The first two weeks of this transition from Zoloft to Paxil were wild.
The first day I took Paxil I was exhausted. But every day after that? I guess I can finally understand what mania looks like.
My only emotion for the first two weeks was anxiety. I couldn’t empathize. I couldn’t feel happiness or sadness or anger. I just felt like I had fourteen cups of coffee at all times.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t focus on a book. If you know me, you know that reading is my primary activity followed closely by eating handfuls of Cheez-its and working out. But I couldn’t read for longer than two or three minutes at a time. So, I’d stand up and walk around my living room to try and burn off my excess energy. That didn’t work, either.
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t settle. But I felt like if I could just focus the energy for a second, I’d be able to get so much done. But I couldn’t focus.
When I went to see my psychiatrist after the first two weeks and I told him that I couldn’t read, he said: “That’s unusual. That sounds like classic ADHD symptoms. But it’s also not uncommon for people in depressive episodes or psychoses to not be able to read. A good benchmark for you, then, is when you can finally read again. You’re essentially in a withdrawal psychosis.”
We agreed to lessen the dose of Zoloft by another 50mg and ramp up the Paxil another 10mg. Then, as he was handing me the new prescription, he said this:
“You may experience some body zaps. Some people get them in their head, or down their legs–anywhere, really. Sometimes they’re so bad you can’t drive. That’s not good, so if you get them please call me right away.”
Um. Excuse me. Fucking body zaps? What the fuck? I asked for clarification.
“Oh, just internal electric shocks. That can happen if you lower the serotonin levels too much too quickly. Be on the lookout for that.”
Great, I thought. Here I was, hoping to stabilize a bit more, only to have the fear that at any point I could end up like the little boy in Jurassic Park.
Thankfully, I’ve now been on this new dose for a week and I’ve yet to experience any body zaps. I’ve also gone grocery shopping for the first time in two months. And I cooked for the first time in six months. So I’m making some progress.
But then: Enter the invasive thoughts. The thoughts that don’t feel like Whitney thoughts. Thoughts like, when confronted with a person in a desperate situation, why do I even bother helping people, I hate people, I hate helping people, I hate how people need help, I hate having to be the person to help people.
I love helping people. I’m a Virgo. Giving advice is my heroin; I simply can’t get enough.
I see my psychiatrist again in a week. I’d say I’m at about 75% normal Whitney, which is much better than being at 4,000% Anxiety-Hyper Whitney, so I’ll take it.