When I Forgot My Venlafaxine 

I take 37.5mg twice a day. One with breakfast, one with tea/dinner/supper whatever you call it! I’ve only done two weeks on it but so far things are going well. I’ve had some lovely days since starting venlafaxine. I had a progress review with my GP, Dr H, two days ago. He asked what the negatives were about this medication. None! Genuinely.

The first day I took venlafaxine I went a bit funny and had some strange thoughts but it was fine. I’ve lost my mirtazapine weight too since being on it which I’m relieved about. I had been feeling like an inflated sausage! 

So I’m only on day 20 of taking it, which is early days. However on day 18 I forgot to take my evening dose…

I was really agitated in the evening. I couldn’t settle and was jumpy. I went upstairs to watch Cold Feet in bed thinking that I’d begin to relax then. An hour later Cold Feet was finished and I was even more agitated. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. I was wide awake and crying, just ever so slightly. I felt like a flashback might be about to happen; I sort of go numb and tingle all at the same time before it happens. My mind was visualising the old carpet upstairs in the horror house, the smells and how the light fell from the skylight highlighting the dust was at the forefront of my mind and I felt like I was to be thrust back into it. I took evasive action and asked my husband for a hug. I lay my head on his chest and the thud of his heart was deafening. It’s daft but it was a bit like drum sounding out the march of whatever was coming to get me. I’m not trying to be all fancy writer here, that’s what it felt like. I tried breathing mindfully. I tried focusing on a single body part. Nothing worked. The panic got worse. I rolled over and curled up in a ball. Oh no oh no oh no oh no. I felt like ‘people’ (dark demonic shadowy figures) were going to come and get me. It took me back. I was scared of these people when I was teenager too. I didn’t see them, only in my imagination, but I was terrified that any minute they were going to leave my mind and I’d see them. For real. I almost felt breath and hands on me. I say almost because I was reacting as if it was happening but there was no real physical sensation of it. I twisted and turned to escape them. I could hear an eerie voice in my head saying my name, my full name, over and over. Sometimes it sounded a bit like the psychiatrist, sometimes it sounded like my mum. The sensation was akin to being in a waking nightmare. My husband went to the loo. He’s fairly oblivious. I had told him about the feeling of people coming to get me but he just went to sleep (because what could he do?). When Andy went to the loo I took the opportunity to speak to darkness “please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me” I pleaded over and over until I heard the flush. Shhh. Best be quiet. I was replaying the day in my head: why did I feel like this? This had come out of nowhere and it was intense. Then I realised:

I forgot my evening venlafaxine dose!

Oh the relief! That was easily solved! I excitedly explained to Andy who wasn’t in the least bit arsed by my amazing discovery! Then, I went down the stairs to take my tablet. Before going down I stood at the top of the stairs and paused. Everything looked kind of fuzzy – it was dark, I didn’t bother putting any lights on. The idea came to me crystal clear: jump. I knew I could fly downstairs. I’ve always known it. I just needed to have the courage to jump. It’ll be ok. When I was very little I often used to dream that I floated downstairs and over the years it’s never really left me. So there I was, stood at the top of the stairs seriously wanting to jump and fly. How amazing it would be! I put a foot out tentatively but there was only gravity. No magical weightlessness. My rational mind reminded me that I was going downstairs to take my medication because I was having disturbing thoughts…thoughts like you can fly? Oh yeah. Right. Walking it is. 

I gulped down the tablet. Went back upstairs and took two promethazine for good measure. I thought Andy had spoken to me. I asked him what he had said. Nothing, he mumbled. No, but did you make a noise? Any noise? Like a grumble or something? He didn’t understand why it mattered. It mattered because I had heard him. He had spoken or grumbled or something. It mattered because hearing things that aren’t there is disturbing. He swore he didn’t make a noise. I don’t believe him. I heard it.

That was the end of it though. I calmed really quickly and was probably asleep within half an hour. Thank goodness. 

I told Nora (CPN) about this misadventure into forgetting a venlafaxine dose. She was very concerned, said she’d never heard of that sort of reaction before. We looked up the patient info leaflet but there was nothing describing what I’d experienced. However I do know others on venlafaxine have said that missing a dose sends them a bit funny. I tried googling but it was just all the usual discontinuation/withdrawal stuff like brain zaps – not believing you can fly. I explained that I’d had bizarre thoughts the first day I’d taken them too and so it couldn’t just be coincidence that the first day I take them and the night I miss a dose are when I lose a little bit of reality. We’ll keep an eye on it. I’d explained to the psychiatrist when I saw him so I’m in safe hands. Maybe I shouldn’t have told them though. I don’t know. Wise mind says it was the right thing to do.

I’ll admit the experience unnerved me. I was so close to jumping down the stairs. From nowhere. Fortunately, the rational self-aware part of me is still functioning pretty well so that’s good! I like venlafaxine. It’s given me a new hope that there might be a drug to help; that the absolute depths of before may be avoided in the future.

Tell you what though – don’t miss a dose!

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