My Own Private Paxil-Hell

I was on Paxil HCL 20 mg for over 4 years and then 40mg for about one year.  I feel that for me the depression subsided, as did any semblance of emotion. I was numb. In many ways this was a profound blessing, in so many other ways a curse. If I should feel joy, instead I’d feel empty. If I should feel sadness I would have felt oddly disconnected. If I was to feel angry I’d feel it but it would be tamer than any anger I’d ever felt before. I felt as though I was hovering above myself waiting to feel something, anything.

This, along with the “pooping-out” that occurred for me, all contributed to my decision to end my stint with Paxil. I decided to research and found that cold-turkey was not recommended and that a tapering would be necessary. My PCP didn’t really agree that the withdrawal would be worrisome and directed a 3 week taper from 40mg to 0. That put my mind into a tailspin.

After my taper to ZERO I was in such emotional Hell that I begged for an alternate SSRI and was put on Wellbutrin 150mg. I honestly don’t see or feel any improvements, but continue to take it in thinking that it can’t be hurting anymore than I already am. The following are my personal findings of Paxil withdrawal symptoms and their duration.

  1. 2 months of severe dizziness.
  2. Lack of appetite for 3 months that was followed by an insatiable hunger.
  3. Crying spells that 7 months later are still occurring.
  4. Anger and severe rage episodes that leave me wondering what in the Hell just happened to me.
  5. Confusion and lack of short-term memory

At one month Paxil-free my father died unexpectedly, and one week after that was the Grand-opening of our new business. Every day I was battling the tears and bouts of sadness I’ve never felt before. I would need Lorazepam or marijuana just to make it through the day without falling apart.

At around 4 months I noticed (along with my family) that my rage was brewing and my angry outbursts were becoming more frequent. I could get through the work day fine (minus the tears part) but would feel the anger build the very moment I walked through my own front door every evening. I have been verbally abusive to my husband and both of my children, especially my daughter.

In my mind, at the moment my rage peaks I feel warranted in my anger. I feel as though I must act on it and next thing I know I’m weeping, sobbing and begging for forgiveness. Ten minutes later I cannot believe how I just behaved and find myself overcome with unbearable shame.

Some days I wonder if this is still the lingering withdrawal or something worse. I have convinced myself that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, but then I’ve never been diagnosed in the past so that is doubtful. I wonder if I’ve just lost all common decency and have turned into a complete narcissist. Then like a lightbulb I remember that I basically came off this cold-turkey and everything I’ve read, from blogs to medical journals indicate that it is indeed still the effects of my withdrawal.

This is little consolation to those in my rage’s path. I still need help somehow and have no idea where to start. I have attempted therapy in the past but have found each and every time that they are all cookie-cutter types looking to have me say what they want to hear. I don’t want to discuss my childhood, or my parents or how I feel I was or wasn’t treated in 1980 for God’s sake! I want to tell someone that I am losing my shit and need some tools to control this instead of it controlling and destroying all I care about in this life.

I write in hopes of healing myself. I have hope that laying my behaviors and innermost thoughts out before me will enable me to find some clarity and recognize my triggers and find a way to cope with them by removing myself from a possible out lashing before it escalates into an irreversible situation.



Squish Your Ladies, Ladies!

My first mammogram was so much different than what I envisioned. I have been told tales of nightmarish incidents. This? This is what countless women have warned me of? Really?

I made my dreaded appointment months ago thinking the far-off date would allow me time to prepare. I am turning 40 this year and have always been a bit over-informed medically speaking, but it’s served me well thus far. I knew that a mammogram was something I had to do, but I was beyond nervous. I was actually fearful.

I can take pain, quite well actually. The thought of my girls being smooshed on a cold surface between two equally cold plates, however ignited in me a fire of fear. Irrational for sure, but the seed of worry had been planted by the numerous women I have discussed this with over the last several years.

I was told I wouldn’t be able to breathe, that the squishing, if you will, would be painful and nearly unbearable. I have heard women speak of the ridiculously cold surface and the dreaded closing of the press.

I arrived to my appointment early, I am habitually early. I checked in and took a seat. My face flushed, my feet were fidgeting, and my sight started to close in. Anxiety, hello there! While sitting in the waiting room I watched the people come and go, wondering how much longer I must wait before I find my fate. Heather? I look up to see an attractive younger (than me, sigh) woman in scrubs scanning the room. I rise from my seat, offer a smile and say that’s me.

She brings me into the mammo room, as I’m calling it, and I see the big intriguing machine. Not so scary at first look, let’s see what this is all about. She continues explaining what she will do and how results work. She closes the little curtain for me to undress and put on a top that covers little and I wonder why not just have me stand topless? It would be easier for both of us it seems… She then tells me we’re going to first do one this way, then that way (that way is simply at an angle). She lifts my right breast, lays it on the plate, not that cold honestly. The other plate comes down and I’m certain I’ll pass out momentarily. Suddenly I realize that I have reached full-squish. I look to the technician and say that’s it? She informs me for that angle and breast, yes that was it.

She continues the other angle, switches to the other breast and finishes me up. Again, I say to her that’s it? we’re done? She confirms this and I go into explaining my fears before I had arrived to her. I tell her that this was so beyond easy-peasy that I couldn’t believe the tales of horror I’d been described before now. She encourages me to tell others how I feel and I tell her I’m going to blog about it. Women need this lifesaving test done, and we women need to not create fear in our peers about doing it. I would rather have a mammogram than an IV. I’d prefer a boob-squish to a throat culture. Sure a little discomfort, but an overeager young man could cause a lady more boob pain than a mammo.

So, I urge you ladies approaching the big 4-0, and those that are like me and are certain it will be more painful than bearing a child get your girls checked. Be brave and take initiative. I assure you that you will be grateful you did when you get a clean bill of boob-health, and if you don’t, all the more grateful you will be.


Let the Light Shine

I failed. I failed at being patient. I failed at being understanding. I failed at controlling my temper. I reacted to a comment and before I knew it, was neck-deep in a war of words with my husband.

Twenty years we’ve been together. Twenty years and we still have moments in which we act like spoiled kids and throw insults at each other. I should have taken just one second to evaluate what it was he said to me, how he said it, and whether it was frustration directed at me or just frustration in his voice, directed at no one in particular.

In hindsight I saw clearly that he was not directing any animosity toward me, nor was his frustration because of me. He simply made a comment and I flew into a rage. I was convinced he was attacking my character.

What had begun as a beautiful, fun day, full of hope and love, was at once turned to darkness. I singlehandedly darkened the entire world around me.

If only I had controlled my temper. If only I had taken just one moment to be sure I was reacting appropriately. It’s so difficult for me to admit when I’m wrong. It’s paralyzing. To have this one person in my life that sees me at my worst, best and all the adjectives in between and loves me all the while is really something, isn’t it? To know without question that someone in this world will accept us when we aren’t lovable to say anything about likeable, this is the fabric of life.

To be loved means you must love. To find acceptance you must be accepting. To be seen at your most vulnerable allows a loved one to see you authentically. We race through each day and show our smiles to passerby’s, maybe we gaze downward to avoid eye contact in an attempt to keep to ourselves. We tell those who ask that we are well even if we are crumbling inside. We as humans lie daily in our quest to be accepted.

I can’t hide from my husband. He sees and I believe, feels my moods as they change. He can anticipate a good day on the horizon. He can anticipate a storm before the clouds even fill my sky. He can also tolerate all that I am. It’s not easy to see all and still love someone completely, without condition, yet he does just that. He loves me for all I am, and in spite of all I am. In my husband’s eyes I am flawed, damaged and beautiful. His love stabilizes me. He is the glue to the fabric of my soul.

I couldn’t say why I have been blessed with such love. I can’t say that I am to him all he is to me. I hope to be, I try to be, but I know he exceeds and surpasses me at every turn. My husband is everything we should all hope to be. Tolerant, loyal, forgiving and honest.

I failed in a moment, but I triumphed in life. Today I will attempt to be a success in regard to my treatment of others, of my husband, and my children. It isn’t easy loving me. It isn’t simple. I came into the world as a complicated soul and I believe that is how I’ll leave it. I don’t apologize for my misstep, an apology is usually (in my experience) a short-term solution and a way for the assailant to excuse their behavior. Instead, I admit to my wrongs. I own my actions and get up and try again to be a better me.

I thank God and all the energy in this world for finding me the one soul I would need throughout my journey here. I give thanks for being so lucky as to have found this love, this friendship so long ago. My husband is my light and his light shines endlessly.



The Pets That Own Me


Two cats, a miniature dog, a teenaged boy, a husband and an neurotic-perfectionist of a wife all coexisting and learning to share space. I find it infuriating and amusing (depends on the day) that although my spouse and son have learned to avoid my space when I am irritable, my pets would rather ruffle my already rumpled feathers than show me any sort of respect. I feed and water them daily, keep their litter clean, provide veterinary care as needed, and offer my love to them constantly. In spite of all my efforts to provide a decent home, they show me that I am merely a resident in their lair.

Walter my 2-year-old tom cat, to say the least is unique. He likes to hop onto my bed, climb upon my chest and ever so gently outstretch his front legs slowly and land his paws on my face. Right. On. My. Face. I could have a book in hand, no matter, Walter reaches right over it. My husband is not the “cuddle the kitty” type. Often as he lay in bed, up comes Wally and walks over his bare chest and turns about as though plumping a good spot to take a load off. Clearly, no fear has Walter.

Macy, a six-year-old spayed feline with tolerance for no one still rejects the affections offered her by Walter.  She prefers to be left to her napping, eating and lounging regiment. Simplicity is for Macy. Odd is how we describe her. She wishes not to be held, but yearns for petting and responds in kind with the yawl of death. She watches her humans from afar as though to say “distance, keep your distance”.  She has a belly that hangs low, just missing the surface beneath her as she walks to and from feeding place to napping place to excrement place. This is the life of Miss Macy.

Walter has determined his most favored activity of late to be the torturing of Macy. He lurks around corners, sneaks behind inanimate objects and lies in wait for her next excursion through his quarters.  He will pounce her from afar and although she prefer to not engage in physical activity, she comes to life with a vengeance. Hissing and scurrying she fights off his attempts at playful encounter and retreats to a safer space. Walter will then look for entertainment elsewhere for a short time before returning to his quest in tormenting Macy.

Max, the alpha (and only) dog of the Manor, is Walter’s bff. To my amazement, they play and clean each others ears seemingly unaware of the difference in species. Max, or Dinky as we affectionately call him due to his miniature size, is 12 years old and a baby at heart. He is unaware of his senior status and his energy is unending. He is able to leap to my hip in order to grasp my undivided attention. He can still run at hypersonic speeds when called in from his daily out-of-doors excursions. All in all, he’s truly a youngster at heart.

This morning in my rush to get out the door on time, (again, unsuccessful) I smashed my thumb whilst crushing ice for a smoothie, spilled the powdered mix, overfilled the water jugs, and felt composure leaving my body. Max is jumping up to me and with every take he is poking his little paws into my thigh. As I urge Max to stop, I look to my left and there he is, atop the counter fully aware of his wrongdoing. Smug, looking right at me as though to say “whatcha gonna do ’bout it?”  I turn back to the sink, finish the botched job I had begun and see a small juice glass staring at me; taunting me. I filled it and unbeknownst to the offender, walked over nearer him and hurled the water in his face. Walter turned and leapt off the counter with a wet face and neck,  as he hit the floor and looked back at me with disgust and utter astonishment, I say “No Walter, I will not be messed with today”.

In some small way I won today’s battle, although I am fully aware the war will wage on and I am merely a servant and will never see a true victory so long as I choose to reside in Walter’s abode.





An Odyssey of Faith

“You are how you act, not just how you believe”-Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith

This quote struck a nerve in me. We as a society have awakened and progressed socially in various aspects during my lifetime alone. Still, I must wonder, how many of us truly act in the manner in which we believe

I believe in equality for all. I believe we are all created equal. The strong, weak, intellects, athletes, every creed, race and kind known on earth.  Equality. Then I find myself acting otherwise. I don’t judge based on one’s social status or choices, but I do judge.  I have gossiped, I have found myself engaged in conversation that is unbecoming at best.  I certainly have been judgmental for no warranted reason.  I paint myself in one light and have found that I may be looking at myself through a lens of obscurity.

I set out on a spiritual journey of sorts this year. I find a need, a calling to not only understand my faith, but to adhere it to my daily living. I was not baptized nor was I brought up in a family that attended church regularly. My step-father insisted on Christmas Eve candle-lit service every year and that was the most diligence exemplified regarding the church in my upbringing. I have attended our local churches and sought counsel from a few pastors. I have listened to sermons that touched me and others that have flown over my head with their reference to biblical verse. I have been offered every kindness and acceptance within our local parishes and still have yet to find where I feel I belong. Could it be that I don’t belong in a house of the Lord, or that I simply refuse to adhere to the discipline it would require? I feel it is ostensibly the latter.

I read recently that religion is more than faith, it’s ritual also. Not only weekly worship, but morning prayer, evening prayer, fasting, communion, whatever ones denomination practices. I assuredly do not apply these to my life on a daily, weekly or even yearly basis so how is it that I cast a shadow of judgement on those that do attend worship weekly? I have peered down my nose and labeled others as six-day sinners and a one-day saint, when really those that I am referring to are taking the initiative to be present in their faith, at least weekly.

Society is now inflicted with the information age, we hide behind computer screens, tablets and phones. We check-in with our social media daily but not our God. We make and take time to scan our Facebook and Twitter feeds but not the time to say Grace before a meal. Is it that we no longer have faith, or have we as a society become idle in our conviction of faith?

When did worship become embarrassing? When did we decide it uncool to share our spiritual idealism with others and seek guidance from our neighbors? Did we get so busy in our laziness that we cast God aside? Have we become such an indifferent society that we find our social media a more necessary activity than participating in our faith?

I do not have any of the answers to my own questions, I am just another roving soul seeking security and love from my God. I will continue in my quest for a place of worship, I may have already found it and must simply apply myself in showing up. I will hope for understanding from others and I will practice returning the kindnesses and considerations I have been blessed with.

I urge all to take a moment to acknowledge the correlation between ones beliefs and actions. Our beliefs are what makes us who we want to be, our actions make us who we are.

Caught and Released

Have you ever felt trapped in your own existence? Paralyzed by your own intellect? They say when you know better you do better, but what if you don’t? What if you know better and still you stay true to the darkness. Prisoner to the obscurity of your mind.

I have lived nearly 40 years and only in the last year did I take the time to discover my crippling anxieties. The revelation of my own anxiety came to me after a near break-down brought on by my own actions.  I spoke of my disbelief towards anxiety for years, told those suffering that I just didn’t get it. Denial? At it’s finest.

Only now am I discovering that anxiety creeps into every facet of my life. Not only in my adult self, but I can recognize its presence existed in my youth. How is it that this quandary eluded my consciousness for so long? Simple. I allowed it. I allowed it to fester and flourish without worry of its inevitable rupture, hurling my realities into oblivion.

In the last year I have seen the murky depths of depression and anxiety. They gripped me and I succumbed to their clutches. I cared not for the love that was offered me, the patience displayed by loved ones. I wallowed and lingered in sadness, despair and fear. Even though I was fully responsible for ending up where was at that point I still couldn’t accept or voice aloud the disappointment I felt in myself. I believe this is what awakened my anxieties and allowed them the fuel to develop into the colossal villain they became.

I couldn’t leave my home, couldn’t breathe without a paper bag to decelerate my breaths. I found myself checking and re checking my bag as I left the house or office. Did I turn everything off? I over-analyzed conversations on the daily. Did I say something wrong? Did I talk too much? Not enough? I broke out in hives, my vision blurred.  I was destroying my family one moment at a time. I couldn’t see the selfishness they saw, couldn’t take any form of criticism, couldn’t see any good in the world. All I saw was dark. All I felt was shame, the depths of which knew no end. No end at all.

My antidepressants at this time decided to send me on a roller-coaster thrill ride. They stopped working which thrust me into a premature withdrawal. There was dizziness, loss of appetite, a feeling of numbness, bouts of sobbing that lasted for days, weeks. I was losing will to survive, succumbing to my own demise. My instincts gripped my psyche and instructed to detach. I was no longer capable of reason, I was believing all hope had disappeared. My purpose had been removed from my life.

I looked for God, and to be completely honest, believed Him to have forsaken me. I was completely rejecting the idea that I was responsible for my own free will. Where I was standing at that point in time was a direct result of choices I had made, choices only I was responsible for. God had not forsaken me, He just couldn’t help me until I was ready to help myself.

Without support I wouldn’t be writing this today. I don’t believe I wouldn’t be here, just that I wouldn’t have the secure footing I feel I am attaining now. Anxiety is with me, always has been I now realize and knowing is controlling for me. I am unable of preventing the attacks entirely, but now I can see them for what they are. I am beginning the tedious work of self-acceptance and allowing myself to forgive my past mistakes. Everyday I try to be an improved version of myself and some days, I fail this miserably. Some days I am angry for no apparent reason, some days I succumb to my tears.

We are, all of us, flawed individuals. We have all experienced, to some extent, indiscretions and lapse of good judgement. In this we are all alike. The same and altogether contrasting at the same time. Where one errs, another flourishes and where one is weak, another is stable. Those of us that are broken often recognize that healing must come forth from within.

I’m ascending from the bottom and have only up to travel. I’ve seen the bedrock of my soul and wish to never return. I must make conscious efforts daily to be kind, patient and humble. I own my faults, recognize my deceptions and have sought forgiveness from those I’ve mistreated. I cannot undo my wrongdoings, they are my reminders of a past I left behind. I can only move forward, however slowly and greet my future with a renewed hope of acceptance.







Beginning again

The last year of my life has been full of obstacles.  I lost my job, I lost my will and I lost my dad.  Today, I begin the first day of the rest of my life.

I fell on my face, and caused the fall. I then stayed down for the next nine months. In the time it takes one to bring a life into the world, I was self destructive and turning inward. My loved ones reached out to me and I turned away time after time. I became so anxiety ridden that I rarely left home, and when I did, it was brief and traumatic.  I didn’t take calls I should have, and I didn’t always return the love and support I was given.

On November 7, 2016 while I was taking a shower, I suddenly couldn’t catch or keep my breath. I was a pack+ a day smoker and it had finally taken its toll after 27 years of smoking (I’m 39 today).  My husband rushed home upon my 911 text and took me to the local ER where I was given steroids, breathing treatments and an inhaler. That day, I gave up the cigarettes and it was a turning point in my life.

At this time I was also weaning myself off of a powerful and dangerous (in my opinion) anti-depressant (Paxil). This drug’s withdrawals are not for the faint of heart. I experienced hallucinations, night sweats, extreme dizziness and crying spells that lasted for weeks. Then came the anger and rage. That was a two-week period that I still harbor guilt over the ways in which I treated my family. My doctor had me coming off Paxil at a rate that was too much, too fast for my system and I ended up going on Prozac to bridge the gap between Paxil and Paxil-free.

The week of Christmas I had finally started to feel semi-normal. The dizziness and severe emotional side effects had lessened and I was making headway. Christmas came and went and the next couple of days were so simple and ordinary.

December  28, 2016 at 3:18 p.m. my brother called. I knew it was the wrong time of day for him to be calling me, but I answered with a cheerful and upbeat greeting. I knew in an instant that something was horribly wrong, as he asked if I was alone.  My kids (15 & 19) were home with me, my husband was not. He then proceeded to explain he had bad news. I knew it was Dad. I “knew” his heart had either given out or he was back in the hospital (he had a successful by-pass in August).  It was neither.

My Dad died that day. 9/10 of a mile from his home on a dirt road in the middle of the SE Arizona desert.  He came to an intersection and there it happened. A collision of terror. He lost his life the moment he collided with the other vehicle. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, he was going far too fast. It was 9:30 in the morning. He was clear-headed and not in a hurry, he was on his way to pick up his hearing aid. A very ordinary day. He kissed and hugged his wife goodbye and never ever returned.

What does it mean to lose a parent?

It’s losing a connection to ones roots. Losing a piece of yourself. Losing an unconditional love that you never imagined could be lost.  I have 3 siblings and although we are all going through the same loss, we are each feeling this loss in completely different and separate ways. To each of us our father was a different person. He knew how to love each of us individually and independently. Never before had we realized the importance of this. Never had we given him the credit for filling our hearts with his love.  Losing my father, my Dad, was a pivotal moment in my life. Forevermore I will see my life in two parts, before dad passed, and after.

Today I learn to begin again. Just as my Dad always taught me to.


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