Thursday, January 7, 2010

Want some tics with your stim?

I've always had a few motor tics, mostly facial ones. They started when I was probably 2. At any given point, I'm pretty sure I had at least one active one. It was never a big deal. I got made fun of briefly in 3rd grade for it, but that was the most that they ever bothered me. My parents were so used to them they hardly even noticed. No one ever gave much thought to them.

Until this summer, that is. When I switched from Paxil (which made me gain a significant amount of weight) to Celexa, I noticed that I developed a new facial tic. The one or two I had got stronger. I told my mom that I thought the Celexa was making my tics worse. She said it was probably coincidental, and that was that. They weren't out of control, just annoying.

Well, until recently, that is. When I was in the hospital, my Celexa got increased from 20mg to 80mg, and whoa. Watch out. I'm constantly ticcing. Constantly. I definitely have at least to motor tics (all facial now) and one vocal tic (clearing my throat), which means that I now have full-blown Tourette's. All because of the medication.

I'm embarrassed to go out. I'm embarrassed to sit and watch TV with my parents. I'm embarrassed to go visit Leigh and her roommates for "Christmas in January" in a few weeks. I really hate these tics.

We tried Option 1, which was to add Tenex to my medications. It made me so ridiculously tired that I couldn't function. I all but quit talking again. That was no good.

Option 2 is to switch from Celexa to another SSRI. The reason why this seemingly simple change isn't Option 1 is because I don't switch SSRIs well at all. I stop the first medication and start the new one. The new one takes about two weeks to kick in at all, and a month or so to take full effect. The last time I switched SSRIs, from Paxil to Celexa, was this past summer, and the anxiety got so bad that I had to be hospitalized until the Celexa kicked in. Still, it looks like this is the option we're going to try next, later in January.

Tics and stimming can look so similar. How do you tell the difference between the two? I'll tell you my rule: stimming feels good, ticcing does not. I want to stop the tics, but the stims I'm happy to do. That's my unofficial, unproven rule of thumb.

Hand flapping? Stim.
Throat clearing? Tic.
Constant tapping? Stim.
Fingerspelling in ASL? Modified stim (trying to control flicking fingers), but a stim nonetheless
My jaw? Tic. The worst one I have. It's nonstop.
Biting down? Tic.

Stims= good. Tics = bad. Let's get rid of these tics, already.


  1. Wow. That is so informative, Lydia!

    First of all, I am so glad you're home! I missed you and am glad to read you here, again! I hope that you start feeling better soon and that 2010 is a happy and healthy one for you!

    Second of all, I hope that you find the right mix of medication. How difficult that must be.

    Third of all, this is just an off the wall idea I am throwing out there. Would you ever consider video taping yourself? I know that would be a lot of exposure on your part. i only think about this because there was a time that I followed a man on youtube who chronicled his life with anxiety and it was so fascinating and informative for the viewers (and he also got a tremendous amount of support from viewers, too.) Anyway, just a crazy idea to throw out there.

    All the best, dear Lydia!

  2. I'm a veteran at changing medication - with both girls on various medicines we're used to chopping and changing on a regular basis. When we change drugs we gradually decrease one while gradually increasing the new one so the net result is, hopefully, no major drops in dose per kg so no unguarded moments and less, if any, lag time when the unwanted symptoms can manifest themselves. Just a thought but it could be worth asking about doing it this way for your next change. There may of course be a reason why you won't be able to do it but no harm in asking.

  3. Oh Sweetie! I'm so sorry you are having a hard time!