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elbee

I’m new to this website/forum, but I’ve been researching and finding great information about people getting off their psychiatric medication. I’m 46, and I was 20 years old in college when I experienced my first full blown panic attack (official diagnosis, panic disorder without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, depression). Looking back (after lots of therapy), I can now understand the stress I was under at that time. But the main point is that I was put on zoloft and lorazepam which, combined with lots of “social drinking” seemed to put a lockdown on the panic attacks (though I would still wake up with some varying degrees of anxiety most mornings). I put my head down and just sort of pushed my way through life, graduating from college with honors, holding a job doing community education / organizing / speaking, shifting gears and going back to school, and then starting my own successful business.

Jump to about 4 years ago, 2012 and things just seemed to begin falling apart. The successful company I had created was now failing, a relationship I actually felt invested in was failing, and the hangovers from drinking had become really intense. In short, I ran out of steam. I gave up drinking in the spring of 2014, and that summer decided I was going to get off the damn meds. I did it the “right way,” tapering off the benzos first, and then the SSRI. And though the anxiety would increase while tapering and it was tough, by the end of the summer (early September) I was actually med free!

Unfortunately, mid-October the panic attacks returned full force. Again, I can see now that this was a particularly stressful period of my life, but of course I was really disappointed when I decided I just had to get back on the meds (the panic attacks were relentless and excruciating). The problem was that the meds no longer seemed to work like they did before. And now I’m on MORE meds (add in remeron and extra 50 mg of zoloft).

I have made some changes, doing lots of therapy, ACA support groups (and looking at childhood issues generally), exercising again regularly, EMDR, meditation, etc. And I want OFF the meds! I know I need to do this slowly, and at this point, I cut the remeron from 15 mg to 7.5 (about 1.5 months ago) and I’ve cut the benzo (now clonazepam) from 2 mg to 1.5 per day (just started that 3 days ago). My thought is to cut the benzos first, then the last of the remeron. I know with the relatively long half-life of the clonazepam, I need to take it slowly. I’m thinking .5 mg every 2 weeks. From the information I've come across, it seems like some taper off even more slowly than that? I'm looking for others to share their experiences with their own clonazepam withdrawal schedules (for panic disorder, preferably).

I just don’t know what to do about the SSRI (zoloft). I realize this website is about benzo withdrawal, but I’m hoping to find others with experience on panic disorder and SSRI withdrawal too (as well as benzo withdrawal support). I hope this is OK on this forum? I’ve been “working with the anxiety” (trying to “make friends” with it as they say in the meditation circles). I know I’m less scared of it now, but I'm also not experiencing the full blown panic attacks. My concern is that I would get off everything (including the SSRI/zoloft) and then the panic attacks return, and it takes SO LONG for the SSRI to build up in one’s system. Do I just prepare myself to weather that storm? Will that storm really pass eventually without the meds?

After years of trying to make my physiology match the lifestyle I felt I should lead, I’m now accepting the idea that I need to make my lifestyle match my physiology. The panic attacks are just so damn awful when they hit relentlessly all day long, day after day. I’m scared. Is there anyone out there that has had any experience with the meds and panic attacks along the lines that I have had? Are there other resources out there I should know about?

Is it really possible that I can live a purposeful (and perhaps at least semi-peaceful) life without meds after 25 years of being on them?

Much gratitude . . .

Edited by ChessieCat
Copied, removed highlighting, then repasted to make easier to read

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brassmonkey

Hi Elbee-- welcome to the group.  I'm so glad you found us, we will be able to help.  In reality we are all about getting off of SSRIs but have a benzo subgroup because they are often involved too.  TBH I only skimmed your post as I'm at work but I can give you a couple of threads to read through:

 

What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

That will get you started, then ask us a lot of questions.

 

Thank you for adding a signature block, it really makes it easier for us to see what is going on.

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apace41

Elbee,

 

Like Brassmonkey, I am at work and can only write a brief response but I implore you to read the links he posted and to spend time on the site. The taper schedules you are proposing and followed when you went off are WAY TOO FAST and account for why you had the return of your symptoms.  After 25 years on the meds it will take you a good while to taper off safely.  It can be done, but we are talking years not months.

 

Welcome again and read through the links and others on the site so that you can come back with further questions.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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elbee

Thanks for the reply brassmonkey! OMG, I've been reading here and on another website specifically for benzo withdrawal and it's been so emotional! I hear my story in so many other peoples' experiences. My own history of struggle with the meds is starting to make sense! It makes sense to me why the effectiveness of my meds decreased over time. It's strange to me that my tolerance for alcohol decreased (the hangovers were killing me, even with just one drink), but after 25 years of being on the meds and "self medicating" with alcohol, it's easy to see how my systems just "broke down." The hangovers perhaps where alcohol withdrawal? And could it be that my panic attacks returned after I was med free for a month not only because I had some extreme stress in my life, but also because I had gotten off my meds too quickly (100 mg zoloft and 2.5 mg lorazepam in about 4 months), and this right after I had quit drinking completely.

 

Could it really be that I can live a life without meds???

 

I can see already that the two drops in med dosages I have made were too drastic. But I'm actually doing OK, so I'm going to stick with where I'm at. But I do feel like I need to come up with a comprehensive plan to get off everything. 

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elbee

Similarly, apace41, thank you for your response :) Yes, the more I read, the more I'm understanding how I got to where I'm at now, and I'm beginning to believe there may be a way out!

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brassmonkey

Alcohol can play a big part in this mess for several different reasons.  There is a really good thread on alcohol interactions, I'll post a link when I get a chance.

 

It is quite possible to get off after 25 years.  I'm almost off myself after about 24 now.  And we have a good number of others who are works in progress after 20 plus years on a variety of meds.  We also have a lot of information on how to handle life without meds.  You've found a great source of information and support.

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KarenB

And could it be that my panic attacks returned after I was med free for a month not only because I had some extreme stress in my life, but also because I had gotten off my meds too quickly (100 mg zoloft and 2.5 mg lorazepam in about 4 months), and this right after I had quit drinking completely.

 

Hello Elbee, 

 

You are spot-on with this reasoning.  Withdrawing from antidepressants too fast can cause all sorts of symptoms, and anxiety is one of the most common.  Often it tricks people into thinking their original condition is returning, but you've called it for what it is.  Nice work!  Like Brass and Apace said, go slow and steady from here on in. 

 

Welcome to s/a,

Karen

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elbee

Karen, thanks for your warm welcome and words of encouragement! Congrats on your progress :)

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elbee

I read through the tapering thread and found lots of good information. I believe it says for personal help on developing a tapering plan, that I should post here on my intro thread, so that's what I'm doing. 

 

Note, that while I've been on meds for 25 years, MOST of those years I was on 100 mg sertraline and 2.5 mg of lorazepam. It wasn't until about 9 months ago that I ended up on the cocktail that I'm on now. 

 

Recommendations on moving forward? Taper the zoloft first or the remeron? I have some ideas about how I want to do this, but I'd like to get some other input before moving ahead.

 

Thanks!

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BlueLeader

You need to take the tapering very slowly, that is why your panic attacks came back.  Add in the stress of making life changes and there we have it.

Benzos need to be tapered by 10% or less - please read the Ashton Manual- is free online just google it.  

 

I am one who has struggled with panic attacks for a long time but have gotten to a place where I know what triggers them and how to cope. Think not of just getting rid of all meds but rather a long journey of a new way of life - because that is exactly what you need to do.  It can be done and is a goal worth working towards.  Just don't try and do it all at once.  You don't get extra points for moving fast.

 

Be strong on the journey

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ChessieCat

Hi elbee, and welcome to SA,

 

You might want to read Alto's comments on the Ashton Manual here and the following post by Rhiannon (comment by Rhi:  "Dr. Ashton knows a lot about benzo withdrawal, but otherwise I have not found her to have much insight or knowledge about other psych meds, and even some of her ideas about benzos are, in my opinion, outdated.")

 

Taking multiple psych drugs? Which drug to taper first?

 

And there is a Benzo sub-forum here on SA.

 

And of course, the staff here can offer their knowledgeable suggestions.  (I am a fairly recent mod and am still learning.)

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JanCarol

Hi Elbee,

Welcome to SA!  You wrote (re Clonazepam):

 

I need to take it slowly. I’m thinking .5 mg every 2 weeks. 

 

Um, that's not slowly.  First it is a straight line taper - we recommend 10% of current dose every MONTH. 

 

My thought is to cut the benzos first, then the last of the remeron. 

Our protocol here is to taper the SSRI first, as the benzos will help with your withdrawal from SSRI and SNRI

 

Both of your tapers are going too fast.  Additionally, the Zoloft is more activating than the remeron.  If it were me, I would hold the clonazepam, hold the remeron, and once I've stabilized from these tapers - start working on the zoloft taper.

 

Please put in your signature that you are currently on Zoloft, and dosage, too.  I see it in there - but it doesn't look current or clear - even though you haven't tapered it.

 

I'm asking you to wait awhile - 3 months - before your next taper because you've taken 2 severe cuts in 2 months.  There is often a honeymoon period coming off these drugs, you think for 3-6 months that you will be fine, then WHAM!  You get hit with the worst possible symptoms.  It doesn't always happen - but are you sure you want to risk that?  It happens enough that we see it over and over again in here.

 

And the sad part is - once that WHAM! hits, it's often too late to stop the momentum of your system crashing.  That's why it's great that you're writing here, now - early days - when we can make this a better journey for you.

 

Is it really possible that I can live a purposeful (and perhaps at least semi-peaceful) life without meds after 25 years of being on them?

 

Yes!  I didn't believe it either, 2-3 years ago - but here I am now, fully engaged with my life and finding purpose where I didn't expect it to exist.  It's hard work - it requires diligence and persistence, and Grace. 

 

For now, you just had some big tapers.  It's time to hold, and heal from those drops and wait and see what the result of those tapers will be.  After that, if it were me, I'd consider cutting the Zoloft next.  But not for another 3 months or so.

 

After 25 years, I can feel why you'd want to hurry and get off - but - after 25 years, your brain and nervous system (and digestion and endocrine and so many other systems, too!) is so used to these drugs, it will take more time.  Please see:  Rhi's description of healing the brain

 

I'm so glad you found us!  I am sorry you had to find us - but you've come to a good place, at the right time to find the best ways to help yourself heal through this journey.

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Altostrata

Welcome, elbee.

 

I agree with JanCarol, I would work on tapering Zoloft first.

 

To be safe, please put ALL the drugs you take in the Drug Interactions Checker http://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html
and copy and paste the results in this topic.

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elbee

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Jan, what you suggested is along the lines of what I was thinking moving forward - let things settle, then start with the zoloft. Thanks!

 

I've read a lot of the resources that have been suggested, thanks! I'm also reading "Anatomy of an Epidemic" and I think Rhi's description is a good shortened summary of what's unfolding as I read that book.

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JanCarol

Oh "Anatomy" is excellent, isn't it?  It reads like a crime thriller (except that there is a bigger body & casualty count than the average crime thriller).

 

I can't emphasize enough - I'm glad you found this information when you did.  It's always so much better to catch it before the symptoms start.

 

I hope you see the sun today.

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elbee

Anatomy of an Epidemic makes me want to cry, makes me want to throw something breakable, makes me want to join the anti-drug movement. It's like a conspiracy theory without the theory. It's just disgusting . . . horrific. And I think I'm kind of in shock.

 

Jan, your progress is amazing! :)

 

And yes, I'm so glad I found this website as a resource. You've all been GREAT! 

 

FYI, yesterday I forgot to take a .5 mg dose of clonazepam (really felt it today, ugh!). Had I not found this site I probably would have just said oh well, I guess I'll drop it and ride it through. I know better now not to do that.

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KarenB

It's a grieving process Elbee - so be sure to let it flow as it needs to.  You've been greatly wronged, and nobody is required to take responsibility.  That's the killer really, that deep injustice.  So grieve, and be sure to hold onto the fact that you deserved so much better. 

 

Can you make or buy a pill-tray so you can see clearly each day if you've taken it?  That's what some of us do. 

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elbee

I just realized Alto asked me to run my meds on the drug checker and paste results and I haven't done that yet, so here they are:

 

Interactions between your selected drugs
Major sertraline  mirtazapine

Applies to: sertraline, mirtazapine

Using sertraline together with mirtazapine can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms while taking the medications. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Your doctor may already be aware of the risks, but has determined that this is the best course of treatment for you and has taken appropriate precautions and is monitoring you closely for any potential complications. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate clonazepam  sertraline

Applies to: clonazepam, sertraline

Using clonazePAM together with sertraline may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Also avoid activities requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate clonazepam  mirtazapine

Applies to: clonazepam, mirtazapine

Using clonazePAM together with mirtazapine may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Also avoid activities requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

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elbee

Thanks Karen. Yes, I use a pill organizer for a week at a time. Daily, I carry a little pill box. I don't know how I missed that the extra med was in there until the next morning, but that's what happened. Anyway, a bit better today (two days after). 

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elbee

More details about my drinking, my first panic attacks and what happened the last time I quit the meds.

 

I've looked pretty closely at my drinking history. I went to AA for a while (after I quit) but the stories there just didn't resonate with my story. I've been involved with Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) as my mom was an alcoholic, and addicted to many prescribed medications. She died in 1996 in her 50's. I think I drank both as a social lubricant, but also to self medicate anxiety. I don't recall having anxiety growing up really, but looking back (maybe this sounds strange), but I can now feel the feelings I was either subconsciously feeling or "should" have been feeling back then. I also was smoking pot and had "experimented" with a number of other drugs, AND drinking about a pot of coffee a day). And I was gay, closeted and had no clue what I was going to do about that. And I played the "hero" role in the family, so I felt the pressure in school to move in a direction that would result in the success I felt was expected of me (I had decided I was going to be a doctor). I can look back now and see pretty clearly that when my first full blown panic attacks hit in college 25 years ago, I was a bomb ready to explode. 

 

And then for 24 or so more years, I just stayed on the same meds 2.5 mg lorazepam, 100 mg sertraline) and kept drinking (socially, but I was pretty social for a while) and pretty much stayed away from all other drugs including pot. I never drank during the day, or alone. My tolerance never went up that I noticed. But in my late 30's (I'm 46 now) I began to notice that the "hangovers" were getting much worse, and I couldn't "keep up" like I used to (Note: now I'm questioning what these "hangovers" actually were . . . I think my body giving out? Finally med side effects kicking in? Withdrawal?). It finally got to a point though that I would have perhaps one or two cocktails on a Friday night and pretty much be in bed with a "hangover" all weekend. So I just decided to quit drinking, and I've never really had an inclination to drink since.

 

But it was soon after I quit drinking that I got off my meds (summer of 2014). I followed the doc's directions and did a "slow taper" (according to THEM), which was to get off the benzos first (2.5 mg of lorazepam over about 2-3 months) and then the zoloft (drop 25 mg a week over about a month time period). I had some anxiety getting off of both, (and I quit drinking coffee/caffeine during that time, too). But aside from that, no bad withdrawal symptoms really, and at the end I felt pretty good. I remember feeling SO grateful to be off the meds!

 

Unfortunately, about 1.5 months later, the panic attacks hit with a vengeance. I had a LOT of stressful things going on in my life at that time, but I'm also inclined to believe that protracted withdrawal hit. It took me FOREVER (about 6 months) to stabilize on my the meds I'm taking now (and now getting off of), but still I feel much more anxious now than I did before I got off the meds that summer of 2014. I'm taking more meds, and feel worse. That didn't make sense to me and got me started researching and on this path to get off of them. 

 

I've been doing lots of therapy, ACA work, took up meditation, journal, exercise etc. so I feel like I'm doing what I can. I'm lucky that I've been in a position that I haven't had to work while all this is going on, but I can't do that forever (and I'm feeling now like to have some work in my life would be beneficial).

 

Honestly I am a bit worried that somehow these meds ARE working to keep my panic under control, but I'm going to place my bets on getting clean. And I know with a very slow taper, I shouldn't fall into the position I fell into the last time I got off the meds. Anywho, a little more info on me now out there. If nothing else, I want a good log of my process (including history) so that it might be of benefit to someone else down the line after I successfully get off the meds! :)

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elbee

QUESTION: When I got off my meds the last time (summer of 2014), I experienced increased anxiety, but that was about the ONLY symptom. Does anyone have any ideas of why this might be? Was I just lucky?

 

You can read my post above for more info/context, or here is an excerpt of just the WD details from 2014:

 

I followed the doc's directions and did a "slow taper" (according to THEM), which was to get off the benzos first (2.5 mg of lorazepam over about 2-3 months) and then the zoloft (drop 25 mg a week over about a month time period). I had some anxiety getting off of both, (and I quit drinking coffee/caffeine during that time, too). But aside from that, no bad withdrawal symptoms really, and at the end I felt pretty good. I remember feeling SO grateful to be off the meds!  Unfortunately, about 1.5 months later, the panic attacks hit with a vengeance.

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Fresh

Hi elbee , you were lucky to have minimal acute withdrawal symptoms after tapering.

 

" Unfortunately, about 1.5 months later, the panic attacks hit with a vengeance."

 

This is no coincidence - you were having delayed onset of w/d symptoms , i.e. protracted withdrawal.

You did not have a recurrence of any original condition. Many people get slammed with w/d symptoms

2 to 3 months after stopping.

 

So whether you call that lucky or not is all in the interpretation.

 

Best wishes , Fresh

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elbee

;Thanks Fresh. It looks like you've been making great progress. Congrats!

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Petunia

 

QUESTION: When I got off my meds the last time (summer of 2014), I experienced increased anxiety, but that was about the ONLY symptom. Does anyone have any ideas of why this might be? Was I just lucky?

 

You can read my post above for more info/context, or here is an excerpt of just the WD details from 2014:

 

I followed the doc's directions and did a "slow taper" (according to THEM), which was to get off the benzos first (2.5 mg of lorazepam over about 2-3 months) and then the zoloft (drop 25 mg a week over about a month time period). I had some anxiety getting off of both, (and I quit drinking coffee/caffeine during that time, too). But aside from that, no bad withdrawal symptoms really, and at the end I felt pretty good. I remember feeling SO grateful to be off the meds!  Unfortunately, about 1.5 months later, the panic attacks hit with a vengeance.

 

 

Yes, the same thing happened to me. I did a 2 month taper off Lexapro after being on SSRIs for over 13 years. I had previously tried stopping CT, but extreme symptoms always had me going back on after a few days.

 

My immediate symptoms after my 2 month 'taper' were some flu-like symptoms and increases in certain emotions like anxiety and anger, but nothing extreme at that stage. Then for about 2 months I actually felt really well and thought I was over any withdrawal. Then symptoms got bad again, and new ones I'd never had before started, unfortunately I didn't make any connection with my previous lexapro withdrawal and like you, thought it was a return of a previous condition, or something new, although I was having symptoms I'd never experienced before.  I actually ended up with a diagnosis of ADHD and started on the drugs for that.

 

My story gets worse and worse from there, until eventually I found this site and learned about protracted withdrawal, that it was caused by the drugs I had taken and because of coming off them too fast.

 

I haven't read your whole thread, but if you have been on these drugs for 25 years, I would expect you would need to taper for a period of several years in order to come off them without incurring debilitating symptoms, like me. I should have done a 2 - 3 year taper, not 2 months. Once someone has been off the drugs for a while and protracted withdrawal has set in, its sometimes not possible to reinstate. That was also me, I tried going back on lexapro and tried prozac after being off for about 2 years, even at a fraction of the prescribed doses, I got much worse.

 

So I'm just confirming what Fresh posted from my own experience.

 

I'm glad you found this site and have the opportunity to taper off your current meds slowly and safely. It may take a while, but it will give you the best possible chance to stay functional while becoming drug free.

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elbee

Petunia thanks so much for sharing your experience! That's so weird about not being able to reinstate after protracted withdrawal begins. That again shows the importance of going slow. Yes, I'm planning on it probably taking several years for this process. I've been on the 150 mg of sertraline for less than a year, so was thinking to drop the first 50 in two 25 mg drops, holding for two months after the first, and maybe 2-3 after the second. And then go with the 10% drops from there. But since I dropped the other two drugs pretty drastically (before I found this website), I'm holding for now. 

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Bruin

Hi Elbee......I am just dropping by to say Hi and to cheer you on. Am so glad that you have found this site and the support and information. 

I also have been at leat 25 years on various Psych drugs. About 13 months ago I stopped Effexor after a far too rapid taper. 

It has taken me that long to understand what was going on and am in a state of protracted withdrawal. 

I now know the score however and can proceed accordingly. So many go under completely while still heavily medicated. 

 

I also can relate to medicating with Alcohol and  have given it up completely for a good length of time. 

I find 12 step meetings of all kinds to be very useful. 

 

Wishing you the very best in your Journey. 

 

Bruin.

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elbee

Hey Bruin, thanks for your encouragement! I would so love to be off the meds with a snap of a finger, but it's very clear to me it doesn't work well like that. It's frustrating that when I got off my meds before, I did taper according to the advice given. I guess they just don't know how all this works? I'm putting my faith in getting off meds using the 10% every 4-6 week guideline (or as things settle). 

 

I hope they symptoms of your protracted withdrawal easy up sooner rather than later! I'm guessing you're holding with what you are on right now?

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Bruin

Hi Elbee......good to hear from you . I also was told that I could do it over about 6 weeks and it certainly does not work like that.

Yes, like you ,I am going to hold for a few months . Then will go as slowly as is necessary. Wish I could do the snap of the fingers thing ! 

Patience has not been my strong point but it is never too late to learn.

 

Best wishes to you and we will be successful this time ! 

 

Bruin.

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Mjau

Hi Elbee! I'm also dropping by to say Hi. I've been on Sertraline for nearly 20 years. I dropped doses more quickly in the beginning and it went pretty well. Now I've become much more sensitive for smaller changes in dose. Of course I would like to be off the meds quickly but that won't be possible....

We all react differently to the drugs but it's safer to go slow as you're planning later on!

 

Best wishes!

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elbee

Wow Mjau it looks like you're making great progress with the sertraline! And congrats for getting completely off the Wellbutrin! :) Can I ask, have you experienced any anxiety / panic in your WD process?

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elbee

Will someone please assure me that I'm not losing my mind? Neuroemotions? I'm also doing EMDR work which is bringing up a lot of childhood stuff. UGH!

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KarenB

It is true - you are not losing it :).  It's just behaving a little differently while it sorts out the healing it needs to do.  Kind of reminds me of teenage brains which, as they develop into adult brains, make our kids behave very strangely indeed - they get very emotional, make odd decisions, lose their focus..

 

There is some thought around these parts that delving into potentially upsetting issues during w/d isn't always the best idea.  It just adds to an already difficult time.  Of course that's a personal choice.   

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elbee

Thanks Karen! Ya, I've thought that delving into underlying issues while going through W/D might be challenging, but as the WD will take me several years, I don't want to wait. Also, I like the idea of being off the meds and having addressed some of the underlying stuff, too. 

 

I shared some things I do (in a pvt msg) to deal with my anxiety while all this is going on. I hope some of these ideas might work for others  . . .

 

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In general, meditation has been useful. I use different techniques at different times depending on the situation. I think trying to just "allow"/"accept" the discomfort of the anxiety sometimes helps. I try to pay attention NOT to let my mind run away with a "storyline." I try to stay very focussed on the present, and paying attention without judgement, with curiosity to the different physical sensations in my body help me stay in the present. Also, paying attention to other sensory perception outside my body can help. Being in nature is good for this . . . hear birds singing, the wind against my skin, see sunlight coming through the trees, smell pine trees or floral scents in the air. All this helps me stay present, and in the present, I can usually know that despite the discomfort, I'm OK. It doesn't always work, but I practice this. I also try to do some cardio exercise several times per week. I journal. I go to support groups, one for anxiety, and I go to Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA). It's a 12 step meeting format. I see a therapist. I try to pay attention to how I might help other people. I text several different people each day to see how they are doing, which gets me less focussed on only myself and my discomfort. Sometimes just taking a shower can be soothing. I also quite nicotine and caffeine. 

 

I've been trying to do mundane distraction things less (like reading, or watching movies) though I do these things too. More, I'm trying NOT to distract and just accept the anxiety. I don't know if this is the best approach, but I'm tired of running from it frantically! Also, I try NOT to isolate. I know super noisy, busy situations full of people (like a busy mall) isn't good for me, but an outdoor art walk for example is something I can do. 

 

And yes, I try to keep in mind that I'm working towards getting off the meds slowly, with the hopes that my nervous system can re-calibrate to a manageable place (especially practicing these techniques I've mentioned).

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elbee

Just checking in again. Still alive. I know the remeron drop (50%) and clonazepam drop (25%) were way too fast (did those before I found websites like this one). But I did the 10% drop on my zoloft over three weeks ago and ohmygosh I'm not feeling well at all. Obviously I can't drop at all anytime soon and I need to hold for a bit. It's so hard now putting this stuff into my body, having come to believe that these drugs I've been taking for so long are like poison. And it's so hard to trust that if I hold I will "stabilize" . . . how much of what I'm experiencing are side effects from toxic "medicine" vs withdrawal vs "underlying issues?" I wake up with incredible anxiety every morning (going on 26 years now), and while it tends to ease off as the day passes, it rarely gets to zero by bedtime. I haven't had a "good day" in a long time. I'm tired.

 

Also, Karen I read your post on "Continued Healing" (link in your sig) . . . beautiful, thank you for sharing that! It gives added perspective on your comment about delving into emotional issues while going through withdrawal . . .

 

There is some thought around these parts that delving into potentially upsetting issues during w/d isn't always the best idea.  It just adds to an already difficult time.  Of course that's a personal choice.   

 

So maybe "delving" adds to the already difficult time of WD, but how can I not delve? It's like I'm waking up and I can't "not see" what is there. You noted, " . . . healing is the restoring of your relationship with yourself . . ." -- how can I NOT pursue that? And at the same time, I can appreciate that this will be a lifelong process. I'm just not yet seeing the "sustainable pathways."

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KarenB

Hey Elbee,

 

I think the key is to listen in closely when 'delving' and go with support and care.  It is true that you can't just ignore all the things that are waiting there, but during w/d just be sure to get some extra cushioning in around yourself.  You will find those pathways - mostly likely once you've taken a few slow and steady steps and can look back and see the beginning of a path forming.  That is so encouraging, and it will happen.  You are your own best guide and so the pathways you find will be yours alone. 

 

I went for a long time feeling broken and like I would never get anywhere, but in the end I am healing.

 

Keeping going Elbee, it will happen.

Karen

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elbee

Again Karen, thanks for your words of encouragement.

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