Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Friday, December 1, 2023

Side Effect Whack-A-Mole

    I'm tapering off one antidepressant and starting another psychotropic. Unfortunately, short-acting SNRIs can be some of the most difficult to quit. Fortunately for me, it hasn't been all that bad. It's called Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome, but it's really just a form of withdrawal. Today is day three of halving my dosage of Effexor ER, and – right on schedule – I woke up this morning feeling exhausted and my emotions have been (even more of) a trainwreck. (It doesn't help that everyone else in the world is a complete idiot!) My job is rarely stressful, but it can be demanding. So I'm trying to just take a breath and take care of things one item at a time. Rereading and waiting a few minutes before hitting "Send" is also a critical part of this strategy.

    One major reason I wanted to change medications is that I am tired of being chemically castrated by my antidepressants. In the past decade or longer, I've had maybe three orgasms that weren't caused by my own hand. I've got precious few years left to enjoy my sexuality, and I can't live in constant frustration over everything to do with sex. And I still hold out an anemic hope that I might actually find a partner one day, but sexual intimacy is integral to a romantic relationship for me. Buspar may actually help with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. Of course I can't make an effort to rid myself of one side effect without picking up another: I seem to have developed tinnitus, which I've dealt with before and which can be a side effect of Buspar. So far it's tolerable, thankfully.

    I mainly wanted to switch to Buspar because my anxiety and panic disorder are having the most impact on my life. I've considered in-patient care a number of times over the past year solely because I was not able to deal with my panic attacks. If it can help manage my anxiety, then I'm hoping to be able to stop the medication to lower my heart rate and a tranquilizer that I take daily. (Each with their own side effects, not to mention the counterindication of taking benzodiazepines long term.) One of the longer-term goals I mentioned in the last post is to drastically decrease the number of medications I take – always under the supervision and care of my medical providers, of course – because all medicines have side effects that affect the totality of the person. I even stopped the pill I was taking to preserve my hair for this reason, though I'm already considering topical alternatives. I'm shallow & vain, and I proudly own it.