If my medication isn’t addictive, why are the withdrawal symptoms so yuck?
I take sixty milligrams of Paroxetine a day, and have been doing so since a week After the sky fell in. Apparently, that’s a ‘hefty dose’ of anti–depressants– the maximum recommended dose is fifty milligrams. I think we’ll just say I’m a special (head) case and i need every damn milligram I take.
Paroxetine is an anti–anxiety medication, and its generally the first thing prescribed for PTSD. Psych meds, when used properly, are awesome. Give me all the St John’s Wort in the world, and I doubt it will have the effect that these pills do.
It’s not that they even cause me to be particularly happy. But they take the burning edge off anxiety. They regulate my over–responsiveness enough that I don’t feel as though I’m about to die from the adrenaline surge a raised voice sends through me.
Meds don’t make me happy… but it feels as though they make it possible to be happy. Like I’m starting at the some kind of even place, rather than with a sadness and worry deficit to handicap me. The meds make it possible to have a good day, if good things happen. They take away the apathetic fatigue that depression sits around your shoulders, the metaphorical cotton wool that muffles your mind somewhere between your eyes and your temples.
While I’m being metaphorical… meds don’t make the sun shine. They do, however, thin the clouds considerably. So if the sun shines hard enough it may just burn the fog away enough for it to be seen.
Just as taking my meds doesn’t make me happy, missing a dose of them (through forgetfulness or willful stupidity) doesn’t always make me sad or unsettled or anxious. If I’m having a particularly good time, I may not even notice I haven’t taken them at all.
Until the physical withdrawals kick in.
Withdrawals are never nice. A metallic thirst. A strange rushing inertia. A fast flowing pins and needles effect that shoots through your extremities every time you move. Nausea. Sleepiness. Sleeplessness.
And with that, the agitation and useless anxiety about nothing in particular. Bad dreams. Restlessness. Picking and chewing at my poor, short fingernails.
The apathy is the worst of it, though. At university I heard about what the lecturers called ‘schizophrenic logic’. “I feel okay, so I can stop taking my meds”. Not “My meds are making me feel okay, so I should keep taking them”.
It’s even stupider the way I rationalize what I don’t do. I went to Melbourne last weekend and forgot to take my medication with me. I take one dose on Saturday when I return home, then forget again on Sunday and don’t take another until Monday afternoon.
I’m an idiot, and I know I am, even while my head says to me “I feel like shit. I cannot be bothered taking my meds” instead of “My meds will make me stop feeling shit”.
Paroxetine takes two weeks to reach it’s full effect when you first start taking it. It’s got an extremely short half life, especially at such a high dose- it begins to wear off after twenty four hours, and withdrawals kick in at forty eight hours. Coming off it requires a gradual, incremental decrease.
Long post, made short; forgetting to take my medication messes with my head. I need to get my shit together.