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Rico: Zyprexa tapering

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Rico

Thanks ChessieCat.

 

i am down to 250mg of lithium now and doing ok. Sleep is actually getting better but my cigarette smoking is causing me problems with my breathing and general health. I’m too scared to quit and find it really difficult quitting cold turkey.

 

I have been doing a lot of work with myself and relationships and recently moved out of home again as living with my mother was really triggering and also inconvenient for work.

 

I am scared that things will go wrong again, so I am going to try extra hard this time to look after myself and exercise discipline around how much I take on.

 

I have found that I am now able to socialise with ease and my personality is coming back out. This time though, I feel a bit more mature and I am working at being less selfish and having healthier boundaries.

 

What a journey it has been so far over the last 22 years. The decision to come off drugs inevitably led to confronting myself and my problems and not dismiss my behaviour via symptoms. 

 

The knowledge gained about withdrawal and support from this site has been pivotal to getting this far, although it would have been much quicker hadn’t I been so stubborn.

 

Thanks everyone. I hope this time that this post isn’t followed by another hospitalisation story. I can only pray that this time will be different and I can continue healing.

 

Wishing you all the best!

 

Rico

 

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Shep
On 5/25/2019 at 12:32 PM, Rico said:

Sleep is actually getting better but my cigarette smoking is causing me problems with my breathing and general health. I’m too scared to quit and find it really difficult quitting cold turkey.

 

Do you think you might be able to taper your cigarettes?

 

That's one way of quitting without having to go cold turkey. I had a friend do that over on a benzo forum by reducing half a cigarette or so a week. It was very gradual with minimum symptoms. 

 

You may want to wait until you are completely off the psych drugs first. Make sure you're ready to take this on and treat it as another drug to taper. 

 

On 5/25/2019 at 12:32 PM, Rico said:

I am scared that things will go wrong again, so I am going to try extra hard this time to look after myself and exercise discipline around how much I take on.

 

I have found that I am now able to socialise with ease and my personality is coming back out. This time though, I feel a bit more mature and I am working at being less selfish and having healthier boundaries.

 

What a journey it has been so far over the last 22 years. The decision to come off drugs inevitably led to confronting myself and my problems and not dismiss my behaviour via symptoms. 

 

Sounds like you're doing the hard work that has to be done in order to not only get off the drugs, but to stay off. 

 

Excellent update, Rico. 

 

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Rico

Thanks Shep for the last reply,

 

It has been a while since my last update, so I will fill you in on the adventures since then.

 

I moved out of home in early June and started seeing a new psychiatrist as the previous one refused to help me.

 

I didn't last long at my new place as the new psychiatrist suggested I try Latuda and to get off lithium. I had a bad reaction to the Latuda and after 5 days had a panic attack and called an ambulance. I was hospitalised and discharged on 1800mg Lithium and 4mg of Ativan (Lorazepam). I tapered the benzo after discharge, had some horrible withdrawals and also tapered the lithium. I am currently stable on 600mg. 

 

On the high dose of lithium, I was very sick and depressed and I ended up losing my job. I believe I was discriminated against as I disclosed to them that I had struggles with depression. Two weeks after being discharged from hospital, they ended my contract because apparently there were no projects to be assigned to. I know there was more to it than that. 

 

My new psychiatrist acknowledged that the Latuda wasn't good for me and he believes that only psychological therapy is going to help me - not medication. He is encouraging me to come off the lithium and he doesn't believe I have any psychiatric disorder that requires medication. 

 

I feel quite anxious about coming off lithium, it has never worked out for me in the past. I am guessing that from here, I just need to taper the 600mg really slowly? Is that what I should do? Even with tapering it slowly, I still feel anxious about not coping and having a meltdown when I am completely off it. 

 

I must say, that now that I am not working I am not feeling as much stress. I am still smoking though and my diet is poor. I have been quite sad and apathetic lately. I feel that every time I take 3 steps forward, it's 10 back. I am going to keep trying but a part me wants to completely give up.

 

I hope you are all well.

 

Rico.

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Shep
13 hours ago, Rico said:

I didn't last long at my new place as the new psychiatrist suggested I try Latuda and to get off lithium. I had a bad reaction to the Latuda and after 5 days had a panic attack and called an ambulance. I was hospitalised and discharged on 1800mg Lithium and 4mg of Ativan (Lorazepam). I tapered the benzo after discharge, had some horrible withdrawals and also tapered the lithium. I am currently stable on 600mg. 

 

Rico, why would you agree to taking a powerful antipsychotic to get off lithium? What symptoms were you having?

 

You've been hospitalized multiple times since you joined this forum. Keep in mind that while psychiatrists do go to medical school and they are actual medical doctors, psychiatry is not a legitimate form of medicine. It's social control. 

 

So unless you're under forced treatment orders, you don't have to take every drug they tell you to take. 

 

Please work on un-patienting yourself.

 

13 hours ago, Rico said:

On the high dose of lithium, I was very sick and depressed and I ended up losing my job.

 

You had gotten down to 500 mg back in February according to your signature, which is a much lower dose than you'd been on back in 2018.

 

From your signature:

 

Quote

 

10th Nov 2018 - 1125mg; 26th Nov 2018 - 1062.5mg; 16th Dec 2018 - 875mg; 30th December 2018 - 750mg; 11th January 2019 - 687.5mg ;

24th January 2019 - 625mg; 6th February 2019 - 562.5mg; 14th February 2019 - 500mg; 

 

 

In 3 months from November to February, you reduced from 1125 mg to 500 mg, which is reduction of 55.56% or an average of 18.52% per month.

 

I would hold for several months but then when you do resume your taper, go at a very slow micro-taper of no more than 3 - 5% per month. 

 

13 hours ago, Rico said:

My new psychiatrist acknowledged that the Latuda wasn't good for me and he believes that only psychological therapy is going to help me - not medication. He is encouraging me to come off the lithium and he doesn't believe I have any psychiatric disorder that requires medication. 

 

I feel quite anxious about coming off lithium, it has never worked out for me in the past. I am guessing that from here, I just need to taper the 600mg really slowly? Is that what I should do? Even with tapering it slowly, I still feel anxious about not coping and having a meltdown when I am completely off it. 

 

I must say, that now that I am not working I am not feeling as much stress. I am still smoking though and my diet is poor. I have been quite sad and apathetic lately. I feel that every time I take 3 steps forward, it's 10 back. I am going to keep trying but a part me wants to completely give up.

 

I'm glad you have a new psychiatrist that is acknowledging you don't have a psychiatric disorder that requires medication. 

 

While you're holding, work on diet and exercise and bringing your smoking to a manageable level. 

 

You are correct that you'll need to taper slowly, but you'll also need to work on your feelings of anxiety about being off it. The main purpose of a slow micro-taper is because it's gentler on the brain/body, but it also gives you time to work on the non-drug coping skills that are necessary to handle all of life's stress without drugs. 

 

Dr. Thomas Szasz, the psychiatrist who wrote about the myth of mental illness described what "mental illness" really is - problems in living

 

You need to find solutions to your problems in living. But that doesn't happen over night. It's a process. 

 

While you're holding, please re-read your thread. I just glanced at your thread from when you were here several years ago and this stood out:

 

On 12/21/2016 at 6:12 AM, Rico said:

The non-drug coping techniques and the support from this forum are like physiotherapy as one takes small steps on muscles and bones that have not being used. The gradual tapering allows the bones and muscles to build enough strength to get to the next point in their journey. 

 

You're describing the process quite well here. As you build up your non-drug coping techniques, you'll get stronger and stronger.

 

But no one can do this for you. You'll need to work on these over time.

 

Non-drug techniques

 

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Altostrata

Rico, there's no rush. Please take care of yourself as Shep said, take up healthy habits, and if the psychiatrist will help you see a therapist who will support you in this, do work with a therapist to develop new coping skills. This is a rough patch, you'll get through it.

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Rico

Thank you Shep and Alto. 

 

I am definitely struggling at the moment, and now that I am not stressed out with work, I can clearly see that my struggles are no going to be solved with medication for a psychiatric diagnosis.

 

I am dealing with a lot of trauma and psychological pain that is quite complex and has been affecting me for a long time. The current low dose of lithium that I take is actually making me sick, so I am glad that I finally have a psychiatrist that is supportive of me coming off it and not continually quoting the "therapeutic dose" mantra and dismissing how sick I was on the high dosages.

 

As much as I am tempted to find work and try to tackle all this while I am working as I have done for many years, I am going to put my health first. In the past, I have always rushed back to work for fear of losing my possessions, particularly my motorbikes which I love so much.

 

Now, I am going to put my health first at all costs. I don't care if I have to declare bankruptcy or lose every possession I have for the sake of getting healthy once and for all. I am sick of trying to battle this while also working high profile jobs and then ending up squandering my money on destructive and addictive behaviour as a way of coping. 

 

My goal has always been to move out from my mother's place because she is extremely toxic and triggering. I can't even begin to describe the amount of resentment and anger I have inside towards her. I wasn't even aware of how bad it was until recently.

 

I am very sad about making this decision though, because I was very good at my job - intellectually, but my emotional problems and battle with psychiatric drug side effects would always bring me unstuck. 

 

I recall the days that I would look forward to the ambulance arriving because I would feel safer in the hospital than living with my parents. I am going to address this pain and trauma now properly through whatever means are available to me and stop trying to be superman and perpetuating the same cycle I have been in for years. 

 

I have made lots of progress in coming off the heavier drugs, but I would say that as a person I have only grown 5%. I'm still a traumatised and angry person who has yet to deal with life properly. I've placed material success and others before my own well being and haven't fully recovered. I don't even know myself anymore. My memory is really bad and I try and look back at my life and I can't make sense of who I was at all. 

 

My identity was all based on being a 'successful' business person, and I believe that for a long time I have been trying to prove to others and my family that I am 'normal' by really pushing myself to be successful at my career. And I did achieve that, but that's no longer what I want. I would like to be a whole person and conquer this mysterious witchcraft that has oppressed me for so long and become a real human being. I have placed so much pressure on myself by trying to prove I am normal and worthy and now it's time to do things radically different. 

 

This forum has been so helpful and I am grateful for all the support I've had from here. Thank you.

 

Rico

 

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Rico

Hi all,

 

I thought I would share my Facebook post in response to someone who is struggling with being labelled bipolar:

 

“I was diagnosed Bipolar 1 when I was 18 after a stressful life event. No one ever looked into why I had a melt down, I was slapped with a label and discharged on very strong drugs that completely changed my life. For many years my identity was defined by my diagnosis and I judged myself and suffered a lot of pain from the stigma associated with being mentally ill. I worked extremely hard to prove to others around me that I was “normal”. I went to university, had a successful corporate career and accomplished a lot with my motorsport hobbies. Every day was a battle, especially with the debilitating side effects from drugs that caused pretty serious side effects and even a few near-death experiences. My psychiatrist eventually gave up on me after we had cycled through all the drugs and after losing yet another job due to not being able to function at work and sleeping in a meeting. I then rejected the diagnosis and psychiatry altogether because I felt so betrayed and ripped off by the cruel system that I was part of. I was always blamed for being sick and treated like a criminal by those who I turned to for help. I made the decision to withdraw from psychiatric drugs and take responsibility for my behaviour, problems and even symptoms. I joined a 12 step program to combat the destructive behaviours that I used to medicate the deep pain I held inside that was being stuffed by multiple drugs. I failed many times in the withdrawal process and learned a hell of a lot. I spent two years unemployed and almost homeless in a desperate attempt to get off drugs that I had become extremely dependent on. I finally succeeded and for the first time in 20 years, I saw a compassionate psychologist and I started taking control of my life. I stopped using “bipolar” as an excuse and I recognised that the trauma in my life had a lot more to do with why I was initially medicated than the mysterious bipolar illness that was nothing but a cluster of symptoms and subjectively diagnosed. I sought the help that I needed and finally found doctors who supported me. It was a very painful but necessary journey if I was to avoid disability or suicide. Today, I take a tiny fraction of one medication as opposed to multiple drugs. I sit here today writing this as the same 18 year old who was dragged to a psych ward and abandoned by family. The diagnostic labels did nothing for me and the medical model that my psychiatric of 18 years profited from did nothing but stop me from growing and being the person I always knew I can be. I  not saying bipolar isn’t real or that all psychiatrist is fraud. I am trying to say that there is huge value in taking responsibility for oneself and not abandoning your identity and recovery to someone else. Many famous people were bipolar and our society would not be where it is today without those who were highly creative, intelligent and “different”. These people were very lucky to have not being locked up and medicated and there are lots of people around the world who live with “bipolar” and are not medicated. I believe we can all have this too, but boy, it is hard work and the journey is more painful in fact than just taking meds and numbing the complex emotional systems we all seem to be blessed with. There is a lot to say too about the ability of psych drugs to cause symptoms and behaviour that is worse than bipolar type symptoms. I remember running out of those house naked after an adverse reaction to a new drug! Of course that was a manic episode...We all deserve to become the person that we know exists inside. Your soul is not mentally ill and you weren’t born mentally ill either. I must add that discovering my faith or “higher power” gave me the strength to face the challenges involved in my journey so far - especially when my own family abandoned me and at one stage considers to take me to a group home. Sorry for the long post, and I hope that I haven’t offended anyone.”

 

thanks,

Rico

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Rico

Hi all,

 

Just a quick update and request for some help.

 

I guess I am in withdrawal at the moment from lithium. It's getting pretty predictable ...bouts of depression that stabilise within a week after a dose reduction. The higher the reduction, the more intense the week is.

 

One symtpom I have observed, which I am embarrassed to discuss, is I have noticed sexual functioning worsening. I have tried to do some research on this, and while there is a lot of information on antidepressant withdrawal, there is very little on lithium. In fact, there is very information on lithium altogether when it comes to withdrawal or success stories of withdrawal. 

 

I recall that when I was on a high dose of lithium and taking 4 mg of Lorazepam, sexually functioning was really high - almost abnormally high. I actually believe there is a link between benzos and abnormal sex drive - in my case anyway. 

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Rico

 

 

 

 

 

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Rico

Hi all,

 

I am doing well and nearly off lithium altogether.

 

I have had a break from working and during that time, I reduced my smoking and tapered the lithium a little faster than usual with no issues at all.

 

I am feeling so much better and never felt so stable before!

 

I have noticed, as I have in previous lithium tapers, that I am actually able to "think". In the past, I was very reactive and always feeling depressed on the lithium 

 

In a couple of more weeks' time, I plan to be completely off the lithium. 

 

Thanks,
Rico

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ChessieCat
7 minutes ago, Rico said:

In a couple of more weeks' time, I plan to be completely off the lithium.

 

That's exciting.

 

8 minutes ago, Rico said:

I am feeling so much better and never felt so stable before!

 

Woohoo!

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Glosmom

Great news, Rico!  So happy for you! Glosmom

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Rico

Thank you for your replies.

 

I decided last Saturday (Aug 25) to discontinue the lithium from 125mg. I know it may seem fast, but I made this decision based on previous tapers of similar amounts going well. 

 

It's being 5 days completely drug free, and I haven't experienced any withdrawal symptoms. I am sleeping better and overall, quite stable. 

 

I also recently switched from tailor made cigarettes to organic rolled tobacco. The tailor made cigarettes are quite toxic and I am feeling much better by smoking the organic tobacco and also smoking less. I do intend to quit altogether soon. 

 

I find it difficult to relate to how I was before or even remember what I was like. In a way, I feel like I am starting a new life because the "previous life" was profoundly complicated due to drugs and drug withdrawals. 

 

I always thought that getting off drugs would result in finally becoming myself, but right now, it feels like a new self needs to be created and worked on. It's too early I guess, but it is sometimes distressing when I do remember how insane I was in the past whilst taking drugs or withdrawing from them. I am trying to focus more on the future rather than work out the past. 

 

I am very grateful for the support you have given me throughout my journey. I will keep you posted on my progress!

 

Rico.

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ChessieCat
2 hours ago, Rico said:

I am trying to focus more on the future rather than work out the past. 

 

I think that's a good approach to have.  We can't change the past.  You might find that in the future you can look back on the past with more objectivity than you can now.

 

2 hours ago, Rico said:

It's being 5 days completely drug free, and I haven't experienced any withdrawal symptoms. I am sleeping better and overall, quite stable. 

 

That's great to hear.  Remember to treat yourself gently.

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Rico

Hi all,

 

It's about 3 weeks now off drugs and I'm doing ok. I'm finding that I am able to sleep better without the lithium and generally function well at work.

 

What I am struggling with at the moment is trying to quit smoking and look after my health a bit more through exercise and diet.

 

I also get a bit sad sometimes when I think of how many years of my life were spent battling side effects from multiple drugs on a daily basis.

 

I find it hard to identify with who I was in the past but I'm trying to move forward the best I can.

 

Rico

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ChessieCat

I'm pleased to hear that you are doing okay.

 

Be gentle with yourself with regards to quitting the smoking.  Give yourself some credit for what you have achieved getting off the drugs.  You'll be able to do it.  Now may not be the right time.  One thing at a time.  And giving up smoking is not just about the addiction of the chemicals, it's also about giving up the activity of smoking.  If you start exercising and eating healthily then the giving up smoking might be easier because you will be feeling better in and about yourself.

 

creating-a-new-self-after-withdrawal

 

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Rico

Thanks ChessieCat!

 

I have been doing ok but recently trashed my nervous system by subjecting myself to a lot of stress. 

 

Poor stress management and overall poor life skills were the reasons why I had my first breakdown and to this day, I sill have very similar traits that can leave me more vulnerable to being stressed out.

 

Luckily, this time, I didn't panic and run to a doctor! I really tried to look after myself, which is something that is very new for me. I am so used to relying on everyone else to soothe myself and calm me down. Even in previous posts you can see how needy and dependent I was.

 

So, I am trying to address my self as a whole person and make changes where I can to either avoid toxic situations or set better boundaries with others. I am still in early days in trying to understand how to live! 

 

I no longer have a 'cushion' to absorb a lot of stress. Lithium did provide that, but of course, at a cost. I now really feel stress and really feel anxiety in my body - in ways that are closer to how 'normal' people experience stress. The difference between now and how I was before, is that I am not panicking over how I feel. I may not know exactly what to do to calm down etc, but I am not running to a doctor to medicate the pain. I am also aware that running to destructive and addictive behaviours is not the answer either. I have been addressing my issues with addiction in a 12 step program (no illicit drugs, just other shameful behaviours) and staying sober has definitely helped.

 

I am honestly crawling in terms of understanding how to live and relate to others in a healthy way - and to take responsibility for my own mental health and stress levels. I have a plethora of personality traits that haven't served me well for a long time, so I am trying to address them with my therapist and learning from my mistakes. For example, I used to have a strong desire to be right all the time and often damaging relationships at work by affecting others with my arrogance or intellectual pride. Today, I am trying to put other peoples' feelings first, even if it means accepting to do adopt their ideas rather than make them feel like crap because my ideas are better.  i often used to be recognised at work for doing great work, but I would be the one feeling left out at social functions, which would then leave me feeling isolated and lonely. 

 

So, there's a lot of maladjustment that I would like to address and I would like to one day be a healthy person as a 'whole'. I used to think that getting off medications would be the answer to all my problems, but that has definitely proven not to be the case at all. I now have a much greater responsibility than before to live in a better way so that i don't need to resort to extreme measures to soothe the disordered nervous system.

 

My key reference point has always been my faith, although I have mostly used it as a source of consolation and healing rather than actually live by its values. I feel I am on a journey towards sanity (once again), but I know that my behaviour is what will determine whether I slip back into destructive insanity or not. I'd love to figure it all out today and live happily ever after, but right now, I am taking it one day at a time and trusting in God's love to help me grow up and mature into a healthier person. 

 

Thanks for the support from this site!

Rico

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Bokart

Glad to hear you are managing your drug-free life so far, even if many things need to be dealt with. I'd say that time is the best healer right now, usually thing stabilize after some time.

Yes, stress is main issue with medicine withdrawal... I found all my drops compounded my sensitivity to stress (especially last autumn). I needed to slow down to let my body settle. Meditation and sauna have always helped me cope with stress, although meditation isn't an immediate solution - it will take time to learn it. Of course avoiding sources of stress is also a good way to limit it. Sometimes some things need some distance between them. And distance coupled with passage of time many times create good ideas for a solutions about how to handle the sources of stress better.

All the best to your healing process!

Bokart

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Rico

Many thanks Bokart. I wish you all the best with your tapering and healing too.

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Rico

Hi all,

 

I thought I would give an update and also use this opportunity to write down a few things that are currently weighing me down. 

 

It's being nearly 4 months since taking psych drugs, and I feel like I have done ok. I am not experiencing any serious symptoms, but i certainly have a lot of challenges to address in my life.

 

Other than the constant battle of trying to quit cigarettes and losing weight, I have been affected quite a lot by the long term relationship I have been in since 2013. In fact, I have been hurt quite a lot and I am quite confused as to why I feel the way I do. I have heard lots of things the 12 step programs - which I no longer attend and my therapist has told me that I have a huge fear of abandonment. 

 

I find it hard to understand my self at a psychological level, and I believe that the trauma from the past life of being drugged up and having lots of different mental states hasn't helped. I would like to understand myself more and keen to understand why I am the way i am. I am not really sure, and find it difficult to remember how I was or who I was. This relationship has been on/off for so long, and I keep going back hoping things would get better - but they don't. We just end up fighting each time i express to her how I feel and I seem to be able to convince myself that it's all my fault etc etc. 

 

I'm actually a bit confused at the moment, and I feel quite depressed about the relationship failing again tonight after I tried to tell her that I felt rejected about something. I don't know how to articulate how I feel because I don't understand it or I am trying too hard to understand. I'd love to have more clarity about my own self without having to sit in those 12 step programs.

 

I am not having any serious issues that would require hospitalisation or anything, I'm just not well emotionally and I am not too sure how to feel better without turning to destructive and addictive behaviours. 

 

I'm definitely feeling discomfort and pain - but why and how and when etc are some of my thought processes that currently have no answers. And yes, this relationship has really knocked me about and had a major role in all the previous dramas too.

 

Thanks

Rico

 

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hayduke

Hey Rico,

 

Boundaries are a great concept in relationships.  After working through a bunch of stuff last few years with a helpful clinical psychologist, it became pretty clear to me when something was my problem, and when it was someone else's.  This is very liberating!

 

I also have had a lot of relationship difficulties in the past and this year could trace back the roots of much of that, after uncovering the abuse I suffered when I was small.

 

Since then I've found things are a lot easier and more satisfying in relationships.  Not just romantically but with families, friends, work etc etc.

 

Letting go of the past is really healthy too, don't get too hung up on sorting all of it out...you can't, but you can make the present better, and you might find some of the old problems just unravel of their own accord then.

 

Cheers

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