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healingspiral Four years off psych drugs: ever more at peace

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healingspiral
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ADMIN NOTE Healingspiral's Introductions topic is here.


 

Hello!

 

I wrote on here a few years ago then locked myself out lol and then have been around now and then just to look at people's stories but not feeling super participatory. I saw on this section someone asking for success stories, so I thought I'd share how I'm doing four years off drugs. 

 

As per the guide to writing these posts:  I'm 26 years old, I was on anti anxiety cocktails starting at age 12, then was hit by a car at age 16, got a huge concussion and experienced severe mood swings, exacerbated by being put on hormonal birth control to regulate my period which gave me insane ups and downs emotionally (later went off the pill luckily!). I was diagnosed at that point with bipolar, and was put on Lamictal for years, with topomax being added on around age 20/21. I was on both until age 22, in 2014 I decided to go off these drugs after graduating uni as I began to doubt the diagnosis/severity. My mother also pointed out she didn't really understand how exactly i qualified as bipolar and we decided to try to see what would happen if i went off while staying under her watchful eyes, given that it didn't seem like I had severe symptoms beyond quite strong depression and a few days each month of feeling creative/active (which I assumed was Mania, as I assumed all emotional variations were because of my diagnosis).

 

My psychiatrist only wanted to help me withdraw if I agreed to consider abilify or something stronger after (even though I later found my 'manic' symptoms came from the drugs themselves, the depression was there in me regardless). So my withdrawal was quite quick, just a month and a half or so total.  Looking back, I wish that'd taken longer because it was a huge shock to my system. I didn't have a 'relapse' into any sort of mental breakdown but I was physically incredibly weak and depressed. I felt humiliated that I'd graduated uni and was there lying in a feverish puddle all day at my mother's house. I forced myself to get a stressful part time job and didn't really do much processing or feeling at this time about the huge changes in my life/what it meant to find out you'd been on heavy drugs for ten years to decide ultimately you didn't have a disorder. It wasn't til about a year later that I began to sort of think about how this had all played out and what it all meant to reject these labels. 

 

My thyroid and gut were all out of whack from years of drugs/my own hormonal imbalances etc. Since that summer of withdrawal, I've spent the last three years sort of re-learning how to be a person. I wish I'd had someone to guide me through this, I was so hard on myself, really expecting myself to just 'be ok' as soon as the drugs were out of me as if i could just 'get over it'. I have been learning to slow down and be patient the past few years: meditating, learning to do deep breathing, going to an acupuncturist, sort of untangling who I am now that I've realised I'm not bipolar II, but also knowing I'm tender and sensitive and creative and not 'super normal' either. Also it's been a big process to accept my past, accept what was done to me, accept these things as part of my life's journey. I see my creativity as a gift. I also still find it shocking to be believed when I explain my story and that I'm not bipolar. I keep expecting people to try and fight me on it, to argue I so clearly am. But no one in my life since has ever observed these symptoms in me and most are shocked to find out this is a stigma and label i was struggling with for most of my youth. My doctors won't remove it from my medical record however, so should I return to my home country I would certainly face some issues within the insurance system. 

 

To summarize this timeline as it may be confusing: 

  • Age 12/13: Had severe anxiety, asked to see a therapist, they referred me to a psychiatrist, pressured my mother and I to 'try' out meds to 'rewire me' short term (this was their promise to get my mother to agree). Was on different mixes of zoloft, prozac, wellbutrin, fluvoxamine etc 
  • Age 16: hit by car, severe mood swings, lack of sleep. No doctors were involved to test me for traumatic brain injury, was diagnosed by Psychiatrist as bipolar ii, weaned off other antidepressants/anti-anxiety. Lamictal begins. 
  • Age 16--21: was on lamictal. Had mostly depression, sometimes didn't feel terrible or had insomnia/disrupted sleep/creative bursts (thought this was mania, later found out it was the lamictal as have never felt that way since going off the drugs). 
  • Age 21-22: Topomax was added to lamictal to help "augment" it. I suffered severe malnutrition and loss of appetite from the topomax, worst depression i've ever felt in my life, I assumed it meant the diagnosis was progressing and getting worse as that's what my doctors said would happen with time. 
  • Age 22: decided to move home after uni and see what i felt like off drugs, didn't have any good expectations, just wanted to feel less physically terrible, was curious if i realllly was bipolar ii as it seemed more severe that my own issues
  • Age 22-26: four years now off drugs, health issues from malnourishment and drug use still in progress, never had a 'manic' episode since going off drugs, have struggled with anxiety and depression on and off, never crippling my day-to-day but certainly hindering it/my enjoyment of life

_____

 

A recent breakthrough (and the reason I wanted to reactivate a presence here) was that I went to see an orthomolecular doctor, who did lab tests to see what was going on with me hormonally (thyroid is messed up just as I suspected). He recommended supplements to nourish my brain and gut after years of strain and he also recommended a lectin free diet for me as lectins can be especially inflammatory for ppl, particularly those that have been taking drugs that go through the gut/processed by the liver. his approach was to try to reduce inflammation in my body to see if the depression and anxiety also reduce. they have! 

 

I feel like i've gotten "ME" back after not eating lectins for even just a few weeks. My social anxiety is clearing up, my period is starting to regulate even after a month, after years of irregularity, my bloating and inflammation in joints is lessening, my depression is retreating to a mild hum/or completely gone rather than a large heavy presence it often can be. feeling sociable and friendly, easier to deal with everyday stresses. So that's felt like an even bigger gift of returning me to me, after years of trying to find acceptance with a new 'normal' that isn't quite right but better than the 'me' on drugs. I"m happy to answer anyone's questions about this all if anyone's curious. 

 

Nowadays: I live in a beautiful apartment, I have a boyfriend, I have a full time wonderful job I love, I have many many loving friends, I feel confident in myself and my own worldview, I trust myself in a way I didn't when I was a patient (@ that time I feel many decisions were not allowed to be made by me medically which leached into my daily life and self confidence) and I live in a foreign country where I learned a new language and am constantly expanding and challenging myself. While on medication, I was so afraid I'd end up alone, unstable, financially blocked by my illness in some way and that i'd have to feel physically and emotionally ill the rest of my life.

 

So I hope if anyone else is having those fears they read this and feel reassured. Idk how many young people are on here but I know for me I felt incredibly isolated during both my diagnosis and withdrawal times b/c i didn't have any peers to relate to on these matters. It's weird being a 12 year old on drugs when your peers are busy worrying about much less stressful subjects. 

 

I feel in all this that to find explore meaning in my path has given me enormous peace as has being able to explore my spirituality without worrying that's a reflection of my 'craziness' as i once did. I see this entire journey as something quite saddening but also as a way that I was gifted the ability for extreme empathy. My ability to relate to and find connection with nearly anyone after this wild life path I've been on at an incredibly young age has been very valuable to me, as has my strengthened fight for justice and what's right after experiencing manipulation and medication as a child, when my consent could not be truly given. I feel wise and old and yet young and as if my life is beginning - a quality even strangers have noticed. & I take that as a huge compliment, that I can relate to so many ages and experiences. 

 

Lots of love to anyone struggling & strength to you no matter where you are in this process. 

Edited by Altostrata
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Altostrata

Thank you for coming back and writing that brilliant post, healingspiral.

 

10 minutes ago, healingspiral said:

My psychiatrist only wanted to help me withdraw if I agreed to consider abilify or something stronger after (even though I later found my 'manic' symptoms came from the drugs themselves, the depression was there in me regardless). So my withdrawal was quite quick, just a month and a half or so total.  Looking back, I wish that'd taken longer because it was a huge shock to my system. I didn't have a 'relapse' into any sort of mental breakdown but I was physically incredibly weak and depressed. I felt humiliated that I'd graduated uni and was there lying in a feverish puddle all day at my mother's house. I forced myself to get a stressful part time job and didn't really do much processing or feeling at this time about the huge changes in my life/what it meant to find out you'd been on heavy drugs for ten years to decide ultimately you didn't have a disorder. It wasn't til about a year later that I began to sort of think about how this had all played out and what it all meant to reject these labels. 

 

Did you have withdrawal symptoms after going off the drugs? If so, how long did it take for them to fade? How was your sleep?

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healingspiral

hello! thank YOU for being an administrator and so active on this site!

 

I definitely had withdrawal symptoms. For the month and a half/two months I was withdrawing I had fever sweats, nausea, panic attacks, insomnia/extreme sleepiness, social anxiety and sort of feeling just numb or incredibly low. I was also really anxious/obsessive and wildly depressed and unhappy with myself and my life.  I think there were also migraines and lots of feeling ill or having almost flu-like symptoms. I was blessed to be a recent grad without any huge responsibilities so at first I worked as an intern a day or two a week and rested a lot/and then took a month long trip alone which was very physically exhausting but emotionally restorative. This was a big privilege to have. I think for about six months after I felt the worst and then from there on it was sort of thyroid/exhaustion/chronic fatigue as a main complaint but certainly nothing like the withdrawal during (nausea, crying for no reason all the time, feverishness etc)

 

My sleep was always iffy. I drank  alot of coffee while on the drugs to try to 'feel' awake. So i think stopping with that - it was around 6-7 cups a day- helped my sleep a lot. While on drugs I had insomnia, I'd sleep 4-5 hours a night tops, which of course didn't help my mental health. I was also binge drinking at uni to help me 'feel' anything. After withdrawing, I was tired all the time, but gradually and with some intention, I began to try to sleep earlier and longer, reduce the alcohol and coffee so as to leave my body a little less wired. So now I sleep at least 8 hours a night, and go to bed and wake much earlier than I used to. 

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Madeleine

Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your story!  It is very much appreciated.
Best wishes for your future!

Madeleine

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mirage

@healingspiral Thank you for coming back and telling your story. I'm looking forward to writing my success story. It is good to hear you are living a great, normal life and sounds like, a better life. 

 

What were some of your worse symptoms and when did they go away?

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RachelSusan

@healingspiral

Thank you for taking your time to come back here and share your story with us.  It means a lot to me to hear of someone doing so well after a such a long time on medication. It sounds like you have a beautiful life and I wish you all the best.

Rachel

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healingspiral

@Madeleine @RachelSusan thank you so so much for your kind wishes! It is so sweet to hear. Wishing you both the best 

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healingspiral
22 hours ago, mirage said:

@healingspiral Thank you for coming back and telling your story. I'm looking forward to writing my success story. It is good to hear you are living a great, normal life and sounds like, a better life. 

 

What were some of your worse symptoms and when did they go away?

 

Thank you for your sweet response, I hope to read your success story too once you've written it. 

 

I think the worst symptoms in the withdrawal period was the insomnia/fever sweats and feeling of general instability/anxiety i felt while withdrawing that was so intense. Afterwards, for years after it was the chronic fatigue. Just so so tired out and afterwards, my thyroid and gut have still been really reeling from the withdrawal. I'd say only in the last year (3 years later) had I begun to start to feel better and then with a lectin-free diet and supplements as well as acupuncture, this year is when it's starting to feel i'm 'me' again. Best of luck on your journey. 

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mirage

@healingspiral Thank you for responding. I truly appreciate it. It is so good to hear success stories.

 

I'm a little over a year into my journey. I can function and I work part time but I make myself do it. Some days are easier than others that is for sure. The anxiety, that I have never had in my life, is crazy. It comes out of nowhere and some days it is with me the entire day. Overall I am staying positive. No matter how long this takes me, I will be back. 

 

Congratulations to you and enjoy. 

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frasier23

@healingspiral awesome story. I feel glad for you reading about your life today.

 

One question, no need to answer if you dont want to, how was puberty when you were under those medicinens? Did it delay it / made faster etc? 

 

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Tootsieroll

@healingspiral  I don’t know if you were hinting at my post asking for success stories but either way, I so so so appreciate this success story!  You are truly heroic to have overcome all this after being medicated at such a young age.  And to come out the other end intact, wiser and more empathetic.  Sometimes I curse the heavens for this experience but honestly there’s no better way to learn empathy but through suffering.  So in a way, I am grateful for this life lesson.  I also relate to the years spent relearning how to be a person.  Even down to the mundane routines of life. I’m at 4.5 years and still not completely 100% yet but you have given food for thought with the lectin free diet.  My body processes are so whacky that there should be modifications to my diet to help the healing along.  Thank you for this tidbit and i’ll do research on it.  Hopefully it can help me on this last mile.  I wish you continued success!!

 

edit:  I wanted to ask, did you lose your sense of independence during the withdrawal and when did you feel you regained it back?  I am having issues with being alone and feel really dependent on people within my circle.

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healingspiral
On 6/28/2018 at 9:47 PM, frasier23 said:

@healingspiral awesome story. I feel glad for you reading about your life today.

 

One question, no need to answer if you dont want to, how was puberty when you were under those medicinens? Did it delay it / made faster etc? 

 

Hi there. No problem asking. I think it really messed up my puberty/development. I've never had a regular period and have always had hormonal imbalances. These were masked by birth control for years til I went off in October of last year. Since then, i have horrible pms, an irregular cycle (between 35-42 days) and terrible bloating, aching, mood swings for up to 1.5 weeks on bad cycles. It feels truly like the last hurdle health wise, and I do wonder if my body can ever recover since it never got to actually develop. I wonder what this means for fertility/stability as i age. 

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healingspiral
12 hours ago, Tootsieroll said:

@healingspiral  I don’t know if you were hinting at my post asking for success stories but either way, I so so so appreciate this success story!  You are truly heroic to have overcome all this after being medicated at such a young age.  And to come out the other end intact, wiser and more empathetic.  Sometimes I curse the heavens for this experience but honestly there’s no better way to learn empathy but through suffering.  So in a way, I am grateful for this life lesson.  I also relate to the years spent relearning how to be a person.  Even down to the mundane routines of life. I’m at 4.5 years and still not completely 100% yet but you have given food for thought with the lectin free diet.  My body processes are so whacky that there should be modifications to my diet to help the healing along.  Thank you for this tidbit and i’ll do research on it.  Hopefully it can help me on this last mile.  I wish you continued success!!

 

edit:  I wanted to ask, did you lose your sense of independence during the withdrawal and when did you feel you regained it back?  I am having issues with being alone and feel really dependent on people within my circle.

 

Hello! I think it might have been your post that spurred me on, but I hadn't noted your user name so I'm glad to see you here. You're so kind! Thank you for your feedback and for 'seeing me' in this journey. I'm sorry to hear you too are still figuring out what it means 4.5 years later. It's weird because I have good weeks and bad weeks. In the good weeks i feel so good and safe and ok and in the bad weeks, I just feel like i notice how faaaar i have to go before I feel fully 'me' again (if ever!)/ 

 

maybe the lectins free will help? or at least reduction. I've definitely noticed a reduction in inflammation and other issues, and a return of anxiety and grumpiness when I do eat it again (which i had this weekend). 

 

I don't think i felt a loss of independence but rather too much of it. I am really bad at sharing my emotional processes as they occur and often isolate myself til after when i can 'emerge' a neat version of myself. this got worse during these times, where i really crafted a persona of having my sh*t together when i did/do not. I wish I leaned on people more and had revealed more of what was happening as it happened, let people help me. Even now I really really struggle with that. But both coping mechanisms end up with us feeling alone. I'm sorry to hear you're feeling a loss of independence. I'd say only that I admire the immense strength you have to lean on others, i think that's a very brave thing to do in a world that tells you to go it alone. 

 

love your way 

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frasier23

Ok, I thinking that things that were put (some of them not bone lenght etc) on hold May develop later but at the same time Im just guessing. 

 

IF it would make incomplete development I cant understand how they can do that to People. 

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healingspiral
3 minutes ago, frasier23 said:

Ok, I thinking that things that were put (some of them not bone lenght etc) on hold May develop later but at the same time Im just guessing. 

 

IF it would make incomplete development I cant understand how they can do that to People. 

 hey there! yes i hope some things will develop. In terms of height I am much shorter than i was expected to be, but am not unusually short either. we'll have to wait and see about period cycles, especially as it's less than  a year that i've been off the hormonal birth control so my own hormones have not actually been free to do much on their own for about 6 years. hoping so, as it's quite a bummer!

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Blandell
On 7/2/2018 at 12:33 PM, healingspiral said:

 

Hello! I think it might have been your post that spurred me on, but I hadn't noted your user name so I'm glad to see you here. You're so kind! Thank you for your feedback and for 'seeing me' in this journey. I'm sorry to hear you too are still figuring out what it means 4.5 years later. It's weird because I have good weeks and bad weeks. In the good weeks i feel so good and safe and ok and in the bad weeks, I just feel like i notice how faaaar i have to go before I feel fully 'me' again (if ever!)/ 

 

maybe the lectins free will help? or at least reduction. I've definitely noticed a reduction in inflammation and other issues, and a return of anxiety and grumpiness when I do eat it again (which i had this weekend). 

 

I don't think i felt a loss of independence but rather too much of it. I am really bad at sharing my emotional processes as they occur and often isolate myself til after when i can 'emerge' a neat version of myself. this got worse during these times, where i really crafted a persona of having my sh*t together when i did/do not. I wish I leaned on people more and had revealed more of what was happening as it happened, let people help me. Even now I really really struggle with that. But both coping mechanisms end up with us feeling alone. I'm sorry to hear you're feeling a loss of independence. I'd say only that I admire the immense strength you have to lean on others, i think that's a very brave thing to do in a world that tells you to go it alone. 

 

love your way 

I really appreciate everything you’ve written on this site..it seems that you’ve been through a lot and have learned a lot...you are now generously sharing with us. I am very intrigued by the lectin free diet. 

I’m 65 and have been on antidepressants for 25 years..mostly Paxil and Effexor for awhile. I’m in the process of tapering and feel like I’m living in a type of fog most of the time. I look forward to when this time is behind me.

I wondered how you ended up seeing an orthomolecular doctor. It seems like there just aren’t enough of the right kind of doctors around, where I live, to help explain and guide during this process. I’m finding my own answers here.

thanks again and good luck!

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healingspiral
14 hours ago, Blandell said:

I wondered how you ended up seeing an orthomolecular doctor. It seems like there just aren’t enough of the right kind of doctors around, where I live, to help explain and guide during this process. I’m finding my own answers here.

thanks again and good luck!

 

Hi @Blandell Thank you for your words, I sooo get the feeling of being in a fog, i'm sending love your way, it's so exhausting to be in that state (i'm still in it sometimes!)

 

To answer your question, I'm not sure how it works where you are (Canada it looks like) but for me in the Netherlands it's quite a common approach to seek an orthomolecular doctor for health issues, esp as their health care system is great in terms of cost but arguably not in terms of proactive approaches to healing (which is also why so many fewer of them are on medicine as even that much involvement is considered v extreme by many). 

 

I'd look up naturopaths, orthomolecular doctors etc near you? Perhaps you'll be able to find one who will even work with your remotely part of the time after initial consultation if they're not in your region, I know mine offers that after first testings! What i like about my orthomolecular doctor is that he was a cardiologist prior for seven years, so he's approaching me with both scientific understanding but also a holistic non traditional approach, whereas my acupuncturist, who I love seeing but to be honest has not done much for me always insists my body will 'fix itself' and that lab test etc are not needed...

 

i hope you find someone who's ready to work with you! wishing you the best. 

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Tootsieroll

I’m in Ontario Canada and I’m in LOVE with my naturopath!  Not romantic love but you know what I mean 😍 lol. I recently had a genetics test done and I am awaiting the treatment for various health/genetics issues but for now I am in control of my own diet so the lectin free diet sounds very interesting.  @Blandell  There are plenty of naturopaths around us.  The key is to hunt down a good one who is vastly knowledgeable.

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Plshelp

Congrats Healingspiral on your recovery! The lectin diet sounds interesting. Are you able to provide more insight as to what the mechanism of action lectin plays in the gut and thyroid? 

 

I'm curious as I have severe brain damage from the antipsychotics and maybe from the antidepressants that I'm on. Many brain systems have been impaired and I'm looking for some miracle to help me get back to myself again. 

 

Thanks! 

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healingspiral
On 7/22/2018 at 8:37 AM, Plshelp said:

Congrats Healingspiral on your recovery! The lectin diet sounds interesting. Are you able to provide more insight as to what the mechanism of action lectin plays in the gut and thyroid? 

 

I'm curious as I have severe brain damage from the antipsychotics and maybe from the antidepressants that I'm on. Many brain systems have been impaired and I'm looking for some miracle to help me get back to myself again. 

 

Thanks! 

hi @Plshelp! I'm not sure how to eloquently describe the mechanism exactly but from what my doctor has explained, some ppl, especially after stressors like drugs or stressful life events can develop or experience even more extreme sensitivities to lectins in their diet. Apparently if your body isn't processing them correctly, they are not broken down by your stomach, leaking into your bloodstream via your gut which gives your liver more work to do and leading to inflammation. Inflammation can take place in any part of the body and can mess up your hormonal balance, your moods & so on. For ppl with lectin sensitivity it's the stomach that is the 'weak spot' and therefore the stomach that is the starting source of this inflammation. When you stop eating foods containing these irritants, your inflammation goes down which means your liver can process or filter hormones, can detox your system better, etc.

 

From what my doctor was saying my thyroid is also messed up from the drugs but that lectin-free diet and supplements that replenish some of my vitamins/minerals will hopefully help keep inflammation down and get my systems back in order. I may be butchering this a bit as I'm not a scientist and when he told me all of it, he said it all quite quickly using jargon. But! there's some good research out there if you look up ppl following lectin free diets for ex, the book Plant Paradox and Dr. Gundry's entire brand have lots of information. I hope this may be a nice jumping off point for you in helping your head and systems. I know for me, after following a lectin free diet for a few weeks, I felt amazing and when I was on holiday and not able to follow it due to being in other ppl's homes, i felt much worse physically and emotionally. 

 

 

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AbbyElfie

Hey @healingspiral, thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience. I can relate to you story a lot - I'm 28 now, was diagnosed as a teenager with a disorder and almost 2 more in the next few years, had my first serious OCD breakdown shortly after going on birth control, and was medicated with various drugs for 10 years. Your story of recovery is so helpful - you are almost the version of me I hope to be after all this! Currently stabilizing well on 5mg of Prozac after some dodgy tapering and horrific wd, but things are very rapidly getting better. I can also very much relate to how you explained finding your new sense of 'self'. It's come into my awareness that maybe I'm not the 'ill for life' OCD/depression patient that I believed for so long - stories like yours inspire people that there are always new possibilities.

 

Thanks again, wishing you all the best

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healingspiral
20 hours ago, AbbyElfie said:

Hey @healingspiral, thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience. I can relate to you story a lot - I'm 28 now, was diagnosed as a teenager with a disorder and almost 2 more in the next few years, had my first serious OCD breakdown shortly after going on birth control, and was medicated with various drugs for 10 years. Your story of recovery is so helpful - you are almost the version of me I hope to be after all this! Currently stabilizing well on 5mg of Prozac after some dodgy tapering and horrific wd, but things are very rapidly getting better. I can also very much relate to how you explained finding your new sense of 'self'. It's come into my awareness that maybe I'm not the 'ill for life' OCD/depression patient that I believed for so long - stories like yours inspire people that there are always new possibilities.

 

Thanks again, wishing you all the best

HI @AbbyElfie how interesting how similar our stories are :) 

 

 I'm wishing you all the best on the healing journey you're on, especially finding out how you wish to identify/see yourself as you navigate in the world. Sending you lots of strength and good energy as you taper off. It's really meaningful for me to hear our similar paths and ages, even if it's sad to know we both had to experience these things as it also makes me feel solidarity. thank you for sharing as well. 

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