Roid rage is real, y’all.
No really, I’m on steroids. Okay, not those kinds of steroids. A corticosteroid. Prednisone. UGH. THE WORST. Trust me on this. If you don’t know what prednisone is, count yourself very lucky. Pray that you never have to use it, because if you do, it probably means you’re pretttttyyyy sick. I took prednisone from ages 10 to 18 and it wreaked havoc on my body, my face, my self esteem, and my mind. For years I was indignant that I would rather die than take prednisone again (dramatic, I know, but I have always been a drama queen). I felt this way until I had no other choice other than to take it again.
If you read this post then you know that I’ve been on prednisone since late April 2017. Thankfully, I haven’t had to take more than 30 mgs a day (currently on 20 mgs per day) since then. 20 to 30 mgs are considered moderate doses of prednisone, and they don’t carry all of the extreme side effects that you’d normally expect from a higher dose (extreme moon face, acne, strange dispersion of body fat, excess hair growth, extreme mood swings, insomnia, to name a few).
That said, it hasn’t been easy. I have been experiencing moderate versions of the aforementioned side effects and I thought it would be a good idea to do a post about the side effects I have experienced on a long-term moderate dose of prednisone, and include some of my tips for surviving this dirty drug.
I think you’re all probably aware of this, but just in case:
I am not a health care professional. I’m no expert.
I am simply sharing the ways that I have managed to cope with prednisone this time around. It’s a very difficult drug to take. It changes the way you look, think, feel, and behave. It’s scary, but sometimes necessary, to take. You must be careful and recognize that your health care provider would not put you on this drug if there wasn’t a very good reason for it. Take it seriously. Don’t forget to take it. Don’t stop taking it suddenly unless instructed by your doctor. Follow all of your doctor and pharmacist’s instructions.
First and foremost, let’s take a look at what most of you nosy betches are probably here for (I kid… kinda. I’m just as nosy as all of you), my before & after face photo.
Note: My biggest insecurity since age 10 and my first round of prednisone has been the size and shape of my face. I’d have an incredibly hard time finding a photo of me from that time because I was so embarrassed of how my face absolutely ballooned up. It was way worse than what I’ve experienced this time around. I have always dreamt of having high cheekbones and a defined jawline, alas, my genetics gave me a round face naturally. Prednisone took that to the extreme. Fortunately, my face has not changed too much this time around.
Most people in my life have not noticed a difference. Of course, I have, but I will admit that this really isn’t too bad at all. It’s a difference, but I don’t look like I am on prednisone. Google “moonface”. You’ll see what I mean.
Another purpose of these before & after photos was to keep track of changes in my skin. I’m so happy to share that I’ve not noticed any differences in my skin whatsoever this time around while taking prednisone. In fact, I think my skin looks a little better in the more recent photo. In my pre-teens & teens I was plagued with severe acne immediately upon starting prednisone. It was awful and I was ruthlessly teased by my peers who had not started getting pimples yet. I remember counting over 100 pimples on my forehead at one point. I’m so glad I haven’t experienced this side effect now that I’m an adult.
I was very concerned about weight gain on Prednisone this time around. I consider Prednisone to blame for my disordered eating past, and I was really worried how I would cope with this. I’ve been working hard on developing a healthy relationship with my body and weight (particularly over the last year) and I was so scared that this would derail my progress. Not that this should matter too much, but for those who are curious and googling this very topic, I have not gained any weight since April. I have maintained my weight (and even lost a few lbs for a few months) over the past 5 months.
My body hair:
Lol. I’ve always had slightly hairier arms than the average person, but nothing extreme. When I was a pre-teen on prednisone, though, the hair grew in much thicker and darker than usual. Yet another thing I was teased about. I have noticed a very slight difference in the amount of hair on my arms and a bit more hair than I’m used to on my upper thighs. Other than that, nothing to report. I’m sure it’s only noticeable to me.
Alrighty, to the tips!
How to Survive Prednisone
Be honest with your loved ones.
Prednisone has the ability to make you feel like you’re literally going insane. It can cause severe mood swings, foggy thinking, and in my experience, meltdowns that come out of nowhere. Don’t use your Prednisone as an excuse for bad behaviour, but do tell those close to you (if you’re comfortable) that you’re taking a drug that could really impact your personality and mood. Let it be a “heads up” of sorts; not a warning.
Seek support; professional or otherwise.
Find someone you can rely on to help you sort out the many ~feelings~ you’re going to experience. This can be a trusted friend, relative, loved one, or confidant. If you can afford it or you have coverage in place, consider meeting with a counsellor or a therapist. I’ve been seeing my therapist since February (before I was on Prednisone) and having her support over the past year has been invaluable; especially since I started Prednisone again.
If you don’t already exercise regularly, start now! Not only will it improve your (probably) unstable moods, it will help you to expend all of the energy you’re going to have! Oh, did I forget to mention? Prednisone truly makes you feel like a beast. Like you’re unstoppable. It is a steroid after all ;). Really though, if you’re taking this drug you’ve probably been pretty sick. You’re going to have lots of energy for the first time in a while and it feels pretty incredible. Use it to your advantage, get strong and healthy again. Exercising will also (obviously) help you out if you’re concerned about weight gain as a side effect. Trust me; you’re going to feel so much better if you’re breaking a sweat at least 3 times a week.
Eat a balanced diet & limit sodium.
Prednisone has the ability to make you ravenously hungry. This can be a good thing if your illness has caused you to become underweight. It can be a very bad thing if you’re at your ideal weight and you don’t want to gain. Take a look at your diet and make sure that you’re eating lots of whole, healthy, filling, and nourishing foods. You’ll feel better in general and you won’t feel gross and sick if you do find yourself on a prednisone-induced binge. It happens. Watch your sodium intake, too. Prednisone will cause you to retain fluids and bloat already. Sodium will only amplify this side effect. If you want to read about how I’ve been eating for my health, read this recent update post.
Drink lots of water.
Regularly flushing your system and remaining hydrated will limit your bloating and fluid retention. It will also to help you feel more mentally clear and better in general. If you’re having skin issues, hydration can only help.
Invest in some beauty tools that make you feel good.
Like everything else on this list, this is optional. I have found that spending more time on my beauty routine has helped me to deal with toll Prednisone has taken on my appearance. I have been doing lots of face masks and making the time to use quality serums and moisturizers to ensure that my skin can look its best.
A few favourites:
I have loved my ice roller for some time now, but it makes me feel particularly good because it helps to bring down the swelling in my face. It doesn’t change things drastically, but anything helps.
Take care of yourself.
Being on Prednisone is really, really tough. Make time for quality self-care. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t blame everything on Prednisone, but cut yourself some slack if things seem extra tough while you’re on it. You’ll get through it!
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