Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 23, 2011

Detoxing from Zoloft: A Diary from July 24 - August 18, 2011

July 24, 2011 

Back in 2003 after my dad died, I was sleeping a lot. A LOT.  I didn't want to go to work, I didn't want to make crafts, I was a zombie all day long, and when it was finally the weekend, I would sleep all afternoon on  both days.  I was in grief counseling and my dr. prescribed the anti-depressant, Effexor.  As time went on, I continued to take the Effexor, only because I knew that once you were on, you couldn't just stop taking them.  I found that out in 2006 when I was in Vancouver, BC and started to feel really weird.  Like I wasn't myself and I wasn't really aware of my surroundings, though I knew where I was, and things were just not right. My head felt disconnected from my body.  I was walking towards the Vancouver Lookout, trying to keep my grip on reality, when I realized that it was the 2nd day in a row that I'd forgotten to take my Effexor.  I remember going to the top of the Lookout and staying up there a good hour, just sitting at a table, looking at the view, summoning up the energy to walk back to the hotel and take my pill.  When I got there, I spent the rest of the afternoon inside the room, instead of out exploring.   Each new year seemed to bring another major stress issue anyway, which contributed to my tendencies toward depression.  In 2007, I asked my doctor to start weaning me off.  It did Not. Go. Well.  I was on a stepped down dose for a long time, but I was still extremely tearful, depressed and stressed.  The only bright spot I remember from that summer was my multi-day trip to Van Isle.  By the fall of 07, my doctor put me back on the full dose because of my failure to cope without them.

When Brian lost his job & our health insurance in 2008, I asked my dr. to switch me to a generic antidepressant because I was now going to have to pay full price for my scripts, and Effexor was out of my budget.  She changed me to Sertraline, which is the generic of Zoloft.  I've been on it since then.

Life has not been easy or kind over the last few years, but I have finally escaped it.  I am back home, albeit suffering through horrid heat and humidity.  I see my friends and family.  Everything is familiar.  I am in a very happy, committed and loving relationship.  I don't have to work.  I have all the down time I want to relax, watch TV, colour, make mix tapes, bead, read, shoot photos, go exploring and make a happy home for me and my man.  My breakneck-speed life has come to a complete halt.  In a nutshell, I don't have anything to stress out about anymore.  I don't have deadlines.  I don't have a commute.  I have the house to myself most of week.  I'm committed to living a no-conflict life, as stress-free as possible.  I know that for every upswing in life, the other shoe will drop eventually, because it ALWAYS does.  The one thing we can be certain of in life is that it's gonna change.

I've been pretty busy with the unpacking and errands, so I haven't had any kind of set routine like I used to, where I'd eat breakfast every morning and take my daily meds.  Ever since I moved out of the Washington house, I have gone a day or so w/o taking the antidepressants, I'd start to feel weird, and take one the next day.  But since moving to the house, I have been very, very lax about it simply because I forgot about them.  It occurred to me yesterday that it's been at least since last weekend that I took one.  That's a very dangerous thing to do, quit cold turkey like that.

When I left Washington, I had my prescription refilled for a 90 day supply.  That would give me 3 months to either find a new doctor to continue the script, or wean myself off by doing the half dose/every other day thing.  I want off them.  I'm sick of taking pills.

At this point, having been off them nearly a week, I don't think I should go back to taking them in any dose even for weaning purposes.  I'm closing in on 7 days without them.  I do notice some strange things like out of body dizziness from time to time, but they aren't as severe as the other times that I've forgotten to take them.  I attribute that to being able to be in an environment of which I am very much in control.  I have no responsibilities except pay the bills.  Yesterday (Saturday), late in the day, I did start to get that same feeling I had in Vancouver, BC back in '06.  I was dizzy, cold & felt detached, but I pushed through it.  I got very tearful at bedtime though, and that's because my squeeze had to go back out on the road after being home only 36 hours.  After being apart all this time, we finally spent 2 weeks solid together but now he's back at work and yes, it's very hard to say goodbye to him every week.

The tearful thing can and will snowball if I let it.  If I start thinking about Sagan, I start to cry.  I was watching/listiening to the 80's digital music station when "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper came on. I love that song, but the video was a tearjerker and that's all that I could think of so I had a good cry while listening to it.  I started to weep at the end of "Willie Wonka" yesterday afternoon too, when Willie gives Charlie the factory.  I've seen that movie HUNDREDS of times since I was a child and the scene has always made me cry, but yesterday I was surprised that it still hit me that hard, considering I haven't watched it in about 15 or more years.

Another thing that's been happening is that I've been having severe night sweats, but only from the waist down.  This has happened off and on over the past few years, but it had abated and I hadn't had this happen in a long time.  It could be the whole menopause process.  But I wake up every morning with my PJ pants soaked from the waistband down to my knees, and stuck to my cold, clammy, damp skin.

My dreams have been pretty bizarre too.  That's nothing new, because I've always had weird and memorable dreams.  These have been more strange than usual and stay with me all day.  Last night I dreamt I was going on a trip back to Victoria, but I was driving there via the mid-Cape Highway.  Next thing I was in the city, walking around the streets and shops I've come to know so well, but I was also going to walk to Willows Beach, which isn't within walking distance of downtown Victoria, in real life.

And earlier today I suffered from restlessness and boredom that's drove me crazy.  I felt like doing something, sort of, and was really bored, but couldn't seem to pull the trigger on doing anything.  I didn't have the attention span for a damn thing.  Not putting up pictures on the walls, not colouring, there was nothing on TV, it was too hot outside to take a walk or shoot photos.  I didn't feel like going over to mom's house.  I was bored with Facebook too.  I couldn't concentrate on my book.  I ended up flicking around the digital music channels on TV and singing loudly with every song I knew the words to.  Russell should be thankful he was on the road and missed my concert, especially since "You Should Be Dancin" by the Bee Gees was one of the songs I chose to listen, and sing, to.  I finally was able to get into a couple of episodes of  "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet, as they were looking in Oregon and Washington so that managed to hold my attention for 2 hours and then the restlessness subsided.

What's making this detox process hard to discern is the fact that I am expecting PMS to throw things way off as well.  I don't know if my mood and the night sweats are related to the lack of the drug or PMS.  I do know that I'm not going to start taking the meds again, because like I said, I'm already almost 7 days into not having them at all, so I don't see the benefit of starting up with a half dose and then weaning off that.

I've decided to update this as I go along w/o the Zoloft, and publish this post after a few weeks, journal style, and see what happens.

July 25, 2011

Is insomnia part of this detox process too?  I  have always had trouble falling asleep, and staying asleep, but last night was particularly bad.  I went to bed at 10:15 and tossed and turned for a long time.  I looked at the clock at 11:50 and was awake for awhile after that. Then I woke up at 5:30.  I know I had weird dreams but can't remember them.  I was at the Registry of Motor Vehicles by 7:30 and was first in line to get my license, registration and title switched over to MA.  It took about an hour but I'm official.  License picture sucks; I  have that lovely "humid summer" shiny thing going on, on my cheeks and forehead but then again, who doesn't this time of year.  Went over to Sandwich and visited w/ mom.  Got back and finally bought a new cell phone. Been riding a bit of a euphoria wave today.  Found out that my fave pizza place, Papa Ginos, delivers, so I am doing a happy dance.  Gotta get my windshield replaced this week.  Wondering if and when I am going to experience a depressive crash this week, if at all.  Fingers crossed that it won't happen.

July 26, 2011

Still not sleeping, still weeping.  Am very sensitive to things and cry easily.  I try not to think about Sagan too much, as that's a trigger.  On the other hand, I'm really happy to be back.  I can't believe we left Washington a month ago today.  That was magic.  I am hesitant to use the word 'honeymoon' because we aren't married and we absolutely aren't getting married any time soon, but it was just that kind of trip.  I was pretty scared of how I was going to feel about being back east, and how homesick for Washington I would be.  I admit to being terrified that this move might not work out once I got here.  I got scared that I was going to miss Washington and the west coast so much that I would succumb to depression and melancholia, and need to be back there.  To my utter surprise, I am truly happy to be back.  Yeah I miss the cooler weather and the scenery, but I see the Cape and east through new eyes and I appreciate it more.  I've noticed that, if I can, I take the roads through the heart of Sandwich instead of taking the highway.  When I lived here prior to 1989, I was always jumping on the Highway, even to go the one exit from downtown Sandwich (Exit 2) to my high school (Exit 3), instead of taking Rte. 6A.  There really wasn't that much of a time savings by using the highway vs. the local road.  I love the neighborhood and the fact that I am so close to the water (Buttermilk Bay, Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal).  I have always loved the 3 bridges and they are close by too.  I'm digging all the old buildings and the buoy collections attached to them.  Talk about quaint.

August 8, 2011

Was doing really well till Mercury went retrograde so I've been a little out of sorts.  Friday afternoon I fell asleep in my chair while the TV was on. I HATE sleeping with the TV on.  I went into that awful stage of sleep paralysis where you are aware of what's going on around you but you can't move and it becomes terrifying.  I thought I was yelling 'Help Me' and was trying to reach for my squeeze's arm or hand, but I couldn't move.  I remember being able to see him (through my eyelids?  were my eyes open? was it just a dream?) in his recliner, watching TV, but I couldn't get his attention. Then I could have sworn Pepper climbed up on me for a pet and I was hugging and cuddling her like a stuffed toy. When I finally woke up 2 hours later, it had really affected me and my mood.  I asked him if I'd made any sound at all during my nap, if he heard me trying to say his name and he said I didn't make a peep the whole time, nor had I hugged Pepper.  I slept 12 hours that night, and had some uber strange dreams about having to take a college class in Paris (ick), but I ended up in very large but very dark and quiet bead shop.  The next day I was very much out of sorts and had that dizzy feeling in my head again.  But other than that, things are going very well.

August 18, 2011

So it's been just about a month today that I stopped taking the Zoloft.  Things are still going quite well and I no longer have any of the side affects experienced above.  I'm pretty proud of myself for getting off antidepressants by myself, but I would never, ever recommend that anyone try it without being under a doctor's care.  I took a chance doing it on my own but this was the perfect time to do it since I was in control of my environment.  It feels good to be free.


  1. I had that same medicine back in 2004-2005 when I was in the middle of my divorce and all other court trials with my ex-hub. It was crazy.

    A Ladybug's Life


  2. Well done, JoJo! I'm very pleased for you.

  3. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Well done you!

  4. This is my whole point about antidepressants, though... you made it for me! If people were not so burned out from stressful jobs (I was doing the job of two people all the way up to the day I was fired) with attendant disrespect, etc.. we would not be so depressed and require these drugs. (It's a fact that women are taking twice as many of these drugs as men, for instance.) CHANGE SOCIETY, not OUR BRAIN CHEMISTRY!!!!!!!

    Seriously, that is my whole point and people think I am SO MEAN for saying it. I am NOT blaming people for their own stress, so I don't know why they get so mad at me for saying it, unless they interpret my comments as saying depression somehow isn't "real" but is instead due to environmental factors. (And WHY would ANYONE want to think their brain chemistry is all fucked up rather than think society is all fucked up?) That doesn't make it NOT real, it means it ISN'T due to the bullshit "chemical imbalance" reasons BigPharma is peddling.

    I say: Look around people... how could we NOT be depressed.

    And YAY JOJO!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!! :D


  5. You might find it easier to lose a few pounds now... the average person gains about 10-15 lbs on antidepressants since they slow metabolism. (not saying you will be automatically sleekly thin, but you may have less appetite for the next few months or so... maybe you have noticed it already?)

  6. I wouldn't say it's a loss of appetite so much as my wanting to not gain weight now that I'm not working. So I am trying to change the way I eat to make up for the fact that I'm not running around an office. On the other hand, I now take Pepper for way more walks (when the weather isn't too hot or raining) and I get out to shoot my photos. It would be nice to shed a few pounds that's for sure!!

  7. Great update. Wonderful you are feeling so much better. You know Jo you live very close to NYC. How long would it take you to get here? One of my ex's took me on a trip to visit his parents in MA - don't remeber the town - guess Sr moment? But it didn't take that long. Maybe we can meet up? And you are right about warning people not to attempt detox w/o doctor's advice. Cheers!!

  8. I've followed another friend's "detox" blog for quite a while; it is a reservoir of great info:

    I know I've tried several different AD's, couldn't tolerate the side effects - besides, Zoloft made me feel like a zombie!

  9. So glad to hear you are regaining control, and doing things sensibly. Congrats!