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Ladywingnut

Ladywingnut - Effexor withdrawal is nearly killing me

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Ladywingnut

 

Before I get onto the horrible topic at hand, hello! *waves*

 

I am a working professional in my twenties with my own business and home and a lovely partner and little doggie to boot. I enjoy funny stuff and writing and singing and parks and board games. Very lucky and in lots of respects, happy. But the title isn't clickbit - I am getting desperate with my withdrawal.

 

My current issue is discontinuing effexor XR. I started on the drug in mid-2013 at 300mg following 10 years of treatment on various other drugs, some of which helped for a month or so but most of which did little but side effects. Primary diagnosis is anxiety and major depression, officially in 2004 but in reality my whole life.

 

Late 2014 I read Anatomy of an Epidemic and learned more about the scientific development of antidepressants (and the problems with chronic use) and I tapered down from 300mg to 122.5mg over a few months while improving my non-medical supports like mindfulness, exercise, nutrition. That first tapering was not especially difficult. From November 2015 to April 2016 I tapered off the rest, reducing the dosage a few beads at a time. I grew more tearful and anxious but it was basically manageable.

 

I saw a psychiatrist in March who told me that the dose I was on (by then 37.5mg) was basically nothing and he did not see any issue or foresee any discontinuation effects from stopping over a week or so. In mid-April I was off the drug.

 

Since then I have had a horrific time of it with suicidal-levels of anxiety and panic coming in waves for a few days at a time. The physical synptoms of shaking and diarrhoea and headaches and dissociation have passed and I have had a few good days where I felt like myself. Also since coming off my brain has felt clearer and my creativity has gone up a lot, which is great. However. The level and frequency of panic/anxiety/tearful episodes is unbearable, as is my newfound irritability and rage, two feelings I rarely experienced before.

 

I am really scared that the anxiety and rage are here to stay. While the extreme emotion is similar to when I was first diagnosed, I am still active and maintaining my house and life, which I could not manage any time I was depressed. I am therefore (sometimes) optimistic that this is just a thing that will pass and not the depression or my base emotional state (i am aware discontinuation often looks like the return of the condition).

 

There is not much on the internet to tell me how long this stuff should last at this unliveable level so I am hoping upon hope that some people here will be able to give me a sense of things. It is now four weeks and I don't know how much more I can take. I have the support of a psychologist, whom I see weekly, and my mum, who is extraordinary. My partner is mostly good but is struggling himself at the moment so often we do not have the resources to be there for each other.

 

Can anyone assist with some indication of what to expect for a timeline of withdrawl given my dosage and period taking the drug? Is there anything I can do to make things easier while I get through the worst of it?

 

I am so grateful that this place exists. I thank you sincerely in advance for any thoughts or insight you can offer.

 

LWN

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KerryMM

Hey LWN

 

Omg - your intro sounds exactly like me.

I am also a young professional with my own business, house, husband and cute doggy. I also love reading, writing, board games, funny stuff  and working out!   I also have suffered depression and anxiety for years and have been on Effexor and am now suffering withdrawals (in the form of nausea and vomiting) but also depression lasting weeks and anxiety and stress!

 

They will suggest you reinstate the drug. I have trouble personally with that concept, because I feel I will just have to start again when  I do eventually stop it again.

Have you had nausea and vomiting??

 

I am so sad to hear your story... but can't believe how similar our lives are!  xx

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Shep

Hi, Ladywingnut. Welcome to the forum. As Kerry already posted, you are definitely not alone in this. 

 

"Anatomy of an Epidemic" was definitely an eye opener for many of us here, but the good news is in time, you will recover.

 

It looks like you tapered and discontinued too quickly. At one month out, you may wish to reinstate. Did you discontinue at 37.5 mg or did you taper down a bit more from that? 

 

I'm going to give you some links with information about reinstatement, tapering Effexor, and some links for non-drug ways of coping:

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms 

 

Tips for tapering off Effexor (venlafaxine)

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

What is withdrawal syndrome? 
 

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Neuro Emotions

 

This will get you started.  This Intro thread is your place to chart symptoms and get feedback. Please feel free to ask plenty of questions. 

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AliG

Hi Lady . Welcome to S.A.   It sounds like you are going through withdrawal, as a result of coming off the drug too fast . I'm sorry that you're going through this. Most doctors don't understand withdrawal and 37.5mg is considerable.( not nothing ). These are very strong mind altering drugs. It seems that you tapered over a week which is basically  similar to a " cold turkey ".

Yes, reinstatement of a small amount of the drug is recommended, because according to medical knowledge, it is the only way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps 1 or 2 mg. A low dose lets you explore the option with less risk of being sensitized . As it's only been 4 weeks, you are fortunate , in that a reinstatement at this stage has a fairly high chance of success. Everyone is different, and there are no guarantees

but it's worth trying at this stage to reduce symptoms and be able to carry on with your life in a high functioning manner.

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Emotions like irritability and rage can become amplified in withdrawal , as the brain adjusts.  These  " neuro- emotions" can be disconcerting and quite intense at times. There is a discussion here :

Neuro emotions

 

Supplements that many here find helpful are Magnesium and Fish oil.

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

 

Just a few more links that will help explain a little more :

Brain Remodelling

What is withdrawal syndrome?

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

This is your thread to ask questions and journal your progress. Please have a read, and then come back with any questions that you might have.

Ali

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Ladywingnut

Hello everyone - so many responses so quickly! Thank you so much. I will enjoy exploring the links v much and to the person with my mirror life yay! That is great even if the horrible stuff is also mirrored...

 

Just a question on the too fast thing, I actually tapered off the last 37.5 over a month rather than a week. Is that still considered too fast? I may do a tiny reinstatement as suggested anyway to see if that helps.

 

It is gratifying at least to know that this is not my fate forever... Thank you again. I will come back with questions I expect!

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AliG

Lady.  Yes, that is far too fast . We recommend the 10% taper method, as this link talks about .

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Again, welcome.

Ali 

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Ladywingnut

Ohhh. I thought it was 10% per day. In fact I read that somewhere. Arghhhh the misinformation, especially from medical sources, makes me so mad and despair-y.

 

I am feeling v overwhelmed by all of this and scared I have years of this awfulness to come after reading everything. I guess I try and reinstate slowly in accordance with that link?

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Farout

I saw a psychiatrist in March who told me that the dose I was on (by then 37.5mg) was basically nothing and he did not see any issue or foresee any discontinuation effects from stopping over a week or so. In mid-April I was off the drug.

 

 

Hi LWN,  

 

Firstly, a big pffft to your psychiatrist. What crummy advice!

 

If you are in any doubt about how powerful these drugs are, take a look at my signature.  I took less than a week's worth and it has affected me for over two years.  I am well now though.

 

It's a long road but you will recover.  People on here will help you get as comfortable as you can in these circumstances and provide great advice to taper off safely.   

 

Best wishes with it all.  

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Bruin

Welcome LWN,  

 

Am sorry that you are having such a hard time with WD from Effexor .

I came off it circa 14 months ago and it took me a long time to understand that I was in protracted WD.

I had nausea, vomiting, high anxiety and feelings of depersonalisation and unreality.

If I had my time again I would definitely do the very slow taper that is recommended by SA.

It is the way to minimise problems and to hopefully shorten the recovery period...

 

 

I am slowly getting better  but it has been a long haul and something I could have made easier for myself 

if I  had understood the lie of the land.

The Moderator Squirrelly Girl reinstated Effexor at 37.5 mg and immediately felt better. She is now tapering slowly and doing well.

It may well be that you can restart at a much lower dose. Everyone is different.

 

The good news is that we do get better but patience seems to be the name of the game.

 

Very best wishes. You are going to be fine ! You are in a good position to take charge of the situation.

 

Bruin

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SquirrellyGirl

Hi Ladywingnut, 

 

Yes, as Bruin mentioned, I did reinstate at 37.5 mg, which was probably too much after 10 months of protracted withdrawal, but I didn't yet know I was in protracted withdrawal and hadn't found SA.  I'd been up as high as 225 mg within the 12 years I was on Effexor, and if I remember correctly, fast tapered from 75 mg.  So, 37.5 mg worth of recovery in 10 mo time isn't too unreasonable to expect.  I feel better now than I did on the full dosage, and I am currently at about 25.5 mg.  

 

I know it is hard to grapple with reinstating, since we all want off these drugs so badly, but unfortunately, the taper you did amounted to a cold turkey when you consider the paper that AliG referenced above.  At 37.5 mg our receptors are still occupied at 80%!  Your p-doc is an idiot to not know that!  That is a HUGE amount of destabilization, freeing up that many receptors in short order!  So honestly, had I  known better and reinstated early on, I could have saved myself a whole lot of suffering and probably been further along in my taper by now.

 

Effexor protracted withdrawal is horrible horrible horrible.  Slow tapering is very comfortable.  You would probably end up healing completely in the same amount of time, tapering vs sticking it out and riding the withdrawal waves, but the difference is the amount of suffering you'd be enduring along the way with the latter option.  Of course, we have no way of predicting how your withdrawal would go, how long it would last for you, but we have too many horror stories about protracted Effexor WD on here for me to hazard a guess.

 

How were you feeling in mid March before going off entirely?  You cut 10% per day, you said, and were off in a month?  How long have you been off entirely?  All your symptoms you noted, along with the extreme anger/irritability, are very common withdrawal symptoms.  How is your sleep?

 

The trick, should you reinstate, is figuring out what amount to start with.  When you tapered from 122.5 to 37.5 mg, had you done a 10% taper starting in November, you would have been at around 72 mg after five months, so your nervous system was likely struggling to keep up by the time you did the final taper off the 37.5 mg.  I am going to put this to the  mods en mass to determine what a reasonable reinstatement dose would look like.  It certainly won't be 37.5 mg.

 

Just to summarize about reinstatement:  the idea is to take just enough to relieve most of your more disconcerting withdrawal symptoms, and then stay at that dose for several months to stabilize and let your nervous system get caught up with adapting to life with less drug.  There's lots of remodeling to be done.  Then, the 10% (or less, depending on how sensitized your system has become) taper should keep you comfortable and functional as you come off the rest, with the idea being that by the time you jump off the last bit, most of the healing will already have been done.  Therefore, less extreme withdrawal, if any, when you finally come off.

 

Ok, we'll get back to you with that dosage.  

 

SG

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Ladywingnut

Hello SG and all again. Thank you so much for that further information. I feel less despairy about it all now.

 

To answer your questions: the winddown was not easy and I felt more emotional from November but it was basically fine. At 37.5 I felt again basically fine, if a bit more irritable and teary than usual. Not to suicidal levels and it did not interfere w my ability to work, though it did strain my relationship a bit. I have been off entirely four weeks today. My sleep is different from what it ised to be but not bad necessarily. I ised to need 9-10 hours per night and fall asleep easily. I now seem to do ok with only 8 hours and am alert much later into the night.

 

If you could give me your best guess at a good reinstatement dose that would be amazing. In my head 25mg seems about right but only because it's just a bit below what I was on.

 

I do have some questions about reinstatement - do you launch back in at the reinstatement dose or do you work your way up? How long do you wait to see if it's having the desired effect? And the ramping up side effects of increased anxiety etc that happen when you go on the drug, are they a risk when you reinstate even at this low dose?

 

Thank you again, kind strangers of the internet.

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SquirrellyGirl

We generally have people reinstate a tiny amount to test the waters, make sure it doesn't trigger an adverse reaction to the drug, maybe 2 mg or a couple of beads. Coming off too fast sensitizes the nervous system and sometimes people can no longer tolerate the drug because of it, even though they are also "needing" it.  I

 

f you were on the extended release with beads in the capsules, you could count the beads in a few capsules, take the average number between them (total beads from three capsules divided by 3), and then divide that number of mgs by the dosage of the tablet.  So if 37.5 mg capsules, divide # beads by 37.5 mg.  This gives you beads/mg.  Calculate how many beads you would need to take to get 2 mg, for instance.

 

So, first we want to know if reintroducing the drug will cause any adverse reaction.  If problems arise immediately, stop taking any more.  It takes four days for these meds to reach a steady state.  After that, if you feel no improvement, you could add a bit more and see how that goes. You would essentially be titrating up to the minimum dose to give you enough relief of your symptoms that you feel comfortable enough to hang out there and let your nervous system get caught up.  We don't want to over-shoot because then you have that much farther to taper down, and we also don't want to trigger start-up side effects, which I will add are caused because we are started on these drugs at a rather high dose, going from 0 to 80% receptor occupancy "over-night."  That's bound to cause symptoms!

 

This is our standard recommendation for reinstatement, but I have put the question to the mods so we'll see if any other thoughts come up on the matter :-)  Ultimately, listen to your body.  

 

SG

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mammaP

Hi Ladywingnut, I agree with SG that a very low dose of 2mg would be a good place to start.  If you don't feel any better in a week then you could increase to 5mg.

Its better to titrate up gradually and avoid the side effects that often appear after being off a drug for a while.  If you feel worse after 4 days reduce by a bead until you feel more comfortable. 

 

Don't underestimate the power of those tiny beads, especially after being off them for a few weeks! Most people can't imagine such a small dose helping but it really can make a difference.

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SquirrellyGirl

 

 

f you were on the extended release with beads in the capsules, you could count the beads in a few capsules, take the average number between them (total beads from three capsules divided by 3), and then divide that number of mgs by the dosage of the tablet.

 

Meant to say # of BEADS by the mgs of the capsule!

 

Yup, the mods agree that it is best to start low and titrate up, as mammaP reiterated.

 

SG

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SquirrellyGirl

I forgot to mention, keep notes on paper about what you are doing and your symptom pattern each day since sometimes we don't see that things are improving until we review the notes.  This also helps us advise you.

 

SG

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Ladywingnut

Thank you - will do.  Started back on 2mg (6-7 beads) today.  I also made a wee donation to the site because this help is invaluable.

 

Will report back.  So much thanks again.

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Ladywingnut

Hello all again. Today is day 4 of taking 2 mg. It has been a really bad few days but I don't know whether to attribute that to reinstatement, discontinuation or an outsized reaction to some relationship issues. The relationship stuff may lead to the end of my relationship and I thought I was going to marry this guy, so that would be distressing without the drugs. Anyway, I have found it increasingly difficult to sleep. Last night I stayed awake until 4, crying unconctrollably, and eventually starting work on my suicide notes. I feel listless and apathetix during the day (compared with reasonably active and proactive before I started reinstatement).

 

I don't know how to tell what is causing what. In the windows and waves thing - I was having a window of 2-3 days' good time between 3-4 days of the bad times but it has now been 8 straight bad days. The longer the bad days go without a break the harder it is to bear anything at all. Hence suicide planning.

 

Can you guys offer any insight on this experience? If it is the drug reinstatement causing the worst of it I feel defeated: it was my last hope of getting through this.

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Ladywingnut

I shoud say that the suicidal thing isn't new to the reinstatement period, but it was more intermittent before (some thoughts a few times a day). Now it is a persistent pattern of thinking and I have started tidying up my life to prepare for death.

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Shep

Hi, LWN.

 

The end of a relationship is painful by itself, but right now it's on top of a time in your life when you are least able to handle stress. 

 

I had a similar reaction when these drugs destroyed my career. I did want to end it. But I'm very glad I didn't because I'm already in the re-build phase.

 

For most of us, going through withdrawal is the hardest thing we will ever do and if your relationship is taking this kind of toll, right now you need to embrace "survival mode" and take care of yourself. No relationship is worth ending your life.

 

If you are considering suicide, you need on the ground help. As much as we all care about you, we simply can't provide that type of help for you in an online environment.  This thread has some information and links for you to get on-the-ground support:

 

For those who are feeling desperate or suicidal

 

Do you have a good friend or a family member you could stay with until you are out of this dark place? 

 

All I can tell you is to do what you need to survive because you will go onto heal and feel so much better, but you have to survive this part first.

 

Please post and let us know you're okay. I'll also check with the other mods to go over your reinstatement with you and see if there's any adjustment that might help. 

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Shep

LWN, These crisis lines are specific to your location:

 

NEW ZEALAND:

 

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)

 
 
Check back in and let us know how you're doing. 

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Ladywingnut

Thank you - and thank you for such a quick reply too. I do have some friends and family who are around me and I have little glimpses of "this will be ok, a walk sounds fun", which I am clinging to. Plus my psychologist is on hand and checking in a lot. On a morbid note suicide is pretty hard and that makes it offputting.

 

It is encouraging to hear your story and think of this as survival mode. I did think to myself that I wanted to die to avoid work on Monday, but then realised that that was just one day and maybe there was nothing I had to do on that day that would warrant dying over. I run my own business so I have full responsibility for eveything but even so I could have a sick day.

 

Anyway, thank you. And any help you could give on the reinstatement front would be gratefull ly received.

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Shep

Sounds like taking a sick day might be a good way to handle things. Give yourself a break and take some downtime. If, on the other hand, you think you may spend your down time ruminating, then working might be a good thing. Either way, it's good you work for yourself, so you have some leeway with the boss.  ;)

 

As far as your reinstatement goes, you'll get some feedback from the more senior mods when they are on again, but in the meantime, perhaps reading over the neuro emotion thread will help. 

 

Neuro Emotions

 

Now more than ever is the time to embrace the survival mode. Perhaps take a warm bath with epsom salts (if you're not sensitive to magnesium), put on some relaxing music, check in with your friends and family (I know they are worried), and just know that you're going to be okay. Where you are now is definitely NOT where you're going to be when you heal. I can tell you that from my own experience - it really does get better.

 

Thanks for checking in and telling us you're okay. 

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apace41

LWN,

 

Sorry to hear you are struggling. Shep has given you very good advice as have the others. You are 4 days into reinstatement. Give it a few more days at 2mg and if you aren't responding you can increase it and see if that triggers a response.

 

In the meantime, please be honest regarding the suicidal thoughts. A website is not capable of protecting you if those thoughts may really become actions. If that is a real risk I urge you to reach out to one of the help lines Shep provided. If it is not a realistic risk, you need to try to distance yourself from those thoughts rather than addressing them so cavalierly on your thread.

 

Please keep us posted. You will get through this.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Ladywingnut

Sorry if I sounded cavalier - I raised it here more to get a sense if that was expected with reinstatement or if it meant rhe reinstatement was too much or something. My ability to write and edit is much slowed. I do have support and am definitely not relying on you guys for that. Sorry if it cane across that way.

 

It is weird - I am rational and not hysterical about it. The pain just feels unbearable. I just don't know if that's because of withdrawal, reinstatement, or me.

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SquirrellyGirl

Hi LWN, 

 

I can add that when I was in protracted wd I had the suicidal ideation along the lines of I don't want to die but I don't want to go on living like this! I reinstated and that was about a year ago; I can say that I haven't had such a thought since!  So hang in there!  

 

SG

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Ladywingnut

That is so great SG, for you and for me. 

 

I had a surprisingly great night last night (dance auditions can distract you long enough to have a rest and perk up, who knew), slept well, woke up feeling much stronger.  Lots of thoughts and neuro emotions edging in but today I feel able to cope with them in ways I did not feel able in the weekend.  I've even done some work!

 

I am still not clear what is causing what (withdrawal, reinstatement, life issues, underlying condition), so for now I think I will reinstate a little bit just as the least worst option.  I will try and think that this cotton wool, apathetic, numb, not-really-living feeling is better than unbearable pain, and in a year or so I will likely be off and able to enjoy again the proactivity, clarity and creative stuff I was so enjoying for those 4 weeks I was completely drug free. 

 

I am so angry that these are the choices available, and not just for me but for everyone on here.  Urghhhh...but I feel more empowered choosing this attitude then continuing raging at faceless pharmaceutical companies and doctors...

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Altostrata

Hello, LWN.

 

Having a great night is definitely a good sign. Are you taking your beads at the same time each day? It's very important to keep very steady, very regular. Also, avoid alcohol and other stimulants.

 

When we are distressed, it's natural to ponder all options; suicide may occur to you, it is not unusual. Please read this Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms to learn to manage thoughts that might intensify doomy feelings.

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Andalusian

Hi ladywingnut, how are you going? Have you got people around you? I feel the same way about the anger to the big pharma companies. How can they get away with this?!

When you felt suicidal and were making suicide notes, please know that it's the drug that's making you feel like that. Don't believe the thoughts I know they seem rational but they are not. The Effexor seems to have a way of disconnecting people from themselves. This is just from what my sister told me she was on a very high dose for years. I've been on fluoxetine which is different. Please Don't let it do it to you. Keep yourself safe. Whatever it takes.

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Ladywingnut

Hello everyone - my little good streak continues, even in the face of some really horrible work situations, so I think that is a major win.  The last few days I have felt very intense anxiety and my blood has felt hot and muscles tense, but I've been able to make decisions in each moment about what I need and that has got me through.  I also had a great chat with my partner last night and things are much stronger there than I thought so that is a huge support.  

 

So...all in all I am not in a place yet that I would wish on anyone else but equally I haven't had any suicidal thoughts in 1-2 days and things feel (just) bearable.  Which is actually a long long way from where I was in the weekend. I've taken today off to regroup (and still received a horrible letter from horrible opposition people on a case I'm working on, yet it hasn't knocked me down completely).

 

I'm now on 12 beads of effexor per day, which is about 3-4mg.  I think I might stay on this dosage for a while seeing as I am already quite improved.

 

Thank you to Altostrata and Andalusian for your most recent posts - I am finding the survival mindset useful as it allows me to ask for support and take the breaks I need to get through.  Before I was trying to live according to (non discontinuation) ordinary life standards and that didn't work so well...

 

LWN

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Andalusian

I'm so glad you are having some relief even if it is just a little. You sound like you are doing everything right. Keep going, and keep asking those around you for support.

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mammaP

Hi LWN, I am pleased to see that you are feeling much better. I would hold the dose you are on for a few weeks to let your nervous system settle down. You might get some more windows and waves while your brain is adjusting but hopefully not too bad. 

 

 I hope this window stays open for you :)   

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Ladywingnut

Oh that's good to know - that window seems to have slammed shut today.  It did stay open for 4-5 days, which was amazing, but today I am full of rage and apathy (a strange combo).  I will try and trust that it will come and go as you say!

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Shep

The rage and apathy combo sounds familiar. I felt like I've had 10 different personalities living inside my head. 

 

There's a really interesting article about this called the Phases of SSRI Withdrawal:

 

 

During withdrawal, these realities change and evolve as some emotions become dominant. Patients may experience uncontrollable rage for a few weeks, then enter a stage where depression dominates. These emotional tides are outward signs of the brain readjusting to the need to self regulate neurotransmitter levels. It is almost as if the mind is going through the entire inventory of emotion trying to catalog what’s necessary to regulate each one. Some people will experience several uncontrollable emotions at the same time, but the uncontrollable aspect of them will fade away one at a time.

 

The entire article is here - https://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/phases-of-ssri-withdrawal/

 

It's comforting to know it's withdrawal and it will pass in time. And that it's normal - most of us went through that phase. But it does get a lot better. 

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Ladywingnut

Oh man that is really useful to know!  It's hard to convince people something real is happening, especially since sometimes I am totally fine and normal.  Having an article to send round is a godsend.  Thank you!

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Nicki1722

Your story sounds so similar to mine as well! I don't own my own business but all the other phases (minus the absolutely horrible anxiety) is nearly reading my own story. I started having suicidal thoughts and also seem to be cycling day to day, with a few days in a row manageable. I reinstated way more than you, which may have been a mistake but I did it before coming to this site to seek guidance! My psych doc told me the same thing in the past that I would be able to "just stop taking the Effexor" because it was considered half a starting dose. One day I will write her and let her know just what I and numerous other people went through! I'm glad you had some good days. I do as well then *bam* back to feeling in the dumps. Let's keep our heads up!!

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Ladywingnut

Hello all - just checking in with an update.

 

I reinstated a tiny bit and have now been steady on 30 beads (around 9-10mg) for about two months.  I find that I am mostly able to cope on this amount.  By cope I mean that I can handle stress without suicidal intention, so it is still pretty hard going, but not as dangerous and life-threatening as it was when I went off completely.  I have no plans to reduce any further at this stage, though I may do so at the end of the year depending on how I am going.

 

My creative impulses are much stronger than they were when I was on more of the drug, and I think I am feeeeeling my emotions more (meaning I am aware of them in the body).  Not sure how much of the latter is due to reduction vs a daily meditation practice I started 4 months ago, but I am glad it is there either way.  I do find I get irritable much more easily and I am angry about things more (albeit justifiably).  The difference seems to be that before I would go numb and shut down in the face of extreme feelings, whereas now they are closer to the surface.  I am getting used to living alongside them, but it is often hard.

 

I have started walking for an hour every day and most days exceed 10,000 steps.  That, more than anything else, is helping me manage chronic stress and overwhelm.  I think not being on the drugs has helped with that because I have more motivation and I experience the good feelings caused by it more acutely. 

 

Thanks again to all for your input - I will check back in again in a wee while.  I feel like it will be useful for others coming off Effexor to see the progress that is possible and not just commiserate with the desperation in my original post!

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