The year was 1995. I was experiencing some PMS symptoms and my doctor informed me that there was a new drug that was offering relief for PMS. He said that they were having some excellent results. So I agreed to begin taking it. The drug was Paxil.
Immediately from the beginning, I had very odd sensations in my head and flashes of heat surged to my head and face. I told the doctor on my next visit and he assured me that those side effects would subside.
As time went on, I was feeling very good. Occassionally I would have odd sensations like muscle cramps, mild sweating, twitches and hand tremor. After about four months on the Paxil, I seemed to be numb to normal emotions and feelings that I had before taking the Paxil. I still felt some emotion but I became calm and rather unaffected by the any discourse. In fact I was feeling energized and upbeat. I would have occassional zaps to my head and other weird sensations but I felt so good otherwise that I over-looked most of them. I remember feeling a tumbling sensation in my stomach and head at times. Some people would comment on my fingers which would shake noticeably when I ate or held a paper.
I became very talkative and had what appears now to have been manic stages. My natural reserved nature took a backseat and I engaaged in some behaviors that I would have not otherwise. I could not sit still or watch a television program. A close friend asked me if I thought that I may have attention deficit disorder. She made mention that I didn't listen very well and I noticed that I could not concentrate or remember things like I used to. During my next visit to the doctor, I asked him about it and he asked me if I wanted to try Ridlin. I agreed but within two days, I knew it was not for me.
So time passed and now looking back, I can see where I lost sight of what was slowing happening to me. I lost self-awareness but other people would mention things to me. I just chalked them up as "Oh well, that's just me!" Well, today I can tell you that much of my behavior was not me.
I had so many things going on, that I opened less mail so it piled up. I began purchasing all sorts of filing containers to try and at least compartmentalize various things that were going unattended. I was procrastinating in many areas of my life, weaving a web of chaos as I went off on other tangents.
Some of my behaviors became extreme. Anything that I liked to do became more intense and more excessive. Whether it was shopping, business schemeing, eating chocolate or working. In conversation, I would jump from one thing to another and get off in tangents of talkativeness or as one friend put it, "Chattiness.!"
As one year turned into two years, I became quite grandiose in my confidence and bought a commercial buidling and opened up three businesses. All while I had a full time teaching career. Two years into Paxil, I began working on my Masters Degree Program in addition to all of the other things I mentioned. Insane? Yes! But I could not see it at the time! I obsessed and worked a web of extrodinary complexities. I thought I had the world by the tail.
Throughout the course of these events, I would see different doctors and tell them that I wanted to get off the Paxil. There were times I felt great and then there were times that I would have weird sensations, thoughts and perceptions.not to mention the physical sensations as well. Each doctor told me that I would probably have to stay on the Paxil for the rest of my life. Not one doctor told me I could not just stop it. So I experimented on my own,
Sometimes, I would just stop taking it and at other times I would miss a dose because I would simply forget. Those were the worst times. I would say and do things that today I regret. I didn't know what was happening to me. Sometimes I would lay in bed in great confusion and feel flu like symptoms. One time a friend called me on the phone and said, "What is wrong with you?" You sound terrible! You don't sound like yourself! Even your voice sounds different!" I never attributed it to stopping the Paxil. But I always started taking it again and when I felt better, I just assumed that I had the flu or something. When I started taking it again, I would have a totally different reality. But I would just dismiss the whole episode and get going on some other project. I finally finished my Masters with a 4.0 but every other aspect of my life suffered.
Finally in 1998 I got wierder and wierder. I did not feel all that great and had gained about 20 lbs. Over the course of the next two years I went on and off the Paxil here and there. I ended up alienating friends and my businesses went down the tubes. A 22 year friendship, another 4 year friendship and a 13 year good working relationship with my principal had desintegrated, not to mention a whole host of other interpersonal problems. That was not me! No where was any of that in my personal repoitoire of my character.
By the year 2000, I was very much alone, depressed and feeling very ill. I went to the doctor in February. I was told that I had a viral infection. My memory was failing me and I could not orchestrate all of the details required in teaching. On one occassion, I recall passing a test out and then passing it out again. The students just sat in wonderment and one girl pointed it out to me. I remember feeling very embarrassed. At other times I would stop talking in mid-sentence and not be able to finish my sentence. My thoughts would just escape me.
I was not getting any better and decided that it had to be the Paxil. I was going to quit taking it. When I quit taking it, I felt better for a day and then I got worse than ever. I called pharmacists, went to various doctors and nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. I was told that Paxil could not do that. After two weeks, a pharmisit told me that the Paxil would be out of my system by then. Another doctor told me that it was menopause and put me on hormone replacement therapy. The next night, I thought I was going to go through the ceiling. I literally rocked on my back on the floor all night. I had shooting pains, the zaps in the head that everyone talks about. I even pondered suicide. I just prayed for God to help me.
The next day I could not go to school. The second day, I forced myself to go to school and by 10:00 a.m I went to the superintendent and told him that I had to go home and that I was so sick and if I had a gun, I would shoot myself! Earlier that day, I had broke out into a screaming rage that lasted 20 minutes. I screamed at my students while my teacher aide looked at me in disbelief. I could hardly stop ranting.
When I arrived home, various people called me out of concern but I would not talk to them. I told them to not bother me. I had finally started to hit a bottom that had another dreadful bottom which landed me in isolation in my home and on disability over the next several months. The nightmare was going to take me down a deep black hole that I will never forget nor do I ever want to return there. It was the same hell that I read about through the stories of other Paxil survivors. There are no other words to describe the experience but HELL. On the following page I will recount the Hell that I experienced.