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.