. However, studies are finding more and more as research evolves, that these anti-psychotic medications are also excellent treatments for other mental illnesses. One of these mental illnesses includes Bipolar Disorder, or Manic-Depression, which happens to be one of my five. I’ve been in and out of hospitals to treat my disorders so I’ve been exposed to the various treatment methods that the experts are using and it seems to me that it was only 2-3 years ago that anti-psychotics started being used specifically to treat bipolar disorder. It is to my knowledge that other popular anti-psychotics like Risperidal (Risperidone) and Seroquel (quetiapine) are also being used for Bipolar treatment but when I was on each one of those two, this new discovery had not yet been made.

I have had a problem with fatigue my entire life, dating back to my early childhood. As I was growing up and into my adolescent and teenage years, I constantly sought an answer to this excessive sleep issue. I got blood tests over and over again. I tried going to an allergist. Then I went the natural route and saw a doctor who gave me cupfuls of vitamins and liquid nutrient drops to take daily. Nothing ever turned up abnormal. So then, my massage therapist, who also treated the neurological system, suggested that despite tests ruling out the problem, I had an overactive thyroid. But without the medical results to prove that there wasn’t much action I could take, so I accepted myself as a professional sleeper and tried everything I could think of to simply keep myself more awake during the daytime hours. I tried everything from iron supplements, to Vitamin B-12 shots every week to an all-raw food diet. Once again, no results. It never occurred to anyone except myself when I was 18 and on my own, that perhaps severe depression was the cause of my tendency to shut down and hibernate from the world for inappropriate amounts of time. At this age, in my debut as an adult, I visited a psychiatrist. She confirmed my symptoms of depression, struggled with a few other diagnoses and began playing the game that all psych patients know all too well- the “trial and error” medication dosing game. And that is essentially what it really is, and the doctors will even admit it. Medications work differently for each person. No one really knows why or how, it just has to do with how our specific genetic makeup interacts with the drug, I guess. Either way, it’s always trial and error, with as much intuition and expertise from the doctor thrown in there as is possible.

The most apparent benefit, in my opinion, of the antipsychotic medication, Abilify, is the fact that it is non-sedating. It causes no drowsiness whatsoever, in fact, it even contains some sugar, which can even give you a little pep in the morning upon first taking your dose. Unlike other medications of the category, Abilify, antipsychotic drug does not knock you down on your butt for two days after you take it. To picture, for those not familiar with these medications, what an antipsychotic medicine is like typically, think about your stereotypical, movie-style mental patient completely freaking out in the middle of the psych ward. What happens usually in the movies and in stereotype? The person gets injected with an antipsychotic and within minutes is out cold, sleeping or at least sedated enough to calm down. Thorazine and Haldol were two of the most common a long time ago when these medicines first came out. They are known to slow people down so much that they could fall asleep anywhere.

And that is most certainly the truth. I have tried many different antipsychotic medications and until Abilify, every single one literally had me looking stoned 24/7 and I could fall asleep on the spot. During my early college years I ended up missing a lot of class because I either could not get out of bed or I would have to (no joke) pause on the way to class to nap on a picnic table, where id lose all track of time in my sedated slumber.

Ahh, but now, Abilify, antipsychotic drug. I can take it in the morning and not feel dragged down. And it takes away so many of my symptoms of mental illness in all facets. It is fantastic. And quite frankly, I cannot figure out how a medication could arrest psychotic symptoms without stifling all energy in your brain, but somehow this drug does the trick. And yes, I am quite attached. But happily.

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