Citation: M.E.L.. "Failed by Pharma: An Experience with Escitalopram (Lexapro) & Risperidone (Risperdal) (exp111407)". Erowid.org. Jun 30, 2021. erowid.org/exp/111407
When I was a sophomore in high school I was frustrated with my lack of ability to feel comfortable in social situations and make new friends (I already had a few best friends). I thought drugs were the answer to my problems. I searched online for a medication that would give me what I wanted, something similar to the effects of alcohol. I decided upon several drugs which I wrote down and presented as a list to my doctor. The last choice was Lexapro, and he agreed to prescribe me it (along with changing my Adderall to Vyvanse and upping the dose which I used mostly to get high). 10mg Lexapro every morning.
Within 7 seconds of taking the first pill I felt its effects. It was horrible and bizarre, it felt like I had been poisoned, but according to what I had read online negative effects on startup of SSRIs were common and would subside. So I decided to bear with it. This horrible feeling occurred the next two times I took the pill, and I had horrible insomnia and malaise for the first three days. School started during that time and I remember my heart beating fast and speaking like I was out of breath to my teachers, but this went away. All that was left, from what I could tell, was almost exactly what I wanted. My ability to feel anxiety and fear was diminished.
I did not become any sort of social butterfly over the course of the school year though. I did get my first girlfriend (out of school) which made me happy with myself for the first time since puberty and made me decide not to take anymore drugs. But I slowly got more and more bored with everything, and did some out-of-character things like stealing my dad's vehicle to see a couple girls out of town, getting expelled from school on purpose (went to a special school for kids like that for the rest of the semester, came back next year), and quitting catechism class. I tried to join the Marines because I thought that would put excitement into my life.
I slowly realized that not only was my ability to feel anxiety and fear lessened, but all my emotions, including pleasant ones, were too. I couldn't feel that amazing deep feeling I used to have when I crushed on a girl. I couldn't feel too excited. When I broke my wrist and took painkillers, I couldn't get euphoric like I had a year before when I took them illicitly. After looking at porn one day and finishing the deed alone, I decided the drug was numbing me too much, I didn't need it anymore, and I was going to quit. Just like that.
Boy was I wrong.
The boredom increased drastically, I started looking for an apartment to move out because I thought living where I was with my family was a source of my boredom. Then I started feeling absolutely terrible, I got the flu at the same time which didn't make it any better. I threw up for hours and hours one night, and when I woke up I was realizing something was horribly wrong, 'discontinuation' was an understatement, this was like I'd heard fucking heroin withdrawal feel like, as far as misery goes. Over the next couple weeks my ability to feel pleasure continued to decrease, and I tried to reinstate my medication to wean off slowly later, but to no avail whatsoever. Then one day bam! I felt no pleasure whatsoever. No happiness, nothing good at all. Just an immense absence of pleasure, and a craving for what I used to feel that was unbearably intense. A boredom so strong I would rather be paralyzed than feel this way.
I was at a party with hot girls, and one tried to sleep with me, but I could not feel anything. It was so bizarre and torturous. I was aware of how good I should be feeling, and how I should be having an absolute blast, but ... nothing. I pretended to be sick and go to bed to avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment of her realizing I was suddenly impotent. As the days passed and I began finding more and more reports like mine of people who had their so-called 'discontinuation' syndrome last weeks, then months, then years, I was freaking out and plunging into despair. I don't want to be like this when my senior year starts!
It kept getting worse. The pure lack of any pleasure, which made me want to die, lasted a month. Then as soon as it slightly lifted and I felt the faintest glimmer of something that could vaguely be called pleasure, all hell broke loose. I began having panic attacks every morning that lasted hours. I could not drink alcohol because it made me feel like absolute shit, I could not drink milk because I was suddenly lactose intolerant, and my favorite music was nothing more than irritating noise (remember, no pleasure). I had memory problems, bouts of intense despair, bouts of intense and unbearable anger. Just bouts of intense fear or rage every day. It would come in waves that were sort of predictable, for example I knew the next day I was going to wake up with a panic attack, then that would subside into just inability to feel any pleasure, then I would feel intense rage for a few hours, then that would subside and it would just be lack of pleasure.
I think I lasted 3 weeks or 3 months my senior year of high school before I dropped out and spent most of my time in bed, on paxilprogress.org, or doing my best to socialize with my friends and family. It was truly frustrating beyond description to be hanging out with friends, pretending to have fun, when all you feel is frustration and a craving to feel the slightest pleasure. The panic attacks didn't stop for three months. No drugs alleviated my misery, not marijuana, not opioids (which gave me NO pleasure whatsoever anymore), or amphetamines. I finally gave up trying to use drugs to feel better around November of that year, since it was pointless. Marijuana was giving me only slightly interesting effects, but no pleasure, and the paranoia wasn't worth it.
The ability to feel pleasure has been excruciatingly slowly coming back. The worst side effect besides the lack of pleasure that I forgot to mention was what's called online Post-Orgasmic Syndrome. Sounds disgusting, and it is terrible. After an orgasm (which wasn't pleasurable) I felt intense brain fog, memory problems, inability to think clearly, stuttering and losing my train of thought, and physical fatigue. That has also been slowly going away.
A couple years after the ordeal began I tried college for a semester or two, but I stopped going because it didn't feel worth it. I rathered just stay at home doing stuff on the computer. Of course my life has been destroyed. I lost all but my best friends, but my relationship with even them has been greatly damaged by a new episode in this horror show. Turns out one common side effect of Lexapro withdrawal is 'brain zaps', a painful electrical sensation in the head behind the eyes. I thought it was odd I had never got those, but then almost 5 years in I began having them. Unfortunately I did not recognize them for what they were. I began, all of a sudden, having episodes of painful emotions like suicidality, a sudden bizarre bout of hunger, then the next day an intense thirst for a few seconds, then for a couple days I couldn't drink water because it made me feel like I was suffocating, then I had a few hallucinations. Just random bizarre stuff like that, all of a sudden! Unfortunately this, coupled with my conspiracy theory reading online, was a recipe for disaster. I thought Freemasons were poisoning me because I was Catholic. But then since changing foods didn't stop the episodes, I figured they were being helped by demons which were possessing me. I concluded a certain member of my family who would come visit every once in a while was responsible, and I attempted something horrible which I won't mention. I was arrested and locked in a psychiatric facility for two weeks where I was given Risperdal and Invega.
This gave me awful akathisia, which is an inability to keep still (or else you feel an unbearable and torturous feeling of 'discomfort', I don't know what else to call it) and intense unbearable mental anguish. Unfortunately I thought it was the demons again, so I kept taking the pills without complaining. I was also afraid the staff were Freemasons too and were aware of what I was suffering, but I was scared if I complained about how bad I was feeling they would tell my family my complaints were nonsensical and just symptoms of my psychosis (which I didn't really have) and use that as an excuse to lock me up and torture me with akathisia forever.
After 2 weeks I was released, unfortunately the akathisia only got worse, and also the inability to feel pleasure, although not as bad as the Lexapro one. Whereas the Lexapro inability to feel pleasure (called anhedonia) was distressing because of the loss of the good stuff I used to feel, akathisia is the actual presence of unbearable torture, torment, pain and agony. After a few weeks of stupid and useless prayers I gave up my religion and became a Deist. It's been 6 months and for the first time the akathisia and anhedonia have subsided to the point where I want to live so whenever I'm healthy enough to go back out into the world, I can try to pick up whatever remnants of my old life I have left, and start building a new one.
I hate religion now, but I hate psychiatry and the fucking arrogant assholes who gave me akathisia even worse. I'm required by law now to see a psychiatrist every so often and when I had complained about my unbearable akathisia, even though my family confirmed that I was pacing up and down the house for hours every day for weeks, he said I was lying just to get more Ativan (which had been the only thing I was given by the doctor at the psychiatric facility over the phone after I left to help me with the akathisia). He refused to give me more Ativan but it didn't matter by then since the Ativan had actually started making the akathisia worse (when at first it helped).
So I'd just like to end this report with a big fuck you to religion and an even bigger FUCK YOU to psychiatry. What a bullshit 'science'. Did I mention part of the akathisia was feeling like the nerves in my thorax were red-hot wires burning inside of me? Do these stupid PhDs know what that feels like? What did I have to get given any medication in the first place? I didn't even believe my hallucinations were real, I'm not a fucking retard. The Lexapro and the religion and the conspiracy theories (well the religion and the conspiracy theories are almost one and the same) are to blame. These fucking stupid doctors gave me drugs to cure the problem their fucking drugs caused, and all it did was make it worse. I get I was a danger to other people, but locking me up for 2 weeks was all that was needed to make me realize nobody was trying to hurt me.
I didn't need to be fucking poisoned and tormented.
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