Monday, February 11, 2008

Found me again

Some of you may have read my posts on the withdrawal symptoms I suffered from Effexor . Some also commented they were experiencing similar problems. Some emailed me personally to tell me they'd tried to get off Effexor several times and gave up because the withdrawal symptoms were so severe they couldn't function.

I was lucky to have the luxury of working at home and having no other responsibility than myself -- my husband can take care of himself -- and when I was disabled I could zombie-out and let the world go by. Not everyone is capable of doing that.

I've been off Effexor since September 2007 and I can pretty much say I went through hell. And you know what? If I had to do it over again, I'd go off the drug in a minute. Once I went off it and read about the symptoms (especially the brain zaps, but also the muscle cramps, the constant nausea, the diarrhea), I was reluctant to go back to my doctor because I knew what he was going to do: put me back on it. A few times before, when I'd talk to him about feeling "not right", he'd up my dosage, telling me I "wasn't there yet". I ended up taking the maximum dosage, 300mg, and still feeling lousy. That's when I decided that, although Effexor did help me when I needed it 6 years ago, it wasn't what I needed anymore. Unfortunately, although my doctor agreed that I should go off the medication, I wasn't as certain about his ability to listen to my symptoms and believe them, especially after I'd read so many people saying their doctors discounted their symptoms as being "in their heads" (well, duh). So I decided to tough it out and found some ways of alleviating the worst.

But what is this feeling of feeling "not right" when I was on Effexor? I could function well, no more panic attacks, anxiety, or blues attacks. I could write, got involved in all sorts of internet groups, volunteered. Yet, I didn't feel like me. There was a kind of buffer, something between me and the world that made me feel off all the time. I started not to care about a lot of things, from personal relationships to my personal hygiene. Oh, it wasn't drastic, but there was a constant lassitude that made me become more and more passive, or slow. The sleeping problems, the insomnia, for which I'd originally started taking Effexor, were still present: now I needed another pill, Desyrel, to counteract the other effects so I could sleep. I'd wake up groggy and not really rested.

Ironically, I was beginning to see myself as more depressed and dissatisfied while I was on Effexor than I was before I started taking it. Since I stopped taking the drug, my, I'm finding myself again. My brain is sharp like it hasn't been in a long time. I've returned to some of my old activities, like cross-stitching and painting, that I'd stopped doing because my hands were constantly shaking. The world around me is more vivid. I laugh more.

I'm not there yet, and sure, there are parts of my old self I would've probably hoped not to see again. I'm moodier and more sensitive, and I haven't completely chased the diminished energy levels I suffered while on Effexor. I still get muscle cramps and severe tinnitus, and sometimes still brain zaps. I've gained 12 pounds -- exploded, really, and I can put that directly at the drug's door (it acts on the brain's norepinephrine, so it's like quitting smoking).

But I'm getting there. I like myself better. I found myself again, the person I knew, with all her faults, quirks, and weirdnesses. Like any 12-step program, one day at a time. That's all I'm looking at.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am writing this review after having quit Effexor, Cipralex, depakote, Neurontin and Seroquel cold turkey.

It has now been one month and I am happier than I have ever been

Anyone who takes any one of these medications above knows the nightmare that comes with trying to get off them, I have tried many times for years to stop but the withdrawal side effects are so unbearable and painfull I could never do it

This is a list of the side effects I had anytime I tried to stop and I will try to list what I can remember in detail, I am sure others already do about these and will be able to relate :

1) Brain Zaps, these start within 24 hours of not taking my meds and only get worse and more frequent

2) Insomnia , I would literally be awake for days in a row maybe i would be lucky and dose of two or three hours maybe..

3) Cold Sweats - if i do manage to pass out for two or three hours I would wake up literally drenched in Sweat

4) Horrible and vivid Nightmares - I can't explain how crazy and scary the nightmares I get are and this might sound like a line out of Nightmare on Elm Street, but i swear those nightmares would be so horrible I would prefer to just stay awake then to try to even dose off

5) Trigger temper and loss of self control - This here is the most scary and dangerous side effect, the one that usually always makes me go back to taking my medication immediately , I found myself so many times moments away from doing something that would put mine and someone else's life at risk over nothing, Split second impulses you hear and read about destroy peoples lives , I don't need to go into detail but I'm sure you get my point

I had to face the fact that I was an addict , regardless of the fact that a doctor prescribed these to me and I the fact that these are not drugs of the recreational kind , I was an addict.

It's been almost one month now and I can safely say that 95% of the side effects disappeared, I still get the Brain zaps but they are not as frequent or intense

Magnesium Malate ( Malic Acid) - Which I read about in many forums, within the first day bought the Side Effects down from an unbearable and ugly 10 to a 4 instantly, I was improving by the day ,

I'm done now and I am not looking back, I hope from all my heart that anyone reading this will be able to do the same