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Charles has successfully removed Zoloft from his life. I didn't think he would have the resolve and tenacity to kick such an enslaving (but - per the FDA - "non-addictive") drug.
I'd suggested he do any extremely gradual taper, maybe 12.5 mg. every week or two. A psychiatrist had suggested dropping from 200 mg. to 100 mg. I think he took that much some days. Others he took 50 mg., some days he skipped taking any Zoloft.
Charles warned me that he might become intolerable. He did. His moods shifted among and mixed together bitterness, anger, misery, peevishness, depression. When Zoloft withdrawal had him in his grip he was hellish to be with.
After several weeks the agony receded, Zoloft had lost its grip. His triumph is all his own. No one helped him, no one could. His steadfastness was born mostly of fury. He was infuriated with his psychiatrist and therapist and wanted to end any control they might have over him. Even hate can be your friend.
(NB to anyone that Google directs this way that wants to be off Zoloft. Quitting hurts. But after a time the only benefit of Zoloft is satisfying your body's craving for Zoloft. Take off your combined sick leave and vacation time. It'd be handy to have friends who'll leave you trapped and isolated in a mountain cabin or tie you to the bed and ignore your begging.)
He stopped taking the neurontin early on. He still uses it now but only to help with his migraine headaches. (Since he quit Zoloft his headaches have dropped in intensity.)
Several months ago he reduced his klonopin dosage from six pills to two. Charles doesn't know if he'll be able to eliminate it completely or not.
His heavy marijuana smoking has been a thing of the past for some time. Until I met Charles I never thought reefer could be such a problem. Back when I used to take psychedelics and other fun drugs my friends smoking pot from arising to bedtime and had no problems earning graduate degrees or running shoe stores (pot was probably a must for the latter).
But pot exacerbates whatever makes Charles bipolar nastily. Charles hasn't gone into a frightening manic high in a long time, maybe a year.
He never had a problem with liquor (at least since I've known him, he did go to some AA meetings many years ago). A single glass of wine evokes with his acid reflux or nausea so we can't sit on the porch, sip wine and laugh like we used to.
Phenergan is the strongest medication he still takes. Several years ago Charles had an intestinal resection that put his crohn's in remission. He never knows when he'll become nauseated. When the nausea is severe a very heavy dose of phenergan is needed. Sometimes it'll knock him out as soon as it hits. Other times he'll be alert for a few hours then become very sleepy. Or it may not make him drowsy at all. There isn't an alternative yet (actually the phenergan was a replacement for thorazine).
Me, I only take synthroid. I'll have to admit synthetic thyroid hormone changed my life. Little did I suspect that a feeble thyroid shaped my days. Humiliating isn't it, to reminded you're just an ambulatory vat of chemicals sloshing about.
Medication is one of the scary parts of getting older. Having to take not just one pill to fix something but to add in a couple of other pills to control the side effects of the first one. I used to be the kind of guy who took aspirin only when it seemed absolutely necessary (stupid twit, there was no glory in living through those hangovers). Aside from the fear of having my body chemistry mucked with there's the cost. Charles was just prescribed a special kind of toothpaste. His Medicaid doesn't cover it and it costs $16 a tube.
Anyway, I'm very proud of Charles. Here's hoping for the day he can bring similar toughness to other parts of his life.
When Charles decided to quit I wrote Zoloft Withdrawal