Jan 31, 2009

how badly do i need my brain?

Topomax. The specialist I see in Psychiatry has prescribed me this anti-epileptic drug as a mood stabilizer. I was on Lamactil last year, but was one of the unlucky few who got "the rash". sigh....

Weight loss. Average loss over one year is 6 kgs.
Mood stabilized (hopefully)

Memory loss
Word recall diminished
Affectionally referred to on the web as "Stupimax" or "Dopomax"

The obvious problem here is that I think I need a working brain to stay in my doctoral program. Academics always came easily to me, and now I find myself struggling to get through a reading. Re-reading papers several times over to get their meaning. I can ill afford to have my mind function any less than it already is!

What should I do???

I have tried just about every combo and augmentation available. I have scanned PubMed articles until my eyes are crossed. I am out of ideas. Do I dare risk my frontal lobe?

Any thoughts or experiences would be gladly welcomed.


  1. This is not a decision I can help you with, but I can only remind you of the fact that according to a previous post depression is already affecting your academics.

  2. True, true. I am certainly not doing as well as I hoped, but I'm at least getting through. I'm scared that if I take this drug, it will require that I take a leave for a few terms. School is just about all I have left outside of my house, so I'm not anxious to let it go entirely. (of course that might not be the outcome, I guess that's the hard part, isn't it?) Thanks for weighing in.

  3. Hi Penelope,

    I just got your comment over at I'm Listening and wanted to come by and say HI! I'll subscribe to your blog so I can keep in the loop.

    As for the Topomax...Tough decision. There are other alternatives out there, though. I say research, research, research and have a good honest talk with your doctor about your concerns.

    Take care!

  4. I've been on topomax for years. It's helped significantly - weight loss in particular.
    But, yes, I'm significantly 'dumber' than before I started on it. My brain just doesn't find the words the way it used to. I sit there trying to grab for them, and they are just beyond my reach. I installed a thesaurus on my computer and on my blackberry, and made arrangements with the university to have access to a thesaurus and dictionary for all non-language based courses.

    Good luck.

  5. I have been on 500mg Topamax for 4 yrs now.

    Initially, I experienced quite a bit of fatigue which escalated with titration (and subsequently wore off again) and minor cognitive problems which did disappear with time (matter of weeks). I was studying at the time - neither Topamax nor ECT affected my brain functioning in the immediate through to long term whatsoever.

    Sorry to say, even the weight loss s/e has begun to wear off as well...although in my case, not a bad thing - I went from 56kg to 43kg.