I remember when they first started all the t.v. adds for Abilify. The woman who would walk around with her own personal rain cloud following her, only to get a prescription and the Abilify umbrella that kept her happy and dry.
There was one where the antidepressant pill would go everywhere with the animated character, opening blinds, pushing her out the door, and then when Abilify was added, just walk in line with her and the giant A, no more extraordinary effort.
Then there was the commercial that showed the wind up doll person and it said that depression made it hard to move, and while you could do your routines, it still took effort and was exhausting needing to continuously keep winding yourself up so that you could move. The animation got Abilify and ditched the wind up key, becoming a real person again. I didn’t understand that commercial until years later, when I REALLY understood it. They actually did a brilliant job marketing that to people who were depressed.
Flash forward 20 years, and Prozac wasn’t doing enough for me. I was tired of constantly upping my dosage, and didn’t like the couple week wait before I noticed any difference. My psychiatrist suggested Abilify as it had the least chance of weight gain, and she did inform me that it could lead to increased blood sugar.
Within a 15 months I had gained 40 lbs. I was constantly exhausted, often coming home and napping. I felt like it was working– I was getting out of bed every morning and dragging myself to work. I functioned while I was out in public…that must have meant that my depression was under control.
My diet has been great. I’ve been part of the Kaiser Prepare Study where I get weekly calls from a health coach to get tips and stay on track while I keep track of my physical activity (steps and exercise minutes), and if I met my calorie goal while eating according to the DASH diet.
For a while I was motivated to keep moving because I am competitive, and felt that I was being monitored so I needed to keep going with the gym and sports. After a few months, I had another down swing, and took a break, but kept eating well. On my next manic episode I got obsessive about being at the gym; I would go 2 times a day 5-6 days a week. I had a personal trainer and attended classes. I was playing softball and working full time. I avoided home and was determined that I would work off the weight that the meds put on me.
6 months of high intensity, obsessive gym going lead to toning, but no weight loss. My frustrations grew as my but and thighs toned, but my stomach still got in the way of buttoning my pants. I complained to my psychologist that I was working HARD and couldn’t get the weight off. I asked about getting off Abilify. She convinced me to stay on it since it seemed to be working for me, and prescribed me Metformin to help aid in the weight loss since it wasn’t happening with all the work I was putting in.
3-4 months later, I am still the same weight, but I had missed a few periods, was dizzy, exhausted, and CONSTANTLY starving. I went to the doctor thinking that either I was pregnant despite the tests saying it was negative, or that something was wrong.
I was diagnosed as Diabetic (my blood sugar numbers had always been fine before) and the Metformin was quadrupled. My husband made an offbeat comment that “sleeping is what wifey does”.
That was the last straw for me. While I don’t love myself as much as I know that I should, I do value him enough to want to be everything that I can be for him. I want to be the best friend wife, and to be well enough to be a mother for his child someday. He makes me want to be better, and this was obviously not my best.
I made another Psych appointment and told her that it wasn’t working, I’m still fat, and with naps, have been sleeping 12-16 hours a day on top of now being diabetic. The doctor wasn’t pleased, but agreed that it isn’t acceptable, and had me get off of the Abilify. She’s worried that either I’ll get mood fluctuations and need to increase my mood stabilizer, or go maniac again and need to add another anti-psychotic (I went on this originally due to a mixed episode with auditory and visual hallucinations while unable to get out of bed to do daily activities.)
I’ve been off of Abilify for 2 weeks now, and it’s possibly the best decision of my life. While I’m still wanting a nap after a full day, I don’t NEED them. I can go all day with only one nap, and that’s only if I lay down and tell myself I can. The brain fog greatly decreased, and I can actually remember feeding the animals, or what I ate for breakfast. I don’t walk out of the house three times before realizing the thing I keep going back in for was my keys. Now I’m crossing my fingers, working out and hoping that the weight and diabetes start melting off.