Autobio, Pain

Gabapentin, Take Two

If you read my initial blog post, you know the first time I took gabapentin, I had a psychedelic trip. After that, I had a little over a week of euphoria and feeling slightly stoned. I was also tired, but my pain was lessened. Then I had about two good days before I started having rapid, large mood swings. I’d go from a perfectly good mood to utterly depressed in seconds, followed by a return to normal within an hour or less. My husband raised concerns because of how odd the pattern was compared to my more normal depressive mood swings.

After multiple days of alarming depressive thoughts despite scaling back on my gabapentin dose, I decided to go off it. A few days later, things really went off the rails. I rapidly became suicidal. A few seconds of negative thoughts in the shower were all it took. This time, though, the deep depression lasted for three days, during which I had a panic attack the one time I ventured out of the house and my husband feared to leave me alone.

It wasn’t new for me to have suicidal thoughts. I’d had several severe episodes throughout the four months leading up to my gabapentin trial, which had led me to seek talk therapy once again. It had been a very rough year. In May, a carcinoid tumor was found in my stomach. Doctors removed the tumor surgically, but I am still dealing with GI issues. In addition, throughout the year, my back pain consistently became markedly worse. I’d already scaled back on work for years and was careful with what activities I took on. It was devastating to have further limitations.

I had a small glimmer of hope when I got steroid injections in two facet joints in late October, but that hope faded fast when I had my worst back flare up yet in early December. For more than a day, I couldn’t walk without assistance, and even then the pain left me crying. Once I could manage to hobble, I still often cried (and/or swore) when moving. The doctor put me on a strong muscle relaxer and gabapentin. I had to stop dog walking indefinitely. I sobbed when I told each of my regular dogs goodbye. One I’d walked for about four years. I was primed for another depressive episode. The gabapentin merely made the episode worse.

Now, on a different SNRI and not taking muscle relaxers, I’m giving it another go. The first night, I was tired and stoned. Night two, no side effects reared their ugly heads, but my pain is already diminishing. I’ve notified my friends I’ve restarted, so they know to check in with me. My husband is on the lookout for aberrant behavior. Fingers crossed I only get pain relief this time.

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