An Odd Price To Pay

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Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    That could not have been easy to share. Thank you so much for doing it anyway.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    I remember very little of the next month. I stopped sleeping almost entirely. When I did sleep, my dreams were so vivid that I confused them with reality. I would attempt to act upon dreams as if the responsibilities I had accepted within them were actual obligations. I often caught wondering if what I remembered had ever actually happened. On several occasions, I based my interactions with other people upon these dreams leaving both of us confused. I also occasionally came to while driving, having gotten myself to some part of town and having no memory of the how it happened.

    After three weeks of this, I called the medical professional who had prescribed the doubled dose. I explained what was happening and was told that this was normal, and that the medicine was uncovering my genuine mental instability. I was encouraged to come into the office for a check-up. When I went, I was told to continue taking Prozac, and to add Seroquel, an anti-psychotic, to the cocktail. “What you have is underlying bipolarity,” I was told, “And that’s emerging now that you’ve stabilized somewhat.”

    Good God that kind of malpractice is infuriating. Not the fact that they doubled the dose: in and of itself that may not have been a problem for most people who weren’t you – but when you described your symptoms, they not only acted as though that was normal (when clearly, you were describing being HIGH AS F**K, only not in a fun way); but they essentially tried to sell you on a diagnosis of newly-discovered, more-serious mental health issues.

    Under some circumstances, we’d call that ‘gaslighting’.

    I briefly tried a different antidepressant years ago when I was going through a rough patch, and my experience was much the same as yours as described here, as far as being extremely-confused, yet finding it difficult to care about that. Couldn’t remember where I’d parked my car, no short-term memory at all, “reality vs. dreaming” and “who exactly am I talking to right now, and about what?” became…highly questionable, and emotionally I just felt numb, which was (to me) worse than feeling bad.

    I likened it to the coming-up phase of a particular popular recreational drug, but without that drug’s fun/clarity phase ever kicking in, and I quit it pretty fast.

    I would never tell someone who needed SSRI’s not to take them (I know too many friends and family members for whom they were lifesavers), but I would caution them to monitor themselves closely, gradually and conservatively titrate dosages, and work closely with a physician who is trustworthy, perceptive, and readily-accessible in case of weird effects.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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      says:

      The numb part is probably the only part of that that is normal. “Numbness” is a common symptom of the upswing from the bottom of depression (where the bottom is relative). Everything else sounds like very serious side effects.

      And you’re right, the bullshit “bipolarity” diagnosis, and dismissal of easily recognizable serious side effects is infuriating.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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        says:

        RE: numbness being normal: probably true, but in my case at least I found it far more disconcerting and “unpleasant” than being down had been. Kind of like what I imagine Cotard’s to be like? Being in pain at least lets you know you are still alive – if I wanted to play pop psychologist, I’d speculate that’s what Sam’s spicy-ass food used to do for him when he was in a bad way.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    Great piece Sam, truely great.Report

  4. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    Thank you for sharing this.Report

  5. Avatar Aaron W
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    says:

    Thank you for sharing, that was really powerful.

    I’ve had my issues with sobriety myself. Ironically, I never really started drinking until after I got over depression. But my depression was highly related to being a gay teenager in a very socially conservative environment, and the moment I got over that (feeling liberated/accepted as part of the gay community in the SF Bay Area) is the moment my problem with alcohol started. So, thankfully, I escaped the horrible consequences of being over-medicated on antidepressants. Because my first boyfriend and one of my good friends have both had issues with that. I’m glad that you didn’t hurt yourself, someone else, or worse.Report

  6. Avatar krogerfoot
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    says:

    Sobriety can be strange. An addict’s quirks can be bugs from the abused substance or a feature in the underlying personality. Addiction is like a glacier; it leaves scars in the landscape after it melts away.Report

  7. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    Like the others, I’ll say thanks for sharing this.Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    I’ll add to the chorus. This was a great piece, Sam. I really loved it.Report

  9. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    says:

    I also liked this piece.Report

  10. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    says:

    By the way, if you were experiencing depression, you would likely have been experiencing low dopamine levels. Eating spicy food releases dopamine, so what you could have been experiencing with the spicy food before was a sudden spike in dopamine levels. If prozac has “normalized” your neurotransmitter levels, this may account for the surprising lack of euphoria you’re now experiencing with the eating of spicy foods.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    This was really good, Sam.Report

  12. Avatar Sam
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    says:

    Your kind responses are noted and appreciated.Report

  13. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Hey, I’m super unoriginal because I really liked this as well.

    I also found the hot food thing fascinating. I’m often that guy who asks them to make it hotter after being warned by the server and sometimes the owner not to, only to usually find it’s not hot enough. I think it’s a Canadian thing. Food is never hot enough here for me. Happily, I’m going down to the Southern states for a month and a bit very soon and will be sampling whatever I can get.Report

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