The Month(s) After My General Practitioner Prescribed Paxil(Note: This is the third post in a short series in which I recount my first experiences with Paxil. Posts one and two can be found here and here.)

Two or three weeks into my Paxil treatment and I’d only had two or three panic attacks.  Amazing, right? That’s a big step up from having daily ones.

Well, maybe they became so few & far between because I didn’t have time to panic: I slept for 12+ hours every night during the first few weeks on Paxil.

Time passes pretty damn quickly when you’re asleep more than you’re awake.

The sleepiness didn’t disrupt my day-to-day life during my month-long Christmas break at my father’s house, but it sure as hell annoyed my roommate once I returned to campus for spring semester.  I’m fairly sure she kept a tally of how many times I hit the snooze button on my alarm when I was about 3 weeks into the Paxil regimen.  We’re not talking 5 times or 10 times, folks.  Think more like thirty.  (Sorry, Michele!)

The excessive sleepiness wore off around the time I filled my first Paxil script at the pharmacy.  Because I was a student, I was still on my father’s health insurance plan — and his prescription plan was fantastic.  Paxil CR cost only $10 for a month’s supply.  Not bad, right?  I could afford that.  After taxes, that’s about two hours’ worth of work at my near-minimum-wage campus job.  Doable.

Still in the honeymoon phase of my relationship with Paxil, I floated through February and March on those $10 co-pays.  And now, because I’d gotten this script filled at a pharmacy, I had an actual bottle of pills (no more annoying foil blister packs!) and the informational leaflet about the drug — which, at that point, I didn’t bother to read.  After all, I’d already been on Paxil for a month or so and was already familiar with side effects like sleepiness.  Surely I already knew all there is to know about Paxil’s effects.

And then the house of pills came crashing down.  My father’s employer, a manufacturing company, had suddenly folded with little warning.  He (and, therefore, I) lost his insurance plan in April of 2005.  And his prescription coverage.

Nonetheless, I still had to get my refills, right? At retail price. How expensive could it be?

Well, the cost of Paxil CR multiplied. And I don’t mean by 2x, by 5x, or even by 10x.  The cost multiplied by 12x.  The cost of a year’s worth of Paxil CR suddenly became the cost of a single month’s worth of pills.

I couldn’t afford it. From an old blog of mine:

FYI: It really sucks when you don’t have a prescription plan, and you can no longer afford the goddamn Paxil ($125 per month!) that keeps you nice & calm & regulated. I tried to wean myself off of it last week because I know I can’t afford to continue taking it.

Please, all: never do that.

Instead of taking one every day, I started taking one every other day, and I had terrible mood swings all week. All I wanted to do was sleep. I would shake randomly, and it felt like I was having tiny internal seizures. I felt like something was wrong. I felt like I was going to die. I felt like something terribly dangerous was happening to me. I felt worse than I ever had before I ever started taking those meds.

Outstanding. I can’t afford the meds, but my body can’t handle not being on the meds.  Now what?

(I wrap up this story in the next post.)

Creative Commons License photo credit: twenty_questions