Most of the nine years that I was on Paxil I was hypomanic. Hypomanic is basically "manic light". You aren't completely bat shit crazy ... but you are close and you sure do drive the people around you nutso with your constant moving around and your fabulous ideas. When I changed my dose in January of 2006 (cutting it in half per my dumb ass doctor's advice), I became full blown manic. I had probably been in "poop out" (tolerance of sorts) for a few years and didn't know at the time that pretty much everybody reaches a form of tolerance on SSRIs - most end up at their doctor's who either switches the meds, increases the dose of the med they are taking, or ads another med. Fortunately for me, I never told my doctor about my mania. I know that I would now have a bipolar diagnosis and would probably be on a med-go-round like millions of others if I had.
The horrible withdrawal pretty much just proved to me what my mother had been telling me for years - that I was destined to "need" these meds for life (WRONG ! WRONG ! WRONG!), so I went back up to my 20 mg per day dose. Increasing the dose back up made me absolutely nuts ! The really sad thing was that I had no idea that it was the meds that were actually causing the mania. I just couldn't see it. Dr. Peter Breggin uses the word "spellbound" to describe this. The person on meds thinks that the pills are helping them when they are actually causing all sorts of problems.
So for those of you who know somebody who takes psychotropic medications and have begun to wonder if the pills are causing more harm than good ... here is a list of very common symptoms of mania:
* constantly has grand ideas that are ALWAYS better than everybody else's ideas (I would actually try to convince people that my ideas were the best by yelling, screaming, crying, and throwing fits to rival a two year old)
* insomnia and the belief that they really don't need that much sleep because there is too much to get done to waste time actually sleeping (my insomnia lead to a prescription for Ambien ... which just made the crazy even crazier)
* absolutely no fear of consequences (I literally used to throw things at people and pour drinks on them - I didn't even care that it made them mad)
* talking fast and talking over people (I thought I "won" every argument if I could just bully the other person into stopping talking .... just talk louder and faster and eventually the other person will give up)
* racing thoughts (I told people that I thrived on chaos when I was actually creating the chaos - always a new "get rich quick" idea, always a new class to take, always a new job to do - raise dogs, sell toys, get a part-time job tutoring, sell cosmetics, sell real estate, take on an exchange student, etc., etc. - it was never ending)
* impulsiveness ( I had absolutely no filter between my brain and my mouth - if I thought it then I said it ... if I thought that your hat was ugly then I told you ... if I thought that you looked fat in that dress then I told you ... if I thought that me saying something might hurt your feelings ... even better)
* inflated ego (At the time I was probably a good 40 pounds overweight, dressed like Liberace, was rude to everybody, talked loud, threw things, and had a hair style that looked like it was done with a weedeater - yet I thought that I was the sexiest thing on the planet ... oh yeah ... everybody wanted me)
I am coming up on the three year anniversary of my rebirthday (my last day on meds was August 25, 2007) and am so happy to be alive and well and no longer the Manic in the Mirror.