Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Is It Really This Bad?

The Effexor withdrawal? I feel like a junkie from one of those bad after-school specials. Remember the one where Helen Hunt jumped through a window because she took THE DRUGS and thought she could fly? I feel like Renton in "Trainspotting." Parents--have your children read Irvine Welsh. Take the drug-using curiosity right slap out of 'em early on. (Note: this is just a theory, and has not been put to an actual test. Reading Irvine Welsh may not have desired effect on your children. Bella hasn't even made it halfway through "The Undefeated" yet, so we really can't tell. And to REALLY scare the crap out of 'em, you should probably have them watch the film "Requiem for a Dream" when they're about 12. They won't wanna take so much as an aspirin for years after that.)

I can't move my head without spinning, and there are (imaginary) bugs crawling all over me. And even after checking forty-leven times, every time I feel it, I STILL LOOK. Because that time? That time really felt like actual bugs. When I'm discovered later crawling with termites, then you'll all be sorry. And I don't know why they'd be termites, but that's what they are. You'll see.

Whoops, went away there for a minute. Anyway, I gradually titrated down from 150mg to somewhere around 30-40mg over the course of the last several weeks, and with the last reduction, I've been miserable. So I kind of made what could be an ill-considered executive decision 2 days ago (didn't you wonder where I was yesterday?) to just QUIT. This is the dosage at which doctors have you quit anyway, and the drug isn't manufactured in a smaller dosage than 37.5mg. So, flying in the face of the finslippy Effexor Experience, I've done the gradual thing as long as I can, and I just want this to be over. I'm hoping for 2-3 days of extreme misery as opposed to another 3 weeks of general misery. I'll let you know how that turns out. The preferred method of leaving Effexor, which has a NINE-DAY half-life (I WILL get you, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals), is to wean off with the help of Prozac, which has a four-HOUR half-life. Unfortunately, yours truly can't take Prozac, because it makes me quite insane.

In the meantime, I'll be staying verrrry verrrrry still, with occasional loopy housework breaks, maybe doing some Dave Ramsey homework. Where are my magazines? Must get rid of some non-essential expenses, and "Homes And Gardens" is gonna be the first thing to go. No more "stupid tax!" The first person that mentions our current TWO mortgages gets beaten with a stick like the space shuttle Atlantis (see previous post).


  1. I'm pullin' for ya, girl. You're on my prayer list.

  2. Sending hugs, hope you feel human soon.

  3. I've heard that Effexor withdrawal is the worst ~ SSRI w/d is bad enough!! I feel for you. My 3 day experience with Effexor caused me to experience every side effect on the list so I got off easy as there was no way I was going to continue. Take it easy on yourself, Belinda!

  4. I'm still dealing with my Percocet withdrawal. Do you think if I started taking Effexor that would help?

    I keep asking myself "What Would Tom Cruise Do" but he never answers.

  5. Oh, honey. I'm sorry to hear this, but happy to know your sense of humor is not only intact, but that you're blogging through it. When you are fully weaned off of it will I still be your girl-crush? Just wondering. Cuz maybe, you know, you'll be all different and ask, "What the heck was I thinking?"

    The reciprocity of feelings is complete: I just read that you dislike Pat Robertson, too, and don't want him representing you. Thank you, Jesus.

    Feel better soon, honey.

  6. That's a huge jump to make. I'm almost off the Effexor as well, and I can definitely sympathize with the weird symptoms. I keep seeing things on the outside of my vision, and my eyes feel jumpy. I hope it gets better, there's nothing worse than having your skin crawl. Especially with termites! I'll kep you in my prayers.

  7. Effexor withdrawal sucks - the only way I could do it was to switch to Celexa at the end. And what an end it was.

    Hang in there, and if it gets too bad, try another SSRI. Whenever I hear of folks going on Effexor I want to pull my hair out.

  8. You are scaring the crap out of me. I'm only on 75 mgs of Effexor, and I've gone several days without taking it, but I didn't know it had a 9 day half-life. I think I'm going to have to take it forever because I just don't have the wherewithall to be as brave as you and Alice about quitting.

    Effexor is the ONLY antidepressant that has ever worked for me, and I've tried a lot of them. But had I known how hard it was to get off it, I think I might have rather been completely psycho and depressed.

  9. Shannon--thank you. That's something I can never have too much of!

    Theresa, much appreciation. I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow.

    Andrea, it was unpleasant getting on it, and each increase on the way up, but nothing like getting off the stupid stuff! I have to say, though, while it was working, it was a Good Thing.

    Dave2, just the opposite. I had a terrible headache today, and took Vicodin, and after an hour or so just felt better all over. So that may be my new strategy--to power through with narcotics!! And I can't believe you invoked the name of He Who Must Be Ignored right here on my blog. For shame.

    mocha--what the heck was I thinking? Just kidding! ha HA! You guys, you have to go look at mocha. Then just hurt, because she is so pretty. Oh, and girl, I've got a list of Christians real and self-imagined that don't speak for me. I'll send you the file sometime! But Pat? Pure-D NUTCAKE.

    erin--I know what you're talking about with the peripheral vision. Yuck! And the termites...they moved inside my head! HELP!! How much longer 'til you're off the brain-slug juice?

    sravana--pulling my hair out pretty much describes how I feel coming OFF the stuff! Thanks for stopping by today.

  10. Belinda, today was my last dose, although I have one 10mg pill for tomorrow if I feel like my brain is crawling and shivering, as it was today. It was just, absolutely and completely intolerable. Good luck, I'll be pulling for you way up here!

    Since Effexor is the only anti-D that's worked for me (hear, hear, Margalit!), I'm a bit freaked at the prospect of quitting. But I'm sure it'll be okay. I haven't had problems with depression since I've cut back, just these weird physical symptoms of withdrawal. Oh yeah, and the night sweats and night frights. Ugh. Oh, my, it'll be good just to be done, huh? Best wishes!

  11. Margalit, if you've gone "several days" without a dose and aren't freaking smooth OUT, with the crawly brains and achey legs and weird stuff in your periphery, I'd daresay you won't have a problem discontinuing, should it come to that.

    erin--you have 10mg pills? How'd you do that? Are you not taking the XR? That was the only option given to me, and it comes in capsules filled with what finslippy has named "granulitos." So I've been opening the caps and guesstimating how many in a half-dose, etc. The smallest dose of the XR is 37.5mg, and it bites. Maybe I should have asked for pills.

    But you're both right--it was the only thing that worked for me without making me crazier, and it worked well. I haven't had depression symptoms yet, either, just the creepy-crawly, heebie-jeebie, migraine-making crapulence.

  12. Here's the thing, to me, about antidepressants -- if you truly have a chemical imbalance, you cannot "logic" or "intellectualize" your way out of it. If we could, we would not be on medication -- duh. Most of us are very intelligent, accomplished, successful women (and men). If there were a way to think my way out of the way my body and mind feel when I'm chemically imbalanced, I would have found it by now. All I know is that when I'm unmedicated, life is a misery and death is nigh. Even though I can think to myself, "You know, today is no different than yesterday, yet I want to throw myself off of this 11th story ledge today", and know that I'm right, and nothing has changed, but the imbalance has become intolerable, that's when I realize that meds are necessary -- possibly forever, and that's OK. It took a long time to get the cocktail right, but I'm finally stable and so very grateful. I don't have bipolar disorder, but I do have unmanageable depression, without appropriate medication. It's so frustrating and scary, but I'm stable now thanks to a wonderful doctor. People that have not been in our heads and bodies will never understand. Especially because most of us are fully functional. I did a BA and an MBA when I was completely nuts, and I look back and marvel at that, because I was one scary thought away from death at all times. It was so miserable. I'm just grateful I'm in a stable place now. If you truly need meds for the long term, you take your meds and don't you apologize for it. Tom Cruise can kiss my fat, white, tattoed ass -- he's just about killed his career anyway -- the freak!

  13. Nope, I don't have 10mg pills; I just have the XR capsules (75mg). I have a chemistry scale at work that weighs down to itsy bitsy numbers. And I bought some gelcaps at the store... By the way, I love the word "crapulence" - it so perfectly describes this. You're the best!

    BTW, the only reason that I'm going off is that my husband and I want to have a baby, and I'm just not willing to expose a child to the meds. Otherwise, I think I'd be on the lifetime subscription option for Effexor. The withdrawal is really that bad. And, it works that well for me. But I want a baby.

    Tom Cruise is horrid. Just absolutely awful. He OBVIOUSLY has never been depressed (in the true, long term sense) himself, nor loved a person with clinical depression.

  14. Tom Cruise may be close though, 'cause his career is so close to being dead! I'm sure he'll feel the depression soon!

    Anyway, Belinda, I really wish the best for you, and thank you for being so open and honest about this. You sharing your experience is probably helping a lot of people out there!

  15. Good luck Belinda. I've got a fiance who has recently gone through it as well, only with Zoloft and it was cold turkey-4 weeks of hell for the both of us (especially him).

    NO more stupid tax! I love Dave Ramsey.

  16. Hang in there! I am hoping things go smoothly for you and your are feeling good again in no time!