Taking risperidone to treat psychosis: Andrew's story
"Risperdal gave my mind a chance to recover." Andrew shares how risperidone (Risperdal), helped him to take back control in his life.
Antipsychotics saved my life.
When I was fifteen, 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.
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?
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 and 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.
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 you as a person need to be educated as to 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.