Jump to content
Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro: just looking for a little camaraderie

Recommended Posts

Kilimanjaro

I've been off sertraline (150 mg) for a little over four months now after a 1 year taper. I was white-knuckling it through all the withdrawal symptoms. A few weeks ago, I finally got to a point where things were settling down. But I was just hit with another wave of burning skin, dark thoughts, brain that feels as if the surface has been sandpapered off, and body aches. And the setback sent me here. 

 

I keep trying to figure out how to turn this experience into something positive, and the one thing that pops up is to help cheer others on as they're withdrawing. So if I can be of any help to others, I'm here.

 

I've never joined a site like this. Not sure if I'm doing it right. But I'll keep trying.

 

Good luck to everybody here. What a crazy ride, huh?

Share this post


Link to post
Gridley

Hello, Kilimanjaro, and welcome to SA.  Yes, it's a crazy ride, for sure.

 

To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly.
 
 
Please include the dates of your taper and the rate at which you tapered. Please keep your signature as simple and easy to read as possible.
 
I'm going to give you several links that explain the protocols of SA.  There's a lot of information.  Take your time reading and please don't be overwhelmed.
 
At Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.  It looks like you tapered quite a bit faster that our recommended taper, which would explain your past and present withdrawal symptoms.
 
 
To help you understand the symptoms you are experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal.  The withdrawal time doesn't necessarily correlate with the time you were on the drug.  These drugs alter the architecture of the brain, and the time necessary to heal the brain and return to homeostasis is, unfortunately, impossible to predict.  
 
 

 

When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  
 
 
Please be aware that sometime withdrawal symptoms don't appear immediately after a too-fast taper.
 
 
We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

 

 

Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.
 
While it is often a first response to stress to take a B-Complex, in withdrawal it can be overstimulating.
 
 
Many members have found the non-drug techniques in the following links helpful in dealing with withdrawal.
 
 
 
There are also many suggestions in our Symptoms and Self Care forum.
 
This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.  I hope you’ll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation.  I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but I am glad that you found us.
 

 
 
 

 
 


 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Marmot
10 hours ago, Kilimanjaro said:

I keep trying to figure out how to turn this experience into something positive, and the one thing that pops up is to help cheer others on as they're withdrawing. So if I can be of any help to others, I'm here.

 

Thanks for being here 🙂. Is there anything you do differently now that helps with your withdrawal?

 

I have also been trying to look for positives in this, and the company is definitely something that I've been clinging to. Sometimes I'm blind to positive things, at other times I can find many of them. One thing that I wonder about is whether this kind of struggle eventually makes people more insightful or aware. Sometimes though all I can see is sort of the dark humour in it all. Like, the absurdity of this whole situation is unbelievable, but somehow it happens to be real. 

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Hi Marmot!

 

Here's what I do on a daily basis to deal with withdrawal symptoms: I run 8 miles around noon, which usually gives me about 4 hours of no symptoms, sometimes more. Then I do yoga at 7 pm, which eliminates my symptoms until I go to bed. Then I listen to a meditation recording to fall asleep. This website has some great ones  https://caps.byu.edu/audio-files. I sometimes do the following "Emotional Freedom Technique" by listening to this awesome lady on youtube -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWu3rSEddZI.

 

I also switched to a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free diet. I sleep great now, and I attribute it to that. So that's one positive that's come of all this -- I never thought I could eat as healthily as I do now. But when your body/brain is so sensitive, you'll do just about anything to make it feel better!

 

I like your dark humor take on all this! I, too, am stunned by the absurdity of it all. I find it very odd that at the lowest time of my life, I went looking for help from experts in mental health, and the experts made my situation a million times worse. I don't know if you've seen French Connection 2, but there's a scene in which Gene Hackman is captured and then shot up with heroin by his captors until he gets addicted. And then he's taken off heroin as a form of torture. I kind of feel like that's what the mental health doctors did to me to help me feel better. (??!??!!) 

 

Thanks for writing back! It's fun to chat with someone else who gets it!

Share this post


Link to post
Marmot

Hey, thanks for the detailed response, it's really inspirational! It sounds like each thing you do buys you a little package of time. I find it encouraging how much work you are putting into this, and how it is getting you results.

 

I hear you on the diet thing. I have never eaten so many vegetables and healthy oils in my life. Yesterday something interesting actually happened with this. I had brought a big fresh green pepper with me in the car, but I hadn't brought a knife or anything with me to cut it with, so I had to just eat it like an apple. It felt really strange biting into something and finding it hollow in the middle. A little dissatisfying but it was still a brand new experience.

 

11 hours ago, Kilimanjaro said:

I, too, am stunned by the absurdity of it all. I find it very odd that at the lowest time of my life, I went looking for help from experts in mental health, and the experts made my situation a million times worse. I don't know if you've seen French Connection 2, but there's a scene in which Gene Hackman is captured and then shot up with heroin by his captors until he gets addicted. And then he's taken off heroin as a form of torture. I kind of feel like that's what the mental health doctors did to me to help me feel better. (??!??!!) 

 

Haha, I haven't watched French Connection 2, but I can definitely recognise that! Also, I still don't know why the system doesn't work the way it doesn't work. Did he ever get through the heroin withdrawal intact? Oh, I really hope so now! A few times in 2017 I found myself thinking back, like, "what bad thing did I do to deserve this mess?" As if the medicating and withdrawing have been a natural punishment for some remote mistake which is now lost in the depths of my memories. Haha, that doesn't make any sense. It's just how certain people or certain parts of the system operate. The same medication thing kept happening to me by different doctors each time I moved or changed providers. Hoping to be done with it this time.

 

Keep on truckin'

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Love your green pepper story! I'm going to look for little gems like this in my life. :)

 

Sucks to hear that different doctors kept giving you meds. I wonder when the doctors will start to recognize that all these medications are nearly killing their patients. You'd think they'd be clued in by now...

 

I, too, have had the "what did I do to deserve this?" thoughts. I've decided that I'm going through a transformation like a superhero goes through -- it's super-painful while you're transitioning, but after you're done, you are AWESOME.

 

Good luck with your tapering. Here are a few other things that keep me uplifted while transitioning to superhero status -- I now feel emotions that I haven't felt in years. Beautiful music makes me cry -- which was rarely true before. I can get lost in thought now, which is really fun. That also hasn't happened for me in years. When I surface from a bad spell, I get the overwhelming feeling that I love everybody on the planet, which is blissful. I seem to get equal-sized ups to balance out the downs.

 

Hope you're getting a lot of ups too!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Marmot
On 8/14/2018 at 10:45 AM, Kilimanjaro said:

Sucks to hear that different doctors kept giving you meds. I wonder when the doctors will start to recognize that all these medications are nearly killing their patients. You'd think they'd be clued in by now...

 

I, too, have had the "what did I do to deserve this?" thoughts. I've decided that I'm going through a transformation like a superhero goes through -- it's super-painful while you're transitioning, but after you're done, you are AWESOME.

 

Good luck with your tapering. Here are a few other things that keep me uplifted while transitioning to superhero status -- I now feel emotions that I haven't felt in years. Beautiful music makes me cry -- which was rarely true before. I can get lost in thought now, which is really fun. That also hasn't happened for me in years. When I surface from a bad spell, I get the overwhelming feeling that I love everybody on the planet, which is blissful. I seem to get equal-sized ups to balance out the downs.

 

Hope you're getting a lot of ups too!

 

Ya I have no idea why they haven't clued in yet. I actually wonder about that a lot. 

 

I really like your superhero transition analogy. I do know what you mean with the love and the crying and the getting lost in thought. Did your imagination and creativity also disappear and then come back? 

 

I'm still working towards finding a superhero inside of me. For now the main superpower that I have experienced was the "fountain of eternal youth". Being drugged for my formative years did that to me, and it was not a good thing. Haha. I am maturing now though, it's actually happening at a really rapid rate, so maybe after I catch-up it will keep going and I'll have the superpower of wisdom. 

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro
On 8/19/2018 at 7:35 PM, Marmot said:

Did your imagination and creativity also disappear and then come back? 

I don't know that my creativity disappeared, but I do know that my interest in my writing disappeared. (I write for a living.) I had a hard time sticking with my work, because it bored me, or because I couldn't get lost in thought -- not sure which. I now notice that I'm a lot quicker mentally. I don't struggle to find words; I can even figure out what other people are trying to say when they can't find the words. Oddly, I my head still hurts most of the time (feels like my brain is being squeezed and/or is marinating in acid), and yet my mind is quicker than it's been in years.

 

I see you've been taking on tapering like a boss! I hope your next round goes well. I'm at a point where I'm clearly starting to feel better, but all my emotions are EXTREME. I feel overwhelming amounts of shame, in particular, which is about as fun as it sounds. Still looking for the silver lining in that one...

 

Take care and keep up the great work!!

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat
37 minutes ago, Kilimanjaro said:

Does anyone know if there are in-person support groups in the Los Angeles area for people dealing with antidepressant withdrawal? If not, has anyone started a support group in their area? And if so, how did they go about doing it?

 

Thanks!

 

I've moved your post to this topic:

 

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/6631-peer-support-meet-up-groups/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Are people actually recovering after they taper? I know it can take years, but I assumed the likelihood of full recovery was extremely high. 

Share this post


Link to post
bubbles

I think so. Not everything is going to be sunshine and roses afterward of course - life isn't like that, and we all have ups and downs. But I do think that people can and do recover.

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Thanks, Bubbles and ChessieCat!  Knowing that recovery is the usual outcome makes a HUGE difference.

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat

Glad it helped.

 

It would be appreciated if you simplified your drug signature.  The mods like to be able to glance at the drug signature to see a member's drug history, not have to read through a story.  The information currently in your signature can be copied and pasted here in your Intro topic before changing it.

 

No symptoms or diagnoses please.  We need details for the last 2 years - drugs, dates, doses.

 

Anything older can just be drugs and years.

 

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Got it! Hopefully this is better.

Share this post


Link to post
TikkiTikki

Hi Kilimanjaro!

What a cheery thread title, welcome and hello. I've been on and off SA for a year or so now and really value being able to talk to people who understand.

 

I hear you on the positive changes with tapering/withdrawal – I"m slowly waking and feeling and thinking things that have been muted for so long. And the ADs treated me pretty well, by comparison to some. What I most value is a feeling of being closer to myself – like, making decisions is easier and just moving through the world. I think for a long time I felt a bit sort of hollow, or faded, or something. I wasn't happy but I didn't know what would make me happy, because I wasn't connected inside. Just going through the motions. I certainly don't have it all figured out yet, but I feel like now I have a decent chance because my emotional 'metering system' is working again.

 

 

On 8/15/2018 at 12:45 AM, Kilimanjaro said:

 

Good luck with your tapering. Here are a few other things that keep me uplifted while transitioning to superhero status -- I now feel emotions that I haven't felt in years. Beautiful music makes me cry -- which was rarely true before. I can get lost in thought now, which is really fun. That also hasn't happened for me in years. When I surface from a bad spell, I get the overwhelming feeling that I love everybody on the planet, which is blissful. I seem to get equal-sized ups to balance out the downs.

 

 

Beautifully put – I feel all of this too. What do you write, by the way? I do a bit of writing myself.

 

Thank you for bringing such upbeat and friendly energy to the forums, K.

 

Best, Tikki

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Hi TikkiTikki (best name ever...)!

 

I love your description of how it feels to be on these drugs. When you don't feel ups or downs, life becomes weirdly confusing. I see how blunting your emotions may be helpful for a few months, when you're in a crisis; but in the long run, it really messes you up. It seems to me that doctors should look at antidepressants as a spare tire -- use it for emergencies, but get off it as soon as possible. Recommending people stay on the spare tire for life seems crazy.

 

I write screenplays. What about you?  I also see that you're in Australia! I lived on the west coast of Australia for a while, doing behavioral research on the dolphins there. I found Australians to be wonderful people! I would go jogging daily, and everyone I encountered stopped to ask me if I wanted a ride. Totally cracked me up.

 

Good luck with your taper! So great that you're staying focused on the good that comes out of all this. It's easy to forget when the withdrawal symptoms are so excruciating. 

Share this post


Link to post
TikkiTikki

Hey K,

 

Thanks! I think I was reading my son that 'Tikki Tikki Tembo no sa rembo sar sari pip cirri pembo' book – the Chinese fable about the two sons – when I first posted and that was what came to mind!

 

I grew up on the West coast, in Perth. All my family still there. Were you up further, near Monkey Mia or somewhere like that?

 

5 hours ago, Kilimanjaro said:

 

I When you don't feel ups or downs, life becomes weirdly confusing. I see how blunting your emotions may be helpful for a few months, when you're in a crisis; but in the long run, it really messes you up. It seems to me that doctors should look at antidepressants as a spare tire -- use it for emergencies, but get off it as soon as possible. Recommending people stay on the spare tire for life seems crazy.

 

 

I think this is exactly it. I was posting in another thread about whether ADs work, and I have to still say, they really do. In my case at least, and on a very profound, physical level. But I've been on them for over 12 years now, with two failed tapers that sent me running back with my tail between my legs, branded "relapse" by my doctors. When I found this site, it was life-changing. I could see I wasn't mentally 'broken' or defective, just needed some short-term help when life circumstances got overwhelming.

 

And the blunted thing ... it can be so subtle. You can't say you feel terrible, and yet ... Doctors would say, "well, you've had children now, people change, life changes, different priorities" etc and I'd despair that this lacklustre, shrug-shouldered person was just the 'real' me. That this was life now. I just couldn't seem to connect to my intrinsic motivation, or intrinsic desires, and could see myself just following the herd, and feeling more and more disconnected.

 

There's a new withdrawal site called Inner Compass, and I think that hits the nail on the head. Beyond the awful withdrawal effects some people have to suffer through, the journey off meds can be seen as a process of finding, following and strengthening your inner compass.

 

Hope you have a lovely day! (or evening I guess in LA).

 

T

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro
16 hours ago, TikkiTikki said:

I could see I wasn't mentally 'broken' or defective, just needed some short-term help when life circumstances got overwhelming.

 

Oooh, I wish doctors would phrase it that way! So much healthier and so much more accurate than "you have a mental health disorder and need powerful drugs immediately."

 

I was in Monkey Mia! Have you visited? That place is fantastic! 

 

So glad to hear that doctors didn't convince you that your disconnected, blunted existence was the best you could hope for. They can be very convincing, with all their medical degrees hanging on their walls. You are one strong, brave person to see past all that!

 

Very excited to check out "Inner Compass"! That sounds like the perfect site to me.

 

Stay strong!! Sounds like you're doing phenomenal!

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

I've been off Zoloft for 6.5 months now. My symptoms seemed to be lessening over the first six months, but now I'm so overwhelmed by them, I have trouble figuring out how I'm going to get through one more day of them. The most disturbing symptom is the one which makes me feel like I'm crawling the walls -- which I assume is akathisia. This symptom went away for awhile, but now it's back with a vengeance. On the plus side, I had a day recently during which I felt almost completely normal (except for the constant pounding of blood in my head and back.)

 

I read that reinstating after one month is a crap shoot. Any advice on what you'd do in my situation?

 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat

Unfortunately we can't make the decision for you.

 

The fact that the symptoms go away again is a good sign:

 

On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

 

If you do decide to try reinstatement, it is best to start with a tester dose just to see how you react.  Even starting with 0.25mg or 0.5mg.  These drugs are strong.  You would need to keep daily symptom notes to help you see how you react.  You might find that the tester dose is all you need.  However, if things go okay with the tester dose but the symptoms don't lessen you could then increase by another tiny amount.  Please read Post #1:  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Another option:

 

Have you tried magnesium?  Omega 3?

 

I have found that taking magnesium takes the edge off my anxiety.  There have been several times I have stopped taking it and then restarted it and have noticed the difference every time.

 

Only make one change at a time:  Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable  Try a small dose, one at a time to see how you react.

 

Magnesium

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Thank you so much for this!

 

I've been taking magnesium citrate for a thyroid issue -- I didn't realize it would help with anxiety. I'll make sure I take it religiously.

 

I'll consider the tester dose. I wonder why I was never given a tester dose when I was first put on these medications. That seems like such a saner way to go about this process!

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat

Magnesium works better for anxiety if you take it throughout the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Ah.... good to know. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Marmot

Hey how's it going these days? Sorry to hear you've been having a wave, hope it's easing up a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Kilimanjaro

Hey Marmot,

 

Thanks for checking in. I've had some downright horrific days over the past few months. All throughout my tapering and withdrawal, I've been sticking to a schedule that was very similar to my pre-tapering and withdrawal schedule, and I'm now realizing that it's putting me through too much pain. It's hard to accept that I need to make some big changes, but I'm ready to do pretty much anything that reduces my symptoms. I allowed myself to lie down for an hour in the middle of the day yesterday -- something I never do -- and it made a world of difference.

 

How are you doing? It looks like you're making slow, steady progress. If only everyone knew to do what you're doing!

 

Again, thanks for checking in on me. I really appreciate it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Marmot
On 10/29/2018 at 11:04 AM, Kilimanjaro said:

I allowed myself to lie down for an hour in the middle of the day yesterday -- something I never do -- and it made a world of difference.

 

Naps are so awesome, underrated. Glad to hear you're letting yourself rest. Withdrawal taught me to be more gentle with myself too. 

 

On 10/29/2018 at 11:04 AM, Kilimanjaro said:

How are you doing? It looks like you're making slow, steady progress. 

 

Struggled more recently after the dosage drop, but managing okay overall. 

Share this post


Link to post
composter

Hi @Kilimanjaro, I found your thread through the "California members" thread. I also live in the LA area. If you're open to meeting up or even just talking on the phone, I'm available! You can send me a message.

 

I'm sorry to hear that you've had some really difficult days lately. I definitely echo the advice to be easy on yourself and adjust your schedule/demands in a way that can minimize stress. It sounds like you've done an amazing job finding tools that can allow you to cope, like meditation and diet. These are also helpful tools for me. In the worst of my withdrawal, I took some pride in the fact that I was still keeping up my healthy habits (they were ingrained), like eating properly (gluten and dairy-free in my case), journaling, and even flossing. It is immensely reassuring to know that good habits like these can serve as a rock during times of suffering. But also very important to know that in the worst of withdrawal, sometimes usual coping tools might not do much at all. In those times I simply have learned to sit and breathe. 

Share this post


Link to post
composter

Hi @Kilimanjaro I'm thinking and praying about you and hoping the best for you! Would love to hear an update when you get a chance. You have been so strong and compassionate despite the very difficult nature of your withdrawal. Be well my friend.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×