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  1. Hi,everyone. My name is Manny.my psiquiatrist wants me to reduce the cymbalta from 60 to 30 mgs. I know it is a 50% reduction.i should decrease only 10%.how do i taper off 10%? And how long it takes? Should i open the capsules and count the number of beads and remove that 10%? How do i ingest the 90% remaining? With water? With juice? Can i do water tritation? I take cymbalta 60,abilify 25,ativan 2.5,risperdal 7.5 mg.
  2. Hi, I think this site is just amazing, truly! Thank you to all who offer support. I never thought I would be on an antidepressant, but that changed in January 2022 when I was diagnosed with GAD. I ended up spending several days in a psych ward and was desperate to do anything to get better/functional. The psychiatrist said I should take 20 mg lexapro. I was fine with this arrangement until my last appointment with my psychiatrist in June 2022 when I asked about eventually reducing my dosage to 10 mg at some point. He responded by telling me that I could never go off lexapro because I’d been hospitalized. This upset me. So I started looking for information about reducing my dosage online and found your site. My plan is to follow the 10% rule and taper every 4 weeks, but I’ve already broken that plan and only did the 18 mg for 3 weeks. So far I seem to have no withdrawal symptoms, except for vivid dreams. I will add my medication and dosage history to my signature tomorrow. Thank you!
  3. Mod note: link to: Happy2Heal: Hope I'm doing this right (Introduction and update topic) I was just an 18yr old, a very confused, naive young woman, er no- more of a child, really- when I was given (by force) my first psych drug, stelazine, a major tranquilizer. that was the beginning of a long series- spanning almost 40 yrs!- of psych drugs and hospitalizations. All along the way, I was plastered with one diagnosis after another, or several heaped on at once. My physical health went downhill and I ended up a virtual shut-in, living my life all in my head, friendless, socially isolated to the extreme, my only contact with drs and therapists, leaving my house to go food shopping maybe twice a month. This wasn't living, and I knew it. But I didn't know how to change things. I didn't know what was wrong. I spent over two thirds of my life believing I was mentally ill and *needed* to be on those drugs. but at some point, it occurred to me that the drugs might actually be the problem, or at least, part of the problem. I knew I had to get off them. and I did. The process and the pain of that is reported on my thread, I don't care to go back over it, at least not now. I learned a lot along the way, but for now, I don't want to think about where I've been, I only want to think about where I am now, and the life I have before me. Here I am, now, one year off all drugs, of all kinds. I rarely even take a ibuprofen for a headache. I want to write my success story, but I'm not 100% ready yet However I do have to say that what I feel most of all, is a great deal of pride in having survived. I suffered all forms of abuse as a child, emotional, sexual, physical, verbal, went on to be a survivor of rape, of domestic abuse. I was abused within the mental health system. I've spent virtually all of my adult life in poverty, raising my daughter as a single mom on disability due to "mental illness". But today, I feel as if I've done more than just survive; I am thriving. I have friends. I have a very active social life. I volunteer and I feel like the work I do is making a difference, having an impact. while technically I am still 'poor' by income, I don't go without anything I need, with the possible exception of good dental care I have a good life. Is my withdrawal journey over? I'm not sure.While I took my last dose of lexapro over a year ago, I feel like I am still having some symptoms that must be related to the nearly 4 DECADES on psych meds. BUT you need to know, these symptoms are extremely mild. and after that long on so many different drugs, it stands to reason that there will be minor little tweaks that my brain will need to make, for some time to come. I'd like to say that all that has faded into the background of my life, but to be honest: I am more vigilant about them now, than at any time during active withdrawal- because I don't want to fall into a trap of thinking that any problems I may have mean that all those doctors were right, I'm permanently disabled by a mental illness and there's no hope for me. I am pretty sure that the only thing I suffer from is PTSD, and I don't see that as a mental illness so much as a natural reaction to extremely stressful, traumatic life events. so Today I feel Victorious. I've overcome a lot and need to soak in that feeling of doing a good job I don't often give myself credit for my achievements or feel like it's ok to feel good about them but today, I give myself permission to bask in this feeling. it feels like the right and honest thing to do. I guess I just have to be different, I don't want to call this a success story because that sounds to me like the end, when in fact it is not. It's not really a beginning, either, because the beginning of my new life dates back to when I first realized that the drugs were the problem. to me, this just feels like a victory over adversity- something to celebrate! so please, celebrate with me, and know that you are going to heal as well, those of you still going thru WD/recovery. it's worth it, believe me so very worth it!
  4. Hello guys , please spare a few minutes to read it and help me with this. I am from India 25 male In April of 2019 ,during my 3rd semester break, I had a breathing issue (one side nose block )and a sleep (cycle )problem,so I went to ent doc- dx with right sinusitis (not severe ) . For the sleeping cycle issue ,he told to see psychiatry (his wife ) and she prescribed DEP®@n L combination of ( Le×@pro 5 mg + clo≠zepam 0.25 mg ) for 14 days and told to stop After stopping , I had symptoms like - heart pounding ,anxiety , concentration issues, irritability . So I expected it to go away, but it didn't .So I went to another psychiatrist after 6 month (oct 2019),and he prescribed p®@xil (p®@xidep cr 12.5 mg ) ( oct 2019 to Jan 2020) i took for 3 months. while taking this durg my irritability ,anger increased .After stopping the drug I had symptoms of acid reflux ,pounding heart , muscle twitching,anxiety ,anger issue , irritability , indigestion i couldn't eat like before my food consumption decreased,sweating at night , waking at midnight 2am ,mild erectile dysfunction , orgasm decreased slightly ,mild heat intolerance . These severe affects lasted 6 months (aug 2020) and gradually decreased ,but the following symptoms did not -anxiety ,acid reflux, sexual side affects Somehow, I graduated in 2020 Feb 2021 due to exam pressure my sleep cycle changed - anxiety increased so I decided to take it again p®@xil (p®@xidep cr 12.5 mg ) this was the biggest mistake that i have ever made. . While taking the drug I felt dizzy all the time . on 12 th day I got severe gi distress and complete sexual dysfunction that shocked me so I stopped (Feb 2021) that drug cold trukey after that I had total sexual dysfunction ,can't feel emotion,severe acid reflux, heat intolerance ,throat pain ,blurry vision ,fatigue ,muscle pain , shivering, frequent urination ,fear increased , social anxiety ,panic attack,bloating , inability to burp , indigestion,muscle twitching, heart palpitation , headache,bounding pluse , wake up at midnight , can't able to sleep at right time always varies , exercise ability decreased , anger to the peak , irritability, confusion,can't concentrate ,eyelids felt always tired ,anxiety increased . this lasted about 7 to 9 months severely (June 2021) and gradually decreased .now this is my 17 th month slightly improved i can exercise more than 20 mins but still have most of this symptoms especially total sexual dysfunction ,anxiety ,indigestion ,muscle pain , concentration problem . In my first 2 attempts I couldn't study properly and in my 3rd attempt I did some but not enough, so I failed in all my attempts. I am going to write another one this year .my problem is that i can't study for long (8hrs-10hrs) and have concentration problem .Almost wasted a year and a half of my life .i have read "withdrawal and tapering 101".i am planning to reinstate very low dose ssri ? Anyone here been through something similar and recovered ? What lab tests do I have to take ? Can anyone help me with this ? I am obsessed with my sexual dysfunction always thinking about it makes me sick . My friends passed the exam a year ago ,but I am still struggling . I shouldn't have taken antidepressants 😔 What should I do ? Plz give me some suggestions
  5. Unsure if I'm posting in the right place but this is somewhat of an introduction. 1.5 years ago I started on 20mg of Prozac for OCD. There was restlessness with starting but it went away. Gradually I tapered down to 10mg of Prozac which I was on for a full year. 2 months ago, I felt the sudden onset of a a very severely agitated feeling. It was very vague but I can pinpoint the exact moment I noticed it -- I was sitting, doing nothing remarkable, and unstressed. I had felt something like this before throughout my treatment but it was very very temporary and felt more like an agitated depression brought on by external circumstances. When this feeling started I could not pinpoint anything else as the cause. Things were good in all parts of my life. I had not messed with the dosage of Prozac at all for a year. Is it still possible that the Prozac is causing this long term agitation/akathisia that I still experience today? A month into the feeling I decided to taper off Prozac completely. I experienced very little withdrawal...just mild headaches and dizziness. The akathisia didn't get worse or better. But it is still quite bad. And the longer it continues the more hopeless I become and probably the more depressed as well because I can't see a life without this agitation anymore. Started on some Klonopin to treat the restlessness and help me sleep. Has anyone else experienced akathisia without a dose change? And also only being on a low dose?
  6. Hello all, My name is Alex and I was prescribed 1/2 x 10mg Escitalopram (Cipralex), 0.5 x Clonazepam (Rivotril aka Klonopin) for about 5 months now, for mostly anxiety. After already 2 months I hit tolerance / dependence with Clonazepam and from that point, for the little I knew, I should have give up on it, but my psychiatrist pushed it even more from 3/4 to 1 (0.5 Clonazepam). Clonazepam is the "horror" benzo of them all, but I did not knew back then and would have been fantastic if I removed it since month 2, instead of keep it in 3 more months. Escitalopram did not help me either, as if it had did, I would not been feeling worse after 5 months, than I was in the first place before taking the medicine. I really I very sad of my decision to actually go to the psychiatrist in the first place, but I did now knew much then. As I know now, the symptoms that I had then where really easy compared to the ones I have now (after 5 months of "treatment"). But that is what usually people do, driven by fear, instead of actually be a little realist and powerful and first, at least, document yourself of what you are doing in the first place. I have found At last a life book, by Paul David and I can say it's a life saver for the anxiety suffering people out there, but I just found it 3 weeks ago, after that I decided to start tapper the benzo. All this being said I am now on this schedule of benzo withdrawal attached in the picture. Unfortunately I got to 0.3 from 0.5 in 3 weeks instead of 8 and I feel quite a lot of withdrawal symptoms ( mild depression, mild / intermediate anxiety (but much longer than before), mild headaches, dizziness, mild blurred vision. I thought as I was just 5 months on these 2 drugs would make it to a fast withdrawal, now I know it is not the case and I need to listen to my body. Will hold benzo for now at 0.3 to stabilize. The big question is : Should I start the Escitalopram taper as well ? I read a lot already on the forum and I see usually people take it 1 by 1. Of course I asked a psychiatrist of tapering both at the same time and she said if I do it slow it's ok as I did not took them for long time and the doze is quite small. But I know you guys know better and would be much appreciated if you give me a hint here. So a small taper from the 1/2 x 10 mg Escitalopram , like 10-20% each month at the same time with the benzo taper would make sense ? Of course I will try to listen to my body / brain response, but I am unsure how much time will be needed to feel the withdrawal from Escitalopram, from Clonazepam is easy, in 2-3 days you feel the "response" of the cut, because of the 18-50 hours lifetime of it. Cheers !
  7. Hello everyone I apologize if I don’t write so good I hope I made sense in my writing , English is not my main language … I was at the emergency room last month i. The middle of May due to panic attacks and they refer me to a mental clinic and when I was there last month I had no choice that to take the meds that they were giving me first lexapro 10mg with klonopin I don’t know the mg that was on my first day. on my second day the give me lexapro 10mg and gabapentin 3 times a day I don’t know the mg but it was 1 big pill of gabapentin and the nurse keep giving me the same doses of lexapro and gabapentin for the following week then After that 1 week I got discharged and when I was at home I only took lexapro for 2 more days the I stop cold turkey because of the awful side effects like racing heart ,brain fog ,increased anxiety and insomnia I didn’t sleep at all those 2 days ,,and then like 5 days after I quit I started experiencing weird feelings in my throat(feels very very very dry all the way to my stomach) it’s really hard for me to sleep now I keep waking up with this weird sensation and I have it all day but is more uncomfortable at night also my nose feels kinda dry as well I been having weird stools very soft but the main issue is the feeling of dryness that I feel in the throat I feel like is hard for me to breathe even though I went to ER again recently to see what is going on and they told me my oxigen levels are perfect they check my lungs and they are fine idk what to do i don’t know if I will feel better I regret so much that I took those meds because I feel worse now after I took it than before … oh and also I have slightly head pressure specially in the nights … I had ringing in my right ear the very first days that I stopped taking those meds and it seems like the ringing of ear has been fading .. I forgot to mention that the 3 days after of me stopped the med I was waking up with chills and sweating but I was feeling a little bit cold …I been searching if someone have similar issue as me of this weird dry feeling in the digestive track and throat after stopping lexapro but I haven’t found anything and I’m scared because I only took those meds for just a short period of time I don’t know if a person can experience withdrawal when they only took a few doses it’s been 3 weeks now that I’m feeling this way I stopped taking lexapro on May 26 and this weird symptom started like 5 days after = ( I feel so hopeless
  8. In August of 2021 will be a four-year ordeal that began with a breaking through (tolerance) of the SSRI medication (Celexa) I was on for 20 years. During this four-year period, I experienced over 75 symptoms associated with psychotropic medication withdrawal and at two different times was at zero quality of life. Once for five months (within the first year) and the once for four months (in year two) three months after my last dose of medication. I have been treated by a Psychiatrist, several counselors, two functional medicine doctors, two nutritionist, two specialists with psychotropic medication withdrawal, a geneticist and spent over a year and a half treated by a Dr. who specializes with hard-to-treat depression and anxiety cases. I have been on several strict diets (anti-inflammatory, vegetarian) and taken countless supplements. I have been tested for many possible underlying conditions. Although my condition has improved slowly (many symptoms have abated) I am still impaired living with severe insomnia, depression and anxiety on a daily basis. Concentration, speech, motivation, fatigue are all residual issues that continue to come and go with no predictable pattern but as of late cognition, speech and energy level have all improved. Prior to taking psychotropic medications, I lived with dysthymia (PDD) with major depressive episodes until 34 years old. I was not aware of the condition until that time. Looking back it effected my motivation, outlook on life, self-confidence and career decisions. I took Celexa for 20 years and it worked well for about 12-15 years. A whole new world of consistent positive emotions opened up soon after starting the drug. The last five or so years I was emotionally numb with no real highs but depression, insomnia and anxiety were not factors. It should be noted that for about eight of those years the dosage was 80 mg. In the summer of 2017, I noticed increased anxiety levels and insomnia had returned similar to when I when on medication. I then realized I was breaking through the medication. Agitation and aggression also started increasing. My psychiatrist then prescribed multiple medications over a period of five months. I experienced intense acute withdrawal symptoms. These drugs included Lexapro, Cymbalta, and Prozac. I stopped all meds after five months in December of 2017 for a period of one and a half months (symptoms intensified). At the end of the month and a half, I tried Ketamine infusions and my quality of life was reduced to zero. This intense period lasted five months. During this five-month period, new and previously prescribed drugs were given including Prozac, Trintellex, Lexapro, Klonopin (5 mg.), and Trazodone. In May of 2018, I began a slow taper with an organization to come off all medications. The taper ended in August of 2019. The order of the taper was Trintellex, Trazadone, Klonopin, and Prozac. During the taper, a number of symptoms lessened but would return later with varying intensity and duration (e.g., visual distortions, brain zaps, dizziness, numerous cognitive issues). However, after the taper, several symptoms slowly increased in severity including insomnia (severe), depression (moderate to severe), concentration (moderate), anxiety moderate to severe), depersonalization/derealization (moderate). The symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and depression were the most constant. Immediately after my taper, quality of life was reduced significantly (close to zero). This in spite of working with a functional medical doctor and nutritionist for treatment. Three months later, I reached zero quality of life again and in the winter of 2019 I went to a clinic that specialized in hard to treat cases in hope they could help. My condition improved slowly but not much. I was put on supplements to address sleep and high free copper levels. The treatment for free copper lasted over a year with zinc supplements reaching 250 mg before it was determined my free copper levels were down. Sleep problems remained unchanged. After two years of being treating I was still severely symptomatic and was told I was one of only 10% of patients that they were not able to help. In desperation and on recommendation, I reached out to an organization the deals with genetic testing. They put me on more supplements in which I reacted negatively. Currently, insomnia remains bad. I wake every night after about three hours with an intense mixture of negative emotions (e.g. anxiety, depression, guilt, shame) that have no basis in circumstances. My sleep is tumultuous at best, waking multiple times before experiencing electrical like sensations about 45 minutes prior to waking. Most mornings I cannot go back to sleep because of these sensations. My sleep hygiene is very good and has been for a while. Nothing seems to help in this area. I take magnesium and have taken a number of other supplements and natural sleep aids, but none have worked. However, I now go through withdrawal if I forget to take the magnesium. In summary, this August it will be four years. Two of which have been medication free. My symptoms have improved in number, intensity and duration. However, I still deal with insomnia, depression and anxiety in varying patterns. I do have some windows but never a full day and have not slept through the night except once in 4 years. Trying to discern withdrawal symptoms from underlying symptoms is challenging. Sleep was never a problem prior to taking medications and nothing close to what I live with now. I do not understand why is so bad when I have practiced excellent sleep hygiene for a while. The anxiety and depression have similarities to my pre-existing condition but also have major differences. For example, I can be dealing with a situation in the morning that seems to be causing depression or anxiety and in the evening I am thinking about the same situation and feel neither anxiety or depression and can view the situation in rational emotionally stable state. I am very strong in my belief about my identity but will sometimes experience strong emotions of insecurity that I know are absolutely baseless and absurd. The same goes for anxiety and depression. The emotions seem to have a mind of their own. There is a strong disconnect between what I know to be true and my emotions. Like fearing something that you know is rationally nothing to fear. I have many questions that I probably already know the answer, but I will throw them out for your feedback. 1. Did the poly drugging exacerbate the withdrawal/healing process. 2. What about the ketamine? That drug sent me off into the abyss of torturous emotions. It was like I was being brutally tortured non-stop for five months night and day. The emotions were beyond description. Zero peace and joy. 3. Are my current symptoms (they still can be very debilitating and intense) uncommon this far out from being off meds? 4. I did a slow taper and was told I would probably heal quickly only to go back to zero quality of life three months later. Any thoughts? 5. Although most of the people who have tried to help have been well-meaning, none have been able to significantly alter my condition. I have appreciated their encouragement and compassion, but their treatments have not been able to move the healing needle. Most supplements inflated my symptoms or did nothing at all. The free copper diagnosis and treatment did bring a little relief but only a little. 6. I have read that sleep is one of the last things to return to normal, but four years later it still is bad. Any thoughts? Feel free to ask questions or make comments. Thank you for taking the time to read.
  9. Hey everyone, I said that once I was healed and felt back to normal again I would write a success story and I do believe that today is finally the day for it! It was a very long journey for me personally, but I know that others have been going through it for even longer. So for those of you that are still in the thick of it, I will tell you this! Keep on going and going and going!! Never ever give up! I truly do believe that everyone heals no matter how long it takes!! For some it is shorter than others, but it's coming for all of us! You can read my intro topic and see that I really didn't find this site until I was almost 8 months in deep. I was one of those who CT quit everything because nothing was working for me and I got tired of trying different things to feel better. I was extremely fortunate to meet a wonderful lady who had survived the process and she reached out to me. She was able to encourage me daily to keep going and helped me to get through the very worst of days! I was so lucky because most people do not have that support system, but it was a life saver. Some things that I learned while going through this process: 1. Stay as positive as you possibly can! I know it's hard, believe me. There were so many days I just wanted to get in a funk and stay there, but I knew how dangerous that was. If you let yourself always see the bad in things, then eventually that is all you will see! Take what is happening to you and turn it around. Find something positive in your day. When I was having the worst of symptoms, instead of feeling bad about it and moping about it, I would turn it around and tell myself that I was having a good strong day of healing! The harder the symptoms, the more healing that was taking place. I made it a positive thing!! 2. Acceptance!!! I know this one is hard!! It was for me and took me a very very long time to learn it, but once I did it made a world of difference for me. The symptoms no longer had the power over me that they once had. Yeah they were still there, but I would just acknowledge them and then move on. There was nothing I could do about them, so I just let them happen. Besides it just meant that I was doing some more healing. The sooner you can learn how to accept the process the easier the process becomes. 3. Time!!! Unfortunately in my experience I found that there are no shortcuts in this process. There is no magic pill or drug that I could take that was gonna heal me any faster. I had to be patient and wait for my brain and CNS to heal! There was no way to speed up the process or make it any easier. I just had to get through it! That was it. Time time and more time!! Each day you go through is one day closer to your ultimate healing so don't give up!! 4. Distract!!! Find something anything that you can use to distract yourself and make the time go by. For me it was long walks, paint by numbers, etchings, diamond dots, models, board games with my children!! Just anything to pass the time! The more I was able to distract myself, the more healing that was taking place without me worrying about it! When you sit around all day and don't engage your mind, it has nothing to do but ruminate on what you are thinking or experiencing. Distract!! 5. Keep track of the good days! I experienced the normal waves and windows pattern that is normal for a lot of people. I would keep a journal daily where I would write down what I was thinking, how things were going. And for me most importantly, when I was feeling good in a window, I would write about it in the journal. I would write notes to myself reminding myself that I could feel good again and that I would feel good again. That way on the hard days I could go back and see what I had written to myself to know that I was gonna be ok. And that's honestly about it! That's what worked for me! Just remember that what you are going through is temporary!! This is not the rest of your life. One day you will be healed and able to move forward with life and enjoy the days. This whole process has made me such a strong and more resilient person. Little things in life no longer really bother me and I have found I have so much more patience and understanding than I ever did before. As much as this whole thing sucked, it has made me a better person!! Just remember to keep going and going for as long as this takes!! You've got this and you know it! I will be sticking around the forums to help others. I always told myself once I made it through this I was gonna pay it forward and help others as well. Don't hesitate to reach out if needed! Ken
  10. Just thought I’d share my story and see what your opinions are. (Sorry a bit long) I was diagnosed with panic disorder and GAD back in February, After going to the ER thinking I was dying or was having a nervous break down. I then took some clonazepam .25 mg 1x for two days which really seemed to help me For a couple weeks, then again i experienced the same bad panic attack in March where i took the clonazepam again this time for 4 days 0.25 mg 1x per day. I then felt better for a couple of days. After that i started reading on benzos and decided i should stop taking it and that no matter what panic attack arrised i couldn’t take it again to not become dependent. Well around day 7 of not taking it anymore my body went into full panic mode, i was experiencing light sensitivity , depersonalization, constant nervous and screaming crying worrying i wasn’t going to get any better not knowing what was happening to me. I then said okay it’s time to get on something else that will help me with anxiety. Immediately my doctor prescribed me zoloft. Which i was freaking out about starting it and obsessively reading things online abt peoples experience with it. starting zoloft was hell in itself . I felt all symptoms you name it. It started with feeling of worried for a couple of days aand then feelings of being okay normal self for the next days and it would just be up and down up and down. I did start to notice that around my menstrual cycle the first month i would get deep feelings of sadness. Like a sadness i had not felt before. That would last until my period went away. the second month again, around my menstrual cycle is when i finally decided to cold turkey as per my doctor . I told her i had been experiencing weird thoughts on it, and that i would get moments of like racing thoughts where my mind wouldn’t shut up and I’d wake up with so much anxiety in the morning like in was going to go into another attack. So she suggested it might be some hormonal issues interfering with the med and told me to just stop taking it. I asked her if i could taper since i didn’t want to just stop. She said i wasn’t on it long enough to get any withdrawal .I went down to 25 mg two days and then just stopped. When i stoped i felt instantly better back to my normal self For about 2 days and then around 5th day of stopping is when i started having crying spells, , brain zaps, body shocks ,more wnxiety, feeling like i was losing my mind again very worried about my self and getting better. It was just hell. Fast forward to a month from withdrawal of zoloft , im still having the really bad down depression 10 days before my period started. Idk what to do at this point. I just feel really angry because i shouldn’t have been put in Ssri if i had no symptoms of depression prior to the zoloft. my doctor told me to go on a mood stabilizer which i thought was for bi polar but I’ve never been diagnosed bi polar or had any episodes of mania/ hypomania. I don’t want to go back to the same doctor that prescribed me the zoloft because. I know they will want to prescribe me something else. It’s getting really hard , i just keep trying to find a solution. Seeing that my vitamin d levels are low trying to bring that up. Just looking to see if there’s something else going on. But i cannot think about going another menstrual cycle feeling like this, it’s unbearable i cannot function it makes me feel like a bad wife and mother.once my period stop i noticed my mood starts to slowly lift back to being my normal self. Can someone share their story or a similar experience to an Ssri
  11. Link to Benzo Forum Thread - Shep's Journey Link to French translation (courtesy of Erell): Se libérer de la psychiatrie - Shep : « Quitter la caverne de Platon » Leaving Plato’s Cave In Plato’s famous “Allegory of the Cave,” a group of human beings are chained since birth in a dark cave where a fire casts shadows of the world upon the walls. The shadows are all the prisoners know to be true. But one day, a prisoner breaks free and wanders out into the world. Her eyes are blinded by the sudden blast of sunlight and she is unsure of her reality and at times, longs to be back inside the familiar darkness. But as her eyes adjust, she is in awe of this new reality — people, nature, her own reflection! When she returns to the cave, the other prisoners laugh at her story in disbelief. . . . And so I left psychiatry — a dark cave of drug dependency, incarceration, deception, violence, mystification, and social control. The empty shadows on the walls that message this non-reality based belief system of mythical “mind diseases” fade out and a beautiful new reality unfolds before me. After 30 years, success from such an experience is a process, not a singular event. There may still be some unexpected waves, but that will allow the experience of re-emerging from periods of darkness with even more skill and resilience. For me, this part of the journey is very similar to the final phase of the grieving process. As Francis Weller reminds us in the book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, grief is sacred work. It’s an important teacher and should be honored, not feared. When symptoms are viewed as teachers and guides and you walk with them with curiosity and not fear, leaving Plato’s Cave turns into a journey of adventure and skill building. My signature symptom was - and is - DP/DR (depersonalization / derealization) and the lessons taught are in mindfulness and becoming The Observer. (I wrote about The Observer in several places in my benzo thread). I still have some lingering DP/DR, but this is a symptom I carry out of the cave with me, as I'm still learning from it and no longer view it as a problem but as a valued guide. Never give up — your new world awaits you. For many of us, it’s a brutal trip. So travel lightly and listen carefully to what your teachers and guides are telling you. As painful and confusing as it is, these symptoms are here for a reason. At five years off all drugs (from 30 years use), I can now: Run 30 - 60 minutes, four days a week, along with doing yoga and strength training. Runner’s high is beautiful! Bike 30 miles a week - urban cycling is now my main transportation to and from work because of subway and bus delays due to COVID-19 Work 40 - 45 hours a week (was unemployed for around 9 months due to severe akathisia and DP/DR) See the world with 20/20 vision (with glasses) - since last August (before that, my focus was in and out and I wasn’t able to get an accurate eyeglass prescription) Read books with a high level of concentration during windows. I get lost in activities now and experience a sense of “flow” when reading, working, exercising, and playing music for hours at a time Feel music deeply to the point of being moved to tears at times Experience powerful levels of spirituality and connection with the universe Sleep a restful 6 - 7.5 hours a night most nights (Netflix is a treat when insomnia hits now because I know the insomnia wave will pass and I like the excuse to watch movies in my favorites list) About me: 52-year-old female, currently working full time, no family, studio apartment, still navigating my way back into more social situations, complicated by the city’s partial shut-down due to COVID-19. Entry into psychiatric drugs: forced “treatment” in private and state psychiatric prisons off and on from the age of 17 until 21 for so-called “psychosis.” Gaslighted into long-term drug compliance with the lie that neuroleptics are a neuro-protective agent against brain damage caused by so-called “psychosis.” Never told about dopamine supersensitivity or tardive dysphoria. Drug and label history: 30 years of neuroleptics, benzodiazepines, z-drugs, so-called “anti”-depressants, and amphetamines. Labeled with “manic depression” and “PTSD” from years of physical and sexual abuse as a child. The “chemical imbalance” myth dominated the narrative because psychiatry replicates the patriarchal and paternalistic abuses of the nuclear family (and the larger political structure) within a medicalized context. This is not an accident. This is how the system is designed. Date of last drug taken: May 22, 2015 Reason for exiting the cave: After having spent more than 25 years working low-level jobs and bouncing from here to there, I descended into cognitive decline with voices and visuals, disassociation, akathisia, and suicidal thoughts. A psychiatrist suggested another change in drugs but — too fast, too soon, leading to a nervous system crash. After being threatened with forced “treatment” in the state psychiatric prison again in early 2014, I found Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic in a random Google search on my phone. The realization I had been poisoned was enough for me to control my behavior and save myself from further “treatment.” The psychiatric system disables and kills people. That’s not an abstract concept when you’re at the receiving end of forced “treatment.” Method of coming off psychiatric drugs: cold turkey and rapid taper off a cocktail of Seroquel, Viibryd, Klonopin, Sonata, Dexedrine, and Halcion (NOTE: I do NOT recommend this method of withdrawal - I didn’t find the withdrawal forums until I was almost completely off all drugs. Stay safe and taper if at all possible). Favorite non-drug coping skills: Shep’s Toolkit. For me, the non-drug coping skills were not optional. I still refer to this list and have tons more bookmarked in folders on my laptop. Mooji and Alan Watts are still my go-to sources for calming. The un-patienting process: During recovery, I began reading a lot of anti-psychiatry literature. Dr. Phil Hickey’s article sums it up well - In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry. Anti-psychiatry gave me the language to understand and name the world around me. Dr. Thomas Szasz is a major influence in my understanding of this world. He understood the power structure of psychiatry better than anyone I've read so far. Dr. Bruce Cohen's Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness helped me understand psychiatry's political structure. Psychiatry is about power and politics, not medicine. Psychiatry is not broken. The system was designed this way. Psychiatry is not a legitimate field of medicine and cannot be reformed. It needs to be abolished. To not message this would be to condone a form of structural violence that not only has disabled and killed millions of people, it also maintains and even furthers the systemic social and economic injustices these individuals represent. I hope one day, those still trapped in Plato’s Cave will be released and the cave will be sealed shut.
  12. I was on Paxil from 1996 to 2013 when I foolishly thought I was doing well after my father's death the year before. I asked my then psychiatrist about changing to a newer med, one that wouldn't cause weight gain. He recommended Wellbutrin, so I titrated off Paxil for 4 to 6 weeks. This was the beginning of my ride on the anti-depressant merry-go-round from hell....
  13. This was from the notes I kept on my Iphone about my progress. Lexapro/ escitalopram -Started taking in beginning of 2017 when got out of bad situation and was trying to get back into things it did help… for a while -Early 2020 Attempted to cut cold turkey was terrible, had brain shocks, severe depression, barely able to function. My doctor told me there would be no withdrawal. -2020 around September attempted 1 month taper from 20 mg to 0 mg according to old data that “doctors” go off of. After attempting this and having similar effects to quitting cold turkey I found a forum Survivingantidepressants.org, when I started reading I realized all these people went through the same **** I did. -August 2021 went to 20mg to 10 mg stabilized in October 2021, no major side effects besides energy levels -December 2021 went from 10 mg to 5 mg, stabilized in February, again mostly just energy levels affected. -May 2022 went from 5 mg to 2.5 mg, feel good and happy, want to cut down to less -June 2022 went from 2.5 mg to nibbling on less everyday. 6/14/22 attempting to stop taking it all together. First week my sleep sucked but my happiness level started to skyrocket. 6/23/22 went to electric forest with a new outlook and positive attitude. July 2022, I’ve never been happier, have felt no negative side effects from quitting, sleep is a little bit harder off the drug but overall I feel alive again. FREE :)))) My Taper off of Klonopin was less severe but still took about 9 months of steady decreasing in dosage until I was able to kick it. Was only on .5 Mg Dropped to .25 MG last year around October Dropped to .125 Mg around Jan 2022 Leading up to June I was nibbling less and less of it until I was almost to nothing June 2022 I quit I love all you beautiful people for sharing your stories and messages. I hope you have success with your journey, sending hope and love to you all.
  14. Moderator note: link to Kristine's benzo thread - Kristine: Protracted clonazepam withdrawal? Hello, I am new to this site and would firstly like to extend my gratitude to all the people who have shared their stories and support. I now know I am not alone. My story is long and complex so I will attempt to condense it. I am 43 years old and was introduced to antidepressants 10 years ago after being diagnosed with MDD, GAD and PTSD (l do not feel comfortable with labels) by my psychiatrist. During the first 8 years of treatment multiple antidepressants and other psychotropic medications were prescribed. I will fast forward to October 2015 when I attempted to end my life (I had never been suicidal prior to taking antidepressants). I had to resign from work and was hospitalised for 1 month. At the time I had been taking citalopram for a number of years and had reached the maximum dose. My intuition told me it was not helping. I wanted to stop this medication and my psychiatrist was supportive of this decision. However, it is obvious to me now that she was inexperienced and uneducated with this process. The citalopram was ceased over one week and due to severe anxiety I was commenced on seroquel and diazepam. After leaving hospital I managed to taper off the seroquel and diazepam but became increasingly unwell both mentally and physically. My psychiatrist convinced me that my mental illness had returned and I was commenced on Parnate which was increased in dose over 3 months. Instead of improving my mental and physical ailments worsened and my psychiatrist sort a second opinion. I was hospitalised again in May 2016 under the 'care' of another psychiatrist. This was the beginning of an indescribable hell where I was treated like a human lab rat. Looking back the medications he prescribed were beyond belief and I was the victim of poly pharmacy without adequte professional rational. Unfortunally, like so many others, I was vulnerable and trusted his guidance. He treated me as both an inpatient and out patient over a one year period. Over this time I was prescribed over 14 psychotropic medication some of which were abruptly ceased and crossed over with other medications. If this wasn't enough I was subjected to 15 sessions of unnessaccery ECT. Not surprisingly, I was in a zombified state, unable to function and unable to return to work. My anxiety and depression was not alleviated and I was plagued with tremors, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and migraines. By April 2017 I ceased my appointments with this psychiatrist (he had little belief in withdraw symptoms or side effects of the medication he prescribed - he resorted to blaming me) and returned to my previous psychiatrist. Over the past eight months I have the mammoth task of withdrawing from multiple medications. These include escitalopram (completed reduction), Lithium (competed reduction), clonazepam (partial reduction), bupropion (completed reduction), seroquel (completed reduction), dexamphetamine (partial reduction) and fluoxetine (no reduction). My withdrawal symptoms are horrendous and relentless. My psychiatrist has been unable to advise me along a comfortable path. She appears to be in denial and her support has mostly evaporated. I feel abandoned, alone and frightened. I was forced to seek information independently (for which I am grateful), which continues to be a hideous realisation that for years I was in a constant state of drug withdrawal, side effects and drug interaction. I also feeling very angry about my treatment. I am tapering at the 10% rate now (one medication at a time) but even though I know road ahead will be long and rocky, I feel a sense of empowerment from educating myself. What I am experiencing is common and I am finally breaking free from the clutches of psychiatry.
  15. Hi everybody! I am Julz, a 33 year-old female - polydrugged to my eye-balls Ten years ago, I fell into anorexia and depression, soon unveiling terrible anxiety. I was referred to a psychiatrist (in France) who prescribed me medication and also gave me psychotherapy. Regarding the medication, different combinations and doses where tried and I eventually found myself on a prescription which seemed to suit my troubled mind (Escitalopram, venlafaxine, clonazepam and diazepam) - did it ever do anything? I still haven't got a clue. I trusted this doctor. This is my initial prescription: Escitalopram: 20mg 20mg 20mg - (yes, that is 60mg...!!!) Venlafaxine(MR): - - 75mg - Clonazepam: - 2mg - 2mg Diazepam: - - - 10mg Time passed and psychologically, a lot changed. I moved away from where I used to live, totally changed my environment, and went for a fresh start. But I was still taking my medication as prescribed. My General Practitioner (in charge of my prescription in my new environment) convinced me to lower the Escitalopram (on the grounds that it was "bad for my heart") and I managed, between 2011 and 2013, to come from 60mg/day to 15mg. How? By jumping 5mg at a time every now and again. I had no idea... again, I more or less trusted this doctor who was willing to prescribe me the drugs I was clearly physically dependent on. The withdrawals I experienced were uneventful. I did feel something was happening but within a few days, I always felt the same as before the drop. Between 2010 and 2014, a LOT had changed as I finally got an MSc BUT I had fallen into terrible exhaustion and had no life. How did I get my degree? A struggle every day. I then began to question this cocktail of drugs, I'd been on them for 10 years and was still taking them as prescribed because I was physically dependent. That was clear enough! It then hit me: my meds were probably incapacitating me rather than providing any help! The realisation came as in January 2013, after I managed to lower my Escitalopram intake from 20 to 15mg/day in a single 5mg step (...), I began to feel even more tired during the day, exhausted - I simply had to nap every single day. After some personal research, I went to my GP and told him I didn't believe in keeping our focus on the Escitalopram because it seemed that the more I decreased it, the more sleepy I'd get during the day, considering my benzo intake (at that point, I was taking 3 hours' naps), and I could not live like that! Fortunately, before I was able to drop a pill here and there as instructed by my GP, I found the BenzoBuddy website and managed to find a taper method to gradually come off clonazepam. From December 2014 to July 2015, I came from 4mg to 2mg and am now below 1.9mg and still tapering off successfully. I decided to join Surviving Antidepressants as I want off ALL any medication which alters who I am. I believe in other ways to manage my weaknesses - I am not ill, I have a tendency to be anxious and this is not new, I was an anxious child but I had emotions too. I'd like my emotions and my whole life back... I realise I know NOTHING about anti-depressants, I surely did not know about Escitalopram's potency and am still in shock from the news. My initial plans (supported by a psychiatrist I saw in February 2015) were to come off clonazepam (bz), then diazepam (bz), then Escitalopram, then Venlafaxine. In the light of what I read on this wonderful site, I wonder whether I should stay of Valium (diazepam) while at least tapering off Escitalopram, when I am done with clonazepam... I realise I need knowledge myself because sadly, doctors haven't been helpful at all... so far... Thanks for welcoming me on your wonderful Forum! Julz xxx
  16. Link to Hibari's Introduction topic: hibari-tapering-remeron-and-want-to-start-tapering-lamictal I first want to say that we do heal and life does get better. I am someone who was poly-drugged, on benzos twice, and now am 15 months off all medications. I made mistake like forgetting doses, getting misdiagnosed with Lyme, taking supplements for my adrenals and being treated badly by both doctors and holistic practitioners. I still made it off the medications. I feel well most of the time and optimistic about life. I couldn't feel that at all when I was on medication, (benzos in particular) and while I tapered, so I now know it was the medication. Thank you @Altostrata for starting this site and collecting all the information needed planning and tapering. Med History: Put on and off a variety of medications for short periods of time after having a nervous system breakdown from excessive caregiving and overworking. (You can see my signature). What helped me: One thing that helped me during benzo withdrawal was to look up the side effects, not withdrawal symptoms, of Clonzapam. I saw that depression was one of the main side effects of the medication and even though I felt deep despair at the higher doses, I keep reminding myself that the medication itself was causing my crushing depression. Support In addition to the support I received on this site and benzo buddies, the first two things on this list I wish I had known about earlier. 1. I worked with a Psych-K practitioner (psychological kinesiology). This practitioner had gotten off of a cocktail of medications using the Psych-K technique. I met her by chance, heard about the work and decided to try it. This method helps to balance the brain and body. With this support I was able to continue tapering my benzo 20% a month till the end. We worked remotely even pre-pandemic and I found it incredibly helpful. I continue with her to this day. If anyone wants more information on this, please PM me. 2. The second thing was that I worked with a benzo coach from Lucid Lane, a fee for service support site for any medication dependence. I spoke or should say, cried to my coach on a regular basis. I found it really helpful to talk with someone who understood my pain. Here is their website. https://lucidlane.com/ 3. I connected to some wonderful people on this site @freespirit @Shep @Santino @leahy @brassmonkey and others who I’m sure I’m forgetting. I found the people who I resonated with the most and they were a lifeline to me. Not everyone here will be the right fit for you nor have the right guidance for you and that’s okay. 4. Advice: Take what you like and leave the rest. This site has wonderful resources and offers very solid advice on tapering. And you also have to trust yourself. That might mean sometimes going against what works for others and that’s okay. For example, I couldn’t handle fish oil during my tapers, it had the opposite effect. I didn’t try and push it once I discovered that. Some supplements like L-Theanine worked during my Remeron/Mirtazapine taper but not during my benzo taper. Your body has a lot of wisdom and if it’s saying no, it’s no. 5. Mental: Two shifts occurred during this process. The first occurred when I finally realized that being stable enough to taper did not mean, feeling great. For me it meant, being functional enough to make the bed, wash the dishes and stare at the TV. Later it meant, I could go for a walk, meet a friend and then start working a bit. I got confused for a while thinking that if I were stable, I would feel more upbeat but that was not what stable was for me. It was all about being functional enough to keep going in my taper. I used a scale from 1-10. If I was in the 5, 6, 7 range, which was uncomfortable but tolerable, I kept going. If I went to an 8 or 9, I held till I was back to a 6 or 7. Tracking this way helped me move forward and also allowed me to see if there were any patterns of when my cuts hit. The second occurred, during my final taper. I realized that I whenever I wanted to change something in my taper-the method, the rate, the brand-that it was me trying desperately to have some control over the process. This hurt me especially at the end of my Lamictal taper. I am very compassionate about it now and saw it was my attempt to feel more in charge of something I felt helpless about. I had to really fight that urge during my final year of tapering and it worked to my benefit. 6. Belief: You don’t have to believe you will heal to heal. I had a lot of despair and fear during my tapers and especially during my final benzo taper. I thought I was actually a depressed person and was unable to meditate, exercise or do anything that seemed to work for others (until the Psych-K work) and I still kept healing. I know now that it was hard for me to believe that I would feel good again because of the temporary brain injury and withdrawal. Now I know for sure I am not a depressed person and look forward to life. 7. Food: I lost my appetite at times and could not eat much for different periods. For the most part I ate cleanly, no sugar, alcohol, or caffeine during a majority of my taper. I was not perfect and did eat candy at times when that was what was going to get me through the next hour. I now drink a cup of coffee a day and am fine. I do eat healthy now about 95% of the time. I did put on 30lbs during the time I was taking Remeron/Mirtazapine and when I went off, I lost 25lbs in about 2 months without dieting. It was all medication weight. Choose what works for you, whether it’s plant based or keto-you get to decide. 8. Supplements: The only supplements I really take are Magnesium Glycinate, which I took on and off during my tapers. I take between 50-150 mgs at night to help me relax into sleep. I do drink an Adrenal Cocktail, 1/2 cup natural OJ, 1/4 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt and 1/4 tsp of creme of tartar to support my adrenals. I drink it now as needed but when I was in withdrawal and too revved up to relax at night, I drank it 2x a day at 10AM and 2PM. In about 10 days the hyper feeling subsided and I started to sleep better, which at that time was about 3 hours a night with many nights of little sleep. There are versions of this cocktail that use other liquids if you can't handle OJ. You can Google those recipes. 9. Exercise. I walked my dog during withdrawal but during the last part of my Lamictal/benzo withdrawal I did not exercise much due to the agoraphobia and weakness. I also tried exercising more vigorously after I stepped off the benzo, but it would cause mini waves. I went back to exercising at about 13 months off and can now handle dance classes and fitness classes. I’m out of share but optimistic I will get physically fit again. 10. Spirituality/Faith: I do believe I was transformed for the better by going through this. I felt pretty spiritually abandoned especially during benzo withdrawal but my spiritual beliefs were not so solid to begin with. That has changed over the past year. I also had to learn a hard lesson about how I was living my life pre-medication. My habit of giving too much and doing too much wore me down. Now after meds, I have to continue to keep an eye on that tendency though it is so much better. 11. COVID: I think I may have gotten Covid early on but was never tested. I had a very bad sore throat in the fall of 2020. It was so bad I took an antibiotic (which I could handle) and it cleared it up. I have been vaccinated 3 times and the first time I was vaccinated I was off benzos for 3 months. Aside from the usual reaction to a vaccine, aches, chills, etc, I was fine. I am someone who never got flu shots and don’t plan on getting them in the future but I knew a handful of people who got very sick with COVID including two who now have long COVID so I was willing to take the vaccine. What Remains: My sleep has gotten better though it is not where it was at pre-medication. However, I have gone from very light sleep, waking every hour or so to sleeping 6-7 hours a night and waking up between 2 or 3 times. Dropping off is still not as easy but I’m not wired or hyper. I just think I’m still low on something the brain and body produces to ease me into sleep. I also occasionally get some temperature fluctuations/hot flashes but am okay with them. When I first stepped off of Remeron/Mirtazapine, the sweat poured off of me at night and I was so drenched I had to get up and change. I was post-menopausal so I knew it was the medication. That’s it for now. As with anything I've mentioned above, please do your research and learn to trust your body's responses. The capacity for our brains and bodies to heal is real. I'm wishing everyone on this journey continued strength to keep going. Remember how courageous you are to take on this challenge. You will heal and have the life you want for yourself again. Hibari
  17. Free from Zoloft and Benzos After 25+ Years of Use One-year post taper “success story” – http://survivingantidepressants.org Elbee (male) - August 27, 2020 At the time of this success story post, I have passed the one-year mark (15+ months) living drug-free. I am speaking to you from “the other side” of hell to let you know I made it through the nightmare of psychiatric drug withdrawal -- and so can you. I want to start by saying that everyone’s withdrawal from psychiatric drugs is going to differ – no two paths are the same. While there will be commonalities in what we each experience, there will also be differences. I also believe that none of us are uniquely or irreparably “broken,” and that each of us can find a path to living much fuller, healthier lives in greater freedom. To be clear, I had doubts throughout this process . . . believing that somehow, I was MORE “broken,” and that I wouldn’t find my way out of the darkness. But the natural, innate healing power we each possess is profoundly AWESOME, and it quietly, patiently works in the background in each of our lives. . . even if we can’t see it, and even if we don’t trust it. For me, the psychiatric drug withdrawal / tapering process turned out to be an invitation to learn how to live my life differently. It became clear to me in this journey that I could never go back to some idealized place I vaguely imagined myself clinging to . . . I could only move forward to somewhere I had not yet been. I need to be honest: It is still hard to revisit and write about just how painful this drug withdrawal process was. Now that I’m feeling so much better, a part of me wants to forget the whole ordeal . . . as if looking in a rear-view mirror, driving ever-further away. And the reality is that this rear-view mirror perspective is very much real -- I’m SO grateful not to be suffocating in such intense pain anymore! But it is also true I will carry the scars of this experience with me for the rest of my life. It is clear to me now that some of me died through this drug withdrawal process. It is also true that the most precious parts of me came back to life. And I am still healing. I was very much disabled through the most intensive parts of the drug taper. I was on these psych drugs for panic attacks, anxiety, and depression my entire adult life, over 25 years. Additionally, I was drinking alcohol abusively, and relying on multiple pots of coffee and a pack of cigarettes to get me through each day. Even before I had decided to get off the meds, I was utterly exhausted most of the time, barely functional, and unconsciously stumbling through life like a zombie. I knew I had to fundamentally change how I was living. The first step in my detox efforts was to quit alcohol in April of 2014, 30 years after taking my first drink as a kid. Thankfully, I was able to release alcohol from my life relatively easily. Whatever boost alcohol had given me previously was gone, and it was clear to me as a 44 year old man that the devastating hangovers I experienced were getting more difficult. Then, over that following summer and under doctor supervision, I “tapered” entirely off both the Lorazepam and Zoloft that I had been taking for 24 years. I experienced tons of anxiety in the process, but I did it, and after the 4-month ordeal, I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately, about six weeks after taking my last dose of Zoloft, what I now know to be protracted withdrawal hit, and my life spun into a depth of hell that words cannot describe. Instead of re-instating the same drugs I had been taking, the doctors took me on an 8-month “trial-and-error” roller coaster ride of psychiatric drug experimentation. I finally ended up on higher doses of the drugs I had originally quit, plus Remeron added in for good measure. Through all of this, I landed in a very bad place – exhausted, functionally disabled, unable to work, and unsure what to do next. I had some savings in the bank I could live on for a few years, so I decided to “hole up” to do a new taper, following the much slower tapering protocol of the SurvivingAntidepressants.org website. But my savings were limited, so I used the 10% reduction protocol as a baseline, and pushed the taper as fast as I could without killing myself in the process. I’m not sure I would suggest this approach to anyone else, but in my situation, that’s what I did. Note: I’m going to refrain from listing out all the symptomatic horrors I experienced (there were many) as I write this success story. Here is the link, if you’re interested, to my introductory thread which details my four-year psychiatric drug withdrawal process: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/11862-%E2%98%BC-elbee-25-years-of-meds/ And I want to take a moment here to say how incredibly grateful I am to @Altostrata, @Shep @brassmonkey, @bubble, @apace41, @Gridley, @Rhiannon (her writings), @JanCarol, @KarenB, @ChessieCat, @Petunia, @scallywag and all the folks at SurvivingAntidepressants.org who helped save my life. I also came across Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic around the same time I found this site, and from these resources, I knew I had stumbled into truth. It became clear to me that so much of what the mainstream medical establishment had told me about these drugs, and about my so-called “chemical imbalance,” was false -- I had been lied to. SurvivingAntidepressants.org helped me anchor into this truth and set me on a new course. THANK YOU! With these new resources, I came to understand that getting off the drugs wasn’t just a simple matter of refraining from ingesting chemicals, or even about waiting for those chemicals to dissipate out of my body. I learned that my brain had restructured itself around the presence of the drugs all these years and that by removing the drugs, my brain would have to, very slowly, restructure itself again to a healthy state. The metaphor of a plant (my brain) growing on a trellis (the drugs) for support is so profound to me. How can I expect to abruptly rip out the trellis and think that it won’t damage the plant in devastating ways? This metaphor was such a clear illustration to me of how a neuroplastic human brain builds tolerance, and how we can so easily become entangled in the physiological mechanisms of addiction. And to be very clear, our brains develop tolerance to psychiatric drugs just like they do street drugs, and the mechanics of addiction and withdrawal in each are the same. Gaining this knowledge and allowing it to sink in was probably one of the most important early milestones in my healing process. In preparing for writing this success story, I re-read my entire introductory thread. Several pivotal posts stood out to me as other milestones in my healing process, and while this testimonial might go long, I think it could be useful to touch on some of them . . . In my very first post, I am already talking about the value of meditation. Sitting with myself quietly and focusing on my breath helped me slow down my mind and learn to relax. As I continued with the practice, though, I began experiencing periods of discomfort. I had initially taken the psychiatric drugs to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings, and as I practiced meditating space was again created for those feelings to arise. Learning to slowly sit with and tolerate whatever thoughts and feelings arose began to nullify my need to run away, and therefore, lesson my urge to drug the discomfort. Meditation became a cornerstone of my self-care practice, and self-care is what I ultimately found to replace the drugs. Next milestone -- about a year later, I wrote an entry about a decision I was struggling with on whether to consult with a renowned psychiatrist. A relative was able to get me an appointment for a psychiatric medication evaluation from a “leader in the field” (at the bargain price of $2,000). Looking back, it was then I decided I no longer believed in the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, nor the system that deals in them. I wrote: Next, in the summer of 2016, still early in my tapering and recovery process, I went on a 111-day, 9,000-mile solo road trip across the U.S. In retrospect, I was probably looking for something “out there” that was missing “in here.” I did a four-day vision fast in the wilderness, hiked a 14,000-foot mountain, roamed Death Valley, did a week-long silent meditation retreat, camped under redwoods, hiked numerous National Parks, etc. Was it really a good idea to take this pilgrimage in such a compromised state? I can’t say for sure, but it’s what I did, and I think it cracked through defenses that needed to open. In the Hoh Forest of Olympic National Park in Washington state, I experienced a release of emotions like I had never felt before. It was in that moment I finally realized that releasing stored emotional blockages could ease my anxiety: Another milestone: Upon returning home to Florida later that fall, I dove more deeply into my involvement with the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) 12-Step program. In conjunction with doing EMDR with a skilled, compassionate trauma therapist, ACA helped me crack through layers of protective childhood denial that I had carried into adulthood. Some people advise NOT deliberately digging into the unconscious too much while going through psychiatric drug withdrawal, but my path has been that of heavy digging. I accepted living in a disabled state for a period of time and felt that if I was going to get off these drugs, I needed to address what drove me to take them in the first place. By early summer of 2017, my commitment to this recovery approach had strengthened. Along with addressing the trauma associated with childhood family dysfunction, I opened another door . . . into the shame and terror I experienced hiding as a closeted young gay boy and gay teen. I had initially come out 25 years earlier at age 20 (the same time I started taking the psych drugs), but that was only part of my truth I was hiding. The secrets of my sexual orientation were built upon the secrets of having grown up in family dysfunction: Homophobia turned out to be compounding trauma, and I had been living in a closet within a closet. I had more inner work to do. Perhaps one of my most significant milestones was realizing how important it was for me to take the lead in my healing, and how easily I had deferred to the “expertise of authorities” in my life. By June of 2017, I had navigated my way off the benzos completely, and I recognized the importance of building an internal sense of trust – connecting with my more authentic self to discover a new inner compass. Despite appearing outwardly confident most of my life, inner trust was something I lacked. By allowing myself to fully feel, I had opened to recognizing my own authentic needs, to directly and respectfully communicating my needs, and to setting healthy limits and boundaries. By learning these important skills that I had missed earlier in life, I discovered greater internal trust with myself, and greater discernment in trusting others. By January of 2018, I had another important insight: I more fully recognized I was going through an internal chemical withdrawal process in addition to detoxing from the drugs I was ingesting. Behavioral (or process) compulsions and addictions all have physiological and neurological correlates, and I had been heavily “dosing” throughout my life using my own “internal drug store.” This realization profoundly shifted my perspective on my psychiatric drug withdrawal process, seeing it in a more comprehensive context. A lot of my recovery has involved working with an “inner critic” that had been driving me most of my life, born and sustained from a lack of unconditional love. Ironically, this harshness was so pervasive that I had never consciously known it was there. My inner critic constantly pushed me into the extremes of all-nothing thinking. Again, meditative practices more than anything helped me identify this was going on, and ACA reparenting (inner child work) has allowed me to soften it. By the end of 2018, I started discovering something that had evaded me my whole life – moderation, and a general sense of “OK-ness.” By April 2019, I had found a new pace in life to accompany my new inner compass, and I was nearing the full completion of my psychiatric drug taper. I was one-year benzo-free at this point, and at times, I was overwhelmed with heights of new sensations and emotions. I was feeling things I hadn’t experienced since I was a teenager because I had been drugged my entire adult life. It was overpowering in many ways, but I was so grateful to be “awakening” to a much more fully human life. On April 28, 2019, I was finally free from Zoloft, and my psychiatric drug taper was complete. I had found a way out of the darkness, and I had survived. I couldn’t remember having ever felt so alive. So, while this isn’t my entire recovery story, I’m fulfilling my promise to report back and share my continuing journey with others. Where do things stand today, 15 months after taking a psychiatric drug for the last time ever? No need to panic. I’m not experiencing depersonalization, derealization (DP/DR), or panic attacks in frightening ways. I do still feel what I might call different states of consciousness, but often there is a positive, expansive quality to these experiences. Perhaps some might call this bliss? I haven’t really found ways to talk about it yet clearly, but I don’t experience panic attacks in the ways I used to. I still have fears of them returning, but less so with time. I also get “eerie” feelings now and again, but I have found ways to work with that when it happens, and it doesn’t usually last long. Scariest weirdness has ceased. Most of the “unexplainable” adverse reactions I experienced don’t happen anymore. I would get terrible flu-like symptoms for days at a time . . . hot flashes and chills, body aches, cramps, twitches, headaches, fogginess and disorientation, exhaustion, etc. Sometimes my heart would start racing for no apparent reason, or I would have trouble breathing. I had chronic digestion issues. I had intense agoraphobia, even paranoia at times. I had problems making the simplest decisions. All of this, for the most part, has subsided. Consistent rest. My sleep has changed dramatically, and I’m so grateful. I have struggled with sleep my entire life . . . unable to fall asleep at night and feeling anxious and “hungover” with crippling anxiety each morning. For as long as I can remember, I wanted nothing more than to sleep “normally” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and wake-up feeling well-rested. Today, more times than not, my sleep resembles very much what I used to wish for. I wrote an entry summarizing what I’ve done to address my sleep issues here. Keep gently working with triggers. I still have intense anxiety at times and find myself in hypervigilant states. I’ve come to understand this as a trauma response, and I can usually identify what has triggered me and/or how my inner critic has become activated. I’ve developed self-care routines that help to reduce these reactions, and that help me come out of this state much more quickly and easily. Some old wounds have healed permanently – some things that used to trigger me no longer do. AND I want to emphasize there are days now, thankfully, I live virtually anxiety-free. Self-care (reparenting) is my new drug. I had SO much resistance to doing self-care my whole life (for many reasons I won’t get into here). And by self-care, I don’t mean treating myself to a spa day (though that probably doesn’t hurt). I mean the day-in and day-out routines of physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually tending to myself like I’m the most precious being in the world. Self-care is what got me to where I am today, and it will be the practice of my lifetime. Don’t overdo it. As my life continues to get fuller, I can easily start “checking-out” again. If I stay dissociated for too long, I will pay for it. If I overcommit while on autopilot, I will have adverse reactions when I reconnect with myself. If I try to shortcut too much on the self-care, I will most definitely feel it, and I will struggle. Moving forward, I have to be very careful not to take on too much too quickly, and simply take next best steps. The worst is over. I’ve come to accept that I will never know how much of the excruciating symptoms I experienced these past years were due directly to the psychiatric drug withdrawal, versus how much was due to all the “inner work” I was doing. What I can say is that the symptoms from folks going through psychiatric drug withdrawal and folks doing inner transformative (trauma) work tend to be very much the same. It’s uncanny really, and I can’t explain it. But these two processes seem to very much mirror each other. What I can say is that while there will still be “windows and waves” as my brain keeps healing, and while I still have more “inner work” to do, I’m confident the heaviest lifting for me is done now. Perhaps most indicative of the healing I’ve experienced, I’m feeling well enough now that I’m back in school earning a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) – I’m going to become a therapist. While I’m a bit uneasy stepping towards healthcare systems that betrayed me so deeply, I also feel this is how I can be of most benefit. I’ve come to fully believe that my wounds are intrinsically linked to my gifts, and as I continue to heal my wounds, my gifts will become increasingly available. I’ve been doing volunteer work for some time now, which has helped me to “move back out into the world,” and I hope to transition into paid work soon. I’ve been meeting with people in support capacities, and I envision “coaching” people at some point until I more formally earn my credentials. I plan to be very open about my history with psychiatric drugs, as well as my recovery process. I journaled extensively all throughout my recovery process, and perhaps I will share the “long version” of my story in the future (yes, this is the short version). For now, writing this success story is an important next step in my “coming out.” Thank you for witnessing my healing. Elbee-Success-Story_Free from Zoloft and Benzos After 25 years on them.pdf
  18. Hi, Ive been taking Antidepressants since January 2016(I was 22 then, 25 now), when i had hard time focussing at work & broke down in office in front of everyone, out of nowhere. The symptoms although had been showing up since 2013, when I started feeling vague, blank & angry,frustrated. I also started having panic attacks (2 times) in august & october, 2015. Most bad thing about depression is lack of confidence, ability to make firm decisions about academics ,job. Constant body aches have also worsened my mood, function. My limbs ache a lot; Ive gradually given up on physical activities, jogging, playing soccer,cricket,etc..these days i force myself to gym thrice a week, cause i had put on a lot last year. I grew up in a clumsy, difficult family , I grew up watching quarrels,skirmishes between my parents & was always very sensitive..Kind of people pleaser, not offending but also very harsh on myself kind of person. My first psychiatrist(Jan,2016-June,2018 ) : He started me with sensival 25 mg (Nortriptyline), and later added on escitalopram in the mornings. There were other drugs too, for brief periods like miratazapine,etc.. Mood would improve/boost, i would function well for about a few weeks, & then would crash down. sensival 25 mg (Nortriptyline) is something that was constant throughout that period. I soon realized it's something more than antidepressants that i should be looking for, something holistic to solve the problrems that i had in personal family life, my nature, my worklife, etc...Medicines seemed to hit a plateau, but my doctor wouldnt listen to my continual requests to wean off. Only when i developed serious constipation, weight gain(12 kgs in 8 months..also abruptly gave up my job due to fatigue,lack of direction ) that i decided to switch my doctor. My second psychiatrist (June 2018 - present ) : Constipation did ease, my new doctor is more willing to lend an ear..Alprazolam 0.25 in the morning &{ Escitalopram (5 mg) + Clonazepam (0.5 mg)} is something that ive been taking since... But confidence, work issues still persist, I also started to work with my dad around the same period to present day. it's very stressful, demanding on my dad's part, but this atleast is keeping me moving, pass my life, however miserable, painful it is. I also cocooned at home for 3 months before reluctantly joining him at work. It's a blue collar job at a paint shop, wherein im required to match paints, deal with diff customers(throat dries up in fear,anxiety). in stark contrast to the desk job that i had prior to this, im now standing for 7-8 hours a day, experiencing wrenching fatigue when i get back home. My life feels very poor, miserable. Ive never seriously contemplated suicide, despite wanting to when in ruins(wincing bodily pain, scolded upon)! I get to work with iso-cyanide containing accelerators at my shop, that could painlessly kill me in milliseconds (As lab people claim.), but ive always collected myself into believing that my life could turnaround for the better. Fast forward, feb 2019, i decided to also take up homeopathy treatment for my problems, slowly my homeopath asked me to give up(cold turkey, 4-5 weeks on, now) alprazolam 0.25 in the morning, as my mood improved. I witnessed increase in pain, twitching, weight loss(something i like), upon giving up alprazolam 0.25, psychytrist says i must put up with this pain, & ill soon get used to it(Good & frank on his part, most psychiatrists never want you to wean off)... Meanwhile, with my homeopath it's work in progress, & down the line, when my cold turkey symptoms normalize, Ill also think about giving up my evening dose of { Escitalopram (5 mg) + Clonazepam (0.5 mg)}, slowly tapering this time... My increased sleep, due to fatigue is something that i must overcome to become a regular at work. This forum, has given me immense hope & ideas about how people like me are dealing with their stuff. Like 10 % tapering rule, success stories by hope2heal, etc.. are heartening to read. I wish to thrive and function normally in life, rather than just miserably slogging,surviving that i have been doing now. Thank & Cheers, entcian24 Mumbai, India.
  19. Moderator's note: link to benzo thread - Rabe: questions re how ro navigate clonazepam, viibryd, and amiloride Hi, I am new on the site having been so impressed with the knowledge and personal experience that I have read as I continue my journey of tapering psychiatric medications. I have been on Clonazepam for many years for a severe panic disorder with agoraphobia and had no problems with it until I moved, had surgery, was exposed to environmental toxins and my doctor doubled the dose. I broke out in a weeping rash and was so very ill. I tried tapering on my own and became very very ill, lost weight, muscle and fat and was extremely depressed. My children brought me to a treatment center to get help with the tapering but instead I was put on an antidepressant. I am now finding myself tapering the Clonazepam and the Viibryd with a doctors help, but his knowledge seems quite limited. We did taper the Viibryd to 10mg in the spring and it was not too bad. I tried tapering by about 10% now and had horrible HA, nightmares, depression, stomach upset, agitation, anxiety, headache, electrical feelings in my head, weakness... I saw the doctor today and he would like to split the dose to 5 in AM and 5 in PM to help in tapering. My concern is that I take Premarin and the larger Clonazepam dose at night and I am concerned about having to eat that late d/t GERD, about less anxiety coverage during the day as well as the sleepiness from both the Viibryd and Clonazepam together at night. I was wanting to get any thoughts or experience on this if possible. Thank you so very much. This has been such an overwhelming and physically and mentally draining experience with little support for almost 2 years. I am grateful to be here!
  20. Matt Samet's book about his ordeal, Death Grip, will be published in February by St. Martin's Press. At 7 years, he is fully recovered. See his article http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/12/the-other-side/
  21. Hi! First of all apologize for my english, it’s not my native language. I’m a 35 year old male and I’ve been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression when I was 21. Since that moment I took so many different antidepressants that I can’t even remember all their names. Until I was 30 years old I took mainly Lyrica (Pregabalin) and Entact (Escitalopram) and I never experienced any sexual collateral symptoms from them. When I was 30 years old a traumatic event changed my life (the girlfiend I had since I was 22 left me) and those meds were no longer effective to treat my anxiety and depression. Since that moment I changed a lot of different types of antidepressants (and also some antipsychotics) without any sexual problem. The one who worked better for me was Anafranil (Clomipramine) 25 mg. I started taking it 2 and a half years ago in combination with Lantanon (Mianserin) 15 mg and Rivotril (Clonazepam) 3 drops each day. I have to admit that they worked great for my symptoms, I was feeling very well. I started taking them in May 2019 and after some months I started suffering from anorgasmia. My psychiatrist assured me it was a temporary effect of Anafranil. During the following year and a half I was single, so not sexually active. Anyway I noticed a progressive decrease in libido but I didn’t give too much importance to this problem (my bad). I also replaced Mianserin with Trazodone for a couple of months because for a certain period it was difficult to find it in my country. 5 months ago I had the first occasions to have sex in 1 and a half year and was in that moment that I truly realized how my libido has been destroyed by the meds. I tried to have sex in 3 different occasions but failed miserably every time. Since that moment I can’t achieve a full and stable erection without Cialis (but it doesn’t work all the time) even during masturbation. I immediately told to my psychiatrist about the situation and he told me that Anafranil could do that but it was reversible. So I stopped taking Anafranil in October 2021 and I started taking Buspirone, since he said it has always worked to resolve those side effects of tricyclic antidepressants.I took only Buspirone for 3 weeks but without any significant improvements. So I decided to go to an andrologist, who prescribed me a “rehabilitation therapy” with cialis 5 mg 3 times a week for a month (ormonal values are normal). In his opinion my impotence was caused by a mixture of organic and psychological factors. At this point I started panicking. I went back to my psychiatrist and I explained him the situation and told him I was afraid i got PSSD. He told me that there isn’t any scientific evidence of PSSD and that it is all in my head. In his opinion i developed an obsession for the sexual dysfunctions I had when I was taking Anafranil and now some psychological dynamics cause the dysfunctions to persist after discontinuation. He prescribed me another SSRI (Fluvoxamine) in order to get rid of this obsession. I told him I was too afraid to take it because I’m worried it could worsen my symptoms but he answered me there isn’t any risk. I went to another andrologist two months ago who prescribed me 3 months of Cialis Daily (5 mg) and one month of complete abstinence from porn and masturbation (???). The abstinence improves the situation a little bit and Cialis daily almost resolved the ED but I’m afraid to develop tachyphylaxis taking it every day. I found a new psychiatrist who believes me and recognize PSSD. She told me that there’s no cure and the only thing I can do is to avoid SSRI and wait. Two months ago I started to do cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce the distress caused by the situation, which helps me a little bit. At the moment I’m taking only 1 drop (0.1 mg) or Rivotril (Clonazepam) any other day to contain the severe anxiety caused by this condition. Since I stopped Anafranil I don’t suffer of anorgasmia anymore but my libido is still very low and I have pretty severe ED along with a strong anhedonia and cognitive dysfunction (sh*tty memory, can’t focus etc..) Right now because of this situation i suffer from extreme anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts every day. Anyway I try to stay phisically active (I run 1/2 times a week) and to spend time with my friends to get some relief from this mental torture but I can’t open up with them because I’m ashamed of the condition I put myself into. Since I also have traits of OCD I’m worried that psychogenic factors could play a huge role in my situation, preventing me to feel any possibile improvements.
  22. marsha-preparing-for-my-librium-taper Hi. I hope I'm in the right place because antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants and benzodiazepines have caused permanent brain damage and I have trouble navigating on this sight. Is it possible to taper off geodon before gabapentin? I have read in the Road Back Program that I must taper off gabapentin and clonazepam before I can finish tapering off geodon. I am terrified of antipsychotic drugs. I want to get off it after I finish tapering off clonazepam. I successfully completed tapering off trazodone and propranolol and have tapered the clonazepam to 1 mg and have tapered the geodon down to 80 mgs. I was misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia and now am working with a team of doctors to taper me slowly off the drugs that robbed me of my memory and pleasure and motivation. I am desperate to get off these terrible drugs. Especially the clonazepam and geodon. I'm tapering off slowly the clonazepam right now. I have read that if you taper off geodon before gabapentin and clonazepam it increases the clearance time of clonazepam and gabapentin by as much as 50% causing you to go into clonazepam and gabapentin withdrawal even without lowering the dosage of the clonazepam and gabapentin. However, I have also read in the book "Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal" by Peter breggin md that you should make it a priority to get off the antipsychotic drug first especially if you are non psychotic. My doctor thinks I can just stop taking the geodon but I know that is wrong. I appreciate any help you can give me.
  23. Took a lot of antidepressants during 2015 for anxiety. The last one was paroxetine, which induced a hypomania, according to doc (was more like an extreme irritability).After that, I started my treatment for "bipolar 2" with lots of medication failures due to extreme side effects (I'm too sensitive to this kind of drug) . The only drug my body kind of "accepted" was quetiapine xr 50 mg.In april 2021 doc made a mistake and gave me the wrong pills with a dosage of 300mg! Started having adrenaline rushes and heart issues. The pills (at least in my country) look the same! I realized only after 17 days, went back to 50 mg but developed what I recently discovered was a severe 3 months withdrawal. The doctor, to "manage" the withdrawal (although he never said was withdrawal, he said it was anxiety and panic), put me on 25mg of amisulpride, 1.25mg of olanzapine and 1mg of clonazepam (couldn't tolerate more than these). After 1 month of clonazepam, doc started a "taper" reducing 1 drop per week (in my country, clonazepam has this liquid formulation). After I completely stopped the clonazepam I entered on a terrible withdrawal, the doctor said it was normal and suggested increasing olanzapine to 2.5 mg. Took only one week and went down to 1.25mg again.Found another doc who said I'm not bipolar and probably have some anger issues and general anxiety, but manageable through therapy. He said the meds made all the bad stuff I've been feeling during the last 6 years. Proposed to taper all meds during a long time, but since I'm too bad (feeling very tired) and the last drug was olanzapine (which he told me is a terrible and dangerous drug) and is in the same class as the others, he proposed try to be a "little" fast (not so little cuts every 4 weeks) because he thought my tiredness was from that. Went from 1.25mg (1/2 a pill) to 0.9325mg (3/8th a pill) and it was good. Then went from 0.9325mg to 0.625mg (1/4th a pill) and had only some tremors during 3 hours on two days. When I went from 0.625mg to 0.3125mg(1/8th a pill) I felt very bad for two days with extreme anxiety, insomnia and nausea, then I started slowly improving. Now it's one and a half weeks past and I feel a bit tired and have some chest pressure. Doc said to wait two months to make any changes in medications. So, what's next? Since I'm at this low dosage should I taper more? At what dosage should I jump off from olanzapine? I bought a digital scale and the 1/8th a pill weighs 12mg. So I can do the 10% rule for 3 months until I hit the 9 mg of pill weight (0,2344 a dosage). After that the decrements will be 1mg, more than 10%. In this extreme case is it acceptable?
  24. Quilter1011

    Quilter1011

    Hello all! I'm popping over from the Lyrica Survivors group on FB, that's taking a bit of a pause. I am happy to report that I'm almost finished getting off 4 meds over the course of about 4 yrs! Lyrica is my last one and I should be done next week after a 14 mth long taper. Before that, it took me about 18 mths to taper off a benzo. And before that, I came off Gabapentin and Flexeril. It's been such a long road with all the ups and downs of withdrawal symptoms. It's been a very emotional journey. I will work on my signature but need to figure out all the dates. Thanks for the inclusion.
  25. Hi I’m new to this site. I’ve learned so much from this forum already. I had a brief bout with Clonazepan late 2019 and in ignorance CT’d. Tgat led me to glee to a BC Recovery Centre who put me into Nozinan (anti psychotic) abd Gabapentin to help deal with massive Benzo withdrawal. They stabilized me but said zero about coming off the drugs they gave me. I FT’d the Anti Psychitic on the advice of my doctor. Hell ensued. Extreme nerve pain in my teeth. Psychiatrist at leading mental hospital suggested a ramp up on my Gabapentin (I was at 100mg). I went to 1200mg but it did not help my mouth pain so I dropped 600mg in 4 weeks. All approved by my MD. I’m now suffering big time and waiting to stabilize before I resume my taper of 5-10% every 4 or 6 weeks. I expect to taper to about 200 or 300mg before jumping off (usual jump off point for Gabapentin). feeling impatient to get on with it. I’m now completely disillusioned with the doctors and recovery “experts” who seem to fumbled so much in trying to help me. I’m utterly shocked at the level of ignorance. The amount of suffering is indescribable but done doctors just roll their eyes at me now. Never felt more alone in my life until I discovered this site and the Gabapentin Awareness FB page..... anyone relate?
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