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undertheradar99: Back and forth


undertheradar99

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undertheradar99

Hi everyone,

 

I came across this site and felt like it might be a good place to find support in my battle with depression and antidepressant 'addiction'. 

 

I have had a long, complicated and troublesome history with antidepressants ever since I first started using them about 17 years ago, at the age of 16. I'm 33 now, and I today I am celebrating 9 months medication free! This is probably my 10th attempt at trying to come off medication and I am pretty certain this is the longest I have ever been off since I first started on them. I tried repeatedly over many years but would always last a few months, maybe six, and then realise I couldn't take the suffering any longer and end up going back on them. Then once I was back on them, I would realise I still didn't feel like they were helping me and so would begin tapering off them again. This process has been going on for about 16-17 years, until now.

 

I have been seeing a counsellor for the past 18 months who has been invaluable in supporting my decision to come off antidepressants, but am still finding life very difficult at times. Even though it has been 9 months, when times get tough, I contemplate whether I should return to medication again. But I am determined to continue on hoping that things will eventually get better, which I think they, but only very slowly. 

 

I can relate to a lot of the withdrawals mentioned I have read on this site. I am familiar with headaches, night sweats, panic/anxiety attacks, chronic and generalised anxiety, hot flushes and many more. 

 

I really hope that this attempt and trying to live a life without antidepressants is the right thing to do, even though it feels extremely painful pretty much every day, and always feel like giving up.

 

Any support would be much appreciated. I hope I can contribute to this forum.

 

Edited by scallywag
tags

1999 Paroxetine (Aged 16)

2000 Citalopram

2004 Fluoxetine

2005 Citalopram

2010 Venlafaxine

2011 Escitalopram 

2015 Venlafaxine

 

Last day on ADs was 26th May 2016 (aged 32)

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All I can think of to say is, Welcome to this site! I hope you can find another source of support here.

 

Here is a link to one post you should read.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

And another.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6036-why-taper-paper-demonstrates-importance-of-gradual-change-in-plasma-concentration/

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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Undertheradar,

 

You and I have taken some similar drugs - fluoxetine, venlafaxine, escitalopram.  I'm currently tapering off venlafaxine nice and slowly. 

 

With such a 'rich' (ha!) history of drug use, and so many on and offs, your Central Nervous System will have become quite fragile.  This is why you are still experiencing so many systems.  You might find it reassuring to read about neuro-plasticity and brain restoration.  It gave me a lot of hope when I first came here. 

 

Nine months is a while in terms of a possible reinstatement, but still worth considering.  We have a thread that discusses it here:  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 1mg, and once you were stable again you could taper off according to our 10% monthly guide.

 

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 you noticed any improvements over the last 9 months? 

 

Many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.   

Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

 

For some people w/d does take longer to end.  There are other members here who are also waiting a long time.  Are there supportive people in your life, or things that you are doing to get yourself through this difficult time? 

 

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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undertheradar99

Hi Karen, 

 

Nice to hear from a fellow kiwi :)

 

Thanks for the articles, I will try to give them a read when I have time. I have seen a TED talk about neuroplasticity, which has given me hope that the brain can adapt and heal at any age and after difficult circumstances. I tell myself that even 9 months is still a relatively short time for someone who has been on and off a drug for the better part of 20 years.

 

Things are gradually improving, but it feels like it is taking forever. The last 9 months have been very difficult and I am amazed that I am still off them. I wouldn't have been able to get this far without the support of my counsellor, and GP, however it still feels like the depression/side-effects is not lifting quick enough. A lot of what has come up through GP visits and counselling is relationship issues - family relationship difficulties, lack of social support system - but I still wonder whether part of the reason I am still struggling after 9 months is the fact that my brain/CNS is still healing and recalibrating, but I have no way of finding out whether that is the case, it is really just hypothetical. So as you can see, it's difficult for me to distinguish what is working and what is not working, and whether reinstating a small dose would be a good idea. I really don't want to go back onto any dose of medication because it will feel like I'm just going back for another round.

 

I took an 8-week course in mindfulness last year, which was helpful in terms of calming my thoughts and feelings, but I find it hard to practice it regularly. Feels like just another treatment to throw in the mix.

 

I'm really hoping that as time goes on, I will continue to gradually get better and after 12 months, 18 months, I will be feeling good, but I guess that depends on a lot of things, not just related to the cessation of antidepressants. 

1999 Paroxetine (Aged 16)

2000 Citalopram

2004 Fluoxetine

2005 Citalopram

2010 Venlafaxine

2011 Escitalopram 

2015 Venlafaxine

 

Last day on ADs was 26th May 2016 (aged 32)

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How did you taper off this last time? Did you do it any differently than the other times?

Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg
Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pw4tjImAJ92OIVyRvZoZYjqxiKMk7wvp-ljiIi1olRo/edit#gid=0

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undertheradar99

I tapered off from 300mg of venlafaxine over approximately 7 months, in a linear fashion, so roughly 25mg every 2 or 3 weeks. I was on that 300mg dosage for approximately 4 months before I started tapering, after having gotten to that level over the previous 5 months. I should really put this in my signature.

1999 Paroxetine (Aged 16)

2000 Citalopram

2004 Fluoxetine

2005 Citalopram

2010 Venlafaxine

2011 Escitalopram 

2015 Venlafaxine

 

Last day on ADs was 26th May 2016 (aged 32)

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  • Administrator

Hello, undertheradar.

 

As KarenB suggested, fish oil and magnesium can be helpful.

 

How's your sleep? Are you light-sensitive?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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undertheradar99

sleep has improved gradually over the months but i still have the occasional bad night where i cant sleep. racing thoughts etc

 

light sensitivity - yes now i think about it

 

will give fish oil and magnesium a try

1999 Paroxetine (Aged 16)

2000 Citalopram

2004 Fluoxetine

2005 Citalopram

2010 Venlafaxine

2011 Escitalopram 

2015 Venlafaxine

 

Last day on ADs was 26th May 2016 (aged 32)

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