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TreeElf

Hey everyone,

 

My name is Abby and I have been off Prozac for 3.5 months now. I'm currently experiencing intense withdrawal and the return of mental states I never thought I'd have to experience again, and I would really like to connect with others who are going through similar during this long, difficult process.

 

Background info: I always had tendencies towards anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (the Pure-Obsessional variety) since childhood. At 16 these symptoms very rapidly became so severe my whole life fell apart within a matter of days (Going on the contraceptive pill at this time may have been a contributing factor). I didn't have a full breakdown until I was 18, at which point I was taken to the doctor, put on Sertraline, and referred to psychiatry. The following 8 years consisted of several psychiatric admissions, different drugs including clomipramine, seroquel, mirtazipine, prozac, and possibly a few others for shorter periods. I lost pretty much everything, my obsessional fears were so strong that I attempted suicide more than once, developed a bad cocaine/mephadrone habit, was a constant worry to my family. There were times, however, where the medication would help a lot. At 60mg of Prozac I went through some periods of being functional - I went to work, got into a relationship etc. These were a great relief but I can't say I was truly happy as the fears were never properly dealt with.

 

My last hospital admission was in 2014 when I was 24. I had attempted to come off medication as I believed I had to deal with the underlying problems, and I hated the weight gain side effects. Looking back, this was doomed to fail as I was still using cocaine regularly, drinking a lot, and didn't have any proper support mechanisms in place. I was fine for 6 months then crashed, was borderline psychotic with the OCD symptoms, depressed and anxious beyond belief and desperately wanted to die (and believed I deserved to). I was in a psych ward for just over 2 months before new meds kicked in - clompipramine and (randomly, I don't know why) Epilum, as I was told it 'balanced moods'. A year later I went back on to old faithful Prozac and also came off the contraceptive pill. I had always been told the same about it, that it leveled out moods, and don;t think it's a coincidence that my symptoms became much more manageable a few months after stopping it.

 

I then managed to stay at 40mg for 2 years and my life changed drastically for the better. to myself and everyone around me it was like a miraculous recovery - I stopped taking drugs, began volunteering at a Buddhist meditation centre, got my dream job, published a novel, did newspaper interviews about my experiences, ...I pretty much had my dream life. It was like being reborn after thinking everything was all over...forever. It was in January 2017 that I decided to gradually wean off Prozac. Over the following 10 months I reduced until stopping completely in October.

 

In these past 2 years I have done extensive mind training and spiritual exploration, which has probably been the main factor in this recovery. My life is pretty much dedicated to this practice now - I still volunteer at the meditation centre, go on meditation retreats throughout the year, and have also completed a Reiki Mastership. It was always potentially on the cards after exploring my mind with psychedelic drugs in the past, doing past life regressions and also taking Ayahuasca twice in ceremonies. It was around the time of the reiki mastership that I was weaning off the last of the Prozac. Things became challenging - but at first I welcomed it. I was in a strong place mentally, and my mental health hadn't plagued me intensely for a few years. I was made aware that the Reiki energy can churn things up to be healed, but I think that the combination of this, a massive flare up of a back issue that left me not able to walk for weeks, family pressures and intensive mind exploration during retreat that has led me to my current situation.

 

Since December just passed things have been incredibly difficult. I have experienced a return of old OCD obsessions, to the point where I've had panic attacks for days that made my vision blur, heavy depression, crying all the time, existential fears and experiences which medically would look similar to psychosis (although I believe that term can pathologize important and natural inner processes), identity confusion etc. I knew it would be hard, I just never expected to feel this level of horror ever again. Having said that, I know things are different this time round - I have a level of insight gained through spiritual practice that is keeping me going. Energetically, I'm aware that I am creating this reality on various levels, and that I need to relax as much as possible to allow it to pass through the way it's supposed to. I'm no stranger to facing the darkest parts of the psyche, but it's still terrifying and I'm struggling to cope day to day. To make matters worse, my Mum has gone abroad for cancer treatment and I'm now caring for my little brother and sister 4 days a week which is incredibly stressful (I'm used to having my own space and being able to retreat when I need to).

 

My CBT therapist has discharged me as she feels I cannot engage with therapy under this amount of stress, but encouraged me to come back when my Mum gets back. To be fair, she never taught me anything I didn't naturally learn in meditation and I was only seeing her regularly to comply with services. I have however started going for reiki treatments with the person who facilitated the course I was on last year - he is exceptionally intuitive, knowledgeable and takes an all round, individual approach. One session with him last week was worth a year of 'traditional' therapy. So I'm hoping that continuing with this will help.

 

Anyway, sorry for the essay. I don't have many people to talk to about all this. It's also weird for me to ask for help now as I haven't needed it in so long - I'm usually now the one that helps everyone else. It's a scary and heartbreaking thing to go back to a place you thought you'd left long in the past, but I do believe deep down that I have done so in order to face my demons fully and emerge stronger in the long run.

 

Thank you if you made it this far, I'm looking forward to connecting with others on this site. You are all incredibly strong to be doing what you're doing, no matter what stage you're at. Much love x

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Altostrata

Welcome, Abbie.

 

How much Prozac were you taking? How did you go off? Do you have any Prozac left?

 

What are your symptoms? Do they follow any daily pattern?

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TreeElf

Hi Altostrata, 

 

Thanks for your reply. I was taking 40mg for two years, then 20mg for around 5 months. The last few months I went from 20mg daily to every other say fairly quickly (around 3 months). Due to lack of info and non compliance with doctors, I wasn't able to get lower doses than that and probably did it too fast looking back. 

 

My symptoms in the last few weeks are intense anxiety, the return of my OCD including obsession all fears, mental checking compulsions, depression, crying a lot, and lots of fear. The kind of fear that really terrifies me, it's like existential, falling into the abyss type panic. I'm wondering if it's too late to try and reinstate at 20mg and reduce much more slowly from there? 

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Altostrata

Even 2mg - 5mg might be sufficient for a reinstatement. If I were you, I would try 2mg Prozac to start and see what that does.

 

This topic explains how to make a liquid from Prozac so you can take a very small amount Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

 

Please let us know how you're doing.

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TreeElf

Thank you, I'm glad to hear that as I was thinking a lower dose might be ok to start at. My doctor has agreed to give me it is liquid for so I will be starting from tomorrow. Will definitely keep you updated!

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TreeElf

Hi, I'm wondering if someone can advise me on ml doses. I've read a few threads and googled but I have always had a problem with maths (I call it dyslexia, but with numbers lol). I'm confused - I have 70ml of Prozac solution, which it says is 20mg/5ml. If I wanted to start taking 2mg, how much would that be in ml? The syringe takes 5ml with 5 little gaps between each one, I just want to make sure I get the right amount.

 

Many thanks

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brassmonkey

Hi Abby-- dyslexia with numbers is called dyscalculia.  I've suffered with it all my life yet I managed a career as a research engineer, go figure.  Anyway to answer your question you want to take .5ml to get a dose of 2mgai. (mg active ingredient)

 

Strength of medication as stated on bottle 20mgai per 5ml

20mgai divided by 5ml = 4mgai.  This means that for every 1ml of liquid there will be 4mgai of active ingredient. This is referred to as the Active Ingredient Concentration and is very helpful with figuring out future doses.  But it only applies to bottles that are marked  20mg/5ml

You are looking for a dose of 2mgai which is half of 4mgai, so you would take half of 1ml. On your syringe that would be two and a half gaps.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Brassmonkey

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TreeElf

brassmonkey - I can't believe it has a name! I always wondered why I was so good with words yet struggled with basics maths haha.

 

Thank you so much for the info, that makes it really straight forward. Will take this dose tonight :)

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TreeElf

Hey,

 

I thought I'd give an update on things and also provide some information that might be relevant for future advice!

 

I have reinstated Prozac at 2mg as of three days ago. On Monday and Tuesday I experienced one of the worst things...well, ever lol. It began with some stuff that triggered stress, then the OCD fears became suddenly very real and terrifying, followed by a panic attack the next morning (I never usually get full blown ones like that, more like serious anxiety attacks) where I hyperventilated and was so utterly depressed and despairing I cried non stop all day. Weirdly, by the evening, things lifted. Or else I was so traumatized that I went numb or went into shock. The 2 days since I have still had anxiety and some depression but I have been able to use my meditation techniques and some other practices to distance myself from it, and actually do things around the house, babysit, laugh at funny videos etc. These immense swings in mood are extreme beyond words, yet they don't last more than a few days. This time it was only really a day. I can't get my head around it and don't intend to try.

 

I also remembered that when I first stopped the Prozac completely in October, I then suffered a serious back problem which left me unable to walk for weeks. It was really intense, I thought I might not walk again, and had just come off a meditation retreat which left me in an existential crisis (normal for me after retreat, but made worse by my back injury).

I also was completing my Reiki Master level at this point, which churned things up psychologically and spiritually, as expected. On top of all this, I then developed horrific fever, then Bronchitis just after the Master level attunement (sickness is quite common as the body is clearing out old energy), which lasted for a couple of weeks. I experienced brain zaps when I was sick too, which I hadn't had at all up to that point.

 

So looking back, all of this probably contributed to the intense emotional symptoms that were to come later. Despite how tough those months were, they were nothing compared to the recent stuff and the return of the OCD fears.

 

It also might be helpful to state for others who may be on some form of contraception that when I was 16, my OCD tendencies turned into full blown severe mental illness a few months after going on the pill. I stayed on it for 10 years as I was always told it leveled out moods, only to come off it 2.5years ago and have pretty much most of my symptoms disappear. (That is one of the reasons I felt I was now able to come off Prozac). There is a large body of growing evidence to suggest that the pill can cause serious mental illness in women - so this might be something to consider.

 

I have now looked at the (super helpful) tapering calculator thread and taken note of the 10% reductions down from 2mg. Of course, I'm going to stabilize on this for around 6 weeks at least before I begin to taper further, but I'm wondering if anyone could advise me on a couple things:

 

1) Is there an easy way of figuring out what all the mg doses are in milliliters online? There's an awful lot of decimal points and about 28 different doses, which brings me to my next question...

2) It says on the calculator that it is ok to round up the decimal points if you can't get an accurate amount (in a syringe, for example). Does this mean I could reduce the number of tapers, or do I have to stay at each one for 4-6 weeks? For example, there's 0.6974, then 0.6276, then 0.5649, 0.5084 etc. Do I need to stay at each of those doses for the stabilizing period or is it ok to try going from 0.6 to 0.5, to 0.4 etc and see how I feel?

 

Many thanks! x

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TreeElf

Anybody?

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brassmonkey

Hi Abby-- as far as I know there is not an online calculator to translate mg into ml.  It sounds like a job for our spreadsheet wizards.  A big problem is that there is no universal conversion as each liquid medication is sold at a different concentration.  On the bottle it will state something like 20mg per 5ml.  From that you can calculate the volume of what ever dose you need.

 

Rounding the strength of a dose is only used to make the dose size more manageable when you measure them out.  It does not mean that you can reduce the number of tapers and you do have to stay at each level for the suggested 4-6 weeks.  With the numbers that you posted above it is very important have the unit of measurement associated with them and if you are talking about the weight of the active ingredient or the weight of the powdered (crushed) tablet.  The weight of the active ingredient is expressed as mgai while the weight of the powder is referred to as mgpw.

 

Brassmonkey

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TreeElf

Thank you brassmonkey. I'll be continuing to get the 20mg per 5ml bottles of liquid fluoxetine. I've done the taper calculator, 2mg down to 0.1mg and there's 29 tapers, which would be just over two years if I did one a month. More if I do 6 week tapers/stabilize etc. Is that right?

I can also figure out the ml values given the example you gave previously. One other thing I'm wondering...given Prozac's long half life, I usually only experience symptoms 3 or 4 months down the line. Do you think this will affect tapers and should they be done more slowly? After 6 weeks of a drop I don't think I'd be having much withdrawal given past experience, so I'm not sure if it's wise to then continue to drop every 4 to 6 weeks if I feel ok. Again, apologies for all the questions. If this is something that should be asked in another part of the site please let me know.

 

Many thanks x

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TreeElf

Also, on the tapering schedule, once the doses get down to below 1mg a few of them round up to the same amount. For eg. 0.4 and 0.5 for several different 'drops', I don't think I could get the specifics accurate on the syringe if it's say, 0.487 and the next one is 0.468?) Would I hold longer at this point? Is rounding up to one decimal point too much?

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brassmonkey

Hi Abby-- it's disconcerting just how long a taper will take once you crunch the numbers. Two years sound about right though.  With your past tapers you were going very fast and skipping doses, that would account for the problems you were having several months down the road.  With a slow taper in small changes your body will have more time to adapt and there should not be the build up of symptoms that would result in a crash. 

 

The official stance for SA is that 4 weeks in the minimum time to old between drops, my personal findings is that 6 weeks works a lot better for most people. The key is to not rely on a set schedule, but rather to listen to your body and see how you are feeling at the end of each time period and adjust accordingly. Just don't go faster than the 4 weeks.

 

When using the liquid it is possible to refine a dose to a ridiculously small amount.  Syringes are made in such a way that they can be controlled to make a single drop of liquid that is consistent in volume.  By using one drop and controlling the dilution of the liquid in theory you can get a dose of 0.0001mgai or smaller. So rounding at the smaller doses isn't really a factor, it all comes down to syringe control and the amount of active ingredient in one drop of liquid.  Rounding is more frequently used when working with scales and powdered tablets because you have to work with in the limitations of the scales. It can get very fiddly but once you have figured out the dilution of the liquid and how to work with various syringes it's possible to hit almost any dose size you're looking for.

 

Please ask all the question you need to in order to feel comfortable with what you're doing.  We fully understand the consequences of misjudging something and really want to help you avoid them. I have been told many times by many different professors "the only stupid question is the one that doesn't get asked".

 

Brassmonkey

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TreeElf

Thank you! That's really helpful. I think I might get a better syringe, the little one from the chemist is OK but I'm sure there's better ones for more accuracy. Two years isn't that bad if it means doing it right, with as little impact on the CNS as possible. I'm going to listen to my body and see how it goes, maybe holding at six weeks now and then to stabilize. I'll have to make up a table with dates and dosages so I don't get confused! 

 

Will update on progress with the aim of coming back with a success story. I've already recovered pretty quickly from that horrible wobble last week, the 2mg dose is working well and haven't had any major issues since. My aim these next few weeks is to focus on healthy activities and not withdrawal or symptoms etc. Have a great week, and thanks again for the info 😊 

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Altostrata

Hello, Abby. How are you doing?

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TreeElf

Hi @Altostrata , thanks for asking. I was doing better with the small reinstatement, but then I reduced from 2mg to 1.8mg at end of Feb (ish). I now believe this was way too soon. I drank alcohol once in March (2-3 drinks), had a severe reaction and ended up extremely mentally and physically ill for around three weeks. It turns out I'm now intolerant to EVERYTHING. I had tests done and had to completely overhall my diet...my liver wasn't functioning well, my gut was imbalanced and my adrenal glands exhausted.

 

The diet overall made me feel better within a week. I cut out sugar, dairy, all grains. And also began supplements. The difference has been huge, the brain fog cleared within about five days, and my energy increased. I no longer have any physical symptoms from withdrawal.

 

However, in May, I had a few days where I had planned to go away and didn't completely stick to my diet just before leaving. This coincided with the three month mark of my last reduction (I always seem to feel the effects of reduction almost exactly three months after). I still don't know what happened exactly, it's all kind of blurry. But my OCD obsessions suddenly became borderline psychotic. I was convinced I was a sociopath and damned, that I was in hell and rotating round rapidly being tortured. I broke down completley like nothing ever before (and I've had four hospital admissions from past breakdowns). Even those who are against medication (i.e., my reiki teacher) suggested I needed to reinstate asap. Doctors were useless, told me I needed to be on a therapeutic dose of 20mg or above. I ended up reinstating at 5mg. I was vibrating from the inside, panic and terror so extreme I could barely breathe. I would get stuck in this cognitive 'loop' all day, with brief breaks where I suddenly thought I was ok and would try and do simple things like errands or work. The  suddenly it would happen again half an hour later and I'd have to just collapse or lie down. The panic attack I had at the doctors was so severe I wouldn't even call it a panic attack, it was a complete breaking apart of my soul.

 

I felt as though I saw the deep roots of myself at their core, and could not handle it. There was no way out, and for a long time I believed I was completely, permanently broken. I still don't know how I'm functioning given what I saw/felt during this experience. I did a lot of inner 'work' in the years running up to withdrawal, so I know this has had an impact. I'm finally dealing with trauma etc. and in doing so, I've realised the main issue is that I've never had a stable sense of self. Which can be dangerous. I've seen it, and it's not something that will heal quickly, or even in this lifetime. But at least I've seen what 'it' is.

 

Things did balance out, however. The extremes of my 'waves' are crazy fast. I have always had a tendency for extremes, however, and crave balance now. I saw a shaman a month ago and have been incredibly ok since then. He went into trance and saw my mind and what was going on - the accuracy with which he described it almost made me cry. He did a lot of energy clearing and, although I didn't expect anything to help at this point, I've not had an episode since. I've moved house into a nicer place. There is lingering low mood and irritability under stress, as well as my normal OCD, but nothing compared to before. I must have also balanced out well on the 5mg. I plan to hold at this for at least 6 months. I feel like there are way more issues to work through than I realised and this is going to be years, perhaps a lifelong, thing. My father and brother both took their own lives after coming off medication. I've got to stop the cycle of suicide in our family, it's not an option for me. I'm 28, and they both died around a similar age so that may be something I'm aware of unconsciously too. There was absolutely zero choice in reinstatement, I wouldn't have survived otherwise.

 

Weirdly, despite all this, I am incredibly grateful. Withdrawal has taught me so much, it's stripped away so much crap that I have no choice but to really look at myself. Not many get that opportunity. So as of now, I'm taking each day as it comes. Decorating my new house, writing, cooking etc. When the time is right I will taper very slowly again. I can attest that without huge changes in my diet, I would be in a much worse place. Once I accepted that life never promised to bring me happiness, I kind of accepted where I was at more. I believe you have to give up who you 'were' if you want to recover and go through a rebirth of sorts.

 

Thanks for your concern, I hope all's well with you.

 

I try to stay off the forum unless I'm updating, as when I'm super sensitive to everything it's so easy to pick up on all the suffering and symptoms. So I will be back to update in the next month or so :)

 

Much love x

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Altostrata

Good to hear you've found ways to manage some of your symptoms and learn from this experience.

 

Please do tell us how you're doing, and when you're ready to taper again.

 

Please update your signature.

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TreeElf

Hi guys,

 

I'm going to try and update here more, as an online journal of sorts. It's been around 6 weeks since one of the most horrific experiences of my life with withdrawal, and since I reinstated from 1.8mg of Prozac to 5mg. For about 5 of those weeks I've been pretty good, which is nothing short of a miracle. There's been tough moments, but they passed very quickly and I experienced hope, peace, even joy. A few days ago I went on a camping trip, which may have been a bit much to take on right now. I'm still aware of how sensitive I am, and the OCD obsessions and depression are still there to varying degrees. That first night I experienced a really awful episode, and spent a lot of the time hiding in the tent crying, obsessing etc. Just total grief and despair. It felt like the end of the world (again lol).

 

Three days later and I had a pretty good day. I did normal stuff and managed to enjoy things. It's crazy how fast things change, I've always been prone to being changeable and have mood swings, but this is another level. I'm sure if I went to the psychiatrist now they'd diagnose me with bipolar or BPD, as I have all the hallmark symptoms.

 

The thing that I am most conflicted about is knowing how much is withdrawal, my natural state, or a process of healing. After years of severe OCD and hospitalisations over terrifying irrational fears.intrusive thoughts, I stopped taking the contraceptive pill, balanced out on 40mg Prozac, and made many lifestyle changes. I began looking more deeply within myself and begin healing, found Buddhist meditation, and spent 2 years having what I would consider my 'best life'. I had great friends, a great job, and was experiencing incredible peace and transformation internally through spiritual practice. My life really was blissful. After the initial high, however, I began reducing the medication at the same time as going deeper with my meditation practice at retreats etc. I knew I had to deal with my 'shadow' self and had been, for the most part, enjoying seeing my life in new ways and dealing with all the false beliefs I'd built up. Going deeper into my mind, more and more 'stuff' came up, I had some trippy and difficult experiences, which have evolved to full blown spiritual crisis during withdrawal. I often feel like I looked into this idea of 'self' and uncovered nothing but fragments, repressed trauma, fear of damnation and truths that were just too painful. I know that withdrawal has immensely affected this process, but it's hard to know where to draw the line between spiritual crisis and chemical imbalance. Especially since I have always had an over-analytical, OCD mind that skews everything, including turning the idea of 'enlightenment' into an obsession too.

 

I wonder if anyone else here had begun the process of exploring a spiritual path prior to or during withdrawal? I'm sure there is, and I'd love to hear about your experience.

 

It turns out my ego is much bigger than I first believed. For the past 9 months or so I have had to face the darkest corners of my mind - my narcissism, my manipulation of things, my neediness, my anger and deep fear. But my mind is automatically in a certain mode having become more aware through meditation. Instead of my usual past coping mechanisms (drugs, drink, people, self destruction), I instinctively don't run to external stuff as much because I know I need to face things. This is great in that I'm healthier, but it's also much more terrifying. Especially as, in the throws of a withdrawal wave, it's almost impossible to do any real 'healing' work, you just have to survive it whatever way you can.

 

Anyway, that's sort of where I'm at right now. As horrendous as the (almost) year has been, I'm sort of getting more used to the waves. One thing I do know is that they change so fast, and they're teaching me to surrender everything I thought I knew, which is the only way to be truly reborn. Whether that's in this life, I don't know. I plan on staying at the 5mg and reevaluating at Christmas, so I can see how much I can stabilize. Trying to reduce now would or even in the next few months would be a suicidal move I think, I'm trying to learn from the last times I reduced too fast.

 

Wishing you all the love and light you need to see you through this.

 

Abby x

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Tarheel109
7 hours ago, AbbyElfie said:

Instead of my usual past coping mechanisms (drugs, drink, people, self destruction), I instinctively don't run to external stuff as much because I know I need to face things. This is great in that I'm healthier, but it's also much more terrifying. Especially as, in the throws of a withdrawal wave, it's almost impossible to do any real 'healing' work, you just have to survive it whatever way you can.

 

This is truly poignant. Facing the world without the mask of ADs definitely scares me. I’m really impressed with your outlook.

 

Thank you for sharing your journey!

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TreeElf

Thanks Tarheel109, happy to share. That has always been the scariest part for me...what if this is just me without meds? etc. Hope you're doing ok.

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TreeElf

So I've been on 5mg liquid fluoxetine for about 2 months now. In terms of the positives, I want to start this post by saying I'm actually really grateful. As difficult as some of my waves have been, I don't have it half as bad as many people on here. I don't really have any physical symptoms since I cleared up my diet (due to sudden digestive issues after a too fast taper), I sleep very well, I manage to exercise a fair amount, and I definitely have more windows than anything waves. My windows are also very good, I feel happier than ever, with a sense that everything is happening in perfect timing. I stabilize very quickly, even years ago when I was hospitalised after CT'ing, I would always go from an absolute hellish state to being back on the drugs (or new drugs) and out of hospital within 2 months, good as new. My waves are short and last between a few hours and a day or so.

 

I've had maybe 2 waves since I went back up to 5mg. One of them was intense but neither lasted more than 2 days. Having said all this, even though I am super lucky to not have the constant agony that many go through, my waves are so drastic and painful that it is very confusing. I often now feel like I have a split personality - it's like a sudden terrifying onset of crazy symptoms, then it just disappears really fast. My wave symptoms are intense exaggerations of my 'regular' issues - OCD being the main one, obsessive fears of being 'bad' (this has been the worst thing recurring throughout my life and I know it's an underlying cause), depression, racing thoughts, shame, guilt, anxiety and cognitive dissonance. The main thing that has been brought to light during this whole process is that I have no stable sense of self - withdrawal has amplified this to an almost psychotic degree.

 

In some ways it's great to have such brilliant and regular windows, but on the flipside my downs can get extremely dark very suddenly. It makes it hard to trust myself as all my mental patterns have been blown to bits in withdrawal. I could literally be telling someone one day how fantastic my life is, and the next minute be crying in despair. I've always had this tendency since I had my first breakdown age 16/17, my Mum is also similar with her moods and mental illness runs riot in our family. I guess being chemically imbalanced by medication has just exaggerated this tendency to epic proportions.

 

Also, for those of you who are interested, I wanted to mention that prior to withdrawal I had already set about doing a lot of inner 'work'. I was brought up in an atheist family, who were open to everything but in no way really spiritual. Yet all those years of illness, addiction (and 2 life changing experiences with the plant medicine, Ayahuasca) led me to spirituality. Source, soul, consciousness, whatever you want to call it, it doesn't matter, it's all the same thing. I became very involved with Buddhist practices and began to unveil layers of identities and 'selves' I had formulated, all the false beliefs and seeing the depths of our real nature. I was already heading towards a bit of a Dark Night of the Soul, which I would have welcomed as being part of an important process of rebirth. But it was also then that I got into this withdrawal mess. (nice timing, I know).

 

I recently read on here that 'the big questions' are best left until you're stable, which I agree with. But anyone who has experienced any kind of inner awakening knows that it's like Pandora's Box - once it's open, there's no stopping it. I've had some crazy and incredible experiences, but since I've been in withdrawal these have become a lot more difficult to work with. Once you've begun looking into the depths of your psyche and who you really are, you can't 'unsee' many of your own delusions. This, combined with withdrawal, makes things even more confusing as withdrawal waves literally tear you from that source of love and challenge everything you ever thought to be real. Yet I know without my connection with something bigger than me, there is no way I would have made it to this point. It's what has carried me through with new insight compared to the years I attempted before with disastrous results.

 

I'm wondering, has anyone else here experienced spiritual crisis alongside withdrawal? Where do you draw the line between something being a spiritual process and a physical/chemical problem? (I guess really there is no such line, but when you're insight is lacking due to symptoms clouding your judgment, it would be good to have some sort of distinction)

 

So that's basically where I'm at. One moment I'm great, the next I hate myself, and the next I'm great again. What a crazy cycle! I won't say it's good, or it's bad. It just is whatever it is. I have no clue who I am but that's becoming okay. Sometimes. One thing that definitely has been learned is the need for patience. I'm no longer in a ridiculous rush to get off meds just out of a stubborn need to be 'fixed'. I'm trying to be ok exactly as I am, and that could be a lifelong thing. It's good to vent here as I'm generally quite isolated these days, I'm 28 and I've already moved out of the city to be alone in the country lol...years of being too much in my head has definitely aged me inside.

 

Sending love to all of you.

 

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TreeElf

Hi guys,

 

Update - it's been almost three months since I reinstated at 5mg. Symptoms are much the same since my last post - more good days than bad, some intense but short waves which include existential OCD fears, anxiety, depression, lots and lots of confusion and guilt. I should also mention that since withdrawal kicked off around last November, I've been smoking cannabis. I never did before, and I'm aware this might be complication withdrawal. Without justifying it, the reason was mainly because in a short space of time I had given up drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and meat. I was a heavy cocaine user for several years and have strong addictive tendencies, so smoking cannabis became my only 'crutch'. Since having to cut out most foods, my addictive tendencies have been very strong, and while smoking is my only 'thing' now, I do intend to reduce and cut it out when I feel strong enough. So yeah, it's likely exaggerating the obsessive/cloudy thinking, although it does give me something to hold on to when I'm really down.

 

I've also been taking collostrum for the past month and a half. It's the stuff babies get from breast milk and helps the whole immune system including gut repair. I wonder if this has helped my digestive health because I have not had any physical problems and the windows are pretty good - I almost feel better than normal.

 

This weekend past I took a flight over to Scotland to see my best friend from school and her new baby. On reflection, I did all the 'wrong' things - smoked too much weed, strayed from my strict diet and ate several takeaways, and watched countless episodes of Game of Thrones (which I've had to refrain from due to being triggered by the violence). I was also out of my house (my comfort zone) and around people for days, which would usually set me off in itself. Strangely, it's been a huge help and I've enjoyed myself. I did have some mild tummy pain from the bad food and some usual OCD anxiety and obsessing, but nothing too debilitating.

 

I do still have this underlying fear that flairs up, and with it so much guilt, shame and confusion. I have so much hatred for myself sometimes, it's terrifying. I even read my past posts on here and cringe and think 'why did you say that', 'you sound awful' or 'you're lying to people about who you are'. These kinds of obsessive thoughts have been looping round in my head for months. I constantly analyze myself and sometimes laugh at how ridiculous it is. It could go on and on forever, there's no end to how much it will analyze. I worry that I was always a manipulative, narcissistic person underneath but everybody thinks I'm this nice, smart girl who has suffered a lot and feel bad for me when I don't deserve it. I do always think I know it all and often discover that I was very wrong. Or maybe my mind is grossly over-exaggerating in withdrawal. I just don't know who I am and put on different fronts to different people, afraid of people seeing I'm not this confident person they think I am. I wonder if, over the years, I'll find any real sense of stability, or if I'm too far gone/have too much history. I look around at my immediate family and not one of them has a happy life. They are either dead, in prison or mentally miserable. I feel like a bit of an idiot sometimes, I thought I was going to have this wonderful life and conquer all my fears. I sometimes think, what makes you think you would be any different from them? Although I know this isn't the attitude to have, it's like all the odds are against me and I don't know how much I'm fooling myself.

 

Anyway, if anyone read that thank you. It's good to vent these thoughts. All that said, things are improving, even though I don't like to admit it on bad days. It feels like a lifetime since I had to reinstate, but in reality three months is pretty fast considering how awful things were then. I've stabilized a lot since then and hope to stabilize further over the next few months.

 

:)

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TreeElf

Hey,

 

Update at almost 5 months post reinstatement at 5mg - been meaning to update this for a while. Things have been, overall, the following:

 

Positives: Sleep still unaffected (I sleep well right through the night 99% of the time), emotional crashes are shorter still, physically in the best shape of my life since adopting a (mostly) paleo diet, been able to laugh a lot and feel positive emotions, have continued with driving lessons which have increased focus and confidence, I've been able to meditate more, anxiety has generally lessened for the most part, reduced head pressure and neck tension, have felt very creative at times and been able to write, have been able to challenge thoughts sometimes and use re-programming techniques, have connected with a few more people and left the house more to go out and do things.

 

Remaining symptoms (instead of just writing, 'negatives' lol): almost constant OCD fears and ruminations, to the point where I sometimes feel I'm going crazy, shifts in perception, sometimes delusional thinking and beliefs, depression that comes and goes, real swings in mood still, constant obsessing and overthinking, deep insecurity and guilt, confusion, not knowing who I am, - all of these are intermittent and come and go, although the overall intensity is less except when there is more external stress. Still have to watch what I eat because eating the wrong foods causes a flare up of brain fog, anxiety, crying, and stomach pain.

 

As a chronic overthinker, I'm trying not to gauge my progress too much as literally everything ends up becoming an obsession in my brain. Throughout the course of one day I can go from dancing, laughing, cycling, feeling hopeful,....to crushing fear, shame, and grief. For the last 6months or so I've had a particular obsession that was triggered in withdrawal. I won't go into details but it came from analyzing 'myself' and my personality, and who I was deep down. I read something online about astrology and personalities and became suddenly convinced I might be a selfish, cold person underneath. This has gone round and round, in a million different ways, in my head ever since. I constantly shift perceptions and think I'm either really evil or really good, or try and figure out where I am between the two extremes but constantly swinging between the two and obsessively doubting to the point my brain packs in and I almost go numb.

 

Having said that, there have been miraculous times where I can laugh at that. Or it's not as big of a deal. This is so incredibly confusing because I just don't know who I am, and the obsessive constant doubt won't allow me to rest on any one conclusion. This was originally why I went on meds in the first place, so I'm no stranger to pure-obsessional OCD, although I do feel that the borderline psychotic version this time round is definitely exacerbated by withdrawal.

 

There have been many days where I just know everything is going to be fine, and others where I am terrified it's going to get worse. On occasion I've literally cried with gratitude because I saw how much this experience is teaching me and that it's all working in perfect order, then again a day later I'll be in utter despair and hate myself for being so happy the day before. Those days are thankfully less, so there is most certainly improvement. I do drive myself crazy with my thoughts, but all I can do is try and deal with each day as it comes.

 

It's also been quite frustrating to hear about other people's withdrawal stories in real life. Of all the people I know who have stopped, I'm the only one who has had withdrawal to this degree. This doesn't help the victim/self-pity feelings, but other days it gives me hope. I wonder how many people this actually happens to, if it's a majority or not, but it's unlikely we could ever really find out this information at this time. I just never know if I'm truly messed up or if it's still withdrawal.

 

So that's generally how things have been. Despite my dramatic dips and complaining about what's happened, I've had still more improvement in the last month, and I'd say about 65% improvement since that horrible episode back in May (at which point I reinstated). I still have December in my mind for my next lot of tapering, but I will see how the next two months go, there is no telling what might happen.

 

Hoping this might help someone else not feel quite as alone, it would be great to hear from anyone why experienced anything like these mental obsessive/delusional symptoms and how they managed. Wishing you all healing x

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TreeElf

Hello,

 

I'm in a pretty scary place. While my withdrawal has been manageable on and off, I now realise it's because I've mostly been alone. Not seeing people unless necessary, not being stimulated etc. Things have been steadily improving a lot since I reinstated at a low dose of Fluoxetine (5mg) back in May due to a too quick taper and dangerous crash.

 

Today my Mum had to go away for a week and I am minding my little brother and sister. My closest friend from school also just moved back from abroad to the area with her new baby. I knew it would be hard but thought I'd at least manage a little better than I did in January (the start of intense withdrawal). But I felt my irritation and anger rising and found myself once again being horrible to the kids. There was another family thing that came up and everything just overwhelmed me, the OCD, constant ruminating and checking, panic, a 'split' in my sense of self, and intense guilt and shame.

 

I have always had guilt issues but they were largely due to irrational OCD fears. This year it centred on 'what if I'm a narcissist?', and on and off in different forms I have been constantly evaluating and analysing my behaviour since. I keep finding evidence that it's true and I break down in horror. Now, because I've become a lot more aware of my mind over the last few years, I see things in myself that I've denied all my life. I really did believe I was a good natured person deep down, but it's not true. My friend said she'd never seen me angry and she was clearly disturbed, although worried and really tried to help out. This made me feel worse because I don't deserve the sympathy or kindness. I even got surges of rage when the baby was crying and couldnt find any empathy in me. I say I feel guilt but now I'm terrified I don't really and I just don't want to be a bad person.

 

My thoughts are genuinely awful a lot of the time, so angry, judgmental, self absorbed. I thought I was the least selfish person in my family as most of them are deeply unbalanced, angry and self centered. But I'm just the same, yet I must be worse because I didn't see myself that way. I thought I was good. I got involved with spiritual practice and I truly believed I was connected and spiritual in nature, that I was capable of love. But that can't be true since I have proven myself to not be able to be around people, I'm just obviously not able to cope with the dissonance between my perceived self and who I really am. I can't believe I got it all so wrong. And even writing this now feels like attention seeking. I'm horrified that I hate myself so much.

 

I'm sorry this is long, I can't voice this to anyone properly. I present it in a restricted way when I try and explain, but inside I'm tearing apart. In the most intense moments all I can do is hold my hands over my face and scream. I'm so ashamed to be around anyone. And I keep accepting over and over, I just don't know how I can live the rest of my life like this. Never having any true connection to anyone or anything. I won't allow it because it is usually not real and therefore harmful.

 

I'm supposed to start Skype CBT next week and I don't know how anyone is going to help me with this. To be helped you need to have the capacity to accept it and believe at least a little that you deserve it. If I can't do that due to the depth of this shame, I don't see any hope. I'd really like to hear if anyone else has remotely experienced anything similar, I don't even know if I should be writing here and I'm sorry if this is triggering to anyone. I just don't know how I'm going to get through tomorrow let alone this week or the rest of my life. Thank you for reading if you got this far.

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TreeElf

Please, can anyone help? I've had to have the children sent to stay with someone. I'm scared there's no option but hospital I can't move 

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Songbird

Hi Abby, I moved your recent posts here, as it makes more sense when read with all your history.

 

I am concerned that you are beating yourself up about the way you're handling withdrawal.  Getting irritable with young children doesn't make you a bad person.  Looking after yourself doesn't make you selfish.  Avoiding situations that you find overstimulating is a healthy thing to do.  If you are so concerned about wanting to not be a bad person, I think it's pretty likely you're really not a bad person.  There are times in withdrawal when we just have to do whatever we can to get through it, go into survival mode.  Sometimes that can mean avoiding certain situations, people and so on.  Looking after yourself is a healthy thing.

 

I've had similar feelings of being "undeserving" at times in my life.  I think antidepressants worked great for me as they suppressed all my troublesome parts.  Then in withdrawal, those parts can really come back with a vengeance, all my original issues amplified.  I think what you are looking for is to learn how to be kind to yourself, forgive yourself for any mistakes, and allow yourself to be human and imperfect and let that be okay.  These are big issues for many of us.  I've found the work of self-help authors Louise Hay and Susan Jeffers very helpful.  Maybe you have some self-help books you like, or some favourite meditations or relaxation exercises?  There are some ideas here: Relaxation exercises, guided meditations, calming videos, sleep hypnosis.

 

You might also find these topics helpful:

Dealing with emotional spirals

Neuro-emotions

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

 

Edited by Songbird
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TreeElf

Hi songbird, thank you for replying. I found the neuro emotions thread helpful before. This is beyond terrifying, I don't even know what's happening anymore. I've had to take a diazepam to calm down the shaking, but only have two in my house for emergencies. My friend took me home and took the children to another friend's, but they are all shocked and keep saying ill get over this. But they have no idea that this is here all the time, I just couldn't hide it anymore. I know I'm hurting people to be around them and make this all about me, I just need to be left alone long term. Sorry for rambling. I can't think properly 

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TreeElf

I know no one is replying but I have to type here because I've run out of options. I have no one I can talk about this to, there's no way out. I've been surviving for a year, but I've only been better because I've been alone mostly. Probably deluding myself. All my worst fears were real, I swore I wouldn't end up dying by suicide like my dad and aunt and my brother but it looks like it could happen. It feels like it's supposed to happen and I've just been denying it. I'm so ashamed, there was no point in any of it. I'm so alone but can't be near people,ive just been praying and panicking and crying. I know no one can help but there's nothing left to be done 

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FarmGirlWorks

Hi @AbbyElfie: hang in there. These drugs and withdrawing from them make original symptoms so very much worse. I think of it like a spring that is pushed in and in and in by the drugs then when we let it go (off drugs), it springs far, far out and erratically until it calms down. It is horribly difficult and hard not to beat yourself up... but it is an injured brain that is reeling while it tries to heal.

 

I had to take a Benadryl today to calm down. This at 18 months. It sucks so much... but we will also get better eventually. We have to give our injured bodies a chance.

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powerback
1 hour ago, AbbyElfie said:

I know no one is replying but I have to type here because I've run out of options. I have no one I can talk about this to, there's no way out. I've been surviving for a year, but I've only been better because I've been alone mostly. Probably deluding myself. All my worst fears were real, I swore I wouldn't end up dying by suicide like my dad and aunt and my brother but it looks like it could happen. It feels like it's supposed to happen and I've just been denying it. I'm so ashamed, there was no point in any of it. I'm so alone but can't be near people,ive just been praying and panicking and crying. I know no one can help but there's nothing left to be done 

Sending hugs up to you from the east cost AE ,post away on your thread ,divulging too much  to friends and family can go against us and we feel guilty ,we understand so reach out ,don't let your mind convince you of things ,I reckon we isolate for comfort during hard times ,don't over think it .

don't let anxiety convince you of anything .

Thanks for visiting my thread ,we keep going ,the support I have from friends here is invaluable ,I could cry with the comfort and support I have gotten .

Give yourself  a big hug and focus on your breathing .

🙏 

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TreeElf

Thank you both. I'm mostly terrified of how much I delude myself, I thought most of this was irrational ocd obsessions but now I can't tell the difference and switch extreme realities constantly. There's so many people who are still going through this four years in, that's unimaginable. I'm so scared I'm a terrible person underneath and this has just brought it to the surface, it feels like I'm dangerously hurting people be just being near them. Especially if I feel any positive emotion like closeness or joy. I just have to try hang in as long as I can. Could the 5mg I'm on be contributing to this, or is it an accumulation of withdrawal/past CT's etc? Appreciate you taking the time to reply. 

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Bridgetini

Hi @AbbyElfie

You are not alone. Keep posting here as there are sympathetic ears.

I understand the need to be away from everyone,  but this is your head messing with you. You are not harming anyone else. 

Don't be afraid to ask people to help out, with the kids, getting dinners and lunches sorted, whatever you need. Neighbours, school mums, whoever.  

I know that if you are tapering you may not want to go to a doctor or hospital in case you get put onto a new/ higher drug, but maybe you need to be  minded and given some TLC while your system calms down.

Would you consider ringing the Samaritans? 

 

Please stay with us.

Bridgetini x

 

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TreeElf

Hi @Bridgetini

Thank you. Yes I thought about ringing them earlier, I've taken a diazepam and hopefully going to sleep now. Need to not think. There are people helping, I just have to limit it because otherwise I fear it's slipping into attention seeking and proof of my badness/narcissism. Still shaky but panic has calmed. Will sleep and update when I can

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Songbird

I'm so glad some other members have replied to you here with good advice and support.  People here really do understand, we've all been in similar situations.

 

8 hours ago, AbbyElfie said:

 I swore I wouldn't end up dying by suicide like my dad and aunt and my brother but it looks like it could happen. It feels like it's supposed to happen and I've just been denying it. 

 

That's just not true. You can decide to get through this.  Go back and read your earlier posts where you sound positive and insightful about your symptoms and the way waves come and go.  That's the real you.  As Bridgetini pointed out, your mind is playing tricks on you.  Withdrawal is well-known for this.

 

It sounds to me like you are identifying with your negative ruminating thoughts and feelings.  Don't let those thoughts fool you, that isn't the real you.  I’ve found it can help to give your internal negative voice a name (e.g. “doomcloud", “chatterbox", "monkey mind" or whatever name you want) so that you can separate this voice from your real self.  When you are able to perceive that this voice is not “you”, it becomes easier to step back from it, get some distance from it, and observe it more objectively.  Many years ago I named the negative voice in my mind the "Doomcloud”.  When the negative thoughts came, I could just observe it happening and say to myself  "oh, there's the Doomcloud again, doing its thing".  This helped immensely to step back from all the negative thoughts and emotions, to be less involved in them, and by getting some distance from them, they felt less intense and not nearly as upsetting or frightening. 

 

This is a form of mindfulness.  With mindfulness, you are the observer in your mind and you just watch what is going on - kind of like you're a scientist studying some phenomenon.  The idea is that the observer is objective and does not get involved in the drama or pass any judgment on it.  Your goal is not to try to stop the thoughts from happening, but just let them happen without giving them any importance.  Watch the thoughts as if they are clouds floating by, or cars driving past.  Accept that the thoughts are there, but don’t attach any importance to them.  They are only thoughts, and you are not your thoughts.

 

4 hours ago, AbbyElfie said:

Could the 5mg I'm on be contributing to this, or is it an accumulation of withdrawal/past CT's etc? Appreciate you taking the time to reply. 

 

It's hard to pick a reason, but my guess is that you seemed to be stabilising on the 5mg then some stressful events overwhelmed your system.  It's very important to be kind to yourself right now, be gentle on your system.  As others have suggested, get help from other people with practical tasks to reduce the burden on you.  It isn't attention-seeking to look after your health.

 

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TreeElf

Thanks @Songbird

I agree with naming the negative voice, it's been a helpful technique at points in the past. There's a deep terror that comes from knowing I've done every feasible thing to help my mental illness for the last decade, yet I'm worse than ever. This happened before I took meds, I was 16 and my entire world was lost in one afternoon. I read something online, it triggered something, and that was it. My psyche/personality split and it took every ounce of strength to survive the next ten years. I thought I was the worst person alive, lying to everyone, an abuser, criminal, all sorts of random obsessional fears. By some miracle, after the years of psych admissions, drug addiction, suicide attempts, I recovered. I had a life, which I never thought I'd have, and was so grateful for it. It happened so quickly, within about six months. (I came off the contraceptive pill and changed my lifestyle a lot, was stable on Prozac). Now my entire life has been ripped away again. Everyone looks different suddenly, just like when first got ill before meds. I don't know who I am or what's real. Each time I believe things are a certain way and stabilize with that, it's ripped away again. I'm 28 and my entire adult life, except for those two years of random recovery, has been spent trying not to kill myself. I have no idea how I'm going to live the rest of it. There's only so much trauma someone can physically take. 

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