I feel, at the moment, better than I have felt in about three weeks. I’ve had a lot going on in general but was handling it all surprisingly well and then seemingly out of nowhere I appeared to be in the beginnings of a breakdown.
A lot is still pretty fuzzy and I can’t fully connect a chain of events. Things almost got hospital bad but thankfully I’m married to a man who takes exceptional care of me.
At this very moment, as I write this, I’m suffering from SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. It is said to last anywhere from a week to a month, let’s hope I’m out of this a lot sooner than a month, this is no fun.
I had been on Effexor since 2003 and I’ve been in the process of switching medications. We were doing it extremely slowly and at first the side effects from lowering the Effexor and starting on Wellbutrin weren’t bothering me, infact, I felt great. But then, my doctor and I both mistook symptoms of Effexor withdrawal – heightened agitation, irritability, larger than life mood swings, plus the onset of some random crying, to name just a few, for a depressive episode that made sense based on the fact that there have been a lot of changes in my life recently and I was also processing an upcoming 10 year anniversary of a friend lost to suicide.
I have tried extremely hard to write in the last few days but to no avail. I actually don’t feel that bad if I keep my head still but haven’t been able to keep other symptoms such as bursting into tears or feeling so dysphoric that suicidal thoughts have become overwhelming and I’ve simply slouched over on the couch like a rag doll or meandered back to my bed.
Last Friday I took my final dose of Effexor and my Wellbutrin was raised for presumably the last time. I just thought I was having a REALLY tough time with the anniversary of my friend’s death. Revisiting the last ten years over the last few weeks has not been easy and although I thought it was a bit much, given all that happened during the time of this death, my psychiatrist felt that I hadn’t grieved properly when it happened, which I completely agree(ed) with and that was basically what we chalked up my intensified irritability and a shit load more crying than normal to.
On Monday night I started to feel nauseous and went to bed early; when I woke up on Tuesday morning, I was fucked. right. up. Online they are referred to as brain zaps or brain shocks, shivers and flickers. I call it whooshing. I’ve experienced mild head whooshing from forgetting to take my meds once or twice, but in comparison to this it was NOTHING and lasted only a day. It was noticeable enough that I specifically remember forgetting my medication one day, taking it the next and then missing it again the following day. That small intro to the whooshing was enough for me and I just don’t forget to take my meds.
Trying to ignore the feeling of things flying past my head from every direction was/is brutal. It almost feels like my head moves before I move it. It sounds similar to a brush quickly sweeping across a lapel. I remember trying to get ready for my run and staring at my hands like I could see through them, they were tingly and numbish and then my lips would go numb and then I was crying, sobbing, ugly cry whilst I was just going about my getting ready to run routine trying to pretend that everything was normal. I didn’t consider that I was in any sort of withdrawal. I genuinely thought I was having a breakdown but was trying to pretend I wasn’t.
Last week I had also signed into my Flickr account to find that someone had tagged my face onto their erect penis, now, obviously this post is shaping up to be really fucking long so I’m not going to get into that but it had triggered even more depressive thoughts. It’s been a really long time since I have had a depressive break bad enough to classify it as a breakdown. Even though all of the nasty shit my head was telling me comes with my general depressed days, everything was so intensified, felt so much larger than life, the self hatred was really starting to weigh on me and there was no denying, whether I was trying to or not, that it was lasting longer than it had in years – I’m a loser, everyone fucking hates me, I want to die, I’m the worst wife ever, I’m a burden on everyone, I’m ruining my husband’s life, I have a heart condition, I’m a shitty runner, no one wants to run with me, no one will let me into the running community, no one wants to be real life friends with me, everyone knows how bad I fucked up my blog so why give me a chance in the running community, it’s not your social anxiety people just don’t like you they just don’t want to invite you to their events, people are just waiting for you to blow so just fucking blow up just do it. Fucking torturing myself at every, single turn. I was unable to view my suicidal thoughts as a go to and had to take numerous steps to keep myself from doing something really fucking stupid. (but I did them and I’m really fucking proud of myself for that)
Considering the state I’m still sitting here in right now – I’ve got whooshing and dizziness, my lips feel numb and stuff feels tingly and not in a I want to diddle sort of way, and how many more days is this shit gonna last – I’m still trying to figure out how I made it out for Tuesday’s run. The best thing that came from it was myself and my doctor realizing I was actually dealing with some nasty withdrawal. I wasn’t willing to admit to myself that this wasn’t my fault that I wasn’t projecting my depression onto anyone and that I wasn’t imagining that something was seriously wrong. Until Tuesday I simply could not separate what did turn out to be withdrawal from believing I was going down for the count.
I’m not as big of a crier as one might guess and the crying was really starting to get to me to the point that I had started to yell at myself to stop and was talking to the kitchen ceiling and begging it to let me not feel this. Just so we are clear, the ceiling did not respond in any way shape or form. There have been a few similar scenarios involving me pulling on my hair and yelling at the whooshing to stop, basically, there’s been a lot of yelling at myself.
I guess because I’m so open about my depression, people often ask me about running and crying. No, I don’t cry while I run and no I don’t cry after I run. Crossing a finish line in tears is completely different. Missing by Everything But The Girl was the first song to hit my ears and BAM balling. I was running and already noticing that I could feel FUCK ALL. But fuck me if I didn’t fly home from the Cook Islands on a massively delayed flight having to overnight in LAX by myself with the right side of my clavicle not only snapped completely in half but the (broken) top bone had slid across the bottom bone and when it came to a stop it left shards of bone literally trying to stab their way through my skin. Ask me about it, I’ll show you my surgical scar.
Shocker – I don’t handle real or perceived weakness in myself well so I ran. And I cried. Like a mother fucking baby. At 5k I didn’t stop running but I mentally gave up and was only trying to get myself to a place where the walk home wouldn’t be as far because this is Vancouver so of course it was raining. In the final stretches before my planned stopping spot, I lost it crying again, I had ran over 6kms with numbness moving from one area of my body to another, not being able to feel my feet or my hands, my fingers and when I could they were tingly. I am seriously lucky I did not injure myself and feel strongly that if it were not for my Newton running shoes I’d have been forced to stop over choosing to. I knew I was in serious trouble I had contemplated throwing myself off the Seawall which was downright idiotic, the tide was out, and it isn’t deep anyway. I finally reached my stopping destination and choked on some water and told myself I was such a fucking loser that I couldn’t even drink water right. I was crying a lot harder than I realized because a few people inquired as to whether I was ok, I apologized for inconveniencing them said, no, thank you, I’m fine. I was embarrassed as fuck and went and hid off on some wet benches by the Lumberman’s Arch concession stand where I could be alone.
It got worse, now I was cold so I started to shake which intensified the whooshing, which intensified the crying and by this point I was scared. I texted Adam and while waiting to hear back from him contemplated calling an ambulance because I didn’t feel like I could move. I had also decided that enough was enough and that I was going to have to admit myself to the hospital. Adam texted me back and said he was coming home which briefly got me out of that particular state because then I started to stress out about him having to leave work and found myself walking home whilst … wait for it … crying.
Things are a bit fuzzy here because my doctor had given me something to help get some sleep and to see if we could ease any of the withdrawal symptoms. I did get some sleep but nothing worked to relieve anything. Apparently, not everyone gets withdrawal from Effexor but my doctor told me that if you do get it, it’s bad. I needed to hear that. Part of the withdrawal comes with worse than normal night sweat sweats and not being able to sleep, the combination of the two is a gift you wouldn’t give your least favourite family member let alone an enemy. I was also having articulation issues, I was forgetting words mid sentence or it felt like I had to reach for words and in some cases I was struggling to even remember what the fuck I was talking about. Not to mention that the hostility and aggressiveness I was experiencing was enabling me to act like a straight up fucking cunt I was freaking out about EVERYTHING. I do not remember what everything was but I just know it was EVERYTHING.
For the most part I have had to stay off Twitter and the internet in general. The fact that I was able to do it is one of the things I’m able to draw from right now and say to myself, ok, this got bad, it got really bad but the old me would have been FREAKING out and self sabotaging myself over completely mundane things that were/are offending and hurting my feelings. Basically, every tweet I read. One silly example, yesterday, I tried to respond to a tweet about running with people and I know they want to run with me but for whatever reason they didn’t respond to the tweet but kept talking to each other and who fucking cares I’m going to run anyway but nope, as far as I was concerned they fucking hated me, didn’t like that I’d tried to include myself in an open forum conversation and I ended up deleting my tweet to them because I felt left out. At that moment I shut my computer off completely realizing I was NOT out of the woods yet. Thank fuck I can recognize how ridiculous even the deleting of that tweet (plus others) was, I’ve been deleting almost every tweet I’ve written in the last few days for some self degrading reason or another.
At times, given the odd bit of respite from the worst of the withdrawal symptoms I thought I could handle Facebook but everything on there started to annoy the shit out of me too and I’d start to feel ragey and got the fuck off Facebook as well. I know I would not have been able to do that even two years ago and would have made this about a million percent harder on myself. I have a seriously bad habit of unfollowing people on Twitter and deleting people off my Facebook that I don’t actually have any problem with but my sickness tells me they hate me, my sickness tells me I’m a burden and that they only follow me as to not have to worry about me flying off the handle if they were to unfollow me because of course it is all about me. But the deleting and unfollowing is just a replacement for the freaking out; I went from being a classic oversharer to someone who now tries to hide how much I hurt and jesus fuck that has opened up a whole new set of problems. The worst, I guess, being that I spend even more time mentally bashing myself. Sometimes it isn’t, but it feels easier to let everyone think I’m fucking crazy and that I’ve made zero progress over the years and in my head I have myself convinced that everyone wants and expects me to fail anyway so WHO CARES if I resort back to insane and to taking my depression out on the internet and not actually dealing with it.
When I used to lose it online and become a nice little side show for those who’d rather see me lose it than send me a quick message and offer to help/calm me down I started to build up A LOT of resentment. When people who claim to support the mental health community or call me a friend in any sense of the word drop me on Twitter or Facebook when I’m in the thick of any depressive episode it always comes off as selfish, mean, assholy, heartless … I could go on, and of course it is easier to lash out at whoever has hurt my feelings in that moment than it is to just say to myself, they. do. not. matter., if they mattered they’d have said you are going to be ok or not have pressed the delete button.
From a personal analytical perspective this has been fucking fascinating to go through and it isn’t over yet! By far one of the worst experiences I’ve had with anything related to my depression since it’s inception but fascinating nonetheless. I just had to shut off Twitter and Facebook again, I’m feeling ragey.