Category Archives: Side Effect Hell

Side Effect Hell, the ‘I never noticed that until I came off it’ version

I’ve been off olanzapine (Zyprexa, to US audiences) for about two months now, and Ive noticed something interesting and different. I’m no longer constantly cold. I used to feel the cold badly, and would be seen wearing jeans and a jersey right into summer and layers and layers of jerseys and coats in the winter. Even well wrapped up on a midwinter day, I would be shivering.

In the last two weeks or so, I’ve notices that the weather is getting cooler, but my body is coping better. I’m not shivering when I have to emerge in the mornings, and I can cope with single-digit temperatures like a normal temperate climate dweller, not a tropical girl.

I don’t know why this has changed, and I can only link it to the olanzapine. It seems like such a bizarre side effect to have, but then, this is a medication that messes with your brain in some serious ways. messing with the way you perceive hot and cold is not in any way beyond the bounds of the likely with drugs like this.

It’s nice to be feeling more normal in another little way. Medication has changed so many things about me and my life, and while some of them are good, important, or even essential, there are small things that I’d rather like to reclaim. Surviving on less than ten hours’ sleep minimum would be nice (any less and naps become non-negotiable). Not shaking all the time would be downright awesome.

These things would be nice, but being sane and safe and able to function is even nicer. Having it all would be super, but I know that’s not going to be my reality any time soon. For now I’ll take the small victories.

Side Effect Hell, part dear god how many of these have I done?

Today is day 3 of amitriptyline, a word I can now spell correctly thanks to the University of Google. I have to say, I’m less than impressed.

I’m not really sleeping better, or at least not yet. But I am exceedingly grouchy, and struggling to not take it out on the people around me. Being really grouchy is fantastic right now, given that it’s my three-year anniversary today. Sigh. I spent the day snapping at people then apologising and crying. not winning.

My blood pressure has been a little kinky, so occasionally I’ll stand up and fall right back down again. I’ve been lucky so far, in that I’ve been getting out of bed and just fallen straight back down onto it.

My tongue tastes like I’ve been licking a nine-day-old corpse. It’s awful. It’s not all the time, just when I eat, and for about an hour after. Did I mention I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to snack on things? Is the universe cackling away back there while rubbing her hands together evilly?

I’ve been through so many side effect hells that I’ve actually forgotten what number I’m up to, and it doesn’t get any nicer. I’m fed up. Not much for it but to persevere and hope it gets better, and talk to the doc if it doesn’t, I guess. Now, if you could excuse me, I’m off to have my corpse-flavoured anniversary dinner with my husband and my daughter (no babysitter available = no romantic dinner for me!)

Side Effect Hell, part 13: Are They Really Side Effects, part 3: Irritability

Drug: Olanzapine

It took me a long time to learn to be even-tempered. As a teen, I was very prone to bouts of anger and irritability, and those around me often suffered. When I had my first child, I decided that I needed to change. I learned to take a deep breath before saying or doing anything hasty. And it worked. I learned to control myself much better.

Since starting Olanzapine, I’ve become grumpy and irritable much more easily than I used to be. Small things rub me the wrong way, and I snap for no reason. I’m grumpy so much more of the time, and things that I wouldn’t react to before, suddenly drive me nuts.

I can’t cope with repetitive noises, with repeated questions, with not getting the answer I was looking for quickly. I’m snapping at little things. And I hate it.

I try to control my reactions, but more and more I find I need to take myself out of situations because I can’t deal with them in an acceptable way. I zone out so I don’t hurt people around me, but it doesn’t always work.

When I told my psych about this, he said that it probably wasn’t a side effect, that it was just the way I was when I wasn’t so badly depressed. I don’t know. I don’t think that this is just the way I am. Maybe it is. But if it is, I don’t want to be this person. This person is not anything like what I want to be, and not anything like what I was for the year and a half prior to starting back on meds.

This person is not at all what I want to be. It makes suicidal thoughts harder, because they whisper to me that a person with such a short temper shouldn’t be around.

Am I this impatient, snappish, horrible person? Is that who I really am inside? I don’t want it to be. I want to be better than that.

Side Effect Hell Index

This is a collection of all my Side Effect Hell posts, I’ll update it every time there’s a new one.

Part 1: Zombie Mode

Part 2: Tremors

Part 3: Do You See What I See?

Part 4: Belly Rumblings

Part 5: The Hunger Games

Part 6: The Truly Bizarre

Part 7: My Brain is Dipped in Honey

Part 8: Dizzy Spells

Part 9: Sinking Through the Floor, or Floating Just Above It

Part 10: The World Isn’t Real

Part 11: Are They Really Side Effects, part 1: Anxiety

Part 12: Are They Really Side Effects, part 2: Weepiness

Side Effect Hell, part 12: Are They Really Side Effects, part 2: Weepiness

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

 I’ve always had problems with being a bit weepy. When I’m in an emotionally charged conversation, tears often come unbidden. This was a real problem for me in my teenage years, when I would break into tears while I was being told off for something and it would send my stepmother into an uncontrolled rage. Those were bad times.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to control it better. I’ll breathe deeply, and disengage from the emotional storm that brings the tears to my eyes. It doesn’t always work, but I’m a lot better now.

Since starting my latest drug combination (lamotrigine and olanzapine) the tearfulness is back. Even thinking about things that made me cry in the past will bring them back. Speaking to my psychiatrist or my case manager at CMH requires a box of tissues to be present at all times. And just having normal conversations with my partner sometimes turns on the waterworks.

I don’t know if this is a side effect. Maybe it’s just me being more unwell than I was before. It started about when I started taking olanzapine, but I’m not sure of the relationship. All I really know is that I hate it, I want it to stop, and I don’t seem to have the power over it that I used to.

Side Effect Hell, part 11: Are They Really Side Effects, part 1: Anxiety


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


 Before my diagnosis, I had a few problems with anxiety. It showed up in two main ways. The first was a fairly crippling paralysis when I was forced to deal with highly emotionally-charged decisions – a problem which I had not really recognised or worked through, but now know I need to. The second was panic attacks when shopping for clothes in stores with loud music and fluorescent lights. Oddly specific, I know, but that particular combination caused problems. This I recognised, and I dealt with it by doing the best I could, and leaving the store and going to sit outside for a while and relax if it got too bad. So, I had some specific anxiety problems, plus a bit of general anxiety that existed but didn’t rarely cause problems. I had learned to take a deep breath and deal with most of the problems.

A while back, I was on antidepressants. I went through a period of panic attacks bad enough that I couldn’t walk out my front door. But when I stopped taking the antidepressant (venlafaxine) those problems seemed to disappear.

Since I started the great medication experiment this time around, my anxiety feels like it’s so much worse. Leaving the house is a real challenge – I need to plan any going out well in advance, because sudden jaunts are just too hard. My feelings of general anxiety seem more and more intense, and harder to think my way out of.

My doctor (the good one not the crappy one) thought that it might not be a side effect, but that helping relieve the crippling depression I was feeling has brought the anxiety forward. I don’t know. All I know is that I want the racing heart to go away, to feel like I can cope with everyday life again without it tying me in little knots.

It feel even more confusing when I start meds, and things go poorly, but I can’t tell if it’s the meds or if it’s me. I start wondering whether I’m just more broken than I thought.

Side Effect Hell, part 10: The World Isn’t Real

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

 Many different psych meds can affect perceptions of reality. the main med that I’m on at the moment is Olanzapine, and it screws with my perceptions of reality quite a bit.

I spend much of my time feeling like the world around me isn’t real. If I’m not touching something, it can feel like it’s not real, just a dream that my mind is concocting for me. My surroundings feel like they’re just a construct of my mind, that I’m not in the real world.

When I’m alone, it often feels like something is swooping down toward me. It usually feels like a large purplish bird of some kind, and sometimes it feels so real that I’ll cringe away from it. I’ve had my eyes checked to see if it’s just a floater or something, you know, real, but it’s not. It’s just my mind playing tricks on me.

When I’m in a crowd, it gets even weirder. I feel like the crowd is in my head, that they’re not out there but in here. Sound feels like it’s coming from inside me, and my head feels overpopulated. This often makes me feel panicky, even though I know that it’s not real.

My blurry vision feeds into this – because nothing is really in focus, it’s not real. when I get close enough to touch, then finally I feel like the world exists outside my head.

I want to feel normal again. I want to live in the real world, instead of feeling like I live inside my head, in a land that I created for myself.