Adventures in Psychiatry: Tapering off Venlafaxine

It's been a rough week. Let's start at the beginning. On Monday I saw my Psychiatrist, who commented upon seeing me that I looked unwell. Darn. I thought I was better at hiding my depression than that. But it's true... I am struggling at the moment. My mood has been on a steady decline since I was admitted into hospital and we've hit the point where I am definitely in a depression and my mood is still dropping. Venlafaxine isn't working. This is proof, and it's time to come off. I knew this was coming but I'd been putting it off for a long time. I'd rather go through alcohol withdrawal again than come off venlafaxine. At least there's medicine to help ease alcohol withdrawal, with this you just have to taper and get on with it. 


Adventures in Psychiatry: Tapering off Venlafaxine
image via Pixabay


I've felt very unwell the past week, which I expected, but what I didn't expect was the impact the tapering has had on my mental state. I felt numb before, almost hollow. Whereas now I feel painfully alone, despite being home with my two amazing cats all the time. It's so hard to explain. I'm sleeping way too much, barely eating (but that's the reemergence of the anorexia voice) and my concentration is shot to pieces. This post has taken forever to write. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, there is always the road block of my mental health. It's ruining everything. Which leads us to the thought process of "what's the damn point" and I just do nothing so I don't have to endure any more failure. 

That isn't an option though. I won my academic appeal and have 7 weeks of university work to do to complete my degree. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I have no choice. The tapering is under my control, and I have no intention of dropping my dose any lower until I start feeling at least physically better. The main symptoms are nausea, shaking and blinding headaches. I get the occasional brain zap and feel very dizzy when I stand up. Which leads us to the next problem with this: I can't leave the house. 

I've always had this anxiety about fainting in public, it's a loss of control thing and it's happened before. Now I'm feeling so physically unstable it is impossible for me to step outside my door alone. I can't even take out the recycling. I feel so guilty the fridge is empty and the cupboards are bare, all because my stupid anxiety is so overpowering I can't make the 5 minute trip to the shops. I try, every single day but I just can't do it. Even chores around the house are a struggle as I'm shaking so much. 

So what's the end goal? Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. Last stop before ECT. I won't lie, I'm absolutely terrified. These drugs are no joke and life is going to be hard on them, but what choice do I have. We're aiming to start at the beginning of September, depending on how this withdrawal goes and if I've been clear for 2 weeks by that point. For now, I just have to try and not let this depression take me any further into the pits of hell and survive the mountain of work I have to do for my degree.  

The University Diaries: Fall down seven times, Stand up eight

Here we are again in the summer resits. I knew it was coming since I lost an entire semester to the emergence of bipolar disorder, but that doesn't make it any less crappy. There are multiple moments throughout the day when I wonder why I keep doing this to myself, but then the stubbornness kicks in and I remember why I wanted this degree in the first place. The trouble is, this time around I am finding it much more difficult to read, write and understand anything I am supposed to be doing. That's bipolar for you, or the medications I'm on... whichever. My brain isn't co-operating and it's the most frustrating thing. Nevertheless, we persevere. 

SamiWrites: Fall down seven times, stand up eight
image via Pixabay

I was meant to graduate this past week. Obviously, that didn't happen. I was invited back in March, paid the tickets, booked my gown, the family were making plans and booking time off work... it was all sorted. Then, last Friday I was talking with my mental health advisor and mentioned in passing how surprised I was to be invited as last year I wasn't and obviously I still wasn't finished... she was also confused and suggested I contact the Graduation office just to confirm everything. That's when it all collapsed. My invite was indeed a mistake and I was removed from the list months ago. Was I told? No. Did they happily take my money? Oh yes. Apparently, this didn't raise any red flags. Anyway, it's Friday afternoon and I'm meant to be graduating, or so I thought, the following Monday afternoon. I was furious. Not for me, but for everyone else that had booked time off work and were travelling halfway across the country to be there. That's the trouble with being the first to get a degree... it's a bit of a big deal to them. 

On top of that, I have an entire semester worth of work to resit. This means that not only is the word count going to be in the tens of thousands, but they're all capped at 40 so no matter how hard I work, it tanks my classification further down the toilet than it already is. This was my lowest point. I was convinced I'd wasted 4 years and £36,000 of tuition fees for what would most likely be a very weak 2:2 or even a 3rd. I cried and cried and cried. What was the point? No matter how hard I tried there was always something else ready and waiting to knock me back down. 

I submitted an appeal, purely for the sake of it and holding out absolutely no hope of a success. I've had way too much experience with this side of the university and had pretty much decided they're there to say no. A few days later, while editing my unfinished dissertation, I got an email that my appeal had been upheld! I couldn't believe it. I still can't and think I'm stuck in a dream half the time. I was given back something that depression will so readily rip away from you... Hope. I had the strength to fight again. 

Bipolar disorder is making it difficult but the 'carrot on the stick' is pushing me onwards and I'll keep fighting my way through until this is over and that degree is in my hands. 

Travel: Royalton White Sands, Jamaica

Welcome back! If you've been on my Instagram or Twitter recently you'll know that last week I visited Jamaica for 10 glorious days and today I'd like to share my experience at the Royalton White Sands Resort. 

SamiWrites: Royalton White Sands, Jamaica
Paradise: Royalton White Sands, Jamaica

Backstory: It all started a few months ago when my partner and I were looking for somewhere to go for our annual summer holiday. We had visited southern Spain and Turkey in the past, but neither of those were options this time around - the world is a big place, after all! We were stumped. There are so many options to choose from and unfortunately, none felt like 'the one'. Why am I telling you this? To prove that Jamaica is not out of reach and you can and should consider Jamaica as a viable option for your next holiday. So how did Royalton White Sands come into our lives? I calculated the average cost of our previous holidays and used that as a budget parameter, then figured we could travel further than Europe. Boom, sheer perfection and way too much excitement! 

Travel Agent: First Choice
Airline: Thomson
Total Cost: Less than £3000 total inc return flights and transfer

Flying with Thomson: As someone that was previously terrified of planes (it's a loss of control thing) I was somewhat apprehensive about such a long flight in economy, but sadly we blew our budget on the holiday itself so upgrading our seats was not an option. Nevertheless, hope came in the fact we were flying on the Dreamliner aircraft and I'm not going to lie, I was quite excited by this. Science and technology advances making the whole being stuck in a flying tube of people more comfortable? Yes, please. I digress. The flight out was uneventful, comfortable and full of excitement. Check in was a breeze, the staff were great but the food? Well... it's aeroplane food and it's exactly what you expect. My advice is to buy your own at the airport. One thing I will comment on is that Thomson did not provide anywhere near enough to drink, which wasn't so bad on the way out as we bought bottles of water before boarding but flying back we failed to do this, assuming we would be able to access whatever we needed onboard as with other airlines. The other issue with the flight home was turbulence. This isn't the fault of anyone but Mother Earth and my Lord she was in a bad mood that night. It was really scary and my anxiety got the better of me, enter panic and tears after clinging onto the boyfriend for hours. We were rerouted twice and climbed to 41,000 feet over the Atlantic to avoid the wrath of the storm below. 

SamiWrites: Royalton White Sands, Jamaica
Fish or Cat? Royalton White Sands

Royalton White Sands: This. Resort. Is. Incredible. 

I could just leave it at that! We landed at 1.30pm (-5hr GMT) and arrived at the resort some 2 hours later having been delayed at the airport for our transfer to leave, which took around 45 minutes. It was really fun, the driver talked us through the local vocabulary and places of interest. By the time we arrived we were utterly exhausted and had to wait another hour or so to check in and wait for our room to be ready. Jamaican time is slow time, so be prepared for that! They provided us with plentiful, delicious rum-based cocktails so it was tolerable to wait it out. As I mentioned earlier, this resort is all inclusive and they mean it. You are given a bracelet which doubles as your room key - which is pretty ingenious - which allows you access to all facilities depending upon what 'tier' of room you booked. 

The rooms are perfect. We booked a luxury double room with a balcony that overlooked the pools and had an amazing view of the beach. There is a king size bed; sofa bed; a free mini bar that was stocked daily with soft drinks, Red Stripe and water; a TV; air conditioning; walk-in shower and a wardrobe with a safe. Wifi is free and service never dropped. You also have access to Royalton Blue Waters, the neighbouring resort for even more pool options! 

SamiWrites: Royalton White Sands
At Dips! Royalton White Sands

There are 3 adult pools at Royalton White Sands, one is adults only and includes the swim up bar, and 2 child-friendly pools which have an awesome water slide/water park feature I was more than a little jealous of! There is also a beach right on the resort! I cannot describe just how amazing being poolside was, especially considering the level of service. At the previous all-inclusive resort we visited in Turkey if you wanted a drink you had to go and get it, but not in Jamaica! They have staff everywhere checking to make sure you're good and if you need anything. It isn't bothersome at all and really nice to not have to get up, or out of the pool, if you want a drink. While I'm on the subject of the staff, I cannot rate them highly enough! Special shout outs go to: 

  • Steve, Winston and Ryan at the Martini Bar
  • Paul at Opa, the Mediterranean Restaurant
  • Shane and Peter at Dips
  • Jamica at the Executive Desk in the Lobby

SamiWrites: Royalton White Sands
Martini Bar: Royalton White Sands

The food was amazing. There are 5 restaurants which spanned all cuisine and also a buffet restaurant which exceeded my expectations beyond measure. Dietary requirements and allergies were taken seriously and there is absolutely something for everyone. My favourite is a tough call between the Japanese restaurant, Zen - the only one which requires 24 hours booking notice - and the steak restaurant, Hunters. The bars were just as exceptional and so was the entertainment! I loved the martini bars and by far the highlight of the entertainment was the Michael Jackson tribute act. 

SamiWrites: Royalton White Sands, Jamaica
Michael Jackson Tribute Act: Royalton White Sands

In conclusion, it was the best money and the best time spent living our best life! I even made friends with some local cats so y'know that makes any place a winner in my book... I could fill post upon post with pictures but I will be posting more on my instagram so be sure to check that out if you want to see more of Royalton! 

We will absolutely be returning next summer! 




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