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Alleyandra: Introduction


Alleyandra

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Greetings community

 

I hope this is the right place for an introduction ( was told to do this)

 

Thank you for this wonderful platform, and for committed members and help.

 

Who is Alleyandra? That is the name of the wooden staff that I bear and which I love.

                               I am a 30 yr old male from Johannesburg, South Africa. I have been struggling

                               for years with acute anhedonia ( no emotions) due to antipsychotics

                               that I was taking for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I know all about the hell

                               that these drugs can cause. I have decided to taper off them. I am a very

                               creative person that writes, plays guitar, draws and philosophizes. It is 

                               only now that these things are coming back ( extremely gradually). I seek the

                               life that I once had. I know that it will be a long journey of at least a few

                               months but I am a man of much patience. 

 

What happened?   When I was in Cape Town in 2011 I started meditating under a tree. One day

                              a flash of light appeared in my head and I became enlightened. It was exhilarating,

                              beautiful and scary. Unfortunately I was away from family and had few friends, so

                              did not seek the company of people to make sense of it and in solitude this developed

                              into a psychosis. I was brought back to JHB to my family and placed in hospital under a

                              heavy dose of medication. My brain just could not make sense of what was happening

                              and I experienced extreme torture ( not an overstatement), including akasthesia, sleep

                              deprivation and various nervous conditions. It felt like my mind had been eaten up, chewed

                              up and spat out. I slowly regained 'normalcy', but had no emotion, no interest, no motivation

                              and no life. In despair many months later I returned to the fantasies in my head and stopped

                              taking the medication. I suffered a relapse. This occurred once or twice more. Since 2014

                              I have not had a relapse and started tapering off the medication some months back.

 

And now?          A semblance of a life is returning. I am no longer suffering that much and brighter days are ahead.

                          My symptoms of the psychosis were very atypical. That is I never experienced voices per se, or

                          hallucinations, but constructed an elaborate fantasy world in my head which i became lost in. All

                          these years have given me perspective as to what happened in my head, and I believe I understand

                          what happened, to the degree that I firmly believe that I no longer need the medication.

 

Medicine, doctors??:    My (state) doctor doesn't believe a word of this. I am already proving her wrong. I was forced

                                     to taper by myself with ok results for now, and am proving her wrong as the days go by.

                                    Current dose:   62 mg colzapine (antipsychotic)

                                                             300mg epilim  (mood stabalizer)

                                                             40mg fluanxol -DISCONTINUED 11 NOV 2016

                                                             150mg vanlor- antidepressant

 

Future:              I would like my life back, its trickling in, but I need support. I'm seeing my doctor 26 january, and will

                          need to persuade her to cooperate with me.

 

Conclusion:   I might sound negative, but I am in fact quite positive. I am taking control of my life, and refuse to live

                      a life as an empty shell of a person. So that is the introduction. Much more can follow, but I didn't want

                      this to be too long. Glad to answer any questions!! Thank you 

Tapering begun 2016 July .Medication: 40mg injection fluanxol (anitpsychotic) 800mg epilim (mood stabalizer),250mg clozapine (antipsychotic), 300mg venlor (antidepressant).Then reduced to: (July 2016) Same except clozapine 125mg.Result: Return of emotion briefly until injection
November 2016: last fluanxol injection ( no tapering) Result: slow improvements, can watch films, better concentration
January 2017: cold turkey antidepressant.Results: brain zaps, uncomfortable, return taking it but with half dose (150mg)
January 2017: Taper off epilim- from 800mg to 500mg to 300mg to nothing, in weekly intervals. Result:  No noticeable changes, I'm off this drug and I think it's fine 

January 2017: Taper off clozapine. Decision taken due to sedative effect of medication which helps sleeping. From 100mg, to 75 mg to 62mg in 10 day intervals
Current dose: 62mg clozapine
26 January, saw doctor. Prescribed reduction of antidepressant to 75mg (from 150mg).Was uncomfortable with this drop, so taking 112mg of it for at least 3 weeks from that date.Result: More or less no withdrawal symptoms, but now and then experiencing slight agitation and sensitivity.

Taking supplements, fish oil and magnesium 
Current and desired state: Improvement from acute anhedonia. Long way to go. Little emotion. 

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Fascinating story alleylandra! Really glad to hear of your continued ????improvements!!! I know exactly how you feel when you say "no emotions" and how, most likely, this was caused by the antipsychotic meds you were taking. It's truly inhuman to feel not even the slightest of emotions. I was there only around half a year ago. But to feel them again is like being reborn. Or at least that's how it was for me.

 

Wonder if you could share more about the flash of light you experienced? Were your eyes closed or open at the time? Was it light out or night when this happened?

How did seeing this light enlighten you exactly?

2005: Began switching from one ssri to the next. Very little tapering time was instructed by my psychiatrist. Tried just about every drug on the market. Some two or three times. Nothing reallly helped my moderate depression and anxiety. They only made things worse most of the time!!

2014: Began experiencing severe symptoms while still taking Zoloft, oddly enough. Was forced to quit drugs altogether.

2017: A new year begins having experienced substantial improvement. Still not sure if my symptoms were severe protracted withdrawal or a severe reaction to a med, or possibly a combination of each.

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This is why meditation/yoga can be dangerous. Especially for people who are in withdrawal.

 

In India it takes people years and years(ancient practitioners) to perform what people in other parts of the world especially the West are trying accomplish in a very short period of time.

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Welcome another South African . Sorry you in this position . I have found that most Drs in south Africa don't have a clue about withdrawal .They told me it was my illness coming back but I know this is not the truth. I coldturked 2 and 5 months and went through hell ,I'm only better now not great but better than I was. Good luck with your journey

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome Alleyandra, and thanks for sharing your story so clearly with us. 

 

We recommend a gentle taper, reducing by no more than 10% of your current dose each month.  This allows your brain time to adjust as you go, and lessens any withdrawal.  We also suggest only tapering one drug at a time:  Keep it Simple; Keep it Slow; Keep it Stable

 

Could you share your tapering schedule so far?  And how have you been feeling since discontinuing Fluanxol?  Are you tapering more than one drug at a time?  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.

 

Which drug to taper first? 

 

Many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.  You might also like to check out this Symptom Checklist to get an idea of the range of issues w/d can cause.

 

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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Welcome another South African . Sorry you in this position . I have found that most Drs in south Africa don't have a clue about withdrawal .They told me it was my illness coming back but I know this is not the truth. I coldturked 2 and 5 months and went through hell ,I'm only better now not great but better than I was. Good luck with your journey

*Sigh.* Things are no better in America, Doggiemama. I think they're bad wherever psychiatry gains popularity. We do have a (very) few psychiatrists here who can and do help patients withdraw. They include Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Kelly Brogan and a few dozen others who haven't published books. There are also some general practitioners who offer help, but finding one is difficult and risky. After all, if they report to your shrink that that you are "non-compliant" you are toast!

 

In rural Indiana I have no one to turn to, except a few folks I can reach by phone or internet. I'm in the awkward position of having to lie to everyone including my family (who would, I fear, reluctantly have me locked up "for my own good.") No one should have to go through this. :(

I have been on so many medications since I was 20 and diagnosed as "mentally ill" that I have lost count.

Right now, however I have been taking:

Lamictal 25 mg: I went on it in March for only 13 days, then cold turkeyed off when I thought I was developing a rash because of it. Pretended to go back on it, but didn't. Not the best idea, but I had no way to reduce the dose. Anyhow I had no adverse withdrawal reactions, probably because I was on it for less than 2 weeks.

Abilify 20 mg:  I have been on this for several years. Actually at least half the time I have spent as a meds "consumer" I have been on this nasty pill. I finished tapering off it at the beginning of 2016. Was reinstated during the 4 days I spent in a psych ward in March. Tapered off it again in 10 weeks, from say March 15-June 30. Needless to say this is not exact, but I remember I was off it before July 4 (patriotic holiday in America!) I am doing fine, although I know I may have to wait till Christmas or later to know I am out of the danger zone for withdrawal psychosis. The main thing I notice about being off is that I no longer crave sweets all the time and am losing weight without trying. Good thing since I used to weigh 350 lbs.!

Effexor 150 mg: This is the real trouble-maker. Since I have no other way of tapering I do the best I can by bead counting. I unscrew the gel capsule and count out the tiny micro-capsules or beads inside. This works fairly well with the generic time release version. Only 120 beads to count of almost identical size. Lately I have been "holding" at 20 bead removal due to some major stress in my life. Moving hundreds of miles from my old home and a bout of strep throat that wouldn't respond to antibiotics.  I guess that means I'm on 120 mg of Effexor right now. On October 16 I am going to recommence my taper since I am safely moved and no longer have strep! 

I admit now that I did something stupid. I had trouble opening the extra strength gel capsules containing the beads so I reinstated at the original dose for a week. I know it's not good to play ping pong with my brain, but I could never open the capsules without spilling those microscopic balls all over so I was never sure what dosage I was taking! Thank the LORD that I finally have the old kind again and can safely count out the amount. I am now back on 135 mg and feel somewhat better.

October 30, 2016. I am down to 120 mg effexor. November 27, 2016. Down to 105 mg effexor. December 25, 2016. 90 mg effexor. January 15, 2017. 75 mg effexor. January 21. 82.5 mg effexor. January 23, 90 mg again. Feb. 14, 81.25 mg. Mar. 15, 72.5 mg. Mar. 27, 65 mg.  Apr. 9, 58.75 mg. Apr. 24, 52.5 mg.

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Yes it does seem like a worldwide thing and what scares me is the Drs are giving this rubbish to children younger and younger and most parents don't even ask questions just feed it to them

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When shrinks pick on me I become scared and depressed. When they poison children and infants I become furious! When I am well enough I am devoting the rest of my life to fighting psychiatry. I swear it, with God as my witness.

I have been on so many medications since I was 20 and diagnosed as "mentally ill" that I have lost count.

Right now, however I have been taking:

Lamictal 25 mg: I went on it in March for only 13 days, then cold turkeyed off when I thought I was developing a rash because of it. Pretended to go back on it, but didn't. Not the best idea, but I had no way to reduce the dose. Anyhow I had no adverse withdrawal reactions, probably because I was on it for less than 2 weeks.

Abilify 20 mg:  I have been on this for several years. Actually at least half the time I have spent as a meds "consumer" I have been on this nasty pill. I finished tapering off it at the beginning of 2016. Was reinstated during the 4 days I spent in a psych ward in March. Tapered off it again in 10 weeks, from say March 15-June 30. Needless to say this is not exact, but I remember I was off it before July 4 (patriotic holiday in America!) I am doing fine, although I know I may have to wait till Christmas or later to know I am out of the danger zone for withdrawal psychosis. The main thing I notice about being off is that I no longer crave sweets all the time and am losing weight without trying. Good thing since I used to weigh 350 lbs.!

Effexor 150 mg: This is the real trouble-maker. Since I have no other way of tapering I do the best I can by bead counting. I unscrew the gel capsule and count out the tiny micro-capsules or beads inside. This works fairly well with the generic time release version. Only 120 beads to count of almost identical size. Lately I have been "holding" at 20 bead removal due to some major stress in my life. Moving hundreds of miles from my old home and a bout of strep throat that wouldn't respond to antibiotics.  I guess that means I'm on 120 mg of Effexor right now. On October 16 I am going to recommence my taper since I am safely moved and no longer have strep! 

I admit now that I did something stupid. I had trouble opening the extra strength gel capsules containing the beads so I reinstated at the original dose for a week. I know it's not good to play ping pong with my brain, but I could never open the capsules without spilling those microscopic balls all over so I was never sure what dosage I was taking! Thank the LORD that I finally have the old kind again and can safely count out the amount. I am now back on 135 mg and feel somewhat better.

October 30, 2016. I am down to 120 mg effexor. November 27, 2016. Down to 105 mg effexor. December 25, 2016. 90 mg effexor. January 15, 2017. 75 mg effexor. January 21. 82.5 mg effexor. January 23, 90 mg again. Feb. 14, 81.25 mg. Mar. 15, 72.5 mg. Mar. 27, 65 mg.  Apr. 9, 58.75 mg. Apr. 24, 52.5 mg.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Greetings Community again,

 

I saw the doctor and she prescribed a reduction in the antidepressant (effexor) from 150mg to 75mg. This is a huge drop,

so I decided to take 112mg instead (by breaking the capsule in two and taking 'half' of the little balls).

So far so good, no brain zaps, however there is a slight agitation and sensitive nervous system that comes and goes- not ideal but fine.

 

I agree with RachelE that effexor is a real trouble maker. In my experiences with other drugs, like antipsychotics, withdrawal is quick and 

painless, but this is a real little devil. I expect a slow taper over many months. However, the antipsychotic (clozapine) does not seem to 

be giving real problems, I'm only tapering for sleeping purposes, and if i can sleep it means the reduction is good. So far it's 62mg and in 

two weeks time 50 mg. 

 

The real struggle daily is the lack of motivation and lack of emotions. I keep myself busy by preparing maths lessons ( I tutor high school kids)

and later in the day and night watching series and films, which for me is good for me- I was not able to do this a few months ago, so this

is a welcome change. I expect my brain is slowly adjusting to the changes, so it will take a while before emotions slowly return. 

 

I find that the dopamine-based emotions are problematic (desire, gratification), but not so much the 'higher' emotions ( serotonin-based). That

is why I like speculating and discussing deep issues, as it activates these things. I am busy writing philosophical essays. 

 

Anyway also hoping for more social contact, as this is healthy ( I have one or two good friends).

 

This is a long and winding road. 

Tapering begun 2016 July .Medication: 40mg injection fluanxol (anitpsychotic) 800mg epilim (mood stabalizer),250mg clozapine (antipsychotic), 300mg venlor (antidepressant).Then reduced to: (July 2016) Same except clozapine 125mg.Result: Return of emotion briefly until injection
November 2016: last fluanxol injection ( no tapering) Result: slow improvements, can watch films, better concentration
January 2017: cold turkey antidepressant.Results: brain zaps, uncomfortable, return taking it but with half dose (150mg)
January 2017: Taper off epilim- from 800mg to 500mg to 300mg to nothing, in weekly intervals. Result:  No noticeable changes, I'm off this drug and I think it's fine 

January 2017: Taper off clozapine. Decision taken due to sedative effect of medication which helps sleeping. From 100mg, to 75 mg to 62mg in 10 day intervals
Current dose: 62mg clozapine
26 January, saw doctor. Prescribed reduction of antidepressant to 75mg (from 150mg).Was uncomfortable with this drop, so taking 112mg of it for at least 3 weeks from that date.Result: More or less no withdrawal symptoms, but now and then experiencing slight agitation and sensitivity.

Taking supplements, fish oil and magnesium 
Current and desired state: Improvement from acute anhedonia. Long way to go. Little emotion. 

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Fascinating story alleylandra! Really glad to hear of your continued improvements!!! I know exactly how you feel when you say "no emotions" and how, most likely, this was caused by the antipsychotic meds you were taking. It's truly inhuman to feel not even the slightest of emotions. I was there only around half a year ago. But to feel them again is like being reborn. Or at least that's how it was for me.

 

Wonder if you could share more about the flash of light you experienced? Were your eyes closed or open at the time? Was it light out or night when this happened?

How did seeing this light enlighten you exactly?

 

Thanks

 

The flash of light was not something I saw, physically, but something I sensed from within. Like when you are listening to music and 'sense' a colour or

a picture in your mind. The change is hard to describe, but I would say a deep sense of inner peace and acceptance along with self knowledge. This

coming from a 'breaking' of the ego, and a freeing up of possibilities. 

Tapering begun 2016 July .Medication: 40mg injection fluanxol (anitpsychotic) 800mg epilim (mood stabalizer),250mg clozapine (antipsychotic), 300mg venlor (antidepressant).Then reduced to: (July 2016) Same except clozapine 125mg.Result: Return of emotion briefly until injection
November 2016: last fluanxol injection ( no tapering) Result: slow improvements, can watch films, better concentration
January 2017: cold turkey antidepressant.Results: brain zaps, uncomfortable, return taking it but with half dose (150mg)
January 2017: Taper off epilim- from 800mg to 500mg to 300mg to nothing, in weekly intervals. Result:  No noticeable changes, I'm off this drug and I think it's fine 

January 2017: Taper off clozapine. Decision taken due to sedative effect of medication which helps sleeping. From 100mg, to 75 mg to 62mg in 10 day intervals
Current dose: 62mg clozapine
26 January, saw doctor. Prescribed reduction of antidepressant to 75mg (from 150mg).Was uncomfortable with this drop, so taking 112mg of it for at least 3 weeks from that date.Result: More or less no withdrawal symptoms, but now and then experiencing slight agitation and sensitivity.

Taking supplements, fish oil and magnesium 
Current and desired state: Improvement from acute anhedonia. Long way to go. Little emotion. 

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When shrinks pick on me I become scared and depressed. When they poison children and infants I become furious! When I am well enough I am devoting the rest of my life to fighting psychiatry. I swear it, with God as my witness.

 

I agree. I am also devoting myself to this cause. I will start by educating myself. There are plenty of good books out there

Tapering begun 2016 July .Medication: 40mg injection fluanxol (anitpsychotic) 800mg epilim (mood stabalizer),250mg clozapine (antipsychotic), 300mg venlor (antidepressant).Then reduced to: (July 2016) Same except clozapine 125mg.Result: Return of emotion briefly until injection
November 2016: last fluanxol injection ( no tapering) Result: slow improvements, can watch films, better concentration
January 2017: cold turkey antidepressant.Results: brain zaps, uncomfortable, return taking it but with half dose (150mg)
January 2017: Taper off epilim- from 800mg to 500mg to 300mg to nothing, in weekly intervals. Result:  No noticeable changes, I'm off this drug and I think it's fine 

January 2017: Taper off clozapine. Decision taken due to sedative effect of medication which helps sleeping. From 100mg, to 75 mg to 62mg in 10 day intervals
Current dose: 62mg clozapine
26 January, saw doctor. Prescribed reduction of antidepressant to 75mg (from 150mg).Was uncomfortable with this drop, so taking 112mg of it for at least 3 weeks from that date.Result: More or less no withdrawal symptoms, but now and then experiencing slight agitation and sensitivity.

Taking supplements, fish oil and magnesium 
Current and desired state: Improvement from acute anhedonia. Long way to go. Little emotion. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I saw the doctor and she prescribed a reduction in the antidepressant (effexor) from 150mg to 75mg. This is a huge drop,

so I decided to take 112mg instead (by breaking the capsule in two and taking 'half' of the little balls).

So far so good, no brain zaps, however there is a slight agitation and sensitive nervous system that comes and goes- not ideal but fine.

 

... However, the antipsychotic (clozapine) does not seem to 

be giving real problems, I'm only tapering for sleeping purposes, and if i can sleep it means the reduction is good. So far it's 62mg and in 

two weeks time 50 mg.

 

Alleyandra,

 

It's good to read that you are taking a cautious approach to decrease Effexor dose.  You may find that the 16.7% decrease is too much to sustain when the dose gets lower. We suggest that people decrease by no more than 10% once per month to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms. Please read this topic

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

 

We encourage people to limit tapering to one medication at a time. When you make decreases in two medications it is difficult to tell what the cause of a symptom might be. Please read this topic:

Taking multiple drugs? Which to taper first.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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