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Success? by BreatheFirst

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BreatheFirst

About 23 years ago I filled my first AD prescription. About 21 years later I completed tapering off my medication. I was originally prescribed an AD for dysthymia, or persistent mild depression. I decided to stop taking it with the support of my therapist and psychiatrist. I felt that I had learned enough coping strategies to moderate my mood and I was having some negative effects from the medication (mainly emotional blunting).  

 

So, it’s been about 18 months since I took my last dose of venlafaxine (see signature below). And I have to say, I feel pretty good – certainly in comparison to how I felt in the beginning of my withdrawal experience. Some of the most excruciating symptoms were: insomnia, intense anxiety and irrational fear, frequent crying spells, brain fog, depersonalization/derealization, perceived inability to accomplish even the most minor task or chore, persistent ruminations on the past, hopelessness, depressed state, near constant irritability, lack of energy and everyone’s favorite…intrusive suicidal thoughts. It was awful – you all know the drill. 

 

After about the five-month mark, that’s when I started to get some relief. And then recovery slowly progressed from there. Now I sleep through the night regardless of daily stressors (although I do require less sleep to function well – six hours now versus nine hours while on ADs), my energy levels are restored, I’m not afraid or anxious all the time, suicidal thoughts are gone, I don’t dread waking up every day. Basically, my worst withdrawal symptoms are gone. However, now I am more human; that is, I am more vulnerable to the ups and downs of daily moods and feelings in response to the events of the day. I have to work harder, rely on my own cognitive skills to moderate my moods and behavior. I’m getting better at that every day.  

Now, what has worked for me? There has certainly been no magic potion – no one thing that made everything bearable. Rather a bunch of things combined helped at different times. What has helped: having the support of a spouse understanding and sympathetic to what I was going through; having the support of a therapist who believed me when I said I was going through AD withdrawal; getting up and going to work every day; eating well (when I began to be able to care about the food I was eating); sunlight and fresh air; sleep, when I could get it; not believing any of the insomnia-shaming articles all over the place that accentuate the damaging effects of lack of sleep; and reading the few success stories I could find.  

 

I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me to keep going to work every day. I realize, however, that I had the benefit of a relatively supportive work environment. I did not share what I was going through personally. But generally supportive and friendly colleagues and supervisors and a flexible schedule with the option to work from home on a regular basis helped a lot. I know this is not an option for everyone. But for me, even though going to work in the morning seemed scary AF sometimes, going through the motions helped in the long run.  

Also, I dabbled in meditation and read a lot of mindfulness literature and prayed to whatever is out there. These things helped a lot too.  

 

Currently I have no food or over-the-counter medication sensitivities. I can consume sugar and caffeine at the same level that I used to before withdrawal – sugar regularly in small amounts and two cups of coffee or tea every day, with a caffeinated soda thrown in here and there. During withdrawal I was very sensitive to sugar and tried to avoid it. My mood would plummet after I ate it. This effect stopped after about six months off of meds. 

 

One very important thing I have realized is that I need to avoid alcohol. This issue was something I struggled with while on ADs too but it's even more pronounced now. Alcohol sends me straight to severe depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, hostility – basically, a nightmare. Even one drink and I am not a happy camper.  

 

I could go on and on but basically that's my success story. Sometimes I struggle with the word success, because I do not want those in the middle of withdrawal to think they are in a state of failure or not a success. I just feel like I've been lucky enough to emerge from the darkness. Anyone who is brave enough to attempt this journey is a success. And I realize it's not an option for everyone and if one chooses to remain on ADs that is great too. Whatever works. Life is hard, but worth it! 

 

Here is a link to my intro topic: 

 

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Itzakadoozee
Posted (edited)

So glad your feeling better. Can’t wait to feel better. I appreciate the time it took you to give hope to those of us who need it.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
removed unnecessary quote

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Liamb123456

So can we never drink alcohol again after withdrawals glad your feeling so much better 

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BreatheFirst

Itzakadoozee - Thank you. Glad I could provide some hope. I know in my worst days of withdrawal I was desperate to hear stories of those who were doing better. Wishing you all the best in your recovery!

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BreatheFirst

Liamb123456 - Thank you. I'm not sure that the no alcohol after withdrawal "rule" applies to everyone. That is the case with me. Others may have a different experience. 

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Madeleine

Thank you for posting!  :-) 

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gigi63

Thank you Breathfirst for sharing your beautiful recovery story with us.  Wow!!!! 18 months after all the years you were on!!!!  That is amazing and wonderful!!!!  I am so pleased for you.  Time for me has been much slower.  I am so longing for the day I can write of my own recovery.  Thank you again, as this is another testament that the healing will eventually come!!!  

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gigi63

BreathFirst, so many of us, if not all of us experience the irrational fears and intense anxiety, can you tell me, and the others how this went away for you?  So many say, it goes so gradually.  For, me, it has been so persistent.  Back and forth in the waves.  As long as I have waves, I seem to have the neuro emotions as well. I guess I will until the waves are no more?   I long for the day that it is balanced out!   

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gallanthero26

Thank you for the update and I'm very happy that you made it through. Did you experience memory issues and has that improved too if so?

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Nena59

So happy for you. You have given hope to many of us. Thanks so much for posting!

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Happy2Heal

what a great update, thank you so much for posting this BreatheFirst!!

So glad you made it to the "other side" and are doing well.

your story is an inspiration  and will give much needed hope to so many who are going thru the rough spots.

thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to post it!!

 

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Liamb123456
On 9/4/2018 at 6:59 AM, Itzakadoozee said:

So glad your feeling better. Can’t wait to feel better. I appreciate the time it took you to give hope to those of us who need it.

 

Hi man did you go cold turkey 

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Itzakadoozee
41 minutes ago, Liamb123456 said:

Hi man did you go cold turkey 

Rapid taper over a month. 20mg-0mg escatalopram. Was fine during taper but the next month off just completely broke my brain and I reinstated at 5mg. Never felt normal since. DP/DR and severe cognitive problems ever since.

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Lloyd

Thanks BreatheFirst & well done!!! I'm 4 months into an effexor withdrawal. You mentioned you had derealization. Did you get the accompanying brain fog / difficulty concentrating? Did this improve over time?

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Liamb123456
14 hours ago, Itzakadoozee said:

Rapid taper over a month. 20mg-0mg escatalopram. Was fine during taper but the next month off just completely broke my brain and I reinstated at 5mg. Never felt normal since. DP/DR and severe cognitive problems ever since.

Do you belive you will ever heal 

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Itzakadoozee
2 hours ago, Liamb123456 said:

Do you belive you will ever heal 

I hope so...but at this moment it doesn’t feel like I will....but hope is persistent. And I have heard of a lot of people recovering after years. Actually just had a conversation with someone who said she’s seen a lot of people recover from years of withdrawal so I am hoping I will to.

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BreatheFirst

Thank you everyone for all of your comments and questions. I apologize for not responding sooner. Life has been a bit hectic lately and I haven't had a chance to circle back. 

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BreatheFirst
On 4/9/2018 at 7:00 PM, gigi63 said:

BreathFirst, so many of us, if not all of us experience the irrational fears and intense anxiety, can you tell me, and the others how this went away for you?  So many say, it goes so gradually.  For, me, it has been so persistent.  Back and forth in the waves.  As long as I have waves, I seem to have the neuro emotions as well. I guess I will until the waves are no more?   I long for the day that it is balanced out!   

It went away gradually. But when I was in the grips of the fear it felt like it would last forever. I remember one night being in a hotel room when I was on business travel. I was sitting there in a beautiful hotel room in a great city and I was terrified out of my mind...so scared I was brought to tears. I was just thinking of that because I was recently on another work trip...this time in a rather rural unfamiliar area in a not great hotel...and I was absolutely fine. The two trips were about a year apart. All that to say, this symptom passed for me. Focused, deep breaths and mindfulness worked best for me in these situations. Also, getting up and going outside helped me, even if it seemed like a scary prospect at first. 

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gigi63

Thank you for your truthful sharing. 

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BreatheFirst
On 4/11/2018 at 12:10 AM, gallanthero26 said:

Thank you for the update and I'm very happy that you made it through. Did you experience memory issues and has that improved too if so?

 

During my last round on ADs, I was experiencing memory issues. And the more I think about it, it makes perfect sense that this would happen. For me, when they were working best ADs stopped me from ruminating, holding on to thoughts. So it makes sense I couldn't hold on to the thoughts and memories that I wanted to retain either. That was one of the many factors that went into my decision to taper and discontinue the medication. Yes, my memory has improved. But there are still days when I feel my memory isn't nearly what it used to be. Of course, that could just be due to aging. After having taken ADs for so long, it's hard to know what damage they did or did not do. Like all other symptoms, memory improved gradually. 

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BreatheFirst
On 4/17/2018 at 8:01 PM, Liamb123456 said:

Hi man did you go cold turkey 

Hi. I tapered. See my introduction thread and signature. 

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BreatheFirst
On 4/18/2018 at 1:10 AM, Lloyd said:

Thanks BreatheFirst & well done!!! I'm 4 months into an effexor withdrawal. You mentioned you had derealization. Did you get the accompanying brain fog / difficulty concentrating? Did this improve over time?

 

I didn't really have brain fog. But I did have difficultly concentrating, mostly because my brain was going a mile a minute with fearful and anxious thoughts. It did improve over time, and it's still improving. 

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PSVT
On ‎9‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 1:05 AM, BreatheFirst said:

Some of the most excruciating symptoms were: insomnia, intense anxiety and irrational fear, frequent crying spells, brain fog, depersonalization/derealization, perceived inability to accomplish even the most minor task or chore, persistent ruminations on the past, hopelessness, depressed state, near constant irritability, lack of energy and everyone’s favorite…intrusive suicidal thoughts. It was awful

 

Nice Work BreatheFirst

 

Currently 6 1/2 months off Pristiq and these symptoms really are difficult to not only understand but to accept. I have no problems getting to sleep at all but just have the early morning wake up with nightmare/terror/fear. Intrusive thoughts suck the big one as well especially when in a wave..........Glad you have returned to life again and thanks for returning with a success story, it shows again that this is a temporary thing and will get better!

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Justcope

Hi BreatheFirst. 

Thankyou so much for your post. This is my first time on this forum and your post is one I keep going back to for hope. I’ve been tapering since February off Lexapro and I’m finding it super difficult at times. My struggle is on those days where I feel like I’ll never feel sane again and want to go on AD’s again. Everything seems frightening including my own home and family! I hope this is normal part of AD. Just struggling to know what is AD withdrawal. It feels like I’m just going crazy. 

Your post rings true for me as my symptoms are close to yours. Mine are much more emotional than physical and mainly anxiety. 

I hope to make it through like you. Thankyou for sharing. Much appreciated! 

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Justcope
On 4/29/2018 at 12:07 PM, PSVT said:

 

Nice Work BreatheFirst

 

Currently 6 1/2 months off Pristiq and these symptoms really are difficult to not only understand but to accept. I have no problems getting to sleep at all but just have the early morning wake up with nightmare/terror/fear. Intrusive thoughts suck the big one as well especially when in a wave..........Glad you have returned to life again and thanks for returning with a success story, it shows again that this is a temporary thing and will get better!

I’m with you on this one. Physically I’m ok-ish. It’s emotional that’s frightening. Mornings are much worse too. Do you ever struggle to decipher what’s reall thought and what’s AD withdrawal is responsible for? Is this the cruel joke of AD withdrawal?? 

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Hellbutrin

Thank you so much for coming back to write your success story. It's so encouraging to see that someone has recovered after going through such a similar withdrawal to what I'm currently going through. I'm 9 and a half months from my C/T from Bupropion and I'm struggling so much. How long did it take before you started seeing some relief from blunted emotions? This has been my most consistent symptom and I'm terrified that I've permanently lost the joy for life that I once had. 

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PSVT
On ‎5‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 4:20 PM, Justcope said:

Do you ever struggle to decipher what’s reall thought and what’s AD withdrawal is responsible for? Is this the cruel joke of AD withdrawal?? 

 

Hi Justcope. No, not really, I don't need to decipher between reality and AD withdrawal and yes, it is not only cruel but barbaric in my opinion, these prescribers really need to pull their head in along with their ego's.

 

My health really started going down hill quickly about a week after starting pristiq and when the doctor wanted to start throwing benzos at me to chase the symptoms from the Pristiq I knew that this was not right. I was begging her to get me off because I was a frazzled mess like I had never experienced, this was not me.  Then when I came off and I thought I would have to deal with some depression for a couple of months like I unknowingly (or didn't recognise) when I came off Lexapro but after a month things really went to extremes, things I had never had thoughts about before in my life so I knew it was and still is all withdrawal. Not to mention the physical issues. WOW.

 

I have also spoken with Baylissa Fredericks a number of times and her re-assurances of this being withdrawal has also been a god send and that healing is inevitable and the usual outcome of withdrawal, so yes, she continually reminds us that we will heal even though the withdrawal brains tries to find evidence that we wont, and especially when the medical community look at you and treat you as though you definitely have a mental illness based on absolutely no objective data. I never did have a mental disorder despite their insistence to the contrary.

 

I have trouble accepting them because this is unnecessary torture brought on by Doctors who have a God complex who treat their patients like imbeciles. More so in my case because I had a medical condition that was solved by day surgery but now have to deal with this crap while my doctor is travelling overseas without a care in the world.

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BreatheFirst
On 5/3/2018 at 2:17 AM, Justcope said:

...Everything seems frightening including my own home and family! I hope this is normal part of AD. Just struggling to know what is AD withdrawal. It feels like I’m just going crazy...

This was one of my worst symptoms as well. It went away gradually. 

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BreatheFirst
On 5/3/2018 at 11:38 AM, Hellbutrin said:

Thank you so much for coming back to write your success story. It's so encouraging to see that someone has recovered after going through such a similar withdrawal to what I'm currently going through. I'm 9 and a half months from my C/T from Bupropion and I'm struggling so much. How long did it take before you started seeing some relief from blunted emotions? This has been my most consistent symptom and I'm terrified that I've permanently lost the joy for life that I once had. 

Relief from blunted emotions started during the tapering process and continued after I completely tapered off. But the progress was inconsistent and came in spurts. I would experience a range of emotions, but then I would go flat again. As time passed, my normal emotional responses became more frequent and dependable. 

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wildchild93
On 4/8/2018 at 11:05 AM, BreatheFirst said:

About 23 years ago I filled my first AD prescription. About 21 years later I completed tapering off my medication. I was originally prescribed an AD for dysthymia, or persistent mild depression. I decided to stop taking it with the support of my therapist and psychiatrist. I felt that I had learned enough coping strategies to moderate my mood and I was having some negative effects from the medication (mainly emotional blunting).  

 

So, it’s been about 18 months since I took my last dose of venlafaxine (see signature below). And I have to say, I feel pretty good – certainly in comparison to how I felt in the beginning of my withdrawal experience. Some of the most excruciating symptoms were: insomnia, intense anxiety and irrational fear, frequent crying spells, brain fog, depersonalization/derealization, perceived inability to accomplish even the most minor task or chore, persistent ruminations on the past, hopelessness, depressed state, near constant irritability, lack of energy and everyone’s favorite…intrusive suicidal thoughts. It was awful – you all know the drill. 

 

After about the five-month mark, that’s when I started to get some relief. And then recovery slowly progressed from there. Now I sleep through the night regardless of daily stressors (although I do require less sleep to function well – six hours now versus nine hours while on ADs), my energy levels are restored, I’m not afraid or anxious all the time, suicidal thoughts are gone, I don’t dread waking up every day. Basically, my worst withdrawal symptoms are gone. However, now I am more human; that is, I am more vulnerable to the ups and downs of daily moods and feelings in response to the events of the day. I have to work harder, rely on my own cognitive skills to moderate my moods and behavior. I’m getting better at that every day.  

Now, what has worked for me? There has certainly been no magic potion – no one thing that made everything bearable. Rather a bunch of things combined helped at different times. What has helped: having the support of a spouse understanding and sympathetic to what I was going through; having the support of a therapist who believed me when I said I was going through AD withdrawal; getting up and going to work every day; eating well (when I began to be able to care about the food I was eating); sunlight and fresh air; sleep, when I could get it; not believing any of the insomnia-shaming articles all over the place that accentuate the damaging effects of lack of sleep; and reading the few success stories I could find.  

 

I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me to keep going to work every day. I realize, however, that I had the benefit of a relatively supportive work environment. I did not share what I was going through personally. But generally supportive and friendly colleagues and supervisors and a flexible schedule with the option to work from home on a regular basis helped a lot. I know this is not an option for everyone. But for me, even though going to work in the morning seemed scary AF sometimes, going through the motions helped in the long run.  

Also, I dabbled in meditation and read a lot of mindfulness literature and prayed to whatever is out there. These things helped a lot too.  

 

Currently I have no food or over-the-counter medication sensitivities. I can consume sugar and caffeine at the same level that I used to before withdrawal – sugar regularly in small amounts and two cups of coffee or tea every day, with a caffeinated soda thrown in here and there. During withdrawal I was very sensitive to sugar and tried to avoid it. My mood would plummet after I ate it. This effect stopped after about six months off of meds. 

 

One very important thing I have realized is that I need to avoid alcohol. This issue was something I struggled with while on ADs too but it's even more pronounced now. Alcohol sends me straight to severe depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, hostility – basically, a nightmare. Even one drink and I am not a happy camper.  

 

I could go on and on but basically that's my success story. Sometimes I struggle with the word success, because I do not want those in the middle of withdrawal to think they are in a state of failure or not a success. I just feel like I've been lucky enough to emerge from the darkness. Anyone who is brave enough to attempt this journey is a success. And I realize it's not an option for everyone and if one chooses to remain on ADs that is great too. Whatever works. Life is hard, but worth it! 

 

Here is a link to my intro topic: 

 

Love this venlafaxine success story. That is the drug that I am currently battling. How frequent and severe were your crying spells during your taper? Ive wrestles with them a lot and started to get them again. It feels like my body is trying to release something like I need to cry to feel better.

 

Also, did you experience a lot of sweating as a side effect of ven and if so, at what dose did the sweating start to subside? I love working out, but currently cannot stop sweating like a pig on 150mg.

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BreatheFirst
On 5/14/2018 at 10:45 PM, wildchild93 said:

Love this venlafaxine success story. That is the drug that I am currently battling...

Hi wildchild. Thank you. Glad you liked my story. It makes me very happy to know I can help in some small way. 

 

Crying spells diminished in intensity as my dose decreased. I am still trying to figure out exactly what causes the crying. I think it's so many things...mainly the shock of adjusting to a full range of emotions. I could always control the spells in public. But at home I really let loose. They were the worst in the morning...I spent a lot of mornings crying audibly in the shower. Oddly, I always felt a bit better after the crying spell. I eventually came to embrace the spells in a way. They were less frequent as time went by. Hard to say the rate at which they diminished...just very gradually once I had been off the medication a few months. 

 

As for sweating...it's funny, I only realize now after being off the medication how much it made me sweat. It wasn't enough so anyone would notice. But now I notice that comparatively I sweat a lot more on venlafaxine, particularly when I was sleeping. I really can't say when that stopped. Just one day, after being off the medication, I realized I wasn't sweating in bed anymore. 

 

I hope the info helps. Best of luck to you during your taper!

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