Drug Free Head

Just Say No
Just Say No

Before my next Great Bear Rainforest post, an antidepressant update is in order. See my last update here. I know, I know. Not nearly as exciting as whales (and what else I have in store for you). But it’s an extremely popular (and thus I assume, helpful) topic.

I’ve been on a cocktail of antidepressants since giving the midget musician the boot. It seems silly in hindsight that something that inconsequential was the catalyst to my most recent foray into the world of antidepressant medications. Looking back, I most certainly was in a deep dark pit, but I don’t know that being in that pit was abnormal. Or that it needed medicating. Or that the medication even did anything to get me out of the pit. Perhaps my successful clambering out of the pit was from seeing a therapist regularly. Or maybe it was a placebo effect from the drugs. Or maybe it was just the passage of time.

Backing up, I began taking Wellbutrin and Deplin back in the fall of 2011. I started off with Wellbutrin, and the doctor added Abilify shortly thereafter. Abilify is not an antidepressant. It’s an antipsychotic, which the doctor prescribed for depression–an “off-label” use of the medication. It was horribly nasty, toxic crap. I felt awful and my hair fell out in chunks. It has since grown back. In fact, it’s looking pretty fabulous these days, a year later.

After I ditched the Abilify (without consulting the doc first), he added Viibryd. To his mind, something new and exciting. Here I was, wanting to get off the drugs, but he’s adding something more to the mix. I complied. I complied because he’s the doctor and he knows best. (I knew this was bullshit at the time. I feel more confident in that assessment, now.) So I took the Viibryd and the Wellbutrin, and since my hair stopped falling out, I kept taking it. I kept taking it despite the horrible nightmares and the constipation. I kept taking it despite my worries of liver damage and weight gain. I kept taking it. And to be honest, I felt better. I thought maybe that had something to do with the drug.

And then everyone started dying, and I didn’t dare stop taking it. I figured it was the only thing keeping me afloat. But a few months after my brother died, I started thinking about the chemo for mouth cancer giving him the leukemia that killed him, and I wondered whether the antidepressants were frying my liver or my kidneys or my brain. I don’t like taking Advil. What was I doing on Wellbutrin and Deplin and Viibryd? So I quit the Viibryd nearly cold turkey without first consulting with my doctor. In fact, I’ve not consulted with him since. Instead, shortly after quitting the Viibryd (which turned out to be fairly easy), I quit the Deplin. I felt no different. Why in the hell had I been spending hundreds of dollars on prescriptions that weren’t doing anything? Except giving me terrible nightmares and making me forget words. Lots of words. “Laundry basket” for fuck’s sake. (I often feared those days that I had early onset Alzheimer’s. My dad had it, so why not?) Even though the side effects from the Viibryd and Abilify had been intolerable, I stayed on the Wellbutrin. My safety net. Just in case.

When I got back from my trip to the Great Bear Rainforest (more posts coming soon,  including some phenomenal wildlife sightings!), I was feeling pretty good. Rejuvenated. More alive than I have felt in some time. The shrink had called when I was gone telling me I needed to come in before he’d call in another refill for my Wellbutrin. So I made the appointment. On the morning of the appointment, I wondered why I was paying him a buck twenty-five to write me a prescription for a drug I didn’t want to be on. A drug that had me downing Miralax like it was nectar of the gods. (And still I was backed up.) So I called and canceled, mumbling that I’d call back later to reschedule. I didn’t call. And I didn’t take Wellbutrin that night. Or any night since. I had no withdrawals. None. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t doing anything other than making me severely constipated. And sucking money from my bank account.

So I’m drug free. I even quit taking the Toviaz (overactive bladder) last week. It had stopped helping. The urologist recommended Botox instead. My insurance company (Aetna is crap) won’t pay for it. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s forcing me to try natural remedies. None of them are as simple as popping a pill. But I vow to not hand over my body to a drug company out of laziness. (Any more.)

Look at all the writing I’ve done and avoided the bigger topic at hand. (Which I’ve succeeded in doing all week.) Yesterday a year ago, my dad died. October 18, 2012 at 6:00 a.m. sharp, as the hospice nurse and I held his hand. Yesterday, I had a crazy day at work, running to court to fill in for another lawyer whose flight was canceled. I was so focused on the crisis at hand, I didn’t realize it was October 18th until I got home from work last evening. I pushed it away again, thawed two pieces of pizza frozen months ago, drank two glasses of wine, cuddled with the cats, and went to bed.

I could not ignore it this morning, however, as I’d made plans with friends to do the Alzheimer’s walk. One girlfriend who joined me (who also did the walk with me last year, mere days after my father died), lost her dad weeks ago, in part to Alzheimer’s. So we walked. And remembered our dads. And cried some. And hugged. We then went to brunch. Something I hadn’t done in ages. Real brunch. With mimosas and bloody Marys. After brunch, I came home, got in bed for just a little rest (I never take naps), and the next thing I knew I’d awakened at 6:00 p.m. in the nick of time to get ready to join a friend for sushi. Two social outings in one day.

Yes, after many, many dark months, I’m coming back to life. Without antidepressants.




  • Yeah!
    Despite those people who wrote “mourning over more than 2 weeks” on the list of illnesses it is not uncommon to “cry a little” (as my grandpa used to say with the hint of a sympathetic smile) on the anniversary of a loss. That is just normal social behaviour. Though I flinch from the usage of the word “normal” – as if there was a norm how we should handle emotions …
    We just should not harm ourselves or others.


    • My friend whose father recently died (less than a month ago) says she has trouble focusing and cries often. She wonders if she needs medication. I said, “Your father just died. Whatever you’re feeling is ‘normal'”. It pisses me off that all these drug advertisements (and psychiatrists) are turning us into mental patients. We’re humans. And they don’t really know what the drugs are doing. Which is the scariest part.


  • Good for you! It’s important to be aware of the effects both good and bad of the drugs we take. I’ve always informed my Dr. what me decisions are regarding the meds I take, but I keep in mind that I ultimately control what I take or don’t…


    • It’s all about maintaining control and not handing it over to doctors. I don’t know if the pills did anything for me, or not. I do know exercise and fresh air does more for me than any drug.


  • So proud of you! I’ve been on Wellbutrin since 1996, and every time I’ve thought about going off of it, there’s a new challenge or crisis with Mom. I’m sure it isn’t doing much for me now, and thank God I never had the horrible side effects from it that you did.


    • Thank you! It’s an interesting question isn’t it, whether it’s you or the drug that is getting you through this difficult time? Based on my experience with Wellbutrin (and reading your blog), my money is on you. 🙂


  • Applause. Happy dance. You have to find what works for you. (And drugs scare me more as time goes along…they really don’t know how some work – or what they are doing to the rest of you. Fortunately new doc who took over retired doc’s practice is willing to listen and try alternatives…but they think it’s so easy to just hand out meds)
    (My dad died in Oct – some 7 years ago – it’s still lonely at times, but you manage with memories)
    You seem to be embracing your life again. May you dance on!


    • Thank you, Mouse! The more I read (and observe), the more the drugs scare me, too. I’d love to find a doctor whose first inclination wasn’t to reach for the prescription pad.

      I have 50 years of memories, so I’m luckier than many. Hugs to you this month of October.


  • Congratulations on taking back control of your own life… and for figuring out how to control your own happiness. As mouse said, with time the good memories will take the place of the mourning and loss.

    Yes, I know… soon! 😉


    • Good evening, Mr. Viking. And thank you for the props. Good memories, bad memories, they’re all there. I think I’m beginning to heal because I can say he was a serious pain in the ass. And I loved him dearly. Ah, but writing those words still makes me cry. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was always this way, There’s not a damn thing wrong with crying, so get the pill out my face! 🙂


  • I don’t know you but your journey sounds amazing – well done you and keep on keeping on! We all hit our dark places – I’m in one too right now – but there is only the individual who can really change anything. It’s tough when you’re at rock bottom but what is life without experiencing highs and lows? My best wishes to you.


  • They don’t make 30mg of deplin. So I don’t know how you we’re on that. FDA still till this day hasn’t approved 30mg.


  • I am currently coming off viibryd and it’s not easy. My Dr doesn’t have a clue and has blown me off for 5 days. Waiting in the meantime I yawn and felt too lazy to workout. Foggy head but the worst thing is severe irritation. Feeling highly irritated at noise, lots of chatter is highly annoying. I break into tears and then want to scream. Then I feel better for awhile. I left a long term job that was going nowhere, very unprofessional, my good friend treated me like dirt, my beloved cat died from a predator. Not a good tine to quit viibryd but my insurance is gone. I’m smart enough to know I need to taper off the drug but my Dr is clueless. I feel like calling and screaming at her but that’s 50% the withdrawl symptom. The other 50% is a valid frustration from her lack of care. I wish she could feel my pain. Anyway, heard one comment from someone that went through what I am now. They got so irritated at an avocado falling on the floor they picked it up and threw it into the wall. That visual makes me laugh and helps me get thtough these symptoms. I finally got a pharmasist to listen to me and put a fire under my dr’s. fanny today. I’ve been on viibryd for 3 years. It cured my anxiety. We’ll see what life is like without it. It may be a good thing


    • I hope you are feeling better, Abby. I’m so sorry about your kitty. Just devastating. I was so sleepy and foggy coming off the Viibryd. (Not to mention my daily afternoon two-hour yawn session while on it.) I can honestly say I feel better without the drugs. I’m happy to be rid of all the side effects. And no telling what effects they have long-term. All the best to you in your new Viibryd-free life!


  • Hi there. First, thank you for your posts. Second, I’m sorry for your losses, but without even knowing you, proud of the way you’ve prevailed and the way you’ve chosen to handle them. I have to giggle just a little, having read two of your posts on Viibryd about the word loss being a bit of a hot button issue with you. ME TOO. I haaaaate that. All of life can be a shitstorm but mother*****er I NEED to remember a laundry basket is a LAUNDRY BASKET! Gimme that at LEAST! *nods* Right there with ya.

    Anywho, I found your posts because I am also an idiot whose chosen to quit Viibryd cold turkey without consulting my doc. Don’t worry, I made the call before reading you, so it’s not your fault lolol Just wanted to get a feel for how long I can expect to feel like hell (I’m 4 days off from a 40 mg dose. I sleep A. LOT and when awake, feel remotely like climbing on top of a McDonalds with a semi automatic weapon. I KID!!! Sort of.) and was looking for a little validation somewhere that I’m making the right call.

    I am. Thanks. You’re helping me keep on keeping on. Hopefully in a year I’ll be looking back drug free, still happy about the choice, with fabulous hair. *hugs*


    • It’s been three days since you left this comment, and I’m wondering how you’re doing. From what I recall, and it’s been well over two years now, after about a week I was back to “normal.” I wish I could say I look back happy about the drug-free choice, but alas, the depression caught back up with me. I started back up on the antidepressants a couple of months ago, two years after stopping. This time, it’s Brintellix and Deplin. It’s definitely helping me climb back out of the pit. And I am having zero side effects, except for a hot flash, now and then. No word loss, no hair loss, no vomiting, no nausea, no sweating, no Sleestak dreams. So far, my shrink has been giving me samples. When he cuts off my supply, it will cost me $300 a month to fill the prescription. At that point, I’ll be switching to something else. Hoping you break free and live life with a fabulous vocabulary and hair!


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