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  1. I'm Jenny. A forty-two year old housewife from the UK. I've been prescribed various antidepressants since the age of fifteen, but the one I've been taking the longest is Venlafaxine XL (usually 225mg). In 2005 or thereabouts, I began to feel that the antidepressant was not of any great use to me. In my own little bubble of routine and stability, I was perfectly content, but I was deeply confused at my inability to function as others did. I presumed that this had to be a facet of my nondescript mental illness, and reasoned that it should therefore be possible to recover, so I would push myself to "get better" with dreadful results. Thus, I concluded that medication must be necessary after all. Eventually, circa 2015, a locum psychiatrist happened to pick up on a throwaway remark I'd made about my childhood. Upon questioning me further, she realised that many of my difficulties had been present since my earliest years and were therefore unlikely to be manifestations of mental illness. I was referred to the adult developmental disabilities department and - after extensive testing as well as in-depth interviews with my parents and brother - was finally diagnosed with "severe but high-functioning classic autism". It took some time to adjust to this new interpretation of myself. I didn't like it, and I still don't, but it did, at least, make sense. I finally began to understand how to work with my brain rather than battling against it. Since then, I've had several attempts to wean myself off Venlafaxine. I had heard of problems associated with coming off of antidepressants and had indeed experienced a taste of those issues when I happened to forget a dose... but I never imagined that tapering would result in so many unpleasant side effects. This time - partly from having read posts on this forum - I feel more prepared for the onslaught. I'm down to around 70mg per day and experiencing issues such as tachycardia, dreadful indigestion, and a slightly "fuzzy" head. Thus, I think it would be wise to stop at this point for a few weeks before decreasing further. It's frustrating because I want to finally be off this damned drug, but I know I must exercise patience. Anyway, that's it for now. Best wishes to you all.
  2. Hi, this is my introductory post but of course, I only decided to create an account and ask for advice AFTER spending a long time in a bad state. So it will be suboptimal. My current situation has been draining my life and willpower and my ability to thing and type. I have a PCP appointment tomorrow where I might be able to get some help. My psychiatrist and I are not on speaking terms, she has rejected tapering options, and I am looking for a new psychiatrist. I normally experience generalized anxiety and depression to the point where I am unemployable. I am sitting around slowly trying to make any progress I can. Current problem first: I have started a taper and I am considering if I should go back, stabilize, and start over. I tried tapering trazodone 50 mg by 25% for 5 days (after my psychiatrist suggested cold turkey! HA!). Severe symptoms did not set in until day 2 (expected), but these symptoms have made me agitated, unable to sleep, unable to concentrate, and made it hard to eat. I used to be able to legally use medical marijuana to help with my general symptoms, but this change in my brain chemistry seems to be overpowering the marijuana and it provides no noticeable effects. After day 5 I decided to do more work to help myself, and I have been reading posts on this site for a bit (mostly looking into ways to deal with getting my trazodone to 1/8 of a pill with accuracy.) My goal is to get through this transition while minimizing symptoms. I recently made it from 1mg of clonazepam to 0.75 mg of clonazepam so I was feeling confident. After day 5 I decided to at least attempt to split my pill to 1/8. I am on day 2 of that and the symptoms are better but not by much. It has been a long and difficult time and I am wondering if I should give myself some "normal" time, and start over from the top with better planning, more tools, etc. Of course, if I start over, it will be hard to not think of all this suffering (which has affected my relationships) as meaningless. Would anyone care to share some thoughts? Introduction / About me: I was recently diagnosed as Adult Autistic, so I've been undiagnosed and struggling for 40 years. I have been seeing therapists since 2005. I have been working with various medications since 2005 as well. My primary issues are anxiety and depression. I also have severe pain, stomach, and eye issues which adds to the complexity of finding treatments that I can tolerate. I grew up in an environment which fostered negativity and anger, and I am on the long slow path to help myself with that. I left my job of 15 years as an engineer after it was clear that I wasn't improving and I wouldn't be able to be able to fulfil their requirements much longer. Just in time for COVID to make the world more stressful and limited. Medical Marijuana has been a godsend, the only thing to start to turn my life around. Of course my psychiatrist wants to connect anything negative in my life to my medical marijuana. Medical Marijuana where I live is very much a wild west situation where nobody has very solid information and self-experimentation is the only way to go. Honestly, the world needs a science and detail oriented site like this one, but for medical marijuana. The worst part of medical marijuana for me is the inability to get consistent, repeatable results from it. I would gladly add to and elaborate as appropriate, I am having difficulty right now. Thank you.
  3. I've been taking 50mg Pristiq for about 3 or so years I think. I've had acid reflux issues with SSRI use that seem to get worse over time. It got bad enough that I wanted to go off the Pristiq. I consulted my doctor about this, but she wanted me to get in with a primary care doctor first to have my acid reflux checked. I don't currently have a PCP and with covid, it's a lot of hassle, so after a couple of months of more acid reflux, I decided to "taper" of the Pristiq. It's worth mentioning that I also take generic wellbutrin and adderall to deal with autism. Pristiq was a medicine we had tacked on to the Wellbutrin to even me out. First starting at 25mg and then moving up to 50mg. I didn't think much of it since, at the time, it didn't seem like a high dose. I cut my 50mg pills roughly in half and took a half each day for 4 days. The first 4 days were pretty okay. After that I got dizzy spells (what people call the zaps). I expected this since I down dosed so quickly. I toughed it out for about a week and then dizziness went away. So at that point I thought I was done. I've been going through a lot of life stresses lately and my mood started to tank pretty bad. I thought it was all the stress, but I'm pretty sure now that it's withdrawal. I was pretty much crippled with sensory overload, anxiety, panic, and depression. My appetite was gone and I was force-feeding myself, but I couldn't eat much. I was in extremely rough shape and desperate for help. I live alone and dealing with that emotional distress was too hard to do alone. I spent significant amounts of time on the phone with my folks. They were packing to move to the neighboring state (Colorado), otherwise I would have gone to stay with them (I thought I was having Autistic Burnout). They eventually moved and I wasn't getting any better. With them gone, my local support network was basically 0. My therapist was working overtime with me (for free) because she was so concerned about me. It got to the point where I didn't want to be around my apartment (long story, but I felt it antagonized me from the neighbor noise), so I looked at checking my into a residential treatment facility. Long story short, my insurance wouldn't cover it because I wasn't actively suicidal (thoughts, but no intention, despite the hell I was going through). I broke down sobbing on the phone with my Dad. I was desperate and didn't know what to do. I asked him if I could stay with them at their new place. He talked it over with my Mom and said sure. It was very difficult for me, but I bought a next day flight to Denver. I had insane panic attacks that night about the flight (I've almost never flown). I called a crisis center just to have someone to talk to so I didn't feel so alone. I couldn't sleep at all. I'm a day sleeper generally, so flying at noon made me sleep deprived. I don't know how i got through the whole process and flew out here to Denver, but I did. I was actually doing pretty okay at first. I was overdid it though and towards the evening I just crawled up next to my mom on her bed and sobbed. My stomach started getting really achy that night, which was more intense than it has been before. I wasn't thinking clearly. I wanted to go into the doctor but insurance would only cover ER out of state. Anyway, eventually I talked things over with a nurse practitioner over the phone and she basically told me the ER was unnecessary unless I was in extreme pain and to try some pepto and check in with an in-network doc online. I went to bed. I slept for over 16 hours straight. I was exhausted. That evening I had more panic and crying. I realized then, now that virtually all my stressors from home were gone, that this whole ordeal was very similar to the Xanax withdrawal I was going through about 3.5 years ago. I did some googling and found this site. I read through the entire page on tapering off Pristiq and pretty much any other information I could find and realized how bad the Pristiq withdrawal really is. I explained this to my folks and it made a lot more sense to them. Despite all this, since it's been I think close to 3 weeks since I first tapered, I thought I'd try to see this through to the end. Well, in addition to some anxiety and crying tonight (it seems to be getting better), my stomach is hell right now. It's been cramping to the max. I was even dry heaving earlier. This is all new. I've also been unable to sleep more than about 6 broken hours in the last 24. The other motivation is that I didn't bring the Pristiq with me to Denver, only my other meds. If i were to taper now, I'd either have to find a pharmacy that would tide me over here and pay out of pocket or go home with a costly plane flight and go back in the 50mg until I can get hold of my doctor. That said, I was hoping to stay here through Thanksgiving and really don't want to go back to the noise, stress, and loneliness of that apartment. I know withdrawal times can vary and the best course is to generally taper down. But having been through so much and knowing that Pristiq is very hard to taper off of, I almost feel it might be more convenient and less painful in the long run to just stay the course. My question is, how much longer do you think it will take for my CNS to get back to some sense of homeostasis where I can function better? So far my mood has been much better, except for some hiccups during the night where I get dysphoric. The real bear right now is my stomach. Will I be out of the woods soon?
  4. I'll try to keep this kind of short. I've finally decided to post an intro today after reading posts on this site for a few years now which has helped a lot with understanding what's going on since most doctors just told me my SSRI discontinuation/withdrawal symptoms-which were unlike anything I'd ever experienced before and physically and emotionally worse than I'd ever felt-were a return of my depression & anxiety or possibly a bipolar disorder according to one doctor. I knew for a fact that it was not my original anxiety & depression, but I had no idea what was happening in the beginning or how to explain it. I had social anxiety, depression, & general anxiety since age 12 and was not allowed to drive/take the bus/go out or do much by myself other than going to school (because everything was too dangerous) by controlling, religious parents with their own high anxiety and agoraphobia. I was never allowed to receive counseling for these issues & when I went off to college, it was an extremely difficult struggle going from not being allowed to do almost anything to suddenly being responsible for figuring everything out on my own. I was also not great with time management skills & knowing how to plan ahead. (I actually relate to a lot of symptoms of ADD & Asperger's, which both greatly affect social skills & ability to get through college and would explain a lot of problems I've had. I have learned more about them in the past year, but can't afford to get diagnosed right now so I've just been looking at support groups for days when my nausea is lessened.) I felt overwhelmed all the time and all my negative thoughts worsened severely. I didn't see the free counselor at college during this time either because I was embarrassed about everything and about asking for help. I finally decided I wanted to try to make a change and try counseling the summer after sophomore year of college at age 20 and was at rock bottom, desperate to not feel depressed. I knew someone who said their antidepressant helped them, so I asked a doctor for medicine and they prescribed sertraline. After taking the first pill, I had a surge of anxiety and racing thoughts that made it impossible to concentrate. Within the first couple days on 25 mg of sertraline, I was gagging and dry heaving over and over for at least 20 minutes as soon as I ate anything. I would also throw up multiple times in a short timespan after one snack or meal. I called my Dr & was told to skip a dose and then change the time I took the dose from morning to night. After a week of this (dry heaving & vomiting all meals) on 25 mg, and another call to the doctor, I was told that digestive issues are a possible starting symptom and to increase to 50 mg. As soon as I increased, the gagging & vomiting increased even more. After 6 days of this, I called the doctor again and was told I could stop taking it altogether since it had been such a short amount of time on it. And to come in for a different medicine Rx after the weekend. The very first day that I didn't take the sertraline, I felt the worst nausea I had ever felt in my entire life. I ended up asking a friend to drive me to the ER because I felt so sick. I told the Dr how I had just stopped sertraline. The doctor said that my pupils were dilated and my reflexes were overactive. Then, he listed off illegal drugs & asked if I had taken those. (No, I've never tried any drug before). He said "You need to tell me what else is going on because the antidepressant couldn't have caused this." And I said "I don't know" and started crying. I do know that people in my family are highly sensitive to medicines and have since found out I have a gene that causes me to metabolize slowly so things build up for longer in my system. Anyway, the Dr left the room and at one point I was given Ativan in an IV by the nurse which did ease the nausea. When the Dr came back, he told me I had SSRI discontinuation syndrome, (he didn't explain what that meant), that I could never try another SSRI, and gave me a Rx for a small bottle of Ativan. My mom said he mentioned something on the phone to her about serotonin syndrome which dilated pupils and overactive reflexes are symptoms of, but I don't remember him saying anything about it directly to me. He also mentioned reinstating a small amount might help but my mom didn't pass this on to me until much later because she didn't want me to take it. After that, I experienced: -more dry heaving which gradually lessened in frequency -random times of vomiting after eating and after exercising when I wasn't sick & the food wasn't bad (or sometimes nothing was left to vomit & only a small amount would come up) -continuing debilitating nausea & dizziness -olfactory hallucination (putrid smell that wouldn't go away, would intensify around strong scents such as soap & car exhaust) -uncontrollable crying at every tiny thing (neuro-emotion, not regular sadness) -uncontrollable rage (neuro-emotion) -intrusive thoughts & floods of bad memories which I "word vomited" in texts to my sisters -didn't want to be around people who I associated with bad memories because it would greatly intensify neuro-anxiety. (I'd guess the feeling is similar to what people mean who talk about experiencing bad drug trips and how it's important to be with people you trust) -nightmares -paranoia/suspicion/distrust (felt like my mom & sister were not really my mom and sister even though logically, I knew it was them. Things feel creepy & sinister -almost like a horror movie sometimes. A post I read here compared the sinister feeling to a bad LSD trip. I have never tried LSD, but I understood what they meant & is the closest way I found to describe it. -cognitive fog (thinking, processing speed, & reaction time is noticeably slower) (I was a slow thinker/processor before, but it feels like I have brain damage now) -memory problems (I was somewhat forgetful before, but am even more so now) -depersonalization ("it feels like the medicine changed who I am & I don't have an identity/sense of self which I still hadn't fully formed before sertraline) -derealization (feel emotionally disconnected & distant from people/atmosphere. I know things are real, but they don't feel real. Sometimes it feels like consequences won't matter or there is no sense of helpful anxiety even in a potentially dangerous situation. Logically, I know they do matter and still want to do the right thing) -anhedonia/apathy/emotionally numb (don't care about things or have the same amount of passion for interests or feel empathy for other people's emotions or feel spiritual even though I had some spiritual beliefs before. Couldn't feel hopeful about anything/future or feel love towards or from anyone. These emotions have slowly returned to a certain degree since then & levels of ability to feel them have changed at different courses of time) -blurred/cloudy vision (when DR was at most intense, vision was different. Hard to explain) -eye floaters ( random black specks & lines) Didn't notice these until a year after DC-ing -constant yawning/air hunger -stomach/digestion issues -burning, tingling, itching, numbness, redness in feet -brain zaps/"crackles" (sometimes annoying, sometimes painful, but my most tolerable symptom) -head pressure/tightness, feels like head is being squeezed -headaches There was also a period of 6 months where I thought certain symptoms were over and after that period, the dizziness returned. Those are most of the symptoms I've experienced in the past approx 3.5 years. They're not in order. I'm 24 now. A few have gone away for the most part (vomiting, olfactory hallucination, yawning) and most are less intense. I have really improved a lot, I don't mean to sound overly negative. But, I still have the issues I went on the SSRI for & I have trouble accepting where I am & worrying about where to go from here & the uncertainty of how long this lasts because it has put lots of areas of my life on hold (I wasn't able to go back to college, I hope to someday) and ended up making things harder to deal with when I was told it would make them easier. (BTW, I am now seeing a counselor). I don't understand why people say SSRI's are not technically drugs when they have this much of an effect on your mind, mood, & perceptions. Sorry if I have over shared, I might need to post a shorter version of this at some point that's easier to read. And I'm still figuring out the layout of the website & where to post about certain questions & topics. I just know that sometimes other people's explanations made me feel better because I had some understanding of what was happening & words to describe feelings I'd never had before and didn't know how to explain. I've also had other stress & health issues and a few (physical health) medicines that have affected my withdrawal progress, but I guess that's a topic for a separate forum. Any advice, similar experiences, recommendations, tips for using the site, or insight into what happened to my brain is appreciated if anyone feels so inclined :)
  5. I'm a 32 year old bipolar female. Ive been on medication since I was 15 years old. I've been on Lexapro the longest. I've been on far more medication than I can remember and I was a vegetable for about 5 years as a teenager due to being put on way too many heavy meds before my family caught on to it and we switched to a new psychiatrist. I lost my charts from age 15 to the age of about 25 when I moved about 6 years ago so I don't have information of a very good memory of my past medications. I know Topamax was very bad for me as well as Wellbutrin, which gave me very bad sleep paralysis and nightmares. I wanted to go off Abilify due to foreseen expenses at changing insurance so I brought this to the attention of my doctor. He didn't lower my Abilify but proceeded to up my dose of Lamictal quickly while halving my Lexapro and then I was pulled off after a week. He also slightly increased my Abilify from 5 to 7.5 to 10 mg. All this happening at once seemed strange and I thought i trusted someone finally with my medications management. I have an IUD as well that was recently put in after my old one was taken out after 5 years. It doesn't help that I am now getting 2 periods a month while I already have severe depression related to my cycle. I am suicidal right now, so I called my psychiatrist to get an appointment or up my Lexapro and try again but he was unreachable. The first two days of going off the lexapro I felt really good. Then I got manic and couldn't sleep for about a month. Cycling between severe anger/anxiety and the worst depression. I told my doctor in my last appointment i thought it was because I got my period during the withdrawal and I needed it fixed before my next one. He upped my Lamictal again by 50mg. He says he wants me on 200mg of Lamictal by the end of the changes. Then have my period again after one week off. I don't know what to do. I can't sleep at night and I wake up worrying immediately. Panic attacks every night. The only thing that helps me relax at night is repeating "I'll be dead soon" in my head because thoughts about the future are tearing me apart. I'm taking Buspar every night and morning and then I need sometimes two more in the day to cover up panic attacks. I have a supportive environment. I know it cannot be easy for them. I was googling information to figure out what could be going on with me. I'm extremely fatigued the last two days. I thought I might have autism my memory and attention span has decreased but it was bad before, too. It's not that I am not trying to listen but I pretty much have always only heard half of what people say. My mind wanders really badly. So I work around it with patterns and filling in between the lines so I can meet day to day functioning. But since that's something unrelated, it seems, to the Lexapro withdrawal, it's not needed. It's just something I am just realizing, so I mentioned it. I have no job right now. I really would like to work and need the money but I'm not able to "human" right now. One thing that does help, is I like to write and paint and it is not effected by the depression/mood swings/cycling/whatever and my husband and friends are being super supportive. I found a local therapist today and have set up an appointment so hopefully that will help. I am considered disabled as I was put on SSI for bipolar and I have a piddling work history. Im still trying to fix that. I am also diagnosed recently with Borderline Personality Disorder, but my therapist said, before she left the group I go to, she doesn't think I have it. I wasn't even told. I just looked at my check out sheet one day and it was added at the top as a new diagnosis in the header. I found this site and I realized that it must be the withdrawal from Lexapro causing this problem. It gives me some hope that maybe it will get better. Thank you for making this site. It must take a lot of work.
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