I am of two minds as to whether I should write this or even if it will be of any use to anyone out there but after doing a little research I haven’t found any other personal accounts of the side effects/Dr Who-esk journey of changing anti anxiety and agoraphobia medications.
To begin with I will just point out that this isn’t going to be well written, it’s going to be a kind of shitty diary where I point out all the good and bad things that happen to me over the next few weeks. It will be inarticulate, in places nonsensical and riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. BUT I feel I needed to do it anyway, however uncomfortable it makes me to free form post and not edit myself and my posts an inordinate amount of times.
I have been on some form of medication (some times a couple running together) for 15 odd years. I was first prescribed Aropax when I was 18 after my initial diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. There was a time between 20 and 25 that I wasn’t on any medication other than booze and lots of self talk; ‘just pull yourself together Lucy, you over-sensitive dickhead!’. While in the UK I was represcribe an SSRI because my anxiety and phobias had be a living nightmare for well over a year. I was put on Escitalopram and have been on that or some form (Citalopram as well, a very similar version of a long-acting ‘anti-depressant’) for the past 7-8 years.
If you know about these things then you may be aware that chemically your body only recognises or accepts these meds for a certain amount of time, for me it is about 5-6 years. There will be some proper medical research on this but for me they just stop doing as good a job on my brain after that period of time.
While speaking to other lovely mental health writers and bloggers I have heard talk of a vaguely newer kind of medication, the step on from SSRI’s, the SNRI. Without getting to much into it, the new meds work on 2 chemicals in your brain rather than just one.
I did a bunch of chatting and some online research to see if this newer class of medication would work for me and it all seemed good so yesterday I asked my lovely GP if I would be able to change over and see if the SNRI’s could alleviate the extent of nasty agoraphobia and panic symptoms I have been experiencing over the past few weeks.
I knew the process would get worse before it got better as one medication needs to be out of your system before you can start on the new one. So I will be experiencing life without anti panic type medication for the first time of approximately 8 years. Luckily for me I was able to request a small amount of Ativan (valium for people who know it by an earlier shelf title) in case the panic gets really bad and I’m trapped somewhere horrid, snot crying and cant get home. Or just if I need to get to work without crashing my car on the motorway in sheer panic.
Changing doses can have all kind of side effects and new medications might have further effects that I have no way of predicting so I figure I will “Dear Diary” this bitch up and describe what I’m experiencing.
This is for anyone who is thinking of change medications and wants to know if it is worth it or people who are interested in coming off their meds and wonder what kinds of side effects they might experience. I can foresee a lot of crying, some panic and a large amount of reassurance needed over the next week.
I’m also really hoping that the change in medication will help me lose some weight because I have truly become a whale of a creature, barnacle covered bottom and all.
Today: Wednesday 1st April 2015 – 4.45pm
This is not a fucking April Fool.
I’ve started coming down off my escitalopram today. I’ve gone from 1 1/2 pills (15mg I believe) down to 1 pill. I feel ok so far, no different than if I miss my pills in the morning, like if I’ve been sleeping all day or been too hungover to take my meds for fear of vomiting them all back up on the guy at KFC who ends up being a student I knew from the uni library where I worked. Hangover embarrassment *shudder*.
I don’t feel great right now but it could just be that I am very aware that I will likely feel shit soon. Am I preceding my anxiety with Thor-like super human anticipation? My guess is yes, mostly. Mainly because I know myself and I know that deep down I am a total drama queen, flailing about in the throws of imagined ill-ease.
More than anything I want to go home. I want to be in my pj’s on my sofa eating comfort food and binge watching programs I like.