Category Archives: taper

The Paxil Taper Caper

Since the beginning of July 2007 I have been diligently tapering off Paxil… ever so s-l-o-w-l-y. These past few weeks have been the roughest. The first few months of tapering were doable, tolerable and generally well received by my mind, body and soul.

Let me elaborate on the following from this post please:

2 – Tapering off Paxil without proper medical care due to inequalities in the Canadian Medicare system

Three weeks ago the diarrhea, nausea, headaches, brain zaps, lack of muscle coordination and a general malaise settled in.

I know these symptoms will pass as everything else in life does.

Not being able to move your eyes from side to side or look at something that catches your attention while walking without be ZAPPED behind your eyes up into your brain traveling down your neck then spine into your shoulder blades down through your arms only to exit your fingers tips and experience the fading remnant echoes all over again is annoying. Your body becomes a canyon trapping not noise but electricity. No one can see the zaps. Only the person experiencing them can feel them. Your insides tremble with vibration but not of the physical kind. This quiver is energy based. I knew they could happen during this taper. I hadn’t expected them to become a minute by minute play by and only when you are still do they seem to build up, no, store energy until you decide to use your eyes again or walk. DUH! How the hell is one to function? One needs one’s eyes for seeing and one needs to walk, in the least move from one task to another during their awake time.

I tapered off of Valium a year ago and had the support of a family doctor, a psychiatrist, a councilor, an acupuncturist and a support group full of other people who were tapering off Benzodiazapines. This time around; my family doctor whom I’ve seen once. I didn’t have a family doctor when I arrived back in Saint John from Vancouver. I only have a family doctor due to the persistence of my mother who regularly harassed (asked) hers to take me back on as a patient as I had been his patient as a teenager. I see this doctor again this Thursday.

I called the Saint John Chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, left my number with them three months ago and as of today have not heard back from them. Great. I’m on my own. New Brunswick will not pay for your psychiatric meds as British Columbia does under their infamous Plan G. If there was one reason I would move back to Vancouver it is this: Superior Health Care for those with Mental Health Concerns. If anything living in Vancouver and receiving the treatment I got strengthened me for when I moved back here. Five of seven friends of mine do not have a family doctor here. Honest. Five out of seven is unacceptable in Canada. Saint John has a hotline you can call to place your name a waiting list for a family doctor. My friend Lisa has been on this list since it’s inception two years ago along with my grandmother. Grammie now goes to Mom’s doctor.

Other than Mental Health Care every other kind of Health care provided here in New Brunswick is at par with British Columbia. We have a long way to go before even beginning to resemble to sophisticated treatment people receive in BC for addiction and Mental Health issues.

This Friday will mark the last day I ingest Paxil. What a long road it has been from the prescribed 60mg’s to the current 2.5mg’s I swallow. I avoided websites of any kind on this subject during the taper to keep it simple. I live in a stable environment, work in a stable environment and have been filtering the craziness down on paper into my art.

There are things in life we cannot control. There are things in life we can take ownership for. I take ownership for my health. It is important to me to feel good. And most days I feel pretty damn good. And as I ended the last post I’ll end this one the same way.


Oh and a word to the wise; the slower you taper the better off you’ll be.

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Addiction Hurts Just Like Any Other Disease

Birds on wires

There are times when we need to go back to remember how we arrived to, today. Tonight I traveled back to a night that I lived through. On Friday, August 19, 2005 I had written a very convoluted email to my employer essentially giving notice that I quit. That evening turned into night.

Early that Saturday morning I wrote:

3AM Saturday morning

Go play a game he says. But what game do I play. The game of writing comes to mind. I don’t like feeling anxiety and I don’t particularly like the feeling of my heart pounding so hard that it’s going to come out of my chest.

I don’t want to work for blank blank. Maybe he and Eric are right. I should be on meds. Fuck that. I will be ok.

I am having the worst hot flash right now. My feet have been frozen for days and sweating and cold.

However I have had extreme moments of clarity. So clear about where I am and dreams of what I want to do…

I went on to write:

Living with shame, self doubt and anxiety on a daily basis is, in fact slowly killing me.
…inside I’m a thirteen year old girl unable to say no to her mother.

…continuing later with:

When one takes a drug to cope with reality one does not see what is real. Only when one is honest with oneself can one see. Why does clarity come at 3AM in the morning? What causes things to just make since? How is it possible. How is it possible to quit one’s job during an anxiety attack?

On Sunday August 21, 2005 I wrote:

Early morning on day two, 9:15

Yesterday was my first day to regulate my use of G. I was up to taking perhaps 40 caps a day. And I don’t want to die. I want to live to see gorgeous mornings like today. I feel warmth of sun beams caressing my buttocks to feet. I’m clad in a huge white cotton sweater and 3/4 length black stretch pants.

At this time yesterday I was pacing in the apartment and took 4 maybe 10 caps of G unable to shut my mind down nor to accept the many racing thoughts in it. At 12:30 I awoke on the futon somewhat calm knowing I was lucky to be alive. My heart had been beating so fast that night I had begged for death watching myself from afar.

Eric arose at 1:30 and I tried to put on a brave face. I had brushed the dog, and broke down and told him the truth.

When you are addicted… I’m at a loss for words right now. The memory of that weekend has been present in my mind lately. Maybe the weather is stirring it up? Maybe it is because those dates are drawing near? I guess those three days will forever be remembered by me. I think a part of me died that weekend. It makes me so sad, because I can’t comprehend how I got there, in the first place. If it, were not for Eric helping me those first two nights and days of self detoxing at home I would not be here right now. The above are brief entries I wrote in haste during those days. They do not even begin to describe the physical and mental anguish I felt while beginning to taper off G. I knew, and Eric knew if I cut cold turkey I could die from the detox so tapering was the only option. I would not leave my home. I could not eat nor could I sleep. My skin broke out in a hundred pimples and began crawling with sensitivity. All my senses hurt.

I am so sorry Eric that you had to see me that way. I love you.

On Monday morning we went to the doctor for help. I have a journal entry for that day also, which in time I may read and then post. I hope this gives people some insight that addiction is real and that it hurts just like any other disease. And like any other disease you need time to heal, time to remember and then be in the present.

*The painting at the top I painted for Eric a few weeks later in mid September 2005.

Going out the door…

If I go out the door will it make me feel better, make me feel something else? Anything? There is this patch in my brain called limbo. In limbo everything is churning. Ideas are dreamt there, memories and thoughts come to light there, in limbo. This is not where I want to be. I think of the phrase “Just do it” that Nike owns the rights to. However I’m not doing it. Why?

I want to write about all that is wrong. I want to scream. I want out.

What am I waiting for? A few things actually.

Continue reading

Anxious Poop

The human body never ceases to amaze me. It’s ability to adapt to environmental, physical or mental stimuli is worth congratulating ourselves about. My mind today upon waking from a using dream alerted me to run to the bathroom and poop for all my worth. With that said a using dream is common among recovering addicts for up to a year after they stopped abusing their substance of choice. I dreamt of using Crystal Methamphetamine, a drug I never used nor tried. This drug enters my subconcious when I’m in the midst of tapering down my Valium dosage. The past three tapers Meth as appeared in my dreams. I don’t dream of my drug of choice, GHB. I don’t particularly have cravings for either. It was just a dream, vivid, whimsical and full of sex. Many recovering addicts often report changes in their dream content and occurance, often waking up in cold sweats. I am not alone.

While in the bathroom I began wondering why do I have diarhea? This is not normal poop. Could it be the Norwalk Virus? OMG! it is! Breath. OK. It’s been going around Vancouver. Damn media. Go back to bed. I awoke again in the same dream and had to run to the bathroom. My gut is not feeling too well today. In search of relief I googled “poop”. And came up with this wonderful site called The Poop Report. It is not vulgar, nor is it disgusting. It’s rather cute and funny, informative and adminstered by a nurse. It is a G rated website with a twist.

Yesterday, during accupuncture I began to feel lightheaded. A familiar but distant memory of fainting and nausea crossed my mind as the accupuncturist was putting the final needles in place. My chest filled with sweat, while the colour drained from my face. I said to her “Ah, I’m feeling a little nauseated like I’m going to faint”. She pulled the two needles from my knees, I put my head down while she rubbed one pressure point on my left wrist. I began feeling better. My stomach was rumbling now. Perhaps the accupuncture stimulated my intestines? I closed my eyes for 45 minutes, pulled the needles out then waited for the benzo support group to start.

There were a lot of people in attendance at the benzo support group yesterday. We all shared our stories and symptoms of tapering. Common symtoms were, anxiety, tinnitus, dreams, jaw clenching, bad memories, waking and talking outloud from a dream, feeling scatter brained, innatentive, frustrated and this feeling like your face or eyeballs are just floating or falling. Many of us had just made a taper. There was lots to share.

Here’s a pic of me and Kate after group from last week.

Jessica and Kate

In hindsight, the messy poo could be related to the taper, Norwalk (’cause I have eaten shellfish), after period cleansing maybe (women will undersatnd this one – how your monthly cylcle affects your regularity or lack there of), eating too much tofu or maybe my body needed to purge or I need more fibre. Who knows. Worrying about the poo won’t make it go away. 😉 If it lasts longer than four days then yes I’ll head to the doctor. Maybe it’s my Chron’s? hmmm. No. I’ll stop that thought right now – it’s been in remission since 1997 and I’m not in pain and have no fever.

Gotta love those using dreams causing anxious poo!