The motor symptoms and physical side effects are the easy part to manage everyday
It’s the non-motor symptoms that I have so much trouble with. The behavioral side of this condition has destroyed my life.
Dopamine is also how our brains regulate our behavior. It effects our mood and emotions as well. My brain has lost 80% of the dopamine so my main behavioral symptom is called anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure from activities and lack of motivation or desire to engage in activities. Basically I become indifferent to everything that used to matter a great deal to me. Anhedonia is the reason depression is listed as a symptom of Parkinson’s now. Parkinsons not only causes me to be depressed but I also get depressed because I have Parkinson’s. It’s like being physically depressed instead of emotionally depressed so no amount of positive reinforcement can keep me from being sad or feeling bad all the time. This in and of itself is emotionally depressing.
As bad as this sounds, managing these symptoms is monumentally easier than managing the behavioral side effects from the medications.
NON-MOTOR BEHAVIORAL SIDE EFFECTS
There is no road map for me to follow when trying to list these behavioral side effects. It’s only until recently in the past 10 years that non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s have began to be studied. The only warnings listed about possible behavioral side effects are gambling with money and increased sexual activity. Ironically, I’ve never had a problem with either of these. It’s been extremely difficult figuring out what is happening to me everyday with no help from doctors or the medical powers that be. A simple way to explain what I go through behaviorally and emotionally every time I take a pill is that it’s just like what you see my body going through when dyskinetic, only it’s my behaviors and emotions that are involuntarily out of control. The closest description of what I experience is called Mania. So when I feel side effects I say that I’m “Manic”
Before my research led me to this description, I would say that a I feel “Ramped up” or that I feel “High”. This is an interesting description because dopamine is the chemical that is enhanced or manipulated by cocaine and heroine. So you could say that every time I take my prescribed medication it’s like I’m taking a hit of heroine or cocaine.
A more accurate and detailed description of the way side effects make me feel is a bipolar disorder called Hypomania.
Hypomania is a mood state characterized by persistent inhibition and elevation
Hypomania is a good feeling and basically the complete opposite of depression. I sometimes call my medications anti-depressants
Physical signs of the side effects:
My eyes are wide open and rarely blink
Loss of speech and stuttering
I feel euphoric, wide awake, and energetic
I am super confident
I’m extremely talkative and will speak rapidly and frenziedly to someone
(if I actually can speak)
(I will type 50 text messages to someone before they even respond)
I’m excited and have a constant flight of ideas
My brain works super fast and I seem to have enhanced intelligence
I’m out going and very competitive
I’m ultra creative
I have an exceptionally positive disposition
I’m sensation seeking
I’m an attention whore
I’m extremely sensitive and emotional
I don’t like feeling like this but
This is all okay for the most part until it becomes full blown Mania
Mania is a state of elevated arousal with heightened activation and enhanced expression.
Mania is a bad feeling
I can be delusional about things
I have trouble concentrating
Narcissistic and selfish
Feel superior to everyone
Low threshold for boredom
Compulsive about everything
An extreme tendency to engage in out-of-character abnormal risk-taking reckless behaviors
I feel extreme anxiety and fear
Angry and bitter
Sad and pessimistic
Racing thoughts make it impossible to think clearly