Friday, February 20, 2009

Before I Knew Better

It was careless and largely the result of my lack of organization, my poor memory and my affinity for putting things off. This tendency to procrastinate gives rise to monsters which would otherwise never have been born. gave rise to my brief "accidental" Paxil withdrawal.

Please keep in mind it was before I began reading blogs such as Beyond Meds and Furious Seasons. In fact I had largely been a passive patient during my 15 years wrestling in the dessert with my depression. A passive wrestler seems and oximoron. But I gave it as much effort as survival required. So much was going on in my life during those years, so when meds were offered I simply took them.

However, last year, months before I began blogging (I suppose it was in September), I had procrastinated about getting my Paxil refilled. It had run out on Thursday, and I was scheduled to travel to PA from my home in NJ for the weekend. I figured I'd take care of it after the weekend was over. I was feeling emotionally paralyzed and taken to laying on the couch, and banishing thoughts of all that I had to do, allowing it to stack up in the back of my mind like a pile of fermenting manure.

In total probably about a week before I was able to get meds again.

I was like the average person, alone with his own lack of knowledge, and no support at the time. I had no knowledge of the withdrawal symptoms or dangers.

Since Paxil has long half-life, things weren't too bad at first, and I began contemplating just letting myself go off completely. During the first several days I began to feel things deeply again. I had feelings of things long since past that I had gone through while on the meds. I it felt as though I had not truely felt nor experienced them then, because the new feelings I was having about the events went beyond the numbness for the first time. As if the things had just occurred, somehow.

But then at about the end of day 3, I started feeling extremely agitated and scared. I felt completely and totally alone in all the world. And my empty house was not a good place to be making myself a ginnie pig in the first place. I just didn't know about the dangers. But it was perhaps the most frightening experience I had.

I couldn't believe I actually had to get through that entire night. Time had slowed almost to a stop. I needed to tell someone. But everyone in my world was asleep, since it was the middle of the night. And that compounded the problem.

I desperately needed to know someone somewhere knew I was hurting. I don't know how to say it in words, because there is no words to describe the existensial experience I felt. I was simply disintegrating as an individual soul.

The best I can do to describe how I was feeling was that it was like watching a kite at the beach as it becomes merely a dot in the sky, connected to the person flying it by hundreds of feet of skinny string held taught by the wind, threatening to break the kite's connection to the earth. When suddenly the string goes slack, and you realize the it has broken somewhere along its length and the kite is getting smaller and smaller and smaller as it floats off irretrievably into the stratosphere. And all you can do is watch it happen. My sense of who I was, my "personhood", where I stopped and others began, or whether there was a me or others at all, was coming apart in chards in a slow but painful explosion.

I used that experience as evidence that I could not be without Paxil. Because anything, and I truly mean anything, was better than that experience.

But I am learning now that it was my Paxil dependency talking, and a bad withdrawal resulting from an unwise and uneducated approach. But it sticks with me. I usually have trouble remembering my feelings or being able to describe them. But this has been etched in my soul forever.

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