The Pills You Take To Mend Will Be the Architects of Your Destruction: A Musing on Paxil and the Struggle With Madness

I have been on and off various psychiatric medications for my entire adult life, mostly concurrent with a good fifteen plus years of self-medication with “illicit” drugs and alcohol. Surprise of all surprises, I am also the kind of “adult” who can never seem to get his fucking life together.  This instability accounts for my inconsistency with staying on the legal drugs — I lose a job, I lose insurance coverage, I lose my doctor, I lose my mind.  In the midst of this, I destroy everything. 

Beyond that, I have ever increasing doubts about the efficacy of psych meds at all, coupled with growing anecdotal evidence and research suggesting I’ve never been accurately diagnosed in the first place. But that is a topic for another time…

I mentioned here that, for various reasons and circumstances, I would be going off the current “wonder drug” that I’ve been pumping through my system as of late, Paxil (paroxetine).  Here are a few things nobody ever told me about taking Paxil (until it was already too late):*

— Once the medication has built up in your system, it might work great for a while!

— Soon, though — within a matter of months, even weeks — as your body adjusts to the medication, your state of mind will steadily devolve and retreat to the same depths in which it began, and worse.

— Increasing your dose will work for a while.  Until it doesn’t, and suddenly you find yourself more unhinged than ever.

— Rather than treat and prevent thoughts and feelings of suicide, depression, anxiety, paranoia, loathing, and rage (as it is supposedly intended to), the medication will cultivate and nurture those demons to unfathomable strength, then magnify and perpetuate their terrible power until they all but consume you.

— If you have the misfortune of being a slave to this medication, but find yourself jobless, without insurance, and destitute, your physician will not give a shit.  Nevermind that you are in the grips of a powerfully malfunctioning drug; it’s all about that motherfucking bottom line.  I mean, what is this, Socialist French Canada?!

— Should you choose, through calculated decision coupled with necessity of circumstance, to wean yourself off the medication before your final prescription runs out, be prepared.  As in life, love, and most of Hollywood’s output, things will get much worse before they get better.

— Paxil has the proud distinction of being, according to studies and patient testimony, the absolute worst SSRI to stop using, due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms for paroxetine include nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness and vertigo; insomnia, nightmares and vivid dreams; feelings of electricity in the body, as well as crying and anxiety. (Read more)

— The withdrawal symptoms are not dissimilar to the paradoxic effects the medication itself had, leading you to quit the shit in the first place; they are simply more severe, unpredictable, and debilitating.

— While dealing with the seemingly endless and hopeless period of withdrawal, you may experience moments of clarity and serenity wherein you may be tempted to believe you have come out the other side.  These periods may last mere hours, or they may last days, but they are not to be trusted.  Your demons lie in wait, festering, waiting for their moment to come raging back in ecstatic fury.

— The madness of your withdrawal will cause you to lose yourself in frequent brain clouds, wherein confusion, disquiet, unease, desperate paranoia, and bitter, manic neurosis will consume your being.

— You will react poorly and with little semblance of self-control to even the most seemingly insignificant of stressors, because the battlefield of your mind is not capable of reacting appropriately; in short, due to blockages of bullshit and ridiculousness bred of the betrayal of this thing which was to be your salvation, the sewers are not flowing properly.

— Your broken, damaged, imperfectly deluded rote response to all of this will alternate between abysmal, hopeless surrender in listless abandon and scornful, violent explosions and fits of uncontrollable rage.

— The only ones who suffer through this perhaps worse than you are the ones you love, and the ones you use.

It has been close to a month since I took my last quartered dose of Paxil.  I’ve been hopeful that my recent relocation and the accompanying change of scenery would offer chance at a change of perspective that might breed fertile ground to nurture myself out of this frozen void of hatred and despair.

While that may yet remain a possibility, thus far I have only steadily gotten worse.  What might have been a simple and resolvable conflict this morning was instead filtered through the rotten screen of my madness, and resulted in a bit of a meltdown.  Within half an hour of being conscious, I found myself so enraged and upset to be violently quaking in my skin, followed by an invigorating episode of vomiting and near loss of consciousness.

Science claims it takes about a month for this poison to fully purge from your system.  I am hopeful that I may see some sunlight on the other side of this soon.  I have to be.

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* It should be noted that the experiences detailed here are purely anecdotal and specific to my own experience. Do not start or stop any psychiatric medication without consulting your physician.

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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5 thoughts on “The Pills You Take To Mend Will Be the Architects of Your Destruction: A Musing on Paxil and the Struggle With Madness

  1. I can relate. As you have probably figured out, I have lost my SSDI and with it my insurance benefits, which means I can’t see the doctors and get my meds. I am probably be going off at least one mood stabilizer ($1400/month), and trying to function on what I have left that is more affordable.

    I am so stressed that I have entered a period of acceptance and calm because I don’t know what else to do with the emotions. I can say that I am scared, pissed off to no end; I am not looking forward to what comes next. One of my biggest fears is a return to self-medication.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It confounds me to no end how these bureaucratic systems that are supposedly in place to serve citizens in need can so callously toss the most desperate of us aside and allow us to suffer without reprieve. For people like us to be well and cared for mentally and emotionally is not just for our own selfish benefit. This is for the good of all society! I admire your stoicism in the face of uncertainty and psychic upheaval. I wish you all the best! Feel free to keep in touch as we both attempt to navigate this scarred psychological wasteland… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I blew my top when I found out that here, at least, substance abuse is considered a disability. I don’t see how something that is a choice (unlike mental illness) could be could be considered disabling. Get off your ass and get sober. I have managed it as have many others.

        Their definition of disability is a condition that is expected to last at least one year or end in death. Well, hmmm, let’s see. I have had bipolar disorder for almost 26 years, PTSD for 27 years, and Panic disorder with and without Agoraphobia for at least that. I have been diagnosed for 12 years. I do not see it going away any time soon. Once you have developed a disabling mental issue like bipolar or schizophrenia, it doesn’t just “go away” like the bureaucratic jackasses that made this decision seem to think. And, bipolar does end in death for some. I do not know WTF they think they are doing.

        Yesterday, I got a letter stating I was no longer eligible for the “Ticket to Work” program. No shit. Really? Are these people stupid? What I want to see is the letter saying my benefits are continued during appeal. I could give a flying f&*^%* about the ticket to work program. I need to keep a roof over my head or become just another statistic that fell through the cracks.

        Like

      • This type of ridiculousness won’t improve until we as a people enact social change to make mental issues more acknowledged and understood as legitimate and serious concerns. Hey, Society, want to know why troubled individuals the world over are snapping and lashing out, often murdering people? Maybe take a look at how you treat your mentally ill! I mean, they wouldn’t tell a guy in a wheelchair that his dead legs no longer count as a disability because they won’t either improve or result in death. Such bureaucratic nonsense!

        Liked by 1 person

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