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Kitschywoman: Errr...happy to be here, I guess?

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kitschywoman

I’m both happy and sad to be posting my intro here.  Happy, because I think I’m finally starting to figure out what’s been happening to me when I try to quit my antidepressant.  Sad, because I’ve been on them so long and there are a lot of scary stories here.  L

 

I’ve had spells of anxiety since my late teens (usually caused by life changes), but I wasn’t put on AD’s until 2001 due to situational depression from a bad home buying experience.  My general practitioner put me on Celexa and, since then, I’ve been on Lexapro, Cymbalta (Lexapro pooped out), and eventually ended up on Zoloft (Sertraline) after cycling unsuccessfully back through Celexa when my Cymbalta pooped out.  It seems that every so often my brain quits responding to ADs and I go through a crisis mode before eventually getting stabilized again.  Which makes sense if my brain has truly adapted to these medications, as I suspect.  My last poop-out happened back in 2011, and I had to be hospitalized for a week for suicidal ideation.  I managed to get stabilized after many months with some polydrugging (I’ve been on Seroquel, Trazodone, Remeron, Ambien and Klonopin at one time or another…all to help with insomnia).

I tried getting off of Sertraline last year and tapered gradually down from 150mg over the course of a few months, only to find that my insomnia and anxiety returned after about 3 months off the drug.  I thought I was relapsing, so I reinstated the Sertraline and stabilized at 100mg after several weeks.  This year, I talked with my doctor and decided to try lowering my dose from 100mg to 50mg over the summer months.  I tapered over about 6 weeks, but started having insomnia and anxiety again after a few weeks from what I can now see is a too-quick taper.

 

I’ve updosed to 75mg on my Sertraline (I only have 50mg pills on hand) about a week ago, and I am praying that I can stabilize there for several months before trying a long, slow taper beginning next year (and lasting for several years).  I’ll admit that I’m a bit terrified about what’s in store for me.  It seems that no one here has had an easy time of it, and I’ve been on AD’s longer than many.  Has anyone successfully done the recommended 10% taper while still being able to work full-time?  I’m pretty darned functional on ADs, but I have serious misgivings about how long I’ve been on them, whether I truly need them, and the damage that they’re causing to my body.  Part of me thinks that, if I’m going to crash and burn doing a slow taper, it might just be better to CT and start the process sooner.

 

I’m really filled with regret that I stayed on these drugs for so long, but my doctors kept telling me that it was fine.  My parents are less than supportive (my mother is a long-term Ambien user and is a retired nurse who has no problem taking pills for all her problems).   And, although my husband would like to see me be med-free, I’m concerned that he doesn’t really grasp the potential implications that withdrawal may have to my functionality.

 

Arrg.  I’m frustrated and more than a little scared right now about what the future holds for me.  Any words of advice/comfort?

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tgirl

Kwoman,

Just wanted to say hello and welcome.

A moderater should be comming along soon to answer your questions.

Tgirl

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Nomoreheadmeds

welcome 'kitschywoman' 

I wish you well

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brassmonkey

Hi kitschywoman--  welcome to the group.  It sounds like you've really been through the ringer with your meds.  It may seem scary and frustrating but there is hope.  The entire purpose of the long slow 10% taper is to help people maintain a comfortable quality of life.  I have to say that if one sticks to the program it really works.  I was on 40mg of paxil for 20 years when I started to taper about four years ago.  I was in severe poopout at the time and scared to death.  Following the 10% every  6 weeks plan I have tapered down to 1.3mgs gotten my life back together, had my emotions return and maintained a full time job as a research engineer.  I still have a few months to go before I am completely off so I can't claim a success story yet, but soon.

 

Don't set the stories you read here scare you.  Most of the members who aren't having too much trouble don't post all that often and those who successfully get off tent to go on with their lives and forget about us.  When you are reading pay attention to peoples signatures (BTW thanks for adding yours) and you will find that the ones having the most trouble are the people who fast tapered or CTed.  We have a lot of information you will find useful, here are a couple of good places to start;

 

What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

Also do a search on "success stories"  you'll find a lot of uplifting posts.

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kitschywoman

Thanks, Brass Monkey.  I was hoping you'd chime in because your story is one I hope to pattern my taper after.  I think I might even try the Brass Monkey Slide.  :P  It sounds like it might be a little easier on my poor brain.  It's interesting to know you were in poop-out when you started your taper.  I was wondering what I would do if that happened to me during mine.  Sounds like you just proceed with the plan.

 

I'm an administrative assistant and can do my job in my sleep (fortunately), so I'm hoping that I can also work and taper at the same time.  In fact, I came right out of the hospital back in 2011 and went back to work the next week.  So I'm in no rush by any means.  In fact, if someone could guarantee me that a 10-year taper would give me no problems and would be the best thing for my brain, then I'd hop on that train post-haste.

 

I'm settling in to see how I do on the 75mg.  If everything goes according to plan, when the time comes next year, you'll be hearing more from me.  I plan to start with a mix of liquid and pills and go from there.  I'll probably have some measurement questions if I don't find answers in the appropriate threads.  Not sure how many lurkers we have on this forum, but if anyone else wants to chime in, your advice is more than welcome!

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mammaP

hI Kitschwoman, welcome from me too. I just want to second all that Brassmonkey has said already, you will be fine if you taper very slowly and Brassmonkey's sliding scale is a great way to do it. As already said, most of the people having the worst symptoms have c/t'd or tapered too fast and the fallout can go on for a long time. You've been on a lot of drugs but you can get off them safely with a very careful taper. Read this link and be prepared before making that first cut and you will do just fine. If there are any withdrawal symptoms then the cut was too big and you can then make the next cut smaller. Allow at least 4 weeks between cuts, even if you are doing fine. 

 

The three KIS...http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6632-the-rule-of-3kis-keep-it-simple-keep-it-slow-keep-it-stable/

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brassmonkey

I highly recommend the Brassmonkey Slide Method.  There are several others here using it or a variation and having good success.  We also have some doing "micro tapers" which are even smaller cuts and having excellent results.

 

Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases

 

There is a ton of information here, but I don't want to overload you ATM.  Any questions, there is always someone ready to help.

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KarenB

Hello Kitschywoman,

 

we all feel scared at the start - so you'll fit right in here ;).  As you learn more, and start to really care for yourself and nurture your healing brain, you might start to feel quite empowered, so even though it's hard there are good things that happen too.  The symptoms and self-care topic is full of really good practical things you can do, both before and during tapering.  

 

I have anxiety too, and sometimes insomnia, After reading through the topics here I've ended up with a big list of things to try 'in the moment.'  I like having options.

 

Hugs,

Karen 

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kitschywoman

Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!  I'll start reading up in preparation for my eventual taper in several months!

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manymoretodays

Just thought I would offer comfort. 

 

And have you started to share information with your husband as to how it might be sometime in the future?  That may or may not help with your support in this endeavor.  I would probably not just hand him information printed off........... but talk to him about what it may be like and what you might need.

 

More comfort.

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kitschywoman

And I seem to have stabilized after 3-4 weeks on 75 mg of Sertraline.  I only had the pills on-hand, so had to up-dose half a pill, moving from 50 mg (which I had cut down to from 100 mg over the summer) back up to 75 mg.  Sucks that I had to do it, but there's a bright side.  I'm feeling the same at 75 mg now as I did at 100 mg at the beginning of the summer, so I still managed to get my dose down by a decent amount.  And I'm officially halfway down from my all-time high dose of 150 mg (that was about 2 years ago, methinks).  :D

 

Now to sit here for a few months, stabilize, and get my doctor online with my plan (got another one in the wings who will help me get off if she doesn't work out) so I can start the Brass Monkey Slide next Spring.

 

**starts humming Brass Monkey**

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brassmonkey

Hi Kitchy--  Congratulations on getting to half of your original dose.  I'm so glad the updose is working well and you're getting stable. Enjoy a stable winter then we can "slide" into spring.

 

((((((((((((((((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))))))))))

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Altostrata

Good to hear you've stabilized, Kitschy!

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kitschywoman

I'm back!  :D  I've been holding at 75mg (1 and 1/2 pills) and doing well.  I take generic Sertraline by Lupin and was hoping to do a mix of a 50mg pill and liquid to start my taper last week.  I got my hands on some liquid Sertraline from Greenstone and tried an initial dose reduction of just 2.5%, but the Greenstone liquid didn't seem to agree with me.  I was on it for three days and started feeling really weird, getting light-headed and an instant case of the "dumbs."  And my insomnia picked up...literally overnight.  So I decided to stay on the pills, but I'm now dissolving my 1/2 pill (25mg) in water and drinking the entire dose while keeping my 50mg pill whole.  Just to get my body used to the whole "liquid" thing before starting my actual taper.

 

I stopped taking the Greenstone liquid on Thursday and switched over to my own liquid on Friday.  Still having the insomnia and restlessness, though.  It sucks, because I was sleeping so well, literally a week ago, and was feeling great.  Really great.  But then everything went to pot once I started the Greenstone liquid.  So maybe it was the brand switch or maybe it is just taking part of my dose in liquid form now.  I'm holding at this point until things settle down.  I figure I'll do my own liquid from here on out and take it in combination with my 50mg pills.  At least it will remove one variable (mixing different generic brands) from my tapering experiment.

 

I'm kind of bummed that I got off to a rocky start, though.  Has anyone else had problems switching part of their dose over to liquid?  It seems weird that I'm still having problems one week out, because my 1/2 pill dissolves really quickly in water, and I've been taking it with at least two glasses of water over the last several months.  I wouldn't think dissolving it in water and then drinking it would make such a difference.  Or maybe I'm still feeling the effects from stopping the Greenstone liquid.

 

But, hey, at least I'm not over-thinking things, right?   :P  :P  :P   /sarcasm

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apace41

Hi, Kitschy,

 

Took you up on your suggestion to not clutter Ben's thread.

 

I confess to not having been as diligent as you in terms of tracking the maker of the liquid vs. the pills.  To be honest, I didn't really feel like I was having much of a problem on the way from 100mg to 25mg so I didn't really worry.  I got hit of late and it may well be that it is simply the delayed onset of things stemming from the early part of my taper when I was less diligent.  Could also be that I tapered a benzo for 2 years and then went straight to tapering the SSRI the next month.  Thought I was over the first part and didn't have a clue about my CNS being sensitive until I came to survivingantidepressants.org. 

 

It's all hard to piece together to be honest.  Wish it was a more linear process.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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kitschywoman

Oooo, that sounds rough, Andy!  Yeah, I've done the no sleep at all thing for a few nights...usually when I stopped taking something that helped me sleep, like Seroquel, Klonopin or Trazadone.  I'm at the point where I refuse to take any sleep aids...no matter how harmless they seem, because I'm worried how they might affect my system.

 

So I guess you used the liquid Sertraline throughout your entire taper, then.  I'm still trying to puzzle out why I've been having insomnia problems since adding a liquid preparation to my dose last week.  I didn't think it would be that different from what I was already doing.  :/

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brassmonkey

Hi Kitschy-- Sorry to hear that the switch to the liquid has caused trouble.  Some people do have trouble making the switch, we've had a number of reports here about it.  Also switching manufacturers can cause problems.  We generally recommend either of these be treated as a dose change event and to allow several weeks for things to settle before continuing with a taper.  If the symptoms show up really quickly, that is an indicator that things aren't right and to try something else.  I think making your own liquid will be the best bet in the long run. 

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apace41

So I guess you used the liquid Sertraline throughout your entire taper, then.  

 

I started at 100mg and then cut to 75mg (one 50mg pill and one 25mg pill) for a month (who knew and it seemed fine at the time).  When I went to to 62.5 I split the 25mg and added it to the 50mg.  Then I went to 50mg (one month between each).  Then I got SA religion and realized I need to slow way down.  That's when I first started on the liquid and used that at 10% increments to get down to 25mg.  At the end of last year I was going on an annual 2 week vacation so I felt like taking a 25mg would be easier rather than continue tapering so I decided to hold (also thought it would set me up well for the rest of the taper).  Holding never really made me feel better so I decided to taper in Feb/March and made the mistake and have been in a bit of a nosedive ever since.

 

I'm still trying to puzzle out why I've been having insomnia problems since adding a liquid preparation to my dose last week.  I didn't think it would be that different from what I was already doing.  :/

 

Very, very, very hard to say sometimes.  I don't think it is all that different, but for some people the absorption rate of liquid can be dramatically different and it can create different results.  I think over time it will come to a point of stability.  MammaP had difficulty switching to liquid as well.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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kitschywoman

Thanks for the advice, guys!  It mirrors what I've been thinking, but it's good to hear it from people with a little more experience in those areas.  I will ride it out (and probably whinge about it to myself) for a few weeks to see what pans out.  3-4 weeks is usually where I see some improvement from a significant change.

 

I'm definitely wanting to continue with liquid dosing, if at all possible.  Your way sounds fun, Brass, but I don't think I have the patience for making miniscule dry cuts.

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kitschywoman

God Bless America!  I got seven hours of sleep last night, after having four/five the two nights before.  Went to bed at 9PM, woke up twice, once at 12 AM and once at 3:30 AM, but was able to go back to sleep until 4:20 AM.  When I have sleep issues, I normally wake up at 2 AM and 4 AM.  Like clockwork.  So this little change is interesting.  Had some anxiety yesterday, along with some jaw clenching, stiff neck, night sweats...the usual fun stuff.  My cortisol-making machine is definitely pumped up, no doubt about that.

 

Feeling a decent bit better today.  Not sure if it was the sleep or something else.  I did do a little research on the Greenstone brand of liquid I was taking.  Turns out, it's Pfizer's generic.  Since they are the originators of Zoloft, I'm wondering if that might explain my bad reaction when I started taking their liquid.  I've heard Zoloft (and other brand name AD's) can pack more of a "punch" than their generics.  Maybe this also holds true to a generic made by Pfizer.  If I was going to produce a generic and had created the original brand name, I'm not sure that I would bother to tweak it that much.  Just thinking out loud...not really expecting anyone to have any answers.  Can't really explain the unexplainable, much as I would like to.

 

I'm going to keep posting here on a daily basis to keep a record of my symptoms and give me something to look back on when I need it.  If it helps someone else with their tapering and/or withdrawal, even better.

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kitschywoman

Got 4-5 hours of sleep last night.  Woke up around 3 AM, and couldn't get back to sleep, no matter how much I wanted to.  Tried to meditate, but work is really busy, and my mind kept going back to that.  Still got up with my alarm, though, and exercised.  Having some anxiety today, but working through it, along with some muscle twitches and a stiff neck.  Let's see if tonight will be a better night!

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apace41

Got 4-5 hours of sleep last night.  Woke up around 3 AM, and couldn't get back to sleep, no matter how much I wanted to.  

 

We are in the same 4-5 club, Kitschy!  I got about the same but mine was from 11-1:30 and then from 2:30 to 4:30. 

 

Were you getting agitation/anxiety that kept you from going back to sleep or just mind bouncing around?

 

Hope tonight is better for you.

 

Andy

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AliG

Can I just say the 4- 5 club , sounds pretty good ! . Don't complain. You are both doing pretty well . It could be a whole lot worse !  I'm envious. LOL  . :) 

Ali.  

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apace41

Can I just say the 4- 5 club , sounds pretty good ! . Don't complain. You are both doing pretty well . It could be a whole lot worse !  I'm envious. LOL  . :)

Ali.  

 

Understood, Ali, but Kitschy and I are "amateur insomniacs".  We don't compete with the pros like you!  :lol:

 

Best,

 

Andy

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AliG

I know . At 5.10 am , I'm a " force " to be reckoned with !  LOL.   :unsure:

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kitschywoman

Thanks for stopping in, you two.  I've been hiding in my own little thread, but I do venture out on occasion to see what's going on with everyone else, especially those who have stopped in to offer a little support.  I'm new enough to this process that I'm afraid of scaring myself into zero hours of sleep by reading too much about suffering right now.  I've done the "Big Zero" a time or two, but that's normally when I was coming off something lovely that was prescribed "off label" for sleep.  Two hours is normally my absolute "worst," four is irritating, and anything over six is genuinely thrilling right now.  I definitely can't touch Ali's record.

 

Andy, given that my name is Anne and that we both LOOOOVE liquid Sertraline, it does not surprise me that we are sleep twins.  It was a combination of anxiety and my brain trying to think about everything that I needed to do at work today.  Some nights I can just rest there passively, accept my fate and meditate.  This was not one of those nights.  :P

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apace41

Andy, given that my name is Anne and that we both LOOOOVE liquid Sertraline, it does not surprise me that we are sleep twins.  It was a combination of anxiety and my brain trying to think about everything that I needed to do at work today.  Some nights I can just rest there passively, accept my fate and meditate.  This was not one of those nights.   :P

 

Anne,

 

Have you had any success meditating into active anxiety?  When I have the sense that cortisol is running through my body I find it virtually impossible to get into any kind of stillness.  If I could get to that point I'd probably move to Tibet.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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kitschywoman

It's hard to say, Andy.  I think that some of what I actually term "anxiety" is cortisol surges.  So I have better success meditating through those.  If they're coupled with actual anxious thoughts because something is bothering me, then it's becomes a lot harder.  :/  I am working on caring less what others think of me, reducing my never-ending quest for perfection, and being thankful for what I have.  Those ideas help to counteract the anxious thoughts a little bit.  I do find mindfulness useful throughout my day to help me identify negative thought patterns and reactions as they occur.  Kind of taking "moving meditation" to a new level, I guess.

 

Got a little over 5 hours last night, partly because I stayed up until 11 PM and awoke at 4:20 AM (no joke).  But, aside from being tired, I did find my anxiety/agitation/whatevertheheckitis to be a lot less today.  I've been in a very positive mood and went out to eat with my Dad.  Now I'm cranking out a few things before I go home.  We're having some friends over tonight so, in lieu of my usual morning exercise, I cleaned the house.  Didn't take long (we live in a small house), and it gives me a real sense of peace to have a house that is "in order," so I don't feel too bad about the missed exercise.  I have noticed that I am a bit snarky this afternoon, mainly because the afternoon lull has hit, and I'm feeling it.  I have no doubt I will perk up when I get home, though.  THREE-DAY WEEKEND!  Woo hoo!

 

For anyone reading here, I'm not just going to be focusing on my withdrawals and symptoms.  I'm doing pretty well now, but I've been through some gnarly times when my meds pooped out, and I've learned that focusing just on those aspects of my life is quite frankly...depressing.  I am more than my medication, and I've got a lot of things in my life that I enjoy and like to talk about.  So, if I do go through a bad spell here and there, I can look back and remember what is waiting for me when I get through to the other side...however long that may take. 

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kitschywoman

Had a really busy weekend, filled with a bunch of yard work and cookouts.  Struggled a bit with anxiety, but I didn't let it get the best of me.  Just kept on trucking.  Slept maybe 4-5 hours each on Friday/Saturday nights, then somehow grabbed 9 hours on Sunday night.  Back to 6-1/2 hours last night, which is pretty good, all things considered.  Back at work today.  We're one admin short and I had a bunch of stuff that I had to get done today, but I made it!  Signing out with hopes of more sleep improvements in my future!

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kitschywoman

Just stopping in with a quick update.  I went from 75mg to 50mg of Sertraline last year doing the Brassmonkey slide.  I hit 50mg around the end of this year and have been holding at that dose for a little over 3 months.  Just got my next set of pills to start tapering again.  Aiming for a 25mg cut this go-round.  Unlike Brass, I take a portion of my dosage in pill form and a portion in liquid and taper the liquid slowly.  I'll start my next taper with half my dose as a 25mg tablet and half as a 25mg liquid that I make by dissolving another tablet in water.  I'm pretty lucky in that I take a generic (by Lupin) that dissolves really well in water and suspends well.  I tried both a pharmaceutical suspension liquid and name-brand Zoloft liquid before figuring out my current method.  Both those were epic fails. I definitely had anxiety/insomnia/akathesia during my 2016 taper, but they were within "tolerable" levels (meaning I can hold a job and function in the normal world).  Heck, I even managed to score a promotion and cover for a co-worker who was out on medical leave for 9 weeks.

 

Starting tomorrow, I'll move off my current 50mg tablet dose over to 25mg in tablet form and 25mg liquid.  I'm going to do that for a week or two before I even begin cutting, since my body definitely noticed the last time I converted part of my dose to liquid.  Goofy body.

 

I'll check in if I notice any weird issues. Otherwise, consider no news to be good news!

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kitschywoman

Popping in again with an update.  I am now down to 25mg Sertraline in pill form, having completed the liquid portion of my taper that I started back in May of 2017.  This is the lowest I have ever been on Sertraline (or any AD I've taken, for that matter).  In fact, it's well below the typical "effective" dose of 50 mg.  Sleep is still dicey for me.  I average anywhere from 5-7 hours/night, but have learned to function on much less, if necessary.  I do struggle with some depression and morning anxiety, but I've learned to ride out the blips and they eventually go away.  Job is good, marriage is good, I exercise regularly, eat pretty clean...gotta say, these long-term tapers seem to be the way to go.  At least, for me they are.

 

I'm going to give my body a nice, long hold at this dose before I look into tapering again.  I plan to hold for a year at this level to give my brain a good chance to adjust before I look into tapering again.  Having been on AD's for longer than most, I'm OK with making this a marathon instead of a race.

 

Keep on plugging away, everyone!

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Happy2Heal

wow, Kitschywoman, I so admire your patience, doing a nice long slow taper and I'm thrilled to see that it's working out so well for you. I wish I'd done this!! 

 

as you can see from my signature, I not only went too fast, I messed up several times as well but I'm now a few months off all drugs and doing great.

Still some minor waves but most of the time, I feel pretty good :)

 

 

so happy for you. I can't wait (but I guess I have to, hahaha) to read your success story

:)

 

 

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kitschywoman
8 minutes ago, Happy2Heal said:

wow, Kitschywoman, I so admire your patience, doing a nice long slow taper and I'm thrilled to see that it's working out so well for you. I wish I'd done this!! 

 

as you can see from my signature, I not only went too fast, I messed up several times as well but I'm now a few months off all drugs and doing great.

Still some minor waves but most of the time, I feel pretty good :)

 

 

so happy for you. I can't wait (but I guess I have to, hahaha) to read your success story

:)

 

 

 

Oh, believe me, I had to learn like many of us that a fast taper is NOT my friend.  :rolleyes:  When I finally got that message pounded through my skull, things went a lot smoother.

 

I'm also a big fan of magnesium taurate, although I take a much larger dose than you do.  It's really killed my cortisol-fueled night sweats.  Still have some sleep issues (early morning awakening), but at least I don't have to change the sheets any more.  :P

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Happy2Heal

oh sorry to hear you had to learn the hard way like me at some point. but at least we're learning, right? ;)

 

 

oh, I'd be interested to know how much mag taurate you take?  I don't have night sweats any more, but I do sometimes have a cortisol surge sometime after 3 am, I think (I never look at the clock) they are usually tiny ones and I can get back to sleep right away afterwards.

I've kind of felt like maybe I wasn't taking enough magnesium,  but I didn't want to push my luck.

I've forgotten where I got the dosage suggestion from,  it was recommended to me due to my afib.

 

 

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Happy2Heal

hi there Kitschywoman, how are you doing?

hope all is going well!

:)

 

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