Monday, October 03, 2005

One less pill in the box

For some mysterious reason that I doubt I'll ever understand, shrinks like to pile one psychiatric medication on top of another until teasing out what might be a side effect of one drug from what might be a side effect of another drug is virtually impossible. I've always been a bit irritated by this and since my own cocktail has varied from two to five different medications throughout the years, I decided I should probably back off the pills a bit.

So, with my doctor's blessing, I finally took my last lexapro a few days ago. It took about 5 months total to get off the drug completely and even with the impressively slow weaning I tromped through, I can still feel my body wtihdrawing ever so slightly. It's a funny thing about antidepressants in general.

For the longest time, doctors didn't actually put two and two together; when you have a patient on a chemical for years, they can't just stop using the chemical without consequences. Duh! Sounds simple, eh? But in reality, prozac came out about 1990 and the first studies about chemical dependence and withdrawal from SSRIs didn't start until 1997. Of course, SSRI withdrawal is just as dangerous as depression itself and if you take a depressed person and add a dash of withdrawal, you might have yourself a psychiatric emergency.

I know because I've been there with Effexor which is miserably difficult to stop taking. Of course, the doctor I was with at the time wasn't on the ball, I came off it too quickly and I just have to thank God that my professors were so understanding that semester because I missed weeks of classes. There was a time during that withdrawal when I thought I was dying. My sensory perception was whack and I swore there were bugs everywhere, I had a horrible fever and ugh. It was awful. I stayed with my parents for a week and man, if they weren't a doctor and a nurse, I definately woulda been in the hospital because I couldn't take care of myself very well.

But enough reminscing. Effexor acts on different brain chemicals than Lexapro does and so withdrawing is different with each drug. Lately, I've been having problems with a rather persistant, yet not debilitating headache. I also occasionally get a flare of anxiety, which I hate more than anything else. I can deal with my mental radio, but I loathe anxiety something fierce. I also get these very very occasional flashes of sensation, like someone is pouring icy-hot water on my shoulders. A bit disconcerting if you ask me.

The best thing about this withdrawal is that my first was so hideous that this seems like a walk in the park. It's a wee bit uncomfortable, but it'll pass in another week or two. I mean, I would be more surprised if I didn't have any symptoms seeing as how I took Lexapro for nearly four years.

Alas, my medicinal cocktail is down to two drugs: lithium and wellbutrin. If I take anymore wellbutrin, I'll be at risk for seizures and assorted nastiness because the higher the dose, the higher the associated risks. Dammit. I miss my buffer space. It'd be nice to be able to bump up the dose if I needed to, but alas, we can't have everything.

Being a hippie, I also take a fatty acids supplement as well. Supposedly, Omega 3, 6, and 9 are mighty good for the ailing brain. And well, who could survive without taking vitamin E and a multi-vitamin?

So cheer! I'm down to 8 pills a day!!! And, only 5 of those are mandatory! Woohoo!!! Go me!