My experience with mental illness has been a long one that spans over a lifetime, I couldn’t pin point a time where everything started as my earliest memories of social interactions has me almost always paralysed with anxiety.
I was officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder six years ago and since then have been on and off of various medication, from heavy daily dosages of Valium to probably every type of SSRI that’s out there.
After unknowingly becoming heavily addicted to valium (thanks doctor) and experiencing the absolute hell that is coming off of it cold turkey, every time I have been prescribed a new type of medication I have taken to heavily researching the drug, focusing on what users have said about their experiences. I have found that it doesn’t matter how good your doctor is (and mine (new one, not the valium guy) is pretty fucking good) they don’t seem to let you know that you could be experiencing side effects that include extreme nausea, complete exhaustion, increased levels of anxiety and my absolute favourite; depression and suicidal tendencies.
After my most recent visit to my doctor we have come to the conclusion that my current anti depressants (150mg Zoloft) aren’t working for me, so, we need to move away from SSRI’s and get me onto an SNRI (which one? it’s still TBA, hold tight guys…). To successfully move from an SSRI to and SNRI I have started tapering off of my current medication. What does this mean for those of you who haven’t done this before? Well, for me it’s one week on 100mg Zoloft and the next week and a half on 50mg then a meeting with my doctor to work out which SNRI to jump onto.
When I found out I had to taper I was devastated. The thought of going through withdrawals and the another few month of sides effects is absolutely crushing. The first thing I did was jump on google and try to search for forums on peoples experiences tapering off of Zoloft but I could only find information on going cold turkey. I feel that the experience of tapering is something that really needs to be talked about and shared so upon finding next to no information I felt prompted to write this post explaining the process and what my body has (and still is) gone/going through.
SO, I am three days into the process of dropping down to 50mg and the immediate response to the question ‘What is it like?’ is; Its fucked.
Obviously the point of this post is to go into more detail so below I’m going to give a short outline of how much fun I’ve been having lately:
All the withdrawal symptoms that you get coming off of Zoloft cold turkey you experience while tapering, I would hope to a lesser degree because otherwise whats the point? (but in saying that if what I’m going through right now is a dulled version of what its like quitting cold turkey than that shit is just so fucked up.) Out of all the withdrawal symptoms my personal favourites have been; The consistent body convulsions, extreme amounts of nervous energy thats coursing its way through my body and the nausea thats so bad I barely manage to eat one meal a day. Coming in at a close second is the headache that hasn’t gone away for a week and a half and third place would have to go to the panic attacks that wake me up (sometimes multiple times) every night gasping for air. Honourable mentions (Or should I be giving out the participation medals? idk.) go to my delicate stomach that has had me dry-reaching every time I smell, well, anything. It changes day to fucking day, the brain zaps (OH THE BRAIN ZAPS) and the inability to use my short term memory which, I am so glad has come to the table right at exam time…
I know, I probably sound like I am having a bit of a whinge but honestly I didn’t know what I was in for so I believe it’s an experience I need to share. Stay tuned for the sequel to tapering; ‘Side Effects’. It’s going to be a roller-coaster (of mainly my emotions) ride so strap yourselves in!