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Author Topic: Anxiety with Starting Meds  (Read 1716 times)

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Offline Winrock201

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  • Posts: 5
  • New to this, still trying to figure things out.
Anxiety with Starting Meds
« on: August 10, 2012, 02:21:51 PM »
Hi, this is my first post and I usually just read other topics posted by fellow forum members. But here's my issue. I tested + in January, have been in pretty decent health, have had great stats (my initial CD4 count was over 500), but recently my count has dropped to 310 and my doctor has written a prescription for Atripla. While I wait to hear from the ADAP person at the Health Department, I have had this building anxiety about starting meds. I know they are something that will keep me healthy, but on the flip side I keep thinking "this is something I'm going to have to take everyday for the rest of my life". Is this normal? Is there any advice that anyone can give to ease the transition both mentally & physically? I would appreciate any positive advice right now.
"The path is made by walking" - African Proverb

Offline vaguesbleues

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  • Posts: 93
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 02:50:04 PM »
Welcome to the Forum, Winrock! I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but glad you found the forums.  Hopefully, you've found them as helpful as I have.  Atripla is a great medication, and as you can see in my signature line below, did an excellent job at dropping the VL to undetectable in only a few months. 

I can understand your apprehension about taking mediation as this makes it that much more "real".  You are definitely not the first person to feel like this.  But, would you feel the same if this was something else like, say high blood pressure, diabetes, etc...?  I currently take medication for high blood pressure, and I knew when I went on them at the age of 20, I'd likely be on them for the rest of my life.  Atripla is just another pill that will allow me to live my life as fully and as long as possible.  :) 

As far as easing in the transition mentally, you indicate you tested positive only about 7-8 months ago.  Have you checked to see if there is a support group for HIV+ individuals near where you live?  Or even finding a supportive therapist to help sort things out?  I went to a very supportive therapist at my college, and he helped me out a ton.  Just the act of talking through my thoughts and fears with someone else helped me come to terms with it all. 

Good luck as you start on Atripla!  :)
03/10/2011 - Tested HIV negative
04/26/2011 - Inconclusive WB result
05/19/2011 - Confirmed HIV positive
                    VL < 50, T-Cell 747 (30%)
06/13/2011 - VL 345, T-Cell 841 (30%)
08/23/2011 - VL 50,100, T-Cell 1155 (19%) - CMV
09/18/2011 - Started Atripla!!
11/07/2011 - VL 489, T-Cell 881 (31%)
02/08/2012 - VL Undetectable!!, T-Cell 772 (34%)
08/08/2012 - VL UD, T-Cell 1070 (42%)
11/05/2012 - VL UD, T-Cell 1174 (35%)
03/18/2013 - VL UD, T-Cell 972 (28%)
10/04/2013 - VL UD, T-Cell 1025 (34%)

Offline Winrock201

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  • New to this, still trying to figure things out.
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 02:56:19 PM »
I've just started attending a support group. However, it is mostly women who are HIV-positive, just me and this one other guy are the only two men in the group with me the only gay man. I am told that there is a support group for gay & bisexual men who are HIV-positive in the area, so I'm trying to find more information. I just moved back here (to Jackson, Mississippi) last year and I still don't really know too many people here other than family members. This is all happening so fast and sometime I just feel like it's overwhelming.
"The path is made by walking" - African Proverb

Offline leatherman

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  • Google and HIV meds are Your Friends
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 03:00:50 PM »
welcome!

As bleues pointed out, a lot of people are on a lot of daily meds, and HIV isn't any different from those other illnesses in this respect. While you may have some anxiety, you should not stress too much. The meds (like google LOL) are your friends. :D Without meds, HIV is ravaging your immune system which eventually can lead to a lot of diseases and a not-so-happy ending. With the meds, you can continue living your life to it's fullest and expecting to live a "normal" life span. That's really a pretty good deal by just taking 1 pill a day.  ;)

good luck with the Atripla. Remember you may have some issues as first as your body adjusts to the meds and as the HIV viral loads decreases. If by some odd chance too you have side effects that you can't deal with after a couple weeks, there are a lot of other meds you can take.
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Offline Winrock201

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  • Posts: 5
  • New to this, still trying to figure things out.
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 03:09:22 PM »
Thanks guys, I'm feeling a little better about my situation. I mentioned the topic last night and it kind of got brushed off during the group meeting--which happens quite a bit whenever I have a concern (which is why I am looking for a new support group). Now, to wait for the ADAP administrator with the Health Dept. to approve my application is another anxiety I'm having to deal with. Mississippi is a tough place to seek assistance when it comes to HIV treatment, but that's for another topic.
"The path is made by walking" - African Proverb

Offline leatherman

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  • Posts: 6,189
  • Google and HIV meds are Your Friends
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 04:09:39 PM »
which is why I am looking for a new support group
is there an ASO in your area that you can connect with? Some of them have in-house counselors that you access for one-to-one sessions, or perhaps they even have peer counselors (fellow clients able to help/assist/talk to new clients). Do you know of someone else taking daily meds that you could talk with, or even just a friend who would sit and listen? I understand that you might not to use some of these suggestions because of disclosure issues; but sometimes it helps to think outside the box when looking for some support and guidance. Depending on your finances, you might even want to check into other mental health counseling options through the health dpt or other agencies in your ares.

You might want to even politely speak to this support group leader after a meeting to voice your concerns about your concerns not being given enough consideration. Of course, there's no guarantee that this suggestion will help matters ::); but it's a pro-active step towards dealing with your issues. Sometimes the squeaky wheel does get some grease. ;)
leatherman (aka mIkIE)


chart from 1992-2013; updated 2/09/13  Reyataz/Norvir/Truvada

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 04:10:33 PM »
GEEZ what planet do your support group member live on where they don't want to listen to a person's anxiety about HAART?  Anxiety about going on HAART is very common.  You are very recent diagnosis. And now also HAART.  Of course you're a bit anxious about it all.

But don't misinterpret a sort of impatience with anxiety, as a brush off.  What some people might really be meaning to communicate is that, well, its inevitable, so anxiety or no anxiety, one still has to bite the bullet and swallow the pills. 

You have a right to be anxious but once you get into the swing of it you'll find actually it rather reassuring.  You are going to love the "feeling" (even if for many its only psychological-when they are starting from a good place and are not sick) of being undetectable. Everything falls back into place. Really a lot of anxiety falls away.

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Winrock201

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  • Posts: 5
  • New to this, still trying to figure things out.
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 05:00:15 PM »
Well, with my current group situation, I feel sort of ostracized because out of the 20 or so people who regularly attend, I'm the one gay guy out of the bunch. Then, this group is affiliated with a FBO within a Baptist church. With me not being someone "of the faith", but who out of pure desperation in wanting to understand what was going on, started attending these meetings. They have helped somewhat with dealing with disclosure issues and learning about HIV (because prior to January, I had little to no knowledge of HIV), but I feel it is time for me to move on. As I searched today, I have found this group that caters to HIV-positive men. It doesn't have a specification on sexuality, but is open to all men who are HIV-positive. I will most likely try them for support. I am also talking to one of my friends who disclosed to me 3 years ago. Though his circumstances were slightly different (he was in the hospital with pneumonia when he was diagnosed), I feel that there is something that I can gain from his experiences as someone living with HIV.
"The path is made by walking" - African Proverb

Offline Buckmark

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Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 05:50:01 PM »
Welcome.  The anxiety you are having about starting meds is completely normal.  The idea of having to take them for the rest of your life seems daunting at first.  But after a few weeks of taking meds, you'll probably get into the routine very easily.  It might help to prepare by educating yourself on the medication(s), and potential side-effects  Fortunately, Atripla is generally very easy to take, the most common side-effects are either drowsiness, or vivid dreams. 

Talking to your friend who disclosed to your several years ago is a great idea.  He can help "show you the ropes".  And you can be thankful that you are starting meds now, before you get sick, rather than after becoming ill like your friend did.

Hang in there, and let us know how things work out.

Henry




"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline Winrock201

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  • New to this, still trying to figure things out.
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2012, 05:31:30 PM »
-------UPDATE-------

Heard back from the ADAP administrator, picked up the medicine on Monday (08/13/2012) and after all of that worry, took my first dosage last night at 11:45 p.m. CDT before going to bed. Oh my wow, I did not know the side effects were going to be that intense. I was asleep, but woke up around 2 this morning to use the bathroom & had to crawl to the bathroom, my balance was so off that I couldn't stand and I had this wired/buzzed feeling like I had been drinking all night. I took today off work to cope and talk with my doctor and some friends who are also taking Atripla and I have been assured that these are only temporary and once my body is adjusted to the medication, they shouldn't be as severe.

This in no way is going to make me stop taking it (Atripla), since I know this is what is necessary to maintain my health, I'm just going to have to determine how to better negotiate these side-effects (with fingers crossed that they will not be as severe as time goes on).

Again, I want to thank you all for easing my anxiety last week and helping me to even get to the point of starting my meds. Words cannot express my gratitude, we'll just have to see how my numbers fare.  :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 05:36:00 PM by Winrock201 »
"The path is made by walking" - African Proverb

Offline vaguesbleues

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Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2012, 06:14:58 PM »
Those side effects sound a lot like what I experienced my first night or two!  Dizziness, weird buzzing feeling.  I even woke up to hallucinations where these weird angels (think those teeny cherub angels from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel) with a warm light around them were poking their heads into the doorway of my bedroom.  When the microwave stand that I can see down the hall started to morph into this white-robed wearing man holding a big mirror, I just rolled over muttering "Oh f*ck me!" and went back to sleep.  Hang in there, as the side effects should definitely diminish.  Remember to try to take it on an empty stomach as, at least for me, I've found that eating too soon prior to taking it makes the side effects worse.  Most days now, I don't really notice anything except for maybe an occasional strange dream.  Not bad at all....

Hopefully, you'll see a big improvement in your numbers at your next Dr. visit.  :)
03/10/2011 - Tested HIV negative
04/26/2011 - Inconclusive WB result
05/19/2011 - Confirmed HIV positive
                    VL < 50, T-Cell 747 (30%)
06/13/2011 - VL 345, T-Cell 841 (30%)
08/23/2011 - VL 50,100, T-Cell 1155 (19%) - CMV
09/18/2011 - Started Atripla!!
11/07/2011 - VL 489, T-Cell 881 (31%)
02/08/2012 - VL Undetectable!!, T-Cell 772 (34%)
08/08/2012 - VL UD, T-Cell 1070 (42%)
11/05/2012 - VL UD, T-Cell 1174 (35%)
03/18/2013 - VL UD, T-Cell 972 (28%)
10/04/2013 - VL UD, T-Cell 1025 (34%)

Offline Ann

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    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Anxiety with Starting Meds
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2012, 05:06:05 AM »
Win, Vegues is definitely right - those side effects from the Sustiva portion of your Atripla should diminish in time, usually within a week or two. Remember to not eat at least two hours before you take it, and try to not have a high fat meal as your last meal before dosing. You may find in time that eating won't effect you as much, but for now, take it on an empty stomach.

If by chance this side effect does not diminish or if you start having depression or anxiety that you never had, or if you've had these problems and they get worse, there are other meds you can take. You would likely be able to keep two of the meds you're already on in the form of Truvada (tenofovir + emtricitabine) and just switch the Sustiva out for something else. Lots of people have problems with Sustiva, so try to not worry about it too much. You're not alone.

Something else to consider - many people report that what they do, read or watch on telly right before taking their Sustiva/Atripla will effect what they dream about. A word of advice - don't read a Steven King novel or watch one of the Saw movies before bedtime. Partake of some comedy or porn instead. Also, if you let worrying about the side effects get the better of you, you're more likely to have a rough time of it sleep-wise.

Remember the no food rule and you'll most likely be just fine. Give it a week or two, and good luck.

And by the way, I haven't said it yet so I'll say it now (better late than never!) - welcome to the forums!
Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

 


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