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  1. Kristine

    Kristine: not alone

    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.
  2. Hi, all. Thank you so much for providing this site. I’ve been inspired by the stories here, and look forward to my own recovery and hope to help others as I can along the way. It’s been a hellish year… I have a rather long story – 99% of which takes place within the last year – so please bear with me. I’ll write this out in a timeline for organization’s sake. In essence, I have a history of anxiety and depression, and have OCD. I have been suffering from severe postpartum anxiety (PPA) and depression (PPD) since delivering my son in May 2018 – exacerbated by a move out East so I could start my PhD, the decline and death of my dog, dealing with childhood trauma, etc. I was on Prozac and Xanax as needed before I was pregnant and went off without any problems while we were trying to conceive. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy. Here we go… 1999ish – 2005 (6th grade – high school) (Zoloft, Lexapro, Wellbutrin) I was diagnosed with severe academic perfectionism and OCD and put on (I think) Zoloft first (not sure of dosage). In the years that followed, I was on Lexapro and Wellbutrin, all in various combinations. I don’t remember timing or dosages. I don’t remember having a hard time coming on or off any of the meds. I was chronically ill in high school, though, with fatigue, mono, sinusitis, shingles (to be fair, I had immunological issues before going on meds, too, and a complicated family situation). I took the year after high school off to recover, went off all meds. All I remember is feeling tired and my sleep being on a weird schedule. 2005 – 2009 (no meds) I started taking some community college classes, started volunteering, and then working full-time. Started paying more attention to my diet (went off gluten and most dairy after I realized it made me feel better). Was doing very, very well. Summer 2009 – Summer 2017 (40 mg Prozac daily, ? Xanax PRN rarely taken; occasional supplements - multi vitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, probiotics) Started on 40mg Prozac (slow taper to START it), as a ‘preventative’ measure against OCD and perfectionism (I know… probably wasn’t necessary, but I can’t prove a negative) as I was about to start at a university in the fall of 2009; I was pushed by family (also on psych meds) to start. I think it helped somewhat but it’s hard to know. Eventually, I had an Rx of Xanax, which I took maybe 5-10x/year as needed. I did well in college, though, started a great career, went to the UK on scholarship to do my Master’s and then decided to QUICKLY taper off the Prozac when my husband and I (we married in 2014) decided to conceive. I don’t remember having any issues coming off the Prozac. I was on it fairly consistently for 8 years. Summer 2017 – May 2018 (no meds; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) Pregnant, more depressed than usual, especially after moving back home from the UK and being unsure of what was next. Still, did the damn GRE, applied to PhD programs, got into a great program out East, started setting up our life out there. Obsessive compulsive symptoms were worse than usual but not unmanageable. Late May 2018 (no meds; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) Delivered my son. Epidural, long labor. Started breastfeeding. Early June 2018 (no meds; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) Had a week of awful insomnia and anxiety and intrusive thoughts, but it went away. Early June – Mid-July (no meds; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) Doing okay, just exhausted and depressed (I was breastfeeding around the clock). One week in mid-July 2018 (? Xanax, one-time dosage ~6mg Zoloft, and one-time dosage 2mg Ativan, one-time dosage ? Klonopin in hospital; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) Then, at around 7 postpartum weeks - BAM - I was hit with a week of NO SLEEP. I just couldn't sleep and I lost my appetite. I had been given an Rx for Zoloft by my OBGyn and took a very small amount that Friday (I wanted to ease in). That night, all my symptoms were much worse – and I also felt this severe restlessness in my limbs. It was AWFUL. I even tried Xanax to calm me down (I gave to my son pumped breastmilk). My anxiety was so bad that I went to the ER that Sunday. They drew blood and it turned out that my blood sodium was dangerously low (126) - possibly due to not eating enough and drinking too much water. They gave me Ativan (2 mg – which was A LOT for my system), some Klonopin, too, eventually, and fluids overnight and I felt MUCH better the next day. I was given Ativan and Remeron as needed but didn't need to take it for a few weeks. Mid-July to Late Aug 2018 (0.5 – 1mg Ativan daily; supplements: prenatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil) I was fine for a few weeks, and then my family and I moved out East, where I was attending grad school (I’m now on medical leave). The anxiety and insomnia came back around the move in August. I took Ativan (0.5 – 1 mg) as needed each day and had some rebound anxiety but was able to get through until setting up care there. I was assigned an interim psychiatrist (before being placed with a regular one), who Rxed me 0.5 Ativan to take at night to sleep for 10 days. This worked for sleep, but not the overall anxiety and depression. Due to breastfeeding concerns, they switched me to Trazodone (25-50 mg), which worked ok for sleep. Eventually, I was able to fall asleep on my own for a couple/few nights. That would be the last time I could do that to-date. Late Aug to Late Sept 2018 (0.5 – 1mg Ativan daily, 1-5mg Prozac, 25-50 mg Trazodone; supplements: postnatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, started taking some B complex, probiotics?) I started seeing a regular psychiatrist in early September, and we agreed I should go back on the Prozac with 1 mg Ativan/day as needed. We started sloooow on the Prozac - 1mg, then 2, then 5. By week 3, I had lost my appetite completely, and my anxiety was through the roof - just on 5mg (I was on 40 before becoming pregnant, so I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so terribly). The Trazodone was no longer helping me sleep, and was giving me terrible dry mouth. My limbs felt like they were vibrating. My psydoc FINALLY directed me to go off the Prozac and Ativan, and Rxed me just Klonopin 0.75mg/day. In addition to the psychiatrist, I saw a primary care doc, who checked my thyroid, adrenal glands (several tests there), vitamin levels, and other things - all normal. My blood sodium has still been a little low, but they believe it's due to not eating enough. Oct 2018 (Klonopin 0.25 – 0.75mg/day; postnatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, started taking some B complex, I might have tried some hormone-balancing herbs – I don’t remember exactly, probiotics?) My appetite returned but it was never the same. I was sleeping better, but not well – maybe 6 hours at most, sometimes waking in a panic. I could only take one class. I was very depressed and frustrated, and deeply confused as to why I wasn’t responding to medications. But I felt BETTER than when I was on the Prozac, and was able to feel like I could sleep on my own again, and on just 0.25mg Klonopin/day – but the plan was to let me ‘settle’ and then try a new AD, sooo… Nov 2-4 2018 (25mg Anafranil at night, 0.25-0.5mg Klonopin/day; postnatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, started taking some B complex, I might have tried some hormone-balancing herbs – I don’t remember exactly, probiotics?) The psydoc suggested Anafranil, a TCA. The day I started it, we put my dog down and I stopped breastfeeding (I had been tapering on that for months). It wasn’t a great time to start something. But I did. I took it the night of the 2nd, fell asleep instantly, then woke up feeling SO GOD AWFUL about 3 hours later. I had a tremor, I vomited, I couldn’t eat. My husband had to hold me while I shook in bed. I called the psydoc and she told me to keep taking it, sounding annoyed with me. So I pushed through for three days – but that was all I could do. Until then, that was the worst I have ever felt. Nothing could calm me down. Things start heating up here, so I’ll spare some details and focus more on the med changes… Nov 5-8 2018 I barely remember these days. Sleep was poor, I felt awful. Then on a Thursday night, I was up all night with panic attacks. I called my therapist and made the decision to go into the psych hospital. Nov 9 – 15 2018 (In hospital, put on 0.5mg Klonopin 2x/day and worked up to 100 mg Seroquel at night) I didn’t start sleeping until I was put on a combination of Seroquel and Klonopin. BUT, I remember this creeping feeling of “buzziness” and restlessness when I woke up everyday. That feeling would continue to get worse over the coming weeks and stay with me to the present. Nov 15 – Early Dec 2018 (0.5mg Klonopin 2x/day → 0.25mg Klonopin 2x/day; 100mg Seroquel at night; some supplements – don’t remember) I left the hospital taking 100mg Seroquel at night and 0.5 mg klonopin 2x/day. I officially went on medical leave from grad school. I stuck with this doseage for 2ish weeks, was sleeping well but feeling horribly depressed and anxious, then started to quickly taper the Klonopin. I don’t remember how quickly – but I wasn’t taking anymore than 0.5mg/day by early December. I then tapered on the Seroquel after feeling SO much worse when an IOP psydoc tried bumping the dose to 125mg; I remember not being able to sit still – going outside to pace. No tremor – just pacing, fidgeting, and losing a lot of weight. Early December 2018 – Early Jan 2019 (1mg Ativan at night, 2.5mg Zyprexa at night, 25-100mg Lamictal; postnatal vitamin, 800 mg folic acid, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, started taking some B complex, I might have tried some hormone-balancing herbs – I don’t remember exactly, probiotics?) I made the decision to move back home to do a program specialized in PPD (we ended by moving back entirely later that winter). In the program, I was put on 0.5-1mg Ativan at night, 2.5 mg Zyprexa at night (for sleep – though it never helped), and titrated up to 100mg Lamictal (the psydoc suspected a bipolar spectrum diagnosis). I was still incredibly restless, unable to sit down and just enjoy a movie. And my sleep was growing worse and worse. It was awful – then my mood grew worse and worse as we went up on the Lamictal; I also had increasingly bad tinnitus and TMJ. I was hospitalized as my thinking became suicidal – just ideations, but I was ready to go back in… Early to Mid-Jan 2019 (0.5mg Klonopin 2x/day, 5mg Paxil/day, 50mg Benadryl at night; 0.25-1mg Risperidone 1-2x/day; some supplements?; THEN back to 150mg Seroquel) In the hospital, I was taken off the Lamictal and put on 5mg Paxil once/day, 0.5 mg Klonopin 2x/day, Benadryl 50mg at night (for sleep), and Risperidone 0.25mg once or twice a day (I don’t remember). I became increasingly orthostatic (low BP, high HR). I stabilized mood-wise – sorta – and left the hospital feeling off, but better… Within days, though, we tried increasing the Risperidone, and my HR went up to 140 (I think we tried 1 mg). I wasn’t sleeping AT ALL. I was taken off the Risperidone, stayed on 5mg Paxil once/day, 0.5 mg Klonopin 2x/day, Benadryl 50mg at night (for sleep). Eventually, as my sleep diminished, the PPD IOP doc put me back on Seroquel (I has actually asked to go back on) – but suggested as much as 150mg. After that, my mood really shifted and became erratic; I was really upset and angry at my husband and suicidal ideation returned. So it was suggested I go back in the hospital... Late Jan to Mid-Feb 2019: 3-week hospital stay (see below for crazy med changes) All the docs agreed I didn’t need to be in there this long (everyone kept asking why I was still there), but there I was so they could keep throwing stuff at me to see if something stuck. I was holding out hope SOMETHING would work this time...: First week: 0.5 mg Klonopin 2x/day, 100 mg Seroquel at night, 300mg XR lithium 2x/day (HORRIBLE stomach reaction, especially when the doc abruptly pulled the Seroquel) Second week: 0.5 mg Klonopin 2x/day, 50mg Seroquel at night, some amount of Depakote (I don’t remember – wasn’t improving, irritable), tried PRNs of 12.5mg Seroquel and became really depressed Third week: 1 mg Klonopin 2x/day, 50mg Seroquel at night, 1200mg gabapentin (taken as 300mg twice during the day, and 600mg at night). That’s how I left the hospital. Mid-Feb to Early-March 2019: (0.75mg Klonopin 2x/day, 50mg Seroquel at night, 300mg Gabapentin 2x daytime and 600mg at night, brief re-trial of lithium – 150mg; multivitamin, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, 1200mg evening primrose oil, probiotics?) Instantly went down to 0.75mg Klonopin 2x/day (fear of dependence). New trauma-based IOP. Was very constipated. Tried low-dose lithium (150mg) as lithium seemed to be the only med to be helping to-date (along with benzos); was improving somewhat mood-wise, but the stomach issues were SO bad, so we went off. After going off lithium, my restlessness SKYROCKETED, and was particularly bad for 10 days. My stomach was AWFUL; I was taking antacids all the time; seemed to be worse after taking gabapentin, so the new IOP doc cut THAT dosage in half. Developed a tremor. The new IOP psydoc diagnosed me with akathisia – FINALLY. I had NEVER heard of that before (although, in retrospect, I think it has been mentioned to me in the hospital as a possible side-effect of the antipsychotics – but I remember them saying “you can get this, but I don’t see that in you, so…” and so I ignored it (dumb)). When I read about it, I felt so frustrated; this had, no doubt, been plaguing me since at least the one-time Zoloft attempt in July - and in particular since the first Seroquel doseage in November. Doc suggested I reduce my Seroquel from 50 to 25mg; I couldn’t do that for a couple of weeks. Early to Mid-March (→0.25mg Klonopin during day and 0.5-0.75mg/night, 25mg Seroquel at night, 200mg Gabapentin 2x daytime and 300mg at night, brief re-trial of Depakote – don’t remember dosage; multivitamin, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, 1200mg evening primrose oil, probiotics) Continue reducing my Klonopin down to 0.25mg during the day and 0.5mg at night. We tried XR Depakote as a Hail Mary in the med department. It seemed to help a bit, but also increased some of the restlessness. At this point – and this should have come sooner for me – I was done – just DONE– with med changes. My body needed a break. I haven’t added or taken away and particular meds since (with one exception - the propranolol, see below) – though I have reduced the dosages… Early April (0.25mg Klonopin during day and 0.5-0.75mg/night, 25mg Seroquel at night, 200mg Gabapentin 2x daytime and 300mg at night, up to 70mg propranolol throughout the day; multivitamin, 1,000-2,000 mg vitamin D, ? fish oil, 1200mg evening primrose oil, probiotics) Was diagnosed with thyroiditis (my thyroid had been normal as recently as January) – a relatively common thing postpartum, but it was ‘late’ to arrive to be postpartum thyroiditis, so doctors suspected the lithium. B/c I was hyperthyroid first (usually follows a pattern of a few months in 'hyper'/overactive mode, followed by anywhere from 3 to 18 (or more) months underactive. I was put on propranolol (taking as much as 70mg throughout the day). That seemed to help the tremor, heart palpitations, and restlessness maybe 50-75% of the time. But it crashed my BP. Early-April to Present (see below) We’ve moved into a new, stable house (both good and really stressful). As of early June, I am off the Seroquel. I tapered from 25 to 0mg by reducing by about 6.25mg every two weeks or so. I tried re-starting it to do an every-other-day ending taper, and felt instantly WORSE, so I am done. But it was probably too quick a taper. I NEVER want to take another antipsychotic again, though; I can point to the beginning of the worst parts of this whole cluster to starting Seroquel, and the akathisia that ensues and continues. I reduced the daytime Klonopin to 0 (though I’ve had to take a 0.0625mg to 0.125mg PRN three times in June as things have grown worse). I still take 0.5mg Klonopin at night. In June, I also went off the propranolol – too quickly – and have been having heart palpitations, and have been orthostatic. My BP was just getting to be so, so low. Now, taking any amount of it seems to make me more agitated/restless or, at best, woozy. In June, I also got ambitious and reduced the gabapentin from taking 400 mg during the day (200mg 2x/day) to 0 at the end of June, mostly b/c I thought it was making me feel worse; I’m not sure on this STILL (or if it ever did much of anything). I still take 300mg at night with 0.5 mg Klonopin. May was my best month - not great (I was still constantly restless, struggled with my appetite, and was really disoriented and depressed), but it felt more manageable. I should have done a slower taper on all things when I felt more stable, then – but here I am. June started out okay but, after going off the Seroquel and trying a glass of wine again (out with a friend), it’s been awful; the akathisia is back in full swing. NOW I seem to have reached this point where my body won’t tolerate much of anything again – as if it’s saying “if you’re done with one, then you’re going to be done with them ALL.” I’ve also noticed that the first half of my menstrual cycle is FAR AND AWAY WORSE than the latter half – and am trying to explore ways to (as naturally as possible) balance my hormones. I tried bioidentical progesterone cream that an integrative MD Rxed and it helped somewhat, but caused cramping and spotting and an upset stomach – no go. Currently Taking 0 – 200mg gabapentin during the day; 300mg gabapentin at night 0.5mg Klonopin at night 5mg melatonin (+10mg B6 – combo pill) at night Fish oil (1400mg EPA + 480 DHA) in morning and afternoon 1500mg primrose oil morning and afternoon 200-400mg magnesium glycinate at night, and magnesium oxide throughout day 2000mg vitamin D afternoon Cal+Mag+Potassium supplement afternoon 2 kinds of probiotics morning Multivitamin morning What Makes Things Worse Alcohol; I haven’t been able to tolerate this since sometime early spring – makes me SUPER anxious. Any antihistamine; it used to help me sleep but something in the last 2-4 months has changed my brain so I now feel WORSE the next morning. Some vitamins (I say that b/c I sometimes feel more buzzy after taking a multivitamin; on the other hand, sometimes I feel better) Caffeine (not that I’ve tested this too much; the most I ever drink is a cup of green tea, and I haven’t been able to do that in weeks) Antacids (found that out the hard way) What Helps Epsom salt baths Sweating Crying (when I am able to) Walking (especially in sunshine) Melatonin (at night – for sleep) Klonopin (but I am trying not to go over 0.5mg/day – mostly at night; and want to taper off) Massage Stretching Kombucha (not too much, though b/c caffeine) Apple cider vinegar + lemon water (ahead of meals and when I have an upset stomach – at east once/day) Eating enough (really tough to do right now) Not Sure if it Helps (tried/trying it) Acupuncture (doing this for a few months now) Therapy – CBT, talk Gabapentin (want to taper off anyway) Primrose oil Multivitamin Fish oil Magnesium Calcium CBD oil What I Need Help With I’m here b/c I need to feel like I’m not crazy when the psydoc says this isn’t still akathisia. I KNOW it is – I KNOW it’s protracted withdrawal and the effect of such a brain-altering year. I know this b/c, even in my most anxious moments pre-postpartum medications, I never felt this protracted insatiable restlessness and dread. I was a champ at sleeping (though a night owl). And my appetite was always solid (too much so, at times). This is DIFFERENT. I also want to get off the gabapentin and the Klonopin – but do so in a smart way. I’m not sure the gabapentin is a net evil right now and shouldn’t be taken off altogether? And is the gabapentin the best thing to drop first? And I need help managing the akathisia. I've read some tips here, and will explore those. Any help on the hormone piece would be invaluable. There is something there. I feel the effects of akathisia/withdrawal/autonomic disregulation far more at the start of my cycle. And this whole postpartum period has been inherently hormonally disregulating (compounded by meds like Depakote, which altered my cycle). Anyone else? Anything help? I plan to keep a more focused journal as this site recommends and track my symptoms alongside food, supplement, and med changes. Of course, what sucks THE MOST is the lost time and what's been taken - from the joy of being a new mother, to what was supposed to be a fulfilling career move in pursuing my PhD (I might have to give up my place now b/c I'm so disabled), to feeling defective for not responding to the 'right treatments.' The worst year of your life should not also be the first year of motherhood. To those of you that read this monster of a post – or event 10% - THANK YOU.
  3. Wow! First of all I would like to say how relieved I was to have found this forum. For the years I've been struggling with this I have gotten so tired of other people (including doctors and therapists!) telling me that what I've experienced isn't possible and that I'm either making it all up or still sick. Everything started in my junior year of college. I had struggled with varying levels of depression and anxiety for most of my life, even resorting to SI when I was younger, but had finally hit a point where I thought that I needed some professional help. Looking back, I'm sure that the sudden drop was situational as much as anything. Most of my friends had moved away or graduated, my family was going through some money trouble, and I was working more hours to be able to be more self-sufficient. I started to become more withdrawn and my academics started to drop. I was an A and B student so this was very stressful to me. Thinking I was being proactive and doing the right thing, I went to my school's counseling center who then referred me to the campus clinic. The psychiatric nurse practitioner prescribed Prozac (20mg). About two weeks later I was hit with the worse anxiety I had ever had. I barely left my house unless I had to for class or work, would start shaking at random times, and had near constant chest pain. I tried to wait it out but eventually gave up and went back. She switched me to lexapro(20mg). This seemed to do the trick so I stayed on it though the end of the semester and over the summer. Unfortunately, when I started back up at school I started to struggle again. I'd tried to make positive changes in my life: made some new friends, got in contact with old ones, and started trying to date. Then, as it happens all too often in college, the guy I was seeing got me drunk and took advantage. This led to me having a bit of a breakdown and my friends urged me to go to the hospital. While there they switched me to zoloft(50mg), remeron(15mg), and lorazapam(2mg as needed). This is where things start to get really wonky. At first I thought it was helping but about a month after I got out of the hospital I started having these intense intrusive self-harm thoughts. Violent and strong enough to scare me. I had a medication review and those three were dropped and I was put on WellbutrinXL(150mg). Again things were better for a little while but about a month later started to go south. The intrusive thoughts were back and I had started to feel very unlike myself. Impulsive and disconnected. I later learned that this was probably a kind of dissociation. One night all of the stress and darkness got to me and I impulsively decided to chase the rest of my pills with half a bottle of vodka. It was strange because I wasn't trying to kill myself, the mindset was more: "I wonder what this will do. It can't be worse that what I'm already feeling." It didn't feel real, like it was happening to someone else. That put me back in the hospital where I then dropped out of college and moved back in with my parents. I had to be on a wait list but eventually I started seeing a new psychiatrist who decided to diagnose me with Bipolar based on the impulsiveness and out of character behavior I had while taking Wellbutrin. She called it agitated depression or mixed mania. At the time I believed her. I was scared, desperate, and seriously doubting my sanity, and I felt like I couldn't trust myself. She started out by prescribing me Abilify(15mg) and Effexor (75mg). This was my second nightmare. A few days later I started having akathisia and had similar feelings of impulsiveness and feeling out of control. When I told my doctor she urged me to wait it out which led to me relapsing into SI for the first time in over 6 years to cope. That combination was obviously stopped and I had the most physical withdrawal symptoms that I had so far. I couldn't leave my bed for two days I was so nauseous and dizzy. I feel like I should point out at this point that I was on most of these medications for max of a few months and didn't taper at all. Cold turkey then right on to another. Next on the list was Latuda(40mg - 60mg). My insurance ended up not really covering that one so what I ended up on as my final medication was Lithium. This was a blessing in a way because it didn't really do anything, which turns out, is what I needed. At one point I was up to 1600mg a day to control my "symptoms" which I'm now convinced was almost entirely side effects mixed with withdrawal. That dose completely destroyed my short term memory. After finally stabilizing, I had gone back to school and this was making classwork almost impossible, so after much debating the dosage was stepped down to 800mg. Finally, in the summer of 2017, I took a summer job working at a research station in the forest. After a lot of solo time hiking in nature I had an epiphany. This was the best I had felt in years and that all of my serious problems started after I sought "help." When I got back to see my doctor I told her my plan to stop taking medication. She was extremely judgemental and basically told me I'd be back when I had a relapse and just told me to tapper off with the what I had left (about a weeks worth). I'm very happy to say that she was wrong. All I've done since then is get better. I still struggle with some depression and anxiety but if that is the trade off I will gladly live with that. After a year and a half of being free of psychiatric drugs I'm surprised at the difference. On medication I was dissociating, having panic attacks, paranoia, and suicidal ideation. I felt like a complete basket case. It's terrifying to me how easy it is to get stuck in a downward spiral like that. Not ONE of the doctors or therapists that I'd seen even considered that the medication could be what was causing me to get worse and worse. They just saw worsening "symptoms" that they had to "get ahead of" and I believed it too. Now, even that the worst is over, the experience still haunts me. I feel so guilty about the way that I behaved and I have no idea how much was my fault versus the medication. I know that it was a factor but I remember making the decisions to hurt myself and destroy my life and I'm not really sure how to live with that. I have nightmares where I'm back in the worst of it feeling like I'm slowly losing my mind and I have permanent scars from the SI. I saw a new primary care doctor recently and the first thing she tried to do was get me back on mood stabilizers after seeing "bipolar" on my chart. I don't know how to get that removed or if I even can. The only people who believe me are my friends and family who saw me go from a somewhat stressed young adult to nonfunctional almost overnight. I know that this hasn't ruined my life... but it certainly feels like it sometimes. I'm sorry that anyone else had to go through this hell but I'm so, so glad that I'm not alone in this. Even now I'm not sure that I'm completely recovered. I guess time will tell.
  4. JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium I’ll start with the Success Part, before I unfold the story. I am a classic poster-girl story of “Why You Should Taper.” I thought I couldn’t come off the drugs, I was convinced I was a “biological bipolar” – but by using SA’s conservative 10% or less tapering system, I hardly had any withdrawals this time, and could control my symptoms and make space for my stressors by holding. I’m a living example of why anyone should taper and hold in order to come off. And there is no such thing as too slow. I attribute my success to the SA taper, and a number of coping strategies. I got support. I had a psychologist, who was wholly supportive. I bullied my psychiatrist to do the taper “my way” instead of her way. She actually had helpful suggestions for lifestyle changes, too. I got an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and later added an orthomolecular doctor and osteopath. I told my husband and all of my friends. I prepared for my taper. I owe so much to those who walked this path before me: AltoStrata, GiaK, Rhiannon, Petunia, BrassMonkey, MammaP, Bubble, Dalsaan, MeiMeiQuest, CymbaltaWithdrawal5600, and many more. And – to go further afield – Robert Whitaker for his excellent book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” and Will Hall for the “Icarus Harm Reduction Guide to Coming off Psychiatric Drugs” for showing me that it could be done, and how. And for helping me to accept that I may be different – but that different is not a medical condition. I got curious and read everything I could on the web, and learned a lot. I learned the most from SA and Beyondmeds.com. Most of what I have written as a moderator is not original – but is something I learned here or in my researches, that I applied to my life, and which I found effective. My psychiatrist resisted my desire to taper, but she told me she would support me if I put some things in place. We established a contract with my hubby, so that if I went off the rails, he would be able to get help for me. She would not taper me unless I made a commitment to take sun walks for light therapy and mood stabilization. I also eat meat and fish for mood stabilization & brain nutrition. I took up a tai chi practice and found a yoga studio which supports me. My karate mates have always supported me, even when I was too sick to participate. Meanwhile, my psychologist went to hear Robert Whitaker talk, and she came to realize how many of the cases she saw were people suffering from drug effects. She wrote glowing letters of progress to my psychiatrist, who really had no choice but to say, “Okay, I guess she’s doing well.” Nuts and bolts, I took a year to come off a low dose of reboxetine (it’s the least effective SNRI in the world, actually less effective than placebo), and another 2.5 years to come off the lithium. As I was suffering lithium toxicity (diabetes insipidus), I alternated some of my SNRI tapers with lithium tapers. I tapered 10% per month, or if while dry cutting, I had to drop by 15% (my largest taper), I would hold an extra month. I held an extra month if I had any upsets or stressors – funerals, travel, illness, bad news, etc. I held 3 months after the SNRI was gone before tapering the lithium again. My tapers were relatively symptom free. Most of my symptoms were from worry that I really was crazy – and there were mood spikes until I learned to manage my mood on my own. That’s what I should’ve learned when I got diagnosed 20 years ago. Nobody tells you that you can manage your own mood. In fact, nobody tells you that you are the only person who can manage your own mood! I greatly reduced gluten, especially wheat, and dairy. I cut the coffee way back. I start my day with protein (good for adrenals), and finish my day with carbs. I take magnesium baths whenever I feel "crunchy" and after every exercise session. I have raw food smoothies 2x a week. I take a number of supplements to manage my health without drugs. Most important: magnesium and fish oil. For mood & energy: NAC. I couldn’t take up meditation exactly, because of cult abuse in my past, but I can do tai chi and yoga, and I love breathing and mindfulness meditation. I found a great benefit to shamanic practice, because it is not worship of any foreign deity or guru, and my own inner experience is the guide to what I am learning and how I am growing. I took up creativity practices, like music, coloring, drawing, painting and writing. I took up correspondence with special people here on SA and in other places, so I could learn and grow by sharing with others. I was well supported by all of these people and practices, and I feel I have a web which will catch me if I ever fall down again. Sometimes now, I miss a practice. I might not get all the sun walks in, or I might eat wheat or dairy. But now I am well enough – I am buoyant enough – and I have enough practices – that missing one or two Jenga blocks doesn’t make the tower fall. (it also helps to not have a tall tower - our society asks too much of us, I believe, it's inhuman sometimes) When I come back, I’ll give more of my history – how crazy, abused, wild, suicidal, depressed, with unrelenting fatigue, and how I was convinced I was “bipolar.” Now, I have no diagnosis (I leave it on the medical charts so that I can refuse drugs – “No doctor, you can’t give me that, I’m bipolar!”), my body is broken from surgeries, abuse, accidents and pain. My major lasting drug effect is metabolic and autonomic dysfunction but those are compounded by surgeries, too. I still have severe delayed cycle sleep (but I always did: it is my difference), and unrelenting tinnitus. But my mental and emotional life is healthier than I’ve ever been before. I have compassion for my fellow human in a way I couldn’t before. I have passion for what I am doing, and a sense of purpose. I am driven to create, to share, to learn, to grow. I love meeting with people and listening, and feel so incredibly fortunate. I’m older and wiser than ever before, and I still have a lot of healing to do. But I am awake, alive, and grateful to be so.
  5. I'm 45 years old. I have been on psychiatric drugs since I was 25. For years, 17, I was on Paxil 20mg and tegretol 200mg. I believed I tripped off my first depression after using ecstasy, which I think altered my brain's serotonin functioning. Four years ago I went to my gynecologist seeking help for worsening pms, as I believed perimenopause was coming into play. I failed to consult with my psychiatrist and trusted her. After a too-quick taper off of Paxil and onto Lexapro things just completely deteriorated. After 6 months I was a wreck, did another, even shorter, taper off of Lexapro back onto Paxil. But I was sunk...I think my central nervous system was wrecked. The ensuing year of onto and off of a variety of drugs was nothing short of a nightmare. Sparing all the details, I landed on the following drugs: Remeron 15mg Paxil 20mg Lamictal 125mg Pristiq 100mg Lithium 600mg Klonopin .5mg Trazodone 50mg It's criminal. A John's Hopkins psychiatrist specializing in women's hormone related mood issues said my gynecologist's cavalier actions verged on malpractice. A recent, and current, rash believe to be pityriasis rosea prompted my current psychiatrist to insist I stop Lamictal cold turkey. The dermatologist diagnosed it. He, without seeing the rash himself, is insistent. In light of what I feel is a damaged central nervous system I have decided to trust my dermatologist. That said, this situation has prompted me to consider the idea of eliminating the Lamictal. It's a start. I also believe Lamictal in some way tinkers with estrogen, something I'd like to avoid. It has been a hellish journey. I do not trust the psychiatric industry. I believe that how my case has been handled, so carelessly and without regard to actual true health, is shameful. I never, ever thought I'd be on multiple drugs like this. I am a high functioning, intelligent woman with a constitution sensitive to endocrine changes. I have been terrified of even considering touching any of this. While in the back of my mind wondering....what will happen to me after years of being on so many drugs? For the record, I have never been manic, ever. Lithium does function for me as an antidepressant. I understand that I'm somewhere on the spectrum, and because of long periods of happiness and wellbeing interrupted by 3 episodes of major depression, each with clear origins, I have been labeled bipolar2. I don't care much for labels. All I know is I'm on a serious amount of drugs. And I'm finally willing to find the courage to wrap up this bizarre ride. Lamictal first. Thanks for reading. Any encouragement or feedback gladly welcomed. Hope
  6. I want to know how to detox from all the psychiatric drugs that I took in order to make possible for my body not to need to take them anymore and to eliminate all the side effects that the psych drugs gave me. This is all the drugs that I took from psychiatrists: when I was 16 years old I took first paxil and rivotril (clonazepam) for a year and then only epival er (valproate semisodium) for a year and Then when I got 21 I took paxil and rivotril for 6 months. I changed to a 2nd psychiatrist he gave me symbyax (olanzapine and fluoxetine) I was with him for 4 months, then I went with a 3rd shrink that gave me lamictal and abilify for 6 months so then I changed with a 4th doctor which was a "neurologist" who gave me strattera for ADD and told me to go with his partner who is another psychiatrist (5th doctor) who added me sertraline, topamax (topiramate), olanzapine, lamictal, and because of the tachycardia that were produce by this drugs he added inderalici for my tachycardia. So after 7 months with this doctor I went with a 6th doctor that gave me paxil, rivotril, lithium and for my ADD he gave me methylphenidate (commercial name is tradea LP which is similar to Concerta). After 6 months with this doctor I changed to a 7th doctor that gave me sertraline in a very high dose and with this I decided to stop taking that pill a was taking but in a one day span it caused me to have a psychosis that made my father send male nurses to kidnapped and locked into a clinic (like hospitalization), in which the skrink that trated me was the one that treated me when I was 16 and he injected me haldol and gave pills more haldol, biperiden, triazolam and risperdal. I LIVED HELL WITH THESE DRUGS. Then the shrink after he saw that I recover reality, I was super depressed so he gave me citalpram but it didn't work so he gave me paxil and lithium. Then I started coming off meds and now I just take one quarter of a lithium pill every day in the morning. My actual side effects that I want to eliminate are: anxiety, very strong heart palpitaions or beats/beating that cause bad breathing and chest pain, difficulty to take decisions, nausea, extreme itching in my face, head, chest and back, buzz in the ears, difficulty to focus or concentrate, bad short-term memory, and wanting to pee all the time. Thank you very much.
  7. Hi all, This is my I don't know, 6th? Maybe 7th? Time coming off of cipralex. I have been trapped over the last four years in a cycle of stopping and starting the medication and this past time taking it I became so suicidal that I had to stop cold turkey from 10 mg. I am also taking lithium which I will remain on until I have discussed being weaned off of it and reassessed with my doctor(I say my symptoms match PMDD and seasonal affective disorder with social anxiety more closely than bipolar disorder). Lithium makes me violently sick all night and morning almost every day for over a year now and the worst part is that it doesn't do anything useful for me as I've only experienced manic symptoms when taking antidepressants. I'm feeling frustrated the last few days. I had for whatever reason had this timeline for myself where I would be in the gym doing light exercise by now, getting some peer support and seeing friends. Meditating and living healthier. Instead my days are saved for napping to make up for how horribly I slept the night before. I have to keep cancelling appointments because sleep is more important. And I'm always in pain. I'm frustrated this process takes so long. Between the vomiting, the insomnia and the pain I don't even know how anyone makes it getting off these meds. The emotional spirals every day and cognitive problems.. I was staying positive but it's hard right now.
  8. Help777

    Help777: journal

    Effexor x12 years. Added lithium in sept 2015. Added prozac in october to help bridge taper from effexor as i started having symptoms. Started withdrawing effexor in September 2014. Over last 4 months i went From 112.5 to 14mg as of last week.. Last week I seemed to all of a sudden hit a wall. Crying uncontrollably constantly. Shaking, nausea, extreme fear and overwhelming need to cry. Ive read your site. Ive reinstated to 20 mg of effexor for last 3 days but absolutely no improvement. Im so scared. I cant go to work like this. Continuing prozac 20 and lithium 300. Please help.
  9. Hello everyone, I first got started on Celexa in May 09 after my mind slipped into an inescapable panic state induced by an accidental overdose of the anti-histamine diphenhydramine. I should of know way back then, after a few weeks, then I should of stayed away from all drugs and given my brain a chance to calm down and repair itself on it’s own, but I was truly, truely frightened that I had down some serious damage or I was on my way to the depths of psychosis. So I went to my GP got diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I switched to Cymabalta in November 09 after a personal event triggered an intensification of agitated depression which had never really left despite treatment with Celexa. Sticking with Cymbalta was, again, an irrevocably stupid decision - but I had faith in the psychiatrist who was prescribing me these things. Suicidal ideation was commonplace both in an experiential context and in circumstantial context – my anxiety was so severe I just wanted out and I was astounded to what life had been reduced to. On cymbalta I felt tired but wired with a generalised irritability and massive cravings for sugar, which when I gave in and ate only triggered an intensification of irritability. I look back during this period and I’m struck with just how bizarre and Kafkaesque the whole experience was. Why the hell didn’t I get of the ******* thing earlier? I weaned off Cymbalta in in June 2010. However, the suicidal panic now morphed into a suicidal malaise and all-consumng tiredness, severe anhedonia, and an inability to concentrate - which has stuck with me since. I got put on Zoloft in Oct’10, 4 months after my last drug, and after a visit to a GP where I told me him I was suicidal and planning to go through with it. He sort of shrugged and just told me to go back on a med. The Zoloft induced both akathisa and a “despair beyond despair” at my situation. I flew out to Thailand with the intention of having a last hurrah and then taking myself down to one of the gun ranges and putting a .357 round into my frontal lobe. (Guns aren't readily available in the UK) I flew home when my parents found out where I was, despite my (I thought) well-constructed plan to deceive and explained to them the extent of which I was struggling. We sought the services of a psychiatrist whom I thought was progressive and looking at the bigger picture. By now, I was mostly concerned with the brain fog and chronic fatigue - which prevented me from most activities which might have led to an improvement with my lot in life - which led me to conclude my problem was neuro-endocrine based. I agreed to a low-dose of Lexapro, some compounded thyroid hormone and about 20 different supplements to treat any bodily pathologies. Despite this ambitious protocol, there was very little change in mood. I tried to stay working but got overwhelmed again and my suicidal ideation reached a zenith. I flew back out to Asia with my father, this time to Cambodia but to join a volunteer project building houses. I figured a dose of 3rd poverty might take my mind….off my mind. This time I also agreed to start lithium. It was a humbling experience for sure but I was still weak, foggy, anxious and depressed. I also felt intensely guilty at being in my depressed state amongst so much poverty and in a country with the worst auto-genocide in history. I also picked up a stomach infection which led to post-infectious gastroparesis which I have been struggling with since. Early in 2011 I discontinued the lithium, at the time we hadn’t worked out the stomach problem and where concerned the lithium could be causing the GI stuff. I continued with Lexapro in the AM and 25mg amitrypltine to get me off to sleep in the PM. Life was just a haze punctuated by bouts of panic and despair. My ability to work and socialise properly had all but disappeared by now, so I got used to life being what it was. At the beginning of 2012 I decided to take a break from AD’s, they didn’t seem to have improved my lot in life much, maybe coming off them would do some good. This was when my concern, finally, about TD started - I continued to feel like absolute ****. What if the drugs were the problem all along?. It wasn’t until a few months ago that the epiphany really took hold and I realised the full horror of what I subjected myself to. I realised the whole thing was being exacerbated by the very treatment that authority deemed to be of help. Back when I came off Cymbalta in 2010 I just assumed this was my depression anxiety ramping up and the exhaustion was a natural extension, but now I was still horrendously depressed and the other **** kicked in. I curse myself that I didn’t see the connection the first time round and have spent another 2.5 years on psych drugs….. Note, I tried a few drugs of now more than about two weeks duration in 2012. Again this was before the idea of drug-induced harm became cemented in my mind. My last drug ingestion was Tianeptine in November. My question to anyone who has any suggestions and or experiences is in my title – what the hell do I do now? I’m a complete invalid. Living at home with a parent at 25, unable to enjoy much of anything at all, I can’t lose myself in a movie like I did years ago, my mind is just inexplicably turned inward and focused on it’s own arid desolation and fogginess. Reading is a significantly challenging endeavour and writing is difficult (it’s taken me about a week to knock this up into something coherent and semi-legible). I’m just having such trouble formulating a strategy which might give me a chance of getting well again. Just reading this site has given me a bit of hope in that people can get their lives back on track. There’s people here that appear to have got off far harsher drugs and had been on them for longer periods, so I need to keep a perspective of sorts, I’m just terrified at this stage that I’m past the point of no return and that putting what was a fragile brain/mind to begin with in drugs might just have been…… Any help or words of wisdom are appreciated. Thanks for reading. Jack
  10. I took Effexor for a total of six months and got to 300 mg. Wanted to discontinue due to mania, insomnia, stomach issues. Had not heard about discontinuation syndrome. The Dr took me from 300 mg to 150 mg for a month. Added Straterra. Then 75 mg for 10 days. Severely ill so increased back to 150 mg. Went to new Dr for second opinion. Added Cymbalta took Effexor up to 187 mg. Ended up hospital 2 months after started taper. Now on 50 mg of Pristiq instead of those 3 antidepressants. Depressed, frustrated, severe cognitive and memory issues, scared, confused, anxious, sick,angry. New doctor tomorrow. Wishing I hadn't gone in hospital and had started a slower taper on my own. The Dr yanking me off 3 meds sounds like it will be difficult to get through on my own.
  11. Hi all, This is my first post here and my first real attempt at tapering off of all psychiatric medications. A very brief background, I have been on 20+ medications since I was 12, ranging from antidepressants, mood stabilizers, benzodiazepines, anti-convulsants, anti-psychotics, and sleep drugs. I am 22 now and finally, (sober this time) investigating some of the core issues that caused me to self medicate-via doctor and drug dealer-and I'm ready to really sit with my emotions and feel them fully. Currently I am on Lithium-1050mg, Gabapentin-600mg, Celexa-5mg I have been reading as much as I can on comingoff.org and SA and would like to prepare myself and set myself up for success. From what I understand 10% taper is ideal. I am not in any hurry, I just want this to be as positive experience as possible so this is fine. I met with my psychiatrist today and she had some smaller dosages prescribed for me and is on board and on my team for which I am thankful. I am wondering if there are other things I can do smartly prepare. I read briefly about remineralization but am not sure what that entails. Any foods, supplements, behaviors that would ease me into this journey? Ideas? Thoughts? I start this process April 1st and will post updates. Thank you!
  12. Hello friends, I am a 33-year old soul from Canada. I am biologically male and identify socially as such. English is my native language, though I have near-native fluency in French and some Spanish. A little over a year ago, I had posted a little bit about myself, including my horrific experience on Risperidone and other neuroleptics and the hellish place that I was at back then. It is with irrepressible elation, then, that I would like to tell you all what is now my wonderful story: Currently, I am nearly six months free of the scourge of Risperidone and other anti-psychotics and junk meds, I now drink alcohol less than I ever have at any point in my adult life, and I am 13 months clean of marijuana. Furthermore, by finally being able to discover and manage the devastating health condition that had crippled me for the first 33 years years of my life – namely one of the most severe cases of sleep apnea to have ever been diagnosed -- I have also overcome the cruel demons that had spent over 30 years not only sapping my cognitive strength, but also devastatingly undermining my emotional, social, spiritual, and physical well-being. I now feel better than I ever have: I feel happy, energetic, focused, and optimistic, all without the delusions and the manic or psychotic symptoms that I experienced the last time I felt this way. But the path that I took to reach this point and the anguish that I've had to endure for far too long to get here have been so relentlessly torturous that they are not something that I would even have wished on Adolf Hitler. For not only did I have to contend with severe undiagnosed sleep apnea for almost all of my life, but the changes that my CPAP therapy for the condition caused to my body and my mind led me to a severe episode of manic-psychosis, in spite of my only previous history of mental health problems having been a few months of intermittent panic attacks in 2005 that went away after my treating individual attacks with Lorazepam (ativan) for a few months. This condition, which is understandably difficult for psychiatrists and mental health professionals to understand and diagnose, occurs in some people upon getting treatment for severe sleep apnea and is known as CPAP-induced mania (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4208920/). While it is more common among patients with a prior history of bipolar disorder, the study that I just linked to shows that it has been observed on occasion in individuals with no prior history of severe mental illness. The psychotic attack led to my being hospitalized and put on meds that may have initially been a necessary evil given the acute severity of my condition, but the consequences of my having taken these meds and my having to deal with their corresponding side-effects led to a severe episode of depression, the complete decimation of my energy, motivation, libido (risperidone and then latuda), and sense of pleasure or fun, a case of Cotard's Syndrome that had lasted for over a year (I thought that I was dead and in the afterlife of Hell and that this was my punishment for the all wrong I had done in my life), and constant delusions of reference that kept feeding the Cotard's Syndrome. All of this led to a second hospitalization and a misdiagnosis of Bipolar 1 with co-morbid alcohol and marijuana dependencies. It is only by quitting all meds in June that I have been able to come out the other side in these past months. That said, I am grateful for the years of torment and, even more so, for the most acute suffering that I particularly endured this past year and a half: For if I were to have been blessed with the gifts with which I have been bestowed without first having had to suffer being constrained by the chains of misery, I would be sorely lacking in the empathy, in the perspective, and in the sense of justice that make me who I am today. Without the past year and a half, I would still be far too petty, far too angry, and far too weak and easily-rattled to achieve anything close to my potential. If I may plagiarize Stan Lee, I would have this great power without also having the awesome sense of responsibility that must come with such incredible strength. With this preamble out of the way, let's move on with the bulk of my story. It is probably quite long and taxing, and I'm not sure how much value it will have for others, but it's a story that I nonetheless desperately need to tell.
  13. Moderator note: Link to benzo forum thread: summitbound: Poly-drugged: Thinking about tapering an AD w/ benzo Hello, I'm brand new to this site. I've been so busy learning about benzo tapering (and suffering!) on benzobuddies.org that I have yet to tackle getting off any of my antidepressants. I've already been tapering the benzo for over a year. I know that the general rule is to taper off your benzos first, and then work on your antidepressants. That said, I probably have a year or more left on my benzo taper and I hate being poly drugged with three antidepressants. I'd like to safely chip away at at least one of them. I think the mirtazipine is really helping with my sleep during bezno withdrawal, so I don't think I want to touch it. It seems like the low hanging fruit would be the lithium, since it seems I'm on a less than theraputic dose at 675 mg. Thoughts? So far, I have been "blessed" during my benzo taper in that I have not suffered from depression, severe anxiety, or panic. So I do want to tread carefully. Thanks so much!
  14. Hi, i'm new to this forum, so forgive me if i make mistakes, i'm still learning. I'm about two years out from withdrawing off of Paxil that i tapered down on, and about one year from one situational exposure to benzodiazepines, and two years from consistent benzodiazepine usage (the klonopin,) as i withdrew both the antidepressant and the benzodiazepine at the same time. I am drug free for an entire year. The drugs tagged in my post are also drugs i have been previously exposed to, or had other exposures in the same class of drugs, (E.g, i have also been exposed to zoloft, prozac, and pristiq in the "Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor" category over the course of 14 years, though paxil was my last exposure to an SSRI drugs.) For the sake of simplicity, i will spare the details. I am posting here today because i am struggling with a couple issues that the specialists i've seen cannot help me with, and i hope to find resources here. I have ruled out thyroid issues, cardiovascular issues, vitamin deficiency in standard ranges, and other infectious disease issues through doctors and testing. I am debating about seeing an endocrinologist, but have lost a lot of faith in medicine since my psychiatric outpatient stent and the answers for my health that continue to elude me. I have listed my main issues below: 1. Fatigue - From what i've read and am trying to understand, fatigue can be a huge factor in antidepressant and benzodiazipine post acute withdrawal because of potential effects on hormones and neurotransmitters. I've also read that amphetamine withdrawal, especially in the context of abuse can cause fatigue, but my exposure to amphetamines was a decade ago, so i don't know if that could still be a contributing factor or not? The fatigue seems to come on intermittently, i drink green tea to help with wakefulness as the fatigue can feel debilitating throughout the day, and i feel like my brain just doesn't want to function on all gears. I am also sensitive to caffeine - if i ingest more than normal it can send me into a panic attack. My intermittent benzodiazepine exposure last year was in part induced by too much coffee, but i used to drink a pot of coffee a day without too much anxiety on paxil. 2. Emotional Blunting - I know that emotional blunting is also a factor in both benzodiazepine and antidepressant use and withdrawal, but i am a little perplexed that i still feel difficulty with emotional attachment. I theorize that this may be due to the benzodiazepine withdrawal mostly, for the reason that benzodiazepines inhibit or prevent neurological recovery from trauma, from what i understand. Is it possible that my body and mind are still in a state of survival even two years out from antidepressant and benzos? I understand that the psychological trauma from years of being medicated may also play a key factor in trust and developing relationships, but that is a psychological piece that should resolve itself through counseling, CBT, once the body begins to function correctly again. My other theory is that all my exposure to drugs over the years, (especially in the context of intermittent antipsychotic and benzodiazipine exposure) has caused irreversible atrophy to the neurological circuitry that is responsible for those functions (pre-frontal cortex and frontal lobe?) I'm looking for any input, resources, or suggestions that might help with those pieces Thanks, - NR EDIT: I don't have any recreational drug exposure either, all my drug exposure has been exclusively psychiatric with the exception of alcohol on a few celebratory occasions. I have also had antibiotic exposures on three separate occasions in the past five years.
  15. I am 54 years old, and experienced my first manic episode, starting 1st November of last year, requiring a month of involuntary hospitalisation starting 14th November brought on by numerous stressors. I was on Lithium and Haloperidol, from the 15th Nov, then ±900mg Lithium and 0.5mg Risperidone from the 15th Jan . I started tapering the Risperidone from the Feb 16th. My last dose was 0.125mg on 15 March. How long will the withdrawal symptoms last? The reason why I'm asking is I'd also like to know if I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms or bipolar depression? The intense depressive feelings arrive and leave suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes lasting a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, after which I feel mildly depressed again, which is a general state. I am able to be lifted, for example by gardening, good cooking, humour etc, during this general milder state. I have general anxiety about several factors which triggered the original mania, namely money (increased now, due to difficulty working), accommodation for my and my spouse's ageing parents who are both difficult to work with, those being by far the most major among other stressors. I have found that very carefully-considered and rare - perhaps twice a week - use of Diazepam can also return me to this state from the more intense state. I intended to start tapering the Lithium once I feel more stable and know myself better after this current tapering. I apologise if this has been covered before, but I find reading and writing about my condition extremely stress inducing, which is to say getting to this point has not been easy. I am eternally grateful in advance for the help.
  16. I am a little over a month into this part of my tapering story, (Celexa-free now) and last week I had a lot of anxiety, which did not come as a surprise to me. I had somatic obsessions, tactile hallucinations, paranoia, and sometimes I wince from the intrusive thoughts or images that come up. My partner has been witnessing moments of this struggle which sparked a discussion. She says it hurts her to see me in pain and she urged me to think more critically about why I am doing what I am doing. When I tried to explain that sometimes withdrawal is just hard and requires patience, she said that I was rationalizing everything and didn't have any plan in place for when I should stop what I was doing or increase dosages again. She feels as if I don't leave enough room for her feelings or take into account how my actions in this process affect our relationship. She does not have personal experience with mental illness or medication which for some reason makes hearing that from her feel even harder. I feel judged in moments, though I really do think this is my own projection, and as a result I am not able to comfortably voice how I feel. I responded to all of this rather defensively. It felt like she wasn't trusting me to know what I need and it also seemed like this process, (which is hard for me already) was burdensome to her somehow. I felt like this is incredibly challenging for me and I need her amazing strength, love, and support right now, more than ever. I care so much about how she feels and this relationship but I want to be in control of this very personal process. She also thinks I am undergoing this journey in hopes of an idealized vision of reality without medication. While I do have hope for what life might be like drug-free, I try really hard to stay grounded and not have too many expectations. Maybe she's right in that regard. I don't know how to create more space for her to have feelings about how I'm feeling. It feels messy. I start dissociating during our conversations and losing time, losing information. She is very sharp and has an amazing memory so I simply cannot compete. We have barely talked in the past two days, we both feel really frustrated. We have both explicitly stated our needs and yet this still does not feel resolved. Neither of us can seem to relax into a willing state of mind until the other does. I feel so angry and I can't tell where it is coming from. Does anyone relate to this? I'm not sure how to move forward? Otto
  17. Hello, Everyone here seems really wonderful and pretty knowledgable. I am trying to get off Lithium and Risperidone. But I need to do it safely as I am in college and can't take time off like I would like to. It seems it is hard to get off of these meds for many people. I got the "ok" from my doctor to get off of them, as I was only on them to begin with because of some traumatic things that happened in my life and I needed help adjusting.. however my doctor isn't really practicing anymore it seems.. its impossible to get ahold of her, so I am trying to figure out how to do this on my own. I really feel I am ready to be off of them yet cannot find a clear answer on the web as the how to do it. Can anyone help me? I have a very long history with medications (I was pretty sick for about 10 years.. only some of the meds are listed in my signature, mostly just ones during my worst) and while getting off of them, I never had withdrawals from any of them besides Citalopram. Currently, I am on 4.5mg of Risperidone and have been for a couple of years and I am on 1200mg of Lithium and have been on it for the same amount of time. I'm not sure if weight/height/age matter for getting off medications but in case it does I am 5'2 124lbs and am 24 years old. I would like to know how slowly I have to go off of these in order for it to not really effect much of my life or if I just need to be prepared to feel awful. Also, should I go one at a time? And if so, which medication should I start with? I am also on Amitriptyline. I deal with depression sometimes. Will going off of Lithium and Risperidone effect my mood? Also, when I was sick those years, I lived in a room and never left, it effected me very much. Thats why I am on Lithium and Risperidone now. When I re-entered society, it was pretty scary and created a lot of anxiety. Just having to ask someone a question was so foreign and startling to me that I decided to go on these drugs to help lower my anxiety and urges that I would get because of fear. I have readjusted really well, am doing great in school, finally able to talk to people, and hopefully will soon be able to better make friends, but these medications effect parts of my brain that I think I need. These medications make me feel less and I miss feeling what is around me. My art practice has kind of crumbled since I've been on them. They were helpful when I needed them but as I have said, I just feel it is time to be off of them. However, I am worried that going off will effect my ability to think clearly. I have come across this information in a few different places. But all in all, I just need some advice as to how to get off of these. If anyone has any advice for me about anything I have shared in terms of these medications, why I am on them or what to do to get off of them, I would really appreciate it. As I am worried I will fall back into a bad place if I don't go off of Lithium and Risperidone carefully. And although I don't have many withdrawals, I am very prone to side effects. If you have shared experiences or stories with either of these medications that would help me, please share them with me.
  18. Hi, I hope to be a regular contributor. Here is a bit of background: Throughout high school I was mildly depressed and anxious, which turned into a pretty horrible social anxiety and moderate depression in first year of university. Eventually I left school and was pretty depressed for eight months. I started Paxil when I was nearly 20 in 11/06 and immediately my anxiety and depression seemed to vanish. I returned to school and withdrew my Paxil six months later with no noticeable withdrawal. Two and a half years later when I was 22 I began experiencing some horrible anxiety triggering some gastro issues. I took one dose of Paxil and woke up that night with some sort of terrible panic attack. I ceased taking the Paxil but the panic attacks (flu-like symptoms) continued and lasted hours at a time. I feared that I was dying. Eventually I was hospitalized and put on Cipralex and Olanzapine. My anxiety eventually halted and the Cipralex gave me more energy and motivation than I typically have. Eventually I was labelled bipolar ii because of the initial but short lasting activating effects that some antidepressants have in me. The Cipralex pooped out in three weeks and I was polydrugged for the next four years, including two more hospitalizations in that first year for depression. Eventually my mood and anxiety stabilized for two years on Cymbalta, lithium, and Alertec; however, the fatigue was unbearable. In 08/13 I came off Cymbalta and my mood started to deteriorate (I probably experienced about a month of withdrawal syndrome including insomnia, irritability, brain zaps, and flu-like symptoms). After more polydrugging, I decided that the drugs may be making things worse. At nearly age 27, I came off of Pristiq and lithium. Pristiq brought on a similar syndrome as Cymbalta. I came off of both antidepressants too quickly, however, usually in a matter of a month. I also came off of lithium way too quickly, in about six weeks. As I was coming off lithium I began to feel normal again for the first time in four and a half years. About three weeks after my last lithium dose (02/14) I woke up vomiting. I then had severe anxiety for a couple of days but it lifted in a week. It was replaced by a mild or moderate depression that was, for the most part, quite manageable. I was actually hopeful, had normal energy for the first time in years, and beginning meditation and psychotherapy and thought I might recover. Unfortunately, some bad life events happened: there was conflict in the house that I live in and I ended up living on my own for a while (not a good thing). Worse, however, is that I injured by back. It remains injured and I am now getting some tests done to try and figure out what is wrong with it. I can't walk more than five minutes without it getting quite achey and knotty. Eventually this bodily stress had me thinking thoughts that I was dying again and that my back will never heal. This lead to me to being in a constant state of panic. I was losing lots of weight and my body had been in panic mode for nearly a week. I was terrified. I went to a community crisis centre who I thought might help me without psych drugs -- but they basically told me to go get drugs. I ended up hospitalized (06/14) and was immediately put on mirtazapine and then Lyrica. A few days later the anxiety left and I entered the most severe depression of my life: it was incredibly painful, I could barely move, my voice had no emotion, and I was asking my parents to kill me. The depression would occasionally lift at nighttime and I would be normal again. The depression lifted one morning and was replaced by a depressive/anxious hellish state that did not lift in the evening. Defeated, uncertain how the pain would go away, and pressured by my nurses and my psychiatrist, I upped everything and began lithium again albeit at a lower dose: mirtazapine 30mg, Lyrica 100mg, lithium 600mg. I was discharged from the hospital last week. I feel incredibly discouraged. Before I found this site (and the 10% rule) I tapered 25mg off of Lyrica so that now the Lyrica fog is much more bearable during the day. My biggest questions at this point are: after tapering off of drugs or during the taper for some people, how does one deal with severe panic anxiety or with severe, profoundly painful depression? I am beginning to browse these forums looking for these answers. I fear that there may not be answers and that people just ride through it which takes a lot of courage. I tried to ride out depressions when I was younger but they it went on for over a year and a half before I took Paxil. It is especially challenging as I live in Toronto and I cannot find much support here for tapering off of psych drugs or for dealing with a crisis that comes during or post taper. I am in the process of finding a new psychiatrist, which is quite difficult, as my psychiatrist is as biology-based as possible (he wanted me to have shock therapy in December which is partly why I came off drugs around then as I realized he didn't know what he was doing.) Unfortunately, I still had to see him when I was recently in hospital, which is another trigger. I just never imagined I would be back on psych drugs. The injury to my back is also depressing me. I've gone from hopeful to hopeless in a matter of months. Right now my anxiety is not too severe and neither is the depression. I've read that Mirt has a habit of pooping out early, which is partly why I think every minute is invaluable in determining tapering and eventual crisis. The crisis pattern for me seems to be severe anxiety followed by depression, then maybe a mixed anxious/depressed state. Anyone with similar experiences, advice, or encouragement? The scariest things for me are how to deal with severe panic anxiety and a physically excruciating depression. Thanks for reading.
  19. Hi all, I am writing here in desperation as I find myself feeling so bad after 11 weeks off all medications, that I am just wanting to die every day. I am feeling horrendous physically, mentally and emotionally. I have been on many medications in various combinations over the last 12 years, none of which ever worked...I just kept going, blindly trusting my psychiatrists and treating team and hoping that the next medications would be the one that finally worked. I have done 13 years of therapy alongside this, and have tried many alternative/complimentary therapies along my way. That said though, I have been reduced to being a 'mental patient' for the last 10 years now, going in and out of hospital and attending medical and therapy appointments being my life... But now I'm trying to move away from that. To start life anew, away from all the medical diagnoses and destructive medications. In July 2017, after a particularly bad hospitalisation, I decided it was time to walk away from the mental health system, and get off the medications which never helped. I have tried this 3 times before, but was not successful. I have now done a lot of research and know about tapering, but unfortunately, I was nearly off everything by the time I had this knowledge. So I have come off my medications very fast, particularly given that I have been medicated for so long. The medications I was last on include Prozac, Lithium and Seroquel. I came off Prozac between June and July 2017 under doctor supervision (it was giving me horrendous sweats). In August-September, I came off 500mg of Lithium (down to 250mg then nothing). With Seroquel, I had been on about 600mg and had already been slowly cutting that down from maybe January 2017 (perhaps earlier) and was down to 200mg in July. Whilst in hospital, that was reduced down to 50mg in one hit (long story!). I then tapered it down until I came totally off it at the beginning of November 2017. Physically, I have been feeling like a have a combination of the flu and a really bad hangover most of the time, feeling nauseous, achy, and dizzy and absolutely exhausted, with absolutely no energy. It has actually become worse over the last month and a half or so, where it is now to the point where it is hard to go out and I need to be lying down a lot of the time. Lights and sounds can be quite intrusive. I am seeing a naturopath for support with this, but nothing is helping yet. I suspect it may be a long process. Mentally and emotionally, things have become really really dark. I am aware that all this could well be withdrawals, but with everyone's experience being so different, it is hard to know if/when this may come to an end... It has been suggested by some that it may be worth going back on a small dose of a medication at this point to help, and then slowly tapering it again once I've stabilised a bit... Is this a wise thing to do this far after withdrawing? And if it is something recommended, which medication? Would I go back on a small dose of Seroquel as that's the last thing I tapered off? It is a pretty horrible and destructive medication... Thanks for reading Amy
  20. Eaglesoar

    Eaglesoar

    Hello, I have been taking psychotropic meds for 30 years, primarily antidepressants initially...desipramine, Prozac, Wellbrutrin and then adding ability. I then had 3 manic episodes and started lithium with a number of different antipsychotic meds including zyprexa, seroquill,abiify , and respirdone. I gained a great deal of weight and felt terrible. I worked with a mental Heath naturopath for two years to try to get off my medication. I got down to 45mg of Lomictal and then did very poorly and had to see a new psychiatrist who prescribed 600mg of lithium, 200mg of Lomictal, 300mg of Wellbrutrin, and 100mg of Seroquill , which is now down to 50mg. I know I have to go slow with tapering and only do one medication at a time. I may have to stay on lithium.
  21. Angelles66

    Angelles66

    Hi i have suffered from anxiety off and on am 51 years old but usually have gotten through life alright had a bad episode last year stressed out and blacked out for about 15 minutes accidentally opened a car door i thought was mine anyway the owner called the cops and i was hospitalized for no reason was put ontu halidol and lithium for three months fought to get off it as i did nothing wrong they let me off it but still suffer from headpains and dizziness 20 months later life has been tough as i just want to get back to life and work wonder if anybody suffered similarly and if theres a way out of this thank you
  22. Hi! I'm from Philippines, 20 yrs. old, female. 3 yrs. ago I develop depression due to severe stress. It lasted 6 months. Now, again because of so much stress, I develop Mania, got delusions and psychosis. So I was admitted at the hospital and got injected that make me sleep.That was Feb. 2016. When I wake up, I feel nothing. I lost my personality, got anhedonia, lose focus and concentration! I wonder if anyone got there emotions and their normal life back. It's so frustrating cause Here I was, “The Joy Engineer” of all things, who could not feel joy! It was the ultimate irony. : (
  23. I was diagnosed with BP after a severe depression following childbirth 32 years ago . Was put on 1800 mg lithium by a shrink who later lost his license for sexual harassment . Stopped two years later with the help of a GP-Homeopath In my opinion , I was never manic . I had a second depression six years later , another doctor put me back on lithium 900mg , when I told him I had taken it before . No mention of bipolarity in his files , but he later send me to a specialist who said I had it on the first visit . I went down to 600 mg. Seven years later , another depression , I asked for 20 mg Paxil , which I have now been taking for 15 years . I saw a fantastic psychiatrist for two years to re-evaluate the bipolar diagnostic , he said I have unipolar depression , not bipolar. He kept my meds as is , said lithium helped for depression . However , he retired and my files were destroyed . In 2006 , I wanted the diagnostic on paper . Went to see another psychiatrist : she confirmed bipolarity after 20 mn because I do have racing thoughts at times , especially when depressed. I told her I can tackle different projects ( single-parenting , work , renovations on the house ). I talk a lot ( this is a family character trait ) and expressed poor judgment in partners . Sometimes I spend , never more than I can afford . But : I never hallucinated ,no voices , sleep 8-10 hrs a night , no bipolarity in the family ( depression yes ), no megalomania , no over-spending and I pay all my bills as they come , no multiple partners . Never went on sudden highs , except when I did drugs as a teenager ( loll ) – I ‘ve been sober since 2001 ( was sober before in 1985 , but relapsed into periodical drinking for a few years ). I do get anxious at times , also have a good sense of humor. I always had a doubt about the verdict , it doesn’t seem to fit . In 2015 , I see another psychiatrist ( colleague of the previous one ) : He says ‘’ well , three doctors diagnosed you ….could they all be wrong ? ‘’ My answer is ‘’ they each saw me in depression , perhaps they rely on each other’s diagnostics ? What about the one I saw for two years , each week ? ‘’ We go through all the questions , he’s scratching his head , then says ‘’ you can make a very careful attempt to stop lithium ‘’ . He’s surprised that I’ve been on Paxil for so long , still had depression , and never went into a manic phase . None of my friends ( one used to be a psychiatric nurse , her late husband was a shrink ) see me as bipolar . As much as I’ve watched for signs over the years , there are few . I’m 60 years old , have put 40 lbs since taking Paxil and my libido is dead . I also have Hepatitis C . Would love your feedback
  24. Moderator's note: link to RainbowDbc's benzo thread - RainbowDbc: What should I do now? Hi everyone..My name is Diana. I am 30 years old. I have been on many drugs but particularly rivotril and lithium. It all started at the age of of 18. I had a psychotic episode and was labeled as bipolar. I didnt have a history before on mood swings or any bipolar traits. So they gave me many drugs and I was convinced I needed them. I was told maby lies. That my brain needed or did not produce enough lithium. That it was for life. I gradually developed insomnia and was given rivotril. 5 years later I realized my body and brain had changed a lot. I started to investigate on youtube and other sources. But no one listened. I was coerced by police my psychoatrists especially my parents. I was being forced on meditation even though my instinct told me it was the wrong path. Its been another 5 years. My memory is gone, I have mental fatigue, I am not creative or very empathic anymore or expressive and spontaneous. My life has turned grey. I feel generally stupid and cannot hold a task for too long. I have tapered from 3 pills to one and am having experiences that werentbthere before. Suicide ideation, fatigue, strong insomnia, feeling empty or adhedonia...generally like my brain is really sick and fragile. I have angry bursts but they make no sense as my braon can make all my thoughts coherent when Im a bit emotional. There is more it to my story but this is what is most prevalent. I wish I had cancer to stop this. Im 30 and have been missing out due to being so drugged and spellbinded. Id like to try amino acids and a very healthy diet..Exercise..Tanning. But I dont have a real way to do things effectively with such strong withdrawal effects. I barely want to leave the house. I dont know of anyone that has taken lithium to talk about this with. I hope anyone could give me some orientation and support. Thank you...
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