First, wow. While I seem to have a solid number of blog readers, they're not usually particularly active when it comes to commenting. So I was very moved to read the few but meaningful responses to yesterday's post, especially those from strangers who must have stumbled upon this blog while trolling the 'net in response to the NYT article I mentioned. I thought it was worth noting that the second half of today's episode of The Diane Rehm Show on NPR was dedicated to the topic of fibromyalgia. (Thanks, by the way, to the many friends who tipped me off!) I was intitially frustrated by the broadcast, which kicked off with New York Times reporter Alex Berenson making more broad generalizations about both fibromyalgia and doctors' opinions about it. (Berenson, for the record, seems to cover the business of drugs for the New York Times. He does not appear to be a healthcare reporter and seems to have written a grand total of one article about fibromyalgia. Which brings up another pet peeve of mine, this positioning of journalists as instant experts on any given topic. But I digress.) However, I thought the broadcast generally went uphill from there and I found the comments of the doctors featured to be, for the most part, heartening. In case you missed it, you can listen to it on the DR Show's website here.
And as reluctant as I am to report on my own failures (on which, I assure you, I am an expert), I decided after some debate to post here that I was simply unable to continue my withdrawal from Effexor XR. By last night, I had been withdrawing for nearly three days and I could not handle it anymore. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I can take a lot. But I have never in my life experienced anything as uncomfortable and disconcerting as this withdrawal. I would, I can tell you without exaggeration, have walked through my withdrawal from alcohol or cigarettes again before going on another minute.
By midnight, I was sobbing uncontrollably in bed, my skin crawling, my brain "zapping" every time my eyes moved from side to side. But, worst of all, I was seized with what I can only describe as an unshakeable sense of doom, to the extent that I was convinced I wouldn't live until morning if I went to sleep. Poor Chris was thrown for a loop, probably a bit terrified in his own right, wondering what had happened to his wife. After he did some research, we concluded that the best thing for me would be to take some Effexor and to take another stab at this withdrawal, far more slowly, when I return from St. Louis next week.
I'm not writing about this to garner pity. I'm writing about it because I am a reasonably sane person who has withdrawn from a thing or two in her lifetime -- and I had wondered if the horror stories I read about Effexor withdrawal on bulletin boards could possibly have been true. I'm not exaggerating when I say that what I experienced yesterday was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. And I think it's important to say so. I think it's important to talk about these things, to keep giving a voice to these things. Because if we don't, then I think what happens is the very thing I railed against in yesterday's post -- no one believes us.