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Freespirit--A Life Free from Antidepressants

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freespirit

I’ve just passed the 4-year mark since I took my last dose of AD. I was on Remeron (Mirtazapine) for 10 years, including the time I was tapering. I’m a 63-year-old woman. The tapering was done before I found this site, so was faster than recommended on here. I was at 45 mg when I began the process; a dose I’d been on for about a year and a half. I was put on the drug at 7.5 mg initially and had increases as it pooped out—something I didn’t understand at the time.To repeat what’s in my signature about how I tapered: Began tapering in June 2013. Went from 45 to 30 mg in the first 3-4 months. Held for a couple of months. Started tapering by 3.75 mg every month or 2, with some longer holding periods. Eventually went down to 3.75 mg. about April 2014. Stopped taking Remeron August 2014.

 

Throughout tapering I had many of the typical symptoms: anxiety, depression, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, extreme anger, crying spells, muscle and joint pain, headaches (sometimes migraines), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, poor digestion, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, tinnitus, blurry vision, anhedonia, existential loneliness, disorientation, chills and fever, extreme blood sugar swings (I am diabetic), low energy, hives, sneezing. Most of these continued off and on after I'd jumped off as well.

 

Like many people, I felt great when I first quit the med. But within a week, I was hit hard by histamine intolerance symptoms. In a few months, when I learned what was going on, I went on a low histamine diet and gradually added a couple of supplements that helped with it—Vitamin C, Quercetin, and a simple probiotic. The diet, supplements, and continuation of the practices I’d been doing all along helped. As did some IV vitamins and the other treatments I was doing.

 

Nearly all those initial symptoms have been resolved. I still have some remnants of histamine intolerance, but am not nearly as careful with my diet as I once was. I still stay away from many high histamine foods like fish, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, dairy (except yogurt), fermented foods, pineapple, and food additives. I get hives very rarely, usually when I’ve been less careful with diet and am under stress. I don’t have any of the sneezing or nasal symptoms I once did.

 

I never kept track of my symptoms or when things got worse or better. For me, I felt that would only keep me locked into the whole process. I did my best to face whatever was happening in the moment and moved forward as I was able to.

 

My situation was complicated by a serious MVA I had in 2008 which included a brain injury. I had many of the same symptoms as WD from that accident, some of which had not resolved by the time I started tapering. I had pretty extreme light sensitivity until the past year. I can now easily be outside and even drive without sunglasses. The only exception is on cloudy bright days, where my eyes hurt if I don’t wear shades. I attribute this more to the MVA to WD, since it’s been there ever since the accident.

 

I was also still dealing with the death of my wife when I stated tapering. So, many of the emotional issues were also very much a part of the grieving process. It would be impossible for me to separate those out in terms of grief or WD.

 

Most aspects of my health have improved significantly. I lost a lot of weight and was able to get off 7 of the medications I was on. I had been taking Tylenol 3 for pain, Nasonex for allergies, 2 medications for asthma, a PPI, occasional Ativan for anxiety or insomnia, and Metformin for diabetes. The only med I currently take is Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

 

The things that helped me the most are listed in my signature: meditation, qi gong, guided imagery and hypnosis, chiropractic, massage, treatment with the naturopath (IV vitamins, homeopathy, and some bodywork), acupuncture, listening to music, being in nature and exercise—walking, swimming, and cycling. My cats provided a lot of nurturing during the process and have been able to make me laugh, even on the darkest days. I’m not sure I’d have made it through this past 6 ½ years without them. That’s how long it’s been since my wife died.

 

I’ve had several injuries through this time which may or may not be Wd related. They are all areas that were injured in the MVA. Still, I suspect that a more sensitive nervous system has added to the level of pain. I’m currently dealing with a hip injury. It’s likely this is torn cartilage and I won’t know for sure until I go in for an MRA sometime in the near future.

 

I’m able to have the occasional glass of wine, beer, or cider without any problem. I’ve used CBD oil successfully and have also used cannabis for pain in the past 7 months with the hip injury. I stick primarily to high CBD, low THC strains and have found very few problems with it. It’s the only thing I’ve used for pain during this time. It’s also helped improve sleep and mood at times.

 

My emotional life is I think for me, normal. I’ve always been sensitive and more likely to have stronger emotions than most people. I feel love, happiness, contentment, loneliness, longing, anger, sadness and everything else in the range of feelings. I very rarely suffer from the numbness I felt on the drug or what I felt at times during WD.

 

I’ve made new friends, went back to work (though I am currently not working, because the job I was doing ended), and have done a whole lot to improve my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Meditation is at the core of my life. I do 45-90 minutes a day of mindfulness and/or heart meditations. Once a week, I take a half or full day of silence—no computer, phone, or TV. I spend the time doing sitting and walking meditation or qi gong. I find this goes a very long way to maintaining emotional stability during the rest of the week. I’ve done 3 extended week-long meditation retreats at home during the past couple of years too.

 

I sleep 7-8 hours most nights, usually uninterrupted. This is actually a huge improvement for me. Prior to going on Remeron, I’d spent decades of dealing with intermittent or sometimes constant, insomnia. I feel rested the majority of time and still occasionally nap during the day, in addition to nighttime sleep.

 

I have always had a very sensitive nervous system, so have needed to be careful about over-stimulation for the majority of my life. But I no longer feel overwhelmed as I once did in WD. I can sense much earlier when I need to take a break in some way. That often prevents the kind of meltdowns I used to have-even before I took an AD. I’ve become a lot more skilled at caring for myself and actually place that at a priority, over everything else. Had I done that a lot earlier in my life, I’d have probably never ended up on medication. But at least I’ve learned it for now.

 

I still go through periods of pretty intense loneliness, but it’s not uncommon for people whose spouses have died. It’s also something I’ve been dealing with through a lot of my life. I seem to need meaning in my life more than most people. While my friends can be content with belonging to a garden or book club, that isn’t enough for me. Being able to contribute to the world in some way and have people I really deeply connect with are essential to my well-being. Sometimes those things are not so easy to find, which I believe is a major cause for the loneliness. I hope as things continue to grow and change in my external world, the intensity of feelings might lessen some.

 

I think it many ways, I’m so much stronger than I was when I began this process. I appreciate things more deeply than I used to, the small things in life. I honor my sensitivity, instead of struggling against it. I accept my quirks and idiosyncrasies more. I’m less afraid of what might be around the corner; I’ve already dealt with so much in terms of grief and WD.  I’ve become so much more determined about standing up for myself and not accepting poor behavior from others. To a huge degree, I’ve opted out of western medicine and most frequently seek out alternative medicine (which is something I’d been doing even before I started WD).

 

I hope that my story gives optimism to people who have tapered more quickly or to those earlier on in the process. It can be brutally difficult, but good things can come out of it too.

 

My intro thread can be found here: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/8459-%E2%98%BC-freespirit-mirtazapine-withdrawal/#entry144282

 

 

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apace41

This is awesome to read Free!

Congrats on your journey so far -- very inspiring!

 

Best,

 

Andy

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powerback
15 hours ago, freespirit said:

I’ve just passed the 4-year mark since I took my last dose of AD. I was on Remeron (Mirtazapine) for 10 years, including the time I was tapering. I’m a 63-year-old woman. The tapering was done before I found this site, so was faster than recommended on here. I was at 45 mg when I began the process; a dose I’d been on for about a year and a half. I was put on the drug at 7.5 mg initially and had increases as it pooped out—something I didn’t understand at the time.To repeat what’s in my signature about how I tapered: Began tapering in June 2013. Went from 45 to 30 mg in the first 3-4 months. Held for a couple of months. Started tapering by 3.75 mg every month or 2, with some longer holding periods. Eventually went down to 3.75 mg. about April 2014. Stopped taking Remeron August 2014.

 

Throughout tapering I had many of the typical symptoms: anxiety, depression, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, extreme anger, crying spells, muscle and joint pain, headaches (sometimes migraines), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, poor digestion, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, tinnitus, blurry vision, anhedonia, existential loneliness, disorientation, chills and fever, extreme blood sugar swings (I am diabetic), low energy, hives, sneezing. Most of these continued off and on after I'd jumped off as well.

 

Like many people, I felt great when I first quit the med. But within a week, I was hit hard by histamine intolerance symptoms. In a few months, when I learned what was going on, I went on a low histamine diet and gradually added a couple of supplements that helped with it—Vitamin C, Quercetin, and a simple probiotic. The diet, supplements, and continuation of the practices I’d been doing all along helped. As did some IV vitamins and the other treatments I was doing.

 

Nearly all those initial symptoms have been resolved. I still have some remnants of histamine intolerance, but am not nearly as careful with my diet as I once was. I still stay away from many high histamine foods like fish, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, dairy (except yogurt), fermented foods, pineapple, and food additives. I get hives very rarely, usually when I’ve been less careful with diet and am under stress. I don’t have any of the sneezing or nasal symptoms I once did.

 

I never kept track of my symptoms or when things got worse or better. For me, I felt that would only keep me locked into the whole process. I did my best to face whatever was happening in the moment and moved forward as I was able to.

 

My situation was complicated by a serious MVA I had in 2008 which included a brain injury. I had many of the same symptoms as WD from that accident, some of which had not resolved by the time I started tapering. I had pretty extreme light sensitivity until the past year. I can now easily be outside and even drive without sunglasses. The only exception is on cloudy bright days, where my eyes hurt if I don’t wear shades. I attribute this more to the MVA to WD, since it’s been there ever since the accident.

 

I was also still dealing with the death of my wife when I stated tapering. So, many of the emotional issues were also very much a part of the grieving process. It would be impossible for me to separate those out in terms of grief or WD.

 

Most aspects of my health have improved significantly. I lost a lot of weight and was able to get off 7 of the medications I was on. I had been taking Tylenol 3 for pain, Nasonex for allergies, 2 medications for asthma, a PPI, occasional Ativan for anxiety or insomnia, and Metformin for diabetes. The only med I currently take is Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

 

The things that helped me the most are listed in my signature: meditation, qi gong, guided imagery and hypnosis, chiropractic, massage, treatment with the naturopath (IV vitamins, homeopathy, and some bodywork), acupuncture, listening to music, being in nature and exercise—walking, swimming, and cycling. My cats provided a lot of nurturing during the process and have been able to make me laugh, even on the darkest days. I’m not sure I’d have made it through this past 6 ½ years without them. That’s how long it’s been since my wife died.

 

I’ve had several injuries through this time which may or may not be Wd related. They are all areas that were injured in the MVA. Still, I suspect that a more sensitive nervous system has added to the level of pain. I’m currently dealing with a hip injury. It’s likely this is torn cartilage and I won’t know for sure until I go in for an MRA sometime in the near future.

 

I’m able to have the occasional glass of wine, beer, or cider without any problem. I’ve used CBD oil successfully and have also used cannabis for pain in the past 7 months with the hip injury. I stick primarily to high CBD, low THC strains and have found very few problems with it. It’s the only thing I’ve used for pain during this time. It’s also helped improve sleep and mood at times.

 

My emotional life is I think for me, normal. I’ve always been sensitive and more likely to have stronger emotions than most people. I feel love, happiness, contentment, loneliness, longing, anger, sadness and everything else in the range of feelings. I very rarely suffer from the numbness I felt on the drug or what I felt at times during WD.

 

I’ve made new friends, went back to work (though I am currently not working, because the job I was doing ended), and have done a whole lot to improve my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Meditation is at the core of my life. I do 45-90 minutes a day of mindfulness and/or heart meditations. Once a week, I take a half or full day of silence—no computer, phone, or TV. I spend the time doing sitting and walking meditation or qi gong. I find this goes a very long way to maintaining emotional stability during the rest of the week. I’ve done 3 extended week-long meditation retreats at home during the past couple of years too.

 

I sleep 7-8 hours most nights, usually uninterrupted. This is actually a huge improvement for me. Prior to going on Remeron, I’d spent decades of dealing with intermittent or sometimes constant, insomnia. I feel rested the majority of time and still occasionally nap during the day, in addition to nighttime sleep.

 

I have always had a very sensitive nervous system, so have needed to be careful about over-stimulation for the majority of my life. But I no longer feel overwhelmed as I once did in WD. I can sense much earlier when I need to take a break in some way. That often prevents the kind of meltdowns I used to have-even before I took an AD. I’ve become a lot more skilled at caring for myself and actually place that at a priority, over everything else. Had I done that a lot earlier in my life, I’d have probably never ended up on medication. But at least I’ve learned it for now.

 

I still go through periods of pretty intense loneliness, but it’s not uncommon for people whose spouses have died. It’s also something I’ve been dealing with through a lot of my life. I seem to need meaning in my life more than most people. While my friends can be content with belonging to a garden or book club, that isn’t enough for me. Being able to contribute to the world in some way and have people I really deeply connect with are essential to my well-being. Sometimes those things are not so easy to find, which I believe is a major cause for the loneliness. I hope as things continue to grow and change in my external world, the intensity of feelings might lessen some.

 

I think it many ways, I’m so much stronger than I was when I began this process. I appreciate things more deeply than I used to, the small things in life. I honor my sensitivity, instead of struggling against it. I accept my quirks and idiosyncrasies more. I’m less afraid of what might be around the corner; I’ve already dealt with so much in terms of grief and WD.  I’ve become so much more determined about standing up for myself and not accepting poor behavior from others. To a huge degree, I’ve opted out of western medicine and most frequently seek out alternative medicine (which is something I’d been doing even before I started WD).

 

I hope that my story gives optimism to people who have tapered more quickly or to those earlier on in the process. It can be brutally difficult, but good things can come out of it too.

 

My intro thread can be found here: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/8459-%E2%98%BC-freespirit-mirtazapine-withdrawal/#entry144282

 

 

As I sit here tonight in a little window in touch with my good feelings listening to music  reading your beautiful post FS  .I thank you .too feel connected to a fellow human being by reading there heart and soul being poured out is just amazing and I relate to a lot you write .

IM honoured to take in your post .

Keep up your recovery and total respect to you freespirit.

 

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manymoretodays
39 minutes ago, powerback said:

Keep up your recovery and total respect to you freespirit

 

I could not have worded it better so quoted PB.

Thank you freespirit........so much....... for your success story posting.  Very helpful......and I hope you'll continue to post from time to time.  I too, benefit greatly from your spirit here among us.  Wopila.  Check out the Lakota definition of this word and way of life....... if you have a moment or two.  It speaks to me.

As tradition has it........I expect Alto will be by to close your introduction soon.

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

manymoretodays

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freespirit
2 hours ago, apace41 said:

This is awesome to read Free!

Congrats on your journey so far -- very inspiring!

 

Best,

 

Andy

Thanks Andy. I appreciate your encouragement. I've read your thread and see things are still pretty challenging for you. I'm sorry--you've had a rough go of it. At least it sounds like your sleep has settled a bit again. I know the other symptoms can be so awful, but with insomnia thrown in...well, they become even harder to cope with. Were you ever able to resolve the hip pain? I remember that was a real problem for awhile too.

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freespirit
1 hour ago, powerback said:

As I sit here tonight in a little window in touch with my good feelings listening to music  reading your beautiful post FS  .I thank you .too feel connected to a fellow human being by reading there heart and soul being poured out is just amazing and I relate to a lot you write .

IM honoured to take in your post .

Keep up your recovery and total respect to you freespirit.

 

I'm really touched by your post PB. Sounds good that you're having a small window. I see from your thread though, you're dealing with a chest infection. I hope you're able to find what you need to move through that too. I'm glad you found something in my writing to connect with. I wasn't sure there would be anything in it that others could relate to. I so often feel I'm journeying alone, not just through WD, but through life in general. Few people seem to really see me. So thanks for sharing your experience. Good Health and healing blessings to you.

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apace41
1 minute ago, freespirit said:

Were you ever able to resolve the hip pain?

 

Thanks for thinking of me, Free.  Would that I could claim miraculous healing of the hips, but, alas, they are not too good to be honest.  Very uncomfortable and painful and, more annoying, so limiting in what I can and can't do.  I'm fighting the whole idea of replacements because I want to see if there is improvement as I get lower on the meds.  

 

Anyway, thanks for asking -- I don't want to muck up your success thread!

 

Best,

 

Andy 

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freespirit
33 minutes ago, manymoretodays said:

 

I could not have worded it better so quoted PB.

Thank you freespirit........so much....... for your success story posting.  Very helpful......and I hope you'll continue to post from time to time.  I too, benefit greatly from your spirit here among us.  Wopila.  Check out the Lakota definition of this word and way of life....... if you have a moment or two.  It speaks to me.

As tradition has it........I expect Alto will be by to close your introduction soon.

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

manymoretodays

Hi Manymoretodays. I did check out Wopila--what a beautiful meaning that goes with it. I appreciate what you've shared here, as well as the many other posts over my time on SA. I hope that in some way, my journey does help someone else. For me, that goes a long way toward the suffering having been for something. It's not enough for just me to benefit from it; it really matters if there's something I can pass along.

 

I know you've been through a lot of loss over the past while, on top of the losses you were already dealing with. That kind of grief adds another dimension to the losses that come with both the drugs and WD. Seems like you're finding your way through. Sending good wishes of healing your way too. Blessings on this next phase of your journey.

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freespirit
3 minutes ago, apace41 said:

 

Thanks for thinking of me, Free.  Would that I could claim miraculous healing of the hips, but, alas, they are not too good to be honest.  Very uncomfortable and painful and, more annoying, so limiting in what I can and can't do.  I'm fighting the whole idea of replacements because I want to see if there is improvement as I get lower on the meds.  

 

Anyway, thanks for asking -- I don't want to muck up your success thread!

 

Best,

 

Andy 

I'm sorry to hear that Andy. And don't worry about answering here--I asked, because I wanted to know. I've thought of you as I've been dealing with my own hip pain. However, the specialist says my hip is "pristine" and nowhere near replacement. At the moment, I'm doing much better on that count. The last couple of acupuncture treatments, plus a visit to the chiro has really helped with the pain. It might be temporary, but I'll take it. I hope you do find some relief as you progress in other ways.

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Gridley

Thank you for a beautiful and very inspiring post.

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Centime

Beautiful post—thank you!

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freespirit

I forgot to mention and I also had many of the cognitive symptoms for a long while--memory problems, concentration, general cog fog. Things got quite a bit better when I started working again, as I had to focus, learn new computer programs, interact more with people and so on. For a long time, I'd read and not be able to remember a thing I read. Now I'm back to being able to have several different books on the go and not only remember, but take far more enjoyment from reading. Since I'm not working right now, my brain isn't as sharp as it was. But still think I'm doing okay.

 

The other thing I wanted to add was that I wish these stories were titled "recovery stories" rather than "success stories". Maybe it's just me, but it feels more realistic to assume that I'm in a recovery process, rather than having achieved some permanent state. I imagine that stress or other things could bring up some of the symptoms again. If I think of this as recovery, then it's easier to take the ups and downs in stride. Maybe just semantics, but I find choice of words can influence not only how I see things, but the emotions and thoughts that surround them.

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Shep

Freespirit, I'm drawing so much inspiration from your story.

 

Thank you for writing it. 

 

13 hours ago, freespirit said:

I forgot to mention and I also had many of the cognitive symptoms for a long while--memory problems, concentration, general cog fog. Things got quite a bit better when I started working again, as I had to focus, learn new computer programs, interact more with people and so on. For a long time, I'd read and not be able to remember a thing I read. Now I'm back to being able to have several different books on the go and not only remember, but take far more enjoyment from reading. Since I'm not working right now, my brain isn't as sharp as it was. But still think I'm doing okay.

 

This part in particular is giving me a lot of hope. 

 

I wish you even more continued healing. 

 

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freespirit
7 hours ago, Shep said:

Freespirit, I'm drawing so much inspiration from your story.

 

Thank you for writing it. 

 

 

This part in particular is giving me a lot of hope. 

 

I wish you even more continued healing. 

 

I appreciate your good wishes Shep. I'm glad there was something encouraging in here for you. Healing can take a long time, but it can and does happen. You, like everyone on here, deserve be be healthy and happy.

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Madeleine

Thank you for sharing your story. It's much appreciated.  
With very best wishes!

M.

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Ather

You have done whats impossible for some ! 

Please explain something to me you are a 63-year-old woman and your wife died ?

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freespirit
8 hours ago, Ather said:

You have done whats impossible for some ! 

Please explain something to me you are a 63-year-old woman and your wife died ?

Same-sex marriage became legal in our province in 2003 and then in all of Canada in 2005.

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