When Better Living Through Chemistry Goes Decidedly Wrong

For a variety of reasons, I decided to give mood stabilizing pharmaceuticals another shot back in January 2006. If I am to be entirely honest, though, it was less of a decision and more of an unavoidable necessity after I spent an entire week alternately crying into a blanket, breaking out in hives, and being utterly unable to leave the apartment. I didn't have a psychiatrist at the time and it takes months on a waiting list to see one in my neck of the woods, so I went to my regular medical doctor and got a prescription for Celexa.

I don't recommend this method of dealing with psychological issues, because the doctor that swabs your tonsils is not a specialist in psychiatric conditions. I know people, including myself, who have been thrown into a whole new world of crazy after they were prescribed medication that was contraindicated either by their family history or the particular brand of off-kilter from which they were suffering. It is one thing to be deeply depressed with developing food issues; it is quite another thing to switch those out for cutting your arms with razor blades and talking to disembodied personalities who live in your closet. In short: your brain deserves someone who specializes in it, and you deserve not to suffer the sometimes negative consequences of taking medication inappropriate for your condition.

I mention this because I have a history with some psychiatric medications: after a year or more of feeling perfectly fine and decent due to a miraculousness normalization* through chemistry, that miraculous chemical normalization turns into the Hyde to its previous Dr. Jekyll. Suddenly and without warning, I start to have suicidal thoughts. They are funny things, these thoughts, because they don't have much in the way of emotion attached to them. For example, I will be doing dishes and feeling around under the suds for cutlery when the idea will occur that my being wrist-deep in warm water with a sharp knife right there creates a perfect moment for slashing my wrists. I don't really want to slash my wrists, and being alive isn't the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but there it all is being so very convenient, so why not? Needless to say, I don't do the dishes a whole lot.

At first, this thought process happens about once a week, but over time it increases in frequency until I am dealing with it several times a day. I'm not sad. I'm looking forward to projects I have yet to complete. I want to grow old with the Palinode and see what the future brings. It just also feels like such a normal idea to throw myself in front of that mail truck. Except that it's not such a normal idea, and I don't actually want to find myself under the tires of a vehicle.

This is where my recent decision to stop taking Celexa comes in. We had a good run, Celexa and I. I lived with it side-effect free for over a year-and-a-half before things got hinky, and that's pretty good, but since the beginning of August 2008, things have definitely been hinky. I did not want to go off it before having a psychiatrist secured, but I have been waiting to see one since the summer, and the psychiatrist who was supposed to see me in December cancelled until February 25th. I was not and am not going to wait until the end of February to talk to somebody about going off a medication that has been making me non-emotionally suicidal for seven months running, so I weighed the pros and cons, and here I go. I'm quitting.

My first full, official day off the medication was yesterday. I am fairly sensitive to being late for even a single dose, so it was a trip. I lucked out with feeling giddiness and an increased appetite, so I spent the day giggling and eating, but I doubt, from past experience, that that is how this whole weaning process will go. When I weaned myself off Paxil, for example, I ended up pushing all the furniture into the middle of the living room and watching patterns on the ceiling while I tried to figure out why I couldn't fit my legs between the coffee table and the sofa. I think am well prepared to deal with whatever my chemical malfunctions will throw at me with this round.

Imagine me pinching my nose, holding my breath, and throwing myself into the pool. Here I go.


* I just want to make it clear that I don't believe in "normal". Normal is an idea that belongs in the great white vision of the new 1950s suburbia. When I refer to normal, I mean normal for me, which doesn't really exist, either, but it's easier to type than fifty pages explaining how I prefer to experience myself. That sounds dirtier than I intended. Masturbation porn would probably be more interesting, though.

January 2009's Masthead

Grace In Small Things: Part 42 of 365