Tag Archives: medication

Anxiety Medication Withdrawal Fail-2

To continue the series of posts about my battle with anxiety, I bring the latest medication withdrawal fail story.

As I wrote here, after my last misadventure with SSRIs, I stopped taking them altogether. Since I felt fine for the next few weeks, I assumed that I don’t really need them and forgot all about them since.

PC: Verywellmind

However, ever so slowly, my anxiety started to creep up back on me. There weren’t any drastic symptoms. Just things like worrying too much about work, thinking about work at night or during weekends. Also, the ever present feeling of dread that something will eventually go wrong.

I was very proud of myself for having successfully(?) given up this medication and wanted to prevent another medication withdrawal fails. So I decided to continue without it.

After I spent 3 successive weekends obsessing over work and dreading Monday, I decided I would keep my mind open about resuming the medicine and gave myself 1 month to decide, till my next doctor appointment. I didn’t last 1 month.

Last weekend, after dreading work all Saturday and most of Sunday, I decided to give up and go back on the medication there and then. I called the hospital & requested to see the doctor the same day. Thankfully they were able to put me on the waiting list and I saw the doctor within the hour. He took pity on me and put me back on Lexapro.

After bagging the medication, I immediately felt better. The world looked brighter and life seemed more beautiful. Of course this was a placebo effect as the medication takes up to 2 weeks to work. Over the next day or so, the placebo effect wore off, but a week since starting the medication, I already feel better.

Second reminder to myself, to not mess with medication that work well.

Also, it’s not worth avoiding medication (and for what?) if it works for you and makes you feel better

Anxiety Medication Withdrawal Fail

As discussed before, I have been on medication to treat my GAD for the past few years. I was lucky to have found a doctor who prescribed me medication instead of sending me to therapy. The medication had been working beautifully, but I always assumed that I won’t take them forever. When I moved to Bangkok, I decided to quit, as I won’t find a doctor here to continue the prescription. I put it off for many months fearing medication withdrawal. Running low on supplies, few weeks ago, I decided that that time was here.

I had been on the following medication to treat my GAD

Medication withdrawal

With high optimism and hope in my heart, I started the process of quitting, one medication at a time.

Levowave

Getting off Levowave was relatively easy. First I halved my dose for a week and then changed it to 3 days a week, then stopped completely. I had some confusion, irritability, anxiety, tremors for a couple of days but after that I was back to normal. No impact on sleep at all.

I assumed that the withdrawal for the other medications would be as easy. How wrong I was!

Buspin

I assumed this one would be the easiest to stop, but I was dead wrong. I halved the dose and in just 2 days, shit hit the fan.

  • Night 1/Day 2 – Uneventful
  • Night 2 – On night 2, suddenly I woke up at 01:00 AM with my heart beating fast, for no apparent reason. I was up for an hour, but was able to go back to (restless) sleep afterwards.
  • Day 2 – The entire day I was full of anxiety, irritable and confused. Lost my appetite. There was also a phase where I had to abuse random strangers on twitter for no reason.
  • Night 3 – Night 3 was horrible. I slept at 21:30 but woke up at 23:00. After that whatever I tried, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I either felt too hot (sweating) or too cold (shivering). After tossing and turning for hours and rousing the rest of my family, I think I finally managed to fall asleep at 04:00. Libido was also up 10x. Heart rate was above 90 bpm throughout.
  • Day 3 – Day 3 started slightly better than Day 2. I started running again, which brought back my appetite. But later in the day, my heart rate rose above 100bps doing nothing. A sense of doom & gloom pervaded my brain and I had only negative thoughts.

I Quit

Sometime in the afternoon of Day 3, I realised that I cannot go through with this and decided to go back on my remaining pills. I booked a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription to resume the medication.

Day 4 – I woke up refreshed after 10 hours of beautiful sleep. The world seemed brighter, and life seemed more beautiful.

After resuming my medication, I finally saw a doctor here. Fortunately, he was kind and patient and prescribed me medication to continue. Unfortunately, not all my medication is available in Thailand, so I have to switch medication.

After all this, I am extremely grateful for my medicines and medical science in general. I will never again take them for granted.

A Note on Mental Health

I have documented my struggles with mental health on this blog before. Considering the focus of the media on the mental health of famous people these days, I decided to write a longer rant about my own struggles.

During my college days I was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Although I did get depressed once in a while, I was never-ever worried about things. After college, while working a job I didn’t like, I also went through bouts of depression, but got over it quickly once I found a better job.

My second job was the best job, mentally, of my career. I had friends at work, I enjoyed what I was doing and I never even thought about work outside office. It was a shift-job where you could switch off completely after work.

It was in 2012 that I realized something was wrong. I suffered from IBS for almost 2 years. During this time I also turned lactose intolerant. I did read about the close connection between the gut and the brain, but I couldn’t figure out which affected which. After 2 years, I suddenly got better and didn’t think about it again.

Things started to go south again around 2016-17, when I wasn’t able to handle non-stresses from my work. I would lay awake at night thinking about trivial things from work, lost weight rapidly and couldn’t concentrate on non-work things. I tried things like meditation and mindfulness but nothing helped much. The mind just won’t stop racing and over-thinking.

This was the first time I decided to go see a shrink, at a hospital. I was hoping for a quick solution to all my troubles, but she prescribed me with very-expensive counselling sessions. The cost of the sessions made my issues worse, so I never went back. Thankfully, the shrink did give me a diagnosis, that of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Eventually, this phase also passed and I forgot all about it.

I switched jobs again in 2020 and this time anxiety came back to attack me with a vengeance. It was clear that this time it was worse than before. It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours for a week straight. Sleeping aids didn’t help either.

Eventually, I decided to go to another shrink. This one was in a busy market popular with people I knew. I was ashamed to go see him. This doctor also confirmed the diagnosis of GAD and decided to prescribe me medications immediately. Within a few days, I was feeling much better. Although anxiety never went away completely, it is now quite under control, thankfully, to this day.

What I do

I use the following techniques to keep my anxiety under control

  1. Medication, which I am slowly weaning myself off of.
  2. Exercise – Even a short run helps a lot. Even walking is better than nothing.
  3. Listen to music I love everyday, without fail.
  4. Writing (Blogging)
  5. Whenever I have too many thoughts at night, I write them on a piece of paper before I go to bed. Next day I action all the items on that piece of paper and then tear it away. I found this strangely therapeutic.
  6. Stay as far away from Social Networks as possible.

I know many people have found relief with mindfulness, but for me it tended to make things worse. Maybe I was not using the tool correctly.

The Rich

On the news, I repeatedly hear stories about the struggle of famous people with mental health, especially sportspersons. Although I am happy that they are raising more awareness for mental health, the impact of mental illnesses on them is much different than it is on regular people like us.

For them, quitting means an outpouring of support and being called “brave”. For people like me, quitting would mean being called a failure, losing my house and not being able to feed my family. So no, I don’t think these sportspersons are brave for quitting. They quit because they are filthy rich & can afford to.

Not everyone can.