Adventures Off Celexa, Chapter 17
I’m really, really bad when it comes to refilling my prescriptions, and it’s usually through the grace of God or by accident that I manage to get my new dose of meds at the end of every month. I’ve been on Celexa for nearly three years now, and I know the drug inside and out, but I’ve never had the occasion to go cold turkey for four days. Especially the way I did it Thursday through Sunday last week.
Put simply, I kept forgetting. I know there’s some irony in there, but I’ll leave it to the biopsychology/English double-majors to figure it out. As the drug wore out of my system, the forgetting became worse. Those of you on anti-depressants may know what I’m talking about. I’ve been swimming in emotional and physical molasses.
Here’s what withdrawal is like: first, you get these weird crinkles in your brain if you turn your head too fast, almost as if your eyes have turned, but your brain is slow to catch up, and the time in-between is fuzzy and painful. I was used to this; it happens when I play hoops sometimes in the middle of fast, furious games.
On Friday night, however, we went to see the brilliant Shockheaded Peter at the Little Schubert theater, and the play, which hits you like a traffic accident involving Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, did some crazy things to my cerebellum. Later that night, the headaches – more like weird swirlies waves of discomfort, started a low pressure system just off the north coast of my left eye.
And though I was becoming desperate for the drug, I forgot to get to the drugstore AGAIN. Another day without the SSRI, and on Saturday, I began to feel as though I were walking through seventeen feet of Mrs. Butterworth maple syrup. Just getting up for some water took about three minutes of strategizing. Moments of ecstasy were followed by strict bursts of annoyance. I can only imagine what would have happened to my psyche if the Tar Heels hadn’t gone to the Final Four. Which they did, by the way.
By Sunday, sunlight was having a weird effect inside my eyeballs, and I knew it was time. Celexa is water-soluble, meaning that it begins to leave your body the second it is taken. I stumbled to 7th Avenue – downhill, thank god – and grabbed the pills from the pharmacist like a drunkard circa 1883.
And so I’m back in the cool, cool breeze of my wonderdrug, and I learned a few things: first off, keep your meds current, because if there is some trauma that shuts down the city for a few days, you had best be prepared.
Secondly, I had always been told that coming off Celexa was like having a really bad flu. It was definitely bizarre and uncomfortable, but it was nowhere near as bad as the frickin’ flu. I now have a little more faith in my ability to wean off the pleasure pills, and that, in itself, is as comforting as the drug itself.