Effexor and Me: Not Qute a Love Story

A few days ago I shared a post called “Paranoia” about my crazy night of attempting  to ambush an imaginary intruder due to a temporary imbalance in my chemical makeup.

This imbalance, caused by an unintentional withdrawal from the antidepressant Effexor, led me to act in an erratic manner and resulted in a sleepless night. Once I had the drug back in my system all was right with the world. No harm, no foul.

Except that it’s not all right. This wasn’t my first experience with Effexor withdrawal. Several years ago I suffered a similar reaction after a bout with the stomach flu. For three days I kept throwing up my meds along with everything else in my system. 

The withdrawal was a terrifying experience. I had violent night terrors involving vivid decapitations and stabbings. In one savage dream I watched as Charlie Sheen had a leg brutally removed with a chain saw. Reality and imagination merged in my brain until I couldn’t discern one from the other. When I was awake, I experienced brain shivers, a sensation that’s difficult to describe but is vaguely similar to the feeling one gets when one has an inner ear infection. And the paranoia was off the charts. 

Studly was out of town on business, and had no idea how sick I was. I called him frantically insisting that I was near death. He cut his meetings short and rushed home to find me a mess. I had a migraine that had me cowering in our darkened closet and I was certain a tornado was imminent.

He rushed me to convenient care where I was fortunate to be able to see my former general practitioner. Thank goodness he was familiar with my medical history. He immediately asked how long it had been since I’d taken Effexor and got me started on an I.V. Within an hour I was back to being me.

The ironic part of this whole thing is that I don’t take Effexor for depression. My oncologist prescribed it to help ameliorate the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. Since I cannot take a hormone replacement, she believed Effexor would provide some relief. And it does.

But I worry about the future. What happens when I’m an elderly woman and cannot control my own medical care? What happens if at some time I do not have access to the drug and go bonkers? 

Recently I read a novel with a post-apocalyptic theme. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. In the novel a virulent flu has decimated the world’s population, and a group of survivors has sought refuge in an airline terminal. The group has enough food and other provisions, but one character who takes Effexor, soon runs out of her prescription and the group is unable to secure more. That character does not do well and ends up wandering off into the unknown. I think about her often.

Well, this was a cheery post. I highly recommend the book.

Peace, People.


The kitty is too cute to be a symbol of Effexor withdrawal.

Three Doors, One Choice

Today’s prompt from The Daily Post: You’re having a nightmare, and must choose between three doors. Pick one and tell what you find on the other side.


In darkness I navigate the narrow maze.
Behind me I hear the labored breathing
Of an unknown predator. I cannot stop.

Two left turns, hands pressed flat against
Rough walls of stone. Abruptly stumbling
I find myself facing three towering doors.

Slim candles in sconces flicker, offering
Little clue as to which door provides for
My salvation from the rampaging beast.

Door one is painted red. The deep, hue
Of blood. Orange flames shoot across a
Wooden lintel, daring me to cross below.

Angels grace the second door accented
Against an aerial array of cumulonimbus
Clouds in a sky of heavenly aquamarine.

As the beast draws near I observe the third
Door. Ancient and carved with Celtic runes
Beckoning me to throw caution to the gods.

The choice seems simple: Forsake doors one
And three. Door two seemed a haven, but then
Out of darkness roared an unearthly demon.

With some hesitation I step inside the door
Most mysteriously carved. Fevered drumming
Was my reward. The third door held strong.

Otherworldly chanting to the steady beat of a
Bodhran reverberates within my chest, pulls me
Onward relentlessly toward the echoing sound.

An ethereal luminescence illuminates my steps
Into a forest populated entirely by wee folks
Who gently guide me into a circle enchanted.

A faerie dressed in finest silks alights beside me
And gracefully bids me sit within the mystical
Ring. A guest of honor for their celebratory meal.

“What brings you here?” Faerie asks. I feel certain
She reigns as deva within this forest primeval.
“A beast chased me into your realm,” I explain.

“Three doors you had from which to choose: One
Hell, another Heaven, yet you selected the third.
It isn’t often that mortals wager their lives on us.”

“I had little time to decide my fate with a monster
Close behind. Hell I rejected. Heaven seemed too
Safe. I could not resist the call of the unknown.”

Then we danced and drank far into the night. The
Faerie folk sang songs that resonated in the very
Depths of my soul. My heart expanded with love.

I awakened with tears on my cheeks and a smile
Teasing the corners of my lips. A lovely dream
Born from a nightmare. Beauty from the beast.


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