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Hi everyone, 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
KimmieK posted a topic in Relationships and social lifeI'm not sure if I ever introduced myself so here goes. I found this site over a year after I c/t off of 4 psych drugs. Why did I c/t? For several reasons-one being the absolute ignorance of psychiatry about safely stopping. I was not told anything. A second was that years of 12 step recovery led me to think that this withdrawal would be similar to what I went through over 10 years ago. And that I would have support from people who knew me for a long time. Also, I didn't know about tapering and by the time I heard about it I thought I was past the worst of it and just held on. My experience: I was told by psychiatry that I would not last off the drugs and that I would either be back on them or hospitalized within 6 months. Neither happened. The 12 step folks in this area have all bought into the "dual diagnosis" medical model and most take psych drugs so when I said withdrawal they said relapse of symptoms. Even when I pointed out I helped them through their withdrawal and for some it took years my choice was seen as "non compliance" when I was really trying to save my life and get truly clean. So rejection from them too. Family had long bought the "chemical imbalance" story and would not be open to information that said different. I had a chemical imbalance, needed the drugs like a diabetic, and that was that. So no support there. I truly believe that this site is hugely important and helpful. I am glad it is here. For me, if I had face to face support I believe my withdrawal wouldn't have been so hard, certainly not as isolating. I just don't get the same feeling from online as I ever did in face to face meetings. So, I am hoping to find a few people near Rhode Island or Southeastern Mass that would like to join me in staring this. A combination informational, educational,social, supportive group. I have ideas and am open to other peoples. Thank you.