Cold Turkey

Sunday, March 29, 2009

So one of the things that I didn't tell you about from last Wednesday was an appointment with my psychiatrist. For a few months now, I've been building on the idea that I want to be off of the Xanax XR that I've been on every day for the past 4 and a half years. I tried many other medications to control my anxiety and none of them worked until the Xanax, so even though it's not the best drug to be on for a long period of time, it was really unavoidable, assuming I wanted to be able to eat and function like everyone else.

Anyways, on Wednesday, I told the shrink I was ready to taper off of it. I didn't want to go cold turkey because I've been on it for so long that I feel wretched if I skip even one dose, so cutting it off completely seemed like a bad plan. She agreed and wrote me a new prescription for the Xanax with a tapering schedule that would last about 4 weeks. It was perfect, I was pretty darn happy with it.

On Thursday night when I went to drop the prescription off, the pharmacy noticed that the doctor failed to put any actual dosage directions on the prescriptions besides "decrease as directed." Unfortunately, the pharmacy couldn't fill it from that information. Xanax is a controlled substance, and as such, there are a myriad of rules that must be followed for its proper prescription. They said they'd call the doctor and get it sorted out by about 4 pm on Friday.

So about 5 pm on Friday I went to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription. Shock of shocks, it had not been filled. My doctor didn't call them back and they only bothered calling once. Leaving me, in a word, screwed.

So cold turkey it was.

And for the first roughly 20 hours, I was pretty much fine. By Saturday night, I had a wicked headache. And the worst insomnia I ever imagined. I honestly thought last week's experience was bad, but when I was sitting wide awake in bed at 6:15 this morning, having not yet gone to sleep, last week seemed like a luxurious sleep vacation.

In all, I got about 4 hours of sleep and not surprisingly, today I feel like hell. I'm exhausted, my head is a mess, my stomach is more queasy than I'm okay with and when I tried to take a short nap, I couldn't fall asleep.

Just as I was in the crux of a huge anxiety attack spurred by the rumbling roller coaster of my stomach, I saw a voicemail message show up on my phone. It was the pharmacy. They had my crack Xanax.

I know it seems crazy that after going 36 hours without it that I would go back, but it's clear that stopping the medication suddenly is not what's best. In order for me to be without it, I've had to take a ridiculous sum of other pills to keep the side effects at bay and that goes against the whole point of what I'm trying to do. It's just not worth it.

So today I took my regular dose, and starting tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I'll take 3/4 of a dose. Then 1/2 for a week, then 1/4 for a week, then alternating none and 1/4 for a week and hopefully by then, I'll be unmedicated but not unhinged.

Basically the last 2 days were exactly the situation I was hoping to avoid in tapering off the medication. I envisioned a smooth process where I'd be able to cope with life, but that is not at all what I have seen and experienced. I've been more anxious, in pain and sicker without the medication. I'm trying not to be discouraged, but that's an uphill battle right now.

Here's to hoping that from now on things will go according to plan. Since it seems like we finally have all the components of it...


Lipstick Jungle said...

GOOD LUCK! Weaning off of mood alterers sucks. I know you know this already, so I will hope for a quick and easy withdrawal for you!

I took Effexor for 2 years after my hysterectomy to supplement the Welbutrin and to subside the hot flashes. Needless to say, there was no "cut it back" when I decided to go off of it as they were time release capsules. Its been over a year, and there are still times when I feel side effects I know are from over usage of the drug. Isnt it amazing how the littlest of pills can wreak such havoc on your system?

The ironic thing of the Effexor? Only if you dig deep enough do you find that the side effects of going off it are worse than the need to take it in the first place.

Sue G said...

My mother used to say something in Yiddish that loosely translated meant "Man plans and God laughs."

I'm sorry your plan didn't get off to a great start and am hoping that things will settle down with the chemistry that's going on in your body. (Like the chemistry war you have going on at school isn't enough!)

Peace, Rest, and Pain prayer for you.

joanne said...

Good Luck Katie. I know from experience how tough it is and wouldn't wish it on anyone. I have faith in you and I know you will do fine j)

Anonymous said...

Glad you're not having to do it cold's just not a good idea....
This is such a special hymn. Wanted to share it today. Praying!
"Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me"
by Augustus Montague Toplady, 1740-1778

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

2. Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil Thy Law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,--
Wash me, Savior, or I die!

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment-throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!

Prayer Bears
My email address

witchypoo said...

I have made a guided meditation sound file that helps with anxiety. Email me if you want it.

Becs said...

I've tried to get away from using clonazepam (the less-fun version of Xanax) and I only make it so far.

I wish you the best of luck.

Marin said...

Uh, that's awful. I hope the decreased over time method works.

Anonymous said...

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