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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. 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
  3. 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 😘
  4. 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!
  5. 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..!!
  6. 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".
  7. 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.
  8. 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?
  9. 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
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