Yesterday I felt a bit better than usual and as is my way on my “good” days I usually call a friend to see if they are available for an hour or two for a lunch or a hot drink. My friend agreed but did not sound well. We scheduled a time to meet.
About an hour later she called on the verge of tears telling me she had mistook when she had an appointment and we’d have to meet later if this was okay. She complained of her brain not working and feeling very funny. I made some sort of remark like, gee you sound like me.
Later when we did get together as she approached me at our meeting place she looked heavy — her energy was plodding and her face exhuasted and drained. I’d never seen her like that. I became concerned. What’s going on, I asked. “I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said, confused and a little despairing. She got up to go get a beverage and as she literally shuffled away she also stumbled. I absolutely didn’t know what to make of it. She came back and sat next me and a few minutes later out of her mouth came, “I’m withdrawing from Effexor.” I exclaimed, “Becky! That’s what’s wrong with you, let me help you!” She responded incredulous with, “No, there are lots of things going on.” I said, “I don’t care what is going on what you are experiencing is withdrawal.”
I proceeded to get the specifics. She had made a cut of 30% ten days ago. She’s still on 75 mg. She has been very sick. She’s not as sick as she could be thank god. No electrical zaps, apparently no horrible nausea, but foggy head, and spaciness, and unsteady on her feat and emotional—all there.
I was mystified. This is a woman who knows what I’ve been through and how I spend my days. This is an educated, intelligent woman who actually works in mental health, but is not involved in drugging people, but nonetheless has experience with people on meds and again she has experience with ME. I did my best to give her advice, but she seemed to resist it. Stubborn to do it her way. I suppose I seem a different animal because I was on seven drugs. But I don’t understand why she’s resistant when she knows how I spend my days and that I’m involved in ALL drug withdrawal. I told her specifically about Effexor withdrawal and how she can do it relatively painlessly—as I did—by opening capsules and counting pellets. She seemed only half willing to listen, so I did not tell her the vast majority of things I could have told her to help her. I do think she left with a couple of tips that may makes things a little easier and I pray she doesn’t hurt herself inadvertently.
In any case later that night as I spoke with my husband I got extremely frustrated. “If my best friend in my new home town doesn’t even come to me when this is all I do and know about what does that mean??” I felt angry and hurt. My husband helped me see what might be happening. She, like most people, simply doesn’t believe that something that is given to hundreds of thousands of people can be dangerous. She has been on antidepressants before and got off of them relatively painlessly. Her husband is on antidepressants. They’ve been a mainstay of her life for years. It is the norm to imagine what our doctors give us is safe. She in fact, while I was giving her tips repeated her doctors recommendation to come off 37.5 mg at a time. I emphatically cautioned against this. Anyway it may be true that she is just caught up in the bullshit like everyone else, but it still hurts really bad because it seems she completely disregards what has become my life. If I can’t help someone I love in my real life what the heck am I doing?
If people are in such deep denial that even when one of their best friends is doing what I’m doing and they still don’t get it, what does that mean?