Five months ago, I decided to stop taking Zoloft. I’ve been taking it for roughly ten years now (officially only for Social Anxiety Disorder, but I’ve found it helps with the Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder as well), and have done this “let’s stop taking it and see what happens” bit several times now. This past Wednesday, four test months later, I started it again.
If I ever decide to stop taking it again, someone needs to come to my house and kick me in the face. Repeatedly.
I always forget how horrible the adjustment/re-adjustment period is. For the first two weeks the side-effects are nightmarish: insomnia, random despair, intense nausea, akathisia (restlessness), that god-awful shaking-from-the-inside-out feeling. How long this period lasts for me depends on how I start: if I start with the full dose (100mg — I’m a super spaz) from the off, the side-effects are much more intense, but they only last for 2-2.5 weeks before disappearing. If I ease into the full dose, as one technically should, by taking 25mg for the first week or so, them 50mg, etc, the side-effects are slightly less hellish — but they last for 4-5 weeks. So, it’s either deal with a Awful for five weeks or Fucking Awful for two.
So, yeah, I’m going with Fucking Awful for two weeks.
I wish I knew why I ever think “seeing what happens” is a good idea. It never fails, though: I’ve been on the Zoloft for several months, everything’s going well in my head — panic attacks are minimal, Anxiety Cat tendencies are greatly reduced, I’m more comfortable letting other people do things (one of my more hideous OCPD traits: if a task needs to be done and I know how to do it, no one else will be able to do it to my satisfaction), I don’t hide out from people and social situations — and I think “Well, maybe I’m just more well-adjusted now. Maybe I’m less of a spaz naturally. Maybe I don’t really need Zoloft to be a semi-normal human being.” So then I stop taking it, almost always cold-turkey. I’m fine for the first two weeks, but as the Zoloft works its way out of my body, I feel everything gradually return: the panic attacks, the sweating, the blushing, the “look, you’re not doing it right, let me do it,” the self-doubt and self-loathing. I muddle through the next few months, thinking that maybe this is just the refractory period as my body adjusts to not having Zoloft to rely on. Eventually, I realise that no, this is not an adjustment period, this is me, unmedicated: panicky, anxious, avoidant. At this point — usually three months after I’ve stopped — I start telling myself that I’ll make an appointment with Dr P, my general/primary physician, to get a new prescription. I’ll call “tomorrow.” A few weeks of tomorrows later and I eventually do. Four months after I’ve stopped to “see what happens,” I’ve seen what happens and started again.
I’ve done this six times now. Every single time I start again, I tell myself I won’t try this again. I always do.
Maybe in a month or so I’ll look into therapy. I’ve always balked at the idea — even on Zoloft, I still avoid throwing myself into uncomfortable situations, and examining my faults and insecurities is right at the top of the list of Uncomfortable Situations — but I’m also not a fan of the idea of being medicated — being altered, really — for the rest of my life. I loathe the idea of asking someone to pick apart my fears and phobias. One of the big OCPD things, remember, is interpersonal control; asking someone to help fix me is anathema to me. So… I’ll see where I’m at in a few months, I suppose, and go from there.
In the meantime, back to reading and nausea.