About: 'Risperdal gave my mind a chance to recover.' Andrew shares how risperidone (Risperdal) helped him to take back control of his life.
Everybody responds to medication differently. This blog only represents the author's experience. For more information, have a look at our medication pages. For medical advice, always speak to your doctor.
Medication can save your life, but it needs to be reviewed regularly.
Antipsychotics saved my life
When I was 15, I began to develop symptoms of psychosis. This included a number of things like experiencing auditory hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. I also believed I was possessed by the devil.
This psychosis was not drug-induced, I was just very unwell. I stopped leaving the house, stopped washing, and started to harm myself. I didn’t know who to turn to for help, but fortunately I was given an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist who tried to help me deal with some of the things I was going through at the time.
Unfortunately, I was too far into the psychosis. One night, I left my house at 2am and wound up in the back of a police car. I was then admitted to a child and adolescent mental health unit.
Fortunately I was given an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist who tried to help me.
My experience of risperidone
While I was there, I was put on risperidone (Risperdal) and given a really high dose. Risperdal is an antipsychotic medication and it had a crippling effect on me.
I started to put on weight (at my heaviest I was 20 stone), I hyper-salivated (dribbled constantly) and developed a twitch in my right leg. The psychological impact of the Risperdal was just as challenging. It sapped my energy, my motivation and it felt like a pair of handcuffs for the mind. I could not think as clearly as I used to, and I slept nearly all the time.
The question I ask myself now is: why? Why did I have to go through that crippling experience on medication? However, if I had a life threatening physical illness and I had to take medication to fix it, would I be asking the same question?
If I had a life threatening physical illness and I had to take medication to fix it, would I be asking the same question?
Risperdal gave my mind a chance to recover. It put the brakes on the psychotic episode, which ultimately gave me an opportunity to take back control of my life. Without it I would not be here today.
The key with any medication is it has to be reviewed regularly. You (the person taking the medication) need to be educated as to the purpose of the medication and the alternatives so you can make an informed choice.
I write this because once I was discharged from hospital, I had a brilliant psychiatrist who worked with me to find a medication that suited my particular needs at the time. I transitioned from risperidone (Risperdal) to aripiprazole (Abilify), fluvoxamine and melatonin.
It put the brakes on the psychotic episode, which ultimately gave me an opportunity to take back control of my life.
Transition to adult mental health services
My psychiatrist took the time to explain each medication, its effects on me and the other options available. He adjusted my medication and dosage depending on what I was experiencing at the time and helped me work through the side effects. I started to make my recovery and I never missed a dose.
Unfortunately, this changed when I was transitioned to adult mental health services. I didn’t have a proper medication review for about a year and in the end I made the decision to stop taking my medication.
This was a very dangerous decision, because I did not tell anyone that I had stopped taking my tablets. I became extremely depressed and unable to cope. It took me a really long time to adjust to being medication-free.
I have been medication-free for three years now and I am getting my life back together. My closing thoughts are that medication can save your life, but it needs to be reviewed regularly, and the person taking it needs to be educated about what it is you're taking and given support to deal with the side effects.
Questions about mental health medication?
If you would like to know more about the different types of mental health medication you could be prescribed, how they help and what the side effects could be, have a look at our guide to medications.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times:
Text SHOUT to 85258.
Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
Please note: From the 1 April 2023, texting ‘YM’ to 85258 will no longer be available to use. You can still use Shout as a support service for your mental health.
Shout is a separate and external organisation from YoungMinds.
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