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raven530

raven530: 10 months since Sertraline cold turkey

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raven530

Hi everyone, just wanted to share my story (and hopefully my eventual recovery). 

I am 20 years old, and was 19 when I started on 50mg of Sertraline
I was prescribed it in Feb 2015 for social anxiety and took it for a month. Quit cold turkey because I felt pretty depersonalised, and cause of the sexual side effects. 

All of my symptoms came on during my time on the drug or shortly afterwards. They are:

Dulling of emotion/Anhedonia - Have felt sadness a few times, and anger a few times. No joy, no passion, maybe some flashes of love but that's it. Unable to relate to characters in books/TV.

Dimunition of visual imagination - I used to daydream constantly prior to taking the drug. Since cold turkeying the pictures in my mind are very blurred and I am no longer able to daydream.

Loss of creativity - Before the drug I used to read a lot, and when I read I always felt like ideas were constantly popping into my brain. Since I stopped medication this no longer happens. I feel like I am reading the words on the page very superficially..

Physical numbness in brain - Feels like there's a great pressure in the frontal lobe of my head, almost like it is torn (but there is no pain)

PSSD - No libido, anorgasmia, difficulty getting and maintaining erections (too much information but I want to be thorough here)

No fatigue behind eyes - this one isn't necessarily negative, but since stopping the drug my eyes never get tired regardless of how much time I spend using screens or reading. 

Possible other symptoms that could be unrelated: Muscle twinges (very mild), worsening of eyesight (20/20 vision pre medication), urine delay (is considerably better now)

Improvements -
I saw very positive changes when it came to anorgasmia and erections around 6 months into my withdrawal. Unfortunately it seems like in the past 2 months things have gone back to square one.

The physical pressure in my head varies a lot, and is definitely much better than it was at the start of my withdrawal (though it still gets very bad).

I couldn't read for the first 6 months of this withdrawal because I got absolutely no enjoyment out of it and that was depressing because I used to love reading prior to the drug. Now I read a bit, and it feels nicer than doing nothing I guess, but seriously if that's an improvement in my anhedonia then it's 0% to 1%, because I still have zero positive emotion. 

General - I feel hopeless about recovery a lot of the time. I have suicidal thoughts but would never commit suicide because of the effect that would have on my mum. I browse through the forums looking for recovery stories, but it seems like most people who recover haven't had this constant anhedonia, and were in a more turbulent emotional withdrawal.

If anyone who is in my position, or anyone who was in my position but recovered, could reply I'd be very grateful.

Many thanks,

Raven

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raven530

Current programme - Two weeks ago I started a program with my psychologist to try to stimulate my brain into recovery. 

I had to defer university this year because I just couldn't hack living independently with all my symptoms (or I could hack it but I was living extremely unhealthily and unproductively). So I have a year to do whatever it takes to recover (I don't want to mess about with supplements just yet but I will eventually if this doesn't get better).

Diet: A lot of vegetables and fish, no bread/pasta/rice, minimal sugar, no fast food.
Exercise: Aim is to get on the rowing machine at the gym every day for 30 minutes. Haven't kept this up yet but been a few times.
Brain exercises: Got the iPhone app Elevate which is basically a brain training app, also trying to push my visual imagination as far as it will go without getting deflated by the fact that it isn't as vivid as it once was. 

I'm planning to climb Kilimanjaro with a friend in the Summer, it will be sad if I can't enjoy it due to Anhedonia but I feel like the setting of a long term goal will be helpful for me.

 

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RachelSusan

Welcome to the group raven530. I was on 150mg Zoloft for about 4 to 5 months.  Different symptoms but I too had a horrible time when I stopped suddenly.  I am back on and tapering slowly.  Life does get better.  I wish there were more similarities between our two stories so I could share more.  Hang in there.

Rachel

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scallywag

raven530 -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

Thank you for taking time to post an introduction and for summarizing your history in a signature.

 

There are several members who have posted on this site in the last six months or so who have a similar experience to yours. It seems to me, a person with no medical education, that Zoloft should not be prescribed for young men, certainly not as the first option.

 

Your plan to address your situation and symptoms is thorough - diet, exercise, cognitive exercises, goals.

 

Have you considered starting with less strenuous exercise than 30 minutes on the rowing machine? In withdrawal, often more is not better.

Exercise: Do more, do less, do nothing? What worked for you?.

 

Have you looked at mindfulness meditation? Some people find it helpful to develop a daily practice.

Mindfulness, Meditation after a Brain Injury.

Easing your way into meditation for a stressed-out nervous system.

 

 

This is YOUR introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.

 

I hope you'll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation. I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but am glad that you found us.

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raven530

Welcome to the group raven530. I was on 150mg Zoloft for about 4 to 5 months.  Different symptoms but I too had a horrible time when I stopped suddenly.  I am back on and tapering slowly.  Life does get better.  I wish there were more similarities between our two stories so I could share more.  Hang in there.

Rachel

Thank you, hope your taper is succesful, I think it would probably be too late for me to attempt that

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raven530

raven530 -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

Thank you for taking time to post an introduction and for summarizing your history in a signature.

 

There are several members who have posted on this site in the last six months or so who have a similar experience to yours. It seems to me, a person with no medical education, that Zoloft should not be prescribed for young men, certainly not as the first option.

 

Your plan to address your situation and symptoms is thorough - diet, exercise, cognitive exercises, goals.

 

Have you considered starting with less strenuous exercise than 30 minutes on the rowing machine? In withdrawal, often more is not better.

Exercise: Do more, do less, do nothing? What worked for you?.

 

Have you looked at mindfulness meditation? Some people find it helpful to develop a daily practice.

Mindfulness, Meditation after a Brain Injury.

Easing your way into meditation for a stressed-out nervous system.

 

 

This is YOUR introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.

 

I hope you'll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation. I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but am glad that you found us.

 

Thank you very much scallywag. For me I do think exercise is beneficial, I guess everyone is different, but exercise has definitely given me more energy, I don't really get a 'high' from it like I used to, but it still puts me in a better frame of mind, but only if it's intensive. I initially went on long walks and light jogs, but those just made me feel more numb and depressed that I couldn't appreciate nature like I used to. 

 

I actually used to meditate before this drug, when my mind was swarming with thoughts it was a great way to control them, but I guess I conditioned myself into meditating in a way that emptied and calmed the mind. Great when your mind is bustling, when it's completely empty already, not so much. lol but I do think I will give it a go again so thanks very much.

 

From your experience as a moderator do you see people with my type of problems recover eventually? I've seen the recovery stories but actually the most positive stories I've seen have been in signatures of people who haven't written recovery stories.

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scallywag

People do improve and recover. You will too.

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PoetJester

Hey Raven

 

I just wanted to offer some commiseration to your Sertraline withdrawal suffering. I quit high doses of Sertraline (200mg, I had gone down to 100 mg at the time I stopped) and Zyprexa (17.5 mg, 7.5 mg at the time of quitting) in feb 2014. Like you I had been a big reader. I read a lot before I went on the meds and while I was on the meds, but since I quit sertraline and zyprexa 3 years ago, I have not been able to read much at all. in three years I have read a couple of short stories and that's it. I can read news articles online and short poems and stuff like that, but I just cannot get into anything involved. I am sort of the same way with movies and tv now too. i don't feel able to reflect or contemplate much these days. It's hard for me to hold ideas in my head. I also used to daydream a lot, too, maybe too much, but now i am in a constant quest to try and cure my condition and miss just being able to sit at my leisure and wonder and think.

 

I noticed my libido originally got a lot better shortly after stopping the drugs, but as this wd drags on and i suffer from poor sleep it has mostly gone away due to exhaustion. i had been on the pills a long time and the past 8 years or so i had felt extremely sedated and lethargic on them, so getting off of them boosted my libido originally. i am a poet and a comedian and i had more creativity at first when i quit the pills, but that has seemed to dwindle as this wd goes on and on and on.

 

I have the eye thing too. where my eyes are never tired. They are just wide open all the time and even at night, no matter how busy of day i have had, i never get that tiredness or heaviness that used to come over my eyes and signal that sleep was ahead.

 

i can tell you that this goes on for a long time and gets worse and really wears down your patience, your body and your mind. It seems like there are a lot of us who are in the same position: Tired and emotionless and without joy and who often think about suicide even though we are not suicidal just because of the effects of wd. The better, more immediate, success stories have to do with reinstatement of small doses of the drugs. usually a half of what you had been on before. i read your post about you thinking it was too late to reinstate and i often feel the same way, but i have read stories of people reinstating anywhere from a year to 5 years after quitting the drugs and getting their lives back. a lot can be said about diet, but our lives shouldn't come crashing to a halt with severe and disabling depression just because we don't always eat balanced meals. it has to do with what these drugs do to our brains once we have taken them and then take them away.

 

Poetjester

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raven530

Poet Jester, 

What you said about not being able to hold ideas in your head really strikes a chord with me. I am sorry to hear it has not been improving. Do you ever get windows where you feel slightly better and more able to grapple with thoughts?

I was only on the pills for one month (and on a low dose, 50mg). I have seen quite a few stories of people recovering over a long period of time. I am not going to lose hope of natural recovery just yet but if I ever do get to a stage where I feel that way I will start trying some supplements. Over at the pssdforum they've seen a few successes.

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PoetJester

Hey Raven

 

I am able to function, but the ability to concentrate or read for extended periods of time has not come back at all and I just grow more tired and passionless overall as this wd goes further. My eyes also still do not get tired unless I drink tulsi tea at night. I do have moments now and then when I come to for a while, but mostly I feel like a horse being driven to exhaustion or a zombie. After 3 years I don't cry hardly anymore, but I mostly don't feel a whole lot either. A lot of that has to do, I think with my poor quality of sleep. For the first two years I didn't sleep all that much or that well and my dreams were of a depressed nature and often nightmarish. I am sleeping a little better as of late, but my dreams are still strange and vivid and unfamiliar, which is a sign of depression. I also have hypnagogic hallucinations when I try to sleep which are really tormenting. I could share with you a few inspiring stories of reinstatement if you want or there are some about not having to go back on the meds in "Success Stories" without having to go back on the pills as well, in particular Moui's from last December.

 

Poetjester

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raven530

PoetJester,

Sorry to hear it. 3 years sounds really tough. I guess if you have moments where you come to it shows that you still have the capability to recover. I don't actually have significant sleep problems, takes me a while to get to bed but I get a lot of rest these days. I've also found that exercising and really pushing myself gives myself a bit of a boost. What I've noticed is that a lot of women on this site seem to be adversely affected by exercise but a lot of the men really need it, but that's anecdotal and there are counterexamples. 

I've also seen some successes or at least significant improvements in the signatures of quite a few people who don't have recovery stories up. So I do think that there is a lot of hope for us. 

 

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nicolantana

Hey Raven,

 

I've just signed up to this today. I'm heartened (and a little disturbed!) by how many similarities there are between my story and yours and other people.

I was wrongly put on a heavy duty mix for a while. I am off everything now but can relate to the majority of what you say.

 

I was speaking to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists about anhedonia and the related symptoms.......they didn't confirm any of my theories, in fact thought it was very unlikely......yet I come online and come across countless stories similar to mine

 

Namely, dulling of emotion, loss of creativity, sexual dysfunction and I have especially noticed by inability to visualise things. you are the first person I have come across that has listed this specific symptom. I read a few pages recently for the first time in 7 months, which is exciting I guess.

 

Anyway, just wanted to share my story...I'll keep an eye on your thread and I started my own today

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raven530

Hi nicoltana,

I think it's a great sign that you've seen some windows of positive emotion, very suggestive that you will recover. Don't be disheartened if the recovery seems to drag on a bit. For Visual Imagination when I'm in bed at night I try to push it as far as it goes, and think that's helping a bit (e.g. I try to picture a tree, as vividly as I can, and don't get upset if I can't)

These last few weeks I've read a few books, which is definitely something I couldn't have done during the first six months.

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raven530

Feeling pretty beaten down right now, exercised for 5 days in a row before yesterday and feeling a lot better in my body because of it but I really just need my emotions back to have any sense of wellbeing. I was seeing improvements a few months ago and I don't know what's happened to take me back to square one. It's almost a year exactly off the medication. 

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Altostrata

Hello, raven.

 

Some people get adverse reactions to these drugs very quickly and even after they go off, it takes quite a while for the nervous system to recover.

 

Recovery is very, very gradual. A "plateau" of some months is not uncommon. Think in terms of looking back 6 months to see how far you've come.

 

You might consider taking fish oil and magnesium to help your nervous system recover, see

 

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

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

How is your sleep? If it's poor, working on simple things to make it better may help, see Important topics about symptoms, including sleep problems

 

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nicolantana

I hear you Raven. I had a brief window over weekend where I had emotion/creativity/imagination/etc.....that has gone now for a while I guess.

But the more research I do I cannot believe the amount of people who complain over loss of emotion/memory/creativity/imagination etc....it's scandulous!

 

It is scary and I have my doubts but it does seem like people recover-eventually

 

I started fish oil and magnesium on Monday so we'll see how that goes

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raven530

nicolantana - It really is a scandal, but I really think the fact you have experienced windows of positive emotion indicates you will recover.

Altostrata - Thanks for your reply, I will get some magnesium and have been taking good quality omega 3 for many months now. My sleep isn't bad as far as I know. I'm getting a lot of it but have heard that some sufferers of withdrawal don't get much REM sleep. Not sure how I would measure how much of that I'm getting. What can I do if it's been 6 months and I haven't got anywhere? It's been 3 or 4 already. I guess I am pushing myself in other ways, find myself more able to exercise, so maybe there are some improvements that are flying under the radar.

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raven530

I have had points in the past year where I've been crystal clear on the fact that 'if it was this bad all the time I could tolerate it and live a decent life," if this is to be forever I really need to capture the best moments more frequently. 

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raven530

So ******* tired of this emotional numbness, been in bed past 2 weeks and completely abandoned my programme.

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nicolantana

hang in there man! it's absolute torture I know. I cannot think of many worse forms of hell.

 

But the way I look at it we have two options.....throw in the towel or persevere. And why throw in the towel when recovery is possible?

I'm hoping it doesn't get to this, but I'm willing to spend a few years in this state if I have to!.......what a waste it would be if the brain all of a sudden healed after three years of hell or whatever....

 

when was your last positive moment out of curiosity?

 

I'm ranking progress/lack of progress in three categories...energy, emotions, engagement...all of which have been non existent for me this past two weeks....and 97% of past 7 months...

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Happy2Heal

hi Raven,
reading thru your thread, I really feel for you. I know everyone is different but I hope my story can give you some hope.

I have been given psych drugs since I was 18yrs old, originally I was forced to take stellazine, an anti psychotic, in spite of the fact that I was not psychotic (my diagnosis was "adjustment reaction to adolescence") I was never given an Rx outside of the hospital, so I cold turkey'ed off this drug each time, and recovered (don't recall how long it took, but it was some months, not years)
I was forced to take haldol for 5 or 6 mos and recovered from that in a few months.

I was given lithium for several years (memory is shot right now so I don't recall for how long that was) I recovered from that.

I was also on many different drugs over the course of um, 25 yrs, most fairly short term, such as depakote, lamictal (for a year or so) seroquel (very high doses for a year or more) and different combos of SSRI's and either sleep meds or a benzo. I went off all of those cold turkey and recovered.

except, of course, for the one that I'm tapering off of now, the lexapro. I cold turkey'd off it a couple of times and also did at least one other very fast taper- This did not go well.

I am now 61 yrs old and because of that, I know that my healing will likely be slower, and my brain is smaller than it was in the past (your brain shrinks as you age, regardless of being on psych meds; I am not sure how much you can delay or mitigate that by keeping it active and fit, but for sure, my brain is now smaller than it was even 10yrs ago)

 

in spite of all of those things, and in spite of many many CTs and drug changes, etc, and even in spite of screwing up my tapering now, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, that I WILL recover.

I don't know how long it will take, but I know it will happen. And not just because it happened in the past.

I already have some glimpses of the future me, and it's good. They are just glimpses, to be sure, I am currently struggling with anhedonia as well but I know that eventually my feelings will return.

 

in the meantime, I "fake it til I make it" LOL

actually, I just realized, I laughed out loud several times today, a real laugh and I laughed at some of Jimmy Kimmels stuff on the awards show last night, so there it is! I have some feelings already. :)

I don't know how long it will take for you, but if I were you, I would expect a full recovery. You are doing so much already to aid your healing, the rest is up to time.

 

I hope that this gives you some hope!
If I can heal, after such an extensive drug history and so many ups and downs to my poor battered Central nervous system, a young fella like yourself, you're gonna be just fine!!

 

focus on the positive and it will grow!!

 

 

(PS I should also add that I've had two concussions, one at age 18 and the other one 8 yrs ago- so my brain has been banged up a bit too, hahaha)

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nicolantana

interesting story catnapt.....so have you had extended periods of no emotion....and they returned???

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Happy2Heal

interesting story catnapt.....so have you had extended periods of no emotion....and they returned???

 

yes, every time they returned!! I am trying to recall what was the longest I went without feeling anything (not counting while I've been on SSRIs, which have obliterated my feelings almost completely)

 

um, I think the longest period was about maybe 5 mos?  after the CT off haldol, I slept non stop for about 2 or 3 mos, and then felt numb and odd, and that didn't last very long, til I was very  happy and looking forward to things, making plans, being creative.

I have to add that I was pregnant by this time, so I don't know what affect that had on my recovery. You'd think that pregnancy would be a huge stresser, plus I was with a very abusive man, to boot, under enormous stress from his unpredictable moods and violence; I was very socially isolated. So even with all that stress, I recovered my emotions and was looking forward to being a new mom. ;-)

 

 

It's kind of surprising how much the human body, mind and spirit can handle, isn't it?

 

:)

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nicolantana

certainly encouraging....I was on a heavy duty mix for over four months. I'm pretty lifeless currently but I guess I'm only two months off...and I have had glimmers of life......so hopefully in time

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nicolantana

and catnapt.....what was it like when you came out of these anhedonic phases???

 

was it sudden return to life or more subtle???

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raven530

Hey nicoltana,

I'm not going to throw in the towel, that's for sure. I haven't felt euphoria/joy once since I came off unfortunately, but I have felt contentment, been able to laugh and felt sadness. Problem is I keep slipping from my programme, and when I do I have a lifestyle which would create mental illness even if I had never taken the drugs. How am I supposed to recover from neurological damage when my brain is creating additional mental health problems? I feel confident that living a healthy lifestyle is going to be a major factor in recovery.

I think when we come out the other end this experience will be one that lets us appreciate life, before I took everything for granted, can't imagine I will after going through this hell. 

Are you exercising and eating healthily? 

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raven530

hi catnapt,

Thanks for sharing your story, it does give me hope :) I do believe I will recover, but I don't think I have seen glimmers of the same intensity you described having. 

 

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nicolantana

Yeah I hear you. I have had a similar fortnight. My desire to eat well/exercise has fallen away so I've just being going for the occasional stroll and not eating too well 

.

 

But this is part of it I think. I think once we are staying alive, eating something and sleeping then we're in the mix.

 

The energy/desire to exercise/eat more will come and go. Just like emotions and the ability to engage...

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raven530

Taking a freeing cold shower every day for 30 seconds. The shock to the system is pretty awesome for someone anhedonic like myself, I find myself dreading it before I do it (which is great). It is an awful awful experience but worth it for me. Finns do the same sort of thing, jump in a freezing lake after spending time in a sauna. So this is probably the Nordic approved equivalent to cutting yourself cause it's seriously masochistic. 

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nicolantana

Ha. sounds like fun.

 

Any improvements to report??

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raven530

I've been more switched on recently, more motivated but not really sure if that's an improvement re: anhedonia. Been reading a lot too which is something I couldn't do a few months ago. Went to the zoo today and was a bit creeped out by the spiders, but used to be a serious arachnophobe before this all started so not really sure if that's a positive or a negative.

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nicolantana

man these sound like serious improvements!!!....more motivation......reading books.....and creeped out by spiders must entail some emotion??

sounds like good progress to me man.

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raven530

Had some very positive moments this week. I went on a walk on a nice spring evening and I felt very content, like I could appreciate a lot of the beauty around me. I think it's probably the most content I've felt since this withdrawal hell started. I also saw a photo of my ex-girlfriend on facebook with another guy and felt a pang of jealousy in my stomach - first time I've felt jealousy since withdrawal too. Hopefully she posts more pics lol.

Anyways thought I'd get this down here because I can already feel myself slipping into more deeper anhedonia again... Realised just how skewed this site is towards people's negative experiences. I normally come here when I'm feeling my worst. That's not to say that what I write here isn't reflective of my experience, I had a horrendous 3 month wave over Dec-Feb, but just a reminder that the people who are feeling good probably aren't communicating it to the rest of us.

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scallywag

Thanks for posting a positive update -- an anhedonia-free window -- after a strong 3-month wave. Enjoy!

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nicolantana

Thanks for the update Raven, sounds like more progress again!

 

I've logged some positive experiences recently too. Overall, I know improvement is happening although this past few days I am back to zombie mode

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raven530

scallywag - I wouldn't say anhedonia free, but the windows are getting better and longer with time

nicolantana - yes even after a year I still get tricked by the bad patches and convince myself I'm never going to get better. Doesn't help that sometimes those patches can be very long. Think what's been important for me has been using those bad patches productively, or at least as productively as I'm able to, stuff like getting a bit fitter, going for walks etc.

I find it such a dehumanising condition, especially when I can't feel nervous/excited for other people. Just got to remember it's not our fault and it will get better with time

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