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Rose9: Hello, thank you and my story - hopeful


Rose9

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Am I ever glad I found this space. Been lurking a bit and now saying "hi".

 

I'd like to introduce myself and hopefully become a part of this community. I'm 37 and have been on antidepressants (mostly SSRIs) for 19 years. In the process of getting off of them for ALL the reasons you all know of. I have been alone for so much of this journey and reading your posts is absolutely changing my life, how I view myself, how I view the medical model, how I view our cultures. Your posts are making me feel more compassionate towards myself.

 

So that's the short version of my intro, above. Also that I'm in the midst of Lexapro withdrawal, and for 11 days have been physically in complete and total misery. But sticking with it, determined to get free.

 

My longer intro is below, but don't feel obligated to read it.

 

My old narrative used to go like this: I was diagnosed with depression as a new college student, apparently I'd always been depressed, and student health saved me with drugs. Soon the drugs didn't really work, and multiple GPs did their best helping me by experimenting with lots of different cocktails, which made me very, very sick and unable to thrive. And it was decided that Celexa and Lexapro were the least bad symptom-wise, so that's what I've been taking for a long, long time. I can't go off of them because the few times I've tried I felt terrible, which is  a sign of how I am such a terrible, hopeless case. I have "treatment resistant depression" after all. Didn't respond to those drugs.

 

My new empowered narrative goes like this:

 

I was depressed as a new college student because OF COURSE I was. I have always felt deeply, one of those observer types who stands off to the side and takes it all in, easily depleted by people and stimuli. And it was hard. Becoming educated and waking up to the world was hard. Thinking about my childhood and adolescence that brought me there was hard. Being a young woman was hard. Living with hundreds of other people was hard. Having imposter syndrome was hard. Having "fun" (drinking, parties, hooking up) was hard. Getting used to the birth control pills I'd just started was hard.

 

Getting on antidepressants was easy. At first. And then it wasn't. And then I went into guinea pig mode as university general practitioners tried all kinds of drugs trying to find the right fit while I floundered and disassociated from myself. I tried to get off the drugs a few times, unsure they were good for me, but life has never been all that stable. College, job, grad school, job, move, grad school, marriage, divorce, grad school, new career, move... you know how it is. I have felt emotionally flat, "meh," and exhausted the vast majority of the time, unable to engage in life fully, unable to feel things, participating in target behaviors in a search for joy and ruining myself in the process.

 

I have had three turning points that have built up over the course of seven years to get me to a new, empowered, clear state of mind.

1) After getting divorced in 2010 (a relationship ending in an embarrassingly dramatic implosion by a total lack of self work & emotional skills on both our parts). I made a connection with a kind and wise therapist who helped me see that life is not always happy, that my sensitivity is a great strength, that my introversion is ok, that I am allowed to breathe and take up space like everyone else, that I can go ahead and be me in this world rather than conform to it by dulling myself out to conform.

2) Then a year ago, I did Dialectical Behavior Therapy (HOW did it take me so long to know this was a thing??) Coming out of that 9 months later made me realize that my medication was a patch, and a patch that had long since stopped working anyway, which was getting in the way of having feelings--which we are supposed to have for reasons, by the way!--and was a substitute for building skills.

3) Last, a book with a silly women's magazine-sounding title: "Moody B*tches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, The Sleep You're Missing, The Sex You're Not Having, and What's Really Making You Crazy" by Julie Holland MD. The title is sassy, but does not do justice the "meat" that's between the covers. I learned that women are different from men (duh), that our emotions and moods are supposed to be there, that SSRIs are especially problematic for women, can be extremely hard when paired with hormonal birth control, and that women are not so much experiencing an epidemic of depression and anxiety as they are not fitting neatly into a male-medical model.

 

I am done. I want to know who I am after spending my adult life blotting myself out, living in a fog of drugs, and over-identifying with depression as an identity marker when there is so much more to me.

 

Anyway. Thanks if you made it this far. Nice to meet you. I'm really glad to be here.

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Rose9: Hello, thank you and my story - hopeful
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Rose9,

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA), nice to see you here and am so glad that you found the site.

 

I read through your introduction and have to say "bravo" to you for having the strength and determination to take the steps necessary to discover a new narrative for your life.  You sound like an intelligent woman, with a good head on your shoulders and I believe that you have the ability to achieve your goals to be free of antidepressants and to live a fully engaged life.  I can relate to so much of your story, actually could have written many of the lines myself and I am sure that many in this community will also be able to relate to your story.

 

 

First things first, in order to get a clear picture of what has brought you here, we ask all of our members to fill out a withdrawal signature history so that all of your drug/tapering information can be read at a glance.  This helps moderators immensely and we would ask that you follow the instructions at the link below.

 

Instructions:  Withdrawal History Signature

 

It is not clear from your intro what method you have been using to taper or what drugs you are currently taking and would ask that you complete your withdrawal history signature and familiarize yourself with the protocols followed by SA.  Are you experiencing any withdrawal symptoms at this time?

 

Before you continue to taper what you need to know

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Please feel free to connect with other members in your intro, SA is an amazing community of supportive members who are happy to help and know exactly what you are going through.

 

Look forward to reading about your success story. 

 

Best of luck,
BaroqueP

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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Thanks for replying, Baroque, I appreciate your kind words more than you may know and really need help. I added my signature and have read through everything.

 

Yes, I'm experiencing horrible discontinuation symptoms: vertigo, nausea, brain zaps, ringing ears, diarrhea, sensitivity to light and noise, pressure in my head, raw throat, runny nose. I've been trying to keep up with my busy schedule, knowing I'm not going to die even though I feel like it, but I collapsed last night, stayed home from work sick today. I'm unable to do much at all but read about what is happening to my body and feel enraged about how I got here.

 

As I'm reading, I see that I followed the guidelines I had re. tapering, but it's probably still way too fast for someone on SSRIs for nearly 20 years. I just felt so empowered about ridding myself from the emotional flatness, mental fog, and exhaustion I know this is causing me and putting into effect all the work I've done to be emotionally healthy without drugs. Plus I went off of hormonal birth control and felt so amazingly better mentally, I was determined to get off all the junk that is getting in the way of me.

 

I'm wondering now if I should go back to 1/4 a tablet (2.5 mg) for a while. Unable to function due to physical symptoms, I feel mentally quite well. My plan has been to power through despite whatever physical symptoms come my way, but driving is dangerous due to vertigo and people are noticing that I'm not well. If it would help me in the long run to reinstate and slow the taper, I may be open to it. But I don't want to go backwards either after a week and a half of misery.

 

Any thoughts???

 

 

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Oh dear, you had such a positive post that I didn't think you were in trouble.  So, sorry to hear you are dealing with those awful symptoms, I am certainly familiar with all of them.  Unfortunately when a person has been on these drugs long-term a very slow taper is recommended to get off of the drug safely and with minimal withdrawal.    

 

I would encourage you to read the link on reinstatement so that you have all of the information that you will need going forward and can make an informed decision about how you wish to proceed.

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms
What to Expect in Reinstatement (James Heaney article)

 

As you have only been off of Lexapro for a fairly short period of time, I would highly recommend reinstating.  The only other option you have at this time is to to try and wait out the symptoms but that can oftentimes take weeks, months or even years.   There is no reason for you to suffering unnecessarily and reinstatement is the only known way that can alleviate withdrawal symptoms.    

 

Please be aware that 2.5mg might be a little too high as you sped up the taper towards the end and I'm worried that your central nervous system may be too sensitized at this time.  These drugs are very powerful even in small amounts.  I would suggest that you reinstate at 1.0 mg, wait at least a week to see if this helps and then decide whether or not you need to increase the dosage a little more to eliminate/lessen the withdrawal symptoms.  You may have to go up as high as 2.5mg but best to be safe and reinstate slowly and avoid any potential reaction if the dose is too high.  The goal is to reinstate the smallest amount possible that will alleviate your withdrawal symptoms.  If you have an immediate adverse reaction, please discontinue immediately.

 

If you do decide to reinstate, please keep track of your symptoms on a daily basis so you (and the moderators) can gauge your progress and track any symptom patterns and help guide you through to the next steps.

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist

 

Please feel free to post again if you have any questions, need clarification or additional information, I know this is a difficult decision to make and the amount of information can be overwhelming.  

 

Best,

BaroqueP


 

 


 

Edited by baroquep

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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Thanks, Baroque. Yeah, this is what I was thinking--too fast, may need to reinstate and go back to a low, slow taper. I think it's probably a good way to avoid further suffering. I need to figure out how to get Lexapro in smaller amounts.

 

I look forward to checking out those books! Glad to see MDs who get it.

 

You know, I'm positive about things because I have so many more tools than I've ever had, so I am confident that I can get off this cycle. I'm also positive because I feel better just on the lower dosage and off BCPs, more human. (I even cried the other day watching a TV show. I have been unable to cry for years!) I really want to get off meds. But I do, you know, have to drive and show up to work, etc. which I can't do right now. Things are terrible, but they've been bad before, and they've passed. Help from people like you and communities like these are what makes me hopeful.

 

Thank you again. I'll be updating this.

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Speak to your doctor and see if he will prescribe 1mg and have it prepared and filled for you by a compounding pharmacy.  Hopefully you have one in in your area.  

 

I'm attaching a few links that can help you figure out dosages by either counting beads, weighing the pills or using a liquid solution to get the dosage that you need.  I have my prescription compounded so I have no experience in this area but there are other moderators with more experience and others in the community that can help you with this if compounding isn't doable.  

 

Using a Digital Scale to Measure Doses

Counting Beads in a Capsule Versus Weighing

How to Make a Liquid from Tablets or Capsules

How to Calculate Dosages

 

Whatever you decide, Surviving Antidepressants is a supportive community and happy to help.  Keep in touch and let us know what you decide to do.

 

Best,

BaroqueP

    

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Rose, how are you doing today?  

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

Link to comment

Hey Baroque. Thank you for checking in. I tell you, that was some good advice (my MD agreed) to reinstate a teensy bit of Lexapro. I felt relief within hours and now symptoms are wayyyy more manageable. Back and work and driving today. HOORAY! Slight headache and some digestive stuff, but nothing I can't deal with.

 

He wanted me to do 2.5 mgs for two weeks, then 2.5 mgs every other day for two weeks, then stop. I am skeptical of this plan... but have time to think about it. I can't see how every other day would do anything--wouldn't you be withdrawing a little bit each day? I need to research more.

 

Thank you for being here. You are a hero (to me!)

 

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Rose,

 

Am so glad to hear that you are feeling better and that your doctor is on board.  Am relieved to hear that you have a good healthy skepticism of his plan and are of the mind that you need to do more research.  Doctors suggest skipping/alternating doses because they have a misguided belief the blood level of the drug "averages" out over a few days.  It simply doesn't work like that.

 

It is never a good idea to skip or alternate doses, basically you will be playing ping-pong with your brain as it will have to continually try and recalibrate to adjust to the different levels of the drug in your system.    Please continue to take the 2.5mg every day and stay at this dose for at least a couple of months to allow your central nervous system and poor brain heal and stabilize.  Once you start feeling better we can provide you with the next steps to get off of Lexapro, but for now the best thing for you to do is hold, practise extreme self-care and just take it easy.

 

I am reattaching a couple of links from previous posts as well as a couple of others so you can familiarize yourself with the recommended way to proceed after reinstatement.  I know it is a lot of information to digest, so take your time, see what your options are and you can then make a decision down the road.  

Skipping Days vs Every Day Dosing Graph

Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable

What to Expect in Reinstatement (James Heaney article)

Before you continue to taper what you need to know

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Hoping you continue to feel better.

 

Best,

BaroqueP

 

 





 

Edited by baroquep

Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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  • Moderator Emeritus
5 hours ago, baroquep said:

Please continue to take the 2.5mg every day and stay at this dose for at least a couple of months

 

Just chiming in to say that I agree with baroqueP.  It would be a very good idea to hold for at least 2 months and possibly 3 months to allow your brain time to stabilise.  Please throw out the calendar and be patient.  You need to listen to your body.  It is better to hold for longer than to try and reduce and end up having to updose.

 

It's a good idea to keep notes of your symptoms, what improves and what worsens, so that you can see improvements that you may not feel.

 

Keep Notes on Paper

 

Rate Symptoms Daily to Check Patterns and Progress

 

Also, check out these topics:

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Stabilising After a Reduction - What Does That Mean?

Withdrawal Normal Description

 

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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Hi Baroque & Chessie. Thanks for the advice and links. I do plan to stay here at this dose for a while, and on this site. And yes, I have been journaling. I started journaling to watch my mood in case symptoms of depression come back, but as I look back, I'm really just tracking withdrawal effects. I look back and see where I said I had a cold or allergies or something and I think that it was actually tapering off but I didn't recognize those symptoms.

 

As I learn more, I am finding that many of the symptoms I've had over the past 20 years that I thought were an essential, underlying illness rearing its head were likely withdrawal symptoms and side effects from mismanaged AD use and my own ignorance. So yeah, I am not only skeptical of the medical community's knowledge, but PISSED OFF right now. Like, in a good and productive way. Plus it is nice to not be sad about what's happening, as I usually am, but to have what I think is a healthy rage about what you and I and thousands of others go through largely unacknowledged while more people get put on ADs in 5 minute GP appointments. GAHHHHHH!!

 

Anyway. I started taking fish oil today, after reading so much about alleviating symptoms and brain repair, plus I know how good it is for cog function, and I feel like I'm operating not at maximum capacity in that arena (my memory and attention suck right now). I'm conflicted because I'm vegan, but I feel like I need it badly enough, so I bought a sustainable, wild-caught form.

 

I'm also getting a massage today at my therapist's suggestion... you guys should go get one too! ;-)))

 

Many thanks and much love. Wishing you a great Saturday.

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • 1 year later...

One year(ish) later—thanks & thoughts

 

Hello all, posting an update from the flip side.

 

Reading your posts and hearing your stories *saved me* Aug/Sept 2017, when I was severely feeling the effects of withdrawing from Lexapro (19 years of AD use, mostly SSRIs). During the process, at this time, my therapist and psychiatrist (who I’d assembled ahead of time to help me through this), had both moved out of state and I was sick and adrift, alone. 

 

First: Writing to give thanks to you all. You never know how your openness and vulnerability will help others. Reading your posts helped me. Baroque and ChessieCat also reached out, gave me some tips, and were so kind.

 

Second: Update. Being off ADs has been a real mixed bag. It took about 6 months to get off the last 2.5 mgs. Once the obvious withdrawal symptoms were over (headache, brain zaps, flu-ish-ness, nausea, vertigo), I was relieved to find that my side effects had gone away!! including: extreme fatigue, constipation, lack of sexual desire, lack of orgasm. I stopped binge eating & binge drinking instantly, things I’d struggled with in my adulthood. It was like I didn’t need those things anymore, and they didn’t feel good anymore.

 

The thing I most wanted to undo was numb feeling I always had. While others looked on at things with joy or sadness, I always felt “meh.” I hadn’t cried in about 5 years.

 

Emotionally, I felt as though I’d woken up from sleeping through life for 20 years. I was labile as a toddler. I was pissed. I felt abject grief over how I’d spun my wheels for all this time, getting nowhere. Looking back, my life choices seemed arbitrary. I’d woken up in my late 30s without any of the things I’d planned on having.

 

But weirdly, I was glad to have strong feelings and hoped they would help me achieve the things I want to do. It felt good to see tender things and weep, to stick up for myself, 

 

It has been really, really hard. I have been suicidal often and have counted about 5 good weeks worth of days in 13 months. The grief, despair, and hopelessness are often crushing. 

 

I see a good therapist weekly, and a psychiatrist 2 times a month. The book “Undoing Depression”  by Richard O’Connor has been a big help; I have lists and mantras all over the place. I am making plans for in case I have an emergency. Basically I want to have a team who knows me and my negative experiences with ADs be able to help if I can’t take it anymore versus some strangers at a clinic. I am learning about ECT or TMS in case I cannot hack it.

 

So yeah. This is just my individual story. No moral, no suggestions. I will say coming off meds has been important despite how hard it is. Now, more informed and with a “naked” brain, I am trying to figure out how to live my life...

 

Thanks for reading. Love and strength to all. You are all brave and amazing!

 

—————

Original post, 8/30/17, during the worst physical & cognitive symptoms:

 

Am I ever glad I found this space. Been lurking a bit and now saying "hi".

 

I'd like to introduce myself and hopefully become a part of this community. I'm 37 and have been on antidepressants (mostly SSRIs) for 19 years. In the process of getting off of them for ALL the reasons you all know of. I have been alone for so much of this journey and reading your posts is absolutely changing my life, how I view myself, how I view the medical model, how I view our cultures. Your posts are making me feel more compassionate towards myself.

 

So that's the short version of my intro, above. Also that I'm in the midst of Lexapro withdrawal, and for 11 days have been physically in complete and total misery. But sticking with it, determined to get free.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added topic title to post before merging with intro

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Congratulations!  You have done well to get off.  Please update your signature with dates and doses.  Thank you. Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature

 

You might find this topic helpful.  Unfortunately getting to 0 is not the end of it.  Healing continues to happen.

 

are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take

 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added additional content

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

Link to comment

Thanks ChessieCat. Good info. It’s hard to know how long to wait after going off to know what’s true depression, what’s normal emotional adjustment, and what’s the lingering effects of ADs. 

 

Signature updated below.

 

——-

-1999 on BCPs

- 2000 on Celexa; helps dramatically. Stops working   

-2000 - 2006 Celexa & Lexapro Interchangeably with side effects, without relief of depression

- 2006 Off Celexa. No symptoms. Severe Depression. Put on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin (hospitalized; DCed)

-2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro;

-since 2010, therapy, CBT,  DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet.

- fall 2015 Find psychiatrist and stable therapist to work with to improve symptoms. Increase dose from 20 to 30 mg Lexapri

- Spring 2017 team decided drugs not having desired effect. Psych prescribes Cymbalta on top of Lexapro. I decline any meds. Team supportive.

- Began taper under supervision May 2016 til Jun 2017 without symptoms from 30 mgs to 2.5 mgs

-At 2.5 flu-like symptoms began, stay at 2.5 Jun - Aug 2017

- July 2017 psychiatrist & therapist move away

- 0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps. Unable to drive.

- 8/30 Discover SA.org, on advice reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement. 

- Tapered by .5 through Dec 2018 (easy)

- completely off Dec 2018. No physical symptoms. Relief of some physical side effects of drug. 

- 12/18 to 6/18: Depression continues, worsens. Emotional. Suicidal. Find new therapist.

- 5-6/18 Super clean up diet for 6 wks, mood improves

-6/18-9/18, depression worsens

-9/18 depression lifted suddenly; high mood

 - 9/18-mid October,  feeling well

- mid-October - present, very low, apathetic, hopeless, suicidal thoughts. Find  psychiatrist & assemble support team, emergency plan. 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
resized font

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

It's important to learn and use non drug coping techniques and not be hasty expecting a drug to "solve" our problems.  They numb the emotions, but they don't make the problems go away.  We still need to learn how to cope.  I wrote this to another member recently who was considering starting an antidepressant because he was experiencing situational depression.

 

It's also important to realise that what helped previously may work the same way next time.

 

On 11/8/2018 at 8:18 AM, ChessieCat said:

 

My own situation is that I had many major life stresses (ie external stress) from the age of 19 and ended up on an antidepressant in my mid-30s.  I'm now 61.  I've been on an antidepressant for about 25 years now.  If I had been taught non drug ways to cope when I was young, I most probably would not have ended up on an AD.


We all want an easy and quick fix.  ADs are not the magic pill that we are led to believe.  Gwen Olsen was a drug rep for 15 years.  Short video:  We are trained to misinform

 

The thing to understand is that ADs numb the emotions, they don't make the problems go away.  Most external stressors, and I understand not all (my husband got sick after we had been married for 2 years so that particular stress was on-going), generally resolve over time or at least lessen.  I learnt CBT 4 years ago and wish that I had been taught this before going an an AD.  I also didn't receive any counselling "back then".

 

My suggestion would be to explore all other avenues of non-drug methods of coping before even considering taking an AD. 

 

I think it would also be helpful if you learned more about the history and issues of psychiatric drugs.  Two good books are Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker (this book also explains the history of drugs) and Your Drug May Be Your Problem by Dr Peter Breggin.  This is a good start:  Video:  Simple Truths About Psychiatry - Series of 10 by Dr Peter Breggin

 

I also suggest that you check out some links on my website of things I have found on the internet (about half way down the page) https://adwithdrawal.weebly.com/information-links.html.  Also check out page 1 of my site too.

 

 

Build up a toolbox of different non drug coping techniques.  Different ones work at different times for different situations.  I'm going through a tough time at the moment and I have found that the coping techniques which I have learned over the last 4 years have been very helpful with coping.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

dealing-with-emotional-spirals

 

Dr Claire Weekes suffered from anxiety and learned and taught ways of coping.  There are videos available on YouTube.

 

Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for anxiety, depression

 

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)
 
Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)
 
Video:  Experiential Avoidance (4 minutes)
 
Video:  EMDR - Balloon
 
On 4/28/2017 at 4:03 AM, brassmonkey said:

 

AAF: Acknowledge, Accept, Float.  It's what you have to do when nothing else works, and can be a very powerful tool in coping with anxiety.  The neuroemotional anxiety many of us feel during WD is directly caused by the drugs and their chemical reactions in the brain.  Making it so there is nothing we can do about them.  They won't respond to other drugs, relaxation techniques and the like.  They do, however, react very well to being ignored.  That's the concept behind AAF.  Acknowledge, get to know the feeling involved, explore them.  Accept, These feelings are a part of you and they aren't going anywhere fast. Float, let the feeling float off as you get on with your life as best as you can.  It's a well documented fact that the more you feed in to anxiety the worse it gets.  What starts as generalized neuroemotinal anxiety can be easily blown into a full fledged panic attack just by thinking about it.

 

I often liken it to an unwanted house guest.  At first you talk to them, have conversations, communicate with them.  After a while you figure out that they aren't leaving and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  So you go on about your day, working around them until they get bored and leave.

 

It can take some practice, but AAF really does work.  I hope you give it a try.

 

 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

Link to comment

Yeah, I know they don’t fix things and am terrified about having a bad reaction to something again, so it’s not something I want to do. 

 

I don’t suffer from anxiety (just panic attacks in 2006 from Wellbutrin), but severe dysthymic disorder, and I’m not sure my depression is situational in nature. It goes back to at least when I was in preschool. So it’s hard to say if skills would have avoided this. But I agree that I would have liked to have advocated better for my young self.

 

I do the work, and wake up and do it more. That’s what it takes, I know. But some things I’ve tried were on meds, and I really couldn’t access myself then, too numb, so I’m continuing strategies from DBT & CBT & all that good stuff off the meds to see what helps. Will review these resources too to see if there’s anything I haven’t done yet. Thanks!

 

I do know that there’s a line that if I cross I prob don’t have a choice but to get medical intervention. I’ve defined this, and it’s basically nothing short of life or death, or independence or non-independence. Trying to stay on the right side of those lines.

 

I really hope you feel better soon and find help in these strategies. Thank you for talking with me and for all you do hereZ

 

——-

-1999 on BCPs

- 2000 on Celexa; helps dramatically. Stops working   

-2000 - 2006 Celexa & Lexapro Interchangeably with side effects, without relief of depression

- 2006 Off Celexa. No symptoms. Severe Depression. Put on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin (hospitalized; DCed)

-2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro;

-since 2010, therapy, CBT,  DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet.

- fall 2015 Find psychiatrist and stable therapist to work with to improve symptoms. Increase dose from 20 to 30 mg Lexapri

- Spring 2017 team decided drugs not having desired effect. Psych prescribes Cymbalta on top of Lexapro. I decline any meds. Team supportive.

- Began taper under supervision May 2016 til Jun 2017 without symptoms from 30 mgs to 2.5 mgs

-At 2.5 flu-like symptoms began, stay at 2.5 Jun - Aug 2017

- July 2017 psychiatrist & therapist move away

- 0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps. Unable to drive.

- 8/30 Discover SA.org, on advice reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement. 

- Tapered by .5 through Dec 2018 (easy)

- completely off Dec 2018. No physical symptoms. Relief of some physical side effects of drug. 

- 12/18 to 6/18: Depression continues, worsens. Emotional. Suicidal. Find new therapist.

- 5-6/18 Super clean up diet for 6 wks, mood improves

-6/18-9/18, depression worsens

-9/18 depression lifted suddenly; high mood

 - 9/18-mid October,  feeling well

- mid-October - present, very low, apathetic, hopeless, suicidal thoughts. Find  psychiatrist & assemble support team, emergency plan. 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
font size

1999 on BCPs. 2000-2006 on and off Celexa & Lexapro.

2006 a stint on Wellbutrin, Prozac, Klonopin, ending in medical emergency

2006-2017 on and off Celexa & Lexapro; since 2010, therapy, DBT, mindfulness meditation, exercise, plant-based diet

Began taper off Lexapro Fall 2016 30 > 20 mg over two months (easy) ;  20 > 15 mg over two months (easy) ; 15 > 10 mg over two months (easy)

(Discontinued BCPs, huge lift in mood, drive)

10 > 5 mgs  over two months (easy) ; 5 mgs for 5 days (easy); 2.5 mgs for 5 days (flu-like symptoms began)

0 mgs 8/21-8/30, experienced debilitating vertigo, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, ear ringing, diarrhea, sensitivity to sound, head pressure, brain zaps; could no longer work/drive.

8/30 reinstated 2.5 mg Lexapro; relief within hours, symptoms much more manageable. 9/2 started omega supplement.

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus
3 minutes ago, Rose9 said:

I do know that there’s a line that if I cross I prob don’t have a choice but to get medical intervention. I’ve defined this, and it’s basically nothing short of life or death, or independence or non-independence. Trying to stay on the right side of those lines.

 

"Trying to stay on the right side of those lines."

 

That's all that we can do.  All the best.

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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