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NobodySpecial: Introduction & withdrawal log

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NobodySpecial

Hi everybody,

 

I thought I'd introduce myself, and let you know that I'm going to be starting a weekly withdrawal log to map my progress, support others and hopefully receive support.

 

Below, I've included a few points, and I'll be adding different things as I go on. For now, I wanted to keep it simple and get the ball rolling.

 

Who am I?

 

I'm currently taking 35mg of Amitriptyline for sleep, and as of today (01/01/18), I am starting a very slow taper off the medication. I have taken Amitriptyline since May 2016.

 

Why am I doing this?

 

I've had two withdrawal attempts prior to this, and in my last attempt, I stumbled across this website and realised that it was going to be something of a pilgrimage rather than a quick affair. I've also been interested in writing since I was a kid, and I've recently started up a creative writing practice again and thought that it would be great if I could start capturing my withdrawal journey because it'll hopefully be useful to somebody else in future and also provide me with context and a wider understanding when things start to get tough.

 

My medication history / explaining the situation?

 

I'll try to keep this as short as possible, so I'll use dot points:

 

  • I have an OCD personality, I enjoy feeling good and things being perfect. I obsessed about sleep a lot.
  • I moved out of home, couldn't control as many variables around sleep and started to get really frustrated when I didn't feel well rested.
  • Cycles of frustration continued for 6 months, before I stopped being able to sleep altogether.
  • This resolved, and was replaced by a 2 - 3am panic attack, being completely unable to fall back asleep.
  • The 2 - 3am rising continued for 4 months, before I started waking 2 hours after falling asleep and being unable to fall back asleep.
  • Tried everything, nothing worked and in my defeat, tried Amitriptyline 30mg.
  • This worked, however the somatic and psychological impacts of the nightly panic attacks and sense of being "broken forever" remained.

 

Withdrawal # 1

 

  • I had been taking the medication for about a month, and I was worried about weight gain and felt like a failure for taking it. I was also obsessed with "proving to myself that I could sleep without it now" because I had previously thought I was broken forever.
  • I tried to taper off quickly, using a variety of other sleeping aids to mask the taper.
  • In October 2016, when I had tapered down to about 5 - 10mg, I had a huge panic attack and reinstated, ending the withdrawal attempt.

 

Withdrawal # 2 

 

  • This withdrawal started in March 2017, when I tried to taper down much more slowly (but not slow enough).
  • I fully came off in October 2017, however due to having family commitments and still working with a high level of anxiety in evenings, I reached my capacity and ended the withdrawal attempt.
  • I reinstated to 35mg because I was so anxious and uncomfortable that I felt like I couldn't relax unless I took a larger dose.

 

What I'd like to achieve?

 

So now that I've had two withdrawal attempts, I realise that the challenge is going to be a combination:

 

  • The physical and psychological fear of being permanently broken, and unable to sleep again without medication.
  • The physical and psychological fear of feeling tired and how that triggers me.
  • The obsession to feel in control re: sleep, and the fear of relaxing into a sense of flowing with life.
  • The chemical experience of withdrawal.

 

I believe that the process of withdrawing is going to be therapeutic in that it'll trigger each of my fears, and allow me to soothe them directly and rewire my nervous system over the withdrawal period. Hopefully, once I'm fully withdrawn, I would've also cleared out and rewired the triggers around sleeping. 

 

Eventually, I would like to be in a position where I am able to relax into the knowing that sometimes I'll sleep well, sometimes I'll sleep badly, and not reject one experience and try to cling to another.

 

What will my taper look like?

 

It's going to be a slow taper, going from 35 -> 32.5 -> 30 etc, in increments of 2.5 per month.

 

I'm aware that I have a limited capacity to approach challenge with composure, so if I need to hold or reinstate, I'm completely comfortable with doing so because this'll be more like a marathon than a sprint and ensuring that I maintain a healthy capacity is going to be key for this.

 

The goal is to feel comfortable at each reduced dose, and spend enough time at each increment that I feel completely confident that I could sleep with this amount. I need to do this, because when I have withdrawn at a quicker rate, I realised that I wasn't certain I could sleep on any of those increments and when I reinstated, I had to go back to the beginning to feel comfortable again.

 

Please note that I'll be sharing more stuff, like the supplements I take, practices I use - for now, I just wanted to keep it simple :)

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Gridley
Hello, NobodySpecial and welcome to SA.  I'm glad you found your way here and are committed to doing a slow, safe taper.
 
To start, we ask all of our members to fill out a signature so that all of your information can be read at a glance.   Include drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements in the last 12-24 months. Also include supplements.  This helps moderators determine you current situation and we ask that you follow the instructions at the link below.

 

 

 •    Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
 •    A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
 •    Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
 •    Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
 •    Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.

  

You wrote in your post that you plan to taper at a rate of 2.5mg per month.  At Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.  In your case, while at the higher doses your reduction of 2.5mg per month would fall within the 10% guideline, please be aware that as you get lower, you will be exceeding the recommended 10% drop.  Please also remember the four-week hold between drops to allow your system to acclimate to the new dose.  You might want to consider tapering each month by 10% of current dose rather than the 2.5mg drop.  
 
 
To get you started, and familiarized with the protocols followed by SA, I am linking a few topics so that you have a better understanding of what is recommended here. 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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NobodySpecial

05/01/2018 - Update

 

On 01/01/2018, I reduced my dosage by 2.5mg from 35 to 32.5mg. I had some difficulty sleeping the first few nights, however this leveled out by 04/01/2018 and I feel back on track now.

 

I realise now that my weekly updates are probably going to be quite boring because I think I'll feel quite stable until I start getting further into my taper. What I'm currently finding challenging is that I have sleep anxiety associated with going down in medication doses and I have to work through this alongside the actual chemical withdrawals.

 

@Gridley, thank you for the information. I had a quick question - is it appropriate to talk about the psychological / mental health side of my withdrawal? As working through the issues that resulted in me going on Amitriptyline in the first place is going hand-in-hand with coming off the actual medication, as each drop in dose reveals more material that needs to be worked through.

 

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Gridley

It would be fine to talk about the psychological/mental health aspects of your withdrawal.  I'm glad you're back on track with your sleeping.  

 

Are you familiar with Claire Weekes' work?  She did groundbreaking work in dealing with anxiety.  Google survivingantidepressants.org claire weekes and you'll find some good techniques on dealing with anxiety.  This link may also be helpful:

 

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms 

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

 

 

Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. 

 

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NobodySpecial

Thanks @Gridley, I'll check her out. Also, that's what I have done over the past few years with these supplements because I initially found that I was really sensitive as well :)

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kesh

Just checking in as another person who obsesses over and catastrophises not sleeping.

 

One thing I found useful in healthier days (I couldn't do it now) was deliberately depriving myself of a night's sleep. It showed that I was in charge, could face and deal with the lack of sleep, and removed any anxiety about not sleeping that night as I had already decided not to sleep.

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NobodySpecial

I agree Kesh, I found mindfulness and self soothing exercises really help to slowly iron out the sleep related triggers in my nervous system.

 

Have you tried this @kesh? And what other strategies do you use?

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NobodySpecial

12/01/18 - Update

 

My first two weeks of reducing Amitriptyline have gone smoothly, as expected.

 

I did learn something though, and that is that white-knuckling through it isn't going to help.

 

After 1.5 weeks of occasionally rough sleep, I noticed that my anxiety was quite high in the evenings. Initially, I wanted to totally avoid any other supplement for sleep and just go as sober as possible.

 

However I did this last time, and I ended up getting to the end of my teather and reinstating instead. So this time, I took some Scullcap and Oleamide to help ease the evening anxiety and it worked a charm.

 

I think this sort of flexibility is really going to help throughout the withdrawal because it's better for me to have sleep and a quick reset, rather to totally avoid any other supplemented assistance throughout the process.

 

I'm also going to spend an extra 2 - 4 weeks at this current dose of 32.5 because I'm moving into another house in two weeks and I don't want to mix lifestyle changes with a further reduction.

 

I had extended family visiting when I was in the final legs of my withdrawal last year and was too stubborn to see that the combination of both was far too stressful.

 

This time, I'd rather be as slow as possible and create long standing, nourishing change.

 

I'm starting to see that this whole journey is about being attuned to everything that is going on, inside and outside, and making decisions that are going to best support me based on this information - rather than stubbornly trying to bulldoze my way through.

 

I'm overseas right now and haven't had any issues with sleep or withdrawal symptoms yet. But I did lose a $1000 camera on the plane and it is still raining!

 

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ChessieCat

I've moved the new topic you created to SA's existing topic which you can find here:  forest-bathing-reduces-cortisol-aids-mood-immune-system

 

There are many existing topics on SA.  To search the site I use google.  To find this topic I typed in survivingantidepressants.org forest bathing

 

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NobodySpecial

24/01/18 - Update

 

Have just moved house and it's been very stressful. 

We're living on a busier road, or I just have it in my head that we are, because I used to live on a busy road with no issue, and this is causing me some anxiety. 

I've had a few rough nights and I'm noticing that a pattern is starting to crystalise around sleep and noise - a negative pattern. I've been able to notice this though, and go against the stream and relax my nervous system. 

My strategy is relaxing in bed, holding myself in a self-soothing position for sleep (I do palms together like I'm praying, this keeps me anchoring and embodied rather than engaging in negative thought spirals). 

I figure that experiencing the somatic distress will retrain my nervous system to slowly relax into the situation. By dropping out of my thinking mind and into my soma, I feel like I'll be able to digest the challenging experiences. 

It's interesting to see the formation of a potentially damaging pattern happening, and see how I can work with it so that it doesn't form into something like that. This is the insight I gained from my initial stint of sleeping issues, being able to notice when an unwholesome pattern is forming and work with it there and then. 

I'm going to hold for now, and let myself start relaxing and unwinding in the new enviroment. Once it feels safer, I can then look at further reductions. I just don't want to pile everything together and end up crashing out hard. 

I've also got some tonics from PrimalHerbs arriving today, I'm looking forward to using these in conjunction with my bodywork practices and seeing how they unwind my nervous system. 

I'm definitely feeling like my nervous system is shot - moving into a new place has placed me into this state of hyper-vigilance. That, combined with the traffic and a blow-out with my old room mate, means that my nervous system was tracking every traffic noise and viewing it as a threat. 

I have had a lot of success with the practice of staying embodied, mindful and laying in bed. I'll have thought after thought of "you won't sleep" and before I know it, I've woken up in the morning. In bed, my only intention is to hold and care for any challenging emotions or thoughts that arise. This friendly approach takes the pressure off, and always lets me feel like I have a choice. It enables me to notice thoughts that FEEL real, like "you'll never sleep" and just return to a place pre-thought. 

All in all, I didn't expect this year to start out like this. I totally forgot how hectic moving is (although I've moved 3 times in 3 years). I've also totally underestimated the power of an Australian summer and just how hot it can get in the evening. 

I hope somebody else can read this and also notice how they may have different triggers form. 

When something crystalises, it becomes an actual issue to work with. Most of the time (like with hyper vigilance in moving to a new house), these things pass with time. It's when we start ruminating, looking for solutions, trying to avoid it in any way, that it becomes something that it doesn't need to be. 

This is how my sleeping stuff initially developed, blowing something out of proportion and wanting to FIX it asap. My aversion, and I think as a society on a whole, our aversion to discomfort is transforms these very normal experiences into something that can haunt us for years. 

My practice and goal is to be like hollow bamboo, allowing everything to come through with as little sticking as possible. 

Thinking makes things stick, weaving a story around an experience in a way that it becomes a tangible thing that we have to work with. 

 

 

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NobodySpecial
How I started to relax my nervous system during a period of intense stress:
 
So I realised that the move had taken a HUGE toll on my nervous system, paired with unfamiliar surrounds and traffic noise that I had already started to obsess about.
 
I've been working to relax my nervous system and I've found a few things that have worked incredibly well. I use them on a daily basis, but it's rare to have the opportunity to use them in a situation where they are necessary rather than more of a luxury.
 
1. Progressive muscle relaxation - I'll spend 30 - 45 minutes relaxing each muscle in my body. It's a technique I learned from working with Benny Ferguson from Movement Monk. Throughout, I'll notice TRE-like tremors that seem to contribute to my unwinding.
 
2. Hot baths - I find that a quick bath, with no entertainment or media, helps really relax my nervous system. I like to pair this with Peter Levine's self-holding practices. A really simple method is to place a hand on your stomach and a hand on your chest. Appreciate how the contact feels and watch for a shift into a more rest and digest response.
 
3. Mindfulness - this is how I've been dealing with the traffic noise. I am mindful and curious about the sounds, and watch my reaction to them. When I have an aggressive reaction, I'm just kind to myself and offer reassuring words. I learned a technique on wildmind.org about dealing with noise and this is what I practice. This is still really early days but it's helped me to not develop an obsessive focus on the traffic noise.
 
4. Adaptogens - I take a super high quality, high dose reishi tea with stevia. It is like a natural tranquilizer and really nourishes my nervous system. I don't fully understand the mechanisms though.
 
5. Avoiding stimulants - this could be caffeine, nicotine, anything stimulating. When my nervous system is shot, I usually sleep badly and feel like I need a stimulant to help wake me up. In the long term, this is probably more detrimental and I would personally stear clear from any stimulants.
 
I'll update when I've been doing this protocol for longer. So far, it's been life saving!

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Kristine
On 24/01/2018 at 12:50 PM, NobodySpecial said:

Thinking makes things stick, weaving a story around an experience in a way that it becomes a tangible thing that we have to work with. 

Hey NS,  Thank you for sharing your experiences and techniques for soothing your nervous system.  Your above statement it perfectly worded.  When I read it I said out loud..." ain't that the truth!". Also hello from a fellow Aussie. K 🌻

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mustangwoman

Hi, (okay, I'm renaming you to someone wonderfully special).  I read through your posts this morning.  It was very inspiring.  Good on you.  You are doing excellent!  Keep up the excellent work.  

 

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NobodySpecial

Thanks for the kind words @Kristine :)

 

And thank you @mustangwoman, I actually got my name from reading this article - https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/training-nobody-special-sandy-boucher/

I find it really reassuring when I'm struggling with a particular symptom, obsession or whatever, to remind myself that I am in training to be nobody special. It reminds me that lots of people struggle with it as well, that I'm not alone and that working through it for myself is serving the many others who also struggle with it.

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nz11

I agree with  mustangwoman your name should be wonderfully special.

 

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Kristine

Hey Special,  I've seen you post a link on some threads about food and inflammation.  I've been looking for a comprehensive list like this and I can not thank you enough!!! Cheers. K 🌻

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NobodySpecial

Hey I'm glad you found it useful @Kristine, the site has a load of other really valuable stuff :)

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NobodySpecial

02/02/18 - Update

 

So I'm finally settling in, but I hadn't really slept until I decided to reinstate an extra 2.5mg of medication. I'm basically putting the taper on hold while I settle in and start to form a new home base.

 

I didn't realise how crazy moving was going to be, and I'd totally forgotten about the challenges of feeling like there's no stable base to return to. I've also been speaking with my Psychologist and have decided to look into a course called Dynamic Neural Retraining System (I think). It's designed for people with MCS, but I'm seeing a lot of parallels with the sort of anxiety / triggers that I have around sleep.

 

Not much else to update - I'll keep posting weekly :)

 

 

 

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NobodySpecial

09/02/18 - Update

 

Hi everybody,

 

I'm in a completely different place now, things have started to settle down and I'm starting to feel comfortable in our new house. Looking back, it was probably just a time thing and I needed to be a little more objective, but that's quite hard to do when you're sucked an anxiety spiral. 

 

I think that my obsessive (not OCD) symptoms flare up when I'm stressed, I notice myself trying to find comfort in controlling things - but it never actually helps, it just makes me more stressed.

 

I had a breakthrough with my sleeping after being mindful of the patterns around sleep after the move. It amplified patterns that had already been running, and helped me see clearly that my anxiety around sleep doesn't have any real substance, it's just an up-regulated limbic system from my insomnia episodes previously, small, incredibly stressful events that compounded and now influence how I feel about sleep, the evening and not getting enough sleep.

 

I also did some research about "sleep obsession" and found a fair few articles of people who sounded just like me, and I found this really reassuring. Whenever I know that I'm not alone, I can feel like I'm practicing for everybody, and that makes me feel much more resilient and capable, it gives me a deeper purpose.

 

I saw my Psychologist on 01/02/18 and did some EMDR rounds around this and had some interesting reactions, it also left me feeling considerably freer. This was compounded by a float tank experience the next day, and implementing principles from a program called DNRS (dynamic neural retraining system) - which sounds like complete and utter snake oil, but seems to have a bit of clout in terms of what it's been doing for people. I haven't purchased the program yet, but from reading blogs of people going through the program, I've been able to glean some valuable steps to implement.

 

Whenever I have an obsessive thought, pang of anxiety or anything related to sleep / not getting enough sleep, I take a breath, wriggle my toes to bring my back into my body and say to myself "this is just a dysfunctional limbic system, that's okay" and then do a few seconds of Tonglen practice towards that feeling (it's a compassion practice). This has been working SO well, I actually can't believe how much of a difference it's made.

 

I've noticed that I'm worrying much less about sleep, much less worried about not sleeping and in-turn, sleeping way better.

 

I'm starting to feel really set to re-engage with the taper, now that I have a new, solid homebase, and some strategies that seem to be working really well :)

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NobodySpecial

16/02/2018 - Update

 

So, wanted to provide a brief update - I'm still working with my original issue, which is sleep anxiety. I mentioned last week that I'm worrying considerably less, and this week, I've made even more gains and it's becoming less of an issue. I didn't expect progress this quickly, but it's almost completely lost it's hold. It's still there, and I notice that it'll come up when there's something that makes me uncomfortable (i.e. something derailing an evening's plans), but I can work through that and let it go quite quickly.

 

I haven't even purchased the DNRS program yet and just by implementing ideas I've gleaned from recovery journals, I've made all of this progress. I think that this is going to make withdrawing much easier, because there's less stress on hoarding sleep, going into sleep deficit, trying to rebuild the sleep reserves etc.

 

I've also had some great things happen at work, and I feel like the energy that has been bound up in worrying about sleep has been freed up and re-energised me in other pursuits. I feel like a completely different person!

 

I went to my partner's graduation ceremony last Tuesday, and it was something I was really worried about. It was going to be late, I hadn't slept well the night before and I had a big week at work. It was the perfect "challenge" to work with, and it went so well. I felt so relieved, I felt in-control again and it felt like I was getting my life back.

 

I had a great day the following day, and realised that sleep wasn't an indicator on the next day - some of my best days used to follow an all-nighter as a child, so why couldn't it be the same now?

 

I'm going to get back into tapering in March, I think by then, I would've worked enough with the original issue that the taper will be easier!

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powerback

Here's a resource that I found useful if it's hard to take supplements because of the response they trigger. It's a list of foods and inflammation responses, so you can make choices that are most beneficial to cooling down an overworked nervous system - https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/assigning-inflammation-scores-foods/

 

HI NS .I see you recommended this site to another member .it looks good at a quick glance .

Have you had much success yourself with it .I'm desperate for relief myself .I will have to give it a good go and hope it works out for me .

Thanks for passing it on .if I don't get a handle on my anxiety ile be under the bed crying soon .

Take care .

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NobodySpecial

@powerback, it probably isn't enough on its own, but this is an area that I've had a lot of struggle and found a lot of interesting solutions - I'll post some below. Please feel free to message if you want to discuss more or reply here!

 

I feel you with the anxiety, I remember during my first taper I would walk around the park and feel terrified of approaching dogs, pure fight or flight - it was relentless and haunting.

 

What else have you tried?

 

You may find relief with herbs like Scullcap, Ashwaganda or Reishi. Even something basic like Magnesium may be really helpful. You can find them all on iherb.com, feel free to message me if you want my brand recommendations (no affiliation).

 

If you want a non-ingestible intervention - mindfulness, pranayama breathing (find on Google Play or iTunes store), hot bathes and David Berceli's trauma releasing exercises are a great start.

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powerback
1 hour ago, NobodySpecial said:

I feel you with the anxiety, I remember during my first taper I would walk around the park and feel terrified of approaching dogs, pure fight or flight - it was relentless and haunting.

So true NS,i wouldn't even walk past a bunch of cows on a trail a few weeks ago my anxiety was that bad ,so instead of letting my self critic go insane ,I just accepted hey my anxiety through the roof and turned back lol.

 

Big fan of mindfulness,sadly when my symptoms are  bad ,its just no use for me .

Thanks for the tips .

Take care .

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NobodySpecial

I agree re: mindfulness @powerback, probably not much help if your symptoms are through the roof!

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NobodySpecial

23/02/2018 - Update

 

Here's another update - keeping in line with my commitment to post consistently, even when it feels like there's nothing to post about (which is how I feel today).

 

I've continued to make gains in the work I'm doing with the original issue (sleeping obsession / anxiety), and I've noticed a considerable decrease in symptoms and acting it out. I didn't really expect to make this much progress, but I'm feeling the grip of obsession relaxing, more and more, as each day passes.

 

I've been able to do things that would've previously triggered me and impacted the remainder of the week - i.e, having a late night during the week and spending the whole week / weekend feeling like I have to catch up, which sucked.

 

I'm slowly reducing the amount of supplements I'm taking, because I'm trying to save more money and I'd like to find out the minimum effective set-up to maintain a good quality of life. I definitely feel like there's a level of unnecessary spending on supplements and I'd like to reduce that. In particular, I'm looking at my evening supplements and reducing those. I'm cutting back down on Scullcap, and looking at using it as an emergency supplement rather than an every night thing.

 

I feel like I have a really solid roster of supplements and interventions now, so I can work with evening anxiety, later nights, early morning wake-ups and possible insomnia bouts without taking something that's going to cause bigger issues. For example, if I had any remaining from a prescription, I might take a benzo or a "rescue dose" of amitriptyline. This may fix a sleepless night, but it leaves me feeling like death and associates the idea of not feeling with that horrible next-day feeling.

 

Now that I'm less focused on being tired, I'm finding that I am noticing how I'm feeling from a more objective point of view in the morning. I think that Amitriptyline may actually impact the nervous system, leaving me feeling a very subtle sense of anxiety. It'd be interesting to see if anybody measures HRV on the forums and whether they've noticed anything like that with their medication. Nothing huge, but just a slight undercurrent of anxiety that slowly resolves throughout a day of clean eating, mindful work, sunlight and alternating on a sit / standing desk.

 

I'll keep you all posted!

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NobodySpecial

02/03/2018 - Update

 

Woah, had the ground pulled out from under my feet yesterday in a big way.

 

So I've been using a supplement called Phenibut since 2016, very sparingly, but as a way of taking a break from worrying about sleep. I'd usually use it on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, so that I could have a rest from feeling like I had to be mindful about my actions leading up to sleep. It had been extremely helpful, and provided a great alternative from something I could be prescribed like Valium to "rescue" myself if I was going through a rough period of sleeping.

 

I went to buy some more yesterday, and realised that it's actually been banned in Australia as a schedule 9, which means it's the same classification of heroin. First, I was so glad that I had ran out in Jan and hadn't ordered anymore, because the ban was effective Feb 1, 2018.

 

Anyway, so I had been using this supplement sparingly as an alternative to benzos as a way to reset once or twice a week, and now it's gone. I felt so lost, I hadn't properly prepared for it or even thought about the idea of not having it when I needed it. Now, I'm faced with a sea of commitments that I had made thinking that if things got tough, I always had this as a back up.

 

It's not the end of the world, but I can't believe it happened. When there's something that is such a foundation of your life that you don't even consider what it'd be like without it, like access to hot water for example.

 

So now, I'm going to be practicing with the added challenge of weekends. This post feels really disjointed and that's a pain, but I just wanted to get it out.

 

I feel like I'm going to be forced into an even more challenging situation, but I also see this as an opportunity to skyrocket growth and work with the challenges around sleep. It feels like I have nowhere to hide, but not in a bad way, in a way that's forced me to look into some mental health blindspots and also work through those.

 

I'll keep you guys posted!

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NobodySpecial

09/03/2018  - Update

 

It's been a week since the last update, and also a week since Phenibut was scheduled in Australia, leaving me "stranded" and without a tool for rescue sleeps. I'm already feeling WAY better, almost unphased by it now and already noticing that natural sleep is just as restorative, if not better (Phenibut would make me feel drowsy the next day).

 

It feels like I've had nowhere to hide, removing the crutch of Phenibut has theoretically made everything 100x more challenging, and at the same time, recovery from my initial issue 100x easier. This is because I'm now having nothing but normal sleep, there's no chemical that creates a duality in quality. When I'd use Phenibut over the weekend, I'd feel nervous on Sunday evening because it'd mark the return of normal  (and what I thought was sub-par quality) sleeping. So there's this continual sense that regardless of how well I sleep naturally, Phenibut is still the best and it became this unhealthy benchmark of sleep quality.

 

Now, I feel excited for Sunday evening because I know it'll be one of the most relaxed nights and earliest bedtimes. It also feels like the most nourishing sleep as well.

 

I wouldn't have even considered that taking something like Phenibut was creating such a mental dependence. I cycled it and avoided any real tolerance issues bar an occasional rebound insomnia, but I was definitely dependant mentally. I think that I thought that avoiding physical tolerance meant that I was avoiding addiction, but really, I was addicted / reliant on using this over the weekend.

 

I've also been thinking about reducing all of the other sleeping supplements that I've been taking; Ashwaganda, Reishi, Scullcap etc. This is because each supplement and dosage is bringing a level of uncertainty and a variable that's hard to measure into my equation with sleep. If I have a bad night, I think that it may be one of the supplements and spend the next day researching. If I have a good night, same deal. Plus, I introduced all of the supplements at higher dosages and some together, so I couldn't pinpoint the exact effect of any one individual supplement. So now, I'm thinking that it'll be worth coming down and off each supplement, slowly introducing each individual supplement and gauging a minimum effective dose/understanding of what it actually does.

 

With this network of sleep interventions, it's hard to taper from Amitriptyline because my success/failure can sometimes hinge on too many variables - how much of X did I take, how little of Y - blah blah blah.

 

I've also considered that having such a network of interventions makes sleep something that I'm always thinking about on some level, and sleep is a natural mechanism - thinking about it all the time is only ever going to impinge on that natural mechanism and not let me sleep.

 

So that's where I am right now - I've worked through the very quick bout of heartbreak in losing the support of Phenibut, but have found a lot of hope and reassurance in that I can sleep naturally on weekends without much issue!

 

 

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ChessieCat
2 minutes ago, NobodySpecial said:

I wouldn't have even considered that taking something like Phenibut was creating such a mental dependence.

 

I cautioned a member the other day about becoming psychologically reliant on something they were taking for sleep.  What I meant was believing that they needed it for sleep, either consciously or subconsciously.

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NobodySpecial

@ChessieCat it's a real trap! I was only taking Phenibut 3x weekly, Wednesday because my partner worked shift and came in late ( I wanted to avoid being woken up / worrying about falling asleep) and then Friday and Saturday to "rest" from the remainder of the week/sleep anxiety.

 

What's ended up happening is that in my mind, I had created these "recovery sleeps" that I started to depend on, they provided me with a comfortable base to venture out and do more challenging things during the week i.e. going out for dinner and having a later night, regardless of how early I had to be up for work the next daty. Does that make sense?

 

What is necessary to acknowledge though is that I used Phenibut when I wasn't sleeping at all, prior to taking AD's, and at the time, it was actually a very effective way of staying sane. So it's important to not feel shame for these defensive mechanisms that are actually creative ways of protecting oneself - but just acknowledging that they may now be outdated and taking the time to go out on a limb and challenge the assumption that they are necessary.

 

I don't think I would've stopped taking Phenibut if I hadn't had a HARD line drawn in the sand due to Australia scheduling laws. I think it would've continued to be a crutch that I hadn't even realised :)

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NobodySpecial

16/03/18 - Update

 

Woah, another week and SO much progress.

 

I'm slowly coming off each of my sleeping supplements, working towards a simple approach of magnesium, glycine and maybe a little bit of melatonin - but not having a complicated network of supplements.

 

I'm excited because I feel like I've made SO much progress with my original issue, which is a deep-seated fear that I'd never sleep again. Looking at it clearly, I can see that it was just a challenging, stressful period that had ruined my sleep and then traumatised my nervous system, so I was stuck in this pattern. That's got me thinking, I wonder how many of us are actually still dealing with a real issue, or just the remnants of a challenging experience locked into our nervous system?

 

I've been playing around with compassion practices, supplementing my long-standing mindfulness practice and training. I think that it's probably more important than mindfulness, at least at this point in my life. 

 

I'm noticing that now there's no rumination around sleep, I have more energy and cognitive freedom to take on new projects and ventures in the evening, it feels like I'm getting my life back.

 

I still don't have a date to start my Amitriptyline taper yet, I'm going to continue to simplify my sleeping regime until I'm basically sleeping naturally, and then I'll start the Amitriptyline taper. 

 

Who would've thought that something so benign like Phenibut, that had done nothing other than providing a safety net during tough times, was actually keeping me locked into the belief that my natural sleep would never be restorative!

 

Ciao, speak next week :)

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Happy2Heal

hi NB

that's great that you are doing so well and no longer worried about sleep, isn't that a great feeling?

:)

I've not read your full thread but I plan to, as skimming it,  I see you've used a lot of different non drug methods for coping,

and I"m always on the look out for new tools for my toolkit

 

hope that things only continue to improve for you!

 

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NobodySpecial

@Happy2Heal, are there any techniques in particular I can elaborate on / help with? :)

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Happy2Heal
23 hours ago, NobodySpecial said:

@Happy2Heal, are there any techniques in particular I can elaborate on / help with? :)

 

 

hi I need to go back thru your thread first, haven't had time to do that yet, but I will let you know when I do

thank you so much for your generous offer!!

:)

 

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NobodySpecial

23/03 - Update

 

Not much to add, everything has been going along smoothly. Sleeping (the original issue) is becoming less and less of something I think about. I think that's been the key for me, letting go of the need to sleep and let go whenever I start to engage in obsessive thinking.

 

Something interesting though - I didn't realise, but thinking about reducing sleeping supplements / medication, is another branch of obsessive thinking. Feeling like you need to reduce what you're taking to "prove" that you can sleep, is just a round-a-bout way of fueling the sleep anxiety fire.

 

By far, the most effective practice that I've used is from DNRS program (which I still haven't signed up for, but I've put together my own patchwork approach). Whenever I have a sleep-related thought, I take a moment, wiggle my toes (moves me out of my head and into my body), remind myself "this is just a dysfunctional limbic system pattern", cultivate a sense of compassion and move on. The key is to never go down the rabbit hole of thinking, even if you have an anxious thought that seems to need a resolution, it doesn't. You can just put it down, and before you know, you've completely moved on.

 

I want to start sharing this and helping others, I feel like I've made leaps and bounds with my sleep anxiety and these practices have been incredibly effective. It's hard to gauge whether it'd be widely applicable, especially because I've had 7 years of mindfulness training and practice - so sometimes, things that have clicked with me may not be totally transferable. I want to find a way to distil what I'm doing, but present it in a format that's usable at any stage and not just a load of cool sounding approaches.

 

I'm feeling good about starting my taper again, I think that I'm looking forward to my metabolism returning to before and seeing how much weight drops as well, especially because I'm eating super clean right now and have been for months, but I feel like there's a limit while I'm on amitriptyline.

 

I'll keep updating, and I'll update more than just once a week if I start coming across even cooler things to talk about.

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NobodySpecial

Update 03/04 

 

Not much to add. I was interstate for a concert this weekend.

 

I tried Baicalin, which is a scullcap extract. It is very potent, I rate it. Similar to a mild / strong gaba effect, noticeable reduction in anxiety and sleep quality increase.

 

I'm now taking less Ashwaganga, I'll be taking nothing other than Melatonin, Magnesium and Glucose soon. Then I'll reduce Melatonin, take a break from it and slowly reintegrate.

 

I'm not struggling with sleep at all, there's almost no anxiety. Now it's going to be way more relaxed with my taper.

 

I've learned a lot about the nervous system and how we can be stuck in an inappropriate limbic loop and view benign things as really dangerous.

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