Look out my window what do I see
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me
All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they're here to stay
My internal life the past few weeks has been dominated by one thing: trying to kick after six months on Lexapro.
My GP prescribed this stuff for me last November after about two minutes of diagnosis. He said even if I'm not clinically depressed, it might help me get over the rough spots I'd been having with my recent sobriety (I quit drinking in October.) He said it was known to have fewer side effects than most SSRIs. He failed to mention that it was something that he wanted me to take for six to twelve months at a minimum. And he said, and the nurse reiterated, that it was absolutely 100% not addictive.
Well, turns out they're both big fucking liars.
It really did help me over the rough patches, but after a while it was the side effects that dominated my experience with it. Morning nausea and grogginess, anorgasmia (look it up) were well-documented side effects. Weird acne and lumps on my scalp were not.
So I insisted that after six months, I was getting off. And the only advice he had for me was "try to taper off gradually over the course of a week or two".
Well, it's been six weeks. I tapered down to 1/4 my normal dosage by ten days ago, and stopped entirely on Friday night.
Six weeks of nausea. Dizziness. Vertigo. Night sweats. Weird vision snaps. Headaches. Lethargy. Buzzing in my head. Teeth grinding. Inability to concentrate. Sometimes so bad I have to come home from work and crawl into bed.
I am an architect at a 30-person software startup, coming up on a critical product release and angling for our second round of funding. I do NOT have time for this shit.
The only way I've found that I can make the sickness go away is exercise. Manic, intense, long periods of exercise. I go to the gym for two or three hours sometimes. And it's the weirdest thing. I'm sure you've read about people who can lose themselves in exercise, who go inside themselves. Marathon runners, for instance. I've never been able to do that. Exercise was something to get through, to make myself finish. Until now.
Now, I am not just exercising because it's good for me. I am doing battle with demons. I am chasing dragons out of my blood. I am crushing malignant spirits with the bench press. I am vanquishing these soul sucking little dementor fucks through sheer force of will. I'll do a set of heavy weights and the world will retreat, just a little, and it will take with it that metallic NNGGGGGGGG noise in my head. Just a little farther away. And when I finish a set, I sit up and I feel like Martin Sheen walking out of Colonel Kurtz's hut at the end of Apocalypse Now, carrying a machete and covered in blood and dazed at what has transpired. I am dazed. I am still dizzy, but now it's a good dizzy. I'm not dizzy and sickly sitting in front of my computer, I am dizzy because I am strong and I am fighting and I will destroy this sickness in my brain. And then the nausea comes back a little, and I lay down and I do another set.
And I can sit here a few hours later, and I know I feel better than I would if I had never left the house. And I know I will feel sick again before bedtime. And worse in the morning. And I'll do the whole thing over again.
I have no idea for how long. Because, remember, Lexapro is not addictive. My doctor says so. The drug company says so. The only people who think it's addictive are the thousands of people out there that are trying to quit (I found them through Google). And none of them know how long this will last either. Judging from what people tell me, anywhere from two weeks to a year.
I have no idea if I can be a warrior for a year. But I did it today, and I'm pretty sure I can do it tomorrow.