And all change… So, I was suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression and started taking an SSRI called Escitalopram. I did notice a rapid change and I did lose the panic attacks and much of the anxiety. However, then there were the side-effects. I’m not going to to detail them here – you can go look them up yourselves – suffice to say they were unacceptable. I read up on the full gamut of these, how long it can take one to get off the drug and the possible withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t like what I was reading at all.
So I quit.
I was taking 10mg a day for 13 days. The next day I took 5mg saving the next quarter pill for the next day, but in the end I threw it down the plug hole. To then counter what I expected to happen to me I started on mindfulness, meditation and relaxation recordings. I didn’t have much hope for these and expected to just have to grit my teeth and get through. However, I was very surprised. My first 10 minutes of ‘Headspace’ removed the feeling of stress from my guts. A free Paul McKenna relaxation recording put me into something near to a trance. And I felt good afterwards.
There are other things I’ve been doing which have probably helped too. I’ve been drinking an awful lot of tea and the caffeine doesn’t help with anxiety etc. I reduced this intake to zero on the first day. I instead drank camomile and peppermint tea – both of which have positive effects on the whole depression fuck up scenario. And I’ve continued, considerably reducing my caffeine intake.
In retrospect I see that the SSRI probably brought me up enough so I could use these techniques. Withdrawal has consisted of night sweats – the opposite of one of the side-effects which was feeling incredibly cold sometimes – and maybe other symptoms I can’t really distinguish from my previous problems. I wake in the morning with panic attacks and anxiety but these have been reducing over the last three days. They go once I get up and get moving. A session with headspace of some other form of meditation usually clears the last of it.
I’ve also been thinking of the reasons behind my recent fall. Sure, the death of my wife Caroline pushed me right down, but I didn’t realise how far down until I came under pressure to do more than just get through each day, and be more than just a survivor. I realise I’ve been on the edge of a precipice for the best part of two years.
But also there’s something else that has occurred to me. For a good portion of my life I have been a heavy drinker who sneered at unit limits (I still do really) and would often binge. However, age has given me the two-day hangover, and drinking doesn’t go well with being depressed. I had to stop for months after Caroline’s death because drinking took me down and then I dropped lower still with the hangover. The hangovers and depressive effects have been building in me an aversion to alcohol. I am pretty close now to giving it up completely. But here’s the rub. I’ve lost the crutch that was alcohol and this in itself can be a cause of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. And what about smoking? This was another crutch I used. In the last two years I’ve become a vaper. Sure I get the nicotine but you get more than that from cigarettes…
Anyway. I will continue with the mindfulness/meditation. I’ve realised I do not want to get on the drugs bandwagon. I will control my mind and I will not let it control me.
Go steady out there. It’s dangerous.