Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bad Lexapro

I didn't write a whole lot about my emotional state, the last week that I was on a full dose of Lexapro. It was the worst spot that I'd been in since starting it. I was so overwhelmed, I wasn't in a place to write about it. I was literally getting up from my desk to take walks three times a day, I couldn't sit still. I felt manic. I was laughing at things that I knew weren't funny, and it felt like hollow laughter.

One time, I had just parked my car in front of my house. It was about 10 PM. Baltimore City writes citations for people who don't use trash cans, but my neighbor had too much trash to fit in his trash can, so he went running across the street with a garbage bag, to put it in front of an abandoned house. I busted out laughing. It was pretty funny, but not that funny.

I was having grandiose thoughts, literally on the scale of 'I am the best scientist/theologian/philosopher/writer in the world.' And then, I'd look at what I was actually doing, and I felt absolutely terrible because I was driving or hanging out with a friend or reading a book, and there's no way that the best scientist in the world would be so weak and shallow as to spend his time on such trivial matters. I was in tension between these feelings of hugeness and feelings of inferiority.

I felt like I couldn't tell which way was up. I was confused. I felt disoriented, like when I first started doubting God's existence, but this was a much more overwhelming, primal, pervasive feeling; I was doubting everything. My emotions and values, the things I like doing, were meaningless to me. I felt like the laws of physics were incoherent.

I would play Rising Diamonds, a game in Gamebox Gems for my Palm Centro. I played it a lot. It's boring and repetitive, but I couldn't stop playing it.

I was so hyper I felt no craving for caffeine. I had none at all the last day I was on 20 mg of Lexapro; that was my first day without caffeine in—who knows?—months?

I like to drink a glass of wine a day. I love wine, it's delicious, and I drink it while reading books before bed, which makes me feel classy. I don't want to worry you, I don't think I'm about to become an alcoholic, but the alcohol in the wine did a lot to help me. It made my mind stop racing, so I could actually think. It suspended my worrying, and I could read and enjoy my books. I found a lot of solace in wine.

I didn't feel suicidal, but there were points at which I didn't feel like existing. A lot of people think that consistent nihilists should have all committed suicide by now; I doubt that. I think that a lot of people in our culture are very consistent nihilists, eating Lays and drinking Coke and watching King of Queens reruns. I would say "I don't want to exist right now." and I'd set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and play Rising Diamonds and listen to the NPR Most Emailed Stories podcast. Then, I'd get back to existing.

I told a couple of close friends about my feelings about not wanting to exist. They weren't urgent feelings, I wasn't forming plans to commit suicide, but I figured it's safest for people around me to know; I'd be less inhibited about telling them if things got worse. I started telling one of them "It's not like I'm suicidal, but I don't feel like existing right now." "That you say that," she said, "tells me that you should get off the Lexapro as soon as you can." I'd been planning to try the Lexapro for another couple of days, mainly because I'm stubborn. I wasn't thinking straight. I listened to my friends.

I recommend radical honesty, at least with a few people you trust, if you're trying psych meds. I was so messed up by the Lexapro that I couldn't tell which way was up. I felt like I had all the parts of an alarm clock sitting in my lap, I'd taken it apart, and I had no idea how to put it back together. I got to the point where I couldn't think straight; I was having trouble being responsible enough with making choices about my medication. Honestly, I think I would have been okay on my own. However, having close friends supporting me has been invaluable.

I have been off Lexapro for two weeks now. In writing here, I don't mean to be writing a bad review of Lexapro as a product. It just didn't work for me; it seems to work well for a lot of people, including some I know personally. The human mind is finicky and fragile. Psych meds are very blunt objects; sometimes they help, sometimes they do more harm than good, and it's hard to know in advance what will help and what won't. I don't regret having tried Lexapro, and I'm going to try another psych med, starting in about a month. I feel like I'm on vacation now.

1 comment:

  1. Supposedly, Lexapro is found to be more tolerable and effective with less side effects than Cymbalta. And although Effexor doesn't increase "not-wanting-to-exist" thoughts, perhaps it's safer to stay away from as it increases suicidal thoughts (which is altogether bad for anyone.)

    By the way, in reference to being yanked from thoughts of hugeness to thoughts of inferiority, what do you think of Galatians 6 where it says, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

    And then, "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."