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  1. Hi everyone! First of all, English is not my native tongue and this is the first post I have ever written on a forum, so please bear with me. Writing this success story and sharing it with you have been a dream of mine for a long time. I never thought I would reach this milestone. I have mixed feelings posting this, as I know some of you might find it discouraging. If you are new to withdrawal, please stop reading here. This is a post for those of you who have been suffering badly for years and need proof that it's possible to recover even after a very long time. There is a brief summary in the end of this post if you can't or don't want to read the whole story. I also listed my withdrawal symptoms. Background I was on Paxil for 8,5 years (15-30 mg) and I made several quick tapers and CTs from low doses during the years. I took my last dose 11 years ago after a fairly slow taper (15 months) I started Paxil when I was 19 after having struggled with anxiety/emotional crisis for a few months. I was very skeptical of psychiatric drugs but my parents wanted me to try and I eventually got desperate enough to give in. I could just quit if it didn't help, couldn't I? I'm not going to describe in detail the long, sad and all too familiar story of what happened next. I tried to quit after five months, developed a delayed wd with intrusive thoughts and severe anxiety, and was told I was close to becoming psychotic. I gave up after half a year of the worst suffering I had ever experienced, and reinstated. I didn't believe in the broken brain-myth but I assumed my emotional problems must be far worse than I first thought and that I needed to solve those problems before coming off. A few years later I tried and failed again, same story but this time I also had severe physical symptoms. And then, after I had lost hope about myself and thinking I would be dead by now without the pills, I raised the dose from 20 mg to 30 mg, became euphoric and saw myself change into a new, much ”happier” person. I deteriorated quickly the following years, and spent more and more of my time in bed with muscle weakness and pain. I started having internal bleedings in my hands that no one could explain. I was somehow too drugged to really understand how serious my symptoms were. By now I had a decent list of ”psychiatric disorders” and had been on disability for years. I was considered a chronic case that should medicate for life, something I refused to accept. I would probably have kept deteriorating and died if I hadn't come across a forum for people struggling to quit prescription drugs. I finally understood what had happened to me. I was in the middle of my third serious attempt to quit, so I just continued to taper. I thought I would be ok if I just did a slow enough taper. I wasn't. Withdrawal hell I can go on and on and list my symptoms (see end of post) but as you all know, these lists don't do justice to the suffering. At 5 mg I started vomiting and it didn't stop. My main struggle during the following 16 months was to keep myself alive, physically. I was underweight and dehydrated, more or less completely bedridden, so nauseous and anxious that I lived minute by minute. Me and my fiancée had no support except the forum I found. I was too ill to write myself, but my fiancée did. (Mixter, if you are reading this: I honestly don't know if I would have made it without your knowledge and support. I am forever grateful.) Some people say that it's terrifying not knowing when the wd torture will end, and I agree. But the worst part for me was that I had lost hope that I could live without Paxil. I was afraid that even if I made it through the withdrawal I would still be tormented by my own mind. I wanted to live so badly, and I was afraid that I would eventually have to end my life to end the suffering. I remember sitting in my bed rocking back and forth and vomiting, or crawling around on the floor with an unbearable sense of impending doom, convinced I would have to die. The only reason I didn't raise the dose again when the wd got really bad was that my fiancée threatened to leave me if I did and I didn't want to live without her. The worst symptom I had is difficult to explain, and makes no sense to me today. I developed a severe phobia towards people, also my fiancée. I missed her so much but I couldn't handle being in the same room. I longed for people, but their presence triggered intense feelings of terror, unlike anything I had ever experienced. The intrusive thoughts, "ocd" and my extreme sensory sensitivity made it worse, but cannot completely explain the terror I felt. I was afraid that this was me without the drug and that I would have to live the rest of my life in complete isolation. This is hard for me to write about and I still have very little hope that anyone will understand what it was like to live with this intense terror for years. Then, about 11 months after my last dose, I had a few better weeks. I was still bedridden and the majority of my symptoms had not improved, but I remember being able to listen to music and eating solid food. I felt how reality and my personality was coming back, and I realised the world around me looked and felt completely different off Paxil. I started to feel glimmers of hope. Shortly after, my fiancée left me. I lost the person I loved the most, I lost my dog, I lost my home. I left without my belongings, too ill to pack, and spent the following nightmarish three years in my parents small guest room in the other end of the country, still far too ill to take care of myself. I was no longer in acute withdrawal, but many symptoms had not improved. I had stopped vomiting but the muscle weakness was still so severe that I couldn't sit up at a table and eat. I struggled with extreme sensory sensitivity, especially movements. I had to eat with my eyes closed as it was unbearable to see my hands move. I was nauseous, paranoid and hallucinating. 1,5 years off I estimated that I had about 0,2 % of my normal physical and cognitive abilities, judged from what I could and couldn't do compared to before Paxil. (automatic functions like heartbeats, breathing and so on not included.) Recovery I have to say that I saw only minor improvements the first years. 2,5 years after my last dose I remember thinking that I now had 2% of my physical and cognitive abilities, which after all, I kept telling myself, was an improvement with far more than 100% since the year before. The years went by. I never really had any windows. My improvements were very gradual, so slow that I had to wait at least six month before I felt certain that there had been an improvement at all. There are exceptions to this rule. A few symptoms cleared up rapidly and more or less completely. The symptom I feared the most, the horrible intrusive thoughts that I suffered the first times I tried to quit, was ironically one of the first symptoms to disappear. After about 3 years, I was able to be in the same room as another human being without fear. Most symptoms improved slightly, became worse again, got better, became worse again, until one day they didn't get as bad as before. And so on. The turning point It's hard to say when exactly I reached the point where I felt that I wouldn't have to kill myself even if I didn't continue to improve, but I believe it was in 2014, five years after my last dose. I would say I literally lived minute by minute during the first three of those five years, with few exceptions. I don't understand today how it was possible for me to live through that time but somehow it was. I wish I could say that I was brave and optimistic, but I wasn't. I was scared and alone. The thing I had that saved me was that I really wanted to live, and that I was lucky enough not to experience depression. I'm also a person with a lot of grit and with a somewhat autistic ability to thrive in complete solitude which I believe saved my sanity (well, whatever was left) those years when I was too ill to socialise with anyone. I remember thinking that I wished I could have been sentenced to five or ten years in prison instead, just to know that I would be free one day. I no longer feel that way. Addiction Most people don't experience this, but some of us do and I think it's important to talk about. I spent a lot of my time in recovery longing back to my Paxil-years. My life on Paxil may have been miserable in many ways‚ with self harm (I occasionally cut myself), aggression and lack of judgement, but I enjoyed being euphoric. Coming back to reality and getting used to having normal feelings again was sometimes as hard as managing the physical torture. I felt as if I had lost the beautiful world I had lived in, that I had thought was reality, and now was forced to live in a world that I recognised from growing up but now longer belonged to. Everything looked and felt so different, and I felt like a complete stranger here. I longed ”home” and had strong cravings at times and the cravings triggered some of my withdrawal symptoms, and that continued to be a big and somewhat embarrassing problem for several years. (The cravings are not gone but they are much less frekvent now) I wasn't consciously abusing Paxil, but I had built my whole life as an adult on a drug and created a fantasy-world where I could enjoy things I used to find boring, like socialising, or watching series, or other perfectly normal activities that just isn't my thing. Where I no longer felt alienated and different, where I no longer hated society, where I either was euphoric from increasing the dose, or hypomanic after tapering, and as soon as either the euphoria or hypomania was wearing off I just increased or decreased the dose, fooling myself than I was trying to quit when I was no longer even trying. The hardest part of going through withdrawal was that I knew deep down that my fantasy-world would fall apart, and it turned out I wasn't really ready to let go. I just wanted back, desperately. I had to be dragged out against my will until I was completely off Paxil and could think more clearly. I owe my life to my ex fiancée but it was a very cruel process at times. It’s hard to explain how you can love a drug that you know has ruined your life completely, but that was how I felt. It was like a once wonderful relationship that had turned abusive. When you realise what is happening you are already to weak to leave. It dosen't help that you know your loved one will kill you if you stay. I often felt like two different persons in one during recovery. The memory of Paxil-me that I still felt was the real me, and real me who I had to get to know again. It took about 7 years until I could accept that Paxil-me was gone for good. Looking at photos of Paxil-me today is more like looking at a younger sister, with a very different personality than mine, that tragically and unexpectedly died at age 28. I have stopped crying over her, but I keep a few of her belongings in a box as a memory. It breaks my heart every time people claim SSRI/SNRI can’t cause addiction. It may be rare, but I'm certainly not the only one. I guess those of us that have experienced this need to be more open about it but it's hard. Choosing reality over drugs was a question of life or death for me for a very long time, and the most difficult part of my recovery. It's the loneliest feeling, knowing that I might have to live the rest of my life unable to explain to people what I have been through. I fear that the most difficult time in my life will never be understood for what it was. Some advice regarding muscle weakness To all of you who have been suffering from debilitating muscle weakness for years, with little or no improvement, don't give up. This symptom was one of the most persistent for me and I remember feeling like my arms and legs were literally dead. I felt like I was damaged for life. I had no windows, although I had days that were worse than others. I know how it feels to be bedridden for years, locked up in your own personal prison, unable to participate in anything or do anything, even unable to write on a forum like this. But please don't give up. I finally did recover, and so can you. Try to remember what it was like being able to stand up normally, no matter how painful it is to remember what you have lost. Try to visualise yourself being able to run and jump, help your brain remember what it was like… When you finally start to see improvement, please be aware that you have probably lost most of your muscle mass and it will take time to regain it, and exercise is the only way to do that. It's not fair, but it will probably take a few years of hard work if you have been bedridden for years and developed severe back- and neck problems like I had. Even taking a walk may be very difficult, but don't let that discourage you. Try exercising in water if you have recovered enough to leave your bed. The water will carry your bodyweight and offer you some resistance. I strongly believe that exercise helps to heal brain damage. Today, I am more fit than most people my age, but it has been a very slow and gradual process. On year 4 I was able to increase my walks from five minutes, to ten. The next year from ten to fifteen, and so on …Walking have been especially hard for me and I'm not back to normal, but I have been able to walk 26 000 steps in one single day, which I think is amazing. Exercise made me worse in the beginning but I slowly got used to it and I never experience any bad reactions now days. Keep trying. A few words on diet You can't cure protracted withdrawal with a healthy diet, but it might speed up your recovery. I can't make a double blind study on myself, but I saw improvements in mood, cognitive abilities and speed of recovery after switching to a raw vegan diet in 2014. I do believe it makes my mind clearer and it makes me happier as well. If you want to try this diet, make sure to take natural (not synthetic) b12 and d3 supplements. Also try omega3 from algae instead of fish. My life today I celebrated 11 years off Paxil this spring. I lost 8,5 years of my life to Paxil, and another 10 years to recovery. Was quitting worth all the suffering? Definitely yes. Am I 100% recovered? No, I'm not, but I'm getting closer. I still struggle with some muscle weakness and cognitive problems. Walking still feels weird at times. I have a bad back and muscle twitches. Some sensitivity to light, sound and smell has remained, but it's very mild. The only symptoms that appears to be permanent are a few that resembles HPPS HPPD. My visual perceptions are still slightly distorted, but no where near what I experienced on Paxil. ( mod note- HPPD is an acronym for hallucinogenic- persisting perception disorder) I wondered for a long time if my lingering psychotic symptoms was wd or if the experience simply drove me mad, but I believe it was wd as hallucinations started shortly after my last dose and became more and more rare and ”mild” during the years (from occasional full blown visual hallucinations with eyes wide open, to waking up from sleep realising I'm hallucinating) I stopped panicking over hidden cameras and spys several years ago but I still struggle with interpersonal paranoia at times, which I actually find more difficult to deal with because it's more subtle and harder to keep at an arms length. This has improved a lot the last years though. This may seem depressing but it's not that bad. I would say I'm more than 95 % recovered and I'm staying hopeful that I will regain all of my former cognitive abilities, the only symptom that still makes me sad at times. (My problems are no longer noticeable to others, but I notice them.) I can live with back pain and a dash of madness if I have to. I even miss my visual hallucinations, the only symtom I actually enjoyed as they gave me a much needed break from reality. They were incredible beautiful too. My emotional life My personality came back to a large extent after 4,5 years, but my feelings started coming back much earlier. I regained an ability to feel ”real” emotions after about 1 year, although I can't say for sure whether I am 100% recovered or not as I don't remember what it used to be like. I do feel intense happiness and a wide range of other emotions, but I sometimes feel detached from them and from other people. I have a hard time relating to others, they seem ”overly emotional” and appears to be ”upset over nothing”. I do struggle a lot with empathy because of this. I’m sometimes puzzled over how I function on a social and emotional level now days, but whether this is my personality as an adult, the result of years of isolation/torture or Paxil itself is hard to tell. To be fair, I did have these tendencies before Paxil but these traits are much more pronounced now. Or maybe I just have a hard time taking my armour off. There were not much room for emotional needs during wd. Being a logic-driven observer was the only way I could handle the situation as I couldn’t trust which emotions was real or wd/psychosis. This is an incredible useful strategy while managing wd but I feel that I would like to become ”human” again. Just not sure how to do it as I more and more have come to believe that emotional reactions are a choice. This also means that I don't really know what to feel about everything I went through, or how to process the whole experience on an emotional level, and my attempts to figure it out with logic has failed for very obvious reasons. The happy end is just the beginning A few people I know of who were healthy and happy while I was in wd hell, have now died in cancer or become ill with no hope of recovery. I have learnt that although I have gone through a difficult time, I am also very lucky. I may no longer be gasping in awe during my short walks, crying of joy and gratitude over being alive and being able to see the birds fly, but that gratitude is always with me. The last 4-5 years have also taught me that you don't need to be completely recovered to live a deeply meaningful and happy life. I can't say that life is back to normal, because I was I teenager last time I was here. It was long ago in another life. Things will never be like that again. But I'm reaching a point where I feel like I don't regret what has been. I'm hoping for a long life and it's far too early to tell whether this journey was a bad life experience or a good and useful one. If I could choose a soundtrack for this post, then it would be Ordinary world by Duran Duran: "What has happened to it all? Crazy, some'd say Where is the life that I recognize? Gone away But I won't cry for yesterday There's an ordinary world Somehow I have to find And as I try to make my way To the ordinary world I will learn to survive" You will learn to survive too. No matter how hopeless things may seem right now, just keep going. You only have to go through this once, and your future self will be so, so grateful that you didn't give in. Being free again and being yourself is worth waiting for, even if it takes a decade, or more. One day you will be writing your own success story. I know you will. Thanks for reading this long post. You can ask me anything you want, I'm happy to help. Aurorax --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Summary and milestones: 2001: Starts Paxil at age 19. 2001-2004: Two failed attempts to quit. 2005: Increases dose to 30 mg. Close ones concerned about me being all wired up and lacking judgement. 2006: Life is falling apart: my carrier, my health, my relationships, my cognitive abilities. My plan to taper over two years is not going well, there always seems to be a reason to raise the dose again. 2007: Increases the dose to 30 mg again but it’s no longer ”working”. I consider increasing the dose to 40 mg but that would be like saying I'm worse than ever and that's a frightening thought. 2008: Third attempt to quit. Finally realising that my ”illness” is side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Decides to make a slow taper. 2009, April: Last dose of Paxil. End of 2008 to beginning of 2010: Lost in withdrawal hell, struggling to keep myself alive. Loses my spouse, my dog and my home. 2010-2012: Still minute by minute most of the time. Bedridden. 2013: 4 years off. I have a home of my own again but struggle with household chores. Too ill to go to the grocery store. Too ill to sit up in a chair. Too ill to do anything else than surviving. Bedridden most of the time. Mourns having been gone for so many years, feels like I came back too late. No one remembers who I am off Paxil, not my parents, not my siblings. Longing back to Paxil-land. 2014: Still spend a lot of time resting in bed. Having a home is manageable but feels like running a small business. Nausea is almost gone. I can read books, browse the internet, write in my diary. I realise that I have survived coming off Paxil. Still a lot of physical symtoms but I’m happy for the first time off Paxil. I can live without drugs! 2015: I'm starting to realise the extent of the damage done by Paxil and the wd experience regarding my personality and emotional life. I no longer feel ”human”. I feel disconnected from everyone, empathy nearly gone. I feel like nothing can really bother me as long as my or others life aren't threatened. 2016- 2017: Year 7-8. I continue to improve. 2018: I have recovered enough to return to the town I had to leave, and start my new life. I don't know anyone here but it dosen't matter, I feel no need for friends. No problems taking care of household or go shopping for the things I need. I feel lika an animal released from its cage. I'm really happy. 2019: Celebrates 10 years off. Working part time from home, self employed. I can sit up in a chair without pain. I eat out, I go to the movie theatre, I travel overseas for the first time. I go to gym classes. It stills feels unreal that the person that is running with high knees, doing burpees and lifting heavy barbells is me. 2020: Life is no longer about recovery. There is so much I wan't to do that I don't even know where to start. I sometimes feel like a young adult making plans for the future. I'm less on guard and my ability to feel empathy is improving. Things that happens to me and other people have an emotional impact on me again. I recently decided to end my lone wolf lifestyle and have just found my first friends here. Feels like I'm in the beginning of a big adventure and can't wait to see what will happen next. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Symptoms are 100% resolved unless otherwise stated: Physical: Air hunger Arrhythmia (Improved but not resolved) Blurred vision Brain zaps Burning sensation in skin Chilling sensation in legs Convulsions Diarrea Digestive system ”shutting down”, unable to absorb water for 1-2 days during worst part of wd Difficulty swallowing Difficulty walking (Still feels a bit weird) Dizziness Dry eyes Exhaustion Exuding small, round wounds, mainly on my back but also arms, chest, head, face (Not from self harm or scratching) Fatigue Feeling of electricity running through my body Feels like hands and arms are gone Feels like muscles are melting (Various other painful or unpleasant sensations all over my body that I don't bother to list) Fever Flashing blue lights inside my head Flu like symptoms Fluid running from nose and mouth Freezing Headache Heart palpitations Heart racing when I’m trying to stand up on my feet Internal bleedings Involuntary movements in jaw and feet, usually when falling asleep or waking up from sleep Itching Legs kicking Loss of appetite Muscle cramps Muscle pain Muscles shaking Muscle twitching (Still have this a few times a day) Muscle tension (Greatly improved but still have this. Could be many other reasons for this though) Muscle weakness/low muscle tone (95% resolved, still comes and goes in waves) Not able to eat solid food Not able to eat fluid food Nausea, very intense and relentless for years Numbness (Still a bit numb in my toes) Out of breath Pain in stomach and chest Passing out Poor balance Poor coordination Pressure over head Restless legs Sensitivity to light, sound, motion, smell (not completely resolved but very mild) Sensation of insects crawling over my skin Shaking Shortness of breath Slurred speech Sounds echoing in head Stress intolerance Sweating Temporary hearing loss Tinnitus (Greatly improved but still there) Vomiting Weight loss Weird attacks/blackouts, not sure what this was. Seizures? First one had me crawling on the floor, my visual field was rotating back and forth and I was vomiting. Second I felt like my foot was stuck to the floor while strong electric current was running through my leg, woke up in bed later after blackout. Whole body jerks Whole body suddenly numb, can't walk Zaps in jaw and legs (still have occasional mild leg zaps) Distorted visual perception: These resembles HPPT HPPD and seem to be permanent with no improvement last years. It's very mild, except the halos (I have had my eyes checked) No prior use of hallucinogens/street drugs. Floaters (Improved) Halos (Some improvement) Seeing sparkling lights (Improved) Things moving in the corner of my eyes (Improved) Things moving in weird ways (Resolved) Trails (Improved) Visual snow (Resolved) World stills looks/feels a bit weird in a way that reminds me of ”Paxil-land” but not near as intense. This comes and goes too) Cognitive: Brain fog, it literally took me half a day to write a few sentences on a postcard. (95% resolved) Confusion, like having to think to remember whether its winter or summer right now Difficulty finding words Difficulty speaking Difficulty understanding speech Disorganised and slow speech Exaggerated three-dimensionality (Still experience this when reminded of wd-hell. Not sure this is a wd-symptom, feels more like dissociation related to the trauma) Feeling drunk in an unpleasant way Feeling like I have lost my intelligence (Still not sure if I’m 100% recovered) Impaired memory Phrases repeating themselves in head, random words and images popping up out of nowhere Panic attacks or nausea while trying to read Poor concentration, could take me half an hour to read a page in a book. Used to be a very quick reader (95% resolved) Unable to process information Unable to se TV/watch movies Emotional: Aggression Akathisia (Most likely resolved. Still pacing and moving feet and hands a lot, but the intense inner torment is gone. Maybe I'm just a fidgety person) Anxiety Crying spells Delusions Drug cravings (Still happens if I'm triggered) Feeling of impending doom Hallucinations, mainly visual Hearing ”silent” voices while resting. Not auditory hallucinations, but not ”my own” thoughts. Usually incoherent and absurd phrases. Always different ”people”. Harming self Harming others (hitting, biting) Helplessness Homicidal ideation Hopelessness Hypomania Insomnia Intrusive thoughts Irritability Mood swings Nervousness (95% resolved) Nightmares and dreams about craving drugs ”Ocd” (Improved but not resolved. I had tendencies before Paxil so could be my personality.) Panic Paranoia (Still experience mild paranoia occasionally) Phobia towards people Psychotic break with reality Rage Ruminating Screaming Strange ”panic attacks”, mostly during night Suicidal ideation Terror Waking up crying/screaming/hitting/kicking (Still happens a few times a year) Walls bending
  2. @Deepu No, I never had any symptoms of PSSD (Post SSRI-sexual dysfunction). I was lucky in that regard. I’m still in the process of figuring out if my emotional and social differences (compared to the average person) are the result of long-term Paxil use, trauma, or my personality. I know that a lot of people here are trying to find out how these drugs affect our emotions long term. I’m looking for those answers too. I will probably write a post later with more details about my emotional life before, on, and after Paxil, in case someone finds it helpful. I’ll try to answer your other questions too: I could write pages about what helped me through this, but to summarize my most important rules: 1. No alcohol, no drugs. No mind-altering substances, no matter how innocent they may seem. 2. Make sure you eat and sleep enough, and that your diet is as healthy as possible. 3. Decide what you want to accomplish in life and break it down into smaller goals. It may seem like you are standing at the bottom of a stair that is impossible to climb, so take it one step at the time. Some of my first steps looked something like this: - Stay alive without drugs - Be able to eat and sleep. - Not end up in a locked psychiatric ward - Be able to walk a hill where I used to run - Have a home of my own. These things seemed nearly impossible, but I don't even have to think about them now. 4. Exercise as much as you can tolerate. 5. Don't see yourself as a victim. 6. Visualise yourself as recovered. 7. Accept what has happened and use it to your advantage. I can only answer questions about my own experiences. I can't give you advice on whether you should or should not use certain drugs, or what you should believe in or not. That is something you will have to decide for yourself. You mentioned that you have cravings. They will become much less frequent with time, but you may have to learn coping skills to avoid using drugs again. My strategy, in the beginning, was to distract myself. Now I try to sit with the cravings. No, this won't last forever. You will improve with time, but it may take a while. Try to keep as calm as possible, read all the information on this website, and remember that many people have experienced what you experience now and recovered completely. Aurorax
  3. MOD NOTE : Toulouse's Introduction Topic is here --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello all. I wanted to come here to give my success story. If you go through my first thread called My Paxil Withdrawal Journey, you can see for yourself the misery and pain that I went through, particularly the first 2 years of getting off of Paxil. I had so many symptoms, ones I've never had before. The main issues I had coming off were anxiety and insomnia. I've had dizziness, tinnitus, heart palpitations, intolerance to alcohol, and a new allergy which almost killed me. I used to feel like my brain was 'slipping' out of my skull. It was a strange feeling. and scary too. Numbness in my fingers, hands, legs. Twitching muscles, twitching hands( I thought I had ALS). I thought I was dying. To make things worse I saw a holistic doc who said I had mold illness and put me on these crazy pills and skyrocketed my anxiety and paranoia about mold (it's everywhere btw), it turned out to be false, and I tried to sue the guy, but I wouldn't have made enough to make the lawyer fees worth it. After that, I slowly focused on my own recovery again, trying to be as healthy as I could. I had many windows and waves. Slowly, the windows became bigger and longer. I slowly started feeling like I had a handle on it. Then I'd have a few months of very rough anxiety and panic and insomnia and nearly got back on something. I almost did. But I decided to try to be patient and gave it a few more weeks. I'm glad I did, otherwise, I might have gotten back on another SSRI and still be on it now. But notably, things that helped me were mindfulness meditation and talk therapy. That really helped calm my brain. Now I don't meditate anymore since I don't have anxiety, except for when it's appropriate maybe. I started working out again after that 3 year mark. I started just walking, then I joined the gym and started lifting weights. The old guys were stronger than me, I had grown so weak. But gradually I started getting stronger again, and lifting heavier, doing treadmill work, etc. And eating pretty healthy for the most part (though I still like my cookies and snacks). I'd say after year 3 I was 80-90% recovered. I mean, feeling like my pre-Paxil days. I say today I am 99% recovered. I think there are some residual things, like I still get some ringing in my ears sometimes. I still have an intolerance to alcohol, and the new allergies (but admit, those body changes will likely never go away at this point). but I'm okay with that. Now I cycle almost every day, I go for long rides. I never think of my anxiety, or the pain I went through anymore. It's a distant memory for me and I'm so glad to be here today and able to share my story. Thank you to the moderators for running this site. It was the most helpful tool in my journey out of this nightmare. I wish everyone here the same success I've had, or better, as my journey was pretty brutal for a while there. Peace and love to you all. Toulouse
  4. Thank you Aurorax! You make more sense than many of us who are writing in our native language. You are certainly wise beyond your years and I understand what you mean about regretting. We have a little sign on the mantle in the bedroom that says "Don't look back. You aren't going that way". It's so simple but so true and my regret at this point is that I want to be off yet another drug and know it may not be easy. I wonder too, at times, what I would've been like without Paxil even tho I didn't think it helped or hurt me for a long time. Of course I could be very wrong about the hurt part- if I could look into my poor brain I would probably amend that. I had an MRI of the brain during the terrible failed paxil wd and it commented that I had a lot of "white flares" in my brain for my age. I did a little research on it but not sure what it means. My mom had dementia but her siblings nor any of my dad's family had it so I am hoping I can hang onto what brain cells I have and nourish them. Do you mind if I ask why you don't recommend dry cutting pills? I had planned to get a good scale. The alcohol/water method I used for xanax gave me the feeling of a lot of control but not until later did I realize that my cutting the recommended alcohol in half could've been a real issue. With xanax I feared being cut off and not having enough for a slow taper but with paxil there is no issue like that. So I could melt each pill if I knew it would be well disbursed in the liquid so I could draw out an accurate dose and waste the remainder. With xanax I would make a big mix to use for days and whether it was a good suspension of the med I don't know but it went smoothly. I did not want to waste a drop of the xanax. I had waves that were hard but I doubt it had to do with my mix. But then again- I am sure no chemist and the whole making-a-suspension stuff was over my head with benzo brain. I want to make a small cut soon so I am gathering info. At first I had planned to wait until after the holidays but if I hold at a dose until I am sure I am good I hate to delay for 3 more months.
  5. @Elyssa143 Thanks for reading my story Elyssa145. I want to start by saying that nothing in this post is medical advice. I'm only sharing my own experiences. I've read your background story. I know you’re in a dark and frightening place right now but hold on, things will get better. I had the same symptoms and fears as you have now, including all kinds of intrusive thoughts. A lot of them were compulsive thoughts about harming or killing myself or others. Others were intrusive words or images out of nowhere. Some were neutral, others very disturbing. Some of these thoughts lasted for years. It took a long time until I could use a knife without intrusive images of how I could use it to kill myself. I went to a psychiatric intensive care unit and asked them to lock me in because of this. I spent 24 hours in a locked ward but felt like an animal trapped in a cage and decided that I had to get out of there. I had suicidal thoughts before Paxil, but they were of a very different nature. They were never intrusive or compulsive. I just wasn't sure I wanted to live for various reasons. They were like my ordinary thoughts, and they didn’t scare me. I believe this is much more concerning than intrusive thoughts during wd. If you start to feel like you want to act on your suicidal thoughts, make sure you reach out for help immediately. Always have someone nearby that keeps an eye on you until you feel better. Intrusive thoughts can be painful, probably because we tend to think that we are our thoughts. We are not, and that becomes very clear when we go through wd. You may have to live with these thoughts for a while, so why not invite them? Listen to them just as you listen to a radio or watch tv. They are not you, and you don't have to believe what they are saying. I know they can be deeply disturbing but try to see if you can laugh at them. That won't make them go away, but they may become less frightening. Yes, I feared not making it, especially during the 16 months of endgame tapering and acute withdrawal. I sometimes thought that I should be compassionate to myself and end it all instead of enduring more meaningless suffering. I thought I was too weak to live and that my life was over. I sometimes regretted that I found out about the pills and started tapering, thinking I could have had a few more good years on the drug instead of having to die now. All these thoughts were just various ways of telling myself that I needed my drug. I believe these kinds of doubts are a common wd symptom. Things got better when my personality started to come back, but I still had serious doubts that I would make it. I had very low self-esteem after all my years in psychiatry, and losing everything and having to rely on relatives for housing and help to get by made me feel like a failure. I doubted that I could take care of myself or have a home again, even if the wd-symptoms disappeared. I also had doubts that I would ever be able to be in the same room as another person without feeling terror. I knew that I could no longer tolerate SSRIs and didn't want to take benzo, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what other drugs I could take instead. I decided to give it a few years, and if didn't recover, then I was going to start morphine or heroin. That was a sad and comforting thought at the same time. What I’m trying to say is that it's easy to get the impression that those of us that have recovered from severe and long-lasting wd is extraordinary mentally strong or emotionally stable people. I don't think that's the case, at least not with me. The thing we have in common is that we didn't give up. You don't have to feel resilient or even hopeful to survive this. You only have to walk the distance no matter how you feel or where you believe you will end up. Make sure you have somewhere to live, eat, get some sleep if possible, and don't kill yourself. That's all you have to do. I know that's a full-time job at times, but you will get through this. You don't have to believe in healing, because healing is inevitable. What you are feeling and thinking about yourself now says very little about who you really are and what your future holds. Hold on to the memory of who you were before the pills. You will be a wiser version of that person when all of this is over. That got a bit long, but revisiting my past and writing about it is helping me too. I wish you all the best on your journey. Don't hesitate to reach out again if you need support. Aurorax
  6. Thank you SO much Aurorax! That means so much! I am having a rough day- my EPI- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency is causing pain and nausea today so I don't feel as perky and up to starting anything new today. I am active on Benzo Buddies and sent your story to a dear friend on there who is in Sweden and has to struggle with her English. She has had so many of the same issues that you've had and she is in year 4 of her benzo wd and still so sick. My failed paxil wd had basically the same sxs as my benzo wd so I know she can learn a lot from you. Did you dry cut your pills? I haven't even checked to see if there is a liquid generic paxil. I used an alcohol/water microtaper with xanax but have gotten ever more sensitive to alcohol so I don't want to use any. My system isn't great with milk but I could melt the pills in that. My wanting-to-smack-myself reality is that I was put on paxil for some pretty mild perimenopausal mood swings. No worse than regular old PMS and getting off was never mentioned by me or my Drs. And I'm an RN. That shames me! I was so trusting and all of my extended family members were on SSRIs so I joined the gang. When I first looked into getting off paxil this past January I was shocked at the gut problems that SSRIs can cause. There was no reason for my EPI. Most people have chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis or cancer- some underlying cause, from what I have learned. I was scoped from every side and orifice and nothing looked abnormal. But we cannot undo the harm we have done from trusting our Drs. Only do all we can to heal and learn. I think that's may main reason for wanting to get off paxil- I have realized, way late in the game, that there is no such thing as a drug that doesn't cause issues of some sort. And long term use- no way! Thank you more than I can say for your support! I have thought about you so much since I read your story! You are amazing and it seems helping others is in your DNA and you have found a great calling!
  7. Thank you so much for writing this! You are amazing and I cannot imagine the journey you have been on and where you have arrived! I have gotten off methadone, morphine, xanax. lyrica and ambien in the last 2 years. Paxil is my last one. I have been on it for over 25 years and had a horrible failed wd 2 years ago. So I came back today, about a month off ambien and morphine, looking for some insight. Your post both illuminates and frightens me. Your strength is beyond what I can imagine. I will soon be 70 so I am thinking (in excuse mode) "do I have enough years to get off this crap?'... I have tried more times than the CT disaster 2 years ago, getting off once before and many times cutting my dose but the wd 2 years ago was the most horrible experience of my life. But I was totally uninformed and didn't even know it was paxil wd. My doctor didn't believe me when I told him I knew why I was so sick. After 4 months of hell I figured it out and reinstated. For you to come back and encourage all of us with so far still to go says so much about you. You are far more than "human"!
  8. @Pawlove Thanks Pawlove. I'm following your Introduction post now. Don't rush your decision. I've read that some people experience delayed akathisia even after a very slow taper, you may want to research that. Yes, I dry cut the pills but I wouldn't recommend doing that. I didn't have enough knowledge and had no idea what I was up to. Don't beat yourself up for trusting your Drs. I was aware that you can't trust them (or pharmaceutical companies), that SSRIs might turn out to be addictive, that no one can know for sure that they don't cause brain damage…That apparently didn't stop me from making the same mistake as you did. I even asked our family Dr. for a prescription. I remember sitting in her office reading in the pharmacopeia and choosing my drug. (Paroxetine, that one seems like a good choice…) My gut feeling was screaming no but I was desperate and to be honest curious to see how the drug would affect me. I was convinced I had too much willpower to become addicted to anything. Unfortunately all my insights and critical thinking skills disappeared after starting the drug. I was no longer there to monitor my experiment until I woke up from the spell 10 years later. I too have regretted my decision a lot, especially when I didn't think I would make it to the other side. I believe it's important that we allow ourselves to feel that regret before we let go of it. I don't believe that things happen for a reason but I definitely believe we can turn our bad decisions into something meaningful as long as we are still alive. I sometimes wonder who I would have been today if I never started Paxil, but I no longer regret my decision. I really wish I could write this in my own language but ...I got lost and ended up with a life I never would have chosen voluntary because I felt I had too much to loose. I got lost but ended up in a really beautiful place, if that makes sense. I wouldn't trade my life with anyone else. Aurorax
  9. Hi i just thought I’d pop in and give an update about how things are now. i was talking with a friend the other day about what all id gone through with Paxil and I realized, I’m so far from where I was and how much I’d relied on this site as well as npanth’s articles during the very worst of everything. i remember reading success stories and wondering if the mental anguish would ever end for me. I can say, it has and it does. Here is my topic: So, basically I was on Paxil for about 14-15 years. I’m 40 now and have been off Paxil for 6 years. While I was on the drug I still had many symptoms of anxiety, gained a ton of weight and also felt like I was living a sort of half life. I wasn’t fully engaged in my life. Every time I tried getting off Paxil over the years, I’d have terrible symptoms and think that it was just me and I needed Paxil to make me “normal”...! My Dr never ever told me I should taper slowly and over time; I was literally given no advice EVER. When I was about 13 years in to taking the drug I was suddenly beset with a whole new host of symptoms and some quite strong and strange to me. I felt terrible on the inside of myself, something I couldn’t hardly explain. I told my Dr. And he said that Paxil might be no longer working as well and so he upped me from 20mgs to 40 msg. I felt a little better for a bit but still NOT good. I decided to stop the drug cold turkey. i had no idea of how dangerous that was or what would lie ahead. If I’d known, I would have tapered slowly. At first I felt really really good, better than I had in a longgg time, but at about 6 weeks off the drug alllll hell broke loose. I had all the usual symptoms, shaking, flu like symptoms , couldn’t sit still, no motivation, exhausted but major insomnia, heart racing and palpitations, so much pain In my legs, throbbing pain. A tight band around my head that felt like someone was tightening it. I had intrusive thoughts, racing thoughts, panic attacks, jolting awake from when I did sleep, bladder problems, and many more that I’m forgetting I’m sure. Oh! Brain zaps! I had lots of those. forgetfulness and not being able to put in to words what I wanted etc- that was also a thing. 😑 i started googling why I felt like this after stopping Paxil and I found a site called Paxil progress. After that shut down I found this site. at the time it was all I could do to lay in bed and read the stories of others and know that what I was going through would eventually get better. I couldn’t figure out how, or when. I prayed a lot. I had three kids to take care of, so I managed to do what I had to do but often felt very irritated and exhausted, I didn’t know how much longer I could deal with it. Symptoms began breaking up in to a pattern that was called windows and waves. Sometimes a window would be super short and I’d wonder how I could feel so normal for a while only to have it all crash back down around me. Sleep was such an escape when I could get it, but for 2-3 years I had terrible insomnia that lasted hours throughout the night. Those were very frustrating times. I saw bigger improvements when I began sleeping better. Slowly the symptoms dropped off one by one. leg pain was probably one of the first to go i still didn’t know much about how to deal with anxiety and was still fighting that battle when I came across Dr. Claire Weekes book, “hope and help for your nerves” That book was awesome and I highly recommend it and anything else you can read by her. I still have occasional bladder flares (acts like a bladder infection but it isn’t actually) but other than that I don’t think I have one problem that I can say is from Paxil anymore (I don’t think??) lol i think I am finally ready to say, I’m recovered from what Paxil put me through. im still learning how best to cope with anxiety, but I’m doing a pretty good job of it with noooo drugs 😁😁😁 BTW when I was in the process of trying to heal from it all, I used high quality fish oil and B12. I also used trace minerals. I wish you all well. Xo 😘
  10. Hey, it will get better! I used to get crushed by it every single day. I would have to listen to music nonstop to drown it out. I still slightly get it at night(right before I fall asleep) and in the mornings(right after I wake up). It is around 95% better than it was at its worst. I was just like you as I never experienced it before in my life until I came off of paxil. I definitely noticed elevated levels of tinnitus when I was feeling worse...especially with headaches.
  11. Congratulations and thank you for sharing! Another Paxil surviver! I read your whole story and I could literally feel how much you must have suffered.
  12. ADMIN NOTE Pennylane's Introductions topic is here PennyLane26: Need advice-Paxil Withdrawal Happy New Year to all! I figure today would be a great day to share my success story, and hopefully provide some hope to those struggling. First, my drug history: I was put on Paxil 15 mg in May of 2012 for anxiety caused my life circumstances. I had great "success" with the drug and then weened myself off of it a year later (at 25% intervals) in May of 2013. I had the typical withdrawal flu symptoms, but felt pretty much back to normal in about 6 weeks. Then 4 months later, all of my symptoms came rushing back and it terrified me, so back on 15 mg of Paxil I went. I stayed on this dose for another a year before attempting a slower taper in January of 2016. I got down to 5 mg at one point in this taper and was then advised my doctor to come completely off. This is when all hell broke loose. I had horrible withdrawal symptoms; intense insomnia, anxiety, headaches, akathesia,intense depression, depersonalization,; you name it! This continued for several months, so I re-introduced 1 mg of Paxil around May 2017. During this time I was also prescribed Ambien because my insomnia was so bad and was exacerbating all of my symptoms. I stayed on the 1 mg of Paxil and 5 mg of Ambien for several months and then began micro-tapering both medications until I was off both of them on November 27th, 2017. Now, over a year later I can say I am almost completely healed and am no longer experiencing withdrawal symptoms. My withdrawal was brutal and long-lasting BUT there is a silver lining. I found meaning in this experience and it completely transformed the person I am today. Now, I will go over what helped me through this dark night of the soul. Like many of you, I spent HOURS upon hours browsing these forums and searching the internet for answers. In May of 2017 I bought Kelly Brogan's book A Mind of Your Own and it completely changed my life. This book helped me to understand that anxiety and depression are symptoms, not a disease. They are messages from your body that something you are doing is not working and it is time to fix it. So, in relative order, here is what helped me on my path to recovery: 1.FOOD. I adopted a paleo lifestyle and saw dramatic improvements in my symptoms within a month Do not put anything in your body than can cause inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of anxiety and depression, so eating a clean diet is imperative. Giving up caffeine and alcohol is extremely important as well. I also made sure to eat often. Blood sugar crashes made my cortisol and anxiety shoot through the roof. 2. Coffee enemas. Yes, you heard that right. They are extremely effective in eliminating toxins from the body and I had great success with them. 3. Meditation. Yes, I know it is insanely difficult to meditate when your brain is on fire and it was no different for me. But you have to find meaning in the experience, because it will change your life. Those of us that have experienced withdrawal have seen the kind of darkness that nobody else on this Earth can ever comprehend. Finding gratitude for this experience and your newfound appreciation for life will make things that much sweeter when you make your way into the light. 4. Exercise- but not too much. I have always loved high intensity exercise, but that seemed to exacerbate my withdrawal symptoms. So, I made sure to take walks and do hot yoga several times a week to get my body moving. Getting outside and moving was very important for me and helped to alleviate some of the intense depression I was experiencing. 5. Reiki. I was not a "woo woo" person at all before this experience. But as you know, you get desperate and you will try anything and I am glad I did. Reiki gave me peace in some of my darkest moments. After my first session, I had my first good night of sleep in a long time and felt more at peace for days after. 6. Stay off the internet and stimulating TV/books,etc, especially for bed. Insomnia was hands down the worst and longest lasting symptom I experienced. Turning off the TV two hours before bed and reading a calm book or meditating helped me to slowly get my sleep back. I also deleted all social media for a good while because it was depressing for me to look at people living "normal" lives while I was in a silent hell. Also, reading some of these forums can be scary and you can start comparing your experience to others. So, I would advise only coming on to ask questions or read success stories. 7. Stop looking for quick fixes, like supplements, herbs, etc. I fell into this trap and had bad reactions to many supplements, etc. Learn to sit with your pain and trust that you absolutely will recover, because you will. The human body is extremely intelligent and very forgiving. But you have to give it time. Looking for a quick fix is how much of us ended up in this situation to begin with. Trust that your body has the ability to heal and look for meaning in your suffering. 8. Community. Withdrawal can be very isolating. Make sure you are getting rest, but also make sure you are making time to be around people when you can. There were many times I just wanted to stay home and wallow in my misery, but I would force myself to go see my family or a friend. I would always feel better after getting out of the house for a bit and would leave if the situation was causing my more stress. 9. Melatonin, Magnesium and Phenbiut. Magnesium seemed to calm me a bit (nothing drastic) and melatonin did help me to start sleeping better and get off the ambien. I did take phenbiut about once or twice a week to "catch up" on my sleep when I would have several days of not sleeping well. Be extremely careful with this one though, you can get addicted and experience withdrawals, so do not use more than 1-2 times a week. So, here I am now 14 months medication free and I feel happy, healthy and have a newfound respect for my body and life in general. My only lingering symptoms are from adrenal fatigue, which I know was caused by withdrawal. I am now working with a Naturopath to correct this and am at a point where I can handle supplements, vitamins, etc. This experience completely changed the person I am today. I am now very careful about what I put into my body and how I take care of myself. I have ended my relationship with western medicine and weaned myself off of birth control and acne medication over the last 6 months as well. I am very diligent about getting to bed early and my sleep has finally gotten much better of the last several months (after addressing my adrenal issues). My insomnia was horrible and I know how miserable it can be walking through life like a melancholy zombie. Just know gradually it gets better and you will be able to sleep again. Spirituality and meditation are now very important to me. My friends and family will sometimes roll their eyes at my newfound "hippie" lifestyle, but it doesn't bother me. They haven't seen what we have seen and the don't how precious every moment is like those of us who have suffered this kind of pain at the hands of pharmaceuticals. Please reach out if you have any questions, I know what you are going through and you are not alone. You too will make your way out out of this dark night of the soul and into the light. I wish you all peace, happiness and healing in the new year!
  13. Link to BrassMonkey's Intro topic Brassmonkey- A Success Story To some people six and a half years is a very long time to take to accomplish a goal. For me it’s been one tenth of a lifetime, one third of the time I was actively taking psych drugs and one quarter of the total time I was on Paxil. Given where I started six and a half years ago and where I am now I would gladly do it all over again if it meant regaining my life in the manner that I have. Six and a half years seems like a long time, but I can so clearly remember the night I made the decision to “do something about it” I can relive it moment by moment. At the time I couldn’t remember anything for more than a couple of seconds which makes this even more amazing. It’s been 24 some years now since I started taking Paxil. At the time I was in what I though of as a very rough place. I was in an incredibly stressful job, suffering constant pain as the result of several medical procedures and had developed some really bad anger issues. Anger was a learned response I acquired growing up, but this was getting out of hand. Counseling and learning coping techniques would have been the better course of action, but there was this new “wonder drug” on the market that would cure the ”chemical imbalance” that was causing me to lash out in such a destructive manner. And it was indeed a wonder drug. I could feel the difference just a few hours after taking the first dose. My life calmed down and things were much better for many, many years. Then one day I noticed that it wasn’t as effective as it once had been. Talking it over with my doctor we decided to up my dose. Things went back to being fine, almost. During that time there were some big changes that took place in my life. My wife and I had made some good investments and savings and were able to retire early. We went traveling and such and enjoyed life. Until one day the stock marked crashed and we lost pretty much everything. Having to come out of retirement and find a job was a very upsetting experience to say the least. Making it through the next decade plus some was quite a challenge. At first, I was very glad for the numbness that the Paxil was causing. After a while I again noticed that it was not working as well as it should, and we again upped the dose. This put me at 40mgai. It didn’t do much good. The anhedonia was taking over big time, short term memory was going away, and I hurt constantly. I’ve always enjoyed my alcohol and I started enjoying it more and more. In my mind it was helping with the physical pain and it did help distract from the day to day survival conditions we were facing. But it also was getting out of control and I started to spiral down on every front. Yes, you have to hit rock bottom before you decide to do anything about it, and I did. It finally sunk in one night just how bad I had let things become and I knew I had to do something about it. Next stop AA. But there was much more involved than the alcohol. I knew that the Paxil was not working anymore and was very sure that my doctors recommendation to “just stop taking it” was wrong. It took several weeks of researching to learn that “the drug was my problem” and I had to get off it. There was a lot of conflicting information on line and it was quite a slog getting through it. One day I happened on a site called PaxilProgress and my life changed. PaxilProgress or as I often refer to it now “Prior Place” seemed to know what they were talking about. They had reference material and a taper protocol that made sense and would work with you and give support as you worked your way off of the drug. The stories of what some of the people were going through scared the heck out of me though. I envisioned myself sitting in a chair rocking back and forth for months chanting “it’s only withdrawal, it’s only withdrawal”. My lovely wife told me, “if that’s the way it’s going to be, then we will make it through it”. I liked their idea of doing a 10% taper every four to six weeks, but it seemed to me that everyone that was trying it got hit hard with symptoms after each drop. I was struck with the idea of spreading the drop over four successive weeks and rounding it out with a hold to try and lessen the symptoms. I decided to sneak up on each 10% over several weeks and see what happened. This was later dubbed the Brassmonkey Slide Method by one of the other members. Not a whole lot happened. It was almost two and a half years of steady tapering before I noticed that things were starting to change. A year and a half after that, around the four-year mark I knew I was making progress, and the final year and a half was marked with steady improvements. Five and a half years after I started I was able to make the final taper to “0”. In the middle of all this my Prior Place life line was suddenly pulled out of my hands. I had found another site, SurvivingAntidepressants,org during a previous closure of Prior Place and renewed my account. The atmosphere was a bit different, but much more like home. The knowledge and support here has been a major key to my successful taper and recovery. The recovery story doesn’t stop at reaching “0”. In fact, it’s only beginning. Once the drugs have totally left the body it can actually start the real job of recovery. That’s why we like to wait a year before declaring a success story, and that year is up as of April 15, 2018. I’ve glossed over the meat of the taper because there is just too much to write about. The things that happened, what I learned, coping strategies and much more. Most fo which is already in my introduction thread. This post is to declare that I have succeeded in my quest to get off Paxil. I am going to start a new journal thread to talk about the details. For those who have been with me since the beginning, I want to thank you for your support and companionship during a long hard journey. Some of you have long since finished and have moved on, while others are close on my heels and will be writing your Success Stories soon. There are too many of you to name names, but each and every one of you are very dear to my heart. Those of you who have joined along the path; even though it will be rough and bumpy along the way the end destination is so worth it. Keep at it and you will make it. Your company has been invaluable. For all new ones who are joining each day: it’s very scary, rough, and painful journey but it is the only path there is to follow. In just a few short years you will all be writing your own Success Stories too, and I can’t wait to read them. I have worked with many thousands of members over the time I’ve been tapering and have yet to find one who did not have the strength, once they truly set their mind to the task, to be able to see it through to a successful conclusion. (((((((((((((((((((((HUGS TO ALL))))))))))))))))))))))) Brassmonkey
  14. Hi Coco, I’m a new member and I am currently writing my introduction and med signature, I’m also a tradesman like yourself but down in Australia. Im getting hammered with tinnitus at the moment like you did. Did yours come and go? Like it’s ok some days and then I wake up the next and I feel awful and the tinnitus spikes with the wd symptoms..... I never had tinnitus before starting Paxil and Then lexapro 9 odd years ago. It developed while coming off the meds. Just curious about the pattern you encountered as I have not had any days for the last 12 months where it fully disappeared. Just days where it doesn’t bother me as much and seems to hide away in the background unless I’m in a really quiet room that is. I also find the days that I’m not feeling well with fatigue, depression, intrusive thoughts etc correlates with the ears being louder. Any insight or experience your willing to share would be greatly appreciated.
  15. I think it was over 3 months or so (I have to go back. it was way too fast.). I'd say the first 2 years were the toughest. With improvements starting gradually in the middle of year two, but still lots of things, symptoms. Sleep, muscle twitches, anxiety. But by year three I was doing substantially better. Years four and five, I've all but put the Paxil behind me. I don't think about it anymore, or the suffering I endured. By year 2.5, 3, I was better around crowds, able to go to concerts, etc. Now, (Pre pandemic) I was going to very large rock concerts. One thing I can't do is drink alcohol anymore. I don't know if it's related or not, but around year 2, I found that if I drank a glass of wine (or two beers) I would wake up with a thumping heart, a bit fast, enough to wake me and worry me. Still happens. I don't drink often, sometimes one beer. But more than that, my body can't seem to handle. Prior to tapering off of Paxil, I could drink whatever. My digestive system is just more sensitive. (I picked up a rice allergy, which is the thing that almost killed me and I didn't know until 2 years later what actually caused my anaphylactic shock). I think finding out what caused it, helped alleviate a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in itself (I had 2 dumb allergists, who didn't do a full allergy work up / skin prick, only blood test, which is like 30% accurate and in my case plain wrong). I have lost faith in holistic doctors from my experience, They made me worse after I made some improvements. Mainly the quack who told me I had a mold illness after doing some obscure tests and putting me on a bunch of weird medications and caused my paranoia and fear of mold to exacerbate my anxiety when it was starting to improve. I'll never forgive that guy (I can't sue, it wouldn't be enough money to cover the attorney). So meditation, exercise, eating healthy and time is what I think helped me the most. I will add that around year 2 I was getting frustrated with the anxiety and depression, the impulsive, bad thoughts I was having. I almost went back on some sort of SSRI. I was desperate. In my case I decided to try to deal with the suffering a bit more. It may be controversial, but I found that one tablet of Benadryl helped me during that period if I was having a particularly bad night (sleep or anxiety). I did this maybe a handful of times, not daily. This seemed to alleviate a couple tough times for me towards the tail end of my suffering. Soon after that, I didn't need any sort of help with a pill. I felt ashamed for doing it, but it is the compromise I made to myself to not get on another SSRI. I would do whatever it took. I understand others suffering, they may need to get back on something and try to get off that after stabilizing, I almost did it myself. But I had come so far, I didn't want to go back, so it made sense to me. I also found that taking a Claritin in the morning every day for a couple months MAY have helped somewhat. However, I was having allergy problems, so I wasn't too concerned about taking Claritin (which is much more subtle a pill than Benadryl which will knock you out). These are little things that may have contributed to my healing, and maybe a coincidence.
  16. Toulouse's drug signature answers these questions: Been on Paxil 14 years. 40mg for the bulk of those. 20mg in 2014 10mg March of 2015 - then tapered to 5mg Then to 2.5 to 1.5 - to 1mg, from Mar-August. As of August 23 2015, I am flying without a net. Paxil free! WD symptoms since tapering mid- 2015: Short temper, hostile. Brain zaps. Bruxism. Wild vivid dreams Hives Food intolerance Lump in throat, . Joint pain. Knees, elbows. Pain in feet. Numbness in hands. Shaking, like I'm cold. Trembling. Tremors, muscle twitches all over. Facial tics. Eye, lips. Head. Floaters in my eyes. Severe Insomnia (between months 4-5) then returned from March-October 2016. I'm sleeping better now. Dreams have returned to normal (month 7) High levels of anxiety when around large crowds or in large rooms. Intestinal spasms, heartburn. Dizzy spells. Panic/Anxiety Attacks suddenly developed months 8 out. 4 years out, 98% feeling back to normal. (October 9 2019)
  17. It’s finally time. I wanted to stop back in (formerly a PaxilProgress member) and do what I should have done a while back. I want to give an extremely positive and 100% true update. I think before getting too far ahead, it’s important for me to tell you all my history. I began suffering panic attacks as a teenager after a horrific injury during a sporting event. Everything else in my life was fine, never abused, always loved, it was just one of those things that happen to everyday people. After my first panic attack I freaked out, being a kid and never experiencing anything more than the flu, I had no idea what was going on. I began missing school and suffering from what I now know to be agoraphobia caused by the panic attacks. This was extremely difficult for my family as I was always extremely outgoing, athletic, and a leader within my friends. My biggest fear was passing out in front of people and people thinking I was weak, silly to me now as an adult but being a teenager and concerned with image, this was hard for me. We were finally told that I should go to a psychiatrist, which I did and within 2 visits I was placed on Paxil, up dosing to 40 mg at the age of 15. At this age it was hard to say how much Paxil changed me since I was going through so many changes as these are such impressionable and transformative years. I got back into school and back into sports and life continued on. I was simply told by the psychiatrist, “you don’t have enough serotonin, and this will make more, it is quite common”. I was told I could probably get off by the age of 25 but for now my body needed this like…yup you guessed it, a diabetic needs insulin. I began to transform into a different person. I remained very social and lived a comfortable high school life, but I began to notice I was becoming more cold and callous. I had zero sexual drive, except when I was inebriated which was often. I would go out and get into fights, something that earned me a reputation, one I am embarrassed by now looking back. I was still very sensitive but the Paxil and the alcohol made that sensitive person go away. I often blamed being sensitive as the problem. It was at the age of vulnerability and transformation, so people just wrote the negative behavior off as youth. I was also quite charming, so I seldom was held accountable for anything I did anyways. I never was into drugs or anything like that, I just had my fun and was a bit mischievous. I had great success with the sport the caused the injury but eventually it caught up to me. Without going into too much detail, I was very good before the injury and not as good but still decent after, but my attitude was awful and anger would get the best of me and ultimately cost me a scholarship to play at the next level. My parents, both very caring and loving people, did what they thought was best for me. They had divorced right before this all started and many thought I just couldn’t handle the divorce since it got messy, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. My parents did all they could for me during the initial panic attacks. After all, your kid hiding out in the house all day is concerning. I ended up staying on Paxil between 20mg-40 mg until I was 25, attempting to get off only once around age 21 with disastrous results. I eventually started having extreme anxiety with the inability to tolerate alcohol with extreme eye pain. I went back to college and after having many crying spells behind closed doors I decided I needed to go back on or else people would start to notice. Ruminating thoughts during philosophy 101 were unrelenting, don’t quit a psych drug during a psych class either, you turn into an immediate hypochondriac. It definitely hurt damaged my CNS and I could tell this drug had a grip on me and was causing some serious damage. I felt like I was going insane. Upon graduating college, instead of searching for a serious job, I worked meaningless side project construction jobs. Now, there is nothing wrong with this type of work but everyone was baffled by this seeing as I did incredibly well in college and had a bright future. About 6 months after graduation I fell ill with a horrendous case of mono. I can truthfully say I have never been the same physically since. I also started to develop atrial fibrillation, which I feel Paxil contributed to. I finally got a “real” job and fought through the aches and pains as well as the extreme fatigue what I felt was after effects of returning to the gym too soon after having mono. I always thought it was Paxil in the back of my head but I didn’t want to experience what I did a few years back quitting so I tolerated it and moved on. I accepted it as a way of life and that pain was a part of living, plus nothing would show up when I went to the doctors on any of their tests so it was time to toughen up and just deal. Things started to look up as I had a steady girlfriend and despite working at jobs I felt were pointless and a waste of time, I paid my dues and I took my standarized entrance tests and was admitted into a top graduate program and would soon never look back at the only terrible jobs I could get post 2009 recession. It was 2011 and I felt this was my year. Maybe everything does happen for a reason and finally I was getting what I deserved. Then the bottom fell out. I wanted to feel again, I wanted to get the poison out of my system, I wanted to know who the “real” me was. I was already down to 20 mg of Paxil for the past few years so I decided to get off once and for all. I quit drinking heavily, which was no small task considering I was binge drinking quite frequently on Paxil from the age of 17. I began reducing the dosage on a “see how I feel” basis. If I felt ok for a couple weeks I would keep going, if not I would go back on. I finally got down to 5 mg and I began to feel again. It was a double edged sword. I began to feel things I had not felt in quite some time. I felt pain, I felt happiness, I just felt. With all of these new emotions it was hard to take this all in. I loved it though. I was working out feverishly training for a triathlon as well. Running, Biking, and swimming had taken over my life and for the first time in a long time I felt like things were looking great and I owed it all to getting that dirty drug out of my system. I also remembered feeling love for my then girlfriend, love like a first crush type love. I couldn’t help but ask myself, had I just been going through the motions before? Had I not felt what it was like to love, to have empathy, to understand emotions at a deep level? I did begin to experience something I had not felt in a while, crying. I had some serious crying spells but it felt great, I didn’t cry for years. Not everyone thought the new me was better and after months of fighting with my girlfriend, we decided to call things off. Once again, how to deal with these emotions? I felt like my world had turned upside down. I never knew someone could feel like this. It seemed nothing I did could make it better. I was in a 24/7 constant state of panic and survival. I tried to not scare my family but they were starting to notice. I pushed off starting school because I couldn’t focus and began having incredibly frightening thoughts. My family was bewildered as to why I would call off something I had worked so hard for and wanted so badly, like throwing out a winning lottery ticket knowingly. I found PProgress website and received news I didn’t want to hear. I was told this was going to be a horrendous battle and no other drug could mask what Paxil was doing. I didn’t want to hear it. I kept going back to the doctor and tried to be as subjective as possible trying to express my thoughts that Paxil was doing this, a tough task considering I was sweating and freaking out basically from withdrawal while I explained this all to her. Despite her only have knowing me for a month, she seemed to know what was best for me, Effexor, then Zoloft, add in some benzos and a couple false promises and you have full blown chaos in your brain. There are no words to describe what I went through, I still can’t fathom it now a days, despite living it and keeping a journal. It’s as if the brain digs deeper and deeper into a dark hole, it takes you to a place you didn’t know could exist, a place below death. I kept a journal and that really how I know it was all real, otherwise I would have never been able to remember the fear, pain, sadness, inhumane torture I went through. The doctor retired leaving me with a small tidbit of advice to go to the emergency room if things got really bad. Thanks doc, all those years of schooling really paid off. A month before I was training for a triathlon, fully employed, newly admitted to a top full time MBA program, girlfriend, you name it I had it and now I was a vegetable, incapable of putting two thoughts together. “This is what it is like going mad”, I often thought to myself. Knowing full well it was the drugs, screaming this to people, but no one would listen and the louder I yelled the less responsive they became and the crazier I sounded. Even my supportive family had quickly grown tired of the excuses, and god forbid I bring up what I read on the internet. I could go on and on about the doctors and how poorly treated I was and how aloof they truly are but that’s not what this post is about. Just take the meds my family said, you are chemically imbalanced. There is nothing as soul crushing as when your family begins to lose faith in you and you go at this battle alone. You name a symptom, I had it. I went Cold Turkey essentially off of 40 mg of Paxil for 10 years then began a 6 month cocktail of everything a doctor thought was a good idea, like a guinea pig. Typing that makes me sick, makes me sick I felt my best option was to let some “professional” feed me drug cocktails not suitable for an animal. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to be awake, and so I lay in a fog wishing life away. With my only thought, “how did I let it get to this”, praying every night before a battle for just an hour or two of sleep, praying I would wake up from this nightmare and sometimes hoping I didn’t wake up at all. You quickly begin questioning your own sanity, “well maybe I am nuts”, despite all the previous years of evidence pointing to the contrary. I began thinking one sided about my childhood, trying to identify times I displayed OCD, anxiety or depression. If you go looking for something, especially in your memory, you will give yourself enough ammunition to start a war. Here’s the secret, everyone is a little messed up. I have to tell you all, I thought I was already dead, but at that point death seemed like a gift. I crawled through days, seconds seemed an eternity. I was not functional. I did the last resort and I went to the ER and stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks. Many of the staff members were upset I was taking up a bed because I seemed fine, I had no trauma, I was articulate to them. They had no idea what I was going through and what many of you are going through. I cried when I could cry, which was daily for about 2 years. I had anger outbursts by myself, I woke up to morning anxiety that was worse than any panic attack I ever had, and I was dead inside. My body ached worse than after a half marathon, neck pain, eye pain, everything hurt. I couldn’t focus on one area because it was everywhere. I just kept dwelling on the irony of who I use to be and what I had become. I kept thinking to myself, “what if people could see me now?” I remember I cried the whole night, repeating over and over again, I will never get to be a husband or a Dad. That absolutely crushed me. I went back to a new hospital and they removed me off the cocktail I was on. They couldn’t believe someone who wasn’t DX anything besides anxiety could be put on antipsychotics and at such a high dose. I literally sat there and drooled. To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of this time period. I also am not bothered about talking about any of it, it seemed like a distant nightmare that was never real. Acceptance is a big thing and eventually like anything the memory fades. Even typing that I sit with an awkward facial expression almost as to ask “did I really experience that”? Accepting what happened is the only way to move on. Not dealing blame or hatred, but allowing yourself to move on and begin life again. I quickly learned I needed to get off everything and stay off no matter what. I would rather die trying than die on these drugs drooling and disgracing my previous self. Slowly I got off everything and by May of 2012 I was what I call RAW. I was scared all day every day, but things couldn’t get any worse. I was in the hospital a total of 4 weeks and was ashamed and embarrassed. My family did a good job keeping it from other family members and my friends per my request. I hated myself for doing that to my family, I hated myself for being sick. To this day, I have no idea why I didn’t give up, I wouldn’t have blamed myself. Knowing what I know now though, that happiness to survive, I am glad I fought. If you won’t fight for yourself fight for those love you, or those that will love you in the future. Fight for those memories you will have down the road and know this will all be temporary. Where am I now? You would never guess, I would never have guessed. The whole time I had to fight my own mind telling me who goes through something like this and achieves anything? Well. I ended up getting back into my graduate program somehow after a yearlong medical leave. I started with a night class which tortured me every Wednesday night. I couldn’t focus to do homework and I THOUGHT I sounded dumb in class when I did manage a few words to say. I felt broken and my brain severely damaged. I honestly felt like the most unintelligent person, not just in that school but out of everyone I came into contact with and I felt ashamed I went back and wasted what money I had left. Homework took me hours longer than what would have previously. I kept thinking, “I don’t deserve to be here, “you’re wasting your time”. I fought, pleaded my case to stay in school against my family’s wishes for me to just get a minimum wage job and work 15 hours a week. I told them I needed a year, I could show them this is withdrawal. They let me do it and for that I thank and love them infinitely, my parents even giving me the remainder for the money I owed to continue going to school out of their 401k. I matriculated back into the full time program and 2 years later I graduated from one of the best programs in the world, and no one had a clue I was struggling. No one notices what is so obvious to us. Midterms, Finals, Internship, interviews, stress, stress, stress. At times, I thought I was going to drop dead or have a stroke. I competed well, and did very well. My damaged brain wasn’t as damaged as I thought, it was just different. My brain lied to me and yours is probably doing the same. The test scores didn’t lie, the professors didn’t lie. I developed a stutter early on in withdrawal where I would mispronounce words, the oddest thing, that is now gone entirely. I can now work through the brain fog. I honestly think our brains rewire and albeit they don’t work the exact same as before, they find a way to get the job done. I traveled around the US for interviews, as if flying wasn’t hard enough during withdrawal, hell even driving is nuts, I also went on 4 hour intense interviews. My whole mantra was, “whatever happens happens but I won’t let this beat me.” I did an internship with a company you would all know and before that I worked for another big company by chance an opening became available. I also forced myself to do jobs that were absolutely not what I wanted to be doing painting people’s houses and doing construction. You may think, this guy didn’t have it that bad if he could do any of these things, I FORCED myself and when I got home cried some more. I felt like I couldn’t talk to people, I would think about withdrawal 24/7 while I was there. One of my lowest points was eating lunch with a work crew and they all were joking around and I couldn’t find words to say to fit in, I just sat there wanting to cry, wondering how my life had gotten to this point and why I couldn’t get past it. I ended up accepting a job with a company I would have only dreamed of working for 4 years ago. I moved across the US and I am in a great, healthy relationship. Why do you I tell you this? Because I was as good as dead, sitting where you are now. I know your pain, I understand. Some may think again, well he must not have had it bad because he can do all this now, or you may be thinking, “well I’m different, my case is the worst ever”. I was a horrific case. When I was on the PProgress forum I wouldn’t tell people a lot of what I was going through because it was worse and I was scared I was experiencing things no one else was. I have been off the forums for close to 2.5 years. I had to go it alone after a while, reading the forums stopped helping me and started to become an obsession. I waited for healing to occur rather than being an active participant in my recovery. I want you all to know, you don’t have to go to a top school, or get a high paying job, and truthfully, just being alive is great to me, you just have to make a choice, a choice to start living or at the very least keep surviving, because I sure as hell know sometimes all you can do is hang on. I used those examples because you have to know you will get better, a lot better. There is no way I could have accomplished what I did if I wasn’t healing. I sleep pretty damn good, no morning anxiety, no suicidal thoughts, none of that. Every once and a while I will have a panic attack and laugh at it. I made a decision that I wasn’t going to hide anymore, I wasn’t going to let this consume me, because if I did, well I was already dead. I moved forward and went inch after inch crawling. I am 4 years into withdrawal with a little over 3 years clean from any drug. I have quit drinking. I stay away from anything than can alter me, including sleep meds of any sort. I take Magnesium to relax and to stay asleep and vitamin C, the only two things that I feel make a difference. I spent thousands on other supplements and doctors, this is the only combo that worked for me. I don’t mess around with other stuff. I hear fish oil is good, I can tolerate it but I only take it periodically as well as a good probiotic. I literally was so sensitive to everything, even a multivitamin would set me off. I am still sensitive to perfumes (cologne) and for some reason, I get goosebumps when I touch paper or in a mail room. I still get nervous at times (just about every day) but after going through what I did, that doesn’t scare me one bit. My biggest issue is not being able to work out and my body not feeling 100% coordinated. I use to train really hard. Believe it or not, about a year into withdrawal I forced myself to go to the gym every day. I was able to run and lift weights and slowly it stopped hurting but not after every bone and nerve in my body begged me to stop. I would hurt for days after but I just kept doing it. Now I can’t run more than a mile or else I will feel sick for a week after. It sucks but you know what, it will get better. My body at times feels like an 80 year old man and other times normal. I am sorry I waited this long to post, but I wanted more traction and I wanted a complete story, and I felt I was at a good enough point to give you an update. I don’t have days where I feel like I am back at day 1 and the bad ones I do have I know will be gone quickly. This is me, and this is my story. I am not ashamed of beating this, I am proud and I want others to know they are not alone. I also thought staying off these sites would help me, and it did. Don’t get me wrong, the sites did help early on, but after a while you need to take ownership of your life and move forward and focus on getting better. If this helps you, then keep going, but treat yourself and get better in real life too. Like so many others, I too disappeared upon getting better. I guess I was afraid I would stop getting better or perhaps disillusioned to think I really wasn’t that well off, but I am and I can’t deny it. This is once again another way our brains play tricks on us and prove everything is relative. During withdrawal, we yearn for what people call windows, during post withdrawal or the very end, we start to worry once again about petty things, like what’s for dinner or getting 10 more minutes of sleep. I will hang around for a couple days and answer anyone’s questions they might have at night when I get home. I owe this to each and every one of you. I had several people from the old site who may be on this site as well help me early on. If I can be a beacon of hope for anyone, I want to be. I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their fight, because you’re not. “It’s not about how you feel, it’s about still doing what you want to do despite not feeling well that will make the difference, accomplishments still feel great even when you don’t” Thank you to the many people who helped me, special thank you to Alto for committing your time to this, I know it must not be easy.
  18. @Toulouse well done and congratulations!!! always great to hear of another Paxil survivor Go out and enjoy the rest of your life drug free and never again plagued with wd symptoms . What a great feeling that must be ! you should be very proud 😊
  19. brassmonkey

    Tao of the Brassmonkey

    @Naczoz no I didn't have many problems in that respect. I had more problems from the alcohol than the paxil, and that cleared up when I stopped drinking.
  20. ☼-branyan-from-pp-genital-anesthesia-and-pssd Hey guys! Branyan here from the old PP forums. I haven't written in any SSRI or related forum in almost 2 years now. The reason being? Things for the most part have been pretty damn great. My actual life is great. I have a great career started. I am finally independent and financially stable. I've had a couple of short relationships in between now and when Paxil Progress ended. During that sexual relationship I almost NEVER had one problem. Not only that, things were pretty freaking great in that department. I never had any problems getting it up, and sex was frequent and very good. Now there is still some of the genital numbness, and spotty libido, but was scarcely a worry. So. fast forward. We broke up. Not the right time in our lives, etc etc blah blah. Now the libido and functioning goes right back down to nothing good. This has been the pattern in the post SSRI/PSSD world for almost 5-6 years now. In the relationship things work great. Outside of that relationship, even when by myself things just dont feel very good. I realize how lucky I am. I'm grateful to have what I have. I'm so lucky. I'm not even really complaining. I just kind of needed to vent because its kind of scary. And in the past the one habit I've made is obsessively trying to hook up with girls or look at porn to keep testing if things are working. And I want to be a lone for a while and do some more soul searching. The last girl i was with I was very upfront about the PSSD stuff, and we took our time to get to sex and that made all the difference. I cannot discount the emotional and psychological part of it. It's almost as if the PSSD has made those components so strong that I am now 'demi-sexual". If you look that up it basically means you can't be aroused without an emotional connection.. I've got a lot of work to do in therapy to deal with this. I need to listen to my rational mind and not the fearful part. I can do this. I'm of course open to any and all questions as I know that my story has been used as a success story for many people fearful of PSSD around the internet.
  21. So how do you know you are finally DONE with withdrawal? And were you doing well on Paxil? If so, why did you choose to go off it? I went off paxil after 25 years on it. I was not having any problems while on it, just did not like taking meds and had tried to get off it several times before unsuccessfully. Took about 8 months to get off, had no withdrawal symptoms during that time, was symptom free for 3 months, and then had a month of awful anxiety (I guess that was what it was....hard to describe the horrendous waves of nasty feelings flowing through my gut and torso) and severe insomnia. Then all was well for for about 4 months, followed by just 1 week of symptoms. I felt that maybe I was DONE. Then came covid19. I started feeling a knot in my throat, some stomach knots, and a general feeling of tension. I attributed it to stress from all the fear generated by covid. But a few weeks ago the old awful waves of horrid anxiety started again; I stayed in denial at first, not wanting to admit that withdrawal might be back. But it clearly is. I am just hoping and praying that this episode will pass quickly. On a bad day I consider going back on meds, but I have apparently "aged out" of being allowed to take Paxil, so would have to try something else. And who knows if that would work? Any support would be appreciated. Thank you!
  22. In short I guess..I was on paxil progress and they HELPED me! Glad I found this site. And maybe to be of some hope for others. I had major anxiety, depression and PTSD. Was put on paxil until I finally hit the "poop out" stage after twelve years. Was also on Klonopin and Xanax. It took me ten months to withdrawal after several failed attempts. Have been off ALL meds for over five years and I have never felt so great! ALOT of exercise and diet make a world of difference. Experienced, brain zaps, blurred vision, major hearing enhancements, cold sweats, constant anxiety, fear and suicide. Running thoughts, always in my head and worrying. I wanted to die... Now just perm. tinnitus. I have learned to ignore the hissing. (quite is not your friend) I now meditate every morning and do tapping. YOU CAN OVER COME!!! YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU WILL. God will guide you or whatever higher power you look to. Little did I know God saved me. This event in my life almost ripped apart my family. It took it's toll. Somehow, someway I made it out of the darkness and YOU CAN to! Thanks, Mario.
  23. Well, first I want to thank Alto for creating this site which helped immensely during those hard times (and there were many ) and also to all the members whom helped along the way. I finished my taper 4 years ago this month after I believe was 3 other month long tapers had failed. This last time I started a 10% taper in December 2013 after being on mostly 10 mg . Paxil and a few runs of 20 mg. I finished my taper I believe April 15th 2015. The last 6 months of the taper which was basically dust particles of Paxil was brutal. The next year was pretty rough with anhedonia and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that I am certain ether Paxil or the antibiotic Levaquin caused (if you read my story you will find that Levaquin started this whole cascading process of decreasing health and medicines. Year two I was feeling better but still not myself. Not really interested in my prior hobbies. Year 3 is when I was really starting to change back to ME again and was interested in lots of things again. The only thin that has held me back is the physical pain from my autoimmune issues. I have considered myself healed for about a year now but it seems like there was even more to come, which is where I'm at now. Doing just great ,although I do have lower libido than I thought I would. Without TMI , was the equivalent of an 18 year old until about the time Paxil pooped out on me. I was 45 then and now 50 so I guess this might be considered normal aging but I will never know🙄. Anyway, all parts work but not as good as before and not as often, so for the PSSD people, it does get better, but at my age now I'm not sure how I'm supposed to be🤔. So there it is in a nutshell, things are really good, I'm in a shitload of pain from AI issues but life is still great. It's been a really long time since I have been on here and I don't visit too often at all anymore because I'm too busy at life. I'm going to post a link to my story so anyone interested can see how I was able to do it. If anyone has any questions, I will try to answer when I can because I'm so damn busy at life again.
  24. Hi Everyone, A year ago I never thought I would be writing this, but I am here to tell you that HEALING IS POSSIBLE! Here is my story; I hope it helps... Like many of you on here, I was prescribed an antidepressant (the SSRI Paxil) after going through a period of prolonged stress that left me anxious and depressed (though, ironically, nothing even close to how depressed and anxious I was AFTER coming off the Paxil and going into a prolonged withdrawal). I was extremely hesitant to go on anything that would, “mess around with my brain chemistry” because I use my brain a lot in my work as a...wait for it...school psychologist! Yes, even with my deep knowledge of mental health, I still got sucked into the medication trap! I just wanted the pain to go away and, while I knew therapy was an option, I irrationally thought that my thoughts were “normal” and couldn’t be changed...who knows, maybe, as Victor Frankl once alluded, my ‘neuroses’ were a normal reaction to an abnormal world...but that’s another story and I know you guys want to get to the good part about recovery. Anyway, thankfully, I was only put on a very small dose (10mg) of Paxil and I was able to feel the benefits quickly. Because it worked, I decided to just keep taking it...and no doctor who refilled my prescription during the 10 YEARS+ that I was on it EVER suggested that I quit...they just kept writing the script; indeed, some even asked me if I wasn’t ready for a higher dose (thank God I didn’t go that route). Fast forward to winter of 2017 and I began thinking it was time to go off the Paxil for a variety of reasons including the fact that I was getting some weird side effects. My doctor at the time (just a regular GP, not a psychiatrist as here in Canada any MD can prescribe antidepressants) suggested that I take 5mg for 2 weeks then quit. I knew better than to do that, so I came up with a tapering schedule (something I cobbled together myself from a bunch of research online....but unfortunately not Surviving Antidepressants as I didn’t know of the site yet). Doctor thought I was being ridiculous to want to slow taper, but nevertheless prescribed a liquid suspension and I began dropping 1mg per week. All was OK until I got to below 5mg (half my dose)...that's when the more intense physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms appeared (head zaps, weepy, low mood, etc.)...so I decided to slow down and drop dosage every 2 weeks by 0.5mg instead. It was still hard though and the brain zaps continued, but my mood seemed OK-ish, but not really 'normal' for me. At that time, I went to see a naturopath who put me on a mood boosting supplement that has some GABA and 5-HTP and L-theanine. She also gave me St.Johns Wort to take 400mg 3x per day (total of 1200mg a day). I don’t think either of these really worked during that time and I eventually tapered off them. Anyway, I completed my taper by mid June 2018. In July 2018 I went on a 3 week trip to Morocco. I was relatively fine in July though I slept VERY poorly on the trip and overall the trip was very exhausting and it was very hot! When I got back I went into a total spiral; I could not handle even the slightest amount of mental stress or my body would have a near panic attack. It was as if my body was sort of out of control/ possesed. I won’t get into a huge story detailing the timeline and exact symptoms I had because this is not a novel, but I will say that within a matter of a couple of months I was a total mess, much like many of you. My sleep was f*#$ed, I rapidly lost my appetite and lost weight (OK, I'll admit, that was a bit of a silver lining for me...haha), and anxiety and eventually a deep depression were daily guest. I read and researched a lot to try to figure out what was going on! And that’s how I found Surviving Antidepressants and read other people’s stories and realised what was happening to me. When I spoke to my doctor about it, she dismissed the notion of protracted withdrawal, saying instead that I was just ‘relapsing’ (yeah...right...only feeling 1000% worse than I ever had BEFORE the Paxil) and offering me a different SSRI to which I said no, of course. I have to say, that while in the depths of my withdrawal and what I can only describe as a living nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (I know you guys can totally relate) I never thought I would get better. One of the worst parts was not knowing IF and WHEN I would recover. Honestly, one of the things that kept me from going back on the meds was my fear of ending up on a psych-med merry-go-round that might leave me debilitated and steal even more years of healthy, vibrant living from me. All I could do was go one day at a time, with the knowledge that some days would be better and some worse than others. I tried to keep close to people as social connections always helped. I binge watched Netflix like it was going out of style (normally I don’t watch any TV as I have lots of interests and hobbies). I also got out in nature as much as possible since I have always found that healing. Going to the gym fell off the radar as did a lot of 'self-care' stuff that I had been so good and diligent at doing BPW (before Paxil withdrawal), but I tried to accept that and forgave myself for not having the strength to keep it all up. I tried to eat (when I had an appetite) as healthy as possible; did a lot of take-out, but luckily there are healthy options available now and I would also eat whatever others were willing to feed me! Anyway, slowly slowly, things began to improve...but I am not going to lie and say that it was fast (I wish I COULD say that because lord knows, it was what I wanted desperately to hear while I was suffering through this)...It took me about a full year off the very last micro-dose to feel about 70% 'myself'. Now, 19 months off, I feel 90 to 95% 'myself' and much much stronger; somehow I even survived the death of my beloved dog 3 months ago without meds (I grieved hard and it hasn't been easy, but I accept this as part of life now). If I were to plot my 'healing' over time I think the graph would resemble the stock market graphs, with daily and weekly fluctuations, but with the overall trajectory being 'up'. I want to let you guys know you are HEROES and SO BRAVE for taking on this journey. While this process is so incredibly hard, there IS hope and recovery WILL come...our brains are ‘plastic’ and I truly liken this process as a sort of 'brain injury' that needed time to heal. Please stay strong. One day, looking at it all from the other side of this nightmare, you will be glad you made it through and are med free. Much love and strength to all.
  25. Hey @Cocopuffz17, congratulations and many thanks for sharing your success story with us and thanks for your encouraging words! I think you put a lot of effort in it and also very brave of you to share your photos and videos with us. After how much time your hair began to regrowth? I lost many hairs in the last1.5 years (I have androgenetic alopecia). So I hope some hair will regrowth as well. Hair loss gives me additional depression as well 😕 I also took Paxil and struggling mainly with a lot of fatigue and tiredness. I wished more people would know how much damage this drugs can cause. I also think food is very important. I recently started a vegan diet. Thats exactly the same thought that I had All the best! 👍
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