Zyban & Suicidal Ideation

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Living with someone who took many psychiatric drugs taught me that the main effect of anxyolitics* is to make you not care. Call it therapeutic apathy.

(Not that I really buy that. The serotonin hypothesis seems as much pseudoscience as intelligent design. But I’ll hold that rant ‘til another time.)

The Zyban transformed me from animal to vegetable. If I’d become more inert maybe I’d have calcified into mineral.

I climbed into bed and lived there for a couple of days. Cigarettes weren’t missed. The Zyban didn’t give me strength of character. I didn’t care: not even that I wasn’t smoking. It was just easy to go with the flow of my intent and not smoke.

I didn’t care about anything: communicating with Alex, using the computer, watching movies. The primitive gratification of eating became my only enthusiasm.

When my spine became to cramped from living in the bed I reread P.G. Wodehouse. Thankfully I had a stack that I’d read only once years ago. Even the bupropion hydrochloride couldn’t insulate me from Wodehouse’s humor.

In bed yesterday morning I was suddenly flooded with - forgive the portentous phrase - existential anguish. Life was hopeless; I was doomed. Pain and chaos were imminent.

Total panic. No wonder people taking psychiatric medications think of murdering themselves.

I wanted to call my best friend to come get me but the psychopharmacological despair hit at the time of the week he wouldn’t be able to.

I fled into my front yard and paced up and down telling myself “It is a chemical, it isn’t reality.” Given that emotional reality is myriad chemical processes it wasn’t that comforting a mantra.

I calmed a bit but was afraid to go back in the house. In there I was afraid the inner assault would begin anew.

So I walked a half block to the Joy Station and bought a pack of cigarettes. The nicotine sedated me and I was able to reenter my own home.

It took me a few hours to recuperate. Even writing about it makes me feel as if insects have been crawling around in my brain.

But I don’t want to smoke.

I didn’t take a Zyban yesterday. In a little while I’m going to take half a tablet and see if that will be strong enough to make me indifferent to nicotine withdrawal without destroying my peace of mind.

And this time I’ll try to remember the nicotine patches. When the Zyban was working well I didn’t feel a need for them. I wish I’d thought to apply one when I panicked.

I’m a fairly well integrated person. My own response only reinforces all the doubts I’ve ever had about giving emotionally crippled people these poorly understood but immensely profitable drugs.

* Actually it is an antidepressant. I made a wild ass assumption that it was an anxyolitic because anxiety seems more akin to what I feel during withdrawal than depression. And I should clarify that I never felt suicidal. But such pervasive horror at life that I could imagine wanting to off myself.

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