After nearly five years, I am trying to come off seroxat for the fourth time. I plan to keep a diary of my efforts and to discuss a few issues relating to the greed and lies of GSK, the makers of the drug, the woeful ignorance of the real effects of this drug amongst the medical fraternity and hope to find out what help is available to the thousands of people who struggle to come off it.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Very slow progress

Was doing pretty well until about Thursday. I've now reduced my dosage to about 3.4 ml and have generally been feeling fairly positive, if a little sleepy. However, on Thursday what I call me seroxat headache came back. It's a tightness around the back of the head accompanied by dizziness. I finished working at 3pm and went to bed for a couple of hours, after which I felt considerably better.

However, I have experienced the return of the IBS symptoms that I've had in the past when I've forgotten my pills. I was going to the loo every half an hour and my whole abdomen felt sore and bloated. Everything would settle down by around 3pm but I still didn't feel particularly hungry (something unknown to me since I started taking seroxat 0 I usually have the appetite of a particularly hungry horse who has just run a marathon) and I felt physically as well as mentally lethargic. I tried eating a banana in the morning, which normally has a 'binding' effect. Not so this time. By this morning, I was thoroughly fed up and hit the immodium and this seems to stop the spasms and I fell much better. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

This whole process feels like I'm conducting an experiment on myself. I'm trying to live with the mood swings, headaches, dopiness, loss of concentration etc, and not get too annoyed by it. Any physical symptoms I am managing through nutrition, different types of exercise and over-the-counter medicines as a last resort. CBT has been useful to keep a check on myself when I've started to get stressed out and overwhelmed. So far, I've only had a very few moments when I've felt like it's all too much. I find the physical side of this the most difficult. I have a very low discomfort threshold, particularly when it comes to my digestive operations which is why my previous attempts to quit didn't work. I am really hoping I haven't hit the level of drug whereby my stomach starts acting up all the time. I'm relying on my body getting used to this lower dosage and getting back to how it was before. It's always so tempting to just keep cutting back and cutting back and patience is not my forte. But I think I have to stay at this level for as long as it takes for my stomach to settle down again.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Mood swings

I remember a few years ago, Lou Reed released a particular miserable and morbid album about various friends of his that had recently died of cancer. One line went:

'Sometimes I feel so happy,
Sometimes I feel so sad."

Yep, a simple but effective summary of the last few days. I have had periods of euphoric happiness and a sense of total contentment. This is very unlike me. I tend to be even-tempered, possibly slightly erring on the side of discontented. I am deeply suspicious of extremes of happiness and sometimes find myslef consciously disengaging from an experience when I'm having too good a time, for fear that it will lead to some kind of punishment to 'even out' the score. And so it has proved, because I've had some thoroughly wretched, snivelling-whilst-doing-the-washing-up-and-thinking-about-dead-relatives moments. I even had a panic attack lasting around two hours yesterday. It was only a fairly mild one - hyperventilating, stomach cramps, shivering, fear of illness (rather than fear of death) - but still, I mainly don't have panic attacks any more and it's always a bit frightening when they happen. My usual post-panic attack remedy is a cup of camomile tea with a spoonful of sugar. I wonder if this is linked to my blood sugar levels crashing in some way. I often experience a strange, 'bloodless' feeling these days, often accompanied by a nagging tension headache around the back of my skull.

I am still very lethargic as well. I have risked coffee this afternoon (1 part weak coffee to 2 parts milk) to stay awake and get some work done. My dreams are so weird, even by seroxat standards, that I wake up feeling like I've been given a convulated psychological puzzle to decipher. I'm a great believer in drawing meanings from dreams. By that token, I am also a very twisted and sick individual.

Am now on 3.7 ml a day and don't intend to go down again for another couple of days. From what I've been reading on the interspazz, I shouldn't be dropping by more than 10% a week. But does this mean 10% of the original dose or 10% or whatever I am on at the moment? I don't think it matters to much at the rate I'm going. I've managed a less than 25% reduction in a little over six weeks. But I am still here and am not doing too badly, I suppose.

For anyone else doing this, the following seem to work for me:
  • chocolate - not very much, only one piece of Dairy Milk a day, but it seems to make me feel happy
  • Mozart
  • comedy - have been watching second series of Peep Show
  • having a very nice husband (hello dear!)
  • going for a walk every day, regardless of the weather
  • keeping the house reasonably tidy - there is enough chaos in my brain
  • avoiding aggravating media, such as the morons on Five Live in the morning, the Daily Mail mongboards (must break my addiction), Jeremy Vine's creepy intonation on the old Jimmy Young show, all BBC news programmes apart from Newsnight, Mariella Frostrup (her voice is like nails down a chalkboard to me), oh yeah, and that programme with Jeffrey Archer
  • sleeping, a lot
  • dumping all my banal thoughts on this process on the internet.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Feeling fantastic!

Actually, I've got one of those weird modern colds where you get a blocked up nose and then create mammoth amounts of thick snot, I have a slight, niggly headache and my nose is bright red from blowing it, BUT I feel hale, hearty and cheery. As any long term depressive knows, this probably means I'm going to crash into a pit of doom at some point fairly soon, but, for as long as it lasts, I am enjoying feeling upbeat.

Things that seem to have a positive effect on my mood:
  • the snow (even though it was pitiful how quickly it melted here - it just lasted long enough to have a yomp over the local play area in my wellies)
  • mini Creme eggs - one a day
  • chips - yes, I know this is exactly what I shouldn't be eating but then I did have it with fish (good for the brain) and peas (lots of roughage, as they used to call it, or fibre in the modern parlance). And I did make up for it by having healthy soup for tea
  • soul music
  • obsessively watching season three of 'The Wire' which has just come out on DVD
  • cleaning the house

I am now down to 3.8 ml and I think I'm just relieved not to be feeling as rancid as I felt the week before last. Once my nose cold has cleared up, it will be back to the gym for some gentle exercise. In the meantime, I will slowly, slowly keep reducing my dose and hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Back down to 4.1ml

The palpitations finally stopped yesterday, thank goodness, so I felt able to make a slight reduction in my dosage this morning with no advers effects so far. I have started pouring the liquid into the plastic measuring lid and syringing from that, rather than using a bottle adaptor thingie. It means I get almost no bubbles at all and much greater accuracy than before. And more of the deadly medicine delivered into my system...

Felt so horrible all of last week that I hardly left the house. In addition to my physical symptoms (nasty headache, chest pains, palpitations, restlessness etc), I felt so low I didn't want to engage with anything. I'd been feeling stupidly positive and things had been going so well that I'd forgotten about all the nasty symptoms that might pop up at some point. I don't know whether my mood has improved as a result of increasing my dosage again, because I was going through a grumpy phase and have naturally come out of it or because I ate junk food all weekend and feel full of cheap and nasty happy chemicals. I wonder if you could mask all the withdrawal symptoms by replacing the part of seroxat that stops the serotonin from dying with a cocktail of blue smarties, Haribo star mix and and flying saucers. I always feel better when I've had some chocolate and, thinking about it, I had no chocolate last week for the first time in ages. I may conduct some experiments in this regard...

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Back up to 4.2 ml

After four days of the following symptoms, I reluctantly decided to increase my dose a bit:
  • palpitations
  • horrible sickly tension headache
  • inability to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time
  • all day drowsiness
  • sore eyes
  • wooziness whenever I bend down and stand up again
  • a couple of dizzy episodes
  • agitation

I think the rubber adaptor for the syringe has started to perish and as a result, I've been getting loads of massive air bubbles. This morning I poured a lod of liquid into the measuring cup and sucked it up from there (it's much gloopier than I thought and doesn't pour that easily) and that worked much better.

Am feeling cross with myself for having gone back up again but at the same time relieved to feel a bit more normal (although my eyes are still very sore and I'm tired). Hope after a decent night's sleep to go back to 4.1 tomorrow.

I read that avocadoes are very good for the brain so at least I have an excuse to feast on guacamole for the next few weeks.