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

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Illustration by Joel Benjamin

Someone dear to me shared this outstanding post from Vice News on the subject of psychiatric medication withdrawal. You can find the original post by following this link.

Below is one of my own rantings on the subject from recent months.

Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan

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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…

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before the breaking

Moon Dog by Nick White

Moon Dog by Nick White


i can no longer recall
who i was before
the breaking

memories faded, distant
brittle frames from
home video left out
in weather and dust

there are hints
subtle whispers
a scent on the breeze,
suggestions of
who died that day,
reminiscent personality
left to rot in
so much mire.

i miss him
a bitter longing
or perhaps just the idea
that once this all
was different.

where once was
hope, now bitter
despondency.

where once was
love, now scornful
loathing.

where once was
passion, now caustic
agony.

where once was
vigor, now apathetic
lethargy.

where once was
genial empathy, now
selfish indignation

where once was
wholesome symmetry, now
all lies shattered.

Facing Uncertainty by Sara Biljana

Facing Uncertainty by Sara Biljana


© 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.

Just writing…

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© 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.

Of all the DOOM in all the World…

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“…and you had to spin this one…”

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Nothing but fucking nothing helps soothe the gaping, largely self-inflicted wounds of loathing and scornful suffering like this split LP, from two of underground metal’s most leaden and caustic purveyors of DOOM.

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Denver’s PRIMITIVE MAN serve up three blistering, misanthropic tracks of seething, tumultuous rage, while St. Louis’ Fister fill in the flip-side with two suffocating, polar quakes of acidic, cynical torment.

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PRIMITIVE MAN on Bandcamp

This is the essential soundtrack to my descent into madness, and often it is the only thing that brings me back to the surface. I do not say this lightly — this album has kept me from slitting my own fucking throat on more than one occasion.

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GET IT NOW from A389 Records!

Some of us need to be immersed in the darkness to remember why we should bother to seek the light.

Fister on Bandcamp

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Need more hype?? Read on here!

© 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.

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.

A ridiculously short post on an infinitely prodigious topic.

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I think I may have reduced the entirety of my existential crises down to a single, yet powerful, philosophical dilemma: How to reconcile my innate nihilism with my cosmic Buddhism. Is it, indeed, possible to believe in nothing and everything?

We shall see… 🙂

(Perhaps this is a repurposing of sorts.)

Also, it turns out there is a one-man chaos punk band called Nihilist Buddha. Without having yet heard any music, I am already a die-hard fan, because that is fucking brilliant!

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© 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.

yet, hope abides

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sandstorm
behind my eyes
turbulent churning
brain cloud
terrific winds of
unnamed forboding
an open air prison
i can find no manner
of escaping

yet, hope abides.

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© 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.