Join Date: Sep 2009
Amphetamine Overdose... Trouble Ever Since.
I posted this here because I wasn't sure of a better spot. I'm new to the forum, so if you know of a board on this site that might be better suited to this post please let me know. It's long, but I'm in pretty dire straits, so if you would take the time to read this I would be eternally grateful. Thank you and bless you.
Current Meds (daily dosage):
Lexapro - 30mg
Micardis - 40mg
Clonazepam - 1.5mg (slowly tapering off to 0mg/day)
Trazodone - 25mg
Since around age 12 I have suffered from social anxiety disorder and depression. These issues became increasingly hindering as the years wore on, and at 16 I finally sought help from a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with SAD and prescribed me Zoloft. Anyway, over the next few years I tried all sorts of medications (too many to name here) with multiple psychiatrists, and none helped my condition to any noteworthy degree. I went to therapy for 2 years, which also did not help much, but it was here that I was diagnosed with ADHD on top of my other conditions. I was 20 at the time and instead of seeing a psychiatrist I was seeing a nurse practitioner. Looking back I now realize that she had very loose ethics regarding prescribing medication.
I was prescribed 30mg/day of Adderall right off the bat, and since she legally wasn't allowed to prescribe stimulants she instead went through another doctor (who I have never met) to get me the medication. She sort of consulted with him I guess. At the time I liked her and trusted that she knew what was best for me. I was also completely naive to the destructive potential of Adderall, so I didn't question her methods. Sadly, over the next few months I became addicted. It was my decision to take more Adderall than prescribed, so I can't really put blame on her for my current situation, however I still believe her ethics were questionable at best. I would often take 60-70mg per 24 hour day, and on one fateful evening my addiction finally got the best of me and I took what I believe to be 90mg over the course of 12-15 hours.
The negative effects of the medication increased in severity as time went on, and by early morning it began to experience heart pounding, decreased hearing, hazy vision, numbness of the face, hands, and feet, coldness in extremities, slow, labored breathing, pressure inside of head (like it was going to explode from within), inability to concentrate, extreme tension in the back of throat/roof of mouth area, severe abdominal pain, and my eyes would not focus properly. Initially I was much too embarrassed and afraid to call the paramedics, but after several hours my symptoms worsened, my breathing became increasingly labored, and I felt as if I was going to pass out at any moment and go comatose.
I then called the paramedics because I was convinced that I was not getting enough oxygen to my brain. When they arrived they said I was having a panic attack and to not worry and then they put me on oxygen which made me feel slightly calmer. After receiving multiple injections of beta blockers at the hospital I was still experiencing symptoms such as hazy vision (like a translucent "white noise" effect over everything), decreased cognition, tension in back of throat/roof of mouth, anxiety, and depression. My physician told me that my symptoms were likely temporary and would go away within the next couple of days. However, after quitting the Adderall over the period of a couple of weeks my symptoms were still in full effect, and I was a total wreck. I then went through a period during which I did not sleep for 4 nights and 5 days despite the fact that I was not on any stimulant of any kind. Possibly due to exhaustion I had what I am told was (but am still unsure) another panic attack. My head felt like it was going to explode, my eyes felt like they were going to pop out, I got numb all over, I could not form complete thoughts or sentences, and I almost passed out as everything began to fade to white. I thought I was having a stroke. I went to the E.R. and got shot up with Ativan and was sent home.
After my overdose on Adderall I was unable to get any comfortable sleep. Often I would fall asleep and then immediately wake up from an inexplicable rush of adrenaline. This is part of what led to me staying up for so long. After battling this bizarre type of insomnia for a couple of weeks I was prescribed Valium, but it didn't help my sleeping much. I switched to 1mg clonazepam 3 times a day, but this has accomplished little more than numbing me out enough to prevent me from totally killing myself with worry.
Anyway, ever since my overdose 2 years ago my depression and the other aforementioned symptoms have not improved much. For example, I can hear a perfectly upbeat song or look at my dog or a picture of my smiling brother and get extremely depressed for no apparent reason. The strange tension in the roof of my mouth I mentioned earlier comes and goes, can last for days at a time and is quite painful. I have lost all concept of time. 30 minutes pass and it feels like 10 minutes. Days seem to pass in a few hours. I have even gone so far as to cover up all my clocks because I constantly worry about the time. It consistently feels as if I'm on some sort of deadline and should be doing something even though I have nowhere important to be and nothing important to do. I'm not in school right now and I live with my parents, but that feeling is still there. I also suffer from tension and soreness that seems to emanate from a section of spine in the middle of my back. The clonazepam has helped with this along with the tension in the roof of my mouth, but my inability to focus my vision, the blurred and hazy eyesight, my decreased ability to think, loss of memory, etc. have remained a constant burden.
I am virtually night blind; prior to my overdose I took pride in my ability to read in nearly no light. Lights and colors now seem dull, darker and often appear to change (e.g. The sky will look blue one second and then literally look gray the next). It's more subtle than it sounds. The changes don't happen very drastically. For example, light yellow won't change into dark blue, but they are noticable. I have constant eye floaters and spots in my field of vision. Sometimes my vision (often 2-3 times a day) will completely cut to black for a millisecond or so before returning, which is a symptom I have never read about nor heard of. Objects sometimes seem to vibrate or put out transparent borders, and occasionally I think I see something out of the corner of my eye when in reality nothing is there. I also have recurring tinnitus in my left ear mainly, and almost every day I experience phantom smells (ironically, most often when I am exhaling). Sometimes I smell blood, rubbing alcohol, and all sorts of weird things ranging from cabbage to squash to the scent you get from opening a can of tennis balls.
I thought all of my problems could be the result of a condition called "amphetamine psychosis" or "stimulant psychosis", but this condition most often dissipates within a week of abstaining from the drug, and even in the rarest occasions it doesn't last for more than a year. I went almost 2 years with no stimulants, and I am still nearly as bad as I was during the few weeks after my overdose. During my O.D. I never lost consciousness but I still worry that the overdose did lead to something that did not let enough oxygen get to my brain.
Let me break here and say that I don't like complaining, you guys, and I know I did this to myself and was only asking for trouble, but I figure if I am to gain anything valuable at all from this community I must be totally honest... no matter how depressing I might sound, so please try to bear with me if you can. I really appreciate you reading this far. I know this post is way too long, but I just want to make sure I don't leave anything out.
Anywho, back to the diatribe...
I am consistently paranoid (especially at night), and will often look at my completely blinded and covered window while thinking irrational thoughts like "What if someone can see through that?". I will check on the state of my window almost compulsively and have no clue as to why. I have acquired an irrational fear of the dark and even low light, and can rarely sleep without a multitude of 60 watt bulbs burning at the same time. I never get "good" sleep, and almost always wake up in a near panic state. I have nightmares, but I would not describe them as your average bad dreams. Often I will have perfectly "normal" dreams that inspire a feeling of impending doom and stress in my sleep. I could be dreaming about playing with my dog or playing baseball and I will still feel as depressed and anxious as I would if I was having a "normal" nightmare. I have absolutely no idea why this is so. I am actually now afraid to go to sleep because of the nightmares... hypnophobia I think it's called. The only nightmare-free sleep I get is when I don't dream at all.
I often wonder if I have damaged dopamine receptors in my brain and am now incapable of feeling pleasure without the aid of a chemical substance. I experience terrible mood swings ranging from moderately depressed to extremely depressed often from doing something as simple as walking from one room to another or changing the television station. For as long as I can remember I have been depressed and anxious, but this is depression on a whole other level. I can't even enjoy T.V. or movies anymore because my memory and cognition difficulties make it nearly impossible to sit through them and soak up the plot, and reading is exponentially more difficult. It's like my ADHD is tenfold what it used to be. The best way to describe how my cognition and memory have suffered is to say that it always feels as if I have been awake for 2 days, even when I get plenty of sleep. Television and film were two of my only joys in life. Film in particular was a big passion of mine, so not being able to enjoy movies has been particularly disheartening for me.
I have seen an optometrist and an opthamologist in regard to my vision problems, but neither found anything wrong with my eyes. I still have 20/20 vision, however my acuity still feels off. My sight will go in and out of focus at its own will and my eyeballs and eye muscles often feel sore. My opthamologist told me that since he couldn't find anything structurally wrong with my eyes my vision problems were likely related to something neurological or circulatory. I have seen a cardiologist, and under his orders I wore an electrode pack for a couple of weeks, received x-rays, an echo screen, etc., but he couldn't find anything seriously wrong with my heart. He just told me my heart was a little big on the right side, but that it wasn't anything life threatening and was simply the result of me being a "big guy" (I weigh 270lbs). He prescribed me Micardis for my high blood pressure and sent me on my way. I also saw a neurologist, got an MRI and got that test where they put electrodes on your head and make lights flash while you shut your eyes, but she couldn't find anything wrong with my brain... only a seasonal sinus polyp. This really shocked me because I am still fairly certain that my O.D. did cause me some neurological damage. Her bedside manner left something to be desired, and she chuckled softly as she brought up the notion that I might be schizophrenic. "God, I hope not," was my response.
Finally I got referred to a diagnostic clinic where I saw an endocrinologist. He ran a plethora of tests ruling out diseases ranging from diabetes to Wilson's disease to Cushing's syndrome and beyond. The only thing out of the ordinary that he could find was that my testosterone level was in the low-normal range and my estrogen level was in the high-normal range, which was unusual but still officially normal. By this point I had been seeing a psychiatrist and therapist for a couple of months. Therapy was no help, and my psychiatrist at the time offered little insight to what could be causing all this.
I have had probably half-a-dozen major "panic attacks" and countless minor ones since the one I've already mentioned. Because many of their symptoms were so painful and did not line up with those of normal panic attacks each time I've had one I have convinced myself that I must be dying, and as a result four of these have landed me in the E.R. only to be shot up with benzos before being released. I thought I was having seizures or mini strokes or something, and I'm still confused about what they are.
I have been seeing my current psychiatrist for about six months now, and he's actually proven to be the best one I've been to so far... in my opinion at least. He prescribed me Lexapro which is not very effective and Trazodone to help alleviate my nightmares and manage my insomnia, but I'm on a low dose, and so far it has helped very little. He has been slowly tapering down the clonazepam for the last month or so, and it's honestly going better than I thought it would, but I sadly can't see any improvement in my memory or cognition. Anyway, I hope to get off of it completely within the next month.
After seeing this doctor for a few months he prescribed me Vyvanse, which is dextroamphetamine just like Adderall but with an amino acid bound to it. I was reluctant to take any stimulants at first because of my horrendous past experiences with them, but after a while of trying other things like Strattera (which knocked me out) I agreed. The Vyvanse alleviated my depression and improved my cognition and mental focus for a while each day (about 4 hours or so), but after a few weeks of only partial functionality I found myself, yet again, taking more than I should have. There were only a couple of instances where I doubled up on the Vyvanse. The second time I pulled this foolish stunt the skin on my arms and legs turned red, the skin over my right kneecap turned a deep purple or brown... It was hard for me to determine which color because of my vision problems. This was also when some problems with my hands and other issues began.
My hands and feet are now usually cold, and the veins in my arms, hands and feet are much more visible than they were prior to this incident. Also, if I stand up and put my arms at my side I can feel and see the blood filling my hands turning them a light purplish red color particularly at the fingertips. My entire hand will be this color with the exception of dozens of little patches of white (actually more of a light tan) under the skin that contrasts with the purplish red. For some unknown reason the skin on the palms of my hands is shiny with tons of little cracks - not open cracks, but crevasses like you would see on a normal palm, only much more of them. My hands and my feet in particular will turn a dark purple if I sit or lie on them the wrong way. I have labored breathing and a mucus producing cough almost every day after I wake up. I am unsure why this is so because I quit smoking about 2 months ago and prior to that I only smoked off and on for about 3 years. Additionally, I recall that my spit was pinkish for a while.
For several days after this I had pain and a cold sensation on the sides of my abdomen where I suspect my kidneys are located. After I got over that experience I rightly decided that I was unfit to make rational decisions regarding my medications, so I gave my mother all of them to hide and dispense as ordered. I flushed my Vyvanse down the toilet, and told my doctor that I didn't want to take Vyvanse anymore because I was having some seriously negative thoughts, which was true, but this wasn't strictly due to the Vyvanse and it certainly wasn't the whole truth about why I wanted to quit taking it.
I sometimes freeze up when I'm driven to conversation, and it's very hard for me to express my emotions... for that reason, and from the sheer embarrassment of having to tell my psychiatrist that I had done something incredibly stupid is why I did not tell him the truth. I felt a lot of guilt about not being honest with my doctor, so I did the only thing I knew to do and sent my parents to see him. I instructed them to tell him everything no matter how embarrassing it may be to me. I realized that if I was ever going to recover from my condition there had to be full disclosure and I was fairly certain I had not made all of my feelings and symptoms clear to my doctor. For example, I think he was under the impression that when I took Adderall it affected my vision only temporarily. Something had been lost in translation I guess. After my parents visited with him my mother told me that because I realize that my paranoia and thoughts are irrational my shrink doubts schizophrenia is to blame, but that hasn't really given me much hope.
It's been a couple of weeks since that visit and about 2 months since my incident with the Vyvanse. I'm due for another appointment in another couple of weeks, but I'm still very much in the dark. The symptoms I listed earlier still plague me, and no one can give me much insight into what is going on with me. I'm clueless, and all I know is what I'm doing now is not working. I try to tell myself that all this is related to stress but in my heart I know this isn't true because of the problems I have with my vision, cognition, etc. I have researched the internet religiously to try and find an explanation and have found several possible culprits, but nothing definitive. I usually avoid research now because I think it only feeds into my hypochondria causing me to needlessly worry, but no doctor has been able to help me so I had to do what I could to find out possible explanations for myself.
Delirium explains many of my symptoms, and if that's the case an antipsychotic might help, but I don't know. I'm certainly not an expert. I am now almost totally agoraphobic and only leave my house to see my doctor, so I earnestly need your help if you have any insight at all into what might be going on.
Thank you so much for being patient enough to read this. I know it must have taken up a huge chunk of time for you. I have tried to be as thorough as possible, but if you need some more information, have any questions or any input I'd appreciate a reply.
Last edited by Stu 687; 09-30-2009 at 07:57 AM.
Reason: grammar corrections