I would say that the final thirty days were rough, but the whole process was rough.
I went from 5mg to 2.5mg for three weeks. The last week I took 2.5 every other day and then stopped completely.
The main thing I noticed at this stage is what people refer to as “brain-zaps.” Before I knew what others called it, I would try to describe these to my wife. To me, it felt like randomly serotonin would drip into my brain and for a second I could feel my entire brain. It does feel sort of like electricity. Like you can feel all of your nerves firing for a second.
They aren’t painful they are just terribly annoying. They would start around 3-5pm just before I felt like I hit that wall I described earlier.
I also noticed that my appetite increased a great deal. I started eating close to double what I had in the past. I’ve gained about seven pounds since. I also started craving alcohol and pasta.
My relationship with alcohol has been long and complicated. I will probably write a whole post on it since I have become convinced that there is a link between alcohol abuse and SSRI’s.
So why alcohol and pasta? Well, alcohol and carbs both release serotonin. During this time, I would drink a couple beers after I hit that wall in the evening, and I was eating tons of pasta. I’m not happy to say I resorted to alcohol as a crutch, but I did. Alcohol is kind of like sugar or caffeine, it makes you feel better for a little while and then worse later.
Alcohol did not affect me the same way anymore. I would never feel intoxicated from drinking it. In fact after drinking beer, I would feel “normal” and the withdrawals would seem to subside.
I do not recommend drinking alcohol. I have seen alcohol destroy many people’s lives, and I have had a long battle with abusing it in my past. That being said I also want to be completely honest with you about everything I experienced during this difficult time. After one week completely off Lexapro, I stopped drinking it entirely once more.
When I went to 2.5mg every other day, the brain zaps increased greatly. I would have them about every thirty minutes during the day and after 5 pm it was more like every five minutes until I went to sleep. The next day the cycle would start again.
The absolute worst was the first seven days completely off. It was like all of the withdrawals I had mentioned came back with a vengeance. I felt like canceling plans with friends and family after 5 pm but I just forced myself to go.
I also started to get paranoid after coming completely off. I would have a conversation with someone and then later be convinced that they were mad at me even though it was untrue. Also, later I would look back on conversations and be convinced that everything I said made no sense.
The good news is that seven days later I started to feel better. That seventh day is when I decided to write briefly about my experience online. And every day after I have felt a little bit better.