Unravelling … And Reassembling

I knew it was coming.

The warning signs were there weeks ago.

I was getting edgier. More tense. Grumpier. More sad.

But I made excuses. I’m not sleeping enough. I’m not exercising enough. Work is stressful. My IBS is acting up.

All true. But not reasons to ignore the signs.

I have been weaning off antidepressants for a few months. I really wanted to see if I was ready to be off SSRIs.

I was sick of the side effects – trouble sleeping, weight retention, swelling, zero libido, trouble concentrating, and so on. And besides, life was good. Things weren’t stressful. It seemed like a good time to try.

The weaning had been going well. I was about to go to a half-pill every other day – the last step – when suddenly, I started to feel bad again.

For about five weeks, I slowly spiraled downward. And I could see what was happening. After I ran out of excuses, I faced facts: It was probably the meds. Or lack thereof.

I met with my doctor this past Thursday, and she said I should switch to Lexapro. Her assessment was that I’m not ready to be off antidepressants, but Prozac wasn’t working anymore and the side effects were too troublesome. So time for SSRI number five. Yippie.

I wasn’t psyched about the prospect of going on Lexapro. I wasn’t convinced I needed different antidepressants. Honestly, I was starting to wonder: Could it be the antidepressants that are making me feel bad? Am I putting something in me that I no longer need? Could the Prozac actually be having an adverse effect on me? But I didn’t voice these thoughts to my doctor. I had brought the idea up before, and her opinion (and that of other medical professionals) was that it was very unlikely.

Anyway, the Lexapro needed special approval from my insurance and my family and I were going away for a long weekend, so nothing was changing right away. Status quo until Tuesday. I figured I’d be ok until then. Just take the meds and keep it together until next week.

And then on Friday night, I had a horrible freakout. It was building up all day. That morning I had taken a full Prozac because I was so stressed out. I thought it would calm me down as it had in the past.

Instead, it seemed to have the opposite effect. And by Friday night, I was a simmering ball of anger, sadness, and tension. When Annie threw a temper tantrum and wouldn’t go to sleep, I lost it. Lost it.

It was a bit of an out-of-body experience. If you have dealt with this sort of depression, you know what I mean. I knew I was acting crazy and mean and horrible. But I was powerless to stop it. I could hear myself saying awful things and acting like a lunatic. But couldn’t control it. It was as if I were hovering above myself, helplessly observing my unravelling.

And when it was over, I broke down. I sobbed out of shame, grief, and anger. I felt broken and unloveable. I cried myself to sleep. Alone. And deeply lonely.

The next morning I felt bizarrely fine. I called the doctor’s office. They told me to stop the Prozac and gave me a prescription for Adivan in case I had another meltdown. They told me to call my doc on Monday when I am back and to get the Lexapro right when I got home.

But I’m not so sure I want that Lexapro.

This is day two of taking no antidepressants. And bizarrely, I’m doing really well.

I am not sure what’s going on. Why did 20mg of Prozac make me wig out, and with no Prozac I feel great?

Is this just the calm before the next storm? I just don’t know.

So, yes, I’ll go pick up the Lexapro. And I have the Adivan, just in case. But maybe drug-free really is the right thing for me now. I guess only time will tell.

And while I’m waiting to find out, I’ll continue to be thankful for the support network I have, both in real life and online. I tweeted on Friday night that I was having a tough time, and got a barrage of tweets and DMs voicing concern and support.

Thank you. Each and every one of you. I’m so very grateful.

I don’t know, maybe I had to unravell completely on Friday night. Maybe I had to hit rock bottom to be able to put myself back together. It was horrible. But maybe it marked the start of a new, better phase for me.

That’s what I’m hoping. Waiting on eggshells – and hoping.

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29 Replies to “Unravelling … And Reassembling”

    1. It’s such a terrible place to be. I hope you are feeling good now. 🙂

      SSRIs have been so helpful for me for the past few years, but now I’m wondering if they’re making me worse. And I’m wondering if others have had similar experiences…

      Anyway, I know it sounds cheesy, but I really do hope that by sharing my story I can help others.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      1. It is a really tough thing to handle depression and medications. Cause and effect are blurred, side-effects must be weighed, doctors don’t always hear the full story… Keep trying, you’re doing the right thing to question and monitor everything that’s going on. Sharing your story makes me feel a bit better about mine. I’ve been struggling with medications a lot lately because I was off all of them until just recently when my mother died and my husband and I were in a bad car wreck that’s scrambled my head even worse.

        I don’t know what’s depression, what’s head injury or what’s medication anymore!

  1. Very smart response, to call your doctor. Sorry you had a tough time. When I get like that, I assume that I hate my life, need a divorce, wish I didn’t have children, etc. Wonder why our kids are such a pain in the ass (instead of “Why am I yelling instead of taking care of them?”).

    I look forward to seeing my own doctor this week, after way too long.

    Good luck w/ the meds/meds decision.

  2. What an honest and brave post that honestly, I could have written myself. I just recently decided to go back on meds because like you, I had one too many of those out of body experiences where I felt powerless to stop my anger and anxiety and I’d end up in tears every night. So far, they are working but I was on them years ago and then went off for the same reasons you are thinking of going off. I’ll be tuning in to see how you are doing and hoping that hitting bottom was a thing of the past and the only place you are going is up. 🙂

  3. (((HUG, HUG, HUG))) I have had the “freakout” and it sucks. There is nothing more awful than the feeling after you scream and yell at your kids. That said, I have only ever taken Lexapro. Although I have had all the side effects that you have described (and in addition, I am always hot), it seems like they are bearable or not as severe. I only take 5mg about two or three times a week. Two times doesn’t seem like enough, though, because I can definitely feel something negative happening. I have tried to be done, but I can’t. Not only do I not get proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, I am also still dealing with my son’s death and the declining health of another close family member. I don’t envision a time that I won’t need it unfortunately.

    I’m glad you write about this, because I know it helps to write. It helps others as well to know they are not alone, which in turn helps you feel a little more normal (at least that’s the way it is for me).

    More hugs. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this. I have so many reasons to say thank you but I appreciate your honesty like you wouldn’t believe. I know that wave you’re riding. Wishing you strength and peace today.

  5. I’ve been on something for at least 10 years and I hate that I am, as I am loathe to even take an aspirin or anything else. But given the way that I still feel while on either Prozac or Zoloft, I do fear how I would be without anything. With that said, I’m glad you’re in constant communication with your doctor.

    In our state–even at a healthy mental point–we aren’t as educated and qualified to make those decisions. We do know ourselves, but at times, “ourselves” can be battling more than we think. I would also point out that it takes a long time for drugs to kick in and that half-lives can stick around. While you might not be “on” a normal dose, it can still linger, just as it might take awhile for a new drug to prove either effective or not. But you know this 😉

    Hang in there. You’re SO not alone.

  6. Hang in there girl! You sound like you have a good plan in place and you are on the right path. Forgive yourself. It’s easier said than done, but you learned from the experience. xo

  7. Thank you for sharing! You are not alone in this, in many ways. I have been taking Lexapro for 4+ years and really like it. I did try to go off it once, but when I found myself wanting to sit under my desk, rather than at it, I realized this is a life time thing. I do still get sad and upset on occasion, but it blows over much, much faster than before (1 to 3 days and I’m better, vs. 3 weeks). Give it a chance … I haven’t noticed any real side effects and I’ve taken up to 40 mg/daily, at one point. As for needing to take medication, depression is a health issue, an illness. Sometimes it’s acute — treatable and gone. For others, it’s chronic — there is no cure, so we live with it and treat it as best we can. Would you not take medication for high blood pressure? Depression is the same … and there is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Personally, I think our world would be a nicer, calmer place if more people had some therapy and meds — there are a lot of people who need it and them!

  8. That scene you described, where you were kind of watching yourself spiral out of control, like an out of body experience – I have been there. I have been on anti-anxiety meds for years and went off of them while pg with #1. The withdrawal was so awful that I stayed off for 3 more years, until #2 was born. But during those 3 years that I was off, I had many of those out of body experiences. It is a horrible, lonely feeling.

    It is so great that you know yourself so well and I am glad you are taking whatever steps you need to, in order to feel better. So happy you are in a better place today. One day at a time! Good luck and thanks for being so, well, honest! 🙂

  9. I was on antidepressants for years. There came a point where my psychiatrist and I decided to try weaning off the drugs. So I weaned. I was on several medications at the time, and I weaned off all of them. It wasn’t so bad, except for one drug — Lexapro, as it happens — which caused me the most horrific withdrawal. Weaning off of that plunged me into as dark a depression as I’ve ever experienced, and that’s saying something. But I got through it, and I’ve been off the drugs now for six years. My guess, having done this (but not being a psychiatrist or anything) is that you are experiencing some level of withdrawal. It’s hard, and scary, but I really feel that you should try to push through. It probably took me two weeks after my last dose of Lexapro to feel really better again, but I did, and I’m so glad that I managed it. I hope that you’ll consider keeping the Lexapro on the shelf and pushing through. I’m no super hero, and if I can survive what coming off the drugs did to me, then you can, too. Much love to you, and no matter what you do, I hope you feel better soon!

  10. It is such a healthy thing that you are able to reach out for help.
    I just have one thing for you to ponder. When you say doctor, are you talking primary care or a psychiatrist? Maybe your diagnosis isn’t quite fitting you correctly anymore and that is why the medication does not feel right. When you are seeking specialized answers, it is best to seek them from a specialist.
    You have much strength. Ellen

  11. I’m cautiously weaning myself off Zoloft, so I know the feeling. Today did not bring out the best in me.

    I’ll be thinking of you, and praying for harmony in your world. <3

  12. You are amazing. I hope you realize you are.

    Depression and anxiety SUCK the big one. Suck suck suck.

    I’ve been where you are. I’m sending you warm and fuzzies and good karma and prayers. I am not to where you are being able to wean off of SSRIs. I take two different ones. I was already a mess when my husband nearly died last year. Since then…yikes. I can completely relate to the yucky meltdowns and the fallout from those meltdowns.

    You are amazing. You are helping others. I hope this is helping you too. You helped me just by allowing me to read this.

    Strength to you!

  13. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. I’m working on getting off all meds too and it’s hard. Is the episode due to withdrawal or depression? I wish I knew. I’ve been there as have so many others. It’s a dark, scary, lonely place. But you’re not alone. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck with your decision and the next few weeks!

  14. Oh honey – I have totally been there. The irrational anger and shame of losing it on your kids is second to none. It took me a long time to find the right combo of meds when I was going through it, and I recall a specific incident like yours that required tranquilizers. I’m happy to report that I’m past all that now, but I did have to make some drastic changes in my lifestyle and relationships to protect my mental health. If you ever want to talk, I’m here.

  15. I so admire you for sharing this raw and honest post. While I’ve never taken medication, I understand that feeling of being on the edge, wondering when you’re going to start spiraling downwards.

    I’m sorry that you had a rough night on Friday. I hope that things continue to look up.

    (Visiting from Blog Tuesday at Conversate is not a word)

  16. Okay, so first of all, you’re not alone!!! I’ve been there myself. Though I usually talk about my anxiety issues, I have issues with depression as well. They sort of go hand in hand for me. I take Lexapro and I love it. That said, I have tried to go off it twice — same reasons, weight gain, low libido, fear of mixing meds, etc… Both times I regretted it. I would hear myself lose control. I was crying all the time, yelling/screaming all the time.

    Back on the meds I went. It helps me, so why not. The side effects aren’t’ as bad as the lunatic I can become when I’m not on them.

    You’ll be fine. It’s such a common issue. So many of us have been there. You will find what works for you. Please believe that.

    Oh, and by the way, the Lexapro has always worked for me after only a few days of starting it.

  17. I will be waiting and watching and here. I’ll also be praying for you.

    I’ve been thinking about weaning now that my life is more stable, but I’m too scared. I KNOW exactly the freakout you’re talking about. I’m not ready to tempt it.

    BUT, I think staying on the drugs indefinitely is not a great plan, either.It’s just my plan for now.

    Hugs, babe. You’re fabulous.

  18. I've only been on prozac about 6months for PMDD – so far it has been a godsend. I also found out that I have a gluten intolerance, which can cause depression, so I've been removing gluten from my diet too. Have you tried that as well?

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