Monday, December 15, 2008

My skin is revolting and I blame the drugs (although they do work)

The antidepressant I take is called Trazodone and lurking away in the side effects list is Skin Rash. And, it works for me.

It's getting to be a pain in the neck - well, in the arms, hands and legs, and yes, the arse mostly - to be honest. I had to stop taking Mirtazapine because the skin inflammation was so severe but so far I've stuck with Trazodone - it guarantees me a good night's sleep at the very least.

But, as anyone who's suffered from serious skin problems will tell you, it gets you down. Which is not a good thing for an antidepressant to do.

I'm not allowed to wash with soap, I have to use my moisturising cream which is called double base, then, I have to apply a strong steroid to the actually inflamed parts of my skin. I have to use the double base to moisturise but at a different time of day because it's a barrier cream so would interfere with the action of the steroid.

All fine and dandy. But the inflammation is spreading and I'm struggling to keep on top of it. I take a bath most days, which I shouldn't, I know it's worse for the skin and I think it's just a matter of comfort and habit. We've got a problem with our shower too, it's sending water through the bathroom into the kitchen. But, to properly treat myself after each wash is starting to take up to half-an-hour. I'm supposed to do the same at the end of the day, but I never remember to and once the Trazodone kicks in I'm in no fit state to.

I shall have to work at that. And Mrs Cardiff Drunk takes a positive delight in rubbing cream into me.

But it's making me self-conscious. The worst area is on my hands, which are a bright crimson red all the time and, if I forget to, or don't apply the steroid possibly I have an ugly looking rash to go with it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still getting better. Tonight, I really will have a proper moisturising session, and tomorrow I'll get up early and have a shower rather than a bath. At what point though do I decide that the pain caused by the Trazodone isn't worth the pleasure of proper sleep and a levelling out of my mood - I'm not exactly singing and dancing all day long but I've stopped going into real deep downs now I'm on the higher dose and I'd say I didn't have any suicidal thoughts last week.

We'll see I guess.

I haven't had a very good history with antidepressant side effects. Prozac was the first one - it made me permanently nauseous. Then there was Dothiapin, that gave me a heart murmur.

Effexor I stayed on for years. One of the joys for me was that I could use it to feed my appetite for an altered consciousness. The withdrawal symptoms are legendary and generally described as being like electric shocks to the brain - which, loon that I am, I loved. That electric shock description isn't accurate entirely but it's the closest I can get to an absolutely extraordinary sensation.

Now, I mentioned on another blog (which I abandoned because it was associated with my name and I wanted to blog about this anonymously) that I was taking Effexor and another problem drinker told me it had a history of causing increased alcohol consumption.

I've just looked this up, and here are a couple of posts from a forum on antidepressants:

Wow this is the first time I have heard of this. I took effexor for 6 years and pretty much became an alcoholic (was teetotaler before). I drank everyday and ended up being unable to quit (just to add to my misery) on my own, so slunk with tail between legs to AA. I am too scared to test wether or not I could drink now though. Best stay away from the alcohol I think, giving up was quite honestly the hardest thing I have ever done.

I have been on 75 mgs of Effexor for 4 months. I have always been a social drinker, but never have I had such strong compulsions to drink than my time on this drug. I was very worried that I was turning into an alcoholic until a friend in the medical field told me there was a strong link between Effexor and alcoholism. I went to my doctor immediately, and he told me to quit the Effexor altoghether, and he put me on Prozac for two weeks to ease the withdrawal symptoms. I would just like to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience and if it will go away once I am off all the chemicals.

In fact, I've seen enough anecdotal evidence of this to be convinced. This means, of course I have another excuse for my boozery - the drugs made me do it your honour. Well, maybe not, but it is interesting that I took Effexor for much of my drinking life and I know if I'm offered it again, I'm a gonna be a saying, no thank you very much.


Fallen-Angel said...

That steroid cream is very good.

My hands are terrible too; to the point where I can't hold anything :(
I get it from stress.

Anybeth said...

Oi, you went through all that detox mess just to drink after a week?
Honey! give it a month, two months. shit, give it six months and see how you feel.

When I quit drinking (for total abstinence) I was in a dark place and needed 100% sobriety to deal with life, feelings, counseling, learning, stress, health, exercise. I needed that time to process my emotions and really get good with my head and heart.

I'm not saying you are an alcoholic, only you can decide that. BUT I'm saying if you ever think you can drink again without bad effect on your emotion and need a DOSE of sobriety that lasts a bit longer than a week or two. You need to deal with you, and that stuff in your head that you are self-medicating.
still reading... and wish you well.

The Drinker said...

Cheers Ana,

I'm on Bethnovate, which I'm quite happy with - it's just a pain in the arse having to apply so extensively and regularly (though I got a nice doublebase rubbing on session from Mrs Cardiff Drunk last night). It's horrible having skin problems in somewhere that's permanently on show, I really feel for you, I've tried little bits and bobs of diet - there's loads of books on it - and I think vitamin E is good for the skin. Might be worth a try?

All the best.

And to anybeth, ta for the comments, I'm gonna write a post on this one.

No snow in Cardiff yet, but it's looking possible - cold and cloudy, but British snow can't match your big continent stuff and usually goes grey and then slushy very quickly. It is most aesthetically unpleasing.