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  1. Hey everyone, so I decided I'm not going to take my monthly antipsychotic injections anymore. I had it with the side effects and my psychiatrist wasn't supportive to taper me off slowly (he thought I should be on them forever). I know it's not the best decision considering the risks, but I have faith in God and my capability to overcome any side effects. I'm thankful that I didn't face any major withdrawal effects so far (except for whole body soreness for a day or two which was acceptable) and I hope it continues that way. It's almost 2 months from my last injection and the half-life of Invega Sustenna is 25 - 49 days so I definitely crossed it. I don't know if it helped, but I am taking Ratfish liver oil 15 drops twice daily. Now, I wanted to know if it would be a good idea to start taking a natural dopamine/serotonin reuptake inhibitor (Catuaba) to down-regulate my already up-regulated dopamine/serotonin receptors. The reason I suspect they up-regulated is because the Invega I was taking acts as an antagonist at both dopamine and serotonin receptors. I would like to start healing my brain to return to my former intellectual/cognitive state before starting the medication (I suspect I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar to begin with). The extra dopamine could possibly help with the motivation/focus issues as well. Do you think I'd be overloading my brain at this stage? Would the Catuaba cause me to go manic? Any thoughts are welcome (including how to overcome/bounce back/heal after stopping antipsychotics)...
  2. 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.
  3. Introduction topic: ☼-mranxious-3-months-off-effexor-xr-6-years-on Heyyyyyy 😊 I am alive !!!!!! Out there living a life that I am proud of and comfortable with. Pheww I am one of the blessed ones to have breached the other side and lived to talk about and YOU WILL TOO !! That was one hell of a ride. One that is FAR FAR FAR in the rearview mirror 🙃 If you have read my story, you will know that I went through literally the most traumatic event in my life and that was "Effexor Withdrawal". From start to finish I was unsure I would make it through this time, but here I am and let me tell you "Its a process". This will not happen overnight...BUT if you make the right moves, eat healthy and take your vitamins, time will heal, only time BUT everything you do in the mean time will make the difference in the end. Here is what I did : -Increased Omega 3:6:9 daily -Lots of purified water -Maximize sleep if you can and set a goof environment to be able to sleep(No sleeping drugs) -eliminated processed foods and to a whole food plant based lifestyle(THE BIGGEST GAME CHANGER for me and healer I believe* -Cut out all toxic people -light walks/bikes/swims daily(Key word "light". -meditation- daily(Prayer as well daily) -Church -daily mantras "I will heal" "I will get better" "I am getting better" -Reading books, occupying my time -Multivitamin and mineral support tablet I went from being a very anxious person once off Effexor for months and months of withdrawal , to now years later, a fully functional human being again 😎 I fully believe that in order to fully heal, you need to be fully off any pharmatheuticals (Per doctors orders of course, my disclosure) ughh 😋 Oh yes and find a good doctor that will listen to you and meet your needs "YOUR NEEDS". I have found a wonderful doctor and he is all about my plant life and healing and he is all about me living my best life drug free. Whatever you are going through right now, just know it gets so much better. It can takes months to years to recover. Realize this is your journey and a special one. Myself personally believes that god has transformed my old life into my new life and I can't be ever more thankful and grateful. One hell of a adventure but "hey" I love who I am more now and have grown exponentially since this ordeal. I have days where I cry happy tears over the smallest things, butterfly on a flower, old person smiling, to the breeze blowing off the lake , to the food on my plate. I never appreciated it before Effexor and I took it for granted, now it just happens and i love it 😊 I guess it all depends how you look at it, but when things get grim and they will, come back here, read my story and just know you are all in good hands😊 The effort you put out now in the throws of this awful withdrawal, will eventually become the reward you see in your future !!!!! YOU ARE GOING TO RECOVER MY FRIENDS, ALL OF YOU !!!! STAY CALM AND SOLDIER ON, stay safe and always consult your doctor before making any moves and if they don't listen to you : FIND A NEW ONE !!!! But always stay in close touch with them please 😎 This website has been a game changer and so are all the admins* Beautiful hard working volunteers 🧡💛💚💜💖 *Taper, taper, taper your mediction , this is most important, don't rush a taper just because you start feeling good. It will catch up to you, stay the course 😎 or possibly suffer grave setbacks * *Feel free to message me* MR. A
  4. Thought it might be nice to have a community thread for posting about improvements great and small, as we notice them occurring. We mention positive developments in our intro topics and of course there are the success stories; I'd love for this to be a place to pop in for a little snack of something promising, a little pick-me-up for when we want to share a nugget or savor a nibble. * I've been noticing something I think is an improvement (curious to hear what you think): increased muscle efficacy/strength -- the opposite of muscle weakness. In other words, I feel like my muscles are working better! This is remarkable to me because it's been a couple of years since I've been able to exercise properly, and I'm definitely in worse shape, much heavier with more fat and less muscle mass, than I was at the beginning of WD. I haven't been lifting weights or training, I can't do much at all. However I feel like my muscles work better. I've been noticing this on and off for the past few months. I still sometimes get muscle aches and extreme full-body fatigue, but it's like my muscles have more energy, more available resources to do what they need to do. I'm not sure how to describe it but it's pretty cool. This new experience is making me realize that I may have suffered from significant drug-induced muscle weakness for decades without even realizing it. I just thought how it was was normal. Now I'm thinking it probably wasn't normal at all! How else to explain that today I am much older, overweight, out of shape, with inadequate muscle mass, and still things seem to be working better? If it is indeed the case that I had muscle weakness side effects for most of my life, consider me retroactively offended. Does this resonate with anyone?
  5. Hello, I am 34 years old, male, and from the Minneapolis MN area. I have been happily married for 7 years. I am a recovering drug addict and have been clean for 13 years and a member of Narcotics Anonymous. I am currently taking Paxil Cr 25mg, Wellbutrin 100mg and Hydroxyzine 50mg for sleep. I was first put on Paxil when I was 15 years old while in addiction treatment. It completely changed my life. Within the first few weeks, my social anxiety was so much better, along with my depression and general anxiety. It felt like I was finally a normal person and could relate to people. I had tried several other medications and none worked and some made my mental illnesses worse. From 2003-2008(age 15-20) I had intermittent sobriety, with all substantial periods being on Paxil. During this time I was in countless rehabs, many different high schools, on and off prescription psych meds, multiple stays in juvenile detention and threatened with homelessness. In 2008 I got clean again, I didn’t want to take Paxil and relapsed on drugs within 6 months. I then got back on Paxil and have stayed clean from all drugs, and yes alcohol is a drug, to this day, 13 years. in 2015 I decided to get off Paxil, and did so cold turkey. I had terrible physical withdrawals for the first month and then after a month felt like I was cured from mental illness. I had zero social anxiety or depression and was on no medication. At the 6 month mark **** hit the fan. All my mental illness came back and was worse than ever. So I knew I had to get back on Paxil. I called my pharmacist, and I still had a prescription, and asked him how I should get back on my Paxil. He said to just get back on it so I did. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, oh how they did. My body and brain severely rejected the Paxil, most likely due to the trauma I endured going off cold turkey. Within a span of 2 months I tried several different SSRI’s and SNRI’s and my body wouldn’t accept any medication. These 2 months were the worst period of my entire life, even in active addiction. I was suicidal, severely agoraphobic, isolated, mental anguish, isolated etc. etc. etc. During my second psychiatric hospitalization (psych ward), they slowly tapered me back on Paxil, through my own suggestion and research. Things slowly got better and I went through an outpatient program. Miraculously I stayed clean throughout this ordeal, which I directly attribute to my support system in NA as well as my parents. I have been on Paxil CR 25mg and a low dose of Wellbutrin 100mg ever since. I also take 50mg of hydroxyzine daily for sleep. My life and mental health now, is light years better than my mental breakdown and active addiction but I feel it’s not sustainable. I have been experiencing chronic fatigue, really terrible sleep problems which is largely due to my sleep apnea. I’m waiting on my c-pap currently, but I have a very strong inclination that Paxil is playing a big role in my sleep issues as well. Also emotional numbness, weight gain and countless other side effects. All I really want to do now is sleep and eat and have very low motivation for day to day obligations let alone hobbies. I want to reiterate that my mental health currently is one thousand percent better than in active addiction and my mental breakdown, but I feel like Paxil is starting to poop out and really need to weigh my options to continue to treat my mental illness. Basically I’m looking for anyones experience with getting off Paxil, particularly someone with addiction issues. Thank you for reading. -Paul
  6. 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
  7. Hey everyone, My name is Abby and I have been off Prozac for 3.5 months now. I'm currently experiencing intense withdrawal and the return of mental states I never thought I'd have to experience again, and I would really like to connect with others who are going through similar during this long, difficult process. Background info: I always had tendencies towards anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (the Pure-Obsessional variety) since childhood. At 16 these symptoms very rapidly became so severe my whole life fell apart within a matter of days (Going on the contraceptive pill at this time may have been a contributing factor). I didn't have a full breakdown until I was 18, at which point I was taken to the doctor, put on Sertraline, and referred to psychiatry. The following 8 years consisted of several psychiatric admissions, different drugs including clomipramine, seroquel, mirtazipine, prozac, and possibly a few others for shorter periods. I lost pretty much everything, my obsessional fears were so strong that I attempted suicide more than once, developed a bad cocaine/mephadrone habit, was a constant worry to my family. There were times, however, where the medication would help a lot. At 60mg of Prozac I went through some periods of being functional - I went to work, got into a relationship etc. These were a great relief but I can't say I was truly happy as the fears were never properly dealt with. My last hospital admission was in 2014 when I was 24. I had attempted to come off medication as I believed I had to deal with the underlying problems, and I hated the weight gain side effects. Looking back, this was doomed to fail as I was still using cocaine regularly, drinking a lot, and didn't have any proper support mechanisms in place. I was fine for 6 months then crashed, was borderline psychotic with the OCD symptoms, depressed and anxious beyond belief and desperately wanted to die (and believed I deserved to). I was in a psych ward for just over 2 months before new meds kicked in - clompipramine and (randomly, I don't know why) Epilum, as I was told it 'balanced moods'. A year later I went back on to old faithful Prozac and also came off the contraceptive pill. I had always been told the same about it, that it leveled out moods, and don;t think it's a coincidence that my symptoms became much more manageable a few months after stopping it. I then managed to stay at 40mg for 2 years and my life changed drastically for the better. to myself and everyone around me it was like a miraculous recovery - I stopped taking drugs, began volunteering at a Buddhist meditation centre, got my dream job, published a novel, did newspaper interviews about my experiences, ...I pretty much had my dream life. It was like being reborn after thinking everything was all over...forever. It was in January 2017 that I decided to gradually wean off Prozac. Over the following 10 months I reduced until stopping completely in October. In these past 2 years I have done extensive mind training and spiritual exploration, which has probably been the main factor in this recovery. My life is pretty much dedicated to this practice now - I still volunteer at the meditation centre, go on meditation retreats throughout the year, and have also completed a Reiki Mastership. It was always potentially on the cards after exploring my mind with psychedelic drugs in the past, doing past life regressions and also taking Ayahuasca twice in ceremonies. It was around the time of the reiki mastership that I was weaning off the last of the Prozac. Things became challenging - but at first I welcomed it. I was in a strong place mentally, and my mental health hadn't plagued me intensely for a few years. I was made aware that the Reiki energy can churn things up to be healed, but I think that the combination of this, a massive flare up of a back issue that left me not able to walk for weeks, family pressures and intensive mind exploration during retreat that has led me to my current situation. Since December just passed things have been incredibly difficult. I have experienced a return of old OCD obsessions, to the point where I've had panic attacks for days that made my vision blur, heavy depression, crying all the time, existential fears and experiences which medically would look similar to psychosis (although I believe that term can pathologize important and natural inner processes), identity confusion etc. I knew it would be hard, I just never expected to feel this level of horror ever again. Having said that, I know things are different this time round - I have a level of insight gained through spiritual practice that is keeping me going. Energetically, I'm aware that I am creating this reality on various levels, and that I need to relax as much as possible to allow it to pass through the way it's supposed to. I'm no stranger to facing the darkest parts of the psyche, but it's still terrifying and I'm struggling to cope day to day. To make matters worse, my Mum has gone abroad for cancer treatment and I'm now caring for my little brother and sister 4 days a week which is incredibly stressful (I'm used to having my own space and being able to retreat when I need to). My CBT therapist has discharged me as she feels I cannot engage with therapy under this amount of stress, but encouraged me to come back when my Mum gets back. To be fair, she never taught me anything I didn't naturally learn in meditation and I was only seeing her regularly to comply with services. I have however started going for reiki treatments with the person who facilitated the course I was on last year - he is exceptionally intuitive, knowledgeable and takes an all round, individual approach. One session with him last week was worth a year of 'traditional' therapy. So I'm hoping that continuing with this will help. Anyway, sorry for the essay. I don't have many people to talk to about all this. It's also weird for me to ask for help now as I haven't needed it in so long - I'm usually now the one that helps everyone else. It's a scary and heartbreaking thing to go back to a place you thought you'd left long in the past, but I do believe deep down that I have done so in order to face my demons fully and emerge stronger in the long run. Thank you if you made it this far, I'm looking forward to connecting with others on this site. You are all incredibly strong to be doing what you're doing, no matter what stage you're at. Much love x
  8. Violets Escitalopram Lexapro Cipralex Protracted Withdrawal Hello everyone, I have been thinking of posting a success story for a while, and after some questions in my private messages, I have decided to return here to give some hope to the ones that are suffering with PSSD. Here is an excerpt from my original post about my experience back in 2019: "I started on 2,5mg escitalopram in december 2018 for GAD and severe depression by my GP. I gradually increased the dose up to 7,5mg and was on this dose for a couple of weeks (until january 7th) I then decided to taper down again, as the drug made me careless, emotionally numb, impaired my cognition and significantly decreased my libido. So I stopped it after 2 months (last 2,5mg pill taken 8th of february). Since stopping I suffered two weeks of acute physical withdrawal (flu-like symptoms, nausea, dizziness etc) but I thought that it would be over and I would go back to «normal», but now it is clear to me that I also suffer from protracted withdrawal and the symptoms are scary and debilitating. I suffer from parasthesia, brain zaps, tinnitus, severe derealization, emotional numbness and extreme apathy to a point where I can’t force myself to get up and eat. I feel completely braindead and my cognition is ruined, the past month has gone by in a haze and I can’t remember or recollect much of it. This is extremely terrifying and almost worse than the original depression. I feel dead, even though I’m alive." ______________________ I am happy to share that since then, I have pretty much recovered. From the very long list of symptoms that I suffered (anhedonia, complete apathy/avolition, complete emotional numbness (NO emotions at all), no feelings of hunger, no libido, full genital and nipple anesthesia, severe cognitive disfunction, muscle aches/wastage, changed hair structure, dry skin, no sweating, tinnitus, visual disturbances (some visual snow/unclear vision/focus), gum health issues, high pulse/breathing issues leading up to a week long hospital stay), I now only have one or two of those symptoms left, which are pretty minor anyways. That is some decrease in libido, as well as permanent tinnitus (barely noticeable), which are pretty insignificant at a greater scale of things. It took me about three months after cessation to start experience tiny improvements and it took me almost a year to start feeling somewhat like myself emotionally. The first thing to improve was my cognition, which started improving after about 3 months, then the anhedonia started to lift around the 6 month-mark, together with some of the physical symptoms. The emotional and the sexual dysfunctions were the last to go and improved majorly at the 1-1,5 year mark. I must note that I haven't taken any medications or specific supplements (other than some B-vitamins and Omega 3) ever since my horror experience with Lexapro and I am not planning on doing so either. Therefore, I do consider my "recovery" natural. Anyways, now, after three years, I think it is safe to say that I am fully recovered and I am mostly back to my "old" self. I have since graduated at my university, gotten to experience amazing new things and places and also managed to find a loving partner. Even though life still gets hard at times (like it does for the most of us), and I still have days where the depression rears its ugly head, I now have found ways to deal with it, knowing it's only temporary. I also feel like this entire PSSD-experience has made me a lot more resilient and I want people in a similar situation to know, that there is definitely hope, no matter how many symptoms they experience and how hopeless it might feel at the moment. Best, Violets
  9. Hello everybody, i hope everyone is well. i would like to thank altostrata for this website and i also want to thank whoever volunteers, so thank you. anyways, i am almost fully recovered from the harmful effects of risperidone. I did not think i would recover, all in all it took 14 months to feel "normal." Here's a link of my first topic if you want more of a perspective on how i used to be: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12502-risperdalhater-my-risperdal-story-and-how-it-has-affected-my-life/#entry234527 I took risperidone for about 3 weeks, i recall starting off with 2mg doses daily then after a few days i complained about drowsiness and feeling weird so they lowered the dose to 1mg then after a few more days they worked their way up to 3mg daily and a long with that i received a long acting 7mg injection which can be taken once a month (as i recall). towards the end of me taking the drug i started feeling very very drowsy and i recall saying in a pathetic weak voice "I don't like this, i want to stop", so i dumped the risperidone in the trash and never took it again, i stopped cold turkey. the next week and a half or so i went through the worst experience of my life until that point. i had: - constant shakiness - could barely sleep - extreme sadness - seemingly a complete absence of happiness - serious muscular fatigue and weak blood flow these all disappeared after that week and a half except for the muscular fatigue and weak blood flow. the sadness/blah feeling got better at an extremely slow pace. libido died of course (pretty common with risperidone). thankfully i did not grow breasts or lactate like some of the victims of risperidone, perhaps they took it longer or took a higher dose. month 1-10 i was a fatigued wreck, people asked me why i looked so sad, i had to force my smiles etc. month 8-10 or so (as i recall) got slightly better but nothing big, just slight improvements. month 10.5 = more slight improvements in energy. nothing to be excited about though. month 11-14 is when the healing starting picking up its pace. i was hopeless at one point. i don't care if you've been on the drug for years, i still sincerely believe you will get better, just get off of the drug. taking this drug is not how a human being is supposed to live. so i started supplementing with niacin and my blood flow was better, i know because when i was at the gym i could actually get a muscle pump again, it wasn't that great but it was there. when someone is lifting weights, their blood is supposed to flow and the muscle that you're using will get filled with blood and become more vascular, i did not have this except for before i took risperidone. i've been lifting weights for 5 years, gym rat level; that being said, i could tell something was wrong when my blood flow became weak. don't worry about libido, it will return as long as you avoid those crap drugs. i personally put any drug in the category of "crap" whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not. i heard that when you show low libido, zinc can be a link.... yes i did try to make that rhyme. get your blood tested, i have heard that medicines can deplete certain vitamins/minerals. again, please get your blood tested. recovery won't happen overnight no matter how many methods you use to help yourself. supplements that helped me: Natural vitality calm magnesium: it's a powdered form of magnesium and has worked better than any magnesium i've tried. Melatonin __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ if you need help or advice, feel free to message me. at this point it has been 14 months and i am recovered, everything is back to normal. check your blood, supplement with what you need, eat good food, exercise. thanks for reading everyone.
  10. ADMIN NOTE I stumbled upon this and found it sensible. ("other addictions part" http://protractedbenzodiazepinewithdrawal.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/27-months/ It basically assess the agony of paws may lead to addictive behaviours (like computer, music, to name mine) which stimulate dopamine so as to make it through, and that in the long run it would possibly downregulate dopamine receptors and trigger/worsen/prolong anhedonia. What do you think about it? Is there any other people who are bound to some alienating addictive behaviours so as to ease the making through the day?
  11. Hi all, In 2013 I received the diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I started having therapy for the first time in my life - I was 23 then. I've been anxious through my teens and early adulthood, and also suffered from bouts of low mood, but did not think much of it - I thought it was just how I was. In 2013 because I was at a particularly bad phase in college, I went to a psychiatrist through which I started taking 20mg Lexapro (I take the generic - Escitalopram). Everything improved a lot. Anxiety greatly reduced, mood also better, more drive to do stuff. And basically no side effects. So I kept taking it religiously, and basically forgot about it. About 3 years later, it started to bug me that I was taking a drug to keep myself mentally stable. I knew nothing about how bad the withdrawals from this type of drug were, and I felt good, so I just cold turkey'd - 20 to 0. You can imagine how this goes. After some days I was hit by what I thought was the worst flu I had ever had. I could not leave bed. That was odd. Didn't think just stopping that drug would cause that, as the effect of the drug is pretty much non-noticeable (it's not like taking a benzo where you feel drowsy and so on) and you just feel pretty much like the normal you. Either way, just to be safe I went back on the 20mg and all the symptoms disappeared after some time and again I did not think much about it anymore. I think I attempted cold turkeying again after some time just to experience exactly the same symptoms. So I thought "alright, this really is the Lexapro, not a flu". From then on I started being more uncomfortable for taking the Lexapro. Here's this drug that apparently makes me feel stable, but I stop taking it and I'm completely wrecked. This doesn't feel right. So in 2018 I started a slow tapper, or at least what I considered a slow tapper. I was reducing around 2.5mg every month or every other month. I was going linearly - no percentage reduction. That was the logical thing for me to do as my doctor never told me about the liquid form of Lexapro and with the tablets available where I live it's impossible to do a precise lower division lower than 2.5mg. Throughout the tapper I felt what I now acknowledge as withdrawal symptoms, but again I did not think much of it. I was in a difficult life situation, living abroad and always extremely stressed, so I thought the life situation was what was causing that. In May 2019, I was down to already 2.5mg. Not feeling that well, but that was such a low dose that I thought it was insignificant and dropped to zero. This overlapped with a break-up and with starting a job that was really quite demanding. That's when I got into hell. I started waking up at night with panic attacks. In the morning my arms and legs were burning - I felt the anxiety burning my body. I just wanted to leave my body and my mind, that feeling was just too unbearable. Crying non-stop, huge feelings of rage - I just wanted to destroy stuff and just felt this huge urge sometimes to beat up anyone that did something even mildly annoying (and mind that I've always been quite a controled person - this was not at all me). I also had muscle spasms, couldn't digest anything properly and lost a bunch of weight. I had never been so thin in my life. That's when I started thinking I had to have something serious in my brain - I even forgot about the Lexapro then - I thought I was developing a neurological disease. This person was not me. My psychiatrist had tried to put me on other antidepressants - Fluvoxamine and Mirtazapine. None of them worked. Then I was put back on the Lexapro (only 10mg). And I wasn't seeing much improvement on my state. I started becoming suicidal. I did not want to go through the realization that I had a disease that would invalidate me for the rest of my days. I was going to doctor after doctor, doing exam after exam, and they didn't seem to find anything wrong which left me feeling even more helpless. I thought that was never going to end. I started thinking every day about suicide. That's all I thought about. I just could not bear that reality. That's when I told my parents - "I need to be checked in at the hospital. I won't last much longer like this." So I was checked in at the hospital. Even the doctors who checked me in did not believe I was in such a bad state - I guess even in that state I kept my composure. I spent 2 weeks there, in what was the most horrible experience of my life. The people there were for sure much worse than I was - most of them had even lost touch with reality. But deep down I know this was the experience I needed to snap out of it. While I was there the doctor who was supervising me increased my Lexapro dose to 20mg. I became reeeaally sleepy after that. Just as I had become the first time I went into 20mg back in 2013. By then I still did not believe I did not have a horrifying disease. It was really hard to believe this was coming just from a psychological source. And it took quite long for me to become convinced that was the case. The months right after the hospital were tough. I was sleeping a lot - around 12 hours a day. Very, very slowly things started improving. Too slowly for me to even notice a difference. But little by little I started sleeping less, recovered my appetite, some days even saw a glimpse of contentment. At some point I was feeling good more often than I was feeling bad. I started exercising every day, having psychotherapy twice a week, taking supplements, getting sun light, meditating. Everything I could do to improve, I did. Around April of this year, I was already entering a pretty stable stage. Some days I still had energy and mood breaks which I had no idea where they came from and were pretty demotivating - now I realize they are likely something akin to the "waves" that I've seen mentioned here at SA. I also still had some lingering symptoms such as some vague leg pain here and there, as well as teeth pain. But those bad days and lingering symptoms started becoming more and more rare. So for some months I was doing really good. Feeling drive and contentment with life. Optimistic. Last month I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, and as I really want to be med-free he suggested that I attempted a new reduction again. At first he suggested me to drop to 15mg, but I thought it was better to go first down to 17.5mg instead. And that's the dosage I'm at right now. The reduction was not that large, but I can for sure feel the withdrawals - even though I know the reduction was larger than the 10% recommended here at SA - my next drops I will follow that guidance. After the drop to 17.5mg, I started having more of those down days. Also the days right afterwards I had rebound anxiety, which has already disappeared. Some days my energy and mood breaks. And I'm more irritable, less drive, etc. Also those lingering pains I mentioned are back sometimes. Furthermore, I feel like I can't train at the gym at the same level I did - even though my body weight and composition is exactly the same as it was before the drop to 17.5mg, I feel significantly less strength some days. So for now I will stick with cardio. Now I know much better than I did in the past and will wait to fully stabilize from the current withdrawal until I attempt another reduction. I am also building a sauna at my place, which I have read has many benefits for mood, so that's another resource I will have to deal with the tapering process. Hope this post can be useful for someone.
  12. HI, I'm new to the community and at this point am very scared. I will give a quick history and then a couple questions that I would love help with, if you don't mind. I have been on and off prozac for around 9 years(as needed). I was diagnosed with PPD after my son was born. I never experienced emotional blunting while just on the prozac. However, in Dec. 2017 I had a breakdown after suffering a big T (trauma). My doctor prescribed me Abilify to go along with my antidepressant. I almost immediately felt emotionally blunted, and asked if it could be the drugs. I never took them extremely regularly. I would go a month and do great then come off for weeks because I hated how they made me feel. After much research I decided to come off of every thing in May 2020. I have just hit a wall of anhedonia. I would have never dreamed it would get this much worse after being off the medicine this long. Here are my questions: 1. Is it common to have anhedonia set in this late in the withdraw process? 2. Will this last forever, or will my full range of emotions come back? Have I done permanent damage? Thank you in advance. Prozac - 20 mg; On and off since Nov. 2010 Abilify - 5mg ; On and off since Feb.2018
  13. Hello. About 6 months ago I was hospitalized and put on risperdal against my will. I was diagnosed as bi polar and given the medication over the course of 21 days, beginning with a pill and ending with two injectables. I was scheduled for a third injection three months after being released, but as the symptoms were impossible to cope with, my psychiatrist put me on abillify instead. After less than a month, I discontinued the medication completely cold turkey and I haven't been back to see him since. Here are some of the symptoms I've noticed for the past 3 months since discontinuing the medications. -akathisia -mild gynecomastia -emotional flatness -inabillity to read or retain information ( I used to read about a book a week before the medication) -increased joint pain -terrible anxiety and agoraphobia -erectile dysfunction and an empty sex drive/diminished orgasms -severe weight gain Anyways, a whole myriad of symptoms began to occur, but my main concern is permanent neurological impairment or alteration caused from this medication. I've read that these medications are actually neurotoxic, that they shrink the brain or even cause brain cells to die, all sorts of terrible stuff like that - and I'm terrified. I don't know what to do or how to cope. Is there anybody out there with similar experiences? If so, how long has it taken you to recover, if you recovered at all? I feel like I've basically been lobotomized. I'm only 23, and I couldn't imagine living life like this without some hope of getting better. Any help is appreciated. Thanks for listening.
  14. See also: good-things-gratitude-and-happiness As I've gotten better over the past 3+ years after quitting antidepressants cold turkey and having really bad problems with severe anxiety, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms, I've realized how important moments of happiness and contentment have been to my recovery. Of course, feeling happy or even content seemed completely impossible at first, and attaining them even now is still sometimes a challenge. But, looking back, I can see clear patterns of measurable, lasting improvement after periods during which I somehow managed to feel good. Usually, these moments involved reconnection with friends and traveling, taking time off work, and finding things to do that made me feel a sense of fulfillment, even if it was precarious and fleeting. A few months ago, I came across a fascinating article that talks about the importance of positive social connections to our health. It turns out your body turns genes off and on depending on how you subjectively experience your environment, sometimes even hours after, and this can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental health. It is a long read, but a very worthwhile one! Here's the link: The Social Life of Genes What is SO difficult in recovering from antidepressant withdrawal is that the withdrawal makes us feel so miserable. Precisely what we are desperate to recover from is overwhelming negative physical and emotional feelings. So... what can you do? In case it helps anyone, I'll describe some of the things that helped me (often tips given on this forum). Don't expect to have big results, especially at first. The important thing is that you keep trying. Try to notice and appreciate anything resembling a positive emotion (or even neutral) as much as you can, even if it only lasts a few seconds. If you fail, don't worry... This isn't about getting it right, it's about generating more positive emotions little by little. Sometimes you can fake your way through them, sometimes they'll come to you and you'll be surprised. 1. Taking magnesium salts baths to relax. Try to concentrate on the pleasant sensation of water surrounding you, on the warmth. If it doesn't feel good, don't worry. Just think that it IS good, that it will be good again someday. 2. Look at flowers and trees and nature, really observe them. 3. Spend time with animals. 4. Smell things you like or remember liking before. Don't worry if you don't get a positive response. Just observe what it brings up in you. If it is negative, don't judge it, just let it go. 5. Reach out to others, either here or in your life, as much as you can. At the end of the day, try to find anything positive about an interaction you had, even if it seems insignificant. Don't dwell on the negative stuff. 6. Take walks, trying to be present with what is around you. 7. Listen to calming, pleasant music... don't overdo it, though. I often would get things "stuck" in my head, so if you're in the worst stages of withdrawal, start small. Maybe wind chimes, or the the sound of the ocean, and just for a very little bit. 8. Do something to help someone else, however small, and then reflect on it that night. Tell yourself you should feel good about what you did, even if you don't believe it. 9. Whenever possible, enjoy food. At first you might be having severe digestion problems. I was having strange taste distortions at first, but with time I found that treating myself to something delicious really made me feel good (just make sure it's healthy and something that won't make you feel worse... excessive sugar, etc.). One of the first things that I started feeling a desire for was food and nature. I found my body asking for things it probably really needed, like dark leafy greens and celery or fruit. 10. Have a cup of tea (something you can tolerate) or a glass of water and really concentrate on the sensations of drinking it, think about the good it does your body. 11. Spend as much time as possible NOT thinking about withdrawal. Distract yourself with books or TV shows or just looking out the window. One of the first things that I was able to enjoy was the first season of Downton Abbey and Jane Austen novels. One day I realized I was looking forward to reading a new chapter or seeing another episode, and though it was a weak feeling at first, it grew into a greater desire, which was amazing after feeling completely dead for a long time. 12. Try learning something new, without expecting any results. I started taking drawing classes, and though I often get frustrated and even break down crying when I'm doing something, I later look at what I did and see small moments of success that make me feel good. Even better is when I'm able to let go and "not think" and just let my body experience what it is doing. 13. Enlist someone to cheer you on. When you're in withdrawal, people can be incredibly critical and frustrated with your lack of progress. If you have a good friend or family member who is willing, ask them to help you. My mother forced me to go on walks and just kept repeating I was going to beat this and I was going to be OK... she really helped me survive the first few months of hell! 14. Enlist other people to help you with basic tasks or back you up with work when you're in deep crisis. I kept working at first, and I was making a lot of mistakes, so I would have someone "check my work" before I turned it in. Especially during the months I was getting very little sleep, it was a life-saver to have this support. 15. If you can, take time off work, and try to get out of your usual environment... seek out people and places that make you feel better in ANY way. 16. Allow yourself to be distracted. I got really worked up about eating, sleeping, getting better... to the point I was holding up my own progress. Somehow sometimes I would break out of that and become distracted and afterward I'd realize I had forgotten about my pain and suffering for a moment! Do not underestimate the power of distraction! Sometimes what really helped me was being around people I could not talk to about what was going on with me. It forced me to be in the moment. 17. On the flip side, also allow yourself to complain about how awful you feel with someone safe once in a while. Just let it out, and then move on. Tell the other person you don't need feedback or opinions, that you just need to vent and need a sympathetic ear. 18. At the end of the day, review your day and think of anything that was positive, however small. If there was nothing positive, congratulate yourself for having gotten through it. 19. Allow yourself small moments of giving up. Rest for a moment. Cry, think that's it, you can't take it any more. Then un-give up and keep going. Even the tiniest steps will add up to something. It's going to take time, but you're going to get better. Nadia
  15. Hi there, I’m new to this site. But I wanted to share something regarding PSSD with you all. In 2007 I was out into Prozac for panic disorder and remained to the drug for 12 months. I experienced PSSD for roughly 4 years until things started to change and I started to notice some really strong “windows” where my sex life has come back in a very strong way. In fact, in mid-2013 I likely had one of the most intense orgasms I’d ever had in my life, even prior to taking Prozac. Gradually the windows stayed open longer... until I ended up again on antidepressant medication due to a return of the panic disorder. This time I was put on Zoloft. I just completed my taper as of a few days ago and have been experiencing some pretty intense brain zaps 😬, and while my sexual functioning was impaired while on Zoloft, I am anticipating another bout of PSSD. But the point is that, at least in my experience, PSSD gradually went away. It took ~4 years for me, and never fully sustained the open window, but it got A LOT better vs the low point. I’ve got a bunch of stories about all the experiments done on me and doctors I saw when I went through PSSD the first time... maybe if you’re interested :). But fir now just know that not everything you read about PSSD is true. Recovery is possible, but at least in my experience, it took a long time.
  16. mod note: Gussy's introduction topic: Gussy: 9 weeks off effexor, wondering if it will ever end? I never thought I would be asked to write a story of recovery in the group I think of as the premier withdrawal group. The knowledge you guys have here is just out of this world. I don't know if it can be rivaled anywhere. When Alto asked me to write a story of recovery here one day I felt honoured and obligated to write something. I hope someone can gain something from this. It was at the start of 2017 after a failing journey i requested a blood test. The result of this showed me i could no longer trust what drs and specialists were telling me about the harmless effects of effexor and i knew i had to be off it. So before i joined here i did some research and decided on a taper slower than most drs but much faster than the 10% or less method. I really thought the real life experiences i was reading were people looking for sympathy and thought i.d be fine. Wow, how wrong i was!!! I realise a mod has to approve this so i want to tell you that i can.t write this story in one sitting. It.ll prob take many to do it with many edits along the way. I will add to it soon and then add to it again. I.ll submit this for now but save it on my phone too just incase you can.t approve it. Know that this can be done though. Gus.
  17. This is written with a great deal of insight and personal experience. Great paper. Qual Health Res. 2016 Mar;26(4):466-81. doi: 10.1177/1049732315576496. Epub 2015 Mar 23. "I'm Not Waving, I'm Drowning": An Autoethnographical Exploration of Biographical Disruption and Reconstruction During Recovery From Prescribed Benzodiazepine Use. Fixsen AM1. Abstract Benzodiazepines are group of drugs used mainly as sedatives, hypnotics, muscle relaxants, and anti-epileptics. Tapering off benzodiazepines is, for some users, a painful, traumatic, and protracted process. In this article, I use an autoethnographic approach, adopting the metaphor of water, to examine heuristically my experience of iatrogenic illness and recovery. I draw on personal journals and blog entries and former users' narratives to consider the particular form of biographical disruption associated with benzodiazepines and the processes involved in identity reconstruction. I emphasize the role of the online community in providing benzodiazepine users such as myself with a co-cultural community through which to share a voice and make sense of our experiences. I explain how the success stories of former users provided me with the hope that I, the "medical victim," could become the "victor" and in the process construct a new life and fresh identity. © The Author(s) 2015. KEYWORDS: Autoethnography; diaries / journals; healing; recovery; self-help; social identity; stories / storytelling PMID: 25800715 DOI:10.1177/1049732315576496
  18. Qual Health Res. 2017 Nov;27(13):2030-2041. doi: 10.1177/1049732317728053. Epub 2017 Sep 9. Stories of Hell and Healing: Internet Users' Construction of Benzodiazepine Distress and Withdrawal. Fixsen AM1, Ridge D1. Abstract Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs used mainly as sedatives, hypnotics, antiepileptics, and muscle relaxants. Consumption is recommended for 2 to 4 weeks only, due to fast onset of dependency and potentially distressing withdrawal symptoms. Few peer-review studies have drawn on the user experiences and language to appreciate firsthand experiences of benzodiazepine withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome. We looked extensively at patient stories of benzodiazepine withdrawal and recovery on Internet support sites and YouTube. Our analysis indicated that users employ rich metaphors to portray the psychologically disturbing and protracted nature of their suffering. We identified seven major themes: hell and isolation, anxiety and depression, alienation, physical distress, anger and remorse, waves and windows, and healing and renewal. By posting success stories, ex-users make known that "healing" can be a long, unpredictable process, but distress does lessen, and recovery can happen. KEYWORDS: Internet; benzodiazepines; dependency; distress; electronic support groups; metaphor; patient narratives; patient stories; qualitative; recovery PMID: 28891380 DOI:10.1177/1049732317728053
  19. MOD NOTE: Ihateeffexor created a membership and another person helped her to type the first couple of posts. Ihateeffexor is now able to post for herself. ________________________________________________________________________________________ Hello, I am actually writing on behalf of my friend who is in a very bad shape right now. She was on effexor for 1,5 years and tapered for 3 months 45 mg to 0. She had really bad withdrawal symtoms for 2 months after the last pill but then started to feel better. A couple of weeks ago she had some alcohol and partying with friends and ever since her symtoms has come back and they are much worse now. She was ok for 3 months but the alcohol seems to have made the symtoms come back, the day after she was drunk. Is this what you call kindling? And is there a chance she will recovrr from this? She is bedridden atm. Thank you all!
  20. Hello Everyone, I always intended to return when I felt that my recovery was at such a stage as to be no longer the main focus of my existence. For me that was a sign of 'success'. I probably reached that point over a year ago. This was my original thread in 'Intro's and Updates'. Like others my withdrawal developed in clear stages:- Months 0-3: Nausea, sweating, increased energy etc Months 4 - 12: everything listed in my topic. Hell on earth. My topic doesn't do it justice. Months 12 onwards: The major symptoms (acute anxiety, suicidal ideation, chronic fatigue, intense rage, an inability to function at any level as a human being) are gone. Residual issues: my sleep is lighter and more broken than it was whilst on the AD's and pre AD's. Memory problems relating to name recall. Neither issue impacts my quality of life to any great degree. Today? I feel well, my pre-drug personality has been fully restored (for better and worse) and I deal with the emotional problems that first led me to the drugs with exercise and a well-practised shrug of the shoulders. If that fails the odd hour of stewing in a pot of my own self-pity never did me any harm! Those days are thankfully rare and are alleviated by a swift kick to my own ample arse😃 I always thought I'd write more in my 'success story' but my ordeal feels very much a part of my past now. Things have returned to normal... 'normal' in this case meaning being free from the maelstrom of chemically-induced madness that is acute withdrawal from an SSRI. Looking back that is the only way to accurately describe it. My only advice (if I may be so bold) is to never ever think what you are going through will stay the same. There will be deep despair and flickers of hope. There will be false dawns and genuine improvements. REGARDLESS, YOU WILL GET BETTER. It just takes time. As a wise-owl once wrote on here 'it takes at least a year' if you cold-turkey from these drugs after prolonged use. That's pretty much what it took for me to return to a sense of normality. The improvements in the 2nd year off the drugs were immeasurable. As Claire Weekes once wrote about recovery from nervous breakdown (and which equally applies to withdrawal-induced breakdown IMHO): "Once you are on the right road to recovery, recovery is inevitable, however protracted your illness may have been" If anyone has any questions I'm more than happy to answer them. I know how much I needed some perspective and reassurance when I was in the pit of despair. For those who supported me in my thread you will never know how much I needed and appreciated it. A huge heartfelt thanks. A huge thanks also to the owners and the mods who do such a selfless and brilliant job. . To everyone else. Keep going. It will come right. xxx
  21. Hello, I'm new to this site but have known about it for awhile. Two years ago I went through a detox to get off alprazolam (benzo) and alcohol. I was a mess for several years before that. I know now I was experiencing inter-dose withdrawal for years. Alcohol is cross-tolerant and I was using it increasingly over the years I was on alprazolam. I had been on sertraline for several years prior to starting the benzo and continued it through the detox. After that experience, I started reducing the sertraline and had horrific symptoms every time I would make a cut. Towards the end, I got back on a benzo (clonazepam) but managed to get off the sertraline. Shortly after, I tapered the second benzo and have been psych med free for about 10 months now. The entire experience was devastating. I lost all social connections, a relationship, a job, my mental and physical health, my privacy, my dignity, my spirituality, my possessions -- all of it. When I got off everything, I started exercising every day. I ate as healthy as I knew how (have learned much more since). I quit all psychoactive substances including coffee. I stopped seeing my psychiatrist and an unwise therapist I was seeing. My health has been improving and I stopped blood pressure and cholesterol medication. I've lost over 100 pounds so far and I'm just starting to rebuild my professional and social life. They are both non-existent at the moment but because of my progress, I am beginning to address them. My life was hell for close to a decade and questionable for almost another -- all because of psych meds. I'm here to connect with others who've been through or are going through a similar experience who may want to discuss what happened or is happening. I'm interested in making friends and I want to share my experience and learn from others. I think about what I've been through every day and right now, I don't want to forget. I use the pain I feel to help me move forward. I hope to leave it behind at some point. I know there are many who have been or are going through similar and may want to connect. Thank you for this space and the ability to share and connect.
  22. hello there. i registered here to search for help for symptoms that are bothering me and that came after 15mg of olanzapine for 7-8 months. generally, i've been taking olanzapine for like a year or something, i started with a 5mg dose at 2015, after some time they upped it to 10mg, and then i've had a full-blown psychotic episode and i began taking 15mg. i was hospitalized and there they gave me high doses of 5 different medications. when i came back home, things just weren't the same. okay, that didn't bother me, i was still thinking that it's only a phase. then, month after month, i realized that that "phase" is actually... something deeper, different. so i searched about it on the internet; and saw that "antipsychotics destroy brain". i stopped taking olanzapine cold turkey, which was DEFINITELY a very bad idea. at first, i was very depressed, i don't know if it lasted long enough to be called a major depressive episode, but it was severe. i was full of guilt... but, the worst of it all - i couldn't feel a damn thing. i couldn't enjoy a damn thing. i was on a winter holiday and i'm a skier, but i didn't feel anything while i was skiing. yes, i could leave a bed, but i was doing it only because i felt like the world around me would judge me and criticize me if i didn't. people are supposed to feel happy, free when they're skiing, even scared. i didn't feel anything. i realized that i stopped caring about everything, so, you could tell me a good thing - i would feel nothing (sometimes it was even hard to fake a smile, because it was even hard to move my face). you could tell me a bad thing - i would feel nothing. i had a fear of being criticized, but now, that faded too. but that's okay, to be honest, it's much easier to live without the guilt and at the same time energy to do anything about the guilt you're feeling. and i wanted to feel things. i wanted, and not only wanted, but i still want to feel things. deeply. so i started faking reactions to things... i was like - okay, imagine you're a normal person who didn't go through this kind of situation. how would a normal, rational person react ? and then i reacted that way. i still do that tho, it became some kind of a habit. my concentration is very bad. my will is very bad. i have anhedonia and apathy. my cognitive abilities are awful. but i just can't seem to care. and you know, sometimes you feel bad for not caring about things. i don't even feel bad about not caring, i just don't feel a damn thing. i had a period where i was doing better and was motivated to recover. i still want to recover, but i feel like nothing makes sense and i don't know how to get out of this nonsense. if any of you found sense, can you please tell me how ? i know it's an extremely hard and long process, but i somehow believe that it's possible. WHY ? i went to the neurologist and spent a lot of money on some neurological tests, for example magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. guess what ? IT'S NOT THE BRAIN. IT'S PSYCHE. mind. mental. !!!!!!!!!!!! at least for me. tests can't and don't lie. i believe in those tests, even tho i have all the symptoms of brain damage, i surely don't have a brain damage because i have an evidence. the tests have shown that my brain is perfectly healthy, despite my mental disorder. i don't know about you, but i can recommend checking yourself just to be sure, it can ease the pain, even if you do have a brain damage or if you don't. if you don't have enough money, there are local hospitals where you can check yourself. so that's why i accepted medications and i'm currently using 10mg of escitalopram and i started few days ago aripiprazole 5mg. i'm willing to try things. i just feel so brain-foggy and that's stopping me from doing anything. and now, i'll go and search the forum for some advices from you guys, i will write here again. thanks if you read this. ...and yeah, sorry for a really bad post, i'm not so well right now. i'm glad that i became the part of this community, the feeling that i'm not alone makes me feel better. and it's hell.
  23. Hi there, these are some of the details, and I promise it has a good ending: I have a prolactinoma (period stopped, hormones were off) so the endocrinologist gave me bromocriptine to shrink the tumor so I could get the period back and get pregnant. I took it for about 10 months and he said once I got pregnant to just go cold turkey with the meds. So I did and experienced a very mild withdrawl (though I didn't know that's what it was at the time) and about a year and a half after I gave birth I had my gall bladder removed. Gall bladders have a lot to do with breaking down things you ingest. Well, I took one pill, one tiny little bromocriptine pill because the doctor said I should just take bromocriptine forever, and I think it was the fact that I no longer had a gall bladder or that I had had a previous reaction to an SSRI, but I here are the details: Reaction/Withdrawl to Zoloft (sertraline) July 2016 was onset - palpitations, sinus issues, constant panic, paranoia, vertigo, fatigue, the shocks in the head - lasted full-strength for about 6 weeks and then started to calm down slowly - 3 month after onset I was kind of emotionally and psychologically tired but the symptoms were gone and I was able to drink alcohol and coffee again Reaction/Withdrawl to Bromocriptine (dopamine agonist) January 2017 was onset - sinus issues, constant panic, paranoia, vertigo, fatigue, depersonalizationm, extreme tinitus, loss of concentration, burning scalp, major brain fog - these symptoms all lasted full force for about 6 months. Then it began to get better and slowly got better for about a year and a bit. Then finally, at about 20 months after onset the horrific brain fog finally went away - exactly 2 years after onset I still have tinitus now and then and I have some residual anxiety-related issues, as well as PTSD from the whole situation, but I can enjoy my life again. I still can't drink more than a glass of wine with dinner, or have any caffeine, but I'm myself again. I came back on here because I want all of you to know that it's a waiting game. I'll admit there were a couple of months during the cold, harsh, dark Canadian winter (at 12 months after onset) where I wondered whether I had it in me to keep fighting, but I did keep fighting, and it got better. I can look at the sun again, feel sunshine and like it, I can feel happiness without really focusing on trying to feel it, the horrible brain fog and insomnia that plagued my life are basically gone. I can drive around again. If I lose sleep, it's no big deal. I can only describe those 2 years, the worst 2 years of my life, as the feeling of all of the bad things that have ever happened to me, but instead of them happening over 30-something years, being multiplied by 2 and rolled into 2 years. But it gets better. Things I did to help me cope: - I got as much fresh air as I could - I went out and did stuff even if it hurt. Now, I can't remember the pain of it all, but I do have nice memories of things I did with people. Nearly drove me insane but I did it - guzzled night time tea every two hours to keep the panic down - along with the tea took Holy Basil caps - along with those took L-Theanine tablets, those were amazing. I used to down them like mentos. Truly helpful. - when the night-time tea started making me feel bad I switched to Chamomille - got as much excersize as I could; you have to sweat - read success stories; you have to keep your hope alive - stay active; the withdrawl is going to be there no matter what you do Something that helped me a lot was that I wrote a novel. I got some serious flow out of that, so my suggestion is to find something you love that is work but is also enjoyable, because at some point you're going to crawl out of the haze and I can tell you that it feels good to have something to show for all the pain you went through. It will feel like a lifetime will go by before you are through this, but you will get through it, and it will feel amazing. All the posts that talked about bromocriptine withdrawl said it was 2 years from onset to full recovery, and that has been the case with me too. Not 100% recovered yet, at 24 months, but pretty dang close. So, if that's what you took, then yah, at 20/21 months I was feeling like it was never going to end but then all of a sudden the fog finally lifted and I could experience happiness the way I used to and it was an incredible feeling. I even went to a concert and was totally fine with the noise. Anyways, all the best to any readers out there, and don't lose hope.
  24. Hello All, This may be slightly long but I think it's worth the read for those on/coming off ADs or with significant others on/coming off of ADs. I've been a member of the Topix discussion that was recently removed since around the middle of last year. Like many, my significant other was prescribed an AD (Effexor in this case) for generalized anxiety. This was in early February. The effects were almost immediate but as I was so unaware of the possibilities with these drugs I did not notice any troubling side effects. She had a lot more energy and her anxiety really was gone, but I did not know to relate this to emotional blunting. This girl was absolutely trustworthy and honest and I know this because we were together all the time and she hid nothing from me. We were inseparable. I came to eventually realize that within the first few days of taking Effexor she began to lose feelings for me, but that "give a ****" factor had already gone away and I was of no concern to her. Within a few months she had full blown mania, she was hyper-sexual and had begun cheating. There was no selection, just whoever would take interest in her. At the same time this started, she told me that she had lost her sex drive. I did some research, found this was a common complaint and decided to give it time. We didn't have sex for many many months, all the while she was sleeping with pretty much anyone who would give her the attention. She started drinking heavily almost immediately. I just had no idea that ADs could do this. Eventually I had a growing suspicion, but I could really find nothing online. It took a lot of very specific Google searches to find what I had suspected, but that was months into it. So fast forward after I found out about the infidelity (which was gut wrenching, agonizing, horrific to say the least - it took the life out of me). I had found the Topix discussion, printed many relevant pages and showed it to her. She almost laughed it off, she would not reply to any specific questions. Like most others, she felt new and more alive. Her friend base had changed, and many of them had been given a very different story than what was really happening. She told a lot of them that she was afraid of me, suddenly cops were showing up because her new partners were calling the cops on me, for absolutely nothing. She would scream and break things and hit me, when she had only had one beer (this stuff is BAD NEWS when mixed with alcohol). At a certain point she had not only thrown me aside, but her entire family as well. They did not understand what was happening, so I began to speak to them. In October her life had spiraled out of control and she decided to begin a taper, but only because everyone insisted and she really had no choice. For what it is worth, her doctors refused to believe me. They actually suggested we up the dose because "it wasn't working". So no help there. The withdrawal was horrible. We tried all the supplements and methods that work for some people, but they had no effect on her. She cut her dose slightly about once a month, the same week she would be softer but then the withdrawal would ramp up quickly. In this period she nearly moved out of the state with her old boss. She was planning on leaving me and I had no clue until I found an email and confronted her. That is when it really hit her. She tapered more quickly (perhaps too quickly) because she just wanted off the stuff. In December she finally quit taking it. She had the very horrible brain zaps, she was insanely moody and I was walking on egg shells non-stop. But I stuck it out. The delayed withdrawal hit around January/February but at this point she knew it was withdrawal. And she absolutely was pissed that she had been given a drug like this. She is more upset now than ever that this can happen. We found out two weeks ago that she is pregnant with my child. We are getting married, and she is dedicated to un-doing these things. We are starting over fresh. It is not easy, but it can happen. The best advice I was given was by btdt on Topix. She said do not hold them to their actions, they do not know what they are doing. My fiance echoes this sentiment now. She is more than angry that she let a GP talk her into taking these meds, and then would not listen when she was a danger to herself. But that is how the stories seem to go. Don't get me wrong, it hurts. And now that we're at the one year mark since this started, there are a lot of triggers that I have to really put in an effort into pushing aside. Simple things - songs, smells, places, weather, tone of voice, etc. I'll be around to answer any questions or comments. I want to help as many as I can.
  25. Hey warriors! Posting here for informational and support purposes. 2017 I was started on 25 mg of Sertraline. A couple of side effects beginning the medication but as I continued it, I felt great. Hadn't had a panic attack in 10 months and was enjoying life. After being on the med for 10 months I went to the ER with a Kidney Infection and was treated with CIPRO (anti biotic). After taking 2 doses of the CIPRO along with still being on my Sertraline, I had a reaction to the medications and it sent me into horrific panic. I stopped the CIPRO immediately but it seemed like every time I took my Sertraline after that, I would have horrific panic attacks. So bad I drove myself to the hospital 3 separate times begging them to find out what was wrong with me. I was sent home every single time with "its just panic attacks". I made an appointment with my Psych doctor and tried to explain to him how horrible I was feeling and he insisted I increase my dose and brushed me off like it was no concern and sent me on my way. At that point, being discouraged and not well educated about abruptly stopping anti depressants I decided I was no longer going to take Sertraline. Then, the withdraws hit. The first 3 months were hell on earth for me. Crawling out of my own skin, vomiting, digestive issues, extreme anxiety, dizzy, brain fog, tremors, jolting out of a dead sleep, muscle aches and weakness, weight loss and lack of appetite etc... After the 3 months my symptoms seemed to subside a little and have not been as intense but now I am 10 months off after quitting cold turkey and still suffer. Recently I have experienced Intrusive Thoughts and extreme OCD which I have NEVER experience in my life. Has anyone gone through or is going through a similar experience? Do we heal (especially from going cold turkey)? Are there any recommendations for help or advice? I have lost 35 lbs in 10 months, have severe digestive issues, anxiety almost all day everyday that is now intensified by 100, depressed and just all in all feeling very low and losing hope that I will never get back to how I was before this horrific experience. Looking forward to hearing opinions. Love and light your way ❤️
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