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2/18/2008
The Electric Kool-Aid Effexor Trip
I've made no secret of the fact that I'm on anti-depressants. In fact, I probably tell too many people. Is it awkward when you meet someone at a cocktail party and you say, "Hi, I'm Stephanie. I'm on short term disability for depression and I'm taking Effexor. So nice to meet you. Oh, I think the bathroom is over there...."?

Oops. My bad.

So far the Effexor is working nicely. It's been gradual. It's not like I woke up overnight and started praying at the altar of the optimists and cheerful people, but I'm getting there. And the Effexor has been great. I've heard nightmares about side effects, so I was a bit worried going in. Especially since Lexapro, which is supposedly loved because almost no one experiences any side effects while taking it, did a number on me.

For the 5 or 6 months I was on Lexapro, I walked around like a zombie during the day. I felt drugged. Then I started having hair problems. My hair, oh people of the internets, is one of my best features. It's nice and wavy and a lovely dark blond color with honey highlights. Oh and it's really thick, but not coarse at all. My hair rocks.

When it started falling out I started freaking the F out. It may seem vain but there was no way in H E double hockey sticks that I was going to end up depressed and bald.

Not to mention, the Lexapro wasn't doing a whole lot for me anymore.

In came the Effexor.

Effexor is one of those anti-depressants that you can't just stop taking. You have to gradually build up to your therapeutic dose and then when you stop taking it, you have to step down gradually as well. A good friend of mine who recently weaned off of Effexor had to start and stop about 6 times. Her doctor finally had her doing something really complicated like cutting open the smallest pill dosage they make, mixing the powder in apple juice and drinking 3/4 of it, 1/2 of it, 1/4 of it, etc.... That finally worked. She tried to describe what it was like when she tried to stop taking it, but I, who had just fallen in love with Effexor, wasn't really listening.

Um, Tiff, what was it you were trying to tell me again?

Yesterday was a busy day. We got up, had breakfast, corralled two small people into clothing and jackets, loaded up the car and headed to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to meet my friend Lauren and her son. The kids played for hours, and wore themselves out nicely. We headed home, did the lunch/nap thing and I blogged and edited photos. Somewhere in there I remembered to take my antibiotic and Flonase for the plague that I've had for a month now, otherwise known as the ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis trifecta.

Last night I could not sleep at all. Finally at 1:30 am, T came downstairs, shut my laptop and asked me to come to bed. I flipped out on him. I had a little tantrum where I ranted about how he wasn't the boss of me and I just wasn't tired and I wasn't going to just sit in bed and stare at the ceiling. I threw myself down on the couch and pouted like a teenager for about 10 minutes. Then, when enough time had passed that I could pretend going to bed was my idea, I went upstairs.

That should have been my first clue.

Once in bed, I couldn't sleep for more than 30-40 minutes at a time and I had the most bizarre dreams ever. At about 4:30 in the morning, I realized that whenever I closed my eyes, I was seeing brightly colored lights. Not my dark eyelids, but a pattern of colored dots that swirled and turned into candy and spiders and giant polka dots and brightly colored lights and then multiplied on top of each other in undulating waves and then transformed again. Then it started happening while my eyes were open.

It was like watching a Fruitopia commercial on an endless loop in a 360 degree theater with my eyes propped open with toothpicks.*

Just when I was about to wake T and have him taking me to the emergency room for my psychiatric committal, or call the police to see who spiked my Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, I remembered that I forgot to take my drugs.

Oops.

I woke T up, took my pill, and then tried to explain what was happening to T. He talked me down from my little trip and I was finally able to get a few hours of sleep. When I woke this morning it was better, but when things moved they had little motion trails behind them, like those pictures of you see of subway trains with trails of light behind them. (Don't worry, I didn't drive.) My synapses finally started firing normally at about 12 today.

That was quite a trip and you can be sure that I will not be forgetting my pills again.

I already have a pill box, and T mercilessly makes funny of me for it. But my mommy brain can no longer remember if I've taken my Metformin and my vitamins. Well, the box doesn't work if I never even get it out of the cabinet. In my ditzy defense, this is the first time I've ever completely forgotten my medications. In any event, I've come up with a new system that should be foolproof as long as I go to the bathroom every morning. I don't foresee this being a problem, since I have the world's smallest bladder.

Nonetheless, I think I'll be traveling with an extra bottle of Effexor in my purse from now on. I mean you never know when you're going to be caught in a massive snow storm while you're driving a half mile to the 7-11. I don't want to have to figure out if those mounds of brightly colored candy are real, or just plastic orbs from Holden's ball pit.

* Am I the only one whose cat was transfixed by those commercials?

***************
I have pictures up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles if you'd like to see something that isn't reminiscent of an acid trip.

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30 Comments:

Blogger jen said...

you are incredibly honest and brave and i love you.

and your hair does totally rock.

Blogger thordora said...

Any issues sleeping?

I'm not creepy (well, not THAT way) My husband just started on it, and it's screwing with his sleep, and I'm wondering if it's him or the Effexor.

Blogger Joker The Lurcher said...

i have a system where i only put away my splints (for carpel tunnel) once i have taken my meds. my sons meds i put out on the table when i put the first kettle of the day on and only put the bottle away when he has had them. this seems to work for us...

Blogger DD said...

"but when things moved they had little motion trails behind them"

That's what we former-sh'room experimenters call "tracers".

Even with how important all of my drugs were during our IVF and subs pregnancies, I STILL would forget to take everything. Who forgets to shoot themselves in the hip with PIO when the other side still aches from the night before? Yep. Me.

Hopefully, you'll find some kind of reminder that will be just as helpful as the E. has been.

Blogger Mamma said...

I saw stuff whenever I closed my eyes on it for the first week I took it. It is like an acid trip.

I finally just switched off of Effexor--the withdrawal is tough. Alway, always, always have some on hand. You DO NOT want to miss a dose. It's so physically uncomfortable/debilitating.

Thank god for drugs!!!

Blogger Katie said...

Have been trying like heck to avoid medication- but doesn't look like it will be happening. Have a great friend who loves Effexor- but due to insurance, had to go cold turkey off of it- was not pretty, so please, please take your meds!

On the other hand- I miss those things have movement trails days- oh to be young, stupid, and in college again!

Blogger ewe are here said...

Wow! Sounds like quite a powerful drug to leave you with those effects after missing just one little pill!

I suspect a pill organizer is a great idea... :-)

Blogger flutter said...

oh babe! Good God! Well I am glad that you are seeing good from the drug and not just lucy in the sky...

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I'm glad you are getting good results from it.

But I admit the effect of you missing one freaks me out.

Pill case and alarm, please.

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

You write about it humourously here but jeez, Steph this must have scared the living crap out of you.

Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

I forgot to take my Effexor a few times when I was on it last year.

Trippy. And not fun.

But weaning wasn't that difficult. Not as trippy either.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Yep. Did scare the crap out of me. Not going to forget. ever. again.

T - I'm so relieved to hear it wasn't as bad weaning off of it. Whew!

Blogger Busy Momma said...

wow that's harsh!! I'm so glad that mine isn't that bad.

Blogger slouching mom said...

oh, LM, that must have been so frightening!

and i agree with jen -- you are brave and wonderful for sharing this.

Blogger Robert said...

I have a decent bit of experience missing diabetes medication, but I've never taken anti-depressants. It's a good idea to stick to a regimen with a schedule involved, possibly with an alarm on a phone or computer to remind you to take something. Or so I hear...

Blogger Stimey said...

That sounds terrible. I'm currently on Lexapro, and I don't have any side-effects (yay!), but I'm not sure how much it's helping (boo!). This mental health stuff is tough.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Robert - I'm diabetic too. I actually forgot to take EVERYTHING yesterday, including my metformin. Thank the dear heaven I somehow remembered my antibiotic in the middle of the day. That wasn't in the pill box.

Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

What' s the street value of Effexor? Does mama need a new camera REALLY REALLY bad?

I think you're very brave for being so open about this journey.

OpenID wheelsonthebus said...

Effexor can be a really effective drug. It gets a bad rap because the side effects are evident from the start, rather than later on. I am glad it is helping -- when you remember.

Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Whoa. Scary dude.

You do have good hair and I would hate to hear about your losing it. But don't go off the drugs again, OK? I'd rather you be bald and healthy.

Blogger Gwen said...

I'm really happy to hear that the Effexor is working for you, but I gotta say, you have not sold me on the drug (lol). Although, having skipped acid and 'shroom day in college, maybe I should give it a try .....

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Well, hell. Now we have a new marketing scheme for the drug company that makes Effexor. They can stamp out teenage depression. Of course, kids will be tripping out in English class....

Blogger Robert said...

Well, maybe they just reformulated acid to make it. Like ritalin and some weight loss drugs are reformulated speed. Or like Viagra was supposed to be a heart medication until they noticed the "side effect" and realized it was much more marketable for its current use. There's a reason they call it "practicing" medicine.

I've seen the hair, firsthand, and it indeed is praise worthy! Guard that hair SISTER!


Oh...and take your damn medicine! :)

Blogger Kyla said...

What a trip. Seriously.

Blogger Angela said...

Very scary--had similar experiences with a different antidepressant a while back. And also lost a ton of hair (it.never.came.back.either). Good move..making that switch.

OpenID bipolarlawyercook said...

I LOVED Effexor when I needed it. It saved my life. As much as I complain about the glacial pace of getting off of it, now that I'm on lithium, which has an antidepressant effect of its own, I don't begrudge any of the cranky headachey weepy withdrawal, because at a certain point, Effexor was all that kept me from taking my econo-vat of aleve and everything else in my medicine chest all at once.

I never experienced the weird dreams, but I did notice a 6 hours later dip in mood and temper and patience-- usually so bad that after the first time, my first thought was, "damn, I forgot my effexor."

Hugs.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been taking effexor for a while now (to rid me of my anxiety-attacks), it's great, works like a charm. But I forgot to take it yesterday. I slept like sh**, I had (violent) nightmares and kept waking up. Got up this morning, felt dizzy and kinda druggy. I know this won't end till my next dose this evening, so I guess I'll just ride out the trip.

Blogger Galactus said...

Weird, your blog came up when I searched "short term disability double ear infection". Too funny. I've been on Effexor 150 mg for about 6 months and had similar experiences. The trails will bug you, but hopefully go away. When I started Effexor, the nightmares were bad, the "brain zaps" were worse. They too have subsided. Make yourself a recurring note on your cell phone to take your Effexor. I NEVER forgot my Prozac (its' efficacy waned so I had to switch). I still forget to take my Effexor. Then if you do, you have hell to pay. My wife is a drug rep for big pharma. Don't worry about the fact some call Effexor "Side Effexor". :)

Good Luck in your journey Lawyer Mama (I just realized this post is a year old, but I typed a lot)

Blogger hatkitz said...

Once you get hold of the medicine effexor XR after obtaining a doctor`s prescription for the same, you should administer it carefully as per the instructions provided by the physician and the guidelines available pertaining to its usage. The tablets/capsules of Effexor XR are not meant to be chewed/crushed/dissolved in water, instead should be swallowed along with a glass of water.

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