Diana's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Diana and hear her speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 22
Number of medicines: 13
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian



Diana lives in the western suburbs of Sydney with her parents and two dogs. She works in the city as an accountant, a high-pressure role but one that she really loves.


Current medicines and conditions

Some medicines are taken regularly; some are taken only as needed.

  • Oroxine (thyroxine): thyroid supplement for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Diabex (metformin): polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Implanon (etonogestrel): contraceptive implant for PCOS
  • Lovan (fluoxetine): depression
  • Seroquel (quetiapine): depression
  • Nexium (esomeprazole): reflux
  • Magnesium: magnesium supplement for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Fibre: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Iron: iron supplement for low iron levels
  • Probiotic: weight loss
  • Avamys (fluticasone) nasal spray: allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Coloxyl (docusate): laxative for irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ventolin (salbutamol) inhaler: asthma


Previous conditions and medicines discussed

Laparoscopic gynaecological procedure.


About Diana

Diana takes 10 medicines regularly for a number of medical conditions. She has been taking Lovan and Seroquel to manage her depression and personality disorder, but is currently weaning herself off them as she is trying a more natural approach to managing these conditions including vitamins, behavioural therapies and counselling. Diana’s life improved greatly a few months ago when she started taking thyroxine for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She now has a lot more energy and doesn't fall asleep all the time.

At times Diana has found it difficult being on so many medicines, especially when her symptoms have not been well managed, but she has felt empowered by recently taking more control of her health.

More about Diana

Diana has longstanding depression, starting when she experienced bullying at school, and has also been diagnosed as having a personality disorder. After trying a few different antidepressants, some of which had troubling side effects, she now takes Lovan which has helped her depression considerably. At one stage she experienced hallucinations and was started on Seroquel, which she still takes. On high doses of antidepressants, Diana finds her emotions are blunted, and while she no longer gets really down, she doesn't really experience happiness.

Recently Diana has been trying more natural methods such as vitamins, behavioural therapies and counselling to help manage her conditions as she was concerned at the amount of medication she was taking, especially as a young person, and what it may be doing to her body. Although her doctors were reluctant for her to do so, she is in the process of weaning herself off her medicines for depression and personality disorder (Lovan and Seroquel).

Throughout her teens, Diana tried many contraceptives tablets and devices to control her heavy painful periods, without much success. After undergoing laparoscopic surgery she was found to have PCOS. Since she has been using an Implanon contraceptive implant, her symptoms have improved significantly so she no longer needs strong painkillers. She takes Diabex for insulin resistance associated with PCOS.

The thyroxine Diana started a few months ago for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has really improved her life. Even her family, friends and work colleagues have noticed that she now has a lot more energy and doesn't fall asleep all the time, which has allowed her to exercise when she gets home from work.

Diana has found the internet useful for finding information on her medical conditions and medicines, especially when her doctors haven’t provided much information. She finds Twitter and Facebook groups helpful, especially for advice and comparing symptoms of people with similar medical conditions. She has also found talking to her private health fund’s on-call nurses and the NPS MedicineWise website very useful.

Diana is grateful for her family’s emotional and financial support over the years. Her parents have encouraged her to seek a second opinion if she is not happy with things, and have helped with the costs of medical visits and medicines. In the past, Diana has experienced side effects to a number of generic medicines, so she sticks with the original brands that she is now stabilised on, even though they cost more. Her parents are very supportive of Diana’s attempts to reduce her medicine intake, and have helped her to research the side effects of medicines and ways to reduce her antidepressants. Diana generally warns her family about any changes in her medicines, especially to her antidepressants, so her family can watch out for any changes in her mood.

Diana has changed doctors a few times, trying to find one that she feels comfortable with. At the moment she sees a number of GPs as some doctors find her illnesses too complex and only wish to manage some of her conditions. This has caused conflicts with her medicines being prescribed by different doctors.

Diana’s advice to people having similar experiences with their medicines is that you know your body better than anyone and if something’s not right, talk to someone as life is short and should be lived to the full. You don’t have to accept the first lot of advice you get and can always get a second opinion.

At times Diana has found it difficult being on so many medicines, especially when her symptoms have not been well managed. Her own research has helped improve her health, and by taking control she has realised her inner strength that will enable her to get through anything.


Listen to Diana's story

Diana has lost contact with friends, partly because of her mental health issues and because she could not tell them about the medicines she takes.
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Diana found that some medicines were considered acceptable by the students when she was at school, whereas others were not.
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Diana has found the internet can be depressing and scary and does not always meet her need for information.
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Diana has learned through managing her conditions that she can take control of her health and her life. She now feels she is able to help other people do the same.
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Diana feels that her doctors do not adequately explain her conditions to her, or take her side effects seriously. This adds to the emotional pain of having chronic conditions.
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Diana finds it difficult swallowing so many tablets. To help with this, she now buys supplements in different forms that do not need to be swallowed.
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Diana felt she wasn’t really living when she was on high doses of a particular antidepressant.
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Diana’s wage is low as she is new to the workforce. Her parents have helped her financially with her medicines, as well as providing her with emotional support.
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Diana is not confident her medicines are working sufficiently to treat her health problems. She feels that some doctors are dismissive of her when she tries to raise this with them.
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Diana feels that she was disadvantaged with her treatment for severe period pain because of her young age.
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Diana devised ways of hiding her medicines when she was out with friends.
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Diana experienced secretion of breast milk as a side effect of one medicine, which impacted on her social life and was difficult to explain in a way that maintained her privacy.
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Diana thinks the support of people around you and other people going through the same thing are extremely important.
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Diana describes one of her medicines as ‘my little miracle’ as she is no longer chronically tired.
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Diana has tried storing her medicines in different spots around the house, but has found keeping them all together and in their original packaging is the safest and most convenient storage method for her. 
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Diana has tried storing her medicines in different spots around the house, but has found keeping them all together and in their original packaging is the safest and most convenient storage method for her.
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Diana is in the habit of taking her medicines but she feels that there is no real plan behind the medicines she is taking. She thinks that each addition to her regimen is quite arbitrary and she reached a point where she felt like she was taking too many.
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Diana is resentful of her medicines because of what they are doing to her and her life at such a young age.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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