Paxil Free

A personal record of Paxil withdrawal.

Archive for the 'Nausea' Category


#12: Fatigue and Nausea

March 27th, 2001. (Basic Facts – continued)

The nausea, along with unpleasant digestive problems (those are fun), is usually accompanied by the seizures that are #1 on this list. Most of the time it seems to happen when someone has tried going off Paxil cold turkey. By weaning slowly, though, one’s appetite might get all out of whack, but the nausea apart from the seizures and dizziness usually isn’t a huge problem.

The fatigue, though, is a problem. Paroxetine withdrawal is an exhausting experience. Every single second of it is exhausting — especially while the seizures are happening. It’s been nine months since my Paxil withdrawal experience began, almost four months since I last took any Paxil, and my energy level, physically, emotionally and cognitively, is still far from being 100%. Things are slowly getting better, but what can I tell you? This experience stole away a huge chunk of my life and robbed me of my health of which I am still trying to recover. So sue me if the bounce in my step isn’t as bouncy as it used to be. I’m feeling a little worn, a little bit tired, and maybe it shows. But I am alive, and that’s an accomplishment. Believe me, it is.

* * *

And so that’s about it in terms of the basic facts of Paxil withdrawal. It may not look like a pretty picture — that’s because it isn’t. But remember to keep in mind that most of what I’ve listed here is the worst of it all. Everyone is different and the chances of you experiencing everything on this list are slim. If you take care of yourself with daily exercise, avoid stressful situations, take some vitamin supplements and wean slowly at your own pace, you might not experience any of these things. Imagine that. That’d be great.

For some people, the transition from Paxil to being Paxil free is a relatively smooth ride. I happen to have been a bit sensitive to all the crap my withdrawal experience laid on me, but the #1 rule to remember is that everyone is different. Everyone can survive the withdrawal, but at their own pace and in their own way.

P.S. (Sept. 2006): These are the Paxil withdrawal effects I’ve had some experience with. But everyone is different, so I’d guess there’s at least another dozen or so withdrawal effects that aren’t on this list. Here are some of them:

#13: Depersonalization.
#14: Verbal and cognitive difficulties such stuttering, stammering, poor concentration, word-retrieval problems and loss of memory.
#15: Sleep disturbances such as nightmares and vivid and unusual dreams.
#16: Depression and so-called relapse.
#17: Digestive problems like diarrhea.
#18: Feeling scared most of the time.

You know, fun stuff!

Check out paxilprogress.org’s FAQ page for more info.

(I’ve also posted a Paxil withdrawal guide from the original Paxil Free website. It’s the actual page from the old site, untouched since it I first posted it.)

Day 39: Dying for a Smoke

Sunday, October 15th, 2000. A journal entry:

I haven’t had a cigarette for months now. Occasionally I still feel like sucking one back, and the urge is extremely strong. Living without alcohol seems to be no problem. But boy would I love to have a smoke right now.

I still can’t say for certain whether I’ll still be alive by Xmas. Simple reason. I don’t want my life anymore. I’m not exactly thrilled about it. My life, that is.

Postscript – April 14th, 2001: In July 2000 when I first got hit with the Paxil withdrawal, I decided to quit: (1) Smoking cigarettes, (2) Drinking coffee/caffeine, (3) Drinking alcohol, and (4) Smoking dope (which I never did much of anyway). At the same time I tried to quit Paxil. Talk about fun. My withdrawal experience may have been a bit more harsh because I tried to quit so many things at the same time. Not drinking or smoking dope was the easiest thing, mainly because I no longer hung around with recreational drunks and potheads. It was a simple decision: That’s not for me. A lifestyle choice. No problem there. Cutting back on the coffee and then gradually switching to decafe was a bit harder, but I did it and sticking to it shouldn’t be a problem. But cutting back on the cigarettes was the hardest. I didn’t smoke any cigarettes until December 2000 when I bought a pack and smoked it all in about two days, and after that the urge was gone. But then I began to have bad headaches in February 2001 which made my getting back on track with life again almost impossible. As I write this postscript, I’m taking special medication just to keep the headaches away. But about ten minutes ago I bummed a smoke from a friend who was visiting, and man oh man did that ever feel good (although I know it’s going to make me feel nauseous in about 20 minutes). I’m not recommending that anyone start smoking up again if they’ve managed to quit, but by letting myself have that cigarette, it was like I was agreeing not to be so hard on myself. And that, psychologically, feels like a great relief. Not that I’m going to begin smoking again, but I think this was the first time since my withdrawal began that I was easy on myself. I think that’s an important thing to remember, especially for people who are usually driven by a strong will and determination. One’s will can be one’s worst enemy at times.

Anger and Feeling Terrified (Day 41)

Tuesday, October 17th, 2000.

Angela wrote [on a forum similar to paxil progress.org/forums]:

It has been three weeks since I have been off of Paxil. I’m terrified.

Every now and then I feel some withdrawal symptoms, nausea, severe headaches and total lack of focus and concentration. But what scares me most is the way my mind is working.

I have been so angry lately, I lash out at my friends, I already lost one, and almost lost my best friend because of the horrible things I was saying. I just spoke to my boyfriend, and hung up feeling terrible, because I keep having mood swings. One second I want to hurt someone, I want to punch, kick scream, anything — the next, I am sorry for feeling this way, and sorry for acting the way I do. Is this a result of a chemical imbalance created by the Paxil? Wow. I wonder if the chemistry of my brain is going to remain in this “schizophrenic” trance.

While I am no longer feeling depressed, I feel trapped. Like I’m in a jail, and I want to break through the walls that surround me. I want to kill myself because I am afraid of what I might do, who I might hurt, that I am a truly horrible person and that I do not deserve to live. I don’t know what to do, or think, or say.

Susan wrote:

My advice is not to be alone too much, and not to let your thoughts dwell on dying. You are not a terrible person — keep reminding yourself what you are going through, that it’s the Paxil withdrawal, not you.

I haven’t quit yet — I just lowered my dose from 10mg to 5mg every other day. About a month ago, I lowered my dose to 10mg and I noticed the ANGER more than anything. I don’t think I have any more anger inside me than the average person, and possibly less, but I felt furious for about a week or two. And I noticed that the worst seemed to be that time before my period. (The Paxil may have been buffering my emotions during that time.)

My boyfriend was over one evening, not feeling well himself, and said something that I normally could have handled, and I slammed the door behind him when he left. We tried to talk a few days later, but it didn’t go well — then we didn’t talk for nearly two weeks, but are now back on track.

My point is, I’m sure the change in my neurochemistry had a lot to do with it. I was so upset one evening, I got into the word processor on my computer and wrote down, “I am angry…” and then a list of all I was angry about. I came up with 23 things, and intended to come back to it. And a lot of the things were not concrete things that had been done or said, but my perceptions about what others thought about me, and the INJUSTICE of it all! I really felt vulnerable. (I am a little nervous about this upcoming week of my cycle.)

Please be kind to yourself, even if you are having a hard time feeling kindly towards others right now. If you had a daughter and she were experiencing what you are experiencing, how would you want her to think about herself? Try to be a kind parent to yourself. Take care.

My response:

Experiencing irritability problems? Kind of feeling like killing someone else or killing yourself? At this moment in time, I think I can relate…

The number one thing to do right now is not kill yourself. I’ve been weaning myself off Paxil for 41 days now (I’m almost down to 5mg), and that’s 41 days of my life not being mine. I’ve been smiling patiently the whole time, but I am so sick of it that I am ready blow, I am ready to lash out, and I have days where it seems that the most reasonable thing to do would be to kill myself. The clarity of this thought when it’s there is — how do I describe it? Talk about a mind trip. The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that everything I’m experiencing is being caused by the Paxil withdrawal, and that eventually the withdrawal itself will withdraw. I don’t know when, but for now I know that what I’m feeling isn’t my fault, and that I’m not crazy.

At the same time, while I know that I’ll be enduring this for some time to come (and I hate it that my life isn’t mine while this is happening, that I can’t even begin to live my life the way want to while this junk is making me into a zombie) — at the same time I know what I have to look forward to (it’s going to get worse before it gets better). On top of the frustration I naturally feel from having my life made unproductive, uncreative and useless by this wonderful little pill, I’m beginning to experience the irritability that comes from withdrawal — and it’s the kind of irritability where I don’t even want to look at some people, I don’t want them to look at me, I don’t want to listen to them open their mouth and say something stupid that I don’t have the energy for. I have become one big ball of sunshine. I have moments where I feel I could grab some people by the head and break their neck, or just punch them in the face and knock them unconscious so I won’t have to deal with them.

Kinda scary, isn’t it? Everybody thinks I’m handling this situation with ease. They don’t know the half of it. If it’s disturbing to read what I’m saying here, it’s a hell of a lot more disturbing being the one living it, believe me.

Right now I would like to live in a log cabin in the woods and be left alone. Not so that I can go off by myself and blow my brains out, but because I know that the more people I have to deal with everyday (especially stupid people, as well meaning as they may be), the more likely I am to punch somebody in the face or tell them to f*** off…

Well aware that this is where I am right now, I do everything I can to avoid people. This isn’t anti-social; at the moment it’s just a matter of survival. I would like to lock myself away until the worst of this is over with. Goddam Paxil.

But the point is, you’re not alone with the mood swings, with the extreme surges of anger, etc. — and after everything you’ve been through because of our little friend, Paxil, who the hell wouldn’t be? I’m ready to commit violence on some people because they have no idea how debilitating this experience has been — they have no idea what a challenge it has been for me to maintain my civility throughout all this.

I haven’t lost any friends yet, mainly because I’m staying clear of everyone as much as possible. I think most of us going through this have experienced some kind of personal loss due to the Paxil withdrawal. That’s doesn’t include the loss of the quality of our lives while we’re being put through this shit, the loss of our living. Regardless of the physiological effects of Paxil withdrawal (which are extremely unpleasant and often debilitating), the psychological effects aren’t exactly a walk in the park either. Let’s not forget this.

My own personal prediction of how my withdrawal will go is that all the feelings I would have normally experienced while I was taking the Paxil but were numbed out by the Paxil — every single one of them is going to come back with a vengeance. It doesn’t mean a relapse into a depression or anxiety; it means that all the feelings that the Paxil didn’t allow me to feel are going to be felt now. So regardless of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, of living without Paxil, the psychological experience itself will be a motherload. When I get off the Paxil, I don’t expect to bounce back to my good old self right away. It’s going to take time. That’s just a theory, my own speculations based on my previous experience of cold turkey withdrawal.

This Paxil withdrawal experience has affected everything in my life since it first happened in early July. I’ve been living a useless life ever since. That’s how it feels anyway. And now that I’m almost down to 5mg, I’ve got the mood swings, the sudden burst of anger, irritability on a level which is off the scale, insomnia, occasional suicidal feelings, dizziness, gastric disturbances (to put it kindly) — the works. The only thing that keeps me going right now is that I know it isn’t going to last. I don’t know how long it will last, but I know it will pass as long as I do everything in the meantime to keep myself healthy (vitamin supplements, exercise, staying away from annoying stupid people, etc.).

The other thing I’ve had to do recently is to tell the people who know that I’m going through withdrawal that I have reached the stage where I am extremely irritable and that they shouldn’t take my unfriendliness personally, and that the best thing they can do is to not push themselves on me. It other words, I’ve politely told them to get out of my face. While I’m going through the irritability stage, something as simple as that has made a difference.

First response:

Reading your message is like reliving my own nightmare. You have so very eloquently expressed feelings what I and many others have had as we journeyed through our withdrawals. I still have a lot of anger over the experience, but in our society you’ve got to be careful who you express those feelings to! You’ve done so much for us on this board in letting us know that our experiences weren’t out of the ordinary or unique — unless you’ve taken Paxil.

THANK YOU for sharing. It really means a lot to me to know that others have felt similar emotions.

Second response:

Thanks for being so candid and sharing your story. I’m gonna risk getting my neck broken here, but the rush of emotions that you will feel again when you complete withdrawal may not be as bad as you’re expecting. I’ve been reading posts here since July 2nd, and I’ve never read any that make it sound hard to deal with. On the contrary, most have said that it felt great to be able to cry again, etc. Tapering can be rough and the days after your final dose may be rough, but at that point, you know that the end is in sight. Your anger should subside. Hang in there, you’re probably in the worst of it right now. When you’re out of this, I hope you can spread the word about what Paxil did to you and prevent others from suffering. I sure have sympathy for you. Let us know how you’re doing.

Third response:

Thank you for your post. I felt myself choking up reading it and reliving the experiences you have described.

I, too, have been down that road. I have never been prone to angry outbursts, so it was really hard for me. I have felt so much shame for acting the way I have toward family (strangely I didn’t feel anger toward others). Many times they would just look at me “stunned” at what they were hearing come from little ole docile me! My rage was mostly ranting and raving. Thank God I didn’t feel suicidal or want to physically hurt anyone. My words were bad enough and I am sure they caused pain to others.

I have been off Paxil for 6 weeks after taking it for 6 years and can tell you that it will get better. My anger lasted for 2 weeks past my last pill and then went away. Some days it wasn’t too bad and others… well… let’s just say I wasn’t too much fun to be around.

I started taking St. Johns Wort about 3 weeks after my last Paxil and just quit taking it a week ago. I have been going through the anger period again just in the last week. I really think and hope it is from discontinuing St. Johns Wort. I am hopeful that I will get past this last bump too.

A Story

Friday, December 8th, 2000 (38th day off Paxil).

From Joe:

I took 20mg of Paxil for three years for panic anxiety disorder. I only had a few weeks of side effects at first (nausea, vivid dreams, and then of course the sexual side effects), but then it was great. Not obsessing about things, everything was brought into a healthy perspective. However, as time went on I started not to care about anything. It went too far — a real flat effect, chronically fatigued and, of course, the worst for me, I gained 45 pounds.

I had no idea about the withdrawal. The drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, does not warn you about that. If I would miss a pill, I noticed I couldn’t even turn my head, my eyes wouldn’t follow — it was awful. I couldn’t wait until my next “hit” of the drug, and then guess what? — all the symptoms would disappear. (I should have known my body was addicted then, but on Paxil you just go through life not giving a damn about anything, so who cared?)

I think the longer you are on it, the worst these symptoms are. Coming off has been very rough. It has taken me since September to get to 3mg a day. I usually tell people who visit paxilprogress.org that at least you know somewhat ahead of time what to expect. I knew nothing but what my MD and pharmacist told me: “It’s a safe, nonaddictive drug. You won’t gain weight. It won’t effect your blood pressure.” (I’m hypertensive.) All proved not to be true.

Having said all that, however, if you are having trouble with depression, anxiety, panic etc., and it’s acute right now, paroxetine can help you to get relief from those symptoms and to lead a normal life for a time. And when it’s time to go off, just wean slowly. This gives the poor brain a better chance to adjust to “life without Paxil.” Good luck.

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