Coming Off The Happy Pills

Today I’m going on a half-dose of the anti-anxiety/depression medication, Celexa. I started taking it last July after having a remarkable panic attack in the Byways cafe on NW Glisan, when they failed to bring me my poached eggs on time. This made me angry, which on low blood sugar associated with a hangover, triggered the beast. I was shit-scared of having another one, and my doctor said: “Take the pills.” So I did. You can’t really drink on them either, so I quit. I’d never really had a panic attack before, but in a nutshell, I don’t recommend them.

Celexa has been associated with suicide in some patients, and there’s the odd fanatic online who’ll tell you it “Celexa ate my baby.” But for the most part, it’s been pretty benign. I yawned a lot when I first started taking it, and noticed it made me stop staring, goggle-eyed, at attractive women in the street, but both symptoms died away after a few weeks. Now, all I notice is an absence of really strong emotions. Like, when I get really frustrated, I’m only 80% as frustrated as I would be, otherwise. That’s why I decided to come off the pills. I like feeling strong emotions and I don’t really feel like myself when I’m doped up all the time. I’m looking forward to being my old self again, and to making a few clear-headed decisions.

Since I started taking this stuff I’ve been amazed at how many other people are on it, too. I think it’s part of the drug companies’ evil agenda [adopts melodramatic tone] to keep these things under the rug—it’s more addictive if it’s a secret, or something—but I don’t see any shame in admitting to taking psychiatric meds. In fact, I think it’s kind of glamorous. I’m so troubled…etcetera. Either way, it’s important to me to be up front about these things, because if there is a stigma, there shouldn’t be. And I don’t want to contribute to it.

26 responses to this post

  1. James Depert -

    So you have “an absence of really strong emotions” but your emotions are still at an 80 percent level. Something doesn’t quite mesh well with that statement.

    You say the meds are benign, but then you say you don’t like feeling doped up all the time. And, of course, you were hungover the day you had the panic attack. Do you see the contradictions you are offering yourself and the world?

    At least you acknowledge that there should not be a stigma.

    On the other hand, it would be wise to have a therapist to help you through the drop in medication.

    Finally, I hope that a single panic attack was not the sole reason your doctor started you on this medication. If so, you might want to seek out a new doctor.

  2. James Depert -

    So you have “an absence of really strong emotions” but your emotions are still at an 80 percent level. Something doesn’t quite mesh well with that statement.

    You say the meds are benign, but then you say you don’t like feeling doped up all the time. And, of course, you were hungover the day you had the panic attack. Do you see the contradictions you are offering yourself and the world?

    At least you acknowledge that there should not be a stigma.

    On the other hand, it would be wise to have a therapist to help you through the drop in medication.

    Finally, I hope that a single panic attack was not the sole reason your doctor started you on this medication. If so, you might want to seek out a new doctor.

  3. matt -

    I’d like my emotions to be 100% of what they really are. That meshes pretty well, I’d say. And that’s the “doped up” feeling—that my emotions are somehow cut off at their peaks. I guess I mean benign from side effects.

    I had a therapist for six months after going on the meds, which was pretty helpful. He basically made me realize I was right to be panicking—I’ve moved countries, I have a stressful job. It would take a robot NOT to find those circumstances anxiety inducing.

    But yes, the doc stuck me on the meds after one panic attack. You should have seen the state of me, and I was pretty happy to do it. You think I should have waited to have a few more?

  4. matt -

    I’d like my emotions to be 100% of what they really are. That meshes pretty well, I’d say. And that’s the “doped up” feeling—that my emotions are somehow cut off at their peaks. I guess I mean benign from side effects.

    I had a therapist for six months after going on the meds, which was pretty helpful. He basically made me realize I was right to be panicking—I’ve moved countries, I have a stressful job. It would take a robot NOT to find those circumstances anxiety inducing.

    But yes, the doc stuck me on the meds after one panic attack. You should have seen the state of me, and I was pretty happy to do it. You think I should have waited to have a few more?

  5. just another fatty -

    I’m voting for the suicide part of the drug to work in you

  6. just another fatty -

    I’m voting for the suicide part of the drug to work in you

  7. Matt Davis -

    Niiiice!

  8. Matt Davis -

    Niiiice!

  9. Kiala -

    You people are being dicks.

    Why so judgey?

  10. Kiala -

    You people are being dicks.

    Why so judgey?

  11. James Depert -

    Matt,

    If you were going to have more panic attacks, they would be more likely to come in the days closest to the original attack. Celexa would offer little protection for several weeks. Unless you were taking a benzodiazepine during the ramp up on Celexa, you were still very vulnerable to the panic attacks from a biological perspective.

    Your response does makes it sound like the panic attack was one symptom among many anxiety and perhaps depression symptoms. That would make starting the Celexa more justified.

    Anxiety brought on, or enhanced by, change is certainly “normal.” Of course, some of us have a predisposition to anxiety that leads us to sometimes develop levels of it that can cause problems with our basic functioning and ability to be happy.

    As far as the 80 percent/100 percent discussion, the thing that I’ve experienced with many people who say they want to “feel” everything is that they forget that “feeling everything” sometimes leads them to lose control, affecting their happiness and the happiness of those around them. It can affect one’s ability to maintain the relationships that are so necessary to good mental health. In other words, wants and needs sometimes can get mixed up. And romanticism about, and attachment to, emotions often leads to destructive ends.

    I just hope you will be careful.

    I wish you the best.

    ……..

    Kiala,

    That was not my intention.

  12. James Depert -

    Matt,

    If you were going to have more panic attacks, they would be more likely to come in the days closest to the original attack. Celexa would offer little protection for several weeks. Unless you were taking a benzodiazepine during the ramp up on Celexa, you were still very vulnerable to the panic attacks from a biological perspective.

    Your response does makes it sound like the panic attack was one symptom among many anxiety and perhaps depression symptoms. That would make starting the Celexa more justified.

    Anxiety brought on, or enhanced by, change is certainly “normal.” Of course, some of us have a predisposition to anxiety that leads us to sometimes develop levels of it that can cause problems with our basic functioning and ability to be happy.

    As far as the 80 percent/100 percent discussion, the thing that I’ve experienced with many people who say they want to “feel” everything is that they forget that “feeling everything” sometimes leads them to lose control, affecting their happiness and the happiness of those around them. It can affect one’s ability to maintain the relationships that are so necessary to good mental health. In other words, wants and needs sometimes can get mixed up. And romanticism about, and attachment to, emotions often leads to destructive ends.

    I just hope you will be careful.

    I wish you the best.

    ……..

    Kiala,

    That was not my intention.

  13. matt -

    “And romanticism about, and attachment to, emotions often leads to destructive ends.”

    You sound like Hal the computer, James! I hear you, and you’re right that emotions can lead to losing control, but I’d rather experience them fully and have faith in myself to act on them responsibly than place my trust in a pill instead.

    I appreciate your comments though. Are you a therapist?

  14. matt -

    “And romanticism about, and attachment to, emotions often leads to destructive ends.”

    You sound like Hal the computer, James! I hear you, and you’re right that emotions can lead to losing control, but I’d rather experience them fully and have faith in myself to act on them responsibly than place my trust in a pill instead.

    I appreciate your comments though. Are you a therapist?

  15. James Depert -

    No, I am not a therapist. But I have heard the story you posted by too many people in my life, and I have watched many of them go down some very ugly paths.

    What I’ve noticed is that they often fail to recognize the subtleties of emotion, and “need” the extremes. Over time, those extremes become more so, and I suspect there are actual changes that occur in the brain. (We know that the more panic attacks someone has, for example, that the more vulnerable they are to future panic attacks. This has been associated with actual biological brain changes.)

    There is great beauty in subtlety. Take some time to notice it, to notice yourself.

    Cheers.

  16. James Depert -

    No, I am not a therapist. But I have heard the story you posted by too many people in my life, and I have watched many of them go down some very ugly paths.

    What I’ve noticed is that they often fail to recognize the subtleties of emotion, and “need” the extremes. Over time, those extremes become more so, and I suspect there are actual changes that occur in the brain. (We know that the more panic attacks someone has, for example, that the more vulnerable they are to future panic attacks. This has been associated with actual biological brain changes.)

    There is great beauty in subtlety. Take some time to notice it, to notice yourself.

    Cheers.

  17. Megan -

    Do whatever works for you. And just-another-fatty McFakeIdentity truly is a dick.
    I’m so glad the internet doesn’t actually get to tell us how to live our lives, even if it tries sometimes.

  18. Megan -

    Do whatever works for you. And just-another-fatty McFakeIdentity truly is a dick.
    I’m so glad the internet doesn’t actually get to tell us how to live our lives, even if it tries sometimes.

  19. Gene -

    I’m glad you went the therapist route, a friend of mine was prescribed pills by a general practitioner MD after a single 15min appointment. That’s how most are getting these things, via doctors with little mental fortitude to resist the drug reps and the desire to be Godlike in their ability to heal.

    If you were given the Rx after sessions and evaluation by a mental health professional then props, and further props for fighting the stigma.

    I’d love to see more coverage in the media of family/general MDs who prescribe this shit to teenagers and others after a quick eval, they are no better than the online drug sites.

  20. Gene -

    I’m glad you went the therapist route, a friend of mine was prescribed pills by a general practitioner MD after a single 15min appointment. That’s how most are getting these things, via doctors with little mental fortitude to resist the drug reps and the desire to be Godlike in their ability to heal.

    If you were given the Rx after sessions and evaluation by a mental health professional then props, and further props for fighting the stigma.

    I’d love to see more coverage in the media of family/general MDs who prescribe this shit to teenagers and others after a quick eval, they are no better than the online drug sites.

  21. Pingback: Control Panic Attacks

  22. Pingback: Control Panic Attacks

  23. Katherine Campbell -

    I also suffer from panic attacks and i can manage it by deep and slow breathing. i also practice meditation.. `

  24. Katherine Campbell -

    I also suffer from panic attacks and i can manage it by deep and slow breathing. i also practice meditation.. `

  25. Charles Cox -

    Anxiety and depression is one hell of a nasty disease. even if you have everything but if you have clinical depression, you are still nothing.”,:

  26. Charles Cox -

    Anxiety and depression is one hell of a nasty disease. even if you have everything but if you have clinical depression, you are still nothing.”,:

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