Storm cloud over Heptonstall

Not that I was up. I thought I’d say a piece about the process of coming off of Venlafaxine, which is dominating my skyline at the moment. It’s a lot harder this time than it was before. Not least because the drop is further. I think my dosage was more than double what I was on the last time I took it. Why come off it, you ask, if I may have to go back on it again in a few years time?

Difficult question really. I berrated my old doctor for saying I should never come off it. Maybe things would have been different if I hadn’t. But I can’t really say they would have been better. I suffer from depression. With a twist of crazy. I can’t say I’m definitely bipolar. I’m certainly not seriously so – but the down is definitely accompanied by another side, which if not quite an up – is more interesting, and more entertaining, than normal life. If normal life is what I get when medicated. I’ve been up and down like a skyscraper lift since puberty, in vaguely predictable waves. Those waves give me the knowledge, when down, that I will probably be ok again in a bit. I only resort to medication when it gets really bad, and I can’t function normally. Trouble is, if you’re on medication to level you out, you don’t know what the wave is doing beneath. You might be ok. You might not need the medication anymore. If all the medication does is level you out, then it wouldn’t matter. Just stay on it anyway, then it won’t matter if the wave drops away beneath you. But it doesn’t just do that. It flattens everything. The high dose I have been on renders my libido nul and void. It makes me so very tired I can’t wake up, and hence late mornings and missing work – more so than caused by just the initial depression. My brain gets confused and dizzy. I can’t string sentences together, or concentrate. You might ask me a question and i’ll stare off into space thinking I’ve answered you but really I haven’t.

So when the solution becomes more of a problem than the problem, it’s worth seeing if the original problem is still there. Plus – I’m getting older. I have started to contemplate the baby issue. There are many other factors to take into account in my decision making re. whether I want to, or should, have a baby. I need to lose weight. I need to think about how I would manage financially. I need to consider whether my mental health issues would allow me to care for a child well enough. And I need to think carefully about certain relationship factors. I may not even be able to conceive as my ovaries are not my friends. But – the medication I am on vastly increases chance of miscarriage. So if I find I can’t cope without it – if I find myself an emotional wreck at the bottom of all of this – then there’s no real point me even challenging my brain with all of those other questions. I have to know if it’s even an option before I think about whether it’s one I want. No – I want it. But can I have it. Should I have it. This is the first step in deciding that.

So. Helpful lady doctor who has restored my faith in all things doctor, set me on the path of coming down the dosage staircase. I was on 187.5mg when I started. I am now on 75mg. I didn’t notice much difference at first. I think it was only when I was alternating 112.5mg and 75mg that it started to hit me. The tiredness is worse. I’m getting down more – though not unmanageably so. And the other side is rising too. I’m ranting more. And getting spendy urges, and wanting to dye my hair and paint my nails and go out on the vamp. Which is ok – if I keep it in check. I could do with a bit of grooming. Need to reign in the drinky, smoky, spendy stuff. Need to develop an addiction to the gym to satisfy it’s need for adrenaline. Paint more, make things, write. Channel the magpie urge for shiny, pretty, new, into something useful. Try not to commit utter career suicide (for the sake of the monthly salary, not the career status) by speaking too much truth to power.

Mostly though – I need to find a way to get out of sodding bed. And make my head stop spinning.

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4 thoughts on “Coming down

  1. it sounds really shit, and i feel for you. i remember the times i came off prozac, sertraline and summat else and it was horrible but such a relief not to be dictated to by stupid little pills that take from you more than they give. i thought to myself i’d rather be up and down than feel nothing which is what medication did to me. have you tried any kind of psychotherapy? i’m doing transational analysis which has really helped me reach an even keel recently.

  2. I did a “stresspac” course a while ago, which although stress isn’t really my problem (though it doesn’t help) – did teach some useful techniques to try and recognise when i’m reacting disproportionately and make me challenge my responses. CBT I guess, though it wasn’t one on one. Thing was, I was on medication which was working by the time I went on it, so I didn’t really need it at the time. But I suppose now, as I come off the meds, I get to try and see if I have learnt anything to help me control my problems if they resurface.

    What’s transational analysis then?

  3. it’s a kind of psychotherapy that looks at why you think the way you do about life and how you have adopted certain behaviours, going back to your childhood and addressing any other influences that may have been present. it’s helpful for me as i don’t think i have a chemical/medical depression that can be helped with anti-d’s. it’s not through the nhs though so i pay £35 an hour but it is helping (slowly!).

  4. Ah, I see. I’m quite good at that. Over analyse everything I do / see. You could give me £25 an hour and we could talk 😉

    I had counselling very briefly at uni – she sat and nodded at me a lot. And I ended up talking about my dad. Which surprised me. But she did say after I’d told her about what life was like at the time that she was surprised I was doing so well! Ah, university. I learnt a lot there. Just not about English Lit.

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