“Taste the rainbow”

of antipsychotics that is…

From the very beginning that I got introduced to antipsychotics, I had a strong dislike for them. Though, they are what keeps psychosis from rearing its ugly head. Risperdal was the first antipsychotic I was on. This produced muscle rigidity in me. So essentially muscle rigidity is when all your muscles become stiff and you are walking like a zombie, that is, in slow motion. It became so difficult for me when the Risperdal reached its therapeutic dose level, because it takes some time for these drugs to reach a certain level in your system, that I could not even wash my own hair because I had difficulty raising my arms. My body felt heavy to me. I had to rely on someone else to get my  hair washed and combed. This was like a month after my first psychotic episode happened.

I thought I could beat the side effects of the medication by drinking Lucozade, an energy drink made of glucose and caffeine but once the medication levelled out in my system, there was no way to fight its effects. Caffeine just doesn’t cut the side effects. Little did I know, at that time, that there was an antidote to the muscle rigidity side effect of the medication – an anti-Parkinson drug called Akineton. I was only put on Akineton when I came to Sint Maarten in October of 2004, after having seen a doctor at the Turning Point foundation, a drug rehabilitation center on Sint Maarten.

At that time, I was also on a mood stabilizer called Depakote so that I wouldn’t suffer from the highs and lows of bipolar disorder more commonly known as manic depression.  This was because the attending psychiatrist in Trinidad had thought it was a manic episode that I had experienced. Really, what’s the difference between a manic and a psychotic episode? Maybe, that’s a question I should ask in my next “shrink” session.

So, that was my first experience with antipsychotics. Muscle rigidity wasn’t the only side effect that I had to deal with while on Risperdal. I had to deal with weight gain and the fact that I looked like I had eaten a pumpkin because I had that tell-tale sign, that you’re on an anti-psychotic – the swollen look. That meant I had to deal with questions. Questions, I wasn’t ready to answer. The first question I encountered was at the airport in Sint Maarten upon my arrival from Trinidad:” what the hell  happened to you?” “Well, I had a nervous breakdown.” I answered. That’s the best I could explain it at that time. I was embarrassed that my own brain had a defect and would take me so far from reality into a world of fantasy.

From Risperdal, Seroquel, Haldol, Zyprexa, Clopixol, Fluanxol to Abilify, not forgetting the antihistamine Promethazine and the benzodiazepines like Valium and Klonopin and the anti-depressants like Paxil, Effexor and, the ever popular Prozac – these are the drugs I’ve tried and each one has its own set of side effects. The benzodiazepines are the holy grail of psychiatric drugs. If you aren’t sleeping well and suffering from anxiety, these drugs will do the trick. So, Klonopin was my best friend in my last psychotic episode. Did they have to reduce it? If only my insomnia could’ve been solved by Klonopin alone. That would’ve been ideal.

The second time I had a brief psychotic break was on November 21st 2013. That time I got to try Seroquel which knocked me out for a few days or maybe that was the added Valium. All I know, is that I was put on Zyprexa for a period of 3 months, after that initial dose of Seroquel… first 15 mg, then 10 mg, then 5 mg, each for a month. I didn’t think about what or when I was eating on Zyprexa so I ate any time that I felt hungry which was often. I didn’t eat fruits or healthy snacks… I ate sugary snacks because that’s what my body craved on Zyprexa. I remember it was around Christmas time and my neighbor brought over a pumpkin cake , well, I ate nearly the whole cake by myself. So you can imagine, that I gained weight. I went from a size 6 to a size 8 in less then 3 months. So, Zyprexa wasn’t for me either. I hated it! Because it messed with my body image. The sooner I could get off of it, the better. I made a full recovery in regards to cognitive functioning and after a brief work reintegration period, I returned to my normal work duties on February 24th 2014 until my nightmare started in October of 2014. I relapsed.

The picture is a selfie I took with the “swollen look” when I was institutionalized in November of 2014.

To be continued…

Peace. Angelita




Like an episode of the popular tv show “Friends”

In 2004, when my first psychotic episode happened, I was living in Trinidad, the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, famous for its Carnival, dubbed the greatest show on earth and it lives up to its name having experienced it for myself in February of 2005. While living on Trinidad I met some really great people and made some friends. Had it not been for my friends who got me help when I had my first psychotic episode in Trinidad, who knows where I might have ended up so I am forever grateful to those friends who helped me while I was there.

So the first tell-tale sign that I was about to have a psychotic episode was sleeping disturbances. I remember waking up very early while everyone was still asleep and taking pictures. I was in an elated mood and a chair standing alone on a porch looked artistically beautiful to me.

I was down the islands with friends for Trinidad’s Independence Day celebrations which was on August 31st. It was a public holiday. Down the islands is a local Trinidadian term for the Bocas islands off the coast of Trinidad where people have weekend homes to relax away from the city or everyday life on Trinidad. It’s really very beautiful. We were on the island of Gasperee.

During this period, I had a boyfriend who was going back to college in Canada at the end of the summer and this had a profound effect upon me at the time. I can’t talk about having my first psychotic episode without mentioning him. It was a summer romance because we didn’t know each other for that long. We met in June and we began dating and I fell hard and fast so by the time it was time for him to go back to college at the beginning of September I didn’t want him to leave.

Of course my emotions surrounding him leaving were running high, so in my head I began to fall apart before my friends started noticing that something was wrong. I remember thinking in my head that I just wanted my father to come because saying goodbye was too difficult for me to handle by myself. Well, my dad did end up coming to Trinidad twice that summer – once for vacation and the second time after I got sick. So while out sun-tanning with my friends, I was thinking that my brother would send Winair down to Trinidad with my dad. Of course all of this was irrational thought. Just like the song “Signal de plane” by Elephant Man, I thought somehow that they were going to signal the planes down south. I think this thought originated from the fact that my brother is a pilot and used to fly Winair at the time but when he was learning how to fly he would fly around Saba sometimes in a Cessna 172 and we would wave to him from our porch and sometimes he used to tip the wings of the airplane as if he were signalling that he was waving back hence “signal de plane” held some kind of deeper meaning to me.

By the time we left down the islands and went back to the mainland Trinidad I was further deep into psychosis but I’m not sure if anyone started to notice as yet. I don’t remember all the exact details as to a timeline or anything like that but I will tell you what I do remember. So the first night back to the mainland Trinidad, I never slept, I stood up and had all the energy in the world. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just remember I had to tell my ex-boyfriend goodbye the next morning and I didn’t know how I was going to do that.

I had made a drawing for him and had it framed but I couldn’t pick it up from the framing store on time because I was down the islands, so I had a friend pick it up for me. At 5 AM in the morning, after having sat out on a bench in the park across the street from my neighbour’s house staring off at the moon, deep in thought, I thought that it was a good time to pick up the drawing so off I went ringing on the neighbour’s doorbell at such an odd hour. I did get the painting.

I went back to my apartment that I shared with two other girls and I’m not sure what I did next or how they found me but I think I was staring at the tv that wasn’t on, thinking in my head that I was watching an episode of the popular tv show “Friends”. I remember feeling like I was on a scavenger hunt and I had to find stuff and at one point I put on my roommate’s green dress which I grabbed from her dirty hamper because I loved the colour green and was going to get married that day in a green dress. Thankfully, it was all in my head. I got married in the dress of my dreams to the love of my life who supports me today,  even through two psychotic episodes and can put up with me talking about the past.

When my roommate woke up, they started to realize that something was not right because one of them asked me why I had on their dress because it was dirty. By the time my ex-boyfriend had come to tell me goodbye I was worse. He brought doubles for me and I would not eat them. Doubles is like a soft doughy taco filled with curried chick peas better known as “channa” in Trinidad. When it came time to finally tell him goodbye, I would not kiss him good bye because in my head I never wanted to tell him goodbye. He didn’t understand at the time why I wouldn’t kiss him goodbye. He cried and of course in my state, I couldn’t understand why he was crying.

Well, my roommate had to go to work eventually and so there was no one to take care of me and thankfully they didn’t leave me by myself so I went to work with my roommate and I remember sitting in her office and at one point the phone rang and I answered it and I think I told the person on the other end that I was going to get married that day. Of course I didn’t know the real reason why I was there or what was going on behind the scenes. I thought I was there to get ready for the so called wedding.

Eventually my friends got me to the hospital under the guise that I was going to church to get married or so I thought in my head. I went to the community hospital of seventh day Adventists and the next thing I knew, I was being clapped with an injection of antipsychotics in my rear-end. Well that was the end to my little scavenger hunt and the fun and games for me. Above is the drawing which I did. Here’s a poem I wrote about that time in my life on November 27th 2009.

Always an observer, never a participant.

Heart denied until it no longer wants.

Frozen in time.

I only relive my memories.


The beauty exists in the twinkle of a star.

The magical aroma in the salt of the ocean.

Bring me back to the Gulf of Paria.


The calm of the ocean on a clear night.

Wind in my face, salt spray splashing intoxicating my mind.

The feeling of adventure, another venture “down d Islands”

Gasperee, I see not to far in the distance.

Always in my heart you will stay, frozen in time. There you will be mine.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I discuss what it’s really like to use antipsychotics.