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Westie

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Hello, I've been on this site reading for awhile and figured it's time to begin interacting.

My journey began around '91 with a script for Prozac to treat depression. Since then there were times I wasn't on an AD, but always went back for more and my depression worsened. Luckily have avoided what I considered to be the heavy hitters like Lithium and Depakote, refused Seroquel after trying it for a couple of weeks... but was convinced that drugs like Lexapro and Zoloft were ok and could help me. While there were windows where I felt good, sometimes even happy and functional, my depression has graduated over the years.

I took 200 mgs of sertraline for about 6 years and would wake up crying in the night with pain in my hips. In the spring of 2015 I had enough and began what I now understand to be a rapid taper by cutting doses in half every couple of weeks, thinking this was much more prudent than how a doctor would recommend a taper. WRONG!

My whole world crashed down in August of 2015, lost my relationship and place to live and was hospitalized 3 times in 3 months. The last hospital visit wasnt terminated until I was medicated again even though I didn't want to be. They prescribed Celexa, Abilify and Artane to combat side effects. As soon as I got out, I stopped the Celexa but stayed on the Abilify and Artane because I couldn't stay with family unless I was "taking my medicine".

I have moved around a few times since then, cut the Abilify and Artane in half in March of 2016 to 1mg and 5mg, respectively. These meds did pull me out of psychosis when prescribed, but depression remained.

In October 2016 I CT'ed from both and refused a new prescription for Cymbalta.

At this point, I feel about the same as I have for the last year. Thankfully I'm not psychotic! Brain fog is very hard to deal with, memory and concentration are affected, joint and muscle aches are increasing and sleep is becoming a challenge. My life seems so unreal anymore, and I struggle to think of how I will ever get back on my own 2 feet and be a productive member of society... and maybe one day be happy with myself.

I think I'm still in protracted withdrawal from the sertraline and hope I haven't rocked the boat too horribly bad by going off the Abilify and Artane.

Sorry if this sounds scattered, and not sure what questions to ask right now either. But if anybody has any advice for me, I'm all ears. Thanks for listening.

Wishing Health and Healing for all of us,
Westie

Edited by scallywag
tags

2001-2003 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2004 Remeron & Zypreza (several months),CT

2004-09 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2009 Sertraline 200 mgs

6/2015 Sertraline 100 mgs

7/2015 Sertraline 50 mgs

8/2015 CT off Sertraline

10/15 Celexa 30mgs-Abilify 2mgs-Artane10mg

11/15 Celexa tapered over 2 weeks

3/16 cut Abilify to 1mg, Artane to 5mgs

10/16 CT Abilify & Artane

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Westie,

 

Thanks for joining in the SA conversation.  As you've discovered, the sharing of information makes all the difference.  You can feel some hope because with the right info, you can reset your pathway to one of healing.  For starters, are you taking Fish oil and Magnesium?  Many people find them useful during withdrawal. 

Keeping things simple is also important:  Keep it Simple; Keep it Slow; Keep it Stable

 

Please put your withdrawal history in your signature – all drugs/dates/dosages etc - so we can see your situation easily whenever you post, and help you more accurately.  Thanks.

 

Reinstatement of one of your drugs (maybe Abilify) is worth considering, because you mention symptoms becoming worse.  You may have already read the relevant thread:http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  If you decided to reinstate, it would be of a very small amount, say 1-2mg, and once you were stable again you could taper off according to our 10% monthly guide.

 

Choosing which drug to reinstate would also depend on how long were you on Celexa during that hospital visit. 

 

The troublesome thing with SSRIs is that you can't just flush their effects out of your system.  They change the way your brain works, and that takes much longer to heal.  Suddenly stopping the drug puts your brain and Central Nervous System into shock.  It's like yanking a trellis out of a garden instead of gently untangling the plants and slowly removing the wood – it’s too much trauma for the plants/your brain.  (For the source of that simile, plus further discussion, see http://survivinganti...el-your-brain/)

 

Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and healing progress, and to ask questions. 

 

Welcome to SA,

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Karen, thank you for your response. I was only on the Celexa for a few weeks and tapered it down over about 2 of those weeks.

 

Have created a signature to the best of my recollection (the old stuff is really hard to remember).

 

Currently am taking a magnesium supplement & fish oil as of a couple of weeks ago. Have taken melatonin for over a year to help with sleep (5mgs at present, down from 10), but am waking up between 1 and 3am and struggling to get much more sleep than about 4 hours a night. I am the girl that always needed her straight 8. Cut out coffee last week, and don't drink other forms of caffeine.

 

The psych I've been seeing wants me on 30mgs of Cymbalta even though it's in the yellow category according to a genome test (Abilify was in the red). I filled the script but won't be starting it because I want OFF this stupid merry-go-round and it seems irresponsible to me to hit yet another neurotransmitter and risk another nightmare of a wd. Honestly I don't want to go back to the psychiatrist... ever. While she was personable enough as psychs go, she said it wouldn't be that big of a deal to just stop such a low dose of Abilify and sees no problem ramping me up on an SNRI when before I've mostly been on SSRIs.

 

Do people similar to me have any luck supplementing with 5-htp?

2001-2003 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2004 Remeron & Zypreza (several months),CT

2004-09 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2009 Sertraline 200 mgs

6/2015 Sertraline 100 mgs

7/2015 Sertraline 50 mgs

8/2015 CT off Sertraline

10/15 Celexa 30mgs-Abilify 2mgs-Artane10mg

11/15 Celexa tapered over 2 weeks

3/16 cut Abilify to 1mg, Artane to 5mgs

10/16 CT Abilify & Artane

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Thanks for the signature.  Since you were only on Celexa for a few weeks, a low dose of Abilify would probably be the likely choice if you were to consider reinstating.  I can't seem to find much info on Artane. 

 

5-htp is best avoided, especially as you are still getting side-effects.  More details here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/9933-5-htp-5-hydroxytryptophan-and-l-tryptophan/

 

Waking at those early hours is a very common w/d symptom, and sleep issues are often the slowest to resolve :(.  We have lots of tips here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/53-tips-to-help-sleep-so-many-of-us-have-that-awful-withdrawal-insomnia/ but re-instatement might work the best.

 

Regarding your psych, you can choose to find another doctor who is less pushy or will at least be prepared to prescribe what you need so you can taper safely.  A regular GP can do this.  Good decision on not introducing another drug. 

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Thank you for your feedback, Karen. And thanks for the links. There's a lot of info on this site and helps to have somebody point out specifics. I appreciate your time and your kind words. Just wish there was releif to be had from some of these horrible symptoms but there are no magic bullets, are there.

 

Started waking up at 3:30 this morning with panic that is so difficult to calm... I gently but firmly tell myself to stop the spiraling thoughts, and breathe to try to slow down my racing heart... all the time begging for relief. Dreading another day of feeling so emotionally exhausted while thoughts race and heart beats out of my chest with anxiety.

 

This morning while my thoughts raced, I remembered feeling this way back around 1992-3 when I went off Prozac. I can't tell you how long it lasted, but I lost a relationship and moved then too during my wd (which I did not see as wd at the time). It's hard to remember going off each of the ad's I've taken, but several do stand out in parts and peices and this is the first time I'm seeing those crashes for what they were, withdrawal. It makes me so sad and angry to have been such a victim to this ugly phenomenon of being so drugged and damaged. This whole time I thought there really was something wrong with ME... I've been labeled "crazy" probably like many people here, and I beleived it! Part of me still tends to beleive that when the reality is that I wasn't one bit crazy before I took these f×××××× drugs. I was a Survivor of childhood trauma.

 

Thanks for giving me a place to vent, I've run out of people I can cry to so it means a lot to be able to do it here.

 

Wishing Hope and Healing for myself and others,

Westie.

2001-2003 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2004 Remeron & Zypreza (several months),CT

2004-09 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2009 Sertraline 200 mgs

6/2015 Sertraline 100 mgs

7/2015 Sertraline 50 mgs

8/2015 CT off Sertraline

10/15 Celexa 30mgs-Abilify 2mgs-Artane10mg

11/15 Celexa tapered over 2 weeks

3/16 cut Abilify to 1mg, Artane to 5mgs

10/16 CT Abilify & Artane

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I'm a survivor of childhood trauma too.  It feels very unfair to be given another trauma to deal with, doesn't it?  Although I try to remember that no-one promised there would only be one trauma each :wacko:.  If you want more specifics on how I've gotten through both traumas, you can see my blog (link in my signature).  Do you journal?  It can help a lot. 

 

Early morning waking is very common in w/d because that's the time when cortisol naturally runs higher, but because we are now so out of whack, we don't regulate it properly, so boom!  Bad morning feelings.  They become easier if you are prepared for them, and have some tools ready (see that thread).  Back in the worst of my w/d, quiet soothing music was my friend, all ready to go on my bedside table. 

 

And note that I say 'back in the worst...'.  That's a little reminder that things do get better.  We heal :)

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Thank you for the links and suggestions, Karen, and for your caring words. I'm thankful for this community where people understand and support each other, and am thankful for your relplies, suggestions and encouragement. Thanks for sharing your blog, you write beautifully!

 

Journaling has been a great challenge for me for many years since my mom cracked my diary when I was 12. That experience spiraled into her pulling me out of schhool periodically to take me to her psychiatrist! She expressed her fears to him, and then while alone in that room with him, he wanted me to admit to scenarios that didn't happen in reality... and I learned to shut down. If I didn't engage with him, he couldn't get inside of my head. Even writing this, my tendency is to shut down and stay inside of my own head even though I know it's important to talk about it and get it outside of me somehow.

 

My mother was polydrugged maybe even before that particular demonic psychiatrist, and died of an overdose when I was 13. I got a front row seat to her having a grand mal seizure that rendered her brain dead. When the paramedics arrived and had me go get her prescriptions, their reaction was "oh sh**" when I couldn't carry them all in one trip. The death cert stated cause of death as amoxipine poisoning, and was labeled intentional, suicide.

 

Needless to say, I'm frightened by my own experiences with long term use of ADs and it's compounded by what happened with my mother. I remember her trying to go off the meds and being very ill to the point where I became the mother and was put in a position of caring for her and my 2 younger siblings (my father had already died in an accident when I was 10). Maybe I've shared too much... ???

 

Anyway, I'm doing my best to try to keep myself calm and assist sleep with youtube guided meditations, and exploring with calm.com and Mooji (suggestions from other threads). Have spent a lot of time over the last few days reading other's threads.

 

Trying to eat regularly and keep it as healthy as possible, appetite is out the window. I don't enjoy eating like I did, food just doesn't seem appealing for the most part. I eat because I know I need too. Constipation is an issue. I'm overall less congested than I was on the sertraline and subsequently abilify, but sense of smell comes and goes (it's mostly gone).

 

I'm less sensitive to external noise, and don't startle as easy as I did even on the sertraline. Music is not enjoyable like it was so much before. Have lost interest in most things, and mostly fret about getting my life back together... joint pain and fatigue are still really big ones.

 

Most of my symptoms were much more acute when I stopped the sertraline in August of 2015 (had rashes then too, akathesia, dialogue with outside stimuli, consporacy theories, was completely delusional). That's why abilify was started... none of thise things has returned with the abilify discontinuation. What's cropping up now is trouble sleeping.

 

Sorry this is scattered, and hope it doesn't sound like I'm just complaining. Want to get things documented though so I can see improvement as time goes by.

 

Wishing hope and healing for everyone.

2001-2003 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2004 Remeron & Zypreza (several months),CT

2004-09 Lexapro 20 mgs - CT

2009 Sertraline 200 mgs

6/2015 Sertraline 100 mgs

7/2015 Sertraline 50 mgs

8/2015 CT off Sertraline

10/15 Celexa 30mgs-Abilify 2mgs-Artane10mg

11/15 Celexa tapered over 2 weeks

3/16 cut Abilify to 1mg, Artane to 5mgs

10/16 CT Abilify & Artane

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  • Moderator Emeritus

That's a heck of a lot you've come through Westie, and is a testament to your strength and ability to survive.  Bit by bit you'll keep healing.  It's especially good to see that you are putting in some good self-care - that makes such a difference. 

 

For constipation:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3413-digestive-problems-nausea-diarrhea-bloating-gerd/

For appetite and food ideas (such as smoothies etc):  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/252-weight-gain-weight-loss-and-appetite-changes/

 

The sleep issue is tricky, but what we see here as SA is that once other symptoms improve, sleep begins to as well.  It's slower, but it does happen.  You will not be in this situation forever. 

 

Thanks for sharing some of your experiences - it is always an honour to be allowed to know more of a person.  I hope you find some freedom in the sharing.

 

Karen

x

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Moderator

Hey Westie - 

 

I am impressed with how far you have come, and how well you are holding up!

 

Your story is similar to mine - I was on-and-off the drugs for 10 years before I accepted the "bipolar diagnosis" and the "drugs for life." That became another 17 years of drugging! I still struggled to keep doses lower, but when I moved to Australia, ended up on the lithium because "that's what you do for bipolars" here.  Sigh.  But it does get better!  I'm completely undiagnosed, completely off the drugs.

 

what I now understand to be a rapid taper by cutting doses in half every couple of weeks, thinking this was much more prudent than how a doctor would recommend a taper. WRONG!

 

Actually, this was more prudent than most doctors recommend.  We struggle in here with so many doctor induced withdrawals!

 

Have taken melatonin for over a year to help with sleep (5mgs at present, down from 10), but am waking up between 1 and 3am and struggling to get much more sleep than about 4 hours a night.

 

Actually, melatonin is not a sedative, it is a trigger.  So small doses of it are as effective - or even more effective - than the larger doses.  I have always been mystified as to why the supplement industry insists that 3-5 mg is a dose, when really, it's close to 0.5 mg - 1 mg.

 

Learn more about your melatonin here:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/189-melatonin-for-sleep/

 

Karen said:

I can't seem to find much info on Artane. 

 

I looked it up, and it seems to be a heavy hitter in the Parkinson's department.  I'm scratching my head as to why you got that one - especially if you didn't have a long history with any antipsychotics other than Abilify*.  Unless your p-doc though s/he was extra clever by trying to use a Parkinson's agent as a mood stabilizer?  Again, I'm mystified.  I would not reinstate this drug, unless you developed Parkinson's (and even then I would use it with caution).

 

*Yes, Abilify is really an antipsychotic which has been FDA "approved" for use as adjunct therapy in a fictional thing called "treatment resistant depression."  It's a marketing ploy to sell more drugs.  This fiction should more accurately be labeled, "too many drugs depression," as the drugs kindle reactions, making it more difficult to get a - sigh - "therapeutic response."  Read about kindling here:  Limbic Kindling - Hardwiring the Brain for Hypersensitivity

 

You can learn more about how these drugs came to be so commonly used, and why they maybe shouldn't be, in the excellent "Anatomy of an Epidemic" by Robert Whitaker.

 

Started waking up at 3:30 this morning with panic that is so difficult to calm...

 

A very common pattern, we call Cortisol Spikes:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/33-waking-with-panic-or-anxiety-managing-cortisol-spikes/

 

 I gently but firmly tell myself to stop the spiraling thoughts, and breathe to try to slow down my racing heart... all the time begging for relief. Dreading another day of feeling so emotionally exhausted while thoughts race and heart beats out of my chest with anxiety.

 

You have described this so well, I really feel for you!

 

But oy!  More common withdrawal symptoms!  Sticky ruminating thoughts, pounding fight-or-flight response.  It sounds like you are doing really well to breathe into them, and live through them.  

 

Many of us like to listen to Claire Weekes:  Dr. Claire Weekes - Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

 

She has some really helpful tools for dealing with Nerves, nervous exhaustion, and separating our thoughts and emotions from the physical experiences we are having.  A pounding heart may just be a pounding heart.  

 

It may help you, also, to look at the possible symptoms you may experience.  This is a list of the most common ones:  Dr. Joseph Glenmullen's Most Common symptoms of Withdrawal.  You can use the list to reassure you that these are just withdrawal symptoms, and they will pass.  Or you can print out a stack of them, and use them to track your own symptoms.

 

It makes me so sad and angry to have been such a victim to this ugly phenomenon of being so drugged and damaged. This whole time I thought there really was something wrong with ME... I've been labeled "crazy" probably like many people here, and I beleived it!

 

There are some who have discovered that the drugging and denial itself is traumatic.  The drugging is an additional trauma because they never asked you:  "what happened to you?" They only ask "what are your symptoms" and adjust the drugs accordingly.  Add this to your childhood experiences, and it becomes trauma upon trauma.

 

You will find many types of trauma survivors here, and pretty much as we are individuals, we each learn to survive and thrive in our own individual ways.   I can't imagine what you felt as a child, going through what you did.  Remarkably, you seem pretty clear and intact!  Often those sorts of traumas manifest in ways which are difficult to come back from - but here you are, surviving, and intelligent, well spoken and caring.

 

Thanks for giving me a place to vent, I've run out of people I can cry to so it means a lot to be able to do it here.

 

Isn't it a blessing, finally (after all these years) finding someone who understands?  It will sometimes get hard to get others in your life (family, friends, doctors, even therapists) to understand what you are going through - but you can always come here, and there will be others going through the same thing, or have been there before.

 

Anhedonia Apathy Demotivation

 

I think if you can make it without a reinstatement, you will be better off for it.  If all you are suffering is insomnia (I know, I know, it's a bear of a symptom!  But it can be survived!) demotivation and some bowel upset - I think you are better to work on, like you said, calming videos, breathing, keeping an even keel and waiting it out. 

 

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?  Are you supported by others in your life?  Are you able to let go and nest and heal?  If so, it will not be long before you start reaching your fingers out into your life and hungering to grow and engage again.  

 

Think of it as a spiritual retreat, taking time for yourself, so that when you engage again, you will know what you want and how you want to do it.  

 

I hope you see the sun today!

and ps - you might enjoy the rabbit hole of information that is www.beyondmeds.com, founded by our own GiaK (sometimes moderator), which chronicles her horrific and amazing journey to wellness.

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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