Side Effect Hell, part 1: Zombie Mode

For an index of all Side Effect Hell posts, click here.

One of the biggest problems with psych meds (at least in my eyes) is that they generally have a side effect profile that’s less-than-friendly. I seem to suffer on the worse side of average from many of these. This is an insight into my personal Side Effect Hell.

Drug: Olanzapine

A common side effect from many atypical antipsychotics is ‘drowsiness’. It sounds like that delicious feeling you get on a summer afternoon after a lovely picnic lunch. The reality for me is much less picturesque.

I take my meds around 7pm. From then until I go to bed, my concentration drifts so much that I can’t write anything of substance, I can’t really think anything through, and I drift off to sleep rather alarmingly if I get comfortable.

As soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m out to it. I’ve fallen out of bed and not remembered it at all, and held conversations that I can’t recall (although these are usually classified as ‘amnesia’).

The next morning, the alarm goes off at half past seven. Or at least, I’m told it does – getting through to me before about half past nine is near-impossible. My brain does not acknowledge any input until somewhere between nine and ten AM.

By ten-ish, I’m up and about. But I can’t think well, make logical decisions, or concentrate for another hour or two after that – if you want sense out of me, wait til after lunch, because before that is variable.

So, in summary, between the hours of midday and 7pm, I need to do everything that requires thinking for the day. As a Uni student, that’s not the easiest ask in the world. Outside those hours, the amount of information I can process is heavily limited, and that’s incredibly distressing for this usually bright and articulate girl. Additionally, I’m trying to raise two children. If it weren’t for a very supportive partner, we’d be up the creek.

I hate Side Effect Hell.


5 thoughts on “Side Effect Hell, part 1: Zombie Mode

  1. s1mpl33m33

    The doctors just changed my one of my meds to Olanzapine too, i can totally understand the feeling of not being able to make sense of things, Its very difficult to concentrate after taking the med. You seem to be like in when it comes to side effects, i tent to get the worst too. Hope it improves for both of us soon! Hang in there x

    1. Wombat Post author

      It’s an interesting drug, I’m not sure if I like it or not – when I’m awake I can get up and do things, but I’m not awake for so much of the time. I guess it’s another one of those things where you ‘give it time’ and hope it gets better.

  2. Carrie Lange

    you poor thing! No, I can’t imagine what that’s like. Personally, I have horrible insomnia, so at first glance reading how you drift off at the first moment of comfort, I immediately think, “wow, wish I could do that” Of course reading on and realizing you are in zombie mode for most of the day is horrifying. Makes me thankful for my inability to sleep well. honestly. At least I can get more done! Will your body ever adjust? Or is it a permanent side effect?

    My daughter’s Prozac caused her migraine headaches every single day. It was awful, but she was so afraid of cutting back and becoming suicidal again, she wouldn’t let me lower the dose. The doc finally lowered it and added Lamotrigine, and it seems like we have finally found an acceptable level. hugs to you!

    1. Wombat Post author

      I’m hoping it’s not permanent, and I think I’m adjusting slowly, but it’s not much fun. It feels like my head is stuffed with cotton wool most of the time, or maybe steeped in thick honey. I still can’t decide if the insomnia I had before or the sleepiness I have now is worse – they’re both pretty awful in their own ways.
      Glad your daughter has found a good combo, it can take a while to get meds right, and the road can be long and rough.

  3. Pingback: Side Effect Hell Index | Drop Bear Exterminator

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