Friday, April 23, 2010


i went off my SSRIs (sertralin) on tuesday. so this is day five off the pills - for the first time since late october 2007. i am still taking 25mg of trittico (for sleeping / as a mild anti-depressant), but would like to get off those in a few months' time as well.

i'd reduced the dosage of sertralin twice - from 75mg to 50 and then 25, and both times my stomach was a little upset, and i was a little moody for a couple of days, but that was that. once i'd decided that now was the right time to quit (doctor had given okay months ago, said when i felt ready, i should just go ahead), i did. lately i had nearly forgotten to take the pills on some days, and i didn't really expect this to be a big deal. but it's not as easy as i thought it would be. now that i've decided to quit, all i seem to be thinking about is my little white helpers. not a big surprise, though, is it, when i've just not been myself these past five days?

at first i did not even make the connection - i thought i was so exhausted because of the pollen bothering me, or that i'd caught a cold. i didn't think that the effect would be that immediate. but after two days i did some research, asked around a little, and well ... they do have a name for this: SSRI discontinuation syndrome. doesn't that just sound marvellous? long list of symptoms, some of them sounding very familiar: exhaustion - check. occasional headaches - check. stomach problems - check. occasional dizziness - check. occasional sweating - check. temperature - check. and also what they describe as "brain shivers" - check. i have these minor black-outs, it's like arriving at the end of a very short period - of a second or a few seconds or even a split second - and not quite knowing how i got there. i find that sometimes my feet or hands or my brain won't do what i want them to do, at least not immediately - very disconcerting, that. i find it hard to concentrate. i don't sleep well. during the day i sometimes have the feeling i might just fall asleep standing up. i dream a lot, even more than i usually do. i am moody, feel on the verge of tears much of the time. and all this because my brain is trying to find some sort of balance again. i've tried to sleep as much as i can, i try to relax and let myself be distracted without doing too much, and i have my lovely man who supports me and puts up with my moods. i'll see how the weekend goes, and if things don't change, i'll consult my doctor. i just don't want to go back on the pills anymore. i can do what i want to do without them. enough, i say.

on friday, one student felt a panic attack coming on, and when i said "oh i know about those" in the process of helping her, people were surprised, i think. i've often had that reaction: "depressed? panic disorder? you?" but one thing i have learned is that you really cannot tell who has experienced these nasty things. the most outgoing, fun, confident people might tell you that they are being treated for these things, or have been through them in the past. there's just no telling. turned out that some people in my class - and there were only 9 of them on friday - know from their own experience or second-hand (daughters, friends, colleagues, ...). so for a while i abandoned what we'd been doing, answered questions, listened to others' accounts, and it was the right thing to do. i've always been open about this, and i think it does help to show people that they are not the only ones, and to raise awareness. one student wanted to know what to do if anybody around him had a panic attack - he actually seemed pretty scared that he might not know how to react, and he obviously had not realised how common such things are. so, here i am, blogging about this once again. who knows, it might help somebody out there, as it has done in the past.

apart from going off my SSRIs, the birch pollen have been extremely annoying, and i am very much looking forward to the day when i can breathe normally again. and go for a walk outside in the lovely spring weather.

i've been offered more work for five weeks in may and june, which is very good news. this means that i've allowed myself to go away for a few days in may, most likely croatia, just like last year.

song of the day: across the universe (live) by sean lennon, rufus wainwright & moby.

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