Jump to content
Iowan

Iowan: Lexapro / escitalopram taper, need help and support, reassurance

Recommended Posts

Iowan

I’m a man in my early 40’s. I grew up an athlete and all around good kid. I learned how to drink in my late teens within the binge drinking culture, and continued to binge drink from probably late 17 to early 40. I could rarely drink casually. I wanted to drink to feel good. I wanted to drink to get drunk. For years, I would binge maybe once or twice a week, as I was poor and still pretty physically fit. Not every day, but toward the end, I was drinking pretty much every day. I drank all through my time on SSRI’s as well. I absolutely CRAVED alcohol when I was on Lexapro. Outside of alcohol, I smoked some pot a handful of times in my late teens and early 20's, but that was a short lived phase.

 

Around 1999, (I was in my early to mid 20’s), my Dr. put me on Paxil. I was suffering some depression following a relationship breakup. I can't recall much about it, other than I wasn't on it for long. I gained a bunch of weight and didn't think it was doing much for me. He had me quit cold turkey, and I don't believe I had many, if any withdrawal symptoms. In 2001, I got engaged to my now wife, Kim, and had some pretty major obsessive and anger issues. I was drinking more regularly at this time and I'd carried baggage into our relationship. When we would argue or fight, I'd get all wound up and become fixated on things that I couldn't let go of. I'd drive them into the ground and keep on driving them. My Dr. suggested Celexa. He either started me on 10 or 20mg, not sure. It seemed to work. In 2002-2004, a friend of mine was on Celexa too, and was switched to Lexapro because it supposedly had more of what we needed and less of what we didn't. I asked my Dr. if I could make the switch too and he switched me to Lexapro, 20mg. I tried a handful of times over the years to come off, but would become a wreck. I didn't know any better, so I tried cold turkey the first few times. Every time, I went back on. Dr's would ask me why I was trying to stop taking it and tell me that it was like a vitamin for some people, that I just needed to take it. Like a diabetic needs insulin, I had a deficiency and I needed my Lexapro, is what they'd tell me.

 

I heard along the way that SSRI's should be tapered off of, not quit cold turkey. Somewhere in there, within the last 5 to 7 years, I went from 20mg to 10mg, by biting my pills in half. I didn't suffer too much, so I stayed at 10mg. 2013-2014, I took on a big home addition project that put me under an immense amount of stress. I was drinking heavily, and pretty much daily. When it came to an end, I decided to clean up my act. I had tried to stop drinking several times over the years, but couldn't. I went to AA meetings, but thought that 'Those People' had some serious problems, I just drank too much. In the summer of 2015, I missed a few days of my Lexapro for whatever reason, so when I started taking it again, I bit my pills in quarters and only took 5mg. I did this for a month or two and then went to zero. I felt weepy and cried from time to time and thought I was having a heart attack one day after drinking a couple of energy drinks and getting my skidloader stuck in a creek behind my house. I came inside and sat down. The feeling passed in time and I continued on. Late October of 2015, I got really drunk at a bonfire that we had for our kids birthdays. We had taken on new friends from church and homeschooling stuff, and they all looked at me like I was the odd ball. It was a party, and I was there to party.

 

That night, I was SO sick. I slept beside the toilet on the cold tile floor. The next day or two were Hell. I got on my hands and knees and begged Jesus to take the burden of my drinking away. I'd never prayed so hard in my life. Something happened. Something changed in me. Jesus Christ answered my prayers. I completely lost my desire to binge drink. So, I quit drinking. Just after Christmas 2015, I had my 1st 'Episode'. I was stressed out about everything. I had been a complete ******* recently. Before bed one night, I was bawling because I thought we were ruining one of our sons by the way we were treating him. Yelling, and such. When I tried to go to sleep, as I'd drift off, my whole body would jolt like I was getting struck by lightning. My brain and body would jump into fight of flight mode. I was having extreme abstract intrusive thoughts and my anxiety was off the charts. I didn't know what was going on and could not get any sleep. I thought I was suffering alcohol withdrawal, or even PTSD from the home project, but I couldn't find anything on jolts and alcohol withdrawal or PTSD on the Internet. Whatever it was, I was in total mania and panic.

 

3 days and nights of this and I started having my first ever suicidal ideations, so I checked myself into the hospital. I was SO scared!!! I was there through the 2016 New Year, and given an Ambien the last night I was there. I actually slept!!! I met with a psychiatrist, therapist and my DO Dr. regularly afterward. The psych started me out on Prozac and something else that acts as a helper. Maybe Wellbutrin? I didn't like how they made me feel, so I asked to be put back on Lexapro because I knew it had worked for me before. He switched me to  Lexapro, wanting me to take 20mg, but I only took 10mg because I knew I eventually wanted to get completely off the stuff. After a while, I leveled out and felt good again. I still wasn't binge drinking, but I could and would have a beer or two occasionally because I wanted the taste, not because I wanted the buzz. I had maybe 5 beers in that first year, total. Zero hard alcohol. And about the same for the next 2 years following. I can actually have a beer or two casually and not want to binge. Right now though, I am not drinking a drop of alcohol.

 

The summer of 2018, I've really cleaned up my act. I'm back in the gym regularly, eating pretty darn healthy, not drinking and feeling pretty darn good. My 25 year class reunion was coming up in June and I got stressed or felt weird about it for whatever reason. A couple of days out from it, and I had my 2nd 'Episode'. Not quite as bad as the 1st, but pretty darn bad. Since my 1st, I had determined that it was more due to SSRI withdrawal than it was alcohol withdrawal or PTSD, so I couldn't figure this 2nd one out. I was on a steady dose of Lexapro 10mg a day and took it like clockwork. I weathered the storm that lasted about 7 days. It was almost identical to my 1st, except the brain/body jolts weren't quite as bad.

 

I started working with a Naturopathic Dr. that has been treating our son for a few years. My Naturopathic Dr. started me on a remedy of arsenicum album and a bunch of vitamins and probiotic. I told her that one of my goals was to get completely off of Lexapro. About a month into treatment, I'd leveled out and met with my Dr. again. She asked if I still wanted to quit Lexapro and I said yes. So in July 2018, I started splitting my pills again and went from 10mg to 5mg. THIS WAS A MISTAKE!!! It was too much, too quickly. I had my 3rd 'Episode' in July or August. I had my 4th 'Episode' in mid-October. My 5th in November (Thanksgiving), and now my 6th over Christmas. They still last about 7 days, but they're getting closer together and I'm not fully recovering from the last one before I roll into the next one. I'm still on 5mg of Lexapro (but full 5mg pills now) and all of my vitamins, probiotic, and my remedy from my Naturopathic Dr. I've lost a ton of weight that yo-yo's between when I'm doing well and not doing well.

 

When I'm in the throes of an 'Episode' I completely lose my appetite. I have to force feed myself. I wake up around 3:30 with my first jolt or adrenaline rush and extreme anxiety, unable to go back to sleep due to other jolts and abstract intrusive thoughts and extreme anxiety. I go to suicidal thoughts pretty quickly now because I'm exhausted from all of this and am going quite mad. I am completely restless and go from pacing the floors to crying and praying to God, to hugging and telling my wife how scared I am and how much I love her. I LOVE God and my family and do NOT want to kill myself. It is sickening to know how suicidal I am feeling.

 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
removed mod note and edited last sentence

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

My DO Dr. has recently prescribed me an increase to 7.5mg of Lexapro and part of me wants to increase my dosage in order to level out and then continue tapering down much slower, but a different Lexapro withdrawal group has put the fear of God into me about doing this, so I'm on the fence about it. What are the expert opinions of this group? Is there any real danger associated with me increasing from 5mg to 7.5mg in an attempt to level out?

 

My DO Dr. has prescribed me Ambien for sleep and both Valium and now Klonopin for anxiety. I have taken Ambien and Valium in the past, extremely sparingly, and ONLY when I absolutely needed them. I have not yet taken any Klonopin. A different Lexapro withdrawal group has put the fear of God into me about taking any of these medications. So, I am suffering through my week long Hellish episodes, with medicine on-hand and choosing not to take them completely out of fear of what they may do to me, on top of what I'm already suffering through. I don't consider myself a pill popper, but this seems insane to me. What are the expert opinions of this group? Can I take these things when I absolutely need them, or will they screw me up even more?

 

I've also been told by one of my Dr's that I need to begin practicing a full blown vegan diet. No meat, dairy, grains, sugars or stimulants. This is the only way I'm going to recover. (Another Dr. of mine disagrees with this because animal sources contain essential fatty acids and B12 that are not found in vegan foods, and these nutrients are essential for brain healing and optimal health.) Both of these Dr's believes I am hypoglycemic and that's what is causing my adrenaline rushes and panic attacks at 3:30 AM when I'm in the throes of my bad waves / episodes. (My DO Dr. disagrees with this.) I ordered a glucose meter and will test my blood sugar levels throughout my next episode, so that should prove hypoglycemia one way or the other. All of my annual physical blood panels have shown my blood sugar levels are fine, and I have to fast for them, so I'm doubtful I'm hypoglycemic. Plus, I don't suffer with these things throughout the entire day, just the early morning hours of a few days in the middle of my episodes. What does this group think about the suggestion of going full blown vegan and the possibility of me being hypoglycemic?

 

One of my Dr's told me that if I stay on the current course that I'm on, remaining at 5mg of Lexapro, with clean diet, exercise, vitamins and probiotic, etc. my waves/episodes will continue to get closer and closer together until they overlap and are continuous, placing me in a permanent state of psychosis. My DO Dr. told me that some studies have shown prolonged exposure to SSRI's makes permanent physical changes to the brain. My Naturopathic Dr. disagrees with both of these. What are the thoughts of the group about these?

 

I've received so much conflicting information, that I don't know what I should listen to and follow, and what I should discard. It is SO frustrating!!! I guess what it all comes down to is that I need to believe / know that I am not permanently screwed and it is possible for me to recover. Once I get that, I then need to know what I need to do, and what I can and cannot do. I don't want to become a vegan, but I will if it's the only thing that works... I know I'm far from the first person that's gone through this. I'm looking to you all for your expert input, because you've been there, done that. Thanks in advance, Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
Shep

Hi, Iowan.

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants. 

 

Here is some basic information on withdrawal:

 

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Healing from antidepressants. Patterns of recovery video (4 minutes)

 

On 12/28/2018 at 12:38 PM, Iowan said:

I started working with a Naturopathic Dr. that has been treating our son for a few years. My Naturopathic Dr. started me on a remedy of arsenicum album and a bunch of vitamins and probiotic.

 

Please note that a lot of members are very sensitive to supplements while going through psychiatric drugs withdrawal. We don't recommend a lot of supplements, as many members report their nervous systems are simply too fragile to handle them. However, magnesium and fish oil tend to be calming to the nervous system and many people report they do help. Please only add in one supplement at a time and at a small dose. For more, please see:

 

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

It's best to keep things simple:

 

The rule of 3KIS: Keep it simple. Keep it slow. Keep it stable.

 

The more variables you throw into the mix, the more difficult your taper will be. 

 

Please add your supplements to your signature, including the dates.  A direct link is here:

 

Account - Settings - Create or Edit Your Signature

 

On 12/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, Iowan said:

My DO Dr. has recently prescribed me an increase to 7.5mg of Lexapro and part of me wants to increase my dosage in order to level out and then continue tapering down much slower, but a different Lexapro withdrawal group has put the fear of God into me about doing this, so I'm on the fence about it. What are the expert opinions of this group? Is there any real danger associated with me increasing from 5mg to 7.5mg in an attempt to level out?

 

From your signature, it looks like you went down to 5 mg in July 2018. Is that correct?  If so, it's been 6 months, so going back up by 50% of your current dose may be too much.

 

This thread is on reinstating, but the concepts are similar for updosing:

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

On 10/8/2012 at 7:17 PM, Altostrata said:

When reinstating, start low to see what you need. You can always increase if necessary. If you've been off the drug for a month or more, many people can find some relief from antidepressant withdrawal symptoms by reinstating as little as 0.5mg-5mg. Do not start at a high dose, your nervous system has been sensitized by withdrawal and you may make it worse -- see a fuller explanation below.

 

Please read the first post of that thread, as the concepts of reinstating are transferable to updosing.

 

Please do not make any changes, yet. We need to get more information, such as your supplements, before giving detailed advice.

 

On 12/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, Iowan said:

My DO Dr. has prescribed me Ambien for sleep and both Valium and now Klonopin for anxiety. I have taken Ambien and Valium in the past, extremely sparingly, and ONLY when I absolutely needed them. I have not yet taken any Klonopin. A different Lexapro withdrawal group has put the fear of God into me about taking any of these medications. So, I am suffering through my week long Hellish episodes, with medicine on-hand and choosing not to take them completely out of fear of what they may do to me, on top of what I'm already suffering through. I don't consider myself a pill popper, but this seems insane to me. What are the expert opinions of this group? Can I take these things when I absolutely need them, or will they screw me up even more?

 

You can become dependent on a benzo in as little as 2 - 4 weeks. The same is true for Ambien, which is sometimes referred to on the forum as a "z-drug". 

 

We don't advise using any "helper" type of drugs. Also, because of your history of binge drinking, I would avoid benzos and z-drugs. Alcohol, benzos, and z-drugs all affect GABA. Dr. David Healy, an expert on withdrawal sometimes refers to benzos as "alcohol in a pill". Some of the people who have the hardest time coming off these drugs have histories of binge drinking, so I would advise being very wary of these drugs and protect your nervous system, GABA receptors, and overall recovery by avoiding them.

 

That being said, if you need a benzo to prevent going into a crisis state (and into a hospital), you could take one or two, but I would limit it to 3 or 4 days and then work with non-drug coping skills going forward. For more, please see:

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Breathing techniques, gentle yoga, learning the art of distraction, etc. can all set you on the right course.  

 

SSRIs can been implicated in increasing not only the use of benzos, but also of alcohol. 

 

Driven To Drink: Antidepressants and Cravings for Alcohol

 

New onset alcohol dependence linked to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

 

On 12/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, Iowan said:

I've also been told by one of my Dr's that I need to begin practicing a full blown vegan diet. No meat, dairy, grains, sugars or stimulants. This is the only way I'm going to recover. (Another Dr. of mine disagrees with this because animal sources contain essential fatty acids and B12 that are not found in vegan foods, and these nutrients are essential for brain healing and optimal health.)

 

Please research this before making any drastic dietary changes.

 

This is a post I wrote when I switched from being a vegetarian to eating fish and then to adding in red meat, as well:

 

A vegetarian diet during withdrawal - Shep's response

 

I can only speak to my own experience that eating animal sources has really made a positive difference in my own recovery and I don't regret ending my vegetarianism, even after 30 years. 

 

Please do your own research before making a radical change in your diet. These links will get you started:

 

Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

 

Red Meat for Your Depression

 

On 12/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, Iowan said:

Both of these Dr's believes I am hypoglycemic and that's what is causing my adrenaline rushes and panic attacks at 3:30 AM when I'm in the throes of my bad waves / episodes. (My DO Dr. disagrees with this.) I ordered a glucose meter and will test my blood sugar levels throughout my next episode, so that should prove hypoglycemia one way or the other. All of my annual physical blood panels have shown my blood sugar levels are fine, and I have to fast for them, so I'm doubtful I'm hypoglycemic. Plus, I don't suffer with these things throughout the entire day, just the early morning hours of a few days in the middle of my episodes. What does this group think about the suggestion of going full blown vegan and the possibility of me being hypoglycemic?

 

You may want to try a low blood sugar diet. Many people going through withdrawal have sudden drops in blood sugar, so we recommend this type of diet regardless if you had pre-existing blood sugar problems. It's such a healthy diet, there's no reason not to give it a go. Here's some information:

 

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) diet

 

Suggested meal plan - hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) diet

 

Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day - full of protein and low in sugar - can really help keep your blood sugar steady. Keep in mind that there's a form of low-blood sugar that's called Reactive Hypolgycemia (low blood sugar). This occurs within a few hours of eating, so that may not show up a regular test where you've been fasting all night. As that link suggests, eating smaller meals low in sugar throughout the day can help. Definitely worth a try.

 

Also, waking up with an adrenaline rush at 3:30 AM is very common. Please see:

 

Waking with panic or anxiety - managing cortisol spikes

 

That thread gives some great advise such as sleeping with a mask or using shades that block out early morning light. 

 

On 12/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, Iowan said:

One of my Dr's told me that if I stay on the current course that I'm on, remaining at 5mg of Lexapro, with clean diet, exercise, vitamins and probiotic, etc. my waves/episodes will continue to get closer and closer together until they overlap and are continuous, placing me in a permanent state of psychosis. My DO Dr. told me that some studies have shown prolonged exposure to SSRI's makes permanent physical changes to the brain. My Naturopathic Dr. disagrees with both of these. What are the thoughts of the group about these?

 

This is likely in reference to the concept of the way antidepressants can make a singular episode of depression into a chronic life-long illness. 

 

Now Antidepressant-Induced Chronic Depression Has a Name: Tardive Dysphoria

 

However, we try to limit discussions of anything labeled "permanent". Have your doctors heard of neuroplasticity? 

 

Neuroplasticity video (2 minutes)

 

Healing from antidepressants: The power of neuroplasticity video (7.5 minutes)

 

Doctors have no idea how the brain works. That's why we're all in this mess. There's absolutely no reason to believe you won't recover and go onto have a great life ahead of you. If in doubt, please see:

 

Success stories: Recovery from withdrawal

 

Please let us now more about your supplement use (the names and the dates you started) and also, the date you reduced down to 5 mg of Lexapro. Then we can better answer your questions about a specific amount of Lexapro to updose. I would concentrate on a Lexapro updose rather than adding in drugs like Ambien and Klonopin. 

 

Please use this thread to document your taper and to ask plenty of questions. 

Edited by Shep
added another link

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata

Welcome, Iowan.

 

With your history of heavy drinking, have you had any recent blood tests for kidney, liver, and thyroid function? That might be good to have.

 

On 12/28/2018 at 10:23 AM, Iowan said:

One of my Dr's told me that if I stay on the current course that I'm on, remaining at 5mg of Lexapro, with clean diet, exercise, vitamins and probiotic, etc. my waves/episodes will continue to get closer and closer together until they overlap and are continuous, placing me in a permanent state of psychosis. My DO Dr. told me that some studies have shown prolonged exposure to SSRI's makes permanent physical changes to the brain. My Naturopathic Dr. disagrees with both of these. What are the thoughts of the group about these?

 

Expressing an opinion based on conventional psychiatry, the first doctor has misintepreted your drug-related "episodes," as chronic "depression." The second doctor has not included neurological plasticity in his thinking; the brain is constantly changing and adapting.  If your naturopath thinks the human body has amazing healing capabilities if you leave it alone, he's probably closest.

 

What we've seen is that when people have gone on and off psychiatric drugs, nervous systems become sensitized and react in odd ways to all kinds of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and sometimes supplements and even foods. If you have kidney or liver damage from alcohol, your body could be even more sensitized.

 

We counsel people to be very careful about drug dosing, too much Lexapro could make you feel much worse.  It could be that 5mg will work for you, but you'll have to be patient and let your nervous system settle down.

 

What exactly is your daily drug schedule? Are your symptoms better or worse at a particular time of day? What is your sleep pattern?

 

How long have you been taking 5mg Lexapro consistently, this last time around?

 

How often are you taking a benzo or sleep drug?

 

Are you taking fish oil and magnesium supplements, see
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/

http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

A lot of people find them helpful. Try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

Thank you for all of your feedback Shep. I am still going through all of it. Lots of great info...

 

Thank you for your feedback as well Altostrata. I had an annual physical, probably around 8 to 10 years ago, that produced blood test results indicating that I had a fatty liver. I wasn't taking very good care of myself at that time, drinking excessively, eating lots of fast food, poor sleep, high stress, low exercise, etc. That was the one and only time I've ever received any negative test result when it comes to any of these things. Since I stopped drinking in late 2015, and cleaned up my act in general, all of my numbers have improved. All three, kidney, liver and thyroid are all functioning well and healthy. At my last physical on 6/27/18, my Thyroid Peroxidase was good at 12 IU/mL. My LDL Cholesterol was still a touch high and my Vitamin D was a touch low. I continue to improve my dietary intake, am exercising more, and am loosing weight due to the Lexapro withdrawal I'm going through, so I imagine my LDL will continue to improve over the next few years. I am taking Vitamin D, per recommendation of my Naturopathic Dr., so that should be good now too.

 

I received my glucose meter on Saturday and started testing my blood on Sunday. Below are the results I've gotten so far. I threw in the first 2 results from a couple of annual physical reports that I have on file. I'm guessing that my personal glucose meter isn't 100% accurate, which is probably why my fasting / before breakfast #'s are a bit higher than my fasting #'s from my physicals, but from what I've read, no meters are 100% accurate and have an allowable inaccuracy tolerance of something like 20%. I'll make sure to personally test my blood directly before and after my next physical in 2019, to compare those results to the #'s that my physical blood panel provides.

 

10/21/2015    0:00 AM      84    Fasted - Physical

06/27/2018    0:00 AM      85    Fasted - Physical

12/30/2018    8:30 AM    115    Before breakfast

12/30/2018    2:40 PM    111    2 hours after lunch

12/31/2018    9:40 AM    108    Before breakfast

 

I will continue to test my blood sugar, especially in and around my full blown 'Episodes', to see if I am hypoglycemic. I'm not 100% recovered from my last one yet, and my #'s are pretty good and steady so far, so I'm interested to see what my #'s will look like when I'm enduring an 'Episode'.

 

Below is the list of medications, remedies, vitamins and supplements that I take daily:

1 daily (5 mg)  /  SSRI  /  Escitalopram Oxalate 5 mg

2 daily (larger pellets)  /  Remedy  /  Arsenicum album 50M

2 daily (2,000 mg)  /  Omega-3 Fatty Acid  /  Nordic Naturals ProOmega 1000mg Soft Gels

1 daily (5,000 IU)  /  Vitamin D3  /  Gigavite - Vitamin D3 5000 IU - High Potency - 360 Softgels

1 daily  /  Probiotic  /  Nexabiotic Advanced Probiotics and Prebiotics

1 daily (50 mg)  /  Zinc  /  Best Naturals Zinc 50 mg

1 daily (500 mg)  /  Magnesium  /  Advanced Research Magnesium Orotate 500 mg

1 daily (400 mcg)  /  Methylated Folate  /  Solgar Folate (as Metafolin)

1 daily  /  B Complex  /  Freeda Kosher B Complex - No Folic No Paba

 

I have only taken Valium and Ambien within a handful of my full blown 'Episodes', but only in an attempt to sleep. Within a typical 7 day 'Episode', I may take 1 Ambien a night for 1, 2, or 3 nights, and 1 Valium maybe 1 or 2 nights. I do not touch these when I'm not in the throes of an 'Episode' and in desperate need of sleep. I have never touched these, or anything like them, outside of going through this Lexapro withdrawal. I have not taken a single Klonopin and don't intend to. Another Lexapro Withdrawal support group that I'm a member of has recently put the fear of God into me about using any of these at all, so I didn't take anything during my 2nd from last 'Episode' and I only took 1 Valium  during my last 'Episode', that only bought me an hour of sleep, and I woke up feeling worse. So, I probably won't be taking any of these throughout any of my future 'Episodes' either. I'll just suffer through them, sans medication.

 

Below is what I have on-hand:

Valium (Diazepam - 5mg)

Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate - 5mg & 10mg)

Klonopin (Colonazepam - 0.5mg)

 

My symptoms are worse first thing in the AM. My 'Episodes' usually wake me up at 3:30 AM and I will suffer tremendously until mid morning. Now that I'm recovering from my last 'Episode', high anxiety, racing thoughts and depressive feelings usually launch as soon as I wake and dissipate through the morning, but do persist somewhat throughout the entire day. I feel best in the late afternoon, early evening, before dinner. My sleep pattern is good when I'm not in an 'Episode'. It sucks when I am. Normally, I go to bed around 10:00 PM and get up around 6:00 AM. I usually get up once or twice a night in the early morning hours to pee, and then I go back to bed.

 

I have been taking 5mg of Lexapro daily / consistently since July, 2018. Not sure on the specific date, but I believe it was around the 15th - 21st.


With all of the advice I've been provided from multiple resources, I have decided to try the following plan of action:

Stay at 5mg of Lexapro daily until I level out, to avoid taking the chance of kindling my brain.
Not take any Klonopin.

Not take any Valium or Ambien, unless I absolutely NEED them.
Not make the transition to a full-blown vegan diet, as I need the essential fatty acids and B12 that animal sources contain.
Continue testing my blood sugar levels in and around my 'Episodes' to see if my numbers indicate that I may be hypoglycemic.
Not start drinking Noni juice, as it is unnecessary, and if I am hypoglycemic, it is best to avoid fruit juices all together.
Continue concentrating on my blessings and positive things in my life, and not looking at this like it's irreversible or perpetual. (It will pass!)
Get back into the gym and sweat this poison out of my system.

 

Thank you, Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat
6 hours ago, Iowan said:

I've read, no meters are 100% accurate and have an allowable inaccuracy tolerance of something like 20%. I'll make sure to personally test my blood directly before and after my next physical in 2019, to compare those results to the #'s that my physical blood panel provides.

 

Good idea.

 

6 hours ago, Iowan said:

Get back into the gym and sweat this poison out of my system.

 

It's got nothing to do with sweating it out of your system.  Psychiatric drugs change the brain by adding chemicals.  The brain adapts to getting the chemicals.  When the chemicals are reduced or taken away completely the brain makes changes to adapt to the new level.  This is what causes the withdrawal symptoms.  It's more than one change that takes plac.  Reduce the drug and the brain has to change something, which in turn means that something else has to be changed, and then something else, and so forth.  A chain reaction, a domino effect.  That is why there is such a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms that can happen and in various parts of the body.

 

The brain is always trying to get to homeostasis, or factory settings.  The brain likes consistency.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

ChessieCat, I should have stated the gym step a little differently. Physical exercise gets my blood and oxygen pumping and aids in flushing water through my entire system. It boosts endorphins and other good body/brain chemicals, generally improving my mood. It also helps get my mind off of any negative thoughts and feelings that I may be having. All things that I REALLY need right now. I just have to get past the initial step of actually forcing myself to get back into the gym and getting started. As I get older, and take periodic breaks from working out, it gets harder and harder to re-start again. Especially now, during SSRI withdrawal. It's nearly impossible to start doing anything. I know I'll feel better once I do though. A good physical exercise regimen can do wonders for my mental health. It's not a cure all, but I know it works well for me.

Thank you, Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata
On 12/28/2018 at 10:23 AM, Iowan said:

I've also been told by one of my Dr's that I need to begin practicing a full blown vegan diet. No meat, dairy, grains, sugars or stimulants. This is the only way I'm going to recover. (Another Dr. of mine disagrees with this because animal sources contain essential fatty acids and B12 that are not found in vegan foods, and these nutrients are essential for brain healing and optimal health.) Both of these Dr's believes I am hypoglycemic and that's what is causing my adrenaline rushes and panic attacks at 3:30 AM when I'm in the throes of my bad waves / episodes. (My DO Dr. disagrees with this.) I ordered a glucose meter and will test my blood sugar levels throughout my next episode, so that should prove hypoglycemia one way or the other. All of my annual physical blood panels have shown my blood sugar levels are fine, and I have to fast for them, so I'm doubtful I'm hypoglycemic. Plus, I don't suffer with these things throughout the entire day, just the early morning hours of a few days in the middle of my episodes. What does this group think about the suggestion of going full blown vegan and the possibility of me being hypoglycemic?

 

I doubt you're hypoglycemic (see below). I'd go on a vegetarian diet only if you have other reasons to do so.

 

Eating some complex carbs, such as oatmeal, before bed can maintain blood sugar, if that's what you're worrying about.

 

You are taking a lot of zinc. Please double-check your need for this. It can knock off your copper balance.

 

On 12/31/2018 at 9:14 AM, Iowan said:

My symptoms are worse first thing in the AM. My 'Episodes' usually wake me up at 3:30 AM and I will suffer tremendously until mid morning. Now that I'm recovering from my last 'Episode', high anxiety, racing thoughts and depressive feelings usually launch as soon as I wake and dissipate through the morning, but do persist somewhat throughout the entire day. I feel best in the late afternoon, early evening, before dinner. My sleep pattern is good when I'm not in an 'Episode'. It sucks when I am. Normally, I go to bed around 10:00 PM and get up around 6:00 AM. I usually get up once or twice a night in the early morning hours to pee, and then I go back to bed.

 

Your jolts at 3:30 are probably caused by the normal cortisol spike in the early morning, to which you have become hypersensitive via going on and off drugs. Please read this link @Shep  gave you carefully Waking with panic or anxiety - managing cortisol spikes

 

also read  What is the sleep cycle?

 

Tips to help sleep -- so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia

 

Keeping your bedroom very dark to block out the early morning light can reduce this reaction. Also, magnesium is more effective in small doses throughout the day. You might take a little magnesium before bed and when you wake http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

By our lights, you are not taking enough fish oil, see http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
 

What time of day do you take escilatopram? Do you take it consistently at this time? How do you feel before and after you take it?

Share this post


Link to post
Carmie

Hi Iowan, 

 

Welcome to SA from me too, 

 

I just wanted to say please make sure you don’t overdo the gym work as too much exercise tends to ramp up a lot of people’s symptoms when going through withdrawals. Some people have no problems with it, but a lot find that their symptoms get worse if they do too much. Be careful. 

 

Take care, sending hugs 🤗

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
16 hours ago, Altostrata said:

What time of day do you take escilatopram? Do you take it consistently at this time? How do you feel before and after you take it?

 

I usually take my escitalopram (Lexapro) in the early AM before work, usually between 6:30 and 7:00 AM. On weekends, it's whenever I wake up, but that's usually around the same time. Early AM to mid morning at the latest. Now that I'm suffering withdrawal, I often feel pretty cruddy before I take it, but honestly don't know if I feel any different after taking it, and if I do, if it has anything to do with the Lexapro, or the fact that I've just been up and moving around for a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
13 hours ago, Carmie said:

I just wanted to say please make sure you don’t overdo the gym work as too much exercise tends to ramp up a lot of people’s symptoms when going through withdrawals. Some people have no problems with it, but a lot find that their symptoms get worse if they do too much. Be careful.

 

Thank you @Carmie and @ChessieCat. I'll try to do whatever my body allows me to do. If It's too much, I'll back it down. I've got to get back in there and get the blood pumping again though.

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata

Since last July, while you've been holding at 5mg, has your symptom pattern gotten better or worse?

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
6 minutes ago, Altostrata said:

Since last July, while you've been holding at 5mg, has your symptom pattern gotten better or worse?

 

I'd like to say it's gotten better, but I think it's more or less remained about the same. If I said it's gotten better, it may only be because I'm becoming more familiar with them as survive more. They come on heavy and fast, usually following high stress of some sort, usually work. Then I suffer 3 to 4 days of feeling like I'm dying, from 3:30 AM to late morning, just barely able to make it through the rest of the day, (e.g. adrenaline rushes, panic, vomiting, zero appetite, crying, depression, high anxiety, abstract intrusive thoughts, suicidal ideations, etc. etc.). The next 3 to 4 days I seem to begin slowly recovering. Able to get more sleep each night. Then for the next 2 weeks, I am fragile / delicate and scared. I begin regaining weight after my appetite returns. Then the next wave hits and I do it all over again. Waves usually last right around 7 days total with 2 weeks of recovery following. My waves seem to be getting closer together too. I pray my waves are getting better, but because they're hitting so close together now, I'm not fully recovered from the last, so I enter them still exhausted from the last. Time will tell if they're getting better, worse, or remaining the same. 

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata

You may want to increase to 5.5mg Lexapro. You may be metabolizing it so fast, a single dose is not covering the entire 24 hours and you get interdose withdrawal in the early morning.

 

Lexapro comes in a prescription liquid for titration. This is the easiest way to take 0.5mg.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
1 minute ago, Altostrata said:

You may want to increase to 5.5mg Lexapro. You may be metabolizing it so fast, a single dose is not covering the entire 24 hours and you get interdose withdrawal in the early morning.

 

Lexapro comes in a prescription liquid for titration. This is the easiest way to take 0.5mg.

 

Will I eventually level out at 5mg? I've got to right? I've heard horror stories about re-increasing after 3 weeks where people have kindled their brains. I'd much rather weather the storm at 5mg, IF I'm eventually going to level out, than I would risk increasing my dosage, and then at minimum, taking longer to taper down to zero.

 

Also, I believe you've hit on something with the info you've shared about cortisol spiking around 2:30 - 3:30 AM and what this does to a sensitive brain/body within SSRI withdrawal. Sounds exactly like what I'm enduring.

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata

A tiny bit more Lexapro might help you level out, you've given 5mg a try for a good long time. If you feel uneasy about adding 0.5mg, you might try 0.1mg or 0.25mg.

 

Most people here who have gotten kindled have made big leaps in dosage, such as adding 10mg.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
18 hours ago, Altostrata said:

A tiny bit more Lexapro might help you level out, you've given 5mg a try for a good long time. If you feel uneasy about adding 0.5mg, you might try 0.1mg or 0.25mg.

 

Most people here who have gotten kindled have made big leaps in dosage, such as adding 10mg.

 

Since I've been holding at 5mg for roughly 6 months, won't I eventually level out? And soon? Won't my brain and body eventually adapt to the smaller amount of Lexapro in my system? (Albeit, I did a 50% taper from 10mg to 5mg, after I'd already had what I believe was a 'Tolerance' episode on 10mg's daily that I'd been taking solid for 2.5 years.) Even if kindling isn't a real threat at increasing by these small increments, I'd sure hate to take any steps backwards. Also, where would I stop with my increases if the initial one(s) didn't help to level me out? Would I increase by 0.25mg for a month and if not leveled out, increase by another 0.25mg and give that a go for another month, etc.? My end goal is to be completely off of Lexapro. It's been 17 years too man of this unnecessary SSRI medication and I'm ready to begin living my regained life again.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

@Shep and @Altostrata I have updated my signature with my current medications and supplements.

 

I have read About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms and have considered increasing my Lexapro dosage by 0.5 mg, but am hesitant due to the fact that I dropped from 10 mg to 5 mg roughly 5-1/2 to 6 months ago, back in July. I don't know if I could handle adverse reactions on top of what I already experience with my withdrawal waves. If it worked, that would be awesome, but if it didn't I'd be in a worse position than I am now. What are your thoughts on this? Do either of you recommend that I increase my 5 mg dosage to 5.5 mg and see if that levels me out? Also, what are your thoughts about me staying the course on 5 mg until I level out? The 50% decrease was a bad shock to my system, but due to neuroplasticity, time, and the fact that I'm treating myself well, I will level out on 5 mg, won't I? And, if I stay the course at 5 mg, won't I be able to level out and reach my end goal of tapering down to 0 mg of Lexapro at a quicker pace?

 

I will not be taking any Benzo's or Ambien, unless I absolutely NEED sleep, and then no more than within the 3 to 4 consecutive days of absolute torture that I go through within my waves. It's true that I was a binge drinker for years, but outside of that, I have always been very reserved with taking any other sort of drugs or medication. I rarely take allergy medication during hay fever season and I rarely take pain medication for injuries and major headaches, etc. I don't know if it's because I realize I may have an addictive personality, or because I don't like the way these drugs make me feel dopey and lethargic. I'm not against using them when I absolutely need them though.

 

I am incorporating more fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables into my diet, and am cutting down on sugars and stimulants, but I will not be making any dramatic changes to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

 

So far, my glucose testing has not indicated that I have low blood sugar levels, at any point during the day. My levels tend to stay relatively level as well. I have yet to test while I'm within a wave, but if/when I do and it shows I have low blood sugar levels, I will begin incorporating the Hypoglycemic diet that you have suggested.

 

There are 17 pages within the Waking with panic or anxiety - managing cortisol spikes thread, and I'm still reading through it. I believe cortisol spikes may be contributing to or causing my adrenaline rushes I'm waking up with at 3:30 within my waves. However, I live in Iowa, and we're in the middle of winter, so 3:30 AM is hours before the hint of sunlight is noticeable, and I keep my room very dark. So, I don't believe cortisol spikes are being caused by light. What are your thoughts? Just part of my circadian rhythm? Part of my normal sleep cycle? When I'm feeling 'normal', I typically wake up around this time to urinate, so my body is accustomed to getting up around this time, but when I'm in a wave, instead of waking up with the need to urinate, I wake up with a jolt of panic to the system. Then I'm not able to go back to sleep again, etc. etc.

 

Thank you both for all of your feedback and help. I truly appreciate it! I'm a true believer in neuroplasticity and LOVE reading and hearing 'Success' stories about people who have withdrawn from SSRI's. That's what we all need to be reading and researching. I know where I am at and have identified how I got here. Now I need someone to jump down in this hole with me who has been in it before and knows how to help me get out of it.

 

Again, I am truly appreciative.

 

Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
Altostrata
On 1/3/2019 at 7:43 AM, Iowan said:

 

Since I've been holding at 5mg for roughly 6 months, won't I eventually level out? And soon? Won't my brain and body eventually adapt to the smaller amount of Lexapro in my system? (Albeit, I did a 50% taper from 10mg to 5mg, after I'd already had what I believe was a 'Tolerance' episode on 10mg's daily that I'd been taking solid for 2.5 years.) Even if kindling isn't a real threat at increasing by these small increments, I'd sure hate to take any steps backwards. Also, where would I stop with my increases if the initial one(s) didn't help to level me out? Would I increase by 0.25mg for a month and if not leveled out, increase by another 0.25mg and give that a go for another month, etc.? My end goal is to be completely off of Lexapro. It's been 17 years too man of this unnecessary SSRI medication and I'm ready to begin living my regained life again.

 

All good questions. Could be that 5mg is not quite enough -- see Why taper? SERT transporter occupancy studies show importance of gradual change in plasma concentration -- and a little bit more will get you back up on the plateau.

 

When your system gets stabilized on the plateau, then you can cautiously make your way down the slope with more gradual tapering.

 

Your nervous system is the judge. It may or may not settle down if you hold longer. But if it isn't happy now, why not give it a little more support? Even 0.25mg can make a difference, and it isn't that much more to taper.

 

However, it's your nervous system and your call. Please let us know how you're doing.

 

Are you taking magnesium and fish oil, as Shep suggested?

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

@Altostrata I am feeling pretty good right now, so I'll see if I roll into another wave, or level out from this point. If I experience another wave, I will increase my Lexapro dosage by 0.5 mg to 5.5 mg to see what it does for me. If I don't experience another wave, I'll hold at 5 mg until Spring, and then I'll continue my slow taper down.

 

I have been taking Natural Calm | Magnesium Supplement Stress Relief - Natural Vitality before bed the last week and a half. I'm not sure if it's doing anything for me, but it might be. For fish oil, I currently take 2,000 mg daily of Omega 3 Fatty Acid Nordic Naturals ProOmega Soft Gels. I've been taking this since July, with my daily supplements that I take with lunch.

 

Thanks again, Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

I have also been taking gaia HERBS SystemSupport SleepThru before bed for the last week and a half, with my Natural Calm - Magnesium. Not sure if it's working either, but I have been sleeping better the past week and a half, following my last wave.

Share this post


Link to post
Carmie

Hi Iowan, 

 

How are you doing? How is your sleep now?💚

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
9 hours ago, Carmie said:

Hi Iowan, 

 

How are you doing? How is your sleep now?💚

I was just thinking Sunday that I needed to get back out to this Site. I am improving. Slowly, but I do notice improvement. I'm currently within a wave, so I'm ditsy, exhausted because I'm waking up at 2:30 and unable to go back to sleep, have high anxiety and racing thoughts, no appetite, nausea, etc. You know, the typical stuff within a wave. BUT... My waves are getting better. Sometimes I take a step forward and two steps back, but overall, my waves are becoming more tolerable. They still last anywhere from 3 to 7 days. In between waves, I actually feel pretty normal when I'm in my windows. That's encouraging because it tells me that I'm not broken, just damaged, and am healing.

 

After my last wave I decided I wanted to begin tapering again, so I weighed a few 5mg Lexapro pills before I ground them all up. One of them actually weighs right at 0.060 grams. From there, I decided to do 1mg tapers, so on 3/18/19, I tapered to 0.050 grams of Lexapro. I'm pretty certain that this wave I'm in is a direct result of that taper. It's much closer to my last wave and I'm experiencing a few old symptoms that I haven't felt for a while. The back of my eye sockets feel warm and sunken in. I have vertigo. I feel like I have the flu, with full body chills and everything, and my brain is extremely fuzzy. I'd be much more concerned if I were earlier on in my withdrawal process, but I've experienced so much that I just try to take things in stride now. What else can a person do really, while going through this withdrawal, other than treat themselves as well as possible and endure?

 

Since my brain is ditsy, I can't memorize things verbatim very well, and my ability to create strong new memories isn't the best, but I'm able to retain some things. I am in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), my wife and I joined a bible study small group, and I'm completing a 24 week program with my pastor, "Quieting a Noisy Soul". I know I'm not retaining everything that I'm learning, but I force myself to retain those things I find really important to me. The one AWESOME thing that's come out of this has been my personal salvation through my absolute faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only true God, and my strengthening relationship with Him. Christ hears my prayers and carries me when I need it. I consider every breath I take and my good moments and windows, absolute blessings from Him and try to focus on them. Especially when I'm in a wave.

 

This SSRI withdrawal process has been the hardest thing I've ever endured. I've never endured Chemotherapy or battled a terminal illness, but I would bet, on a scale from 1 to 10, that my SSRI withdrawal is similar if not worse than enduring some of them. I'm just taking one moment and day at a time. I've accepted that sometimes I'm going to feel good and sometimes I'm going to feel bad, and I will focus on my blessings every day. What I considered my 'normal life' has kind of been put on hold. When I have a wave, I take a little brake, and when I have a window, I pick up the pieces and carry on.

 

God bless everyone going through withdrawal and their families. There are MANY of us enduring this right along with you. You are not alone. Jesus loves you and hears your prayers.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

Very little sleep these past 3 nights. Woke before 3 AM both Tuesday and Wednesday nights and before 1 AM Thursday night (last night) due to our barking dog. Unable to go back to sleep. As I start drifting off to sleep and my mind starts drifting, whatever abstract thought is on my mind gets slammed into my consciousness, similar to the jolts I've experienced, but without the electric shock. It's more subtle, but it is disturbing and doesn't allow me to go back to sleep because it revs me up and kicks off high anxiety. I just had a bout of dry heaves. I'm exhausted and running on empty. My brain is not functioning correctly.

 

How does anyone make it through this withdrawal process? I'm SO SICK!!! My brain and body are telling me that I NEED this toxic drug, like I'm a heroin addict or something. I am praying a ton and relying on Christ to carry me through this, but I am so weak and worn down. I'm really scared. I need reassurance from those who have beaten this, that I can do this and that it WILL get better. Windows are good, but waves feel like they're taking years off of my life.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

Good morning everybody. My introduction story is here: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/19501-iowan-introduction-topic/ In a nutshell, after roughly 17 years on SSRI's I began my LAST attempt at getting off this poison in July of 2018. So I'm 9 months into a direct taper from 10mg to 5mg of Lexapro, and man have I paid the price for making a 50% drop. Following my most recent wave, I ground up my pills and tapered to an actual weight of 5mg on 3/18/19. (5mg pills actually weigh 6 to 6.5mg.) My plan is to taper 1mg every month until I reach 0 in mid August. Well, that's the plan anyway... Heavy withdrawal symptoms set in at 2:30 AM, 4/3/19 and I've been a wreck ever since. Old symptoms that I haven't experienced in my more recent waves, have come back, so I'm sure it's due to my recent taper, and not just another wave. Insomnia wreaks absolute havoc on my system, and I haven't gotten more than 2 to 4 hours of sleep per night for the past 5 nights. I pray this wave only lasts a few days and lets up, but man it's so hard to convince myself of that when I'm in the actual wave. The past 9 months have been Hell and I'm ready to be 100% off of this poison and get started on actual healing. This is so crippling and I am such a self motivated project oriented person when I'm not enduring a wave of SSRI withdrawal.

 

I have recently stopped working with my Naturopathic Dr because I feel that the 'remedies' are attempting to heal a moving target. I have continued to take her last recommended remedy and list of supplements and vitamins however. I have also recently stopped working with my therapist as well. I have put his technique suggestions into practice, but after several sessions, don't believe I'm getting a good return on my investment. I had to cut some medical expenses, and felt these were the two best places to do it at the moment. I have gotten back into the gym, but haven't developed a very good routine yet, so that's still a work in progress as well. I've become a hardcore Christian and know that Jesus has carried my sorry butt on several occasions through this. I have come to the realization that TIME is the biggest factor. There's no magic pill or silver bullet that will speed up this healing process. That's a rough realization for me to accept because I'm such a fixer and problem solver. Ungh!

 

I'm in a really bad place right now. Nearly 3 weeks into my taper from 6-6.5mg to 5mg of Lexapro and my brain and body have gone into absolute revolt. How can so many of us suffer from the same withdrawal symptoms and yet these poisons are still pedaled as freely as they are? My withdrawal symptoms are 1,000 times worse than any natural ailment I was ever prescribed SSRI's for in the first place. I've also attempted to get off them more than once too, and have been hospitalized once for it because I didn't know what the Hell was going on. It was just SSRI withdrawal symptoms... Go figure.

 

I never thought about suicide before SSRI withdrawal kicked in. Every wave that hits now brings suicidal thoughts easier and quicker to my mind. It's quite maddening because I have a beautiful family of 6 that are the most valuable things to me in this life, and I know what it would do to them. From all that I've already experienced, and all of the stories and posts that I've read, I am SO SCARED of what lies ahead of me. My entire being has already been eroded down to a shadow of my former self. How can I possibly survive what is in store for me for the next months, years, or even the rest of my natural life? I am in a state of deep despair and am having trouble focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel. (I'm also running on a skeleton crew of active brain cells at the moment, so I apologize if any of what I've written doesn't make the best of sense.)

 

Please HELP! I need helpful advice and words of encouragement from you, my brothers and sisters in this same awful ordeal.

 

Thank you all in advance, Iowan

Share this post


Link to post
ShiningLight

Iowan, sounds like you are experiencing "neuroemotions." Sometimes it helps me to remind myself that I'm not thinking straight right now.

 

Can you kind of soften and accept your feelings? While unpleasant the suicidal thoughts can't hurt you unless you act on them (please don't). Panicking and trying to fight the feelings makes it worse.

 

I know, so much more easily said than done.

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan
6 minutes ago, ShiningLight said:

Iowan, sounds like you are experiencing "neuroemotions." Sometimes it helps me to remind myself that I'm not thinking straight right now.

 

Can you kind of soften and accept your feelings? While unpleasant the suicidal thoughts can't hurt you unless you act on them (please don't). Panicking and trying to fight the feelings makes it worse.

 

I know, so much more easily said than done.

I'm absolutely experiencing neuro-emotions. I realize I'm not thinking straight, but I'm SO exhausted and ground down. I will try to soften and accept my feelings. So far, I haven't acted upon any of my suicidal thoughts, but it scares the Hell out of me that I even have them and how strong they have become. I don't think I'm panicking much within this wave, but I do struggle with fighting against these feelings. I've fought for everything in this life and it's a foreign concept for me to not fight against something so evil. I'm working on it though. Yes, all of this is easier said than done, but it must be done. I forced myself to go out to church service this AM with my family and I truly NEEDED it. What a great sermon.

Thank you ShiningLight!

Share this post


Link to post
ShiningLight

Suicidal thoughts can be terrifying, but just think of them like any other uncontrollable bodily symptom. You wouldn't be terrified by a hiccup, right? Same thing. It's just a hiccup of the brain that we start assigning meaning to.

 

You're reacting to it (like any normal person would), but that feeds it. Think of it like a cloud passing by in the sky.

 

There's a link on here somewhere about dealing with neuroemotions. I found it very helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
RichT

I have experienced strong suicidal thoughts - I know they can be scary! It was a good idea to share them here, I hope you get some relief soon. Lots of people experience suicidal thoughts, so you’re not alone.

 

R

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
manymoretodays
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Iowan said:

Good morning everybody. My introduction story is here: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/19501-iowan-introduction-topic/ In a nutshell, after roughly 17 years on SSRI's I began my LAST attempt at getting off this poison in July of 2018. So I'm 9 months into a direct taper from 10mg to 5mg of Lexapro, and man have I paid the price for making a 50% drop. Following my most recent wave, I ground up my pills and tapered to an actual weight of 5mg on 3/18/19. (5mg pills actually weigh 6 to 6.5mg.) My plan is to taper 1mg every month until I reach 0 in mid August. Well, that's the plan anyway... Heavy withdrawal symptoms set in at 2:30 AM, 4/3/19 and I've been a wreck ever since. Old symptoms that I haven't experienced in my more recent waves, have come back, so I'm sure it's due to my recent taper, and not just another wave. Insomnia wreaks absolute havoc on my system, and I haven't gotten more than 2 to 4 hours of sleep per night for the past 5 nights. I pray this wave only lasts a few days and lets up, but man it's so hard to convince myself of that when I'm in the actual wave. The past 9 months have been Hell and I'm ready to be 100% off of this poison and get started on actual healing. This is so crippling and I am such a self motivated project oriented person when I'm not enduring a wave of SSRI withdrawal.

 

Hi Iowan,

And welcome back.  I shall move/merge this new introduction/journal start of yours on back to your main one.  That's the custom here.  It helps keep all your information in one place.  And also should be helpful to you, when the panic and confusion lifts........so you can easily find your way back to some of the important information that is here, on site, that you were linked to in the last couple of months.

 

And oh,  I get it.  How you are feeling today.  Somewhat desperate and completely crippled with fear.......  I came off Lexapro(escitalopram) in October of 2014.  I'll tell you......once I got below 5 mg dose strength, and I went way too fast,  I also changed the formulation from 1/2 pill to liquid too.......well, it sent me so far off the rails of any normal existance and coping......I went inpatient.  Not so brilliant.  Yet then I found my way here. 

 

I don't even know where my introduction landed in May of 2015.  I'm a heck of a lot clearer AND functional now though......then I was then.  I got out of hospital on a couple of other drugs and then basically slowly weaned/tapered velly slooowly off my last one.  Not an SSRI, mind you.......but just the same, I caught on to the program of 10% or less reductions and overall, feel rather successful to date.  Drug free for over 2 years now and it keeps getting more and more interesting.  And life is good.

 

So......mod hat on now.  You've recently ground up all of, or several of your pills and are using a scale to taper I see.
I think you are tapering a bit fast right now.  1120 days ago you went down in pill weight by a whole milligram.  Even a 10% reduction of your 5 mg dose strength(not to be confused with actual crushed pill weight) would be far less than a milligram. 

Is it a Gemini 20 scale?  And is your read out in grams or g?

 

On 4/4/2019 at 5:36 AM, Iowan said:

One of them actually weighs right at 0.060 grams. From there, I decided to do 1mg tapers, so on 3/18/19, I tapered to 0.050 grams of Lexapro. I'm pretty certain that this wave I'm in is a direct result of that

 

  And okay, 0.060 grams or g converts to 60 milligrams pill weight......soooo, I'm assuming your average pill weight in milligrams(not to be confused with dosage again) is then, 62.5 mgpw or .0625 g (gram on your scale).  gram to milligram converter(thanks google)

You don't have to get all this right now.

 

You are now 11(oops, sorry) 20 days since your last taper drop from 5mgai(milligram active ingredient or actual dose strength).  And yes, you've been hit hard with some wild and wavy WD.  I'll refer you back up in your thread, to find the link read or re-read why we recommend a 10% taper rate from the previous dose.  And sometimes, even less than 10%........most especially when you are hitting some of the more critical areas of dosage.  See:  Why taper?  SERT transporter occupancy studies show importance of gradual change in plasma concentration And again, you don't have to get and completely understand all of this now, but it will be here, on your main introduction/journal for when you feel more able and ready to get the full picture of what is happening in your CNS right now.

7 hours ago, Iowan said:

My plan is to taper 1mg every month until I reach 0 in mid August

 

You may want to reconsider your plan of dropping by 1 milligram of pill weight monthly though.  With your long history of SSRI usage and your.......like all of us........want and need to remain functional through this whole process/ordeal/ healing journey.........I would urge you to slow down Iowan. 

 

As well........you might consider a slight updose now.  There's a link on reinstatement(applies to updosing) above in your introduction/journal.

 

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.  The CNS likes stability. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur. And sleep is really important during withdrawal.

Non drug coping links for sleep problems are already above in your introduction/journal.  I'm sorry your WD symptoms have gotten to the present point of really, really challenging.

 

Healing, by the way......does not just magically happen once one reaches zero drugs in their system.  It's going on now with you, as it is with me(even drug free for 2 plus years now).  It's a road and a journey.  And it's worth it.  You can do this. 

 

S'okay.  I'm going to get you all merged moved back to your home base here.  I might go ahead and alter your title a bit too.  Let me know if you want it to be different from what I come up with.

 

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

manymoretodays(mmt)

Edited by manymoretodays
proofing edits, removed repeats

Share this post


Link to post
manymoretodays
Posted (edited)

(continued from above)

If I were you, I would sure consider an updose at this point.  You'd have to be really patient and give it at least 4-7 days before giving up on it completely.  And it would be really helpful to have you keep some notes as you are doing it as well.  On a daily and hourly basis.

 

Reinstatement is really the only medically known option, to date, for reducing symptoms of withdrawal.  The link on reinstatement is up above in a post from Shep, should you like to read or re read and consider this.

And you would not have to go all the way back up to your 5mgai or 5 mg dose.  5 mgai refers to the dose strength in milligrams of active ingredient.  The weight in milligrams refers to just that......the weight. 

You could consider just updosing by 0.25 or 0.5 mgai.

 

I kind of feel obligated to give you this information now, again, as I sure wish I could have alleviated some of my fierce acute withdrawal.  Water under the bridge now.  I'm a happy camper in this thing called life.

 

Yes, it gets better.  Whatever you decide now as far as staying put with your present dose or updosing.  You got this Iowan.  And you don't HAVE to do it all alone.  Okay?

 

All for now.

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

manymoretodays(mmt)

 

 

Edited by manymoretodays

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

Thank you ShiningLight, RichT and mmt. I decided to up-dose a bit today after church, so I took 5.5mg of Lexapro after lunch. I talked with my wife for a bit and forced myself to go and do a few things outside. The sunshine, fresh air and actually doing something helped clear my head quite a bit. I'm still tired, but not exhausted like I have been. Dreading sleep though, due to work starting back up tomorrow and confident I'll be waking up and starting my morning hours before my alarm goes off.

 

7 hours ago, ShiningLight said:

Suicidal thoughts can be terrifying, but just think of them like any other uncontrollable bodily symptom. You wouldn't be terrified by a hiccup, right? Same thing. It's just a hiccup of the brain that we start assigning meaning to.

 

You're reacting to it (like any normal person would), but that feeds it. Think of it like a cloud passing by in the sky.

 

I had a bit of an Ah-Ha moment with this. So very true!

 

mmt, I have an AWS Gemini-20 scale. So, yes, I'm strictly going off of weight. On the scale, the 5mg pills weighed 0.060g or a touch over, so I ground them up, and on this first taper, I try to get as close to 0.050g for my daily dosage. Today, I bumped my dose up to 0.055g and intend on keeping my dose there for a few days and observing what it does for me. Praying it helps pull me out of this WD nightmare I'm in right now. If it does, I'll play my next taper date by ear, but would like to target 1 month if possible, and taper down 0.005g each taper, if possible. That will start me out with less than a 10% decrease with this initial one and get me to 0 in roughly 1 year. Totally doable, with a big IF on whether or not this up-dose works for me.

 

I realize I'm healing now, but I personally consider it 'true healing' time once I get to zero, because I will then no longer have any of this poison left in my system for my body to pull from and it will have to do things all on its own, just like it did before I was put on SSRI's. I can totally do this!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

Monday 4/8/19: I got more than a couple of hours of sleep!!! I went to bed around 10 or 10:30 and first woke at 2:30, thinking I was up for the day, but I was able to go back to sleep until 4:30, and then again until nearly 6:00!!! God is GREAT! AMEN!!! I'm no where near 'normal' this AM, but it gives me hope and energy to tackle the day. One step and day at a time. I'll keep checking in over the course of the next few days to provide updates and read comments. I appreciate this SA website and all of you! Thank you!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Iowan

I actually had a pretty good day yesterday. I was in a thick fog in the morning, but it lifted throughout the day. I kept busy, which seems to help. I woke at 4:30 this AM, and wasn't able to go back to sleep, but hey, I'll take 6 hours of sleep over 0 to 2 any day. I just told the anxiety to bug off and then watched Wonder Woman before I tackled the workday. I think updosing to 0.055g from 0.050g has helped to stabilize me, and the amount of time I'd spent in my 0.050g taper. It's SLOW and steady from here on out for me. 0.005g reductions for each taper and maybe even less if/when I run into difficulties. Thanks ALL and God Bless!

Share this post


Link to post
manymoretodays
Posted (edited)
On 4/7/2019 at 8:28 AM, Iowan said:

Following my most recent wave, I ground up my pills and tapered to an actual weight of 5mg on 3/18/19. (5mg pills actually weigh 6 to 6.5mg.) My plan is to taper 1mg every month until I reach 0 in mid August.

 

On 4/7/2019 at 7:35 PM, Iowan said:

mmt, I have an AWS Gemini-20 scale. So, yes, I'm strictly going off of weight. On the scale, the 5mg pills weighed 0.060g or a touch over, so I ground them up, and on this first taper, I try to get as close to 0.050g for my daily dosage. Today, I bumped my dose up to 0.055g and intend on keeping my dose there for a few days and observing what it does for me. Praying it helps pull me out of this WD nightmare I'm in right now. If it does, I'll play my next taper date by ear, but would like to target 1 month if possible, and taper down 0.005g each taper, if possible. That will start me out with less than a 10% decrease with this initial one and get me to 0 in roughly 1 year. Totally doable, with a big IF on whether or not this up-dose works for me.

 

Hi Iowan,

I would encourage you to wait longer than a few days(I thought I saw you say that somewhere above) with this recent dose.  At the very least........HOLD, HOLD, and HOLD for at least a whole month, or even 6 weeks.  Let your body and CNS adjust.

 

And don't just drop by pill weight of .005 g  , please consider 10% tapers, or even less, from here on down.  I just think you are going to get in trouble with that kind of taper, not based on percentages.

That kind of tapering plan can and probably will catch up with you, given your long history with these drugs.

 

To figure out how much is a 10% drop just multiply your current pill weight by .90 and that will then give you the weight for your next drop.

 

I'll give you an example below:

 

You are going with the .060 g as the average weight of a 5 mg dose strength pill.

Then 10% of .060 g could be figured out like this:

.060 g  X  .90 = .054 g

 

To figure out what the dose you are taking is:

5 mg X .90 = 4.5 mg

 

And we need to know what dose you are taking.  .054 gmpw or 5.4 mgpw is NOT a dose.....it's a weight only.

 

So you HAVE done a 10% taper now from your starting dose of 5 mg. 

Get your daily doses weighed at .054 g and then stay with that. 

 

Have you read through this, pretty thoroughly :  Using a digital scale to measure doses

Or considered a Micro-taper or Brassmonkey Slide?

Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases

The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Microtapering

 

When you jumped on down to .050 g , you had done a much larger decrease than the 10%.  I did some math based on a 5mgai pill weighing .060 mgpw.  And when you dropped to .050 mgpw the dose came out to be 4.1mgai.  And that's going too fast I think for you.

 

And then when you first arrived in December or January........you weren't even doing so well with the 5 mg dose to begin with.  It was suggested that you updose, from your 5 mg pill, by using liquid escitalopram, to go up by 0.5 mg in dose.

 

  So if I were you.......I'd HOLD BEFORE tapering further for a good long spell.  Try and get to the point where you can read and study some of the information that you have been directed to.  And don't think that you might be the exception that can go faster than others.  Not after a 20 year history of AD's.  I just don't think you will be.   There is no grand prize for tapering too fast.  Best to go slow.

Please review:

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?  

What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

Thank you.

 

I hope that doesn't sound too harsh. 

Glad it's going well thus far Iowan.......I am.  And thanks for keeping us updated now.

 

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

mmt

(and I am taking off for a bit......I'll be back in awhile.....B)  I just want everyone to be doing really well when I get back)

 

 

Edited by manymoretodays

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy