A Year in Books

I haven’t had time to do a book review since my break, but I will likely bring them back in 2020. No worries, I haven’t stopped reading.

This post is a bit of a refresher or maybe even a first time read if you’re new.


One of my top ten favorite books

Gone Girl

A memoir of a mom in recovery- I hope she remains sober. It’s a daily struggle.

I’m Just Happy To Be Here

A mother has to make tough decisions.

72 Hour Hold

Book? Movie? You decide which is better.

Fight Club

Friendship is EVERYTHING.

Valley of the Dolls

Five Ways to Handle Psychiatric Medication Side Effects

Medications aren’t always a breeze to take. I’ve been on various ones for RA, migraines and permanently taking thyroid medication.

I took medication for Post-Partum Depression in 2006, after Julian’s birth. I have no shame in saying that.

Psychiatric medications are a necessity for many people. Without them, they may or may not be able to function in daily life.

Medication hearts

The Side Effects Gamble

When you have prescribed pretty much anything, the doctor has decided that it’s better for you to take it than not.

Nobody can predict all the side effects you may face when taking psychiatric medication. There’s a list that comes with the medication that warns you, but sometimes others can occur.

Withdrawal symptoms are real. I’m currently taking Effexor for migraines and if I miss two or more days, I feel terrible. I’ll spare you the details but let’s say I am not pleasant to be near.

Some of the heavier medications have dangerous side effects and should be looked at carefully. They can also wreak havoc on your organs- lithium (prescribed for bipolar disorder) can cause liver damage. Regular blood work can help monitor this.


What do I do if I experience negative side effects?

*Please remember that I am not a doctor, so I highly recommend staying in touch with your prescribing doctor.*

1. Monitor the length and intensity of side effects. Obviously, if you go into anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately. Skip the rest of this post.

Otherwise, I recommend monitoring for a few days, because our bodies need a few days, if not weeks, to adjust to the new medication. Call your doctor to let them know what is going on.

2. Watch for symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. If you are taking an older anti-psychotic and some other medications, you may be at risk of this permanent side effect.

Tardive dyskinesia affects the facial muscles, mainly causing involuntary movements of the mouth, lip, and tongue. If you notice this, contact your doctor immediately.

3. Lifestyle changes. Some of the lighter side effects, like weight gain, sleep, and sexual issues, can be helped by changing habits, exercise, and discussion with your partner.

4. Change the dosage and/or timing of taking the medication. Changes to the time you take your medication can be a huge help. You may feel better after this and/or changing the dosage.

5. Ask for a new medication. Not all medications are for everyone. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different. It’s okay to ask for a new medication if the one you have isn’t working.

Living on Meds

Some medications do interact with other medications/food. For example, those on lithium aren’t supposed to take ibuprofen. It can cause brain damage.

People who took MAOI inhibitors years ago couldn’t eat certain kinds of cheese, soy sauce and a long list of other things. It was deadly. It’s not as dangerous now, but your food and drink intake have to be watched carefully to avoid a potentially deadly rise in blood pressure.

If the prescribing doctor informs you of these things, definitely stick by them. Your life may depend on it.

As with all other meds, please take your psychiatric meds as prescribed and try not to miss a dose. These medications are meant to help along with therapy if needed, or if not, lots of self care.

Meditation for mental illness does not equal shame.

Information courtesy of:

MAOI food information

Dealing with Psych Meds side effects

For further reading:

“72 Hour Hold” book review

Men and Mental Health

To and From the Safe Place

The days in front of us can get hard.

Small things appear to be the largest mountains.

Larger tasks are impossible to complete.

Lists are the last thing you want to deal with. Getting out of bed would be a good start.

On these days, surviving the day is the main task. Eating, bathing and hygiene are the most crucial things you need to achieve. Just about everything else can wait.

Energy levels can be extremely low, so go at a pace that works for you. Don’t let anyone rush or shame you. This is your battle, not theirs.

At the end of the day, bed can be a safe, soft place. Tomorrow is another day to try again.

Book Review: “Girl, Interrupted”

This month’s book review is for another movie/book combo.

Feel free to comment or email me with your thoughts at wraemsanders@gmail.com.

I’m not sure which I like more- the book was intriguing, but the movie is a bit more in-depth. I guess it depends on whether you are more of a book or movie person.

**TRIGGER WARNING** This book review does briefly discuss suicidal thoughts, attempts, and similar topics. Please read at your own discretion.

Book cover

Title and why I chose this book:

“Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen

It’s not often that people tell their story of mental illness- at least not from the time frame that Susanna does. This book was based on her story in the 1960s when it wasn’t acceptable to tell anyone you had a mental illness, much less write a book about it. I think it’s interesting to look at a person’s story from another angle, even if it’s a different time.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

If you aren’t familiar with what it was like to be a patient in a mental health facility during this time period, Susanna’s story will give you a peek into it. Many of us are a bit curious about that, myself included. I think it’s because of my work in similar facilities. I’ve read quite a bit about facilities in the past and how patients were treated, and it wasn’t always positive.

What did I like about this book?

I like Susanna’s honesty. She breaks down her thoughts and the events that occur in the story so that the reader can understand exactly what is going on. Some of those events may be a little hard for us to comprehend because we weren’t there to witness them, but she tries her best.

What didn’t I like about this book?

I thought that the book could have been a little longer, I think it ended a bit abruptly. Everyone has their opinions on this, so maybe it’s just me. The tone of the book was a bit formal for me, but I had to remind myself of the time the book was set in.


Susanna is hospitalized at McLean Hospital in 1967. Her hospital paperwork is actually included in the book, with some things blacked out. This wouldn’t have happened today, thanks to HIPAA. I’ve seen this in other books, but it still astounds me.

She is hospitalized following a suicide attempt- I won’t include details, but she does detail the attempt and events that follow it. She also discusses suicidal thoughts and means.

I had a laugh while reading her description of “maximum security” and McLean’s checks system. This is the way that mental health workers (“orderlies” in the book) are able to assess patients on a 1:1 (constant), 7.5, 15 or 30-minute basis for their safety. Try doing 7.5-minute checks while hugely pregnant. I did this while pregnant with Lily and it was a bit challenging.

Susanna signed herself in voluntarily and thought she would be there for two weeks- this became almost two years. She got along with her roommate and the other patients around her, and after her release, was able to find two of them. She was released after she was offered a proposal for marriage.

What was Susanna’s diagnosis? I won’t spoil that for you. It’s in her paperwork.

I’ll let you find it in the book.

Quote that I liked:

“Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me amplified.”

Just because you’re broken inside doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”. Everyone’s a little broken, right?

Come back next month for another book review!

Picture courtesy of Google