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  1. Hello, everyone. I'm new here, but was a long-time reader over at Paxil Progress before it shut down. I actually thought a couple weeks ago how far I'd come and thought, "I should post a success story!" because I hadn't felt PAWS symptoms in an entire year by that point. Well. Today and yesterday, I've hit a rough spot. Let me start with that necessary evil, backstory. In late 2011 I was prescribed Abilify for the off-label treatment of trichotillomania, or compulsive hair-pulling. I did not have depression, anxiety, or any psychiatric disorder; my doctor prescribed this solely for the pulling. When I decided it wasn't working, my doctor told me I could just stop. No taper - cold-turkey. So I did. A week after stopping, I experienced the scariest few days of my life. I was sobbing on the floor of my dorm bathroom, having panic attacks in the middle of class - when I managed to make it to class, that is - and felt eerily detached from myself, like I was living a dream and going through the motions, but couldn't feel anything...and yet was constantly about to fall to pieces in a hysterical mass of tears and panic. Then, about four days later, it ended. Boom, just like that - I was at work one evening, and suddenly felt like myself again. I had no idea that this was my brain's first reaction to quitting the Abilify, and that many more were to come. I experienced this again, in varying intensity (but always very intense and life-disrupting) several times over the next months. When I became pregnant with my first child, I felt myself "stick at a baseline" below my normal, as though my brain delayed healing because it knew I needed to focus on the pregnancy more. But I wasn't normal, or myself, or happy. I was ...some other person entirely, the whole 9 months. Then, as soon as I gave birth, the PAWS returned with a vengeance. A year later, I began a regimen of Amino Fuel, l-glutamine, and magnesium. I immediately saw marked improvement: my windows became longer, and I felt more and more like myself during them; the waves grew shorter and less intense. By 2014, I had two or three days of feeling bummed out every 7 weeks or so, and felt like me most of the time now, even in my waves. My improvements were so good that by summer of that year, I could even feel safe drinking coffee again, enjoying wine, etc., which I hadn't been able to do without triggering waves until then. In spring 2015, I became pregnant again. I had a couple days of feeling bummed out as my hormones leveled out, but no PAWS symptoms for the entire pregnancy. I felt like me. I was happy, ecstatic even, to have another child (whereas the first time, I was so depressed it tainted the entire experience). Upon giving birth, I did have a few days of severe baby blues, including a panic attack - I think it was the combination of epidural drugs and hormonal crash with perhaps a still slightly sensitive nervous system? I had my placenta encapsulated, so I took that and magnesium for a few weeks; within four days, I felt 99% better, then back to myself a week or so postpartum. Two nights ago, I chainsmoked a ton of cigarettes (and I haven't smoked cigarettes in over a year, just vaping low nicotine on an ecig) and drank a good amount of hard liquor (which I also haven't done in over a year). The next morning, I woke up feeling like my early days of PAWS: pounding heart, sweat, too much adrenaline/panic, the world is falling apart, etc. I calmed down after thirty minutes or less, but since then I've felt like I'm in a wave again - bummed out, random crying, lack of appetite, and more than anything this...relentless panic that I've done damage to my brain again, ruined my progress...or - the BIG worry, and hopefully the most ridiculous? Please weigh in - that I was never better at all. That because of my 2nd pregnancy, I just delayed symptoms and now my PAWS is back to stay. I realize logically that doesn't make much sense, because I have gotten immensely better over the years, hence this pregnancy was so much better than my first. Anyway. I realize *technically* I haven't been symptom-free for a year, since I had a panic attack (or perhaps a combo of a wave and postpartum crash or baby blues) this past February. But still, that didn't feel much like a wave the way this does. And it's been a while since I've had one like this - since 2014, most of my waves were "morning-only" where for a couple days I'd have symptoms in the morning, and they'd end very suddenly by noon. This one's been going on all day for the last two days, ever since the cigarettes and hard liquor I had at a wedding. I'm sorry for such a long post. My brain is going a mile a minute with worry. I guess I want reassurance that I won't be this way forever...that my progress isn't all gone because of one stupid night of excess (which I definitely will not be repeating). Also, just looking for opinions on how long my recovery's been - 4 and half years. That's a long time, especially since I only took Abilify three months. Is it possible it's taking so long because of my pregnancies, during which no waves or windows occurred (so I'm guessing, no healing for 18 months total during these last few years)? Thank you for your help. I just hate feeling this way again after SO LONG feeling like myself, no symptoms, and would love reassurance. Taylor
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