Part 1 and 2 here and part 3 here.
Here’s a bit more about why I am so anti-anti-depressants and have strong leanings toward being anti-psychiatry. Although ultimately I believe I am pro-me.This blog splurges up some more detail about my relationship with Effexor and the so called ‘caring’ services.
So, I began the withdrawal from Effexor, by making 5% cuts in total each week, this equates to about a 4mg a week from the total of 75mg. Therefore not huge drops – my plan was that I didn’t want to experience any withdrawals at all. I wanted Effexor to fade gradually out of my life.
To begin with my plan worked marvellously. I took a couple of breathers here and there, extending the waiting time between dose reduction. At the beginning of January I noticed that I was needing less sleep and that I didn’t feel so groggy, so punch drink, when I woke up. I marvelled at the fact that it seemed I needed to sleep so much due to the effexor – it wasnt’ ‘normal’ and my body didn’t need amphetamine, as a doctor had implied previously.
I decided to inrease the rate at which I dropped the doseage to 20% of original dose (roughly 11mg). I guess I was becoming impatient. However, it is only with hindsight that I can see that I was becoming complacent and that is very dangerous when withdrawing from antidepressants or any other psychiatric ‘medication’.
However, I continued to feel no troublesome withdrawal symptoms and there was nothing to suggest that I wouldn’t complete a successful withdrawal. But it didn’t work out that way.
Looking back, the first tangible sign that things were amiss was that on the Sunday I started to feel like I had the flu – bunged up, chesty and achy. I called in sick from work and there was no reason for me not to think that it was the flu – it was a chilly February. The next day I had diarrhea. Great – I thought, but again no reason to be suspicious. I was also feeling a bit scatty, but I was poorly so it was not surprising.
The next day Beener came up to see me and how I was feeling. I was very tearful and freaked out when she arrived. I told her that I’d been acting a bit weird/out of sorts. Beener is very used to me getting anxious and needing a bit of reassurance that everything is ok in the world. She made me a coffee and we had a chat. I told her that I kept feeling a strange sorta feeling that I have to look at certain objects or certain colours and that I felt weird. I guess at that point I had no vocabulary to accurately describe what was going on in my head. I tried to jolly myself along and declared that I reckened that if I burnt that blue cardigan it would make be feel better. She giggled and said ‘well go on then lets go in the garden and burn it’. So we did and then decided to go for a walk. I felt distracted the whole time and my brain continued to chuck out bizarre thoughts and beliefs. I asked Beener ‘do you think I’ve got schizophrenia’. She laughed and tried to reassure me – she was very used to me deciding on a whim that I had a particular illness and it was a running joke that we had – we giggled – how ridiculous!
Beener dropped me home and I felt relieved to be on my own again, so I could try and figure out what was going on.
At this point I was only taking about 8mg of Effexor, a substantially smaller dose than Wyeth (the manufacturers/pushers of Effexor) or most Psychatrists would advise when withdrawing. About 2 days after I started to go into withdrawal, I remember searching in my cupboard for the Effexor and not being able to find them anywhere. I flitted around my house looking for them – confused as to where they were. Half and hour later I made the decision to just stop taking them – it was only a small drop after all and I really couldn’t face the thought of emergency doctor’s appointment or talking to disgruntled receptionists. I thought – right well I know I’m gonna feel lousy for a couple of weeks – I knew all about the so called brain shivers and dizziness – but that’s fine, I can handle it and then Effexor and me will be over. Big mistake.
Although I believe that I was already experiencing withdrawals, my fate was sealed when I decided to totally deprive my brain and body of this substance. My body simply could not handle it, and I went into meltdown.
Again, I want to emphasise, that it is only with hindsight that I can clearly pick out and see the threads and how things were escalating. Perhaps, some will say ‘ what a silly billy – its obvious you should have gone to the doctor’. But this all happened very quickly – over 3-4 days and who believes that they are going to go completely insane due to a bit of flu and feeling out of sorts! Also remember I was having a smooth withdrawal and was on a very small dose. I don’t believe that this all happened to me because I was reckless or lacking in self awareness. If I’d continued like this for a few more days I would have gone to the GP. But I didn’t have time because things escalated too quickly. Beener and I have discussed things at great length and have both concluded that we couldn’t have done anything different given what we knew at the time. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – etc etc
The first night I was proper manic, involved racing thoughts and an unnerving, insiduous concern about the welfare of my friends and family. I couldn’t sleep and sat up click click clicking on the internet. I do remember thinking this is weird I’m ill with the flu, and its in the very early hours of the morning – why aren’t I tired? But I guess I kinda liked the fact that I was sleeping less and less. Then I couldn’t keep up with all the chatter in my brain and I became confused, disorientated and oblivious to anything but trying to keep up with it all. Then suddenly a piercingly clear and brilliant thought or inspiration would pearce me and I felt compelled to carry out what I believed at the time to be sorta metaphysical rituals. Eating gravy bone dog biscuits, clearing my house of objects giving off the wrong ‘vibes’ and gardeners will be pleased to hear that there was quite a bit of rearranging of house plants to tap into mother earth. Whizzing and whurring and whipping around my house, responding to snip-bits of thoughts and ideas and memories. I was in too deep, the voice of reason and logic was no where to be found and ‘I’ disappeared. I’d lost control. It was as if I was still there, kinda observing myself, a part of me aware that I was doing some real crazy stuff, but unable or unwilling to intervene. Dream-like. ‘They’ call it dissociation.
I slept for two hours and then woke up in the middle of dream-land. Keener had left the building. I could sit for days, weeks, months trying to write down all the stuff that went through my head that day and all the strange things that I felt compelled to do. But no amount of re-writing or editing could make it comprehensible. Its all still in my head and if I follow one memory, just one of the delusions, prise it out of the jumbled mess – I can understand why my brain jucked that out and why I thought that. Interesting to me now, most definitely something I shouldn’t dwell on, but most importantly I know it was only real to me.
I do want to say that I had very violent thoughts and I am so grateful that my usual reaction – to isolate myself prevailed and I didn’t hurt or kill anyone. People on antidepressants and in withdrawal can become terrifyingly violent and lacking in conscience or remorse. Yeah fine – not all – but too many for this issue not to be looked into.
It culminated in me lying on my sofa, believing that I was dead and that two angels were coming to get me. I was terrified. I was so cold – my body was going from one minute feeling full of life and goodness tingling all over, to being racked in pain. I lay there – I was stuck -time had stopped, everyone had gone, I was alone and had run out of ideas.
Then another one of me mates turns up and he got a big shock. I leapt up off the sofa and babbled on to him, turning lights on and off as a code to release us from hell. At first he pleaded with me to stop and I pleaded with him to trust me and just copy what I was doing. He managed to get away from me and went to phone NHS direct. I kinda have a black out then, a defence mechanism perhaps – other things are blocked out too, nestled deep in the brain somewhere no doubt. However, it appears that I ripped all my clothes off and ran into the street, apparently (as the police inform me later) I popped down the high street for some reason and then burst into a community hall on my street. Then I guess I sorta woke up again to find myself surrounded my frightened middle aged women who were having some sort of meeting, which I had rather rudely interrupted. I was hollering and wailing and just ran out of the hall, my friend found me. There was a bit of a tussle as one of the women was trying to help me and had hold of one arm and my mate was trying to say I know her and I’m getting her home.
An ambulance and two police vehicles arrived and I continued to run around whooping and wailing, throwing things – at which point the ambulance left. It took a while to get it into my head that this was really happening and that the police were real – I said some pretty cheeky things to them about doughnuts.
Anyways I went off to the police station and sat in the cell stunned. Half of my brain in la-la land and at the very same time the other half – thinking oh flip what the hell is going on! Kinda like two people in one.
I saw the police doctor bloke, he blathered on about did I take crack, heroin etc etc. He said well you seem fine – you can go home. I protested that things were obviously not right, but I guess I sounded too logical. A bit annoying because of the evidence of running about naked in February – at that point I wanted help…
The police dropped me and my mate home. He stayed over, to keep me safe. Unfortunately he wasn’t safe. I wouldn’t and couldn’t settle for ages. I then forget what happened, but my friend remembers being woken up by being punched in the face by me as I proclaimed ‘I win’. I am thankful that I don’t remember this. I was becoming increasingly paranoid and violent and physically ill and delusional and broken…
Something had to give… enter the at best, bumbling, and at worst, callous, mental health system. Enter the drugs. Enter the locked doors.