Fast forward 9ish years. Earlier this year, I realized that my short-term memory was getting bad. I was forgetting simple things. A lot. My memory had always been like a steel trap. I was a bit like Cliff Claven. I knew a lot of random stuff because I remembered nearly everything I had ever heard. My memory has always been very important to me. VERY important. To have it start to slip felt like life was giving me a slap in the face. I mean, even when things were really crappy, at least I could remember it. But now? Not only was I having to write everything down, I was forgetting to do a lot of the everyday stuff. I'm pretty sure I went 3 days without brushing my teeth because I just forgot that was something you were supposed to do. I would remind my kids to do it every night before bed, but by the time I went to bed, the thought was no where to be found.
I mentioned to my therapist a few times that my memory was messed up and after ruling out the normal things, we thought it was perhaps because we were dealing with a lot of old stuff and learning new ways to handle it and therefore my brain was just working differently and missing some things that weren't drastically important. As the weeks went by, it got worse. If it wasn't written down, there was no way I was remembering it and even then, it was iffy. You can write things on a calendar until your hand falls off, but if you forget to look at the calendar and the DO WHAT IT SAYS, it won't do you any good. Again, I talked to my therapist about it and I started to wonder if it could be due to the medication I was on. It dawned on me that I have been on it for TEN YEARS in varying doses. I've never gotten off of it fully because the withdrawal effects are so rough on me and because I don't want to be a nutcase. I told therapist I would mention it to psychiatrist when I saw her in a couple of weeks.
Two weeks ago I realized I was losing words. When you've always relied on words (especially written words) to communicate, losing them is scary shit. If I was older, I would have assumed I was suffering from dementia. Losing my memory and losing my words was taking such a toll on me that I didn't know what to do other than wait for the psychiatrist appointment and hope she would have an idea of what to do with me. I assumed that it would mean weaning me off the Effexor XR and just trying to suck it up and hope the withdrawal didn't drive me to drink. Turns out, she had another plan. Instead of pulling me off the drug entirely, she switched me to a different brand in the same class in hopes that there would be little to no withdrawal symptoms.
Operation Medication Switch has been underway for 3 days. The first day on the new stuff resulted in my being itchy from head to toe and nauseous as hell within an hour of me taking it. Time to load up on the Benedryl. Day 2, still itchy as all get out after taking it. At least loading up on Benedryl helped me sleep through some of it. Day 3, no need for Benedryl. The itchies are there, but only slightly irritating. I'll worry about Day 4 when I get there.
Ideally, this drug will be easier to come off of than the other. In my research (while waiting for my psychiatric appointment), I found hundreds of thousands of people who had been on the same medication that have had horrible memory issues too. In reading some of their other symptoms, it seems that I have gotten off easy by only having the memory issue be a problem. It's too early to tell if this will help. It will take a minimum of 4 weeks to get my levels stabilized. In the meantime, I just hope my body can figure out how to let go of the old drug and hang on to the new drug without totally messing me up. Until then, I will continue to write everything down and make my calendar my home screen. I'm also leaving my toothbrush out in plain sight. Just in case.