I ran out of refills on a prescription and had to go off my meds this weekend. My SSRI. The one that keeps the happy molecules moving the right direction in my brain. Don't worry, I got it refilled today!
I hadn't been off my meds for longer than a few hours since I started taking them 2 years ago. I knew it was going to suck, but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. My first missed dose was Friday night. I planned to run some errands Saturday morning, because I knew I wouldn't feel any different until later in the day. (I bought a new sofa! That was a weird adult experience.) Around 1:00 Saturday afternoon, I started getting a headache, which could also have been attributed to hunger or a nicotine craving. I treated myself extra gently, stayed close to home, and took an almost 3-hour nap through the afternoon. In the evening, I met with a small group of friends to do arts and crafts. By 8:00, it felt like time to go home, where I fell into bed and stayed there.
Sunday morning, I woke up--more or less--at 8:30. My head felt foggy, almost like I wasn't in it. My bed was the only good place to be. I knew I needed to get up for a cigarette, coffee, or breakfast, but I couldn't tell which one. Somehow, I managed to make it through a morning routine of all three. It felt like I was moving my limbs through thick air. Initiating movement became difficult: Once I crawled back into bed, there was no getting up. I hid in caves of my blankets, playing in my phone. At one point I watched a 30-second video of a couple dancing to Bad Romance at their wedding reception, and I burst into tears. I barely moved until almost 3 PM.
I was surprised to realize in the midst of Sunday morning that I could tease apart what was withdrawal, what was depression, and what was anxiety. I worried about unlikely things: What if the doctor's office has to cancel my appointment? What if this new doctor won't write my prescription? Anxiety! I didn't want to leave my bed, and even when I was in it, moving was hard. Anhedonia found me again. That deep, dark place where there is no joy. I felt guilty and worthless for doing this to myself because I couldn't just make an appointment before the prescription ran out. I felt helpless. Depression. I'm not sure if I remember saying aloud, "Who unlocked the cages on these beasts?!" It was a solid reminder that I need these pills for more reasons than just avoiding physical withdrawal. I had been starting to question that. I wrote in my journal, "Life is ugly when my serotonin is fucked. My brain doesn't regulate that on its own, so I need to take medicine to help it."
I had saved an emergency dose for sometime Sunday so that Monday morning didn't have to be so awful. Within 5 minutes of taking it, I knew that I was going to get my brain back. Within 30 minutes, I felt like I lived in my own body again. What a simple solution for a brain disease that kills thousands of people every year, and almost killed me.