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  1. Hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to start with a quick synopsis of my medical background below. I took SSRI antidepressants for 17+ years. I started with Prozac for 5 years from 15-21. Then I took Escitalopram from 22-32. Along the way I was put on Trazodone, Buspar, Ambien and Wellbutrin as well. All in an attempts to control my anxiety/depression and inability to sleep. Also a little mental history - I was bullied from about the age of 9 to the age of 16. It's pretty obvious in hindsight why I was depressed/anxious. I thought the people in this world were mean. I thought everywhere I went was an unsafe place because at this time it was. In response to this I took up boxing and working out so I could become stronger than my bullies. In all honesty it worked. As soon as I became strong and in shape I became popular out of nowhere, which was an interesting transition. Anyways, that's another story for another time. At 15 I visited the doctor because I always held things to myself because I never told my parents I was being bullied or that life outside of my bedroom sucked. They just thought I was sad/depressed. Depression also runs deep in my family. My mother has been on an extreme cocktail of antidepressants since she was about 20. Although this cocktail has been quite a rollercoaster for her as well. She thought this was the only way to help. I had no one to talk to and I felt like the world was an unsafe and scary place so when the doctor prescribed anti depressants and the anxiety disappeared I thought it was a miracle. At this time the extreme side effects didn't matter to me. The fact I lost my ability to feel empathy because I was numb didn't matter because I didn't like people enough to care to empathize with them. I thought I was going to make it in this world on my own come hell or high water. This idea set me off on a path of perfectionism, egocentrism, hedonism and drug abuse. This life is not meant to be lived alone. To make sure this story doesn't become a novel I'm going to go ahead and summarize it here. For 16 years I went on a binger of sorts. Chasing all the highs this world has to offer. Whether this be dating multiple women, chasing drugs and festival culture, chasing adrenaline highs in the form of mountain biking, power lifting or cliff diving. I kept chasing thrills to fill the emotional void left by the SSRI. I also had to be perfect at this point. I had to have a straight A's in college. A quick aside (I had a long period of alcohol addiction that ran in parallel with my SSRI usage from about 16-21). This caused me to fall behind in life so I felt like I had to catch-up quick, mixed with the perfectionism created from early bullying it caused an immense amount of anxiety in my day to day life. I wasn't allowed to rest, make a mistake or simply apologize when I was wrong. This caused insane amounts of chaos in my relationships throughout these years. Finally when I hit about 31 I decided I had enough of this chaos. A 6-year relationship and all of my life long friendships finally collapsed on me. They were built on a false human. They were built on a man that didn't exist. I see myself as two people honestly. The person that was on anti-depressants is not the same human I am off them. Honestly in my mind half the withdrawal is realizing you built a life not suitable to the person you are off the medicine. I moved to a new area and started a new life. I also quit my anti-depressants. I began hiking and looking inward. It took about 6 months from the insomnia, brain zaps, panic attacks and extreme social anxiety to subside. I managed these symptoms with extreme self inquiry. I also started walking daily. I'm running out of time to write this so let me summarize this pretty quickly here. I'm not perfectly better now. I think anxiety/depression are a part of existence now. I accept there will be days I'm tired/scared and will have panic attacks, but I've learned to sit with these emotions and understand this too shall pass. Getting of my anti-depressant also gave me my empathy back. I built closer connections with people than I've had in the past 17 years. It was extremely hard to rebuild a social support system and a new life while quitting the SSRI though. I would say overall life feels deeper now though. In summary: 1) Took SSRI's for 17+ years. Felt like a zombie. I won't say it was all bad. If you are suicidal and have no other options I would say these are better than that alternative. If you believe you have any other options though I would urge you to try them all out. 2) Quit SSRI's at 32. Created a new life. 3) Anxiety/depression still exists but I now just believe these to be a part of life as opposed to something to get rid of. 4) Found a social support system that saved me, built around the real me. Sorry for jumping around so much on this post. I was trying to work from home at the same time. So I kept jumping back into it. If anyone has any questions feel free to let me know!
  2. Just doing my intro post - I've been diagnosed as having treatment resistant depression and have accepted now that any beneficial effects of the venlafaxine I've been on since January 2009 have ended. I also have some pretty debilitating anxiety disorders - both a mix of genetics (several members of my family have depression too) and life experience of childhood trauma from an abusive parent and bullying throughout school. The doctor has started my tapering with a month of taking 300mg (normal dose) one day, then 225mg the next, then 300mg again, etc. I've been referred to a new psychiatrist so hopefully we can talk more about withdrawing safely. I've been pretty sad lately, so it's kind of a miracle I managed to get to the doctor at all. So far, my withdrawal symptoms have been limited to bad dreams and stomach/gut pains - I know from past idiocy where I forgot to get prescriptions filled in time that diarrhoea is one of the fun side effects of WD, so I think that may be next. Or the sweating. The worst bit, though, is the dreams. They're really intense and horrible, and trigger my anxiety. It's like the drugs are angry I'm coming off them, and know all my buttons to press... or maybe these thoughts are always there and the lack of drug is just exposing them. Anyway, I'm also seeing a psychotherapist who is lovely, so I have an outlet once a week, and my best friend knows I'm doing this, too, and has offered her support. Sending you all love, peace and puppies x
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