Friday, January 1, 2016

My Paxil Withdrawal, Part 2: Messing with the Meds

So my psychiatrist felt that the best thing to help get my bad flashbacks under control (and thus hopefully also resolve my ever increasing memory and comprehension issues) was to add on Abilify to work with the Paxil I was already taking. She prescribed it on Wednesday, December 2nd. She wanted to see me again in two weeks to see how it was doing.

I went to my pharmacy to pick it up a few hours later, and was told it needed to receive an extra approval from the insurance company.

On Thursday December 3rd the pharmacy told me it was still awaiting the extra approval, and suggested that I check with my doctor to make sure she had submitted it to the insurance company. So I did, and the doctor's office told me their records showed it had been submitted at 4:20 the previous day. (Which I remember because... well, it's getting my drugs at 4:20, so it gave me a childish giggle.)

Finally on Monday December 7th I got both a call from the pharmacy and a letter from the insurance company telling me I was now allowed to have the Abilify. I'd lost the better part of the first week; I hoped the remaining week would be enough for my doctor to see some results. I needn't have worried.

By the night of December 7th I'd had my first violent outburst, screaming and throwing things at my dog for peeing on the bed. Suffice to say this is not how I normally react to this kind of (admittedly extremely annoying) inconvenience.

On December 8th I set out some chicken to thaw for my dinner while I cleaned. My other dog had managed to pull it off of the counter and I caught her eating it. It was like someone had flipped a switch. I saw red and the next thing I knew I was beating the dog screaming "BAD DOG!" in her face. In the back of my mind I knew this was wrong, but the rest of my brain slammed the door on that part and was completely unremorseful. The damn dog deserved it.

On December 9th I was feeling better. I was still angry in general, but it was in the background and I was starting to feel better and get things done. Okay, I thought, maybe the initial shock to my system was rough but it's balancing out and this is going to be okay.

On December 10th I went to take my morning meds and discovered I had missed my meds completely the day before. December 9th was probably not better because I was adjusting, it was more likely better because I hadn't taken it. Figuring I had to give this a fair chance, I took December 10th's dosage.

By the end of the day I was completely furious at life. I was miserable, my fucking family was always miserable, this world is total shithole and...

On December 11th I woke up, looked at my meds, and felt an overwhelming rage at them, and actually shouted at them "FUCK YOU, ABILIFY! I hate you, I hate the way you make me feel, and I don't give a goddam rat's ass about giving you a fair chance! You just stay the hell away from me!"

...And spent the rest of the day pretty much feeling the same way I did on the 9th. Still a little angry at the world, but better in general.

I should also probably mention that sometime around this time I also started taking Vitamin D, per the recommendations of... well, I honestly can't remember which doctor recommended it, it may have been all of them and/or my counselor.

December 13th was amazing. My brain was sharp but not angry, I was feeling motivated and productive. I was feeling more clear headed than I had for as long as I could remember. I didn't know it at the time, but this was going to be my last day on Paxil.

Because on December 14th I discovered that in all the excitement over getting the Abilify in and approved, my doctor had overlooked refilling my Paxil. In her defense this was really not like her, in the eight years I'd been seeing her I never had a problem. No big deal, I thought, I'll call them and let them know and there will undoubtedly be a refill in by the end of the day.

There wasn't, but I wasn't worried, I've missed one day before with no problems. And I was feeling great! It was like all that mess with the Abilify gave my brain a jump-start, shook it up just enough that the brain fog had cleared.

December 15th and there's still no refill, which is unusual, but I'm still feeling great, and I'll be seeing her on the 16th anyway for that two week follow-up.

December 16th, and my doctor is absolutely appalled that she missed getting my Paxil refilled. There are no messages in the system about my having called on the 14th; they're going through some staffing changes in the reception area so I felt this was understandable. I tell her all about my last two weeks. I'm now far enough removed from the events of that week that the remorse for the way I treated the dogs and what I was finding myself planning is sinking in, especially now that I'm retelling it to someone else and I'm hearing how it sounds. "I know they say that as a society we're only seven days away from savagery, but that was really disturbing to experience that." She replies. "I should think so, you went from being a pacifist to turning violent in less than a week. Stay away from the Abilify."

She refills the Paxil immediately, but discusses with me that since this has snapped me out of my brain fog, this might be a good opportunity to try and get off of it again.  We tried weaning me off of it a few years ago, but it didn't work out. She warns me that going cold turkey isn't easy, but since I've inadvertently already started and am doing all right so far maybe this is the time. She recommends I pick up the refill and keep it with me, just in case.

I'm feeling better than I have in years, so I decide to give it a shot. I can always go back if it gets too rough.

Next up: The side effects.

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