Hmm.

The committee recommended that the SSRI venlafaxine (Efexor) should be prescribed only by specialists and patients monitored closely.

Interesting.

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B’doinga!

Spring is here. Spring is really, really here.
Over the winter, I wondered how much of my “winter blues” was coming off Efexor, or dealing with Ginger’s job stress. Now that there is a real change in the weather, I can honestly say it was Seasonal Affective Disorder.
My mood has been almost euphoric lately. I’m doing so much more than usual, gardening, decorating, and working on a website for a friend. Four months ago, I’d have been lucky to manage any one of those things.
I think I am reaching a point where the Efexor is not something I think about as much. Before, it was “that bastard efexor” every five minutes, and, “I hate this shit”. I remember saying that I had to try and stay focused on the positive, and now it feels like I have many more positives to focus on.
The panic and anxiety are still there, and the panic attacks are still laced with acid, and raw, but on the whole I’m a happier person. I guess I can channel my positivity into my recovery.
I missed my one year anniversary last week. April 8th 2003 was the day of my first weblog entry, and although I was with Bloggar before Moveable Type, I never really put my all into it. Things have changed a lot on the site since then. Not so long ago, I found a screen print out of my site in the early days, before I attempted to alter the stylesheets. It was weird, but also like looking at a baby photo in some ways. I think I even thought, “gosh, hasn’t it grown!”
I think we both have.

Yuck

You know when you are doing something that takes some time to achieve, and you get to a point where you think, “yeah, I think this is really going to work”? Well, five weeks after reaching Dose Zero, I find myself getting freaky brain zaps again. I’d never really shifted the headache, and was on the verge of giving it a name, like a pet. I dunno, like, “Hal the Headache” or something. (Kind of fitting, really.) I’m still getting the nausea, only now it’s confined to times when I’ve just eaten, or I’m too hot, or I’m out in the car, and maybe some other random times that make up the rest of the day.
My memory is still as atrocious as ever, and I can’t concentrate on anything for very long. Certainly not long enough to think my way through a task then do something productive about it. My body has lulled me into a false sense of security, telling me, “yeah, this is getting easier” and then WHAM!! the shit hits me again. I can almost see some cheeky looking little imp with devil horns flicking a switch in my head that says “zap”.
It’s at times like this I am really grateful that I found Venlafaxine Healing. I can’t tell you what it means to be able to vent this shit to people who have experienced it. There is strength in numbers, and we have all googled and researched and we all have something to contribute. I know from my web stats that people are googling for ‘efexor’ and ‘venlafaxine’ and happening on my weblog. If you do, and you need support, click on the link. As well as venting your spleen and getting support that way, there are also resources and links. It’s worth it.
In other news, Ginger has talked to his manager, and they have [sarcasm]graciously[/sarcasm] offered him work until the end of March. He has decided to work flat weeks without overtime, and I have metamorphasised into his PA again. I just hope I don’t forget anything important while I’m helping him search for a new job…

Thoughts of a Panicky Person

I’ve a funny feeling I don’t need to write this. A quick search of my archives finds the exact same thoughts here.
This is the first time in ages I’ve had an appointment with M that I’ve needed to go to by myself. The last one Ginger took me, and before that, there was a big gap in our meetings as M was on leave.
I guess this time, it’s a bit different in that the weather is crap. It is freezing cold, there is ice on the roads and paths, and snow is forecast. My appointment is at 3pm.
I’ve paced up and down, and wasted time this morning, and now I realise I could have called to see if M could see me any earlier. 3pm isn’t bad – it’s just that it’ll be getting dark when I come home, and I don’t have lights on my bike. I refuse to bike on the footpaths. Also, there’ll be a lot of people and traffic at 4pm – schools coming out and stuff.
Or is it an excuse? I’ve not been out on my bike for ages. At least three months. I’m not too fit, and I’m feeling really panicky just thinking about what is going to happen if I need to get off and push because I’m too unhealthy to cycle up that hill, or if it’s too dark, and I need to push my bike on the paths. What if the weather starts getting bad while I am out? I could come out of Psychology to find blizzards – it’s forecast, after all.
Plus, I still feel a bit shit in my Post Efexor state. I’m still dizzy, and can’t think straight. Maybe I’d be safer cancelling. But that would feel like failure. I wish I knew what to do. I hate the way my stupid brain works sometimes.

Woah…

Today is day… hang on, I’ve lost count. My memory is still being a bugger, and although I think I feel better, I’m still getting nausea and headaches, and waking up in the night drowning in sweat.
Yesterday, Ginger and I went out in the car, and within about ten minutes, I had the most disgusting feeling of motion sickness. I never get travel sick, except on coaches and buses. Never in cars, unless I read (which I’d be foolish to do, given that it makes me sick). The headache that accompanied the nausea was the kind that makes your scalp sensitive. Like some invisible person is plucking the hair out, working on one follicle at a time.
I closed my eyes, and concentrated on Michelle Branch, playing softly on the MP3. When I got out of the car, I thought I was going to fall over. I’m sure people in the car park of Sainsbury’s thought I was drunk. Round the store, I clutched valiantly to the trolley, but still managed to forego walking in a straight line. I guess I didn’t help when I wandered down the wines and spirits aisle, looking for the Arniston Bay chenin blanc…
The journey home was awful. I wouldn’t let my freezing husband put the heater on, because the warmth made me feel worse. We needed to stop at the pet store on the way home. I needed some water conditioner for my aquarium, and I didn’t want to wait unti next weekend, which is the only other time we could go. Ginger held onto me, and I freaked out at the tethered dog who was barking outside the store. It seemed there was one obsticle after another – a guy with a bucket collecting for an animal charity, crowds, a queue a mile long – I knew I was going to panic. I went straight to the fish section grabbed a bottle of water conditioner, and made for the checkout.
Normally, I look at the fish, maybe wander over to the rabbits and hamsters for a look, but yesterday I just wanted out. We paid and left.
Sitting at home over the past few days, I have felt that I was doing better. I thought I’d gotten over the worst of the withdrawal effects, and things could only get better. I have kept that in mind to help my recovery. To stay positive. Yesterday knocked that theory. I’m not as better as I thought. I’ve never been good at just plodding on. I’m just too impatient.

How it hasn’t been a strain

One of the symptoms of quitting Venlafaxine/Effexor has been that my bowels have discovered regularity.
I’ve always verged on the constipated side, even before panic and anxiety took over my existence. I remember feeling awe when I found out people usually poo every day, not once a week. I remember thinking that pooing every other day was almost diarrhoea, and I guess on the occasions I did get ‘proper’ diarrhoea my ‘normal’ regularity made it a worse experience than most peoples.
The constipation hit its worst levels when I became hooked on dihydrocodeine. Codeine is a very constipating drug, and well, I was taking a hell of a lot more than I was supposed to. I remember trying to tackle this problem once by drinking insatiable amounts of water, and eating nothing but fruit and prunes all day. My bowels said, “sod this for a lark” and promptly clamped down, leaving me in a crumpled cramped mess for the next few days.
When I discovered anxiety and panic, my bowels discovered IBS. It happened quite quickly – I quit the dihydrocodeine (this is deja vu) cold turkey (because my doctor suggested to) and went through a few weeks of hell while my body craved and shrieked at me for its fix. At first, the cramps were unbearable. I remember sending my husband out to the chemist to get me a hot water bottle, which I applied to my stomach until it scalded. My bowels finally settled down into a new, sans-codeine routine. Well, I say routine. Over the last four years, I can see that it was a routine. And, if you count several weeks of constipation and a week of diarrhoea as routine, then it was one.
So, you can sympathise with my poor gut when you learn that for the last ten days (from when I started doing the every-other-day thing) I have had Regularity. It feels cleansing, in a colonoscopic way. The thing I want to know is this.
Do you count ‘every ten minutes’ as Regular?

Update

or, Effexor can kiss my ass
I can’t believe that I’ve neglected my corner of the web for six weeks. To be honest, there’s been other things going on, such as Christmas and money strife, so I guess my mind has been elsewhere.
Up until now, I have stuck with the 75mg of Effexor (venlafaxine) XR even though I had originally planned to quit altogether before now. I had a cold before Christmas, and really didn’t think that I could deal with the added ache of withdrawal. So, I waited until that cleared up completely.
My plan was to reduce the dose by taking it every other day. As it’s Effexor XR, it’s a slow release capsule, and isn’t available in a lower dose. Believe me, if it was available I’d be taking it right now. I started this plan at the weekend.
So, Saturday morning’s dose officially started phase two. On Sunday, I abstained, and went about my day as normal. On Monday, I woke up with all the withdrawal sympytoms I described last time. I couldn’t believe it – after missing only one dose. I realised I had some decisions to make. From previous experience, I know that Effexor gets into my system quite quickly, and that taking it every other day was going to result in alternate days of feeling okayish and feeling like shit.
Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that taking another SSRI like Prozac (fluoxetine) helps with the seratonin levels whilst withdrawing from Effexor, thus reducing the withdrawal symptoms. (Thanks to Lisa for Googling for me) I realised I’d rather take my chances doing that, and quitting Effexor cold turkey, than doing this every-other-day thing which I knew was going to screw with me as much as it could.
Today, Wednesday, is my second day using this method. I’m taking 20mg of Prozac, and no Effexor at all.
I feel like shit, but not as many ‘brain zaps’ as before. I’m thankful. I feel sick, but I’m chewing on peppermints and have a good supply. I’m dizzy, but I plan to sit at the computer all day anyway. I have a headache, but I also have a box of Advil. I’m sweating, but I’m not going anywhere, so I don’t care. What I do know is that this is the start of me being free again.