Genetic Testing

Today I got the results back of the genetic test I took via mouth swab last month. The test tells you a lot of things. The purpose is to help identify which psychiatric drugs will help you and which won’t and/or might be causing some of the bad side effects you have.

Found a few things out. Number one, 95% of the stuff I spent my twenties on doesn’t work on people with my genetics. That may explain why I was a basket case for about 10 years. In all seriousness though, almost every drug I’ve ever taken, and they do list the drugs individually on the genetic results, are listed as either not being compatible with me or having very little compatibility. The list of drugs that might actually work for me are very short. There is one category, and on that list is Lamictal and lithium (and a few others). I may have to go back on lithium. We’ll see. For now I’m doubling my Lamictal to see if that helps enough. And staying the course on certain antidepressants and anxiety meds.

The test showed other things as well. There is a chain of reactions necessary to use things like serotonin and dopamine in your brain. My brain is unable to use some of the materials it has because a receptor isn’t working right that allows the serotonin and dopamine to be used.

From this test I also learned why I feel so wimpy about pain and why I’m always asking for more or stronger painkillers every time I have a procedure or an injury. The receptors that deal with opioids are very weak. So it takes a lot more for me to get the same effect as someone else gets who has normal receptors. My practitioner encouraged me to do two things with these results. Number one, bring my genetic test results with me if I have to when I have procedures to show that I’m not making crap up when I say I need more painkiller. Number two, to not take painkiller for any long length of time unless absolutely necessary because people with weak receptors get addicted to the stuff much more easily than other people.

This test was fascinating. It also showed which drugs would have bad metabolic side effects on me, AKA weight gain. There were tons of drugs that were listed as being bad for my metabolism and I had been on pretty much all of them, usually more than one at a time, for the majority of my twenties. I’m not saying I’m fat only because of the drugs. I really like food, and thanks to the hole in my ankle bone all the exercise I used to do doesn’t happen anymore. But there were so many times over the past nine years that I have gained weight and could not figure out what it was. My eating habits were the same and my level of exercise were the same. But I would add higher doses of drugs or change drugs and my weight would go up like crazy. I have gained 10 pounds in a month before. Sometimes I’m able to lose some weight for a while if I really set my mind to it, but I have to hardly eat anything at all. A thousand calories a day or less. Usually less. And I really hate doing that. It makes me miss food. I’m pretty happy with myself at this point, and as of this moment I’m not worried about my weight. But there have been times where I was just so frustrated by it. I would feel like I was doing everything right, maybe not being a health freak but certainly keeping my calories within limits, and my weight would go up anyway. Or I would be on drugs that would make me so hungry that I would practically eat the kitchen sink. I have been on a second mood stabilizer on that list for awhile, and she’s cutting me back on it. I have been eating everything since being on that drug. I mean everything. If it was not tied down I have eaten it.

This test has really taught me a lot and I hope to use it in the future. It gives me scientifically backed ideas of what to try. My doctor and I will still have to work out which particular drugs on the good list will work best for me and in what doses and combinations, but it gives us more than a starting point. And by giving me a long list of different receptors that aren’t working or are not working well enough, it really shows the bipolar in a neatly laid out and scientific way. Truly fascinating.

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