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  1. Original title: 6 month Lexapro for sleep/anxiety, tapered on my own, after 3 months off of bliss symptoms are back and HC Hi dear brave people. I've ben lurking the website for a while now, finally decided to ask for opinions, as I am unsure what I am going through right now, nor what I can do to stop my life from sliding down into even worse despair. I apologize in advance for a chaotic post, my mind feels very hazy due to chronic lack of sleep now. I am a 31y old female, have been prescribed Lexapro for issues with sleep due to an array of stressful situations in my life that happened during end of 2020/ first half of 2021: I moved to another country mid-Covid 2020 (best part - it is the country of fjords, mountains, northern lights - and! With one of the highest anxiety rates, Norway) I moved for a job; broke up my then longest relationship, job company then crashed exactly as my first Norwegian winter begun. I come from the South of Europe so the cold and darkness really hit me additionally. By July 2021 I was having progressively worse insomnia due to job situation, with awakenings every few hours, sometimes even after 30minutes of sleep. Only reason I was able to stay in the new country was due to a new relationship, and the fact that my new boyfriend convinced me to move in with him, and really took fantastic care of me. My anxiety was still through the roof, and I finally visited my home country after a full year away from family and friends - and went straight to a psychiatrist. She prescribed escitalopram and clonazepam History of the meds: 24.07.21 got prescribed escitalopram 5mg, clonazepam 0,25x3 01.08. 10mg escitalopram (raised the dose as prescribed), clonazepam per occasion on my own after reading on dangers of addiction 17.08 dropped back to 5mg escit due to anxieties, 24.08 psychiatrist insisted back on 10mg Started tapering on my own somewhere in November/December '21 - as I was feeling really fantastic and thought I had it all figured out now. Additional motivation was that my boyfriend and me started discussing starting a family. My sleep was better than in years, and in parallel I discovered HubermanLab podcast and episodes on sleep, depression and anxieties, and started applying everything I could there. I thought I had control over the situation. So tapering begun, thinking I am doing it slow enough - cutting pills in half - first stayed back on 5mg for a while, then 2.5mg for 3-4 weeks, then 1.25 some weeks with day skipping in the end. Speaking with some friends they confirmed skipping doses worked for them. 01.02.2022 last 1.25mg dose after a 3day interval, hopped off Blissful 3 months begun. I even got engaged mid-April. And then: 05.05 sudden anxiety return, sleep disturbances worsening again, month by month. And month by month I started to feel horrible about more and more of my life spheres 4 months in, now waking up every night between 2:30 and 4am with jolts of anxiety in my stomach, self confidence crushed, my mind feeling useless due to tiredness and stress, various anxieties every day, social anxiety, depression and severe hopelessness. I started even questioning my relationship and engagement and possibility to ever be a parent given my state of mind, which hit me as a final slap across the face and brought the feeling that I am standing on very thin glass, about to shatter at any second - since that was the only stable thing I have in my life. And I depend on him fully now, for both shelter, food, a bit of nurture - which in addition paradoxically deepens the feeling of desperation and ruined my confidence to manage adult life. I am still jobless, I don't feel good in the climate of the new country, my home country is in political problems so it is not exactly appealing to go back now, winter is coming (no GoT joke intended), my expat crisis continued, I have started worrying all my friends and family and feel part of them have distanced themselves from me. Which I understand, but social anxiety then makes me ruminate over all of that regularly on top of joblessness. I also know how much my fiance is suffering, even though he's still placing my struggles as a priority - I feel like I am ruining a life of a really, really good and kind man who didn't deserve this. Main and continuous thought I have is - if only I could sleep more hours, I could at least a little bit better manage this mess. On the days when I sleep more, I definitely feel more clarity and calm, ven though the depression is ongoing. For sleep in the meantime, I shyly tried on random low doses of Ambien, Remeron, sometimes Xanax 0.125 or clonazepam 0.25 per need for sleep or when very anxious. And in the end, finally and recently - I also 2x tried 1.25mg escitalopram dose again, a week apart. First time my mind felt like it was cut of, I couldn't access any deeper thought until tomorrow morning (took it previous morning) - this scared me, but as all the internal chaos continued, I once again thought - maybe I should just get back onto it, stabilize myself, stop worrying my people, figure out how to solve job/country/relationship situation - so I took it again few days ago, but then AGAIN read a few stories here and realized that I might just make a far worse problem for myself in the long run. I am now trying out a mindset that medication is simply not an option. So, finally, main issue and questions are: - all of these symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression are also very much due to the life circumstances mentioned above, so I am unsure if this is a withdrawal, or a relapse, or both? - what on earth could I do to set my sleep better, as that brought me to all of this in the first place? I have tried so many things - meditation, recorded hypnosis sssions, NSDR, a bit of CBT I as well - and I don't want to reach out for benzodiazepines anymore, nor sedatives, nor antidepressants if I can help it. But if only course of action IS going back on medication, I would like to just make that decision finally. It is going to hinder my possibility of starting a family though, and I feel my clock is ticking. My days have become just flows of different types of anxieties - something that I had aptitude for before as well, but I think never like this. I think in parallel I have anhedonia that is growing worse. I make myself go out for a walk every day, try to run as well, I drink my omegas and magnesiums and am trying to meditate. I managed to keep a bit of savings and am trying a DBT/schema therapy. I go to sleep around 22/23 every night. I never thought my 30ies would start like this. I remember the glow I felt in April, and how life seemed orderly, how i had joy and plans for the next 5 years at least, As I am writing my chest is filled with lowkey drone of dread, anxiety is lurking and I feel like there's not a single thing in my life that can make me happy. Thank you for reading, and I apologize once again for erratic thoughts.
  2. I’m new to this website/forum, but I’ve been researching and finding great information about people getting off their psychiatric medication. I’m 46, and I was 20 years old in college when I experienced my first full blown panic attack (official diagnosis, panic disorder without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, depression). Looking back (after lots of therapy), I can now understand the stress I was under at that time. But the main point is that I was put on zoloft and lorazepam which, combined with lots of “social drinking” seemed to put a lockdown on the panic attacks (though I would still wake up with some varying degrees of anxiety most mornings). I put my head down and just sort of pushed my way through life, graduating from college with honors, holding a job doing community education / organizing / speaking, shifting gears and going back to school, and then starting my own successful business. Jump to about 4 years ago, 2012 and things just seemed to begin falling apart. The successful company I had created was now failing, a relationship I actually felt invested in was failing, and the hangovers from drinking had become really intense. In short, I ran out of steam. I gave up drinking in the spring of 2014, and that summer decided I was going to get off the damn meds. I did it the “right way,” tapering off the benzos first, and then the SSRI. And though the anxiety would increase while tapering and it was tough, by the end of the summer (early September) I was actually med free! Unfortunately, mid-October the panic attacks returned full force. Again, I can see now that this was a particularly stressful period of my life, but of course I was really disappointed when I decided I just had to get back on the meds (the panic attacks were relentless and excruciating). The problem was that the meds no longer seemed to work like they did before. And now I’m on MORE meds (add in remeron and extra 50 mg of zoloft). I have made some changes, doing lots of therapy, ACA support groups (and looking at childhood issues generally), exercising again regularly, EMDR, meditation, etc. And I want OFF the meds! I know I need to do this slowly, and at this point, I cut the remeron from 15 mg to 7.5 (about 1.5 months ago) and I’ve cut the benzo (now clonazepam) from 2 mg to 1.5 per day (just started that 3 days ago). My thought is to cut the benzos first, then the last of the remeron. I know with the relatively long half-life of the clonazepam, I need to take it slowly. I’m thinking .5 mg every 2 weeks. From the information I've come across, it seems like some taper off even more slowly than that? I'm looking for others to share their experiences with their own clonazepam withdrawal schedules (for panic disorder, preferably). I just don’t know what to do about the SSRI (zoloft). I realize this website is about benzo withdrawal, but I’m hoping to find others with experience on panic disorder and SSRI withdrawal too (as well as benzo withdrawal support). I hope this is OK on this forum? I’ve been “working with the anxiety” (trying to “make friends” with it as they say in the meditation circles). I know I’m less scared of it now, but I'm also not experiencing the full blown panic attacks. My concern is that I would get off everything (including the SSRI/zoloft) and then the panic attacks return, and it takes SO LONG for the SSRI to build up in one’s system. Do I just prepare myself to weather that storm? Will that storm really pass eventually without the meds? After years of trying to make my physiology match the lifestyle I felt I should lead, I’m now accepting the idea that I need to make my lifestyle match my physiology. The panic attacks are just so damn awful when they hit relentlessly all day long, day after day. I’m scared. Is there anyone out there that has had any experience with the meds and panic attacks along the lines that I have had? Are there other resources out there I should know about? Is it really possible that I can live a purposeful (and perhaps at least semi-peaceful) life without meds after 25 years of being on them? Much gratitude . . .
  3. I need help and didn't know where to turn Today is 16 days off of Ecsotalipram. I was on 10mg of Ecsotalipram for 11 years I started when I was 15 and I am now 26. I started tapering off in December of 2018 and all went well except for the brain shocks. I tapered all the way down to 2.5mg and then stopped 16 days ago. This has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through mentally. The brain zaps have actually gone away now I am left with the nausea and dizziness if I move my head around, depression the literally makes me feel physically ill and weak, I'm experiencing feelings and emotions I remember having as a child and not good ones, the feeling of being trapped in a dream and not present in my body. I thought my anxiety and panic attacks would be through the roof but I'm feeling everything else. Has anyone experienced this and how long will this last? I just need help. I feel like I've lost who I am.
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