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  1. 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
  2. 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 😘
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Here’s my story of the highs and lows, curses and blessings I’ve experienced since I started Paxil in 1999. I was born in Southern California in 1960 and lived there all my life. Looking back, I suffered from anxiety since my 20’s, but it was mostly episodic and triggered by major negative experiences. In 1999, my anxiety became constant due to work and family issues. I went to see my GP, who prescribed a daily dose of Paxil. At first, it helped me deal with daily life, but like many others, I gained weight and found myself unmotivated to exercise. I didn’t see a therapist nor seek any non-medication-based help. I continued to have anxious episodes but managed to handle them. In 2006, my father died, and I had to make the decision to take him off life support. It wasn’t a clear-cut decision and caused me a lot of anguish. I began a descent into constant anxiety exacerbated by feelings of impending doom, both in my personal health and my professional life. Every ache or pain became a sign of a deadly disease, and every mistake I made at work would get me fired. I began seeing a psychologist to help, but didn’t have much success until 2008, when I found one who could help me with my feelings of guilt over my father’s death, and used EMDR and CBT to help me identify the root of my anxiety and use behavioral tools to manage it. It was then I began to develop my approach to anxiety as a chronic, though manageable, condition. In 2006, I tried to quit Paxil since it didn’t help my anxiety. My doctor told me to taper, but didn’t offer many details, and I tried tapering much too quickly. In late 2006, I discovered the Paxilprogress website and got great advice and support on tapering. I began a very gradual taper in 2007, and was Paxil-free by 2009. It wasn’t easy and I had many setbacks, but paxilprogress’ members and my psychologist gave me a ton of support. My wife, a woman of great faith, reminded me I was meant for better things than to be lost to anxiety and depression--God had work for me to do. I continued seeing my therapist every other week up till this September, when my wife and I moved to Portugal to explore Europe for a few years. We have one son, who’s in graduate school in Michigan and starting his own career, so the time was right. Anxiety is still part of my life but it doesn’t control me or the decisions I make. I still take a low dose of Klonopin when things get too much, but no more than one or two a month. I use CBT and “reality checking” to keep my catastrophic thoughts in check. Looking back, even at its worst, my life with anxiety was good. I was able to function, and participate in our son’s life, even if I had to force myself sometimes. My advice to those just starting the journey: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even with a slow taper, there were times I had to use a higher dose sometimes, until I was ready to take the next step. It’s not a race; do what works for you. Find a therapist or at least someone who can offer you support and keep you rooted in reality. Medication alone will never be the answer. Whether its CBT to other tools, find the behavioral practices that work for you. Accept the fact that anxiety is part of who you are. Whatever the cause, anxiety will be with me until the day I die. I’ve learned to manage it, and most days its just a dim feeling far in the back of my mind. What I now understand is that it only has the power I give it. It no longer controls my actions or decisions, and therapy has helped me separate irrational anxious thoughts from genuine concerns and problems. The short story is, like any other chronic condition, it takes the right tools, the right people, and determination to manage anxiety and reduce it to an inconvenience instead of a monster in my own mind.
  6. Doubt about what? I had anxiety before quitting Paxil, and even on Paxil it didn’t completely go away, then when it pooped out on me and sent me into withdrawal, the anxiety was so so severe. I’m way better than before Paxil. Anxiety doesn’t just go away until you learn how to cope with it and accept it bring there. I’m much more aware of how to do that No, very rarely
  7. @Judith thank you so much for your reply . I was also told I had a chemical imbalance for years . Over the years I went on and came off Paxil as soon as depression and anxiety surfaced . I was able to over the years with ease. Then in 2004 I started it again and remained on it for years buying into the chemical imbalance rather than trying to help myself . It scared me so taking the pill was much easier . anyway I developed tolerance to the drug in 2018. A common problem after years of continuous use. And since then I’ve been tapering and holding on and off . I am determined to be rid of it once and for all . thank you for the videos I know they will be really helpful as my mind is stuck in negative mode. As in “will I ever recover” . many thanks Judy take good care of yourself Elaine
  8. 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.
  9. Hi Coco, I have a form of psoriatic arthritis/ spondylarthritis. It mainly affects my tendons and muscles and no joints. This could have also started from Levaquin poisoning because that is what started this whole mess almost 17 years ago. It’s very possible the Paxil was just masking it because it always appeared when I tapered and disappeared when I reinstated. For the record NO ONE on any side of my family had this or psoriasis and I was fine until I took these meds. There is definitely a correlation. I’m now managing it with Humira because basically I can’t walk without it. It makes me about 90% better.
  10. Hi Disc Great question, especially given the times we're in and your location (I'm So Cal born). I actually still have a generic Klonopin script for .5 mg to use as needed, so we're very similar. I got the script on the advice of my therapist a year or two after I completed my withdrawal from Paxil. He wasn't a big fan of meds, especially benzos, but recommended it. Given you're still in the early stages of WD, here are my thoughts. The reason I have the Klonopin script is because, as my therapist explained at the time, there's a physical component to anxiety that sometimes can't be managed by CBT or other coping tools. Basically its just the way we're made, and sometimes we need something to get us over a difficult physical/emotional period. These triggering periods are when I take a pill. For example, I've always been an introvert and don't like being the center of attention. Pre-retirement, my job occasionally required me to make public presentations that were sometimes televised to the community. For especially challenging presentations, I would cut a Klonopin in half and take it a couple hours before the meeting to keep me clear-headed. I also don't like flying and may take one before a flight. When work got really stressful, I would take one on Sunday night so I could go in on Monday in a good frame of mind. Typically, a bottle of 30 pills will last me six months, so I don't take them often. Having said that, my suggestion, before you think about taking a benzo more than occasionally is to separate your WD symptoms and associated feelings from your "baseline" anxiety. To deal with withdrawal and truly recover, you need to adopt and practice effective coping strategies like CBT or similar behavioral modification tools. There are links to coping tools on this site. To ensure long-term recovery, you really need to address the issues that put you on Paxil in the first place. If you were okay until a couple of days ago and tapered at the end of last month, I would say you're hitting wave of withdrawal symptoms. You're going to experience these "windows and waves" as you taper, and the best way to deal with them is to start practicing coping now, (and participating here for support). I'd give coping a try first unless the physical symptoms become unbearable. I would not use a benzo as a support for withdrawal--as Gridley as mentioned to others, benzos are addictive and you can experience withdrawal after just a couple of weeks' use or sometimes intermittent use. It took me a couple years to get through my taper and recovery, so you might want to think about giving yourself some time to see if coping tools and time will help with your withdrawal before turning to another med. Hope this helped!
  11. I wanted to know during your withdrawal process, did you ever have to take klonipin or ativan when withdrawal symptoms got really bad and unbearable? I have a 30 day supply of Klonipin at .50mg. I am only suppose to take it as needed. But the past few days have been really rough. I have morning anxiety when I wake up. At work, I am a little disoriented, brain fog, etc. I did a drop in dose at the last week of February. I was fine until a couple days ago. I'm on Paxil, was on 30mg, then dropped to about 27mg (end of Feb). I don't know if I should wait it out, but add Klonipin if needed. Or go back to 30mg. And what is your personal rule of thumb if you are using anti-anxiety during withdrawal? Should I take it if I really need it? And up to how many times a week should I take it? Last thing I want is to have to taper off of that after tapering Paxil. I was reading your story and thread and thought you would have insight. Some mornings I wake up thinking I will never be able to get off this drug, feared, and feeling all alone, but just reading your success story kind of gave me a slight window, plus I am almost at the end of my work shift, which 8 hours feels like eternity during withdrawals.
  12. Hey, great to hear! Congrats this drug is a PITA. Glad you are doing well What is your autoimmune condition, if you don't mind me asking? I also developed a few while on paxil and they are reversing now that I am off it and have changed my nutrition
  13. Longroadhome

    Tao of the Brassmonkey

    Fantastic Three years free of Paxil what a hard journey and what an achievement well done. LRH
  14. 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.
  15. Longroadhome

    Tao of the Brassmonkey

    Hi @brassmonkey Glad you got home safely. such a shame a well planned trip came to a halt with the Pandemic. Hope you can re visit another time when the world is well again. Also Hope the migraine has gone and you are better. can I ask you I am currently on 6.5mg Paxil and doing the Brass monkey taper (naturally!!) . At what percentage occupancy are we looking at, at this level? also I started in poop out and haven’t been without symptoms since Feb 2018 when I crashed from a too fast taper . I’ve held for months and now tapering despite not being symptom free. However so far so good the symptoms are manageable. Did you have symptoms all the way down or did it get better at some point? When talking about poop out you say it takes about 18 months to stabilise and another 18 months to start to see improvements why is this? you’re my hero by the way. thank you so much LRH
  16. I just made a clean exit from SSRI (Paxil CR) for almost 3 years down the line. My journey was really tough. I can help you guyz for the same. I almost studied every corner of Brain and this chemical pathway. I had to first understand about this chemical behavior in order to overcome its effects. I had initially failed twice, once cold turkey during initial 3rd month and 2nd failed instance was after 1.5 years. Doctors never say anything about its ill effects. Later I realized I had to think in terms of Neurosurgeon level. One of the danger zones which I encountered during withdrawal symptoms are Heart Palpitations. Below list might sound crazy but those were the ones which helped me out of SSRi loop. I can write a book upon these lists, each point has its own significance, Continuous Discipline Constant alertness about thoughts and behavior Should completely avoid negative thoughts Should not pull panic button for palpitations as it is temporary. Keep moving until light comes. Walking is must : Around 10km / day Exercise Yoga Completely stop internet browsing/downloads/ Breathing rituals Completely go Vegan (Except for few fish). Meditation is must Sleep well atleast 8 hours Have a healthy diet Drink smoothies every week Ban coffee Initiate Diet plan every month. Stop music’s Stop internet time (being in front of PC) Stop playing CG games. Go to office early and come early Focus on work to deviate unwanted thoughts Watch out for CBT and other health related videos (TTC helped me a lot) Positive self-talk Positive Affirmations before sleep Laugh at least once : Watch out for jokes/comedy Eat Fish once or twice a week. Completely avoid world affair Don’t think of future Watch out for stressors and reduce stressors Reduce salt and sugar intake. For neuroplasticity – avoid all sorts of stress and negativity. Take good care of self. Incrementally grow. What out for emotions. Have military instinct. Spend time with nature. Reduce sedentary life keep moving. Do what would make me happy. Stop whinning. Reduce anger and accept it. Reduce sugar intake, Avoid coke or any such drinks. Be mindful. Drink lot of water. Eat seeds/dry fruits/walnuts/all kinds of nuts Eat fruits in office. Avoid Traffic if possible. Relax your mind and body. Watch out for Brain fogs. Circadian rhythm / Natural clock should be in proper sync. Intake saffron. Eat Mackerel/Sardines/Tuna/Salmon for Omega 3. Eliminate Smoking Eliminate drinking alcohol Eliminate Poor diet Spend time exposing skin to Sun. Drink lime honey water mixed with Turmeric early morning. Last but not the least one of the most important No Porn and No Fap. I may have missed out few points. Let me know if you need any road maps. After successfully quitting SSRi I met my Doctor and he was really happy with my exit journey. 2 years off since taking SSRi, I just came here to say my positive story because I had visited this site during my SSRi intake. EDIT: The medication which a depressed person consumes tricks the Brain generating chemicals from their own, but one should have the will power to override all the chemical settings at any cost. The mental trauma never supports this agony and finally one could fall back to medications again. Heart Palps one would never knew was it a issue from Brain or Heart, this is like impending doom almost like death knocking the door. Fundamental story is rewire the Brain and its chemical pahtways so that the Neuroplasticity kicks in to restore old conditions. What really matters is determination/ tightly bound WILL power. Never fall back. Light comes at great cost. Cheers to all..!!
  17. Hi there:) I was a member of paxilprogress since 2004 and then the site was shut down...I was on paxil for 8.5 years starting in 2001...after a horrible withdrawal ..at 11 months off i went back on paxil again for a few years then did a successful 4 year taper with compounded pills.. i have now been paxil free since June 1, 2014..paxil progress members will know who i am:) Michele aka MapleLeafGirl Admin note: MapleLeafGirl's Introductions topic: ☼ Mapleleafgirl off Paxil
  18. Longroadhome

    DanaG Healing will come!!

    Hello Dana thank you for posting your success story I am also a long term Paxil user and have just started a slow taper after months of holding due to a too fast taper in the beginning . what symptoms of WD did you have and for how long ? So glad you are nearly there it gives me hope because as you say the scariest thing is thinking we will never recover. what were the weird side effects you had while taking Paxil do you think you Had developed tolerance ? I did hence my taper. and last question how old are you as I feel age may make a difference in how long it takes to recover from WD thank you LRH
  19. As you can see from the title this is going to be a long and in-depth story, so bear with me. I am going to write this in small paragraphs as well for people who are still having issues with light sensitivity and brain fog (hopefully it will make it a bit easier to read) I was prescribed Paxil back in summer 2003 after having a major depressive episode, i had been out of work for about 3 months by then which i'm pretty sure what the trigger was for this episode. I have always suffered from social anxiety and irrational thinking patterns making me a natural worrier. I started off on 20mg a day and after about 8 weeks or so felt much better and just started to get on with my life again. About a half a year later i went down to 10mg a day with not much of a problem, another 6 months passed and i felt it was time to come off them, i just went cold turkey from 10mg, felt fine for the first few days then it hit me, i felt really low and started climbing the walls so to speak, back on 10mg it was. I carried on on 10mg until winter 2008 where i really felt like it was time to come off these drugs, i went down to 5mg a day by splitting the pill into quarters, then 5mg every other day, then zero, it was now Jan 2009. I was really apprehensive about quitting because of the previous cold turkey experience but i knew this time i had tapered down, but still too quick really, because of Paxil's short half-life. I felt fine though and thought i was home dry, that feeling lasted 2 months. I was hit with depression but didn't really think much to it, i have always had little bouts of mild depression before and even while on antidepressants, but this feeling lasted and lasted and lasted, along with a feeling of being off balanced, sudden vertigo spells, brain zaps, panic attacks, bouts of insomnia and a general sense of impending doom, all of this came in a package of waves and windows, very little windows!. I had these symptoms for the best part of 4 years, 4 years of swearing like a trooper, cursing GSK, pretending to be okay for family, friends and work colleagues (yes i had a full time job though all of this) and moments of wishing i was never born. But you know what, i am glad i took antidepressants because they saved my life. I had moments during that period when i genuinely felt like i was never going to make it through to the other side, that "feeling" of normal was a distant dream, i felt like maybe i had permanent brain damage. 2013 was my year, that was the year i felt like all of my symptoms had finally subsided, i was still working, the sun was shining and i was now cycling 40 miles a week, and when i mean all my symptoms had gone i mean all of them, i couldn't believe it, i was now living that dream and feeling "normal". I am 33 now and i am very content with life, sometimes i look back from my current comfort bubble and wonder whether it was really that bad, i want all of you to be in this comfort bubble. I think what really helped me through it all was acceptance, CBT, throwing out the calendar of time, patience, supplements (omega-3/vit e, magnesium), gentle exercise/fresh air and always remembering the quote "spring always follows winter", hell i would have had that tattooed on my forehead if only i didn't look like a recovering drug addict. I do currently have health issues though, which i have seen a doctor about, he said it was to do with stress and anxiety, what!!, i couldn't be more chilled out nowadays if i tried. So i bypassed his verdict and went and got a private blood test to check my vitamin D levels (my symptoms have gotten worse over the winter just gone and i have been researching a lot recently about diet and nutrients). I am deficient in vitamin D and am starting to take supplements for it. I can honest to God (thank you) say i feel i have fully recovered from Paxil withdrawal despite my current health, which to be fair, i have never had a good diet or been in optimal health, but knowledge is power and i am now aiming for "optimal" health. I want to wish every single one of you the best luck in the universe with this, it is crazy, life is crazy. And i promise to try not to start every paragraph with a "I".
  20. I posted the following this time last year on another forum. It was my 3 year update. Today - I am active, healthy and busy living my life with barely a thought to WD. I feel pleasure and pain, excitement and disappointment, joy and hurt, I cry and I laugh - all the normal range of emotions that are part of the human condition. I have my energy and motivation back. Today - I consider myself a full success story because any more healing will be a bonus only. This, is without question, the hardest thing that I have ever gone through but I do not regret doing it. I am completely 'med' free and have my own mind back (for what that is worth lol) so IF the handful of 'residual issues' (listed below) that remain, happen to stay around I consider the price worth it. Residual Issues Physical Tinnitus - this is by far the worst physical symptom. It started while on Paxil and became considerably and progressively worse once off. There are basically 2 sounds which both vary in intensity - a high pitched whine and a low buzzing. Every month or so I get a few hours break of blissful silence which gives me hope that it will completely go away one day. Can be irritating at times and I am usually aware of it but the overall impact has become minimal. Numb feet - this has stayed with me since coming off and sometimes affects my balance. It too varies in intensity but aside from being more careful in the shower (cannot tell if I am going to slip) this has less than minimal impact on my life. Vision - eyes are healthy but vision problems come and go. Mostly blurring and floaters. Minimal impact. Skin - still have worse acne outbreaks than when I was a teenager. I suspect that the hormonal system could still be adjusting. Impact on my life ....... ZERO Psychological/Emotional Stress tolerance -these have been bad for the duration and up until a couple of months ago I would have said that they were still at very low levels. Recently though, I have found myself in a number of very high stress situations and surprised myself by not falling apart - apparently I just needed some practice LOL. Impact on my life ........... moderate to minimal Anxiety levels - these have vastly improved (how could they not after the ridiculous stuff of acute WD), however ............ I still have times and they have a different 'feel' to pre- med anxiety. Impact on my life is moderate because this only impacts when the levels are bad - the regular anxiety that I have always lived with is now a walk in the park by comparison. Depression - once in a while with months between sessions. This is something that I never had pre 'meds' so I count it as a residual issue. It comes with the usual misery - crying, lethargy, suicidal thoughts etc. Impact is minimal because it happens rarely and only lasts a few days. Update Nothing has changed in the last year except for a bit more anhedonia. Although I said that it doesn't matter above, I now realize that I had hoped for some more healing. I still do not regret coming off these foul poisons and would do it again even knowing what was ahead ........... however ............ is this it?
  21. Hi mstimc, We have something in common. We both started on Paxil (Paroxetine) in 1999. Thank you for sharing your story. I have been self managing my taper since 26th December 2019. This was after ending up in hospital twice, after two different Drs, one a very young Psychiatrist, tried to transition me onto Citalopram. Now I just tell my Local Dr what I'm doing. I previously mentioned my story in the new introduction posts. At the moment I'm on Paroxetine 5mg, Citalopram 10mg and Quetiapine 50mg before sleepy time. I plan to stay on Paroxetine 5mg for a while. It took me about 7 weeks to adjust to 5mg Paroxetine from 7.5mg. Had I joined this site sooner, I would have a tried 10% taper, as suggested by Gridley. 25% is way to bigger jump. Many thanks for your inspiration, by the sounds of things, I'm still in the early stages. Ciao, CyclistN.
  22. Congratulations Dana. Well done on getting off of paxil, it's a tough one to say the least.
  23. Amazing story! Glad to hear. I am on a similar dose/timeline as yourself. I am 1 year off of paxil. The improvements are amazing! To many more days of healing! Everyday that passes is one day closer to being fully healed!
  24. 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.
  25. Hi Alto. Here are my responses. Sorry for the delay--we're eight hours ahead of California out here.... While you were going off Paxil, did you have any problems tapering? If so, how did you cope with them? Yes, I did have problems. I actually tried tapering twice before my successful third try. My anxiety and catastrophic thinking were out of control so I had to go back on Paxil for short period to stabilize. Even on my third try I experienced huge anxiety waves, but by then I was working with my psychologist on CBT coping tools. The tools included: Reality checking: Try to step out of myself and see a situation for what it is, as a third person would. Is my "problem" or "situation" really what I think it is? Are my anxiety-driven consequences realistic or even likely? Purposefully catastrophising: Taking my negative thoughts to their extreme. With each step in the process, the negative consequences became more and more absurd until even my worst catastrophic thinking was overcome. Being my own best friend. If my friend came to me with the same thoughts, what would I tell him? Then I apply those answers to my situation'. Prayer and meditation. I'm not a very contemplative person, but have been able to stop my thoughts long enough to do brief prayers to get me through the worst thoughts. Sometimes I'd play some of my favorite music pieces and listen until the thoughts quieted. I would also tell myself "In two hours I'll feel better or even forget about it." Most of the time that would work. Keep working: I found work to be great therapy. I had a fairly complex managerial position that demanded my attention. It was also an environment I could control--somewhat. Working forced me to focus my mental energies on real, quantifiable issues; I simply didn't have mental room to concentrate on my anxious thoughts. Did you have withdrawal symptoms after you took the last dose? If so, how did they go away? It's hard to say. I certainly had--and still have--anxious thoughts and moments, but I think they are more part of my behavioral make-up than attributable to withdrawal. Do you have any residual withdrawal symptoms now? Not really. I still have anxiety, especially since we moved to Portugal, but I use the tools mentioned above to deal with them. Sharing here also helps!
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