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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

brain-jacked

I am currently in the process of figuring out what combination of drugs will make me functional. It turns out that this process is difficult. Fun fact: no one really knows how anti-depressants work. They just know that they work for some people. The problem lies in the number of drugs on the market, and that they all claim to do different things, even if they're in the same drug class. So, the common treatment method is to try a drug for about a month, as it takes about that long to be fully effective, and if its side effects ruin your life or it doesn't do anything to help your depression, you try something else. It's as tedious as it sounds. Over the course of my lifetime, I have been on six anti-depressants spanning three different drug classes.

Recently, I was on Paxil for about a month. The side effects were a major deal-breaker, plus it made some aspects of my depression worse. So I switched from Paxil to something else, which means now I'm experiencing both withdrawal from the Paxil and an adjustment period for the new drug. It's kind of hard to tell the difference between the two, but in my experience, I can tell that the majority of my symptoms are due to withdrawal.

The only word I can use to describe withdrawal from these drugs, at least in my experience (because everyone's experience is completely different) is HORRIFIC When I was tapering off of my first anti-depressant, I ended up in the hospital mostly because I had no idea what the actual fuck was going on with my brain and I thought I was dying and/or going insane. I was experiencing things I had never felt before. It's hard to explain, so I'm gonna break it down a bit.

Here is a list of common withdrawal symptoms according to www.quitpaxil.org. In bold are the side effects I am currently experiencing every single day, though not at all at once and at various levels of intensity.

Frequently Reported Symptoms:

  • intense insomnia
  • extraordinarily vivid dreams
  • extreme confusion during waking hours
  • intense fear of losing your sanity
  • steady feeling of existing outside of reality as you know it ("depersonalization")
  • memory and concentration problems
  • panic attacks, even if never experienced before
  • severe mood swings, especially heightened irritability/anger
  • suicidal thoughts
  • an unconventional dizziness/vertigo
  • the feelings of a mild electric shock running the length of your body
  • unsteady gait
  • slurred speech
  • headaches
  • profuse sweating, especially at night
  • muscle cramps
  • blurred vision
  • breaking out in tears
  • hypersensitivity to motion, sounds, smells
  • decrease or complete loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • abdominal cramping
  • chills/hot flashes
  • hand tremors

Less Frequently Reported Symptoms:

  • fainting
  • "scratching sounds" inside one's head
  • constant white noise in the ears
  • tingling sensation in cheeks, lips, tongue
  • heart palpitations/chest pain
  • swollen and sore eyes
  • fatigue
  • extremely localized, bursting headaches
  • lump in throat
  • rash/dry, irritated skin
  • teeth-grinding
  • difficulty swallowing
  • itchiness
  • "brain zaps" - a feeling in one's head that is hard to describe, basically feeling as if your brain is twitching.

SO YEAH. That's my life right now. And these are just the reported side effects for this one drug. And I was only on it for one month. These withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to six weeks or more. I am not against antidepressants by any means. If they work, absolutely use them. Whatever gets you through the day/this existence. I know I'm super sensitive to literally everything, so for the normal people they may work swimmingly. But let's be real: these drugs seriously mess with your brain chemistry, and doctors don't even really understand how or why they do, or if there are long-term negative effects. I fully admit to being ridiculous, but part of me is pretty sure that in thirty years or so, we're going to be looking back on them the same way we look back on people using cocaine as medicine or thinking that smoking was good for you. And all of the people whose lives were ravaged by antidepressant addiction are going to be strung-out messes on PSAs sighing and saying (through their tragic half-faces with sunken eyeballs or whatever)  "I wish I would have known :-( :-( :-(" and warning not to take them, or maybe asking people to call a number to be part of a class-action lawsuit. At least I'll get to be on TV, I guess?


"THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON ANTIDEPRESSANT WITHDRAWAL"




Man, this post took a dark turn.

I'm sure everyone will be fine, here's a puppy:





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